What We’ve Learned So Far From FYI’s “Married At First Sight”

Since it’s all the rage to play armchair psychologist when it comes to dating and marriage, we figured we’d give our own instincts a workout as we viewed the much ballyhooed show, Married At First Sight. Haha! We’re going to learn so much! So much about people and relationships, and television, and things that may make us want to stick forks in our eyeballs from second-hand embarrassment!

But before we get into our revelations about the show, let’s briefly discuss what this show is. It’s touted as a “social experiment” wherein so called experts — a sexologist, psychologist, yadda, yadda — decide to use military grade comparison shopping to find and meld together six souls who’ve signed up to throw caution to the wind and marry the first body corpus shot out a cannon and hurled at them like a free t-shirt at an Aerosmith concert. What could go wrong, eh? Spoilers Included!

First up is Monet and Vaughn.

An ex-military gentleman meets a free spirit. We’re curious to see how the buttoned up lifestyle of Vaughn is going to mesh with the deceptively easy-going, Monet. We think underneath it all, Monet is more than a bit reserved and less comfortable with the idea of “instant marriage” than even she realizes. And Vaughn, while cool on the outside, seems more than a bit worried that his “new wife” may be more than what he bargained for when it comes to his space, his expectations, and his traditional thoughts about coupling.

Next is Jamie and Doug.

Ooomph. AWK-WARD! Well, uh, yeah. So Jamie isn’t really feeling Doug. We mean, aside from the fact that you’ve signed up for an experiment where you don’t just date someone sight unseen but you’re married to that person — how do you define a deal breaker in this instance?

We won’t go into the hypocrisy that is legalized marriage in this country, BUT YOU KNOW WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT! To the point, though, is what should the expectation be when you decide to do something like this? You have to consider that the experts have chosen someone for each couple based upon what they’ve been told are each person’s preferences, as well as some level of deeper understanding about each person and who would best suit them, and that, as many of us realize, may have very little to do with how well a person resembles an Adonis. And what could be more powerful and compelling than someone with nothing but loads of physical attractiveness? A great attitude and sense of self, maybe? Could unwavering confidence win the day?

Last is Jason and Courtney.

Well, they’re young and sweet. He’s an EMT, part-time wrestler, and soon to be firefighter and she’s a makeup artist, and part-time burlesque dancer. So right off the bat we know that they’re adventurous and risk takers. They’re also both really family-oriented. He takes care of a sick mother, and she sounds like the apple of her parent’s eye. It doesn’t appear matching them was too difficult. They both have “young couple full of wonder and romantic notions” written all over them. Of the three, this seems like the easiest fit.

Based on the first two episodes that you can view here and here which saw each couple get married and go on their honeymoon, here are our insights:

Physical Attraction? What Physical Attraction?

Ah, yes. The thing no one wants to talk about when it comes to defining the cornerstones of a relationship. Yes, sure, ideally we want to all believe that it’s our staggering mental prowess, our stunning wit, and winning personality that really drew our mates to us. Um, okay. In reality, and we’re certainly not saying it’s a bad thing, but sometimes the thing that drew us to our mates was pure, unadulterated animal magnetism. There was something that the person you’re with did or said that just. did. it. for. you. physically, sexually, intimately, excitingly, however you want to frame it. NOW, though, that you’ve been with this person, sure you will tout their expert sense of humor or their wonderful sensitivity as the thing that sealed the deal, but let’s be honest, physical attraction plays a big part.

So when Jamie walked down the aisle and we could all tell that she was not into Doug based on that first instance of sizzle-pop that we all experience when we meet a perspective mate…or not, we felt a bit sorry for Doug, and maybe we called Jamie shallow for an instant, but really on some level, you did get it. Perhaps you could have hidden it better than Jamie, but we all understand what it means to feel that spark.

