I’m really embarrassed to admit I watch The Bachelor, though I have to blame my roommate (you know who you are) 10 years ago for getting me hooked. At the time we were both going through break-ups, listening to a ton of Kelly Clarkson, and had a weekly ritual of watching The Bachelor. I remember having to leave the room when the Bachelor broke up with someone as it was too heart-wrenching and too familiar a feeling to witness. Ten years later I still can't watch the heartbreaks, but do watch the show for psycho-analytic reasons and of course the hopeless romantic in me just loves the last episode when they get engaged.
This season was really interesting to me, Chris (aka Prince Farming) was goofy (his laugh sounds like a dolphin), kind, and from a small farm town in Iowa. While I really disliked the competitiveness among the women (and prefer this version instead) on the show, there were some shining moments this season. I loved when one of the women Carly had the courage to say she felt uncomfortable during one of the dates and at the Women Tell All episode I could really sense how much they really wanted to feel connected to each other and had some really beautiful intimate moments. Of course I felt most inspired by Whitney, the woman who ultimately won Chris’ heart.
Throughout the season she seemed the most grounded and genuine of all of the women. It was her heart that I admired most and definitely was the reason for her being chosen by Chris. I want my heart to be that confident in love--she was realistic and yet romantic at the same time. While yes at times her voice kind of annoyed me (I think I have seen In a World one too many times and been self conscious about my own voice), her heart was as wide open as it comes. Unfortunately, I felt more identified with Becca (and not just because of my name) than Whitney’s heart.
Becca was 26, a virgin, and claims to have never been in love. She was suspicious of saying she was ready for marriage and wasn't able to tell Chris she loved him. I have been Becca. I was a virgin until I was 24 and even when I have been madly in love wasn’t able to say it. Her hesitancy spoke volumes and I know if I had been in a similar position I don’t know that I would have been able to agree to move somewhere after only knowing someone a few months.
However, the greatest gift of this season was its reminder of the simplicity and naturalness of love. The chemistry between Becca and Chris was palpable, but the energy between Whitney and Chris was so loving and kind it was almost boring .
I have spent most of my life wanting to be with a soul mate, someone who can understand my deepest depths and has known me for lifetimes before. While I can see now that desire is a mixture of the societal media versions of love as projections of the divine (read more here) onto a human, it is still hard to let go of. I have mourned that the best partner for me is probably someone I least expect and not someone I fall in love with at first sight who also has a freckle in his eye on the same place (though that still would be pretty cool). And even if someone isn't a soul mate, to still allow them access to my soul.
And it was this season of a silly show called The Bachelor that helped me remember that true love is natural and earnest. I may not have butterflies or be overwhelmed by desire. Instead I hope it sneaks up on me in quiet moments of conversation or laughter with someone who feels familiar and interesting. I want a slow burn, something that takes a while to build and then rests in a sexy sweetness. I hope it is with someone who is able to see the fullness of my heart the way that Chris saw Whitney’s.
I know about the recent NYTimes article claiming you can fall in love with anyone, and The Bachelor obviously follows this formula. What The Bachelor did better this season and the article points to is just simple intimacy. The intimacy that happened before the "fantasy suite," and that gives rise to two people being fully themselves without fear of what the other person thinks. Whitney loved Chris knowing he could go away, knowing he was involved with other women. She was herself and loved fearlessly, an appreciation I will carry with me now that the season has ended.
My heart is discerning and I’ve come to love that about it. Not everyone gets access, but once they do it's an unending reservoir of love and a paradox of openness and simultaneous clarity of its desire. Marriage (and relationships) completely freaks me out, but I know with the right person I could be scared, open-hearted, and courageous all at the same time—something Whitney demonstrated clearly.
After 10 years, I learned what I needed to learn from this show and watched my own evolution as it relates to love. I analyzed for hours the various attachment styles so clearly displayed on the show (Becca possibly avoidant/anxious, Whitney secure, and Chris slight avoidant?) and felt the pains of heart break for the contestants. Ultimately, I saw myself in all of the women. The quirky ones, the wounded ones, the competitive ones, and all of them who believed in a happily ever after. Because for the first time in my life, I love myself enough to be capable of loving someone else. To accept that rose and with it the idea of a magical and mundane life together.