I don’t know who else saw it, or who else will admit it. I was absurdly obsessed with the reality TV series, Temptation Island, where serious couples who questioned their future together went to test the strength of their relationships. It went like this: the couples were split apart. The men went to one side of the island while their women were sequestered to the other side. The men were surrounded by new available women, and in turn, their women were presented with gorgeous single men. Everything was even, and they were left to figure out their odds as a couple. Each had a chance to see video-footage of their significant other while on their side of the island. They didn’t have to watch it, but they always chose to. And of course, with the power of editing that really makes reality TV the fantasy it is, they’d reveal him doing body shots off another woman, and his live-in girlfriend, after viewing the tape, would be amped up with the "well if he’s doing that," attitude, then go blow off steam with the opposite sex, with the men on her island, where no doubt, the cameras would film her clip. And I’d watch, saying to the person beside me, or to myself even, "I wouldn’t want to watch. I’d want to make my decisions based on how I felt, not based on what he was doing." But bullshit. If I were really in it… and THAT, right there, is the reason I watch. Because I do that whole, "If I were really in it" thing. I put myself there, in the fantasy of reality TV.
I now watch The Bachelor, knowing full-well I would NEVER be on such a show. I imagine most of the woman on the show have said the same things themselves. Then they do it because it sounds fun. They’ve sat home and watched the show, said to themselves, "no way would I go on that show. Those women are such nightmares." They’ve said to themselves, "If I were really in it," and then they are. I think the majority of women who watch dating reality shows like The Bachelor really do believe most of the women are idiots. "I watch because I love to see how catty the girls are." I don’t buy it. You’d watch other shows for just that. There’s a lot more to it.
I watch, not to see the women and their dramas and analysis. I watch because I want to see who he’ll choose and why. Does it all come down to looks for him? I lean in, watching from my knees, when I see him sharing an intimate moment with a woman. Okay, so this is who he likes! And then I see another intense exchange with another woman. And THAT fascinates me, seeing our ability to really like more than one person at a time. I honestly believe we all have the ability to be equally invested, romantically, in more than one person at once. I do believe you can love like that, but why would you intentionally put yourself in that situation?
I am a jealous girl. Insecurity prompts it of course. A healthy well-adjusted woman might be hurt if the man she pines for doesn’t love her back, but she keeps a healthy perspective, knows that if he chooses someone else, he certainly wasn’t the right man for her. I would never sign up for a situation where I might be taken with a guy, just to watch other women play with him in a mud bath. It’s my future husband, supposedly, on this show. So now that the charmings are married, she has the knowledge, that yes, ultimately he picked her, but she not only has the memory of all the women he shared intimate moments with, but she has the footage. How do you move on from that? "It’s in the past" is something I try very hard to remember, but it’s not easy when you’re an insecure person to begin with. I don’t "constantly" have to talk myself down when remembering our past, but I do have to do it from time to time, more often than I imagine other people would have to.
When I see The Bachelor having to send someone off, saying goodbye. He’s crying; she’s crying, and I wonder if they’re just too steeped in it, in the moment. If they’re like all of us, in our own relationships, when we’re in it for so long, we can’t see our way out of it. We lose perspective, head deep. And then I wonder how much of it is an act on his part, to seem caring and invested. And in the case of The Bachelor, I’m hoping part of it is an act because the woman he’s eventually with has to wonder, "why were you crying over all those women when you knew, and hoped, it would be me all along?" Yes, you can feel for other people. It doesn’t feel good knowing you’re hurting someone. It’s still not a reason to cry on national television. Being honest with people, letting them down, is part of the process, and we all go through it.
And why do we watch? I watch in part because I like to place myself there, in my fantasy, knowing full well I love my life as it is, knowing in reality, I would never, ever subject myself to those circumstances. I watch because I like seeing what seems to win in the game of dating.