What we can learn about love from “Too Hot To Handle”


Castilleja Artist

Netflix’s hit show, Too Hot to Handle, may offer more wisdom than expected on Valentine’s Day.

What is love? Is it fate? Is it a well-calculated science? Is it an art? If it is an art, how can one learn to master it?

My first step to answering my questions was to do some quick research. I stumbled upon a quote from philosopher Eric Fromm: “Love is an art… if we want to learn how to love we must proceed in the same way we have to proceed if we want to learn any other art.” Clearly, love is an art that can be learned.

Being an Explo enthusiast, I set out to draw conclusions to the question, “How can one learn to master love?” through experimentation. Unfortunately, I soon discovered a flaw in my plan: I lack the resources to conduct an experiment about love. Luckily, reality dating shows provided just the window I was looking for, specifically, Netflix’s “Too Hot to Handle.” Please note that I did genuinely want to base some research on season 3 but did not believe that watching 10 hours of “Too Hot to Handle” would be in my best interest at the moment.

Essentially, a group of individuals with a known history of superficial relationships go on a sexless summer retreat on a remote island. But there’s a twist; only after they arrive is it revealed that no physical contact is permitted. If this rule is broken, money from the final cash prize will be deducted. Chaos ensues.

* Too Hot to Handle spoilers ahead

After taking notes through the entire first season, it became clear that there are several important aspects of forming and maintaining a strong relationship: first impressions, honesty, and forgiveness are all essential elements of love.

First Impressions
In episode 1 of Too Hot to Handle, it is immediately clear that strong first impressions are essential to establishing a relationship. Because so many retreat members were introduced to each other in such a short amount of time, being memorable was all the more important.

The first aspect of making a good first impression is urgency. When Canadian model Francesca Farago was introduced to the retreat members, Youtuber Harry Jowsey made his interest in her clear by running to greet her first, thus successfully establishing the roots of their relationship.

Although urgency is important, it is not enough to be the first to make an impression: the impression must also be memorable. In the first few episodes, a large part of the drama centered on a love triangle between Sharron from New Jersey, social media influencer David, and Rhonda from Georgia. Although David made a speedy introduction to Rhonda, it was completely unextraordinary, and their conversation quickly ended. Sharron was far bolder with his first impression. In contrast to David’s covert flirting, Sharron went in for the kiss and made his interest clear. Later, in David’s one-on-one interview, he explained that he was not at all nervous about Sharron’s interest in Rhonda because “there’s plenty more days for her to pick the right guy.” David’s lack of energy towards pursuing Rhonda had a clear consequence when Rhonda ended things with David to be with Sharron.

In addition to being important when it comes to falling in love, making strong first impressions is a critical life skill. Don’t be afraid to be quick and audacious when it comes to introducing yourself to someone new.

Honesty and Forgiveness (to a certain extent)
Obviously, no one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes, but “Too Hot to Handle” teaches us that only those truly committed to love can forgive.

Many have heard the phrase, “Honesty is the best policy,” but falling in love is somewhat an exception to that rule. The result of one lie can be explosive, but with a strong first impression and resilience, love can persevere. When Harry initiates a rule break with Francesca, he quickly tries to save face by admitting his mistake to the men on the retreat. In his attempt to be honest about his lapse in judgment, Harry made an even bigger mistake by blaming Francesca. After a massive breakup involving many retreat members taking sides, Francesca was able to forgive Harry, and they stayed together through the rest of the show.

Clearly, lying can damage a relationship but is not a total dealbreaker. Harry and Francesca made it through filming, and eventually got engaged after the finale. Unfortunately, they had another explosive breakup following their engagement. Although forgiveness is important, it’s even more important to make sure that forgiveness is permanent and not just a bandaid over a gaping wound.

Throughout “Too Hot to Handle,” many relationships started and ended for a variety of reasons. Although there are a couple of fundamental do’s and don’ts, such as do be bold, don’t lie and do forgive, love has no linear pattern. My reality TV show research has led me to offer a differing perspective from that of Eric Fromm. While I agree that love is an art, I disagree with the idea that one can really learn to get good at it.