Sex & Relationships

Psychologists Explain Why We Can’t Stop Watching ‘Love Is Blind’

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Netflix just asked if you're still there, and honestly? You're offended. Come hell or high water, nothing could peel your eyes away from watching strangers get engaged after talking to each other through a wall. You've gotten sucked into various dating shows before, but this is different. Maybe it's the unlikely pairings. Maybe it's the incredibly high stakes. Maybe it's Nick Lachey randomly moonlighting as the host (Nick Lachey, WYD?). If you're wondering why you can't stop watching Love Is Blind, you're certainly not alone.

"Many people are raised on idealistic stories of love and romance," Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist and author of Joy from Fear tells Bustle. "The desire to pursue or vicariously enjoy these fairytale visions often lasts a lifetime.

According to Dr. Manly, if you grew up reading fairytales or watching Disney movies until the VHS tape wore out, it's natural to daydream about having your own "happily ever after." moment. And if you've been on a string of bad dates or you're feeling a little restless in your LTR, seeing beautiful people take tropical vacations with their love-at-first-sight soulmates can also be totally alluring.

However, unlike shows like Love Island or The Bachelor, where contestants meet in person right away and get to know each other by spending quality time together (read: competing in an array of ridiculous challenges), Dr. Manly says that Love Is Blind displays a specific type of fairytale love — the first of its kind to hit reality TV.

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"Falling in love with a stranger contains elements of the 'Prince Charming' surprises that many women yearn to experience," Dr. Manly says. "The idea of falling in love instantly offers the promise of love that is easy, ready-made, and perfect. What’s not to like about that idea?"

While some couples may fall in love the minute they lock eyes (or talk about their favorite children's books in a windowless pod), Dr. manly says the majority of couples fall in love over time, as they get to know more about each other and learn to work through conflict.

Though relationships may feature moments of sexy beach vacations and all-nighters, they also include conversations about navigating work and school schedules and fights about how to much to tip at dinner or taking your shoes off when you enter the house.

Love Is Blind doesn't just remove couples from day-to-day life — it eliminates the average pressures that can come with dating, like worrying about wearing the right outfit or trying to find a night you're both free.

Love Is Blind creates an artificial space for contestants to share the best parts of themselves, and in doing so, makes relationships come off as easy and ready-made.

"We spend so much of our actual lives focused on looking good to attract each other in hopes of actually going beyond the physical aspects," Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist and Host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. "Watching a show that's about more than looks is a hope that our relationships mean more than what we focus on in our own lives day in and day out."

Rather than witnessing firsthand how your date handles losing their keys or interacts with the barista before their first cup of coffee, Love Is Blind creates an artificial space for contestants to share the best parts of themselves, and in doing so, makes relationships come off as easy and ready-made.

After a great first date, a blissful few weeks of dating, or dreamy conversations through a wall where you seem to agree about everything, you and your boo may be consumed with how excited you are about each other. Arguments about the gas bill and interrogations about Sarah from accounting may seem farther in the future than cars that can fly.

"If you’ve never met someone in-person and have had minimal interaction, but you seem to like them, it’s incredibly easy for you to that they’ll be perfect for you," Demetrius Figueroa, dating and relationship writer and host of, "A Mighty Love" podcast tells Bustle. "Your imagination will fill in the information you don’t know about a person with the most compatible, most ideal version of them."

Falling in love blindly doesn't make a relationship any more real — it's just another fantasy.

As Figueroa attests, when you haven't actually spent time with someone, compatibility can be easier to come by. From loving all the same movies to making the same kind of jokes, you can take all the good stuff, and play mental Mad Libs. "Most people aren’t going to start imagining flaws and quirks about a person they’ve never met, they’re only going to imagine the good," Figueroa says. "That’s what makes it so easy to fall for someone before you really know them."

If someone is saying all the right things, and you have no reason to suspect otherwise, why wouldn't you believe they're your perfect match?

"Our mind likes to fill in the blanks," Susan Winter NYC relationship expert, love coach, and author of Breakup Triage: The Cure for Heartache, tells Bustle. "We build our own mental movie set, casting them as our leading person."

From the title alone, it's clear that the premise of Love Is Blind is about falling in love without seeing someone first. And while there's something undeniably positive (and, IMHO, refreshing) about physical appearance not playing a role in romance, falling in love blindly doesn't make a relationship any more real — it's just another fantasy.

Experts:

Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist and author of Joy from Fear

Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist and Host of The Kurre and Klapow Show

Sources:

Demetrius Figueroa, dating and relationship writer and host of "A Mighty Love"

Susan Winter NYC relationship expert, love coach, and author of Breakup Triage: The Cure for Heartache