Spoiler Alert: I will discuss plots from Season 5 of Love Is Blind in this post. If you haven’t seen it, you may want to watch it first and read this after.
Season 5 of Love Is Blind is revealing cracks in this show’s misguided premise. Several engaged couples didn’t make the edit for untold reasons, and other pairs that seemed to find love in the pods quickly fell apart. Only two surviving couples will show up at the altar, but it’s the other contestants and relationships that are getting most of the attention. This show already has some issues to address, such as how many cast members have struggled with mental health, which I discussed in a previous post. But now there’s been another big mistake made by the program’s producers that really demands some self-reflection.
On Netflix’s Love Is Blind, 30 singles date each other in “pods” in which they cannot see the other person. They have 10 days to form an emotional connection with that person and decide whether to propose. During this time, there can be drama and heartbreak, as some people are passed over for other love connections and must decide if they should pursue lesser connections or accept that they won’t find their spouse on the show. The engaged couples are allowed to briefly meet before going on a “honeymoon” vacation, then they move home into a new shared apartment where they have 4 weeks to cohabitate, integrate their lives, and plan a wedding. They are contractually obligated to show up at the altar and proclaim their decision to get married (or not) in front of family and friends.
Season 5’s Big Blunder
The most glaring problem (and biggest twist) with this season is that two cast members, Uche Okoroha and Lydia Velez Gonzalez, dated in the past. And not the distant past, either; they’d been together as recently as three months before they arrived at the pods. During the first day of speed dates, when all contestants have a brief date with the other 15 singles, Lydia and Uche realized they were both a part of the “experiment.”
In an exclusive article in People, the creator of the show, Chris Coelen, stated that producers had no clue that Lydia and Uche had dated previously, and asked them to keep their prior relationship a secret to protect the show’s integrity.
Now, let me explain why this was the wrong choice:
The Show Failed in its Responsibility to Find the Best Cast. Contestants have talked about how lengthy and comprehensive the show’s interview process is, so it’s questionable that the show didn’t do a quick check of participants’ relationship histories to ensure none had previously dated. The whole premise of the show is based on finding people who have never met before. It’s an “experiment” to see if people can create a lasting emotional connection without any visual information, but that can’t work if the people have actually already seen each other. Ensuring that contestants don’t know each other seems critical, so we can hope that they make this a priority for all future seasons.
Additionally, although we can only take the show at its word, from a logical standpoint, it’s highly improbable that two exes would end up on this show. There are over 2 million people in Houston, and it’s estimated that over half are single. The chances of picking 30 people out of 1 million who had dated is fairly unbelievable. But let’s put that aside and say that the impossible did happen. The real problem is how they addressed the situation.
The Biggest Issue is How They Handled It. Again setting aside how unlikely it is that the producers did not know Lydia and Uche dated before the show, they still handled the situation poorly. To remain on the show, Coelen said Uche and Lydia could not disclose their prior romance, claiming it was only fair to themselves and the other contestants if their relationship was kept a secret. He doesn’t explain his reasoning, and from a psychological and relationship standpoint, I can’t either. That these two dated was relevant information for all contestants. Uche and Lydia should have been free to disclose the situation because not allowing them to be honest led to others feeling deceived. This is particularly true for Aaliyah Cosby, who felt duped by both; She had a strong connection with Uche in the pods and had also become friends with Lydia. She eventually decided to leave the show because of the deception.
The Relationship Takeaway
Happy, long-lasting relationships are predicated on trust. As any couples therapist will tell you, it’s hard to build a relationship with an omission this significant. Partnerships require honesty and intimacy, belief that this show’s producers claim they believe and want to “prove” with their premise, and yet they actively hindered two contestants from being truthful.
Not being honest left Lydia and Uche in a very bad position with their budding romantic connections and friendships. Having to later disclose such an important piece of information inevitably damaged relationships and undercut any sense of trust they had built. Viewers should know that it is important to be forthright about any information that could significantly impact a partner.