He may not have won on Love Island but Matthew MacNabb did find love when he signed up for Dancing With The Stars and met his partner Laura Nolan.
After leaving the villa, Matthew was nearly certain that he wouldn’t find love on another reality show. After all, Love Island is THE dating programme but as it turns out when winning a trophy and not a heart is the aim of the game, the Belfast man was a pro.
Matthew credits the more ‘natural’ environment of DWTS for helping him and Laura find a spark. And while Love Islanders have Casa Amor as the ultimate test of their connection, Matthew and Laura aced their own test after surviving the intensity of the competition.
‘We said at the time, if we haven’t fallen out and hated each other by the end of this, we’re definitely meant to be,’ Matthew said. ‘I can safely say that after a year on from that, we’ve had one argument for an entire year. That’s unprecedented for me and my ex-girlfriends.’
Speaking to Slingo, Matthew continued to praise his girlfriend for being ‘like my bro’. He said: ‘Love Island is great because it’s an amazing show and fun, but I don’t think it’s as natural.
‘Me and Laura are both very similar, relaxed people, which is quite funny. I always say she’s like my bro, but she’s my girlfriend at the same time.’
Though how they met felt more relaxed, it didn’t mean that competing together was stress-free, quite the opposite in fact, it was the pressure to get to the top of the competition that helped to solidify their relationship.
‘It’s so difficult. It’s seven days a week – all day for fifteen or sixteen weeks. Then you have the pressures and opinions, everything. It is really tough, physically and mentally.’
So tough in fact that after tackling the American Smooth and going straight into tango the week after the young lad was feeling it in his knees, a pain he had never experienced before.
Though Matthew and Laura literally put blood, sweat and tears into their performances it was worth it because even though they didn’t win they found each other and share a unique bond.
Matthew is even helping his girlfriend and her new dance partner Kevin McGahern behind the scenes on this year’s series. Speaking about how he’s been taking care of his other half, Matthew revealed he often drops by the practice room to offer his two cents on Kevin’s moves.
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‘I often drop into the training sessions and give my opinion. I can give my advice from a different perspective because Laura’s never competed in it, she’s obviously the pro,’ he explains.
‘She doesn’t know the feelings of learning from zero, going out and performing it under pressure. That’s a unique insight I can give Kevin.’