We Asked Our Exes What It Was Like to Date Us
"The rare times you let your guard down and stopped acting like a fuckboi were what kept me coming back."
Illustrations by Mai Ly Degnan
Late last month, the announcement of the impending launch of Peeple—the so-called "Yelp for people," which promised to let your friends, acquaintances, coworkers, neighbors, Starbucks baristas, exes, and arch enemies give you a starred rating and a little review about your moral character—made a lot of people freak out. And understandably so. We want to believe that with each new person we meet, we're a blank slate, untarnished by that time we left a bartender a shitty tip or cheated on our boyfriend with his best friend. With the advent of Peeple, those interactions with other humans—the good, the bad, and the very bad—would be broadcast on the internet, ruining our reputations forever.
Peeple doesn't exist yet—it's slated to come out next month—so it's hard to know what kind of interpersonal consequences such an app could have on our lives. But it's probably inevitable that someday, likely someday soon, there will be a forum on the internet where people can casually review our character so we might as well get used to the idea.
We decided to lean into the punch by preemptively collecting reviews from the people who knew us best: our exes. We knew that these former girlfriends and boyfriends would give us no-bullshit answers about the kinds of people we are—when our cousins at VICE UK tried the exercise earlier this year, we all learned tons about what kind of people they really are. Here are their honest, unvarnished reviews of what it's like to date us.
A Review of Zach Sokol By His Ex-Girlfriend
It's almost impossible to describe how you were as a boyfriend since the whole time we "hung out or whatever," you made it your primary objective to make sure I knew we weren't dating. Even now that you've asked me to rate you, the disclaimer of "I wasn't technically your boyfriend" stands as firmly and pronounced as ever.
When you weren't so hung up on forcing our nonexistent relationship into ambiguous categories, you took me for granted—and not in the why didn't you use 'the G word' to describe me? way. You pigeonholed me into this manic pixie dream girl persona, which allowed me to only serve as a source of writing material... and I guess I still do. So I shouldn't have been that surprised that you ended things with a line from Annie Hall.
The rare times that you let your guard down and stopped striving to embody some caricature of a writer, social butterfly, and dare I say it, FUCKBOI were what kept me coming back. You introduced me to what are now some of my favorite books and albums and stuck by through my bat-shit moments. Oh yeah, and taught me how to roll cigarettes like a lady.
You are unequivocally yourself, which is mad frustrating but also insanely attractive. It feels like you strive to reach a standard set by someone else when you can reach beyond that if you are yourself. You embodied a lot of contradictions: selfless in the sack, yet distant; narcissistic, yet afraid to open up; available, yet only on your own time. But if I could go back, I'd emotionally exhaust myself again.
Legitimate Question: Should You Remain Friends With Your Ex?
A Review of Grace Wyler By Her Ex-Boyfriend
You reminded me of my high school ex-girlfriend and I think that's why I found you attractive at first. Hot, liked to party, not an attention whore. Your nose wasn't glued to a mirror and you were nice to me, so I think that's why I stuck around. You never took a picture with me though, so I couldn't show you off. And my parents still don't believe that you exist, period.
I was always very impressed with your journalistic ambitions and accomplishments. Not that I read any of it, but in theory I thought it was pretty admirable. Also, you always made an effort on Sunday night Skype sessions when we were 3,500 miles apart, but for future reference, long distance and PG don't belong together in the same sentence.
We broke up because your bar tabs bankrupted me and you made out with my friends while I was either passed out or visiting my grandmother. And then there was that whole "oceans apart" thing. I think you left me for a kinder, more compassionate, caring, less-successful version of myself. So no hard feelings.
A Review of Arielle Pardes By Her Ex-Boyfriend
The day I met you, I immediately knew you would be someone important in my life. Though it was months later that I actually told you I loved you, it was that night that I fell in love. I never really felt comfortable in my own skin, but with you, I was actually excited just being me. And that's the wonderful thing about you: You make the people close to you feel great just being who they are. That made it easy to be with you, easy to make a lot of great memories together. Whether it was shrooming in Amsterdam or you beating me and my friends at game after game of Wii bowling (I still don't understand how you were so damn good at that), we always had fun.
But you're also a very emotional person—not necessarily temperamental, but very full of emotions. You were a teenager when we first met, and unsurprisingly, were very insecure in a lot of ways. That translated into a visceral fear of disappointing people. You always seemed worried that I would be upset or angry with you about things that I often could not care less about, so you'd lie, a lot, and you weren't very good at it either. One thing you never seemed to learn was that an omission of the truth is still a lie. That bred a lot of mistrust and ultimately torpedoed our relationship.
