True Romance

What do two former sports guys know about romance? Apparently quite a bit.  Former sportswriter and TV producer Mike Fleiss came up with the concept of The Bachelor and the spin-off The Bachelorette, and his guy on the line, host Chris Harrison, is a former sportscaster.

“It is strange, but now Dr. Phil has nothing on me,” jokes Harrison, who has been a dating sounding board for the past 12 years.

The show scenario is anything but realistic: While jetting to exotic locales over a several-week period, a bachelor or bachelorette winnows down a field of more than 20 candidates to just one whom he or she wants to marry. But Harrison’s takeaways from the show are pretty sound.

“The main thing I’ve learned after watching hours and hours of conversations is that people don’t often listen to what the other person is saying,” Harrison says during a phone conversation from his hotel in the Caribbean, where the final episodes were being taped for the season that starts in January.

When a woman is pouring her heart out to you about her late father, he says, you don’t follow that with “Hey, where did you go to high school?”

“I see this all the time on the show where these two people are having a conversation, but at least one of them isn’t paying any attention. But, of course, if they didn’t suck at dating, they wouldn’t be on the show,” says Harrison, laughing.

While the romantic destinations might cloud anyone’s decision-making, Harrison says “in the end it all comes down to the little things—the letters, the poems, the trinket saved from the first date—that make the bigger impression.”

Harrison points to the most successful pairing on the show, Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter. Firefighter Sutter’s romantic gestures, including writing poems, swept Rehn off her feet in the show’s first season. They’ve been married 10 years and have two kids.

Who says fairy tales can’t come true?

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