I’ll admit that since becoming a new parent, many things have changed – one of those things being my taste in television.
My current guilty pleasure is the Bachelor and all of its spin-offs: The Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise, and, if I’ve really hit rock bottom that week, all of the after-shows to said programs. My excuse (and I’m sticking to it) is that my brain no longer has the capacity to handle more cerebral programming.
Don’t get me wrong, I still wait in anticipation for the newest Game of Thrones, and binge on the latest Netflix phenomenon, but a critically-acclaimed, thought-provoking mystery drama is sometimes just too much commitment and obligation for a mommy-in-demand. Twisting plots and verbose dialogue are better enjoyed by those with a fully functioning brain, something I said goodbye to as soon as I had kids. I tend to prefer watching something I can digest in meaningless chunks between bouts of crying baby.
Through what I’ll now call my anthropological research into love and relationships, I actually have learned a lot. For instance, competing against a large group of women for one man’s affections while at the same time trying to get to know said man with the goal of marriage is, in every way, impossible. Especially if those women come dressed in a shark costume, have occupations like “chicken enthusiast“, or consider their “platinum vagina” a competitive edge.
Falling in love with a man while watching other women also fall in love with him is a little – or a lot – masochistic, and there has to be some trauma that sticks with you even when you’re the last one standing. But I guess, sometimes it can work. There have been Bachelor alums that move on to marriage and kids, so maybe dating in an armor of fake eyelashes and revolving ball gowns isn’t completely hopeless.
As crazy and entirely entertaining the format is, the main thought I come away with after each show is: how can you expect to truly get to know someone while dating in a fairytale? The exotic locales and extravagant experiences make for great TV, but they’re extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime highs that set an impossible precedent. How do you go back to the monotony of work, errands, and date nights at restaurants with actual other people dining in them? And if you’re going to back to a life with kids, God help you.
I’d be lying if I said making out by a waterfall or dining atop a mountain didn’t sound appealing. Every couple should get to experience the euphoria of falling in love in a magical place, but those experiences are the last thing you should base a long term relationship on. I could put anyone on a white sand beach with unlimited wine, a good looking guy, and free helicopter rides and dare them not to fall in love. But stick that same guy in a minivan with crying children in the backseat and see if he still wants to look lovingly into your soul.
If you want to create a dating show that produces real relationships, you need real life challenges. Have the girl try to delve into his family history while he watches a football game going into overtime. Quiz the guy on the girl’s favorite books, movies and what she ate that day after a month of dating. Have the couple spend a weekend with a group of their best friends. Confiscate all makeup from the girl and have her pick up his dirty laundry for a week. Make the guy watch the Bachelor with her.
And the final challenge: deprive both of them of three days of sleep and hand them a baby.
The situations may not be romantic, but they’ll give the couples a better idea of the type of person they signed on to be with. Because at the end of the day, it’s easy to find someone who will be there for the fun, sexy, and new moments. But I want someone who will be there for the hardest, the ugliest, and most isolating moments. And I do, in a husband who will sometimes (always) disagree with me but always respect me. Who sometimes loses it when our kids and life are too much to handle, but will do everything in his power to resolve our issues. Who helps clean after dinner, takes the kids so I can take a breather, kisses me and tells me he loves me when I’m wearing three-day-old food and burp stained pajamas. So, thank you to the Bachelor for making me see I’m not missing out on anything: my relationship isn’t all roses, but it’s true romance.