In spite of all that, I remember our time together as one of the few periods of my life that I could ever honestly say I was happy. I struggle a lot with depression and anxiety, but being with you was, up until that point, the only time in my life I have ever really felt comfortable with who I am and where I come from. So would I ever go back to you? The jury's still out on that... Caveat emptor.
A Review of Matt Taylor By His Ex-Girlfriend
You will always be one of my favorite humans. I always had fun with you and felt like we understood each other on a level that most people never reach. I think that's why we can still be friends. But being your companion isn't for the weak-willed: You were consumed by your work, so much so that I still worry about you taking care of yourself at times.
You're very outgoing and social, two things I never have been, am or will be. It was great at first because you forced me out of my shell, but after a while it became tedious for both of us. You're extroverted, I'm introverted, and I doubt we could have completed a neural handshake to 'drift' control a Jaeger from Pacific Rim.
That's basically it. I always felt like we had a strong connection despite that one fundamental difference, but that's the thing about fundamentals: they're significant.
You're stupidly smart, and I feel like you made me smarter by association. You're driven and passionate and you're one of the most genuinely loving people I've ever been around. I feel very lucky to know you and to have been part of your life.
We could always have a good laugh, when I wasn't "in a mood." I was in a mood a lot; it really wasn't your fault. But the laughing, that was always my favorite part about being around you. I feel like knowing you extended my life.
A Review of Benjamin Shapiro By His Ex-Girlfriend
At this point we've been friends for way longer than we ever dated, so writing this feels a little weird? For the most part you were a great boyfriend. You're smart and funny, we were never at a loss for things to talk about, and up until the end, I never doubted how you felt about me. You care deeply about your friends, and can be very sweet, both in small things and grand gestures.
You are very intense. The first time we hung out one-on-one, you stopped halfway through dinner, asked if I wanted to know what you were going to do later that night, and then said you were going to go break up with your girlfriend. I really didn't know what to make of that. Then, even though you slept over the night before our first official date, and we spent every night after that together, you wouldn't have sex with me for the first month that we dated. The fact that girls could be actively interested in sex seemed to be new information to you.
Sometimes I felt like you wanted someone to support you or take care of you more than you wanted a partner. Although you're very liberal in some ways, I think that you also had a deep-seated 1950s view of what a relationship should be. When we dated, you worked part-time at a movie theater and I worked 60 hours a week. You made me feel like shit on a pretty regular basis for making more money than you did and for being invested in my job. This was aided by your almost psychic ability to pick the most cutting thing you could possibly say during a fight.
We failed pretty spectacularly at dating in the end, but having you as a friend means the world to me.
A Review of Allie Conti By Her Ex-Girlfriend
When we first met, I thought you were offbeat and highly intelligent—which proved to be the case throughout the time we dated—but because both of those factors were so intriguing to me, I think I let you get away with a lot of behavior I would never have put up with otherwise. Even though we were able to engage well on an intellectual level, emotionally our relationship was a hot garbage mess. You had a really difficult time getting out of your own head and listening to me when I expressed my concerns or feelings; on top of that, your opinions about feelings themselves seemed like they were supposed to be either dismissed as stupid or considered something to be embarrassed or ashamed about. Maybe it was because you just never listened to me, or maybe it was due to some kind of denial. I'm still not entirely sure. And when you fucked up with something, you'd either lie by omission until I figured out what was really going on, or use the phrase "I'm sorry" as a band-aid to get out of the situation. In the end, you were never actually sorry.
You either oscillated between a sense of heightened bravado or intense self-doubt, and it could change at the drop of a hat. I think it gave you blinders when you were faced with other people's wants and needs (like the time I needed a zip file for work I accidentally left at your place; instead of sending it to me like you promised, you went out with friends and subsequently almost cost me a job). I don't think I'm high maintenance, but being in a relationship with you made me feel that way, which made me anxious. And when I would ask for simple things like a very chill date on Valentine's Day, you'd ask me what a date was. (You know what a date is. I've described it to you. Twelve times.)
I've let you know about a lot of this stuff already. Obviously, you and I are still friends—maybe even good friends?—and there are a lot of things I still think are amazing about you. You have a big heart (even though you're reluctant to admit it), have an impressive amount of ambition, are good in bed, and you know exactly how to make me laugh. To be fair, we probably also just weren't romantically well-suited for one another, especially due to my own propensity towards anxiety and my well-documented sensitivity. In the end, I'm really happy that we've continued a platonic relationship, but I don't think I'd ever want to be involved romantically with you again.