Skateboarder Ryan Sheckler Says He Stopped Dating for Years After Being 'Traumatized' by MTV Show
The pro skateboarder and former reality star, 31, shot to stardom as a prodigy in the sport after becoming the youngest gold medalist in the history of the X Games at age 13 in 2003. An eponymous MTV show followed, airing for three seasons.
Opening up in a new episode of In Depth with Graham Bensinger, Sheckler said that alleged cruel treatment from producers left him "borderline traumatized" about pursuing romantic relationships for about five years after the show ended.
In the conversation with the sports host, the seven-time X Games medalist said that he was done with reality TV after allegedly being instructed to break up with some of the women he dated as cameras rolled.
"That was definitely the last straw for me, cause that's already a very intimate piece of your life that you don't want people to know about, or see," Sheckler told Bensinger. "So we break up once and then cameras are on, we break up again, cut. Now, the mood's really awkward. And then, you know, they come over to me and they're like, 'Hey, that wasn't enough. We need to do it again.' "
"And so that's where the show became acting and it became like this thing where it was like, 'This is not what we signed up for and this is not what it started out as,' " Sheckler said. "It broke my heart and it like ... borderline traumatized me. I didn't get in a relationship after the show until I was 25 years old."
Questioned why he shied away from looking for love for so long, Sheckler said he didn't want to have to weather another breakup.
"To blatantly have to hurt people's feelings over and over again for the sake of television — for ratings literally — that rocked me," the skateboarder said.
According to the athlete, his nickname on the set even became "cryin' Ryan" which was funny — until it wasn't.
"They were making fun of me for crying about hearing that my parents were going to get divorced, and I heard about it on camera," he alleged, referencing the production team. "That was the first time I heard about it."
Looking back, Sheckler said he's glad Life of Ryan ended when it did. At the peak of its popularity, the star walked away from the show to focus on skateboarding.
"It served its purpose. I learned the lessons I was supposed to learn from doing it, but I wouldn't take it back either. Bro, I was 17 years old. I was a kid!" he said. "I was a kid that got an incredible opportunity, was in a very interesting part of my career where it just seemed to be going up and up and up, and I figured this was the next best step."
MTV did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment on Sheckler's claims.
Sheckler talks about sobriety, his decision to abstain from sex with his girlfriend, and more in the latest episode of In Depth with Graham Bensinger, which hits NBC, FOX, CBS and ABC stations this weekend.