Mabayoje was in a love-hate relationship with dating shows. As a psychotherapist, he enjoyed the mental exercise of trying to pick up on clues about the deeper issues that the contestants might be facing, and figuring out how they could be helped. However, he sometimes felt like a spectator in a Roman amphitheatre as he watched the carnage wrought by the contestants on each other, as well as by the producers. The show Mabayoje was currently watching was one of the newer offerings. It involved people being paired with a partner and sent to live as a couple in a different country.
Mabayoje reflected on his own former relationships. He had no horror stories, no drama, just endings. His relationships were like candles, burning brightly until a deep breath blew them out. He recalled the final moments, it was the same with both women: a late night, a deep breath, a conversation, an ending. Despite the calm nature of his breakups, it had taken over a year to work through things with his own therapist. It had become clear to them both that Mabayoje poured so much of himself into his work. There was certainly more left for him to pour into a romantic relationship, but he felt guilty doing so. Everything in his life was about serving other people. Love felt self-serving, and he struggled to justify the indulgence.
As Mabayoje watched the contestants on the show work to build their relationships, or in some cases tear each other down, he wished that they could have access to a therapist. He wished that they, like him, could better understand their behaviours. They might not win the show, but they could lay the ground work for future, healthy relationships. Whatever he wished for them was, of course, irrelevant. He would almost certainly never meet these people. Perhaps they would seek out a member of his profession. Perhaps they simply enjoyed the reality TV pursuit of love. Perhaps, when it came to love, it was better to be in the game than commentating from the sidelines.