‘The Bachelorette’: Why the Love on the Show is Actually Just Stockholm Syndrome

“I’m falling for you.” It’s the phrase that almost every contestant on The Bachelorette says. In fact, if a contestant makes it far enough in the season and doesn’t say those magic words, people start to doubt that they are there for “the right reasons.”

But when you look at it, the love that the contestants express on the show seems a lot more like that of kidnap victims with Stockholm Syndrome than real, true love.

View this post on Instagram

me and the boys. #thebachelorette

A post shared by Hannah Brown (@alabamahannah) on

What is stockholm syndrome?

Stockholm syndrome is defined as “feelings of trust or affection felt in many cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim toward a captor.”

Now, we aren’t saying that Hannah Brown took these men captive. They all signed up to go on the show of their own volition, but if you look at it, the whole Bachelor/Bachelorette set up is a bit like a hostage situation.

How are the men held hostage?

When the men enter the Bachelorette mansion, they are completely cut off from the outside world. They can’t use their phones, they can’t watch t.v., and in some cases, they can’t even listen to music. Their world revolves around the lead of the show, much like a kidnapping victim’s life is minimized to focus on their captor.

The men are only “allowed” out of the house when the lead deems them worthy of going on a date. Which means other than the few hours that the Bachelorette takes them out, they are sitting trapped in the house, fantasizing about their freedom, which in this case is connected to this one person.

“When these men and women are sheltered from the world at large, all they can do is sit and obsess over this person,” psychologist Dr. Goali Saedi Bocci, Ph.D. told Bustle. “Psychologically, that’s going to make them want that person more, regardless of whether or not they’re actually attracted to them.”

How does this translate to love?

The Bachelorette films for six to nine weeks. Which means contestants have a very short amount of time to fall in actual, true love.

But while you are in the Bachelorette mansion, it’s easy to feel like you are in love.

“I think you can fall for someone [on ‘The Bachelor’],” former Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky once told Insider. “I don’t know if I’d say ‘love’ — I think ‘fall for’ and ‘fall in love’ are two different things.

“You can fall for someone right away and feel in your heart, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to marry this person,’ — I totally believe in that. But, that said, I feel like, to know whether or not you’re compatible to be married to someone you can’t know that in the amount of time you spend together on ‘The Bachelor.’ You can’t.”

According to Fedotowsky, the Bachelorette gets to spend less time with her contestants than you may think.

View this post on Instagram

cold and kilts and whiskey.

A post shared by Hannah Brown (@alabamahannah) on

“You spend maybe a total of 72 hours with the person that you end up getting engaged to at the end,” she told the outlet. “I, personally, don’t feel that’s enough time to know whether or not you’re compatible with someone to marry them for the rest of your life.”

But the way the franchise has the show set up, otherwise rational people are completely fine with signing up to spend their lives with someone after only knowing them for a matter of weeks, which is probably why the success rate of the couples in the franchise is so low.