Dating Lessons from The Bachelorette
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of The Bachelorette. This reality television dating show was originally a spin-off of The Bachelor and it features an eligible single woman (aka The Bachelorette) who chooses a husband among 25 bachelors. Throughout the season, dating and relationship dynamics, including drama, conflict, and hurt feelings, unfold - much to the casting directors’ delight - that provide insight into the cast and characters. While this show might be a way to “veg out” on a weeknight, a lot can be learned by viewing the way the selection process through the lens of attachment theory.
Many of the dynamics of the show depend upon the attachment style of the bachelorette, who we can assume with some degree of accuracy is either secure or anxiously attached. We know this because she is seeking closeness and intimacy (Levine & Heller, 2010, p. 62) (or so we assume) by virtue of going on the show to find a long-term partner. It would be rare to cast an avoidant bachelorette as there is more indifference toward dating and relationships, in general, and therefore a person with this type of attachment wouldn’t make a good fit for TV viewers.
In this post, we will explore what you might notice - and experience personally - from an anxiously-attached and securely attached bachelorette.
An Anxious Bachelorette
When the Bachelorette is anxiously attached, you will likely see her most immediately and naturally going after the men who are more avoidantly attached. While they initially appear engaged and very interested in the bachelorette, there is a subtle distance that emerges, either in their past, opening up to her, or being able to take next steps. There’s a limit to how deep they can go, and it can feel that they are aloof, self-concerned, or distant. This is usually what attracts the anxiously attached bachelorette.
That’s because anxious and avoidant styles fall naturally in concert with one another due to how these two attachment styles reinforce each other’s insecurities. Because the intimacy needs of these two types of individuals are different, drama and conflict will more readily unfold. Oftentimes, there are lots of ups and downs in the relationship, that might look like pushing away as well as pulling close. Anxious bachelorettes are reinforced or activated by aloof, avoidant partners. However, the environment is often destructive and dynamic, which is great for television viewers but not always healthy in real life.
A Secure Bachelorette
If the bachelorette is more securely-attached, what would she look for? Would she seek the “nice guys” and choose someone who is more stable, secure, consistent, and willing to work toward a sustainable relationship? Oftentimes, the bachelorette will be attracted to avoidantly attached men in the beginning of the show but after the drama and challenges, she’ll grow frustrated, lose interest, and start to identify avoidant and anxious men. She will ultimately connect with more securely-attached men who are willing to be intimate, by the end of the show. Although she missed initial time with the great guys, after experiencing men who are unable to commit and avoid intimacy, she becomes attracted to those men who are more secure in their attachment.
There is much to learn from this reality show around relationship behaviors. If you want, or think you need, to practice more secure relationship behaviors and dynamics, who would you spend time with? Who would you initiate time with? What would you look for? What signs would help you determine whether you are falling into anxious or avoidant patterns and help you identify the need to realign?
At Center for Shared Insight, we help clients identify their most natural, default attachment style and what that means for their relationships. Then, we work with them to understand how that attachment style, formed in early childhood, and still underlies most of their relationship decisions. We help clients become more secure and fulfilled in all relationships in their lives.
We offer a free consultation if you’d like to share more about your specific challenges and understand how our team of experts can help you identify and overcome repetitive patterns.