Is Reality TV matchmaking a true love mirage?

True Love

Unrealistic Expectations

People can’t seem to get enough of reality TV programs playing matchmaker.  But do TV dating shows live up to all the hype in helping contestants find true love?  Apparently not. That’s despite these shows becoming bolder, brasher, and bigger-budgeted.  So why is it, that finding a partner on a Reality TV program mostly turns out to be just a mirage of unmet expectations?

Love and Romance for Entertainment

There’s no doubting the human fascination with love and romance. Television producers know that and foremost they are out to make content that entertains.  Their goal is to capture an audience’s attention. To achieve that they create drama. Therefore, is it any wonder then, that you always see a good mixture of contestants who are quirky or possess huge out-there personalities?  It is about fanning your curiosity and raising intensity to make a program fun to watch and full of entertainment value.

Making of Magical Moments

One of the first things that strikes me about these shows is who plans the dates for the couples?  Of course, it is the TV producers.  Unfortunately, that’s not how it works in real life.  For an outsider looking in, the dates that participants get to enjoy look amazing.  Imagine being whisked away in a chopper to an exotic location. Or working on a suntan while sailing across a picturesque harbour aboard a luxury yacht.  Or spending an enchanting evening in a big barn filled with the light of a thousand candles and a feast of the finest cuisine to dine on.  

What couple wouldn’t be swept up by all that magic?  In that environment it would be easy to feel like you’re floating on Cloud-9.  But what happens when the television company stops stumping up with the finances for the relationship?  When the dream-weaver bursts the cloud of bliss, what next?  Reality bites.  And the truth is, a relationship that’s built on fantasy is flawed.

Different Pressures, Different Pace

Good relationships usually develop slowly over time.  As trust and understanding grows, couples open-up more and adapt and respond to each other’s needs and desires. But in Reality TV, time is compressed, and pressure is intensified as participants get thrust into a relationship directed by the producers.  As well, contestants are continually gazed upon by ever-present cameras while knowing their lives are being picked-apart by an insatiable-viewing public.  There’s nothing normal about that.  Contestants have nowhere to escape to and are cut-off from family supports.  Facades come down faster, emotions are heightened sooner, and behind the scenes the participants are being primed and prodded to keep up the pace to meet production deadlines.

After-Show Fallout

When dating shows inevitably wrap up production, contestants are often expected to remain out of the public-eye for a long time.  Distance and a slow return to regular jobs and routines can contribute to eroding away even the most hopeful relationships.  Things can unravel pretty quickly too when couples discover in the real world that a partner’s character or lifestyle outside the show is different to what they had come to believe on the inside.  Normally, it takes many months or even years to truly get to know someone, something at odds with people thrown together in an experiment and expecting to find a lasting loving relationship in six or eight weeks.

Finding True Love

Matchmaking shows give viewers an opportunity to escape and be entertained. Looking in from the outside, they should help us better see the folly in believing that love must involve an immediate connection.  As a pathway for finding true love, these programs rarely deliver. Contestants need to be wary of unrealistic expectations. Building good relationships requires energy and time.  Above all, a high priority should always be placed on being true to yourself right from the start of any new relationship.  That is, don’t pretend to be something or someone you’re not.  A bedrock for any couple seeking a successful relationship is loving and accepting each other “as is” with mutual devotion to bringing out the best in each other.

ROHAN WATSON is a member of the Australian Counselling Association and a general member of the International Association of Applied Neuroscience.  He holds graduate and post-graduate qualifications in Psychology, Counselling and Education from Monash University and USQ, including a Master of Counselling (Advanced Practice) degree awarded with Distinction.

As a Psychotherapist, Counsellor and Mental Health Researcher, Rohan is dedicated to helping unlock the potential in people to live happier, healthier, and more purposeful.  His Toowoomba Counselling & Coaching service helps people from all walks and seasons of life.

Rohan has facilitated and delivered mental health programs across rural and remote Australia.  He provides professional psychotherapy services to employees at all levels nationally through EAP services.  Rohan is also a highly sought-after Relationship & Marriage Counselling specialist.  He has a special interest in the online delivery of wellbeing programs.  Rohan’s current research is focusing on mental health in Australian workplaces.   Learn more.

GO-TO Counsellor Rohan Watson