Okay yes, we’re still talking about this. But this one has been a real journey and honestly, those of us who have committed to 3-hour, back-to-back, Greg Grippo-focused episodes of The Bachelorette have been through a lot, and the least we could do is learn a lesson at the end of all this. In case you need a reminder (you don’t), recently millions of people watched as Greg Grippo, one of three contestants remaining on season 17 of The Bachelorette, had an intense emotional meltdown when the lead, Katie Thurston, was unwilling to communicate her love to him in a way that felt reciprocal. He said, “You fill a hole in my heart.” She said, “Nice face.” I’m paraphrasing—a little. A meltdown ensued, an unexpected and painful (for all of us) breakup followed, and Bachelor Nation took to the streets (social media and podcasts, primarily), to debate: Team Katie? Team Greg? Was Greg gaslighting or having a justified emotional response? Was Katie cold and withholding? The answer, I think, is yes. Both things, all things. Whatever reaction you had to those horribly uncomfortable breakup scenes likely held some truth, because ending relationships is complicated and messy and usually pretty gross. For the record, as a Master’s-level Counselor with professional experience in relational communication, there are some specific examples of gaslighting behaviors in their interactions and I bet if we got to watch back any of our own breakups, we’d see some gaslighting there too. Humans with big emotions, especially about love and intimacy, will do some wild things to get what they want, including using tactics to confuse and manipulate each other.
Let’s be clear about one thing, though. While we might not all agree on the level of gaslighting Greg Grippo engaged in here, he most definitely wrote us a playbook for Emotional Manipulation 101. He relies on the narrative that being with Katie is the only thing that’s made him happy in the two years since his dad died. His family and friends then come in to reinforce this, telling Katie that he just hasn’t been himself, but now that she’s here, the Greg they know is back. Yikes.
I believe them. I believe that Greg is finding joy in this process and that he is genuinely feeling lighter and happier. I don’t think he’s acting (ahem, cue the Meryl Streep moment). I think he’s coming out of very regular, grief-induced depression because he’s had time to heal and now he’s on a TV show with a bunch of dudes he likes to hang with and a cute girl he likes to make out with, mostly in the rain. (In the desert. It’s fine.) But to frame his happiness as solely dependent on Katie is setting a fertile ground for a relationship built on emotional responsibility and caretaking. It’s so much to take on. And it’s manipulative.
And this, my friends, is a lesson we can all learn. If watching Greg and Katie in these final scenes together felt just a little too familiar, then it’s likely you have experienced emotional manipulation. You’ve probably even done it. Honestly, who hasn’t at some point? A little silent treatment here and there can be pretty passively impactful. Or maybe using the old “Well if you don’t know why I’m upset, I’m not going to tell you!” technique when you can’t articulate the reason for your feelings, you just know you’re having them and someone needs to pay attention ASAP! Storming out of the room during an argument without telling your partner you plan to return? We’ve all done it. These are all forms of emotional manipulation we see Greg use. They aren’t healthy modes of relational communication, but we’ve all done them, haven’t we? We’re all human here. If these are your primary methods of communicating during conflict, then maybe the lesson for you here is to practice something new. Maybe begin practicing expressing your emotions directly and clearly. Maybe examine why it might not feel like you can? We could all probably work on this more, and maybe GG was sent here to inspire us. Get to work!
Or, hear me out, maybe you watched all this go down and had an even stronger reaction. Maybe you were like me and the familiarity was TOO specific. Maybe, like me, you’ve lived it over and over again. Honestly, any moment of the GG drama could have been picked from any of my previous relationships. This is because I have spent a lifetime choosing partners out of a compulsion to be with highly emotional people who depend on me for emotional caretaking. I have been “Caught in the Grip(po)” of this compulsive cycle without ever even knowing why or how until recently.
It turns out, I have a thing called Love Avoidance. It develops through some specific childhood trauma related to family enmeshment and it manifests into issues with intimacy. There is a range for Love Avoidance, but mine happens to be severe. Unlike avoidant attachment, which people seem to be more familiar with, a Love Avoidant craves intimacy. We don’t run from it—we seek it out. But because in childhood we took on some kind of overly mature role protecting or nurturing our families, we think we can only be loved by people if they need us to manage their emotions or they depend on us to take care of their emotional needs. Like, a lot. In fact, we take this role with so much determination that we become absolutely suffocated by it. Intimacy feels like drowning. Maybe even dying. It’s called Engulfment and we engage in all kinds of avoidant behaviors to find relief from it, but because it’s a cycle, we continue the compulsive behavior of choosing people who need emotional caretaking because they will let us. And then we all end up in the cycle again. It’s pretty torturous for everyone involved.
