I have a shopping rule I swear by in my day-to-day life: Even if I love something and think I have to have it, if I’m feeling the slightest bit indecisive about it, I hold off. To me, that bit of hesitation is a sign I should listen to. (Nine times out of ten, when I ignore it, I end up with buyer’s remorse.) If I’m 100 percent confident in my pick, I won’t leave the store without it. Living another moment without this piece in my life is not even an option.
At one point in last night’s three-hour long Bachelor extravaganza (and we’re still only 60 percent of the way?!), Arie said, “I typically am a decisive person.” Despite many, many red flags, this innocuous little sentence stood out to me as arguably the biggest red flag of the entire pre-proposal process. If you are typically black and white in your decision-making processes, suddenly being otherwise is a sign that something is the matter. Perhaps it means he needed more time to do research and gather intel. Maybe the issue is the tyranny of choice, that if you had only one of your options to choose from, this conundrum wouldn’t exist (translation: you don’t love or need either option enough). Perhaps, despite your best, sincerest intentions, you just aren’t in the place in your life to make this sort of a choice. Regardless of what that niggle of doubt is signalling, all paths lead to the same conclusion. In terms of my shopping metaphor: Put the handbag down and slowly back away. For this Bachelor recap: Put the damn ring down and don’t propose.
This actually supports the fantasy Bachelor season I said I’d like to see while on Reality Steve’s podcast a few weeks ago. Steve asked me, 35 seasons in, where the show goes from here. I said that I for one would love to see a season I could relate to, one where there’s no acting, no going through the motions and only axing contestants periodically as per an 11-episode formula. Rather, a season where the lead openly knew his final six or so by episode 2 or 3 and sent home the rest, and where it was down to two for several episodes towards the end. It would be fascinating to watch the Bachelor spend something like a few days with each woman at a time. Would he miss the other woman? Would he run out of things to talk about with one and not the other? Would the chemistry and mystery of extravagant dates and limited time together fade from passionate love to companionate love, or would it just fade altogether? With so much time together, what extra tools would the lead have at his disposal to make a truly informed decision?
Having been #TeamArie for much of his season, instead of raking him over the coals as is popular (and tempting) in this moment, I will say this: I don’t believe Arie simply “doesn’t know” what he wants. I personally don’t think Arie could recognize and “know” his perfect woman if she stood right in front of him. This is because I strongly believe Arie struggles to differentiate chemistry from compatibility. I think Arie’s attraction to someone clouds his ability to see the conversation, and, yes, the “cerebral connection” for what they are. He is powerfully attracted to Lauren—I do buy and believe this—but seeing as how their connection has never been actually explained to us (in fact, it is repeatedly referred to as “unexplainable”), it’s hard to not chalk it up to chemistry. This is fine—he should have chemistry with his pick—but it alone can’t support a relationship. Again, I’m not saying he and Lauren don’t have anything to talk about—I’m merely basing this on evidence we’ve been shown. Neither of them ever seem capable of describing their connection, nor do they really attempt to. Arie even admitted to his family that he fears he’d spent too much time reassuring and validating her. His sister specifically asked if Arie was capable of having “real conversations” with Lauren, suggesting this has been something Arie has lacked with his past partners. Meanwhile, with Becca, the safe, solid relationship which he’s said fills him with “confidence,” and in which the conversation seems real and effortless—the very thing he lacked in the past—he has had a wandering eye (or in this case, a wandering mind), for Lauren—for that explosive chemistry. And by the same token, I believe that had he chosen Lauren, he would have still had lingering thoughts about Becca, for that solidity and effortless compatibility.
We knew Arie would be breaking someone’s heart last night. It’s par for the course in this franchise by now, and I actually think we as an audience are very forgiving about it—it’s understood as a “rite of passage” towards finding “love.” Jason Mesnick is a great example of that forgiveness of ours. Sure, he hurt Melissa at the time, but he’s still with Molly to this day and they’re a very happy family. A Bachelor can get confused but that, and the brutality of changing one’s mind and choice, can be worth it. I think that’s what the real issue is here, though: I sincerely question whether or not Arie would have that all powerful love with Lauren, if she takes him back. I don’t have confidence that they share what Jason and Molly share, or that his wandering eye (or mind) would come to rest. I could be (and truly hope) I’m wrong. At any rate, and maybe this is a very Canadian perspective, what I felt was lacking above all were profuse apologies in both of Arie’s breakups last night. If you are going to break things off in a relatively humiliating way, you’d sure as hell better sound AWFULLY sorry about it. Which he didn’t.
I cannot imagine having gone through what Becca was forced to endure, and be televised enduring. It was actually kind of sick, so much so that Andy and I started referring to her as a lab rat. After she first told Arie to leave and she went and quietly cried in a closet somewhere, it was as though she didn’t give them ENOUGH tears and heartbreak, so they sent Arie back in to lure her out of her hiding place. The whole thing felt like it should have been private, like it was not something we should be watching (that discomfort can sometimes be offset by entertainment value, but this didn’t even have that going for it). Becca herself handled everything like a CHAMP—she was strong yet not emotionless. So many people might default to becoming a self-sorry, self-doubting sad sack, while Becca showed she knew her own worth. On my blog a few weeks ago, I gave her mother props for seeming like a fantastic mother who raised a fantastic daughter, and as awful as last night was for Becca, I do think those both proved to be true.
Watch The Bachelor After the Finale Rose Friday at 8:00 p.m. EST on City (or tonight at 8:00 p.m. on ABC). Then, head on over to FLARE.com/themorningafter for Sharleen Joynt’s always on-point recap and more!