On April 25, 2002, my pimply, pudgy, frizzy-haired high school self sat sobbing in my living room alongside my mom and two best girlfriends. The four of us were inconsolable. Heartbroken. Wadded up tissues littered the floor. It was the finale of The Bachelor, and Alex Michel had just rejected Trista Rehn in a heart-breaking final rose ceremony.
Since the hit ABC show premiered in 2002, I have yet to miss a season. I take the highs and the heartbreaks personally. Chris Harrison is my friend. I treat each season finale as the Superbowl of love, with themed viewing parties featuring finger foods, booze, and play-by-play commentary. I could never have imagined my love for the show transitioning from onscreen to real life, until…..
Last week, 15 years after I first tuned in to The Bachelor, I found myself sitting alongside Nick Viall, the star of the show’s twenty-first season (and arguably a couple others), on a panel for The Great Love Debate at the Hollywood Improv in L.A. My inner high school dork was trembling with excitement to be sitting next to my TV love lord on this live show, a national tour that brings together panelists, special guests, and the audience for a hilarious interactive forum to dish and dissect the current state of the date. Nick and I were joined onstage by Academy-Award winner Tatum O’Neal, Krista Allen, James Michael Sama, and Christina Weber for one of the most unforgettable nights of my entire life.
Obviously, I couldn’t help but pay particular attention to the wisdom Nick imparted on us at The Great Love Debate. To kick off the show, host Brian Howie threw out the big question of “Why is everybody still single?” to Nick, jokingly referring to his three-time stint on The Bachelor. Nick cleverly retorted, “I think that speaks to the problem. Can’t find love, so gotta go on The Bachelor!” As we delved further into the debate, my reality romance hero continued to dish out advice that truly resonated with the sold-out crowd of Los Angelenos lookin’ for love. In response to what he looks for in a partner, Nick said, “Genuine confidence from a sense of humility. A willingness to learn the past relationships and past mistakes.” The key to finding love, which he has clearly found with his beautiful fiancée Vanessa (who I had the pleasure of meeting that night!), is truly “communication”. He elaborated, saying that people are no longer “having the convos we were having in the past.” In this era of social media, “guys don’t know how to speak to women or ask questions”. They lead with a “What’s up?”, and that’s it, according to Nick. I couldn’t agree more, and I think we see it with all genders: from passive-aggressive texting tactics, to self-made “rules” of letting a certain amount of time pass between messaging, to communicating with emojis (or worse, pics of you-know-what). We all need to be open and honest with each other and understand that written messages may be misinterpreted.
On another note, in lieu of a typical, televised Bachelor date of sky-diving or scuba-diving in tropical paradise, Nick suggested a fun, low-key first date idea like an “arcade bar with old-school games” to see if you have a connection with someone. I couldn’t agree more, as I often advise to keep first dates simple and no more than an hour, especially if you’ve never met in person. (Save that bungee-jumping in Fiji for later!) Making a first date short, simple, and fun takes the pressure off, too, and you can more easily see if there’s enough chemistry there to warrant a second meet-up.
As The Great Love Debate came to a close, Nick’s concluding advice was to “take some risks, take some chances… and say yes more than you say no.” Well said, Nick! To echo the great Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”