The good news, for people who experience some level of Love Avoidance, is that you can recover. The first step is the most difficult one because it requires some brutal honesty about our choices and patterns. But it’s just possible that Greg Grippo can help.
Do you constantly choose a partner with high emotional needs? Are you drawn to the Greg Grippo in the room, someone who needs constant reassurance and/or attention? The person whose eyes seem to be masking something intense and mysterious? Do you always pick partners who have an emotional connection or response to every single thing that happens? Do you feel constantly drained in your relationships but still choose people who just need and take so much from you? Do I sound like a 2am infomercial trying to convince you to buy my self-help program DVD box set? Yes. I do. And I’m sorry, but this could be really important if it’s the first time you’re hearing it!
Before my recovery, I would have been obsessed with Greg. It would have become a full-blown TV crush by the end of the season. From night one, I would have chosen him. He would have had his emotional meltdown and shown his propensity for emotional manipulation, and I still would have chosen him. I would have taken care of all of his emotions and he would have let me until we destroyed each other. We don’t get “Caught in the Grip(po)” over and over again because of “fate” or “true love.” We do it out of compulsion. It took a series of devastating losses (and a lot of therapy) for me to recognize these patterns in my own life. Maybe watching Katie Thurston making a different choice this season will be the start for you.
Image: Craig Sjodin / ABC
It’s safe to say that few of us had high hopes for this season of The Bachelor. I know I certainly didn’t. With Peter the Pilot in the cockpit, we knew we were in for a nosedive, but it isn’t happening in the way we’d expected. Season 24 (lord help us) has actually been anything but boring, but that’s precisely the problem. For the first time, drama has gone from being an entertaining but ultimately short-lived element of the show, to the foundation upon which our current Bachelor is building just about all of his relationships. As viewers, we’re expected to invest in a lead whose baffling choices leave him with zero credibility, and women with questionable motives. I’ve been wondering for a while now why The Bachelor sucks so much this season, and I think I’ve narrowed it down to a few reasons.
Peter Gravitates Toward Emotionally Unstable Women
Even Stevie Wonder could see that Peter has an unhealthy fixation on emotionally unstable women. Between glorifying the telenovelas he watched with his grandma as a kid and idolizing a mother who we see in previews sobbing over a mystery woman she barely knows, our Petey never had a chance. It’s no wonder he felt compelled to try and win the heart of Hannah B. who, though endearing, isn’t exactly the poster child for emotional maturity. After rejecting him not once, but twice, she hijacks the first night and a group date and ends up crying in Peter’s lap in a puddle of her own mascara. Instead of immediately recoiling letting her down gently, Peter is apparently aroused and offers to light his season on fire by giving her a spot in the house. We all have our kinks!
Things don’t improve after Hannah B. leaves, however. Soon thereafter we were treated to a multi-episode arc centering around whether or not Hannah Ann stole Kelsey’s champagne. Though Kelsey grew on me over time, her behavior during the whole finasco was nothing short of batsh*t. Normally at the point Champagne-Gate happened, getting wasted, starting petty drama, and not being able to play well with others is grounds for elimination. Not so for our Pedro. Later, when Tammy suggests to Peter that Kelsey is emotionally unstable, Kelsey attempts to set the record straight by… showing up unannounced to Peter’s room and crying. For this, she gets a rose.
Even the Alayah storyline gave us a glimpse into Peter’s psyche. Though we now know that Sydney is an unreliable narrator, we did see that Alayah was rubbing several women in the house the wrong way and shaping up to be this season’s villain. Unless you’re Courtney Robertson, that kind of edit gets you sent home. Instead, Peter tries to bring her back after eliminating her and has even said recently that drama amongst the women “showed that this was working” and “f all the women were just getting along super well, they probably wouldn’t have been super into me.” Putting aside the blatant misogyny inherent in that statement, I’m pretty sure even with all the fighting, they’re still not that into you, buddy. You can go change your forehead bandage now.
