When it comes to dating, it is often said that it’s a jungle out there. Of course, as civilized human beings, we like to think that we are more sophisticated than our friends in the animal kingdom as relates to matters of the heart, but, ‘Love in the Jungle’ a new reality dating show from Discovery+ is proving that primal urges go a long way when it comes to impressing a potential mate.

Still, if you are prepared to go beyond the surface, there’s hope for both the alpha’s and the meek alike, as M&F found out by getting the inside track from one of the 14 singletons who entered this unique show. Detroit’s Austin Nogiec is a registered nurse by trade, specializing in trauma. When COVID hit, this hero became part of a traveling contingent of medics who fought the invisible fire on the frontline. But with life now hopefully nearing normality, Nogiec was thrilled to join “Love in the Jungle” and hopefully swap singlehood with a steady and secure relationship.

Be the best version of yourself

Striving to be the best version of yourself matters, because first impressions count. Right from the very beginning of the show, the 14 contestants were thrown into the deepest depths of the Colombian jungle, where they soon learned that they had to woo their potential partners without the luxury of words, since speaking was off-limits. As a keen fitness enthusiast, Nogiec was lucky enough to sport one of the best physiques on the show. Now 6’4’’ tall and weighing in at around 230 pounds, his manly frame is a result of many hours spent getting in shape. As an ectomorph, Nogiec’s athletic build is the result of serious commitment and work, and it gave him an initial boost of confidence when he first entered the jungle.

“Growing up through high school, I was always that tall, skinny guy,” says Nogiec. “I was 180 pounds or something when I graduated, and I would work out, and drink meal replacement shakes that were 1,000-plus calories on top of eating two pounds of ground chuck each day.” Nogiec fell in love with the process of building muscle and getting stronger, and here’s the science part; it seems that women really do prefer muscular guys. A 2017 study found that the appearance of upper-body strength was a turn-on for women.

Widen your dating pool

One development that is changing the way that we find partners, in comparison to our animal friends, is the way that technology is becoming the preferred choice to find a new mate. If you are tired of the endless swiping and those digitally doctored profile images, then you really should widen your dating pool and go swim in new waters. “Ultimately I found myself in the same vicious circle as all of my friends,” says Nogiec. “Swiping right on Bumble and swiping right on Tinder.”

“When I first heard about the show, I was on a Bumble date,” says Nogiec, who explains that he was struggling to find a deep and meaningful connection until he was unexpectedly approached by the producers of Love in the Jungle (the show is currently airing Sundays on Discovery+). Initially, he was hesitant about joining the show, but as he considered his experiences on apps, he started to think that getting away from the screen might be an opportune way to meet new and exciting people. “I was like, nothing is working out for me right now, so I gotta find a way!” he recalls. For many of us, an all-expenses-paid trip to the jungles of Colombia might be a stretch too far, but if you are having trouble finding a match on an app then why not join a club or get out and about?

Be prepared for anything

“Everyone who came on this show, we all agreed that we were here for one reason, and that was because we all suck at dating,” laughs Nogiec. As Homo sapiens, we really love our creature comforts. From the music we like, to our tastes in food and fashion, we often veer toward the familiar when looking for a connection, but if you always do the same thing, then it stands to reason that you will always get the same results. So, if you think you suck at dating, perhaps you are just repeating the same mistakes and playing it safe instead of getting outside of your comfort zone.

Don’t be afraid to get to know someone who may hold different interests from your own. Why not put yourself in an environment that wouldn’t necessarily be your first choice? There’s great fun to be had by trying new things and being prepared for anything. “Walking into this challenge, you really knew nothing,” says Nogiec. “And, I felt that added to it. Everybody was on the same page … walking up on that first day, you see these signs, and they say, ‘Animals can’t talk, so neither can you.’ And that’s when I realized, like oh crap! What the heck did I just get myself into … but that’s not to say that it wasn’t a really great experience.”

There’s more to language than simple verbalization.

While Nogiec found himself in the position of being one of the biggest guys in the jungle pack, he knew that it would be wrong to assume that an athletic physique would do all of the talking. Looks are great, but language and communication is essential to finding a lasting relationship. Sure, on the face of it, Nogiec could be considered a jock thanks to his love of baseball, a sport that he took all the way to Division 2 at Saginaw Valley State University, and he even played in some MLB prospect leagues, but as a caring nurse with a gentle side, this contestant was able to show a rounded personality by using more than his aesthetics.

“I started realizing that I read body language so much when I first meet a person,” says Nogiec, who had to find ways to get his inner-qualities across to his potential dates. In one scene, Nogiec presents some fruit to a potential partner, to show that he would make for an unselfish companion. “Some people on the show said that by first glance they didn’t think I would be the (caring) type of person that I was.” You can say a lot without words.

Pay more attention to your partner

“Love in the Jungle,” which is narrated in a David Attenborough-esque manner, and asks people to choose their own spirit animal as a nickname is a fun watch, but it also has a deeper side. For Nogiec, one of the biggest dating tips that he will take back home from the jungle, and the different ways that he was forced to communicate, is to make sure that he gives the appropriate time and attention to his future dates.

“I always knew that I was this very fun, extroverted guy,” says Nogiec. “I enjoy to make people laugh, but I realized very quickly that I wasn’t giving people the real me. I wasn’t opening up or allowing myself to hear them out. So, I think exploring those deeper connections is something that I will take with me.” Perhaps we are not all apes after all!

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