Bad Advice I Read on Pinterest: Vol. 3

As G.K. Chesterton said in the year 1930, “Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.” 

Perhaps he had had a vision of the future — a future in which men and women (but mostly women) might accept nearly any nonsense were it written in a pretty font, pasted on an abstract watercolor, and pinned to a friend’s Pinterest board.

Posts in this series:

Or perhaps people have always fallen prey to treating truths like fashions that pass with the decades.

(Yeah, probably the latter.)

But truth doesn't come and go like skinny jeans — which is why it’s important, when you come across an inspirational saying on Pinterest (or read/watch just about anything, for that matter), to ask yourself, “Is this actually true, or does it just sound right in this decade and this hemisphere?” 

Having done so, I give you the third edition of Bad Advice I Read on Pinterest. (Some of it, I will grant, is not necessarily untrue, just really really stupid.)

Clearly you just need to DECIDE HARDER.


George Eliot

Unless what you might've been was an Olympic gymnast or a Disney child star — it's definitely too late for that now.


She will cut you with her metal headdress.


Just watch out for ceiling fans.


Brigham Young knows a thing or two about thoughts that came from hell.


You ... and gravity ... and time ... and the inevitability of death ... do you want me to keep going?

(I'm so encouraging.)


Nothing except for most things.


evolution

Human evolution has reached its zenith in the misandrist.


I've said it before and I'll say it again: Ladies, what makes you beautiful is a man.


Some of your best memories will be made in prison.


vision

Insanely high expectations have never disappointed anyone before!

YOU get a grand vision! And YOU get a grand vision!  E V E R Y B O D Y  GETS A GRAND VISION!!!


"Ugh, finally."


Because never again will you meet a woman with a hat for head.


"Love is patient, love is kind — but not too patient or too kind. You need to think about yourself."


Maybe it's going to launch you into something great. Or maybe it's going to launch you into the side of a deer. (Congratulations, you just killed Bambi's mom.)


And that's how I know I have multiple personality disorder.


dance with god

The Prosperity Gospel — for Teens!


Not every girl wants to be in a relationship; some just want to be in a relationship.


So get out of my room, MOM.


broad daylight

I, for one, am glad people don't make love in broad daylight.


fc50fb8384999e24896f6b1018fae864.jpg

If you think that sounds expensive, you should see my dental bills.

If you think it sounds painful, you should see me poop.


Anything you can objectify, I can objectify better! 

I Photoshopped the Sims pixels onto this woman — because 1) homegirl was naked and 2) I'm of the controversial opinion that posing naked is not empowering to women — but I left the original text in all its disturbing irony.


One comma, can ruin a sentence.


gypsy soul

She lived under a bridge and ate flowers for a living, and that was not quite as glorious, but it was the life she had chosen.


And that is why we, the jury, find the defendant GUILTY.

(I think that part is called your sin nature.)


Said the snake to the woman.


So you are a whole person, but he is a stupid ass? No, wait ... that says "studpid ass."


Bring me the #@%& Midol. 


Seriously, though, WHO WRITES THIS STUFF?

What bad advice have you read lately? Tell me in the comments.

Under Construction

Sorry if things are wonky — especially with categories and tags. I'm working on my blog theme. P.S. Men Working is definitely my favorite construction sign.

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Spring & Summer Rewind: A Recap of My Recent Adventures

To me, one of the weirdest things (if not the weirdest thing) about adulthood is the lack of finish lines. I'm so used to measuring my life in school years — predictable cycles with beginnings, ends, and, best of all, mandated breaks along the way. Living without semesters feels disorienting to me — as though I keep lifting my wrist to check my watch and realizing I'm not wearing one. Time keeps passing, but I've lost the very measure by which I make sense of it. So I just ... keep going. Each season fades into the next, and I barely realize it until I look backward. When I look do backward on spring and summer of this year, I see seasons punctuated by lots of little trips to see friends from my high school and college and grad school days. I have cherished not just these trips themselves but also the anticipation of them. Each feels like a brief retreat from adulthood, a step back in time to a stage of life that passed too quickly.

