opinion

On Monday night, thousands of Australians were asking the same question. Here's why that matters.

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At 8.48pm Monday night, thousands of Australians were typing the same question into the Google search bar.

We know this because of a perceivable surge in traffic on our own website. The surge is confirmed by Google Trends. 

That question was: Are Melissa and Bryce still together?

Melissa and Bryce, for the unacquainted, are the most controversial couple on Married at First Sight history. 

Melissa and Bryce get some difficult feedback from their families. Post continues below. 


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The experts matched Melissa, who told producers she had never been on a date, with Bryce, a radio announcer from Canberra who recently separated from his fiance. 

Upon first glance, the pair appeared to make sense. They got along. No one abandoned the other at the altar. They laughed, and from memory, they 'consummated' their 'marriage' on the first night.

The first red flag emerged on the honeymoon, when Bryce said Melissa wasn't his usual type, and he wouldn't approach her in a bar. He did, however, concede she "wasn't ugly". 

The comments about her appearance worsened. He explained he preferred blue eyes to her green, and ranked her the fourth most attractive out of the nine women on the experiment. In private, he told another woman it was her he'd ranked first.

Then came the 'rumours' of a secret girlfriend on the outside that were confirmed by more than six people, including two of his best friends. When women came forward to tell Melissa what they knew, he accused one of being "in love" with him, and another of being "crazy". 

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When Melissa confronted him about it, he threatened to leave because it was all "too much". 

At their final vows last night, Melissa faced Bryce, after having been emotionally manipulated, gaslighted, humiliated, and highly distressed throughout their entire relationship, and chose to stay with him.

Bryce whispered to her "it's just us now". In the course of six weeks, we watched him isolate Melissa from all the other women in the experiment, as well as her family, who attempted to intervene and tell Melissa she didn't seem happy. 

They both ignored the feedback from their families, reasoning that they didn't know the full story.

And so, last night, thousands of Australians typed the words: Are Melissa and Bryce still together?

We wanted the answer to be 'no'.

Women - and some men - from all over the country, have been in relationships like this one. And from experience, the behaviour doesn't get better. Often, it gets worse. 

Anyone who paid attention during the flashbacks last night would've noticed something. 

Early in the season, Melissa fought back.

She cried when Bryce said she wasn't his type, after they'd had sex. She told him it hurt when he explained how three women in the experiment were better looking than she was. 

Then, she stopped. 

At a Commitment Ceremony, Melissa said she'd stopped holding him accountable because her greatest fear was that he'd leave. Whenever she told him how his words felt, Bryce said he didn't want to be here anymore. 

The answer to that question - are they still together - is yes. 

A few months have passed since they filmed their final vows, and this week Melissa told TV Week"It does feel like it's us against the world."

It's worth acknowledging the danger inherent in that mindset. A romantic relationship shouldn't isolate you, and a support network of friends and family is critical whether you're in love or not. 

After the finale, Melissa posted to Instagram that she had signed up to Married at First Sight hoping to find "an all-consuming and unconditional love". And she found it. 

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I suppose the question is whether the love of a partner should ever be unconditional. 

Is loyalty a virtue we ought to hold higher than self-respect? Is it truly love if you're silenced out of terror your partner will leave? And is it trust if you're simply ignoring the truth? 

Australia wanted to read that Married at First Sight's most toxic couple had separated. 

That a match designed purely for our own entertainment hadn't worked once the cameras had disappeared. 

But that's the thing about bad relationships. 

Once you're in them, they're like quicksand. Near impossible to find your way out of them. 

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