by Natalie Finn | Sat., Nov. 19, 2016 7:00 AM
It seems like every other day there's an announcement that someone who was once on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette is getting married or having a baby.
And that estimate isn't too far off—only it isn't fellow show alums they're settling down with.
There have been a handful of success stories, of course. Sean Lowe and his chosen bride Catherine (née Giudici) welcomed a son this summer. Ashley Hebert and J.P. Rosenbaum now have two children together. Jason and Molly Mesnick worked out swimmingly once the discomfort of him dumping Melissa Rycroft on the After the Final Rose special was behind them. And of course, O.G. Bachelorette Trista Sutter has been married to her pick of the litter, Ryan Sutter, for almost 13 years now.
But these success stories remain the exception to the rule—that dating for roughly six weeks in a completely unsustainable manner, financially, geographically and otherwise, is not the greatest launching pad for happily ever after. At least not with each other.
The most recent Bachelor and two Bachelorette-born couples remain engaged: Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell have called off their wedding for now but just celebrated the one-year anniversary of his proposal. Kaitlyn Bristowe and Shawn Booth are chugging along, and JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rodgers aren't planning a wedding yet but rather are continuing to enjoy the honeymoon phase of being able to go out in public together.
So we will see if the overall success rate improves soon enough. Only once has a Bachelor-bred couple lasted for years before they eventually went their separate ways, like bass fishing pro Byron Velvick and Mary Delgado from season six. (They split up for good in 2009, two years after Mary was arrested for drunkenly assaulting Byron, per police at the time).
"Just because you met on a reality show, got engaged on this beautiful incredible setting doesn't mean that we're Prince Charming or Beautiful Princess," Byron said after the incident. "It's nothing like that. It's just a real couple going through real things."
Indeed, it's easy to forget that, before anyone donned that suit or gown and climbed out of that limo (or did something silly like descend in a helicopter or ride up on a horse), they were once regular people with regular jobs.
Considering the sheer volume of people who have participated in 20 seasons of The Bachelor, 12 seasons of The Bachelorette and various spin-offs, even with many contestants making repeat performances across the franchise, you don't hear too many out-there stories like Byron and Mary's.
But what we almost inevitably hear, season after season, is that the couple most swept away by their surroundings—and possibly even by each other—have since broken up.
While it seemed as though Juan Pablo Galavis' refusal to propose to Nikki Ferrell, or even to tell her anything more than "I like you a lot," was rather caddish at the time, if you delve into The Bachelor's earlier years, you'll find that not every season ended with a proposal—in fact, six out of the first 10 seasons did not end with a proposal, including season one.
As seasons went by with no evidence that the show was being the least bit helpful for people's personal lives, perhaps the men and women looking for love were more... encouraged to take the plunge later on, with the help of a perfect Neil Lane diamond ring. Juan Pablo just happened to be the Bachelor after six straight seasons of proposals, hence the shock factor when he didn't want to commit.
But Nikki would soon find out, after that so-promising relationship ended, that it was of course all for the best. And she's one of many who have benefited from the Bachelor bounce.
A photo posted by Nikki Ferrell (@nikki_ferrell) on
Nikki married longtime friend-turned-more Tyler Vanloo last month in Kansas City, Mo., having gotten engaged in January—just a little over a year after she and Juan Pablo called it quits for good.
See, when it's right, it doesn't need to take that much time to figure out what you want. However, it more often than not should take more than six weeks.
Also planning to settle down already after her Bachelor breakup is Whitney Bischoff, who was engaged to Chris Soules for six months before they broke up in May 2015. Bischoff revealed in July that boyfriend Ricky Angel had popped the question.
A photo posted by Whitney Bischoff (@whitb624) on
Maybe it's just science, as in the probability that you'll meet someone suitable and be into them enough to get married is there, the age range is about right and there truly are many fish in the sea. And it doesn't hurt that being on The Bachelor or Bachelorette makes you into a celebrity, perhaps even a big celebrity, at least for a little while if not necessarily forever after.
But though the opportunities to meet people do increase when you're being shuttled all over the place to events and appearances, contestants who have gone on to bigger and better things, romantically, are not settling down with celebrities. Ben Flajnik became pals with Kris Jenner for awhile, but otherwise...the lot, while maintaining their own name recognition, largely go back to leading relatively normal lives and meeting normal people.
(Side note: The people who were on TV before doing The Bachelor, football player turned sports broadcaster Jesse Palmer and actor Charlie O'Connell, are currently single.)
A photo posted by jessejamesqb3 (@jessepalmerabc) on
Perhaps The Bachelor and Bachelorette, in addition to being a fantastical (or nightmarish, depending on your idea of fun) dating boot camp, also provide such an efficient crash course in what you want vs. what you don't want that the people who volunteer to run that gauntlet emerge readier than most to find someone.
If what they want, that is, is to go back to dating the old-fashioned way: privately, maybe not quite as lavishly and in a far less time-sensitive manner.
Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Make A Wish
While soothing her wounds with a stellar turn on Dancing With the Stars after being exploitatively dumped on TV, Melissa Rycroft ended up rekindling the flame with a pre-Bachelor boyfriend who had also broken her heart. However, the second time was the charm, because she married that ex, Tye Strickland, in 2009—two months before Jason and Molly made it to the altar!
The Bachelor bump is real, people. Sometimes being cooped up with 25 women and a preposterously indecisive man is just the thing to make you stronger and more open to real love than ever.
While a few ex-Bachelors have since found lasting love as well, it is the women who once toyed with the option of a life with those guys who have the highest post-show success rate in the off-camera romance department.
First out of the gate, Amanda Marsh got the final rose (but not a proposal) from the first-ever Bachelor, Alex Michel, but they broke up a few months later.
So as it turns out, she was the first of the lot to reach into her past and fall in love with an old friend. She and childhood pal Jay Caldwell got married and had a daughter together, and that was pretty much that for the nurse/social-experiment guinea pig.
"It's great that I can say I had that wild time," Amanda told People in 2010. "But everything has finally come full circle, and it's wonderful."
Meanwhile, the most famous runner-up of all and Bachelorette No. 1 Trista of course found happiness soon after with Ryan—and 26 million people watched them say "I do" in 2003.
At least The Bachelorette was off to a running start!
Bachelor Aaron Buerge broke up with season two "winner" Helene Eksterowicz at a Starbucks, a few months after proposing, destined instead to marry Angye McIntosh in his hometown of Springfield, Mo., in 2009. They have a daughter together—and Helene swapped vows with tech consultant Andrew Goodman in 2013 after a year and a half of dating.
"Andrew is a great guy—handsome, loving, family-oriented, hardworking and very non-Hollywood, which is perfect!" Helene gushed about her husband-to-be after getting engaged.
After Jen Schefft and Andrew Firestone broke off their engagement a few months after season three ended in 2003, she became the Bachelorette, didn't really fall for either of the final two, and later ended up married to Joe Waterman a little more than a year after they met on a blind date in 2008.
"I guess it's true things move fast when you meet the right person," Schefft observed to People. They've got two daughters now, and Firestone has three kids with his wife of eight years, Ivana Bozilovich.
Overall, including the above, at least 18 of the women who either "won" or were given the run-around right until the end on The Bachelor (such as co-runners-up DeAnna Pappas and Jenni Frost from Brad Womack's first season) are married to guys they met out of the spotlight, and Vienna Girardi and Whitney Bischoff are engaged to similarly lower-key fellows.
A photo posted by Vienna Girardi (@viennag) on
A few them, such as Meredith Phillips, Jen, DeAnna and Emily Maynard became The Bachelorette and also accepted, then unaccepted, their winning suitors' proposals. But they were just meant to be with other gents.
On the flip side, a number of Bachelorettes successfully took whatever they learned from coming up short on The Bachelor (after realizing how lucky they were) and chose most wisely in the end. Ashley Hebert, cast aside by Brad on his second run as the Bachelor, picked and married J.P. Desiree Hartsock didn't have a lasting connection with Sean Lowe, but she and her man of choice, Chris Siegfried, are married with a kid. Ali Fedotowsky and Jillian Harris, both Bachelor also-rans turned Bachelorettes, accepted proposals and then thought better of it, and are now moms with other partners met back in the real world.
Plus, best wishes to bridesmaids-no-more Kaitlyn and JoJo of Bachelorette seasons 11 and 12.
And then there are the various participants who've loved and lost, then loved again on Bachelor Pad and Bachelor in Paradise. Michael Stagliano, one of the pack on Jillian's season, was so torn up over his breakup with Bachelor castaway Holly Durst when they "won" Bachelor Pad, but he found his happiness, marrying Emily Tuchscherer in 2014. Meanwhile, DeAnna married his twin brother, Stephen, and Holly ended up marrying the guy she fell for on Bachelor Pad, Blake Julian, from Ashley's season of The Bachelorette.
Forget love triangles. This is a love tetrahedron. And though Holly and Blake met on TV, they're living the sweet quiet life in South Carolina.
Further enjoying the Bachelor bounce, since in the end almost everyone involved was a civilian before becoming a reality TV star, three couples remain intact from Bachelor in Paradise: Andi Dorfman's (Juan Pablo shunner turned Bachelorette) ex-fiancé Josh Murray and Amanda Stanton are engaged; Evan Bass and Carly Waddell are engaged; Grant Kemp and Lace Morris are engaged.
Nick Viall and Jen Saviano memorably didn't make it out of their season finale intact, paving the way for two-time Bachelorette runner-up Viall to at least be the only guy in the room on The Bachelor. Yet somehow we have a feeling it won't be so simple.
Because this Hollywood, tropical-paradise Bachelor stuff isn't normal, people. It's worked, rather magically, for a few couples. The odds had to be in someone's favor. But the real heartening message is that even a surreal outing on a TV show (or two or three) doesn't preclude an eventual meeting with the right person. In fact, if we believed in statistics anymore, this might indicate that being on The Bachelor, et al., is most conducive to finding the one.
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