How to Find Your Future Spouse: Lessons from ‘Love is Blind’
6 lessons from the hit dating show that you can apply in real life
If you haven’t seen Netflix’s breakout dating series, “Love is Blind,” you’re missing out on a big piece of 2020 pop culture.
Over the course of 10 days, 15 men and 15 women serially blind “date” each other in “pods,” which are two adjoining rooms with an opaque divider that prevents them from physically seeing one another. Their focus is placed exclusively on building emotional connections through conversation, with the intent of finding a future spouse.
Only after a “couple” becomes engaged can they actually meet face-to-face, by which point a wedding date is already set for just weeks later. Those whose whirlwind relationships culminate in a mutual exchange of “I Do’s” at the end of the show would seemingly prove the series’ thesis that “Love is Blind.”
In the process, the show basically explores two key questions:
1. When you remove appearance — and all its associated biases — from the experience of dating, can you forge a real and meaningful connection that stands the test of time?
2. Can a relationship built on non-external factors survive the superficial pressures and expectations of friends, family, and society in the real world?
Despite its cheesy and logically-fallacious setup (e.g. how can you prove love is blind when everyone on the show is objectively attractive?), what enticed me about the show was that it presents itself as surprisingly authentic. In a genre built upon “The Bachelor” and “Temptation Island” lookalike series, “Love is Blind” stands out because:
- It is not a competition.
- It is not a lust-filled sex-capade.
It’s about people with normal lives who are looking for true, committed, monogamous love amidst a swipe-left-or-right dating culture, where your profile picture, age, and 50-character headline are often the only resources you have for making a first impression on a would-be significant other in a human meat market.
While it would be hard (read: impossible) to duplicate the so-called “experiment” on one’s own, the show imparted some takeaways that anyone looking for marriage, or a life partner, can apply to their dating life.
1. Establish a shared intention of marriage
Though they all come from different backgrounds, everyone on “Love is Blind” has at least one thing in common: a desire to find true love and readiness to commit to marriage with the right person.
In real life, it can be tempting to downplay one’s long-term desires in order to appear compatible in the moment.
In my experience, “I’m not looking for anything too serious right now,” or “I’m open to see where things go” seem to be common refrains among women whose immediate goal is just to catch a man’s interest. I’ve been one of them.
The truth is that “There’s men who actually want to get married! They want commitment; they’re looking for wives,” as love-seeker Ebony marvels on the show’s first episode. That’s not to say that marriage-minded men still aren’t relatively few and far between — especially in certain cities and age brackets. But they are out there, and being intentional in your dating efforts is how you find them. The same logic applies to men, of course, although they seem to have better odds of finding women who are ready to settle down.
So put it out there!
“Looking for my other whole. Is it you?”
“Hookups need not apply,”
“Ready for marriage? I might be The One,”
The above are examples of light-hearted profile headlines that you can use to signal your serious #relationshipgoals on dating apps. Contrary to social stigma, announcing a desire for commitment does not make you desperate or demanding, but it will raise your standards and, consequently, narrow your options — sometimes drastically. However, this also ensures that your relationships moving forward are built on transparency and a mutual interest in building a future together. And if that’s what you want, it’s behooves you to weed out the prospects who will only distract you from that mission.
2. Date a lot of people
As I mentioned, there were at least 30 total people looking for their match on LIB (up to 50, according to some behind the scenes reports), because once you set your intentions, finding love is a numbers game. That doesn’t mean sleeping around or “playing the field,” but, rather, meeting a lot of prospects in a transparent attempt to find those with whom you share a genuine mutual attraction and emotional connection.
You probably won’t be able to dedicate up to 19 hours a day speed dating over a dozen prospects like the show’s cast did, but you can still modify the same approach to fit your schedule. First dates should be short: on LIB they were less than 10 minutes. In real life, coffee, lunch, or a happy hour meetup would do the trick.
If you don’t feel a spark or aren’t truly excited at the prospect of seeing your date again — as was the case with Diamond after Barnett jokingly asked if she was a stripper — then cross their name off your list and graciously move on to preserve your time and theirs.
3. Compare non-negotiables
On LIB, people launched into some deep conversations within a matter of days, if not hours, in their quest to find “The One.”
During their first conversation, after starting off with some light banter, it didn’t take Cameron long to ask his date, Lauren, “So, what are you looking for in a partner?” A heavy question, but one that efficiently zeroed in on the purpose of the experiment, and on your purpose in dating.
Before you pick one person to pursue an exclusive relationship with, it’s important to compare your non-negotiables to make sure your essential goals, wants, and needs are compatible.
Find out things like:
- What are they looking for in a husband or wife?
- Are they religious, and what role do they think faith should play in a relationship and in a family?
- Do they want kids?
- How do they want to educate their kids? Discipline them? Raise them?
