November 21, 2007 at 08:33 PM EST

Y’all have been posting away on Slezak’s Bachelor finale recap overnight, so I’ll try to keep this “After the Rose” post-mortem short and sweet. Like Jenni and DeAnna. (Ah.) Here are some talking points:

• Trista and Ryan’s baby, Max, should not have been wearing a T-shirt that had his name on it. It should have read, “My parents met on The Bachelor, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.” At least then we would have had something to focus on other than the fact that Ryan still looks uncomfortable on camera. Good thing Trista does all the talking for him, eh?

• In an evening of confusion, the only thing I truly understood was Jenni sobbing at the video tribute to her late, ornery grandmother, who’d passed away since her hometown visit. That lifetime relationship is something worth mourning (maybe not on a tacky, televised tell-all, but still); not the six-week courtship you had with a man who was dating 24 other women. I felt like Jenni had perspective.

• Brad kept saying he shouldn’t have to apologize for not falling in love. And I agree with him. Why would we believe that his wife would be present in a group of 25 randomly selected women? What are the odds? Just because he didn’t find someone he liked enough to want to date when she wasn’t escorted to him in a limo doesn’t mean he just went on the show to promote his bars. That may be naive of me to believe, but I buy it. Even after reading our Q&A with Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss who said, “The original ending [of the finale], before the network made me change it, was after the girls were crying we fade down and come back up to a shot of Brad sitting on the couch, remote control in hand, clicking on the game, munching on a submarine sandwich. That’s what I wanted at the end. But the network said no.”

• Should Brad apologize for leading these two women on—on a dating show? That’s the question. I think it all comes down to intent: Was he maliciously reckless with their hearts, or did he get caught up in a situation that just supersucked for these two women? (Okay, either way he NEEDS to apologize, but I’m going with the latter theory, which doesn’t make Brad evil.) I wish host Chris Harrison would have asked Brad to elaborate on why he desperately tried to make one of these relationships fit, to the point of having DeAnna’s father flown into town before the final rose ceremony, in case he wanted to ask for her hand. I don’t think he told DeAnna that the final rose ceremony would be a “good day” for her to set her up to be crushed. I think he was still trying to make it work in his mind, and wasn’t smart enough to know that you hold your cards until the end if you’re The Bachelor. I’m guessing he felt pressure from the show’s producers—intentional or not—to keep pursuing these ladies. I mean, he’s on a dating show that films for six weeks, why’s he gonna close himself off prematurely? Why wouldn’t he take a woman on as many dates as possible, hoping something clicks into true passion? What would’ve happened if he’d gone to producers and said, “I’m sorry, I already know that I’m just not into any of these women enough” two weeks into taping? (By the way, I’d love to see that happen, just once.) I think Brad’s problem is that he was trying to play The Nice Guy and had no clue that you can’t compliment a woman on a dating show and not have it mean something. Let me break it down for you. This will be good for all men to hear:

If you’re dating someone and you say, “Wow, you have everything I could ever want in a woman.” Maybe you mean it as a general compliment, “You have beauty and brains, and that’s something I like,” but she hears, “I want you. You’ve got it all.”

Post-rejection, you say, “Any man would be lucky to have you in his life.” Maybe you mean, “You’re a great catch, you’ll find someone.” She hears a lie, because clearly any man would include you, a——.

You say, “I didn’t think it was fair to commit to one of you when I had strong feelings for both of you.” Maybe you mean, “You’re obviously both attractive, pleasant women, but neither of you is special enough to hold my attention, and you really should if we’re going to be committed to each other. This is my nice way of saying that I’m not into you enough.” She hears, “You’re torn because you have strong feelings for both of us, so if you’d just man up and choose one, I can make you happy.”

You say, “I think about you everyday.” Maybe you mean, “I think about how much I hurt you, and how much easier it would have been for everyone if I had just been into you.” She hears, “You can’t get me off your mind. You wish you’d chosen me. There’s still a chance.”

You say, “My heart was broken, too. I miss you more than you know.” Maybe you mean, “I thought I was going to find a wife and I didn’t. And I know how this will make me look. I want you to know that I did like you as a person.” She hears, “I really did care about you. Again, there’s still a chance.”

Bottom line, Brad wasn’t into either Jenni or DeAnna enough to work them into his life, and he didn’t realize it until he was ring shopping. Should Brad have been honest with himself and the ladies sooner? Absolutely. But I think he was struggling with what he thought the experience would be, and what it actually was. DeAnna will never get the answers to her questions because she can’t understand that that’s what Brad is saying. That’s what changed.

Enough of my half-baked analysis of male-female communication. Post your own theories below.

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