When it comes to equality in relationships, it's hard to find a situation less suited to fostering that balance than The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Twenty to 30 contestants vie for the love of one man or woman, and have to prove themselves in order to win, which I'd imagine can start things off on a very confusing foot — even after a winner is chosen. And that's why I'm so glad to hear that Nick Viall worked to emphasize equality even in the insane world of his season of The Bachelor, which premieres Jan. 2. Viall has twice been a contestant on The Bachelorette, and both times made it all the way to the end — with Andi Dorfman and Kaitlyn Bristowe, respectively — before being sent home as the runner-up. For that reason, he has a good picture of how the women on his season must be feeling, and it sounds like he's doing his best to address it in the most respectful way possible.
Viall sat down with People in advance of Monday's premiere and shared that he went into his season very aware of the insane circumstances, and wanted to be mindful of honesty being a "two-way street" between himself and the women.
I wanted us to be on the same playing field and both be just as empowered as the other person. I wanted to have an authentic relationship and that was something that was very important to me.
I won't know how Nick Viall is as the Bachelor until I see his season, of course, but he's throwing out some very encouraging buzzwords here, with "authentic" and and "empowered" and "same playing field." I can imagine it would be easy to slip into the dynamic of feeling entitled to the affection of all these contestants, or letting it blow up your ego. However, Viall says he worked — like physically worked — to make sure each woman felt respected and heard.
Early on with so many women, you obviously don’t know a lot of things about them but talking to all of them and wanting to make it meaningful to all of them is very physically taxing. And then as time goes on, it becomes more emotionally taxing and less physically taxing. And you get to know these women, there’s a level of respect. You’re asking them to do things they’ve never been able to do and to face stressful situations and their fears.
I love that he's acknowledging the bizarre situation that not only he, but especially all the women, are willingly putting themselves in. Too often I feel like the Bachelor or Bachelorette pretends like dating 5 million people at the same time is perfectly normal, and anyone who doesn't feel that way "has walls up" or is "here for the wrong reasons". I'm glad to see Viall coming into his season with such an open mind, ready to work, and with so much empathy for the women in the same terrifying position he's been in twice himself.