The Concept of love being blind originates from the Shakespearian play, Two Gentleman of Verona. The notion that when we are in love the rational part of our brain switches off and we aren’t operating with a full deck of cards so to speak has been substantiated in research studies.
The premise of the Netflix series “Love is Blind” ([prdiced by Kinetic Content and created by Chris Coelen) is that people date without seeing each other for a period of 10 days. During that period romantic and emotional attachments develop. It’s a cute concept that has lots of appeal and turns the whole notion that we go for people because of superficiality alone on its head.
Where this concept makes a wrong turn, in my opinion, is in forcing the couple to decide to marry by the end of a month. In other words, the couple date for 10 days, then go on a honeymoon for a few days and “prepare for the wedding” (which really involves just choosing and tailoring an outfit) over the course of two weeks. The couple introduce their fiancé to their friends and family (assuming they want to be involved and vice versa). A few parents tellingly declined meeting their potential new son or daughter-in-law in this series. The “experiment” would have had significant enough merit had the couple simply decided to carry on developing a relationship and allowing things to unfold after meeting one another, in the flesh, without the ceremony. Forcing the couple to go along with the ceremony is a bit much. It may be emotionally damaging to force a person to decide to marry in such a short period of time. Emotions are high and all over the place as the pressure to decide is on. While this might be considered normal in ultra-orthodox Jewish circles, for the run of the mill American, this is far from usual.
What may be learned from “Love Is Blind” was that deeper emotional connections may flourish when physicality doesn’t get in the way. For true feelings of love to develop, perhaps meeting blind may serve a purpose. We saw several instances after the couples left the pods where they were able to deepen conversations when they didn’t see one another. Something about seeing one another in the flesh gets in the way of thinking clearly. Perhaps our brain becomes overloaded by visual stimuli when we are trying to express ourselves deeply to someone we’ve developed an emotional attachment towards.
There would have been a chance for greater success if the following would have been incorporated:
- They would have been more open to deal with differences and be patient enough to talk calmly
- They would have been more capable of being responsible about sharing their feelings openly and in a non-threatening way
- They would have come into this after having dealt with their attachment wounds (meaning they have done some therapy to heal their wounds from childhood)
- They would have been encouraged to have conversations about things that really matter
What about the participants?
Gianina and Damian: In the pod, both were on their best behavior. They never shared anything too deep or personal. The minute the proposal was made in real life and accepted (proposal #2 that is, the first was when they still couldn’t see one another) Gianina shares with Damian that she sabotages every relationship and hoped this wouldn’t happen here. While she acknowledges and accepts this is what she does, she doesn’t fully take ownership for it. Rather she states this as a matter of fact. “This is how I am, take it or leave it.” (She doesn’t state this, but it is implied) Damian feels tremendous pressure each time Gianina does in fact throw a temper tantrum and blocks the way for healthy adult conversation. This leaves him feeling insecure about their future. He attempts to raise conversations about this yet, is still left feeling uncertainty about her ability to see him and acknowledge his needs in this relationship.At the alter, he is very emotional, which one may read as feeling lots of love. To everyone’s surprise Damian says “I don’t” when the pastor asks whether he will have her hand in marriage. Gianina is completely shocked and blindsided. Understandably so. Damian, it appears, gave her no heads up that he was unsure about continuing with the wedding. The very fact that he got dressed and looked his best, walked down the aisle with friends in tow, gave all of us every indication it was a goer. Most importantly Gianina believed it was going ahead. Of course, she was gut wrenched he hadn’t chosen to carry on.
For this particular relationship to have been able to move on successfully, it would have required lengthy conversations about their belief system, their vision for their future and good communication skills. Not to mention, a healthy dose of emotionally focused couples therapy which would have unearthed both of their triggers. It would have helped Gianina to understand what causes her to sabotage relationships and Damian to feel compassion for her. This would have enabled Gianina to feel more safe sharing her feelings, which would have encouraged her to do so in a gentler way that Damian could hear. Damian would have been able to safely express (without being shot down because he did try to do this on his own) how he feels when Gianina says things that bring him down. She could have responded in kind. The whole dynamic could have changed.
Kelly and Kenny: Throughout their time together they were depicted as a very in-sync well- adjusted couple. Kelly appeared to be crazy about Kenny and seemed to openly share her feelings and to express what she wanted and needed from Kenny. Kenny was clearly smitten as well. I think it came as a shock to all of us that she decided not to go ahead. Although Kenny appeared cool as a cucumber even minutes after being rejected, he was clearly hurt when he walked away and didn’t want the camera in his face any longer.Kelly shared with the camera that she didn’t feel as excited as she has felt in the past with her last boyfriend. I believe she used the word “infatuated.” I don’t believe anyone thinks infatuation is a good recipe for marriage. But for some reason, she does. As a result she decided to end things. Now, I could understand if she isn’t 100% sure about marrying him. But surely she could have said, “I love you very much and just need more time for things to develop.” As opposed to all out rejecting him.
This relationship could have survived had Kelly had a reality check with a relationship expert somewhere along the way. Expecting to feel infatuation is something high school romances are made of. They have little to no place in a healthy grown up relationship. The whole notion of infatuation implies people are being objectified. If that were the case this would imply, they aren’t really being seen. In my opinion things were a bit too real for Kelly.
