“I mean, these are real people with real wants, and I wouldn’t say they’re desperate, but they’re hopeful. I feel like when the other stuff doesn’t work, you know, you should start throwing caution to the wind. I think that’s really brave, especially in this case.”
In the modern-day world of dating, the use of apps like Tinder and Bumble to find relationships has become the norm, and shows like The Bachelor, Love Connection, and Famously Single have desensitized us to the shock of the prospect of searching for love in front of the whole world. Even so, there is a new TV show about to hit the air that will not only introduce a fresh new concept and challenge us to reconsider the way we choose our partners, but let us know that we really haven’t yet seen it all.
TLC’s Hear Me, Love Me, See Me, set to premiere March 3rd, is a three-part series that, in the words of the network, “takes physical attraction out of the equation and encourages those looking for love to focus on getting to know potential suitors before they see what they look like.” Each episode features a bachelorette who goes on several dates with three men before making a decision at the end on who she most sees continuing her relationship with. The catch? She has each date virtually, from the comfort of the couch, and she and her date can’t see each other at all as he goes about his day with a bodycam strapped to his chest. They get to know each other by asking questions and swapping jokes, and at the end the three bachelors and bachelorette find themselves face-to-face for the first time, decision already in the bag. Christine Lakin is the wingwoman of the bachelorette, right by her side as she navigates the double-blind dates, offering her much-needed moral support from the beginning of the journey to the end. We spoke with Christine about the shocking new series, what it’s like to be the third-wheel in front of a national audience, and what she hopes it teaches viewers and participants alike about love.
Cailin: What was your reaction when you first heard about the concept for this new show? We just saw the premiere episode, and the use of bodycam POV where even the viewer was left in the dark for a time was just so unlike everything we’ve seen on a reality TV dating show.
Christine Lakin: Yeah! I mean, hearing the concept and actually being involved were kind of two different things, right? In the beginning I was sort of like, Oh my god, that’s gonna be so weird! It’s such a great idea, but how’s it really gonna work? And then when I’m sitting there—‘cause you know, obviously I’m on the dates with the girls—so I’m sitting there like a fly on the wall, watching these guys walk around, or be in their airstream trailer, whatever it is. I’m picking up the same cues that some of the girls are picking up. It’s funny, it’s like being on a truly blind date, and you’re doing investigative journalism. You’re like, Ooh, look at his hands! Ooh, he looks nervous, he’s pacing around. What was that thing he was making back there? Is that his dog? You’re on the date, but the first date you’re just watching and trying to pick everything up. Your senses are truly so heightened. It’s a completely backwards way to date, but it some ways—I don’t know for you guys, I don’t know if you date and you do the social media, or the Bumble-ing, or the Tinder-ing, and all that stuff. But, I have a lot of friends that do, and it feels like this very—like, this modern way of dating is very fast and furious. You know, you’re swiping on people literally based on a profile picture. You know nothing about that person. I felt like this [the show] was just such a unique way to use our digital age, but in a completely opposite manner, so that you really get to know these people. You get to talk to them before making and passing a judgment on a two-second version of, Oh, I don’t think that guy is my type. You know?
CL: So it was just a really unique social experiment.
H: Do you ever feel uncomfortable when you’re walking the participant through the date, like you’re the third wheel? [laughs]
CL: [laughs] You know, a little bit like that. The first date is always a little awkward, ‘cause you’re like, Hi! They’re meeting for the first time, and the guy can’t see us, either! So at one point, the guy was talking to me [without realizing it], and I was like, “I’m not your girl, sorry! I was just asking a question!”
H: Oh my gosh!
C: I noticed that when you’re listening, sometimes it’s like, Wait, is that Christine talking, or the person actually on the date?
H: ‘Cause you can’t see!
CL: Yeah, for sure! But then as it goes on, you start to really know these people a little better. Our contestant will go on her second date alone, so she has a little bit of alone time. And then we recap, and then the third date I’m back. It’s really more hanging out in the wings, just being there for her, so we can talk about it and dish afterwards. I feel like I’m a really good wingwoman, to be honest with you. I’ve been married for three years, and I still have a ton of single friends. I feel like I do the wingwoman thing pretty well. And also, I’m not in that world all the time anymore, so it’s fun for me to kind of look from the outside and sort of live vicariously through them a little bit. But it definitely takes some warming up, for sure.
