Reality TV Ideas of Love and Dating

Is it real? All that is on TV today is reality TV show after reality TV show and majority of them are about finding their “true love”. If you have not seen any of these types of shows, let’s just have a quick summary. Basically, what happens is a man or women is given 8 to 12 weeks to find their “true love” out of about 12 to 40 candidates that the show has picked for them. Majority of these shows end in a proposal, the kicker is majority of these couples end up not staying together. This is something that was mentioned in study done by Omotayo Banjo that he saw in another study done by Krieder and Fields. They found there is a 40% divorce rate in America right now and there is a predicted divorce rate of 50% within the next few years (Krieder & Fields, 2002, p. 3-5). Are seeing these couples that have said they are meant to be together crumble creating a more common occurrence for America’s just to throw in the towel on their marriages? Is this changing the world’s idea of what a healthy and romantic relationship is supposed to be like or are we just watching these shows for the entertainment and making fun of these people for thinking they can find romantic love in 12 weeks? These shows may also be affecting society’s idea of dating and how that is supposed to happen. There are shows out there were individuals are brought together and forced to form a relationship with someone to try and win money, but they do not have loyalties to anyone. Could this be shaping the minds of people that dating is very casual and that it does not have to lead to anything, and one can just hurt people without any repercussions? Reality TV is influencing society but it’s not changing who people are. It may be affecting some of the world’s thoughts and ideas but, it is just allowing people to express feelings that they have probably always had.

What is Romantic Love?

Romantic love has many different definitions and has continuously change over time. During the Middle Ages romantic love was the poetic love that was extremely glorified. In the 19th century it was the type of love that every strived to have, it was the most wanted form of love. Today, the true definition of romantic love is still changing every day, but it can be defined as passionate love that can include sexual desire, physical attraction and elation but there also needs to be commitment along with push and pull within the relationship.

Effects on Dating

Many shows today on television are becoming increasingly more commonly about relationships and love. In a study done by Michael Milmine, he examined the effects of how these shows are affecting the dating behaviors of young minds. (Milmine, 2013) In his study he surveyed forty-six students at a small university in Tennessee, there were 21 men and 25 women that completed the study. The students completed a Milmine Social Interaction and Media Instrument (MSIAMI) that measures television viewing (Milmine, 2013). The results of Milmine’s study found several different relationships between television viewing and different aspects of a relationship but most of the results were weak correlations. He found that individuals that watch more romantic or sexual tv tend to have lower expectations and physical touch with their partner. This could be because the individual is spending more time watching television than with each other (Milmine, 2013). After reading the results of this study, I agree with Milmine’s finding; if one is engulfed in a television it makes sense that there would be less touching within a relationship, but the lower expectation took me by surprise. There are several circumstances when I have been watching a reality show and thought to myself, ‘I want that in a guy’ and then I catch myself and realize how unrealistic that is. After having that thought to myself, maybe that is what happens to other people as well so then we lower our expectations instead of making them too high. This adverse effect is not ideal either, television should not be telling us what we want. Milmine also stated that a lot of young adult’s report using television as a source to help them learn about dating. (Milmine, 2013) I do not necessarily disagree with this, but I think everything on television needs to be taken with a grain of salt. It is not the ideal place to learn about dating but I can teach young adults some aspects of a relationship, but it does not need to be taken literally, which I think is the problem with society right now. Based off Milmine’s research, he also concluded that there was a was a relationship between the amount of television viewed and the frequency of kissing within a relationship. He found that the more romantic television that was watch, the more kissing that took place within a relationship (Milmane, 2013). This statistic was not very surprising to me at all because when one experiences a romantic experience together, it has the potential to get an individual in the moment as well. Milmine’s research was incredibly interesting because his findings were much different than I expected but his explanations made me realize that although individuals do spend about 2.7 hours a day watching television (U.S. Department of Labor, 2011), we are still somewhat responsible for what we allow to affect our behaviors, whether it is conscious or subconscious.

