Don’t Get Left at the Altar: TMF Lessons from Love Is Blind

We’re all for some human subject research, but this experiment might go a little too far. Netflix’s season two of Love Is Blind recently premiered and promises us another ten episodes of love, tears, and dating pods all in the name of a social experiment.

For the uninitiated, Love Is Blind is a Netflix reality dating show with a twist. Prospective couples meet, date, and get engaged all without seeing each other by way of the pods. Producer and creator of the show, Chris Coelen, best sums up the unusual arrangement in a Variety interview: “We didn’t want any sound to bleed through any other pods. We basically had a small speaker in the front wall, and you would hear the other person who was in the other pod… It’s just you and the other person. That’s it.”

The couples only meet face to face after an accepted proposal. Oh, and the weddings take place about four weeks later.

As the show’s tagline notes “real love is possible”, but with the compressed timelines and high-pressure expectations, there’s also the big possibility that everything goes wrong. So, post binge-watch, while you are waiting for Season 3 or pondering how a concept like this isn’t considered exploitative, there’s also plenty of time to for us to discuss some positive TMF lessons that can be learned from these relationships on fast-forward.

Lesson 1: Be Ready to Commit.

Participants in Love Is Blind are partially selected for their personal commitment to the idea of the experiment, mainly that love can be blind in a world focused on appearances. For this reason, most participants readily cite frustration with what they identify as the shallowness of modern dating. A big strength of the experiment, therefore, is that it brings together people who are looking to make a commitment—that alone greatly increases the chance of participants finding a life partner.

Whether the TMF relationship we are considering is with your employer, a service provider, or the repository itself, it’s essential to be certain about your role and objectives before the work begins in earnest. If you are starting a new TMF role, you should expect a learning period where you internalize the TMF index, processes, and workflows of your new employer. If you have prior experience, you should expect some differences in a new organization’s TMF and have a perspective open to change. If you are a TMF leader taking on a service provider, you should clearly understand the need for the contracted service and be ready to form a reciprocal relationship. Working with the TMF requires a commitment to quality and attention to detail different from many other industries. If you aren’t dedicated to the values necessary for TMF health, you won’t be willing to do what it takes to secure TMF success.

Lesson 2: Compatibility Is Emotional and Practical.

Spoiler alert: eight couples get engaged in Season 2 of Love Is Blind, in one case after only five days of pod dating. Problems can arise after the engagement. Sometimes it’s because your new partner casually shares that they don’t believe in saving for retirement when you are a saver. Maybe your new beau offhandedly mentions that they only date blondes (when you are a brunette) or gets on a soapbox to proclaim the superiority of their homemade toothpaste and bodywash. Practical things matter because relationships aren’t just about emotions. Dynamics of money, age, timing, family, culture, and past experiences can all dictate our feelings or slowly sabotage them.

This mundane reality is most relevant to the TMF when considering the relationship between TMF decisionmakers and service providers. eTMF platforms and eTMF services are often promoted with a focus on features and innovative technologies. The flashy first impressions, however, shouldn’t account for 100% of your decision making. Even the most advanced TMF products and services won’t be able to effectively serve your team if they can’t be tailored to your business, objectives, and the pragmatic requirements of your team. Before making any decision about a TMF product or service, make sure a large proportion of your team can take it for a test drive. Take inventory of your team’s core needs, and have a conversation about them with your potential service provider. Do they often work with organizations like yours? Do they understand where your team is now and can their product or service scale with your goals as they change? How much support do they provide? Their answers to these questions are more important than the technology they offer.

Lesson 3: Choose Yourself.

Sometimes, despite some glaring flaws and vigorously waving red flags, you’ve made it all the way to the altar and find out, in front of your family and friends, that your bride-to-be had an epiphany. The epiphany is that you don’t deserve her. To quote Deepti, ex-fiancée, and the recipient of this particular epiphany in Season 2, “I deserve somebody who knows for sure. So, I’m choosing myself and I’m going to say ‘no’…” Ouch. But what exactly does it mean to choose yourself?

Choosing yourself, of course, means to build self-worth independent of another person. It also means that you are your own best advocate for what you need to achieve TMF success. If you find that you are in a TMF role the lacks proper training, accountability, or mentorship, there are ways you can independently grow your craft to become more valuable to your organization and to the entire industry. To this end, LMK is proud to offer TMF University, the first and only internationally recognized and accredited certification program for TMF professionals. TMF University, however, isn’t the only pathway to grow and demonstrate your expertise. There are many well-known and respected certifications in the clinical research space offered by industry associations available to those with all levels of experience. In fact, many of these associations offer free, high-quality educational materials and events in addition to their formal educational programs. With quality tools like these, anyone can become a TMF expert in a relatively short time and with very little cost (especially compared to traditional higher education). All that’s needed is a willingness to engage with the professional community. When you choose yourself by investing in high-demand TMF skills, you are taking control of your own professional future and putting yourself first.

Whether in our romantic life, at home, at the office—and yes, even as we work with the TMF—the principles of healthy relationships operate just below the surface. Love Is Blind captures millions of views each episode because as humans, we all want connections that fulfill us, bring us happiness, and help us reach our goals. We see ourselves in the participants because we all relate to the emotions they feel. They are common to us all and are interwoven into every relationship, including the business relationships that support the TMF.

So, in the future, if you find your TMF is struggling, before investing in the newest eTMF, hiring a fancy regulatory consultant, or creating one more TMF dashboard metric, stop what you are doing. Take a moment, grab some coffee, and ask a teammate how their day is going. Listening attentively to their reply might be the first step towards a better workplace and a healthier TMF. After all, if perfect strangers can get engaged through a speaker in the wall, I bet your team can build strong TMF relationships over a Zoom call.