Vanderpump Rules' Kristen Doute Reclaims Being 'Crazy' in Dating Book: 'Every Woman Can Relate'
In He's Making You Crazy: How to Get the Guy, Get Even and Get Over It, Kristen Doute reexamines all of her past relationships with a wittier, wiser eye
For eight years of Vanderpump Rules, Kristen Doute has been branded "crazy" for her turbulent romances, expert ex-stalking skills and admitted penchant for messy drama.
But the Doute of earlier seasons — chain-smoking in the iconic SUR alleyway, spreading gossip between waitress shifts, fighting with her boyfriend at work — is long gone. Now 37, Doute was one of the first VPR stars to hang up her slinky SUR dress. Today, she's a businesswoman (James Mae t-shirts, Witches of Weho wine) in a happy, new relationship. And she's officially an author thanks to He's Making You Crazy: How to Get the Guy, Get Even and Get Over It, co-written with friend and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days scribe Michele Alexander.
"It was hands down the most rewarding and therapeutic thing I've ever done, most vulnerable, including being on Vanderpump Rules," Doute tells PEOPLE of writing the book, on shelves now. "Because I was really forced to sit down and dissect all of these relationships and kind of figure out 'what did I get out of each thing' as we went along with these stories. What did I gain positively and sort of bring on negatively into my life that I brought into the next relationship?"
In He's Making You Crazy, Doute recounts every romantic encounter she's experienced, starting from her first kiss at 13. Reading the wry summation of her formative relationships, it's easy to see why she developed the trust issues that played out on TV. As a freshman in high school, she nursed a crush on a senior (her "cousin's best friend's sister's neighbor"), who insisted they keep their dalliance a secret. Her first real boyfriend, also older, shocked her when he came home on a break for college with his new girlfriend — he'd never even dumped Doute to her face. The next guy ghosted her at her father's wedding, and more than one boy cheated on her in increasingly cruel fashions. So by the time Bravo viewers met Doute during her relationship with costar Tom Sandoval, she wasn't in the best place.
"I think every woman can really relate to this," she tells PEOPLE of He's Making You Crazy. "We've always had that one guy or multiple guys who have said we're crazy, or our ex-boyfriends telling his new girlfriend that his ex-girlfriend was crazy. But why were we crazy? Because we were emotional, because we loved too hard, we loved too quickly, we were just feeling our feelings and speaking our mind, and then that made us crazy. So rather than continuing this pedestal sort of 'crazy Kristen' that was put on per Vanderpump Rules, and rather than that having a negative connotation, Michelle and I were like, well, wait a minute. If all women are crazy, this can't be a bad thing. So let's take this word back and sort of explain — of course, facetiously, we are very self-deprecating in the book — about the kinds of the mistakes that I made, but also what part did he have in it? Rather than the woman, it just being all of her fault all the time."
Doute credits therapy and self-care (she sees an energy healer, tries to limit social media and, yes, dabbles in witchcraft) with helping ground her — and learning to love herself.
"There's going to be someone out there that is going to treat you the way that you deserve to be treated," she says. "You just have to love yourself first."
Below, see the highlights of He's Making You Crazy and PEOPLE's chat with Doute.
She's past all the Sandoval drama.
Doute dedicates a few chapters to her long relationship with "the Mactor" (model/actor), from feeling like "glorified roommates" to catching him cheating on her during a boys' trip to Las Vegas. "In hindsight, the relationship was already over. I knew it, he knew it, everyone knew it," she writes. "But we stayed together because it was easier — and because I didn't want to give up." Based on her description of him "infamously" shaving his forehead, it's clear the Mactor is Sandoval. She discusses their breakup after she cheated with Jax Taylor twice (more on that later) and her resentment after he immediately began dating Ariana Madix. In a chapter titled, "The Hail Mary," she discusses her "last-ditch effort" to break up Sandoval and Madix by encouraging "Miami Girl," a woman who claimed she'd slept with Sandoval during another boys' trip, to confront him at SUR. VPR fans know how that went. (Sandoval has denied sleeping with Miami Girl and said that while he once kissed Madix during his relationship with Doute, they never had sex.)
Now, they're all friends again, and Doute says she gave Madix a heads up about her book. But does Doute still believe that Sandoval was unfaithful to Madix with Miami Girl?
"I don't know," she tells PEOPLE "And I don't know if it even matters anymore. But at that moment, there was no way that I could see any other way because of what he and I had gone through. That was my opinion at the time. It was like, if he cheated on me with Ariana and cheated on me with other girls, of course he's going to cheat on his next girlfriend. Once a cheater, always a cheater. That was my mentality during that time. So yeah, I don't know if it is true or not, but I'm glad that it doesn't matter anymore."
Sleeping with Jax Taylor was her 'ultimate self-sabotage.'
In her book, Doute recalls feeling "secretly depressed" and "constantly engaging in toxic fights" with Sandoval, but being "terrified that if we broke up, no one would ever love me again." After a night of drinking Four Lokos, she writes, "I slept with my boyfriend's best friend, who, not too long before this, used to date my former best friend," Stassi Schroeder. They never discussed the hookup and kept things platonic until, after another "knock-down, drag-out argument," they cheated again. Feeling ashamed, she "lied and lied until I physically couldn't hear it anymore."
Looking back, Doute says she "repressed" her emotions and avoided discussing the transgressions after apologizing. But she's frustrated that Taylor was forgiven more easily by their inner circle and the public, pointing out the "double standard."
"For the most part, we tend to give, as a society, men the okay to just be that way," she tells PEOPLE. "'It's just Jax. Oh, he's just the way he is. We can't expect too much from him.' We expect more from women. And I just think we should be expecting more from everyone, and taking fault for what you do and the choices that you make. But unfortunately, it sort of is the way it is. And that was one of the big reasons that we wrote the book."
