What Bachelor Nick Viall Teaches Us About Love

How doing the opposite of “The Bachelor” can teach us about finding love.

Posted Mar 10, 2017

It’s “the first time ever in Bachelor history” (as even the show creators now joke regarding their ample use of superlatives) that a contestant has been on the show for a third season looking for love.  While by no means a particularly witty, dreamy, charming lad, this season’s bachelor is infamously known for making it to the final two twice as well as making an appearance on the spin-off Bachelor in Paradise.  So close to love that producers had to give him his own show because after all, how else could he possibly find love?

Monday night marks the season finale where Nick will choose between Raven and Vanessa after an interesting to say the least series of hometown dates.  While naturally love on the show is not always as it appears on our screens, a handful of Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants have actually made it down the aisle into holy matrimony.  So as much as we love to hate such shows, we also can’t help but take some of what is viewed at face value.  And we can’t help but wince or leap for joy when our “favorite” makes it to the end.  But will it last?

Interestingly, Nick is the first Bachelor where a profile of a very specific “type” is derived.  After falling for Andi and Kaitlyn and the chemistry he describes with Vanessa, it becomes somewhat clear what Nick’s “type” is.  Brunette, challenging, a little bit of an edge.  Not the fun, playful types that Rachel (our newest Bachelorette) or Raven seem to exude.  At the same time, these edgier women are also the ones that rejected his love.  So what will he decide?

In truth, despite the drama of the show, there are nuggets of wisdom to be learned from the journey of Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants that generalize to the real world.  Even if sometimes it means doing the exact opposite of what we see.      

1) For starters, to find love in real life, it can help to date the exact opposite of your type.  This doesn’t mean move from exclusively dating doctors to high school drop-outs.  It does mean that sometimes inexplicably we are drawn to what is not necessarily the best for us.  The reasons for this can range from familial factors such as an unresolved paternal concern to hormonal changes throughout the month.  What’s important though is sometimes exposing yourself to the opposite of what you are initially drawn to.  For many of us, physical or other attraction may be the first thing to take hold when meeting someone new.  This can easily skew our judgment and lead us down relationship paths that ultimately falter.  So the next time you are on a first date, instead of analyzing why he chose to wear a safari shirt listen to what he has to say.  Maybe you only dated athletes.  Listen to the middle school teacher share about his passion for kids and education.  Try something different.  It can make all the difference.  We’ll see what happens in Nick’s journey.  But if he really wants to ensure a different outcome, he may need to try a different type of relationship.

2) Realize that values matter, a lot.  It was after the hometown dates that the issue of values came up between Vanessa and Nick.  She’s very traditional he shared, while he is not.  As they explored this further (from what was edited for our viewing pleasure) this unfolded into a conversation on family rituals such as regular Sunday dinners.  While on average negotiating family dinners aren’t deal breakers, values are critical.  It’s important to realize what you can and can’t compromise on.  Values can span anything from spiritual and religious beliefs and customs to financial values and how children may be raised.  If one of you is a firm believer in the importance of spending every Saturday volunteering for the homeless and the other wants to watch football and drink beer, this could be a values mismatch.  These are the fundamental issues that must be in order to decrease conflict.  Otherwise, over time these things can become chronic stressors and eat away at a partnership.

3) Discuss and learn about and from family.  While on the Bachelor many were drawn to how close Nick is to his parents, there is also much to be learned about potential mates from watching their interactions with family.  Are they close and loving?  Or is the relationship tense and guarded?  Are there unresolved issues you should be aware of?  In JoJo’s season, the whole estranged brother situation cast a foreboding air and was something important for her to pay attention to. 

While learning about a partner’s family is critical work, so is setting boundaries.  It seemed from the hometown dates that Raven had a healthy and positive relationship with both parents with appropriate boundaries.  They were close and loving without being intrusive or overbearing.  Flash forward to Vanessa’s more challenging time at home.  Highly protective and suspicious parents, and later Vanessa pressuring Nick to move to Canada and continue their weekly Sunday dinner traditions.  Pressure much?  While close loving family relationships are very important, enmeshment and codependency can be harmful even in more traditional and collectivistic cultures.

4) Matching baggage helps.  This might sounds like a funny one, but is still important.  Throughout Nick’s season we keep hearing about his past relationships.  The one time when this happened.  Or the one girl who did that.  It’s hard to keep track of.  Viewers already know of several of the women he was intimate with through the show (or at least the implication of), which can only leave to the imagination how many other women he has been with.  By age 36, his tally may be higher than say some of the 23 year olds he had on the show.  Or even Raven who shared only really having been in one serious relationship.   Certainly in life not all divorcees go on to marry other divorcees, but the shared experience can’t hurt.  Should Nick select someone like Raven I can’t imagine all the comparisons he is making to girlfriend number 7 and 9 while Raven has her one ex to consider.  So for what it’s worth being in a similar dating stage can help.

5) Actions speak louder than words.  In the world of dating, words are used to woo as are roses and helicopter rides when you’re the Bachelor.  But in the end, it is actions that speak loudest.  Words can be scripted and premeditated.  So can actions.  But it’s in the spontaneous scenarios that actions reign supreme.  Take Vanessa’s unfortunate turn of events when they had their zero gravity date.  As unappealing as things were for her, Nick was surprisingly kind, loving and supportive.  Of course he also had his unfortunate moments with Kaitlyn, the wedding hookup incident and Corrine moments.  But in the end, it will be the sum of his actions and not his loving words that will tell us of his character.  The same goes for the dating world.  It’s what your partner does when they have a bad day at work that can be more revealing than what they say.  They might curse out a coworker, but if they kick a chair or retreat silently and play online solitaire it can give you important information.  So pay attention!

While the world of the Bachelor can certainly be a fantasy, it still captures our attention and rightly so.  Because it’s ultimately about finding one of the most powerful things we can—love.  So whether you are single and satisfied or looking for something more, don’t be ashamed of your guilty pleasure.  The truth is, if you dig deep enough, you might find some worthwhile tips.  Or at the very least be tempted to Google Taylor’s favorite term, “emotional intelligence.”

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