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Reality Shows are a fever, since the first Big Brother, several formats of programs in which ordinary people have their lives exposed have been created, arousing the audience, because human curiosity about their fellow human being has always existed. Perhaps the big news is that an increasing number of people are willing to expose their intimacy, whether for conscious reasons or not.

The choice to participate in a Reality Show may have numerous reasons. Some of them can be the search for fame, and consequent change of life, financial gain or the beginning of an artistic career, the search for recognition and personal acceptance, or the simple desire to try something new, to be challenged and to test their own limits.

Whatever the reasons that lead a person to participate in a program with this profile, the unfolding of the facts, the behaviors and reactions of the audience are somewhat unpredictable.

As I have already discussed in my article on Big Brother Brasil,[2] the supposed reality or spontaneity of each participant is subject to the edits of the production of each program, which can manipulate and edit each speech and action, taking them out of context, or issuing the possible reparations that an inappropriate behavior may have received during the program, subtly electing heroic and villainous characters, along the lines of soap operas in which the plot unfolds around impossible loves, intrigues, revenge and frustrated expectations, always in the Manichean search for the victory of good over evil, of the good over the bad, as if each of us are only good or bad.

The format of the program itself is that of a game, whatever kind of reality is. The atmosphere is one of competition, and the rules exposed to the general public are probably not exactly the rules applied behind the scenes of each program. Just like in reality, there are explicit and implicit rules, and understanding them and moving through them is not always an easy task.

Explicit and implicit rules of blind marriage

The call of the program emphasizes that the participants will choose their pairs blindly, that is, without visual contact. Each participant will enter a booth and talk to the participant of the opposite sex, and from this contact, will create a ranking of preferences, until they have their favorite choice. Individuals who do not find their match will be eliminated from the program, as in the movie The Lobster [3], in which all singles are taken to a hotel where they will have 45 days to find a partner, if they do not find anyone, these people will be transformed into the animal of their choice.

In the program in question, whoever does not find their partner will be eliminated and will lose the chances of being seen and recognized by the public, whose recognition can lead to hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram, and consequent monetization of their posts, advertising contracts, or boosting the current business or career of each participant. As in the film, those who do not find their match will be punished with banishment from the group, that is, they will return to the ostracism of anonymity, symbolized, in the film, by the loss of humanity.

In this way, we can make an analogy with the recognition of one's own existence and the development of self-esteem through seeing and being seen, loving and being loved. [4]

Although the program calls itself the search for love blindly, some care has been taken to ensure, at the very least, its audience. All the participants belong to a certain age group, all are adequate to the television standards of good visual presentation, the costumes are carefully elaborated so that the participants are sufficiently exposed, with short, tight, sensual clothes, because the objective of seducing the public, initially, is the clearest, because without public, without audience, without sponsorship, it is equivalent to closing the possibility of new subsequent editions.

After considering some commercial issues, in which our participants are already a consumer product, whether it is us, as an audience, or them, as an individual, we become part of a gigantic gear, of which we have only a small portion of awareness, if at all, let's move on to the psychological aspects of the attraction that the participants felt for each other.

Love is blind, but the settings are stunning.

The seduction of the participants begins with the setting. It is known that participants in this type of program usually go through periods of confinement, longer or shorter, depending on each program, and when they leave the confinement they find a stunning setting, with food and drink at will, sharpening all the senses, and making them conducive to pleasant experiences. It is even impressive the amount of drink consumed (is it real or scenographic drink?) by the participants, awakening Dionysian feelings, of ecstasy and frenzy. Even if the drink is scenographic, the festive staging and the meeting with other people and a pleasant environment, after confinement, the anxiety and insecurities that social isolation [5] provides, are a relief and can awaken an eagerness to live and enjoy the moment in a way probably more intense than in reality.

And all this without forgetting the age of the participants, between more or less 25 to 35 years old, respecting the range of interest of most individuals, who end up choosing partners with ages more or less close to their own.

After the party atmosphere of the meeting between the participants of each sex, in which each one, even, may have evaluated the "competition", yes, because rivalry when talking about seduction games can be present, arousing insecurities, where self-esteem can be affected or reinforced, in addition to fantasies of rejection or acceptance, among others.

That said, the climate conducive for individuals to actually enter the game is created.

