Rules the contestants on The Bachelor have to follow

Since its debut in 2002, ABC's reality show The Bachelor has evolved into a global phenomenon, with several equally popular offshoots (including The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise) and international versions. Taking the franchise's many seasons into consideration, it can seem like the world contains an endless supply of men and women who are looking for true love (and who are also simultaneously willing to sign up to be filmed for two months under what could kindly be called extreme situations). 

Despite the raucous antics and epic, extreme behavior that has garnered the show so much attention, the contestants' lives are actually rather regimented, as a result of the many rules and regulations they're forced to follow in order to participate on the show. Luckily for us, many of the show's cast members have since spilled the tea on what their time in the house was like. Read on to find out what contestants have to agree to in order to nab that chance at finding their Mr. or Miss Right. 

Kiss the outside world goodbye

Contestants on all of the The Bachelor programs agree to completely disconnect from the outside world, meaning they also can't contact friends or family while they're being filmed. As ABC News reported in 2010, contestants are banned from watching television or using their phones or laptops in the house. "It's kind of shocking because for the first few days you're going through withdrawal of everything in your life. And it definitely feels like a bubble," Season 13 contestant Melissa Rycroft told ABC News. According to bachelor Jake Pavelka, the goal of forced isolation is "cutting away, just the crud that the world inundates you with, that makes a relationship tough."

In 2017, The Verge examined how the contestants keep themselves busy with in lieu of screen time. Season 17 contestant AshLee Frazier (pictured) said the only book allowed during her tenure in the house was the Bible, though other contestants said they were allowed to bring "printed content" (though not magazines). Contestants also revealed that they whiled away the hours between dates with approved activities such as exercising (though the house doesn't feature any workout equipment), strumming guitars, and playing games. 

You might have to give that bling back

Anyone who regularly watches The Bachelor franchise is familiar with the Neil Lane diamond rings the finalists are presented with at the end of the season. The rocks tend to be massive, with Entertainment Tonight putting their estimated price between $50,000 and $100,000. However, as reported, there are some strict stipulations surrounding that high-dollar bling, specifically when it comes to what happens if the couple doesn't stay together. 

The Bachelorette winner Jesse Csincsak, who got engaged to DeAnna Pappas at the end of the show's fourth season, told the site, "In the contract, it says if you are not together for two years after the final day of the show airing, you have to give them the ring back." 

And what happens to that second-hand ring? "It may eventually be repurchased," an insider explained. "...Just like estate jewelry or anything that gets returned. But it doesn't happen for a while."

Declining a date is not an option ... not matter how crazy

A big part of The Bachelor and its many spin-offs' appeal is gawking at the insane and contrived dates that producers arrange for the bachelors and bachelorettes and their prospective fiancees. As E! Online highlighted in 2016, some notable standouts include: Juan Pablo and Kat's Season 18 rave run; Season 16's awful bikini ski date with Ben Flajnik (pictured); and an unbearable singing date on Season 19 with country duo Big & Rich. And who could forget when six contestants had to attend The Bachelorette Season 11 star Kaitlyn Bristowe's fake traditional Irish wake to say "goodbye" to her. Shudder.

Per The Bachelor's eligibility requirements, contestants must be willing to agree to participate in all manner of extreme physical activities, including, "skydiving, snow skiing, ice skating, parasailing, water skiing, rollerblading, and the like."

Expecting payment? Too bad

It's easy to imagine that anyone appearing on a nationally broadcast hit reality show might be raking in the big bucks, but if you're a contestant on The Bachelor, you get exactly zip. According to Business Insider, the bachelors and bachelorettes are believed to be paid about $100,000 per season, but contestants supposedly receive no payment. On top of that, contestants are also expected to arrive with a full wardrobe of impressive outfits. 

The Bachelor contestant and subsequent bachelorette Jillian Harris said she re-mortgaged her house prior to appearing on the show and spent around $8,000 on clothes. "I remember when I went on the show we got goodie bags filled with some stuff that they wanted us to wear but half of it didn't even fit. And that was it!!!" she wrote on her site. "The girls do have to bring all of their own clothing and of course, they want to be wearing the best clothes EVER to be seen on TV in!!!" Hence, Season 20 The Bachelor contestant Olivia Caridi was rumored to have spent $40,000 on her wardrobe for the show! 

