Unmarried at every sight

I actually had a date on Valentine’s day, though it was only a lunch date so it’s not quite the same. We caught up for coffee and a chat and it was fine though it’s not going to go anywhere. Pity really. She’s a project manager and I could certainly use some of that in my life, but I’m happy to be friends. On the way back to work I bought myself a gaytime donut from a pop-up bakery and munched on that at my desk. That was the extent of my Valentine’s day – a casual date and a gaytime.

Quite predictably I got a call that night from Donna. She gets a tad misty come Feb 14 when she has nothing romantic on – which is practically every year. On top of that we have found a mutual and unexpected fascination with this season’s Married At First Sight.

I generally deplore reality TV. That’s my official position, but it also happens to align with my interest level. I might watch for 5 minutes and then get bored watching a bunch of mediocre nonentities (and I include the alleged ‘celebrities’ in that category) wringing their hands about some fabricated trial or issue or another. Good grief – get me out of here.

There are minor exceptions to that. I’ll watch the occasional Masterchef. I’ll be curious for about 5 minutes about some of the interesting design concepts on The Block – I like architecture. That’s just about it.

But then there’s Married At First Sight. I haven’t watched any of the previous seasons, but can recall the outcry when it started. Many protested that it was cynical. Well yes, of course it is – it’s reality TV. The whole thing is cynical and voyeuristic. It seemed hardly a valid argument to me. If people wanted to put their hand up to get married sight unseen that’s their lookout. I’m not about the nanny them out of it – but nor did I expect to watch it.

Something changed this year. I think maybe I saw one of the clever ads marketing it and became intrigued. I’m not a religious watcher of it. I’ve missed episodes and I’ll switch between channels often depending on who’s on screen and how cringe worthy it is, but I keep going back to it.

In my defence what I find most interesting is the commentary from the team of psychologists analysing what’s happening on screen and giving insight into the key challenges ahead. They’re like a learned Greek chorus looking down from on high and pontificating on the drama as it unfolds. As a serial relationship duffer it’s fascinating, and Donna feels the same.

So what happens through the show is that Donna will text me when something significant happens and I’ll respond and from there the thread spins out of control. Much of it is outspoken, outraged or aghast. I’m more moderate than Donna, but she goes for the jugular.

As soon as the show finishes my phone will ring and it will be Donna and we’ll re-cap the events of the show, digressing often to relate tales from our own colourful dating files as a point of comparison or contrast. On Valentine’s day we spoke for nearly 2 hours.

It was not all about the TV show. We had the usual range of slightly off-colour discussion topics we worked through with an amused aplomb. It covered threesomes, what would it take for you to have a same sex encounter, our favourite type of porn and where it sits in the spectrum, as well notions of equality and acceptance. As two practiced singles I find that we often have a different perspective on a range of subjects than those safely tucked up in a cosy relationship. It’s a broader, more open perspective, and a lot edgier – and probably more tolerant too.

It may explain why we’re single, though it’s hard to know what came first: are we single because of this, or are we like this because we’re single.

Perhaps they’ll deal with that question in this week’s episodes of MAFS.

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