The conclusion of Becca Kufrin’s “Bachelorette” season left many viewers angered and shaking their heads: She chose him, and is still with him after seeing what he “liked” on Instagram?
The “him” in question is Garrett Yrigoyen, a 29-year-old Reno, Nevada, resident whose history of “liking” offensive social media posts ― including memes mocking liberal women, transgender people and a Parkland, Florida, student survivor ― came to light early on in the season.
Following the scandal in June, Yrigoyen deleted his old account and apologized for his past social media behavior.
“I never realized the power behind a mindless double tap on Instagram and how it bears so much weight on people’s lives,” Yrigoyen wrote on a new Instagram page. “I did not mean any harm by any of it.”
On Monday night’s season finale, we learned that Kufrin believed him. Accepting Yrigoyen’s problematic “likes” didn’t come easy for her, though.
“There has been struggles, and that was a major thing we had to talk about early on at the very beginning of our relationship,” the 28-year-old publicist told “Bachelorette” host Chris Harrison on the “After the Final Rose” sit-down.
“Luckily, I got to know him for who he is. On the show, we don’t have phones or social media,” she said. “I got to see who he is — his heart and soul. The Instagram situation, I don’t condone that. I know he stands by his apology and he feels so bad for everyone he did offend. He didn’t mean it.”
Kufrin’s decision to stand by her man (and all of his social media baggage) is a thoroughly modern dating conundrum: Ten years ago, you’d have to wait to discover your date’s troubling stance on immigration or liberal women until they told you about it over dinner one night.
These days, all you have to do is check the “following” tab to dig up intel on their beliefs. (“Oh, he follows Ted Nugent? That’s... interesting.”)
The awkward position Kufrin was put in isn’t rare, said Alena Gerst, a psychotherapist in New York City.
Many clients come into her office complaining of their would-be suitor’s online activity, she told HuffPost. Sometimes it’s because the person has no social media presence to speak off, which is unnerving in its own way. (“You don’t even have a Facebook? Even my grandma has one. Who are you, really?”)
But as with Yrigoyen, oftentimes the problem is off-putting “likes” and follows.
“Clients place a lot of weight on how someone presents themselves on social,” she said. “For instance, someone recently shared a claim online about their support of a 9/11 conspiracy theory. The prospective date broke off their plans.”
Kufrin decided her conspiracy theorist (or at least “liker”) was worth keeping around, with a little work.
In the “After the Final Rose” interview, Yrigoyen said Kufrin had “helped me through everything.”
“We’ve been honest and open and transparent with one another since the beginning, and when that all came out, we attacked it because I feel like when I was liking things, it was going against what she stands for, and that made it really hard on us as a couple,” he said.
How does a tough conversation like that even begin?
Gerst says a few key questions need to be asked if you choose to stick around.
“You really have to ask for more information on their background and upbringing, to get an idea of where they developed their opinions, and see if they’re willing to have them challenged,” she said.
Poke around and see if they realize that their views are problematic.
“Ask them, ‘Would you think differently of me if I had family or loved ones in my life who fit the profile of those targeted in the posts you ‘liked’?” she said.
From the sound of it, Kufrin and Yrigoyen had some tough conversations prior to the season finale, said Lori Zaslow, a Manhattan-based dating coach and matchmaker.
“I was outraged by Garrett’s actions, but I thought it was admirable how Becca made it clear that she was extremely unhappy and disapproving of his actions,” Zaslow told HuffPost. “She explained that all people are imperfect, including Garrett.”
In a high-pressure, televised situation, Kufrin behaved how most people would, Zaslow added.
“Becca did what any person would do for their fiancé. Stand by them when the going gets rough,” she said.
“Becca may have her own reasons for accepting him ― perhaps she has other loved ones in her life who share closed-minded views.”
Viewers may have disliked ABC’s portrayal of Yrigoyen’s “likes” as a bump in the road to happily ever after ― no one on the post-show brought up the specific offensive content in the posts ― but Kufrin has her reasons for picking him, Gerst said.
“For some, Garrett’s activities on social media were an indication of his deeply held beliefs and would be completely unacceptable,” she said. “Becca may have her own reasons for accepting him ― perhaps she has other loved ones in her life who share closed-minded views.”
Gerst added: “I think Becca had to trust her own judgment and decide for herself what is a deal breaker.”