what is love?

9 Love Is Blind Lessons From Around the World

Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by Netflix

“What is love?” the esteemed musical philosopher Haddaway once asked. I thought I knew, but after watching four global series of Love Is Blind, I’m now at the same point mentally as the Euro-banger singer, for everything I once knew was just a lie.

Netflix’s extreme dating “sight unseen” show first arrived to rip up the rule book back in 2020, and since then there have been two U.S. series, a Brazilian version (2021) and most recently, a Japanese interpretation of the franchise (2022). Reader, I’ve seen them all, and boy, did Cupid’s arrow clang me over the head while watching these warp-speed romances from across the world. I’ve clearly been getting true love completely wrong all these years.

In the spirit of these passionate paramours diving straight into the rocky waters of love without a life jacket, here’s everything I’ve learned about l’amour from the Love Is Blind global editions. Because after all, aren’t we all just a person, standing in front of a wall, sobbing about our past childhood traumas in the hope of bonding with a stranger to see out our dying days with?

Love will arrive brandishing an acoustic guitar
From Sal’s (LIB U.S., s2) self-penned Latino love songs and Barnett’s (LIB U.S., s1) ode to LC on the ukulele to Thiago’s (LIB Brazil) idly threatening strumming and Kaoru’s (LIB Japan) crooning on a guitar; love will corner you and ask you to like and subscribe to their lo-fi covers of ’90s dance anthems.

Love is bestowing the biggest, most amazing hyperbole in the world on a literal voice behind a wall
“She’s perfect!” pants Shayne about Natalie (LIB U.S., s2). “He is the one; each moment with him makes me more certain,” Dayenne projects onto Rodrigo (LIB Brazil). “You are the yin to my yang,” Barnett says, while love-bombing his future non-wife, Jessica. If you keep saying it enough, it must be true, right? How incredible that the producers of each series have managed to find a group of all the most superhumanly perfect people on the planet. What are the chances?

Love is talking about pets obsessively 
Nothing screams “I AM CAPABLE OF LOVING ANOTHER BEING” more than repeatedly mentioning your dog, cat, or … chinchilla? (Motomi, LIB Japan). While Barnett spoons his dog like a romantic partner (weirdly, his dog is the big spoon?), Lissio (LIB Brazil) reveals that he visits the dog he shared with his ex exactly twice a year, as the dog is “his child.” Is there a child-protection-service number for dogs? Someone needs to call it if so. Same for Jessica’s (LIB U.S., s1) little wine sips for her pup, which brings a whole new meaning to booze hound. Bonus: Should you need to randomly ditch your partner for two days, you can always use the inspired excuse that you’re looking after your furbaby (see Ayano, LIB Japan).

Love is having no filter
Just say what you see! When Midori (LIB Japan, who, incidentally, wooed her man, Wataru, with a PowerPoint presentation; icons only) says to her fiancé upon meeting him that his “features aren’t quite as delicate” as she’d hoped, and that he “needed to acknowledge his spare tire,” it’s all fair game in a relationship, as is Giannina announcing to Damian (LIB U.S., s1) that he needs to step it up in bed: “It’s great, but it’s not fucking mind-blowing.” No such thing as white lies here, as when Motomi (LIB Japan) says of her first impression of Ryotaro: “Like, is this guy going to hit me?” Awwww, the wedding vows just write themselves!

Love is wearing a jaunty headpiece
Some say that hat wearers are peacocking merchants of chaos — ignore them! What do they know? As Shaina (LIB U.S., s2) is well aware, it just gives you something to hide your shady morals under. It also apparently gives you the confidence to try to steal another guy right from under their fiancée’s nose. Hey, you can’t help who you fall in love with!

Love is ignoring the ick
Maybe he makes his own toothpaste (Nick, LIB U.S., s2) or her apartment looks like a sale at TJ Maxx (Dayanne, LIB Brazil), or he sheds too much hair in the bath (Mori, LIB Japan). Maybe she even “doesn’t believe in evolution” (Shaina, LIB U.S., s2). These are not important factors to weigh down your true-love journey. Swallow your pride, and get on with getting down the aisle, even if their behavior gives you the full-body shivers.

Love is doing an about-turn after the reveal
“Sometimes I feel Shay is a different person when the cameras are off,” says model Ana about her lover, Shayan (LIB Brazil). Wait, so you’re telling me a reality-TV wannabe wasn’t reflecting their true authentic self on screen? It’s the same over in Japan, with Nanako reflecting sadly of her formerly wise-cracking comedian hubby, post-pods: “It’s like I’m with a completely different person, it’s a total 180.” Thiago (LIB Brazil) waits until they’re living together to casually ask of Nanda, “So you agree women are the weaker sex?” following up with, “I wouldn’t marry a woman who’s been around too much.” Red flags? Nah, it’s all good; you’re just peeling back the complex onion layers of your sweetheart.

Love is avoiding discussing annoying life stuff, like money
Ayano (LIB Japan) asking her date how the finances worked in their past relationships … God, talk about a buzzkill. Is she trying to not find love? The perfect time to drop that you’re $20k in student debt is after you’ve gotten them to promise for richer, for poorer, just like Amber (LIB U.S., s1), or to reveal that you don’t actually own a restaurant, you just work in one (Mizuki, LIB Japan). It’s also perfectly acceptably to ridicule your fiancée for the idiotic idea of saving in a 401(k), when you could spend it all on, I dunno, an old-fashioned cocktail fountain (Natalie and Shayne, LIB U.S., s2) and a tux cape?

Love thinks you’re perfect; now change!
So you’re a feminist, huh? Sorry, it makes your partner feel that he’s sexist — “Carol lives by this activism,” huffs Hudson (LIB Brazil) — so how about toning it down a little? And you’re damn right that you should toil away on a whole-body overhaul in the gym to be more aesthetically pleasing to your lover (Wataru and Midori, LIB Japan)! Then there’s your personal life to decimate, like Danielle (LIB U.S., s2) being told she has to bid goodbye to table-breaking nights out with her friends, and even worse, her hot-dog and corn-on-the-cob costumes. Their partners are all correct, of course, as they know you better than you know yourself. Congratulations, you’ve found your soul mate, and all it took was some delusional thinking and wild humiliation on a global streaming site!

Anyway, gotta run, I’ve got dinner reservations at Nobu on Sunday with a guy I’ve just matched with on Tinder. Got a great feeling about this one!

9 Love Is Blind Lessons From Around the World