How “The Bachelor” shapes our cultural view of love

Jerod Clark

March 7, 2011

What you see on the bachelor is just female hypergamy in action. Of course, they are willing to share the one alpha-ish guy. To those women, the thrill of being in the presence of a guy like that, getting to be on television. getting attention from the whole world is better than the exclusive love of one simple, poor beta.

Don't feel bad about the women's feelings. What they love is the emotional roller coaster the show puts them on. It's all a lot of fun for them.

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
March 7, 2011

Speaking to Jerod's point, do you think this attitude is a product of the show's influence - that multiple seasons of The Bachelor and shows like it have conditioned some women to think this way? Or do you think this is just the nature of some people, and The Bachelor simply gives them a larger stage on which to act this way?

March 7, 2011

I think The Bachelor does a good job of simulating one of the thrills that occurs early in a relationship -- the feeling of being chosen and being special. I think the show exaggerates that normal aspect of relationships because the competition is so well-defined and in your face. But that makes the realization that being chosen isn't all there is to a good relationship a harder let-down when the show is over (and everybody has more options).
Maybe we should rely on God and not romantic potential for that feeling of chosenness...

March 7, 2011

I think Bethany's comment that this is a legitimate segment of the arc of romantic love is right. I also think you're right in terms of conditioning. If one looks at the relative sample of play on this segment of the arc found in TV, movies, novels, etc. it reveals an enormous bias. Part of the bias is demographic. Marketers prioritize the demographic for who are most commonly found in this the range of this segment. The show is about selling ads after all. The question about conditioning is important. Salon did a review of yet another complaint book about men not growing up. http://bit.ly/hpce2P. How does conditioning on this segment then impact behavior for young adults? CT had an interesting piece on Sex Economics 101. http://bit.ly/fr1F8Q. Now clearly some of this is simply biological, yet biological systems are all about finding healthy balances for a productive future. How does this media behavior impact the broader system? Nice subject for a study. pvk

March 7, 2011

Among the many problems I have with the show is the consistent confusion between love and that "feeling" of connectedness or attraction. The whole setting of the bachelor is surreal; the settings, locations and activities commonly depicted are probably beyond the means of even the most well-to-do contestants, and combine to create a fairly-tale like feeling. Who wouldn't "fall in love" given that scenario.

What really is missing is the notion that love is an act of the will, a commitment. It may be accompanied by the emotional and physical attraction so prevalent in the show, but if that act of the will, that commitment does not take place, the relationship is not likely to succeed (as illustrated by the shows poor track record in producing lasting matches).

This confusion of attraction with love is what makes both of Brad's appearances on the show so poignent. He is looking for that "bolt from the blue" where he "knows" that this or that woman is the one for him. It seems to escape him that true love may be accompanied by the physical and emotional attraction (as hyped by our modern culture), but must be able to survive once the excitement of the initial attraction has worn off. For a Christian, we must never forget that mutual choice and commitment are far more important determinants in a successful marriage.

Don Ibbitson
March 7, 2011

I have a hard time understanding the motivation of the "auditionees" for this gig. It is a sad commentary in many ways on what passes for courtship and dating these days..

March 7, 2011

I do not think female hypergamy is a result of the show. Rather, hypergamy is deeply rooted in women's sin nature. The reason the show appeals to women is because they like to live out hypergamous roller-coasters vicariously.

Laura Lee
April 17, 2011

I haven't actually watched one of these, but suspect that the contestants on these shows are interested in fame and that this is the prize they are hoping to win. They have to play a "love" game to get it, but I suspect most of them do not themselves believe it to be related to the real thing.

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