Is 22 Too Young To Marry A 36-Year-Old? ‘The Bachelor’ Investigates

On Monday night’s “The Bachelor,” sensual elf Bekah M. and awkward Labrador Arie Luyendyk Jr. took their steamy chemistry to new, explosive heights. They make out near horses, they make out in a hot tub, they make out at a fancy dinner. Watching their one-on-one date felt so voyeuristic, there were times we nearly yelled at ourselves, “Take a picture, it’ll last longer!” 

But hovering over their date was the specter of Bekah’s dark secret: She’s only 22, a fact she finally revealed during their romantic dinner. While Arie, 36, had pressed her in the past about her readiness for marriage, and while he was aware she was young, the revelation that she’s the age of a new college graduate left him gobsmacked, and uncertain whether their relationship could have a future at all.

While in the past, a 14-year age difference might have gone unremarked upon in “Bachelor” land, in 2018 it sparked a lively conversation ― both on-screen and off. Is 14 years too much of an age gap? Is 22 too young to get married, especially to a 36-year-old? Is Arie condescending to question her readiness, or just realistic? Why did he send all the 30-ish women home and keep a bunch of young 20-somethings, if he thinks age is a consideration?

On HuffPost’s “Bachelor” podcast “Here to Make Friends,” we discussed all this and more with Yahoo Entertainment’s Kristen Baldwin:

Claire: Back at the house, the women are discussing Bekah’s age gap with Arie. She is 14 years younger than him. The age difference between them is in high school.

Emma: So, this is a topic that I was finding kind of difficult to clarify my feelings on, because I think it’s a valid concern that she is 22. That is a specific place in your life. That is a large age gap, and for a lot of people, especially mid-30s to early 20, that’s a big change and there is a lot of life to be lived and things to figure out, usually, when you are 22.

Claire: Especially Bekah in particular, doesn’t seem like someone who would really want to get married right after college. 

Emma: Which is not a bad thing, let’s clarify.

Kristen: Probably should be how you think about life.

Claire: Some people pointed out that Maquel is only a year older. Maquel has already been married, so I probably wouldn’t have quite the same question about Maquel simply because she clearly wants to just get married as much and as quickly as possible.

Kristen: Early and often.

Emma: That’s actually true. I was saying, hey, Maquel’s actually 23, but that’s a really good point that she has been married and divorced. It’s weird that it hasn’t come up. But we know that as people who read a lot of media that is adjacent to the “Bachelor” franchise. But I also did find the intense focus on [Bekah’s] age to be funny given how many 25-year-olds he’s readily down to marry tomorrow. And the fact that he sent home every woman who is 30 to 32. And there are no women older than 32. 

Kristen: On the other hand, I do think Bekah also ― not that she acts immature, but she acts very young. She just has a lot of very youthful vivacious energy ―

Kristen: Which he likes, but I think that’s what’s causing the other women to say, is she really ready? She’s not this quiet, mature soul, older than her years. She seems like a young, very young woman. A lot of energy. She’s smart, she has her wisdom, everybody talks about her wisdom, but she does seem quite young and vivacious, and somebody who maybe isn’t ready to settle down with a 36-year-old man who likes cardigans and lives in Arizona. 

Claire: And that’s not a knock on her at all.

Emma: To me, that’s actually a positive for her.

Claire: When we say things, when I say things like, “She’s not ready for marriage,” I don’t mean that she’s not mature enough, I don’t mean that she’s not wise enough, I don’t mean that she’s not sure who she is. I think that she doesn’t literally seem like someone who is going to want marriage right now. You could be that person at 35. Typically, if you’re a 35-year-old woman who comes on “The Bachelor,” you probably want to get married. But a lot of young women come on the show just to have fun, and that’s fair, but also something Arie gets to take into account. I think that’s valid.

Emma: He is allowed to take pause at that. 

Claire: In the meantime, they get in an outdoor hot tub and make out.

Kristen: And I think she actually is into him, and is surprised by that. I think she clearly went in thinking, ‘Oh, I’ll get a free trip to wherever, maybe I’ll get to do some fun stuff and then I’ll get sent home.’ And now she’s like, ‘Wait, I actually like him, and we have a great chemistry.’ So that is giving her pause, but there’s still no way that she wants to get married.

