The Bachelor is Back

January 10, 2014 | Karin

This week marks the beginning of another season of The Bachelor. This hit show produces lots of romance, drama and ratings, but unfortunately, not many marriages that last. In the season with Bachelor Brad, one of the problems in the relationship seemed to be that Brad had become too accustomed to his Bachelor lifestyle. I wrote about this in an op-ed, America Needs More Men and Fewer Brads:

It would be difficult to be more of a bachelor cliché than Brad. He owns a bar in a college town and is a self-described fitness freak who lives in a loft-style condo and buys a bottle of champagne when he has a woman over. His chosen lifestyle was once reserved for college boys – full of drinking, women, tempers and irresponsible behavior. Today, many may expect this type of bachelorhood to spill into the early 20s, but Brad is 38. His bachelor lifestyle, however, didn’t seem to raise red flags for The Bachelor contestants, regardless of their age.

Yet, in the finale, “After the Final Rose,” it becomes clear that Brad and the woman he chose, 24-year-old Emily Maynard, are having problems stemming from his bachelor ways. During the show, Emily complains, “Well, he’s got a bit of a temper.” Brad later replies, “Well, yeah, I can lose my temper, I can. And, you know I’m not going to make excuses. I am not going to sit here and make a single excuse. She is worth it to try to change. I have been alone a long time. I haven’t had to answer to anybody.” Brad and Emily continue to capture headlines as they try to work out their issues, and Brad tries to transform from a bachelor into a fiancé and father.

Brad hasn’t grown up. He’s used to living alone, without the responsibility of providing for others. During the show, his family nonchalantly said he was finally ready for a family of his own, as if it wasn’t unusual for someone to take 38 years to reach that point.

And, sadly, today it’s not unusual. One of the most damaging legacies of the second wave feminist movement is that it taught a generation that independence, a life comprised solely of the individual, is one of the greatest goods. Brad has achieved independence, but has realized that he doesn’t just want independence, he wants a wife. The challenge now is finding a partner compatible with the self-centered lifestyle to which he has grown accustomed.

Why don’t The Bachelor relationships last? Do you think part of the reason the relationships don’t last is because some of the men haven’t grown up? What about the women? Do shows like The Bachelor help or hurt our cultural expectations of relationships?

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