Imagine turning up on your wedding day with no idea who will be waiting for you at the other end of the aisle. Imagine not knowing which of the women on the front row is going to be your new mother-in-law. Imagine that your wedding day is also your first date. Sounds awkward and insane, right? You’d be surprised…
‘Reality TV’ has a terrible (but accurate) reputation for being cheesy, dramatised and staged. I avoid that kind of programme like men in Crocs. However, the lovely admin girl at work highly recommended a show called Married at First Sight. Despite all of my logical inhibitions over watching people marry someone they’d never met, I found myself not only hooked by the concept of the show, but also not entirely against the idea…
Who the hell is 100% compatible?
Human chemistry has always been something that fascinates me. I look around me and see so many cases of illogical attractions – why do you fall for people you hate? Why do you want what you can never have? Why do you settle for something far less than your worth? And why do you look for someone with similarities rather than differences? Do opposites attract, or do similarities form a stronger bond? Are we supposed to just be with one person? How do you measure compatibility? I very much dislike not understanding these things.
With so many questions about compatibility, what are the odds of two people being 100% compatible? Married at First Sight claim to have found a pair of strangers that are in fact 100% compatible. That is where it caught my attention. If a group of scientists (and a vicar, for some reason?) can scientifically predict the success of a relationship using facts about personality traits, genetics, hobbies, lifestyle, relationship history and physical build (rather than attractiveness), those odds seem pretty good, right? A lot higher than reading a dating profile online, that’s for sure. Facial-symmetry doesn’t lie, whereas a person with a computer keyboard often does. 6 foot 2? My arse.
Who the hell would apply?
They tested 1500 applicants for the experiment. First of all they asked them 300 questions, then they tested their reactions to certain situations, collected physical data such as body measurements (shoulders/hips, naughty minds!) and saliva (for genetic information). They were also asked to video record their daily activities at very specific times of the day.
I was happy to see that normal people were chosen to take part in this. These people were intelligent, well-spoken, many were gym-goers, and nobody seemed to be an obvious or annoying ‘crowd-pleaser’. It was a breath of fresh air. It was also fascinating to hear the different types of personality/genetic make-up that are associated with successful, long-term relationships. The pair would meet for the first time when they stood at the end of the aisle together, they would spend the wedding night together in a hotel room (one bed), would honeymoon together and would then move in together for five weeks. At the end of this time they would decide whether to stay together or get divorced.
Six applicants would be chosen to take part (3 pairs).
How the hell did the show know every doubt in my mind?
How ‘normal’ are the people taking part in this?
Super frickin’ normal. I was surprised that these people struggled to find love on their own. They all seemed to have placed their careers before love and now they had reached late twenties/early thirties, they found it hard to find someone with similar ambitions. Totally understandable. None of them had been single for long and they had all tried to find love online before taking this leap of faith and putting their futures in the hands of scientists.
Why get married? Why not just date?
This question was also covered by the scientists. Marriage is the ultimate commitment, legally of course, but it not only joins two people together – it joins together two entire families. People are scientifically more likely to do anything for their family, and making that kind of promise in front of family is more likely to motivate you to try harder. If you were simply dating then it would be very easy to give up on the experiment (and living with someone for the first time is rarely easy, even when you’ve known them for years).
How did their friends and family feel about this decision?
The closest friends and family are interviewed on camera throughout the process, which adds a lot of reassurance to the viewer about the sanity of the applicant. It’s funny how I started off on the same side as their friends; a bit puzzled at why they’d allow a bunch of strangers to decide on the fate of their love life, but then as the story goes on, I found myself switching sides. I wanted to shout at their friends and family: ‘Just let them do this! Just let them find love!’.
Are the applicants being paid to take part?
Surprisingly not. They are 100% doing this out of dedication to finding the right partner. Crazy, isn’t it? (Although it’s unclear who pays for the venue/photographer/food etc.).
I was shocked at how quickly I went from thinking ‘what an absolutely ridiculous idea’ to thinking ‘aw man, I really really hope they like each other’. Within about half an hour the applicants went from being crazy people to absolute heroes. Go forth you go crazy adventurers, may you never again be unlucky-in-love and I hope your leap of faith pays off. Whether your marriage is a success or not (MINI SPOILER: it’s looking kinda promising), it will make one hell of an experience.
It is the final part of the 3-part series tonight on Channel 4. Although I highly recommend catching up here before watching the final (you’ll miss some fascinating facts otherwise).
I can’t wait to see how these marriages pan out.