Peter Mistakes Composure For A Lack Of Connection
Kelley was arguably a frontrunner early in the season, having banged met Peter before filming began after a chance meeting at a hotel. Peter seemed genuinely excited about her for weeks until their bizarre one-on-one date where he questioned her intentions for reasons that weren’t immediately clear. When Kelley rightly counters that he rewards drama, and on another date has the audacity to suggest that a relationship can be both good and easy, Peter regards her with a suspicion he normally reserves for women over 30.
Even when Peter’s instincts are right, he falls victim to poor judgment. Toward the end of a one-on-one date, Peter seems to pick up on his lack of connection with Hannah Ann, who’s clearly on the show to advance her middling modeling career. He almost sends her home, even going so far as to dramatically walk away from the dinner table. As if sensing that crocodile tears are his Viagra, she goes after him and pushes a few out in a last-ditch effort to secure her FabFitFun sponsorship spot in the final four. She gets the rose and, poof, suddenly all reservations about her seem to disappear.
Peter Ignores Clear Red Flags
At this point in the season, the final four should be comprised of four women who, if not actually there for the right reasons, are at least trying to convince us otherwise. This time, with the exception of maybe Madison, we have finalists who would’ve been eliminated weeks ago: Hannah Ann, who’s there to broaden her opportunities and clearly not ready for marriage; Kelsey, the hot mess who overindulged early on and struggles to keep it together; and Victoria F., who hasn’t come close to opening up and being vulnerable, qualities that are practically prerequisites for making it to hometowns. Instead, she’s shady, evasive when asked probing questions, won’t look Peter in the eye, and cries when put on the spot. In other words, marriage material. As if that weren’t alarming enough, she deflects when Peter asks pointed questions about her shady past and gaslights him. Apparently this is Peter’s idea of foreplay, because she gets a rose without even introducing him to her family on her hometown date! Meanwhile Kelley is kicked off for daring to refer to the experience as “fun” and Kelsey is eliminated for daring to be clear about being in love with him.
Me watching Peter give Victoria F. the rose:
Even if we don’t buy into the format of The Bachelor as a realistic way of finding everlasting love, at the very least, we want to be able to root for the Bachelor and the woman he chooses in the end. Unfortunately, the elevation of drama this season, and Peter’s flagrant revelry in it, has made this extremely difficult, if not impossible. As a card-carrying messy b*tch who lives for drama, it pains me to say that there can, in fact, be too much of a good thing. Peter’s false and immature belief that love must be difficult colors his decision-making throughout this season, to the detriment of not only the two women who aren’t there to expand their brand, but also to us viewers. Just when we thought The Bachelor couldn’t get more ridiculous, our trusty pilot flies in and makes it a full-on farce.
Images: ABC/Francisco Roman; Giphy (4)
In July, Taylor Swift caused something of a rift in the music industry and public opinion when she opened up about Scooter Braun’s company buying out Big Machine Records, the old label under which Swift recorded her first six albums. The reason anybody cared was because this meant Braun’s company would now own the masters to Taylor Swift’s first six albums, which affects her ability to earn money off the master recordings. (Like, royalties, basically.) It also means she does not have control over how those recordings are released. That second bit became especially relevant yesterday, when Taylor Swift released a very open statement accusing Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta, the founder of Big Machine Label Group, of forbidding her from performing her old songs.
Don’t know what else to do pic.twitter.com/1uBrXwviTS
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) November 14, 2019
In the statement, she claims that she will be honored with the Artist of the Decade award at the American Music Awards, and wanted to perform a medley of her hits throughout the decade. Makes total sense. But, she alleges, “Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun have now said I’m not allowed to perform my old songs on television because they claim that would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year.” She continues that, in addition, Netflix had been filming a documentary about her life, but “Scott and Scooter have declined the use of my older music or performance footage for this project, even though there is no mention of either of them or Big Machine Records anywhere in the film.”
She claimed that Scott Borchetta told Taylor’s team that she would be allowed to use her music only if she agrees to not re-record “copycat versions” of her music next year, and if she stops talking (sh*t) about him and Scooter. In other words, as Taylor ominously puts it in her statement: “be a good little girl and shut up. Or you’ll be punished.”