Emma: No, which she says to him she doesn’t know and she can’t give him any fake assurances, which I actually appreciated, because at the end of the day, he has, ultimately, all the power. He can send her home at any point. She doesn’t want to be sent home, because as she said and I believe her, she’s feeling genuine feelings, and she’s having a great time. But at the end of the day, it’s his choice.

Claire: They have different interests in this relationship, which is fine, and they both are just gonna pursue their own interests. He wants to have a relationship that he can feel really confident will lead to marriage soon. She wants to date this guy she’s attracted to and has fun with and see where it goes. They were both honest about that, I think, and it comes down to the fact that she’s like, “But won’t it still be worth it if we date and it doesn’t work out?” 

Emma: And he’s like, “no.”

Claire: I’m like, honey, he’s a lot older than you. He’s done that a bunch of times. She’s at the age where she maybe hasn’t had to experience the consequences of wasted time yet.

Emma: I appreciate that he said no, that’s not worth it to me. I related to that.

Emma: I think we’re going to see this become an issue down the road, but I am glad that Bekah makes it through this date.

Kristen: I do think that he felt ― he genuinely likes her, and he knew she was young, but he was avoiding really asking her until this moment for whatever reason, and even though he knows somewhere in the back of his head that this is not gonna work out, he couldn’t cut the cord just yet. So, fine!

Emma: It’s still early.

Kristen: There are 12 other women, whatever. He’s got time.

Claire: I think it was sort of dumb of him to keep her, but ― 

Kristen: I understand that he’s not ready to rip off the Band-Aid.

Emma: She’s good TV. So I’m happy to have her around. She brings a fun personality, and I love her haircut.

Kristen: She’s stunning.

Claire: The moment in their conversation where Bekah finally tells him she’s 22 ― the look on his face is like he’s just seen a beautiful racecar have a two-ton weight dropped on it.

Claire: The sadness. And he says, “Ohhhhh, you’re so young. You’re so young.” 

Kristen: It was heartbreaking.

Claire: But then he transitions so quickly into this very paternal mode with her.

Emma: But then makes out with her.

Kristen: He still wants to hit that.

Claire: Oh, totally, but it was interesting to me how quickly he shifted into ― before it was all chemistry and “We’re young and sexy,” and suddenly, it was like, “Oh, she’s 14 years younger than me.” He started talking to her like, “Oh, you don’t know about the world, you need to have experiences.”

Kristen: “Live your life.”

Claire: “Find a guy who’s closer in age to you, maybe, I don’t know. I just feel like maybe you’re not ready.” It sounded so much like a stepdad, or a teacher just being like, “Maybe don’t write me love letters and leave them on my desk.”

Kristen: “This is not appropriate.”

Claire: But then he still does make out with her. The teacher vibe was still so present to me when she was just hanging on his neck.

Kristen: She was literally just draped on him, being like, “Pretty please with sugar on top, don’t cut me tonight!” And he just couldn’t do it. I understand that.

Emma: I think she’s got another, maybe two weeks?

Kristen: Yeah, I think that’s about right. She’s not making it to ―

Emma: It’s gonna curdle.

Claire: I think it’s worth noting that although her age revelation really brought out the “You’re not ready yet” conversation — and really caused him to make a lot of statements about what she did and didn’t want in life, which isn’t really his place to say — he already was concerned about that with Bekah. 

Emma: He had brought up before, “I don’t know if you’re ready to get married.”

Kristen: But he hadn’t really, he didn’t want to deal with it yet because she was so hot and he likes making out with her. But now he’s getting to the point where he’s like, I’ve got to start actually focusing on this.

Kristen: The pixie cut lives to see another day. Bless her heart.

For more about “The Bachelor,” check out HuffPost’s “Here to Make Friends” podcast below: 

Do people love “The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise,” or do they love to hate these shows? It’s unclear. But at “Here to Make Friends,” we both love and love to hate them — and we love to snarkily dissect each episode in vivid detail. Podcast edited by Nick Offenberg.