One of my guilty pleasures is watching ABC’s “The Bachelor” in all its various guises. A friend remarked to me this week that she believes watching this reality show, which ended its 19th season on March 9, is actually educational for society in that we collectively witness a person being forced to deal with the uncomfortable situations that are involved in dating.
We get to judge how people handle awkward situations, how well they do at communicating and also the merits of the choices they make in searching for a long-lasting relationship. You see, you don’t have to feel too guilty watching this reality TV show; just keep telling yourself that you are taking part in an essential examination of human relationships in order to move humanity as a whole into a more emotionally evolved place.
On that note, here are five life lessons I have garnered from watching this profound exploration of love.
1. Be Sensitive To Other People’s Feelings
The most recent bachelor, Chris Soules, was a sincere, respectful gentleman apart from his bad habit of kissing girls he was dating in front of other girls he was also dating. I know growing up on a farm you may miss out on a few social cues from time to time, but making out in the presence of ladies you have also been amorous with was a rather clueless and unfortunately oft-repeated blunder. We must all connect with our empathy on a regular basis. By placing ourselves in another person’s shoes, it encourages prosocial and helpful behaviors. The next time you are dating 20 or so people, just think about how you would feel if you had to watch someone you had feelings for making out with a rival in front of you.
Timing is everything. Will expressing yourself be hurtful to others? Wait until a more appropriate time to broach a sensitive subject. You could also get a room.
2. Be Honest and Open
Honesty in a relationship builds your own internal security and helps you feel good not only about your partner, but also about taking risks in life. The ability to be open and discuss subjects that are difficult allows you to grow as a person and as a couple. The trust you develop means you have someone in your corner who you can rely on when faced with the continual challenges that crop up from day to day.
The waitress Britt on the most-recent season of “The Bachelor” was not dishonest, but when subjects were brought up that she felt ambivalent about, she chose to tell Chris what he wanted to hear, rather than delve into the gray areas and be open about her mixed feelings on important relationship issues. For example, when the subject of raising a family was on the table in the company of the other women in the house, she expressed a sense of reservation in starting a family and her feeling was that she “enjoyed being single.” However, when Chris expressed his desire to have a large family, she enthused that she wanted “hundreds” of kids. This disjunction between her two statements spoke to an insecurity in dealing with difficult subjects openly. Chris began to realize that, on some level, he could not trust her to level with him about conflicting struggles, and thus it effected the depth of their relationship.
You don’t have to know exactly how you feel, but you do need to be able to express your doubts and fears even though you think your partner may disagree or be challenged by the way you honestly feel about a sensitive subject.
3. Don’t Project Your Insecurity in the Form of Jealousy
Jealousy is a form of insecurity. It is a way to project your fears onto another person and deny dealing with your own lack of self-confidence.
Carly exemplified this toxic mindset in her concentrated attacks on Britt’s authenticity. Yes, as discussed above, Britt was a person who could be a little wavering in her perspective, but she did have an instant, strong connection with Chris that clearly made Carly feel inadequate. Rather then deal with building her own relationship with Chris and nurturing the positive qualities their relationship had, Carly spent much more time and emotional energy on making it her business to judge the character of her peer.
If you are comfortable in yourself, you don’t need to resort to attacking someone else’s shortcomings. If you catch yourself being mean or disparaging, ask yourself some tough questions about where those negative, destructive statements are coming from. Jealousy is a great way of denying your own insecurities, but if you examine it and face your fears, it offers you the opportunity for real growth and fundamental character transformation.
4. Follow Your Heart
There is wisdom in this worn cliche. Following your heart, to me, means approaching a challenge in a holistic fashion. Many times we can be caught up in our heads juggling the rationale of certain decisions. Of course, our intellect is an important part of the decision-making process, but we must also involve our emotional intelligence.
Chris, somewhat worryingly, described his decision in choosing his bride as something akin to “throwing darts at a dartboard in the dark,” which is not a statement that inspires confidence for his suitors. However, he did trust in intuitive leanings and also in his gut in his blind dart-playing quest at marriage, which led him to making a proposal to a lady he loved and who loved him back.
I encourage you to trust your whole being in helping you in any tough decision, look what’s deeper then just what your mind is telling you and balance out the pros and cons of what your feelings are telling you, too.
5. Face Your Fear of Rejection
As one of my mentors Tony Robbins will tell you, “There are no real successes without rejection. The more rejection you get, the better you are, the more you’ve learned, and the closer you are to your outcome.”
The fear of rejection is crippling for our progress in both relationships and careers. The ability to be vulnerable and put yourself out there is essential to the process of reaching your goals. You have to try and try again, you have to take a step forward, and you have to let all those “Nos” roll off you like water off a duck’s back and keep searching, striving until you hear that magic word “Yes!” It may be intimidating but it will always be worth it.
Robin J. Hall is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.