The Cringiest Moments From ‘The Ultimatum’

The premise of Netflix’s newest Lachey-hosted dating show, The Ultimatum, is this: One person in each of the six relationships featured issued an ultimatum to their partner to either get married or move on. How do they decide? Don’t fret, the Lachey’s have it all figured out. To determine if they’re ready to marry each other, they swap partners and live in a trial marriage. It’s kind of like a swingers party meets The Real World, but the goal is marriage. It’s a flawless plan. 

Netflix’s version of a trial marriage seems pretty great. The new couples lived in an apartment together and met each other’s families for an afternoon. That’s what marriage is, right? The trial marriages mostly resulted in everyone getting a free pass to hook up with someone outside of their committed relationship. They also spent a lot of time at night clubs. (Who knew Austin’s club scene was so popping?) All this clubbing, couple swapping, and fighting resulted in a new level of cringey reality dating show moments. And we’re kind of sad it’s over? So, let’s look back at the messiest, cringiest, most second-hand embarrassment filled moments from The Ultimatum. And it goes without saying, there are spoilers ahead.

April’s Ultimatum

April, just two years into legally drinking, was already giving marriage ultimatums. Her boyfriend Jake was steadfast on the reason he wasn’t ready for marriage: he wanted financial stability before he tied the knot. We can respect a fiscally responsible man, but April wasn’t having it. She wasn’t asking Jake for his money, just his legally bound commitment.  April proved she was a girl boss when she declared to the cameras “this bitch is financially stable, okay?” She shook her purse in the air, which in her defense looked very full, to underscore her financial stability. She then added “I paid for these on my own” pointing to each of her professionally altered boobs. This was cringiest in the best way. This is what we like to see on our reality TV. Own your plastic surgery! You bought those boobs! Not sure what any of that has to do with her readiness for marriage, but we digress. 

Alexis’ Ultimatum

The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On: Season 1. (L to R)
Hunter Parr and Alexis Maloney in episode 3 of The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On: Season 1. Cr. Courtesy Of Netflix © 2022

On the other side of the girl boss spectrum, we had Alexis. She entered the show after giving her boyfriend, Hunter, the ultimatum. Alexis wanted a ring on her finger. (Women of the world, I beg you to stop saying that phrase.) But more than a missing ring, it felt like Alexis also had her doubts about Hunter. As she said, marriage for her was more of a financial decision than an emotional one. She told producers she currently made more than Hunter (yes, girl boss!), but she has no desire in being the breadwinner (oh no, girls boss). She said she wasn’t sure if Hunter was marriage material because he wasn’t making enough money yet, adding that she’d never said that out loud before. This one made us visibly cringe. Probably should’ve kept that one inside, Alexis. 

But we think she paid for her words in the end when Hunter proposed. We all know the proposal was truly a surprise to Alexis because her usually perfectly kempt appearance was marred by a scrunchie. That’s right, Alexis was proposed to whilst wearing a scrunchie. That is an actual nightmare for a Texas girl. 

Nate’s Proposal

Nate Ruggles, Lauren Pounds in episode 2 of The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On: Season 1.

Proposals on dating shows are usually the pinnacle moment. The whole season leads up to this point. The music swells, the woman’s dress blows artfully in the breeze, the name of the jeweler is illuminated on the ring box so it’s legible to the viewers at home. But that’s not how proposals go on The Ultimatum!

A good rule of thumb is to wait at least 15 minutes after one proposal before attempting your own. But it seems Nate didn’t follow this social norm because mere minutes after scrunchie-gate, he was down on one knee. Thank goodness Alexis’ extensions were tied up in that scrunchie or she would have whiplash from watching Nate try to steal her moment. Don’t fret girl, based on the grimace on Vanessa Lachey’s face and the cast’s chorus of shock following Nate’s proposal, you won the engagements. But love comes in many forms, and Lauren’s affirmative “abso-fucking-lutely yes” proved that Nate picked the right woman…. even if she was the fourth woman he planned to pick that day.

