"How ‘The Bachelor’ shows we're becoming more comfortable with polyamory"
"The Bachelor" has been an unkillably popular TV series since 2002, with several spinoffs. In each season a single guy is presented with a large pool of eligible women, eliminates them one by one, and if the show goes as intended, he marries the winner. Yeah, I know. But fans stay glued.
But in 2016 the bachelor continued dating the two finalists, and as the 2018 season was drawing toward last Monday night's finale, the current guy was again saying "I love you" to two, breaking format. Then the finale itself was a newsmaking trainwreck of indecision.
There is an obvious alternative ending, right? If they all happen to be good with it?
Last week the Washington Post website addressed the possibility head-on, re-running this article from 2016 with updates. It's by Lisa Bonos, a writer for the Post's "Solo-ish" column. She has covered polyamory before.
Can you be in love with two people at once? ‘The Bachelor’ keeps raising the question.
Arie Luyendyk Jr. has said “I love you” to both finalists, Becca Kufrin and Lauren Burnham, breaking an unwritten rule of “The Bachelor” that the lead never says “I love you” back to a contestant before the finale. (Paul Hebert/ABC)
By Lisa Bonos
...If you’re dating multiple people, it’s possible to feel something deep for multiple people.
...Dating multiple people, and even committing to several people, is becoming more common. Polyamory, the practice of having multiple romantic relationships, with the knowledge of everyone involved, is becoming more mainstream. In 2016, OkCupid responded to the growth of non-monogamy by allowing its users to search as couples looking for additional partners.
[Polyamory is on the rise, but negative assumptions still exist]
For all the ways that “The Bachelor” is stuck in the past — its lack of diversity, for example, and the old-fashioned gender roles baked into the show — this however accidental and short-lived embrace of polyamory is the most progressive and interesting thing that happened during Higgins’s season . And the resurfacing with Luyendyk  proves the “problem” of catching serious feelings for more than one contestant isn’t going away.
When I spent some time reporting on polyamorists around Higgins’s age, they talked a lot about what it was like to be in love with multiple people. “The love you feel feels different,” Rachel Ruvinsky, a 22-year-old polyamorist, told me, “not in terms of quantity or quality, just how it feels.”
...“One clever solution to the unique dilemma the bachelor is in would be to offer both finalists a relationship — more specifically, to be polyamorous,” says Rhonda Balzarini, a PhD candidate studying polyamorous relationships at Western University in Ontario.
Balzarini thought Higgins could actually make a fantastic mainstream ambassador for polyamory. “Ben is boring enough to sit down and have long conversations,” Balzarini told me. And because “polyamory requires you to negotiate everyone’s needs and make sure everyone feels met and understood, it requires an extreme capacity to communicate.”
If Higgins didn’t have to choose just one woman, could the three of them conceivably carry on their relationships? Balzarini thinks they could have that capacity, but it all comes down to how they handle jealousy, something that “Bachelor” contestants already know quite a bit about. ...
Might America be ready for a polyamorous Bachelor? Balzarini thought so. “We’re in need of some vocabulary to have these conversations,” she said, “because not everyone is practicing monogamy.”
The whole article (March 2, 2018). A version also appears in the WaPo's new online women's mag The Lily: How ‘The Bachelor’ shows that we are becoming more comfortable with polyamory. "Might America be ready for a polyamorous Bachelor?" (March 5).
P. S.: Vulture describes how the show mistreats its contestants: 11 Bachelor Rules That Just Don’t Make Sense Anymore (March 9).
Labels: The Bachelor