Love is blind, but it is not deaf or dumb

When one of our senses is suppressed, the other senses are exacerbated, as well as the imagination, fantasies, and unconscious projections of the anima or animus, as well as the matriarchal or patriarchal complex, both negative and positive, as well as affective memories of all kinds.

The environment continues to be a very important element, awakening sensory and sensual experiences, through the huge, cozy sofa, in which the participants seem to have difficulties in remaining in the sitting position, slipping in a languid, relaxed way, deconstructing defenses and providing a body relaxation conducive to the awakening of an emotional state conducive to interest in the other, because the environment is inviting to be accompanied by a pleasant company.

It is no wonder that on vacation, at parties, or in environments where we feel special, it is easier to awaken a new passion, because when we are free of problems and worries, fantasies of well-being and pleasant communion with the other are best manifested. Vacation romances, beach romances that do not survive on the asphalt, are examples of the influence of the environment on our emotions.

Hearing is one of the most primitive senses, a sixteen-week-old fetus can already hear, at twenty-one weeks it can not only hear, but identify the voice and the rhythm of the mother's heartbeat. It is the sense that does not turn off even when we are asleep, and it also connects with the largest of our five sense organs: the skin. [6]

The voice is capable of arousing affective memories, denouncing emotional state and providing repulsion or attraction. The voice, like music, is capable of arousing primitive emotions of well-being or discomfort, and has always been considered a tool of seduction, see the fascination that singers and composers arouse through the centuries.

We can say that, although the participants are in a program that supposedly eliminates sight as a factor of choice, sight is present in the observation of the contestants, the collective environment, and especially in the booths, specially designed to provide a sensory experience at least, autoerotic. In addition, hearing is amplified with all the emotional implications it can entail.

Selection through the questionnaire

The participants in the program cannot see each other, but they can hear each other and ask each other questions. And the questions are generally not at all naïve.

With simple questions like:

How old are you?

What is your profession?

Where is your accent from?

Participants can already sketch out a profile of their candidates.

During the first semester of my psychology course, one of my professors asked us (a class of 18-year-old students) if we believed in love at first sight. Part of the class said yes, part said no, that's when we had a reality check.

The teacher asked us if we had ever imagined falling in love with people of the most varied professions and ages, and we found that some professions or ages very far from our personal reality were not even considered. The point is that perception is highly selective. We all have our tastes and preferences, and our perception makes us see first what interests us most. For example, when we enter a market, we may quickly find the food we like best, and walk straight past shelves of products for which we don’t care. Or we are especially attracted to some color, and we do not even realize that there are other colors of the same product available, that is, our perception makes a pre-selection of what we see, hear and perceive around us.

By asking the age and profession of the candidates, an automatic selection is made, conscious (as in the case of the candidate who wanted to find a woman from the Northeast like him, probably looking for a cultural identification), or unconscious (like the candidate who was in doubt because of her age, another because of her profession, another because of possible cultural differences).

The fascination with the different also influenced the choice, in one of the fantasies that opposites attract and complement each other, or that equals would accept each other without prejudice....

As can be seen, the exchange of two or three sentences is enough for fantasies, personal and cultural projections to interfere in the decision of each of the candidates, who rejected and accepted each other in a contumacious way. Sometimes even too forcefully, denouncing that an autonomous complex loaded with affection [7] may have been activated.

Passion and projection [8]

Passion can be a starting point for love, or for disappointment. When we fall in love, we place in the other person our desires and fantasies, derived from our personal life history, as well as our family and cultural values.

Passion implies admiration and fascination, and both need to be shrouded in a certain mystery.

The unknown fascinates and frightens, and what frightens also fascinates.

It is much easier to admire what is unknown. The saying goes that the easiest way to admire someone, and to continue to admire them, is from a distance. When we come into direct contact with the other, the mystery is undone, the persona falls away and the weaknesses and defects come to the surface.

This is where the myth of unconditional love needs to be confronted.

When we encounter the humanity of the other, we fall in love with, we are disappointed. After all, infatuation implies an erotic projection in which we attribute to the other divine qualities, such as perfection, beauty, power, wisdom, etc., qualities that do not survive, at least not all the time, during daily coexistence.

This is where the fantasy that we are loved, and love unconditionally falls down. With each demand and questioning about why and for what we do or fail to do this or that we feel less loved and accepted, and the risk of relationship breakdown and the end of passion can occur. Sometimes the other's demand is really absurd, sometimes our resistance to recognize our faults is.

