‘The Bachelor’: 8 Intense Rules the Contestants Must Follow

A lot of things about ABC’s The Bachelor aren’t like real life. Contestants fall in love in three days, hang-glide in Iceland, wear evening gowns to grab coffee, and even use the same wording over and over. 

As it turns out, there are ways Bachelor producers keep it that way. From rules about food and phones to contracts and STD tests, these are a few of the strangest Bachelor rules that ABC producers use to keep the show the way they want it. 

Peter Weber and Season 24 contestants
Peter Weber and Season 24 contestants | Eric McCandless via Getty Images

No eating on dinner dates

Ever notice that the Bachelor contestants never seem to eat dinner during, well, a dinner date? That’s because they don’t. Former Bachelor/ettes and contestants have revealed that they actually eat dinner at the hotel or mansion before a date. 

The reason? Chewing is distracting, say former participants. Former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay told Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live that producers say, “‘America doesn’t want to see you eat, it’s ugly.’”

No contact with the outside world

Being stuck in a house with no one but a bunch of other competitors for the one person you’re allowed to date at the time for weeks will drive anyone a little crazy. It will also make you feel a little obsessed, and maybe even fall in love. 

That’s why Bachelor contestants aren’t allowed to have contact with the outside world, outside of supervised phone calls, while they’re filming the show. They aren’t allowed internet access or personal mobile devices of any kind. Former contestant Leslie Hughes told The Daily Beast, “We have nothing. We are completely cut off from the world. We have to talk to each other—we have nothing else to do.”

Be your own stylist

Bachelor contestants are only allowed two suitcases each. And that’s rough, because they’re expected to do their own hair, makeup, and wardrobe throughout their time on the show. Some of the female contestants in particular spend thousands of dollars making sure they look their best, from pre-show beauty treatments to new clothes, shoes, accessories, and makeup. 

No entertainment 

Similar to the no-internet rule, the no-entertainment Bachelor rule keeps contestants’ eyes on the prize: the Bachelor or Bachelorette. Books are now allowed, but contestants aren’t permitted to read magazines or watch TV or movies at the mansion.

In an interview with The Ashley, former contestant Molly Mesnick said, “You can’t watch TV, there’s no internet, there are no magazines, none of that. You can’t talk to your families, you are totally cut off from the real world.”

No turning down a date

Scared of heights? You’ll still have to say yes to a mountain-climbing date on The Bachelor.  Claustrophobic or afraid of the dark? If the Bachelorette wants to take you spelunking, you’ll still have to go. Bachelor contestants are contractually obligated to take part in whatever dates they’re asked to go on, no matter how daring. 

Keep it hush-hush

Bachelor contestants’ contracts, as well as Bachelors’ and Bachelorettes’, are highly demanding. 

A Bachelor/ette can be sued for up to $5 million by ABC if they break the news about who won their season or let any other spoilers slip. That’s why newly engaged Bachelor Nation couples get set up in a “love shack” of sorts, where they can spend time together in private before it’s time to do the publicity rounds. 

Get tested

From all the crying that goes down, it’s obvious that being on The Bachelor can be stressful. That’s why the 50 semifinalists in consideration as potential contestants for a given season are put through a battery of psychological tests to make sure they can handle the mental load. They’re also expected to undergo STD testing as part of the application process.

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She had me at ice cream.

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Stick to the ‘journey’

Notice how similarly a lot of the Bachelor contestants speak? That’s by design. 

Former Bachelor Sean Lowe revealed that ABC producers would often correct his and contestants’ wording to reflect more romantic phrasing. Lowe told Glamour, “Any time you call it a process, they will make you retape it and say ‘journey.’”