This morning, Big Machine Label Group released a statement that straight-up denies each of Swift’s accusations. The statement says, “At no point did we say Taylor could not perform on the AMAs or block her Netflix special. In fact, we do not have the right to keep her from performing live anywhere.” Which is cool, but (deliberately or not) avoids the issue of did Big Machine say Taylor could not perform certain songs? The question is whether or not she was permitted to perform, it’s whether she was permitted to perform the songs she does not own the masters for.
Furthermore, they also claim, “Since Taylor’s decision to leave Big Machine last fall, we have continued to honor all of her requests to license her catalog to third parties as she promotes her current record in which we do not financially participate.” This directly contradicts Taylor Swift’s assertions that Scooter Braun et. al. are basically holding her music hostage and preventing her from doing what she wants with it.
But in their statement, Big Machine Label Group takes it one step further and completely throws Taylor under the bus. “The truth is,” it reads, “Taylor has admitted to contractually owing millions of dollars and multiple assets to our company, which is responsible for 120 hardworking employees who helped build her career.” This is attempting to make Taylor look greedy; she is worth an estimated $360 million, and yet she is being accused of screwing over “hardworking” little people. This statement to me is suspect. Taylor Swift has the money—I’m inclined to believe that if she is withholding money and assets (aka songs), she has a good reason for it.
Then, they go on to say that they have tried to come to a solution with Taylor that benefits both parties, and thought they were getting somewhere, until Taylor nuked it yesterday with her statement enlisting her fans to go apesh*t on Braun and Borchetta. They said that in a more fluffed-up PR way, but it’s clear the message they are trying to convey: they are just innocent, hardworking people who are trying to work with Taylor, and she is the one standing in her own way. They claim, “Taylor made a unilateral decision last night to enlist her fanbase in a calculated manner that greatly affects the safety of our employees and their families.” Which, like, okay. Taylor Swift does have a rabid fanbase, but it’s not like she’s got actual hitters out here. Worst case scenario, I feel like Scooter Braun is going to have a lot of angry teenagers in his mentions and DMs.
But the statement ends with the real knockout punch: “Taylor, the narrative you have created does not exist.” When I read that, I audibly bellowed out, “oooooh!” with my hand over my mouth like I was at a f*cking rap battle. (My coworkers looked concerned.) This is what we in the business refer to as a callback—in this case, to Taylor Swift’s infamous response to the Kim/Kanye feud of 2016 when, after losing the battle against the Wests in the court of public opinion, Taylor said, “I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative.” I’d bet that this was a very deliberate choice in words, meant to call into question Taylor’s credibility, and remind people that, at least according to the story Kim and Kanye told, which many people believe, Taylor Swift has attempted to manipulate facts to sway public opinion in her favor before.
Frankly, it’s hard to know what to believe when we are receiving two completely contradictory accounts. I always like to say that the truth lies somewhere in the middle, but there doesn’t seem room for much of a middle ground here: you either did forbid someone from performing at the AMAs, or you didn’t. You either blocked their Netflix special, or you didn’t. Maybe I lack imagination, but I don’t see how both scenarios could still hold truth.
Given her history, I have to believe that Taylor is telling the truth. She knows better than anyone what can happen to one’s career when they are perceived to be caught in a lie; to deliberately manufacture a false tale of victimhood would surely blow up in her face, and Taylor and her team would have to know this. If she was not being prohibited from performing at the AMAs and doing a Netflix special, then surely she would just do those things? Aside from news stories and an outpouring of support from people who already support her, Taylor Swift would have nothing to gain by making this up.
So then, it’s my opinion that this statement from Big Machine Label Group is nothing short of a hit job. Forget trying to spin Taylor’s story—they are upending it. They’re denying it ever happened. And by doing so, they’re trying to call her sanity into question. If Taylor’s account is true, then this statement is pure gaslighting—both her, and the public.
Images: taylorswift 13 / Twitter; Getty Images
Southern Charm is one of my favorite Bravo shows, and I was really excited for season 6 after a spectacular season 5, where all the women seemingly banded together to take down the “good ole boys” club that pervades Charleston and the mindsets of the men there. It was an exciting time to be watching—the #MeToo movement was igniting, and for a brief moment it felt like there would finally be a reckoning for some of the more toxic men on the show. To some extent, there has been, with Thomas’ arrest and removal from the cast, but you wouldn’t know it by watching this season. The camaraderie between the women is not quite the same as it was last season, and the only woman bold enough to call out the men’s more problematic behavior is being portrayed as a pseudo-villainess. How did we get here, and are there any good men on Southern Charm?
