The truth is that there’s a lot to learn from these social experiments. Just like with scientific experiments, by comparing different experimental results we can learn a lot. Specifically, we find intriguing things when we compare Bachelor in Paradise to The Bachelor.
For those who aren’t familiar with the two shows (I hope the rock you’re living under is nice), here’s a quick recap. The Bachelor is a show where, over the course of the season, one guy chooses one of 30 women to marry. This selection process happens through a series of outlandishly beautiful dates. Every week, the cast flies to new romantic destinations and the guy makes out with the contestants after they enjoy meals at fancy restaurants or visits to fancy spas. Over time, women are eliminated based on how much fun they provide during these excursions. One is left: she gets a ring.
By contrast, BiP is something like a cross between the Hunger Games and Gilligan’s Island for single people. Couples are stuck at a dull resort with nothing to do. They have the freedom to chug margaritas, lift weights, splash in the ocean, or swim in a pool. And, when two people really like each other, the producers will let some hottie in to disrupt things. Finally, every week, anyone who’s not offered a rose by another contestant--in effect, everyone who’s not in a couple--goes home. It’s chaos, drama, lust, and boredom, all wrapped into one weird package.
And yet, Bachelor in Paradise seems to yield more permanent relationships. Why should this be?
Well, it turns out that having to fight for something creates a more lasting foundation. The emotions, the tedium, and the potential drama strengthen a bond, rather than weaken them. In the Bachelor, couples meet in the perfect environment. And this… doesn’t prove anything about their relationship’s real value. Because life isn’t a perfect environment made up of a string of breathless peak experiences.
The Bachelor doesn’t really require any real commitment or struggle. To win The Bachelor, the core skills are being hot and being able to maintain your best behavior through a series of two hour dates. However, maintaining a relationship in Bachelor in Paradise involves staying with someone even while assailed by drama and weighed down by hours of emptiness.
So, how does this relate to your dating life? How can you apply the wisdom (yes, really) of Bachelor in Paradise?
Well: don’t be afraid of imperfect situations. They teach us a lot about the other person.
It’s nice when your relationship contains perfect moments. But those aren’t the moments when you learn about your partner. You learn about your partner when you’re stuck in the MTA in a car with no air conditioning, or you spill wine on their cherished white cardigan, or you tell a bad joke.
Also: you can’t tell right away whether a relationship will work. One beautiful experience or lavish date won’t do it. It takes toughing it out through times that are less than ideal: showing up and being a partner when you’re hungry, upset, or jealous. If you can stay together when life is more like Bachelor in Paradise than The Bachelor, you might have something lasting and real.