When the news first broke that Arie Luyendyk Jr. would be the next Bachelor, I have to admit I felt somewhat disappointed. I, like many fans, were Team Peter Kraus all the way. But now that I've seen Arie in action, I'm hopeful for what his presence could mean for the franchise, particularly in regards to his age. In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Arie's age on The Bachelor could help change the show for the better. At the very least, it looks like it could better reflect the actual ages people are choosing to get married in 2018.
In 2015, the Huffington Post reported a study that took a lot of data from The Bachelor franchises and analyzed it, including the most successful candidates' careers, heights, and, of course ages. The average age of female contestants was 26 years old, while the average age for male contestants was 31. On average, women tended to choose men who were one year older than them, while men went for women six years younger than themselves. In general, people tended to go for younger participants. So what does it mean that Arie Luyendyk Jr. is 36 years old, a full five years older than your average Bachelor? Well, it means that the show might finally be recognizing that not everybody gets married (or wants to get married) in their mid-20s.
Studies have shown that people are waiting longer than ever before to get married. According to data from Pew Research, the median age for first marriages is higher than it has been since the year 1890. In 1960, 84 percent of 25-29 year-olds had been married at one point. In 2010, that number dropped to 42 percent. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau states that in 1970, 95 percent of women were married after age 30. Which is definitely not the case today. Furthermore, people are dating for longer amounts of time before tying the knot, and other data suggests that marriages that start when couples are in their 30s are more successful on average than those who marry young.
Seeing as Arie is on the mature end of the age spectrum on the show, could this mean that his chances are better for finding lasting love when the finale rolls around? The data certainly suggests that the financial stability and emotional maturity that comes from being a few years older can definitely have a positive impact on a lasting relationship. Then again, this show doesn't exactly encourage a long courtship period. In a time when couples are waiting longer than ever to actually walk down the aisle, The Bachelor still often ends in a proposal after only a few weeks of intermittent dating. So perhaps it's no wonder that so many of these engagements end after a while. It's hard to really get to know someone when they're also dating 20 other people at the same time in front of cameras.
Still, I think that Arie's age is an advantage over some of the other Bachelor contestants. He's been on the show before and is clearly interested in starting a lasting relationship. Nick Viall, the previous year's Bachelor was also on the older side at 36 during filming. By the way, the average age of contestants on his show was 26, not unlike the much younger women on Arie's season. So while I appreciate the franchise gravitating toward the older spectrum when it comes to picking a Bachelor, I wish the same could be done for the women, both as Bachelorettes and as female contestants.
Obviously, being older doesn't automatically mean you're ready to get married (just like being young doesn't automatically mean you aren't ready to get married). But it's nice to see The Bachelor cater to an older demographic with these older male leads, proving that the desire to find love knows no age limits. I just wish women could be given the same treatment.
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