The show takes a new approach to an old concept. And like those old concepts, we (the masses with Netflix accounts) have latched onto it.
Despite its cringey moments, and absence of logical progression to genuine lasting love, the show's loyal audience is still willing to pause their lives, putting their own dating lives on hold as they order Uber eats and sit in their sweatpants to settle in as they binge watch these total strangers navigate their journeys to love. Including myself - me, I am one of the show's loyal following.
The real question is why?
Why are we glued to our televisions, hoping we don’t have to pee so we can devour every moment uninterrupted?
Termed "The Experiment", Love is Blind begins with 15 men and 15 women in (alcohol filled) pods chatting with potential significant others. Each of these participants are chatting with the intention of discovering whether or not that person could be their forever person.
While extremely heteronormative in approach, the show does take a refreshing look at modern dating. The series begins with the participants discussing why they chose to embark upon the show’s unique journey and premise. Many of the daters suggested that this concept was “the opposite of what modern dating has become”, rather it is a forum where “commitment and marriage are the goal”.
Now if that doesn’t reflect poorly on what modern dating has become, I am not sure what does.
But I digress. Here’s how it works.
Once daters establish a connection with one of their podmates, they decide whether or not they want to meet that person who they have never laid eyes on but chatted endlessly with.
Sounds easy enough. But here’s the catch.
To meet the person with whom they’ve so connected, daters must agree to become engaged! Yes, that’s right, they become engaged without ever having seen one another.
I'll be honest, I love this premise.
The notion of building a relationship from an emotional connection absent from the distractions of the physical really is beautiful, and so contrary to the superficial ways of modern dating. A space where emotional connection is privileged as the key to long term relational success - not physical attraction - sounds utopian.
Watching Amber, Jessica, and Barnett explore their feelings is akin to sitting around a bonfire and listening to the ins and outs of the love lives our fellow cave people.
Anyhow, After 10 days or so of pod chatting we move onto the engagement phase.
Not all people find their person, and so we only follow those daters who became engaged!
At this point, the engaged couples go on a whirlwind romantic trip and dream dates, then onto managing daily life while living together and meeting one another's families. All the while getting to know their partners over a time span of about 2 weeks.
Then the wedding day arrives.
And it is at the altar (cue the drama) that each person decides whether they will say "I do" or "I don't".
As you can imagine, the drama is heavy!
The premise of this post is more a reflection on why we’re so drawn to the drama, excitement, and mystery of watching others journeys to forever to their partners - so let's get to it.
Courtship has long been at the epicentre of human interaction.
Ignoring the fact that lust (not love) is likely the most apt term to describe the emotion that these Love is Blind couples feel for one another at the start of their romance, the show does play on our most basic, visceral desire as humans - finding a mating partner.
That deep craving we have for a life partner drives our dating lives, whether that be a search on dating apps or sparking up a chat with the cutie in line at the grocery store checkout counter.
As a huge podcast fan, I recently listened to an episode of The Current that discussed this topic exactly - why we are so obsessed with Love is Blind. Host Matt Galloway interviewed psychologist Dr. Helen Fisher from Match.com about the phenomenon.
As I drove to the gym, listening to Matt Galloway ask his epic questions, I was nodding my head in agreement with Dr. Fischer. I may have even been a touch late for my gym class (sorry F45) so I could finish listening to what Dr. Fischer had to say about WHY we tune into such shows.
So here was her assessment.
Dr. Fischer was not at all surprised that Love is Blind is the top show in Canada!
She explained that watching the show is akin to what we humans have done for ages - follow one another’s journeys through courtship.
Watching Amber, Jessica, and Barnett explore their feelings or watching Lauren and Cameron seemingly find true love is akin to sitting around a bonfire and listening to the ins and outs of the love lives our fellow cave people. Not much has changed. We’ve added dating apps and reality TV, but at the end of the day, we’re all just trying to figure out life’s most complex dynamic - romantic love.
The mere fact that we discuss the ongoings of our TV faves with our friends and online communities speaks to the drive we have to build community and learn from community around our relationships.
And to be truthful, reality TV reflects the way in which we have gamified our own dating lives today.
We swipe left and right in search of love, wondering if we will find it - and if we have found it, wondering how we can maintain it - and so, we so badly want to see other people’s love lives and formulas succeed. We want a roadmap to figuring out life’s most complex formula of finding a partner.
We look for that reassurance that it can all work out - that it can all be OK.
The Bachelor, Love Island, and let’s be real Big Brother, all speak to this search for a roadmap to our love lives.
In search of guideposts to make this search for love a little easier. We want affirmation that our emotions and mechanisms of finding love are valid, and our actions sound.
So truthfully, when sitting in our Roots sweats watching the drama unfold on The Bachelor or the lust reign on Love is Blind, we relish in the notion that there may be a formula to this love puzzle which has mesmerized humans for millennia.
And that just maybe, we can find it too.
Love is Blind had me at blind chats potentially leading to partnership. But it lost me at engagement after 10 days of blind chatting.
Sexual chemistry is important, and even if you’re not going to sleep with your partner before you agree to spend your life with them, you do have to assess whether or not you’re physically attracted to them.
And physical attraction aside - even if you could manifest that - do you really know someone well enough after 10 days to fall in love? Love is complex and beautiful and can certainly be born from lust, and is absolutely born from emotional intimacy. But can it be developed in less time than it takes to study for the LSAT?
A relationship can certainly be born from 10 days, a relationship that leads to exploration of one another and time spent together, followed by a potential engagement. I totally appreciate that it’s akin to those camp relationships all of us sleep away camp people have had - where everything is on fast forward mode, it’s intense, and it is all just such a whirlwind and condensed period of emotion given the quality and quantity of time spent together. But an engagement after 10 days?
The jury’s out.
The Experiment does seem to have worked for a couple of the couples though!
Falling in love is a journey for all. And it has many stages, and realities that come with being in the real world - not on a Mexican vacation or dates with cooks and helicopter rides. It’s falling asleep on the couch watching true crime after a long day, and figuring out what you’re going to make for lunch the next day dotted with emotional growth and recognition of the value you hold for one another.
That said, I too am totally guilty of sitting around the proverbial bonfire and watching the drama unfold. It's an innate pleasure, so dabble away.