This is part one of a two-part series of guest posts by Rachel Bailes.
I am a self-confessed devotee of The Bachelor. I have watched hundreds of hours of the show and find myself genuinely invested in the ‘journey’ of each season. But should I see The Bachelor as nothing more than a guilty pleasure? As Christians, does it have any valuable lessons to give us about our own relationships?
The basic premise of the Bachelor is that one ‘eligible bachelor’ spends six weeks whittling twenty-five beautiful women down to one in a systematic dating process. His proposal of marriage to one of the two remaining women forms the dramatic, shocking and telling raison d’etre of the show. In other words, the Bachelor spends six weeks breaking up with 24 women in order to get engaged.
The alleged integrity of the show is the fact that the sheer number of women the Bachelor considers means that he can be sure that his relationship with the final women has been tested in the fires of temptation, strong connections with other women, and the sands of urgency.
The show follows a “tried and true” formula each season, whittling potential relationships away until there is just one so that you know you’ve got something with staying power. It’s baffling that a number of long-term relationships and marriages have successfully eventuated from a dating game show that grants the happy couple the equivalent of just 20 hours together before the proposal.
The prospect of watching a couple whose relationship you have witnessed almost in its entirety from inception to culmination point is tantalising for many of us.
For many Christian women, The Bachelor is a “guilty pleasure”. However, the pitfalls and perks of being a Christian in the dating scene may have more in common with the Bachelor than we might think.
So is The Bachelor an analogue for Christian dating culture?
1. The Bachelor teaches us that being ‘in love with’ somebody doesn’t mean that person is your be all and end all for a happy future.
What differentiates one incredible ‘one-on-one date’ from another and makes for a potential spouse? It’s an important question for all Christians to answer in our own dating lives so that the emotional potency produced by being in a
particular scenario doesn’t dictate our judgment when we’re making decisions about the rest of our lives.
The truth is that at the end of the day God designed man and woman, broadly, generally, to be together; he didn’t shape the entire universe around the success of your relationship with Charlie from Church camp.
The real and heartwrenching choice that the Bachelor feels he has to make at the pointy end of each season and the development of at least two plausible rival relationships should give hope to those that feel they’ve lost “the one” and will never have a connection with a person again.
Love really forms around the timing of your life and the possession of compatible attributes. Bachelor Season 17 Sean Lowe put it this way: “I think we were created in such a way which means we are capable of loving more than one person.” This might not sound romantic, but it’s a realistic statement of our nature that gives hope to the widows, the abandoned, and the heretofore-unrequited lovers of this world.
2. Courtship is about finding a spouse, not finding a way to see the person in front of you as your perfect spouse.
Finding a match with whom you can serve God is more important than finding a way to convince yourself that you should marry your current boyfriend or girlfriend.
The pressure of the “process” of the Bachelor acts like a refining force that brings out the ideal relationship where others do wither under pressure.
Just so, your current interests or relationships should be able to stand up to scrutiny and prayerful consideration without you worrying about what you might find out.
The Bachelor demonstrates that there are plenty of fish in the sea, not as afterthoughts, but as genuine alternative relationships.
Choosing a relationship is about holding on to your own principles and standards for the kind of relationship you want to have, rather than holding onto the first attractive person that you date because you feel like your feelings aren’t replicable.
The next three lessons will be posted later this week in Part Two