Congratulations! If you find yourself on a two-tiered stage, surrounded by gently flickering candles, a studio audience comprised almost entirely of women, and the faint, metallic whiff of blood in the air, you have nearly completed your journey through The Bachelor‘s brutal emotional gauntlet. Yes, this means that you failed to find your ForeverLove, but if we’re being honest — and in our dual roles as educators and life coaches, honesty is imperative — your chances were never that great; consider the “Women Tell All” special your near-victory lap, or a final consideration of the potentially horrific possibility that you almost found yourself staring down the barrel of a loaded Neil Lane jewelers box.
Let’s break down the “Tell All” round and learn what we can before next week’s finale.
1. Throw a viewing party!
Are you and 30 to 50 of your sorority sisters looking for a fun way to spend two hours every Monday night between January and March, and not finding The Carrie Diaries and 90210 a sufficiently hunktastic television experience over which to bond? Consider joining Bachelor Nation: Not only is it the best communal viewing experience on prime-time television (at least according to one notable rose purveyor), it’s an opportunity for the kind of personal contact with the show’s producers that could lead to a future splash in the talent pool. Make no mistake: The crew is paying attention to which crazed Delta Gamma is screaming “Take your shirt off!” with the most unhinged fervor. Don’t miss a golden opportunity to stand out from the throng of your fellow sister-fans and potentially earn yourself a slot on the flagship series, or, if you seem leap-over-the-boom-guy-and-pants-the-smiling-himbo drunk, a coveted “borderline stalker” bunk in the Bachelor Pad.
2. Consider Chris Harrison.
Look, things aren’t working out with your Bachelor. He’s selected his final two candidates, and you aren’t one of them. What’s left for you after 13 or so weeks of televised humiliation? That’s right: Chris Harrison is left for you. He’s sitting just a couple of feet stage-left of the man who rejected you in front of millions of people for reasons as soul-crushingly paradoxical as “you’re an amazing person” and “you are just so incredible.” You need a soft landing, and Chris Harrison is a stack of Tempur-Pedic mattresses covered in teddy bears and warm marshmallows. He’s been through this dozens of times before. He knows exactly what you need in this most vulnerable of moments. You want a rose? Chris Harrison has an entire fucking Teamster van full of roses, he can get you a rose. Just think about it, OK? He can make the hurt go away.
3. You still aren’t here to make friends.
Were you your season’s villain? The “Women Tell All” special is not the time to reverse course on your strategy. Contrition is for the weak, conciliation for the halfhearted. Don’t burn this bridge; lure your enemies onto it and then dynamite it before they realize they’ve been lured to their doom.
You will be showered with boos by a bloodthirsty crowd. Ignore them.
You will be called a liar. Cling to your truth.
You will be condemned by a jury of failed contestants who were more interested in forming friendships than getting a ring. Dismiss them with an insouciant wave of the oversize engagement-zirconia given to you by the possibly nonexistent mystery fiancé you were always meant to marry, and into whose arms you were ultimately driven by the bonding experience of desperately pursuing a husband on national television.
Retreat is not an option. Once more unto the breach, mean girls, once more.
4. But get control of your face.
You really don’t want a flyaway eyebrow to become a hashtag game or a novelty Twitter account. You have your dignity, if not any mastery whatsoever over the nonverbal punctuation your face is providing for your words. It’s that much harder to protect your sparkle when your forehead is betraying every barely suppressed “Go fuck yourself, seriously” percolating on the other side of your skull.
5. Seek your answers.
This will be your last chance to get any closure. Demand answers. The public is on your side; they’ve seen you crushed and discarded, with no explanation beyond whatever vague brush-off would get you into the limousine without a total emotional meltdown. (The emotional meltdowns are reserved for the backseat cameras, not for the guy standing anxiously at the curbside, hoping he can get back to the momentarily unjilted women who don’t yet want to smash his manhood between two preheated cast-iron skillets.) Your sister-contestants will back you up — they’ve suffered the same indignity that you have, and can apply whatever lame justifications you squeeze out of him to their own disappointing experience.
6. Throw open the door to the Fantasy Suite.
Still not satisfied with his answers? It’s time to let in some sunlight to disinfect the now-drained hot tub where you shared your most intimate, private moments. It’s right there in the title: “Women Tell All.” It’s not “Women Hold Back Because Sometimes Things Just Don’t Work Out, No Hard Feelings, I Needed to Get Back to Arranging Some Rich Lady’s Shoes Alphabetically by Designer in a Walk-in Closet Anyway.” As you cuddled through the dazzling sunset, finally free of the camera’s unblinking eye, did he tell you that you were The One, and that those other two girls didn’t mean anything to him, mere hours before he cut out your heart and tossed it into a ravine, to be devoured by a hungry macaque? Tell everyone. Tell all.
There’s no way I would have said that, he’ll say, looking suddenly pale.
No, you did, you’ll say, because he said it.
I don’t think I would have said anything like that, he’ll hedge, visibly swallowing down the bile rising in his throat.
How funny is it that they didn’t record any of this stuff and it’s just my word against yours? you’ll think to yourself. Find the laughter in that, asshole.
7. Wish him nothing but the best.
He totally said it, though.
Right before he tried to tell you the born-again-virgin thing was “kinda flexible.”