That said, what does a spark mean? Sure, it could mean that the stirrings of lust are there, but as we learn later from Monet and Vaughn, to get to the real underpinnings of coupling and a relationship it takes more than being compatible in the bedroom. The things Monet and Vaughn are struggling with are emotional intimacy, vulnerability, and letting their guards down in order to be their true selves and not the “calling card” versions they list in their dating profiles.

What we may see from Jamie is that by virtue of not feeling the need to compete with Doug for attention physically, she’s actually able to be the non-intimidated version of herself that’s probably the closest to her actual personality. Doug, though, he’s actually the real star here. He takes Jamie’s initial rejection in stride, which says volumes about his confidence, his sense of self, and self-worth. His ability to maintain an easy-going attitude with steady assurance while his mate is careening from one emotion to another says a lot about who he is at his core. He’s not a nice guy in that pandering woe-is-me sense, he’s a good guy who understands what he’s doing. In the end, we believe it’s his rock steady nerves and ego of steel that move Jamie from trepidation to actually doing the thing she says she’s ready for — beginning a relationship based on deeper levels of compatibility and personality.

Intimacy is still INTIMACY

One thing each couple realizes is that intimacy is still intimacy whether you’re getting down to naked business, or you’re just simply standing in one another’s presence. We probably take for granted the gentle ease that comes with standing close to our mates, right? How a hand on the shoulder or an arm around the waist is seen as minimal touch to two people who’ve been dating or have been married for a number of years. HA! Not so when you marry the guy at the bus station, practically! Now every glance and awkward bit of silence or press of his or her face against yours makes you feel either 1) elated 2) creeped out 3) nervous 4) Holy Jumping Beans! That’s your face against my face! I don’t know you, EW, EW, EW!

Yep. When you’re married, often you end up sharing space… close, intimate space. And the second test, if you want to call it that, is if as a couple you have enough chemistry — enough sizzling neurons that tell you that you’d like to explore this person further, to feel their skin on your skin, their hand on the small of your back, the touch of their moles against the side of your face — to want to do this touchy, feely thing again and again. After all, what is a marriage if you never touch? If you aren’t able to sit in one another’s company and not want to jump out of your own skin from nervousness, or feel so awkward as to not be able to look each other in the eye. Yes, even when posing for pictures after the wedding.

THIS IS INTIMATE! The couples noted their feelings after the “wedding” during the follow-up photo shoot. Four out of six felt the anxiety of being in an intimate circumstance with a stranger and wondered if there was enough chemistry to carry them through the moment. It does beg the question of whether chemistry is always instantaneous, or if it can build over time, or if in the long run it doesn’t really matter if deeper levels of compatibility are achieved. We’re going on record in saying that it does matter, but that there are levels, and the first level of chemistry that can come with fast-paced, crushed together intimacy may not last, but like an onion, peeling back the layers of each others personality, values, goals, dreams, thoughts, and quirks and mutually embracing it all may make for a longer-lasting connection.

Something to be said for opposites attract?

What it looks like the experts did, with the help of an extensive questionnaire each person filled out, is look for conclusive similarities in each couple with regard to personality, wants, and needs, to put it mildly.

In Monet and Vaughn’s case, both parties suffered the death of their fathers early. With Jason and Courtney, one partner is a consummate caretaker while the other wants to be cared for and nurtured. And Jamie and Dough appear to be a reformed sorority girl searching for a guy with some depth, but a good helping of charm, family values, and quirks.

Does this work? Can you design a marriage the way you would grant a birthday wish? Can you ask someone what they want and supply just that without the benefit of outliers? Are all the best relationships built on supply and demand or the old mantra of “every pot has its lid?” We don’t know about that. In all honesty, that sounds more than a bit boring. This sounds like the makings of couplings that look good on paper or on the outside, but when you peer more deeply there may not be a lot of nuance in these relationships. Are you building relationships that need energy and passion and challenge from time to time, or are you making cookie cutter clones of people who should think and feel the same exact way about everything?

