The saddest thing about watching Married At First Sight is seeing women fail to value themselves.
Don’t get me wrong, I fkn love Married At First Sight. The drama, sure, but also the way people grow over a period of weeks (sometimes years), figuring out the relationship pitfalls that have held them back, what they’ll put up with in a relationship and what they absolutely will not, and best yet, working out who they are as people.
But it’s devastating to watch, year after year, women admit on reality TV how poorly they see themselves.
Tonight’s episode was the perfect illustration of this, with both Melissa Rawson and Coco Stedman revealing things about themselves that ruined me emotionally.
Let’s start with Melissa Rawson on tonight’s episode.
Because it’s “Confession Week” on Married At First Sight, Melissa wrote a letter to her TV husband Bryce Ruthven to share her biggest secret: that she occasionally shagged her ex after they broke up 12 years ago.
“I regret allowing my past relationship to continue to prevent me from moving forward in my 20s,” she read. “My ex and I never, ever got back together, however, over the years he’s remained a friend and we’ve been intimate.”
Bryce was so upset by this so-called revelation he seemed to struggle to swallow his beer.
“So, for 12 years, you’ve kept him there,” he said, flummoxed, when Melissa said she’d slept with her ex as recently as a year ago.
“Kept him there”, he said, as though Melissa was some ‘vixen’ leading some poor bloke along since she was 19 years old.
In reality she wouldn’t talk to her ex for a couple years at a time until he reached out. They caught up and things happened. Things happen, Bryce.
Anyone who has fucked their ex knows, it’s rarely the case that one person has been waiting around pining for the other. You’re usually just drunk or bored or horny or sad or lonely or confused or all five.
Who among us has not shagged an ex? They know you intimately! You know them intimately! It’s comfortable! It’s comforting! You’ve had some time to grow apart and ideally learn some new tricks! It’s hot! I rest my case!
Everyone (single) is welcome to go out and get drunk and fuck their ex and wake up the next morning maybe regretting it, maybe not. You have my blessing.
Bryce complained that this obviously indicated that there were still “feelings” involved between Melissa and her ex, almost as though he was not a man barely six months out of his last, five-year relationship. He’d even previously admitted on the show that he had cheated while in that very relationship.
“It’s kinda like, what the fuck!” Bryce complained, staring at his beer.
He even went so far as to suggest Melissa may be “desperate”, which is one of those real yucko standards men apply to women.
When a woman is “desperate”, she expresses too much interest in a man. She wants the relationship too much, almost as though she’ll take anything. Women are meant to be like ‘chill’ and not show too much emotion.
The only sticky part about Melissa’s confession is that her ex was married at the time – a fact that Melissa did not know when she slept with him. Sounds like her ex was the only one doing anyone dirty here tbh.
“I’ve never once gone back to an ex, but, for you, you just seem like you’re happy to hold onto that,” Bryce said, before demanding to know if she still loves him (she doesn’t).
“He was my first love,” Melissa offered, and my heart fkn broke, because first loves MEAN SOMETHING.
Sometimes you make bad choices for them, like sleeping next to them in a bed in London in just your underwear so you’re not alone or fucking them in the back of their parents’ car when you’re too old to be doing shit like that, and that’s okay.
Melissa didn’t do anything but feel connected to – and ideally get off with – a person with whom she had a formative relationship. That’s vulnerability, baby, and that’s not something to feel ashamed of.
Melissa explained: “I never had any luck with meeting anybody in my 20s, so it was just convenient that he would reach out to me during a low period or when I was lacking confidence in myself. It was only when I turned 30, I went, this is completely unhealthy, and if he wanted to be with me, he would have said that.”
But her outpouring did not move Bryce, he was so blinded by his ego. Melissa was being incredibly self-aware and open about her relationship foibles and Bryce was just fkn pulling her into his swamp.
He left her with this passive-aggressive “friendly advice”: “It doesn’t look great you keep going back to an ex.” The insight was unparalleled.
It didn’t get any better later in the episode.
Bryce may not have taken the time to understand and listen to Melissa, but she offered him far too much kindness before they went to bed together.
“The fact that I continued to see my ex for such a long time probably shook him a little bit and I don’t blame him honestly,” she reflected.
She said she was a “unique type of person”. “I still am okay with where we’re at. People are not gonna like that. They’re gonna think there’s something seriously wrong with me that I am not reactive.”
A producer asked: “Are you okay with how he handled that? And how he spoke to you?”
“I don’t know any better,” she replied, in the saddest moment of all.
There’s nothing “seriously wrong” with Melissa because she reacted calmly to Bryce’s total lack of empathy. But it is uncomfortable to watch a woman who has clearly received so little understanding from romantic partners in the past that she doesn’t think she deserves more than a “pissed off” reaction from a person she was brave enough to be vulnerable with.
More upsetting still on tonight’s episode was Coco Stedman’s narrative.
I’m not going to go into the Coco-Cameron Married At First Sight cheating scandal. You can read all about that here.
What I want to look at is that oh so familiar storyline, where a woman has never been with a partner who valued her and made her feel worthy.
Charged with watching their audition tapes together, Coco sits down with her TV partner Sam Carraro. Coco’s tape is heartwrenchingly real.
“I’ve never been with a boy who gives me a compliment. I’ve never been with a boy who calls me beautiful. I’ve never been with a boy who calls me ‘babe’, ‘honey’, ‘lovely’, ‘love of my life’, nothing,” she said.
Why do we settle for these relationships? Wouldn’t we be better off alone than with someone who can’t offer us the bare minimum of affection?
I’m hoping that by the end of this season of Married At First Sight, Melissa and Coco feel empowered in themselves not to settle for anything less than what they deserve in a relationship (kindness and affection). And maybe they’ll empower some people at home.
But we know that next year another lot of women who are far too good for this shit will be trotted out on screen to be mistreated by a whole new swarm of non-committal men. Some things never change.