“Love is Blind” presents several lessons for a generation obsessed with romance. The show itself is a return to reality TV with thin premises that aired primarily in the 2000s, such as “Flavor of Love.” The show follows 12 people who get engaged without ever seeing each other and their lives leading up to the wedding.
Out of the six couples on the show, two tie the knot and three of them are still dating. A 50% success rate is pretty grim but is understandable given that the show is filmed over the course of a month.
Going into “Love is Blind,” it’s clear that things are headed for disaster. The personalities are archetypes previously only seen on sitcoms: the player, the woman who is “too old to get married” and the young and naive one with little experience in love. Every red flag is ignored for the tantalizing promise of marriage and the type of harmonic partnership poems are written about.
In their living arrangements, the contestants live out their middle school ideals of romances with shallow questions asked through a wall and fall in love in a matter of days. Weddings are planned, parents are met and arguments are had. It takes the sobering reality of standing at the altar with someone they met just over a month ago to make most of these couples realize they can’t go through with it.
And despite most of these couples walking away from each other, when asked if they truly believe if love is blind at the season finale reunion episode, every contestant on the show answered yes.
They cite the faceless interactions they had pre-engagement as more intense and meaningful than anything they had ever experienced in real life. They believe that the connection they forged through walls offered them something regular dating, with all of its swiping and preconceptions, could not — the chance to form a genuine connection.
Dating apps do tend to focus on physical attraction rather than the potential for a romantic connection, though the idea that you need to remove the physical element altogether to create real romance is more than a little far-fetched. Physical attraction undoubtedly plays a role in any relationship, and there are plenty of success stories from couples who met on dating apps like Tinder or Bumble.
The “Love is Blind” contestants are all conventionally attractive like any reality television star has to be, so why is it that they’ve had such a difficult time finding their perfect romance?
The rampant heterosexuality of “Love is Blind” might provide some insight. Besides bisexual contestant Carlton Morton, all the contestants are straight. Heterosexual men are notoriously distracted by any attractive woman that crosses their path and encouraged to be players until their late 20s at the earliest, so commitment is inherently a challenge for them.
Removing the physical element might be the only way they can focus on their partner instead of the potential sexual relationship. But should a turn towards the emotional connection mean that these contestants should already have marriage in mind?
Dating-to-marry is a mindset that is making a comeback among millennials and Generation Z. Frustrated with fleeting romances forged on dating apps, the dating-to-marry crowd craves commitment that doesn’t end and comfort that friends can’t provide. Marriage is the golden palace of companionship that we should all want to reside in.
Craving a lifelong partner is nothing to be ashamed of. People need human interaction and it makes sense to want someone to socialize with forever. However, this desire makes less sense in the context of a 40-50% percent divorce rate in the U.S. Everyone wants to be married, but no one thinks of what it means to dedicate yourself to one person forever. This reality is what prevents the “Love is Blind” contestants from tying the knot and ends marriages every day.
The other pitfall of dating-to-marry is most of what people want from marriage can be found in friendship. Romance media teaches us to prioritize and center romance in our lives. A good friend is appreciated, but nothing can compare to having a life-long partner.
When we promote the idea that romance is the only place you can find solace and be understood as a person, we both devalue our friendships and set unhealthy expectations for our partners. No one person can or should serve as your entire support system; friends play a vital role in our development and shouldn’t be seen as lesser than a new romantic endeavor.
Friendships are the medium through which we learn to be good romantic partners. The only real difference between a romance and a friendship are the boundaries set. They are both relationships capable of causing heartbreak or lifelong fulfillment.
The contestants on “Love is Blind” are searching for the latter and find the former because they think marriage is more than what it really is. Amber Pike even acknowledges this in the reunion episode stating that life on the show was seen through “rose colored glasses” and that she even considered filing for divorce at one point.
Under all of the wedding day decorations and makeup, marriage is a far cry from the perfect, fairy tale life the contestants came to “Love is Blind” for. Long late-night conversations are not a substitute for learning someone’s character and mannerisms over time.
Problems immediately arise once the contestants meet each other in real life, but all except one couple still proceed to the altar because they believed marriage was the perfect band-aid for the issues in their relationship. Marriage is just a commitment and that commitment can only happen after realizing that it will be difficult sometimes.
The “Love is Blind” contestants’ expectations of a perfect rom-com romance are what creates the conditions of their failure because dating-to-marry is really dating to separate, especially when you meet your would-be spouse on a reality TV show.