Sharleen Joynt on The Bachelor Hometowns + New Video!

Sharleen Joynt—FLARE columnist and former Bachelor contestant—shares her insider’s POV on last night’s episode

I’ve always had an issue with this show’s ridiculously structured concept of “falling” in love. I love my husband, and obviously there must’ve been a point where I realized I loved him (and I’m not so unsentimental that I don’t distinctly remember the first time I told him I loved him). But, as one of the halves of a real-life love story, I can assure you there was none of this drawn-out, “falling” in love nonsense. We met, we liked each other immediately, a LOT, we spent a ton of time together and were pretty much obsessed with each other, and when it felt natural and right, we told each other we loved each other. I wouldn’t say there was this chronological timeline of:

1) Seeing myself falling in love with him
2) Being in a state of falling for him
3) Falling for him while in the process of falling in love with him (because there’s a difference…?)
4) Lots and lots of falling, more falling, until quite decidedly having finally fallen in love
5) Confessing to officially having fallen in love with him

The way The Bachelor discusses the steps towards love, you’d think there were some actual legend by which you could gauge your degree of love-falling. As in, “I am attracted to this person” + “I like the (few) things I know about him” – “I’ve only spent about 30 minutes in total with him” = Level 1: I can see myself falling in love with him. Or, “I find myself daydreaming about this person” + “I miss him when I’m not with him” + “I can picture our lives together” = Level 3: I must be falling for him. I get the need to have markers along the Bachelor journey so that there are milestones constantly being achieved in each relationship, but God forbid any young person might watch and think this is normal.

Furthermore, what does it mean, exactly, to “fall” for someone? Semantics wise, it seems a far cry from falling in love with someone, but as an expression, I’m not sure I see the distinction. Like, when you tell the family of the woman you’re seeing that you’re “falling” for her, you’re essentially telling them that you want to be with her, aren’t you? So, when you tell the four families of your four girlfriends that you’re “falling” for them, does that sentiment not lose its meaning and impact? I can imagine how terrifying it’d be to meet so many families and can understand the desire to stress how special each of their daughters/sisters/nieces are without disparaging the others, so I’m sure it’s a fine line to tread. However, while I’ve disagreed with very few of Arie’s decisions thus far—you know by now that my recaps have been a full-blown Arie lovefest—I do take issue with the too-generous “I’m falling for your daughter/sister/niece” handouts. Over a decade’s worth of watching this show has gotten me to the point where I can just about buy that the lead might (might!) struggle with choosing between his final two. (Ben Higgins is the poster child of claiming to “love” two women, while Jason Mesnick is the ultimate cautionary tale of a lead’s loss of clarity.) It’s taken me awhile to get there, but I can now buy it with the Final 2. But come on… the Final 4? Can one really “fall” for four people at the same time? Is being in a state of “falling” for every one of them the new Final 4 baseline? No. He likes those four women a lot. Period.

Down to three already?! My predictions for Fantasy Suite week are as follows…

1. Lauren, 25: A few notables are keeping Lauren in this week’s top spot. First, she remains the only woman with whom Arie has confessed to falling IN LOVE (not just “falling”—ugh, I never want to see that word again!), and TO HER FACE (which is huge). Out of all the families, he seemed easily the most nervous about meeting and impressing hers, which you have to assume comes from caring a lot, possibly the most. Above all, each Arie and Lauren (separately!) explained that what draws them to each other is how similar they are. I put a lot of stock in a claim like this because, based on my own relationship, I believe in this. (I can’t help but base my beliefs on my own relationship, after all.) Sure, I know that opposites attracting is a thing, but in my own experience, my healthiest, most harmonious relationships have always been when I was with someone who thought like me, who generally saw eye to eye with me, who was annoyed by and found joy in the same things as me. It just means you’re less likely to have any strife over the stupid, little things. I loved when Lauren said, “I feel like he can be in a room with 15 girls and I know exactly what he’s thinking.” That stood out to me as Andy and I have felt for years that we can glance at each other across a crowded room and know exactly what the other is thinking. Sure, Lauren’s relationship with Arie isn’t the flashiest; theirs has been harder to read than most. But I maintain that there’s a lot to Lauren that we don’t see because she doesn’t let it all out in front of the cameras (I see in her what I felt in myself on this show), and as such, I think there’s a lot to this relationship that can’t be captured with cameras. For now, I fully buy this bond.

2. Becca, 26: You know what I like about Becca and Arie? So much of their relationship feels like a given. Like, it felt like a given that they’d have a swimmingly good time at an apple orchard (those caramel apples…. oh my). It felt like a given that, despite her family’s skepticism before meeting Arie, they’d come around upon meeting him and hearing how happy Becca was. It felt like a given that last week, on their second 1-on-1, they’d leap forward once again as arguably the most rock-solid relationship there. It even felt like a given that Arie would give Becca a rose this week, and first, no less. (As with last week!) This relationship feels like the most natural out of the remaining ones, in terms of us watching them be comfortable and normal and convincing as a potential husband and wife together. (Obviously this is easier to watch and pick up on than them being similar human beings who can read each other’s minds, à la Lauren.) I do like this relationship, but I’m still getting more zest from Arie regarding Lauren, and that’s what has me keeping this order this week.

Going home next week…

3. Kendall, 26: I can admit it: I was SHOCKED Arie sent Tia home over Kendall (although when he pulled Kendall aside at the Rose Ceremony I (rightfully) began doubting my predictions in a serious way). I confess I’m thrown off here because Andy, who openly relates to Arie and deems him the most similar to him out of all Bachelors (out of the ones that he’s seen, anyway, which is like four), sees Arie choosing Kendall. And I can’t emphasize enough that I, too, adore Kendall. I would love to have a coffee with her (and her sister, too, while we’re at it) and just talk about all our feelings. Beyond being delightfully quirky and relatably different, I feel like Kendall is a phenomenal listener and thinker. However, I just can’t get past the math: Lauren, two 1-on-1 dates, Paris and Tuscany. Becca, two 1-on-1 dates, L.A. and Tuscany. Not only does Arie simply know them each WAY better than Kendall based on all that 1-on-1 date QT, but he must’ve been more intrigued by and invested in them to have bestowed them with those dates in the first place. Meanwhile, poor Kendall has only gotten ONE date, which doesn’t even count as a date because she was pitted against Krystal on a 2-on-1. I know that Arie kept Kendall over Tia, the recipient of one 1-on-1 date, and recognize that that defies my way-too-serious logic about this show. But for her to bypass either Lauren or Becca is some next-level shit, the kind of dark horse-ry that occurs only on the most revelationary of Fantasy Suite dates. I’m not saying it’s impossible. But it’s unlikely. I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

Watch The Bachelor Mondays at 7:00 p.m. EST on City. Then, head on over to FLARE.com/themorningafter for Sharleen Joynt’s always on-point recaps and more!

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