“Contrary to what the Bachelor/Bachelorette television franchise and the entire spirit-decimating Hollywood Industrial Complex would have you believe, romantic love is not a competitive sport.”

-Cheryl Strayed

Alright guys, I have a confession that might make me wildly unpopular: I’m not a fan of the Bachelorette or the Bachelor. I have had several roommates through the years obsess over the show and in my current home it is a Monday night tradition that we all gather around to watch a roomful of men vie for the love of America’s next sweetheart.

I love traditions and bonding. I love feeling a part of something. Rituals are important to me and I love my roommates dearly. However, I tend to spend the time we watch the show on my laptop occasionally chiming in when some crazy-pants reality show nonsense occurs.

The show does not jive with me.  It does not jive with my values or how I feel that women and men should treat and respect one another when it comes to matters of the heart. If one of my best friends sat me down and told me, “Angela, I am going on live television to compete for weeks for the love of a man so that he will marry me. Then we will live happily ever after, have 3 kids and epitomize the American love fairytale dream” I would kindly bop my deluded friend on the head and reply “That sounds like the most emotionally unhealthy ordeal you could put yourself through. Don’t do it. Don’t do it for the sake of your heart and emotional well-being. Reality tv producers can make you look like a crazy-pants even though I know that you are in fact a very sane, bright, powerful, goddess of a woman who deserves pure love.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good reality television show as much as the next person, but do I think we should use them as a model by which to guide our lives? I do not. I am terrified that young women across the country idolize this show and the people in it. I fear that it may negatively impact the way they feel about love and their own romantic relationships.

I hope and believe that many of you enjoy the show as a guilty pleasure. That in reality you are emotionally healthy, mature women with loving relationships of your own. That you would not treat your heart like it was a prize to be won with a dashing smile and a rose ceremony.

But there’s a part of me that knows it’s more insidious than that. Hollywood has glamorized The Bachelor as a romantic ideal, with the roses, champagne and parade of beautiful people battling for the heart of their supposed “one true love.” I fear thousands of women dream of being a part of that show and meeting their future husband in that way would be perfectly okay with them.

To anyone who reads this and feels that way, I am gently bopping you on the head. If any piece of you believes that you want in your life the type of love portrayed on this show, sit down and take a cold hard look at what that would mean for you. Map out what romantic love means to you, who your romantic ideal is and what some of your love idols are like.

None of my love idols come from Hollywood. My love idols are my grandparents who have been together for 60  years, raised 7 beautiful children together and now have more grandchildren and great-grandchildren than they could have ever dreamed of. My love idols are my parents, who have gone through some of the hardest times I can imagine sharing with a partner and come out stronger on the other side. My love idol is my best friend from college who will be getting married  next June. The moment when she teared up in her newly selected wedding gown and said “I can’t wait to see the look on his face when he sees me in this.” My eyes are watering now just thinking about it. That is love.

The real true-blue love that is worth all the songs and movies and ballads and poems and novels. It’s not some man plucking a rose and sweeping you off your feet over the 20 or so other women he could have chosen. No. It’s the look on your lover’s face after you’ve gone through a real challenge together, come out on the other side as a stronger couple, and the way his lips curve into a perfect smile as he says that phrase “I love you.” Your heart wants to burst because you know how true those words are, and the only person you had to compete with for that perfectly uttered phrase was your own doubts and insecurities.

Share your thoughts with me below. I’d love to hear all about your love idols, and what love looks like for you.


PHOTO COURTESY: ABC/RICK ROWELL – Originally posted on the Portland Tribune

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