Writing about my happenings somehow serves to make them last longer, so here’s a little overview of my adventures as of late:

1. Ohio in March

♫ In the words of T-Swift, “Oh, darlin’, don’t you ever grow up. Don’t you ever grow up. Just stay this little.” ♪

♫ In the words of T-Swift, “Oh, darlin’, don’t you ever grow up. Don’t you ever grow up. Just stay this little.” ♪

Fittingly, the first trip of the year was with high school friends, i.e., a few of my longest-standing besties. Lindsay, Emily and her baby Lily, and I traveled up to Ohio to see Kristina and celebrate the first birthday of her baby, Jack. These children! I can’t believe how big they’re getting. (That sounds like such a grown-up thing to say.) Emily and Kristina both have new babies on the way (due in November and January, respectively), and I’m so excited to kiss those babies’ faces.

2. California in April

My California trip with my Mizzou besties Bekah and Melissa came next chronologically, but since I already covered it in detail in this post, I won’t rehash it here. That said, I mentally rehash it all the time. Every time I talk to those girls, I start daydreaming about recreating the trip next year. We’re thinking of road tripping up California to Yosemite.

3. Charlotte in May

Feels so right.
Feels so right.

Next I drove a total of 18 hours to and from Charlotte (#traffic) for roughly the same number of waking hours with my girls from Asbury, and it was more than worth it. We stayed at Lauren’s new house — which is as cute as her blog, btw — and it felt like home just to be surrounded by these girls. Our little friend group clicked as freshmen and stuck together all four years. (Which means they have seen the worst sides of me and keep me still. That is ❤.) While in Charlotte we got pedicures, ate Mexican food, went outlet shopping, and generally pretended we were still in college. Can all our children go to Asbury together?

4. Needtobreathe and Ben Rector in May

Happy birthday to me!
Happy birthday to me!

This was not a trip, but it feels worth mentioning both because it was one of the best parts of my summer and because longtime readers will remember that I have, in the past, traveled to see both Needtobreathe and Ben Rector separately, but this year THEY BOTH CAME TO ME, TO MY CITY, TOGETHER, ON MY BIRTHDAY. It was like a birthday present from the Lord. PLUS two of my dear friends (whom I love even more than NTB and BR) were also in town for the concert — HS friend Lindsay and college friend Anna, so I got to see them both and smash my face against theirs for selfies. Best birthday ever.

5. Nashville in June

Good for my heart.
Good for my heart.

Conveniently for me, Nashville is nearly equidistant between Louisville, where I live, and Atlanta, where Asbury bestie Taylor lives. This makes it the perfect place for us to meet up for the weekend, bask in each other’s presence, and marvel at all the stylish locals. This was the second year in a row that we’ve met there, and we basically tried to recreate last year’s trip — got our nails done, drank hipster coffee, browsed little boutiques, and ate at the Loveless Cafe, which serves up common grace in the form of buttermilk biscuits. I may or may not have worn a romper. (When in Rome.)

6. Indiana in July

I'm ready to go back.
I'm ready to go back.

Next I headed north again. Asbury friends and froommates Anna and Jenelle and I drove up to Indiana to surprise our friend/former small group leader/former boss, Abby, for her birthday. This trip was so good for my little heart. You know those friends you have who are a few years older than you so they can just love on you and endow you with all sorts of life wisdom? That was Abby and her husband to our friend group in college. Seeing them reminded me how crazily blessed I had been at Asbury. Plus I got to squeeze their kiddos, one of whom I hadn’t even met prior to this! Abby also taught us how to make string art, which is way, way trickier and more time-consuming than it looks. You can see her string art and other handmade artwork here.

7. Home in July

THERE ARE EIGHT BABIES IN THIS PICTURE. Four visible, four in tummies.
THERE ARE EIGHT BABIES IN THIS PICTURE. Four visible, four in tummies.

Home is only an hour away for me, but it still feels like a bit of a trip. In July I went home for a weekend at Kristina’s pool with my high school friends, including Brooke, who’s been IN KENYA, IN AFRICA, on the OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD for the past two years (and now lives in Louisville, woohoo!), and Laura, whose sweet BABY GIRL TWINS I got to meet for the first time. Look at all dem babies! I want to tell my friends both to keep these babies coming and to slow down until I catch up.

8. Columbia in August

Feels like home.
Feels like home.

