Why I Will Never Fall In Love
Despite my best efforts, I have never been able to escape the Bachelor or the Bachelorette. I'm not writing to bash the shows, at least I don't think I am. While I don't watch these shows, or reality programs in general, I don't feel strongly enough about them to dislike them based only on their category. I think the truthfulness of that term, 'reality television', is known widely enough that yet another piece written about that would prove redundant. Instead, I want to write about what exactly about these shows I dislike, and about why I will never fall in love.
On the weekends I work at a bookstore, sorting and merchandising hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of magazines. I start at five in the morning, and until one, I pull, sort and box up magazines. Paper cuts abound. I don't have the time to read through magazines as I display them, and I only look at the cover to categorize them. And yet, even from just brief looks at covers and headlines, I know more than I care to about celebrity news. It's no secret that celebrity news magazines are some of the most widely read magazines, yet I can't help but be surprised at my seeing headlines from the bachelor on covers ranging from People to Us Weekly . I did not expect that the act of being on one of these shows, the notion of which became popular because it featured real people trying to find love, warranted celebrity status.
Even during the week, at university or working at a day camp, people are talking about it. The Bachelor and it's affiliates have entered the collective consciousness. I believe reality television has its purposes as entertainment, but what exactly is this program telling us? It is different than other shows in that it presents the idea of love in a very specific way.
I'm not attempting to argue that this show has somehow convinced us that we are all stars in our own shows, trying to select a partner out of a group. What I am saying is that this show, which features one person choosing a partner, is about anything but choice.
The experience of the men or women who make it onto the show to be picked by the bachelor(ette) is extremely similar to the casting process which they have to go through before, maybe, making onto the show itself. They first decide that the show is something they want to do. Interestingly, they do this before ever meeting or even knowing who the bachelor(ette) even is, which in itself says a lot. But they put themselves out there, submitting photos and tapes and waiting to get the call. And after the thousands of applicants have been widdled down to a few, the process repeats. The contestants put themselves out there, and interact, and wait to be chosen. Only one finds love.
Consider the role of the Bachelor(ette) in this. He or she is presented with a group of contestants, of which they will choose and narrow the playing field until,eventually, there is only one left. This in itself is obviously a choice, as the main drama of the show comes from the weekly act of choosing who will move on, or at least it appears to be.
Instead, the shows promote a sort of passive acceptance from all parties. Once the initial choice of appearing on the show is made, suddenly it is about something else entirely, which is often referred to as 'falling in love'. This phrase is often used for dramatic effect, as in 'I think I'm falling in love with you', or 'I'm just not falling in love with you', you get the idea. Where this idea transcends entertainment and becomes a sort of education is where the idea of falling in love becomes totally accepted and normal. Why is it that I hear the people around me talk about falling in love, as if love were this passive thing?
In the case of the shows, the bachelor(ette) goes through this feeling out process, where they try and see who they share a connection with. The issue is that this passive attitude of receiving vibes or emotions is the sum of it. Love, as it as shown, is something that comes to you, that happens to you. The bachelor(ette) falls in love with one or more of the contestants who put themselves out there.
The problem with love is that it's complicated. Besides being one of the larger understatements I have felt compelled to write, this statement is why this piece is entitled 'Why I will never fall in love' and not a more general, all encompassing title. I don't know what goes on inside of other people's heads. But at least for me, in this one specific instance, I don't and never bought the idea of falling in love. The reason why I will never fall in love is because I don't think of love as a passive force, a hole in the ground to be fallen into. To me, it is not the sort of thing that happens to people. The thing that separates love from infatuation or desire or lust is that it comes from my own will and/or choice.
I love my girlfriend deeply, but I did not fall in love with her. My love towards her is the sum of many months, now years, of trying to know and understand her. At no point in the process did I ever feel as though I had crossed a threshold at which I could look back and say at one side I fell in love. Instead, there was a point in time in which I chose to elevate myself above just feelings, which themselves grew and changed, and into a commitment.
The reason why I will never fall in love is the same reason why I never bought into the idea that there is one (or a few) person or people who I am supposed to be with. I don't think that there is a person who God or some other force has destined me to be with, I really don't. And instead of taking the romance out of my life, I think instead it has placed more romance to the idea of love, and I think this is where the Bachelor and it's affiliates goes wrong. Every morning, I wake up and choose to love who I love. It is a conscious choice or affirmation. Some mornings, it is easy. Other days, when thousands of kilometers or petty things stand in our way, it is challenging. But what television doesn't tell you is that love is a hard, intentional thing sometimes. it isn't that passive feeling that comes over you, because every one does have that feeling at some point, where people are new or exciting. Instead, love is what happens when that feeling alone is not enough. I also happen to be of the opinion that choosing one person out of billions means more than simply finding the one person you were looking for all along, it carries the weight of choice and intentionality that the other idea does not have. It is this that I find romantic.
So I will never fall in love.
I will also never watch these shows, unless someone I love is in charge of the television remote. In such a case, I will watch it gladly, because sometimes love is hard.