I cannot think of the last date I went on that wasn't punctuated by frequent trips to the bathroom for the sole purpose of sending live updates to my group text. For me, dating is between myself, my partner, and ten to twelve of my closest friends, coworkers, and the occasional chatty optometrist. For the people of Bachelor Nation, it's pretty much the entire world. However, while I can dish on the details of my dating life in real time, contestants of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Bachelor In Paradise, and Bachelor Winter Games have to do things a little differently. Before everyone can know about their dating life, no one can know — not their friends, not their family, and certainly not their fans.
This is the part of The Bachelor that we never get to see. By the time the stories come to our screens, they've already been marinating for at least a couple of months. The contestants film the season, and then they wait for it to come out just like the rest of us. They don't know what from their time is going to make it onto the cutting room floor and what will end up airing in the living rooms of almost eight million viewers. All they can do is follow the rules they've been given to keep their time in the mansion, beach house, or ski lodge a secret.
Or, at least, as much of a secret as possible. In the world of social media and intrepid Bachelor Nation sleuths like Reality Steve, spoilers are almost a given. But contestants like Bibiana Julian (The Bachelor, Bachelor Winter Games, Bachelor In Paradise) and David Ravitz (The Bachelorette, Bachelor In Paradise) are still committed to making a spoiler-free Bachelor a reality. I spoke to both of the Florida natives ahead of tonight's Paradise season 5 finale to find out how they've managed to keep their lips sealed during their past years on the franchise, including the the lengths they've had to go to keep secrets.
What kind of instructions are you given?
"You sign all kinds of paperwork, confidentiality and what not," Ravitz explained. "You know it all has to be secretive and you’re not supposed to talk about behind the scenes, you’re not supposed to talk about relationships that form."
However, it's not just about the paperwork. Both Ravitz and Julian don't want the public to be spoiled before they've gotten to experience all the drama the show has to offer — it's the least they could do for ABC.
"We get to experience really cool things, potentially meet a life partner, and in return, we know that we need to give the studio full confidentiality and give the show the respect they deserve," Ravitz said. "That’s kind of the give and take that goes along with the whole experience that we get to partake in."
What can you tell your family?
"[ABC doesn't] want you to be in a cave, and they know that you’re going to talk to your family about it," Julian said. However, the family has to be prepared for what that means, especially if the family appears in the show.
"They had to sign a confidentiality agreement, basically that you’re not going to run off and say all this stuff," Julian said about her family appearing in one of her intro packages. "I think if I would have made it to Hometowns [on The Bachelor] it would have been the same protocol."
What can you tell your job?
"I’m such a rule-follower," Julian said. "I didn’t really tell a lot of people. My boss had to know, obviously, HR had to know. I was a little bit hesitant with HR knowing only because in my job, once you tell HR it’s like gossip. Exactly the opposite of what you want. They were really understanding."
While Ravitz was similarly employed, his experience was more unique. He had always planned on going to business school this fall, and quit his job ahead of The Bachelorette. However, filming fell squarely in the middle of not only when he would be receiving acceptance letters, but also when he needed to commit. Since Ravitz was totally off the grid during that time — more on that in a second — it was up to his brother-in-law to monitor the acceptance letters and respond according to a spreadsheet Ravitz had provided. Ravitz is now getting his masters at the University of Miami.
How unplugged are you on the show?
"Beyond unplugged and it’s the best feeling in the world," Ravitz said. "You’re completely disconnected from the world: no phone, no computers, no internet, no TV."
"You’re completely and fully immersed and focused on connecting and your relationship," Julian explained. "I landed in the airport and then they take away the phone...At first it gives you a little bit of anxiety, not having your phone, like the first couple hours, then as time goes by you get used to it and it’s refreshing. You don’t have to worry about texting, you don’t have to worry about answering emails. You’re disconnected, this is just the perfect kind of vacation where you don’t have anything to think about."
There are exceptions, of course. Many will remember Ravitz's bunk bed tumble and subsequent trip to the hospital on The Bachelorette. He was allowed to check in with his family and let them know he was okay.
"We weren’t talking about the show, we were only talking about my health, they kind of knew how I was doing," he said. "We FaceTimed really quickly so they could see me."
What about social media?
On the show, it's no phones allowed, but that might not always be the case.
"I know a bunch of the cast members have talked about changing the social media rules," Ravitz said. "Whether you are able to check social media, take pictures, live-tweet them, something like that, to really give the audience a peek into what’s actually happening during filming. I think that would be a pretty cool thing."
Once they're back with their phones — and have gone through the onslaught of missed texts and emails both contestants said they returned to — they have a whole other minefield to wade through. What can they post before people know they're on the show? What can they post while the show is airing?
"You just have to be cautious," Julian warned. As for photos from filming, the producers have it covered.
"You become friends with the producers. One of them, I talk to her all the time, I sent her this photo and I was like, can I post this? And she was like, ‘I would wait,’" she explained. "They just really want to make sure."
What do you tell your family and friends when you go home early?
The biggest spoiler isn't necessarily on social media, but right in front of friends' and families' eyes as contestant's return home...and aren't sporting a shiny new ring.
"I tried to not give as much information as possible," Ravitz said. "They obviously knew kind of the filming schedule and they knew the commitment involved and when I came home on the earlier end they knew I wasn’t engaged. So I told them it was a great experience, we’ll get to watch it back together and see how it all unfolded. I wanted to keep them in the dark. Watching it back with them and hanging out with them and talking with them about it was more fun for them than actually knowing what’s gonna happen. I kept them in the dark plus it’s kind of fun for me to know what is about to happen and they have no idea."
What about the winners?
On the other side of the coin, the winners are young, in love, and totally undercover.
"Everything is secretive," Julian explained. "You have to have costumes, wigs, and hats, and they have what they call 'Happy Couple Weekends.'"
Happy Couple Weekends?
"When you have a Happy Couple Weekend it’s in a location that is not in your hometown and is not in their hometown and you’re basically just in hiding. It’s like your own little vacation but you can’t really go anywhere or do anything," she said. "But they do some place that’s nice where the couple will actually enjoy their time together."
For other couples, from spinoffs like Paradise and Winter Games, it's just as orchestrated.
"If I’m in a relationship right now and I want to see my significant other...[the producers will] set it up for you," Julian said. "They want to make sure that you’re in a good place, that you’re not in a spot where people are going to recognize you."
How aware are you of what happens on the show after you leave?
Ravitz admitted that there's a bit of a grapevine among the contestants, and that word did trickle down that Garrett had proposed to Becca on his season of The Bachelorette before it hit screens. But what about that Bachelor drama that unfolded while the show was airing last winter, when Arie dumped Becca for Lauren?
"Once the show aired and that whole thing was filmed...I did hear a few things," Julian said. "But you don’t want to say anything [until the finale]. It’s not like we watched it not knowing that this was happening."
The Bachelor In Paradise finale airs tonight on ABC at 8 p.m.
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