Although Thomas is no longer a cast member, his presence still lingers with the aftermath of his arrest for sexual assault and battery, and Kathryn’s struggle to maintain custody of their two children together. The two met when Kathryn was 21 and still in college, and Thomas was 51. I have no problem with an age gap, but a middle-aged man pursuing a relationship with a woman barely old enough to drink feels predatory and manipulative. And by Kathryn’s account, their relationship was emotionally abusive—she told People that when they started dating, “I just did what he said and took on his opinions and feelings as my own.” She also said that when their relationship started to deteriorate, she and her daughter were forced to live in the basement of Thomas’ plantation, where she felt “sad, scary, lonely, confused, quarantined and isolated.”
When Kathryn and Thomas were on the outs in seasons 2 and 3, she was a veritable pariah and excluded from just about every social function by everyone except Craig. Instead of trying to understand her perspective, she was written off by the others as gold-digging, crazy drug addict (after testing positive for marijuana, of all things) and completely disregarded in favor of a cocaine-using felon and disgraced politician whose attempts at speaking French would make the Seine run dry. Only after the sexual assault allegations against Thomas came out did cast members like Cameran and Patricia turn their backs on him and warm to Kathryn. And to that I say:
This has been a revealing season for Shep. Up until now, Shep has largely gotten away with his more problematic behavior. His attempt to grab and kiss Chelsea in season 4 was largely glossed over by the rest of the cast and referred to as an “incident” by Bravo instead of the assault that it was. The rest of the cast seems to regard his clear problem with alcohol and inability to commit to a woman or a vocation as the amusing quirks of a goofy man-child rather than glaring red flags. Interestingly, the arrival of Madison this season has exposed a lot of Shep’s more toxic tendencies. He refers to Madison as a “white trash hairstylist” despite Shep never having worked a day in his life. He shames her for sleeping with someone in retaliation after catching Austen in the middle of a threesome. Where was this outrage when he heard that Austen cheated with two other women?
After balking at Madison’s admittedly inappropriate revelation about him and Danni, Shep responds by DOING THE EXACT SAME THING and telling Cameran that Austen is a “sexual deviant” because he and Madison have done “butt stuff” together. It’s unclear what exactly he is referring to, but either party being on the receiving end of said “butt stuff” is hardly sexual deviance in this day and age. You know what is sexually deviant? Sleeping with someone you call a friend and definitely allegedly giving her chlamydia. Say what you want about Madison, but I can’t help but respect her for going toe-to-toe with the resident bully of the franchise. Shep has continued his one-man white privilege parade off-camera by recently posting a story to his Instagram where he openly mocked a visibly embarrassed homeless woman collecting cans. It’s revolting enough that he found this woman’s situation humorous. But to taunt and expose her to his hundreds of thousands of followers is appallingly callous, not to mention willfully ignorant. Gosh, I can’t imagine how he is still single!
Ummmm It might just be me but I really don’t think “BUTT STUFF”equals sexual deviancy and Is Shep not drinking because he is still on anabiotic’s from the chlamydia I’m confused
— Brandi Glanville (@BrandiGlanville) August 8, 2019
Whitney first pinged my creep radar in season 1 when he slept with Kathryn and told her to keep it a secret, only to reveal it later to Thomas without consulting her. Since then, Whitney and Kathryn’s relationship has been rocky, and Whitney has gone out of his way to sabotage her relationship with Thomas and malign her character. During season 2, Whitney convinces Thomas to film campaign videos with Kathryn’s sorority sisters that could easily have passed for Cialis commercials, and Kathryn reveals during the group’s trip to Jekyll Island that Whitney took Thomas to a strip club when she was 9 months pregnant with their child. Whitney’s obsessive insertion of himself into Thomas and Kathryn’s relationship looks a lot like Shep’s current involvement in Austen and Madison’s relationship. Is Shep so focused on what’s going on between Madison and Austen because he, like Whitney, is actually the one feeling butthurt? When we find out this season that Kathryn and Whitney have recently slept together, Whitney bizarrely denies it and attempts to gaslight her by saying, “We have a different interpretation of events.” I’m not sure how Kathryn can misinterpret your middle-aged penis struggling to find its way into her vagina, but okay, Whit.
