I previously wrote about ‘Love Is Blind’, and I hoped that it’d be the last time that I did. Then I watched the latest season, which was a total and utter mess, and I couldn’t help but make new content out of it. I figured if I’m going to watch bad reality TV, I might as well make something out of it. Season 5 of the show was such a mess that there were only 3 couples that were shown to be moving forward with an engagement, and one of them broke things off before they got a chance to live life in the real world. But most interesting couples this season, I found, were the ones that weren’t the main focus of the show’s season.
First, there were Johnnie and Chris. If you don’t know who they are, or if you need a reminder, though if you’ve watched this past season, their story-line was short, but juicy that it was too memorable to forget, Johnnie and Chris connected in the pods. Johnnie also connected with Izzy, who also connected with Stacy. Johnnie was torn in her decision, but eventually chose Izzy over Chris. She ended things with Chris and told Izzy she was ready to choose him, but he shut her down and chose Stacy instead. Johnnie was heartbroken and felt she made a mistake choosing Izzy over Chris. So she went back to Chris and practically begged him to take her back. But he didn’t oblige, and instead, broke things off with her.
It wasn’t the end of their story, though. We then saw Johnnie and Chris at the BBQ where the entire pod gang was there to hang out and, of course, stir up some drama. Johnnie reveals that she and Chris were a couple after they met at the airport. They weren’t engaged, but rather boyfriend and girlfriend. As we saw, Johnnie found her happy ending. That ending wasn’t meant to last long enough, as in the reunion, Johnnie revealed that after that BBQ, she hadn’t heard from him again and found out from someone else that Chris was cheating on her. Since filming ended, Chris is still in a relationship with the woman he cheated on Johnnie with and is living with her, and Johnnie has been in a relationship with a new man for at least a year.
Now that we got their entire relationship summarized, I’d like to begin the discussion of what the blog post is actually about, and that is stigma. During a date in the pods, Chris opens up to Johnnie about his first sexual experience. He was raped by a woman during a vacation with his friends. She forced herself onto him even though he didn’t consent. He said, I took a trip and we went to Mexico and we met these girls there and we were all drinking tequila in the suite—me, my friend, and these girls. And this girl, I was ready to go to bed and she pressured herself on me, and I know it’s, like, hard to imagine. I feel like there’s a stigma on guys pushed into sex, because you have to get hard and you have to do it. I just remember my friend in the twin bed next to me and she was getting on top of me, and I specifically remember saying no a number of times, ‘No, I don’t want to do this.’ I just felt pressure from her and that’s how I lost my virginity.”
It’s extremely rare to hear that a man was sexually assaulted. My particular sentence structure here was wrong on so many levels, so let me rephrase it. Sexual assault in men isn’t rare., but it’s rare to hear of it. And it’s rare to hear of it because men don’t open up about their experiences with anything even remotely related to sexual assault. There’s a big stigma surrounding men being sexually assaulted. According to society, men are supposed to be strong and masculine. They’re not supposed to show any emotion or vulnerability.
Following the release of the 5th season of ‘Love Is Blind’, Johnnie opened up about her reaction to Chris opening up to her about his experience with sexual assault. She said, “Chris noted that there is a stigma around men claiming sexual assault—people are quick to say ‘well, your body responded, so you must have wanted it,’ and I just don’t think that’s the case. Chris did not consent to what was happening and the girl did it anyway—that’s assault. I wanted Chris to know that I saw him, I believed him and that what that girl did was wrong. I wanted him to know he shouldn’t blame himself or make excuses for her. Assault is assault whether the victim is male or female. I in no way want to discount female sexual assault survivors. I know it is equally hard for them to come forward, but I do hope the conversation between Chris and I will be a step toward de-stigmatizing male sexual assault victims, and I hope anyone who has a partner that has suffered assault will create a safe space for them to process their emotions.””
Johnnie was probably one of the most hated people on the show, if not THE most hated one on the show, at least by the cast. But that’s because she’s the most understood on the show. She was married before, and the person she was with before her husband passed away of an overdose. It’s hard enough to have had a partner pass away, but to be in a relationship with someone who’s an addict and have them pass away due to this illness is unimaginable. Maybe that’s why she kept choosing the wrong partners for herself; because she to help and save them because she couldn’t save her deceased partners.
That’s also most likely why she had so much compassion and empathy towards Chris when he opens up about his experience with sexual assault. It was brave of him to open up to Johnnie about such trauma, but it also tells us a lot about her. It showed that she is nurturing, Maybe that’s why Chris felt comfortable enough to open up to her; because he knew he wouldn’t be judged, degraded, or laughed at. It takes real courage to open up about such a thing. I didn’t open up to my husband about my own experience until a year and a half after we started dating.
This could also explain Chris’s behaviour towards Johnnie throughout their entire relationship after they got together after their breakup in the pods. In hindsight, we saw their entire relationship unfold on TV. As a sexual assault survivor myself, I saw right through him and I understood Chris’s behaviour and actions towards Johnnie. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with it by any means and I don’t excuse him for it, but I do understand it. First, we saw that Chris didn’t defend Johnnie and protect her against Izzy and Stacy during the infamous BBQ was because he didn’t want to have any conflict. His words didn’t matter when he didn’t consent to having sex for the first time, so he didn’t feel anything he’d say would matter in any other situation. Nothing he’d say would make any sense or would be of any meaning of importance because anything he’d say would be rejected anyways. Hence, he avoids any type of situation that would result in conflict, including officially breaking up with Johnnie to be with another woman.
Most people were surprised by Johnnie and Chris’s breakup, especially as to how it happened. I’ve seen people comment on Instagram saying they thought Chris was one of the good guys and that they were disappointed in him. Those that are saying those things really don’t understand the effects sexual assault has on a victim . That one night has a lasting effect on a person. It’s a lifelong battle with your body and mind. And again, it happened to Chris – a man. He, himself, told Johnnie of the stigma surrounding men being victims of sexual assault when he opened up to her about his life, so I can’t imagine what he must’ve went through for years following the trauma, which in itself, will bring even more trauma.
The one thing I liked about Chris that made him unlike other guys who do such deeds was that he owned up to his mistake. In the reunion episode, Chris admitted to what he did. He didn’t have any arguments to defend himself when Johnnie told the story of their breakup that didn’t even officially end. Instead, he nodded and apologized to Johnnie for the world to see. This time, it wasn’t because of his trauma that he avoided conflict. On the contrary, it was that there was no conflict to avoid. Something like that takes courage and it shows that there’s growth and healing coming from him.
Watching Johnnie and Chris’s relationship made me thing long and hard about so many things. I started asking myself whether or not two damaged goods could ever be together. I recently saw the 2020 Netflix movie, ‘Feel The Beat’, which starred Sofia Carson, and I noticed a similar theme in the story-line. A young artist, who’s hungry for success comes back to her hometown to teach young kids so that she could dance in front of her idol to get a new opportunity. We get to know that her mother left her when she was little, and when she left to New York the first time to be a Broadway star, she broke up with her boyfriend abruptly over text. Then when she did get the opportunity she craved for following a performance with her students, she left without saying goodbye. Leaving things upended and unintentionally hurting the people she loved was a pattern for her due to her trauma. The person closest to her left her by choice, and that was only way she knew how to resolve any type of conflict.
Two damaged goods cannot be in a long lasting, healthy relationship. A relationship isn’t even 50/50. On person give it their all 100% and the other one gives their all 100%. Two damaged goods might be able to be in a relationship, but they certainly won’t be able to stay in a relationship, and Johnnie and Chris from ‘Love Is Blind’ are living proof.