Shocker, Bachelor in Paradise Taught Me a Lot about Love

Ya, I'm serious

(Photos: ABC; Illustration: Joel Louzado)

Well Bachelor Nation fans, Paradise is officially closed. The sixth season of Bachelor in Paradise came to an end on September 17, and, like the seasons before it, the latest quest for love gave us everything we never knew we needed. Feuds, steamy makeouts, John Paul Jones in a speedo and some actually useful tips on love.

Yes, in case you’re wondering, hell just froze over. For a show that’s meant to be about finding love, the Bachelor franchise often looks more like a handbook for how not to find love; but during the most recent finale, I kept finding myself nodding along to words of wisdom, empathizing with heartbreak and reflecting on some of my own relationships. It turns out you can actually learn a lot from a beach full of liquored-up strangers in love.

Here, everything I learned about love from Paradise. Most importantly: Don’t go to Stagecoach.

Don’t feel pressured into making a commitment

Who would have thought I would be out here defending Clay? Certainly not me, but, TBH, he has a point. In the final of Paradise, Clay revealed that he wasn’t ready to drop the “L-bomb” let alone get down on one knee and ask Nicole to be his wife. And while she wasn’t *thrilled* with his answer, I couldn’t help but agree with Clay. Did he handle his breakup with Nicole well? No. (Remember that comment about going to the local pub after?) But do I understand why he wouldn’t feel ready to say “I love you” after literally three weeks? Hell, yes! That’s ridiculous!

If it’s not right, it’s not right—and you shouldn’t say or do things you don’t mean just to make the other person happy. Because if you do, you’ll both end up broken-hearted in the end.

But also, don’t settle if you need more

On the flip side, while I don’t *entirely* understand Nicole’s ultimatum that she and Clay either declare their love or call it kaput forever (I mean, can’t you guys just date?), I do understand the idea behind “If you know, you know.” I too have been in a relationship where my partner told me they were just waiting for it to “click”—meaning that moment of clarity when they would know that they were ready to take the next step and get engaged. Turns out they weren’t waiting for the perfect time to click but, rather, for me to click as the right person for them. (Spoiler alert: It didn’t happen and it sucked.)

Could Clay have grown to fully love and commit to Nicole with time outside of Paradise? Maybe. Although his track record with ex Angela presents some serious red flags about his ability to commit. But Nicole was clear from the outset about what she wanted: someone who would love her unconditionally and madly. Or, as she said to Clay in their final conversation, “a love so deep the ocean will be jealous.”

And can we really fault her for that?

Your tank should be full!!

The most heartbreaking exchange of the night had to be Katie and Chris’s therapy session. Watching Katie cry while she talked about putting unreciprocated effort into their relationship was so difficult.

“I don’t know when I’m going to feel like my tank is filling up, because I’m empty for everyone else,” Katie said of feeling emotionally depleted. “It just doesn’t feel fair.”

While fans on Twitter were literally type-screaming for Katie to dump his ass and move on, it was hard not to relate to her reluctance to walk away. Who among us hasn’t had that one (or two, or three) relationship where you put everything into it, hoping it’ll work and ignoring all the signs that it won’t?

But the truth is, Katie, YOUR TANK SHOULD BE FULL! More importantly, your tank *deserves* to be full—of love, emotional stability, happiness and trust. A relationship where you feel constantly depleted, unstable and insecure in yourself is a relationship you (and all of us) should not be in.

A real partner will make you feel completely like yourself

With that in mind, take a cue from Demi and Kristian on what a healthy relationship *can* look like. While Demi initially struggled with her identity and internalized homophobia, her proposal to Kristian was the sweetest of the season—if not in the franchise’s history—as she emphasized the fact that their relationship helped her find herself.

“I came here to find myself, but I found myself in you,” Demi told her GF just before proposing. Earlier in the episode, while sharing an intimate conversation during their fantasy suite date, Demi elaborated on the impact their relationship had on her, telling Kristian that she felt entirely like herself now.

And that’s the way it should be. A partner shouldn’t change who you are or make you feel depleted; they should make you feel entirely like—and comfortable with—yourself.

You can find love in the strangest places

Two people finding love among a group of randos on the Bachelor or Bachelorette is crazy; two people finding love on a crab-infested beach in Mexico is a downright miracle. But sometimes it happens. Year after year, The Bachelor and, even more so, Bachelor in Paradise prove that you really can find love in the strangest of circumstances. Just look at the mom and dad of Paradise Season 6, Hannah and Dylan.

Those two are smitten kittens for each other—it’d be sickening if it weren’t so freakin’ sweet. DANNAH 4EVER!

Another lesson from Paradise? Sometimes you fall for the person you least expect to. While the powers that be (i.e., Reality Steve) are reporting that Tayshia and John Paul Jones have called it quits since the finale was filmed, did we ever think those two would get together, let alone fall in to some serious like? Umm ya no.

But that’s the magic of Paradise! It may be the only place in the world where a Shakespeare-reciting surfer from Maryland can fall in love with the hottest phlebotomist alive.

So open your heart (and your veins). You never know where love will find you. But, FYI, it definitely will not be at Stagecoach.

Often, Mom knows best

While we might not always think Mama knows best, when it comes to matters of the heart, more often than not she does. This woman raised you, for crying out loud. She can see right through all the tomfoolery and fuckboys, and she’d probably pick out a way better partner for you than Chris Harrison and the sketchy Bachelor vetting process could. And nothing illustrated that point more than Tayshia’s time in the hot seat. After dumping verified man-child John Paul Jones, Tayshia ended up leaving Paradise only to go home and regret her decision. And how did she realize her mistake? A good ole heart-to-heart with her mom.

So, ladies and gents, listen to your mom. You may just find the love of your life.

Never marry someone who will air on national TV a video of you moments after giving birth

Yes, this is targeted. Because, Tanner…WTF is wrong with you?! In a segment no one asked for, Chris Harrison brought Paradise alums Tanner and Jade, Carly and Evan and Krystal and Chris onstage for an update on their lives. It was cute…ish.

What wasn’t cute? The video Tanner shared of Jade, just moments after she gave birth—unplanned and, I assume, without an epidural—in their closet. Listen, women’s bodies are amazing and badass, and birth is a miracle. But if my partner *ever* filmed and then shared a video of me looking like I’m dying, gasping for air and frantic over the safety of my child mere seconds after giving birth…TBQH I might kill them.

Or at least divorce them.

This is a life lesson, ladies. Put it in your Hinge profiles.

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