MAFS expert Mel Schilling’s 3 tips for gaining confidence in lockdown

Not only is Mel Schilling a relationship expert on both Married at First Sight Australia and UK, but she’s also made a successful career as a psychologist and a confidence coach.

As many people have struggled with establishing or maintaining relationships during the coronavirus pandemic - as well as living through what she calls “a global crisis of confidence” - Mel has teamed up with eHarmony to share her advice and expert tips with Yahoo Lifestyle.

MAFS expert Mel Schilling.
Mel Schilling says we are in a “global crisis of confidence”. Photo: Instagram/mel_schilling1

“We’ve all been shut down, we’ve had our normal everyday connections like going to the gym and connecting with our mates just taken away and so our confidence levels have dropped,” she explains.

“When you extrapolate that to the dating world, people are saying things like, ‘I’ve forgotten how to make small talk’. It’s like any other social skill, it’s a skill and it needs to be practised.”


eHarmony recently released a study on the impact of lockdowns on Australians’ confidence levels in the dating world, finding that two-thirds of singles believe they’d be more successful at dating if they had more self-confidence.

“I think that’s something we really need to address as people are feeling that their confidence is low because of the situation that we’re all in,” Mel says.

“Yet they’re saying in order to be better at dating, they need to build this confidence, but in order to date, they need to feel confident. So it’s this whole cycle that people get stuck in.”

MAFS experts.
Mel says that there are many people that go on MAFS who have low self-esteem. Photo: Channel Nine

Lack of confidence is also something often seen on MAFS, especially in the participants who regard themselves as unworthy and consistently engage in relationships that are less than they deserve.

“When you meet the woman who constantly dates the bad boy who puts her down and treats her poorly, or the man who keeps dating the women who try to change him or fix him, quite often that comes back to low self-esteem,” she describes.

So how do you increase your confidence? Mel has three main tips to help improve both your mindset and your skillset.

1. Change your perspective

“One way we could use the COVID experience for more of a positive spin is to say it’s a new beginning. This can work quite well in your dating world to say, I had pre-COVID dating and now I’m going to have post-COVID dating, and all the mistakes I made before, all the patterns that didn’t serve me, I’ll draw a line in the sand and start afresh.

“I really like that mindset shift to say ‘this is my new beginning and now I’m leaving that stuff behind and I’m going to start fresh and I’m going to start focusing on what I know I deserve’.”

Romantic dinner date.
Mel says that it’s important to play to your strengths on a date. Photo: Getty

2. Play to your strengths

“I want people to see this fantastic opportunity when preparing for a date to go, ‘what are my top three strengths’? Is it your honesty, your loyalty, your integrity, your sense of humour, your intelligence? What are the three things that you’re most proud of, and just focusing on those starts to build confidence,” she details.

“In preparation for a date, if you can come up with a story, like a memory from your life that illustrates each one of those three strengths, then you’ve got great stories to share.

“And what happens when you share those stories is your confidence boosts a little bit because you’re talking about something you’re proud of, it builds a connection with the person you’re dating because people really emotionally hook into stories, and you’re subconsciously selling your top three strengths to this person that you love.”

3. Clarify your goals

“I think today with all the swiping and stuff that happens in dating, what I call ‘disposable dating’, it’s shifted people’s mindset from, ‘I’m looking for the one’ to ‘there’s always something better out there’.

“So I think this is a good opportunity to go, ‘okay, what do I want?’, and then choose the actions or the tactics that match your goal.”

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