7 Observations of Dating Culture from watching Love Island

by Alan Gault August 27, 2017 A

If you’ve already watched love island, here are 7 observations of dating culture I had from watching it. If you haven’t, the next post is going to explain to you exactly why you should – watch this space. 

  1. “I would never ever want someone to ever change me, I would never ever want to change anybody.  I like you for who you are”

    While it left many twitter followers having “all the feels” for Chris this is a dangerous one for discipleship let alone relationships and marriage. It happened over and over again in conversations in the Villa. The cardinal sin was wanting to change somebody or allowing them to change you. This meant a fundamental rejection of the other person. The message that Jesus loves us but wants to change us will jar like an oxymoron for a generation thinking this way. We need to open the door by rightly framing true acceptance in full knowledge of areas of growth.

  2. “I’m just being honest…”

    Honesty is the character trait valued most highly in the £2.5 million villa. Being honest – doesn’t matter what the consequences or who the audience is.  If you are being honest that is all anyone can ask of you. Whether that’s ditching your partner, chatting up your best mates girl or listing everything you don’t like about the person next to you right in front of them. I’m not denouncing honesty at all, but sometimes there’s a time or a place to just shut up right? Maybe this is a generation in dire need of a remake of Bambi.I think Integrity is a much more effective word that we could lift into young peoples vocabulary. It lifts the positives aspects of honest whilst guarding that “honesty” is not permission to do whatever but acts in partnership with other character traits to make helpful, mutually beneficial decisions.

  3. “I think I’m catching feelings”

    Was  uttered roughly a million times and was then defined by the Daily Mirror as follows:“The act of falling in love when you weren’t supposed to. Can also refer to strong feelings of lust towards those you hadn’t considered sexual partners.”If “falling in love” has been talked about at length especially in Christian circles – this takes that one step further.  You can catch feelings like you catch a cold, you don’t mean to, you don’t want to, you are just trying to meet your physical needs and then bang, loaded with the feels. Once you have them, then you can’t possibly act in any other way because its “the way I’m feeling” which you can do nothing about and you’re “just being honest” with yourself. This counts double if you suddenly catch feelings for the new girl in the villa at the expense of the girl you have been sleeping next to. The implication of this is that we can trust our feelings because they are out of our control. The opposite of catching feelings is “the ick” – when despite lots of things being right about your partner you suddenly and without warning are put off them.  Again you have no say over this, developing the ICK is the death nail for all relationships, nothing can save it because our feelings are outside of our control which results in:

  4. “I have to go with how I feel”

    If we can trust our feelings, are under an obligation to be who we feel we are, and honest with ourselves then our feelings decide our actions. Contrary to loving with all our hearts (emotions), all our mind (logic/thinking) and all our strength (physical) decisions are based on emotions predominantly and sometimes almost solely.The most used phrase in the show was “100% my type on paper”; if I logically thought about what I was attracted to and what I look for in a partner I would land on that person. No one in the villa ended up with someone that they referred to with this phrase – because in reality their decisions were based on feelings and the all important “vibe.” You could talk in front of your partner about someone being “100% your type on paper” because you wouldn’t necessarily be communicating any feelings and therefore weren’t doing anything “wrong”.Yet the truth is that feelings are not infallible. I know lots of people who feel fat even though they are not overweight, others who feel alone when they are lots of people who love and care for them, and more who feel worthless when they are in fact full of worth. Our emotions are helpful indicators but cannot function in isolation.  They are often very immediate, in the moment, and so need teamed with logic, knowledge and wisdom. Basing relationships upon our emotions leads to very dramatic, up and down relationships with boundaries and expectations constantly changing – and yes that’s exactly what happened with many of the couples.

  5. “I just don’t want to get mugged off”

    When you watch the show you will see a lot of fear – fear of being hurt because of past relationships which is pretty understandable but the biggest fear on show is the fear of losing face. Being “mugged off”. This was such a theme on the show that one guys nickname became Muggy Mike and they had an award at the end for Muggiest Moment. People played games with each others feelings because they didn’t want to be the “loser”. Couldn’t possibly risk looking stupid in front of a dozen other people (and 2.5 million on TV). What could look stupider than having genuine feelings for someone and letting them know?
    Unrequited love – an issue that was the making of me and many of my friends as teenagers, is now the thing to be avoided at all costs. Not even because it hurts to like that person and them not like you, but for how that looks to everyone else. We’re so scared of opening up so fearful of being vulnerable because we might fall, because we might get rejected and most importantly of how affects how we are perceived by those watching.

  6. “Sex and love don’t correlate”

    “Its just sex guys chill out” was Olivia’s initial reaction when it became public knowledge that she said she would sleep with Mike 6 hours before telling Chris she loved him.  During the ensuing argument between Chris and Olivia she defends herself again “Sex and love don’t correlate for one.”
    Here is the kicker – this wasn’t news. No one (but me) even flinched, let alone suggest she might be mistaken.  It wasn’t in any of the highlight clips (I looked so I could imbed them) because what she said was not controversial.   It was accepted as a truthful statement. Sex and Love do not correlate.  That’s why they can play games (that make me and probably you uncomfortable) where each girl takes it in turns to snog all the guys and gets marked on her kiss, or the boys get felt up by all the blindfolded girls and judged on their bodies – its purely a physical exercise with no need for feelings to be involved.  Now think of your teenagers at a party or young adults at a club? Think about how they treat kissing or other physical affection.This is a simple example of an even more profound “truth” of this generation. The disconnection between the physical and emotional.  Sex and love don’t correlate for Olivia because sex is a physical action, and love is an emotional feeling and those areas of life are separate and distinct. This dovetails with conversations around gender and trans people who feel a profound disconnect between their physical and emotional bodies.

  7. “I’m hoping to find the one”

Everyone on the show professed to wanting to find love. For all the flirting and playing the field and the sometimes cringey shenanigans – these were young(ish) people who were looking for 1 person who they might want to spend their life with.  What 90% actually craved was a committed monogamous relationship. Sex and love may have been decoupled but the deep longing is love not sex. This is hope that we might influence the conversation as Christians believe in love and life long commitment. By our example in how we date, find love and live as single and married people Christians provide an alternative that is exactly what peoples hearts are crying out for.