“Tell me love isn’t true, it’s just something that we do”, sang Madonna, whose 1991 documentary Truth Or Dare launched a thousand fly on the wall reality shows. Which brings us now to Love Island, where love is pretty much all they do. Banned, according to a leaked rule sheet, from reading books or magazines, scrolling endlessly on their phones, drinking more than two drinks in one night, or even masturbating, all they have left is the outdoor gym, naff 18-30 style challenges and… love. With the promise of £50,000 for the couple who wins not just each other’s heart but the nation’s, alongside endless sponsored content deals to field when they emerge from the free publicity the house offers, the competition is on. And they’re all laying it on factor 50.
But apart from a few rare exceptions (2017’s Dom and Jessica Lever are married and expecting a baby, and Camillla Thurlow and Jamie Jewitt from the same year are still together), no one actually falls in love on Love Island - not least because there’s not enough time. But is it really possible for people to fall for one another within a couple of months? And is Love Island’s trick of chucking a bunch of attractive people in a villa together really helping to speed up that process? Plus, what’s the damage caused by, as Diana Ross once firmly warned against, hurrying love?
First of all, the Islanders, kept in close confines, are destined to to rub up against each other until something sparks.
Psychologist Nicky Walton-Flynn explains: ‘Love is down to brain chemistry, with four main components: oxytocin, the love hormone, dopamine which is the pleasure hormone, testosterone/oestrogen all the sexual hormones, and pheromones.’
But this formula, originally discovered by anthropologist Dr Helen Fisher, the author of Why We Love, gets sped up in Love Island. ‘Love Island creates the environmental setting that fuels that oxytocin, the dopamine, the excitement, the adrenaline, the butterflies it’s an artificial environment that will exacerbate what attractive is,’ Walton-Flynn explains.
Sociologist Laura Fenton, research associate at the University of Manchester, is editing a journal on Love Island. She tells Grazia ‘It’s like a pressure cooker in there, it’s intense.’ Part of maintaining this pressure is in constricting the environment: ‘The narrator Iain Stirling really helps reinforce that enclosed nature with his commenting, as does the material culture: the objects, the handwriting on the walls. They create this image of its own universe, and too much of the outside world would disturb that.’
That’s why they’re not allowed books, she posits: ‘The books are a window in the wider world, they can’t have when [the producers are] trying to create a bubble.’
And Jenny Van Hooff, a sociologist from Manchester Metropolitan University backs this up, citing a study from the 1970s called The Raft. Following a group of attractive people as they sailed a raft across the Atlantic, the ‘hugely unethical study’, Van Hooff says, ‘The intensification of feeling was accelerated, because feelings are intensified in confided spaces.’ She also cites her own research on Tinder, which she says parallels Love Island because ‘feelings happen so quickly’ on both.
On Love Island, however, the wider world is considered, because in order to win, the couples have to not only convince each other they’re into it, but convince the audience back home that they’re loveable enough to stay in for as long as possible.
Fenton explains: ’It’s a misnomer to pretend they want to win £50,000, it’s about building celebrity building a brand.’
‘They’ve got a tricky path to navigate they have to appear authentic for the pairing and attraction, but contestants who look like they’re game playing come off badly.’
Additionally, ‘The girls have to not appear desperate - Maura has been described as sexually aggressive, and there’s a double standard that women who appear to be sexually active have more comment made about their behaviour.’
As well as women being unfairly punished for trying to push love like the boys do, there are other biases at play, explains Van Hooff, which result in chaste couples like Dani and Jack and Curtis and Amy becoming bookies’ favourites to win from the off: ‘However we talk about Love Island, people still hold that heterosexual chaste relationship up, you can see it reflected in who wins it.
The same goes for Laura Anderson coming second last year, with Paul Knops, who she’d only really just met: 'The “saved by love" narrative exists a lot today in Britain, too, there are some people who think it's a refuge in an impersonal society.’
Fenton agrees, ‘There’s presumption of moral superiority especially with women’s chastity - Jack would not be subject to same standards Dani. She did have that strong Essex accent but did model a middle class norm of respectability’
And it’s not just us who present a hazard on the fast track to love.
Walton-Flynn, who regularly works with love and sex addicts at her clinic Addiction Therapy London, sees risky behaviour when attraction is forced by the individuals: ‘Love Island is about falling in lust not love, when you’re finding an affinity for someone who’s willing to take that risk too.
