The Bachelorette 2017: The psychology behind a ‘stage five clinger’

Otherwise known as LEAVE JARROD ALONE.

By Lorna Gray
Here’s the thing: During The Bachelorette 2017, we ALL got swept up in the ‘Jarrod is a stage five clinger’ narrative.
And yes, Now to Love be guilty of it too. :(
But we’ve been thinking about it. A lot.
We’re not ashamed to admit we shed a tear as Jarrod was unceremoniously dumped by Sophie Monk on The Bachelorette last night.
Because let’s face it, his love for her was as pure as the driven snow, albeit a bit intense.
The real villains of the show - cough Ryan, Sam, Blake - got nothing more than an eye roll and "what a jerk" type reaction, but we collectively tore shreds off the guy who embodies all the things women say they want in a man - he was kind, sensitive and thoughtful.
And really, what was the poor bloke’s crime? He loved Soph too much? He was too into her?
Why the heck is that a bad thing anyway?
Now to Love spoke to psychotherapist and founder of Whole Heart Relationships, Julia Nowland, to shed some light on the whole ‘stage five clinger’ debacle and man, our hearts are hurting even more for Jarrod!

So, how do we define a 'clinger'?

“There are two sides to the coin when it comes to being perceived as needy /clingy,” explains Julia.
“On one side, it stems from having low self-esteem and needing to be loved and wanted. The other side is being very open and vulnerable with your emotions – which is what Jarrod demonstrated.”
Jarrod certainly prided himself upon being open and having that ‘what you see is what you get’ mentality. But it rubbed everyone, including the viewing public, up the wrong way.
“The fact Jarrod was very upfront and honest with his emotions confronted people,” says Julia. And there’s a simple (and slightly depressing!) reason for this. “Society doesn’t like to see too much vulnerability, simply because it confronts us with our own.”
“It was confronting to the other contestants for exactly the same reason - Because they didn’t like to faced with their own vulnerability, particularly those wanting to assert their dominance."
As for Blake’s bullying dynamic with Jarrod ?
“Sabotaging the plant wasn’t only juvenile; it was actually territorial – the very act of peeing on it.”
But Julia reckons the way Jarrod was portrayed on the TV was rather contrived…
“Channel Ten producers very much identified Jarrod’s openness and vulnerability as a ‘pain point’ and edited footage as such,” she explains. “I.e. they quickly honed in on this particular trait of Jarrod to deliberately make people squirm.”
Yep, it worked…

“Also remember this isn’t the real world, it’s an intense show – like dating on steroids,” Julia adds.
“Outside of the show, it might’ve been a completely different story. There was no breathing space or separation involved.”

So why do we get turned off by needy men in the first place?

“Neediness has such a negative connotation,” Julia explains. “The very word implies his behaviour went beyond what was deemed reasonable. But, in this case, Jarrod was genuine and authentic and didn’t overstep the mark.
“Also, traditionally as a society, we don’t look at men as ‘clingy’. They’re usually the ones who like their distance.”

Plot twist: here’s why being ‘clingy’ can be a good thing

We’re not just talking about being doted on but, let’s face it, who wouldn’t want that?!
Julia breaks it down: “One of the first things we ask ourselves in a new relationship – whether we know it or not – is ‘Can I trust him?’ In this case, you know you can trust Jarrod.
"Jarrod was a gentleman. As demonstrated in the first episode when he made sure Sophie felt safe and secure, she remarked 'I’ve never felt so vulnerable.' This shows he can handle Sophie’s vulnerability as he handles his own"

“He displayed qualities of being able to have a healthy relationship – in particular being thoughtful and accommodating.”
And we’re going to talk about the damn pot plant again…
Julia took special note of something Jarrod said to Sophie when he gifted her the plant. When Sophie asked what would happen to their relationship if the plant died, Jarrod replied: “It takes work to grow something.”
This is exactly the sort of thing we should want out of a relationship so ‘clingy’ men FTW.
Post continues after video: Jarrod takes rejection like an absolute champ
Now we feel bad about the whole ‘stage five clinger’ label. Jarrod ticked all the boxes for Sophie – he loved her for her, was a gentleman, would do anything for her.
We’d much prefer a 'clinger' than a manipulator, misogynist or player...
Jarrod, if you’re reading, we salute you, sir!