Tuesday 6 August 2019 5:27 am

What Love Island can teach us about toxic office relationships

Love Island

Love Island has once again graced our screens this summer. Six million of us watched for eight weeks as bronzed, toned millennials took to reality TV in search of true love – not to forget a £50,000 cash prize, lucrative brand deals, and an army of followers. 

While it may appear indulgent to get so invested in these seemingly vapid personalities, there are important lessons that can be drawn from the  drama of the show.

This year’s islanders have presented us with a display of the most toxic behaviour yet – but that is not necessarily a bad thing. 

Love Island is meant to represent a microcosm of our society, and it has brought awareness to noxious alliances – and how to prevent them.

Enter the toxic office relationship.  

Disputes ranging from low-level bickering to the more serious, messy workplace wars disrupt productivity and make the office an unpleasant space. 

While a colourful villa on the isle of Majorca seems alien to the open plan, modular, offices of the City, both locations are susceptible to the petty world of gossip and jealousy.

Perhaps it’s the common phenomenon of gaslighting that plagues your office: psychological manipulation inflicted on one person with the aim to make them doubt the authenticity of their own emotions. 

We saw this happen between  contestants Amber Gill and Michael Griffiths. Rather than accepting responsibility for his wrongdoings, Michael repeatedly called his partner childish for daring to confront him about his behaviour.

Amber’s emotional resilience throughout her time in the villa ultimately awarded her the winning title. She and her partner Greg O’Shea were not the most established couple, but Amber’s condemnation of Michael’s toxic behaviour and her refusal to submit to it resonated with the British public. 

There were other instances of negative and manipulative behaviour throughout the series. Lucie’s friendships with the other male contestants alarmed her partner Joe – he brought up his concerns, telling her “I didn’t think you were ‘that’ type of girl”. 

Double standards in the workplace can lead to resentment between employees, so it is important to address those being treated differently, as Lucie did so in a conversation with Joe, establishing her right to spend time with whom she wishes. Or the case of Amy, who’s boyfriend blamed her for his own disloyalty, prompting her to quite rightly leave the villa to focus on her own mental health. 

In times of high pressure, colleagues often turn to blaming each other as an outlet for their emotion. It is important here to understand, like Amy did, that it is not in fact our fault, and that our own wellbeing matters more than pleasing others.

Many have criticised Love Island for broadcasting such toxic relationships, but that’s unfair to say. The show’s audience does not condone such behaviour – we learn from it. 

Through the eyes of the contestants, we are exposed to the red flags of emotional manipulation. 

Ultimately, Love Island should be praised for condemning negative behaviour and defending those who are suffering at its hands.  

If we were to transfer these values into the workplace, we would be more productive and more aware of warning signs that lead towards a toxic office relationship.