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Why Not Average Joe: Exploring Melana's Choice
Admit it. You snickered, rolled your eyes and laughed out loud as the group of "Average Joes" filed out of their bus to meet Melana that first night. You probably thought "no way" as you settled in for a soap about a beautiful girl's rejection of the geeks. Indeed, Melana herself stated, "Someone is messing with my head", as the next "average" guy stepped down to meet her.
However, in the episodes that followed, there was bonding, friendship and attraction between Melana and a number of the guys. It actually began to look as though she was falling for at least one or two of them. Then came the twist. The "gorgeous" guys were sent in to challenge the Joes and test Melana's ability to see past the surface and choose based on what each man had to offer as a total package.
At that point, what were you thinking? Who was your front-runner? Did you think it possible that the bonds that had been formed would be strong enough to hold Melana's attention- and heart? I'm guessing that many people did. I know a lot of people were routing for Adam or Zack.
So, what happened? In the days that followed the final episode, virtually all of the commentary centered on a very basic and "simple" explanation of Melana's choice. They all said it was about "looks".
While I agree that physical attraction played a significant role, I believe Melana's choice involved more than this. How we choose has to do with many things. These include:
* physical attraction
* shared interests
* social compatibility and friendship
* intellectual compatibility
* ability to communicate
* basic values
* level of self-knowledge
* level of maturity and dating experience
* personal and family goals
I am going to do a brief examination of how these played a role in Melana's final decision. Follow along with me and think about how these factors come into play in your meeting and dating life. Perhaps Melana's public struggle with these can provide some valuable insights into how you choose potential partners and assist you in your desire to make the best (and healthiest) choice for you.
Let me begin by stating an obvious point that we are all aware of. The circumstances and setting of the meeting and dating that takes place on a "reality" show have little resemblance to the real world of dating. Dates are chosen, as is the person who will be doing the choosing. They are sequestered in a beautiful, romantic place where all their physical needs are attended to and everyone can present themselves in their best light. The real world of money, time, energy and the need for making dating plans are all handled by professionals who go "all out". Even though the contestants spend weeks together, they are not confronted with the real life issues that singles in the dating world must deal with. Therefore, the circumstances are idyllic. This has pros and cons. I think we all have a pretty good idea of what these are. The major plus is that everyone can present himself or herself "equally". The major drawback is that each relationship is limited to this fantasy existence, and there is no opportunity to see each other deal with the day-to-day challenges of real life.
Stepping back into the episodes prior to the inclusion of the "hunks", can you recall the great dates that Melana had with the guys? The group dates were full of laughs and bonding on a friendship level. We all enjoyed watching Dennis get to the top and see the support and caring that were shown towards him. With each week, Melana discussed and demonstrated the attractions she was forming with different guys on different levels. A few rose to the front of the line as she eliminated based on not just looks, but on the "connection" she felt with each. Indeed, she used this word a lot. This connection was formed by the elements of:
* social compatibility and friendship
* ability to relate
* comfort level
* basic attraction
Just prior to the twist episode, Adam and Zack seemed to be the front-runners. In their individual dates, they were able to get to a deeper level of communication. Personality issues arose. There was discussion centering on likes, dislikes, attitudes and some of their own personal and family history. They began to get a sense of each otherís basic values and goals. Their ability to relate verbally and intellectually started to come into play.
At this point, Adam seemed a strong front-runner. Do you remember what qualities Melana highlighted as she discussed her feelings about him? "He's funny, down-to-earth, smart, liked by everyone, and just a great guy." Do you remember their first "passionate" kiss, and how surprised Melana was at what a great kisser Adam is? We have to wonder why she was so surprised. Perhaps because he didn't look like the type? But he clearly was. It appeared that Melana was forming a strong bond with him that included all of the elements that love requires- including physical attraction.
So what happened?
Enter the hunks. Do you remember Melana's face as they were brought into the room? Pleased would be a good description. Her physical attraction to them was obvious and strong. She used words like "handsome, great body, too pretty", to describe them. Still, she was drawn to Adam.
As the show went on, Melana had individual dates. She decided to go out with the new guys to give them a chance. She eliminated Zack, to whom she had admitted having a strong physical attraction for, while being unsure about his other attributes.
Towards the end, it was Adam vs Jason. Who would she choose and why? Clearly, the way Jason looked was a major factor in his staying on. However, Melana also talked about her comfort with him and the ease she felt in their ability to communicate. Melana also rated their physical intimacy as great. Indeed the scenes shown from their dates demonstrated a strong chemistry. Melana was very drawn to him. But what about Adam?
Do you remember how Melana showed mixed feelings on her second to last date with Adam? She expressed that she felt conflicted. Adam was hurt and said so. Even so, they were able to go on with the date and have a pretty good time. On their last date, there seemed to be a real bond. Melana got a lot more information about Adam. He is successful, hard working, has many close friends and healthy family relationships. Clearly, she was impressed and drawn to all of these traits. But not enough....
So why her final choice? Melana found friendship, good communication, compatibility, mutual respect, comfort and attraction with Adam. She also found these with Jason. In addition, there was a STRONGER physical attraction. Remember her words, "look at him, who could resist that face."
The answer for her final decision? I can only speculate here. However I believe it had to do with her level of maturity and self-knowledge. Someone with greater self-awareness, a strong handle on their life goals and a level of maturity that teaches us that looks fade while other attributes become stronger over time; may very well have chosen Adam. Instead, Melana appeared to have succumbed to the immediate passions of the here and now, instead of looking ahead to who would be the best choice for husband, father and partner in the future and sometimes harrowing journey of commitment, marriage and family life.
I read with interest that Melana and Jason's "relationship" appeared to be over after their return from their final fantasy date. I was not at all surprised. One can only guess what went on. I think a good guess is that they got to know each other better without the pressure and competition that had come before. Perhaps Melana began to see that along with his sweetness, Jason had a strong passivity towards life, whereas Adam strove for achievement through hard work and determination. Jason seemed to be in need of time and maturity before he would be able to move towards an intimate and committed relationship and the responsibilities and challenges that come with it.
No one but Jason and Melana will ever know for sure. I just can't help but wonder if she will regret her decision and wish she had been older and wiser when she was asked to make it.
I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts and ideas regarding Melana and her choice of Jason. If you'd like to express them, please go to http://www.consum-mate.com to contact me.
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Toni Coleman, LCSW
© Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.
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