Wifeys & Gentlemen,
My office participates in a Bachelor/Bachelorette bracket every 6 months and being that I am the new girl, I thought it might be fun to participate as a way of interacting with my co-workers. At a $20 buy in, I admit that I didn’t take it very seriously at first. I had never seen one single episode of the show (neither the bachelor nor the bachelorette) & the whole thing seemed kind of cheesy to me, but when I took a long hard look at myself, I realized that I have always had a soft spot (read: LOVE) for trashy reality television, so, why should this be any different?
If there was ever a time for me to enjoy the program, I also learned that this season would be featuring America’s first African American Bachelorette! More than that, I toyed with the idea that, should I enjoy this season and the general format of the show, I might find a way to work some of the topics into my blog in the future. The benefits definitely outweighed any negatives, and although I didn’t actually watch until week 4 (I binge watched the episodes during a slow day), it didn’t take long for me to be hooked.
Honestly, after the first few episodes, I was on the fence. The format was very similar to my once beloved programs like Flavor of Love and I Love New York, but the fact that the contestants took it so seriously was initially a bit jarring. However, as things progressed, I found myself invested. Rachel, our bachelorette, seemed like such a nice and deserving girl, and I truly wanted her to end up with someone that she could build a real life with. Now, before I continue into the real reason I wanted to write this blog (or these blogs, since it will be a 3 part series), I must forewarn that this blog will contain SPOILERS about the outcome of the season. If you haven’t seen it or heard the important details, please DON’T continue reading! I absolutely hate it when someone ruins the ending of a show, movie, or book (unless I told them to) and I would really really hate to do that to someone else.
So, after watching the season finale (though I admit I almost didn’t want to because I knew what was going to happen), fans of the show will know that there was a pretty surprising upset in regards to winner. The finale sparked a lot of conversation and debate over the implications of Rachel’s decision. Of course, I have opinions of my own (professional and non), and when I stopped to really think about it, I truly believe that all of my single ladies can really learn something from what we saw in the final episodes. The final 3 contests: Eric, Peter, and Bryan, represent three types of men that most of us will meet in our lifetime (assuming you date men). These men usually shape the kind of people we become and the way we view long term commitment as a whole.
Narrowing down her selection pool from 31 to 1 wasn’t an easy task (I’d imagine) and any of my wifeys who have used dating apps, participated in speed dating/singles nights, or juggled more than one casual boyfriend/girlfriend at a time, know all too well how complicated things can get when you find yourself having feelings for more than one person and being unsure of where to go or what to do. Rachel, remaining dedicated and committed to the process of the show, worked through tears, frustration, and true disappointment to end up with her final 3: The Gamble, The “Perfect” Guy, & The (not so) Sure Thing (yes, I’ve given them nicknames)! Let’s begin, shall we? Today, I want to talk about….
If you haven’t already, there will likely come a time in your life where you will be faced with an Eric. For those unfamiliar with the show, Eric was the young, “self-made” man from the rough part of town with a heart of gold. Although he started the season off rocky, Eric made great strides in allowing his affection for Rachel to make him feel vulnerable and he seems to really grow into his emotions over the course of 9 weeks. Raised by a hard-working single mother and (largely) absent father, Eric watched friends and cousins give in to the thug life and end up either dead or in jail. Despite these humble beginnings, Eric, more than anyone else on the program, had a LOT of joy. Working through his feelings of anxiety and constant second guessing of himself, he was always funny, happy, and thankful for the experiences (good and bad) that shaped him into the person he became before getting to the show. He challenged Rachel and welcomed her ability to match him tit for tat.
I know what you might be thinking…
So, Mrs. Renai, Eric sounds like a great guy! Why on earth would you call him a gamble?
Well, wifeys, I call men of this type a gamble for two reasons:
1) For all of his positive qualities, Eric (and men/women like him) have a difficult time getting to a place of intimacy and vulnerability after a certain period of time. Even though Eric developed real feelings for Rachel about midway through the show, he wasn’t always able to express them, he wasn’t always sure about them, and he had never had a relationship that lasted longer than a few months. It can be really disheartening to date someone and not know for sure where you stand with them. In the real world, people like this might say things like “I don’t mind commitment, I’m just used to being on my own” or “I’m not mad at you or tired of you, I just really need my space”.
