Ex-MAFS bride: the truth about show’s disastrous matchmaking


Producers of Married at First Sight came under fire last week amid shock claims of "manipulation" behind-the-scenes and one former contestant says the show's experts also have a lot to answer for.

Season 5 bride Carly Bowyer, 34, told Confidential that John Aiken, Mel Schilling and Trisha Stratford have questionable matchmaking skills and issued a warning to anyone who may be considering going on the hit Channel 9 show.

"I would say don't go on a reality show to find love, you're probably not going to find it. It's virtually impossible" she said.

"The couples know nothing about each other, they're [matched] by experts who don't know them either so it's pretty bloody unlikely."

Former MAFS star Carly Bowyer has slammed the show's experts. Picture: Mark Stewart
Former MAFS star Carly Bowyer has slammed the show's experts. Picture: Mark Stewart

Since the show began in 2015, nearly every single couple that was matched by the experts has split.

Only three out of 48 couples are still together and the experts' embarrasingly low success rate has prompted claims of deliberate mismatching for ratings.

Bowyer, who failed to find love with ice cream entrepreneur Justin Fischer on the show, said claims that MAFS experts use a scientific process during matchmaking is complete rubbish.

"If you think about it, if someone set you up on a blind date what's the likelihood that you're going to like that person? It's pretty low," she said. "Or if you're swiping through profiles on a dating app, you're at least seeing the person or learning about them but even with that - what's the likelihood that's going to be the love of your life on a Tinder date? Probably pretty low."

Married at First Sight relationship experts John Aiken, Mel Schilling and Trisha Stratford.
Married at First Sight relationship experts John Aiken, Mel Schilling and Trisha Stratford.

Confidential has contacted Channel 9 for comment.

Earlier this week, concerns were raised about contestants' mental health and duty of care after Poppy Jennings was targeted by social media trolls due to her negative portrayal on the show this season.

Jennings, who dramatically quit the show by dumping her match Luke Eglin, claimed in a now-deleted social media post that staff manipulated her into saying things on camera by threatening her that if she did not do so "Australia will f ... ing hate me".

In 2017, Aiken, Schilling and Stratford were widely criticised after they were forced to change their titles from "psychologists" to "relationship experts" on the show, following a formal complaint made to the Psychology Council of NSW.

"It was so much more full on than I ever expected, I was naive going into it," Bowyer said.

"It was draining on multiple levels. Having said that, I don't regret it now, it showed me a lot of opportunities, I've met heaps of good people.

"I never realised that I was so resilient. When you go through something like that and you come out the other side and you're stronger it's when you realise 'you know what I'm doing alright'."

Carly Bowyer as a MAFS bride. Picture: Supplied
Carly Bowyer as a MAFS bride. Picture: Supplied

The Melbourne marketing manager has since found new love with actor Neil Goldsmith.

"I do have a boyfriend. We've been together for about six months or so. We did meet in real life, the old fashioned way.

However, Bowyer's road to happiness wasn't all smooth sailing after a series of disastrous dates. The former reality star details her hilarious and at times terrifying dating journey on her newly-launched Nova podcast Finding a Unicorn which she co-hosts with Eliza Paschke.

"It's funny because I started this podcast searching for a unicorn and then about halfway through I did manage to find a man," she said.

"There's been so many [bad dates]. I once had this guy from a Tinder date and at the end of the date he basically tried to run me over with his car. I've had some shockers," Bowyer said.

"Unfortunately you do have that with digital dating, you do have to be careful because you don't know the person so there is that safety element as well. I was on Bumble and Hinge. I find Tinder these days is more for the hookups and I was looking for a bit more than that."

Bowyer said she's particularly thrilled to have found love with Goldsmith after her bitter split from ex-boyfriend Troy Delmege, who she initially met on MAFS.

"After we split up, we did talk for quite a while. We were trying to figure out whether it was the right decision but we don't really talk anymore," Bowyer said of Delmege.

"I'd never spoken about our breakup and when we started this podcast, I think I said a bit too much and don't think he was happy with it and since then he's kind of banned me - unfollowed me on Instagram. That's the ultimate passive aggressive move."