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Attraction is a mystery ... but it’s not one that can be solved in a laboratory




Married couple

Married couple



It’s one thing to go on a blind date with a stranger, but would you ever agree to actually marry someone you’ve never even met? Incredibly, this is exactly what participants in a new Channel 4 reality show called Married at First Sight’ have signed up for.

In the programme, six singletons will enter into a legally-binding union with a partner chosen for them by a panel of experts in psychology, psychotherapy, theology and social and evolutionary anthropology.

The couples will only meet for the very first time on the big day.

I’m imagining that it will be a bit like an extreme version of Blind Date, but instead of being waved off on an exotic dream date holiday by Cilla Black, the couples will promptly sign a pre-nup and then shack up together.


Ethical concerns about the controversial concept of marrying a total stranger aside, wouldn’t you just love to be a guest at one of those little shindigs? I know I would.

I’ve been to plenty of weddings where the bride (and sometimes the groom) has cried all the way through the ceremony with pure joy.

But what if you were sobbing for a different reason?

What if you clapped eyes on your betrothed and realised that just the sight of him made you want to run screaming with horror back down the aisle?

You’d have to be a very brave (or perhaps barmy) individual to ignore your gut instinct, trust that science had chosen the perfect mate for you and sign your name on that dotted line.

I’m not a gambling woman but, if I was, I’d be willing to bet that very few of the matched couples will stay together for long after their shotgun weddings (we will find out, as the cameras will follow their progress for the first six weeks, before they have to decide if they will stick or split).

The thing is, people can often seem like soul mates on paper, but that doesn’t mean that the attraction will translate into lust - or ultimately love - in the cold light of day.

Take all the couples who get on like a house on fire on online dating sites and then hate each other when they actually meet.

Or the couples who, to the outside world, have absolutely nothing in common and yet are completely love-struck.

The reason why you fancy someone isn’t something that can be explained in a tangible way.

Physical chemistry is key at the outset, obviously, but very many other factors play their part too, and all the scientific research in the world can’t quantify those.

There’s simply no accounting for the laws of attraction, that’s what it boils down to.

Why we love who we do is something that the human race has been trying - and failing - to figure out since Adam first chatted up Eve in the Garden of Eden.

If we knew the answer to this epic mystery then there’d be no heartbreak - and no Hollywood blockbusters or romance novels.


Maybe the couples who sign up for this experiment will fall head over heels in love and be together for the rest of their lives.

Stranger things have happened - and it would certainly make for a neat happy ever after story. But I wouldn’t count on it.

Some of those participating may find that they have things in common, yes. Some of them may even like each other.

But I bet that the elusive spark that lies at the heart of the most successful unions will be missing and, without it, their relationships are almost certainly doomed to failure.

There has to be a certain magic between two people to keep them together for the long haul of marriage.

Unfortunately for those searching 
for true love, that isn’t something that you can conjure out of thin air - or 
manufacture in any laboratory.