EXCLUSIVE interview: why MAFS’ Paul C Brunson is the king of our hearts

MAFS UK guru Paul C Brunson dispenses dating advice in heat's gorgeous shoot and we are in love with him actually.

Paul C Brunson dressed as the king of hearts

by Kay Ribero |
Updated on

Generally speaking, most heat staffers hotfoot it home when one of our photo shoots has wrapped. But, at the end of our day with relationship expert Paul C Brunson, we’re glued to the spot like we have no homes to go to. The 49-year-old American is here to talk about the new series of Married At First Sight UK ­– and Celebs Go Dating – and is dispensing such fascinating pearls of wisdom that no one wants to leave until he’s done.

Former business analyst Paul, aka the real-life Hitch, has always had a knack for pairing people up, and it was thanks to his hard graft and pro bono work as a matchmaker (and fate) that he managed to get on Oprah Winfrey’s radar, appearing on her 2012 reality show Lovetown, USA. Since then, he’s come across the pond to shoot his Cupid’s arrows and research-backed advice at British singletons hoping to find love and a committed relationship. And, seeing as he has been married to his wife Jill for 22 years (they met at uni and now have two sons, Liam and Kingston), it’s safe to say, he definitely knows his stuff…

MAFS Uk cast 2023
The cast of MAFS UK 2023 ©E4

What do you think about the new series of MAFS UK?

Hands down, it’s our best series. Everything is a level up and it’s the drama that comes from the diversity of the contributors. It is, in my opinion, one of the most diverse group of contributors ever on a reality television show. So, that in itself brings rich stories and backgrounds, but also conflict.

There’s been lots of drama already…

There are debates on everything. On sexuality and class – which are very, very interesting – on race, on fidelity, on what does it mean to cheat? You know, there’s debates about every nuance of our humanity. And the contributors are very vocal about their opinions. It’s, like, extreme drama and once they come together in a commitment ceremony or at a dinner party, then you see it all come to a head.

Paul C Brunson holds a rose
He is the king of our hearts ©Marco Vittur

Do you keep in touch with the contributors afterwards?

Yeah, I stay in touch with a lot of them. From last year, I talk to Adrian, Chanita, Matt, Keisha, Duka, Kwame, Jonathan, and Sophie. I stay in touch, because I don’t look at it as my job ends when the show wraps – my job is to be an advocate for you forever. I do that with the celebs on Celebs Go Dating, as well.

Speaking of Celebs Go Dating, who surprised you?

Oh my goodness, there were surprises from everyone. I’ll start with Vanessa [Feltz], because I know she’s a big character. I was absolutely floored at her dates, in a bad way. I thought she was going to go in and her dates were going to be incredible, but she struggled quite a bit.
I understand the reason why is because we learned that she has been in some kind of relationship since she was 16. So, she was with her first partner, then that relationship ended, then she went immediately to another one, immediately to another one, so she never had time to date. So, I think being in the agency, we helped her just to realise, you know, it’s fun, and I love where Vanessa’s story ended.

Vanessa Feltz on Celebs Go Dating
Vanessa Feltz with the agents on Celebs Go Dating ©E4

Then Mark-Francis from Made In Chelsea – oh my goodness. When it started, I called him just the MF. I was like, “Here comes the MF.” I truly did not like him because, to me, he was just a character. Slowly but surely, he let us into the real Mark- Francis,  and he displayed a level of vulnerability that he’s never done on Made On Chelsea. We learned about the challenges he had growing up, and around his relationships – being ostracised, and being made fun of because he started wearing a blazer at the age of five. He grew into one of my favourite celebs ever.

What about Adam Collard and Lottie Moss?

It was a relationship that was on again,  off again, on again, off again. It is on again.

Do you think they’ll go the distance?

I told them that I believe that they’re going to be strong friends. Like, right now, they’re not even labelling what they have. But I think the beauty is that Adam has learned the importance of radical honesty. He may want to do certain things, but not disclosing his intentions is a lie.

