Why Arie Proposing To Becca On 'The Bachelor' May Have Been Influenced By Male Competition

ABC/Paul Hebert

In case you missed the ~dramatic~ ending of this season, on Monday, Arie proposed to Becca in The Bachelor finale — but it was then revealed that he broke things off with her weeks later in order to rekindle his romance with runner-up Lauren. While it was obvious to viewers that Arie was torn between the final two women, this awkward, painful situation still begs the question: why did Arie propose to Becca in the first place — and could the appearance of her ex, Ross, during the Fantasy Suite episode have had a hand in it?

"Throughout the season Arie was consistent in saying he was looking to get married, to find a wife, that he is ready to settle down, etc.," Toni Coleman, LCSW, Psychotherapist and Relationship Coach, tells Bustle. "It was clear to me his biggest fear was to end up rejected/alone or to pick the wrong person, which would lead to him being alone down the line. When Becca told Arie she wanted him and reassured him [after her ex showed up], I believe that contributed to his choosing her over the less safe (but more desired) Lauren."

When you're inside the bubble that is The Bachelor franchise, it's easy for both us viewers and the contestants to forget that life exists outside that ultra romantic world. So when Becca's on-and-off-again ex of seven years traveled all the way to Peru in order to "get back" the love of his life and, in doing so, permeated The Bachelor bubble, it was bound to shake things up in Arie and Becca's relationship. Here's how the appearance of Becca's ex Ross might — or might not — have affected Arie's decision to pop the question to her instead of Ωser5Lauren.

The Role Of Competition In Dating

At its core, The Bachelor is really all about competing to "win" someone's heart, so it pretty much goes without saying that feelings of competitiveness are nothing new to those on the show. Of course, many contestants do feel genuine connections with the leading man or lady, but according to Coleman, those feelings are often conflated with the inherent sense of competition among the pool of contestants.

"Competition plays a huge role in dating — and I think it is what makes the Bachelor franchise what it is," Coleman says. "No way would these people all be drawn so strongly to this one person if they met organically, in real life. But the hype, the build-up, the intense competition stirred up by the producers — and of course, all these other women or men professing their attraction and love. No wonder so many of these couplings fizzle when they are left to exist alone, in the real world."

While the women of Arie's season, including final two Becca and Lauren, had been feeling the pressure of the competitive aspect of the show since night one (and battling the insecurities that the competition inevitably brings) Arie hadn't had to directly deal with similar feelings on his end — that is, until Becca's ex showed up.

The arrival of Ross in Peru served as a very real reminder to Arie that he's not the only one who wants to "win" Becca's affections — a reminder which could have sparked a competitive fire within him and influenced his choice to propose to Becca over Lauren. According to Eric A. Samuels, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist at Ignite Change Therapy, if you're dating someone and are aware that another person is also interested in dating that person, it's possible that you might feel more pressure to "secure" your relationship with that person. And, the social construction of masculinity may even add more fuel to the fire in this case.

"Men are encouraged to be competitive and to win; it is an inherent part of masculinity," Samuels tells Bustle. "Knowledge of other potential suitors could be perceived as threatening to the relationship that you desire to have and/or maintain with that person. Therefore, you might try harder and/or feel a greater sense of urgency to encourage the person you are interested in dating to agree to date you."

Could The Appearance Of Her Ex Have Hurt Becca and Arie's Relationship?

ABC/Paul Hebert

On the other hand, it's also possible that the appearance of Becca's ex could have had a negative effect on her relationship with Arie. After Ross showed up, Becca had to do a certain amount of "damage control" in the form of reassuring Arie that he was the one she wanted to be with — and within the fast-paced bubble of The Bachelor, those last-minute assurances might have been enough to tip him towards her instead of Lauren.

Becca's assurances to Arie that she had no interest in rekindling a romance with Ross seemed to help him feel secure enough to propose to her in the moment — but that doesn't necessarily mean Arie was left free of doubts about the long-term stability of their relationship after the final rose. And, while it's never fair to judge a partner for their romantic past, that doesn't mean you can't be uncomfortable with certain aspects of that past: Arie might have genuinely believed Becca when she said she wasn't interested in restarting a relationship with her ex, but the idea of that ex hanging around and potentially creating more drama in their relationship *might* have had a hand in the eventual demise of their relationship.

Ultimately, it's impossible to know exactly why Arie did things the way he did on his season of The Bachelor: all we can do is speculate while we pour one out for Becca. But even if you don't agree with how things went down, it's hard not to root for Arie and Lauren — after all, The Bachelor franchise could use a few more success stories, however drama-filled they may be.