'Those chemicals in the brain and body cannot be sustained over a long period of time,’ though and after about six months, the initial rush of lust wears off, she says: ‘It to drops to another level, so it’s not “I can’t keep my hands off of you” it’s now “I love you, I trust you, I rely on you.”’ If that deep-seated love doesn’t kick in, though it can be all too easy for love and sex addicts to artificially create a connection by re-engaging in those risky behaviours of before, and ‘it can become destructive. If risky behaviour is only way you create that connection, then is that love?’
One way to force love is to make that environmental bubble that much smaller, so it’s just one couple against the world. Since week one, Joe Garrett has been telling Lucie, the girl he’s coupled up with, who to hang out with, specifically to not hang around with Tommy after they were briefly paired. Whenever Lucie doesn’t abide, Joe gets cross with her, saying he doubts their relationship. Ofcom has received over 300 complaints about Joe’s - and other contestants’ - behaviour towards Lucie. And on social media, many users, from reality stars to academics, have called this out as manipulative, controlling. For the second time in as many years, domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid has felt compelled to comment on the ITV show after seeing people calling this behaviour out on social media, releasing a statement saying ‘Controlling behaviour is never acceptable, and with Love Island viewers complaining to Ofcom in record numbers about Joe's possessive behaviour towards Lucie, more people are becoming aware of this and want to challenge it.’
Joe has of course, said some nice things to Lucie about how much he likes her and how happy she can make him, however, this can be a problem too, explains Teresa Parker, head of communications at Women’s Aid: ‘Women who have experienced domestic abuse often tell us that they were initially "love bombed" at the beginning of the relationship. Perpetrators of domestic abuse often present as being completely consumed with their new partner, and the initial signs of abuse can be hidden in the 'love bombing' stage.
‘He may say that he wants to see you every day, and ask where you are when you're not with him. He may say he doesn't want you to spend time with family and friends as he wants it to be just the two of you. It can be presented in a way that seems flattering, but ultimately at this point they can cut you off from your networks and set a precedent of wanting you to account for every moment of your day.’
ITV has been approached for comment on this. But what do our experts think - by encouraging fast love, is Love Island also encouraging love-bombing and other behaviours that are, in essence, everything people shouldn’t be doing in relationships? No, Van Hooff says: ‘These things are happening all the time in relationships and sometimes TV can draw attention to and highlight an issue which is very common.'
‘If he’s behaving this way it might not be the first time he’s done that - people blame reality TV for the ills of society and it’s not that straightforward really.’
Fenton agrees: ‘Love Island provides an opportunity for people to reflect on and evaluate their own experiences and think differently about past relationships. They wouldn’t necessarily have seen them as control coercive control, but reality TV creates ethical scenarios in relationships about how we should and shouldn’t act and people take those on board.’
As for Walton-Flynn: ‘There’s such a huge question around what is modern love, but who am I to make a value judgement on how quickly others fall in love?
Read more: The Grazia Guide To This Year's Love Island Contestants
Love Island Contestants 2019 - Grazia
Occupation: Beauty therapistMost likely to… get in trouble thanks to her old social media posts.Ok, well, we cheated on this one, because before entering the house, Amber was already in trouble, after a video of her saying she 'doesn't like black guys' emerged. Unsurprisingly, the post has now been deleted. She got her 'rep' to tell The Mirror, 'We deleted the post as it was being taken out of context in regards to what actually happened.' (Yes, she already has a rep...) Much has been made of the fact that she knows Adam Collard from last year's show, but, let's face it, she's an attractive woman living in Newcastle, so the chances were always going to be high.Back to her pre-show interview, Amber 'reveals' she likes guys that go to the gym, so we think she'll be well catered for. She also fancies Tom Hardy 'because he loves dogs as well and I love dogs'. Cool. And says her 'three' best traits are 'I'm funny, I'm sassy and I'm kind and I like to include everyone. I like to make friends with everybody'. So we can also assume one of her worst traits might be counting to three. Amber pulls it back by describing the time she got absolutely wasted on five Cosmos In A Can on a train while heading to a first date in Manchester and fell off, hammered. We've all been there.
