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I had no idea I was joining Too Hot to Handle – I left heartbroken’

Dec 28, 2022

Imagine going on a reality show thinking you’re on it to win money through challenges – only to quickly realise you’re there to abstain from sex.

Well, that’s exactly what Sophie Stonehouse, 22, realised when she found out she was actually on the fourth season of Too Hot to Handle (THTH).

The show sees a group of determined singles meeting, mingling, and remaining celibate for their chance to win $100,000 – and hopefully, find a genuine connection.

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Sophie was one of three contestants eliminated on the show – but while her exit was somewhat justified, she undoubtedly would've gone farther without Creed McKinnon's blatant betrayal.

While the singleton developed a connection with the handsome Aussie, he ended up turning his back on her in favour of Flavia Laos Urbina when she joined the show.

Sophie told the Daily Star: “I was heartbroken and embarrassed! When I first found out it was THTH I became a little nervous.

“This wasn’t just due to my fears of being fined if we chose to do anything sexual – it was mainly because I had just gotten out of a six-year relationship so I was scared about the prospect of forming a deep connection with someone. I didn't know if I was ready!

“Despite that, I put all my efforts into my relationship with Creed and I did genuinely believe it was going to go somewhere.

"A lot of time has gone by since the retreat, I am of course over it and it taught me a lot!”

Sophie was one of the original arrivals who fell for Mario Lopez's made-up program Wild Love when the show kicked off on December 7.

Contestants were cast under the guise they were joining a new series targeted towards romance – but they were stunned to see Too Hot To Handle’s virtual assistant Lana make an entrance and put a stop to all physical affection.

She was also one of the only contestants to take Lana's reveal in stride and try to play by the rules.

“Once it was revealed to us that we weren’t on Wild Love, but in fact, we had been fooled and were on THTH, I had a good idea of what was in store,” she explained.

“However, I feel that Netflix went to extraordinary lengths to keep the ruse of the show being Wild Love going.

“There was no indication that it was THTH until the moment of the reveal. I was very shocked, to say the least!”

Sophie was scouted via Instagram to apply for what casting agents pretended Wild Love.

The message mentioned that the show would be "filmed abroad in an exotic location" and the contestant was sceptical upon receiving the message.

She didn’t reply straight away – but once she realised that there were other reality stars following the casting account, it gave her the indication that it was legitimate.

“The hardest part of the competition for many is trying to resist any temptation to be physical as this results in money being taken away from the cash prize,” she said.

“I think in any circumstance when you’re getting to know someone, there are always thoughts about getting physical.

“However, we were constantly reminded by Lana to deepen connections without being physical with one another.

“Don’t get me wrong, it was hard at times and I definitely was up for breaking rules! I truly did put my all into the experience and did my best to follow Lana’s advice.

“There were mixed emotions when other people broke rules.

"Ultimately I was very happy for people to sacrifice money if they were building a genuine connection. However, I felt that some of the rule breaks that occurred were sometimes unnecessary and unfair on the group.”

It comes as no surprise that the show was an intense environment which Sophie found challenging at times.

Emotions were heightened and people were regularly tested and Sophie found her developing a connection with another contestant.

She was dedicated to her relationship with Creed and made her loyalty clear, which is why it was difficult to watch her lover reject her in favour of Flavia.

Despite having an emotional attachment to Sophie, Creed chose to follow his eyes rather than his hear – and before Sophie realised it, she had been cast aside.

Understandably, she couldn't hide how upset she was at Creed's actions and it didn't take long for her to tearfully contemplate throwing in the towel completely.

“There were moments where I felt very embarrassed, and I found that very hard. As I said previously, I wanted to deal with this behind close doors and not ruin anyone else’s time in the retreat,” she explained.

“I didn’t want new couples to stop getting to know one another because of my own feelings. I think that in itself is a tough thing to do! I made it very clear that I wanted to go home.

“It got to a point where I was not being kind to myself by staying. I was relieved to be sent home, as the situation proved I wasn’t ready to be in a relationship and I also was desperate for a cuddle with my mum!”

All of this being said, she wouldn’t change anything for the world.

“It was an experience that I will never forget and I’m extremely grateful. I’ve never been in such a beautiful place in my whole life and I truly felt like I had won the lottery, getting an experience like that,” she told us.

“I am actually very proud of the way I reacted to what happened in the retreat. My natural instinct would have been to act differently to how I behaved.

“But actually the environment itself allowed me to take time for myself, and reflect on my own feelings in private during confessionals.

“I was very adamant to not ruin anyone else’s experiences, despite my hurt and upset and I learnt a lot about myself in doing this. I wouldn’t change a thing!”

If there’s anything she wants people to take away from the show, it’s that to treat people with kindness.

She added: “Despite what anyone has seen on the show, I would love for everyone to remember to be kind to one another

“At the end of the day everyone makes mistakes, especially boys, as all of you ladies know, but if I can forgive them so can you!”


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