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Bachelor/Bachelorette Musings | Guilty Pleasure
Kaitlyn Bristowe: Lessons on jealousy from The Bachelorette

This season’s Kaitlyn Bristowe has polarized Bachelorette fans into two camps: those who think she is the messiah of feminism and those who send her death threats on Twitter. Beyond what social media, Bachelor Nation, and I think of this season, the only people who need to approve of Kaitlyn’s behavior are Kaityln and her fiancé.

Kaitlyn appears very comfortable with her sexuality and is unapologetic about her desires to test driving her relationships. This openness appeals to many of her fans, but is she on the show to gain fans or a fiancé? I wonder if Kaitlyn’s open sexual behavior produces positive results for her.  Assuming she hopes to leave the show engaged and eventually get married, has she set herself up for success?

The jury is out on the long-term effects of Kaitlyn’s behavior. It’s safe to say Kaitlyn will pick Shawn Boothe, who got the first impression rose, and Nick Vail will go home. Assuming Kaityln and Shawn are happy in their engagement, will Shawn be secure enough to move forward or will his anxieties get the best of him? Forget Shawn! Can a man be secure enough in his relationship to avoid jealousy when confronted with evidence that she has been with other men?

Shawn has his own share of anxieties, as witnessed in his fidgeting behavior on group dates and his frequent assurance seeking. We don’t know whether Shawn is a wildly jealous, insecure guy or is acting like a man in love who wants to defend what is his. You could argue that Shawn’s insecurities increase dramatically because he is told in private that he is “the one” but sees his competition in public. With Shawn’s prior insecurities, has Kaitlyn’s strategy as the Bachelorette helped or hindered Shawn’s feeling secure in their relationship?

While there isn’t a lot of hard science on the neurology of jealousy, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, Ph.D. reports that emotionally, men are often the more fragile and the more volatile of the two sexes when it comes to relationships (at least in the early stages). Studies show that sex triggers the release of testosterone, also known as the ‘lust’ hormone. Testosterone floods the hypothalamus region of a man’s brain and drives his desire to reproduce. Unfortunately, testosterone also cranks up aggression and possessiveness in order to scare away other suitors, Fisher says.

So what can we learn about jealousy and trust from the Bachelorette? It’s one thing for final contestants on the Bachelorette to be aware that sex is happening in the privacy of the fantasy suite. It’s another when this information is aired too soon. Kaitlyn herself worries that she may have pushed it too far. Her tearful musings show her in conflict with her own behavior.

When helping married couples cope with an affair, psychologists used to believe it was helpful to the victim to hear the details. We have since changed that line of thinking. Originally, we believed that revealing details would restore trust. However, this sharing only created new images for the victim that are nearly impossible to overcome. The brain obsesses over sordid details. Add in visual cues such as texts, emails, and videos and you create a minefield for anxiety and insecurity post-affair.

The lesson for all of us in dating and long-term relationships is that both parties are responsible for creating trust. What makes for great TV doesn’t necessarily make for great relationships. If you are going to date multiple people, hopefully, you are not doing it on national TV or making it visible to your partner. In real world examples, monogamous partners who leave their online profiles up create unnecessary feelings of insecurity. If you feel strongly about someone, wouldn’t you want to protect them from negative emotions?

I am a romantic at heart, but I am also a psychologist who knows what works with successful couples. We all want to believe that love conquers all. I want to cheer for Kaitlyn and Shawn I think that if you can make it past the cameras you might have a chance to make it in the real world. What do you think of Kaitlyn’s dating strategy? I’d love to know.

SECURE note: Love, while powerful, is fragile. Protect your relationship and it will protect you.
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7 comments to " Kaitlyn Bristowe: Lessons on jealousy from The Bachelorette "

  • Rudy K

    In one of my relationships, my partner wanted to know the intimate details of a previous relationship. I answered her questions and the information made her feel insecure and anxious. It’s essential to be honest in a relationship, but by oversharing, I made her feel like less than the earlier woman.

    • Diane Strachowski

      Rudy,
      Aw yes, the proverbial “booby trap” in dating. Your partner asks you a question about your past because they are curious, you need to respond to not look defensive yet what information should you give? My advice is, give enough information about your past to suggest you’ve learned from it. Ultimately your girlfriend wants to know that she is special and also different from your past girlfriends. Who wants to be similar, after all they are now ex-girlfriends, correct?
      Best,
      Dr. Diane

      • Rudi K

        Absolutely! I should say about Kaitlyn’s strategy that I think she’s trying to keep Shawn off-balance to make her own position more secure. As you point out, that’s unlikely to work and will end up making her less secure, with either a wobbly relationship or none at all.

  • Jennifer

    You nailed it. It’s not that Kaitlyn is doing something that most of us have not done at some point, it’s that she is airing it for the nation and her multiple dating partners to see/hear about….while dating her too. It’s just classless and creates insecurities, as you talk about. If Shawn were a more secure man, he should have left the show immediately after he found out. The details of what happens before you are monogamous……should remain under wraps until you are in a secure, happy relationship…and even then…..need to know basis is the best policy.

  • Diane Strachowski

    Jennifer,
    Thanks for your comment. I will be watching tonight, but we won’t know the real outcome till weeks or months.
    I wish them well, Kaitlyn has certainly gotten a lot of press as the Bachelorette.
    Best, Dr. Diane

  • Hi Diane,

    You were 100% right in your analysis and the outcome. It will be interesting to see if this “love affair” lasts….. The one thing that I don’t agree with is the fact that you mention that all MEN are jealous — I think that takes us back to the primal state when we were Lions and we wanted to have all the tigers that we could and impregnate as many as possible….. until one day along came a stronger and bigger Lion who chased away the aging and not so strong one and was now the leader of the pack…. While I think that some of this still holds true I would like to believe that at least some of us men, at least the mature ones have evolved and better understand that there is sex for the sake of sex (We are all sexual being — some more than others!!) and then there are connections and love at a much higher level than just at the physical level — I am much more interested in the mental; emotional; etc.. aspects vs. just the sexual level. That said, If we are not compatible at a physical level that is a “deal breaker” as you clearly pointed out in your last blog!!

  • Diane Strachowski

    Navy,
    Thanks for your comment. You sound like a wise lion. I agree that jealousy is more an issue for young lions and tigers for that matter. With maturity hopefully most of us can use our intellect and not purely our hormones in decisions about love.
    Best,
    Dr. Diane

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