March 11th, 2011

Dater Unknown: The Real World

On Monday evening I watched the last 30 minutes of The Bachelor’s “Women Tell All.” When good ol’ Chris signed off, I knew two truths:

1. I HAVE to watch the Final Rose Ceremony.
2. These relationships are as real as Emily’s hair color.

Now, listen. I know some may say: “But what about Trista and Ryan!” or “But they met each other’s families!” or “But they are in love!” And yes, you may be correct.

But hear me out.

I’ve already told you how I’m a big, blubbery romantic, so you can’t say I’m being cynical. I listen to these ladies (and I’m sure the men as well) swear they are on the Batch “for the right reasons.” Hearing this makes me want to pull up a chair to the velvet Batch Pad couch, tuck their School Bus yellow tendrils behind their ears, take a sip from their champagne flute, and say:

“Yes, you may be. But honey, that’s like saying, ‘Alright, I’m going to get healthy!’ Then you go to Central Market and load up on organic swiss chard, sustainable Braggs-covered bean curd bites and a $13 jar of mustard. Charge! You cart the stuff home, already feeling your zillions of mitochondria high-fiving each other. Then real life kicks in. Let’s say you get a cold. So you head to CVS after work and wait in line to pay for an array of potions and an US Weekly. Weary, fifth in line and out of patience, you decide right then and there that you are going to get a damn #1 from Chick-Fil-A because you can’t breathe and therefore it’s deserved. The chard can wait until your energy is back and your big presentation is over tomorrow and you find out how to even prepare the stuff.”

Are you with me? What I’m trying to say is: Relationships need and deserve a dose of real life before a ring is presented in the company of Chris Harrison and a camera.

I’m not saying they need to go through something traumatic or life changing. I just think the “Tuesday night eating leftovers and watching bad TV” times or the “can’t you just do it? Because I’m running late!” times do more good than bad. Sure, our buddies Brad, Emily, and Chantal are getting a sense of what each other are like, but I do think they are missing out on a key part of a relationship while they have their sights set on “winning” an engagement.

Yes, instant attraction is very real. Of course these people can fall for each other. But you see, in my opinion, real life is the secret sauce. It’s the meat. It’s the meaning. Real life can help relationships grow and gives them one hell of a run for their money.

Sure, parts of real life aren’t exactly fun. From the mundane to the monumental, though, these are the moments to grow and show love/compassion/patience/understanding. You know, all those things that create a pretty solid foundation for a relationship.

I just don’t think real life can be tested during a filmed, free safari in Africa. Maybe if the woman woke up throwing up and Brad took it upon himself to go find some Sprite. I would really enjoy that Batch episode.

The Bachelor is essentially like a really warped, flashy version of summer camp.

I remember having a crush on a guy named Shane during summer church camp in the 80s. He had a cool skater haircut, wore Vaurnet T-shirts and sat near me during Vespers. We did archery and sang Deep-and-Wide for half the summer, and then my mom’s Oldsmobile station wagon picked me up, and in the poetic words of Soul II Soul , it was “back to life, back to reality.”

Okay, let’s say the Batch goers were there for a quarter life summer camp. Fine. But the Batch-ers purport they are there to find their PARTNER FOR LIFE.

But we have a dude who is dating many women, all of whom live together. Even when there is one lone rose left to be given, along with a possible proposal for marriage, he is still dating TWO women. I mean, just watching 30 minutes on Monday showed lots of tears being shed, love being professed, and one instance of “I want you to be my wife.” Yikes! I mean, have they even blown their noses around each other? Had morning breath? Received some bad news from a family member and talked to each other about it over the Crown leftover from a holiday party and some pad thai? Had  SOMETHING with a resemblance of real life happen?


Awhile ago I was asked what impresses me—as in what impresses me about a guy. I had spent the day in a picturesque, beachy town—a place where things never seem to go awry. And from out of nowhere I said, “What impresses me is what he does when the shit hits the fan, what he does in a crisis or when an obstacle arises. Something that shows his character.”

The other person wanted examples, but all I could do was smile, thinking of a conversation I had had a few years ago.

I was having drinks with a group of friends, one of whom was newly married to an incredible woman. We all instantly adored her. She and I were chatting, and at one point I asked her how she knew he was The Guy. She smiled and her answer was almost immediate. “Hurricane Ike. He helped me. He helped me when I needed help.”

— Dater Unknown


Gil — Friday, March 11, 2011 8:59 pm

Now you’re cookin’ with gas!! Nice!!!

Liz — Sunday, March 13, 2011 11:50 am

Love it! I totally agree that it doesn’t get good until it gets real… and I would argue that it doesn’t REALLY get real until you live together. Because, before that, when you are having a bad day / don’t look your best / feel like you want to crawl into a cave, you always have the option to just go home that night and hang out tomorrow (or next week) instead. Only when your home is their home do you find out whether or not it still works during those rough patches and not just during the “dates”.

Blaire — Tuesday, March 15, 2011 12:00 pm

Great job!!!! This has SUCH a great message-and so so timely with The Bachelor finale last night-what a joke. So funny-”have you even blown your noses around each other?” What a perfect way to explain real life.

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