Just a couple of weeks later, I headed to Columbia to see my Missouri people. There are a few things I always have to do when I go to Columbia: run on the trail (best trails in the country); go with Bekah to get Indian food from the sketchiest, most delicious Indian place ever; go to the Columbia Target; visit campus; and spend some QT with (slash absorb lots of life wisdom from) people from my old church. Check, check, check, check, and check. Another reason for this visit was to meet/vet Bekah’s new boo, and he passed my vetting.

9. Houseboat in September

Our summer tradition
Our summer tradition

The most recent trip was with my high school friends to Betsy’s granddad’s houseboat. This was our eighth houseboat weekend since senior year of high school. The houseboat is, historically, my favorite place on the planet because once you’re there, you’re there, and no one has cell service. Except this year we pretty much all ended up having cell service. Darn you, cell phone companies and your ever-expanding coverage! So I put my phone on Do Not Disturb (a setting I probably need to use more than I do) and just enjoyed a too-short time with these girls, my loves.

In the midst of all these visits with friends, I've repeatedly found myself marveling at the ongoing blessing that these friendships have been to me. I'm done with grad school and college and high school, but the best parts of these stages are not completely behind me because the relationships continue. Part of me looks longingly on the bygone years and wishes I could go back in time. And part of me knows that just having people to return to is a blessing in its own right, one for now.

Life in Louisville has been a lot harder than I anticipated. I can’t figure out if it’s this city or simply this stage of life. Maybe I’d feel this way anywhere. I just can’t imagine that I will look back longingly on these early adulthood years in the same way that I look back on earlier stages.

What I do know is that, whether or not I ever miss this stage as a whole, there will be individual people and things about it that I miss. One day I will surely miss being able to bebop around to see my people all the time. That is a temporary luxury, so I will cherish it now — even if it’s only the highlight of an otherwise rough season.

And what was I just saying about seasons? They tend to fade away before I realize it? I know this one could too, whether or not I can see the finish line.

Until then, I’ll enjoy the myriad trips this stage affords. Next stop: Atlanta with my Asbury girls in three weeks. I can't wait.

The Bachelorette’s Lessons on Life & Love: Part 2

Can you believe Kaitlyn’s season of The Bachelorette is already wrapping up? She’s down to just three guys but up to her neck in drama. I haven’t been able to watch the show as scrupulously as I like to, but I do have some overall impressions of the season and guys thus far that I thought y’all might enjoy.

My feelings really confirm my feelings.
My feelings really confirm my feelings.

First off, I’m pretty over Kaitlyn as the Bachelorette. We’ve seen next to no actual conversation between her and the guys. She mostly just makes out with them, and it’s difficult to evaluate the different relationships when make-out sessions are the only point of comparison. I suppose I could start scoring kisses in terms of approach and awkwardness and volume level, but that makes me want to throw up.

Historically, kisses are to Bach contestants what those little gold coins are to Mario. The more you collect, the more staying power you have. So I get it. I understand why the guys go for the kiss early on. But, still, it seems backward to me to kiss someone you barely know in order to have a chance to get to know that person. Call me old-fashioned.

What else do you need, really?
What else do you need, really?

Additionally, I feel as though I’ve been watching one single episode over and over again. The group dates are all the same, and the producers keep ending the eps with cliffhangers instead of the standard rose ceremonies. Group dates have included a boxing match,a sumo-wrestling match, a stand-up comedy competition, a hip-hop battle, a mariachi showdown, and a Broadway audition, among other things. So much competition … and composition. We’ve had cliffhangers involving Kupah’s early exit due to his being a jerk, Clint’s early exit due to his being a jerk, and Ian’s early exit due to his being a jerk. It’s like, who came up with the dates this season … and who vetted the guys? We need a couple of bad apples, of course, but maybe not this many.

Back to our Bach, though. In addition to making out too much, Kaitlyn makes terrible decisions too much. (I’ll explain more in Nick’s sectionbelow.) I keep thinking, Kaitlyn, girl, you need a friend to help you process your options a bit more and/or to smack you upside the head now and again.

It occurred to me while watching her this season that some of the reason the Bachelors and Bachelorettes consistently make bad decisions is that they don’t have anyone around themto talk them out of doing so. They’re rather isolated.In the real world, you have friends and family to provide perspective into your decision-making. In Bachelor-world, you have Chris Harrison, and amping up the drama is literally his job. (“KAITLYN, GENTLEMEN, THIS IS THE FINAL ROSE TONIGHT.”) The Universal Truth of the Week Month is along these same lines.

