Love Island killed the idea of St Valentine’s Day monogamy

Is monogamy a thing of the past, so asks Elaine Whelan
Love Island killed the idea of St Valentine’s Day monogamy

Contestants in the current series of Love Island. Toxic elements of the show have become our reality, says Elaine Whelan

AS we enter into the early days of February, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.

Shops around Cork have already donned the usual pink and red heart-shaped decorations, florists have stocked up on red roses, and restaurants in the city and county are quickly being booked out for the occasion.

While we are all well aware of the traditional dating practices associated with the feast day, others will find themselves spending February 14 swiping left and right instead. Realistically, more lefts (indicating you have turned someone down) than right...

For those who engage with this modern practice of dating, the phrases ‘I’m not looking for anything serious,’ and ‘I don’t want a relationship right now’ are a common occurrence.

Nowadays, the traditional ways of courting and sweethearts have gone out the window. For younger generations especially, it is ‘situationship’ (meaning no commitment) they want over a relationship.

So, I ask, is monogamy a thing of the past?

The popular dating show, Love Island is currently back on our TV screens, taking place in South Africa. Love it or hate it, there are elements of this reality show that perfectly mirror what is occurring on the Irish dating scene at present.

The culture surrounding the show, and others like it, has led to an entire generation refusing to ‘put all their eggs in one basket’, and remain monogamous.

The basis of the show involves a group of 20-something-year-olds, with perfectly toned bodies and professionally whitened teeth trying to find love while swanning around a swanky luxury villa.

However, despite being encouraged to form a couple, the show’s contestants are continuously tempted away from their other half with the entrance of more beautiful singles.

Obviously, the TV programme shows a very extreme dating circumstance that most of us with fewer than 1,000 Instagram followers would never find ourselves in. But while you and I don’t find ourselves working on our tan in a swanky villa, elements of this are mirrored in life off-screen.

As the Virgin Media and ITV2 show has grown in popularity over the years, toxic elements of it have become our dating reality.

Each year, a flurry of phrases get rolled out as a new Love Island cast takes to our screens. Of the well-known catchphrases, a clear majority of them refer to not remaining in a monogamous couple.

“Not putting all my eggs in one basket,” “get to know other people,” “you have turned my head”, and “keeping my options open” are all phrases continuously used by the contestants to describe how easily they can jump ship to a new couple when presented with a new love interest.

In this year’s series in particular, avid viewers like myself may have noticed the phrase “shiny, new thing” popping up more often, adding to the already lengthy list of ways to describe the notion that someone better may walk through the villa doors at any minute to shatter the element of commitment.

Anyone who has seen as much as half an episode over the show’s nine-year run, will have spotted the huge amount of people being ‘pulled for chats’.

These ‘deep’ conversations occur when an islander is romantically interested in another.

These couple spend days on end together talking about their hopes and dreams, they share a bed together, kissing, hugging and going on dates. One would only assume that these two people are in a relationship, right? Wrong.

Here, I present what is colloquially called, the ‘situationship’. Much like the characters in the show, Irish singles nowadays always seem to be searching for the ‘shiny, new thing’.

With social media providing instant and uninterrupted access to thousands of others also swimming in the dating pool, ‘not putting all your eggs in one basket’ truly filtered into real life dating.

So, facing a fear of commitment in case ‘something better comes along’, but also needing to fulfil the very natural human urge for companionship, daters enter into said ‘situationship’.

Just like the islanders that are coupled up, these people act as though they are a couple to the public eye, but refuse to use the restricting label of girlfriend or boyfriend.

This allows both sides to also ‘get to know other people’ in search of that shiny, new thing that could be even just a fraction better.

As past Love Islanders have said: “Don’t let your girlfriend stop you from finding your wife.”

In 2023, the world has become diluted. The ‘Global Village’ has allowed us to reach people far and wide, and to have access to them instantly.

Our consumerist society has caused us to always be looking out for that new shiny thing.

Coupled with our shorter attention spans from scrolling through 30 second reels and TikTok videos, it is a recipe for disaster for monogamy.

Many of us will have been guilty of drooling over the iPhone 52 when it first came out, despite the fact that our iPhone 11 did the exact same thing and was perfectly fine.

We are all magpies eyeing the shiny new thing. Paired with what is essentially online shopping for a love interest on dating apps and social media, we are living in a real-life version of a new islander entering the villa.

Ultimately, with the rate our ‘heads are being turned’, we may as well claim for whiplash.

Starring wannabe Instagram influencers, the Love Islanders that enter the villa each year have done more to influence the outside world than they know.

Popular culture has leaked into our dating culture and has in the end reinforced this notion that there might always be something better entering the front door.

How will St Valentine’s Day be spent in the future, when there is no more monogamy to celebrate?

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