This phase of confrontation with reality is postponed until the moment the heavenly honeymoon is over, and even then, our participants are still given a quite satisfactory housing to experience the reality of life as a couple.

The higher the height, the greater the fall. After being exposed to controlled sensory experiences, where the senses of pleasure and well-being are carefully nurtured, the trained couples are thrown into the reality of adult life, where working, tidying, cooking, socializing, have lost the characteristics of vacation and being special.

Now they are all reduced to ordinary people, the divine attributes of chosen beings, both by reality and the partners, is taken away from everyone. In the movie The Lobster, humanity is taken away as punishment, in this show, the divine archetypal aspect of Eros and Dionysus need to be nurtured by themselves, no longer by the show's lavish production team.

We must not forget that Cinderella's dream is to be a princess, the commoner's to be a prince. In our show, the princes and princesses turn back into Cinderellas and commoners, some even seem to have turned into frogs.

Like every relationship, fantasies are confronted with reality. The professional persona overlaps with that of the lover, bringing frustration, insecurity and feelings of rejection. Fun and playful men become serious, sometimes grumpy, brought back to the reality of the corporate world, much of the lightness fades, contaminating a relationship started in a kind of artificial paradise.

As if the natural difficulties of every relationship were not enough, our characters are edited by the production, and judged by the audience, who interferes and questions every speech, every reaction, every choice.

Each word recorded in the show acquires a weight disproportionate to what it might acquire if said in private, as well as the reactions caused in each situation. We certainly do not know what actually happened in the intimacy of each couple, just as we do not know in reality. Every relationship is made of nuances, which escape the eyes of even the most attentive observers, and pusillanimous judgments can be drawn from a single sentence, a single look, or absence of.

Gradually, the show takes on the characteristics of soap operas, in which heroes, villains, good guys and bad guys attract the opinion of the public, and perhaps alter the script of the editions.

Janete Clair, a famous Brazilian playwright used to say that if the audience drops, just put the good girl to suffer at the hands of some villain and that's it, the audience will return. This has always been true, but nowadays, villains often overlap and become the main attraction.

Nowadays, the cruelest villain can be the image editor himself, or the audience itself, which cancels individuals with the same speed as it puts them on pedestals.

The conqueror’s persona as a defense against love

When thinking about the types of persona that would be chosen to be represented or assumed during a program that emphasizes the fantasies of romantic love, of love beyond appearances, that sees with the eyes of the soul, as synonymous with unconditional love, we need to consider some current cultural issues.

At a time when social networks emphasize form over content, the persona of the romantic hero or heroine has been deconstructed and replaced by narcissistic heroes, protagonists of conquests and seductions in which the other is objectified and disposable and can be replaced by an equal or equivalent at any time.

In my clinical work, I am faced with the conflict between who we want and who we love with who we would like to be seen next to. The exhibitionism of social networks left the scope of the individual's own exhibition and contaminated the affective relationship of countless couples.

After all, is my partner suitable to be showed at Instagram? Do I lose or gain likes if I am seen in public with this person? It is not enough to be a compatible couple; it is necessary to obtain public approval.

Of course, this has always existed. The standards for choosing mates have always followed social norms, and in this sense, nothing has changed.

Prejudices that classified a woman as a woman to marry and a woman to have fun continue to inhabit the imagination, including those who think they are cooler and more open-minded.

In this sense, the prejudice in relation to the man who is a man to start a family and the one who is a man to just have fun is compared. Yes, because women's behavior has also changed, and freedom of choice and professional independence, at least hypothetically, have abolished these prejudices.

However, there is a concern among the candidates about their profession, which implies not only the notions of social and financial status, because in the imaginary, both female and male, the man to marry needs to be a provider, that is, economically stable, and the woman to marry needs to be serious, that is, to have had a discreet sex life that does not make the man feel diminished or insecure in relation not only to his masculinity, but also to his sexual performance.

The extent to which the requirement that the partner not smoke, or drink is related to standards of healthy living or standards of conduct of women worthy of acquiring the status of a married woman.

On the other hand, letting go of the stud status is not easy for many men either, because the conqueror is usually admired and envied by his supposed competitors, and in this case, falling in love and assuming a stable relationship implies a loss of this status, even if fictitious.

Being a conqueror still gives more likes than having a stable and satisfactory affective relationship. Or at least, there are those who believe so.

