Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What Reality TV Can Teach Us About Dating: The Bachelor

A few nights ago, our roommate forced us to watch an episode of The Bachelor.

We haven’t watched the show since 2002 (and we stopped watching reality matchmaking television forever when it got rid of its most, um, innovative program, For Love or Money, which is like the bachelor, except at the end, the woman gets to choose between staying with the guy or dumping him for $1,000,000, and if that doesn’t sound like amazing television, we don’t know what does), but we were surprised to see that, in eight years, nothing has changed.

You’d think that the current season’s contestants would have watched the other seasons before going on the show, like a football team gearing up for the big game. They have EIGHT seasons of tape to learn from, but they’re all making the same mistakes the original cast was back in the aughts.

So we’ve put together a guide for future bachelor contestants (whom we so desperately want to call “bachelorettes”). Even if you’re not planning on auditioning for The Bachelor, you still might be able to learn a thing or two about how to attract a guy when you’re surrounded by 20 other beautiful (albeit clinically insane) women.

1. STUDY THE SET-UP. Here’s the way The Bachelor works: For most of the show, the Bachelor is surrounded by a group of women who are aware of the fact that he’s simultaneously dating all of them. This means that a lot of women’s interactions with the Bachelor have to be strictly platonic—after all, if one girl grabs him and starts making out, the others would attack like a pack of starving lions on a lone overweight zebra.

This divides the game into two fields: public space and private space. Your strategy is going to depend on the field you inhabit, because the dynamic is different in each space.

But the winning strategies for public and private space are actually the opposite of what most girls think they are. When you’re in public, you want to distinguish yourself from the other girls—which means not throwing yourself at him and/or acting like a dumb bimbo. When you’re in private, you want to keep things on the platonic side. Why? Read on.

2. KNOW YOUR OPPONENTS. Ninety percent of the girls on this show are literally bat-shit insane. And ninety-nine percent are beautiful. They all employ the same strategy: whenever the Bachelor’s in the room, they do everything short of peeing on him to mark their territory.

If a guy has 20 beautiful women throwing themselves at him, he’s going to notice the one that doesn’t. He’s going to think, “These are the most beautiful women I’ve ever met in my entire life, and they all told me I was their soul mate within five minutes of meeting me. Why isn’t that one girl doing that?” When a group of women are throwing themselves at a guy and one isn’t, the guy’s going to think the one is better/more desirable than the other women, because she seems like she might be too good for him. He’s going to be more interested in pursuing her because 1) she seems like the most eligible contestant and 2) we all want what we can’t have.

And while rapid-fire flirtation is flattering, it’s not that entertaining. So you can further distinguish yourself by engaging him platonically. Make jokes. Ask him questions that have nothing to do with relationships. Most girls are asking him things like, “What do you look for in a future wife?” Be the one who asks him, “So how, exactly, do you learn how to fly a plane?”

4. EXPLOIT YOUR ADVANTAGES. When the Bachelor takes contestants into “private” rooms, most try to engage him physically. They sit on his lap, rub his thigh, and make themselves seem incredibly sexually available in general.

This is a huge turnoff. When you’re on The Bachelor, your ONE advantage is sexual tension. The Bachelor and the contestants spend a lot of time flirting, but they get to spend much time touching. This creates a lot of anticipation and sexual buildup, which can be a huge advantage.

When a guy’s free to imagine sex with you, his fantasy’s going to be 100 times sexier than the reality. His fantasy won’t have weird noises, awkward slip-outs, weird smells coming from the restaurant downstairs, etc.

When you start touching him, those fantasies turn into a much-less-sexy reality. And when he realizes he can have you just as easily as he can have most of the other contestants, he’s going to seek out the challenge girls.

Case in point: In this week’s episode, the Bachelor invited one girl to “chat” in a hotel suite. She jumped on his lap in a dress that barely covered her vagina. She immediately started rubbing his inner thigh. Later, in the confessional, the Bachelor said he felt like there wasn’t much chemistry, and he kicked her out at the next Rose ceremony (what is this—a sorority?).

The chemistry came from imagining what the tips of her fingers would feel like on his inner thigh, and from wondering whether or not he’d ever get to that point. As soon as he got it, he was disappointed, and her availability made her less interesting.

5. DON’T TALK ABOUT IT, DO IT. Bachelor contestants love talking about the (perceived) state of the relationship. Why waste time getting to know the Bachelor when you could constantly badger him about how he feels about him, only to interrupt him and explain how you’re feeling?

Does that sound like a fun conversation? Guys find it even more boring.

There’s nothing worse than overanalyzing a relationship with the person you’re trying to have one with. It makes you look boring, insecure, and immature. The Bachelor (and guys in general) is going to look for the girl who can hold an interesting conversation, and one who keeps him guessing about her true feelings.

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