She was raped by an acquaintance.
Although she strikes an irreverent tone throughout most of her book, Doute does touch on some darker topics, including the fact that she was raped by someone she knew years before Vanderpump Rules.
"It made me not feel as trusting," she tells PEOPLE of the assault's effect on her other relationships. "It made me nervous a lot, just thinking that if this one man was capable of that, then other men could be capable of that as well. And so that was something really difficult to work through between the sexual assault and also the abuse, and sort of teaching yourself just to be cautious, to look for the time to speak up about it. And also, I didn't want to bring that into current relationships."
She says she was in an abusive relationship.
In a chapter called "My Darkest Hour," Doute opens up about what she describes as verbal and physical abuse from someone who began as her "fun rebound fling" after her split from Sandoval. "He was jealous and possessive. He put me down in public and blamed me for all his problems," she writes of the boyfriend. "And then it escalated. Broken furniture, shattered picture frames and mirrors, doors slamming, and holes punched in my walls. Once that line was crossed, it was only a matter of time before he put his hands on me: shoving, pushing, and physical restraint." After breaking up and making up many times, she "finally hit that breaking point" and ended things for good.
She has not identified who this boyfriend was and never brought any formal charges against him.
'Nothing has changed' with Stassi Schroeder and Katie Maloney-Schwartz.
Doute writes about her latest breakup — from Brian Carter — causing friction with her friends. Her issues with former BFFs Schroeder and Maloney-Schwartz were well-documented on this season of VPR; they felt exhausted by her on-off relationship with Carter and accused her of not being honest about where the couple stood.
"For Carter and I, there was nothing I could pinpoint. He didn't hit me or he didn't abuse me. He didn't cheat on me," she tells PEOPLE. "So for me, it was really like, I love this man. I'm very in love with him. But for whatever reason, we just can't make it work. And it made it so much harder for me to end the relationship. And that's why we did such a back and forth for so many months. But every time I said, no, we're really done, I really felt convicted in that. And then when we wanted to try again, I felt convicted in that feeling as well. I completely understand to Katie and Stassi, that was probably frustrating for them. But like I say in the book, we all do it. ... But I feel like if anyone could really understand the messiness of that, it would be my best friends that are on the show."
While she can't spoil Tuesday night's reunion episode, she says the women's issues remain unresolved.
"I don't know now what the chances are that we can redevelop a new sort of friendship or get back in good graces with each other. I've always been open to that," she says. "I am absolutely open to a transparent conversation with both of them where we sit, talk and listen to each other and see if we can get somewhere better, but that hasn't happened."
She isn't buying James Kennedy's redemption arc.
Cameras also captured Doute's tumultuous relationship with the DJ, and this season on VPR, his current girlfriend Raquel Leviss confronted him about his drunken rage texts, prompting him to get sober. He's made amends with many castmates, including Maloney-Schwartz. Doute tells PEOPLE that she felt "full-on PTSD" watching the episodes when Kennedy was drinking.
"It broke my heart," she says. "No woman deserves to be spoken to that way or treated that way, especially someone as sweet as Raquel."
She calls watching Maloney-Schwartz forgive Kennedy (while needing a break from her friendship) "frustrating."
"I don't think James has changed," she explains. "I don't know what it's going to take for me ever to feel differently about that. I'm not sure. So I just try to keep my distance, because it's the healthiest thing that I can do for me. I can't force him to come out and apologize or to change his ways. And it would take a lot more than a simple apology for me to change my mind. It would take actual growth. And we've never seen that in the four, five years James has been on the show."
She supports #JusticeforScheana.
Her thoughts on the VPR editor who claimed she was fired after going on a podcast and admitting to giving Scheana Shay a cringe-worthy edit?
"I've always been [a supporter of] hashtag justice for Scheana," Doute says with a laugh. "I'm just like, let Scheana live. I just think that people are so hard on her because of the way she dresses or because we all wanted her to be single for real. But then when she is single, everyone's giving her a hard time for being single. And I just feel like everyone always has an issue with Scheana, where if you just let Scheana live and love Scheana for who Scheana is, she's a fantastic friend. She's just there for everyone unapologetically, sometimes not even there for herself in the same way she's there for everyone else."
Still, she is thankful for the people behind the camera, too.
"We have a million cast members. It can be very difficult, I can imagine, for the producers and editors to be piecing together these stories and giving us all what we want," she explains. "We all want our endeavors to be shown, but with that many people, it's difficult. However, I do think Scheana kind of does get a s—edit, and I don't personally know that editor ... and I was pretty shocked by it. And I think it was pretty unprofessional, and I'm glad that Scheana was able to speak out about that. She's just awesome. And I loved it. I think that she's finally coming into her own and just living her best life now."
Her new man is in the book "a few times."
Doute is now dating Alex Menache, whom she thanks in the acknowledgments of He's Making You Crazy. She confesses that he's described, but not named, in the book as a friend with benefits.
"That was closer to the end of the writing process when he and I first started hanging out, when I was single and I was trying to date casually, and he was extremely persistent. And ladies, persistence pays off I guess," she tells PEOPLE, laughing. "What I really appreciate is he let me take my time with everything. With Alex, it just kind of came to a point where he just wanted more and he knew what he wanted out of a relationship and how much he cared about me. And he was pretty patient. But at the end of the day, it kind of came down to if I wasn't going to give him a chance for an actual relationship rather than friends with benefits or a fun casual dating fling, then he was just communicative that that's not where he was at in life. And if I didn't want to give it a shot, then we would have to go back to being friends. But fortunately, it all worked out."
He's Making You Crazy is out now.