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5 ways love can last after a reality show ends

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...

How reality show couples can make their relationships last

The Bachelor may have just ended, but it's only one of numerous reality shows that focus on love and marriage, like Married at First Sight and Married by Mom and Dad. So what we can learn about keeping love after reality TV?

More: Married by Mom and Dad tackles arranged marriage in America

While The Bachelor focuses on fairy-tale romance and drama, one thing I will say is it gives us a glimpse into the emotional experiences around the competition for love. I believe the show can help us see that finding true love is more complicated than it appears on reality TV, and relationships have much more to do with a process of development and getting to know each other than the quick time frame for which this show allows.

An intense relationship might develop on these time-limited shows since their connection has happened so quickly, effectively creating a unique challenge to the couple. This also occurred in the Married at First Sight series, as the fast-paced timeline isn't useful in developing a long-term commitment or marriage. It has worked a few times for some Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants and a couple of Married at First Sight participants, but I feel there are lessons that come out of the shows that might be useful in dating and relationships.

1. Know your feelings and thoughts, but do not act or speak in haste

Understand yourself and your emotions. It would have been helpful if Bachelor Ben had someone to talk to about his confusion other than show host Chris Harrison. Have a good support system, and I would suggest doing some self-reflection. Married at First Sight allowed the participants to meet with family and friends to talk, which I think is a great idea because being able to process and talk always helps to understand one's feelings.

Bachelor Ben told two women he loved them. In developing a long-term relationship or committed union, each person is responsible for their words and actions. In a previous post, I wrote about my view on how it could be that one person declares love for two people. I discussed how I thought the show’s format, emotional intelligence and possible age and lack of experience in relationships all contributed to Ben revealing strong feelings to two contestants in the same time frame.

2. Understand what you want in a relationship before choosing between two people

If you're torn between two people, it might be better to continue to get to know yourself and understand what you are about and what you are looking for in terms of relationships before making a fast decision. More time might have allowed for the Bachelor to figure out his feelings instead of acting quickly in time for a TV proposal. In relationships, time is your friend.

More: Awkward dating lessons learned from 'The Bachelor

3. Take time to work through uncertainty about commitment

Indecision is OK. If someone can’t decide about becoming committed to each other, leave it alone for the time being. See if the relationship can develop further through communication or spending time together. An interesting twist in Married by Mom and Dad this winter, was when Christina Rollyson didn't find love with the first suitor her dad and stepmother chose but did with their second choice. Sometimes we meet the wrong people before we can know the right person.

4. Realize a solid foundation can combat love's challenges

Love can be difficult at times, but problems are better understood in couples who have developed a sound relationship before issues arise. In the case of The Bachelor, the men don't usually have time to develop a relationship that gives a foundation to grow from.

5. Accept that love works in mysterious ways

There is no reason TV love can’t exist if the couple have a foundation, friendship and time to work through differences that may arise. These new Bachelor and Married by Mom and Dad couples came out of this reality-TV genre, and hopefully more will as well. However, like any relationship, the unions need time to form a solid foundation and grow into a strong and healthy commitment. If the couples can continue to learn and grow together, then I think they can make it in the long run.

Can these new couples beat the odds? Only time will tell.

More: Advice for the new couple after 'The Bachelor' finale

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