Love Island: Big Romantic Gestures Are Actually Problematic, Warns Relationship Expert
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Featured Image Credit: ITV
If you’ve been watching Love Island the last couple of weeks, you will have seen a few of the men 'moving mad' on more than one occasion.
First, Liam Reardon kissed Casa Amor beauty Lillie Haynes, despite having feelings for Millie Court back home, and then Tyler Cruikshank decided to get to know Clarisse Juliette rather intimately, even though he had just begun his budding relationship with Kaz Kamwi.
But despite both islanders' behaviour showing very obvious red flags, they have since managed to redeem themselves, appearing as rom-com heroes in the days that followed, with the help of some rather grand romantic gestures.
Not long after Liam's infidelity came to light, his cutesy gestures started coming in thick and fast. He'd text Millie pictures from across the villa, and leave handwritten notes on her pillow...
But when none of this made that much progress, he decided to change tactics and go bigger, jumping on stage after singer Mabel's performance and giving a speech in front of everyone, in which he declared his feelings for Millie.
Honestly, can you get any more Colin Firth?
Tyler wasn't far behind with his own movie moment days later, asking Kaz to be exclusive a mere week after arriving back with somebody else - oh, and doing it like she was Kiera Knightly in Love Actually.
And while the nation was divided as to whether these gestures were swoon-worthy or vomit-inducing, they both seemed to work, with Millie promising to give Liam another shot and Kaz excitedly accepting Tyler's rather late promise of loyalty.
Which begs the question, do grand gestures simply act as an 'easy fix' for a broken relationship? Can high stakes displays of emotion pile pressure on someone to subscribe to your relationship goals? And is it manipulative to put someone on the spot in the name of love?
To address these questions, Tyla spoke to two experts about whether big romantic gestures are actually toxic for relationships.
Jess Adams is a cognitive behavioural specialist who focuses in areas surrounding low self-esteem, lack of confidence, stress and anxiety, and she believes that public gestures of love can be "incredibly problematic".
She tells Tyla: “Cinema and traditional media platforms amplify "the grand gesture" as the ultimate way to give and receive love," she says.
"Queue images of saving the distressed princess from the wicked witch in childhood, and grand marriage proposals from a preciously emotionally unavailable partner (always in the rain)!”
Jess says that big romantic gestures essentially encourage two lessons.
The first is that in order to get the love you deserve, you must wait for a "grand gesture" to come your way, even if this means navigating a relationship without having your needs met.
And, secondly, that "not addressing any trauma that presents in unhelpful relationship dynamics (such as emotional unavailability, emotional neglect/abuse) can be rectified with a grand gesture of love.”
The rom-com-style dash to the airport or embarrassing speech at a family party has always posed its problems, but in the modern world, it's more toxic than ever, she warns.
“Now, let's add this damaging conditioning to include the role of social media," Jess muses. "The vast majority of people - especially people who are highly empathic, or predisposed to people pleasing - will feel heightened pressure to accept a grand gesture of love, despite not feeling heard, seen, or even respected, in order to avoid the other person feeling a form of humiliation."
The expert explains that, on top of this, "romantic gestures shared on social media can perpetuate a feeling of comparison amongst those consuming the media", thus further enforcing the idea that extravagance and grandeur is needed.
“Not only this, but it may also lead to unnecessary strain and tension on happy, healthy relationships if one partner feels that there is a lack of 'grand gestures'."
Jess isn't the only expert with this opinion, either. Alex Mellor-Brook, relationship expert & co-founder of Select Personal Introductions, agrees that while, for some, “a big romantic gesture can be the most precious memory that someone will remember for the rest of their lives", for others it is simply "emotional manipulation", used in order to cover up "bad behaviour, [or] a guilty conscience."
“There is also a more sinister side to all of this," he says. While it's all about "context," there's no denying that "there are people who use gifts and gestures to try and control people, when there are strings attached to the gesture or gift - expecting something in return that the other person wouldn't normally give."
If you're thinking of wooing somebody with a bold, dramatic statement, Alex says it's important to consider "how you give the 'big romantic gesture' and the thought behind it."
And if - like Millie and Kaz - you're waiting for somebody to prove they're worth your time, ask yourself whether their gesture actually means more than their previous behaviour.
Topics: Sex and Relationships, Love Island, ITV
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