Was this season’s The Bachelor a very public display of love bombing by a sociopath?

Editor’s note: Joyce M. Short is the author of a just released book, “Carnal Abuse by Deceit.” The book chronicles her life with a predator, the subsequent aftermath and her road to recovery. It also provides advice for victims and their supporters, and discusses the issues surrounding criminalization of rape-by-fraud.

Bachelor Juan Pablo Galavis

By Joyce M. Short

Sure, we all know it’s just a reality show. And millions tune in each week to second-guess the decisions, get amused by the fireworks between the young hopefuls, and watch the romantic hook-ups as each bachelor winds his way through the candy-store of 27 beautiful, eager, women. But this season, something seemed very different.

Enter, Juan Pablo Galavis, a Venezuelan, 32-year-old, former pro soccer player, with a 5-year-old daughter. He’s charismatic, witty, sexy, ruggedly handsome, and fun-loving, with a self proclaimed intent to find a permanent mate, who he frequently refers to as a “good mother” for his little daughter. Needless to say, the contestants were immediately charmed.

Each episode contains opportunities to get to know Juan Pablo either in individual dates or in group events, and if he does not select you for a rose at the end of the broadcast, you’re immediately dismissed and sent home.

Sparks flying

Although there is no specific mandate that the bachelor must engage each girl physically, Juan Pablo did everything possible to make the sparks fly from the instant he took them out. The girls do not get to see the physical contact he has with other girls, unless he callously engages one in front of the others. So for the most part, what happens on their dates is private. When he grabs their hands, hugs them and kisses their foreheads as they’re leaving the front door, it signals that he thinks they’re special. And as all of us know here on Lovefraud, it gets their oxytocin levels spinning into motion. Oxytocin is the “love chemical” that creates trust between two people.

Not much of in-depth background discussion or exchange of values happens on Juan Pablo’s dates. They’re mostly about “will the girl trust” him and “will she be a good mother” for his daughter. He asks very little about what they deeply feel or their goals for the future. When girls become uncomfortable with the shallowness of their connection, he strokes their cheek with the back of his hand and tells them that they’re cute. They melt into his arms for another round of passionate embracing. He is practiced at the art of keeping wolves at bay with physical seduction.


It was interesting to see the internal tug-of-war that raged between the clear headedness of thought and power of emotional chemistry for two of the young ladies. Sharlene was a classically trained singer who sensed that there was something missing, but couldn’t put her finger on what it was. Andi confronted him after spending a night in which he spoke continuously about himself and his goals, with very little concern for her interests. He thought the evening went well. She, however, was totally turned off. When her complaints could not be dismissed by his typical stroking, appeasing, passion-raising behavior, he simply resigned himself to her walking away with no sense of loss. His mantra, “Ees okay,” came to take on a new significance. It seemed rather to politely hide an underlying sense of, “I really don’t give a damn.”

For both girls, even though they had determined that he was not right for them, the emotional chemistry he’d stirred up, kept them off balance and wondering whether they were doing the right thing. Although they left, they still reeled from an intense sense of loss, love-chemistry’s lingering effects.

Last two standing

Two girls were the last ones standing. Clare had been clearly smitten and sexually forward with him. While he invited her advances, he later admonished her, keeping her drawn to him in a bizarre push-pull scenario hinged around “honesty” and concern for his little girl. When she declared her need for clarity, he strung her along, planting images of family and permanence in her heart, only to reject her a few short hours later. He never expressed that he had any doubts or that he simply had not made up his mind ”¦ words that could have given her an honest clarity. Doing so would have put her decision to remain on an equal and credible footing, so he made sure not to risk it. He stole her right to self-determination.

There was zero sense on his part that what he’d done was selfish and heartless. And when she unleashed her displeasure at the end, his only comment was, “I’m sure glad I didn’t pick her.”

Nicki Ferrell and Juan Pablo Galavis

Nicki Ferrell and Juan Pablo Galavis.

Nikki Ferrell was the last girl standing. Although he’d made a point of how he needed to protect his daughter to Clare, when their date conflicted with his daughter’s dance recital, he resorted to expedience and brought Nikki along. Her sense of trust in him was highly elevated by that event. She could imagine herself as part of his family. Even though his family vehemently waved red flags in her face, speaking about his temper, being “difficult” and raising additional concerns, she blithely tossed off all their cautions. She’d been bitten by the love bug, was romantically intoxicated, and no real-world insights could dispel her concepts of him.

Even though he failed to commit to her, or even tell her he loved her at the end, she still clung to the hope that it would work out. And it will, as long as she’s compliant and does not expect a commitment. This is a man who did not marry the mother of his child. The producers should have conducted deeper investigation into his background and character before exposing the girls to him.

I see the hope in Nikki’s acquiescence in so many of us here on Lovefraud. The power of oxytocin and love chemistry can keep our eyes averted from the obvious signs we miss along the way. Juan Pablo clearly demonstrated artful seduction without substance, a self-centered concept of relationships that he hid with claims about his daughter and “honesty,” and demonstrated so aptly how sociopaths get away with their romantic misrepresentations. He used rational justifications to mask his lack of caring and toy with their emotions.

If you watch the feedback from the public on the news services and blogs, you’ll see a very mixed understanding of the events from this season. As Lovefraud participants, it’s easy to spot who approaches the discussions with more or less affective empathy. Sometimes, in listening to what people say about the circumstances going on around them, they are telling us all we need to know about who they are.

For more information on this season of The Bachelor, read:

RECAP: The Bachelor Watch: Juan Pablo makes his pick and it’s okay?, on Time.com.


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18 Comments on "Was this season’s The Bachelor a very public display of love bombing by a sociopath?"

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The principle characteristic sociopaths look for is empathy and a moral compass that includes a sense of commitment to loved ones. So don’t be so hard on yourself. Largely, you were targeted because you’re a decent person.

Finding your way out of the relationship can be mired with obstacles from the past, but falling in their trap could happen to anyone with a heart.

Wishing you speed and peace in your recovery.


Thank you, Joyce. I appreciate your kind words and your encouragement.

Wow, I can see that happening. He is going to jump from one woman to another the rest of his life. Getting what he can and moving on.
Funny he says he wants to live a quiet private life with Nikki… He wants to isolate her so he will have complet control over her. She will think that is because he just loves her so much.. Poor kid, she does not see what is coming. Well, I hope she finds Love Fraud, like the rest of us.

Psychopathic loser.

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