MAFS’ Sandy Jawanda Reflects On Her Struggle With The “Transactional” Nature Of Modern Dating

Image courtesy of Channel 9
Despite their strong initial connection throughout this season, Married At First Sight stars Sandy Jawanda and Dan Hunjas' relationship took an unfortunate turn this week.
During Monday night's episode, we saw 42-year-old Hunjas draw away from Jawanda after the couple had sex for the first time. He later told her that they're incompatible as she doesn't share his love for an active lifestyle, which involves a regular beach and gym routine.
Speaking to Refinery29 Australia, Jawanda says she turned to this social experiment after many past experiences dating men who weren't on the same page as her.
"Most of the guys I was going on dates with tended to be younger than me," says the 36-year-old. "When they're younger, a lot of them aren't looking to settle down and actually have a relationship."
Growing up in an Indian household, Jawanda says she'd always envisioned herself meeting someone in real life, dating them, getting married and it being a case of "happy days". However, the online dating world is very different and she says she struggled with some men not actually being on these dating apps for a serious relationship.
"I'm going on a date and three days later, guys are saying, 'I'm not looking for anything serious'.
"I think that's where for me... I don't understand hook-up culture — not that there's anything wrong with it," she says. "I've just come from a generation where it's like I want to meet someone, get married and settle down, to now dating people where it's that kind of transactional dating on an app."
In Monday night's episode, Jawanda told producers that Hunjas disappeared for six hours after they consummated their marriage, on the same night that Hunjas told the show's experts he wasn't sexually attracted to her.
"Since we've been intimate, he has been distant," said Jawanda. "He hasn't been here most of the day. When he has been here, we're not spending time together.
The dental hygienist said she feared that perhaps Hunjas "regrets the physical intimacy going to the next level".
"I know he's said before for him that he can separate sex and feelings, and I've told him from the very start that I can't," she tearily added.
"I'm here for love, I'm here for a relationship and I only want to give myself to someone I care about. But I want them to care about me as well."
Image courtesy of Channel 9
Married At First Sight's Dan Hunjas and Sandy Jawanda
In her earlier chat with Refinery29 Australia, Jawanda explains that she was nervous about talking about sex on screen. She wanted to respect her Punjabi parents (who were initially against her participation on the show) plus she knew about the stigma around talking about sex among South Asian communities.
"I can be quite private about things like that. But at the same time, I think that's where things also need to change," she says. "Because maybe when growing up, if we had open conversations at home about things like sex, protection and when we're ready [to have sex], my relationship to sex may have been very different.
"If that means me taking that uncomfortable step of having to have those conversations on TV so that maybe someone watching will learn something, well that's the burden you've got to bear."
In some cultures, a woman is expected to remain a virgin until marriage. According to the dental hygienist, this in itself is worth talking about more.
"It's [virginity] a big thing in our culture and for me, I was trying to save myself for marriage," she reveals. "So, I think for me it was important to talk about [on TV], but at the same time be respectful about the fact that my parents and family might be watching.
"So, it was a really hard thing for me to navigate."
MAFS viewers know that the tension between Jawanda and Hunjas will only escalate in coming episodes, with previews revealing co-star Evelyn Ellis telling Jawanda that she overheard Hunjas (through a mobile phone butt dial) speaking poorly of his TV wife, and showing photos of his ex-girlfriends to other male cast members. Only time will tell how the rest of the couple's story unfolds on the show.
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