Why Publicly Reviewing Our Exes Is A Bad Idea—Sincerely, A Bad Ex

Let’s face it: complaining about terrible exes is one of the few remaining joys in our lives. It’s an indulgence we’re all guilty of having taken part in (don’t even try to deny it, we see you).

And if we had to guess, you’d probably crave the idea of a platform that allows you to publicly name and shame said ex in question, right?

Enter: The Ex-Boyfriend List. It’s a website that allows women to vent about their supposedly villainous ex-boyfriends by posting stories and reviews, as well as their names and locations, so they can be searched by others.

There’s something pretty genius about this idea. I mean, who among us hasn’t wanted to write a scathing review about an ex (gotta help the next person out, ya know?). Certainly not me, nope.

Sure, in theory, this sounds like a fantastic idea. Getting to air out your grievances with the ex who wronged you, ensuring that their reputation will be so tarnished no one will ever date them again? Sign me up.

But here’s the thing: this opens up dangerous territory, and pretty quickly. I mean, how much can we really trust these anonymous reviews? And how much are they really intended for the purpose of safety versus just… catharsis after a bad breakup.

Sure, you could make the argument that “people are just having their fun,” and yeah, I have no doubt that many exes out there aren’t actually dangerous, but just shitty people—you know the type. But it’s easy to have an agenda against the platform that slams bad exes when—newsflash, sweetie—you yourself would probably be considered to be a bad ex.

Yeah, I said it. And I don’t take it back.

In fact, “bad ex” might even be sugarcoating it a bit. I’ll use myself as an example, and if I’m being brutally honest here, I was a needy, overly sensitive mess in my last relationship. Even I wouldn’t have wanted to date me back then.

But I can’t take all the blame, because it certainly takes two to tango. At the end of the day, I’m not a needy and sensitive person. Like some comic-book villain, I was made that way; the relationship and the boy in question (and yes, I mean boy, because “man” is too generous of a term) molded me into someone that I never was and would never be again.

We brought out the worst in each other. And god forbid this little “Ex-Boyfriend List” was making the rounds back then, because I can see the headlines now, and lemme tell ya—they’re not pretty.

His angle probably would have called out how I was a clingy and insecure wreck, and mine would call him out for being a manipulative and narcissistic bore. Hey, you win some you lose some, right?

The thing is: These reviews are snapshots of times in our lives where we were at our most unhinged and even vulnerable, and not indicative of who we are as people—and who we’ve become since.

And, honestly? If I had access to such a list at the time of our relationship’s abysmal end, then I might have even been humiliated and angry enough to write a review for him. A fun activity probably (most definitely), but not right.

The Ex-Boyfriend list hangs on the cynical idea that people cannot change. It also creates the illusion that we can skip out on negative experiences and craft the perfect dating pool for ourselves by weeding out the ones who are slightly too This, or a little too That. Newsflash: this is an impossible feat.

Yes, in an ideal world, this list would serve as a benchmark tool for women to protect other women by sharing their stories and exposing abusive ex-partners. But this was never going to work (sorry!) because it’s always going to be difficult to trust unfiltered words of revenge. 

Everyone wants to be able to hit the dating nail on the head quickly and painlessly. But dating and relationships aren’t just a nail. They’re a disorganized toolbox with loose screws and parts for things that you have no idea what they match to. A nightmare. In fact, you know what? Just put the toolbox down for now and leave that thing hanging slightly loose on the wall. 

Because anything that seems like it might help us filter out the difficult parts is considered a blessing. But when the blessing is inherently negative and blinding us with a confusing mixture of terrifying accounts and dramatic rants (and no accountability on either side), guess what? It might actually just be a curse in disguise. 

Featured image courtesy of Uriel Mont/Pexels.

Jessica Cullen
Jessica Cullen
Jessica is a culture and entertainment writer from London, who loves to dissect the weird and wonderful. A self-certified 'Grumpy Girl', she firmly believes in the 3 'F's: Fleetwood Mac, Flea markets, and Frozen Margaritas.