Hot and Young equals Hot and Young

The young couple, Jason and Courtney, seems for all the world the couple this type of show was made for. While they may have faced some significant challenges in their lives, it doesn’t appear that they have much dating baggage. They’re young and ultimately optimistic about the world, their place in it, and their ability to have a loving, nurturing relationship. How much does the two of them being undeniably hot play into it? Well, we’ll say it helped get them on their way toward that picture we’re sure they had in their minds about what being a young newlywed would be. Under normal circumstances we could see this couple being the one that meets at the local watering hole, dates fiercely for a couple years, and then gets married with children shortly to follow.

It seems harsher to say that the other couples do seem to have enough dating baggage that could get in their way and cause undue obstacles, but it appears that way. You get the notion that each one has been hurt and/or significantly disappointed in their past relationships and/or attempts at dating, which has most likely led them to the show, but more importantly, could frame how they interact with their new spouses. Jason and Courtney for what it’s worth seem to be approaching this experiment with the idea of a “clean slate” in mind. For them, their first few days together really are mirroring that of a more or less traditional courtship.


To do it, not to do it, when to do it? Hoo boy. The best rule of thumb on this is usually “when it feels right.” What this means when you’ve known someone for mere hours and you’re already married, is anyone’s guess. Technically, even though these three couples are veritable strangers, they are in fact married, which means that for all intents and purposes they’ve pledged to adhere to all the tenants of marriage…in sickness and health, forsaking all others, etc. etc. To that end, whether they “hook up” within the first nights, wait a few more, or hold off nearly indefinitely until intimacy is more natural, all are probably within the realm of realistic given the circumstances.

However, it does seem for the one couple that consummated their marriage on the wedding day, Monet and Vaughn, it could bring about issues that they didn’t consider. Namely, what to do with this person whom they’ve been physically intimate with, but not emotionally intimate? How do you then go back to the beginning stage of a relationship where there’s an open and comfortable discussion about boundaries, past relationships, future wants and needs, and ultimately goals for their burgeoning relationship without the prior sex coloring the issues? That’s a good question, and one that seems to leave the two of them reeling a bit — that weird juxtaposition of sharing their total bodies with each other when holding hands still feels awkward.

For the other two couples who both decided to wait — Jason and Courtney, opting to consummate when things felt “more right” which occurred on their honeymoon, and Jamie and Doug, who put things into first gear and began their marriage as “friends on vacation” instead of “marrieds on a honeymoon” with all the expectation that entailed, and retreated into the safety of physical baby steps at Jamie’s urging, and with Doug’s patient, but willing, “good guy” sensibilities in place.

We’ll note that starting things off as “friends with room to grow” seems to have worked better for Jamie and Doug than, “Lovers learning how to partner” has for Monet and Vaughn. We worry that once the romance of marriage and honeymoon wears off for Jason and Courtney and they’re faced with family woes and work-related realities, remember he’s a busy EMT and she’s working in the entertainment industry, the rose-colored lenses may dim a bit.

The Future

The next step for all the couples is co-habitation. This is where things we imagine will really start to become real. With the honeymoons over, and the couples now having to share space and really carve out a piece of their lives for their new spouses, we can see where breakdowns could happen. Monet is moving in with Vaughn, Courtney is moving in with Jason and his mother in what looks like his boyhood bedroom, and Jamie will do the same and move in with Doug and his parents. Doug who was laid off, just began working again, and has been saving money while living at home. Essentially, more than the other two couples, we think it’s possible the gains Doug made on the honeymoon will be for naught if Jamie senses that the confident guy she’s been interacting with is less independent than it appears.

In the end, however, any married person will tell you that nothing more roots you in marriage than having to make physical room and thereby the emotional room for your spouse. This will be one of the biggest tests they’ll face.

Married At First Sight airs Tuesdays at 9pm on FYI.

Image: Author Screengrab

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