Any Love is Blind viewer is spoiled for choice when it comes to hard-to-watch moments, but nothing makes me squirm in my couch more than the first time the couples meet face to face. The Netflix series follows single people as they “date” and become engaged before ever laying eyes on each other, and even the best-case first meetings, in which both halves of a couple think that their fiancé is all they imagined and more, are just agonizing to behold. All that pent-up eagerness and passion combines with the fact that they’ve literally never touched each other before to make for some of the most painfully awkward kisses ever seen on TV.
While watching these virtual strangers fumbling with each other for the first time, it’s hard not to wonder why on earth anyone would do this. Not every person who appears on the show makes a pledge to be wed—of the 30 cast members for season two, 14 did the objectively reasonable thing and decided not to become engaged to someone they’d never met. These folks don’t get much camera time, as the show only follows the couples who make it to the proposal stage. So, we talked to one of them, cast member Chassidy Mickale, to find out what it’s like to not find love on Love is Blind.
Mickale is a Chicago-based owner of beauty concierge service that provides hair, makeup, and styling to clients who want to get dolled up for special occasions. After six years of operating her business full-time, she was ready to try to find a spouse the old fashioned way: by applying for a reality TV show. “I really just felt like I didn’t have anything to lose,” she told Jezebel. “Being single, no children, business owner, I was just kind of like, ‘All right, we’re ready for what’s next. So why not take advantage of it?’”
The cast spent ten days “dating,” i.e, talking to each other from opposite sides of an opaque wall. They could head into the pods whenever they chose, and place special requests to speak with people who’d piqued their interest. In classic reality show style, they spent a lot of their free time working out. When not in the pods, they lived in gender segregated areas, though (also in classic reality show style), Mickale said she and the others weren’t “there to make friends.”
“I was there to find my husband,” she said. “I got friends as a bonus.”
Though she didn’t make a lasting match, she did hit it off with some of the other singletons— she just won’t say who, or why the relationships didn’t work out. “I did have my few that I really, really connected with and saw a life together with,” Mickale said. “But, you know, ultimately things kind of change. And I’m okay with that, I still loved it for what it was.”
Since the season premiere, it’s emerged that the six couples the show follows weren’t the only people who found love in the pods. Caitlin McKee and Joe Miller also became engaged, as did Kara Williams and Jason Beaumont. The show’s producers apparently weren’t expecting to have quite so many love matches on their hands and didn’t have the resources to follow their stories. Even though they didn’t make it to the small screen, these couples were among the pairs that Mickale says the cast was rooting for the most. Still, they also didn’t make it to the altar—both couples have since broken up.
One of Mickale’s most memorable moments on the series came when fellow contestant Abhishek “Shake” Chatterjee asked her age, and found out that, at 33, she was—horror of horrors—a full year his senior. “I prefer dating younger,” he told a visibly shocked Mickale. It wasn’t the only impolite question Shake asked; he quizzed women about their dress size, and asked if they were light enough that he’d be able to put them on his shoulders at a concert. Despite the rude query, she doesn’t have hard feelings—and suggests that Shake wasn’t the only member of the cast who tried to figure out what people looked like. “That’s just the one that was probably the most highlighted, and he was probably consistent in his asking everyone,” she said. “But I feel like we all may have asked around it, or something similar. Just because we’re human and we’re curious.”
Mickale and castmate Hope Antoniello also delighted fans of the series by being among the first plus-size contestants on the show, which made it especially disappointing when neither woman found love in the pods. Instead viewers were stuck with a bunch of currently-thin people getting weepy about how tough it used to be when they weighed a few more pounds. “I did my part. I showed up,” said Mickale. “Yes, we wanted marriage. But ultimately, that wasn’t the outcome for me. And that’s that’s OK… and if you want more, make your request known.”
Despite not pairing up on the show, Mickale still believes that love truly is blind—or, at least, that it becomes blind after a while, as time and affection turn physical attraction into something more enduring. Those first face-to-face meetings may have been dramatic moments, but as the show progresses, most of the cast doesn’t seem to care too much about each other’s looks. “Life is going to happen, but over time, love becomes blind,” she said. “You look past that because this is who you chose for your life.”