Love Is Blind doesn’t always match compatible people.
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“Love Is Blind” quickly became one of Netflix’s top shows, with over 30 million viewers. The reality show is considered a social experiment where contestants see if falling in love with someone they’ve never physically met is possible.
“Love Is Blind” is built on the idea that an “emotional connection” matters above all else. When people stop focusing on physical appearance, they’ll be able to form stronger relationships—and perhaps a relationship with someone they wouldn’t normally talk to in everyday life.
The show impacts viewers so much that it’s a common subject people bring up in my therapy office. When I interviewed other couples therapists for my book, 13 Things Mentally Strong Couples Don’t Do, several said this show also led to interesting conversations in their therapy offices. Some couples said watching this show caused them to question if their relationship depended too much on their physical connection.
I wondered how this reality show shapes people’s ideas about healthy relationships. So, I decided to check it out for myself.
While an emotional connection is key to having a lifelong partnership, there are several reasons why the experiment doesn’t work out for most people.
1. People share their perceptions of who they think they are.
In the first part of the experiment, contestants speak to one another with a wall in between them. That means you only get to know the other person based on what they tell you.
People are sharing their perceptions of themselves. So, while they may not be lying, they may not see themselves the same way other people see them.
Someone might say, “I’m a really kind person.” But if you saw that person in the real world, you might discover that they treat waitstaff poorly or lash out whenever their feelings are hurt. So, while they may be kind sometimes, you might disagree with their description that they are a “kind person.”
Sometimes, contestants share their wishful thinking. They share the version of themselves that they wish were true. Someone who says, “I’m so good with money,” might want to say they were more financially savvy. Or someone who says, “I’m so adventurous,” might wish they had more fun in life. This might be because they want to be seen in a certain light, or it might also be because they hope to become that person someday.
Like online dating, “Love Is Blind” allows people to share a polished version of themselves. They can decide what parts of them to share and what parts of them to keep hidden.
2. They’re making relationship decisions in an artificial environment.
In traditional dating circumstances, you see the other person in their real-life environment. You get to learn how they act when they meet a new person, how they spend their spare time, and how they get along with friends and family.
But on ‘Love Is Blind,” cast members go on verbal dates in “the pods.” They aren’t allowed to have contact with the outside world.
Not only does that mean they don’t get to see their love interest in day-to-day action, but it also means the experiment parameters are normalized. The only people they are allowed to talk to are others trying to fall in love with someone sight unseen in a short period.
They’re already engaged when introducing one another to their friends and families. So, they don’t get much chance to allow their loved ones to spend time with the person they intend to marry. They also don’t see how their partner handles day-to-day stress normally.
3. They create a fantasy about the other person.
There are many unknowns when you’re talking to someone through a wall. How does the person look? How will you feel when you’re physically together? How will you deal with challenges together? What does the other person’s lifestyle look like?
These unknowns are the show’s premise; they test whether couples can fall in love without seeing one another in person. But it’s not just information on the other person’s physical appearance that is missing.
The couples also don’t know much about one another’s lives. They’re missing the necessary information to determine if they’re compatible. And they lack the information they need to see if they’re committed to one another.
It’s easy to say you’re committed when talking through a wall, but it’s much harder to show you’re committed when you have other opportunities in the real world.
Many contestants fantasize about a fairy-tale life together because of so many unknowns. Unfortunately, reality often doesn’t live up to the fantasy.
4. Emotional chemistry doesn’t mean you’ll have physical chemistry.
Chemistry is a huge part of any romantic relationship. It’s what separates friendships from romantic relationships.
So, while couples only meet in person if they feel like they have emotional chemistry, sometimes, they lack physical chemistry.
If someone lacks physical chemistry with the other person, it doesn’t mean they’re shallow. Physical chemistry involves that extra spark that helps couples feel sexually attracted to one another’s smell and appearance. It’s a key component in assisting a team to bond.
And not everyone who has an emotional connection will experience that same physical connection.
5. They’re under a time crunch.
Contestants must get engaged to move onto the next “phase.” That means they get involved before seeing one another in person. Then, they go on a short vacation to Mexico together before living in an apartment supplied by the show for a couple more weeks—during which time they’re expected to plan their wedding.
There’s a lot of pressure to make a lifelong decision in a short amount of time. Perhaps the payoff is that the TV show pays for the engagement ring, the vacation, and the wedding if couples adhere to their timeline.
Most couples want to spend more than four weeks getting to know one another under any circumstances. You won’t see how the other person handles adversity until you’ve been with them for a while.
But, if the only opportunity you’ve had to get to know someone is under the show’s rules, most couples don’t have enough information to make a lifelong decision. They haven’t yet figured out how to manage their finances together or decided how to spend their free time.
How They Could Improve Their Experiment
While each season tends to have a few couples who marry, most relationships in the experiment don’t last. There are several things they could do to increase the chances that contestants on “Love Is Blind” can find people they’re compatible with.
Having a couples therapist assist them in asking questions that will help them see if they’re truly compatible could be a great place to start. They could also work with a therapist on communication styles and addressing past emotional wounds that often surface.
Allowing the couples more time to live in the real world while they’re dating would also give them more chances to get to know one another on a deeper level.
Of course, those things cost money and take time, which may make the show a little less interesting. After all, reality TV drama makes for good ratings.