Florida, Abigail, life update tomorrow.
It’s in the universe. And it’s on The Bachelorette. Perhaps you couldn’t give two rosy shits about The Bachelorette, or about my unapologetic need to eat any and all dating candy, but on a more universal level what “happened to Ashley” “happens” to all of us. The air-quotes you just saw, that’s me trying to force you to get my point: that we decide what happens when something happens to us.
For those living under a rock (or with noses in something, I dunno, like a newspaper that reports actual news), here’s the quick story: bachelorette Ashley Hebert was warned by a friend before the show began to watch out for a guy named Bentley Williams, who was—wait for it—”on the show for the wrong reasons.” But Ashley decides that the red in that flag really isn’t her color, deciding to “keep an open mind.” Ashley then fell hard for the 28-year-old dad from Utah. He’d tell her how amazing she was, stroke her hair, touch the small of her back, then, privately, he’d mock vomit, wishing Ashley were Emily (a previous contestant from the same season as Ashley). During his private one-on-one interviews with the camera, he’d trash Ashley’s looks and sling as many insults as he could. Why did he want this attention and what did it serve, acting like an empty ball sack, treating a woman this way, as he models behavior for his own young daughter? Wrong question.
Right question: Why did Ashley fall hard for a guy she hardly knew?
A la Straight Up & Dirty… Women declare their love before knowing how he handles anger, stress, or her when she’s gone and chicked out in a fit of insecurity. She’s practicing her would-be new monogram before knowing how he handles alcohol, meddling family, or texts from his ex. It can’t be “OMG, he’s the one!” before she knows if he’s the one who’s up to his manscaping in debt and mommy issues. Quite simply, like so many of us, Ashley fell in love with an idea. A bad idea.
Insecure, I used to believe that the hotter the guy who liked me equated to the hotter I actually was. This hot hot guy wants me?! And that, right there, is why Ashley fell so fast. Because he seemed hard to get, and she got him. We ask for what we get.
As a viewer, it’s easy to know what Ashley doesn’t and to roll our eyes and judge, but in truth, we’ve all been her. Maybe we didn’t whine as much, but we’ve been the gas instead of the brakes. We’ve been the one to push, to allow, to convince ourselves of who he really is, what we really are as an “us” or could be. We haven’t done it on national TV, but we’ve been a broken record in the face of our closet friends. “I’m just so confused.” “Mixed messages.” “Ugh, I can’t take it! I need answers now!”
But we have our answers. And when we don’t, we make our own, even if they’re the wrong ones. When there are empty spaces, we can’t help but want to fill them. I used to live at this address. If he wasn’t exactly where I was at the exact same time, I’d cut him off. If he wasn’t pursuing me hard enough, I’d end hard, easy. Because it was far easier than waiting for him to decide how he felt about me.
The biggest problem, and truth, standing in my way was this: if a guy is into you, he’ll move heaven and earth to be with you. He’d “sleep out in the rain, if she said that’s the way it ought to be.” Anything short of that full court press made us a no-go.
But… if you’ve given the relationship time to develop, and he’s not stepping up his game in a really big way, if he’s not putting his foot on the gas and making YOU set the pace of the relationship by adding just enough brakes, then it’s time to find a new ride. Because you never want to be on the wrong bus when the right one shows up.