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From the moment people were introduced to Lauren Speed and Cameron Hamilton‘s love story on the dating reality series and Netflix hit Love Is Blind, they were all in. They were one of the few pairs on the show that many genuinely rooted for, and people have continued doing so since the show ended its first season last spring.

Their romance was broadcast right before the pandemic brought life as we know it to a screeching halt. More than a year later, we talked about life after the cameras went away and the newlywed phase ended, and the couple shared that as the world changed, they too had to change and also overcame some stumbling blocks.

“It has definitely been an adjustment,” Lauren tells ESSENCE of love after reality TV. They’ve welcomed a dog, become business partners trying to balance a working relationship with a romantic one and are approaching almost three years of marriage (they were married a year and a half at the time the show debuted).

“Honestly, it’s been amazing. It’s been as close to bliss as bliss can get, but I say that to say that it’s not without struggle,” she says. “We’re still human. All relationships go through ups and downs and trials and tribulations, but we’re continuing to grow.”

They’re also continuing to do have some major experiences as a couple. They’ve written a book called Leap of Faith: Finding Love The Modern Way, coming out on Tuesday, June 15. It’s about how they made the life-changing decision to join Love Is Blind, what it was like getting through filming while falling in love and how it’s been navigating married life. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The couple wasn’t afraid to be honest about the obstacles they faced, similar to what many dealt with in the last year and change. But they also dealt with things that were unique to their relationship and experiences. The racial reckoning that came after the murder of George Floyd, for instance, forced them to have some very real conversations as an interracial couple.

“We had some difficult times more so for me just processing everything and me being in a state of fighting shutting down, not just to him but to the whole world in general,” she says of trying to heal during a rocky summer 2020. “It was a point, which I talk about in the book, where Cameron and I had a really tough conversation one day. I wouldn’t say I was holding it in just because he was my white husband. I was holding it in because it was something I would usually process by myself anyway. He caught me balled up in the corner one day crying my eyeballs out. That forced us to have a conversation about how I was really feeling about everything.”

“My first thought was what is the best thing for me to do to support my wife? And I think I resolved that first of all it would be to listen to her and what she would want to talk about it or say about it, if she wanted to talk about it,” Cameron says. “To ask what I could do for her personally but also recognizing that like she said, she had to heal from it so she didn’t really have the energy to at times share everything. So I reflected back on what would be best for me to do. In addition to trying to help her, I felt that trying to be more educated as a white person, having a platform to speak about what’s going on in this country, not just back then in June but what’s been going on and persists, and talking to other white people about what we can possibly do to be allies.”

They also dealt with and still deal with pressure. That has come in the form of fans who idealize their relationship and even each party as examples of the happiness they themselves can possibly obtain. It can be a lot for the pair. And then there are those who want them to take their relationship to the next level — ASAP.

“People every day pressure us about having a baby. ‘When are we going to have a baby?’ That sort of thing,” he says. “It’s unfortunate because I know other couples are met with that same sort of pressure and there’s couples out there that can’t get pregnant or don’t want to. We’ve talked about wanting to have kids on our own timeline. It can be tough to just reorient the focus back to just us versus what everyone else has to say.”

And then there was the feeling they had to overcome that they were constantly being watched. That came from being followed by cameras for 16-hour days for weeks when they filmed their show.

“I actually dealt with nightmares after we stopped filming,” she says. “I think [it was] the difference between going from everything being so loud with the cameras and the crew and then just kind of shutting all that off and in an instant, waking up the next day and being married and living with my now husband and so many different changes.”

She dreamt she was being recorded, and when she was awake, had “phantom mic syndrome.” That is where she would be mid-conversation and then pat her chest to make sure she didn’t have a mic on recording her. Cameron had subtle paranoia and kept his guard up while filming the show, thinking he would be set up for some drama. Once the show ended, that fed into his feelings of being followed and filmed. It may sound like an odd experience, but that’s because it’s a transition the couple says people don’t think about and that participants don’t discuss when they stop doing reality TV. It’s certainly been a part of their journey and something they wanted to shed light on in their book.

But they say another big purpose in releasing Leap of Faith is to give encouragement to their followers and supporters who’ve asked for advice. Something for those who have seen the couple find love after they trusted in the unorthodox choice to seek it through a social experiment on television. Not being afraid to go the unconventional route or do the daring, whether for love, career and more, is the overall message they want to share and it’s one that has benefited them.

“Love is a journey and so is life. There are so many times where we have moments to take these leaps of faith that can really change the trajectory of our lives,” she says. “This book was really about us sharing the things that we kind of came across on our journey that really helped us.”

Cameron adds, “The goal when we were writing it was in part to tell our story of how we came to be, but we really want to give the reader the sense of how they can take their own leaps of faith in life and how they can have that confidence to trust their own intuition when people are saying ‘This is a crazy idea’ to start your own business or to go on a reality show. Whatever it is.”

Check out our full conversation with Lauren and Cameron above and check out Leap of Faith upon its release on June 15.

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