Catching Up With Jessica Batten From Netflix’s Completely Bonkers ‘Love Is Blind’

Love Is Blind on Netflix kept a nation briefly obsessed these past few weeks. If you haven’t seen it yet, be warned now, spoilers will follow. When I had a chance to speak with the cast last week, and I chose Mark and Jessica, the most obviously-doomed relationship, once Carlton and Diamond left the show.

Mark Cuevas was 24, Jessica Batten was 34, and they hadn’t ever seen each other when they got engaged. Which they did sight unseen after knowing each other for less than 10 days. That alone would seem more than enough to doom them, but the show kept up the pretense that they might really tie the knot all the way until the finale, when (SPOILER ALERT, SERIOUSLY) Jessica left Mark standing at the altar in front of their assembled respective friends and family.

How had they not told anyone before then, how?! Per the terms of the interview, I wasn’t allowed to reveal until now what anyone I talked to has been up to since the wrap of the show (which shot in late 2018). I won’t make you wait for that. Jessica and Mark are… obviously… not together today and haven’t spoken much since the finale.

JESSICA: “After the show, to be honest, it was pretty challenging. I isolated myself for a while because it was a little bit traumatic for me towards the end. I didn’t date for a long time and I was trying to just learn and grow out of what all happened. And then I moved to Chicago and I started dating some there, which was great, definitely a better region for me. And now I’m out in LA and I’m fully dating now and having a lot of fun with it. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from the show and I’m trying to take that with me. But I’m back in a place where I’m dating and I feel like I’m meeting some great people.”

MARK: “No, we aren’t still together. We haven’t spoken, we didn’t speak for about a year and a half. After the whole wedding, I think we both needed our own time to figure our own stuff out. And she has her way of doing that and I had mine and again, we’re better people now I feel like than we were when we started the whole experience.”

So, Mark is still in Atlanta, personal training, and Jessica is in LA now, still in software sales.

As for the rest of the cast, Lauren and sentient chatbot Cameron are reportedly still together, with Cameron presumably nurturing his bizarre-shaped chest hair.

Ape-haired good ol’ boy Barnett and his grating bride with the inconsistent accent, Amber, who got married on the show, are reportedly also still together. Uh… good for them?

Damian and Giannina “I lost my butterflies” Gibelli didn’t get married on the show, though apparently some people are speculating that they secretly got back together based on their social media activity. Gigi and Damian’s dynamic was so obviously phony that the biggest question was why they didn’t just go all the way with a sham marriage? Whatever these discount Kardashians are doing these days, count me out. Damian’s Instagram, meanwhile, is uniquely awful:

Kelly and Kenny didn’t get married in the finale either, and so far no word on what they’ve been up to. I’m sure we’ll find out in the reunion episode, set to air this Thursday.

In the meantime, here’s my interview with Jessica Batten. I might as well admit it here: in the midst of all the hubbub, I forgot to ask about her feeding her dog wine. It is my greatest professional shame.

How does it feel to have these shows airing? Are you one of those people that doesn’t like to watch yourself?

It’s crazy. I’ve watched the majority of it, but some episodes I’ve kind of skipped around a little bit. And it’s been more fun than anything.

Was there anything that made you cringe or anything specifically that you had a hard time watching?

For sure. I think Barnett’s birthday party was a little cringe-worthy for me. I think there were a couple of shots of whiskey that we all took together that I think really went to my head.

It seems like a lot of times there probably isn’t a lot to do, but then you have free access to alcohol.

Yeah, there was access and it was just more of my uncomfortability. And hindsight being 2020, in social situations where I am drinking, which isn’t actually all that much, I tend to maybe have one or two too many in those situations. This being a highly uncomfortable situation, if I could go back, I would definitely have not had so many.

So how did you end up getting cast in the show?

I had a couple of girlfriends and one girlfriend was on The Bachelor. They had forwarded me an email and I ended up talking to a casting director. I had no intention of signing up for the show, but they sold me on the concept — that they’re turning dating on its head, no longer are you going to be swiping on someone’s face, but you’re getting to know someone for who they really are. And I love the concept because I don’t love where the dating world has gone in 2020. It’s just I feel like it’s a throwaway culture. It’s like putting people on reserve or or whatever and it doesn’t feel very wholesome or good or whatever you want to say.

Has being on the show, I don’t know, maybe given you an appreciation for being able to see potential dates or has it changed your outlook on dating at all?

For sure. I think it’s taught me a lot about how to date, what I’m looking for. Asking serious questions is something that’s really uncomfortable when you met someone five minutes ago. Asking about their religion or their plans for the future, how do you want to raise kids? It’s not something that we’re very used to on a random casual date. But being a little bit more serious, I think, is something that I want to do now because you can waste a lot of time going on casual dates and never learning about the things that really matter to you. I think that’s a big one. And then, too, it’s identifying patterns of yourself very quickly like I did with Barnett.

What was the pattern that you recognized about yourself there?

For some reason, I tend to play the game a little bit. I will go after someone that’s hard to get. And in my mind I think I’m accomplishing something if I’m able to date them. I don’t know. It’s very strange. It’s a very painful thing. But I dated someone for a very long time who never even told me he loved me. I look back on that and it’s like, why? But it’s definitely been a pattern.

You mentioned asking serious questions at the beginning, do you think that there’s a way to do that? I feel like people’s fear in doing that is that they’re going to scare someone away at the beginning. Is there a way to, I don’t know, make it fun?

Exactly. Well, I think the great thing for us was that we were all asking those questions, and they even put together a little question booklet for us. We were all in the same boat at least. But in real life, we shouldn’t be afraid to do that, because if we’re serious about dating and we are forthcoming about our intentions, then I think we have the right to ask. It’s our time and our time’s valuable.

