Imagine speed dating meets The Bachelor with a hint of Married at First Sight. That's about what you get when tuning into Netflix's newest dating show, Love is Blind. On the show, contestants who all hail from Atlanta are divided into two rooms — men and women — and only get to see the same gender. They're then taken into separate rooms, called pods, where the process of finding your future spouse begins.
The catch? They never see the person they're speaking to, not even a single photo, and will only meet someone after a proposal. There's no judging a book by its cover on this show; it truly is blind.
"I really loved it because this time, the cover didn't matter," said Lauren Speed, a 32-year-old content creator. "It was about the pages, it was about the things in humanity, your fears, what motivates you… it was refreshing I got to date people and not be distracted by how fun or attractive they are. There's so many times we get distracted and we throw our priorities out the window and we keep going with something because it looks pretty."
There's a lot going on, more than the camera has time to show, but ultimately contestants were treated to 15 individuals in seven minute intervals on the first day in an effort to break the ice and begin narrowing down their list.
From there, the number of people they speak to each day narrows down and conversations become more intimate and deeper, which was something Lauren and Cameron Hamilton, instantly connected on.
Cameron called the experience "intense" but wouldn't have done it any differently. "We had great communication in the pods," he said. "She wasn't afraid to be open with me."
So what was life like on the days contestants spent the majority of their time in pods talking to someone they can't see but find themselves falling for?
Damian Powers, who got engaged to 25-year-old Giannina Gibelli over the first four episodes,, shared that the night before they first went into the pods, production had them come up with questions — ice breakers — to make the first day run more smoothly.
"I stayed up for two and a half hours and the only question I had was, "Do you like to travel?'," shared Powers, who is 28. "I couldn't come up with many because I'd never been in a situation like that. The concept is mind blowing."
Powers had "no idea what to expect" when he and his castmates walked into the pods on that first day. He said it definitely had a "weird" feeling.
"You get in there and it's a little weird at first, you hear a voice and you say 'Hi' and exchange names and you're both like 'Is this weird?' but then you break into it and it gets very comfortable very quickly," Powers explained.
Giannina added that it "felt natural" even though the whole process was about as unorthodox as there can be in the dating world. The two noted that it ended up becoming a fun process because they were able to connect with each other without any distractions like their phones or TVs.
After the first day of getting to know each other, the cast would give producers their rankings of each of the people they spoke with. The list of 15 would go to 12 for each person on the second day, but it always didn't line up where each person had their would-be partner ranked atop the list.
Matt Barnett, for example, didn't necessarily have his eventual fiance, Amber Pike, at the top of his list on Day 1 as she did with him.
"You never buy the first car you test drive," Barnett joked, before explaining that, "I connected with every one of these girls very differently… with Amber, she was the one I connected with the most."
As was the case for everyone, the two had to navigate their way through many dates, but for Amber, a 26-year-old ex-military tank mechanic, she kept coming back to Barnett. The two said the biggest things in the pods was finding that special someone where things just "clicked."
Then there was the elephant in the room for all of the contestants: the cameras. Not many of the participants were used to the bright lights and the production that comes with a high-end television show. Barnett, who is one year older than Amber, said it was intimidating at first and could very easily make an already contestant even more nervous.
"I never had been in front of cameras before like that so it was a lot in your face at once," Barnett added. "If you're not used to that, it's kind of overwhelming at first."
Since experiencing the process of Love is Blind, Amber has become a big proponent of dating in this nature.
"If Matt and I had been on a regular date, don't get me wrong, we'd still have been goofy and fun and it probably would've been a blast, but we would've missed the opportunity to really get to know each other on the level we did [through the show]," she explained.
To sum up everything that came with the idea of dating someone in a pod where you cannot see the person across from you and can only hear their voice, Amber listed three words: stressful, exciting and surreal
Throughout the whole experience, each individual learned about themselves. Giannina put it best when saying that she, and many people, feel their good at communicating, but going through something like this really pushes your communication skills to the test.0comments
"I thought I was a great communicator but it turns out there was a lot I needed to work on," Giannina said. "A lot of soul searching, a lot of self-reflection and a lot of growth, which isn't always the easiest thing, but it was an eye-opening experience… it made us better people."
The next set of Love is Blind episodes will release on Thursday, Feb. 20 on Netflix.