Ever thought about signing up to be a contestant on The Bachelor? I mean, who could blame you? You get to take lavish trips around the world hole up in a fancy resort, hang out with a certified hunk (forget the fact that he’s also dating dozens of other women, it’s fine), and then live the life of an influencer for approximately three years. Oh, and if you’re lucky, you eventually become the Bachelorette! Like, is there even a downside?
Yes, there sure is. Going on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette comes with a lot of very specific and completely ridiculous rules. For example, do you enjoy things like checking your Instagram, texting your group chat, watching TV, understanding what’s going on in the world, using a shower, having privacy, and not re-mortgaging your house to pay for 14 fancy dresses? Cool, then perhaps this show isn’t for you! I promise, you are simply not emotionally ready to learn The Bachelor and The Bachelorette’s most intense rules. Quick, grab the nearest available half-dead rose and deep-breathe into it.
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. She explained, “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 an 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 Beast the tests were “crazy.”
...And Yep, a COVID-19 Test
On top of STD tests, every contestant competing on The Bachelorette and The Bachelor in 2020 has to have frequent coronavirus tests (every third day, to be exact). Which makes complete sense considering we're, you know, in the middle of a pandemic.
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.
There’s an Explanation, Though...
“It can be a somewhat emotionally taxing—people don’t realize how fast emotions get involved,” Catherine Selden, PsyD (who conducted psych evals for the show back in 2010), told ABC. “We want to make sure that people are going to be okay with coping with the stress involved and make sure that they are going to be offered the help that they need if it’s the case.”
Everyone Has to Quarantine
On top of being tested for coronavirus upon arriving on-set, contestants and crew have to agree to quarantine for a full week before filming begins.
Breaking Quarantine Has Consequences
Chris Harrison reportedly broke quarantine right in the middle of Tayshia Adams's season and on top of having to re-quarantine, our dude was fully replaced as host by JoJo Fletcher. (Don't panic, it was temporary.)
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!
Actually, You Aren’t Even Allowed to Go Off Mic
In her interview with the Daily Beast, Leslie Hughes dropped this bombshell: “They are on you all the time. As soon as you wake up in the morning, your mic is put on you…When you go to bed, it’s taken off.”
Scared! Also fun fact, Bachelor in Paradise cast members are mic’d with these weird necklaces.
The Contestants Don't Actually Eat the Food on Dates
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?
Eliminated Contestants Have to Meet With a Psychologist
Ya know, just to make sure this show didn’t break them! It’s fine! Apparently, the psychologist is also available 24/7 to talk with contestants should they be in need of a chat, which is actually kinda nice.
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?”
Wow, literally never applying to be on this show EVER.
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 two years you 100 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’re Encouraged to Get Fit
Kay, this is less of a rule and more of a request. Multiple people told Kaufman as much during her book research, with former contestant Erica Rose saying, “They did encourage everyone to get in their best shape. They’d say, ‘Maybe you want to lose some weight, maybe work out.’” Woof.
Bachelor Contestants Are Forced to “Girl Chat”
Ya know? Girl chat? When two women come together under a contractual obligation and make forced convo with each other on camera? It’s totally a thing!
You Can’t, Uh, Read
At least, you can’t read magazines. Bibles have always been allowed in the mansion, and in recent years, books were apparently permitted. But still, the rules are strict. As Bachelor ~villain~ Tierra LiCausi told The Verge, “Bible studies were held during my season, the girls would have weekly gatherings to study the Bible or discuss their beliefs [and their] religion (which was very interesting and unique to see). I definitely supported that and thought it brought a good vibe into the house. No magazines though.” [Editor’s note: Rude.]
You Need Permission to Watch Movies
A couple contestants from Sean Lowe’s season told The Verge there 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.
Um, in Case It’s Not Clear, TV Is Banned Too
Got it. Cool-cool-cool.
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 Crawley and not only do you skip dates, you skip the whole entire show.
You Have to Deal With a Very Annoying Packing List
As Bachelorette Andi Dorfman wrote in her book It’s Not Okay: Turning Heartbreak Into Happily Never After, contestants are required to bring clothing “for both cold and warm weather; athletic wear; bathing suits; heels; tennis shoes; sandals; cocktail, long, and casual dresses; and heavy coats.” I’m breaking out in hives just thinking about it.
