Love Lessons From Reality TV
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KELLY WAIRIMU DAVISThank you for taking time to do this. I really appreciate it.
BEN HIGGINSOf course.
KELLY WAIRIMU DAVIS: Just a little bit of a background. A few weeks ago, I saw the Bachelorette trending number one on Twitter. And it really hit home to me just how popular the franchise still continues to be after almost-- or two decades. So why do you feel as though the franchise is still as popular as it is today?
ASHLEY IACONETTI HAIBON: A weekly romantic comedy. Like people like to watch the habits of others falling in love, all the awkward moments, the funny moments, like the passion. And whether you're experiencing or not, you kind of like to live through other people.
KELLY WAIRIMU DAVISWhat are your thoughts on two bachelorettes in one season?
BEN HIGGINSTwo bachelorettes causes very obvious issues. And we've seen it so far, the competing, the kind of balancing act that both bachelorettes are having to play with all the men there. But I'll just always go back to it's only working because I think Gabby and Rachel are that great and that supportive of each other. And I think they're making the intentional decision no matter how hard this gets to be there for each other.
KELLY WAIRIMU DAVISDo you feel as though shows or series in the franchise is conducive to finding true love? And I know, Ashley that's how you met your husband. I would still like to your insight about it.
ASHLEY IACONETTI HAIBONWell, it worked in a very non-traditional way for me. We actually did need more time than we were given from the show. But we both definitely opened up in a way emotionally that we probably never would have. OK, maybe not never would have, but the show encourages you to be your most vulnerable emotional self. Whereas like in real life, I think I probably would have fought that.
KELLY WAIRIMU DAVISFrom both of your experiences, what are your thoughts on chemistry versus compatibility?
BEN HIGGINSChemistry versus compatibility. Well, when I think of chemistry, I think of that initial awe moment. That wow, not only am I super intrigued with the person that I see physically, but just the way that you handle yourself and the way you handle yourself around other people.
ASHLEY IACONETTI HAIBONI think a lot of people think that chemistry is something that you feel right off the bat. In my relationship with my husband in Bachelor in Paradise, it was interesting because I saw-- I knew there was compatibility. That was something that I was like, holy crap, like we are so compatible. But I was-- my nerves got in the way of chemistry. I knew that there was a great sense of chemistry to come.
BEN HIGGINSAs you move past chemistry, that initial awe moment, into the compatibility, I think you have to start really looking at who is this person going to be to me when maybe I'm not in a sparkly dress going to a movie premiere in a helicopter? Who is this person going to be to me when we're struggling financially or we're struggling with our health?
NOREEN DUPRIESTI guess I think about it takes grit and perseverance and forgiveness and even recognition of your own stuff in order to make a marriage work.
LIZ DAVISThe whole message of a happily ever after, you find a person and they're perfect for you and like you have all these beautiful experiences and this happily ever after. That expectation, that excitement is so palpable when you watch the show that it's not always fully rooted in the reality of the work and, like you said, commitment and compromise and perseverance and communication and conflict resolution that it takes to be in a really long lasting, decades-long relationship.
NOREEN DUPRIESTI always speak to my clients, especially in pre-marital. What are you going to do if someone has an addiction porn? Someone has a hoarding, shopping, someone cheats? I prepare or I attempt to prepare my clients for every worst case scenario. Because the truth is, those things are always there. What do you do if you have no money and you guys go bankrupt? How are you going to engage?
LIZ DAVISAnd I was also talking to my supervisor, Elizabeth Kaufman, she's a licensed marriage and family therapist in Kansas. We were just discussing just the psychology of the power of the competition aspect of the show and the potential for rejection and how that may influence the feelings of attraction and excitement within the contestants. We talked about just the influences of the stress of the show and that stress/feeling of excitement can lead us to like a heightened sense of attractiveness to someone.
We were talking about it in comparison to affairs, right? Like, affairs are so alluring and so hard to leave because they are so exciting and so different than our day to day life with our partner or spouse. People are drawn to that excitement of that newness. And yet many affairs don't often lead to lasting relationships or long lasting successful marriages, right?
NOREEN DUPRIESTThe serotonin, it's released when you are in that heightened state and in sexual desire. Even more so that why affairs happen is because you get to be somebody you're not in that marriage.
LIZ DAVISEvery relationship moves through stages. And in that honeymoon stage, we are fixated on the similarities and how much joy we're getting from each other and that togetherness aspect. But the next stage of the relationship is where I don't think a lot of people are prepared for is that differentiation stage, where our individuality shows up, our differences show up, and we have to navigate that without our differences becoming threatening.
NOREEN DUPRIEST: The compatibility is, I'm secured who I am and you can be secure in who you are or you have both. And I can be independent and you can be independent. We can be interdependent on each other, which is compatibility.
LIZ DAVISDon't twist or contort yourself to be different so that you appear more similar to the other person for the sake of being liked. Because I see in my clients, when they start to view the other person's differences as a threat, they start to question the integrity of the relationship. Are we not compatible? Do we not belong together? And I'm always telling them, actually, you're incredibly compatible. You just need to grow with each other, learn from each other's differences, develop your sense of-- like develop yourselves and balance the togetherness with the individuality.
So I would encourage any contestants on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette to explore those things on their dates so that they're not surprised when they go into real life and have to navigate that. And then wonder if they made the wrong choice.
KELLY WAIRIMU DAVISWhat would you say was the biggest thing you learned about love and true love from the show?
ASHLEY IACONETTI HAIBON: I learned more about loving myself through the series, I think. Because I needed to-- it's really like a little bit like therapy in there. It gave me a sense of confidence that I never had before. It made me embrace my flaws and my positive attributes because a lot of people saw themselves through me or they related to me. And what I would normally have been like cringing at or embarrassed by, people thought were really endearing and they were like, oh, I love that about her. And it kind of was like, yeah, this is something I should love about me too.
BEN HIGGINSMy story is a tad different than Ashley's in how this played out for me. She found love, forever love, through the franchise and I did not. But now I am married. Where I really learned a lot about love was when things got hard in my life post-show, I started to see the spots that, for myself, I needed the support from a partner. It changed for me where I wanted somebody that had a heart for people, that was genuine, that was caring, that would stand beside the people who feel like the least of these no matter what.
And that's how I found my wife was post-show kind of looking at, OK, this is what I thought during the show when I had 30 people to kind of get to know and I guess work alongside to see if we could work. This is what I looked for then. That didn't work for me. What can I look for now? And I found it.
ASHLEY IACONETTI HAIBONWell, that's beautiful.
KELLY WAIRIMU DAVISThat was.
ASHLEY IACONETTI HAIBON: I should never speak when Ben is in the same room.
KELLY WAIRIMU DAVISMe as well. Perfect.
BEN HIGGINSYou're awesome, Ashley.
KELLY WAIRIMU DAVISThat was my last question. Thank you both so much again. I really appreciate it.