Is Love Really Blind? A Therapist’s Take On The Popular Netflix Series…

One of the questions I’ve been asked the most by my clients this month is, “so, have you seen that show on Netflix called Love Is Blind?” One of my guilty pleasures is all things reality T.V so my answer was a hard yes (yes therapists are human and have guilty pleasures too!). For those that are unfamiliar with the show, the basic premise as the name implies is to find out if people can fall in love despite physical appearance. The creators put this question to the test by having a group of people come together and they spend some 1:1 time getting to know one another while being in separate rooms or pods as they’re called on the show. They spend a couple of weeks continuing this process with different people as well as meeting multiple times with anyone they initially felt a connection with. Regardless of how many times the participants reconvene with one another or how interested they are, they cannot see each other during this portion of the show.

As if that doesn’t seem far-fetched enough, the creators decide to add in another twist: if someone feels like they have made a connection, they can propose to that person. If that proposal is accepted, they eventually get to meet in person and then are whisked off to a tropical getaway to continue to get to know one another. After the vacation is over, the goal is for them to return to their lives, continue cultivating this relationship, and eventually get married within a month period.

After watching the entire series, I have some thoughts. 1)Clearly with how many people have watched the show and how many times I’ve been asked about it speaks to the fact that people are curious to know if love can really be blind or not. 2)Obviously there is going to be a certain level of sensationalism on any reality tv…maybe we need to get rid of the identifier “reality” altogether for these types of shows but that’s for a different conversation. 3)With that being said, I do think that some of the beliefs that this show perpetuates are ones that much of society holds and are not always healthy or realistic. What exactly are those?

“Looks don’t matter, if you think they do that makes you shallow”
This might be a unpopular opinion but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t make you shallow or a bad person if you feel that it is a reasonable requirement when looking for a partner to feel attracted to them. Think about when you are out and about and you feel attracted to someone. This is an awareness and desire that most likely arose of its own volition before you even realized it was happening. This is why it is not realistic or even taking into account how humans operate when we say things like, “looks shouldn’t matter to people”. As with most things, moderation and balance is key here. Having an overemphasis on the importance you place on a potential partner’s looks probably isn’t going to fare well AND feeling like you don’t have the right to have any sort of expectations around physical appearance isn’t necessarily good either.

“I can gauge if I feel like someone is a good fit for me after a few weeks”
We live in a society where we have way more access to other humans than we have before thanks to social media, texting, etc. The problem here is that we often confuse quantity with quality. We can exchange fifty text messages with someone in a day but if those are only about surface level topics, can we really say that we know anything about that person on a deeper, emotional level at the end of it all. One of the things that the show does get right is that many of the participants have very surface level conversations while in the pods and then once they are living together and about to get married, they’re learning things about one another that are a bit of a surprise and a concern as they were not previously discussed. This is exactly why a mix of asking the deeper questions early on when getting to know a potential love interest in addition to have the understanding that it takes time for people to show their true selves is key when dating.

“If this is truly the one for me, we’ll both never find anyone else attractive”
This goes back to the first point of us being human and finding others attractive as being a normal human response. Contrary to what many of us think, or maybe even secretly hope for, this response does not just go away because we are in a relationship. This is seen in the show when after getting engaged, the participants eventually meet some of the other people they had been chatting with in the pods and feel a sense of attraction or even wondering if they made the right choice. How some of those people chose to handle that may not be the best way to go about it BUT there is nothing inherently wrong with the initial attraction they felt in those moments towards the other participants. If we notice that we hold that belief or feel panicked at the thought of knowing our partner may find others attractive, that is a great time to get curious about where that belief came from, why we feel threatened by this reality, and what would help us feel more secure in accepting this reality.

“The other person is 100% of the problem and I don’t play a part in this”
First off, let me begin by saying of course in cases of domestic violence or abuse this is something that we do not debate and we want to ensure the abuser is being held responsible and that the victim is safe. Being that that is not what I typically see in my office, I’m answering this question from the perspective of what happens when a couple comes in and they have continuous conflict but there is no violence or abuse present. My initial response when I hear couples say this about each other is, “then be prepared for things to stay the same.” Think about it…if we truly feel like it is the other person and that they need to do all of the changing, that leaves us completely helpless in invoking any sort of positive outcome in our situation. Also, there is no guarantee that someone else will change or that they even feel the need to so waiting for that change to occur may keep us stuck.

There is a couple in the show that gets in some pretty heated arguments. From a outsiders perspective the conflicts are very much triggered by one of the partner’s insecurities AND the other partner doesn’t do anything to help this situation in their response. It can be very hard for us to see our part in the conflicts that we get in with others but nine times out of ten we play a part in that cycle. That is not meant to shame or guilt anyone, that statement is meant to normalize this dynamic. Once we can move past our initial resistance to seeing this and our tendency to blame all of our issues on our partner, we have a much better chance of working through our own stuff that is getting activated during those conflicts and influence positive change within our relationship.

“When I meet the one, it will be easy.”

This is a tough one to accept as it shatters many of our fantasies that we hold of finding this person who completes us, gets us fully, we never have conflict, we’ll always have passionate sex, etc. We can thank Disney, social media, books, and all of those sources that led to these romantic AND very unrealistic expectations. This also is very common to feel when you’re in the early stages of a relationship and all of the feel good chemicals are flowing along with the excitement and mystery of having this new person in your life. This is very much the honeymoon/lust phase.

This unrealistic expectation really gets highlighted in the show when the participants feel so elated by the connections they’re developing with one another that all they can see are rainbows and butterflies and this all comes crashing down when they return to day to day life. They all of the sudden feel like this person they idolized has fallen from their pedestal and they start to question is this really the person for me, even when what caused that feeling may have been a simple disagreement or annoyance they experienced in their interaction with the other person. Those are the types of things that can fester overtime so catching them early on and challenging them is key…otherwise we’ll wind up in the same cycle of meeting someone new, feely elated and think they’re the one, and then shortly after feel disappointed and defeated.

So, my takeaway from the show: love is not and should not be blind, humans are complex, and the best way to ensure the success of our romantic relationships is by doing our own work, becoming self-aware, and making sure our expectations of others are realistic.

Are there other shows that you would like to hear a therapist’s take on? Leave me a comment and I’ll be happy to dedicate a future post to answering your questions!

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