Had you considered any other dating shows or anything like this before going on this one?

I had maybe thought in the past about doing something like that, but ultimately, no, this was the only one I’ve ever gone on and I will not do any in the future.

Can you elaborate on that?

I think it’s just, I’m actually a private person and the uncomfortability of having your whole life exposed to the world, proved for me to be a little overwhelming. I think for me, I’m just going to keep that stuff personal going forward.

You filmed this what, a year and a half ago now? Has being on the show affected your current dating life?

Not really. After the show, to be honest, it was pretty challenging. I isolated myself for a while because it was a little bit traumatic for me towards the end. I didn’t date for a long time and I was trying to just learn and grow out of what all happened. And then I moved to Chicago and I started dating some there, which was great, definitely a better region for me. And then, now I’m out in LA and I’m fully dating now and having a lot of fun with it. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from the show and I’m trying to take that with me. But I’m back in a place where I’m dating and I feel like I’m meeting some great people.

Why did you think Chicago was a better place to date?

I don’t know. I feel like Atlanta is, it’s like 10 to 1. Did you know that?

No. Is that there’s more single guys than–

It’s the ratio of women to men, 10 to 1.

I did not know that. [This study from 2015 said it was 1.1 or 1.2 to one, this one from 2017 said about the same — not 10 to 1, but certainly a place where the ratio favors the men.]

It’s a tough place to date for women. In Chicago, there’s just more opportunities to organically meet people. And it’s home. I have a lot more in common I feel like with Midwesterners, maybe.

What was your job at the time that you agreed to be on the show?

I was in software sales and I still am.

Different job or just same industry?

Nope, same. Same industry, yeah.

Once you guys were out of the pods… I don’t know how to ask this in a super nice way, but it seemed like you realized pretty early on that you didn’t have a physical attraction to Mark. Was that something that you knew right away or were you working through that?

I knew right away. I knew in Mexico and I was very honest and truthful with him and I was super forthcoming about how I felt the entire way with him, with production, with everyone. I think the biggest thing for me coming out of the pods is you get 15 minutes with this person that’s scheduled each day and that leads into, by the end, you’re spending about an hour with them. You’re not seeing them interact, you’re not having everyday life. When we were in Mexico, like I knew he was an attractive guy, there were no guys on the show that were not attractive. They didn’t throw me for a loop at all, but I think the thing for me was just like the physical chemistry. Because when we were outside of the pods, we were starting to have conversations. The conversations just looked very different outside of a pod. And that’s where I wasn’t feeling it. And that’s when the physical chemistry just doesn’t follow. That’s where I started just getting really uncomfortable and knowing that I got in over my head.

You kind of went into this as a fix for the shallowness of dating apps and stuff like that. And then this was like a complete opposite of that. Do you think that there’s some happy medium in between those two now?

Yeah, I think people want to say, if you are not physically attracted to the person, it makes you shallow. But I think there’s something in us, that’s a part of a relationship, the physical chemistry. I’m not going to shame myself for that. But I think people, especially viewers, they want to root for love and especially, this was the best-case scenario to fall in love with someone’s heart and then everything else follows behind. Unfortunately for me, it just didn’t. I wish it was different because that’s the entire reason I signed up for it. But really for me, it wasn’t as much physical as it was, I fall in love with the conversation, it’s all of those things that just weren’t there. And then unfortunately, the physical kind of parallels. But if I could change it, I would. It would have been a lot more fun to see me falling in love and kind of act my best.

Was there something about the conditions of being on the show that made you agree to something crazy like getting engaged with someone that you hadn’t known for very long?

Yeah. I’m glad you asked that because I’m sure a lot of people are wondering. And watching back, I felt like I was fully in love. You’re just really uncomfortable in there. For me, I live alone. I’m a Cancer. I like my alone time and my space. I’m an introvert. I was suddenly at the Hampton Inn and getting bused over to this sound stage where I’m living with 15 other women. I don’t have my phone, I don’t have access to a gym, to music, to my family and friends, my support team that I normally have. When you’re in these pods and you’re meeting with these men, everything is way overdramatized in your mind. It’s like just hearing a male voice, in that moment you just feel so close to them and it was so amazing. That’s what makes it so great, is you’re uncomfortable, you’re outside of your element and you’re meeting these people and you’re resonating with them because they’re in the same situation. And that’s what made it just so amazing. And I think for eight of us, you truly fall in love. Unfortunately, the reality that comes after that it didn’t exactly measure up.

Do you think being in an environment where they’re trying to create this drama, do you think that you internalize some of that?

For sure. The pressure’s on. There’s so much pressure on you and there’s no time. You create the drama within yourself, too, because it’s like, “What the hell did I sign up for? Am I getting in over my head?” You want it to work. It’s an amazing experiment. And I think that’s really where I was majority of the time just trying to keep myself open and I really wanted it to work for me.

Was there any time where you felt like the editing of the show was misleading?

There was one thing that really bothered me because I would never ever shame someone for what they do for work. And when Mark said he was a valet, I don’t think it was directly edited to look this way, but I spent a lot of time telling him that I thought that was amazing and whatever it is that you’re passionate about, then you should do it. And I love ambitious people and I would never judge someone for what they do. It was the fact that we were in two different places with our careers. I’m 35 so I’m like starting to think about retirement and he was trying to build a following and that’s just coming from two totally different places. That makes it really challenging as well.

Since the show’s been over, have you dated other younger men or have you sworn that off?

I think it’s been kind of similar age, but I would still be open.

My last question, be honest, who is the most annoying person that you met on the show?

Watching the show? Jessica. Not going to lie. I’m way more chill in real life.