When I settled in last night for the home visit episode of The Bachelor, I was expecting awkward moments and scandal. Instead I was subjected to four women who all have severe emotional attachment for the same man, who claims to have true, intense feelings for all of them. It was depressing and slightly tragic; it was not its usually escapist reality television.
It also brought me to a startling, perhaps partially wine-induced conclusion: I believe in romance too much to care about The Bachelor. Sure, The Bachelor is filled with roses, diamonds, sparkling wine and dates designed with carefree abandon, but it's all one large choreographed illusion of romance. I don't care for roses or diamonds.
I'm not doubting that there are real feelings involved, but part of me loses faith in Andy every time I see him proclaim his feelings, seemingly sincerely, for more than one woman. By the third woman, I'm rolling my eyes, and by the time the fourth woman appeared, I just felt sorry for all five of them.
Whether it stems from my notions of romance or my belief in monogamy, I can't buy into having so much love for so many. I might concede to having strong feelings for two, and perhaps the producers and editors are prodding Andy into creating more drama by caring for all four. It doesn't really create more drama; every episode, the audience hears that Andy will propose in the finale. It does create more heartache. Granted, the women are all participating voluntarily, but after watching this show, I remain dumbfounded how women can sign up for this much heart wrenching emotion. It's bad enough in life, but to go through it on national television? A man handing you a box of diamonds to wear for one night is not romance. Nothing on this show has been romance. It's a cookie cutter version of what might be easier to believe in. The tokens lose meaning when they're not genuine. True romance lies in the things two people share; it's remembering something mentioned off-hand and surprising the other with it later.
I still want to believe in love without question. I want Andy to give out the number of roses he wants to rather than the producer-mandated number. I want him to stop and say, "She's the one, unequivocally, and I'm done looking." Granted, I still don't buy into finding the love of your life by going on The Bachelor, but I'm enough of a romantic to believe it might happen. True love happens whenever and wherever.
While I still can, I want to believe true love stops you in your tracks and transforms not only your heart but your mind so you'll do things you used to think were crazy or plain stupid to keep that person in your life every moment you possibly can. I want to believe in love that doesn't question what you're doing as long as you're together. I want to believe that when one falls in love, finding unrequited love is not an option. The cynical part of me knows my ideal of romance and monogamy is just as much an illusion as The Bachelor, and I struggle with the partial understanding of why seemingly intelligent and well-adjusted women like Bevin and Tessa would go on this show. It may seem silly and improbable, but you can't always just listen to your head. When your heart stops believing the improbably, then romance really is dead. A heart without hope and a heart that futilely hopes are the most tragic relics of romance.