The Bachelorette and the sociopath

Last week, Lovefraud received the following e-mail from a reader:

Not sure if you ever pick up on things that go on in the television arena, but Hollywood hit a new low this week with the third installment of The Bachelorette.

The producers are supposed to pick fabulous, eligible bachelors, not sociopaths who set out to do psychological harm. As soon as it became evident that Bentley was without a conscience, purposely setting out to hurt Ashley Hebert, lure her in with false words while telling the cameras (behind her back) that she was ugly, not his type, blah, blah, blah, the producers had an obligation to tell Ashley the truth. But they chose to let Bentley ambush her and break her heart.

But hey, that’s Hollywood, right? Whatever it takes to make a buck and get ratings.

Anyway, you should check it out. You could write a GREAT column about the psychology behind the whole thing, and teach women a lesson about how the sociopath will charm you to your face and knife you in the back… while people you trust allow it to happen.

Personally, I think the producers must have sociopathic tendencies to allow a sweet, innocent woman to be mentally raped like that. In fact, she is being mind-raped all over again, because Ashley is seeing this camera footage for the first time along with the rest of us.

I have never watched The Bachelorette, which airs on ABC, so I didn’t know what this reader was talking about. But full episodes of the show are on the Internet, so I spent the past few days watching them.

I was astounded. There it is, in full motion and living color: the capsulized story of a sociopathic interaction, on the reality TV show, The Bachelorette.

Competing for love

Here’s the premise of the show. Twenty-five guys are contestants, all competing to win one woman’s heart. On the first night, they vie for her attention at a cocktail party. On subsequent episodes, they go on group dates and one-on-one dates. At the end of each episode, there’s a “rose ceremony,” in which the woman gives roses to those whom she wants to get to know further. Men who don’t receive roses go home.

The woman, Ashley Hebert, was the third-place finisher on the companion show, The Bachelor, last year. In the initial episode of this season’s Bachelorette, Ashley reveals that she felt like she let her insecurities get in the way of expressing how she really felt about Brad Womack, the bachelor, and she is determined not to let that happen again. She’s going to give this opportunity to find true love, a husband, everything she’s got.

I must admit, the men are handsome, accomplished, entertaining—if I were 25 years younger, unmarried, and the bachelorette, I’d be in heaven. What really strikes me is how they are all so earnest about wanting to make a connection, wanting to find love—all of them, that is, except for Bentley Williams.

Warning ignored

The format of the show mixes live action—Ashley and the men interacting—with interviews, during which Ashley and the men talk about their impressions of what is going on. Right from the very beginning, Bentley says in his interviews that he doesn’t find Ashley to be attractive and really doesn’t care about her. He’s on the show for the game of it.

What’s truly amazing is that Ashley was warned about this before the show even started. She reveals in the first episode that she received a text message from a friend. Bentley, she was warned, was not on the show for the right reasons. Yet Ashley says she wants to make up her own mind. She’s going to give Bentley a chance

Bentley works his charm on Ashley. All the while, in the direct-to-camera interviews, he’s talking about how he has no interest in Ashley. He’s only there because he’s competitive, and he wants to win.

Well, Ashley falls for him. Quickly. “It’s like game over before the start button is pushed,” Bentley says in an interview.

For Bentley, there’s no longer any reason to continue. He got what he wanted—Ashley’s affections. Bentley decides to leave the competition. “I’m going to make Ashley cry,” he says to the camera. “I hope my hair looks okay.”

Bentley uses his two-year-old daughter as an excuse, telling Ashley that the girl is the most important thing in his life, and he can’t be away from her. Yeah, right.

Ashley is heartbroken.

True sociopathic relationship

This is the most accurate, complete depiction of a sociopathic relationship that I have ever seen on television.

Ashley is honest and genuine in her desire to find true romance, a husband. She is warned that Bentley’s intentions are not honorable. She decides to give him a chance. He works his charm, and she falls for him. Even as Bentley is dumping her, Ashley accepts his explanations. Then she cries herself to sleep.

Bentley doesn’t care at all about Ashley. He clearly thinks he is superior to all the other men, and is only there to beat them, to win. He mixes charm with the pity play, literally sweeping Ashley off her feet and carrying her to a romantic moment in front of a fireplace, then talking about how much he misses his daughter. Finally, bored, he does the devalue and discard routine, and couldn’t care less.

If you’ve had trouble explaining what it’s been like to be involved with a sociopath, tell your friends and family to watch the first three episodes of this show. The whole process is right there. A word of caution for you, though—it may trigger emotional reactions. It did for me.


Millions of people were outraged by Bentley’s behavior. They were outraged that the producers allowed him to stay on the show, knowing that he was insincere.

This week’s People magazine features Ashley Hebert on the cover, with the headline of ”˜I feel so betrayed.’ The article says producers were criticized for casting Bentley, and showcasing his behavior. The producers defend themselves by pointing out that Ashley herself gave Bentley the roses to keep him on the show.

Should the producers have yanked Bentley from the show? For Ashley, I’d say yes. But for the rest of the world, though, watching Bentley is incredibly instructive, if he is described as what he is—a sociopath.

The producers aren’t going to do that—but we can. Tell people who don’t get it to watch the first three episodes of The Bachelorette. Tell people 1% to 4% of the population are sociopaths, and these people behave just like Bentley. Tell people that they are charming, they are slick, and can fool anyone—even people who have been warned.

Full episodes are online. To really see the drama unfold, start with Week One, Part One—you’ll have to click the arrow on the right side of the screen.

The Bachelorette on ABC.go.com

The fourth episode of the show airs tonight on ABC. Bentley is gone, and Ashley has to pick up the pieces and move on. I think I’ll watch it. Aside from all of Bentley’s sociopathic drama, the other men seem so sweet, so authentic, that it warms my heart. As I wish for all of us, I hope that Ashley finds love after the sociopath is gone.

Media fallout

The producer, Chris Harrison, talks about the Bentley scam

Chris Harrison says Bentley almost shut down ‘Bachelorette’ production on HitFix.com.

Bachelorette’s’ Bentley Bother “not over” says host Chris Harrison on EOnline.com.

Michelle Money: I warned Ashley Hebert about Bentley Williams on Reality TVWorld.com


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100 Comments on "The Bachelorette and the sociopath"

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Ox Drover: *hugs* ^_^ Yahoo! Oops, I was supposed to cut back on the mass hugging!

My mom is in therapy. I WISH we could get that other girl to go. The very thought that she would care enough to do that is laughable. I mean just absurd! Remember, this girl doesn’t even want to get up to feed or change a baby. No way she’ll go to therapy and WORK on something if she doesn’t think there is a problem, or even if there is one. 🙁

I still tell my mom about the posts on here that Donna makes and Steve and Liane. I’ve also read some of your posts to her and some others. ^_^

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