If you’re anything like me, when you heard that Netflix was releasing a second season of Love is Blind this past February, you immediately added it to your streaming queue. There is something so satisfying about watching other people engage in dating shows so that I don’t have to. Anytime I watch a reality television show, I begin by lovingly mocking the contestants. Then by the end, I’m crying tears of joy when couples find success (of course).
If you’re not familiar with Love is Blind, allow me to explain. It’s an experiment-oriented reality show in which single men and women date each other sight-unseen. If the singles make connections while dating in the pods (gussied up sound booths), they can get engaged. After their engagement, the couples meet in person and have four weeks to determine if they want to get married. During these four weeks, they meet the other couples, go on a honeymoon-like vacation, and try to integrate their relationship into their day-to-day lives. On their wedding day, each partner has a chance to say “I do” or “I don’t.” If they both say “I do,” the couple weds. If one or both people say, “I don’t,” the couple typically parts ways.
This season we followed six couples through their journeys from the pods to the altar. For those who say I do, it may appear that the experiment has worked and that love is truly blind. Though Nick and Vanessa Lachey, the show’s hosts, seem to be firm believers in this adage, I am not entirely convinced. That said, I do think Love is Blind can teach us a thing or two about love, dating, and long-term partnership. Here are a few of my key take-aways (spoiler alerts!):
1. Shared values can contribute to successful relationships.
One of the first couples to crash and burn after leaving the pods was Shaina and Kyle. While they built a strong emotional connection initially, they eventually learned that they have very differing spiritualities. Kyle identifies as an atheist while Shaina is an active Christian. Neither of them was willing to change or reconsider their spiritual values (nor should they have to) for their relationship. This impasse led Shaina to be concerned about their long-term compatibility, and they eventually split.
When pursuing a relationship, it is important to know which values you want your partner to share with you and which values can be different.
2. Communication matters – a lot.
One couple that I was sad to see break up was Natalie and Shayne. The entire cast appeared to be convinced that they would last, but unfortunately, communication blunders led to their demise. Natalie was unable to provide Shayne the words of affirmation that he needed. Shayne responded to his unmet needs in an emotionally abusive way by telling Natalie that he hated her and she was the worst thing to happen to him.
In the heat of the moment, we all struggle to communicate. However, it is important to learn effective communication tools to honor and preserve your relationship.
3. Be transparent regarding personal needs and wants with a potential partner.
One couple this season that was successful despite differing needs was Iyana and Jarrette. Though they are rather different regarding their social needs, Iyana and Jarrette were able to grow because of their open communication. Iyana was able to express that she needs alone time, and Jarrette was able to learn how to advocate for his social needs.
It is valid to have needs in relationships. Communicating about these needs will help you avoid building resentment if needs are not met.
4. Relationships do not exist in a vacuum.
Initially after engagements, each couple is convinced that that they will stay together due to their strong emotional connection. Most couples continue to grow stronger during their honeymoon, but typically challenges begin to arise when the couples return to the “real world.” When external factors like family, previous relationships, employment, and finances are involved, problems may arise. Sal and Mallory’s relationship was highly impacted by these external factors, which ultimately led to their decision to part ways.
In relationships, it is important to have a shared understanding of what challenges your external world may present to you and build strategies to manage them.
5. Successful relationships require emotional labor.
One couple that I was pleasantly surprised to still be thriving was Nick and Danielle. Throughout the season, Nick and Danielle experienced a variety of challenges due to misunderstandings, insecurities, and external pressure. At the reunion, Nick was able to reflect on how engaging in couples therapy allowed his and Danielle’s relationship to become stronger.
Conflict exists in all relationships. What matters is how those involved engage in it.
6. Breakups can be messy, but they don’t have to be.
At the end of the season, we saw four of the six couples break up. Some of these break ups were seemingly amicable, like the separation of Sal and Mallory. Others were more chaotic. A particularly messy break up occurred between Deepti and Shake due to Shake’s blatant disrespect to Deepti throughout the whole season.
To have a mature breakup, it is important for all involved to be respectful in communication and to boundaries that are set.
7. Love may be blind for some, but not for all – and that’s okay
This season reflected that some people can have successful relationships after not seeing each other in person, while others cannot. It’s valid to seek physical attraction when selecting a partner. However, if you find that you’re not physically attracted to someone, that doesn’t give you license to speak about them disrespectfully.
Normally. I don’t tend to view my reality television viewership as a learning experience. However, this show has reminded me that relationships take work, but the good ones are worth the while.