‘The Bachelor’: The Incredible Strategic Power of the Fake Panic Attack


No one said this was going to be easy. In fact, we’ve told you all along that your quest for ForeverLove on The Bachelor would be the most arduous challenge you could ever undertake. This isn’t the relatively breezy ordeal of a night-school law degree, or primary custody parenthood, or a two-year stint in a federal lockup for overhearing an insider stock tip. This is your life you’re fighting for. Your future. A very likely last chance at finding your soul mate, on national television, in front of millions of people who are critiquing your alcohol intake and your lipstick shade and the rhinestone-bedazzled cocktail dress you mysteriously chose to wear on a mountain-biking date through the world-famous mud puddles of Slop Junction, Wyoming.

The time for messing around is long over. This is Week 5, and only the strong survive. That rhyme is an excellent mnemonic for remembering where you are in the competition; temporal disorientation is peaking, and you’re as likely to wake up thinking you’re late for your butter-churning shift on a colonial manor as you are to remember you’re sleeping in a walk-in closet with four coldhearted sister-enemies in a rented mansion somewhere in the greater Los Angeles area. Get it together. Open your mind. Let the knowledge in. Let’s figure out how to keep you alive for another rose ceremony.

1. Be open to every kind of intimacy.

There is more to building a lasting bond than simply handing your Bachelor an empty plate and inviting him to the carnal smorgasbord of physical discovery. It’s not just your respective genital areas that yearn to connect with a gravitational pull strong enough to yank foreign communication satellites out of orbit, it’s your entire beings. You need to nurture the spiritual and the emotional. The rest will come together in due time. Yes, “come together” means what you think it means, the pun is right there on your LET’S COME TOGETHER date card, tantalizing you with the idea of the simultaneous releases you’ll enjoy down the road if you put in the prep work now.

And so it is important to heed the instructions of the extravagantly bescarved “intimacy mentor” sitting uncomfortably nearby on a jumble of beaded pillows, smelling faintly of the various sensual oils she may soon invite you to slather across each other’s quivering body-canvases in an attempt to “open you up” to the possibility of connection. Just go with it. It will feel incredibly awkward at first, an impossible tangle of limbs and hot breath and poorly coordinated eyelash collisions observed by a nose-ringed love-Svengali one whispered command away from initiating a patchouli-drenched threesome. But soon, after the shame of the aborted mutual disrobing exercise subsides, after you stop worrying that the sound of your finger-cymbals chiming behind his head might interfere with the smoldering eye contact you’re establishing from a perch on his lap, you will see what she’s up to. She is an erotic maestro merely tuning up the pianos for the beautiful fuck-concerto you will play together on the Fantasy Suite stage. And you will thank your guru for her service.

2. Overcome your fears.


The reaction is immediate: the sweaty palms, the pounding heart, the visions of plummeting to your death trailing a frayed bungee cord improperly inspected by the safety carny too meth-addled to keep you from being splattered on the bottom of a gorge. And all of that just from a garden-variety acrophobic seeing the word “sky” scrawled on a date card. If you’ve done even the most cursory research, you should know that the producers like nothing better than to manifest whatever you wrote on the THIS IS MY GREATEST FEAR, PLEASE DO NOT USE AGAINST ME ON THE SHOW line of your application in the most terrifying manner possible. Confront your fear. Conquer it. Play a mental trick on yourself: Pretend that being suspended aloft in a picnic basket hundreds of feet in the air by a small fire inside a giant balloon is a less troubling scenario than the snapped bungee cord one. Whatever works.

Oh, and take a shower. Why have you not been showering? Is that another fear, or is it more of a superstition thing? The other girls will seize upon your baffling hygiene habits and go on the attack. They’ve already noticed you’re sleeping in your makeup, so stop handing out free ammunition. And you definitely don’t want the producers, frustrated that they failed to cripple you emotionally with a balloon ride, to CGI some Pigpen stench lines over your head. Don’t do their jobs for them.

