A regular commenter over on my blog pointed out that most international versions of this show don’t end in an engagement (I can’t say all versions since we know Bachelor/ette Canada does). Apparently, after the contestants are whittled down, the final couple agrees to become boyfriend and girlfriend and, well, date. He also mentioned that everyone seems more relaxed throughout it all—perhaps our first clue as to why the American version wouldn’t want to go that route.
Practically speaking, I can see Peter’s argument about not wanting to propose to Rachel if he’s not 100% certain he’ll be marrying her. His reasoning is both realistic and earnest, and I think many of us pragmatists can appreciate that. However, I can understand Rachel’s point. An engagement here doesn’t have to mean getting married right away or even anytime soon, but serves as something as a promise. I’ve known many real-life couples who have intentionally gotten engaged or even married just before heading into a difficult stretch of being apart (not unlike the many weeks post-filming which are famously brutal on the final couple); that level of commitment and promise to one another helped keep them strong and united through tougher times. And while I understand Peter’s belief about an engagement equaling marriage, plenty of folks in the real world do get engaged and break it off; it’s not just a Bachelor world thing. Many of you know by now Andy was engaged to a woman about a decade before meeting me, and I assure you it has no bearing on our relationship. I don’t lose sleep over the fact that I’m not the only woman Andy’s ever proposed to. And as wonderful as it sounds to only be engaged once in this life, it simply isn’t the commitment that being married is—both legally and emotionally. Just ask the guy who tried to pick me up on the street the other day; no joke, when I told him I was engaged, he said, “So I still have time.”
My point is, I don’t think Rachel’s desire for a proposal at the end of all this is unreasonable. Sure, you can say it’s rushed (because it is), but it’s a longtime premise (and promise) of this franchise. In other words, hate the game, not the players. Rachel went into all this both skeptical about the process and timeline, yet truly ready for marriage and a family. That’s an ideal combination, and I’d argue it’s the best recipe you can get in a lead in terms of potential success. So for Rachel to be expected to forgo her desire and expectation of an engagement is a very big ask. Especially if you look at The Bachelor Wiki (yes, I looked this up; don’t judge me) and notice that not once did a non-engagement end in marriage. There are no examples of a non-engagement on The Bachelorette.
We can all see both sides, but to me it all boils down to how Peter has come across for many weeks now. As much as I appreciate his pragmatism, he is, in my opinion, simply not as into Rachel as he needs to be. Let’s be honest, if Peter deeply loved Rachel and truly couldn’t live without her, he wouldn’t have these qualms, at least not to the same degree. The decision would be easier, if not easy. And even if he still felt apprehensive about proposing, if he were confident enough in the relationship and in her, he would.
Without further adieu, my picks.
1. Bryan, 37: It was easy to see where Rachel inherited her sensitive BS-meter. Her family certainly challenged Bryan but he handled himself like a champ. The most noteworthy thing was watching Rachel finally lose her cool and become distinctly defensive and protective of Bryan. It was reminiscent of JoJo defending Jordan—her final pick—towards her family. This was yet another piece of evidence assuring me that Rachel does, in fact, choose Bryan.
2. Peter, 31: Despite the cliffhanger I still don’t think Peter’s getting axed. This week, Rachel said a pretty serious thing about Peter: “He can read me and understand me more than anyone else on this journey.” If the decision is Rachel’s, I just can’t imagine him not being in the final two with Bryan. The only way I see him going before then is if he pulls a Brooks and leaves on his own, leaving Eric in the final two by default. I STILL, however, think it’s all moot since I can’t see Rachel choosing anyone but Bryan.
3. Eric, 29: As much as Rachel emphasized how far she and Eric come each time they spend time together, this was the first week where I really saw cracks. I’ve enjoyed watching Eric’s arc from the goofier, class clown-like guy we first met to the calmer, confident man we see now. (I wrote in my notes that he almost seems to smile differently now.) However, I still think Eric has room (and time) to grow in the relationship department. Every time Rachel asked him specific emotional questions (for example, what meeting each other’s families revealed about her) he stumbled. His answers felt like stock responses, not like he wasn’t sincere, but like he needed more experience to be able to articulate specifics. I’ve loved watching and getting to know Eric, but don’t see him ready for marriage and babies.