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First Dates' Clare describes how it feels to be rejected on national TV.

On Monday night’s episode of First Dates, we watched Clare go on a so-perfect-until-it-wasn’t date with Aaron.

They were both happy, smiley, down-to-laugh people, and we were convinced it was going to last forever. Clare would learn to love puzzles (a hobby Aaron enjoys in his downtime) and Aaron would learn to love Byron Bay (the town Clare’s lived in for seven years).

But it was all a dream made in reality TV heaven. When Aaron said there was “no spark” I, along with the rest of Australia, decided there’s clearly no hope for any of us.

That was until I spoke to Clare about her experience on the show and she assured me of three things.

First, she’s recovered from being rejected on national television and gotten herself a kick-ass new gig. Second: her mum has used the episode to workshop Clare’s love life. And third: She’s back on Tinder!

Clare – the 30-year-old with a killer laugh – is exactly as she appeared on the Channel 7 show. As I holed up in a corner of the Mamamia office to speak to her on the phone, I had to try hard not to appear as if I was having too much fun (because: work) as I listened to her talk about the “adventure” of going on a date with a stranger as the whole country watched on.

“A friend suggested I try out for the show,” Clare said. “I love a laugh. I’m always up for things without really thinking them through. That’s probably what happened here.”

Clare, 30, from Byron Bay. It was the date we all wanted to be on. Image via Channel 7.
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Clare laughs easily, makes fun of herself constantly, and is the sort of girl who applied to be on a reality TV show when she "hadn't really watched the Australian version".

I asked her about the process. What was it like? She said there were meetings with producers and experts and TV people and more producers. The waiting was excruciating for someone who is "not good without a distraction".

"I'm not a good dater in real life. I have so many terrible, terrible stories - often I'm the reason for these stories," she said.

"All this waiting meant I was ruminating on all these experiences. I almost forgot a date was happening - I was thinking, 'What if I spill food?' or 'What if I fall off my chair?'"

Finally, the moment had arrived — Clare was seated at the bar, Aaron arrived. What did she think?

"I thought he was lovely, he had a good energy and was very happy," she said. "I was pretty aware the cameras were there. I was really, really nervous and couldn't remember what I said afterwards. I am a pretty awkward girl at the best of times."

Listen: Cam, the First Dates bartender, tells us some off-screen secrets. Post continues below.

"I just remember thinking that I knew my dad was watching the show. Before I went on, he told me, 'Please don't drink too much' so I only had one champagne."

I asked her about the bits the cameras didn't show, and how it felt watching the episode when it aired.

"It was a pretty accurate depiction of how it went down," she told me. "But it was hard to watch. I watched myself staring at him intensely, almost adoringly, and I thought to myself: 'Back in your box, mate'."

"Oh, and my mum took notes during the whole episode and has used it as an opportunity to workshop my love life. I wasn't expecting that."

The end of the date sees Clare and Aaron sitting in a strange half-way room where they're asked about a second date. Clare said yes. She smiled that smile and turned to Aaron. He... paused.

And then this: "I think you're awesome, but I felt for me there wasn't a spark."

Ooooph. She said that was the moment she thought, 'What have I done?'"

"I went on the show because I thought it would be a good experience. I wasn't really looking for love, I was more doing it for fun," Clare said.

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Clare and Aaron. Image via Channel 7.

"But when that happened I thought, 'Oh my Goodness, I just got rejected on national television, what have I done?' I knew all my exes would be watching and probably thinking, 'Ha!'"

Clare has been busy since filming ended. She has been authorised as a marriage celebrant and, since the show aired, she has been inundated with support and admiration from strangers and friends alike.

"I started my marriage celebrant course after the show was filmed. I love being around love and seeing people happy and together," she said.

"A lot of people have been in touch since seeing the show and my friends have been really, really supportive. I feel very humbled and blessed. I also learnt a lot - I now know I can handle myself in really stressful situations."

And what about love interests?

"I haven't been on a date since. Recently I've hopped back on Tinder, but I needed my space for a while. Maybe something will come up. Maybe, maybe not," Clare said.

"I feel like sending the episode to a potential date and saying: 'This is what you're in for... except a little less tense, a little less lipstick, and a little more champagne'."

Listen: Catch up on all this week's big TV news on The Binge podcast. (Post continues after audio.)