Netflix’s reality lineup has been killing it lately. From the infectious energy of Cheer to the genre-bending game show The Circle, they’re perfect binge material. But there’s one reality show that has jumped to the front of our queue: Love Is Blind, which features 15 men and 15 women all looking to find the one. The catch? They date, fall in love and get engaged without ever seeing the other person. They only get to look at their chosen partner once they’ve already agreed to marry them.
The show is a smash. Shonda Rhimes is a fan. Chrissy Teigen has questions. Nicola Coughlan binges it. And by the third episode, one contestant had become an internet sensation despite a limited amount of screen time. Rory Newbrough, a 28-year-old consultant and Twitch streamer, stole our hearts with his genuine advice for the other contestants—so much so that many viewers thought he was a counsellor or therapist that producers had planted in the room for the guys. (He’s not. He’s just that thoughtful.)
Ahead of the season finale of Love Is Blind, FLARE spoke with Newbrough about what being on the show was really like and how it has changed his dating game—and we even got some advice from the guru himself.
Before you ask, they really did fall in love in those pods
Newbrough says that while he was intrigued by the premise of the show, when casting agents approached him, he actually turned them down—twice. But he eventually changed his mind, deciding to treat the show as an experiment. “In my heart, I just felt that if this is actually the way that I meet my wife, then it doesn’t really matter the method—all that matters is we meet.”
Ultimately, Newbrough didn’t walk away from the show with a wife—but he came close. Although only six engagements are shown on-screen, there were actually eight. Newbrough proposed to a woman named Danielle, but they were told that producers didn’t have enough cameras to follow all the couples and they didn’t make the cut. The relationship didn’t last long after filming stopped, but Newbrough says he has no regrets.
And he says all the contestants were genuinely invested in the process, even choosing to spend time in the pods talking to their future partners over going to sleep. “The production company would say, ‘You guys can go back to sleep, or you can spend more time in the pods tonight with the people you’re interested in.’ And every single one of us was like, ‘Please, I want to talk to them more.’”
The pods have changed the way he dates now
Newbrough is currently single and says his experience on the show really changed his life—especially his dating life. With no distractions in the soundproof pods (the contestants have no phones, music or anything to connect them with the outside world), he says, the stress of dating melted away. “Think about being on a date with someone in public, and you go to lunch or something” he says. “You’re wondering if you ordered the right food, and then the waiter comes and you have to talk to the waiter, and all that just (takes) your mental energy away from paying attention to the person in front of you.” But with none of those outside worries, Newbrough says contestants got comfortable with each other very quickly. He would often kick his shoes off and settle into the couch for a long conversation.
Contestants started by spending about 15 minutes with each of the 15 potential mates. But as the days went on and contestants started weeding out people they weren’t interested in, they would spend hours in the pods with the people they were interested in, with nothing to do but talk. Now, Newbrough says he tries to get back to the intimate vibe of the pods on his dates, by not wasting time on small talk.
“I can get down to deep, valuable conversation really quickly,” says Newbrough. “When we’re not genuinely connecting, I can tell and I can shift the conversation. So, a lot of the dates I’ve been on, it’s been like, wow, we jump right into the good stuff.”
What will the finale bring? There are some big moments ahead
While Newbrough won’t spoil the final episode, he does say that the show has done a fair job of showing us the struggles and hiccups that these couples are facing before they (maybe) walk down the aisle.
“I know everyone’s rooting for Lauren and Cameron, and everyone’s wondering about everybody else. But I think there’s enough there—I think there are going to be enough surprises,” Newbrough says cryptically. But here’s what we do know: The show finished filming in late 2018, and internet sleuths are combing for evidence of which couples have made it work and which ones are done. There are even a few surprising friendships in the group (Amber and LC are buddies after Barnett chose between them?), and, Newbrough says, many of the contestants still hang out and see each other regularly. There’s even a group text!
His biggest piece of advice? Put down your phone
On the show, Newbrough was seen advising several of the male contestants, but he says he also offered a kind ear to many of the women too. Once he and some of the women realized their connection was purely platonic, he started coaching them through their complicated feelings. “I ended up just kinda helping a lot of them through their struggles.”
Newbrough says he developed that empathetic nature at a young age and he’s sensitive to how people are feeling around him. “It makes me uncomfortable when I know someone is suffering,” he says. “So I’ve gotten pretty good at coming over and helping them through it, and not just ‘Hey, I’m here to listen’—it’s like ‘No, I’m here to engage with you, validate you, tell you what’s going on and get you to the next step without letting you linger here.’ I just have been practicing that my whole life.” So it was natural for him to step into that role on the show. And, no, producers didn’t send him in as a plant.
While he can’t counsel each of us individually, he does have a piece of dating advice: Put down your phone, and give the person you’re with your full attention. With dating apps, it’s easy to dump someone with one red flag and move on to the next potential match when they’re just a swipe away. But real relationships mean working through those little differences. So, our new therapist advises putting the phone away during dinner and actively listening to your date. “Just look them in the eye and listen when they talk, and you’ll be surprised by how different you feel about them.”
The finale of Love Is Blind hits Netflix on February 27—but after that, we’d like to see a Rory-gives-life-advice spin-off show.