How reality dating shows shape public perception of romance

How Reality Dating Shows Shape Public Perception of Romance

Reality dating shows are popular in the entertainment industry, showcasing relationships between two people as they’re developed over time. The genre of reality dating shows dates all the way back to the mid-1990s, and has evolved over time to consist of contestants who are vying for the attention and affection of a single person – the “bachelor”. While these shows are entertainment, they have an influence on the way the public views relationships and romance.

Promoting Unrealistic Expectations

Reality dating shows are known for promoting unrealistic expectations of what relationships look like, particularly when it comes to the intensity of romance. Contestants are always competing with each other, striving to win the affections of the bachelor or bachelorette with grand gestures, luxurious dates and plenty of intimate moments.

This establishes an unrealistic expectation of what relationships should be, as most relationships in the real world don’t adhere to such standards of grandeur and romance. This can lead viewers to feel disappointed or dissatisfied with what their own relationships are like.

False Ideas of Love

Reality dating shows also broadcast false ideas and messages about what true love is. Contestants are known for becoming obsessed with the lead, desiring them and only them – without discussing any sort of compatibility or meaningful substance. This creates the idea that love is possessive and infatuation-based, rather than something which is healthy and mutual.

This can lead to people making unhealthy decisions, such as not communicating their expectations or feeling too attached to someone at the beginning of a relationship. Loving someone should not feel like a source of codependency or entitlement between two people, but rather the result of respect and care.

Unhealthy Relationship Norms

Lastly, reality dating shows promote unhealthy relationship norms which detract from the value of true, committed love. Many shows still have the one-on-one dinner dates and over-the-top outings, but also feature sexual activities which are often implied, if not concretely shown. This can create the idea in the public that relationships should always progress to a sexual level, or that romance should be tied in with sexual activity.

Ultimately, relationships are a lot more than these realities. They are about compatibility, communication, respect and understanding – without the need for dramatic moments or complicated displays of affection.


Although reality dating shows can be enjoyable to watch, they tend to promote dangerous and distorted ideals which are often not conducive to healthy relationships. By understanding the false messages which these types of shows promote, viewers can keep realistic expectations and foster relationships which are based on honesty and understanding.

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