‘You Can Be Friends With Your Ex’: Renee And Matt Are Still Close As Ever

They overcame a lot of hurdles in Paradise, and while Renee Barrett and Matt Whyatt’s relationship may have ended, the pair still have each other’s backs.

Heading into Paradise not knowing what to expect, Renee told 10 play she has been overwhelmed with the outpouring of messages and support throughout the season.

“It’s been an interesting experience… definitely a bit of a whirlwind with the drama with Ciarran and I. That was kind of crazy, to watch that back was a little bit difficult,” she said.

Though the pair made it to the Commitment Ceremony and made our hearts sing as they professed their love for each other, Renee and Matt said that, unfortunately, their relationship couldn’t stand the test of the real world.

“I’m located in Darwin and Matt is on the Gold Coast,” Renee explained, “I did fly down and we spent a week and a half together, everything was really, really good. But the issue for Matt and I was definitely the distance.”

“Trying to see each other every four weeks or whatever it was going to be, I was finding it hard to comprehend that the relationship would work,” Matt added, “so we made the mature decision to stay good friends, always stay close and have each other’s back but go our own way.”

The pair didn’t have the easiest time in Paradise, with Renee’s ex Ciarran Stott watching on as they formed their connection. Tensions were high throughout the season as Matt and Renee attempted to make the most of the experience while still trying to respect certain boundaries.

“Being in Paradise with your ex-partner… to me, that’s not really Paradise,” Renee said, laughing. “As much as Ciarran didn’t respect me, I still wanted to have respect for him, so I found it really difficult to be hands-on with Matt, kiss him and all that, I just felt uncomfortable.”

But the turning point for Renee was when she and Alisha Aitken-Radburn made the decision to grab a ring Renee had made for Ciarran’s birthday and to toss it into the ocean. It was one of the most pivotal and iconic moments of the season, and for Renee, it was possibly the most significant moment in Paradise.

“It was just such a weight off my shoulders, I feel like that was the moment when I was like, you know what? I’m going full steam ahead. I’m happy, I’m not going to let anybody get in the way anymore.”

Before the show went to air, Renee said Ciarran reached out to her “quite a bit”, but after watching the season, seeing moments how everything played out, she said they haven’t been in contact since. “And I think that’s probably for the best,” she added.

“Ciarran has a tendency to definitely come back when things don’t go his way. How do I say this nicely,” she continued, “I think I’m a security blanket for him, and I’m done with that now. We haven’t had any conversations since the show has aired and I’m going to keep it that way.”

Matt, similarly, hasn’t heard from Ciarran. The pair clashed over the “bro code”, and even up to Ciarran’s last moments in Paradise, the pair had a heated exchange where Matt urged him to stay out of Renee’s life moving forward.

After one of the tensest Bula Banquets went to air where Matt and Timm Hanly almost came to blows, Timm posted an apology video on social media.

“I can respect anyone that does anything wrong if they’re going to reach out,” Matt said. “No matter what you do to me, I can get over it.

“Ciarran’s very… set in his ways. I said I’d shake his hand and have a beer with him if he did reach out, that’s who I am,” he said.

Since he and Renee have parted, Matt said he’s been in a relationship for the past two months. “Renee respects and supports that,” he added, “My girlfriend respects what I went through and that Renee and I will always be close.”

Though she’s been supportive of his and Renee’s past, Matt admitted it’s been tough to watch some of the season as a new couple.

Renee, meanwhile, said she’s still single.

“I don’t fall for people very easily and whoever I end up with definitely has big shoes to fill because Matt was such an incredible partner to have. [He] protected me while I was in Paradise, just gave me a sight of what I actually do deserve in a partner.

“It’s just unfortunate things didn’t work out, but it’s a good reminder to everybody that you can actually be friends with your ex! You don’t have to have all this bad energy when you break up with somebody.”

Though fans have rallied behind Matt and Renee’s relationship in Paradise, there have also been many calls to see Renee taking up the helm of Bachelorette in the future.

“I’m so overwhelmed with the number of people who have been sending me stuff about being the Bachelorette,” Renee said, adding that she absolutely supports the idea of having a “beautiful, strong, young Indigenous woman as the next Bachelorette.”

“Whether that’s me… I have no idea, yet.”