Effects on ideas of Romantic Love

A survey was performed by Omotayo Banjo on how media viewing is affecting the status and satisfaction of their relationships as well as the idea of romantic love. Humans have an innate perception of how they feel in a relationship as well as what that deserve. It stated in this article that based on the Cultivation theory, heavy consumption of media might create false schemas about ideal relationships, thereby creating false perceptions of what we deserve (Banjo, 2002). After reading this statement in the article, it made sense. When watching these types of shows and seeing what these men and women will go through just to find the one, it is going to change what one thinks they deserve. When seeing a man jump a fence on this season of the Bachelor because the women he wanted to be with left him, it was a common idea to see floating around that said “get you a man that will jump a fence for you”, this idea is absurd to me but makes a lot of sense as to why some individuals would watch a love show, trying to figure what they want in a partner or what they believe they deserve. This survey was given to men and women whose ages ranged from college aged to older adults. The participants were randomly selected to complete a questionnaire. There were 67 women and 41 males that participated. The questionnaire asked several different forms of questions, some of the questions were open-ended, while others were scaled about their media usage as well as their martial status or thoughts on marriage.(Banjo, 2002) Banjo’s research tested several different hypothesis but the main on of focus about how reality tv consumption affected a person’s idea of romantic relationship was found not to have a significant correlation (Banjo, 2002). In another research study performed by Bjarne M. Holmes, he explored the idea of how romantic tv skews individuals’ ideas about beliefs in romance destiny (Holmes, 2007). Romantic destiny is just the ideas of if individuals believe in soul mates or if relationships just happen because individuals make it work. This study was very appealing to me because I do not believe in soul mates, I believe that there is someone out there for everyone, but I do not think there is just one person for everyone. Shows such as the bachelor make it seem like everyone that comes on the show is going to find their person and they might, but it does not work out like that for everyone and that just goes back to the point that reality tv gives individuals unrealistic expectations. Holmes’ study was conducted on 294 undergraduate students, 84 men and 209 women. The students were asked about their preference about romantic tv and asked to scale how much they watch it. They were then asked about their beliefs in predestined soul mates and then asked question about Dysfunctional beliefs related to relationship destiny. The results of Holmes’s study were that there was a positive correlation between individuals preferred/like of romance media and individuals’ beliefs in predestined soul-mates as well as for individual’s belief that mind-reading is expected in relationships (Holmes, 2002). After seeing this study, this made my mind start turning. People that watch romantic tv may believe in soul mates and some may not, this shows that although tv might influence an individual’s thoughts to some extent, I do not think it can complete shape a person’s beliefs. I do think it is having an effect on what individuals are expecting out of a relationship because it is giving us unrealistic ideals but in the same sense I do not think it can complete take a non-believer and make them a believer, it’s effect is not that strong. A lot of the effect that the media is having on our population is coming from our individual thoughts. If a person has high expectations to begin with after watching the Bachelor, their expectations are going to sky rocket. If someone does not believe in soul mates and then watches the Bachelorette, it probably will not make them believe in soul mates. It’s a personally choice about what we see as romantic love and although television is having an effect and possibly altering our thoughts, it’s not changing who a person is or what they have always felt deep down; it’s just helping to bring those ideals to the surface.

Analysis

Society is surrounded by things that shape our behaviors and affect our thoughts every single day. Is reality television one of those aspects? There are so many shows out there that are about romance and dating such as The Bachelor/Bachelorette or Temptation Island, but what are these shows doing to us? After all the research that I have seen, reality tv can affect our minds and possible some of our behaviors but it does not have the ability to completely change who an individual is. Reality TV is a guilty pleasure of mine and I have always been one that watches and then never thinks much about it again. I have caught myself a couple of times saying ‘I want a guy like that’ but later realize that is so unrealistic and that is the premise of the show, it is entertainment. There are aspects of all the research that I agree with such as Banjo finding that reality tv can sometimes skew an individuals expectations, making a person want traits in a character that they have seen on the show but I also agree with Milmane’s findings that reality tv can also lower the expectations of their partner. Based off that, I cannot come to a complete yes reality tv is affecting society ideas of love and dating or no it is not. Every person view love differently and therefor reality television has a different affect on each individual person. It has some effects on our behaviors, but it is not defining all of society’s dating and love habits.

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