Blake is one of those alums who got the flattering runner-up edit on his Bachelorette season and would have been better served never reappearing on another show. The guy could have slept with as many Bachelor ladies as his little heart desired, without much in the way of consequences beyond a questionable reputation and maybe a few rumours on Reality Steve. But Paradise doesn’t let the player type off easy—remember Dean?—especially when that player is something of a buffoon, too wrapped up in his own image to keep his wits about him.
Before we get to him, I want to mention that I don’t think Caelynn is completely, 100 percent innocent in all this. I suspect she’s the type of personality who makes herself more upset about something the more she thinks about it (rather than nipping her distress in the bud by directly addressing it), a trait on which I have no doubt her producers have been capitalizing. Additionally, there are a few gaps in her story that give me pause: How exactly did Blake “silence” her? What was the precise context of him calling her “a mistake”? It sounds like he was suggesting courses of action and she was hesitantly agreeing, but if you don’t speak your mind, you can’t blame someone for not reading between the lines and taking your consent at face value. Men like Blake always opt for convenience, the path of least resistance; if she was outwardly agreeing to his terms but secretly hoping he’d question her unhappy silences, she was giving him way too much credit.
I have no issue with two consenting adults engaging in casual sex. Blake was not wrong when he defended himself to Kristina with the argument that he and Caelynn were “single adults.” I get that he meant to say that he and Kristina were not exclusive and he was within his right to date and sleep with others. But Blake needs a reality check on how to treat women and should be way more careful in speaking for them, especially those he’s slept with. With Kristina, he essentially spoke about Caelynn as though she had been A-OK with that godforsaken Stagecoach weekend, as though Kristina was the only one to feel disrespected…
First, this is in and of itself another layer of disrespect. By telling Kristina that he and Caelynn are completely on the same page and that Caelynn’s fine with everything, he’s suggesting Kristina is the delusional, difficult, hung-up one. He just couldn’t take responsibility for making someone—someone he purports to care about—feel like garbage. Second, this was after he spent the first two days essentially ignoring Caelynn, proven when he lied to her later that night, saying, “I haven’t had a chance to talk to you.” Ugh. This guy is not remotely as smooth as he thinks he is. (Remember, there are only 21 of them in the same resort and nothing to do except eat, drink, and sleep. From both social and physical perspectives, it’s almost impressive that he managed to avoid talking to her.) My point is, even if Caelynn had been on the same page in terms of casualness and had been all for being friends, is a short catch-up or check-in conversation not something one has with friends? As Kristina put it, no actual friends of hers would ever treat her like that. That’s what I find particularly disturbing—the disingenuity in Blake’s efforts to remain “friends” with these women when it appears his interest in their company and his respect for them as people doesn’t seem to extend beyond wanting to see them naked.
What is it these days with grown men who are incapable of taking responsibility for their actions? That was a theme in Hannah’s season so maybe I’m particularly attuned to it now. Blake’s ITMs featured plenty of tears, him hanging his head in his hands, him clutching at his chest, him taking deep, panicked breaths, him rolling his head back in anguish. If even a small part of me felt like he was truly upset and remorseful at how he made these women feel, that body language might have had me feeling sympathy for the guy. But when it’s to the soundtrack of…
“I look like the worst human in the world.”
“I just feel so lost right now.”
“It’s not just television, it’s my life.”
“I feel betrayed.”
“I look awful. I don’t know how I could possibly recover from this.”
…it’s hard to make a case that the guy, in his state of deep distress, had anyone in mind other than himself. Note how he’s become the victim, and how the emphasis is on how he looks versus how he feels. (There’s a huge difference between “I look like the worst human in the world” and “I feel like the worst human in the world.”) The issue is, as Kristina aptly put it: “If he were to do it again, he wouldn’t see it as a problem.” Blake doesn’t appear to feel remotely bad for making these ladies feel used and disposable; he feels bad for himself for being “ambushed” about it on television. He cares about it to the extent that it makes him look bad. Beyond coming off as entirely narcissistic and incapable of feeling bona fide concern or empathy for women he calls “friends,” I can’t help but feel like Blake is the practiced and calculated “Nice Guy.” He doesn’t realize that what women want is genuine courtesy (even if it’s not what they want to hear), not faux niceties. His inability to differentiate the two inherently shows a disconcerting lack of respect for women in general.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Blake is not used to being seen in an unflattering light and CANNOT. HANDLE. IT. Thus, it’s no surprise that he has since taken to Instagram to share his side of the story and publicly post past text exchanges between him and Caelynn. Look, I get where he’s coming from in the sense that he feels misunderstood. It’s hard not to want to defend yourself and set the record straight when you have so little control over what millions of people are seeing about you. However, his post proved how colossally he missed (and apparently continues to miss) the point. The semantics of their relationship and its agreed-upon degree of casualness are irrelevant. What matters is how you treat a fellow human being with whom you have built a relationship—yes, even a casual hook-up relationship. Blake reacted to Kristina with defensiveness, anger and retaliation. He responded to Caelynn with feigned horror of the hand-to-heart variety, the worst acting I’ve ever witnessed. Never once did he respond with a moment of reflection or genuine care for the feelings of his supposed “friends.”
Last night, Blake said, “I made my bed and I’m going to sleep in it.” This expression means taking responsibility for your actions and dealing with the consequences of those actions. So far, however, his behaviour—as well as his defensive social media posts—have done just the opposite.