Don’t let that smile fool you. Only three episodes into his season of The Bachelor, Jake Pavelka has the tired eyes and defeated slouch of a man who knows he should count his blessings, but deep-down is questioning his choices in life. (Much the way I imagine Jon Gosselin’s face looked on the day of his sextuplets’ birth.)

Jake has “absolute faith” in the well-practiced “process” of The Bachelor, and by “process,” he means the weekly helicopter adventures and rejection (“rose”) ceremonies that slowly narrow down his pool of potential models/actresses to just the right model/actress. He saw it work for Bachelorette Jillian Harris, and was confident at the beginning of his show–to the point of absurdity, given the series’ 1-for-18 track record–that it would work for him, too.

He doesn’t seem so confident anymore.

Jake believes in the “process,” but a process is only as successful as the people who conduct it: in this case, the 25 women chosen by the show’s casting directors for their good looks, charm, lack of professional ambition, and ability to stir up drama in an empty pot. Hopped up on zinfandel and xanax for six weeks straight, it is their job to compete for The Bachelor as though he is their only chance at salvation. It’s like a real life version of Highlander (“There can be only one.”) except instead of decapitating their enemies, they must bitch each other to death until one woman is left standing.

How could such a joyous “process” result in anything but the solid beginning to a love that lasts a lifetime? It’s beyond me why we all aren’t trying it at home yet. (Must be our limited access to empty mansions.)

And yet, somehow, despite the ample cleavage and constant flattery he’s getting his hands on, Jake’s journey as The Bachelor so far has been riddled with disappointment and confusion, as he gradually discovers that his beloved “process” is made up of bumps only the most jealous and deranged of the female species can provide. And yesterday Jake claimed the “worst is yet to come.”

Obviously, Jake currently resides in a dark, cruel world where a healthy sense of reality is nothing but a foggy memory refracted through the HD lens of the camera that daily follows him into the shower. So when he says something is “the worst,” we have to imagine it in the context of a show that treats marriage and a New Year’s resolution as decisions of equal sanctity and consequence.

(Maybe The Bachelor isn’t Highlander. Maybe it’s The Matrix. “There is no spoon.” “There is no relationship.”)

Meaning, what Jake sees as “the worst” in emotional suffering, we see as “the best” in entertainment. (Maybe that makes it The Truman Show?)

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But don’t feel too sorry for Jake. Oh no. He asked for this. And despite the fact that his faith in the “process” hinges on the fact that it works, in the end Jake will deem this journey worthwhile even if it doesn’t work (which, statistically, it won’t) because:

A) He will be an ABC company man to the bitter, bitter end.
B) Two words: fantasy suite.
C) He’s learning so many lessons about life, love, and hot-tub etiquette. And, even though they cost him his dignity and sanity (and so technically do have a price), those lessons, he will say, are priceless.

I mean, here’s what Jake has learned so far, and it is SO MUCH:

When every woman you meet says she wants to marry you, some of them are lying. Rozlyn told Jake that she came on the show to get to know him and marry him (just like everyone else), because that’s a normal relationship progression for virtual strangers to agree upon. Obviously. But then she went and snuggled (and maybe more!) with one of the show’s producers. She was kicked off and kicked around by the media as a result, and in the future Jake will know better than to allow any of his girlfriends to come in contact with another living, breathing human male. (Besides Chris Harrison, whose asexuality makes him a non-threat.)

Looks aren’t everything. But they are most things, so it’s okay to mainly focus on them and forget the other stuff.

There’s a fine line between attraction and Fatal Attraction. Michelle couldn’t manage to mask her obsessive preoccupation with marriage (which she called “honesty”) for even one night, but Jake kept around this Stage 5 Clinger for three weeks, until she was nothing more than a ball of exposed nerve-endings stuffed into a tube top. Jake obviously enjoyed all the attention, but in the future he will know to only select women who have developed a capacity for shame, so they know how to fawn but keep their creepy desperation to themselves.

Face your fears. Even if it means you end up crying like a baby on national TV and insensitive bloggers just refuse to let it go.

Don’t ask a beautiful woman to tell you a joke. Sense of humor is a survival tactic developed by the more rotund and grotesque of our species. Would you ask a lion to evolve a camouflaging coat? NO! Because it’s already an effing LION. At the comedy club date, Jake learned that his ladies are like lions: majestic; temperamental; terrifying up close; full head of hair; no talent for performing stand-up; sharp claws. Learn to a love a lion just the way it is, or go find a hilarious sloth you can stand to look at. Your choice.

Follow your heart. Even if it leads you down a path full of red flags and silicone.

Twilight love is the best kind of love. Remember in Twilight how we knew that Edward and Bella were falling for each other because all they ever talked about was how they were falling for each other? (No? Well, then substitute Twilight for The Notebook.) The point is that Jake has figured out that the best test of compatibility is whether he and a girl can maintain a never-ending conversation about their compatibility. Discussions of hopes, values and beliefs are for boring people on boring dates looking for boring, slow-and-steady love. Twilight love is easy and exciting, and you get to say things like this: “I can’t live without you!” “You complete me!’ “I didn’t know what love meant until I met you.” Super fun! It’s like being in the movies, but the movie never ends!

And that’s after just three episodes! Who knew fake life was full of so many real truths?

What lessons await Jake in the second half of his Bachelor experience? We’ll find out when the fourth episode of The Bachelor airs Monday, January 25 at 8pm.