Dating, “Survivor” Style: 3 Ways Dating Is Just Like a Reality Show

Dating is like Survivor.

I know. You may be wondering what a reality TV show about people stranded on a tropical island competing for prize money has to do with your dating life.

Well, I’ve competed on Survivor.

…And I’ve “competed” in the dating arena, as well. And, I’ve as coached clients through their dating challenges. As it turns out, I’ve discovered that Survivor and dating have a LOT more in common than I ever would have thought.

The truth is, some of the reasons why we fail in dating are the same reasons people fail in the game of Survivor (and I would know ALL about both).

Survivor; dating

Let’s talk about the 3 ways dating can be like being a castaway on Survivor.

Dating, Survivor Style

As a primer for those of you who have never watched Survivor, it’s a reality game show on CBS. 18 to 20 contestants, or “castaways” are dispatched to a remote tropical location where they’re divided into “tribes” of 2 or more. The tribes compete against each other in challenges that test physical strength, mental acuity and stamina. The losing tribe has to go to Tribal Council, where they vote out one of their members. And so on and so on for 39 days until there are only 3 contestants left, when a jury of previously booted contestants votes to give one of them $1,000,000.

Sounds pretty basic, right? Be good at challenges, be pleasant to be around and you’ll help your tribe win so everyone will want to keep you around, and then they’ll reward you at the end with a million dollars, right?

Nope. Not that simple.

In theory, dating also sounds straightforward. Meet some people, find someone that you like who also likes you, get to know each other, fall in love and then pick each other to live with happily ever after.

But if dating were that easy, I wouldn’t have a job! So let’s examine the 3 ways dating and Survivor are alike:

1. As It Turns Out, NOT Everyone Wants To Be A Millionaire.

…on SURVIVOR: It might sound crazy, but not everyone who plays Survivor plays to win.

Some people would rather gain some fame or notoriety, have a good time or just see themselves on TV.  People even quit the game regularly because of the tough conditions.

As it turns out, a 1 in 18 chance to become a millionaire is not enough motivation for some people to even TRY.

…which means in DATING: The same principle applies. Your idea of a “win” in dating may not be the same as everyone else’s, including the folks you’re dating.

You might meet someone you’re excited about and assume you’re both working towards the same goal of eventually getting married. But, in reality, he or she just wants to have a good time (or vice versa). Or you might discover they don’t have the tenacity to stick with the relationship during challenging times.

…so the SOLUTION is: In Survivor, as in real life, actions speak louder than words and assumptions can leave you heartbroken (or at least voted out of your tribe).

[inlinetweet prefix=”#SurvivorDating | ” tweeter=”@PaulCBrunson” suffix=””]Get clear on what YOUR endgame is[/inlinetweet] and figure out if it’s the same as your tribemate’s, or your date’s. And be sure to act accordingly!


2. You Might Not Be As Likeable As You Think You Are.

…on SURVIVOR: The game of Survivor is famous for having completely oblivious contestants who are pissing off everyone around them, but are too unaware to notice. They think they’re perfectly well-liked and they act completely entitled, further alienating their tribe. Come Tribal Council, many contestants have had a rude awakening when their tribemates gleefully vote them out.

…which means in DATING: If you are regularly going out on dates or meeting people whom you assume like you, only to never hear from them again, it’s time to take an honest assessment of how you’re being perceived.

It is possible that the wonderful person you are inside is not translating through your behavior or demeanor.

…so the SOLUTION is: Reality check! (The non-TV kind of reality).

Try paying more attention to others than to yourself. Listen more than you talk. And when you do listen – actually LISTEN. Don’t just wait for your chance to speak. If you are really ready for the truth, ask those closest to you for some honest feedback about how you are perceived by others. Call it an “exit interview,” if you will.


3. Beauty Sure Isn’t Everything.

…on SURVIVOR: There are lots of good-looking people on Survivor. And with everyone in bathing suits, it’s hard to miss all the hotness.  But in the game, the most beautiful rarely win. And no matter how hot your tribemates might think you are initially, it won’t stop them from eventually forming an opinion about you based on who you are, not how you look.

…which means in DATING: The conventional wisdom in dating is that the most beautiful people have an advantage. And that is probably true, in terms of first impressions.

But we all know that hot guy or gorgeous woman who isn’t even remotely attractive to us anymore now that we know who they actually are on the inside.

The truth is, no matter how good-looking you might be, there are not many quality people who will overlook less-than-beautiful behavior – no matter how good you look in a bathing suit.

…so the SOLUTION is: The good news is, beauty really does start within. Looks come and go, but who you are as a person is what will make someone really want to stick with you to the end.


What do you think? How are you “surviving” the dating world? How do you think you can step up your game?


This post was written by Francesca Hogi, who was a corporate lawyer and a contestant on the CBS show Survivor before becoming a certified matchmaker and dating coach. She founded Made to Measure Matching before joining The Paul C. Brunson Agency as a matchmaker and dating coach. Follow Francesca on Twitter and connect with her on Facebook!


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17 Comments on "Dating, “Survivor” Style: 3 Ways Dating Is Just Like a Reality Show"

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Lucretia Starnes Young
Lucretia Starnes Young

Its complicated

Danishea Hill

Its complicated just getting back in the dating game. I cant even get a date. Lol

Renita Bryant

Great post! First point about objectives being different is key!

Latasha J Humphrey


Danielle LoveIs Patient
Danielle LoveIs Patient

My sister was just telling me this last night. I have to define Success for a date besides just a “spark” or butterflies


Good read!

Francesca Hogi

Thank you!

Cheryl King

All great points! Thanks 🙂

Karyn Martin Killian

Active listening is so important, many of us, including myself fail in that area, if we sharpened that skill all of our relationships would improve immensely.

Debra Van Kallen

Please have an event in L.A!!!!

Melissa D. Coleman
After being married for 11 years and taking time off from dating until last year, I first thought it’s complicated these days, but after numerous conversations with older couples, I’ve come to the conclusion, it’s simple when you get honest with yourself! The truth is we won’t like everybody and everybody won’t like us. There is no shortage of good men or women, just make sure your mirror isn’t full of fog! Dating should be about a friendship first with the potential of more later. We shouldn’t be looking for a wife or husband on date 1. I’ve learned to… Read more »
Rhonda Perkins

Nice tropical food for thought.

Rosalina Kaydee

Love it.


Totally agree, Melissa!


Soon, I hope!


Yes you can! You just haven’t, YET.

My name is Annold Nutall from North Carolina and my ex-boyfriend dumped me 8 months ago after I caught him having an affair with some other girl and i insulted him and told him never to come close to him again. But i later discovered that i love him so much and cannot do without him and I want him back in my life but he refused to have any contact with me. I was so confused and don’t know what to do, so I visited the INTERNET for help and I saw a testimony on how a spell caster… Read more »