As you may well know, “The Bachelor” used to be one of my guilty pleasures. I’ve since given it up, but when I was watching it, a thought occurred to me again and again: the contestants were willing to put thier entire lives on hold just in case they met the man of their dreams.
Never mind that they only had a 1 in 25 chance.
These 25 women weren’t in dead end jobs, living a transient life, or otherwise prone to failure. These were very attractive, intelligent, accomplished, ambitious and successful women. They all had solid, fulfilling lives with wonderful family and friends, great careers and many pastimes.
They were all excellent wife material. So why on earth would they put themselves on national television with 24 other women to compete for the attention of one man? Why would they put these wonderful, enviable lives on hold for a slim chance of meeting someone?
Not only that, but the relationships that develop on the show are notoriously unsuccessful. Were they really giving up a great life for a chance at temporary love and fame? It didn’t make any sense to me.
One contestant in particular perfectly exemplifies this type of girl. She was beautiful, lived in a great city, loved her friends, had a wide social circle, and had an profitable career in IT. She quit her job, sold all her furniture, abandoned her family and friends, broke her lease, and showed up on “The Bachelor” with one suitcase of everything she owned. All for a possible shot at an unsuccessful relationship. Who does that?
To my observation, many women do. Not to the extent of abandoning a perfectly satisfying life, but certainly to some degree. When I was younger, I’d had friends that wouldn’t move out of their city to look for a new job or go to graduate school, but preferred go to bars and clubs instead. This was in case there was a chance of meeting someone nice. Never mind that they agreed meeting men in bars wasn’t the most ideal location.
I’ve often thought that really good relationships are with people who put some aspect of your life into motion; who propel you to new places and experiences. Otherwise the relationship is doomed to stagnation and boredom.
My beloved mentioned that it is good to have a partner that leads you to new places in your life. I respect his point and feel the same. Must be why we’re so good for each other!
In any case, neither one of us put our lives on hold until we met. We’d both carried on with our single lives: we spent time with friends, went out to interesting places, kept engaged in satisfying pastimes, and took an outlook that when the right one comes along, it will be the right time. Neither one of us would dream of putting anything on hold in the name of waiting for the right person. I don’t even know how I would do that.
He started an MFA program before he met me, after years of weighing the pros and cons of going. I kept active looking for work and finding as many part-time jobs as I could. We met in the midst of having many interests and passions, and both promised to maintain those outside interests, keep up with our friends and family relationships, and preserve the aspect of our single lives that kept us happy and satisfied. It was the best decision we could have made. Neither one of us feel that we have no life outside of each other.
And this last point is what these contestants lack, and what my younger friends don’t see. I wonder how devastating it is for them once they leave the show and go back to the lives they abandoned, or worse yet, the life they destroyed. What does that mean for them? And more importantly, where does that put them when they do meet someone later on? Will they also build their lives around their relationship, pushing everything to the side?
To me, the most dangerous thing a person can do is abandon the very things that made them who they are, just so they won’t stay at home on Saturday nights.
I encourage both men and women, to stay true to themselves, even in the search for true love, even in the midst of dating someone. Don’t give up who you are just because you think you found the one.