“It’s hard for me to admit it but we had sex,” Kaitlyn told Shawn during Monday night’s episode of The Bachelorette, as we have known for weeks she would have to. The conversation did not go down the way it was presented in promos—Kaitlyn didn’t tell contestant Joe (and he didn’t storm off in a huff because of it), and she didn’t tell all the men together. She just told Shawn, and his reaction was first surprisingly calm, and later very frustrated.

“Do you regret it?” Shawn asked her. “I felt guilt,” she replied. “I didn’t expect that to happen,” explaining that she wasn’t able to “stop thinking about what that might do to our relationship.” In many ways, her response to him was a greatly toned down version of what she’s said in interviews both on the show and post-show, probably because it’s scary and sorta rude to be like, “I loved having sex with that other dude I’m also dating!” to one of your several boyfriends.

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Shawn took some deep breaths and went to the bathroom where he was mysteriously not filmed or miced. When he came out, he looked very calm. “Thank you for telling me that, I appreciate it,” he told her, adding things like “I’m just gonna man up” and “I can’t be mad or upset.” (Well, he could be mad or upset, as Kaitlyn pointed out, and he was, as he admitted.) “What am I gonna do storm out of here? No, because I want you.”

This episode explored the age-old question of whether honesty is actually the best policy. Kaitlyn said that she told Shawn about sleeping with Nick because she didn’t want Shawn “to leave later because I didn’t tell him the truth.” Which is really only something that’s a threat on this show, where it’s a sure thing he would have found out the truth. Were they truly dating the way Kaitlyn’s trying to make it seem like they’d be dating in the wild/real world/what have you, the likelihood Shawn could remain blissfully unaware Kaitlyn was seeing other guys is much higher.

Shawn reacted with chillness because he knew he had to; Kaitlyn has other options, and if he freaked out, she could just send him home. So when he came back to her later on wanting some reassurance, and an explanation for why she likes Nick too, she laid the smack down. “Telling you that you were ‘the one’ halfway through was a mistake,” she said, explaining yet again that she needs to continue explore other relationships, because hopefully at the end of this she never will again.

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“I love your honesty and I love that you care so much but you need to let me figure this out for myself,” she said sternly.

That didn’t leave Kaitlyn and Shawn on great terms. As has been the case before, Shawn’s obsession with their relationship is likely making Kaitlyn feel closer to Nick, who is mostly ignoring her sex lives with the other dudes, or Ben H., who has barely mentioned the other men at all. (Jared was sent home this week, though that didn’t stop Kaitlyn from crying about him leaving, which meant he ended up comforting her.) In next week’s episode, we’re apparently promised some sort of continuation of Shawn and Nick’s boring verbal showdown over how neither thinks the other is a good guy.

The moments during this episode that were the most touching weren’t the ones where Nick was talking about the rules of the show (what going on certain dates meant, who got a rose), or when he was complaining about Shawn, but the ones where Shawn and Kaitlyn had legitimate discussions about their issues. Shawn is struggling with Kaitlyn dating other men, and does not always handle it appropriately. Conversely, Kaitlyn is struggling with Shawn’s high expectations. “You don’t have to trust me. And I just don’t think you do,” she told him. Kaitlyn’s attempts to drag The Bachelorette kicking and screaming into the 21st century continue to half-work; she’s repeatedly stymied by the fact that all this is happening on television, which removes her ability to be able to avoid sharing the whole, unnecessary truth to save a good relationship.

Whether Ben, Shawn and Nick will trust Kaitlyn going forward remains to be seen. But at least as viewers we can trust that her work, for lack of a better word, has resulted in a greater number of actually valid emotional outbursts than are usually depicted on this show.


Contact the author at dries@jezebel.com.

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