10 Reality Dating Shows to Get You In the Mood for Love

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Photo Source: Craig Sjodin/John Fleenor/Disney/Craig Sjodin/Sara Mally/Peacock/Netflix

That old adage “I’m not here to make friends” means a little less when you get cast on a dating reality show, which not only offers a chance to reach a wider audience—you might just find love, too. Below, we run through TV’s most iconic soulmate-searching series, as well as participants who went on to greater fame. 

The Bachelor

Network: ABC
Stream On: Hulu
Air Dates: March 2002–present
Premise: A single man chooses a potential fiancée from a pool of romantic suitors

Widely considered the show that kicked off the reality dating craze, “The Bachelor” has evolved into a full “Bachelor Nation” franchise, now boasting more than two decades of love and drama. The show’s twenty-eight seasons, along with numerous spinoffs, have cemented the brand as a juggernaut. Contestants have capitalized on their fame by making a mark on social media and finding work as actors or television personalities. Former pro football player and season 5 Bachelor Jesse Palmer has had gigs on “Good Morning America” and “The Food Network,” and is now the host of “The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise.”

Love Is Blind

Network/Stream On: Netflix
Air Dates: 2019–present
Premise: A social experiment testing whether contestants can fall in love without seeing their potential mates

“Love is Blind” challenges the conventions of physical chemistry, offering contestants the chance to connect only through conversation. Singles spend ten days communicating with the opposite sex in “pods,” separated by an opaque wall, and only meet face-to-face after they agree to become married. Newly engaged couples are whisked away to a tropical location to finally be together in person, followed by a co-living experiment in their home city. The final decision on whether to marry is made at the altar. Contestants-turned-couple Lauren Speed-Hamilton and Cameron Hamilton have Instagram follower counts in the millions, and have catapulted their reality dating popularity into true celebrity status. 

RELATED: How to Get Cast on 'Love Is Blind' 

The Bachelorette

Network: ABC
Stream On: Hulu
Air Dates: January 2003–present
Premise: A single woman picks a possible husband-to-be from a group of pursuers

The gender-swapped spinoff of “The Bachelor” featured prior finalist Trista Rehn as its original Bachelorette. After choosing contestant Ryan Sutter, their wedding aired on ABC; twenty years later, their marriage is still going strong. More recent (season nineteen) contestant Kaitlyn Bristowe boasts 1.9 Instagram followers, won the 29th season of “Dancing with the Stars,” and recently co-hosted two seasons of “The Bachelor” with Tayshia Adams. Three-time contestant Wells Adams is now an influencer with over 1.2 million followers on Instagram, and is a regular on “Bachelor in Paradise.” 

The Bachelor in Paradise

Network: ABC
Stream On: Hulu
Air Dates: August 2014–present
Premise: Unsuccessful "Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" contestants get another chance at love

For those lucky enough to appear on “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette” but not-so-lucky in love, “Paradise” offers another chance to find chemistry and connection. Set on a beach in Mexico, the show allows all contestants to explore multiple potential relationships. Men and women alternate control in weekly rose ceremonies; anyone not given a rose is sent home, allowing new contestants to come in and shake things up. Contestants-turned-couple Serena Pitt and Joe Amabile are examples of “Paradiuse” stars who would go on to perform on other TV shows and podcasts.

RELATED: How to Get Cast on 'The Bachelor' 

The Golden Bachelor

Network: ABC
Stream On: Hulu
Air Dates: September 2023–present
Premise: “The Bachelor” for singles aged 65-and-up

For those looking to achieve performer fame later in life, senior citizens get their shot at love on “The Golden Bachelor.”  Inaugural Golden Bachelor Gerry Turner and contestant Theresa Nist married on the live special “The Golden Wedding” Jan. 2024, and talks are currently in progress to film “The Golden Bachelorette.”

Love Island

Original Network: ITV Studios
Stream On: Peacock (USA version)
Air Dates: 2015–present 
Premise: Singles live together in an isolated villa, while the TV audience makes decisions affecting who stays and who goes.

Originally a British show that aired daily each summer, “Love Island” is now a worldwide phenomenon. While the show has faced its share of controversies, it has also created lucrative opportunities for its roster of contestants. Series eight winner Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu has signed brand deals worth six figures, is competing in the 2024 season of “The Traitors,” and is featured alongside co-winner Davide Sanclimenti in a spin-off called “Ekin-Su and Davide: Homecomings.” Sanclimenti also recently competed, alongside and 2023 contestant Molly Marsh, on the Christmas Eve show “Britain Get Singing.” Series five contestant Molly-Mae Hague boasts 8 million Instagram followers. She and her retired-boxer boyfriend, Love Islander Tommy Fury, also have their own reality show, “At Home with the Furys” (currently streaming on Netflix).  

Love on the Spectrum” 

Original Network: ABC Australia
Stream On: Netflix 
Air Dates: November 2019–present
Premise: Romantic hopefuls with autism enter the dating realm

“Love on the Spectrum” explores the lives and romantic possibilities of adults with autism. It focuses less on competitive dating, and more on navigating the world with neurodivergent differences. A huge hit in Australia, Netflix released the American version in May of 2022 and premiered the second season in Jan. 2024. The show kicked off influencer careers of Dani Bowman and couple Abbey Romeo and David Issacman.  

Married at First Sight

Networks: FYI (2014–2016), Lifetime  
Stream On: Hulu, Netflix
Air Dates: December 2015–present
Premise: Couples meet and marry on the same day 

True to its name, “Married at First Sight” features couples who have never even met before the day of their wedding. However, the show provides outside support to help make their marriages work. Matched by relationship experts, couples go on a honeymoon after the wedding and spend eight weeks together before deciding if the marriage will continue. The show offers experts in religious, sexual, and psychological guidance to help the couples determine their ultimate compatibility. Contestant Jules Robinson, who now has hundreds of thousands of IG followers and her own clothing and shapewear lines, met husband Cameron Merchant on the show. Jamie Nicole Otis appeared on “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelor Pad” before making her way to “Married at First Sight,” where she met Doug Hehner—to whom she has now been married for more than 9 years! Along with achieving relationship success, the couple has starred in two spinoffs in the MAFS franchise. 

90 Day Fiancé

Network: TLC/discovery+
Air Dates: January 2014
Premise: Couples who are in the process of acquiring a K1 Visa have 90 days to marry

Foreign singles seeking K1 Visas (allowing them to stay in the United States) travel to America to see if their relationships have what it takes to last. There are several international versions and over twenty spinoffs, including “90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way,” which tells the stories of American singles traveling to their partner’s countries. Those who found stardom on the show include social media personalities Angela Deem and Molly Hopkins.