With language barriers and cutthroat competition, is true love possible on The Bachelor? Match.com's chief scientific adviser, Dr. Helen Fisher, shares her insights on the matter. Fisher's expertise on relationships and romance helps us understand the science behind falling in love on The Bachelor.
Do language barriers create insurmountable challenges in a relationship, like what happened to the end of Juan Pablo and Andi?
Helen Fisher: Not at all — if you really find the person attractive and your "type" and you are ready to fall in love, you can overcome all kinds of barriers. In fact, a language barrier can create incredible mystery, and this novelty can drive up the dopamine system so that you love him or her even harder when you can't understand them. You are also forced to be creative in your communication, trying to act out your thoughts or draw them with pictures. This can create fun and laughter and can display your creativity and sense of humor.
But if you are not attracted to him or her, a language barrier will stop the relationship fast. People don't feel like working to be understood unless they have a higher motive. And language barriers can create complex misunderstandings, impatience, and annoyance.
Why do the majority of the women get so close in a situation where they're competing for the same man?
HF: They're doing more than competing for the same man; they're also on national TV. So they're not only courting the man, but also the national public and a possible job opportunity.
They may also be showing off for the man, proving that they are friendly under competitive circumstances. And as they make friends with other women, they are likely to learn secrets they can use in their quest to be chosen.
But some of these women also make genuine friendships. After all, they are experiencing a lot of the same stresses, they are in close proximity, and they have some of the same goals — so they have important things in common. And when people go through the same stressful situations, they tend to bond with one another.
Can you really fall in love with someone in such a short amount of time? Do these amazing travel excursions have something to do with it?
HF: Yes, the brain circuitry for romantic love can be triggered in seconds. It is like the fear system in the brain: you can get scared instantly, and you can fall in love instantly — even at first sight. We've studied love at first sight in Match.com's annual Singles in America study. Over 70 percent of both men and women have experienced love at first sight. But people tend to fall in love when they are ready and when this new person fits within their unconscious list of what they are looking for in a partner, what I call your "love map." Then, when you see someone who fits within this ideal, the brain circuitry for romantic love gets triggered, and you fall madly in love. It can happen instantly or way down the road.
Why does competition fuel attraction? Is it all about the chase?
HF: Five studies have shown that the chase does not generally work. People who play hard to get just get annoying, and the chase wears one out. People don't appreciate playing games when they are looking for love. In fact, people are more likely to fall in love with someone whom they know is in love with them.
However, competition can attract. Sometimes, when you discover that somebody else is attracted to a particular individual, this stimulates you to take a closer look. You tend to say, "She knows something I don't know," and you size him up. And when you see more to like, you can become more interested in that person yourself.