“It’s very confusing. He says all the right things but there’s no substance to it.”
With one line, Nadia from Ch. 9's Married At First Sight summarised her ‘husband’ Anthony’s hot/cold behaviour on the final episode of the hit show, describing how he worked on her until she felt comfortable enough to open her heart to him – then did a runner.
Almost every woman has an “Anthony” in their past. He loves the chase and pushes until he has you over the line. Then as soon as he can taste the blood of his kill, he moves on.
“I was incredibly hurt,” Nadia told her fellow contestants and the show's psychologists. “You didn’t give it a chance. Instead you ran away.”
“I spent so much of this time in this experiment investing in us and opening my heart to you.”
“It’s so disrespectful. I think to myself ‘what even is this? What even happened?” How can anyone say all of that on the last day, yet the next day turn around and say ‘it’s done’?”
Her voice broke painfully on that final word. Done. Nadia admitted that she was utterly blindsided by her partner’s overnight rejection, and her confusion is agonisingly raw. The raw shock in her voice had some of the other contestants, like Susan and Alene, in tears.
Men like Anthony often think they want the happily-ever-after fairytale. They convince themselves that they are only treating women the way they do because they’re yet to find ‘the one’. It’s this self-delusion that causes them to pursue a woman so strongly at the beginning. Anthony made his displeasure clear from the day he met and ‘married’ Nadia, demanding to know why she refused to kiss him at the altar. He wore down her natural caution until she felt comfortable enough to trust him and reciprocate his advances. And then it was like that certainty from her flicked a fear switch in his primal brain. If you’re certain, this might mean I have to commit forever.
So he switched off, without any warning, leaving Nadia begging for answers, loathing the needy woman he forced her to become.
“What women out there hasn't been Nadia?” asked one fan of the show, a woman who has had the misfortune to attract a slew of Anthonys in her time. “Watching the two of them was like watching a cringe-worthy side reel of my past breakups.”
“It's such an infuriating and cliched pattern, where the bloke pursues relentlessly, then once the woman feels comfortable and settles into the idea of a relationship, he runs a million miles.”
“As if that isn't bad enough, he then has the audacity to be a "good bloke" about it after the break up. As though by showing integrity after the fact negates his appallingly immature behaviour when he decided to blindside her with the dumping.”
Nadia was similarly unimpressed by Anthony’s behaviour in the wake of the mess he made. “I hear what you’re saying and I see how it appears that way,” he hedged stoutly. “I’m really sorry that’s the way you feel. I wish things were different.”
But does he? Because if he wished things were different he would have given Nadia an earlier indication that his feelings were changing. He would have let her down before he had hooked her completely. Before she’d begun making plans to uproot her life and move to another town.
If he was really sorry about the way he made her feel he'd do the work to make sure he didn't treat someone that way again. But Anthony had other ideas. "I'm quite comfortable," he finished, unblinkingly. "And I look forward."
What does 'forward' look like for a man like Anthony? Do they ever get over their addiction to the chase? Maybe. Eventually they tend to tire of being alone, and find their charms appeal to a narrower audience as they age. Then they might halfheartedly fall into a relationship that goes the distance – although deep down they probably know they left some fo their best options on the cutting room floor.
Nadia may mourn Anthony today but she’ll soon realise she’s lucky that she wasn't his final choice: the poor woman who one day shoulders the weight of his restless, resentful commitment.