Pooks, a.k.a. Katie, is back today with her next installment in our Love & Relationships series. She offers tips on how to navigate new relationships and watch The Bachelor without having a heart attack. Show her some love in the comments below. Xo Candace
I’d like to dedicate this month’s post to MG and AM - thank you for making the countless hours I spend agonizing over these posts worth it. Like SO SO worth it. This one’s for you <3 - Katie
So remember that one time I had a blog post half written and then this THING came up that I couldn’t ignore? Well, I had every intention to get back to that initial idea this month… I even started writing again! And then…
THE BACHELOR HAPPENED.
Okay okay, please don’t judge me! I promise I have redeeming qualities… and that I can (hopefully) get an important message across, with the aid of some some classic trash television, of course!
For those of you that don’t watch the Bachelor or Bachelorette, here is a very quick lesson on how it works: a single person (the Bachelor or Bachelorette), dates 30 people at the same time, slowly eliminating the ones with whom they don’t see a future. Over the course of this crazy, manufactured television dating journey, there’s always a lot of content with high entertainment value that keeps viewers engaged. This season, some salient highlights included a strong focus on the Bachelor’s virginity (I have so many feelings about this, but we can save them for another time), several shower cameos, and WAY too many poorly crafted “toasts” to one another.
And then, once all the fun subsides at the end of 6 - 9 weeks, the Bachelor GETS ENGAGED TO WHOEVER SURVIVED THIS INSANE DATING BLOODSPORT.
I mean, holy shit. The Bachelor is a show with so many merits - anticipation, uncertainty, drama, romance and competition. But there’s one important thing that the Bachelor doesn’t have…
Like, can we just let the whole principle of how this show works marinate for a bit? And by a bit I mean something like 2.7 seconds because it doesn’t take much time to do the math that 1 bachelor + 30 women/6 weeks doesn’t (shouldn’t?!?!) necessarily equal an engagement. In fact, the Bachelor thrives on this idea of love at first site - but should it?? Well, let’s figure it out together. And fair warning, I’m going to talk about how the show ends so *SPOILER ALERT* to those of you Bachelor devotees that haven’t yet caught up.
This season, in the penultimate episode, the Bachelor (Colton), went on a date with Cassie, one of the remaining 3 women on the show, who also happened to be the front runner for Colton’s heart. Little did Colton know, Cassie’s father surprised her by flying halfway around the world to meet her in Portugal, so they could have a discussion about whether or not she was ready to commit to Colton long term. As one may expect, it was clear during the course of their conversation that Cassie’s father didn’t approve of her committing to a life with Colton so early on in their relationship. And, even though Cassie was able to verbalize her strong (yet new!) feelings for Colton, she recognized that she wasn’t sure yet about their long term potential. Ultimately, Cassie’s father capitalized on her doubt, whether knowingly or unknowingly, by reminding her that the moment he met her mother he KNEW she was the one. Unfortunately for Colton, it was enough to push Cassie over the edge, and she left him reeling as she said goodbye and then stepped into her car to go home.
Listen, I get it. This show is outrageous. But there’s something that happened during Cassie’s conversation with her father that I don’t want to gloss over because it’s really problematic. Namely, that he set the expectation that since he knew Cassie’s mother was the one for him as soon as he met her (INSERT EYE ROLL HERE), that Cassie should KNOW if she wants to marry someone as soon as she meets them too! Yup, it’s the good ole “love at first sight” theorem. But...
BRO. WHAT IS YOU DOING.
Like, I’m not a parent but da fuq type of garbage advice is that?! I have a REAL problem with this girl’s dad, because the love at first sight story line is extremely flawed, and homeboy is SETTING HIS OWN DAUGHTER UP FOR FAILURE by suggesting that instant chemistry is a good predictor for long term success of a relationship. Generally speaking, it’s really dangerous to set the expectation that one person should know if someone is a good fit immediately, let alone to do so on NATIONAL TELEVISION where this message will reach millions of people. Because while I can acknowledge that there are people with successful “love at first sight” stories, these people aren’t the norm. No, quite the contrary. They’re the exception to the rule, regardless of the way the love at first sight myth is popularized in today’s TV shows, movies, music and more.
Relying on the love at first sight theorem is almost like taking a shot in the dark. It opens you up to a lot of risk because you haven’t had enough time to KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING YOURSELF INTO. How can you possibly say that you *know* someone’s your shit blocking unicorn after such a short period of time? Isn’t to know to be CERTAIN? And can’t you only be certain when you have sufficient evidence to support your hypothesis?
Because knowledge is power, and here at YBC® we are all about making informed dating decisions, right? And while people start to show themselves quickly after meeting someone new, there’s a lot of extremely valuable information that can only be learned about someone over time - in particular, via patterns of behavior, which usually don’t have the chance to reveal themselves in the matter of a few short weeks. That being the case, it’s a good idea to establish a list of questions to ask yourself about patterns of behavior as time goes on in your new relationship. Some examples that felt important for me to include on my own list were:
How does it feel once things get mundane?