You must agree to physical and psychological testing

Along with making sure you have the right wardrobe, you'll also need to prove your physical and mental health before appearing on the show. Per the show's official eligibility requirements, contestants who are selected to travel to Los Angeles "may be required to undergo physical and psychological examinations and testing (to be conducted in Los Angeles by qualified personnel selected by the Producer) and meet all physical and psychological requirements."

As ABC News reported in 2010, the vetting process is rigorous and includes an STD screening and "an 800-question psyche evaluation." According to Dr. Catherine Selden, who conducted evaluations on contestants, "We want to make sure that people are going to be OK with coping with the stress involved, and make sure that they are going to be offered the help that they need if it's the case."

Per the application requirements, all potential contestants must also be willing to submit to a background check, which could include, "a credit check, a military records check, a criminal arrest and/or conviction check, a civil litigation check, a family court litigation check, interviews with employers, neighbors, teachers, etc." Jeez.

Hope you weren't hungry

In real life, it's normal to enjoy a little meal during a dinner date, but you may have noticed that on The Bachelor, plates of food often go uneaten (check out this piece from Bon Appetit for proof). It's not because the contestants are so enraptured with each other. It's that the show's participants are instructed not to enjoy their meals.

"Nobody eats, and that's primarily because nobody wants to watch you eat and the mikes will pick up the chewing," Season 17 bachelor Sean Lowe (pictured) told Glamour. But don't feel too bad. Lowe explained that producers do let the daters dine before their nighttime dates, adding, "[B]etween the two date portions, they would bring us to a hotel, where you can shower and change and get ready — and it's during that time that you can eat."

By the way, contestants have to cook for themselves in the house. Contestant Ashley Spivey told Refinery29"We were responsible for making all of our meals in the house ... Dinner would be prepared by whoever felt like cooking for everyone."

Hidden cameras and mics? You're being recorded 24/7

Another extreme aspect of the contestants' lives is the fact that, for almost the entirety of the show's production, they're under the camera's glare 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As bachelorette Trista Rehn's release and waiver spells out, she had to agree to waive her privacy and to being filmed and recorded the entirety of the time, including via hidden cameras and microphones (though the document notes that cameras will not be positioned to capture anything embarrassing in the bathroom). Contestant Leslie Hughes told the Daily Beast that "[The cameras] are on you all the time ... As soon as you wake up in the morning, your mic is put on you...When you go to bed, it's taken off."

The only time contestants aren't filmed is if they "win" an evening in the fantasy suite with the bachelor or bachelorette. According to Insider, The site describes how bachelorette Andi Dorfman (pictured) wrote in her book It's Not Okay (via Insider): "As soon as the door is closed, everyone takes a deep breath ... It's the first time you don't have cameras and microphones on you..."

If you win, you have to stay together ... at least until the finale

As an avid fan of The Bachelor franchise, you might ask yourself: "What happens if the couple breaks up before the finale airs?" That's a fair question, reader. 

According to reality TV producer Lewis Fenton, contestants' contracts generally stipulate that they cannot do anything that will damage a show's storyline, at least until the finale and reunion show have aired. That includes breaking up, cheating, and all other manner of controversial behavior. Fenton told E! Online in 2010 that "even if a former Bachelor or Bachelorette tries to move on quietly [from their engagement] and happens to get snapped by a persistent paparazzo, that could count as a violation of the contract," which could then trigger a lawsuit in the millions of dollars. However, Fenton said, the likelihood of that happening is slim, as most contestants are in the business of "wanting to make the show a success. They don't want to blow it up."

Keep your mouth shut, or it will cost you

Got an extra $5,000,000 floating around? That's the amount you'd be on the hook for if you break contract and reveal any secrets about the show's outcome before the finale, according to Medium. The final couple is even periodically whisked off to a "safe house" when filming ends so they can keep seeing each other in secret, according to bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky. This lessens the chance of spoiling the ending before the finale airs. "The producers really do everything they can to help the couple see each other and help keep the relationship strong during the tough few months when the show is airing," Fedotowsky said. 

And yet, in 2015, Season 11 bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe released a major spoiler when she posted a Snapchat video showing her cuddling in bed with contestant Sean Booth, thus totally ruining the end of her season for everyone. During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! (via HuffPost), Bristowe said she felt "really bad" about her gaffe. She claimed that she thought she was sending the snap to the producers but accidentally posted it to the public. Luckily for Bristowe, she somehow managed to avoid having to cough up that $5 mil.