Married At First Sight’s Shona Manderson has been in a “secret” relationship with co-star Matt Pilmoor “for months”.
Shona, 31 who hails from Nottingham, took part in the latest series of MAFS UK which saw her matched with Brad Skelly. They had a whirlwind romance during their time on the show before it all came to blows and they were asked to leave the process early as their relationship was deemed “too unhealthy”.
They briefly dated outside of the experiment before calling it quits which prompted Shona to go on a “self-love journey” after claiming she was “completely blindsided”. But then she met Matt, 29, who was originally matched with Adrienne Naylor, at the MAFS reunion in June and the pair have been keeping their new romance under wraps ever since.
Beaming with happiness, Shona and Matt spoke exclusively to OK! to reveal their new relationship. Shona told us: “We have a really healthy, happy, safe, fun, relationship – I really appreciate Matt so much, it’s what I deserve, we deserve each other.
“I’m proud to be his girlfriend and it just works.” It’s been almost five months since the new MAFS couple had their first date and they seem as loved-up as ever.
But it hasn’t come without its challenges as they kept it a secret “for months” and had to be “so careful” while Matt was still on TV. Shona explained: “Matt would be driving and I would be in the back, we would be walking around Nottingham and I’d be all the way over there, we were like secret agents on a mission”.
“We had to do it, we had to be so careful”, Matt added.
When asked if they wished they were originally matched on MAFS, Matt said: “We had to do what we had to do, my experience was good but we were meant to go on those journeys to find each other.
“Being together from the start would have been incredible but I think it happened this way around for a purpose.
“It just works, I didn’t expect it and when I first saw Shona I didn’t think we’d end up together, I thought she was very attractive.”
The pair appeared on the show at different stages so didn’t actually meet until the MAFS reunion which was filmed in June but aired this week. “I didn’t know who Matt was, he didn’t know who I was, although he did go on my Instagram”, Shona said.
“I had a little cheeky look because I thought ‘she’s fit’ and I thought ‘I need to see what this is about before I get to the reunion'”, Matt confessed. The 31 year old continued: “We went to the reunion and Matt walked in and I was like ‘oh my god,’ we had a little hug but I could feel he was still caught up with Adrienne.
“I felt really empowered at the reunion, I felt so good, so happy, I was happy being single, in my element and there he was [Matt], I thought ‘he’s fit’.” They started to get to know each other at the reunion, swapped numbers and confessed that they had “an instant vibe”.
“I remember saying to Shona at the end of the reunion ‘You should come to Harrogate’ and she was like ‘Ok, I will’ but we didn’t rush into anything”, Matt said. Before explaining that he had “broken up” with Adrienne “four or five weeks before that” but hadn’t got “closure” until later.
Talking about Shona, he continued: “We said to each other it’s a bit soon, let’s not meet straightaway, so it was about five weeks after the reunion when we met”. Shona added: “I wanted to learn from my experience with Brad, I didn’t want to go in head first, I wanted it to be a slow burner.”
After five weeks of messages and calls the pair finally met for their first date, opting to meet halfway in Sheffield. Shona took along her adorable pooch Winston, they went for breakfast, spent the day together and had their first kiss.
“It was so nice and since then it’s moved at a really natural, nice pace and Matt asked me to be his girlfriend”, Shona told us.
Explaining how he asked, the 29 year old said: “I got Shona some sunflowers because they’re her favourite with a little card in the middle of them and it just said ‘Will you be my girlfriend'”. Shona added that she thought Matt would be a “really big slow burner” and wouldn’t ask her to be his girlfriend “for ages”, they became official two months into their romance.
Shona went on to confess: “We were nearly saying ‘I love you’ but I was scared to say it again because of everything that I went through, I felt like I could never say it again. I was feeling these feelings and trying to understand, is this lust, is this love? And then Matt looked at me and told me he loved me and I was like ‘I don’t believe you’.
“He kept having to say it to me for a bit and then I was like ‘I love you too!'”
Having revealed their relationship exclusively with OK! Matt said: “It’s going to be nice going places and being able to hold hands without having to worry anymore.” Shona added: “We’re excited to be free”.
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