And, Um, You Get Only Three Suitcases
According to former contestant Jaclyn Swartz, “They tell you that you are allowed two to three suitcases total.” HOW, I ask, do you pack casual dresses, heavy coats, and cocktail attire in just three suitcases?
ABC Is Pretty Much Your Boss for 12 Months
Once you sign onto the show, you’re in it for an entire year. According to former Bachelor Chris Soules, production has “a say in almost everything you do afterward.” Makes sense, given how many of these dudes go on to do Dancing With the Stars.
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 Glamour this 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...Go Shopping
Basically, if you run out of something, you’re either (a) screwed or (b) have to legit bribe producers to buy it for you—and they’ll usually only get something you really need. “If you run out of deodorant, no big. But brow pencil? You’re screwed! They definitely aren’t running to a Sephora,” Jaclyn Swartz told Refinery29. “I was so paranoid about running out of my brow pencil in Mexico that I brought four just in case.”
You Have to Do Your Own Makeup
Everyone on The Bachelor looks pretty flawless, and surprisingly, they get no help whatsoever from professionals. But Ashley Iaconneti says the girls help each other, telling Refinery29, “I’m definitely a makeup girl, so other girls would ask me for help. I remember contouring Jillian and doing Whitney’s and Mackenzie’s brows. I’m not very good with my hair, so if I needed help with my clip-in extensions—they’re good for updos for rose ceremonies—other girls were there to help me."
Contestants Have to Share Four Showers
And considering this show starts off with about 4 million contestants, that’s pretty rough. But former cast member Whitney Bischoff told Refinery29 that sometimes they’d double up, saying, “When there are that many girls and not a lot of time or space, desperate times call for desperate measures.”
You Aren’t Allowed to Use the AC
Why? Because it’s too noisy. Right. Totally makes more sense to have everyone sweating profusely on camera!
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.
In Fact, You Have to Go Private on Insta and Twitter
The show doesn’t want Bachelor Nation digging up a ton of dirt on their contestants before the show has even started, so the cast is required to lock down their social profiles until filming has commenced.
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 Can’t Run for Office for At Least a Year
Gonna go ahead and use a pic of Kelley Flanagan because nothing but respect for MY president of Bachelor Nation. But even if Kelley or another contestant wanted to become a politician post-show, she’d have to wait. As the eligibility requirements state, "Applicants may not presently be a candidate for any type of political office (“Candidate”) and may not become a Candidate from the time the application is submitted until one (1) year after first broadcast of the last episode of the Program in which they appear.”
You Have to Be Single When You Apply
It’s right there in the fine print: “All applicants must be single. To qualify as ‘single,’ the applicant must not currently be involved in a committed intimate relationship, which includes: any marital relationship (whether or not the parties are separated or currently in the process of divorcing or annulling such marriage); any co-habitation relationship involving physical intimacy; or a monogamous dating relationship more than two (2) months in duration.”
Hear that, Jed Wyatt?
Everyone Contractually Agrees to Be Humiliated
Again, check out the fine print in the show’s eligibility requirements, because yikes: “Revelation of Personal Information and Recordings as defined in these Eligibility Requirements may be embarrassing, unfavorable, humiliating, and/or derogatory and/or may portray him or her in a false light.”
You Can’t Turn Down Any Extreme Activities
If The Bachelor wants you to hurl yourself out of a plane, you’re going to freakin’ hurl yourself out of a plane. The show’s requirements say contestants have to agree to participate in a myriad of horrifying things, including “skydiving, snow skiing, ice skating, parasailing, water skiing, rollerblading, and the like.”
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’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 super quiet about it.
No! Spoilers! Allowed!
And if you do spoil the show, apparently, you have to deal with a $5 million fine. Um?!
Contestants Do All Their Own Cooking
Former contestant Leslie Hughes told the Daily Beast, “We have to do our own cooking, our own laundry…We do everything you would do when you’re at home, except be able to go outside of your home.”
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.
You Have to Agree to Tons of Press
Kaufman says, “In the year following the finale of your season, you must be available to take part in a ‘reasonable number’ of interviews, photo shoots, and chats for publicity.” And get this: “You also have to agree to take part in any special episodes of the show—like After the Final Rose or other reunions—for three years.” THREE YEARS. No wonder all those random alums showed up on Clare and Tayshia's season!
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Mehera Bonner is a celebrity and entertainment news writer who enjoys Bravo and Antiques Roadshow with equal enthusiasm. She was previously entertainment editor at Marie Claire and has covered pop culture for over a decade.
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