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'Married At First Sight': Is Blind Arranged Marriage That Different From Online Dating?

"Married At First Sight" puts couples in blind arranged marriages with their scientific match. 

FYI’s new series “Married At First Sight” is being advertised as a social experiment with blind arranged marriages. Four experts pair participants with their scientific matches, and the couples have to get married without even seeing their partners first. Some feel it is taking the concept of finding love on reality TV too far, but it isn’t that different from popular dating websites.

Dr. Joseph Cilona, the show’s psychologist, commented on what the show is promoting. “For me, the show is not saying that people should marry blindly and use professionals to match them in an arranged marriage to a stranger,” Cilona said. “It is using a provocative and extreme premise to explore important issues, and using that vehicle to get people to pay attention, listen, consider, and engage in a dialogue.”

“Married At First Sight” is certainly a different approach to reality television, but looking for a scientific match isn’t new. A popular dating website, eHarmony, advertises “scientific match making” as a selling point. The service claims, “an average of 438 eHarmony members marry every day in the United States as a result of being matched on the site.” The website analyzes personality traits, values and relationship skills. The reality show’s experts also evaluated those aspects of each participant extensively. The website advertises the guidance of experts, also much like “Married At First Sight.”

Taking things a step further with arranged marriage is The website calls itself a “matrimonial service” for Indian couples (partners don’t have to live in India) and has been in business for nearly 20 years. They claim that they have served over 20 million people.

It seems that “Married At First Sight,” which is based on a Danish program, just combined the two things people search for online often: scientific matches and marriage. Still, Cilona knows that “Married At First Sight” or arranged marriages isn’t the right option for everyone.

“Perhaps some people should consider the opinions of friends, loved ones, or even professionals in their choices in romantic relationships and marriage,” Cilona said. “Maybe there are elements of certain arranged marriages that are worth exploring, understanding more deeply and applying in some ways to our own lives. These are the kinds of issues and questions the show highlights.”