Now that Emily has chosen Jef over Arie in the most recent Bachelorette, the question is whether their relationship will make it to the altar and beyond. After fifteen bachelors and eight bachelorettes, so far there has only been one successful marriage (Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter). Although three other couples, including Jef and Emily, are currently engaged, and one bachelor married the runner-up instead of the winner, most of the bachelors and bachelorettes actually found love elsewhere. Why might this series, which is supposed to help people find love, fail so miserably at producing long-term relationships?
These relationships may be failing because they were formed on the show. Every date that the bachelor(ette) goes on with a potential partner is often very romantic (e.g., sunset yacht rides, exotic vacations, candlelight dinners, etc.). Once the cameras stop rolling, these couples are unlikely to sustain this level of romance, which can lead to problems. Having a conversation about grocery shopping and laundry is not nearly as exciting as a picnic on the beach. Ted Huston and his colleagues have found that highly romantic courtships, like the ones on the The Bachelor(ette), result in newlyweds that are deeply in love and very affectionate; however, when spouses notice the declines in romance, they become disillusioned and start to see their partners as less caring and less responsive.1,2 These couples often attempt to recapture the initial excitement that drew them together, but if they fail, they may re-evaluate the relationship and focus even more on their partner’s flaws, which can spell the end of the relationship.
These highly romantic courtships are also often shorter,2 which is another key feature of The Bachelor(ette). That is, these couples get married soon after meeting because they experience strong feelings of love. Consequently, the partners may not have carefully evaluated whether the other is right for them, and this can lead to greater disillusionment in the future as well as divorce. Thus, the bachelor(ette) may not know everything he/she needs to know about their potential partner to determine if they are compatible before getting engaged.
So does this mean Jef and Emily will break up too? If past shows are any indication, they are doomed. But, on the bright side, most of their dates during the show were not super romantic (e.g., having tea, going to a pub, and buying marionettes) and they have also been secretive about their wedding plans. It is possible that they are continuing to get to know each other and evaluating whether they are compatible. If so, these are all positive signs that they may be one of the few good relationships formed on The Bachelor(ette).
Sabrina Thai – Graduate Student, Psychology, University of Toronto
Sabrina’s research focuses on relational social comparisons to better-off and worse-off others, including individuals’ responses to learning that partners have performed better or worst than them. Sabrina is also interested in how individuals respond to encounters with highly successful relationships.