Loves Lessons From "The Bachelorette"
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Reality Check1 of 11
By Kimberly Fusaro for Woman's Day
At face value, The Bachelorette doesn't offer much dating guidance. And after watching Bachelorette Desiree Hartsock get surprise-dumped by Brooks on part one of the season finale, the only advice might be, "Don't date on reality TV.” But if you dig deeper, nine seasons of The Bachelorette (never mind 17 seasons of The Bachelor) have turned up some relationship truths that apply to reality TV and regular old reality. Here are 10 love lessons we've picked up—plus, experts' tips for applying them to your own dating life.
Beware of Bad Boys2 of 11
Guys with good intentions exist, but "your BS detector needs to be out," Ali Fedotowsky warned Desiree on the latest season's Men Tell All. The less-scrupulous men of The Bachelorette have been out to promote their careers (see: Justin "Rated R" Rego on Ali's season), while your real-life date might want only a one-night stand. To determine whether a guy is in it for the long haul, consider whether his actions match his words, suggests Scott Haltzman, MD, the psychiatrist behind several relationship books, including The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity.
Set Boundaries3 of 11
Des let her suits know how intimate she was willing to get—sending over-aggressive Jonathan packing before the first rose ceremony—and you should, too. If a man makes a move that's outside your comfort zone, say, resting a hand on your thigh, "Place his hand back on his own leg, and move away a little if you're sitting side by side," suggests Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author of The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again.
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Play It Cool4 of 11
With any luck, we'll all wind up with someone who shares (or at least tolerates) our idiosyncrasies. Still, there's no need to lay your Star Trek super-fandom or Beanie Baby collection on the table on date one, as tailor/magician Nick R. learned this season. (He didn't survive the first rose ceremony.) If you never get a second date, poll your friends about which of your "endearing" qualities might be weirding guys out, advises Dr. Haltzman, and downplay them at the starting gate. Instead, "invest time in sharing interests that can be appreciated universally, such as music and food."
Stay Grounded5 of 11
A quick jaunt to the Caribbean. Dinner at an ultra-posh restaurant. How romantic! But love might stand a better chance when your surroundings aren't distracting you from each other. Bachelorette Ashley Hebert grew closer to eventual winner (and her now-husband) J.P. Rosenbaum when they ditched a pre-planned outing and spent an evening at her house. "Romance doesn't depend on spending money," says Dr. Tessina. "A picnic, local theater production, college ball game or gallery opening all can be lovely, cheap dates. A shared joke is more important than a fancy restaurant."
Be Open-Minded6 of 11
Even if you normally wouldn't date a single dad or a blue-collar worker, don't rule one out. Des kept former professional soccer player Juan Pablo Galavis through five rose ceremonies—well after she learned that he had a 4-year-old daughter—and the charming Venezuelan is now the fan favorite to become next season's Bachelor. "Some women are too quick to eliminate a potential 'Mr. Right'—whether he doesn't have enough hair or enough money—so every guy ends up being 'Mr. Not Quite Right,'" says Dr. Haltzman.
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Don't Get Inked7 of 11
Early on in The Bachelorette's sixth season, suitor Kasey Kahl promised to "guard and protect" Ali Fedotowsky's heart; he eventually had a tattoo artist illustrate the sentiment on Kasey's forearm as a six-inch shield with a heart and a rose. Shortly after the ink reveal, Ali eliminated Kasey. "Don't do anything permanent until you have a firm commitment," urges Dr. Tessina. When the early glow of romance fades, the relationship might fade with it—but a tattoo won't.
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Be Up Front8 of 11
When former pro baseball player Chris Siegfried told Des he'd like her to move from California to Seattle, Bachelor Nation held its collective breath, as geographical differences often spell the end for Bachelor couples. (We all knew Emily Maynard wasn't moving to Texas for Brad Womack, right?) "If you're dating for fun, have fun," says Dr. Haltzman. But if you're pursuing potential husbands, share your non-negotiables, like location, religion or how many kids you want, up front.
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Listen to Pals9 of 11
The Bachelorette has attracted plenty of nut jobs (lookin' at you, Bentley), yet the person being wooed is always the last to know. It's often a friend or family member who points out when a suitor has a few screws loose. Ask people whose relationships you admire to weigh in on yours, suggests Dr. Tessina. "A con artist can easily fool you one-on-one, but he'll have a harder time in a group, and the group will guard your safety."
Let Go10 of 11
When Des described Arizona native Drew Kenney as "reserved" a few weeks back, most assumed his days were numbered; "not opening up" has doomed countless former contestants. But the digital marketing analyst spilled about his dad's alcoholism and cancer, and now he's one of two left in the running for Des's heart. If you've been burned, it can be hard to put yourself out there again. Rather than keeping everything bottled up, Dr. Haltzman suggests dealing with issues from past relationships before immersing yourself in a new one.
Don't Lose Hope11 of 11
All nine women who have been named the Bachelorette were cast-offs from The Bachelor—and two (Trista Rehn and Ashley Hebert) went on to marry the man who got their final rose. One Bachelorette, DeAnna Pappas, met her future spouse, the twin brother of a suitor from Jillian Harriss season of The Bachelorette, through the show. And another, Jennifer Schefft, married someone she met independently of The Bachelor franchise. Which is to say: Even if you find yourself crying into a camera—or, more likely, a pint of Ben & Jerry's—odds are you'll get another chance at happily ever after.