Jessica and Mark: Jessica initially broke up with Mark when she though Barnett was a serious candidate. As soon as Barnett dumped her, she jumped back into Mark’s arms and acted as though she was happy to have him all long. Jessica seemed very excited about Mark at first. Despite her constant reservations about him being 10 years her junior (which, btw suits her perfectly being that her behavior throughout was rather immature), she held him at arms distance throughout the next 2-week period. She admitted reservations to the camera about Mark’s physique. They had some good serious conversations where she poured out her heart and told Mark she felt very connected to him. These conversations always took place with a wall between them. It was as if they couldn’t have real conversations while looking at one another. The physical differences (from Jessica’s side) never seemed to resolve. Perhaps this is because she clung to physicality as a necessity above and beyond their emotional connection.Just before the wedding she tells the video camera how much she loves and cares about Mark. This was probably done to make the viewers think this was a done deal. We don’t question her intentions as Jessica goes through the motions of hair and make-up. Seeming all excited with “her girls”. We never meet any of her family, possibly because they are in Chicago, but who knows.When Jessica rejects Mark’s proposal, we aren’t entirely shocked (he semi-prepared himself as he told his friends just before the ceremony and she’d been to-ing and fro-ing about Barnett the whole time). What particularly bothered me about her rejection was that she said “no” in an almost emotionless and calculated way. As though she had come to this decision from a place of considerable thought. Even if she had to go through with the ceremony, she still could have tipped Mark off so he wouldn’t have been as gutted.Mark, understandably was heart broken. I think we all wanted to hug him as we watched him curl up in his Mom’s lap. (Who doesn’t love a Mommy’s boy?). Once again, this painful rejection at the alter was gratuitous and unnecessary. If Jessica truly loved him, and saw this as a possibility why did the alter have to be an all out rejection? Why couldn’t it be used as an opportunity to admit you love one another, but realize there is more to learn about each other before making this serious commitment. Continue to date and let the relationship unfold
For this relationship to stand a chance, Jessica would need to do substantial work on her abandonment issues, which are clearly getting in her way towards commitment. She has had to deal with considerable abandonment as a young girl as she admitted to Mark, her mother was abandoned by her father while she was pregnant with her. Her mother remarried a man who then adopted her when she was 4. They eventually divorced and it was very painful for her. It’s hard to imagine how, with so much pain, she could really trust a man. Without really unearthing this and healing these wounds I fear she will be alone a lot longer.This relationship could survive if:
- Jessica takes ownership of her commitment issues and deals with them.
- Mark takes Jessica off her pedestal and sees her for who she really is. A flawed human, like we all are.
- Couples therapy to help them discuss their life goals and direction.
Barnett and Amber: Amber consistently expressed her love for Matt. Matt, on the other hand, seemed to connect strongly with half the women there. He was primarily torn between Jessica and Amber, and LC. But soon enough landed on Amber. Ironically, her story about her abortion seemed to grab him, and enabled him to seal the deal with her. Barnett seems drawn to women with drama and likes to be that strong Southern man who saves the day. He soon finds out how much saving he will have to do when he finds out about Amber’s significant student loans and credit card debt.Throughout the Mexican trip the couple seem very connected and thrilled about their decisions. We only sense a shadow of doubt the morning of the wedding, when Amber doesn’t hear from Barnett all morning and panics. With the long pause between the pastor’s question about taking her hand in marriage and Barnett’s response, we are left wondering. But breathe a sigh of relief, when he says yes. Although he didn’t shame her by rejecting her publicly, we are still left to think this couple have a long road ahead when it comes to communicating about expenses and other important things. We’ve seen Amber be vulnerable and share a lot with Barnett. We have not seen Matt share as much in return. We are left wondering whether he has any dark shadows. And even if he doesn’t, will he get tired of cleaning up her emotional mess?
This couple will only survive with good financial coaching and help with creating and sticking to a budget, realistic ideas about their life goals, and good couples therapy that will help Barnett share his feelings more. While it hasn’t bothered Amber yet, it will eventually bother her that she is the only one being vulnerable.
Cameron and Lauren: This is the golden, can do no wrong couple. Interestingly, they are the first to get engaged. There is never a shadow of a doubt that they are in love. The only scary bit is when Cameron meets Lauren’s father and has to prove his love and intentions with his daughter. It’s no surprise to any of us they seal the deal. Of course, other than their differences regarding race, which appears to be a non-issue on both sides. We are left to wonder how they will deal with differences of opinion and other big things as they arise.
This couple should consider couples therapy to feel safe sharing the more difficult stuff and to help build good boundaries between themselves and Lauren’s father.
Carlton and Diamond: I very nearly forgot about this couple who got “engaged” but broke up very swiftly after as Carlton shoved his bisexuality down her throat. While I have lots of compassion for his being rejected over the years for this predicament, he will receive much more acceptance as soon as he accepts himself. Diamond seemed open to dealing with it and would have been open to discussing this more had he been more secure with himself. Sadly, he wasn’t. His behavior truly sabotaged the relationship. At least this train wreck crashed early.
Basically, the show answers the question: “Can attraction be developed blind. It doesn’t solve the life-long question: “Can love last when it starts out blind”? One wonders what the vetting process involves (apart from good looks, which is as shallow and simplistic as it gets). If the wedding ceremony didn’t have to be so final, it may have been less dramatic, but more emotionally fair. If the couple received some couples counselling and pointers about what to discuss, the show would have actually been more interesting and fruitful.
To check out more on building your love and keeping it alive check out my other blogs, vlogs and podcasts on www.mickilavinpell.co.il