On episode two of the third season of Channel Ten’s hit dating show The Bachelor, contestant Heather said something that no doubt resonated with anyone who has ever dipped their foot in the shark-infested dating pool.
Upon seeing the object of her affections – personal trainer Sam Wood – getting cosy with another contestant, the aspiring film-maker declared: “Seeing them together just kind of got me right in the throw-up button.”
Heather’s reaction encapsulated the unspoken issue with The Bachelor – it’s a completely unnatural approach to dating.
While the show may be the perfect platform for a modeling career or a massive social media following (season one winner, lawyer Anna Heinrich, now spends most of her time holidaying in a bikini rather than in the courtroom), it’s also a concept that goes completely against inherent human instinct.
Think about it – you start seeing a new guy or gal, you form “a connection”, you go on a couple of romantic dates and then you spot them with their tongue down someone else’s throat. Do you take them back as if nothing ever happened? Do you take them back after it happens 10 times over?
Herein lies the dilemma facing the contestants on The Bachelor. They must throw their preconceived notions of dating to the wind as they watch their potential boyfriend canoodling with several other women.
Even the most ardent opponents of monogamy would agree the visceral reaction to seeing the one you care about giving their, ahem, attention to another is not exactly pleasant.
“There’s a huge part of me that’s terrified he’s going to create amazing connections with girls every time he takes one aside,” Heather confessed after hearing of a particularly steamy encounter between Sam and fellow contestant Emily.
“At the end of the day this is a scenario that’s not like any other, he has to get to know the girls. I didn’t realise how hard it would be. I thought that I would be able to deal with that a lot better.”
Another young woman who felt the pressure was contestant Jacinda, who broke down in tears from the pressure of competing with 18 other beautiful women for one man’s attention.
This isn’t a guilty pleasure anymore … you’re just left feeling guilty.
And what about the lucky lady who manages to bag “the bach” after several weeks of torment?
Well, she may or may not be plagued with flashbacks of her significant other “getting to know” other women while simultaneously wooing her.
I wonder how often Louise Pillidge, the eventual winner of the show’s second season, recalls now-boyfriend Blake Garvey proposing to another woman (initial winner Sam Frost) on national television?
Or does Anna Heinrich ever flash back to boyfriend Tim Robards meeting the families of two other ladies straight after meeting her own parents?
And they’re the winners. Their victory is having the start of their relationship play out amongst several others.
“When did Mummy and Daddy meet, you ask? Well kids, your mother and I shared our first date with 18 other women.”
Just as most people don’t exactly love seeing holiday snaps of their ex with someone else, or hearing about their partner’s previous relationships in great detail, it’s fair to assume the people on these shows aren’t immune to emotions like jealousy or insecurity.
The formula of The Bachelor and its many “group dates” is cruel and unusual punishment for people who have, at the end of the day, put their hearts on the line. It’s a bizarre, polygamous interpretation of modern dating – as if modern dating weren’t already hard enough.
Worse? We’ll soon be subjecting the male population to the same thing with the upcoming Bachelorette series, starring woman scorned Sam Frost.
A win for gender equality, perhaps, but a lose-lose for love as we know it.