While going onto Married At First Sight means that you can definitely expect the unexpected in your future partner, one aspect that contestant Janelle Han is adamant on is being with someone who is financially stable.
"You said you ran your own businesses?" Han asked Seed after their nuptials, to which he responded, "Over in the UK, me and my mate started up a competition business. It's online and you have cool prizes like TVs and tickets to festivals."
"So it's like a side hustle?" Han then inquired.
"No, I feel like that's what we're going to work towards. Also, I'm going to launch a podcast. I really want to do something like that," Seed replied.
This wasn't the only time the daughter of Singaporean-Chinese immigrants brought up the topics of career and money, later asking for clarification on what Seed's job actually entails and asking him, "Are you career stable?"
"In Asian culture, your career is part of your identity," Han explained to producers about why she was focused on knowing more about Seed's work. "And I feel like with Adam, I don’t know exactly what his career is."
While Han, her parents and brothers came across as being particularly fixated on career stability during the episode, the content creator says the reasons for this are multi-layered.
"I'm a little nervous that I might come across as a gold digger," she laughs during a phone call with Refinery29 Australia, insisting that's not the case whatsoever.
"But, in the past, I had dated guys who were still in uni or who didn't know what they wanted to do, or weren't career-driven," she explains. "And for me, when I dated those guys who weren't career-driven, it kind of made me less career-driven. So I really wanted someone who was going to push me and inspire me."
Having mentioned in the episode that financial stability is greatly valued in Asian culture, the content creator says for her and many other first-generation Asian Australians, this expectation is born out of their parents' migrant experience.
Han's parents moved to Australia from Singapore in the mid 1980s with very little money, working hard and making sacrifices to give their children a better future in Australia.
"When they moved to Australia, they were living paycheque to paycheque for a while," she says. "With my family not having that financial stability, I think it really does come down to a concern about the future, being comfortable and not having to go through what my parents went through when they moved here."
After studying business management at university, Han switched fields and worked as a makeup trainer at MAC Cosmetics before working as a makeup artist. Then, when her last relationship ended, she began experimenting with more makeup looks and sharing them on social media, attracting popularity that resulted in getting paid to post certain content on Instagram and TikTok.
While many children of Asian immigrants face pressure to follow a traditional career path in a profession like law or medicine, Han says her Singaporean-Chinese parents were more flexible.
"Of course, there's always that pressure from parents to go into that traditional route of a being a doctor, lawyer or someone in finance," she says, "but I'm very lucky to have the parents that I have."
"They saw that I was good at my job — they saw that it had potential."
Han acknowledges that some viewers may be critical of her current occupation as a makeup and beauty influencer — a new-age career path that could very well end as quickly as it began thanks to emerging technology, social media and trends.
While some may perceive Han's forwardness about financial stability as being superficial, disrespectful or uncalled for, it's important to commend her for seeking out what she desires in a relationship.
"I do a lot of beauty-related content and I get a lot of brand sponsorships from that and I am very lucky to get paid for what I do," she explains. "I think a lot of people are already going to have a misunderstanding that an influencer means no job, but realistically in 2023, being an influencer is a job. I pay my taxes," she laughs.
"I wouldn't be doing it full time unless I didn't see a return on investment."
Viewers' scepticism also stems from the fact that many past MAFS contestants have launched influencer careers after appearing on the show, wondering, is she just doing reality TV to further her career success?
"I'm already an established influencer who earns a decent living from it. So I didn't really come here for exposure," Han responds.
"What people don't realise is that coming onto MAFS as an influencer is actually more of a risk than it is for exposure. If I get a bad edit, I can lose all my sponsorship deals and connections. It is much more of a risk than it is to get more followers."
While some may perceive Han's forwardness about financial stability as being superficial, disrespectful or uncalled for, it's important to commend her for seeking out what she desires in a relationship. In her case, it's financial stability to be able to have a family in the near future. "I want one now," she says. "Could I raise kids with this person? Could I give them the best possible future?"
"I asked those questions [of Adam], because to be quite frank, I ran out of ways to ask the question, 'What do you do for a living?'," she says.
"He really did beat around the bush and talk in circles to the point where I'm like, 'I don't think I'm getting the answer that I need'."
It's absolutely OK to ask for what you want in a romantic relationship. And if your partner isn't communicating clearly, it's acceptable to ask for clarification, even if it means asking a potentially sensitive question about whether they have a steady income stream. In a culture where women of colour are so often expected to keep quiet and follow the status quo, Han shows that has agency over her life, and what she wants out of it.