So I have a confession to make, and you have to promise not to judge me.
I am totally “fangirling” over the current Bachelorette Andi Dorfman. There is something remarkable about her, and whatever it is is generating some polarizing opinions.
Oh, and did I mention that Andi was an assistant district attorney before she resigned to do the show? What more could you ask for in a lead role!
For those of you who don’t know, The Bachelorette is a reality TV show where 25 of the nation's most handsome and eligible bachelors vie for the attention of one lucky girl. The season is full of romantic dates, a lot of kissing and tons of drama. Every Monday, I gather with a couple of my closest girlfriends, and we shamefully watch as Andi goes on extravagant dates with some of the nation’s best-looking men. Although I enjoy taking in all of the glitz and glamour, don’t mistake my guilty consumption as approval for this outlandish approach to finding love. I certainly do not find merit in the show’s search for Mr. Right, and I find it mind-blowing that millions of people tune in to watch the process unfold.
My decision to track Andi’s journey to find love started on Juan Pablo’s season of The Bachelor (you can watch the finale’s most shocking moments here). While watching Andi, I sat in awe of a girl who did not fall under the spell and grandeur of the show, but rather used her critical thinking skills to draw conclusions about Juan Pablo. Their relationship came to a head when she confronted him about his avoidant and one-sided behaviour. If any of you tuned in, you would remember how dismissive Juan became during The Bachelor when Andi voiced legitimate concerns about how their relationship was progressing. Andi expressed that she felt Juan hadn't truly made an effort to connect with her and that his behaviour was self-centered. She also expressed that he made very rude comments that went beyond honesty and were just plain hurtful, such as when he shared about a great date he had with another contestant. Juan continued to reassure Andi, “It’s okay, it’s okay”—which she took as him trying to avoid or dismiss the conversation. In the end, the confrontation was enough to confirm her suspicions that they weren’t a good fit, and she pulled herself from the show. If you haven’t seen this exchange, I highly suggest watching it; you can find it here.
If Andi is so great, why is she provoking such mixed reactions?
Friends and Tweeps have expressed criticisms about Andi, describing her as too boring or too serious. Such comments got me wondering about Andi’s attachment style and how it plays into the dynamics on the show.
Part of the reason that I took a liking to Andi over any other show contestant is because she is very well-rounded. She exudes many of the necessary qualities needed to create a healthy, long-term, committed relationship. I would even go so far as to say that she has a secure attachment style and approach to relationships.
This may be hard to believe given that Andi subjected over half of the guys to a lie detector test on a group date, but hear me out.
A secure attachment style is characterized by a positive view of self and a positive view of others.1 These individuals have a sense of confidence, a sense of trust toward others, and high intimacy in their relationships. Although their relationships may not be perfect, they are able to cope, be flexible, and adapt to what life throws at them. Their relationships, therefore, grow and thrive, thanks to their ability to foster intimacy and emotional connections.
Securely attached individuals are not afraid of emotional expression and vulnerability; they feel safe opening up in their relationships. Their comfort with closeness allows them to depend and count on their partners. But they also understand the need for autonomy and a degree of independence in their relationships. They are comfortable to rely and depend on their partners in an interdependent way, without looking to their partner for their self-worth or fulfillment. In addition, they possess the ability to step back and see their partner accurately and the issues in their relationships, while also having the coping skills and the resilience to work on challenges that may arise.
All of that to say: Securely attached individuals are pretty solid people. They don’t play games, they don't avoid getting close to others, and they are not overly anxious about being abandoned or rejected in relationships.
If we take a moment to compare Andi to this description of a secure individual, the shoe fits fairly well. She is genuinely concerned about the guys she is dating, and she makes sure not to play games and string them along. When she knows that there is no future, she is upfront and open about it. She takes a realistic approach to dating, which may come off as a bit guarded or skeptical, but demonstrates healthy boundaries. She doesn't get caught up in her hopes and desires, but constantly tries to see how each relationship would fit into her real life. Overall, her behaviour and reactions have demonstrated a fairly secure approach to relationships.
If she is secure—a trait that many of us desire—why is she criticized for being boring?
The reality is that security doesn't always create juicy reality TV. When someone is well-rounded and in control of his or her reactions, it doesn't have us all sitting on the edge of our seats. This bias in the way that relationships are presented in the media is a major pet peeve of mine. We are constantly bombarded with models of insecure and unhealthy attachment because they are entertaining. As a result, all we see are unhealthy representations of what relationships “should” look like.
So before you criticize Andi, think about the type of relationship you want and what traits you desire in a partner. Give her some credit for embodying those traits and working hard to find a secure and committed love and for doing it in front of millions of people. That takes some serious gusto!
If it’s drama you are after, the guys are making up for what Andi is lacking. I am sure that there are many more surprises to come.
For the record, in case anyone is keeping score, go #teamjosh!
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1Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 226-244.
Erica Djossa - Science of Relationships articles | Website | Facebook | Twitter
Erica Djossa is a psychotherapist who specializes in relationships. She has a Master’s degree in counselling psychology and has spent most of her lifetime observing and learning about various relationship dynamics. As a passionate professional, she works full time in a private practice, has founded and writes a relationship blog called The Love Compass, and often appears as the relationship expert for local television programs. She has a desire to educate people on the ways they can improve and strengthen their relationships in order to foster satisfying and lasting connections.