Universal Truth of the Month: To make wise decisions, we need input from people with different perspectives.

 

Kaitlyn’s decisions look bad to me because I come at her situation from a different perspective. She sees it from the inside; I see it from the outside. She interprets it through one worldview; I interpret it through another. And as anyone who’s ever watched a disputed fumble on instant replay knows, the exact same situation can look completely different depending on where you’re standing and how you’re looking at it. (I just made a SPORTS ANALOGY, guys. Do I win something?)

We need other people's input into our life decisions because we simply don’t have the capability to identify and weigh all factors rightly in every situation. We are not unbiased, we can’t see the future, and we don’t even know our own motives half the time. Other people are able to provide perspective and wisdom that we don’t have.

On that note, I thought I’d provide MY perspective — whether or not it’s wise is for you to decide. Here are my takes on a few of the most memorable guys this season, some of whom are still around and some of whom have already gone home. I'll try to hit the drama high points along the way as well.

Ben H. (Remaining 3)

I think that Ben's face will help the connection.
I think that Ben's face will help the connection.

I'm putting Ben H. first because he is my fave of the remaining dudes. Of all the guys this season, Ben H. is the one I’d most likely go for in real life because he loves Jesus and, less importantly but still of note, he’s got a real Clark Kent vibe going on. (Seriously, get this man some glasses and a byline at the Daily Planet.) His social media accounts do, however, suggest questionable interpretation of Scripture, which is unfortunate considering I like a man’s doctrine like I like his abs: rock solid. (Just kidding about the abs part.)

Basically Ben H. seems like your classic WIPD, which is an acronym I just made up for Well Intentioned but Poorly Discipled. I say this because no Christian dude with good people in his life should be dating Kaitlyn. (Hashtag unequally yoked.) He’s a strong contender to be the next Bachelor, so here’s to hoping he gets some good mentors between now and then.

Jared (Eliminated in episode 9)

Classic Jared, being BETTER THAN ANY OF US DESERVE
Classic Jared, being BETTER THAN ANY OF US DESERVE

Jared is one of those guys who gets way more attractive the more you get to know him. He didn’t do anything skeezy all season, and the only thing I can criticize him for is the cringeworthy poem (there’s one every season!) that he read to Kaitlyn. Okay, also for his unfortunate facial hair. (Unfortunate facial hair/haircuts are another reason people need the input of others in their lives.)

Preach
Preach

Even when Kaitlyn sent Jared home in the most recent episode, he was an absolute gentleman — offering her his coat as they stepped outside to say goodbye. This was the perfect example of another real-life truth I’ve seen played out on The Bach: You’ll remember a guy as much (if not more) for the way you parted ways as for the rest of the relationship. Nothing secures a girl’s ongoing high regard quite like a man’s gallant departure.

One of the Bachelor podcasts I listen to calls Jared “Sharpface,” which is so, so accurate. He’s good-looking in a sharp way. If he weren’t so sharp-looking, he would definitely be the next Bach.

Ben Z. (Eliminated in episode 8)

You can come protect me, Ben Z.
You can come protect me, Ben Z.

Kaitlyn at one point described Ben Z. as a “babe soda,” which is a wonderful term I have recently begun using. If you read my "Bell Curve of Beefy" post, you know that I’m not normally a fan of overly muscled guys, but I will make an exception for Ben Z. because he seems to have a good ego-to-muscle ratio, by which I mean his muscles are big but his ego isn’t.

Kaitlyn and Ben Z. went on a memorable one-on-one date (or as I like to call it, a date) to a place called The Basement. If you’re in L.A., you, too, can visit The Basement, which the website describes as a “live escape room experience.” Basically you pay to pretend you’ve been kidnapped by a cannibalistic serial killer, and then you have to solve riddles to escape his horror-filled basement before time runs out.

Ahem. THIS SOUNDS LIKE THE WORST DATE EVER. It did, however, give me an excellent idea for an actual date in my own basement wherein a suitor comes and kills all the spiders. Any takers?

