Married At First Sight's Shareen: 'The Brides Always Get A Rougher Ride - The Trolling Has Been Horrific'
With dating shows effectively cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, it's of little surprise that the most recent season of Married At First Sight was among the most popular yet.
But while 1.64 million of us saw Owen and Michelle hit it off, things were rockier for Shareen and David, whose marriage started to disintegrate on just day two.
Shareen's headstrong attitude that her and David weren't right for each other after he presented her with a "survival bag" became a huge talking point amongst fans, with several quickly turning on Shareen.
Many thought Shareen was unfair on David, and quickly took to social media to directly tell the 47-year-old what they make of her.
Speaking exclusively to Tyla, Shareen has said she has faced "horrific trolling" since the show aired.
"No-one could have warned me of the degree of trolling I was to receive," she explains. "I've had people join Instagram to simply message me and wish me dead. I've had people tell me that I'm an awful mother.
"On Twitter I was being called a c***, told I wouldn't compromise, that I wasn't open - all over a bag.
"The tweets were horrendous, and 90 per cent were about me."
Shareen also points out that David was still keen to be with her throughout filming.
"It made me think, if I'm such a horrible person, why would David even want to be with me? He wanted to make things work right up until the end.
"Well, if I'm this horrible, horrible person that Twitter was portraying, then David wouldn't have wanted to be with me. So it just didn't make sense."
For those who are less familiar with the programme, Married At First Sight first broadcast on British television on 2015, following the success of the Danish series.
What set the series apart from the other dating programmes was the way it prided itself on its rigorous matching methods. As well as numerous forms and questionnaires, Married At First Sight believed science was the best way of coupling people up - measure your height, your shoulder to waist ratio, the size of your index fingers, even your DNA.
However, the most recent iteration of the show saw Married At First Sight overhaul its matching process, now using the opinions of three dating experts (Paul C Brunson, Gen Gresset and Dr Angela Smith) to match up couples - with some of the stricter rules of the previous series now relaxed.
Shareen decided to apply for the fifth season of the show after Married At First Sight allowed hopefuls with children to now apply.
"I didn't think they'd match me with anyone," she says, honestly. "After speaking to a research assistant on the phone for an hour, I was invited up to London for a singles day where I met the dating experts, Paul, Angela and Jen.
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"I was very much assured by the three experts that they will leave no stone unturned. They classified themselves as human lie detectors and said if we were hiding anything, they would uncover it.
"I had the absolute trust and confidence in these people that if they do find the right person, for me, they had done their due diligence.
"I had 10 minutes conversations with each of the three experts. I didn't speak with Paul again. But I had another 30 minute conversation with Jen and another 30 minute conversation with Angela, and that's how we were matched."
Shareen added that a part of her believed she was only matched with David as she thought the show were hoping to feature an older couple.
"I was the only lady in my age group on the Singles Day, the next closest person was about 10 years younger," she says. "That's important, because whether me and David were truthfully matched or whether we were matched, because they needed their first mature couple for this year, I'll never know."
While Shareen said she had the reassurances of the dating experts that they would leave no stone unturned, even going as far to contact exes and friends to make sure they have the ultimate confidence in their matches, she feels the experts missed out some vital elements of David's personality.
"If I had read David's bio on a dating app, I'd have swiped left," she says. "The the show very much just focused on me being told that I wasn't open enough, but there was no scrutiny on David.
"Why didn't David disclose he was a prepper? Why didn't he talk to me about feeling intimidated? Why did he not disclose during the application process that he has his walls up and it takes a long time for those walls to come down? That was one thing I said was a deal breaker for me.
"There are so many things the dating experts could have quizzed David on, but they didn't. I feel they used me as their scapegoat as to why the match didn't work."
Having been a fan of the previous series of the show, Shareen does feel that brides on Married At First Sight tend to be treated far more harshly than grooms.
"I can't speak for the other brides because I've never met them, but I do feel some brides have been unfairly portrayed," she says. "I feel they protected David, I know there are things they didn't question him on - it was only on decision day they actually asked about him having his walls up.
"All I wanted was some accountability and responsibility and say we missed these traits about David. Something obviously went wrong there, and it can't just be down to me."
While Married At First Sight ended with Shareen saying she didn't regret her time in the experiment, the events manager now feels appearing on television was a mistake.
"And that's because I have three daughters. I put my daughters through this [trolling]. And that's something that I'm really, really struggled with."
However, Shareen is keen to stress that she's no victim of the show, and hopes her time on the show has encouraged young girls to have faith in their decisions.
"I hope I've inspired my daughters to not settle," she says. "It took me months of arguing with the experts and David, but I still won't settle for something that's not right.
"For all the trolls, I've a lot of positive messages as well - from women messaging me saying I'm an inspiration, and that I'm strong.
"Another woman messaged me saying you don't realise it now, but in 10 years, you would have inspired younger girls."
When approached for comment, a spokesperson for Married At First Sight told Tyla: "Matches are only made if the experts believe they have a very real chance of forging a successful relationship, and are not based on any other considerations. We understand Shareen's disappointment and support continues to be offered to both her and David, should they need it."
Married At First Sight is available to stream on All 4.
Featured Image Credit: Channel 4
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