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The Love Triangle – interview with Desiree Burch

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Desiree Burch is the host of new E4 pilot The Love Triangle. We spoke to her about what to expect from the show, the dating landscape and how it compares to other dating shows.

How would you describe The Love Triangle in a nutshell?

The Love Triangle is a dating show which expands the notion of dating outside of monogamy. It does start with a couple looking for a third person to expand their couple to a throuple, but this is a show that’s looking to create relationships based on three equals rather than two. I think it’s quite ground-breaking. I’m excited about what it means for how we look at dating shows and dating in general. Hopefully it will open some people’s minds to what can be possible for them.

Why did you want to be involved with this project?

I hoped that I might bring something to it that was a bit more accepting and inclusive. A way that isn’t exploitative or ‘let’s gawk at a threesome in action’. That’s not what the show is. It will be interesting to figure out the emotional nuance and sense of security that comes with the show because it’s one thing to pick and choose when you aren’t looking at someone – which is what happens in the show – but it’s an entirely different thing when suddenly the lights are up, and you see them. It’s just the same as the way we’re different when we talk to people online compared to when we actually meet them.

What can we expect to see in the pilot episode?

It was really interesting to see how much talking about bringing somebody into a relationship helps to show us the inner workings of a dualistic, monogamous relationship. I was looking at these couples and learning more about them as they were trying to determine what they wanted. I think, that is what dating and relationships can do for us by making us think ‘wait a minute, am I really ready for this?’

To discover more about the singles, the coupled pair ask questions about sex, relationships, and the future. Which questions stood out for you?

On paper, sometimes these questions make you wonder, ‘how does that work?’ For example, one question from a couple relates to one person who is messy and the other who’s a neat freak. It makes you remember that with relationships, there is a certain sort of a chemistry, an alchemy – whatever you want to call it – that means that things you would put on paper and say don’t work, somehow do. There was one couple who gave two very different answers when asked ‘why do you want a third?’ I was like ‘sounds like y’all need to talk about what you’re both looking for because you cannot find these two separate things in one person.’

The couples don’t get to see the singles before making their decisions on who to eliminate. How did they find the process of making decisions on voice and answers alone?

I noticed that look of regret when the couples see the singles they didn’t choose. We have one couple who I think regretted eliminating someone and even I could see they were a good match. Any time you say yes to something, you’re saying no to other things, and that’s easier when you don’t know what those choices were. If you turn right, you don’t know about all the stuff that’s waiting for you if you’d turned left. And in this case, on the show, you can see exactly what was waiting for you so of course you’re going to have some regret.

To achieve the triple lock, both couple members and the chosen single must fancy each other. How awkward is it to watch when this doesn’t happen? Could you tell which way it was going to go?

When you see the single person walk out, you look at how they’re all standing there with each other and think, ‘hmm, I don’t know about this’. It’s something you can’t quite articulate, but you just get a feeling. It’s interesting what someone on the outside of a relationship can see, compared to what the people within it might not.

How would you describe the current dating landscape?

It seems to be that dating is far more troublesome for folk than it used to be and it’s hard because people are trying to fit dating into their lives which are already at full speed. What I have found personally is that dating has only worked successfully for me when I made the time in my life to actually spend and ‘waste’ with someone else. I don’t think we allow ourselves enough wasted time with people in order to get to know them because we’re so hellbent on being productive and relationships aren’t productive necessarily.

What dating advice would you give to your younger self?

I would probably tell myself ‘you need to make a list of what it is that you are actually looking for in a partner, and you need to ask the universe to bring you someone who embodies those things.’ I spent a lot of time chasing after an idea of someone that I wanted in high school, something that would make me seem cooler, but none of those things were what I wanted. When I made that list, what was at the top was ‘kind, cares about me, funny, intellectual and capable’. I’d also tell myself that chasing after the guys who ultimately just wanted my attention and didn’t want to give me anything else, was a waste of many years of my youth.

What’s your idea of a dream date?

I think it’s nice when dates include an outdoor activity of some sort. Although, I don’t necessarily want to be horseback riding with a dude on date number one because then I’ve got to deal with how I feel on the horse, you know? Everyone wants to be cute and presentable, but just drinks can be a bit boring, so it should be somewhere in the middle. It’s nice to go to a bar or restaurant which has a little something extra going on. A walk out in nature is also good because you’re not worried about if you’re sitting right or what you’re going to order or who’s paying the bill.

If you could throuple up with two other celebrities, who would it be and why?

What’s funny is that on the show I’m like ‘this is so freaking fascinating’ meanwhile in my real life I’m like ‘dude, one other person is already enough!’ I would probably choose a boy and a girl, or I could choose someone who is gender non-conforming.

Has filming this show changed your view on throuples?

I’ve learned there needs to be a certain readiness to do the work. It’s a lot more responsibility than you think. When I think of a throuple, I think of myself as the centre of attention between two people, but that’s not the way a throuple would ever work. It is a lot more commitment, of time and focus and attention, than what I previously thought, and I admire those who want to take it on. The sheer amount of necessary communication that is required for a throuple to be functional is important. The people within it need to be open and engaged because the potential for it to go bad can be magnified when there’s more people involved.

Do you have any friends who are in throuples?

I have friends who identify as polyamorous but they’re not in throuples, instead they have two separate relationships. They usually have one main relationship then see other people on the side. It’s less of a triangle, more of a multiplicity of relationships. It’s about loving more than one person at a time.

How does this show compare to Too Hot To Handle?

Too Hot to Handle is about one-on-one relationships. There’s the potential for love triangles to form, but usually it’s that one person fancies two people and they have to choose which one to go for. So far I haven’t seen anything form where three people go ‘oh we can make a go of this’. On Love Triangle, everyone is very clear and up front about what they want and about it being non-traditional. Whereas on Too Hot to Handle, everyone is trying to figure out what they want.

Desiree Burch hosts The Love Triangle, Wednesday 29th September at 10pm on E4.