We can now proceed to the f*ckboy portion of this article. Austen was first introduced to us in season 4 as a younger and marginally more attractive version of Shep. His behavior following the cooling off of his “relationship” with Chelsea and subsequent relationship with Madison support the comparison. He proceeded to suggest to all of his Instagram followers that Chelsea has no sex drive as well as talk badly about her to Madison, as all classy men do. When his girlfriend catches him in the aftermath of a threesome (I’m convinced hell is a persistent loop of him screaming “MAAADISEHHHN!”), he proceeds to call her “a crazy person” and threatens to physically remove her from his home. After all, it’s easier to deflect and question a woman’s sanity than to take ownership for the misdeeds that are making her so “crazy” in the first place. #JusticeForVictoria Even when he isn’t the target of criticism, Austen is reluctant to side with women. When Naomie and Chelsea rightfully called out human hemorrhoid J.D. for his philandering and grifting last season, Austen claimed he needed more proof than the claims of his friends, one of whom got her information from J.D.’s wife.
Oh, Craigy. Our favorite pillow artisan is by far the least toxic of the bunch, and he should be commended for his fierce defense of Kathryn for many seasons, but he is not completely innocent either. He lied to the entire group about graduating from law school and passing the bar, and when Naomie directly questioned him about his desire to be a lawyer, he responded by telling her she was acting dumb. I agree that at times her approach was a bit mean, but Naomie’s concerns about Craig’s ambition and general life direction were not unfounded. Two seasons later we are still watching him struggle to get his fledgling pillow business off the ground and wake up before noon, yet Naomie was deemed a bitch for having the audacity to challenge her poor, innocent boyfriend. Even after she has clearly moved on, Craig continues to disrespect her by telling anyone who will listen that she still has feelings for him despite Naomie seeming genuinely happy in her new relationship (however we may feel about Metul).
It’d be a cop-out and a vast oversimplification to attribute the toxic behavior of the men on Southern Charm solely to Southern culture. Though that’s certainly a factor, it’s a symptom of a larger and more insidious disease in our society. When we allow boys to be boys unchecked and without any accountability, we breed a sense of entitlement where, given enough time, money or even fame, a Craig or an Austen might become a Shep or a Thomas. Until we do, men like these Southerners will keep passing for gentlemen.
Images: Bravo; Giphy (2); BrandiGlanville / Twitter
Every year of The Bachelorette, I swear to myself that I won’t get as infuriated by next year’s villain. And every year, they trot out a new guy who seems specifically designed to raise my blood pressure. This year, I am of course talking about the villain Luke P.: CrossFit enthusiast and walking red flag. As exhausting as it is to see Hannah not send him home week after week, I’ve been really glad to see that most viewers have shied away from actively blaming her. As the other contestants point out, Luke shows a very different side to Hannah—and for f*ck’s sake, we’ve all fallen for a Luke at some point in our lives, and under far less stressful circumstances.
So, as a handy field guide to actively dating women and future Bachelorettes alike, I’ve compiled a list of all the red flags Luke has shared with us this season. If a guy you’re considering dating drops any of the following quotes, I kindly suggest you run for the hills.
“I’m Falling In Love With You”
Ah, the first of many Luke P. red flags. To be clear, this is not a red flag when uttered at a normal time, like many months into dating (or in the case of Bachelor Nation, many weeks). When it’s said within the first 48 hours, he’s coming on way too strong, which is either a red flag in its own right or an early sign of controlling behavior.
Per a 2014 Huff Post piece on how abusive relationships can start, an early warning sign may be that your partner is overly affectionate or romantic—”he will likely be the most romantic man you have ever met,” the article claims. “He will say that it’s love at first sight, that you are made for each other, and that he can’t imagine his life without you He will insist on being exclusive right away.” Any of this ringing bells yet? Love bombing is a common manipulation tactic where the manipulator will flood the victim with affection early on in order to cloud their judgment.