- What are their views on money? Do they have debt? What is their plan for paying it off? Do they have savings or assets? What is their plan for building wealth?
- What are their standards of cleanliness?
- What is their relationship like with members of their family?
- Do they have career goals? What are they?
- Where do they want to live? Where would they never want to live?
- Do they like animals?
- What gives their life purpose and meaning?
- How do they handle conflict or disagreements?
- How do they define “cheating,” and have they ever cheated on a partner?
These kinds of questions may feel like intense topics to broach with someone who you aren’t already deep in a relationship with, but finding out the answers sooner than later can help you spot red flags or incompatibilities before your feelings become too deeply invested. Plus, again, the discussions they open help set a precedent of vulnerability, trust, and openness that will carry into the relationship if it progresses.
For his own reasons, in the pods Carlton chose not to disclose to Diamond that he was bisexual, even though her acceptance of that was a non-negotiable. While he eventually confessed his secret, it was after the two were already engaged. This threw Diamond for a loop and denied her the opportunity to know fully what she was signing up for. She found herself in the position of having to retroactively examine whether the relationship was right for her after having already committed to it, and this faltering created more tension of its own. Had Carlton given Diamond the chance to discuss this important factor earlier, without the added emotional pressure and expectation of engagement, things might have turned out differently.
4. First comes love, then comes sex
On LIB, some people — like Amber and Barnett — had sex ASAP after meeting in person, and others abstained completely before their walk down the aisle. But everyone who had sex had already committed to being in a future-oriented, monogamous relationship with the person they were in love with.
It’s not about being prude; as with all these steps, it’s about conserving your limited time, energy, and emotions so that:
- 1. You can have the best shot at finding a person you can pursue an amazing future with.
- 2. You can give them the best, healthiest version of yourself, free from the mental, emotional, physical, and financial baggage that can come from getting into a wrong relationship.
Not to say there’s anything wrong with hooking up earlier — if hooking up and “having fun” is your goal. But the whole reason why you’re reading this is because you want more than that, right?
5. Live together
“Really, you can’t even make your bed?” Amber asked Barnett when visiting his house for the first time.
“Wait, you have makeup credit card debt?” Barnett later questioned Amber, right before learning she also had $20,000 in student loans that she hadn’t been paying back.
Living together is like a trial run for marriage, where habits and lifestyles are fully exposed, for better or worse. And it’s best to know what those are before you make the decision to commit to spending your life with someone.
Even though in step 3 you hopefully ruled out most non-negotiables, secrets will inevitably come out once you move in together, and downplayed character flaws will be fully revealed in all their toxicity. You’ll find out, on no uncertain terms, how your partner saves, spends, cleans, takes care of themselves, and allocates their time on a regular basis — and it will either confirm your desire to be with them, or make you second-guess it.
Even in the best cases, it’s almost inevitable that some points of disagreement will arise, even if it’s as simple as whether or not to share a toothbrush. These become opportunities to practice communication, conflict navigation, and compromise, which are essential skills in any successful marriage.
6. Formally include your families
On LIB, meeting each other’s parents was the last big relationship step before tying the knot, and for good reason; introducing your significant other to your family before you’re sure how you feel about the relationship can make things unduly complicated.
Family’s opinions, whether positive or negative, can overwhelm your inner voice, add pressure to your decisions, and cloud your judgement of what makes you happy. That’s not to say that their input should be disregarded; as Lauren and Cameron emotionally shared in the pods, family is incredibly important, and, accordingly, their advise carries meaning and value. However, it’s good to have a chance to sort through your own thoughts and feelings before adding others’ into the mix.
In Damien’s case, his mother told him bluntly “don’t get married to a whore off a reality TV show,” refusing to even meet his fiance, Gianina, in person. The disapproval of his parents must have certainly weighed on Damien, and in fact he made the decision on their wedding day that he and GG were not ready for marriage. However, he made the decision on his own terms, not his parents’, and together with GG chose to continue their relationship under conditions that they could both be happy with.
Formally presenting your partner in the context of a committed relationship also gives your family the opportunity to put their best foot forward. They will likely be more warm and welcoming if they see your person as an extended member of their family, and as in Kenny and Kelly’s case, the first meeting can set the stage for strong bonds of love and respect that you’ll both be able to lean on and cherish over time — whether you choose to get legally married or not.
“Love is Blind” gave us a condensed version of what a serious relationship can look like, from first meeting to marriage. The process had some obvious flaws and unsurprisingly manufactured its own unique pressures and challenges along the way. However, it also gave us an opportunity to reevaluate our modern dating practices and reflect upon how to best find emotional intimacy and lifelong partnership (if you’re into that sort of thing) in a world where so many romantic interactions are shallow and short-lived.
Some might call the method restrictive or old-fashioned, but — at least where the three couples who are still together after being matched on the show are concerned — it seems to work.