I told him I’m not going to judge your intentions, but I will judge how you disclose those intentions. And then, for Lottie, she didn’t have her own voice when she got to the agency, she couldn’t make a decision. By the end, she was able to make very specific decisions, and vocalise what she wants. So, I’m proud of them individually and I hope for the best for them.

Married At First Sight UK Season 7 experts
Married At First Sight UK Season 7 ©E4

Tell us about your row with Vanessa…

That started at a brunch. There was a gentleman, who I think Vanessa thought we set her up with because he looked identical to Ben [Ofoedu], her ex. He didn’t, in my opinion, but he was Black, bald and a musician. But I tried to say I’m Black and bald, so it’s not really necessarily that, right? But I think that’s what she thought, so I can’t take that away from her. And, so, she was not giving the best date as a result of that.

So, myself and Dr Tara [Suwinyattichaiporn] pulled her over to have a conversation about this and she alluded to me not listening, and me not being a good listener. I’m a very peaceful person, but I had to make sure that I understood, and I said, “Vanessa, are you coming for me? Because I’ve been respectful to you this entire time and you don’t want to come for me.”

You cleared the air in the end, though, didn’t you?

Yeah. The next day, we called her into the office to talk about the disrespect. Namely the disrespect to Dr Tara. To me, she was essentially just saying I don’t listen, but to Dr Tara, it was a professional insult – basically about her not having a lot of value around her being a sexpert. That session turned into a shouting match between myself and Vanessa, but then Anna [Williamson, fellow dating agent] came in to diffuse the situation and, as a result, Vanessa apologised, and I apologised to her. We hugged it out.

How much of your sage advice stems from your own marriage?

A lot. My wife is, without question, my best friend. But at the same time, I am continually put in my place. You know, people always say iron sharpens iron?
So, what I ended up doing is almost testing out theories with my wife. She is super, super-brilliant and she has a different perspective to me. We share similar values, but we’re two different people, and it helps me quite a bit in all the work that I do.

You’re going to be the King of Hearts today. What tips would you give to find love in the real world?

Right now, you have 80 per cent of people meeting through a dating app, or online, Instagram, that kind of thing. But we are not showing up in the real world. So, we would rather sit at a coffee shop and do a geolocation on someone nearby, as opposed to just walking over and saying, let me talk to them. So, being in the real world and being willing to risk being turned down. That by itself, if you can work on that muscle, you will become not just better dater, but you’ll become just better at life.

What about maintaining a healthy relationship?

Number one, by far, is get into therapy, and I don’t just mean with a professional, because I know the wait list here in the UK is over a year. Therapy, to me, just simply means healing. Healing is proactively working on your relationship. What does that mean? That means maybe you read Dr Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages together. Maybe that means that you watch Married At First Sight, which a lot of couples do together, and then discuss what we’re talking about at the commitment ceremonies. Maybe it’s listening to a podcast together – ensuring that you are in some form of therapy is very important.

heat magazine cover

You live in the UK now. Is there anything you’ve struggled to get your head around?

Oh, yeah, lots of things are crazy. Why do you stand in a queue for everything? The other thing that I find really wild is a statement that I hear all the time and I misinterpreted at first – “Oh, bless you.”

Oh, bless you. Did you think people were being sincere?

[Laughs.] Yeah, until I started hearing it said to people doing the craziest things. I was like, “Oh, hold on for a second.” Also, the fanaticism around tea. I am scared to say what tea I drink, because I’m going to offend someone here.

You have to tell us. What’s your tea of choice?

OK, I’ll tell you. I did a blind tasting of all the teas, and out of that, I picked Tetley. I rolled hard with Tetley to the point where even Tetley reached out to me. They were like, “We want to do things!” Then I ran out of Tetley and so I said, “You know, let me just try this Yorkshire thing.” And then I was like, “Gee, why did I like Tetley in the first place?” Yorkshire is a whole other level.

Married At First Sight UK is on E4, Monday to Thursday at 9pm

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