I have seen several patients who maintained a femme fatale persona and were faithful and loving wives, as well as men who squabbled over conquests and were adoring husbands in the home. The opposite is also often found, where social personas do not match reality.

This mini universe, represented by this show, manages to present numerous nuances of the most varied types of affective relationships, in which the games of conquest, seduction, manipulation, so frequent in love relationships, are represented with such vivacity.

The said and the unsaid - or what is said behind or in front of the cameras

One of the complaints from some participants is about what happens in front of or behind the cameras, i.e., what is exposed by the persona and what stays in the shadows.

Maintaining a proper public persona is the desire of most of us, and I imagine this concern is even greater when one is being filmed for a program of unimaginable audience reach.

We all need privacy, and when we feel too exposed, we can become stressed, anxious, aggressive or depressed, venting excess emotions when we feel protected from overexposure.

It is known that children throw more tantrums and cry more when they are in the care of their own mothers than strangers, because they feel more comfortable to vent emotions and feelings that could, in addition to not being understood, be repressed, fought or punished by other people.

In stressful situations, such as those to which the participants of the show are constantly exposed, the tendency is for regressive behaviors to manifest themselves, but there is no welcoming and understanding figure nearby, because everyone is experiencing the same things, without the ability to distance themselves from the problem in question, not to mention the stress aggravated by the very characteristic proposed by the program, which is to find your soul mate, which in itself can already arouse personal, family and cultural traumas and conflicts in all participants. [9]

Saying one thing and doing another implies internal conflict, to which all participants seem to be included, in one way or another, to a greater or lesser extent, after all, the circumstances are indeed extremely emotionally charged.

These conditions can very easily lead to hasty conclusions of an abusive relationship between couples, where the question of being nice in public and aggressive in private is so common. Almost all of us fit this description at some point in our lives.

It's also very easy and quick to label someone as shallow, frivolous or immature, because we also don't know about each other's ability to maintain a more stable public persona or not. Couples do this all the time, polarize their social persona while often maintaining a much more complex emotional relationship in their private lives.

Finally, if the fantasies and projections that the participants have to deal with during and after the program were not enough, they still have to deal with the fantasies and projections awakened in the general public, whose fantasies of romantic and unconditional love, added to the affective traumas and love rejections suffered throughout life can interfere with the worldview and positive or negative judgment of each participant.

Literature and cinema bring several examples of couples formed in unusual ways. In the movie Untouchables, Philippe's character falls in love with a woman after both exchange romantic, poetic, and fragrant letters...and the relationship through letters results in a loving relationship, with two children.

I know several couples formed through conversations on Twitter, Tinder, Facebook, and other dating sites. I know couples formed after meetings arranged by friends, couples who fall in love at first sight, couples of lovers of youth who met again after dozens of years and lived a great love. Why not find love and a satisfying relationship on a reality show?

Love always surprises, through encounters, through goodbyes, through the creative way it invades people's lives, sometimes delicately, sometimes like a hurricane.

Judging a relationship by the way a couple meets is prejudiced.

Some relationships start in a socially acceptable way and don't work out. Others start in a crooked way and prove to be sincere and true. The world has changed, the way of meeting people has changed, I consider it natural that the way relationships start also changes.

From what point of view are we judging?

When observing a human being, I have no doubt that the complexity of each one is much greater than a program can show, and that the circumstances to which we are exposed directly interfere in our way of acting and exposing ourselves.

As an old proverb says, to know a person, you have to eat a bag of salt together. And some times, that is no enough!


Note: The bibliographical references of this text are the same as those of the articles mentioned below, feel free to consult them on the site.

[1] Casamento às Cegas Brasil

[2] Reflections on the Big Brother Reality Show are described in this article, on my website.

[4] For more details, see my article on the shadow and the persona on the internet

[5] For more reflections on social isolation, see my article on social isolation in the pandemic.

[6] The Truth in the analytical process, page 41 to read a sample of the book, follow the link:

Or to buy the book on Amazon:

[7] The concept of feeling-toned-complex is discussed in my article Do you have a short fuse?

[8] [9] The subject of passion and projection and the interference of our cultural background is discussed in my book: O Feminino e o Masculino – por meio da cultura, religião, mitologia e contos de fadas, Appris, 2021 e Complexo Individual e Cultural – Entre o fascinio e o perigon as busca pela alteridade nas relacoes interpessoais, Appris, 2023 (Only in Portuguese)

A preview can be reached at my website:


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