“Have The Bachelor’s Richie Strahan and Alex Nation already broken up?” “The ring is off!” “Where’s Richie?” “Alex Nation chats to mystery man.” “Are Richie and Alex over?” “The Bachelor couple have huge fight in the street.” “Shock split.” “Living separate lives.”
These are only a handful of the headlines that have been written recently about the winning couple of Australia’s 2016 season of The Bachelor.
I feel sad and overwhelmed for them. As I’ve previously written, I know what it’s like first-hand to be the subject of unrelenting public scrutiny and speculation, and it sucks — especially when you are actually struggling.
Over the past six or so months, my relationship with fellow contestant Megan Marx was splashed all over the news. Yes, we met in a very public way and chose to be very open about our relationship — but that doesn’t make it right for the media to constantly pick apart someone’s life for ratings and money.
In the case of Alex and Richie, by nature of having ‘won’ the reality TV dating show, their relationship was always going to end up thrust into the spotlight.
But at what point do we draw the line and say, ‘Okay, enough is enough. Let’s just allow them some privacy’?
After the initial good news stories about the pair were told, it quickly turned to fuelling rumours of breakups, infidelity and pregnancy.
The same thing happened to Megan and myself. After the initial news spread and the world celebrated our relationship, reporters quickly started digging for dirt. I don’t think a single magazine approached us when we were together to write a piece about our story, but whenever there was any juicy gossip they wanted to hear all about it.
The only time we would appear in the magazines would be as the subjects of rumours. The article that came out about a love triangle between myself, Megan and Jett Kenny was such a stretch it was laughable.
Next, it was Megan photographed at the beach alone, which had to mean we were broken up because no one ever goes to the beach by themselves. Then it was the accusations of faking our relationship.
In the end, it was a constant barrage of poking and prodding at us to get some gossip at the expense of our relationship.
There is a misconception that being a public figure automatically makes you public property; that because you have shared a part of yourself with the public, they are entitled to knowing everything.
I actually had people harassing me on my Instagram to tell them what had happened between Megan and I because they were sooooooo invested, as if because we had been public with our relationship we owed it to them to be public with our breakup.
I mean, seriously — what a messed up world we are living in?
Listen: Karl Stefanovic’s ex-wife has had to endure his new relationship being splashed across the news. (Post continues after audio.)
Being a public figure also comes with the paparazzi which can capture you at any moment and can leave you slightly paranoid. I remember flying into Sydney and being contacted by a paparazzi to tell him what time my flight arrived and where I was staying. He told me if I didn’t ‘work with him’ he would find out my flight details anyway and then have someone ‘follow me to my hotel’.
I’m grateful to be based in Perth where the paps don’t tend to live. I feel sorry for Alex being in Melbourne and having paparazzi chasing her down all the time, watching her every move and waiting to pounce on anything that could be made into a news story.
Whether Alex and Richie are together or not, it’s not anyone’s business but their own. What they choose to share or not share with the public is their choice.
‘Alex didn’t wear her promise ring’ — so what? Maybe it didn’t go with her outfit. Maybe she forgot it. I’m sure she didn’t intentionally leave it off to send some sort of signal to the world that she is now single.
‘Alex chats to mystery man.’ Heaven forbid she have male friends or conversations with men other than Richie!
‘They haven’t showed a picture of each other on social media, they haven’t seen each other in weeks.’ They are busy people with individual interests, careers and hobbies. Their social media is their own, not purely to document their relationship for the public.
The tiniest things are blown way out of proportion, and lives are picked apart for the sake of entertainment and making money.
If they are having a rough time, wouldn’t the kind and humane thing to do be to step back and give them space and privacy to work through things?
Give them the respect couples like Megan and I and Sasha and Sam never got. The last thing they need right now, if they are struggling, is the pressure and scrutiny from the media and public. These are real people with real feelings, not fictional characters; two people just like you and me who are trying to go about their lives.
So let’s have some compassion and ease up. Stop digging for signs, stop looking for negatives, stop causing damage. If they split, then when/if they are ready, they will speak about it — but they certainly do not owe you or me or anyone else an explanation.