It’s strange how a reality TV show can help you to get real about your life, reflecting on your own mistakes, even instigating change. For me, this final episode of The Bachelorette had a surprisingly profound impact. It was especially surprising to me because this wasn’t one of my favorite seasons. Still, I really felt Desiree’s pain, understood her struggle and related to her desire of having that intense intoxicating chemistry. Like Desiree, I am an utterly hopeless romantic. I believe in the fairytale too. But sometimes we are led astray. And that can happen as a result of many things: bad people, bad intentions, ulterior motives, misguided beliefs, deception, an attempt to do “the right thing” or the thing that “makes sense,” and sometimes even by our own fantasies. What I noticed from the episode, may be different from what you saw. But you extract the lessons that you need to see, right?
Here are 10 things that I realized about myself and about love because of the final episode:
1. While love can sometimes be blind, chemistry can be blinding. Chemistry has been shown to have a similar response on the brain as drugs do. In fact, it has been equated to the sensation of heroine.
2. Sometimes it’s more about the chase, and we confuse intensity for intimacy. But it’s not just about the win, it’s the adrenaline of those first getting to know each other dates. The butterflies can carry you away, making you confuse intensity for intimacy. As a result, when the relationship doesn’t work you don’t understand why the other person could never want to see you again since you felt so close… until you realize that you only knew the person for 6 weeks.
3. Intense attraction can feel like love, but it’s shallow. It’s surface. The roots that are love haven’t had a chance to dig in yet. Yes it feels great, but give it time to mature. Then you’ve got an intense attraction on top, and deeply rooted love beneath.
4. Rushing in is like fireworks that quickly burn out, instead of a true flame that endures. Those fireworks are amazing, exciting and feel like the best moment in your life! You feel an intense connection. But scratch the surface and you’ll find that true love hasn’t taken root. And then you realize that this love isn’t deep, and may not even be true. When the fireworks are over, they are over. Soon even the smoke fades away.
5. Wanting something so badly can be like running a race with blinders on. When you want it to work so badly, you can overlook the reality of your feelings. Check in with your feelings. Is your head ahead of your heart. Are you forcing yourself to feel a love that’s not actually there?
6. Be clear on what your ultimate goal is, but don’t let your purpose make you lose sight of the day to day. Being purpose-driven is important, as you may date differently based on the goal- Are you dating for the sake of having fun, learning more about yourself, or because you are really ready to find the right one? You may find that you seek different types of people based on your purpose. But don’t force a square peg into a round hole just to obtain your vision. Being purpose-drive, with your eye and energy on the prize, can create illusions of love when really you just love the potential outcome and you found yourself a vehicle to get there.
7. When all you think about is the future, it can be hard to be in the moment. Don’t live for the possibility of tomorrow OR in an attempt to make up for mistakes of the past. Enjoy right now. Stay in the present moment and you will see that you are able to move forward, maybe even quickly. Keep at it and you will get to your goal.
8. When it comes to “Forever” it’s not “can I picture myself with him.” It’s “can I picture myself without him?” Just because it makes sense, doesn’t mean it is right for you. It’s easy to rationalize the relationship, almost convincing yourself that “this is right” and “yeah, I can see a life with him/her.” But do you actually “want” to be together?” Or can you not not be together?
9. With tears comes truth. Sometimes you have to look at yourself in the face and be honest. With tears comes truth. When you finally breakdown and cry, when you let your ego go, your words and truth come streaming out too. You have to change because it hurts too much not to.
10. Fantasy isn’t reality. Sometimes you are so stuck on this facade that appears to be everything you want. But it’s not substantive. You are stuck in this fog that makes you unable to see. Once you decide to let that go- whether you are forced to or you make the decision to, then you take a beat for the fog to disappear, you just might see that what you were looking for- that healthy and enduring love- your true Prince Charming, has been right next to you all along. You just had to get your head out of the clouds to see.