An engagement only days after getting to know the person, a rushed wedding, and a lot of drama in between. Wait, are we talking about Love is Blind or your typical Arab arranged marriage?
Netflix's new hit show Love is Blind, which premiered on Feb. 13, follows 30 men and women in their quest to find true love. The catch? They never actually see the person they're falling in love with and can only do so after the woman accepts the man's marriage proposal. The contestants spend 10 days "speed dating," aka getting to know each other through short meetings, isolated in two separate pods that are joined by a thin opaque wall.
The couples who eventually get engaged go on vacation to Mexico to spend some together time as a real couple. After the hurried honeymoon is over, the duos return back home and live under the same roof to truly find out if they're able to go through with the wedding, which is set two weeks after their return. At the anticipated union ceremony, the engaged couples who remain together finally answer the question that reveals whether or not an emotional connection reigns supreme: "Is love blind?"
But while the idea of an arranged marriage may have Westerners hyperventilating within seconds, the practice is in fact extremely common in the Arab region, even in this day and age. The two will either get set up by their parents - who happen to know and respect one another - or communicate via phone before ultimately getting hitched.
On Love is Blind, only after cohabiting do the couples take a moment to step back and assess whether or not they're going to make it and if they're willing to work it out. @Netflix, does that sound familiar?
If it isn't so obvious yet, here are a few things that happen in both Love is Blind and an actual Arab arranged marriage:
1. Physically seeing your significant other only after you actually get engaged
The most exciting moment on Love is Blind is when the doors slide for the engaged couples to see each other for the first time. That doesn't happen as soon as the guy proposes; they actually have to wait one full day before finally touching each other physically and knowing what the other person looks like.
Similarly, with an Arab arranged marriage, some couples only see each other after it's been established that their fate is together. Additionally, that scenario can also be possible if a man is getting married to a niqabi (who's face is covered in front of non-mahram aka non-related men), with the big reveal only being permitted after the two tie the knot through a katb kteb.
2. Getting to know your partner in the short interval of your engagement
In your average Arab arranged marriage, the couple exchange engagement rings - typically in the presence of a small circle of extended family members - and then start going out together wherever they want. It wouldn't be extremely shocking to hear of a couple who got engaged days or weeks after meeting traditionally, taking their engagement period as a timeframe to get to know one another.
Well, the only difference this whole scenario has with the one in Love is Blind is that they just don't go through this whole process with the approval of their families, and only tell them about this whole thing afterwards.
3. Testing out the waters and potentially breaking off the relationship during the engagement period
Because the engagement period is the time when the couple gets to know each other, it's extremely normal to hear of arranged pairs breaking it off soon afterwards. This occurrence is somewhat rare for a typical Western couple, considering the norm is usually getting engaged years after falling in love.
Many couples on Love is Blind break off their engagement days after seeing each other, and some actually decide not to go through with the wedding.
4. Almost marrying someone else if only life didn't get in the way
We're willing to bet every Arab knows at least one couple whose relationship went something like this: They met through a common friend or family member, got engaged within weeks, and married within two or three months.
And though that's super fast in terms of a typical relationship timeline, it's also extremely accelerated when it comes to just everyday life, when a person could've easily met someone else or broken off with their ex a while ago.
*SPOILER ALERT* Sure, Jessica was extremely annoying and high-key disrespectful to both Mark and Amber in Love is Blind, but from her point of view, she almost got married to the man of her dreams had it not been for another girl. To her, Barnett was the one who got away.
5. Building a bond on a set of important personal criteria rather than physical attraction
Hate on arranged marriages all you want, but when push comes to shove, it's the true core and foundation of the relationship that matters. Because when physical attraction gets out of the way, people can actually focus on the important stuff: financial security, family approval, similar beliefs and opinions, and so on and so forth.
And that's exactly why Love is Blind worked for many couples. They were able to dust off all possible distractions, sit down, and actually have a heart to heart conversation with one another. They may have been "together" for a few days but the entirety of those days were spent communicating their needs and desires in a future spouse.
6. Having a huge number of people heavily invested in the relationship
Arab aunties just can't wait for that lililililish as soon as they hear of an engaged couple. As a matter of fact, they're willing to call their sisters, aka the bride or groom's mom, on a daily basis just to know the latest tea on the relationship.
The couples on Love is Blind certainly knew what they signed up for when they agreed to get into this whole thing on live TV, but I'm willing to bet they weren't expecting things to get that crazy.
Well, that's just the way us Arabs do it, with or without TV.