Last night during episode 6 of The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love
, after a romantic hometown date with her dream man Jake Pavelka, Ali Fedotowsky got the news no committed employee who left her job to go on a reality TV dating show wants to get: she would have to choose between her position at Facebook and the chance to go to St. Lucia with (and possibly get engaged to) Jake. What's a young, driven, smitten kitten to do?
It wasn't an easy decision, as evidenced by the painfully long and repetitive segments of last night's episode in which Ali cried, and pulled her hair, and put her head in her hands, and then cried some more.
At two hours, all Bachelor
episodes are unnecessarily drawn-out. But by the time Ali finally decided to leave the show, and Jake finally put Ali in the limo, and inside the limo Ali continued to cry and question her decision, I looked at my watch and said, "Is it the weekend yet? No? It's only 10 pm on Monday? Well, shoot. But at least Ali finally made her choice and now we can all move on, because that was exhausting."
And then I took a brief nap and forgot all about it, until I saw the preview for next week's episode, in which Jake answers his phone in St. Lucia... and it's Ali on the other end?! Come on.
No matter what we think we saw between Ali and Jake this season on The Bachelor,
and no matter how romantic or optimistic on the topic of "true love" we consider ourselves to be, deep down, we know Ali made the right call. And she should know it, too. Here's why:
Jake's not right for her.
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I liked Ali. I really did. Which is why I was happy when she announced her departure, because she and Jake just weren't a good fit.
Without really realizing it, Ali has already proclaimed repeatedly that she and Jake aren't totally compatible. "If she's what he wants," she has said over and over about fellow love-seeker Vienna Girardi, "then I'm not what he wants." Well, Vienna is
what Jake wants, clearly, because he's kept her around this long, despite a hundred red flags, and only falls deeper in love/lust/like with her. He is about to take Vienna to St. Lucia has one of his final three, and rumor has it that he will put a ring on her finger in the end. Ali should trust her initial judgment: that Jake's judgment is flawed.
I'm not saying that Ali can necessarily do "better" than Jake, but she can certainly find a better fit for herself. Ali is smart, spunky, and sassy. The three most common adjectives used for Jake are "vanilla," "handsome," and "nice." Ali is 25. She has an independent spirit, a good job, good friends, and a good life in vibrant San Francisco. Jake is 32. He wants a woman who will move to Texas and raise a family with him ASAP. Despite their initial chemistry, the relationship just wouldn't have worked long-term.It's The Bachelor.
It's not hard to see why, regardless of these glaring personality differences and the fact that she's only known Jake for six weeks, that Ali said she loves Jake.
Any woman could fall in love--or think
she was falling in love--during a month or more of relative seclusion in which the only man she sees (besides Chris Harrison, that asexual robot) takes her on elaborate, romantic dates that make her feel special and beautiful and loved, and then drops her back off in her isolated hotel room, where all she is allowed to do is talk about him, and think about him, and anxiously await her next trip to see him. Stuck by herself for days at a time, all she can do is reminisce and cherish her time with that man, and she begins to forget the ways in which other people or activities ever felt fulfilling, or even real
, so long has it been since she felt like she had options, and the only vivid memory she has is of that man. And not only THAT, but she is up against 24 other women who feel the same thing with the same guy, and she has a competitive spirit that refuses to give up.
What I'm saying is that it's about as hard for a Bachelor
contestant to think rationally about love as it is for a crack addict to think rationally about not using crack because it kills you. The show's track record shows that love can
come out of this process, but it's a long-shot no rational person would risk a career upon, which is why the show does what it can to throw out rationality. Ali's ultimatum forced her to choose between fantasy and reality before she was ready
face the fact that The Bachelor
is a fantasy. Like a sleepwalker awoken in the midst of an intense dream, she had no choice but to freak the eff out. But that doesn't mean she didn't need to wake up.This would have happened eventually, anyway.
Let's talk odds. In 18 seasons, The Bachelor
has resulted in 1 marriage, 2 engagements, 15 break-ups, and approximately 432 losers in the game of love. So, when the inevitable--and if not the inevitable, then the highly probable
--happened, and Jake eventually dumped her for another of his remaining options; or put a ring on her finger at the end of the show and then dumped her; or put a ring on her finger, announced an engagement, and then slowly grew apart before quietly breaking it off a year later... Ali would have had to admit that The Bachelor
is an unsustainable dream, anyway. And by then, she would have given up a lot more: her job, reputation, self-respect, and the chance to be the next Bachelorette
Speaking of The Bachelorette...
Ali's time on The Bachelor
should have taught her that it is possible to fall in love with more than one person. Whether she ends up on The Bachelorette
or not, she'll realize there are plenty of other great guys out there, and she deserves the chance to test drive a few more before picking the perfect model. If vanilla Jake found so many women willing to jump through his hoops, there is no reason Ali can't find a guy in San Francisco who fits her bill. She's a catch. And if, for some inexplicable reason, she can't find a guy better than Jake...There's still time for a second chance.
If Ali and Jake really did
fall in love, are perfect for each other, and should be together forever and ever... her absence for the next three weeks won't change that. Jake may be distracted by the three other lovely ladies left in the running, but if Ali is his absolute, he'll pull a Mesnick after the show and go after her. Maybe he'll decide he respects her dedication to her work, and she'll feel empty inside in her dark, lonely cubicle, and absence will truly make the heart grow fonder. Who knows? As Ed Swiderski proved last season on The Bachelorette,
leaving the show is not a love death sentence. And as almost every Bachelor
season has proven, the final decision at the end of each season is anything but final.
Maybe the time apart is just what these two need to realize they're meant to be.
But probably not.
Which is why, even if she didn't enjoy, believe in, or even fully commit to her decision to leave her Jake fantasy, and return to reality with those terrible Facebook tyrants who made her choose between love and work (and who, oddly enough, make their living by constructing a fantasy world online... hmm
) it was the smart thing to do.
Without the ridiculous restrictions of reality TV on her back, she won't be forced to choose between love and work. She can have, and should have, both. And she knows it in her gut. It will just take a little while for her brain to catch up. Friends, fresh air, and the lack of cameras in her face will have her on the road to Bachelor
recovery in no time. She'll regain perspective, wish Jake the best of luck with whomever he chooses, and be glad it wasn't her.
Or maybe that's just what I hope
she says, when Ali calls Jake in St. Lucia next week.
But now who's living in a fantasy?