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We've all done crazy things for love. Speed dating, pretending to like NASCAR, or even the truly scary: asking your friends to set you up. If you're not one of the lucky ladies who managed to find her soul mate thanks to a collision in the condiments aisle at the grocery store or a friendly puppy at the dog park, we've got an adventurous outlet for you: reality TV. Sure it's a little nutty, but so are relationships. Join the ranks of D-list TV stars, Flavor Flav, the Bachelors and Bachelorettes, and even '90s hunk Antonio Sabato Jr. in their sometimes-successful quest for love in front of the camera. If you're game to give it a shot, here are few pointers to finding a mate -- reality style.Third (or Fourth) Time's the Charm
One surefire way to find a potential hubby on a dating show is to be a reject -- and not in the typical loser sense. If you've had your heart broken on reality TV, there's a good chance you'll be the next lucky singleton to search for love in front of American audiences. Think about how the now-engaged Jillian Harris, the plucky brunette and most recent star of ABC's The Bachelorette, was rejected by Seattle native Jason Mesnick. This poisonous Prince Charming not only broke it off with Jillian during his stint on last season's The Bachelor, but he also had the audacity to ditch his final pick, Melissa Rycroft, for Molly Malaney, the runner-up. The recently rebuffed Jillian was asked back to the show -- this time in a starring role -- to give her another chance to find her fairy-tale romance. Here's once instance where it pays to be a loser.
Sure, it's great to be with a man in his heyday, but has-beens need love too! If you're craving a marriage proposal from an '80s rocker (think salacious Poison frontman Bret Michaels of VH1's sleaze fest Rock of Love), an over-hyped "hype" man (former Public Enemy MC Flavor Flav, star of Flavor of Love), an R&B crooner and sex tape star (Ray J from For the Love of Ray J), or a control-freak/former-underwear model (Antonio Sabato Jr., the sexy star of My Antonio) then run -- don't walk -- to score yourself an audition on one of VH1's career-reviving, relationship-building reality shows. You don't even have to be familiar with their once illustrious careers -- many contestants weren't even born during these former celebs' heydays -- but die-hard fans are also acceptable, according to the groupie-loving Bret Michaels, who prides himself on being an equal opportunity dater. On this televised trip to the altar, let your extension-lengthened tresses down and get ready to party like a rock star.Bigger Is Better
Have you ever considered a breast augmentation, or a little nip-and-tuck? Or did you already have some elective cosmetic surgery and want to flaunt the new you in front of all of America? If so, this might bring you one step closer to finding your potential hubby on the small screen. On dating shows like Rock of Love, Real Chance of Love, and Flavor of Love, and even the less racy Bachelor series, it's pretty much the status quo to have the body of a private dancer. Unfortunately in the reality TV marriage market, while a good first impression is key, so is a substantial cup size. On the spicy second season of VH1's For the Love of Ray J, one minx-like contestant was even given the cheeky moniker Paradeez (translation: "pair of D's" as in an overflowing D-cup) to reflect her ample assets. So until a high IQ is deemed super sexy on the boob tube -- pun intended -- strap on a gravity-defying Wonderbra or make an appointment with a plastic surgeon.
Whether you're dating on reality TV or in real life, there's nothing more important than making a good impression on your potential mother-in-law. The arrival of the parents signifies how serious your reformed bachelor is when it comes to finding the girl of his dreams -- even if you two were indulging in body shots of tequila the night before. On the flipside, it's best not to become buddy-buddy with your reality TV beau's mom. Crimson-haired Playboy Playmate Christi made this crucial mistake on My Antonio when she made a secret pact with Antonio's overbearing mother Yvonne to spy on the other eligible bachelorettes. Donning a wedding dress fit for a princess at a faux wedding ceremony, Christi was ousted at the altar by Yvonne, who used their secret correspondence as a reason to give the busty redhead the boot. Learn from Christi's mistakes and always remember that his mother knows best -- unless she's trying to throw you under the bus.Have a Lip-Locking Good Time
If you're a germaphobe in real life, then a reality TV dating show might not be the best place for you to meet your future hubs. On any given night, these eligible hunks are smooching multiple ladies. This means your potential soul mate might lock lips with a few of your fellow contestants before he lays a wet one on you. The number of germs floating around on these shows might irk, you but don't let your bachelor know you're fazed. With such a short amount of time to get acquainted, your cootie-filled first kiss is essential if you want to stick around and go all the way -- in both the literal and figurative sense. So bring some economy-sized bottles of Listerine, and pucker up for your Prince Charming.
Have you ever had a first date that included a helicopter ride over a volcano or a swim with dolphins? Yeah, I didn't think so. On your marriage search via a reality TV dating show, be prepared to be wooed wow-style. High-budget and high-impact dates are par for the course on these couple-making shows featuring fantastical rendezvous that are a far cry from reality. How can you go from picnicking on a private beach in Hawaii or gallivanting on a glacier in the Canadian wilderness to the harsh reality of a takeout Chinese and Netflix night? Don't get too spoiled with the lavish dinner dates and tropical island jaunts. Once the show is over and your filet mignon is replaced by Hamburger Helper, your soul mate -- unless he's also the star of Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire -- will want you by his side through thick or thin, whether there are yachts or not.Be a Fast Mover
The world of reality TV dating shows moves much faster than real-world courting. This means that there are only a few one-on-one dates with your reality TV husband-to-be before things get hot and heavy. Yes, I'm talking about the monumentally important overnight date that has been known to sometimes make -- or break -- your chance of being the last lady (or man) standing. Sadly, most shows encourage heavy petting and spit-swapping much sooner than you'd expect -- things that wouldn't happen until the third or fourth date in real life. With an accelerated romance schedule the pressure mounts: just ask The Bachelorette contestant Ed Swiderski who suffered from a very bad -- and very public -- case of performance anxiety on his overnight date with Jillian in Hawaii. The world watched as Ed couldn't muster up enough romantic stamina to prove his love to Jillian, right in time for his final date before elimination. While women don't necessarily have the same performance issues to contend with, be ready to woman-up when things get physical fast.
While we've all met Mr. Rights and Mr. Wrongs in unconventional places -- I met my ex-boyfriend through an online dating service and my current boyfriend through a friend of mine he'd dated -- trying your luck on a reality TV dating show might be good for some LOLs, but we're not encouraging you to get your rehearsal tapes ready for the televised husband hunt. If you're truly seeking out your soul mate I'd recommend kissing a few more frogs and accepting more cringe-inducing blind dates. As we see on TV every night, serendipity works in mysterious ways.
Originally published on LHJ.com, November 2009.