September 20, 2022 – As millions of viewers Monday night marvel at the whirlwind romance of “bachelor” couples and their extravagant dates, glamorous dresses and tailored suits, a mental health expert will take notes on the contestants’ relationship behaviors.
Diane Strachowski, EdD, a licensed cognitive-behavioral psychologist and couples therapist, uses media psychology to share dating and relationship takeaways from “Bachelor” episodes via her Instagram platform.
Fans of the franchise — also known as “Bachelor Nation” — are investing in the relationship journeys of “Bachelor” couples, which Strachowski says can provide valuable opportunities for self-reflection.
“I use the show as a catalyst to start conversations about ‘What is good coupling? what is a good relationship What are good observations about what constitutes a viable relationship?’” says Strachowski, who calls herself a “bachelor’s psychologist”.
Even after two decades, the “Bachelor” Franchise reaches at least 3 million viewers per episode. This summer, for the first time ever, fans are reacting to two bachelorette girls — Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia — in one season.
The success rate of the franchise couples is around 30% – of the 75 “Bachelor” couples, 24 are still together. The emotional and physiological implications of the show’s competitive component can play an important role in successful and unsuccessful matchmaking.
“It’s cortisol and endorphins and dopamine and serotonin. It’s all of these neurotransmitters, chemicals that we see in all relationships when we fall in love,” says Strachowski, who lives in Menlo Park, California in the Bay Area. However, the show amplifies these effects compared to “real life,” where couples often move more slowly.
“The dates themselves are full of adrenaline: bungee jumping, helicopter flights. All of these experiences bond couples because their hearts are racing and because it feels like excitement and love.”
“Bachelor” stars often vow to “follow their hearts” in their decisions. But it’s a lot more complex than that, Strachowski says.
“‘It has to be a head, heart and gut decision, not just who you’re attracted to,'” says Strachowski. “That’s why we’re seeing some of these couples breaking up. They didn’t have enough time to really go through an in-depth decision-making process.”
Increasing the success rate of “Bachelor” couples
It’s critical that “undergraduate” leads and candidates understand the difference between chemistry and compatibility, says Kelle Carver, marriage and family therapist and owner of The Honored Place Therapy in Kansas.
“They feel similar in the early stages. Chemistry feels that this person meets all my needs and is perfect for me. Chemistry can be a mystery even after you come out of the honeymoon phase, right? The dynamic you came from and your family system or from past generations,” says Carver.
Reconciliation is something much deeper, says Noreen Dupriest, owner of Simply Be Marriage and Family Psychotherapy, also in Kansas. True compatibility allows each partner to be sure of who they are, so fixation on similarities can also be a dating trap.
Sometimes differences can actually work in a couple’s favor. Therapists provide examples of attachment styles, or how one forms emotional bonds with others. While there are four styles, they emphasize fearful vs. avoidant attachment.
Avoidant attachment: The person appears confident, but has trouble showing or accepting emotions
Anxious Attachment: The person is more emotionally needy, afraid that others will not want to be with them.
“Anxious attachment is, ‘I’m not enough or will they see me?’ They usually seek out and are very compatible with an avoidant attachment person. This avoidant attachment fears abandonment so much that it can rescue this fearful attachment,” says Dupriest.
Bachelor Stars reflect true love after the show
“Bachelor” franchise stars also shared their experiences in exclusive interviews with WebMD. Season 20 bachelor Ben Higgins says compatibility issues came to a head after the show, and he soon realized what he really needed in a partner.
“It changed for me where I wanted someone who has a heart for people, is genuine and cares about them. Someone who would stand by the people who feel like the least of them no matter what. I knew if they felt that way about other people, they would feel the same way about me,” he says.
Ashley Iaconetti-Haibon, who hosts the Almost Famous Podcast alongside Higgins, says romantic sparks in her relationship with Jared Haibon, a ‘Bachelor in Paradise’ cast member turned husband, came to a head after the two met had a bit better.
“I think a lot of people think chemistry is something you can feel right away. In my relationship with my husband on Bachelor in Paradise, it was interesting because I knew there was compatibility. But my nerves got in the way of the chemistry,” says Iaconetti-Haibon, who also owns Audrey’s Coffee House and Lounge in Rhode Island.
Life after the show can get challenging, and couples often need more time before saying “Yes, I do,” says Higgins.
“I think it is [the show] a great way to meet someone who can potentially become your lifelong partner. I don’t know anyone who has walked right out of the show — even if they’re confident enough in that moment that this is the right person for them — and said, “Hey, let’s get married next week,” says Higgins, author of Alone in sight: In search of connection If you are seen but not known.
Things have changed a lot since the franchise began, and “Bachelor” stars often gain a social media following through the show. While this may raise eyebrows about a person’s motives for applying, season six bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky-Manno says the answer isn’t black and white — nor does it have to be.
“At the end of the day, if someone’s on the show and they’re not really into you, you’ll be able to figure that out. If someone’s on the show for fame and they actually fall in love with you, you’ll feel that too,” she says.
That there have been a number of successful “bachelor” franchise couples is noteworthy in itself, according to Fedotowsky-Manno, who also co-owns 1to3 Life Hydration Accelerator, a low-calorie electrolyte drink mix.
“If you look at the stats a little differently and think about it, out of all the men you’ve met in your life, who you’ve met by chance in a bar, how many did you end up going out with and how many did you end up with engaged to?” she says.
Higgins says that although his “Bachelor” journey didn’t end in true love, his experience ultimately led him to his wife Jessica.
“I found my wife after the show watching, OK, that’s what I thought during the show when I had to meet 30 people and work with them to see if we could work. That’s what I was looking for back then. That didn’t work for me. what can i search now And I found it.”
Be uncompromisingly yourself
Being authentic and presenting the truest version of yourself can save “bachelor” relationships and “real-life” couples from turmoil down the line, Strachowski says.
“If I pretend to be the cool chick who doesn’t need anything, I’ll eventually catch my partner off guard. I can only keep up this “pretend” for so long. Ask for what you want and need. No excuses.”