Colby & Zay’s Fight

Jake Cunningham, Randall Griffin, Isaiah "Zay" Wilson and Colby Kissinger in episode 4 of The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On

Let’s set the scene: It was a nice boys night out. Just four guys currently dating each other’s girlfriends enjoying some cocktails that a PA decanted into silver goblets. The mood took a turn though when Colby started telling a story of a recent night out with Zay. According to Colby, he saw Zay whispering with a girl who then came over and started making out with him. Producers’ hands were probably at work here. They heard Colby made out with someone off-camera and the story needed to make it to film, so Colby thought this was his opportunity to control the narrative. 

The problem lies with Colby. He fancies himself a rather savvy communicator. He really thought he was doing something when he set up the story to frame Zay as the puppetmaster behind his illicit makeout.. But it takes two tongues to tango. And whether Zay double-dog-dared the girl to make out with Colby or not, the fact is he still made out with her. The best part was Zay refusing to play a part in Colby’s story. He wasn’t falling on any sword for this guy. He really summed it up well when he told the other two guys—who were sitting back thrilled they dodged a bullet—“well now we know, Colby is a liar and a cheater.” 

Colby’s Mental Gymnastics

Colby Kissinger in episode 8 of The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On: Season 1.

Colby brought the mess all season. It’s tough to watch someone who thinks they are a master manipulator and dresses like they are cosplaying as an 1800s oil tycoon, gaslight their girlfriend at every opportunity. Nothing was messier than when Colby attempted to convince Madlyn his makeout was for her. He said he wanted to make the experience “real” for Madlyn. And since his trial marriage with April was more of a roommate situation, he needed another outlet to make Madlyn jealous—keep in mind, he was making jealous for her own sake. He even claimed he got no pleasure from the makeout. Maybe that’s a commentary on your own kissing skills, Colby?

The mental gymnastics Colby performed to justify making out with a random girl as something he did for Madlyn would be gold medal worthy, if it wasn’t so insane. But we tip our ten gallon hat to you, sir. Your messiness was our viewing pleasure. Thank you for your service. Or maybe the sunk cost fallacy is real.

This highlight reel is just the tip of the iceberg on what turned out to be one of the wildest reality dating shows we’ve ever seen. And in the end, four of the original six couples are together: Mady and Colby, Alexis and Hunter, Nate and Lauren, and Randall and Shanique. So, maybe the experiment worked. Or maybe the sunk cost fallacy is real.

Images: ILANA PANICH-LINSMAN/NETFLIX; Courtesy of Netflix (5)

The Right Way To Tell Your BF You Want To Get Engaged, Like, Yesterday
Whether you love it or hate it, engagement season is upon us. I mean, it’s always kind of happening, but now, with the holidays approaching, I have a feeling everyone you know is going to get engaged every Sunday from now until the end of 2019. If you are in a long-term relationship, this time of year might have you thinking about your own future with your significant other. Of course, not all couples are ready to take the next step at precisely the same time. While you may feel ready for marriage, your partner may be moving at a speed akin to ABC’s progress in casting a diverse Bachelor. Perhaps you’re at the point where you’re considering giving your partner an ultimatum, like Katie did with Schwartz on Vanderpump Rules. Ultimatums, like Katie, are often thought of as manipulative and coercive, and they certainly can be. But can marriage ultimatums ever work and, if so, under what circumstances? There are a couple of factors you’ll want to consider before you bust out the “…or I’m done” statements.

Think About Why You Want To Get Married

Before you can even consider an ultimatum, you need to think critically about why you’re so focused on a timeline. It’s natural to have moments of insecurity in even the healthiest relationships, but if you’re feeling this way often, it’s worth exploring more deeply. Are you so focused on marriage because you’re fighting constantly and want assurance that your partner isn’t going to leave you? Are you anxious about marriage because all of your close friends are getting married and you don’t want to get left behind? If your desire for marriage is coming from a place of insecurity rather than security, it’s probably best to hold off until you feel secure and focus on mending the underlying fractures in the relationship with open communication. Many people get caught up in the notion of marriage as a magic Band-Aid for all of a relationship’s problems when, in reality, it is the great revealer of a couple’s strength and the first of many important and difficult conversations. Once the party and honeymoon are over, you’re left with a life commitment to your partner. If the foundation isn’t solid to begin with, time and challenges are only going to erode things further.

