Stop Being Surprised When ‘Bachelor’ Couples Don’t Work Out

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On last night's finale of The Bachelor, Brad Womack chose Emily Maynard over Chantal O'Brien. In the After the Final Rose special that traditionally airs, well, after the final rose, the engaged couple comes out and blathers about their love for the ages. Normally, couples from the show break up a few months after the finale, probably because they have contracts saying their relationship needs to last a specified amount of time. However, Brad and Emily admitted-without-admitting that their relationship is basically over.

Brad's storyline this season was about redemption, and how after pulling an “I Choose Me” on his first Bachelor go-round he had done a lot of soul searching and was ready to settle down. Emily's own story was interesting as well, as she was a single mom raising her young daughter, whose father had been killed in a plane crash. Most of the women on The Bachelor are blank slates onto whom the Bachelor can project his own hopes and dreams (and, usually, ambitions toward fame). The fact that Emily is compelling in her own right made me think that this season would be more interesting than usual. However, it's clear that something went down between the time the show ended filming and After the Final Rose was taped – Brad and Emily confessed that they'd already broken up once and despite still being engaged Emily wasn't wearing a ring. She cited Brad's “temper” and her own issues about moving on after her fiance's death as reasons why they were having problems.

The Bachelor has never been a place for admitting that relationships are complicated and involve work, and host Chris Harrison was having no part of Brad and Emily's impromptu therapy session. Instead, he brought out the three remaining successful Bachelor couples – Ryan and Trista Sutter, Jason and Molly Mesnick, and Ali Fedotowsky and Roberto Martinez (who were on the most recent season of The Bachelorette and are engaged). While it's impressive that three couples have gotten together because of the show and that two of them have gotten married (I still have my doubts about Ali and Roberto), that is hardly an advertisement for The Bachelor/ette as a way to find true love. There have been 15 seasons of The Bachelor (but only 14 Bachelors, since Brad was on twice), and one marriage. And that marriage – which involved Jason Mesnick dumping final-rose-recipient Melissa Rycroft on live television so he could hook up with runnerup Molly Malaney – wasn't exactly the show's finest moment. Although The Bachelorette has only had six seasons, its track record is better, with season one's Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter married and with kids. Honestly, the odds of breaking up with someone from this show are much, much higher than the odds of actually finding a life partner. The Bachelor‘s insistence on bringing out its successful marquee couples every time there's a recap show is insulting the viewer's intelligence, assuming that because one or two couples managed to make it work against the odds that every season will end in a big white televised wedding.

One reason I've always kind of liked Brad – despite his annoying therapy speak on camera – is that he was one of the only contestants in the history of this show who has admitted that relationships aren't always easy. When he didn't choose either of the finalists in his original season, he wasn't doing it to make good TV – he was doing it because he knew he wasn't in love with either of them and it would be wrong to propose to someone you had no intention of marrying. The lexicon of The Bachelor is comprised mostly of “amazing”s and “soul mate”s and “feeling a connection”s, and “working through issues” or “realized we weren't right for each other” doesn't fit in there. It's easy to be in love when you're going on midnight boat rides and watching the sun set together; it's another thing to be in love when you both have to get up early to go to work the next day and can't agree whose TiVo queue gets precedence. I give Brad and Emily credit for their candor on last night's show, and wish them the best – whether it's with each other or not.