Novelty is a powerful drug. Things are ALWAYS exciting during the beginning, right? It’s something new, and there’s so much to explore! But what happens when you fall into a rhythm? What happens when you go from day drinking too many Bloody Mary’s and shaving your legs regularly to… well… running errands and farting on the couch together? Can they hack it? Do they lose interest? Do they make that transition gracefully from something fresh to something familiar?
How do they handle conflict in the relationship?
Sure, early on you might get an idea of how people deal with conflict with their partner, but the pattern is what’s important here. Ideally you don’t get much exposure to how your partner deals with conflict in the first few weeks of a relationship… but if you do get a lot of exposure, pay attention to that! In general, you need to allow the relationship time to encounter situations where you don’t see eye-to-eye with your partner, so you are able zero in on how you collectively negotiate those sticky moments as a couple.
Are they able to support you during a rough time?
Don’t take this one for granted. Just because someone cares about you doesn’t mean they are capable of truly stepping in front of the shit fan in solidarity with you. I have experienced this myself. Like with #3, you need to give these bumps in the road a chance to happen before you can truly see how your partner shows up for you, or doesn’t.
How do you work each other into your respective lives logistically?
This is not to be overlooked. In my experience, early on in a relationship when you can’t get enough of each other, it’s more likely that you’ll break your routines to fit your new person into your life, and vice versa. But that’s not a sustainable way of doing things - so it’s important to watch how (or if!!) you collectively manage to weave your lives together in a way that works for both of you.
I’m sure there are many more questions worth asking yourself, but listen, people are complicated creatures. There’s a lot to learn about someone when you’re getting to know them - years of experiences, old connections and layers upon layers of information about what makes them who they are. When you rush into love so quickly, like they do on the Bachelor, you can’t possibly have learned enough about someone and your collective dynamic to make an informed decision about committing to them long term. While the love at first sight story line is fun and romantic, it’s neither intentional nor the norm; so on the off chance it works out, it’s probably luck. And to be clear, this isn’t to rain on the parade of anyone that has had a successful love at first sight experience. I think it’s worth recognizing and appreciating when two people have powerful chemistry right off the bat… but for the love of Zeus, don’t confuse that with having a well-rounded and in-depth idea of your compatibility and long term potential with someone new.
There’s another component to this whole *time* thing that’s important to mention, and it’s that two people dating one another can move at different speeds (whether emotionally or physically), and IT’S OKAY. Is it truly realistic for us to expect for two people who start dating to move in complete synchronicity? The answer is no, and I can actually speak to this personally. When Mr. Tall and Tatted and I started dating, we took off in two trains moving in the same direction on parallel tracks. His train was a brand new, well-oiled machine chugging along complete with high speed internet and free booze. But my train was, well, limping down the tracks to put it lightly. It was rusty, old, sluggish and carrying a heavy payload of emotional cargo. But HEY, guess what! Our trains ended up in the same place after all! The reason? You guessed it - TIME. Just because Mr. Tall and Tatted got where we were going first didn’t mean that I couldn’t or wouldn’t get there, it just meant I needed more time to do so. To be fair, being in a relationship where each party is moving at a different speed won’t work for everyone. To some people, being the faster train (or the slower train, for that matter!) will feel super uncomfortable. I was very fortunate that Mr. Tall and Tatted was patient, and never made me feel like my slow ass had to rush to catch up to him. And because of that, with TIME, it worked out for us.
Oddly enough, we see a similar phenomenon with the Bachelor and his lady love, Cassie, who were very clearly not in the same place emotionally when Dad-gate happened. Despite a lot of public debate about the authenticity of their connection, ultimately the pair reunited after Colton took the pressure of the show out of the equation by leaving behind the other women and the expectation of an engagement while reassuring Cassie they could take it day by day and just get to know each other. After all was said and done, Colton and Cassie have (supposedly!) ended up happy together, and I would make the case that their success is due in large part to his recognition that it’s okay to move at different speeds, his patience and of course the TIME and space he gave Cassie to see where her feelings would take her.
A few disclaimers - first, if you find yourself in Colton’s position, you shouldn’t assume that with patience and time your desired partner will choose you. It’s possible that they will not, and that’s okay. Second, allowing yourself to collect more information about someone by slowing down doesn’t mean DON’T TRUST YOUR GUT. People can give us limited information over a very short period of time, but that information may have a BIG impact. So, if the gut says GO, do it. And lastly, stressing the importance of time isn’t to say that instant chemistry isn’t relevant - it may be correlative to a great match, but it’s definitely NOT causative. I’ve gone out with plenty of dudes with whom I’ve had instant chemistry - but guess what, THEY DIDN’T WORK OUT.
So, to wrap up this month’s rant, here’s a thought - if you’re not sure about someone, give it some time. A lot of people will tell you that uncertainty is a “no” - but it’s not. It’s the space between yes and no. And by allowing yourself more time, you give yourself the opportunity to collect information that will push you towards one answer or the other. With time, your uncertainty will fade and if the answer doesn’t become clear, it will at least become less murky. Which I guess is all you can ask for when you’re wading through the shit swamp, right?
Until next time, YBCers!
PS: Have you been in Colton’s position? Have you been in my position? Want to ask me a question or tell me what you ate for lunch or request more dog content on my Instagram? Well, you know where to find me :)