- Isabelle Morley, PsyD
Do Zanab and Cole from "Love is Blind" Stay Together?
We won't know for sure until their wedding day but based on the research, probably not. Here's why.
I will discuss examples and plots from season 3 of Love Is Blind in this post. If you haven't seen it, you may want to watch it first and read this after.
The season 3 couples on Love is Blind all seem to be on the rocks. SK and Raven made it to the wedding day, only to have SK say, "I don't."
We know that Nancy says yes, but we are waiting to find out if Bartise will do the same. I think everyone is hoping Colleen doesn't commit to Matt, who exhibits abusive behaviors (read more about it here). In contrast, we're all rooting for Alexa and Brennon, who seem happy and solid.
And then there's Zanab and Cole.
Their relationship has had highs and lows. They seem completely in love at times, but those moments don't last, and suddenly they're in a dramatic argument.
(Let me add the usual disclaimer that this is a television show; it has been heavily edited to be entertaining and dramatic. Many moments don't make the cut, and Zanab and Cole may have great interactions that we don't see.)
As much fun as it is to speculate and weigh in with personal opinions, there is actual research that can tell us if they would have a successful marriage. Let's take a look.
The 4 Horsemen of Divorce
Research by the Gottman Institute has identified four predictors of divorce (which John Gottman calls "the four horsemen"). They are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. When a newlywed couple exhibits these behaviors, they are much more likely to get divorced, with contempt being the best predictor out of all of them.
Unfortunately for Zanab and Cole, criticism and contempt frequently appear in their interactions. There are also many moments of defensiveness, although I'd argue they cross the line into gaslighting.
Zanab's Critical Nature
This relationship is full of criticism. Zanab freely points out Cole's flaws, starting their first day together when she made a passive-aggressive comment about Cole leaving his towel on the bathroom floor. She corrects almost everything he does. Cole does not criticize Zanab's actions. (Although he makes her feel bad about herself in other ways, such as by talking about other contestants being more attractive than her).
Zanab Displays Contempt
The best predictor of divorce, contempt, is something we witness in their relationship. Contempt is fueled by a negative view of your partner and the belief that you are better than your partner. It is communicated through emotionally abusive comments, such as mocking or imitating, as well as facial expressions, like eye-rolling and sneering.
Zanab appears to have contempt toward Cole. She seems to genuinely dislike him as a person- his playfulness, his humor, his cooking skills, and so on. She isn't as aggressively cruel and intimidating as Matt is to Colleen, but still, she communicates her sense of superiority through her sarcasm, eye-rolling, criticism, and ridicule of Cole.
The Magic 5:1 Ratio
The Gottman Institute also found that happy relationships have a ratio of 5 positive interactions for every negative interaction. And this is the minimum; more positive to less negative is even better.
Do Zanab and Cole have a 5:1 ratio?
From what we've seen on the show, no. Their positive interactions are few and far between. More often, we see Zanab being upset with or harsh to Cole.
This couple needs more kindness, appreciation, and fun if they're going to make it.
A Play-by-Play Example of the Toxic Behaviors
In episode 9, during their last night together, Cole makes dinner for Zanab. He offers Zanab wine when she walks in the door from work, and as he uncorks the bottle, Zanab gets in her first dig: "I'm excited you're finally cooking for me; you said you were going to for so long." (Passive-aggressive criticism.)
"You started the chicken early. Aren't the potato fries going to take ages?" Zanab asks. (Criticism.) Cole dodges this by saying they'll eat the fries later.
Cole then playfully flips the chicken in the pan and looks to Zanab to join in the fun. She responds, "Why don't you just use tongs or something?" (Criticism).
She then scolds him for how he's holding the chicken and takes the spatula from him, tersely saying, "This was supposed to be you cooking for me, babe." Now she's unhappy that she's cooking the chicken, even though she insisted on taking over. (Controlling, blaming, and criticizing)
"This is a very white, not seasoned piece of chicken. Please season it." (Criticism.)
Despite each jab, Cole tries to keep the mood light-hearted. He doesn't get angry or hurt. He tries to fix each problem. Cole even pulls out a toy and shoots a ball at her; of course, she reprimands him.
The topic changes to their wedding, and Zanab confirms she is wearing a black dress to "mourn" her singledom. (Passive aggressive.) Then Zanab starts listing Cole's flaws- towels on the bathroom floor, dishes aren't put away, trash isn't taken out quickly enough- but still claims she wants to marry him.
While Cole questions if Zanab likes him, she flips the script, saying it sounds like he doesn't want to marry her. (Defensive, evasive, and manipulative.)
Cole responds honestly, saying he "doesn't feel good about this" relationship, and Zanab gives him a cold and unempathetic response: "I don't know what to tell you" (Dismissive and uncaring.)
Cole nails it on the head when he says, "I want a wife who laughs with me and builds me up, and isn't pissed, and ticked, and perturbed by every little thing that happens that isn't ideal." Although, it's hard to hear him say this because Zanab is talking over him the entire time.
"I would expect my wife to just like, like me a little bit more, I guess," Cole says.
Zanab responds with, "How can you think I don't like you?", even though Cole has just explained why he feels this way. (Defensive and gaslighting.) Now she's entered gaslighting territory, invalidating his emotional experience and telling him he's wrong about his feelings.
When Zanab asks Cole what he needs to feel liked by her, and Cole says, "To not feel like I'm inferior."
"To not feel like I'm inferior."
There it is. The definition of contempt.
Somehow, despite Zanab's unkindness, she's the one to leave the house in a huff. Again, this is manipulative. Zanab is punishing Cole for expressing his feelings and doubts. She dismisses, questions, invalidates, and gaslights him.
Zanab does not try to see Cole's perspective. She does not show concern for how he's feeling. She does not attempt to see how she may have hurt him, or apologize, or commit to working on being a better partner. Instead, she is defensive and passive-aggressive and gaslights him. Yes, this is emotional abuse.
The Final Prediction
This relationship doesn't have a strong future. Research on marital success would predict that if they do get married, it won't be for long. Neither of them will be happy in this marriage unless profound changes are made.
If they want to make it work, I'd recommend they keep dating (and go to couples therapy) and not say "I do" on-screen. But something tells me neither of them will want to tie the knot.