'The Bachelor': The Focus on So-Called 'Vulnerability' is a Cruel Way to Exploit Contestants' Traumas

the bachelor matt james recap review episode 2

It all started with Clare Crawley last season on The Bachelorette. Tayshia Adams continued it, and now Matt James has taken the baton on his season of The Bachelor.

What are we talking about? The new emphasis on vulnerability and authenticity.

Now, on the surface, that seems perfectly fine. Who doesn’t want the person they’re dating to be authentic and real?

But the way The Bachelor producers have gone about it is absolutely disgusting.

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Matt and Sarah

Look at the second episode of the season, when Matt went on his one-on-one with Sarah.

Now, this is only the third time max that the two have ever even been in the same room and the first time they have had some real time to get to know each other.

Sarah said that she personally had trouble in the past opening up and was worried whether or not she could become vulnerable on this date.

She ended up opening up to Matt about her father’s diagnosis of ALS and her decision to leave her job as a journalist and become his caretaker full time. It wasn’t easy for her but she said she felt relief after the conversation. [Note: she later felt dizzy during the rose ceremony, which may or may not have been some sort of panic attack.]

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Matt and Bri

Now, it’s certainly important for two people who are dating to open up to each other. For any relationship to go to the next level, a certain level of vulnerability is crucial.

But to expect — or even demand — that someone open up about their biggest trauma on the very first date? Not only is that absurd but it’s disrespectful.

I realize The Bachelor is supposed to be a *seriously* condensed version of dating, but couldn’t they have given her at least until the second or third date?

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Matt and Khaylah

This kind of behavior is exactly what happened on The Bachelorette. The producers demanded that contestants strip themselves emotionally bare. And if they didn’t, they got the boot.

Take Ben Smith. Relatively early on, Tayshia told Ben he was not being vulnerable enough, that he wasn’t “showing up” for her. He proceeded to spend the rest of the season trying to prove himself and opening up about his eating disorder just to stay in the game. But even that wasn’t enough. When he couldn’t deliver an “I Love You” on-demand, he got sent home. It was only after he confessed his love to Tayshia that he was allowed to return.

Perhaps the worst part of this whole equation is the lead is never expected to reciprocate this “vulnerability.” On Matt’s date with Sarah, he sat there listening with empathy. But he didn’t exactly reciprocate.

And that’s how you know that The Bachelor producers don’t actually give a shit about “vulnerability.” They care about drama, trauma, and how they can turn it all into a great moment of TV.

I feel for the remaining women, all of whom will most likely be “encouraged” (aka pushed) into confessing their deepest traumas to Matt well before they’re ready to do so.

It’s still early in the season so we’ll have to see if things go the same way they did in Tayshia’s season. Here’s to hoping Matt and the team can turn things around before we traumatize these girls even further.


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Lena Finkel
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and Vanderpump Rules. When she's not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her hanging out with her tuxedo cat Tom.