Bachelor Nation

"Tia Is Playing With Tia’s Emotions:" Sharleen Joynt on Bachelor in Paradise: Episode 2

Sharleen Joynt—FLARE columnist and former 'Bachelor' contestant—shares her insider POV on the second episode of 'Bachelor in Paradise'

I think I’ve got the following rules of Paradise down…

Rule #1: There is a hierarchy and it is alive and well

a) Strong couples rule Paradise. They are at the top of the food chain.
b) The original cast will always be the original cast. They will stand together and protect each other like the clique that they are and those who arrive later are outsiders. (There are exceptions; please refer to previous point.)

Rule #2: The popularity tides may turn

Case in point, former enemy-number-one Chris, laughingstock Jordan and guy-you-only-remember-for-having-worn-a-tracksuit-to-a-Rose-Ceremony Nick can and will band together and turn a former golden boy into the uncool kid. It’s a Bachelor Nation popularity bizarro world.

Rule #3: A man will be shamed for not reciprocating a woman’s affections…

…long before that woman gets the flak she deserves for blindly continuing to shower him with those affections.

Rule #4: No matter how badly everyone might want someone gone…

if production doesn’t want him gone (because, say, he provides automatic drama thanks to that aforementioned woman’s affections, plus they have the lead who broke his heart mere weeks ago waiting in a hotel room up the street), he’s not going anywhere.

Rule #5: There seems to be a Michelle Money—the producer’s pet, the good sport—every season.

Yay, Bibiana!

Even knowing these rules, I think I might’ve learned something new last night! Honesty on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette: GOOD. Remember how Jean Blanc was raked over the coals for claiming he was falling in love with Becca, what he thought she wanted to hear? Meanwhile, just as #wrongreasons don’t exist here, apparently honesty has no place on Bachelor in Paradise, either. It was in Colton’s obvious short-term best interest to tell Tia what she wanted to hear last night. Hell, she pretty much told him straight-up:

While it’s the unspoken name of the Paradise game to seem more interested than you are for a rose and to then entertain other options when the tables are turned, Colton threw a real curveball last night by NOT lying for the sake of safety. And in a confusing twist of events, he was hated for it.

Objectively, I understand why. It’s clear Colton complicates things socially and makes for an awkward environment because of Tia. If Tia weren’t there, I’m sure a lady or two would be eyeing him. If Colton weren’t there, Tia would surely have had a more open mind herself. Everyone there is tiptoeing around the dramz, and since tiptoeing is sooo not paradisal, they’re keen to boot Colton. This brings me back to Rule 1b. Had Colton arrived at the same time as Tia, would he have still been targeted as the one to boot? After all, in addition to having a rose, Tia has seniority not only in terms of turf, but more importantly, with her castmates. Until Week 2 (tonight, thank god) when those even lower on the totem pole arrive, Colton is a second-class citizen.

But, a less pleasant living situation or not, contrary to what the constantly up-in-arms Chris believes, I don’t think Colton is playing with Tia’s emotions; Tia is playing with Tia’s emotions.

While I appreciate the girl power message of Tia realizing she deserved more than a guy who was wishy-washy about her, the hour or so leading up to that epiphany was pretty brutal. It felt like a reality-TV edition of He’s Just Not That Into You. If you have a history with a guy and upon arriving in Paradise, he speaks with just about every other woman before speaking with you, he’s just not that into you. If a guy says he wants to “explore his options,” he’s just not that into you. If he’s using the fact that he told another girl he loved her weeks prior as an excuse for wanting to explore said options, he’s just not that into you. If you can see him flirting with another girl in plain sight the day following what you considered to be a magical date, he’s just not that into you. If every single one of your female friends is telling you he’s just not that into you, he’s just not that into you. If you have to say any of the following sentences…

• “If I gave Colton my rose tonight it would mean, ‘OK, here is your second chance, and then he will get his shit together and decide that he wants to be with me, and go from there.”
• “You feel like you have me in your back pocket.”
• “You’re waiting around for the next best thing instead of pursuing what’s in front of you?”
• “I want something to be provoked in you, and it hasn’t.”
• “If you’re not ready then what are you doing?”

… he’s just not that into you.

Look, I’ve rarely been critical of Tia ever (if at all?) while I’ve been openly skeptical of Colton time and time again. And I understand the general empathizing with Tia from a women-supporting-and-relating-to-women perspective…

But there is a huge difference between giving a guy too many chances and only hearing what you want to hear when he speaks to you. My biggest issue last night was with the sympathy vibes we were being fed for Tia. She’s proven a strong, opinionated, independent woman for as long as we’ve known her. She should be treated as such here, too. Just because her man radar is off in this instance doesn’t give her a free pass and make the man the automatic bad guy. Colton isn’t Dean 2.0. He’s been nothing but brutally honest. Hell, last night he even said, “Honestly, I’m trying to stay transparent with you so… what happened with Dean doesn’t happen with us.” A good rule of thumb with men (and women, for that matter) who aren’t “ready” and don’t know what they want: They don’t know what they want until they do know what they want. Until then, you’re not it.

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