you can’t tell *anyone* you’ve been cast
Like. Not a soul. Former Bachelor contestant Chelsea Roy told Vox, “We sign a big NDA where we’re not allowed to tell anyone that we’ve been cast and we’re going to start filming the show. I was able to reach out to a couple of people, local people, and say, ‘I would like to support your store in exchange for some exposure in the next few months. Just trust me.’”
you have to buy all your own clothes
So, what happens when you can’t borrow clothing? You gotta buy it—and ABC certainly isn’t footing the bill. Bachelorette Jillian Harris said she legit took out a second mortgage on her house to buy $8,000 worth of cute outfits for The Bachelor, while former cast member Bekah Martinez told Glamour she spent around $800 on heels and makeup.
you aren’t allowed to wear patterns
Notice how The Bachelor cast members are almost always in solid colors? It’s because producers make them dress according to a pretty specific style guide. In his tell-all book, For the Right Reasons, Bachelor Sean Lowe revealed that contestants can’t wear “stripes, small checkered patterns, big patterns, and solid white.”
Hah, clearly Kelley Flanagan didn’t get the memo about that last one judging from this pic.
limo dresses have to be approved
Former contestant Jaclyn Swartz gave Fashionista some intel about how limo arrival dresses work, explaining, “You’re by yourself in a hotel room and you come with a dress and probably a backup dress. The stylist Cary Fetman and a producer will come around to [your] room and they’ll approve the dress for the first night. That’s usually to make sure no two girls are wearing the same dress.”
you have to pack 14 rose ceremony dresses
Sean Lowe dropped this fact in his book For the Right Reasons, while fan-favorite Ashley Iaconetti told Fashionista that, “The mentality you really have to go with is [that] you wear your favorites first. I know you want to save the best for last, but you have to be realistic and think, I’m probably not going to be here last.”
everyone has to take a std test
Sounds invasive, but it kinda makes sense? I mean, the Bachelor/ette often ends up having sex with multiple people on the show during the fantasy suites, so ya gotta stay safe! That said, former contestant Leslie Hughes told the Daily Beastthe tests were “crazy.”
oh, and you have to have a full psych evaluation
On top of the STD and COVID-19 tests, contestants are given a full-blown psychological evaluation to make sure they’re a good fit for reality television. Um, if that’s the case, I HAVE SOME QUESTIONS.
cell phones are confiscated
Imagine going weeks without your cell phone. Truly, the horror, but that’s exactly what goes down on The Bachelor. Leslie Hughes confirmed as much, telling 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.”
music is straight-up banned
Because on top of not being able to text your friends, The Bachelor producers don’t even want contestants to be able to listen to Demi Lovato's breakup song over and over again. Good thing they can always go watch their ex-boyfriends in concert!
there’s a two-drink rule
Apparently, ABC enforced a “two drink per hour maximum” rule during Bachelor in Paradisethat was still in effect as of January 2018. That said, contestants clearly had a lot to drink during Peter’s season, and it was even a source of drama on the show.
you’re not allowed to interact off camera
Big Brother, by which I mean Chris Harrison, is always watching. This show doesn’t want to miss even a second of drama, and according to Sean Lowe’s book, there’s an “ironclad rule [of] no interaction off camera.”
no one’s allowed to eat the food
Another juicy BTS fact from Sean Lowe’s book? No one is allowed to actually eat the food on those fancy dates they go on. “Before we went on the date, the producers sent food to our hotel rooms,” Sean said. “We ate in our rooms and then went out for dinner, where we would be given beautiful food arranged nicely on the plate. This was just for show. No one looks good eating, and microphones pick up all kinds of chomping.”
you’re forced to complete a 150-question personality test
And said personality test is completely bonkers. In an excerpt from her book, Kaufman writes, “A 150-question personality test is filled with multiple-choice and true-or-false questions: Do you have out-of-body experiences? Do you think you can control things with your mind? Have you ever wanted to kill someone? Some of these questions would be asked several times, with different wording.” Um, help.
you sign a contact agreeing to be filmed 24/7
In the same excerpt, Kaufman says, “Contestants sign contracts in which they must agree to be filmed up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” And get this: Even if they’ve taken off their mic, their contract stipulates that they can be filmed “by means of hidden cameras and microphones.” Truly, WHAT?
every contestant has to meet with a private investigator
To quote Kaufman’s book: “This person would be trained to dig up any skeletons in the closet—partly to use for their storyline but also to get ahead of any tabloid stories that could come to the surface if they were on the show. Had they ever been arrested? Had they ever sent nude photos to anyone? Had they ever made a sex tape? Had they gotten a DUI?”
there are some crazy ring rules
For starters, you don’t own it. The show does. Sure, you get to wear it, but if you break up in less than 2 years you a hundred percent are not allowed to sell it.
you gotta forfeit the rights to your own dang wedding
While most Bachelor couples break up, those who do make it have to deal with ABC owning the exclusive rights to their wedding. The good news? They get paid $10,000 per hour of TV programming.
you need permission to watch movies
A couple contestants from Sean Lowe’s season told The Vergethere were “blackout days,” when the cast was allowed to rest and watch a movie picked by the production team. Meanwhile, Wells Adams says contestants on his season of The Bachelorette were allowed to watch Interstellar. Poor things.
you can’t skip any dates
Feeling sick? Simply not in the mood? TOO BAD! Contestants are expected to show up no matter what. Unless, you're Clare Crawleyand not only do you skip dates, you skip the whole entire show.
break the rules? get sued
Producers will not shy away from a lawsuit if you break your contract. Just ask Bachelorette contestant Luke Parker who owes production $100k for breaking his contract by doing interviews before he was technically allowed to.
you aren’t allowed to say “process”
Bachelor Sean Lowe told Glamourthis wild fact, explaining,“Any time you call it a ‘process,’ they will make you re-tape it and say ‘journey.’” I’m lol.
you can’t use social media
This one goes without saying. If contestants can’t even listen to music or read a magazine, you better believe ABC is blocking access to their social media accounts.
cast members have to be at least 21
Bekah was definitely cutting it close at 22, but technically, The Bachelor’s eligibility requirements make sure all their contestants are of drinking age before they can be cast.
you have to go through a credit check
Yep. A credit check. *Why* The Bachelor thinks my student-loan debt has an impact on my ability to find love on national TV remains a mystery, but...whatever you say, Chris Harrison!
you have to prove you aren’t a criminal
Ever had a criminal background check? Welp, to get on The Bachelor or The Bacheloretteyou will, so get ready! Also, I’m using this photo of Pilot Pete because its very existence is a crime, thanks for understanding.
you’re not supposed to break up until the finale
Let’s say Tayshia gets engaged at the end of this season. Cute, but she and her guy best not break up publicly before the show’s finale. Reality TV producer Lewis Fenton told E! News, “In most cases, the production company or network will build in contractual language protecting the show from willful damage.” Meaning, if there is a breakup, they have to be suuuuuper quiet about it.
you can’t date 'til the show airs
Like...even if you get kicked off night one. Dating in public would spoil the show for viewers, which means there’s an awkward three-ish months where you’ve been dumped on national TV and literally aren’t allowed to rebound.
Photo: Getty Images