Is Love Blind?  Your eyes meet from across a crowded room.  Butterflies churn in your stomach.  The crowd between you disappears leaving only the two of you plunging into the depth of a magical moment. It’s love at first sight.  You met your soulmate.  Everything inside affirms your gut feeling that this is ‘the one.’  Let the fairy tale begin. The Netflix series, Love Is Blind, challenges what so many of us believe when it comes to finding love.  The producers call it an experiment.  What happens when we take away the story book moment of love’s origins?  Instead, we erect walls between prospective lovers and let them connect first through words, sight unseen.  Is love blind? Are visible factors such as age, appearance, hygiene, style, body type, culture and race secondary to an initial emotional connection?  Or, is it the other way around?  Without a physical attraction are the chances of a strong emotional connection limited?    

The Experiment

  The couples on “Love Is Blind” meet without seeing each other.  They seek to make a connection that goes beyond physical appearance simply based on conversations they share over a short period of time.  After 10 days of dating in separated pods, the candidates face a challenge.  Have they made a strong enough connection with someone, sight unseen, to ask for their hand in marriage?  If so, a proposal is offered and if accepted, the newly engaged couples finally meet face to face.  They begin a process to see how well blind emotional connection matches with physical realities.  In the process, the couples offer an answer to the show’s question: is love blind? The results from “Love Is Blind” are inconclusive.  One thing that is clear from the show is that interested individuals can make a strong emotional connection.  They don’t have to actually see the object of their desire to do so.  Still, of the original almost 50 candidates who began the show, only four married and stayed together. How do those results compare with potential lovers whose eyes meet from across a crowded room? Unfortunately, the show doesn’t provide a context for comparing results.  If 40-50 people were put in a room that allowed them to see each other upfront before they were able to spend 16 hours a day for 10 days getting to know each other without any distractions, would the success rate have been higher?  We don’t know.  

What does research suggest?

  A 2016 study from Chapman University found that “Love Is Blind” has the relationship satisfaction equation upside down.  Inextricably, romantic attraction based on appearance and strong physical compatibility directly link with happiness and long-lasting relationships.  Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist, adds that even simple kissing is “a mechanism for mate choice and mate assessment” and helps determine compatibility.  If it’s long term bliss we seek, regular sex and physical attraction must be present.  Even if you could somehow untangle physical attraction from romance, “it wouldn’t make for purer or truer love.”  It’s a bit like the chicken and egg with an extra component.  What may be important is not which comes first but how the two are both parts of a larger whole.  The best relationships are those that combine physical attraction with emotional connection over time. Let’s return to the magical moment described in the first paragraph.  If your eyes meet those of an attractive stranger across a crowded room, follow your heart and meet them somewhere in the middle.  They really might be the person you develop a strong emotional connection with.  Just make sure you take the time to build that connection.