Love Island, Blind Date, Married at First Sight: the craze around dating shows is tangible proof that the human need to find love can take any shape or form – and that we love a good gossip.
Dating shows have been around for a while, but in recent years their popularity has risen to record highs alongside the growth of social media. It makes it easier for viewers to share their opinions (and memes) about the Love Island sensation of the evening. According to DudeThrill.com, we not only like dating shows, but dating sites and apps as well. They help us find a perfect match for us whether it would be a casual fling or a long-term relationship.
Do people really go on these shows to find love?
A recent study conducted by European lingerie specialists Hunkemöller, found that one-third of Brits would prefer to find someone ‘the old-fashioned way.’ That said, the study also found that more than half of respondents (56%) between the ages of 25 and 34 would be willing to go on these programmes to find love, which just goes to show how popular they are with younger audiences.
So, the majority of people really do want to find love on the shows, it seems.
But… why do we viewers watch?
These shows highlight very basic human emotions: love, passion, fear, hurt… all these feelings are often very present in dating shows and reality TV in general. Your partner cheating on you, someone that catches your eye for the first time, a friend that said a bad thing about you behind your back. All of these occurrences are likely to generate very intense feelings, and when you mix these feelings and television you get, well, a large audience.
We identify with these feelings. Who hasn’t felt heartbroken, scared or in love? Seeing these mimicked in other people makes it easier to relate to them on a human level, thus, making it more likely that we’ll want to see what happens to them on TV.
We’ve evolved to enjoy gossip. Humans love gossip and this is tied to our evolutionary past. We are programmed to survive, and survival is all about having the necessary information.
Our brains crave it and take in as much as possible when readily available. In ancient times, this could have been the difference between life and death.
Think about it: knowing if a plant is poisonous, knowing which areas are safe for people to settle down, or knowing if a violent event took place can all save you a lot of trouble.
Even in present times, information can help you avoid some tricky situations. For example, if you know your neighbour is getting a divorce, you’re less likely to be insensitive to him. This will prevent a confrontation and will therefore keep you ‘safe’.
There are no taboo topics: sexuality and sensuality, often highly stigmatised topics, are not uncommon themes in this type of reality TV show. Whereas more traditional TV, or even some social media platforms, still have a hard time depicting anything sexual, dating TV is often based on the simple notion of human attraction.
They make you feel more understood, although reality TV is often depicted as fake or prone to generate unreal expectations, it often showcases scenarios that most people have lived through. This may explain why 37% of men and 29% women would be willing to go on a tv show to try and find love.
Going on a first date, meeting a new partner that gives you butterflies, or even living in the same house with a bunch of strangers, are quite common things in our day-to-day lives.
Seeing someone else living through the same struggles on TV, meaning that you won’t be the one getting hurt or having to deal with these issues, is often a pleasurable experience. It’s the feeling of being understood – a crucial aspect to anyone’s wellbeing.
Whatever the reason, dating shows are here to stay. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing, we’ll leave it to your discretion. In the meantime, grab the popcorn and get ready for the upcoming season of Love Island UK 2022!