Ultimatum or Acceptable Boundary?

Oh my goodness you guys, that Fantasy Suites episode was a whole other level of crazy.  I’m torn on my feelings about it, because I absolutely loved getting to see Madison and Peter truly explore their very real differences in upbringing/choices (this is the drama I find super compelling), but I also HATED how the producers tried to manufacture the drama by forcing the women to stay in a suite together.

THIS HAS NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE.  NEVER EVER.  By hometowns, the contestants are normally separated except for rose ceremonies.  I find it truly offensive to both the contestants and to the viewers to have such obviously manufactured drama.  Further, the fantasy suite dates do not film one after another.  There’s a day break between each one to allow the lead to rest (regardless of what happens in the fantasy suites, sleeping is not high on the list of priorities because it’s the first and only off-camera time the couple gets).  This means that Madison, Hannah Ann, and Victoria had to share a suite for a minimum of FIVE DAYS.  But you know what?  Those producers tried and tried to break Madi but for the most part she held her own in all of this.

I’m not terribly interested in the other two relationships right now (sorry), because for me it’s always been about Madi and Peter.  They were the relationship to beat, and I started seeing this slow-moving disaster waiting to happen when Madi shared how religious she was, and that she was looking for a “faith leader” to lead her family.  Is that Peter?  Absolutely not.  And there are times when love just isn’t enough to sustain a couple.  Major divisions on religion, politics, finances, or whether or not to have a child are things that are sometimes external, but are in every way just as important as feelings.  Unless someone in the couple is willing to bend on these (or they are ok to agree to disagree), a couple isn’t likely to last.

So it is with a lot of interest that I’ve been watching this couple.  Not just because they have immediate, easy chemistry, but because they almost seem doomed from the start.  (As an aside, THIS is why I love watching the show.  I am SO tired of the stupid, obviously manufactured drama that is surface level.  I much prefer when we get shown the true issues that many couples face, like, where should we live?  Do both of us want to work outside the home?  How important is religion in our lives?  DID YOU VOTE FOR TRUMP?  More of this, less of champagne-gate.)

While Madi had told Peter before hometowns that her religion was very important to her, she did not disclose the full impact of that on her relationships.  It was clear during the hometown visit that her family was very religious, but they kept speaking in generalities.  No one ever said to Peter that Madi was saving herself for marriage.  When Madi pulled Peter aside, she tried to express this sentiment but still didn’t lay it all out for him:

Madi: I want to be honest about who I am and how I feel.  And if next week you were to sleep with someone else it would be really hard for me to really move forward in this.  And I just feel like I owe it you to be up front with you and honest with you about that.  That is really important to me.

Peter: So what are you saying, if I were to spend the night with someone else, that’s not something you could do?

Madi:  Um, it’s going to be really hard for me if that’s the case but I just…

Peter: So that’s a no?

Madi: I don’t know, I don’t know how to answer that.

Peter: I kind of need to know.  I don’t know what you’re trying to tell me right now.  If you want me to end this all with… what are you asking?

Madi: No, I’m not asking that, I just…

Peter: I feel like it’s not necessarily fair to the relationships I have in there, but I don’t want that to get you down in any way and make you feel like I think any less of what we have.

Madi: I don’t know, I just, I don’t want to tell you yes or no.

Peter: Well I think that’s obviously something I need to know right now.  You’re saying that you wouldn’t be able to keep this going with me if I spent the night with anyone else?  Just so I can be clear.

Madi: In no way do I want to give you an ultimatum or tell you what you can do or can’t do at all, and I hope you know that and I hope you know my heart, but for me actions speak louder than words and I’m just really big on that.

Peter: You know how much you mean to me.

Madi: I know.

Peter: Ok.

Full video of the exchange in the YouTube clip below:

And that’s how it ended!!!  I don’t know how Peter felt in that moment, but I for one was lacking some clarity.  I have no problem with Madison making her boundaries known, but I’m wondering if Peter was missing some context here.  Madi did not say the following, which I think would have firmly taken this out of plausible deniability world for Peter and squarely into dealbreaker territory: I am saving myself for marriage, and having a partner who shares my values is extremely important to me.  I understand that is not your position with respect to past behavior, but the right partner for me would not be sleeping with someone else within a week of proposing to me.