J.J. (Eliminated in episode 8)

This was right after he stressed to Kaitlyn that he was husband material.
This was right after he stressed to Kaitlyn that he was husband material.

There were a number of objectionable guys this season, but most objectionable, in my opinion, was J.J. I shudder at the name. After deliberately positioning himself as “the most hated man in the house,” J.J. solidified his spot as the villain by publicly betraying his bestie, Clint, in episode 5.

Clint and J.J. had been buddy-buddy until tips from the other guys led Kaitlyn to send Clint home mid-episode. At that point, J.J. immediately pulled a Bronedict Arnold and asked Clint to apologize to everyone for being an emotional energy-suck. This resulted in what Jared called “the most dramatic breakup in Bachelor history.” For once, this was not hyperbole. After Clint left, the producers tried to make J.J. look all normal and sane, as if we could forget the side of him we’d seen earlier.

Ian (Left in episode 7)

Put your money where your mariachi is.
Put your money where your mariachi is.

Ian was my fave early on. He was smart — a Princeton grad — and he was a runner. Plus, he’d gotten hit by a car and learned to run again, which is like Bach-contestant gold. All season I waited for Kaitlyn to get time with him, but she didn’t, and one day HE SNAPPED.

It happened after the mariachi group date. Ian had oversold his singing skills and then, upon singing rather poorly, had left the date with a big ol’ bruise on his ego. Rather than deal with his own insecurities about the fact that he still hadn’t earned Kaitlyn’s attention, Ian decided to tear her down, pulling her aside at that night’s rose ceremony to call her “a surface-level person” and to say he wanted to leave.

Explaining why he should be the next Bach (Anyone who watches this show knows this is the KISS OF DEATH.)
Explaining why he should be the next Bach (Anyone who watches this show knows this is the KISS OF DEATH.)

“I don’t understand why Kaitlyn wouldn’t want a Princeton graduate former model that defied death and has been around the world a couple of times,” is an actual thing he said during an aside before their exchange. “I don’t find Kaitlyn interesting. I don’t think that’s something wrong with me; I think that’s something wrong with her.” It was clear that he was trying to vindicate himself, trying to make sense of her lack of interest, trying to atone for his poor mariachi performance.

All of a sudden, it became clear that the things that had seemed impressive about Ian largely because he himself hadn’t seemed impressed by them — his alma mater, his athleticism, his comeback from injury — were, in fact, the basis upon which he sought to justify his entire existence. (Case in point: He included his prestigious elementary school on his LinkedIn profile.)

As I watched Ian ride away in the limo, listing his own merits, I thought to myself, Ugh, I’ve totally dated that guy — and then, two seconds later — Ugh, I’ve totally been that guy. I'm being that guy right now.

I’ve waved around my resume upon feeling threatened, all while criticizing someone else. It’s a nasty inclination, but like so many others demonstrated on this show, it’s not unique to TV contestants.

Nick (Remaining 3)

Nick was the runner-up from last season’s Bachelorette. He was inches away from being proposed to by — er, from getting to propose to — Andi when she sent him home in favor of Josh, the archetypal bro. I’d loved Nick last season; he was so articulate. (This was all the more attractive because of his juxtaposition with Josh, who knew roughly seven words.) I’d been disappointed that Andi chose Josh, so I was excited when Nick showed up and asked to join Kaitlyn’s season halfway through. The other guys were, obviously, less excited — critical of his motives, critical of her motives in considering him. They were surprisingly jealous for guys who were dating a girl who was already dating a dozen other guys.

Facing the decision of whether to let Nick on the show, Kaitlyn could’ve used some of the aforementioned perspective of others. In a rare Bach turn of events, she did get a bit of this from formercontestant Ashley S., who made a cameo when Kaitlyn went to Ashley’s NYC hair salon for an updo and a heart-to-heart about Nick. If Kaitlyn let Nick stay, she risked hurting all her current boyfriends, but if she let him go, she risked missing out on their undeniable “connection.”

That's not everything. That's two things. No, come to think of it ... that's one thing.
That's not everything. That's two things. No, come to think of it ... that's one thing.

Kaitlyn: “It was like, I’ve never experienced like that kind of chemistry from just looking at someone within two seconds. Like it already feels serious with him.”

Ashley: “But that’s lust.”

Kaitlyn: “Well, so what do you think — that that can easily fade?”

