Reality TV vs. real-life love

By Catherine E. Toth

Romance illustration


Finding love is hard enough. Now add TV crews following your every move, millions of people watching every date you go on, and bloggers around the world dishing about your love life. Talk about pressure.

That's probably why there are so many skeptics out there, convinced it's impossible to find lasting love on a reality TV show.

Take ABC's wildly successful dating show, "The Bachelor." After 10 seasons, the show still hasn't been able to boast a wedding.

In August, Pearl Harbor-based naval doctor Andy Baldwin revealed his engagement with Tessa Horst, a match made on the last season of the show, was off. That was a little surprising, since Baldwin had been convinced before the show started filming that he would find his soulmate.

But how can you really know someone enough to consider swapping wedding bands after televised group dates in a community hot tub? You have to wonder about folks' motivation to broadcast their love lives to millions of strangers. Are they on these shows looking for love, or the fast track to fame?

Sure, you'll meet all kinds of people hanging out at bars, at gallery openings and in line at the grocery store, too. They could be looking for that stepping stone to something better. But the chances are so much higher when modeling contracts and TV cameras are around.

It now may seem like a natural evolution in dating to have millions of people play matchmaker. I'm surprised there isn't a reality TV show where viewers can vote for the winner, a la "American Idol."

Meanwhile, the Internet has changed the landscape of dating for ordinary people. We're meeting in chat rooms, in online social-networking circles and on dating sites, and that's no longer considered an embarrassing admission divulged to only your closest friends.

We're busier than ever — and single longer. Meanwhile, finding time to prowl for mates somewhere between raising kids, working two jobs, training for the marathon and finishing the laundry has become that much harder. So singletons have turned to the Internet for help. Upload your photo, a short bio, cross your fingers and get on with your life. It's dating on your own time. In fact, if you're single and not online in some form — with a blog, on, or maniacally updating your Facebook page — you're almost not even trying.

Truth is, there are normal people online these days, all looking for ways to connect with other normal people. But call me old-fashioned. I'd much prefer to meet someone face-to-face.

No falling for an outdated photo, posted alongside a snappy bio that was probably written by his 16-year-old niece. No wireless-mike packs or sweaty cameramen capturing my every move.

I believe love should happen more spontaneously.

It should come with nervous laughter, awkward conversations and post-date martinis with friends — not a recording contract.

Catherine E. Toth is a MoJo — mobile journalist — with The Honolulu Advertiser. Read her blog The Daily Dish.