MAFS 2024: Is Jack's 'orange flag' actually just a sad reality for Aussie men?

One MAFS bridesmaid worries that his wedding guest list hints at something more worrying.

If you speak to anyone who’s currently dating, you’ll be well aware of a thing called a red flag. They have become a way for singles to look out for some big issues before jumping into a relationship, like a difference in values or even controlling behaviour by a potential match.

As a woman I’ve made it my superpower to catch red flags earlier in each dumpster dating disaster I’ve put myself through in the past few years. Now though, thanks to Married at First Sight Australia, there’s a new colour to look out for - orange.

But, just what is an orange flag? Is it a man who has very little or no friends? Tuesday night’s Married at First Sight episode had me thinking about just that.

Jack and Tori at their wedding on Married at First Sight.
Alpha Jack and self-confessed control freak Tori have been matched on Married at First Sight. Photo: Channel Nine

Clients, not friends at MAFS wedding

Every year I say I won’t be watching MAFS and every year I sit in front of the television and find myself engulfed in the dating lives of strangers from across the country. Once again, nice and early we see one couple already dominating the Channel Nine reality show with Tori and Jack out the gates early as the "power couple" of the season.

Jack is a 34-year-old personal trainer from the Gold Coast who’s been matched with Tori, a 27-year-old business development owner from Victoria. Jack calls himself an "alpha" who’s dominant and says he loves being in control, but it seems Tori is also a self-confessed control freak and doesn’t like when things don’t go her way.


In Tuesday night's episode though wasn’t all fairytales and romance at Jack and Tori’s wedding. Surprise, surprise. Family and friends were introduced to each other but it became apparent most of Jack’s friends were actually his clients from his personal training business. Jack had very few friends in attendance on what should be one of the biggest days of his life - if it works out.

Tori’s bridesmaid Leah was the first to question the lack of invites for Jack's close friends.

"I don't know why they’re not here?" she warned Tori. "For me, it's giving '[him] controlling the narrative'. There is something, I can feel it in my f**king bones, it could be a misogynistic thing – but you won't know until it comes out."

Australia's 'mateship' crisis

It got me thinking about the men in my life who may also be in the same position and not feel as if they have many or any friends. This is a lot more common than we may think. Almost one in four men don’t feel they have any friends, while one in ten don’t feel they have anyone to confide in. The research from the Australian Men’s Health Forum almost floored me: The ‘mateship’ crisis as it's being called is causing major health problems for men too. In fact, researchers say feeling lonely can be as unhealthy for us as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.

Back in 2017, I packed up my life into four suitcases and moved myself and my sausage dog Tanq from Adelaide to regional Queensland to start my career in radio. I knew no one. I had no idea how far Townsville was from Adelaide, but at the age of 27, I had no doubts it would work out. I just knew I needed to settle in, make some friends and figure it out. Tanq and I were embraced with open arms and, four moves later, I'm back in Adelaide, but I still have so many friends from my time in the Sunshine State. It often seems women find it easier to make friends no matter what age they are, while men find it much trickier.

Groom Jack in a still from MAFS 2024.
Jack is a bit of a lone ranger on MAFS 2024. Photo: Channel Nine

More common than we think

I spoke to a few of my friend's partners to ask them if they thought it was tough to make new friends being an older man or outside of work. Most had a small group of friends who they were still in contact with after being married and having children but certainly didn’t catch up as often as they knew they should.

The one thing that did surprise me was the many who’d not only lost contact with school friends but also moved jobs and not stayed in contact with their former colleagues. This led to many of them becoming friends with their partners friends, boyfriends or husbands. Working from home during the Covid pandemic also exacerbated the issue, especially for those who were single and couldn’t catch up with mates at the pub, or play sports for social connection.

Leah, Tori’s bridesmaid is right. There’s definite orange flag energy with Jack not having any friends at his wedding, but we need to know the real reason behind the decision. There’s a huge difference in men not having any friends because they’re divorced, work from home and maybe have children to look after, compared to men who show a pattern of not having any long-term friends.

Many of Jack’s "friend" at the wedding were clients from his personal training business, but to be honest, my personal trainers used to act as my psychologists too. I spent an hour a week with them and they knew everything about my life.

But would I invite them to my wedding? Probably not.

I have so many questions for Jack. Does he not have many friends because he’s too dominating and "alpha" for men in real life, or does he simply enjoy doing life on his own?

The experts weigh in

One of Australia's leading relationship experts says Jack's lack of friends at his wedding isn't necessarily a orange flag. Dr Lurve has told Yahoo Lifestyle Australia, "I don’t think it’s an orange flag because some men are shy and haven’t found their 'tribe' yet. Maybe they haven’t been super adventurous in their upbringing at school or in sport, or had friendship breakdowns along the way and it has been harder to recover because of past pain."

She urges men to sign up to a new hobby, cooking class or sport to meet new people or even a potential new love interest.

"Think about what you truly enjoy as a passion, maybe it’s sport or cooking or gaming or something fun, there will be people that have things in common with you. Actively seek your tribe or make more of an effort with your existing one - men need friends too and your mothers and girlfriends are not responsible for setting up those connections or 'man dates'."

Dr Lurve sitting in a chair.
Dr Lurve says some men just haven't found their tribe yet. Photo: Facebook

The importance of me time

I am surrounded by wonderful friends and family and a work crew I spend my mornings with, but I can also be a huge loner too. Maybe it was living away for five years on my own, but I can go to the movies, out for a meal or even an event on my own quite easily.

When it comes to my wedding though, if I ever find "the one", whether it's on television or not, I’d hope that my closest friends (who aren’t my paying clients) would be there to support me on what should be the biggest day of my life.

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