Ashley: “Yeah …. It’s really important to have another connection, like a friendship.”

Rather than considering Ashley’s sage advice, Kaitlyn assured the cameras that she knew the difference between love and lust and, not long after, started making out with Nick — which, as gold kissing coins always do, effectively solidified a spot for him for the remainder of the season.

Your definition of "great" is my definition of "problematic."
Your definition of "great" is my definition of "problematic."

It was somewhat weird to watch Nick act exactly toward Kaitlyn as he had acted toward Andi. The “connection” he and Andi had shared no longer seemed that spectacular. It became apparent that you could put any girl on screen with him and expect a connection. His eyes and his words can hypnotize. He’s so smooth he puts girls in a trance. I don’t think this makes him insincere, and I don’t think it means he has bad motives. (I still quite like him, actually.) I just think it makes him dangerous.

On that note, I must address the bad decision to rule them all: Kaitlyn and Nick went “too far” after their one-on-one date in episode 7. (That’s my attempt to keep this blog PG.) This was the worst episode of the show I’ve ever seen, and even though they’d promoed this twist all season, I still felt as though I’d tuned in for Survivor only to find myself watching the Hunger Games — the actual Hunger Games. What I mean by this is that it’s one thing to put people on an island and watch them scavenge for food and call it entertainment; it’s different to put them on an island and watch them kill each other and call it entertainment. In the same way, it’s one thing to put people in a mansion and watch them date; it’s different to put them in a mansion and watch them — ahem — misbehave. (Not literally watch them, but you know what I mean.) At that point it’s not fun anymore. It’s just sad.

Ever since, however, Kaitlyn has been reaping the consequences. She’s been wracked with guilt, which has colored her relationships with every other guy, making her interactions with them seem strained and disingenuous. This is particularly true in the case of Shawn, the only real front-runner other than Nick.

Shawn B. (Remaining 3)

Question itttt. Question it.
Question itttt. Question it.

If Ryan Gosling gained 30 pounds of muscle, moved in next door to you, and had a jealousy problem, he would actually be Shawn B. For a long time, I was confused about Shawn’s relationship with Kaitlyn. He did get the first impression rose, but he didn’t get a one-on-one — or much screen time at all — until episode 6. Nevertheless, he and Kaitlyn seemed confident about their “connection” in the meantime, and upon the arrival of Nick, Shawn was decidedly the most jealous man in the house (silver medal to Joshua). Shawn wouldn’t even deign to say Nick’s name, thereby relegating him to Voldemort-level bad guy status.

Shawn’s jealousy was somewhat accounted for when we learned that he and Kaitlyn had had off-camera time at some point earlier in season — I’m still confused about the timeline — and that during this time, Kaitlyn had told Shawn he was “the one.” (Kaitlyn is really giving the bird to the producers this season. She’s breaking all dem rules and all dem hearts. Just like professing love before the final episode, off-camera time breaks the Bachelor rules.) On the one hand, Shawn's jealousy seems out of proportion for a guy who knew the premise of the show when he signed up for it. On the other hand, Kaitlyn shouldn't have given him false assurance about his standing. That's like Dating 101.

In the most recent episode, Kaitlyn told Shawn about her transgression with Nick. The whole conversation was positively cringeworthy; it wasn’t exactly an apology because Nick was staying on the show. It was more of a statement and an unspoken question: "Will Shawn stay, too? Also, will he murder Nick in the night?" For reasons I do not understand, Shawn did stay, which brings us up to speed with the show’s current status.

What’s Ahead

We are now smack dab in the middle of the love-hate triangle that is Nick, Shawn, and Kaitlyn. Ben H. is just standing on the sidelines, looking ridiculously handsome.

My hope is that Ben H. will leave of his own accord, go home, and join a better church; that Shawn will realize Kaitlyn's not as into him as he is into her and also leave of his own accord; and that Kaitlyn and Nick will get what they deserve, which is each other, I guess. Honestly, I don’t really care at this point, but that's the only ending that would seem fitting. The next episode starts in 14 minutes, and I still have to add all the pics y’all love so much, which means this blog post will be outdated by the time it’s posted, but I've done my best!