“She Has Everything I’m Looking For In A Wife”
This is something Luke’s said several times over the course of the season, and it’s bummed me out hard every time. In theory, there’s nothing wrong with having a list of traits you want in a potential mate. But Luke’s aggressive fixation on how Hannah is his “dream wife”—and his mention this week of how everything he does is to be good enough for said dream wife—is a major yikes. Luke expects his wife to live up to a saintly, untouchable ideal. He hasn’t quite grasped yet that relationships are about emotions and connections between two people. He’s just gone from objectifying women as sex objects to objectifying women as wife material.
Frankly, Luke’s come-to-Jesus speech made me feel for him, if only because he still has so much to figure out about himself. He thinks he’s made a complete 180 because the criteria he uses when selecting women is now different; but until he learns how to form a genuine connection, I’m afraid he’s still screwed.
“Everyone Loves Me”
Bless Hannah’s heart for calling this one out as it happened. To say “everyone loves me” demonstrates, in Luke’s case, an extreme lack of self-awareness. But it’s also subtly gaslighting Hannah’s experience as the Bachelorette: she knows that Luke is an unlikable person, and she’s questioning him about why people find him so unlikable. Instead of giving her an honest assessment, Luke’s saying “nothing you’re seeing is real, but I can tell you what’s really real—people loving me.” Hannah, please: trust your own eyes over what this man is saying.
“I Love Every Single Thing About You, Even Your Flaws”
Ah, the classic neg. Again, it’s something Luke says creepily early on, and it’s something that seems like a good thing, but really isn’t. Putting aside for a moment that he doesn’t know her well enough to even identify said flaws, it’s a d*ck move to call out flaws in what’s meant to be an affectionate moment. It’s specifically intended to take her down a peg in the same moment that he’s asserting he’s there for her.
It’s very similar to when he says, “even if you make a boneheaded mistake I’ll be there for you” a few episodes later. Hannah didn’t make a mistake, and she wasn’t asking for his forgiveness. He chose to bring up that hypothetical because he wanted Hannah to feel small and cornered into accepting his affection simply because he’s a safe choice.
“I Don’t Want To Know What You Do With Other Guys”
As Hannah’s relationships with other guys get more serious, we get to see a fun, new, even more controlling side of Luke! (Next week: Controlling Luke, Religious Edition.) You’ll notice that Luke’s the only guy who freaked out about her date with Garrett, but even if it did make Luke annoyed to hear, he had no right to bring that concern to Hannah. Telling her “I don’t want to know anything about you and other guys” is treating Hannah like it’s her job to ensure nothing ever mars his perfect, pure image of her—and it’s really, really not.
Furthermore: if he’s this controlling of her time when they’re not even exclusive, while cameras are rolling, what the f*ck would he be like as a husband, behind closed doors? This is a guy who would be uncomfortable with Hannah being in the same state as an ex-boyfriend. This is a guy who Hannah would hide all her male friends from, because he’d accuse her of cheating on him if he ever met them. This is a guy who would slowly close off more and more aspects of who Hannah gets to see under the guise of caring too much about her. Run. For. The. Hills.
“I Know Hannah’s Really Excited To Spend Alone Time With Me”
Per Allure‘s piece on signs of an abusive relationship, a partner speaking for you is bad news—but hey, we could have all learned that just from watching this one Luke P. clip! Do we hear any of the other Bachelorette contestants saying what Hannah is excited to do? No, we do not. We hear them talking about their own emotions, and—dare I say it—staying in their own lanes. Luke is totally a guy who would order for Hannah at every restaurant they go to without even knowing her dietary restrictions (“oh no Hannah, my dream wife doesn’t have a peanut allergy, you must be mistaken”).
Luke’s been working overtime to convince Hannah (and everyone else) that he knows her better than she knows herself, that he’s her soulmate, and that she’s totally mistaken about everything she’s seen gone down in the house. No wonder Hannah’s so confused: he’s selling her a completely different reality from the one she’s experiencing, and he came on so strong in the beginning that her gut is still confused by early romantic feelings. Thankfully, it looks like Luke makes his true colors known next week—and I can’t wait to see that f*cker get kicked to the curb.