Occupation: Air hostess / cabin crew managerMost likely to… be described as 'This year's Laura!'Amy says that, 'My best friends at home are my best friends because we have the same taste in alcohol but different taste in men,' which means she's bound to be friends with everyone in the villa as they sup their designated two glasses of Echo Falls every night. And it seems she only speaks in shareable Facebook memes. Describing why Tinder time-wasters are the worst, she says, 'I'm 26 years old, I'm a bit old for a pen pal.' Sounds like that post-show t-shirt line is ready to go. Anyway, because she's an air hostess and, er, blonde, she'll probably be likened to Laura Anderson (of losing Wes to Megan fame last year). She's DIFFERENT though. 'Where I'm from, no-one dresses like me or acts like me,' she says.We also really like this anecdote, if you read it in a breathless, 'And Another Thing, At Band Camp' intonation… 'I went on a night out once and Liam from One Direction was there. We were in the VIP bit and so was he and he walked past me and I smiled and he said 'Hey, you alright? What's your name?' He told us to come and sit in his booth and we had a picture together. I put it on Instagram and then my cousin who was twelve and a big One Direction fan put it on her Instagram and suddenly I was on all these international One Direction accounts. I was on Sugarscape and I was getting hate from ten-year-olds because they thought I was dating him!'TELL US ANOTHER ONE LAURA, sorry, Amy.
Occupation: ScientistMost likely to.... Be an amazing hybrid of Camilla Thurlow and Megan Barton-HansonYou got Camilla Thurlow two years ago and Dr Alex the year before people - introducing this year's 'CLEVER JOB PERSON', Yewande. Yewande says, 'I'm a scientist, which is a unique job'. We don't want to split hairs, but we googled it for all of three seconds and apparently there's up to eight million scientists in the world.'I'm a tad dramatic,' she adds - which, as anyone with a friend who describes themselves as 'a tad dramatic' knows, means Yewande could be Love Island TV Gold. Oh yes, here we go… she continues: 'I'm a terrible flirt, but I'm such a girly girl and I can't imagine [note, imagine] stealing someone's man in there. I don't think [note, think] I'd be that type of person, but never say never.' Incredible.
Occupation: SurferMost likely to… Say, 'I'm just not a girl's girl, yknow?'Unbelievably, the second professional surfer to enter the Love Island villa in two years (after Laura Crane), Lucie says at least 19 times that she likes sport and sporty guys, so we're already predicting some attraction to Not Tyson Fury (see below).Lucie says she's 'spoken to Joey Essex on and off', which is exactly the kind of modern dating terminology that makes us feel old, confused and tired. And her claim to fame is dating Charlie Frederick from last year's Love Island who we honestly had to google to remember.Lucie also sets her stall out when it comes to other girls in the villa, saying this (which makes us want to die a bit, but also means she'll probably make good telly). 'I'm more of a guy's girl than a girl's girl. I've got a lot of friends that are into riding bikes. I get on with those girls who are bit more tomboy-ish. I get on fine with girls, I just don't like hanging out with girly girls too much. I like hanging out with guys because they're into the same type of sports…. less drama really.' Yep. Less drama. Sure.
Occupation: PharmacistMost likely to… Fall over and become a most excellent meme.First off, pharmacists are our absolute favourite, because when we (always) can't get a doctor's appointment, they're always there for us to make us feel better. Anna's vying for Yewande's CLEVER JOB PERSON title, saying, 'I'm different to anyone who has been on the show before. I have the whole glam look, I'm fun but at the same time I feel like I have more to me than that. I studied hard and I've got my masters. I'm a pharmacist and I have a Middle Eastern background.'She says her love life can be summed up by a Cardi B song, she's 'a drama queen', spills her drinks all the time (us too, hun), once walked into a glass door on a date and fell over in front of Love Island Alumni Kem Cetinay. So, yeah, we're into it.
Occupation: Gym ownerMost likely to… cause trouble (and definitely not tell anyone he's got a Porsche)Anton excitedly wants you to know that he thinks he's the first Scottish man in the villa, so there's that. He also gets bonus points for using the phrase 'mugging off' before he's even started the show.But then, there's this… 'That's a medical condition that I have… a wandering eye!' Crikey. 'I've never really been loyal in any of my relationships. My last relationship, I actually got caught cheating for the first time in my life and it changed everything for me.' Um, so we're sorry if any of Anton's previous, formerly blissfully ignorant girlfriends are reading this. Anton, who appeared in a TOWIE-style/wannabe reality show, GLOW, also tells this brilliant anecdote. 'I bought myself a Porsche when I was twenty-one, as you do! I picked a girl up in that and she started taking pictures when she was in the car and sending it to her friends. The fact that she was doing that made me think it meant something to her. It shouldn't matter what I was driving whether that be a Corsa or a Porsche so I finished the date right there.' Yknow, as you do! We're sure it meant nothing to Anton when he bought the PorscheNotACorsa either.