The Bachelorette's Lessons on Life & Love

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When I started my "Life Lessons from The Bachelor" series last year, I planned to do it for only one season. Let’s be real — every season is basically the same. I felt I could, in one fell swoop, make my point about the universal relatability of the franchise. But as I caught up on the new Bachelorette premiere last week, I saw too many potential Universal Truths to keep my little blogging self quiet. (Here's the series intro if you need background.)

I again saw myself on the screen — bits of me in Kaitlyn and Britt and the guys. And I thought, This is why I watch the show … and this is what had compelled me to write about it. It’s so dang relatable. That, to me, is the redemptive aspect of the admittedly ridiculous premise. As I explained then, I don’t watch primarily to make fun of the contestants. I watch because, in them, I see myself. [In fact, since writing those posts, I’ve repeatedly watched myself fall prey to some of the same Universal Truths I pointed out about the contestants. (Hello, number two.)] All that to say, I just couldn’t not comment on this premiere, so … I’m back. I can’t commit to recap every episode, but I may pop up here and there with a new Universal Truth of the Week. (Or, you know, the Month. Flex with me here.) Sometimes the relatability is too good to pass up.

awkwardandpainful1.jpg

The premiere of this season began with Chris Harrison explaining its new twist, which we all already knew about: TWO POTENTIAL BACHELORETTES.

Kaitlyn — the second runner-up and audience favorite from last season — should, according to every precedent, have been the Bachelorette. During any normal premiere, she would have dolled up, met her suitors, and then begun the “journey to find love,” by which I mean the journey of dating 25 guys simultaneously. 

solidbillion1.jpg

But, no, this season the should-be Bachelorette would be pitted against another girl for the title. Kaitlyn would face off against Britt the Beautiful. It must be stated that this was basically Britt’s entire claim to fame: her face. Also her Disney princess hair. Sure, she had cried a lot last season and acted as though she and the Bachelor were meant to be, but so had 99 percent of the other girls who’ve ever been on the show. The only reason Britt is memorable as a contestant at all is because she is gorgeous — like a blonder, dewier Angelina Jolie.

This season Kaitlyn and Britt would meet the 25 guys together, and then the guys would cast their votes for the girl they wanted to stay. (They did this by slipping away to a separate candlelit room of the Bachelor Mansion and dropping roses into rose-shaped slots carved into wooden boxes placed under framed photos of each girl. It was not melodramatic at all.)

“Will this be awkward and probably a bit painful?” Chris Harrison asked as he explained the new twist before the first night. (Coincidentally this is the same question I ask myself in the mirror before I go on first dates.) “Sure!” He said. “But hopefully it will lead to a better chance for true love to blossom.”

Right.

Chris said, of course, that the producers had decided to let the guys choose the Bachelorette because the guys who’d auditioned were “truly divided” about whom they wanted a chance to date. This is total bull. Clearly the producers pitted the girls against each other because it added another level of drama and tension. Interestingly for us, however, it also added another painful level of relatability.

We had to watch Kaitlyn (already the protagonist to me — and to most viewers, I would imagine) endure the typical meeting of the men while standing next to Britt. Normally the guys would’ve had all eyes on Kaitlyn. They would’ve stepped out of the limos, straightened their suits, walked her way, and then — with some cheesy or sweet or stupid statement — expressed their excitement to get to know her.

As it was, however, their attention was divided. With two women in the running, the first night would not be about getting to know Kaitlyn. It would be about evaluating Kaitlyn in light of Britt and vice versa.

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There was something disturbingly familiar to me about watching the guys compare the girls. It felt a little too real-life for my liking. In real life there’s never just one girl. There are always others to whom a guy can compare a girl and to whom a girl can compare herself.

“I feel like I’m at a seventh grade dance,” said Brady as he stepped out of the limo and surveyed his female options.

“We feel the same way,” said Kaitlyn. She seemed noticeably more nervous than Britt, repeatedly telling the cameras she felt sick to her stomach.

“I just hope the guys will give me the opportunity to prove to them that I deserve this chance,” she said during one aside.

Everything about that sentence pains me. (No wonder Kaitlyn told the cameras the night was “excruciating.”) I can think of few things more painful and futile than trying to prove your worthiness to a guy, let alone a guy who’s actively comparing you to someone else, whether another real person or an imaginary standard.

