Love Lessons from The Bachelor

or, Why Jason Will Die a Lonely Man


I was sucked in to The Bachelor this season. Maybe it was the single dad factor. Or maybe it was the parade of personality disorders during the first few episodes. Or maybe it's just the fact that my husband works late on Monday nights. Whatever the reason, I was hooked.

So in case you actually have a life and missed this season, the MOST SHOCKING AFTER THE FINAL ROSE CEREMONY FINALE EPISODE EVER revealed that Jason was not feeling the love for Melissa anymore. Melissa - who he proposed to. Melissa - who he introduced to his son as his fiance. Melissa - who he pronounced he would spend the rest of his life with, who his family adored, and who was clearly a better fit for him.

I'm not really that invested in Jason or his decision-making process. But I must confess to some massive eye-rolling as Jason espoused several of the myths of romance that Hollywood seems to perpetuate as he broke up with Melissa on national television. Did he and Melissa have a falling out? Did he discover a character defect that was unacceptable? Did Melissa turn out to be a monster behind her too-white smile? Nope. After a few weeks, Jason just didn't feel the same. The chemistry wasn't there. He has to do what feels right for him.

I'm not sure which part of this scenario the producers thought was most shocking. A guy dates several girls simultaneously, who he courts with big-budget dates including helicopter rides, candle-lit jacuzzi makeouts, and overnight dates. Hardly the kind of environment that leads to fidelity and commitment. And then he proposes to a girl who he just met six weeks ago. Really? Is it that shocking that they always break up?

Fortunately, in this case, the consequences of Jason's actions were not catastrophic. Melissa will learn to love again (oh wait, sounds like she's already moved on). Little Ty is probably a bit confused, but he'll be okay. But the scary part of the "follow your feelings" philosophy that Jason is preaching is the very thing that tears families apart, leaving kids to deal with divorce because parents can't "bring back that lovin' feeling" to the extent they had at the beginning of the relationship. Or to extent they are finding it through flirting with someone new, or thinking of someone from their past.

As a marriage and family therapist, I can't tell you how many people come into my office because they don't feel like they have the same feelings for each other anymore. I don't like having to be love's executioner, but sometimes it's a role I have to play. Because marriage cannot be based solely on warm fuzzy feelings. It's a great beginning to a relationship, but it can't be the foundation. Trouble is, from the time we are young, we are inundated with these kinds of fallacies of romance, which set up young adults to have unrealistic expectations and commitment issues, and to value lust (a feeling) over love (an action). And don't get me started on Jason's "I just need to live in the moment" rhetoric. This is exactly the kind of thinking that lands us with insane debt, that leads to global warming, and denies responsibility for our own selfish choices.

I guess an actual show about real love and commitment would not make for dramatic reality tv. But I can't help thinking where my own relationship would be if Mark and I decided to bail out on each other any time we weren't "feelin' it". We've been through some crazy stuff together, and sometimes it's not about feelings at all. When Mark went through an accident and recovery period that made things like a wheelchair slideboard, a bedside commode, and occupational therapy a daily reality for us, it was not the electric chemistry that kept me going every day. (I'm sure he could say the same thing about my pregnancies!) I guess I wish the media would present the part of love that sometimes requires self-sacrifice, and that doesn't rely on feelings, but rather builds on feelings, that can lead to a more meaningful experience than any lust-fueled "fairy tale" reality show.

But for now, I will turn away from the silliness that is reality tv (or at least until Jillian comes back next season), and look to a broadway musical for some lessons on love:


  1. I just love that when Molly and Jason were on Ellen Molly said "i think the time to be selfish is in love"....What? That is the weirdest statement I have heard in a long time!

  2. Anonymous10:01 AM

    Well said!

  3. Anonymous11:12 AM

    I don't watch the bachelor, but I've heard a lot about this.

    I needed to read this today, and be reminded that we have to choose to be committed to our spouses. It's so easy to get frustrated and think that it's not worth the effort. Sometimes divorce (or breaking up) would be the easiest alternative... in the moment.

    Your words reminded me that I need to stop thinking that way, that divorce is even an option. This is my 2nd marriage, so maybe it is easier to think it's okay since I've been through it once. (The first time, though, husband had an affair online & was NOT willing to work things out. This hubby will not cheat on me. I know that.)

    Anyway, thank you for writing that. I really needed to hear that.

  4. I'm going to rent that movie this weekend--what to come watch it with us? Boy do I know what you are talking about!! The warm fuzzies are few and far between--but in the end, it's worth staying for!! It will soon be 40 years for us. We have tons of problems--but some really fun times too!! Especially times with our family!


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