I watched my first episode of The Bachelor sometime after I discovered Lifetime's scripted show UnREAL in a New Yorker article. In case my pretentious disclaimer hasn't made it clear, I'm ashamed of the fact that I watch The Bachelor. Last night, at 7:45 p.m., I texted my dad for his cable log-in so I could watch what Chris Harrison called a "phenomenal" finale. I'm embarrassed that I became one of the millions of Americans who watched Becca and Arie break up during a heartbreaking ambush.
I knew what was going to happen this year on The Bachelor finale, which makes the fact that I spent THREE HOURS tuned in to it even grosser. As one who "doesn't really care" about the show, I'm still spoiler-happy. During the "Women Tell All" when Caroline (a contestant who went to my high school, LOL) warned Arie that she "knows what he did" I knew exactly what she was talking about. He gets engaged to Becca in Peru, then changes his mind, and dumps her for Lauren. It's reality television, whatever.
I took to Twitter to gauge fan reactions — was I the only person feeling icky about this (even though I couldn't turn off the TV)? I was immediately surprised at how many Tweets complimented both Lauren and Becca on their poised, reserved, and "classy" reactions to Arie's robotic and glib breakups. (Yes, plural, because he dumped TWO women in ONE episode.)
Case in point: when Arie dumped Lauren in Peru, he told her "I love you," gave her a hug, and then swiftly nudged her into a car. There are a lot of appropriate things to do after you break up with someone suddenly, but saying "I love you" isn't one of them. Still, Lauren hugged Arie back, and got in the car while holding tears back. I personally could not have gotten in that car without sharing some choice words with Arie, but I am not a quiet person like Lauren.
Then, as though he didn't like the grilled cheese he ordered and wanted the turkey sandwich instead, Arie ends up deciding to dump Becca for Lauren. He met his fiancée for a "Happy Couple weekend" in L.A. and calmly let her know he was done in front of a camera crew. (Super classy!) Becca was clearly shocked and angry, but she didn't exactly call his terrible behavior out. She was almost understanding of his consternation — even after she asked him to leave the damn house approximately 52 times and he didn't budge. I was screaming at my laptop, so I have no idea how she didn't lose it.
Becca later told People that she “can’t fault [Arie] for falling in love with Lauren and following his heart because I would never want anyone to stay in a relationship where they felt trapped and it wasn’t right," which seems incredibly generous. During the breakup, Arie seemed to be waiting for Becca to say, "Aww, it's OK," when he came to explain that he was conflicted about the ring he had decided to put on her finger. WHEN WILL THIS DUDE TAKE RESPONSIBILITY!?
While both Lauren and Becca's reactions are what my grandmother might call "refined," both women let Arie off the hook without forcing him to confront the consequences of his actions. There's nothing wrong with processing a breakup quietly, but it's also all right to truly express your feelings.
I'm certainly not here to tell any woman how to handle a breakup on live television, especially since I haven't ever even been broken up with in public. However, I do think it's important to ask why we as women still feel hesitant to call men out on their bad behavior. While the #MeToo movement is progress, in less nefarious situations, I find it hard to express my anger or sadness without worrying about being labeled "crazy" or "dramatic." So what if Becca had called Arie's trash behavior out in the moment? What would we all be saying today? Can you be polite and angry at the same time?
Clinical psychologist and host of The Web Radio Show Dr. Joshua Klapow broke it down for me: "Being 'polite' does not mean that you are forbidden from expressing your thoughts about the relationship." Those thoughts are exactly what I felt like was missing from last night's episode of The Bachelor. While both women asked Arie, "Why?" and, "What did I do?", neither of them spelled out why they were hurt.
I think that explaining exactly what someone did to hurt you — or to embarrass you on live TV — is your prerogative when it comes to breakups. "You can do all of that and be polite at the same time," says Dr. Klapow. "Saying that you’re angry with them, that you feel that you were not treated the way you wanted to be, that you’re disappointed in the relationship and what it has become is being honest."
Being honest and articulating anger and sadness is incredibly healthy. When I have told exes exactly what they did to hurt me, it has helped me avoid thinking that I wasn't enough for them. No — they were jerks! Articulating your feelings also means that your partner will be challenged to acknowledge the consequences of their actions — small or large. When I have been called out by exes, I've grown as a result.
Who knows what will happen tonight during the second half of The Bachelor's live finale. But I really hope that Becca and Lauren both stand up for themselves. Arie is a reality TV star, but his behavior is more common than it should be in non-reality television relationships. It's time for that dude — and other dudes like him — to take responsibility for their actions. Oh, and also to learn that when a woman asks you to leave, it means that you should leave the house now.