H: I feel like if I was a participant on this show, which is—I mean, the idea of it at first seems so uncomfortable and weird, but I feel like you would be a good person to have along for the ride! I even got that from the first episode.
C: ‘Cause on the first date you’re not just sitting there alone awkwardly talking to someone through a screen. You’ve got somebody to share what you’re feeling and your reactions to the other person with.
CL: Yeah! Definitely. You know, there were definitely times where me and the girl were looking at each other making faces, or laughing. It’s not as awkward for them, because they don’t feel like they’re alone on this blind date. They feel like there’s somebody else there that can smooth it over a little bit until they get to know each other.
C: What do you think makes a person decide to turn to reality TV to find love? ‘Cause, you know, not only this show, but there are tons of shows where people go on TV to look for somebody to be their soulmate, and be with for the rest of their life. Why do you think people turn to TV to do this when there are so many other ways of meeting people? Even just as you mentioned, there’s online dating and apps—there’s so many options!
CL: From the girls that I met, what I really found was, in each of their own ways, they’ve all done that stuff, and it hasn’t worked out. I think the idea of doing something completely different—it’s sort of like, at this point, why not? Why wouldn’t I try something that I’ve never tried before? Because who knows? I mean, I don’t know that anybody originally went on The Bachelor honestly thinking they were going to find love. I mean, maybe a few people did, but I think there’s a lot of reasons why people do that stuff. However, it has worked for a lot of people. Something like this, where—for instance, there was one gal who felt she was always choosing the same type, but it was always wrong for her. She’s like, “I’m a sucker for a bad boy. I’m always choosing a bad boy, and it never works out well for me.” This is a real chance for her to get outside of her comfort zone and not pick a guy who looks like what, in her head, she thinks she should be with. To really get to know somebody. And at the end, when the guy she picked was revealed he was so not her “type.” But I think it kind of proved to her that she’s been judging too much a book by its cover, and that’s probably why it hasn’t worked out for her. ‘Cause she was always choosing the wrong dude. These are women who vary in age, they vary with what their past has been. We really get into that. One of them was a single mom with her own business, who’s looking for someone [to be a father figure to her daughter]. There’s a girl who is a twin, and her twin is already married. She’s like, “I feel like the third wheel all the time.” We had a woman who is a little older, who had been in a long relationship, and a bad relationship. She felt like she had wasted all of her good years, and so desperately wants to meet someone who wants to have a baby. I mean, these are real people with real wants, and I wouldn’t say they’re desperate, but they’re hopeful. I feel like when the other stuff doesn’t work, you know, you should start throwing caution to the wind. I think that’s really brave, especially in this case.
C: And you mentioned, I mean, just for example you mentioned The Bachelor. This show [Hear Me, Love Me, See Me] is actually different because you at least know that both you and the person you’re going on dates with are open to the idea of dating someone without knowing what they look like. You’re both on board with starting a relationship in a less superficial way.
CL: Totally. Totally! And I think that’s where, hopefully, we’re getting some real connections coming out of it. Because you’re only seeing the guy’s hands, or maybe his feet, or whatever, for like three-fourths of the show, and you don’t really know what he looks like until his face is revealed. And that’s one of the most fun parts, because as the three guys walk out, they’re not allowed to say anything, and she’s already chosen and doesn’t know who is who. And I think it’s—again, I think if you’ve made a connection with someone. . . Like, I met my husband in the organic way. We met through mutual friends. We met in the theater, and we did a couple shows together. I mean, we were friends for years before we got together and started to date. It feels like that’s very rare these days. But I got to know him on such a different level. He saw me at my worst, he saw me at my best. I was never trying to impress him. We all put on an act in the beginning. Even on their social media profiles, you know, everyone’s curating a certain version of themselves—and it’s very hard to break that down. This is kind of an icebreaker on so many different levels. You can’t really put that certain version of yourself out there. You’re sort of forced to ask real questions, because there’s not a lot of other superficial stuff that you’re hanging on. That’s what makes it so unique. And like you said, they both really want to be there.
