For the love of reality dating shows


Love watching reality TV shows? There’s something hypnotic about watching two strangers meet for the first time on a blind date. This raw human experience is why well-crafted reality dating shows, like BBC Lifestyle’s First Dates South Africa, are so utterly binge-able.

Since its premiere, First Dates South Africa has shone a spotlight on South Africa’s local dating scene. It features 120 contestants from across the country, trying their luck at finding love, in the setting of the First Dates restaurant where discreetly placed cameras capture all the action as it unfolds.

As fans of the show look forward to watching the season finale on Wednesday 18 December on BBC Lifestyle (DStv channel 174) at 8pm, popular TV celebrity and clinical psychologist Khosi Jiyane gets into the nitty gritty of why we find dating shows so irresistible:

1. It’s about human connection:

As social beings, forming connections assures us of physical, psychological and emotional safety. Because we’re constantly seeking human connection, the couples on screen become our “friends” and we feel invested in their outcomes.

2. We identify with contestants:

Often, we quickly “characterise” individuals according to their archetypes (the charming “player”, the nervous nice guy . . .), which means we identify with them. It becomes easy to recognise ourselves, or people we’ve encountered, in the characters we’re watching onscreen. 

3. Relatability:

Hands up if you’ve ever had a first date. Reality dating shows are relatable. We love watching because they capture us in vulnerable moments and make us realise we’re not alone in our relationship journeys, which gives us hope and builds our sense of confidence. 

4. We can learn from them:

Watching reality dating shows can allow us to see our own dating blind spots. By recognising yourself in the contestants, you can potentially recognise similarities in your own dating behaviour and tweak habits that maybe aren’t so sparkly. 

5. Spark new ideas:

Reality dating shows can give us new angles we can then use to add excitement to our real-life relationships. There’s nothing wrong with seeing something sweet onscreen and trying it out in your own life.

According to Khosi, “Watching reality dating shows is a different experience for every viewer. If watching makes you happy, helps you feel connected and gives you insight into your own relationship behaviour, then grab the remote! Just remember, as with everything, it’s about moderation.”  

Below, get the juicy details of what to expect during the final episode of First Dates South Africa.

There are many reasons to smile on a first date. It’s the quickest way for the other person to know you like them, or not!  Fussy Winfred has all the time in the world to find love, and Zuko is ready to trade-in his party ways to settle down. Ursula has an alter ego called Lisa. Will Ronald be able to handle not one but two women on their date?  Sarah and Kyle get down on one knee for each other. Will Jason be too much of a drag for Adam? Finally, love is on target when Shannon aims her sights on photographer Alaister.

If you miss the finale, or any of the season’s episodes, repeats will be available on DStv Now and Catch Up.

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