This ‘Love is Blind’ contestant’s shocked reaction to his fiancée went viral. Can attraction grow?

By | March 1, 2024

“Love Is Blind” has returned to Netflix for its sixth season — and, oh boy, is the premise put to the test.

The show, which features several singles dating and getting engaged before ever seeing what the other looks like, has sparked a debate (and lots of jokes) online recently for one contestant’s stunned reaction to his fiancée. Contestant Jimmy Presnell seemed smitten with Chelsea Blackwell when she told him she had been told she looked like Megan Fox; but when the two finally meet in person, he is in disbelief – and not in a good way.

Presnell and Blackwell’s romance has been rocky ever since, and relationship experts say their interactions on the show and subsequent online discourse highlight interesting points about physical attraction and expectations in dating.

Attraction is a tricky thing. Sometimes it is there; sometimes that is not the case. It’s not something that can be enforced, but it is is something that can grow over time, at least in some ways, experts say.

“I fully believe that attraction can grow over time as you build an intellectual and emotional connection and get to know someone,” says Blaine Anderson, a dating coach for men. “I tell my clients this all the time: You have to be attracted to your partner. For a romantic relationship, that’s a requirement. But it doesn’t have to be an instant spark or immediate physical attraction.”

Contestant Jimmy Presnell seemed in love with Chelsea Blackwell

Contestant Jimmy Presnell appeared to be in love with Chelsea Blackwell in Season 6 of ‘Love Is Blind’. But when the two finally meet in person, he is in disbelief – and not in a good way.

Can attraction grow? It’s complicated

Whether or not attraction grows depends on the type of attraction you’re talking about, says Sara Nasserzadeh, a social psychologist and author of the book “Love by Design: 6 Ingredients to Build a Lifetime of Love.” She makes a distinction between physical and sexual attraction.

Physical attraction, she says, has to do with finding the other person handsome. Sexual attraction, on the other hand, has more to do with chemistry, connection and intimacy, and Nasserzadeh describes it as that “very intense attraction you have for someone.”

According to Nasserzadeh, the latter can often improve over time. However, the former is harder to cultivate if you don’t feel it at all in the beginning of a relationship, especially in men.

Still, Nasserzadeh adds, it’s important to remember that attraction has many layers—and that different layers will be more or less important to different people. For example, many people find that a strong intellectual or emotional attraction to their partner is more important to them than a strong physical attraction.

“People are able to expand their ideas about attraction because the meaning of attraction is: ‘Why do you want to be with the other person?’ ” says Nasserzadeh. “It could be for so many different reasons.”

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Anderson says first date jitters and initial awkwardness are also normal and tend to be confused by a lack of physical or sexual attraction.

“You have to remember a first date, especially if you meet online, or even in the case of ‘Love is Blind’ if you haven’t met yet, it’s going to be a little awkward,” she says. “It will take some time for both parties to feel comfortable and therefore be the best versions of themselves.”

In some cases, not finding someone immediately attractive can be a good thing because it allows you to see who they are beyond their appearance. This is why strong romantic relationships can develop between people who start out as friends.

“As that attraction grows over time… you get to know them for more than just superficial attraction,” she says. “And superficial attraction alone is not enough for a long-term relationship.”

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Social media and why it’s harder to find people attractive in real life

There are many reasons why people have certain preferences for what they find physically attractive. One of these is what Nasserzadeh calls the exposure factor: in general, people will be attracted to the types of people they are exposed to on a regular basis.

This means that in the age of social media, people’s standards and preferences for what is attractive have been warped. If someone spends too much time staring at edited photos of models and heavily made-up influencers on their phone, they will likely have a harder time finding regular people attractive.

Anderson advises people to take stock of why they don’t find someone physically attractive and spend time away from social media to see if their preferences change.

“I tell my clients all the time not to look for someone who looks like an Instagram model, because even Instagram models don’t look like Instagram models in real life,” she says. “Everyone right now is looking at a culmination of edited photos and even AI of what they like. And that’s just not the real reality or what’s necessarily realistic.”

Nasserzadeh wants people to know that physical attraction is not the only important ingredient for a relationship.

“There are more reasons to be around someone else,” she says. “As long as all of these points of attraction serve the shared vision they are trying to create together, they are good to go.”

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: ‘Love Is Blind,’ Jimmy’s shock at Chelsea and whether the attraction can grow

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