Does Your Partner Really Need An Ultimatum?

Ultimatums get a bad rap for a reason. Almost no one wants to be told what to do (or at least, be made to feel that way). In most cases an ultimatum won’t be effective, and will ultimately be harmful, because it provokes feelings of stubbornness and resistance by forcing the recipient to make a choice. It’s important to talk openly with your partner and understand what’s driving the lack of forward momentum before you can assess whether or not an ultimatum is appropriate. Try something like, “I’ve noticed that we haven’t really discussed taking the next step and getting engaged. Why do you think that is?” If your conversations reveal that your partner is someone who simply needs an extra nudge, an ultimatum might make sense. If, however, your partner prefers to do things on his or her own terms, you may push him or her further away or set yourself up for a lifetime of resentment even if you do ultimately get that engagement ring. So no pressure!

Deal In Facts

If you feel confident that your relationship is on solid ground and that your partner will be receptive, it’s essential that you approach the conversation (yes, it’s a conversation) in the right way. One way of doing that is to stick to objective facts rather than subjective feelings whenever possible. For example, saying something like, “Since we’ve been together for of years and I’d like to start a family by , I’d like to talk with you about getting engaged” is a lot more likely to elicit a favorable response than “What are you waiting for, Todd?! My eggs are dying by the minute!” When your thoughts are presented reasonably, it’ll be easier for your partner to see things as you see them and not feel attacked in the process.

Make It A Dialogue

An ultimatum is more likely to be effective if it’s framed as a conversation rather than an outright demand. Threats have no place in a healthy and functional relationship (a reality many of our beloved VPR cast mates need to be reminded of), and if you’re used to making threats to get what you want, you’re probably not ready for marriage. You may have heard of the idea in conflict resolution of employing “I” statements instead of “you” statements. It might sound like a middle school conflict mediation tactic, but it’s a useful tool when giving an ultimatum. Instead of demanding a proposal by , contextualize the issue in terms of your own life plans. You can say something like, “I love you, but if you don’t want to get married in the foreseeable future, I need to know so I can figure out my next steps.” This way, you’re empowering your partner to engage with you without imposing your will, but still honoring yourself and your goals without relinquishing your agency in the relationship either. This two-way dialogue can also extend to the time frame as well. If you’d ideally like a proposal in the next few months, but your significant other would prefer to wait another year, perhaps you can meet in the middle and compromise on a 6-month window. This way, both parties feel heard and as if each is part of the decision-making process and, therefore, more likely to commit to the agreed-upon time frame.

Stick To Your Guns

If you do decide that you need to issue an ultimatum to your partner, you need to be prepared to walk away if you don’t end up getting what you want. Practically speaking, if you decide with your partner that you’ll get engaged by the end of the year, but that doesn’t happen and you stay anyway, you lose credibility. The relationship may suffer as well. If you’re not willing to move on, the ultimatum becomes nothing more than a manipulation tactic, fostering an unhealthy and toxic relationship dynamic.
More importantly, you deserve to find someone who will give you what you want. If your partner can’t respect a reasonable timeline, it may be best to stop wasting months or years of your life and free yourself up for a person who can commit. If you can’t see yourself actually leaving in the event your partner doesn’t follow through, then you absolutely should refrain, not give an ultimatum, and ask yourself why you’re afraid to be alone.
Ultimatums are like fireworks. When handled with care, they can have an illuminating and satisfying effect. But when deployed incorrectly and carelessly, they can blow up in your face. Of course, marriage is not the end goal for many couples in long-term relationships, nor should it be. If you’re happy with the progression of your relationship, continue with what feels right to you and try to quiet the background noise. It’s so easy to get caught up in others’ expectations, whether real or perceived, but you need to move at the pace that feels right for you and your relationship, whether or not it leads to a proposal. Marriage is wonderful, but it’s an incredible commitment and you should not move forward with it until you and your partner are both prepared to light your cash on fire ready.
Images: Zelle Duda / Unsplash; Giphy (5)