Fifty percent of marriages in America today are said to end in divorce. “Joe Millionaire,” the popular “reality” TV show, provides an example as to why romance too often dies.
The show is allegedly a test of “true love.” That test, however, starts with a lie: Evan Marriott, a.k.a., Joe Millionaire, received a $50 million inheritance from his uncle. While several women seek to be Marriott’s one-and-only, he wines and dines them at his French chateau, takes them on romance-novel dates, and buys them pricey gifts, all the while keeping from them that he remains a construction worker who earns $19 thousand a year.
“Joe Millionaire” implicitly pushes the conclusion that once Marriott reveals the truth, if the woman he chooses stays with him, then she has true love; if she rejects him, then she was only after his money.
But, actually, the way the show sets up the courtships, it promotes what destroys true love — dishonesty. If Marriott truly had millions but then actually lost that fortune, say, through poor investments, that could serves as an appropriate test of whether or not a woman will take him for richer or poorer. At least then there is no deception involved, but that couldn’t make for a good “reality” show since it wouldn’t be contrived.
Nevertheless, when the woman that Marriott chooses to be his mate discovers the real Joe, she should reject him — not because he makes a modest income, but because he perpetrated a major deception on her and thus is untrustworthy.
The show, however, glosses over the virtue of honesty, a vital component of a successful, long-lasting romantic relationship, to instead push the oversimplified romance-destroying premise that if she stays with him after learning he’s a phony, then she loves him despite his meager bank account. But to treat honesty as irrelevant is to prepare the grounds for an unhealthy, ultimately failed romance. By staying with him, the woman would simply open the gate for the man to tell further lies, since he knows she will likely appease his dishonesty. When both romantic partners fail to deal in reality, as the woman does by not confronting his lies, then the relationship’s basis is not real or “true.”
Asked on Fox News recently about what it was like to perpetrate his big lie, Marriott said, “It was difficult, kind of not feeling bad about it.” Later, Marriott said he picked the woman with whom he had the most chemistry.
So Marriott “kind of” felt guilty over his dishonesty, and his choice was the result of “chemistry,” a concept he and his dates refer to on the show as their criteria for romance. As one of his dates said, “Chemistry is an amazing thing. You can’t control it. It’s uncontrollable.”
This concept of “chemistry,” widely used today to describe the basis for one’s romantic and sexual attraction to another individual, is the child of such phrase as “love is blind” and “love knows no reason.” In other words, chemistry is a mysterious romantic bond between two people, the compounds, that is, the values, of which are inexplicable. This is not to say that for some people rational values such as honesty cannot be among those compounds. But it does mean that “chemistry” involves no explicit thought given to our choice in a romantic and sexual mate.
In the emotionalist, “Joe Millionaire” world of romance, thoughtfully identifying the values that form such an attraction — which should at least be rationality, productive achievement, and an optimistic view of life — is considered a romance-killer. Instead of examining one’s emotions with reason, the actual basis for healthy romantic feelings, people too often enter romantic relationships blindly “following their heart” — following unexamined emotions. At root, this show perpetuates this destructive course.
As Marriott and his dates pursue “chemistry,” the show promotes many ideas that destroy romance: deception and the premises that men are liars, women are gold diggers, and love is blind. Sounds like a recipe for true romance, right? Not in reality, it doesn’t.