Five Dating Lessons from The Bachelorette
By Paige Parker
Most dating “reality” shows are a far cry from real-life singles’ experience. (Just imagine how differently your ho-hum coffee date with the guy you met on Match.com would have gone if it were, instead, a helicopter ride over the islands of Tahiti, captured by a camera crew.) However, there are valuable dating lessons you can learn by watching shows like The Bachelorette.
This season, perky blonde Ali Fedotowsky (allegedly) found love from a pool of 25 eligible bachelors with the sexy, salsa-dancing Roberto. Here are 5 lessons we can learn from her journey:
- First impressions count. Even if you don’t believe in love at first sight, there’s still something to be said for first impressions. The moment Ali saw Roberto step out of the limousine that first night, she felt an instant, undeniable connection. She gave him the “First Impression Rose,” and 10 weeks later, he was the last bachelor standing. Though a spark is not enough to build a relationship on, it’s definitely worth exploring to see where it leads.
- Adrenaline builds attraction. If only dating in real life could be as exciting as it is on The Bachelorette. A private concert, a walk-on role in a Broadway Musical, hiking a glacier in Iceland – each date is more thrilling than the last. The producers obviously know a secret: world travel and bungee jumping from bridges doesn’t just make good TV, it creates attraction.
The first phase of new love is infatuation, an activation of our stress response that increases our blood levels of adrenaline and cortisol. Physical thrills can trigger infatuation and bond you to the person with whom you’re experiencing this high.
So what can the average person, whose date night budget is more suited for dinner and a movie than traveling to Turkey, learn from this information? A little thrill-seeking, especially in the beginning, can solidify – and intensify – a connection. So if you’re into a guy and want to kick-start your relationship, skip the movie and hit the rollercoaster at the amusement park instead.
3. If something feels “off,” it probably is. For most of the season, Ali seemed smitten with the quirky, bespectacled Frank. However, as much as she enjoyed her dates with him, Ali claimed that Frank made her “nervous” and felt he was holding something back. Her instinct was correct; Frank revealed just days before the Final Rose ceremony that he still wasn’t over his ex-girlfriend. Trust your intuition: If you feel uneasy about a new relationship, there’s usually a good reason. Learn your guy’s true intentions before you become any more emotionally invested.
4. “Perfect on paper” doesn’t necessarily mean perfect for you. Handsome bachelor Chris L and Ali seemed to be the perfect match: both came from Massachusetts, shared similar life goals and valued the importance of family. So why did she send him packing instead of picking him? Something – a spark, maybe? – just wasn’t there.
It can be difficult enough to find a good guy, so when you do it’s only natural to want to make things work. But while you can’t sustain a relationship on chemistry alone, you shouldn’t ignore a lack of romantic feelings, either. If you can’t get past the “just friends” vibe – no matter how great he is on paper – it’s best to let him go rather than try to force a connection that just isn’t there.
5. Keep your options open before you commit. Ali “dated” 25 different men in her search for The One. While you probably aren’t juggling that many guys simultaneously (and if you are, then you don’t need MY advice!), you can still learn a lesson from The Bachelorette’s situation.
Until you are in a committed relationship with one man, it’s emotionally healthier to keep your options open. When you refuse to fixate on just one person, you eliminate clingy behavior and feelings of desperation. You’re also gaining experience in the dating world: learning more about who you are and what you want out of a relationship.
An added bonus: if a guy is really attracted to you, he may be inclined to try even harder to win your affection knowing that he’s got some competition. And if he doesn’t, well then, no time wasted – you still have plenty of other suitors waiting to hand you a rose.
Paige Parker is one of the leading dating coaches for women on the Web. Her weekly newsletters, eBook, and coaching programs help hundreds of thousands of woman around the world each day. As the creator of “Dating Without Drama,” she aims to help women understand men better and love themselves more so they can find – and keep – a healthy, loving relationship. Check out her site for the latest dating advice for women.