I’ll be the first to admit it—anyone still watching Bachelor in Paradise and expecting to see anything but the contestants at their absolute worst is a fool. And most of the time, I’m fine with that. But Leo talking to Kendall on last night’s episode absolutely made my blood boil. I never understood why Becca kept him around as long as she did. And I understood even less when I started seeing the DMs Bekah was getting about him. As if it weren’t enough that Leo’s presence is breaking poor Grocery Joe’s heart, Leo now decided to go off on Kendall in the most f*ckboy-ish way I’ve seen since Dean. Leo: you’re not pretty enough to pull that off, and even Dean barely got away with it. Here are all the things Leo said to Kendall that should make you run far, far away.
“You’re A Really Good Actress”
So (spoilers, kind of), let’s remind ourselves why they’re even having this fight. Kendall found out that Leo kissed Chelsea, and is understandably taken aback. Not even really because of the kiss—Leo’s right, to an extent, that everyone’s talking to everyone—but because he went out of his way to keep it a secret from only her. Doing that takes away any credibility that you’re actually looking for a relationship. Kendall would obviously see that on TV when it aired. So, keeping it a secret proved that Leo just wanted to get a rose, not pursue a future with her. Color me shocked.
Moving on to the actual comment here—this is a classic move from a guy who’s done something shady and doesn’t want to deal with the consequences. Kendall isn’t even outright pissed—she literally just questions him about it. But he immediately turns it around as though she has something to prove in this conversation instead of him. He acts like she could never have liked him at all if she’s doubting him now, and tries to force her into the position of fighting for his affection. It’s a classic bully move: she expresses unhappiness with one action, and he holds their entire history and relationship hostage unless she drops it.
This is how sh*tty guys get out of ever changing anything or apologizing. They constantly force their partner into considering their concerns too minor to risk the relationship over. But the fact is, the relationship should never have been at stake—and they wouldn’t be putting it at stake if they really cared about it.
“You Really Tricked Me”
At this point, Leo has invented an entire drama where Kendall was only pretending to like him. Casual reminder that Kendall has said literally nothing to suggest this. Second casual reminder that they are having this conversation because LEO went for someone else. Just in case anyone else feels like they’re taking crazy pills. Anyway, Leo spins all this bullsh*t at Kendall just to divert attention from his own messed up behavior, and try to make it about his own hurt feelings. Not only that, but to make Kendall feel like crap in the process if at all possible.
By refusing to even address what she came to talk about, Leo is being so dismissive that it’s hard to believe he sees her as human. His only interest is in walking out with the upper hand—whether that’s by manipulating her into coming back to him, or trying to make her seem like a crazy b*tch and walking away. This. Guy. Is. Garbage.
“I Don’t Know How You’re Still Single”
This moment in his tirade disappointed me, because Kendall responded by saying “you’re making me feel wonderful.” Admittedly, in the context of “you’re also making me feel like crap,” but still. Kendall, do not let this backhanded swill make you feel wonderful!!! Also included in this section of Leo’s commentary were “I don’t know how Arie didn’t pick you” and “I don’t know how you haven’t found someone.” All of these “compliments” are just a way of reminding her, when she’s already vulnerable, that she is, in fact, still single. That Arie didn’t pick her—which I’m sure was painful. That she hasn’t found a guy, or been picked by a guy. All very real insecurities for anyone who’s single and unhappy about it, let alone someone who has gone on two TV shows to find a boyfriend.
By negging her in this way, Leo is trying to chip away at Kendall’s confidence. He’s trying to make her less secure in her value by reminding her of times when she hasn’t been chosen. And he’s doing all this while responding to her saying “why did you secretly kiss another girl” with “I guess this whole relationship was a lie” and acting like he’s over it already. He’s hoping if he dangles the threat of being alone hard enough, she’ll just say “never mind forget I said anything please just take me back!” Again, “I don’t know how you’re still single” is a terrible “compliment.” “I’m so glad I met you” is what good, normal guys say. Good guys respect you enough to treat your relationship status as a choice, and not imply that they’ve failed at something by not having a boyfriend.
I’m sure I could go on, but you get the idea. Never, ever let guys get away with invalidating your concerns, redirecting every issue back to their own feelings, threatening the relationship every time you try to have a conversation, or actively trying to make you feel insecure. I am more than ready to see Leo go home tonight—Kendall, please girl, dump that hairy man-child and make it as cruel as you can manage.
Images: Giphy (3)