It's 3AM and you can't sleep. Your mind wanders through the many horrors you've inflicted upon yourself with your own body and mouth: that time you misread a fist-bump scenario and shook the other person's knuckles rather than pounding them. The time you tried to thank a school crush for holding the door open for you, but instead let out a sort of alarming guttural scream? Every single time you've cracked your back at work and looked up to see Nice Susan wincing.
I don't blame Susan for never saying anything: most of us witness all of the above without saying anything, because it's polite. But how are we supposed to learn if people don't call us out on the stuff we do that annoys them? I know for a fact that there's one group of people who would be happy – maybe even excited – to call me out.
So, to find out where I might be going wrong in life, I got back in touch with some of my exes and asked them to review me.
Sebastian and I were together on and off for about two years. Or, at least, as "together" as you can be ages 13 to 15. It's worth noting that I wasn’t allowed a boyfriend until I was 15, so this relationship came with a fair share of sneaking around.
VICE: So, be honest, no filter.
Sebastian: Honest, no filter, whatever you want, there were actually very few things about you that annoyed me. Your parents, though. It annoyed me that we couldn’t tell them.
That was more circumstantial, though. Anything that I did?
You were way too jealous. Like, fucking hell. I couldn’t talk to anyone because you’d be on top of me asking who that was and why I was talking to them—
Let’s not exaggerate now.
It's true! That’s why we broke up.
Did anything else that I did annoy you?
Honestly? That you broke up with me.
This was the first time I was in love in love. Rodrigo and I were together on and off from the age of 16 to 19. My parents never liked him, and half of our relationship took place, once again, in secret.
Rodrigo: I don’t know if you still are, but you were extremely jealous. Some things were normal, but there were times where you crossed a line – whenever I’d like some girl’s picture, or whenever some girl would like one of my pictures.
Okay. What else?
You took little things and turned them into huge things. I remember once we broke up because I didn’t like your prom dress. That was so unnecessary.
Wow. I don’t even remember that.
Also, you would always turn things around when you fucked up. You’d take a tiny thing I said when we’d argue because of something you did, and suddenly I was the one apologising.
Jace is my most recent break-up. We were together for a year-and-a-half. We lived together, adopted a cat together, moved to a different city together. It felt like the real deal. Alas, he's on this list.
Jace: I just want to say I thoroughly enjoyed being your boyfriend. You haven’t really got any annoying traits, but going through my Instagram unfollowing people, and resenting the girls I’d had a thing with, even if it had been ten years prior… not cool.
That’s going to make me look fucking horrible. You’re right.
Essentially, just your jealousy – sometimes it felt like you enjoyed the idea of me being jealous. Also, there’s your temper. There is no gradient: its either nought or 100. You go full soap opera. And never letting me listen to what I wanted to in the car. And waking me up every time you needed to go pee so that I would come with you. You seriously fucked up my sleeping pattern.
In all fairness, that house was seriously haunted.
CALUM, CURRENT BOYFRIEND
Shockingly, old habits die hard. When it comes to EX #1's parent complaint, Calum comments: "Your parents don’t annoy me, they’re lovely. The fact you waited so long to tell your dad I even existed, however, didn’t make me feel great."
Calum has only ever met my dad on FaceTime. He doesn’t know how scary it can be to tell him things. Although, as a 21 year-old semi-independent woman, maybe it’s time to square up.
As for the overwhelmingly recurring jealousy theme – and I recognise that unfollowing people off my ex’s Instagram was a really shitty thing to do – he agrees: "Our biggest fight was born out of me having my arm around one of my close girl-friends of over ten years."
I could go into a very in-depth sob story about where my trust-issues-derived jealousy comes from, but I won’t. I'll just take it on the chin and move onto my other notable passion: turning little things into big things!
"You tend to turn passing comments into hour-long arguments," says Calum. "It’s like you like holding onto little things."
Though he (thankfully) couldn’t think of any specific examples at the time, Calum also thinks me turning him into the bad guy even when I was the one to have messed up "sounds like something that has happened".
As for my temper, he tried to sugar coat it as a "Latin fire thing", but recognises, "to us Brits, yeah, you go from zero to a 100 in a second".
We don’t have a car and neither of us drives, but apparently I'm as possessive of the Netflix remote as I am of the aux chord. Says Calum: "One of the few times we’ve watched a movie I picked, you made me turn it off because it was 'the worst fucking film ever'."
SO I’VE GOT A COUPLE OF THINGS TO WORK ON
You can try to learn from your past, using, like, memory – but if you really want to know what’s wrong with you, a tip: call up your exes. Take their reviews with a pinch of salt – they did go out with you, after all; you can't be that bad – but if they all bring up the exact same issue with pithy, pointed examples… well, maybe there is some room for improvement.