While these feelings are totally fine and healthy, especially in the early stages of dating, people looking for a serious relationship might begin to pull back if they sense that their partner isn’t as invested as they or if they begin to fear that the potential partner isn’t capable of genuine attachment.
Even when Eric finally did tell Rachel he loved her, he further qualified the emotion by telling her what that meant to him. Personally, I thought it was great of him to clarify! In my opinion, I felt like he was defining what love meant to him, and the ways in which he was experiencing his emotions in a real and honest way. However, Rachel was disappointed with the qualification, thinking of it as further confirmation that he was still holding back and possibly not ready to commit.
2) Eric had never been in love before. This seems unfair, but as someone who ended up marring The Gamble (literally, the parallels between Eric and my husband are pretty insane – and, as a quick side note, my father is named Eric and he and my husband have very similar personalities), I can say that being with someone who has never been in love is SCARY!
There are so many thoughts that go through your head when you’re an adult falling in love with another adult who has never fallen in love (that was a mouthful). You might wonder if they really love you. How do they really know what love is if they’ve never felt it? You might worry that they are only with you because they feel like they’ve run out of options. Worse yet, you might fear that they’ll eventually become restless and want to see if they can fall in love with someone else (read: someone better).
For me, I was genuinely terrified that my (now) husband would eventually want to see what else was out there. Sure, he loved me at that time, but didn’t he deserve to see if he felt that emotion on a deeper level with someone else?
I decided that my feelings for my husband and the relationship we had was worth the possible disappointment, but from Rachel’s position, I can understand why Eric wouldn’t be her final choice. They were good together, and frankly, most “gambles” tend to be good to/for their partners (if they were jerks, this choice would be easy, right?). But, as we would later learn, Rachel was very serious about her season ending with an engagement, and didn’t feel she had the time to wait for a gamble to turn into a safe bet. – see what I did there? Eh? Eh? 😉
The best advice I can give to anyone who is currently in a relationship with a “gamble” is to listen to your heart. I know that is really lame and seemingly unhelpful, but it’s true. Self-awareness and self-assuredness can go a long way when dating someone who is extremely independent and new at long term commitment. Spend some time really paying attention to your relationship. Is he/she “the one”? Do you see yourself living out the life you planned/pictured with them? Do you feel like you have the time to wait and see? More importantly, do you feel like you have the patience to keep looking for a new partner if things don’t work out?
Communication never hurts in these situations either. I never felt the need to hound my husband constantly about his feelings, but, when I decided to stick with him, I wanted to be able to meet him where he was. When I felt the need, I would check in with him to make sure he was happy and feeling good about our progress as a couple. Depending on your age and comfort level, you don’t have to get this deep. It could be something as simple as paying attention to his/her emotional cues and asking questions if you see signs of trouble.
Trust yourself and trust your choices. I can’t promise that everything will work out, but you miss 100% of the chances that you do not take, and as my late and dear granny would say, “you gotta take some chances”.
I’ll leave you with this:
I remember the night I decided to let myself fall in love with my husband, who my friends know as “CB”, so that’s what we’ll call him here too! We’d been dating for a few months and things were going really well, but I’d hit a point where I began to worry. He was so independent (to the point of barely texting/calling me) and accustomed to being alone and doing his own thing. We’d had a few “bumps” in the road, and we both handled them really well. We like to talk things out and if we had an issue, it was important to us to hash out likes, dislike, and general expectations. I came to a point where I felt like if I backed out right then, I could spare my feelings and avoid any true heartbreak.
One weekend, I decided to attend a party with some mutual friends (he couldn’t be there) and I ended up having an emotional conversation with a dear friend.
Me: “I don’t know, man. I like him. I really really like him, but I’m scared. He’s never been in love before. He’s 30 and he’s never been in love”.
Friend: (laughing and smiling): “So what? Maybe you’ll be the first.”
He paused for a moment before continuing.
Friend: “Who knows? You might even be the last.”
My life changed that night. I took a chance on my “gamble” and discovered that he wasn’t really a gamble at all. If she had more time, I think Rachel and Eric could have been equally as lucky, but “fate” (if you believe in it) is a funny and terrifying thing. What do you guys think? Were you rooting for Eric?
Next week, we’ll talk about the 2nd kind of man most of us are bound to date. Peter, The “Perfect” Guy.
Until Next Time,
Carry on Wifeys!
*If you haven’t seen it, you can still catch the final episodes on Hulu and ABC.com.