I basically joke all the time about how I'd love to be a contestant on The Bachelor – and I've put my application where my mouth is, too. I've submitted myself as a contestant three times now. Sorry, Ben Higgins, Nick Viall and – shudders – Arie Luyendyk Jr. – you unfortunately didn't get the chance to date me. All joking aside, dating on The Bachelor actually seems like a nightmare in real life. You're constantly sizing yourself up against the competition. Imagine going on a date and trying to win the attention of the object of your desires while 25 to 30 other people are trying to do the same thing?
This television show seems like a stressful situation at best and one that can be a detrimental to your mental health and job prospects at worst. Beyond that, the premise is so ridiculously unrealistic. I know you're probably reading this and thinking, Duh, but it's easy to get caught up in the fantasy world the show presents.
There's a lot that makes this dating journey, or what I like to think of it as – a strange social experiment of really attractive people not at all like dating in real life. Here are the weirdest and most unrealistic parts of the show.
You have a constant audience.
There are millions of people who watch The Bachelor and its spin-off franchises (The Bachelorette, The Bachelor Winter Games, Bachelor in Paradise), and having your dating life watched by the entire country is anything but normal. On Luyendyk's season of The Bachelor, the show averaged 7.8 million viewers per episode, according to Variety.
On top of that, in real time your dates are being watched, influenced, and manipulated by a team of producers, assistants, and an entire crew team making sure everything looks and sounds just right — or just dramatic enough to make great primetime television. Try to act romantic or at your best while having all of those people watching. Probably hard, huh?
You can't gush about your date with your friends.
One of the most fun parts about dating is dishing every detail to your closest friends. Sometimes, even during that date, you sneak a text or DM to your buddies about how cute your date is IRL or an adorable thing they just said to you.
During The Bachelor? Forget about it. You can't talk to any of your friends while filming, as production forbids use of cell phones or computers during your time on the show. If you do want to talk about exciting moments you have with the lead, you have a few options for your chatter: talk with producers who are trying to produce a show and not be your friend, the psychologist the show provides, or your romantic competition (which could stir up house drama, if people think you're bragging.)
You're separated from your pets.
During Rachel Lindsay's season of The Bachelorette, her pup Copper was able to stay in the Los Angeles mansion with the lead while filming was in California, but when travel went international, Copper had to go back home to Texas with Lindsay's family.
While it's true that you generally aren't able to bring your pet with you during international travel, it's that usually when you're dating you have your pet to go home to afterwards – which Lindsay didn't get to do for the later portion of the show's filming.
Your love interest knows a *lot* about your dating history before you even say "hello."
OK, yeah, millennial and gen-Z dating often includes internet stalking your date before meeting them. But contestants come onto the show knowing much more about a lead's dating history than your average Instagram stalk would share.
And the thing is, the contestants don't just know the lead's dating history – they often watched it all happen. It's really strange! Imagine having all that access to your date's history. And watching it before dating them. It would definitely inform how you view that person, even if their own circumstance was abnormal and shaped by ... all of the above.
Speaking of your ex, people apparently show up with cardboard cutouts of them for bizarre reasons.
During the limo exits on Becca Kufrin's first night as The Bachelorette, contestant Mike Renner brought out a cardboard cutout of Kufrin's ex-fiancé Luyendyk. I don't know about you, but if someone brought a cardboard cutout of my ex on the night they met me in an effort to woo me somehow, I would turn them right around. No one wants to be reminded of their ex while they're trying to meet new people!
Your dates are completely over-the-top and do not resemble what your life would look like post-show at all.
Being swept off your feet by skydiving off a bridge in Europe, going dogsledding in Finland, or swimming in beautiful waterfalls are all dates that sound incredible, but if your bonding is only due to the exotic surroundings, what foundation would you two have left once that's out of the equation?
Some of the more down-to-earth dates from the show stick out to me due to resembling real life just a tiny bit. My all-time favorite Bachelor date was Chris Soules and Kaitlyn Bristowe's Costco date. To me, grocery shopping with your partner is actually a lot of fun, and this date showed how the two might work in real life.
The conversations (that we see at least) lack serious depth.
Sure, you want to tell someone you're dating what you're looking for. But when conversations mostly consist of, "I want to find love," "I really like you," and "I could see myself maybe potentially sort of one day down the road eventually falling for you," where is the substance? What do you like about that person other than they're attractive and you're supposed to be into them because two dozen others want them as well?
It seems like most of the date conversations consist of telling the other person you like them, but we as viewers don't know why. And then of course, conversations about religion and politics are missing from the show most of the time, which are topics that should definitely be covered before engagement's on the table. There's a chance these conversations are happening, but are edited out or happen offscreen in the Fantasy Suite.
It does sound like, though, that most of the couples admit the real dating begins after the season ends, and they can really get to know each other off-camera and within the privacy of their private couple weekends.
"We're learning more about each other every single day, what our life is going to look like and where it's going to be," Jordan Rodgers, winner from JoJo Fletcher's season of The Bachelorette told The Hollywood Reporter. "So we're enjoying this time of being engaged, continuing to date and court each other, and getting to know each other even more. And then when the time is right, we're absolutely going to sit down and start planning that. But we're definitely taking our time."
Regardless of the unrealistic nonsense we subject ourselves to as viewers, I know that I, along with millions of other people, will still tune in week after week to watch it all go down.