Dating and Relationship Advice

I’m a sucker for reality dating shows. In the past year alone, I’ve seen Love Island, Marrying Millions, Love Is Blind, and Too Hot To Handle. When I was in middle school, I religiously watched Millionaire Matchmaker, thinking that Patti Stanger had the best job in the world. It’s probably fitting that I now work for a dating app.

But the show that I absolutely love the most in the world is 90 Day Fiancé. I hadn’t heard about it until recently, when Rose and Big Ed became an overnight meme sensation. However, after watching a few clips of them on Youtube, I was hooked. I binged all of Season 5 in three days.

The show follows couples wherein one partner is American, and the other is foreign. The foreign partner comes to the United States on a K-1 visa, which gives him or her 90 days to get married to a citizen, or leave the country. For a good chunk of the featured couples, this is their first time meeting in person.

All the predictable suspects are there: single moms from 3rd world countries, 20-somethings who fell in love while traveling abroad, and of course, old white dudes on ethnicity-specific dating sites. I do not fit any of these three categories, but I still found the show to be useful. Watching other people in dysfunctional relationships helped me better understand what makes couples work and fail. Mostly the latter. Here's what I learned:

1. Listen to your friends

When people are in love (or think they're in love) they're willing to look past some of their partner's major flaws. Sometimes this is healthy; for instance, loving a partner for their personality even though they aren't conventionally attractive. Other times, it's a bit questionable; for instance, staying with someone after they accuse you of Satanism (Molly and Luis). In the latter examples, there is almost always a BFF in the background trying desperately to warn their lovestruck friend about the red flags. And most of the time, the friend doesn't listen.

2. It's not always a vacation

A lot of couples on the show met while on vacation. They were in great moods and had none of their usual obligations, like kids, work, and money. Yeah... that's not real life. The excitement of being on vacation is often transferred to positive feelings towards the partner, making it seem like a relationship is perfect even when it isn't. When you take the relationship out of the fun and relaxing context, it's no longer a breeze.

3. Sometimes you have to be a little cynical

Maybe it's just me, but 90 Day Fiancé made me a lot more cynical about love in general. I saw enough people getting blatantly used (for a green card, money, sex, $10,000 Chanel bag, etc.) that it made me question whether we should really trust ourselves when we think we're "in love" with someone. I mean, it seems like plenty of these people "in love" were just being scammed.

Honestly, I blame early 2000s RomComs and Grey's Anatomy for making us all hopeless romantics. If anything, 90 Day Fiancé is the wake up call our society needs to learn how relationships can truly suck sometimes. But wake up call or not, 90 Day Fiancé is far too entertaining for me to stop watching.