Devoted Married at First Sight viewers first met David Norton and Vanessa Nelson in late 2015 on the show’s third season. After matching with strangers, the Atlanta natives were heartbroken when their short-lived marriages were just that–short-lived. Now, the fan favorites are back for Married at First Sight: Second Chances, premiering Thursday, April 27. Ahead of the premiere, The Knot caught up with both Norton and Nelson, who are more determined than ever to find love.
Norton, 31, an IT project manager, is grateful to have more of a say in the process this time around. He and Nelson will date multiple people, with hopes of finding their future spouses. “We have the final say. We take control of who we end up with.” he explains. “I have come to learn that love is not just all science; there is a certain ‘X-Factor’ you can’t measure.”
Nelson, 28, a corporate events manager, is equally keen about the process. “There are so many guys to choose from, and having the power in my hands to decide who I was interested in made a big difference,” she admits.
While they’ll be more involved with the decision-making process, Norton and Nelson are thankful for Married at First Sight’s experts, Dr. Pepper Schwartz, Pastor Calvin Roberson, and Rachel DeAlto. “Having the experts guide me and serve as a sounding board through the process definitely helped ease the anxiety of dating again,” Nelson says.
Despite having their hearts broken, the two are positive this time around. “As challenging as my [first] experience was, I couldn’t let it change [the] outlook on life that I have always had,” Norton says. “That was just a part of the story that had to get me to here. I truly believe that when life presents you with unique opportunities, you have to seize them.”
Nelson took time to reflect on her experience and mend her broken heart, but she refused to allow the end of her marriage to Tres Russell alter her outlook on life. “I always knew I deserved love and a relationship that fulfills me,” she explains.
“I also knew that there was something to be learned from this dating experience that I could share with the world,” she adds. “As a black woman specifically, there is so much stigma and stereotypes about love and romance for us. I felt it [was] necessary to show that, like anyone else, we date, and we can have romance and successful relationships.”
Norton is quick to admit that he was initially skeptical about the Second Chances process. “I thought it was a somewhat crazy concept, because you are taking two people who are romantics, and so loyal to the possibility of love that we were willing to commit ourselves fully to a stranger for the rest of our lives,” he tells us. “Now we are dating 100 people at the same time. But I have the experts on my side, helping me pick women based on my preferences and what I want out of life.”
Since ending his marriage to Ashley Doherty, Norton feels more confident, and he’s looking forward to viewers seeing a new and improved David. “I know exactly who I am, what I want out of my next relationship, and what I am looking for in a partner,” he says.
Nelson adds that she’s learned some key factors that help with dating: communicating, trusting her gut, compromising and being open. “I felt confident going into Second Chances, because I did the work and understood myself and relationships much more,” she notes.
Norton established a “no kissing” rule until he narrowed the field down to 10 women. “I put that rule into place because I knew that I would be tempted, especially with [so] many women looking for my attention,” he admits. “But I also wanted to find someone that goes beyond just the physical aspect of a relationship. That has gotten me into trouble before, and I came into this looking to find someone that I can be with for a lifetime.”
Nelson, meanwhile, opted to abstain from making rules, and she was open to dating multiple types of men. “I just tried to stay open and honest. I also wanted to have fun,” she explains. “The one thing I knew was a must-have was the ability to align our lifestyles.”
While they can’t divulge the outcome of the four-month process, both Norton and Nelson hint at a happy ending. “I think the sky’s the limit when it comes to love and romance, and I am excited to share it with the world,” Nelson concludes to The Knot.
Norton adds: “I am as optimistic about my future as I have ever been in my entire life.”
Married at First Sight: Second Chances premieres Thursday, April 27, at 10:15 p.m. ET on Lifetime.