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Bachelor Ben is in love with two women — and it’s the show's fault

My work as a marriage and family therapist in Scottsdale, Arizona helps to  instill hope and change through the use of techniques including: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Parenting Skills Training, and Brief Solution focused therapy. I u...

The emotional immaturity of The Bachelor makes contestants confuse love and infatuation

During The Bachelor's "Women Tell All" special, we get to a point where Chris Harrison tells Ben he's in quite a mess because he's told two women that he loves them. Harrison teases the “stunning” finale next week due to this twist. There are lots of issues to discuss when someone tells two people he loves them just before becoming engaged to one of them. We have to ponder: Is this for TV, or is it real?

More: Awkward dating lessons learned from 'The Bachelor '

Everyone seems to be questioning how this can happen, as it has never gone this way on The Bachelor before. I think there may be a reason it happens in an emotionally charged show where feelings are on fast speed. Cast members do not have a lot of life experience and wisdom gained from age, and this is a challenging journey to find love, as more than one person’s emotions are involved at the same time.

There's seemingly not enough time for the Bachelor — in any season — to become mindful and proceed in a way that keeps all the women’s emotions in mind, and his actions and words impact others due to the short time frame of the show. His decisions, words and actions affect these women. Being in the moment is not about spontaneously sharing words of affirmation but considering both other people’s feelings regardless of your own and what is best for everyone involved.

Psychologist Daniel Goleman describes this as emotional intelligence (EI) or emotional quotient (EQ), the capacity of individuals to recognize their own, and other people's feelings, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.

Ben tells Harrison he was able to tell two women that he loves them because he compartmentalized the relationships, which is not a useful technique. Separating the relationships in his mind creates tunnel vision and gives him an excuse for the multiple feelings he has. We see scenes from the finale, in which he see the confusion that ensues emotionally for everyone involved due to him telling both women he loves them.

More: How Bachelor Ben uses 'love languages' to show his feelings

Here is where we can see Ben's inexperience and youth rear its ugly head. With high emotional intelligence, there is a regard for other people’s feelings, a mindful process and thoughts about how to manage your own feelings while considering the feelings of others and acting accordingly. For example, we see Ben believing he is in the moment feeling love for Lauren B. and then in another moment feeling love for Jojo.

The idea of emotional intelligence would allow him to recognize his own feelings in regards to the feelings of others and take a mindful approach, as opposed to the spontaneity of the moment, which might hurt someone in the end. How would each woman feel if they knew he shared the same feelings with each of them, as he needs to choose one to love.

The fast pace of the show and the intensity of the quick emotions and development of relationships doesn't really allow for lots of moments of mindfulness. Being mindful means being in the moment but without confusion or chaos. The whole premise of reality TV is for drama and chaos — not exactly a ripe environment for mindfulness. Still, I think the show does allow for the contestants to learn about themselves and how to manage emotions and stress more effectively in the future, which is no doubt a learning experience.

Hopefully, the finale will be a happy ending to all this confusion over being in love with two women at once; however, without the drama, chaos and emotional roller coasters, The Bachelor probably wouldn't be as popular as it is. For healthy relationships to develop, emotional intelligence and mindfulness are of the utmost importance.

More: Ben Higgins reveals his greatest fear on 'The Bachelor' — and it's a common one

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