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And that was how Britt seemed to me — imaginary. Unlike Kaitlyn, whose personality was her selling point, Britt had been a two-dimensional character last season. Now just a blank slate with a pretty face, Britt could become whoever the guys wanted her to be. That’s how she’d won Bachelor Chris’s affections — he sent her home only after learning she’d lied to him about wanting to live in Snoozeville, Iowa — and it was the tactic she took again this go-round.

She used every detail any guy shared with her as an opportunity to position herself as his type. She told Ben H., who brought up his sponsor child, that her sponsor child was the most important thing to her; she told Brady, who mentioned praying, that her faith was the most important thing to her; she told J.J., who lauded her mention of relationships, that relationships were the most important thing to her.

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Britt’s plasticity demonstrated that even she — a girl to whom no other girl on the planet would want to be compared — was feeling the impossible weight of comparison and evaluation. “I almost feel like I have to go and in 30 seconds prove myself as wife material so they put a rose in my box,” she told the cameras.

I have to prove myself as wife material. What an ironic confession — one that sums up the dysfunction of this season’s setup. By pitting the girls against each other, each was forced to prove why she could be worthy of the guys’ love. Each was asked to earn what, by definition, cannot be earned. This leads us to our UTOTW.

Universal Truth of the Week: If you have to earn it, it isn't love.

This is the irony not only of this show but also of much of modern dating. If love is what the contestants are after and love operates outside the earning/deserving system, then it cannot be reached by either party proving him- or herself to the other. But that's exactly what we try to do. We try to prove ourselves — by what we say, by what we wear, by what we ask, by whom we know. We try to be enough. (And on the flip side, we often act as though others must prove themselves to us. Being discerning in dating is one thing. Insisting someone deserve your attention is another.)

Even the guys on the show — who, pre-vote, weren’t even in the hot seat yet — admitted that they felt the pressure to compare and compete to impress the girls.

“You walk in [to the Bachelor Mansion], and it’s like, wow, every single guy is better-looking … taller,” said J.J. “There’s just insecurity that just takes over.”

Is this, then, a fatal flaw in the original premise of The Bachelor (with or without this season’s twist)? Isn’t competition for love the whole point? Well, yes and no. Insofar as the show’s setup enables people to actually get to know each other, I think it could also produce real love (its purported goal). This doesn’t seem to happen often, but it has happened on occasion — later in the season, that is, after the Bachelor or Bachelorette has actually gotten to know the contestants, after they’ve become 3D people instead of pros and cons on paper.

[Fun fact for the record and/or the haters, the Bachelor franchise has a 100 percent marriage success rate at this point. All six couples (out of 30 seasons!) who married are still married. The engagement success rate is obviously far lower, but I do not believe in the sanctity of engagement, so I don't actually care.]

I don’t think, though, that most rational viewers watch the show to see the people fall in love. We watch the show to see people be people, to watch their conversations and their decision-making, to see our own tendencies played out on-screen by others. We, too, are comparing ourselves to the people comparing themselves to people.

This is getting super meta.

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ANYWAY, though things seemed to be going in Britt’s favor for the first half of the premiere — TWO-WEEK OLD SPOILER ALERT — the guys eventually ended up voting for Kaitlyn. I never doubted that this would be the case considering the producers knew viewers wanted Kaitlyn.

Today, three episodes later, we know that, though many of the guys who were Team Britt stuck it out for a chance with Kaitlyn, a couple (Brady and Tony the Healer — who is reality television GOLD, by the way) have already peaced out of their own accord.

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On any normal season, the Bachelorette is the only option, so everybody wants her. Hashtag scarcity bias. This season, however, the guys glimpsed another option and, as a result, are noticeably less convinced that Kaitlyn is their ultimate fairytale dream woman. A few of the guys — specifically Clint and Kupah, or as I like to call him, “The Worst” — have taken an unprecedented backseat approach to dating Kaitlyn. They’ve developed an if-she’s-interested-she-can-find-me attitude, as if it’s still the first night and still her job to come after them instead of the other way around. (For the record, male readers, this is super off-putting in a guy.) I will be quite curious to see how the original Kaitlyn vs. Britt twist affects the rest of the season, and I hope to high heaven that Kaitlyn chooses one of the guys who wanted only her from the get-go.