Kisses first, questions later. Dating in this digital age is proving difficult for many Americans–and some singles are willing to go to great lengths in an attempt to find “the one.” TLC is premiering a new show called Love at First Kiss (airing Wednesday, Aug. 3), where single men and women are tasked with kissing complete strangers before getting to know their partners.
Ahead of the premiere episode of the intriguing new program, two Love at First Kiss participants open up to The Knot exclusively about their experience.
Josh is a 27-year old non-profit director who had never been kissed. He’s quick to admit that sharing his story with the world was initially a bit daunting. “At first it was a little nerve-wrecking to tell the whole world and all of America that I have never kissed anyone in my life,” Josh reveals. “I thought it would be difficult for me to muster the courage to share such an intimate and personal experience. However, I wanted to share the journey and opportunity to have my first kiss with millions of viewers watching.”
Support from loved ones has made the experience less awkward for Josh. “My family and friends were taken back when I told them that I would be on a reality TV dating show,” he remembers. “My mom wanted her innocent boy to not have his first kiss until his wedding day. Friends back in Seattle were really excited for me when I told them I would be on Love At First Kiss. They will all be watching it on Wednesday and cheering me on. The support from friends and family has been super encouraging and positive.”
Sarati is a 19-year old professional dancer looking to find true love. She’s independent and knows what she’s looking for in a partner. “I am really wanting someone who makes me a better person, because I want to make them a better person,” she tells The Knot. “I think relationships are all about giving and not being selfish. It’s not an easy task to meet someone like that.”
“I was looking to meet someone that was close in age and doing similar things with their life,” she explains, “because that was my main issue with dating prior to the show.”
At first, Sarati was skeptical of the Love at First Kiss premise. After sharing a kiss, the participants are given the option to go on a two-minute speed date. If that goes well, they can meet for a “first official date.” Throughout the process, each participant can either show up or bail on their Love at First Kiss match. On the premiere, Sarati has a very unique first kiss experience.
“It is very interesting to get the first kiss out of the way and actually pay attention to what somebody is talking about,” she tells us. “I’ve been on dates where guys just stared at my mouth waiting for me to shut up so they could lean in, and I liked that in this situation that was not necessary.”
After being chosen for Love at First Kiss, Sarati chose not to tell many people. “I did not fully know what to expect,” she shares. “But the people I did tell… they were pretty taken aback. It’s such a new concept finding love this way, so their pep talk was, ‘Good luck with that.'”
Josh knew what he was looking for when he embarked on this adventure. We asked what he was hoping for when he signed-on. “Fireworks,” he tells The Knot, “like the Katy Perry song. I imagined my first kiss like the Jack and Rose kiss on the edge of the ship on Titanic.”
“I was hoping to have an incredible passionate kiss and hopefully meet my girlfriend and potential wife,” he continues. “I am a hopeless romantic in a hookup generation. I went on Love at First Kiss to find love and see if a first kiss could bloom into a romance. I definitely am a believer that Love At First Kiss is possible.”
The experience has given Josh a wake-up call. “I waited so long to kiss a woman other than my mom or grandma on the cheek because I was waiting for that special someone,” he admits. “I wanted my first kiss to be on my wedding day with my beautiful bride. I am such a romantic sap and that is a big reason I waited. I wanted the first kiss to be perfect with the perfect woman. Sometimes you have to realize that the perfect you want might be all manufactured, but that you can make it perfect with any special woman.”
Love at First Kiss has also resulted in a welcome confidence boost for Josh. “I was super shy growing up and really reserved,” he remembers. “I didn’t know how to communicate with women, and I tended to get super nervous when I would see a beautiful woman. I don’t know if I had many opportunities to kiss girls when I was growing up, but if I did, I was completely oblivious. I wanted to stay pure for my wife and so I avoided getting close to women as much as possible.”
“Now because of the show, I can talk to any woman and I have supreme confidence,” Josh shares with The Knot. “I know that I have the capability to talk with women and even make connections and possibly romantic relationships happen. The show has opened me up to be more outgoing and confident with women, but also in general as a person. I am grateful and happy to have been on Love At First Kiss and to share my first kiss and experience with the world.”
We were curious if the Love at First Kiss participants were disappointed with their matches. “Not disappointed, because I didn’t know who they were, so they could have been really amazing people,” Sarati tells us. “But it was weird that I had to kiss them right away. They did pick people that were not exactly my type, but I saw it as an opportunity to try something new.”
Not only did Josh receive his very first kiss; after that initial smooch, he had the opportunity to kiss a second woman on the show. “The second time, I was hoping that I would have a romantic, jaw dropping to the floor, mouth-watering kiss,” he tells The Knot. “I wanted to capitalize on my mistakes and use the proper techniques to kiss the next woman. I was 1000 percent more confident going into the second ‘first kiss.’ Since I got my first kiss out of the way, I was more at ease and felt like I knew what I was doing.”
Sarati has learned a lot from her on-screen kissing experience. “I learned to let my walls down a little more because I was very uptight on the show,” she admits. “As far as other women are concerned, if your dating experience is always the same and you are hoping for a different outcome… maybe try something new. Obviously you need to change something, so why not try Love at First Kiss?”
“The greatest thing was going on such fun dates. I enjoyed doing some wild things with good people,” she explains. “The worst part was not knowing if the person I was about to kiss had brushed their teeth in the last week. I would go through the process again, but I would turn people down instead of just saying yes to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.”
Don’t miss the series premiere of Love at First Kiss, airing Wednesday, August 3, at 10 p.m. ET on TLC.