“Bachelor” Juan Pablo Galavis Is Terrible, But Let’s Stop Taking It Out On Nikki Ferrell

“There’s definitely a culture barrier that people don’t understand. In Latin culture, there are many words you can say to a woman to tell her that you care about her: falling in love, loving her, needing her. Those words might not have a translation in English. Te Quiero [I like you], Te Quiero Mucho [I like you a lot], Te Adoro [I adore you], Me Encantas [McDonald’s translation is “I’m Loving It”]. These mean something to Latins, but they don’t mean the same to Americans. I’ve learned that “love” is used a lot in the States for everything: I love that burger, I love my shoes, I love a friend. To me, if it’s overused, it loses meaning.

Former “Bachelor” Juan Pablo Galavis told People that he still hasn’t told his girlfriend Nikki Ferrell that he loves her. The two are currently starring on VH1’s “Couples Therapy,” in which they work out the many, many issues they have with each other on national TV while he continues to be THE WORST, surprising exactly no one. Sure, they’ve been together a pretty short time to already have so many things to talk about in therapy, but Juan Pablo has already displayed an array of dismissive, commitment-phobic behaviors, like refusing to propose to Nikki on the “Bachelor” finale, actively hiding from the L word, and referring to Nikki as a “regular friend” (his words) to his daughter. For real, Juan Pablo’s daughter apparently doesn’t even see Nikki as his girlfriend.

He told People that he’s glad they went to therapy because “I know if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be together right now.” You think!? Despite Juan Pablo’s blatant awfulness, Nikki continues to get torn apart on Twitter for staying with him, even taking a leave from social media to avoid bullies. Shouldn’t the focus here be Juan Pablo’s bad behavior? Blaming Nikki achieves very little, and probably just makes her feel more determined than ever to stay with him. Maybe she considers a breakup with him to be a personal failure, and sees making things work as an accomplishment to aspire to — more of us think that way than we’d like to admit. Lots of us know the fruitless but ever-present “but I can fix him” line of reasoning that weaves its way through toxic relationships. I think most women who take on this attitude don’t even notice it happening — if it were obvious, people would realize how ridiculous it sounds and stop buying into it. Instead, the “I can fix him” is a silent love-killer, embedding itself into the subconscious of even the wisest among us. It convinces we’ll surely be the one to change the ways of some shitty guy, as if martyring our own happiness will make up for the endless void in the dude’s soul.

Does that “fix him” logic not sound like the story of every “Bachelor” contestant who was once trapped in Juan Pablo’s evil misogynistic wrath? This is just one of the millions of ways a person (in this case, maybe Nikki) could find themselves in a deluded, miserable relationship that they don’t even notice is miserable until they wake up one day and notice they haven’t felt at peace for months or even years. Self-centered douchebags wouldn’t get laid as often as they do if their manipulative charm didn’t actually work, so guys like Juan Pablo have become mighty practiced at luring good-intentioned women into into that miserable game.

I think people are confusing placing blame on Nikki with acknowledging that she has the power to break the toxic cycle of her relationship. The former will never make the latter materialize. The day someone realizes they don’t have to tolerate a partner being a jerk, and that they can change the dynamic right then by simply walking away, is beautifully empowering, but it usually has to come from their own gut rather than some stranger talking them into it. How many of us suddenly realize with a start that our friends or partners are kind of manipulative assholes, and that it’s stayed that way so long because we’ve shown, either through low self-esteem or total obliviousness, that we’re willing to accept that kind of behavior? (To be clear, I’m not talking about abusive relationships here, just plain old soul-sucking toxic ones. Abuse is the abuser’s fault, and nobody else’s.) Most of us decide soon after that type of discovery that we deserve much, much better than the current company we keep, and take action.

This is the kind of revelation the world seems to be hoping Nikki will have, but screaming at her in shouty caps on Twitter, tempting though it may be, isn’t going to make that happen. Backing off and respecting her choice to conduct her personal life however she wants might not make it happen either, but it’s a better route than misdirecting Juan Pablo-fueled rage at her when it really should be focused on him. I can only comment on what TV cameras show me, and obviously that’s not the full range of the relationship. For all we know, she might actually be happy with that douchecanoe. If she is, then good for I suppose. Either way, only Juan Pablo can change Juan Pablo, and we’re all well aware of that. It’s not Nikki’s fault he sucks, so let’s cut her some slack. [People] [Image via Getty]