H: Obviously you’re happily in love now—you mentioned you’ve been married for three years. You said that your first dates were more traditional, but are you someone who would have ever considered being part of a show like this one to find a relationship?
CL: Well, sure, I think had, you know—my husband and I met when I was in my early thirties, but we didn’t start dating until I was, I think, 33. We both wanted the same things at the same time. So we dated, a year later we got engaged, a year later we got married. We were on the fast track. But that being said, Tinder and Bumble, all that stuff was just really getting big at that time. I think had I not met him—I mean, what do you do? How do you find people? Meeting someone the good old-fashioned, organic way is just [not as common] these days. So yeah, I probably would have done it. I have a lot of weird stories too!
H: No bodycams though?
CL: [laughs] Yeah, true! But thankfully I get to live vicariously through all my friends who tell me all their horror stories.
H: [laughs] Do you have your own preferences when you’re watching the dates? I feel like it’d be hard not to.
C: Are you kind of deciding in your head who you’d think would be the right match for the person on the date?
CL: I mean, definitely. I have my own opinions for sure. But I very much try to be a wingwoman for our girl. In the very, very beginning, you know, we have a long talk about why this person is still single, and what she feels like the mistakes have been in the past, and what she is honestly and truly looking for in her ideal mate. And I try to keep her on track to that, because I feel like those base emotions, those base passions—that’s what’s got to keep you motivated. And all too often, we’re swayed by looks, we’re swayed by Oh, he rides a motorcycle, that’s so hot! You know, there were times when some of our girls were attracted to that kind of stuff, and I would remind them. I’d say, “Hey! This is your decision, this is your journey—but I’m here to remind you of why it didn’t work the last time, and [help you] find someone super stable.” This guy is a musician, he said, and he travels all the time, and you have a kid. I’m just putting that out there. Maybe that’s something you should consider, maybe you guys should talk about it on your next date. It’s like jumping into the pool. All the sudden you’re meeting a mom, meeting friends, meeting parents—these are things that generally don’t happen on the first date. So it’s like you’re jumping maybe ten dates in in that first round. Which I think is good! I mean, let’s just get real. Why not?
C: In one of the previews, a woman made the comment after seeing her chosen date for the first time that on a normal day, she wouldn’t approach him, but that she’s glad that today’s not a normal day. How much have you heard from people who have said that as a result of doing the show, they are more open minded when it comes to potential relationships?
CL: Oh, definitely! In at least two of the cases—you know, there’s going to be three episodes—and in at least two of them I remember when the girls chose the guys, I was specifically thinking once I saw their profiles and their pictures, Wow, she is going to be in for a surprise. That is, according to her, not her physical type at all. I think she specifically said something like, “I hate facial hair!” [laughs] He had a lot of facial hair. But it was interesting ‘cause I was like, I don’t know how this is going to go. What is his face going to do when I’m the one being like, “Jeremy, step forward” and she’s like, Oh no! But to my surprise, they went over and hugged, and they started talking. And then my job is done, and I say thank you and I move on and give them privacy. But to my surprise the producers actually told me—‘cause I’m so curious, all I want to do is know how it turned out—I guess they had a great time, they had a great chat, and they exchanged numbers. I really do hope that even if people aren’t finding their “one”—because, let’s be honest, it’s a little bit of a needle in a haystack—I hope this is an opportunity for them to get outside of the roped decisions or the ruts that they’ve been in in dating, and to really get back to what connects us as humans. We spend so much time looking down at a phone, and so little time looking each other in the eye. This is one of those weird things where you take that visual away and you have to use the rest of what you have. And really, so much of it is your ears. It’s so much about listening to each other, and asking the right questions. If nothing else, maybe it will give them some more tools to get out there and get what they want.
H: And this is something that applies to not just the participants on the show, but the viewers, too.
CL: Oh, definitely! Look, the viewer is going to have the experience that I have. They’re on the journey with us. Oh, that guy looks cool, or That guy looks weird, or whatever! This is the guy I would pick. As the viewer, you kind of have a vision in your head of what you think the guy is going to look like, and I would say, nine times out of ten, it’s not what you think at all. It’s interesting the preconceptions we make as humans, you know?
Hear Me, Love Me, See Me premieres on TLC March 3rd at 10/9c.