reality tv

Why we need to pay close attention to the behaviour of the men on Australian reality TV.


This year we’ve been presented with some pretty worrying behaviour from the male contestants on reality TV.

On Married at First Sight, Mike’s manipulation of his wife Heidi was slammed as a classic case of gaslighting, and then a few weeks later we witnessed the very same behaviour on Bachelor in Paradise with Bill and Flo.

Experts are pretty worried that it’s normalising a form of domestic violence for viewers.

The Quicky went deep on the history of gaslighting. Post continues after podcast.

Here is an example of one of the exchanges between Bill and Flo that had us squirming in our seats:

Flo: “When I was sitting on the balcony with you, you asked again ‘are you sure you don’t want to stay over’. That’s literally what you said. ”

Bill: “Bullshit. I never said that. You’re so malicious you f***ing want to make s*** up because I didn’t give you a rose.”

Flo: “Are you for real? Why would I make that up?”

Bill: “Because you’re malicious and it didn’t go your way.”

Psychotherapist Stephanie Sarkis told The Quicky, that it’s hard to properly analyse the situation given there are cameras, editing, and producers in the contestants ears, but she says if it was just two people alone – it is definitely an example of gaslighting.

You can watch some of the fallout here. Post continues after video.

Video by Ten

“Because one person saying you said this when the other person says they didn’t say anything like this… It’s different from poor communication, because this is something you know absolutely the person said when they start arguing or calling you names,” Sarkis explained.

“In this clip he’s with other people, so I don’t know whether he’s showboating – it’s hard to know what his motive is. Is it to have people align with him against her? Is it to have better chances with someone else? Is he just doing it just to do it? It’s hard to tell if it’s on purpose or not,” she hypothesised.

Bill later attempted to “apologise” to Flo on Instagram.

“I’d like to wholeheartedly apologise to @florencealexandras for speaking about her like I did, no one deserves that,” he wrote.

“Every single one of us were in Fiji for our own reasons. Whether that was the experience, love, relationships, money, opportunities or business either way, no judgement from me.”

Sarkis told The Quicky that Bill’s attempt definitely wasn’t a real apology, and his words were a classic trait of gaslighting.


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Looking back on my time in paradise, I’d like to think I’d handle the same situation a lot differently. I was navigating my way through a range of emotions in an environment like no other on this planet. I’d like to whole heartedly apologise to @florencealexandras for speaking about her like I did, no one deserves that. Every single one of us were in Fiji for our own reasons Whether that was the experience, love, relationships, money, opportunities or business either way, no judgment from me ???????? @bachelorinparadiseau @alexandranation @roqclothing #bacheloretteparty #bachelornation #bachelorinparadiseau #apology #lostmycool #ownit #learnfromit #bebetter #growth #humangrowth #navigating #crazyenvironment

A post shared by BILL GOLDSMITH ???????? (@bill.michael.goldsmith) on


There are two types of gaslighters in the world, the ones that do it on purpose and the ones who are doing it without realising – through learned experience.

The first of the two is known as a sociopath or psychopath, where they are trying to manipulate to cause someone to feel crazy, and doing it for what they think is the “fun of it”.

“There’s also the type that learns this type of behaviour from parents when they were a kid. They’re learning that that’s the way you interact in relationships so they carry that behaviour into the present. They don’t realise they’re gaslighting,” Sarkis told The Quicky.

As Sarkis explains, the latter is likely to be able to get help when they realise what they’re doing in their relationship isn’t working. But the gaslighters doing it intentionally think everyone else is the problem.

Gaslighting is a term that came from a play in the 1930s called Gaslight. It was later turned into a film in the 1940s and followed the story of Paula and her partner Gregory. Paula is made to feel like she’s losing her mind when Gregory tells her she’s imagining that the gaslights in their home are dimming, when in fact he’s causing them to. He’s doing this, to punish her for ‘losing’ a broach he gifted her.


Paula is left feeling confused, the same explanation Heidi and then Flo give when their suitors make them feel like they’re “going crazy”.

The 1944 film 'Gaslight.'
The 1944 film 'Gaslight.'

Sarkis says there are certain traits to be on the lookout for if you suspect you are being gaslighted:

"You're told that what you're seeing and hearing isn't true. They'll blatantly lie about something that you know they said. You'll even get to the point where someone hides your belongings and tells you you're irresponsible. They are chronic cheaters, and will demand to look at your phone and accuse you of being unfaithful when it's them doing the wrong the thing.


"They'll pitch you against family members and friends because they want your attention solely. They'll tell you your sister said something mean about you. They'll cause drama. They'll demand loyalty but they won't ever get to the point where they treat you decently," she said.

Gaslighters often go for partners that are sensitive and maybe even in helping professions like a nurse, a teacher or a counsellor.

"They look for people who are understanding that people are flawed," explained Sarkis.

Basically, they're trying to find someone that won't call them out on their faults.

When it comes to removing yourself from the clutches of a gaslighter, Sarkis says it's actually very hard.

"They tell you all of it is your fault so much so you start believing it," she said.

Her advice?

Get distance. If there are no shared assets or children, block their phone and email and just remove yourself.

"If you talk to them and they know you're leaving they will start hoovering. Which means they'll try and suck you back in, telling you everything will be different, everything will be great - and then as soon as they have you back in their clutches they start the behaviour again."

So go cold turkey and block any gaslighters out of your life.