What We Can Learn from Bachelor in Paradise Season 6

Yet another season of ABC’s hit spin-off Bachelor in Paradise has come and gone, and as the September 17th season finale approaches, I’ve been thinking about how much we can learn from our favorite guilty pleasure. I love Bachelor in Paradise because the show itself is a running inside joke, yet at the same time, the most successful and enduring Bachelor nation relationships emerge from paradise. Season 6 of BIP has been quite a wild one, both on screen and off, with controversies such as Blake’s Stage Coach promiscuity and Demi’s coming-out as bisexual playing out on national television. Although I’ll admit that BIP isn’t exactly the most authentic representation of real-life interpersonal relationships, there are quite a few lessons that at least I’ve taken away from this season.

The Danger of Expectations

Going into this season, one of the most highly anticipated and hoped for paradise pairings was that of Blake Horstmann and Hannah Griffin. Both Blake and Hannah were runners-up on Becca’s and Colton’s seasons of The Bachelorette and The Bachelor, respectively, and consequently won our hearts by letting us watch theirs get broken. As the paradise buzz heightened before filming, many media outlets, Bachelor podcasts, and the Bachelor nation Twittersphere predicted that Blake and Hannah would be the power couple of paradise. However, when the two hit the beach along with the rest of the cast, they both felt drawn to other contestants (Hannah connected with Dylan and Blake connected with… well, any female who attended Stage Coach). Despite their attraction to other people, Blake and Hannah caused drama on the beach because they were so indecisive about if they should pursue each other or not. The problem here was that they both went into paradise with the expectation that they would leave engaged to one another. However, when presented with attractive, better options, they resisted the feelings they had for other contestants because of the immense weight of their expectations. Although Hannah ended up choosing Dylan, to whom she will probably (fingers crossed) get engaged on Tuesday’s finale, Blake’s paradise experience was tainted by the missteps he took in the beginning. The moral of the story, for me at least, is that when we put expectations on anything we do in life, they can distract us from things that are actually good for us. If you go into college with the expectation of being a doctor just because it’s what your parents or you, yourself, expect, you may miss out on a career path that is your true calling. So, thank you, Hannah and Blake, for teaching me how expectations can inhibit growth and potential, even though it was the most annoying television to watch (sorry).

The Mental Roadblock of Past Failure

For this lesson, I’d like to direct your attention to Chris Bukowski, a Bachelor Nation veteran who has appeared on the franchise six times (and counting). During these six appearances, Chris has played almost every archetypal role in the book: villain, night-one drunk, night-one ambusher, and now, finally, in a true character arc, the underdog that we root for. This season, Chris developed a connection with Katie Morton, from Colton’s season. Katie and Chris hit it off pretty early on, but their relationship went through a hiccup when paradise veteran Jen Saviano appeared on the beach. Katie encouraged Chris to go on a date if he were to be asked because she thought that’s what he wanted to hear. However, Chris interpreted this advice as a negation of Katie’s feelings, sending him into a mental tailspin of doubt. I have to give it to him, though, if I had failed to find love on TV five times, I too would be pretty careful about how I spent my sixth shot at love. Chris illustrates what I perceive to be the mental roadblock of past failure. Sometimes when we repeatedly try and fail to do something, we become so afraid of further embarrassment that we block ourselves off to good things that come our way. Chris was so guarded by his past failures and so afraid of being humiliated on ABC for a sixth time, that he closed himself off to Katie emotionally after the slightest misstep. It’s almost as if he was looking for things to go wrong so he could abort the mission. All in all, I think it’s important to guard our hearts, but it’s also important to be receptive to new opportunities that come our way. We’ll never get the chance to succeed if we only act to prevent failure.

Sharing How You Feel Doesn’t Make You Weak

While we’re talking about Chris, we might as well bring up Katie too. Unlike Chris, BIP6 is only Katie’s second appearance on a Bachelor show. Although her run on Colton’s season wasn’t the most memorable, Katie became a fan favorite because of her strong friendship with her fellow female contestants. As mentioned before, Katie made the mistake of speaking for Chris in saying that he should explore other relationships. As a result, Chris forged a connection with Jen, and let’s just say he spent a significant amount of time in the hot tub with her. Watching Chris and Jen was torture for Katie and she instantly regretted anticipating Chris’ needs incorrectly. However, Katie spent a long time considering whether she should confess her true feelings to Chris or if she should keep them to herself out of fear of rejection. Eventually, Katie told Chris that she only wanted to be with him and that she had made a mistake by encouraging him to date other people. At the ~dramatic~ rose ceremony, Chris chose Katie, proving that sometimes being brave and speaking from the heart wins. Although it can be scary, Katie teaches us that at the end of the day, if you really care about someone and don’t want to lose them, speaking up rather than playing games is the way to come out on top. Our feelings are not weaknesses, but rather the link that bonds people together. So, share them. Tell someone you love them today.

Of course, there’s so much more that could be taken away from BIP6 like how winning your girl back simply requires you to shave your mustache and that one should NEVER insult JPJ’s intelligence (Derek), but those would just be too obvious. Hopefully, this season will end with some new power couples and, of course, a good amount of ~drama~. Enjoy the finale on the 17th! I sure will be, with a spoonful of raw cookie dough in hand.