In the world of reality shows, Bachelor in Paradise is the hard drug to The Bachelor/ette's gateway drug. Initially introduced by roommates, co-workers or friends with fantasy leagues who say you'll only watch "to make fun," eventually you find yourself alone with a glass of wine on a summer's night watching the spin-off show of a show you promised you'd never seriously watch. It's not even a guilty pleasure, it's an addiction.
However, Bachelor in Paradise, of all the reality TV dating shows, at least resembles real-life dating more than The Bachelor/ette. It's not often one woman is surrounded by 25 eligible bachelors only concerned with getting to know her, but throw a bunch of eligible single people together on vacation in Mexico and it's basically Spring Break — but you know, with the added threat of being sent home from vacation if you don't meet someone. (Hey, it feels sometimes like there are consequences to not pairing off in real life, too. Tax benefits at the very least.)
Both shows often feel incredibly produced and scripted at times, which is why on Monday's Bachelor in Paradise I was surprised to see a contestant exhibit normal 2016 dating behavior. It's a reaction so rarely shown on these scripted reality shows.
Caila Quinn (from Ben's season of The Bachelor) was faced with a dating situation all too common to the every day, non-televised, 2016 dating human. She had recently connected with Jared Haibon (from Kaitlyn's The Bachelorette season) on the show, a dramatic turn of events considering that not only had he started to canoodle with twin Emily Ferguson, but also because Ashley Iaconetti (the two connected on last season of Bachelor in Paradise) also showed up asserting her undying love for Jared. Yet Jared had no second thoughts that Caila was the only girl for him despite the interest from the other girls.
But when the time came for Caila to prove her loyalty likewise, she waffled. We're talking more waffling than a waffle iron at a Vegas buffet. Waiting in the wings Brett Melnick (Andi's The Bachelorette season) crashed the paradise pad with a date card and knew exactly who he wanted to use it on: Caila.
It's weird to consider these people can come on to the show knowing who they want to pursue based on who they enjoyed watching most on television, but I suppose it isn't any weirder than stalking people via dating websites, YouTube, and Facebook. Modern times, eh?
Caila said yes to the date, pulled Jared aside, said she wouldn't go, said she would go, pulled Brett aside, said she couldn't go and then that she would, and ended up on the date after all. Her response felt rather insane at first, even frustrating. Can't this woman figure out what she wants?
Then I realized, how many times have I felt the way Caila's face looked? An expression of wishing someone would just tell you what to do and who to choose.
In this modern age of unlimited options, this right here is the modern dating conundrum. Instead of FOMO, we have FOML, Fear Of Missing Love. We can be standing in front of the coolest, hottest, nicest person we've ever met and the second we're reminded there are other fish in the sea, we're dying to know what those fish look like because...what if?
Caila ends up on a booze cruise with Brett, clearly having a horrible time, and she can't get back to Jared fast enough to express her sorrow at ever having gone. And sure, sometimes we just have to learn things the hard way.
Any girl in the modern dating world knows you tend to go on a lot of bad dates before you go on a good one. But Caila is proof that even if you go on a good date first, there's a part of us that can't help but wonder if there's a better date out there.
So don't hate on Caila's indecision (she defends her interest in Jared to Ashley I. the very next day). She's essentially every single girl facing the wide world of available dating options. But instead of writing and rewriting a text message before pressing send like the rest of us would do, she has to think it through on live TV.
Caila is basically the disappearing and reappearing [...] personified.
What do you think about Caila and the plight of the modern dating woman? Share your thoughts in the comments.