Without explicitly tying it to religion or sexual boundaries, Peter can (perhaps selectively) hear that Madison’s position is about insecurities, or something they can “get past” as a couple.  And Peter’s response to Madison (“I don’t want that to get you down in any way and make you feel like I think any less of what we have”) supports that thought, that he somehow thinks this is about comparing strengths of relationships rather than what Madi fundamentally wants in a partner.

I do think Madi should have been more explicit about how this relates to HER and not just what she wants in a partner, and I do wish she’d brought it up earlier in a context where they could have been alone.  Waiting until after the rose ceremony means they don’t have time or space to truly process this, and doesn’t allow Peter to digest the info and then ask follow-ups.  They have no more time before fantasy suites, so Peter is left to figure it out on his own.

And for whatever reason, he chooses to disregard Madison’s request.  Listen, I’m not the biggest fan of Peter.  I find him to be shockingly entitled, especially considering he was on the other side of this process not too long ago.  He’s almost overwhelmingly brings everything back to him (this is hard for HIM, it’s how HE feels, HE needs to hear validation) without much thought for how it impacts the women he purportedly loves.  So I’m not unbiased here.  But I still found his actions to be questionable.

A few things to note:

Most leads do NOT sleep with every contestant in the fantasy suites.

In the past few seasons (this is based on subsequent interviews), we know the following:

  • Hannah B. slept with Peter and Jed, but not Tyler.
  • Colton slept with no one, and actually sent the other two women home at this point in the process to pursue Cassie.
  • Becca sent one of her three men home before the fantasy suite.
  • Rachel Lindsay said she slept with two out of the three men.
  • Nick Viall only slept with his final choice.

I could go on, but you get the gist.  It is NOT necessary or even the norm for the lead to sleep with all of the remaining contestants during the fantasy suites.

Moreover, most leads know by this point who they are going to pick.

For example:

  • Hannah B. said during After the Final Rose that she’d thought it would be Jed and Tyler surprised her during fantasy suites, but it was too little too late.
  • Colton knew it was going to be Cassie at LEAST by fantasy suites, and sent the other two contestants home at that point.
  • Rachel has said she knew it was Bryan before she even narrowed it down to the four hometown dates.
  • Nick knew he was picking Vanessa at least by fantasy suites.

Most leads know who they’re going to pick, or at least have it narrowed down to two, at least by fantasy suites.  So let’s say Peter was still torn between Madison and Hannah Ann, for example.  Was it REALLY so hard to wait six more days to see which one he wanted to be with?  I think no (but I also think it’s totally bananas to be “torn” about who you are going to propose to days before you actually do it – this show is NOT a recipe for success).

Final thoughts on this: Madison probably shouldn’t be on this show, and as much as I really enjoy watching her, she also shouldn’t be the Bachelorette.  It’s not a good fit with who she is as a person, which is really a compliment if you think about it 🙂  Madison and Peter, as much as they care for each other, are not compatible.  They may have the chemistry and trust and passion, but they are missing some major fundamentals that are hard to get past.  I truly applaud Madison for keeping her cool as much as she did in this scenario.  She’s stuck in a suite with two women dating the man she cares for, and she still refrains from asking them whether they were intimate with Peter.  She does talk about her own expectations (I’m sure with some producer prodding) but I felt like she did better than most in that situation.  And DAMN did she express herself well to Peter during their date.

I’m annoyed with Peter, yet again.  I know Madison could have been clearer, but I also think he knew she was his pick by this point, and decided that he’d just figure it out later and sleep with the other women (knowing he was not going to pick them).  He explicitly says he hopes it’s something they can “get through” together, and that he hates the situation.  DUDE.  The situation exists BECAUSE OF YOU.  This is like The Bachelor tweeting about how awkward it was that the women were all staying together this week:

I’m sorry.  You don’t get to make a cringey face and say it’s awkward when you are the ones who made it so.

Peter really screwed this one up.  We’ll see if Madison stays or leaves but I do think that at least in Peter’s mind, Madi is the one.  I definitely don’t see him getting engaged to Victoria, and I can’t really see it with Hannah Ann either.  This is definitely the most emotion we’ve gotten from him so far, and it seems like it’s the only time he’s been able to slightly step outside of himself to empathize with one of the contestants.  Unfortunately, it’s probably too late.  I have a feeling we’re in for a bit of a bumpy landing (see what I did there) and I don’t have high hopes for the longterm success of Madi and Peter if they do end up together.

And in an unlikely crossover, Bar Stool Sports says it best:


By leahkcasto

Full time lawyer, part time blogger.

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