This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
The relationship advice we’re most often given is “be yourself” and “find someone who loves you for who you are.” This is because trying to have a different personality makes us feel hollow inside, and also doesn’t really work in the long run. You can pretend you’re a super chill girl who is bang into, like, badminton, but three months down the line, the fact you’re actually a neurotic over-thinker who despises sports is going to jump out.
But also, sometimes you need a shortcut to get closer to someone, and the way to do that isn’t by revealing the fact you still watch Made in Chelsea. It’s by pretending to be into what they’re into, so they like you more. Your mum would hate me for saying this, but sometimes the way to a person's heart isn't with your personality – it's by observing their likes and dislikes, then subtly altering yourself into a version they might find more interesting. Is that bad to say? Yeah probably.
Either way, whether it's advisable or inadvisable, most of us have gotten into some weird shit at least once to impress an ex. Sometimes we get over that weird shit as soon as the relationship ends, but other times that weird shit persists, and seven years later we're still into ethical hacking or skincare science or whatever. Anyway, I spoke to a bunch of people about the stuff they decided to take up for that one special someone.
“So I started dating this guy and he was bang into grime. We dated casually for eight months and were really close, but music was something that brought us together – we bonded originally over UKG and Craig David (lol). I'd always been around grime, but I'd purposefully been like ‘NAH NOT LISTENING TO IT’ because my mates would bump Rinse FM in the car and I stubbornly decided not to listen. But when I met him, I went crawling back to all my mates from school like ‘teach me your ways’.
I started listening to all the shit – SBTV, Rinse FM, Battle Raps, any grime artist etc – so that i could be 'in the know'. During that time I realised I actually loved it and became genuinely interested. I don't think he ever knew that I didn't love grime before he came along, but we're still mates and regularly swap music recommendations now.” Elle, 25.
“My ex knew everything about computers and technology, and I was super paranoid because his ex had a high-powered tech job, which is how they met and they’d been together for years. I always had this insecurity that he thought I was useless at that stuff, which wasn’t based on anything he said; I just felt that way. I ended up enrolling in a coding course and learned to code, and also got into ethical hacking. We were only together for a year – we obviously weren’t compatible – but I’m actually thankful I learned how to code, regardless of why. Because now I can code!” Lux, 27.
“I met a girl off 'Gaydargirls'. We were totally besotted with each other, then she went to Ibiza and I was being too needy so she said she had a threesome with two other girls (she hadn't actually) so she could break it off. I was devastated. She was basically keen to stop things, because she was about to go to Exeter uni to study sports science, and I guess she didn't want to try long distance.
So I was like you know what, I'm going to go to your uni. And I'm going to do it better than you. I'm going to have more mates, more fun, I'm going to be REALLY popular and get loads more girls and I might also do well academically. Exeter was one of the top five (I think) unis for English so it wasn't exactly stupid, but it definitely helped me decide between Exeter and Sussex.” Sophie, 31.
THE TV SHOW FRASIER
“So last year I met this guy. He ticked all my worst boxes (was really handsome, muscular, hyper-masculine and rich). Anyway, I was completely infatuated with him, but we had extremely little in common. He was basically just into going to the gym, taking MDMA and… Frasier, which he was properly obsessed with. We had dates where we'd talk about Frasier for hours, just him recounting his favourite episodes, with me hanging onto his every word. But I ended up downloading, like, seven episodes of Frasier because of him. I don’t even like it. I find it stagey and mannered.” Andy, 25.
“My ex was a very spiritual, earthy individual and liked making paper lanterns and doing spells and collecting shells and shit. I'm into a lot of that stuff too, but when we were first dating I remember really amping up my interest in nature, and this one time I pressed loads of flowers and when she came over I'd be like 'check out my flower press book, aren't these formations beautiful?' We lasted for just over two years so it must have worked!” Izzy, 25.
“I fucking hate Bitcoin! I don't even understand it! Why have I now got all this Bitcoin lying around! Basically, three or four months ago I was dating this guy who was very into Bitcoin. He'd talk a lot about having a decentralised money system, and how it puts the power back into the hands of the people and all this crap that I definitely got carried away with for a while. Or maybe I was just carried away with hearing him speak passionately about it, because I really fancied him. Anyway, I invested in Bitcoin, tried to understand how it works, then he broke it off. I still don't fully get it, but hey, maybe I'm sitting on a goldmine?” Jo, 27.
“We were together for two years and they were a music student so they were obvs into the weird shit. I had so little sense of self at the time, I basically just took on their interests. The music they were into was full-on, screeching, nails on a chalkboard shit. I got into some stuff via them, but mostly just endured listening to it. When we broke up I listened to a lot of Julia Holter when I walked to work and cried a lot. I still hate noise music.” Remi, 24.