Dating For Eternity
12:30 pm, January 7th | by Sarah Devlin
It feels dishonest to be critical of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, given that I’m such an avid fan — though the dramatics, fighting and scheming subvert the show’s premise in a way that renders it nearly meaningless and rather morally indefensible, I return to it faithfully every year.
But I do have a particular nagging distaste for the way that The Bachelor/ette franchise wants to act as a “fairy tales do come true” fantasy for the men and women who participate, while also actively engineering the drama that makes for good “This season…” sizzle reels. I find it rather upsetting that so many of the contestants, particularly the women, start out so eager and optimistic about their chances of finding love on the show, despite the show’s poor success rate in that department.
The argument that everyone who signs up knows the risks doesn’t necessarily hold water when you consider the contestants who have young children, or when the show shields the schemes of its villains from the titular Bachelor/ettes (like Ashley Hebert, who eventually chose JP despite the show’s best efforts to prolong her infatuation with Bentley Williams, who would say things to the camera like “I’m going to go make her cry now. I hope my hair looks okay.”)
The even darker counterpart to The Bachelor/ette, of course, is Bachelor Pad, in which a group of contestants from previous seasons of both shows get together to drink, hook up and take part in goofy competitions with the aim of winning a cash prize (and perhaps finding a romantic partner with whom to share it). Though its main purpose seems to be proving that the lion’s share of the Bachelor/ette hopefuls were fame whores after all, at least its cast tends to be more honest about their motivations for appearing on the show.
I immediately judged The Mormon Bachelor, then, as morally superior to or at least less harmful than the ABC franchise, as the season only allowed for a maximum of three dates before picking a winner and taking things off camera, and there was no sex involved. The risk of heartbreak and embarrassment seemed greatly reduced. I came to this conclusion very quickly, before watching Chris’s season, then wondered if I was being too quick to equate the absence of sex with the absence of sleaze. That’s where “Mormon Bachelor Pad” comes into the picture.
Oh, there is a “Mormon Bachelor Pad,” and it’s just as you imagined, only worse.
…I think that we’re pretty average returned missionaries…I’d go so far as to say 95% of the women (and grown-ups) we interact with in real life would swear on a loved one’s grave that we, Calvin and Jake, are kind, respectful, spiritual, considerate returned missionaries who are trying their best to do what’s right. And guess what? I think they would be right. We ARE those guys. But in this blog, we’ve decided to let our thoughts and opinions spill onto the page without the burden of “appearing” to be someone else…
A lot of you are screaming (via typed medium) that YOU know someone who’s perfect and sweet and opens your door for you on dates, and whispers sweet nothings into your ear, and bares his testimony on Fast Sunday and volunteers to give the closing prayer in Sunday School. I’ve got news for you people. WE’RE those guys. WE do all those things. We might be in your ward. You might be coming over to our house on Monday for FHE [Family Home Evening]. You’d never know.
So, if you’ve convinced yourself that you happen to be dating the “perfect guy”, you might want to read his journal*, cause it will probably look a lot like this blog.
So goes a “Frequently Asked Questions” post on MormonBachelorPad.com, to which is appended “If he regularly writes in a journal, he’s probably gay. Good luck with that.”
Reading the contents of “Mormon Bachelor Pad” (which went dark in August 2010) made me want to take back every negative thought I ever had about Chris, who, for all his old-fashioned Rules Girl pontificating, at least kept his ugliest thoughts about women to himself. On the same FAQ page “Calvin” wrote:
In non-LDS relationships, I’m pretty sure that the goal of the guy is to have intercourse with the girl…Non-LDS girls don’t want to be involved in horizontal make-outs on the first date cause they know what will probably end up happening….intercourse. Clothes will start coming off and stuff. So, the girls don’t participate in that sort of activity because of where it will (most likely) end up.
In LDS relationships, the girl pretty much knows that the RM [Returned Missionary] she’s going out with won’t try to have sex with her. Since she’s pretty sure she won’t be pressured to do anything she’s not comfortable with, she’s much more likely to participate in vigorous, lengthy, horizontal, uninterrupted, gentle, face-caressing, passionate kissing.
For example, I will almost always date someone until we snog a few times. It’s not like I only date her so I can make out with her. Usually, I’m genuinely interested in her until we snog. After we’ve made out a few times, I realize that I was only interested in her for “the chase”. Once I’ve caught her and we’ve made out, I’m done.
From what I understand, something similar happens in non-LDS relationships… only that feeling of “I’m done” doesn’t happen until the couple has gone all the way.
There was something so off-putting about these boys congratulating themselves for leaving the physical virtue of the girls they dated intact. In the same way that it bothers me that The Bachelor/ette wants to serve simultaneously as wish fulfillment for its participants and gladiatorial spectacle for its audience, it bothered me that for “Calvin” and “Jake,” being honorable and respectful meant following “the rules” to the letter and avoiding sexual activity, freeing them up to be complete jerks to the girls they dated while maintaining squeaky clean consciences. Their exploits reproduced the worst patterns of modern dating life, while pretending to be more respectable because there wasn’t any penetration involved. It sounded like a total crock.