Occupation: Catering company ownerMost likely to… Make everyone lunch.Joe is a man who likes to answer questions thoroughly… even if it's rating his looks. 'Today, I reckon about an 8.5! In the mornings I'm probably like a low 8. I consistently stay around the 8s to 9s in my opinion. Maybe some days I go past the 9, when it's a really good day…. a suit day.'Joe, who used to play semi-professional rugby, has a real way with words. He's never 'snaked any of my mates out' and says there's 'nothing worse than someone just slipping around'. The songs that sum up his love life are 'How Am I Supposed to Love Without You' by Michael Bolton and 'When A Man Loves a Woman', so make of that what you will.And a date of his was once ruined after a load of drunk women who knew him from delivering sandwiches to their office ran over shouting 'SANDWICH MAN!' Mmmm… sandwiches. A man, who makes sandwiches. Good.
Occupation: FirefighterMost likely to… Be subject to a load of puns about being fire, his hose and sliding down poles.Ok, here we go, Love Island Gold. 'I'd rate myself ten out of ten,' says Michael. 'I would have said nine but I'm a hero so it bumps it up.' He also says he's a 'straight-taking guy' over and over, before reminding us, 'I'm a hero! I'm a firefighter, who doesn't want their own firefighter? Their own local hero.' Of course he's 'loyal' but 'If I like somebody, then I'll go for it. There's not really anything that can stop me'. And when discussing bro code, Michael utters the classic line, 'You go into the villa to find somebody'. Which everyone knows is the Love Island catch-all for doing absolutely anything you want. And we love it...
Occupation: Chef and semi-pro rugby playerMost likely to… flick past us on TinderSherif's FIRST celebrity crush was Vanessa Hudgens in High School Musical - and seeing as we liked that film in our early 20s in an ironic, 'yeah we're in our 20s and love Disney whaaat?' way, Sherif is making us feel old. He says a 'date with a cougar' (was she like, 26?) 'didn't go to plan'. And then he adds his biggest turn-off is 'if someone wants to be the centre of attention' which means that one trip to a karaoke bar with us and it'd all be over.Also, he says FEMALES. 'Bro code to me is "Nothing leaves this circle."' says Sherif. 'Whatever we're talking about doesn't need to be relayed, not just to females but to any other people outside the bro circle.' Nope.
Occupation: Aircraft engineerMost likely to… Be described as 'the dad' of the group. Because he's over 24.'Time is ticking', says Callum. 28. 28. Sorry. Ok, we're back. Seeing as he's OLD-fashioned, Callum has ideas about how he's going to meet what we can only imagine he might call his 'wifey'.'I'm not into the dating apps, I can't get my head around them,' says Callum. 'I want to have a story, a bit of a fairytale. I don't want to tell the kids I met mum on an app! I do get a bit of the sliding into DMs and I do a bit as well. That's just part of the modern day, isn't it?' We can't wait until Callum tells his grandkids that classic fairytale @SnwWhite_and_the_7dwarves.
Occupation: Ballroom and Latin DancerMost likely to… Embarrass himself dancing at The Pool PartyOur worst/favourite bit of Love Island is undoubtedly when they get half a glass of wine each and are awarded a 'pool party' where a load of drama is due to go down, but first, they make them stand in a circle and dance around, soberly, to some CLUB CLASSICS.Well, in the same way that there's nothing worse than a decent singer at karaoke, we're all ready to cringe when professional dancer Curtis (he was on the Irish version of Strictly) decides to show off his moves at the weekly disco. Curtis is the younger brother of Strictly star, AJ Pritchard, and much has been made of the fact that AJ was linked to a 'fling' with Love Island presenter Caroline Flack, but we're way too mature to mention that.The dancer says one of his worst traits is that 'I never reply to text messages', so we're not sure how he's going to fare in the land of GOTTA TEXT! Curtis, who has crushes on Megan Fox, MIla Kunis and Ariana Grande, also says 'love is blind' twice within four sentences. So we can't wait for him to definitely follow through on that in the villa. Lol.
Occupation: Boxer Most likely to... Say, 'I don't want to just be known as Tyson Fury's little brother'Tommy, you had us at 'I won't be afraid to go and have a splash about in the pool.' Finally! Someone might get in that freaking pool (aside from Georgia Steel).Tommy is the little brother of heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury, but says he doesn't want to be 'labelled as his little brother', which is difficult because he literally is Tyson Fury's little brother. Like fellow pool fan Georgia, TommyNotTyson is very LOYAL. 'I'm a loyal guy down to the roots' he says. He also talks a lot about what he considers is bro code when approaching a girl he likes, but seeing as he'd a six foot boxer, with a six foot nine boxer as a brother, we'd just consider the code staying the EFF AWAY if we were the other boys.