There’s A New Reality TV Show Where Women Opt To Get Married To Total Strangers

Sick and wrong? Or a sign that we're now paralysed by choice when it comes to relationships?


by Rebecca Holman |
Published on

If you can stomach the cringe factor, check out the trailer below for new American reality TV series Married At First Sight. The program follows the fortunes of three couples who are paired together by a sexologist, psychologist and a sociologist from hundreds of applicants. They meet for the first time on their wedding day, and then spend several weeks together as a married couple, before deciding whether to stay together for good.

The trailer, featured on The Daily Mail, shows 27-year-old Jamie Otis walking down the aisle to meet her groom, 31-year-old Doug. Her response upon first seeing him? She bursts into tears. It’s pretty mortifying to watch, as he, and their assembled family, try to gloss over the fact that she’s having a massive freak out at the site of her new husband. In the voiceover she says, ‘Walking down the aisle, I am so scared. This is the worst feeling… I just happened to be not attracted to the guy, I’m getting married right now to someone I don’t know. I’m thinking I just made the worst decision of my life.’

So, erm… why the hell did she do it? Speaking to the New York Post, Jamie said, ‘In New York City, I feel like the guys are primarily just players until they’re hitting their late thirties. It’s tough to find guys who are serious.’

OK, we can all relate, but is getting married to a total stranger with no choice whatsoever really better than no getting married at all? Recent stats confirm that we’re getting married later than ever (if at all), and having children isn’t the inevitable bookend to your youth that it once was. Marriage is more about choice than it ever has been, but is that what’s stopping us?

‘It feels like there are so many options when it comes to meeting somebody, through Tinder, social media, your friends, or work, and actually it’s suffocating,’ says Vicki, 25. ‘You’ve got so much choice that you’re always looking for the next best thing, and so is everyone else, so no-one wants to commit. Having all the responsibility for my love life handed over to someone else sounds like a nice holiday to me!’

So is having your relationship future handed over to you on a plate actually the dream? It’s hard to say anything too positive about the concept of arranged marriage when around the world so many people are forced into unhappy or even abusive unions (there’s a reason why forced marriages were made illegal in the UK earlier this year), but a little less choice would certainly be refreshing.

We’re told that we have to marry the love of our life, and settling for anything less is seen as a cop out or a sign of desperation – but are we setting wholly unrealistic expectations for ourselves? What’s really wrong with a series of experts setting us up with someone we’re incredibly well suited to, and leaving us to get on with it? If we spent half the amount of effort making a relationship work as we do agonising over who our perfect partner is, we’d be sorted.

It’s a compelling argument, and if you’re happy to put the work in to turn a companionable relationship into a happy marriage, then go for it. But what if it’s fireworks you’re after? Revisit the trailer for Married At First Site and look at Jamie’s face as she walks down the aisle and catches site of her groom for the first time – do you really want to feel like that? Bursting into tears of doom at the site of your future life partner isn’t great, so why force the situation to an unnatural conclusion? We certainly don’t need to.

The reason we’ve got so much choice nowadays is because we have no cultural, social or economic imperative to marry the first guy who happens to ask – and ultimately, that's a good thing. Being pragmatic about love is one thing, but if settling down involves settling, maybe it’s time to think again.

Follow Rebecca on Twitter @rebecca_hol

Picture: Eylul Aslan

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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