When Love Is Blind contestant Rory Newbrough first stepped into one of the Netflix reality TV show's soundproof pods to speed-date 15 women he couldn't see, he was skeptical that he could really find love this way—until he heard Danielle Drouin's voice.
"Danielle was the first pod that I went into, and I felt it the second I walked in," he tells Women's Health. "She was my first choice the entire time."
By day three, Rory felt "a lot more gravitas" to the experiment. By day six, he knew he wanted to propose to Danielle. "We ended up spending 19 or 20 hours a day just talking," he says. "I started to realize there were parts of me—walls I put up—and I didn't even know they were there. I wasn't even aware of them, and they were just blown open. I was crying the whole time. It was this crazy-emotional experience."
But Rory also says he "absolutely fell in love."
"I realized it was really hard for me to be vulnerable with other people," he adds. "When I opened up to Danielle and told her how I felt, I literally wrote it in my journal and had to read it to her because I couldn't get it out."
After Rory and Danielle got engaged—with a physical wall still between them—they finally got to meet. "I collapsed when I saw her," he recalls.
But Love Is Blind showed mere seconds of their romance.
If you've watched the first few episodes of the reality dating show, you might be wondering why you didn't see any of this play out on screen—or, for that matter, how TF it's possible for so many couples to fall in love and get engaged in 10 short days without ever seeing each other in person.
The insane-but-true answer? Even the show's producers didn't see it coming.
"They were like, 'We were expecting one or two [engagements], not eight! We set up to film five!'" Rory says. "It was this weird whiplash moment, like 'What!?' They just kind of gave us our phones back and said 'Good luck, thanks for joining us, but we just can't cover your story.'"
Oh, and if you're wondering how Rory and Danielle's love story ends? They did take their own post-show vacation to Miami (sans cameras), but "unfortunately, we didn't last that long," Rory says. "The connection, at least on my side, was very pure and very real. I think it just wasn't as real for her once she thought more through it."
But don't worry about Rory too much, guys: The Twitch streamer says the show changed his life for the better. "As challenging as it was, if you asked me 'Would you do it again?' I'd say yes in a heartbeat," he affirms.
Why, exactly, is Love Is Blind such a transformational experience? And what did these people do all day in those pods? Here are seven more things Rory told WH about the making of your new favorite binge-watch:
There actually was a structure to the Love Is Blind experiment.
Contestants' dating pools were narrowed down from all 15 people, down to eight, then down again to two. "After every date, we would list, in order, who we liked the most," Rory explains. Then, producers would cross-reference everybody's lists. "As the numbers got smaller, the dates got longer, from 30 minutes to several hours."
Contestants were given activities to do in the pods.
If you thought Barnett's ukulele was a charmer, just imagine someone playing bongoes for you on the other side of that wall, because it definitely happened. Rory said he also "made a horrible painting that I hope they never show." (Netflix, if you're reading this, I need the receipts!)
Most contestants asked their dates what they looked like.
Rory says he didn't ask anyone in the pods anything about their appearance, but a lot of people did. Instead, "I would ask what you're wearing, to get to know their style and make them feel good, since I knew they probably spent time getting ready," he explains.
Some of the men and women went on dates just as friends.
You might recall Rory basically operating as the de facto therapist for the other guys on the show—"Most people thought I was a plant," he says—but what you didn't see is him counseling Giannina, LC, and Amber (who were both dealing with the once-indecisive Barnett) in the pods. "The girls would say, 'I have a date with Rory today, bring the tissues.' But then they would leave the pod with me saying, 'I feel so much better!'" he recalls. "I'm a natural empath."
The guys really bro-ed out in the lounge.
"The one thing I wish you got to see more of was the lounge bonding," Rory says. The guys would come back after super-emotional dates and really lean on each other. Oh, um, and "there's a lot of scenes of us galloping around the lounge and having pushup contests," he adds.
There's a Love Is Blind group text—and yes, it's active.
The show was filmed over a year ago, but it's safe to say that at least the friendships that were formed are still very much intact. Not only does the cast have a group text, but "we do see each other now and then," Rory says.
Opening up to strangers in the pods was life-changing.
During the experiment, contestants are stripped of their phones and any connection to the outside world, which means zero distractions in their search for love—and for many, that also meant finding themselves, too.
"There's parts of you that you don't realize you're carrying until all the noise stops, and I think that happened to a lot of people. It's very raw and very real," Rory says. "For 10 days, you're just sitting with that, and you can't run. A lot of us had to just look our demons directly in the eye and understand them... It's incredible."
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