Sam Role had everything going for her in life…a great family, friends and a fantastic
career. The one thing she didn’t have was someone to love.
While Sam dated regularly in college, it became more of a challenge after graduation. “It’s hard to meet men out at events, I don’t go out to bars much and I definitely don’t believe in dating men I work with,” she admitted.
Like many other singles, she also tried the online dating scene for a period of time, to no avail.
Sam openly shared about a man she met through her best friend Sammie, “My last boyfriend was a guy I dated a few years ago. He was a sweetheart. I really cared for him, but he lives in NY, so it was hard to continue the relationship.”
Like so many others, Sam fell in love with the idea of Married at First Sight while watching Cortney, Jamie and Monet during season one. With hope that this could be her opportunity to find her soulmate, she applied for the show. She exclaimed, “One day, I received an email asking me if I was still interested in going through the process of selection and matching for Married at First Sight. It just took off from there!”
The presence of cameras and the experts at the first meeting was unexpected. “From day one I realized, this is for real. This is really about to happen,” she said.
The application process was quite lengthy and took several months. Sam explained one thing she felt was important, “You have to really be prepared to open up and be as honest as possible. The more information the experts have, the more they can match you with somebody.”
When it came to specific characteristics, it was important that she be matched with someone that not only had a family, but valued the importance of family. She elaborated further, “I also wanted somebody who is spontaneous, active, liked to do things outdoors and take trips, someone who is career driven and able to communicate.”
Sam shared that she wasn’t as particular when it came to physical traits. “There is no perfect man, so I was trying to be as general as possible. I feel like looks will fade with time. I’ve dated so many different types of guys, so I knew what I found attractive. But I didn’t want to put that down on my application and have it hinder me from meeting somebody.”
As far as deal breakers, Sam listed one…she wanted a person of Faith.
We saw that Sam was not initially attracted to Neil, but that attraction grew over time. “Staying open to the process, I knew there was a good reason they matched me with him. I feel like at the end of the day, the experts did a great job. They really listened to what I said when it came to what I was looking for in a match.”
Sam made profound personal growth during the 6 weeks of her marriage. Although she is a completely different person now, I wanted to understand the emotion behind her initial treatment of Neil. “It was really rough when I first met him. I had just lost my grandmother. On top of that, I have really bad anxiety and it came out pretty bad the first couple of weeks,” she admitted.
In addition, she shared what was going on in her head. “It was weird waking up next to a stranger. We weren’t communicating the same way, so it was a little frustrating for me. I’m really pretty good at trying to figure out a way to communicate with people and I just couldn’t crack him. At the end of the day, I was letting my anxiety drive my behaviors, which is really bad, because I was thinking very small-minded.”
While Sam was an open book, Neil was very stoic and did a good job of handling his emotions. The tetherball fight was her first indication that he was hurt by her humor and sarcasm. “I was thinking that if I could take it, he could too. That was not the case. Obviously, my form of communication was not benefiting us and was hurting him. I needed to stop doing that,” she said.
Another “aha” moment for Sam was when her dad, Bob Role, visited the couple during week three of their marriage. Sam explained, “My dad and I are like two peas in a pod. He is very much like me when it comes to behaviors and attitude.”
It was clear that Bob took to Neil from the moment he saw him at the altar. When he finally had a chance to observe her behavior and talk to Sam, she took what he said to heart.
That talk came when she brought him to see her new house after their barbecue. She explained, “We were sitting outside and I was showing him my patio when my dad said, ‘You know Sam, I gotta say, I love you a lot, but you are being a complete bitch to Neil and I don’t even understand why. He doesn’t deserve it.’ ”
Those words hit home for Sam. “Sometimes you need to hear it from the people that know you best. If my dad was saying it, than clearly I am not being a nice person right now. In that moment, I realized I was putting my walls up and being quite defensive and crass because of not knowing what was going to happen. I was taking it out on Neil for absolutely no reason.”
Although behaviors don’t change overnight, the one thing Sam did do was evaluate and change the way she spoke to Neil. “Immediately I stopped being so harsh and cold, almost like using my words as a knife. I quit doing that and began communicating more effectively.” Watching the show, we saw that change and gave a collective sigh.
While Sam’s feelings for Neil were growing, we saw him pulling away. She acknowledged, “I really didn’t feel a change until probably the last week when I started getting touchy, feely with him. In my gut, I started to feel that he was regressing.”
Her instincts were right. Unfortunately, the experiment was only 6 weeks and the changes she made ended up being too little too late. Sam’s early behaviors had a huge impact on Neil’s gut-wrenching decision to divorce Sam on ‘Decision Day’.
In part 2 of my interview with Sam Role, we’ll look at the rest of her journey, talk about her personal transformation and find out how she is doing after their devastating split.
Read my Married at First Sight Interviews here:
Sam Role’s Relationship with Neil Bowlus Post Married at First Sight
Real Talk With Jamie Otis on Married At First Sight -The First Year