3. Take a “nap.”

Even at five weeks in, it’s still too early for a full-fledged trip to bed. Consider a “nap.” “Napping” is fun and innocent, and absolutely no one will suspect that your “nap” may have involved anything more than some refreshing, nonpenetrative cuddle time. The appalled looks on the faces of your overtired competitors are expressions of jealousy that you found the time after the exhausting demands of a one-on-one date to sneak in some fully clothed, above-the-covers, G-rated spooning. You probably even snored a little; make sure you throw that in when they ask. No, he snored. Oh, did the girls not know he snores? It’s so adorable. That “nap” was so satisfying.

4. Give yourself a second chance.

Were you prematurely eliminated because your binge drinking gave your Bachelor the impression you weren’t respecting the sacred process through which a hunky farmer might potentially harvest a trial fiancée, if he can ever decide between 30 options? Do you feel like accepting your elimination without more of a fight was a huge mistake, that your romantic spark was extinguished before it had a chance to truly ignite? Cool. Just show up again. No one will stop you. The worst thing that can happen is every remaining contestant will unite against you in protest of what they perceive to be an incredibly unfair circumvention of “the rules.” The only rule, of course, is to win. It’s worth a shot. The only thing you have to lose is your bus fare. Chris Harrison’s not made of money, no way he’s sporting for your Greyhound ticket for five to 10 minutes of weak conflict. He’s not going to waste the beverage-line savings realized from your departure on transportation expenses.

5. Tell your story.

Your story is amazing. Tragic, certainly, but amazing. It’s a story of hope. It’s a story of perseverance. It’s the story of a young widow, her marriage shockingly ended by cruel fate, putting her life on hold so a broadcast television network might help her overcome her grief by giving her a chance at finding love again, every Monday night at 8 p.m.

And it’s a story you need to share at precisely the right moment for maximum strategic impact. In person, behind closed doors, right as your Bachelor is standing before a mirror, nervously whispering the names of the women he will invite to continue on their journey toward a series of sexual compatibility tests conducted in various heart-shaped Jacuzzis of luxury hotels. He needs to know your story to make a fully informed decision about not sending home a fragile person mere moments after she revealed the unknown depths of her secret hurt. This may induce a certain level of emotional turmoil in your Bachelor as he grapples with the unexpected weight of this information, but no one said his decision should be easy. Let him heave the cruise-ship singer overboard. It’s not your fault her story is not as amazing as yours. What’s the most profound adversity she’s faced — having the karaoke lyrics screen go dark in the middle of Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn”?

6. Fake a panic attack.


Sharing your story right before the rose ceremony is a high-percentage play to capture a desperation flower and stave off an imminent elimination, but there’s still a chance such a dramatic move will backfire. Your Bachelor might suffer a nervous breakdown, withdrawing from the pre–rose ceremony cocktail party to reexamine his options. This will put you in an almost impossible position: Is he taking the extra time to figure out how to dismiss you from the competition in a gentle way, or is he deciding which of the other girls to jettison in your place, such as the possibly mute one he’s kept around for five weeks in hopes of finally hearing her speak?

You can’t wait around passively for the answer. It’s time for the nuclear option: the fake panic attack. Stumble into a hallway, out of the view of your fellow contestants. Collapse, not too far from a cameraperson or crew member. Say something like, “I think I’m having a very real panic attack, you can tell because I’m crying on the floor over here!” Wait for the on-set EMT to arrive, snap on some rubber gloves, and pretend to examine you. She knows the deal. Everyone knows the deal:

You can go out now, in the back seat of a limousine.

Or you can roll right into next week, reclining on a stretcher, thumbs triumphantly up next to the disconnected breathing apparatus covering your smile, saved — for the time being, at least — by those three magic words:


Filed Under: TV, The Bachelor, Bachelor School, Chris Harrison, ABC, Chris Soules

Mark Lisanti is an editor at Grantland.

Archive @ marklisanti

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