5 Ways To Undo The Toxic Love Lessons We Learn From Reality TV Shows

Are your favorite shows messing up your chance at finding love?

5 Ways To Undo The Toxic Love Lessons We Learn From Reality TV Shows Getty

Is it just me or is TV out of control with all the dating and reality TV shows aimed at some television version of "falling in love"?

None of this is new, of course — at least according to this article in The New York Times from 2013 detailing three shows that were airing at the time — each with a worse premise than the one before. The first program to air was Eva Longoria's show, Ready for Love, but it was cancelled after only two episodes.


The idea was that three matchmakers had to scour the world to find matches for their clients. My thought is: if these matchmakers had to "scour the world" to find someone a match, this client was being way too picky, anyway.

There are a variety of new versions of these, such as Lifetime's Married At First Sight, which features couples who — as the title suggests — get married without ever having met one another. Their partnership is created by the show's producers, matchmakers, and other "experts".  

There's also TLC's 90 Day Fiancé, which "follows couples who have applied for or received a K-1 visa (available uniquely to foreign fiancés of U.S. citizens) and therefore have ninety days to marry each other" and a new show from Netflix called Too Hot To Handle, where physically attractive young people are challenged not to have sex on a sexy island. Vulture claims, "Even Too Hot To Handle's Narrator Knows This Is A Ridiculous Show".


 As you can imagine, the relationships that emerge in shows like these are not always healthy. Some are downright toxic

RELATED: 9 Lessons Netflix's 'Love Is Blind' Taught Me About Love & Never Accepting Less Than You Deserve

So what are we learning about love and relationships from watching these reality TV dating and matchmaking shows?

Nothing good.


At least that's my opinion as a dating coach for women over 40.

In fact, I think most of the shows in this genre can be extremely harmful. Shows like 2013's Dates From Hell and today's Love Is Blind only heighten the fears that many single women already have about dating. Secondly, these shows — especially ones like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, where one person is placed on a pedestal — tend to glamorize unrealistic ideas about what constitutes as an ideal partner.

This only reinforces limiting beliefs, which are thoughts or expectations that inhibit us in some way. These types of limiting beliefs may just ruin your chance for love.

As a dating professional, I find this trend to be a travesty and huge disservice to single men and women.


But what can you do when reality TV has skewed your perceptions about love? Here are five suggestions to get you back to the real world where finding love is truly possible.

1. Remember that reality TV has little to do with reality.

Actors or casted reality TV personalities often play these parts with a lot of forced drama created strictly for ratings. On many shows, producers even offer scripts or outlines of how conversations should go.

Most men and women are nothing like the radical singles populating these dismal shows.

2. Stop watching shows that bring you down about love.

If you just want to be entertained, pick something more positive and upbeat. Rent a funny romantic comedy or watch a sitcom instead.

These movies and shows don't put on the pretense that they are simulating the real dating experience the way reality TV does. Instead, it's entertainment that will leave you feeling positive.


RELATED: 5 Surprising Ways To Restore Your Faith In 'True Love'

3. Meet new people.

TV will not replace the real thing, which is why sitting on your couch at home won't help your love life.

If you want to find a romantic partner, get out of the house and meet people (when you can!) or post a dating profile online. Actively pursue your dream of love.

4. Relax and take the pressure off.

If you have very high standards for a partner or think that every date must matter, you're putting way too much pressure on yourself and the dating process. Unlike on reality TV dating shows, not every date or meetup has to be dramatic — in a bad or a good way.

Try to relax and get comfortable in just meeting new people. When you can simply be willing to get to know a person, you add to your social circle which can be a big plus for finding love.


Think about it. Every person you meet has his/her own circle of friends and you never know who your connection to love might be. I met my husband's sister at a bar and she fixed me up with her brother!

5. Look for evidence of love.

Yes, there are happy couples around you!

If you don't believe love is real, I recommend opening your eyes to consciously look for examples of love in your life. Love is not only real, it's completely possible for you to find it. I found love after 40 and so have many of my clients.


That's how I know you can find love, too.

RELATED: Why Reality TV Shows Are The Worst Place To Look For Lasting Love

Ronnie Ann Ryan has been a love and dating coach for women for over seventeen years. She's helped thousands of successful single women with hot careers (but a chilly love life) find lasting love. Listen to her free audio program, 5 Surefire Ways to Attract a Quality Man.