Are relationships on 'The Bachelorette' doomed to fail? Experts say show is better at making love connections than it seems
The latest season of The Bachelorette premiered Monday night with an added twist of two women leading the season looking for love. But as numerous Bachelor Nation couples from recent seasons announce that they've parted ways, some wonder if the show is even all that good at delivering on its promise to end in a happily ever after.
Breakups have swept through four couples from the last three seasons of The Bachelorette alone as Clare Crawley and Dale Moss officially called it off in September 2021, followed by Tayshia Adams and Zac Clark in November, Katie Thurston and Blake Moynes in October and Michelle Young and Nayte Olukoya in June 2022. Despite the influx of breakup announcements, however, experts say that relationships from the show aren't necessarily doomed to fail, especially compared to those formed outside of it.
"Statistically speaking, America's breakup and divorce rates are not that far off from Bachelor Nation breakups. These are normal human beings, and not every relationship is meant to last," relationship coach Jaime Bronstein tells Yahoo Life. "Bachelor relationships start with the cards stacked against them."
Season 19's leads Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey quickly acknowledged their own doubt during the show's premiere after both expressed that their hearts were broken by the previous Bachelor, Clayton Echard.
"After everything with Clayton, men have rightfully earned not being able to be trusted," Windey said at the episode's start. "But I'm a romantic and I do want a happily ever after and I hope that I can meet my future husband tonight."
Long-lasting relationships from Bachelor Nation are possible, Bronstein explains, although they're "entirely different" from relationships that take place in the real world. There are multiple factors that contribute to this, Bronstein shares, including the accelerated timeline in which everything takes place, the false reality in which the contestants are all dating, the overt competition among the singles and the pressure to get engaged.
"Couples have limited one-on-one time, and due to the nature of the show, contestants need to open up sooner than they usually would in real life on a real-life timeline," she says. "At the beginning of a relationship when couples fall in love and during the honeymoon phase, their neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine put them on a high, which is not bad. Still, it prevents people from thinking clearly, so they might be swept up in the moment and think they are falling in love when in reality, they are falling in love with the idea of being in love versus the actual person."
Former contestants, including the most recent couple to come out of The Bachelor, have addressed the lack of familiarity that they had with their partners after the cameras turned off. Susie Evans, who is currently dating Echard after the two reconciled prior to his season's reunion show, posted a video to TikTok joking about how the couple realized they didn't know much about each other after moving in together.
Suzana Somers, who runs the Bachelor Data Instagram account, tells Yahoo Life that it's an element of these relationships discussed by most couples.
"The Bachelor franchise has produced a lot of successful couples. That being said, the majority of couples have publicly mentioned that their true relationship started as soon as cameras were turned off and they were able to get to know one another off-camera," Somers explains. "The structured and limited time contestants get with the lead on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette decreases the odds of success simply due to lack of time to have conversations on the topics that matter."
The mere doubts being placed on the success of these relationships by viewers also have a very real impact, according to Bronstein. "People expect them to fail, so they must try extra hard to fight for their relationship to last instead of allowing it to flow and progress naturally. With the added pressure, it can create a self-fulfilling prophecy," she says. "The couple gets so worried that the relationship will end that it ends because their fear and anxiety causes issues in the relationship."
This pressure exists throughout the relationship because the nature of the show puts pressure on singles to compete against one another for the "prize" of a happy future with the lead. There is also the expectation that the couple is ready to be engaged by the season's end. "Any type of pressure on a relationship is never a good thing," Bronstein adds, noting that public attention can even change how an individual behaves.
ABC didn't respond to Yahoo Life's request for comment.
Even still, the statistics gathered and shared by Somers prove that there's a reason for people to still believe in the potential of the show.
"As a whole, there are only 9 couples together from the 42 seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette since 2002. That's a 21.4% success rate," Somers explains. "Some might look at that number and think it's pretty terrible, but I'd argue for folks to look at their own dating history and even Tinder or Bumble history. I know I would've loved a 21.4% success rate when I was dating."
The failures, however, seem more prominent in part because of social media.
"What's changed in the last few years is the increased speculation before a breakup due to fans closely watching couples' [social media] accounts to spot possible signs of trouble in paradise. We saw speculation of Michelle and Nayte spending less time together and Michelle without her ring, Katie taking a one month social media break and Tayshia spotted a number of times without her ring in public," Somers points out. "The increased speculation can sometimes last months before a breakup is announced, which I believe adds to the feeling that couples are breaking up more often."
As numerous other dating shows gain popularity, including Love Island USA, Love Is Blind and Too Hot to Handle, Somers shows that the success rate of The Bachelor franchise still remains the highest of them all. In many other instances, there seems to be more chance for success with more potential matches. Still, "they aren't producing as many successful couples," according to her data.
While Somers' Instagram account covers all data indicating both the success and the shortcomings of The Bachelor and similar franchises, Bronstein credits a general "negativity bias" for the amount of attention paid toward what doesn't work when it comes to the show.
"For some reason, people like to focus on what's not working versus what is working," she says. "The truth is, Bachelor couples are regular people with regular feelings and conflicts. They are not making out and partying in constant bliss every day 24/7."
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