By Marc Snetiker
March 24, 2014 at 05:59 PM EDT
Richard Cartwright/Invision/MTV
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Hindsight is 20/20, especially when said hindsight involves a million dollars.

The saying is especially true for Are You the One? contestants Chris and Shanley, who have a few things to say about their time on MTV’s unnervingly addictive reality series about twenty twenty-somethings who have the opportunity to share a $1,000,000 prize if they can pair off into ten perfectly-matched couples.

Chris and Shanley emerged early on as a favorite couple for viewers, but after the show’s fact-checking truth booth told them they weren’t a match, they continued to flirt and fawn despite jeopardizing the house’s chances at winning the grand prize. Fed up, the other housemates found Chris’s perfect match and sent him off the premises, leading to a huge meltdown for Shanley and heartbreak for the show’s most popular couple.

With Are You the One?’s first season finale on March 25 (on MTV at 11 p.m. ET), EW spoke to Chris and Shanley about life behind the scenes and where things stand for the two of them now — and whether they would have done the same thing their housemates did. Here’s what we learned:

1. They forgive their housemates for separating them.

On the show, Chris and Shanley both felt betrayed when the house separated them by voting Chris into the truth booth with Paige. Looking back, they both understand “hands down”—and likely would have done the same thing if the roles were reversed. “When you see two people that are just so quickly head over heels for each other and they’re doing things together all the time and talking about each other every day, I would for sure put them in the truth booth first, because you want to know, should we let this ride out or not?” says Chris. “It ended up being a great thing in hindsight, but not in the moment.”

2. Chris kept away from any funny business with Paige in the honeymoon suite.

After matching up with Paige in the truth booth and being sent to live together away from the rest of the house, Chris assured us there was nothing but respect between the two. “I made sure that Paige knew where I stood, and so space was respected and we’d spent a lot of time outdoors with Dylan and Coleysia. It was never really that awkward.” That aside, Chris was still able to understand why he and Paige were perfect matches. “There was a lot of stuff on paper that made perfect sense,” he says, “and it led to good conversations, but it didn’t feel right for me.”

3. Shanley and Simone eventually made up again…kind of.

Their big blow-out was a season highlight (for viewers, at least), but Shanley and the hotheaded housemate who called her out both did their best to patch up their friendship. “There’s an extended scene where Simone and I have a little heart to heart,” Shanley recalls. “We kind of did hash things out. We weren’t the best of friends again, but we weren’t going to be walking into a room glaring at each other.”

4. Reliving the moment on TV was not fun for Shanley.

Did you expect it to be? “I definitely cried watching it again, reliving how I felt in that moment,” says Shanley, and the world can sympathize. Meanwhile, the “older ladies” who work with Chris’s mom all e-mailed to express their condolences after Shanley’s breakdown. “I cried with her because that’s the first time I think I’ve ever seen somebody really love somebody on TV,” says Chris.

5. Nobody wrote anything down, like, ever.

Viewers at home might wonder whether there was an intricate system or chart for keeping track of which contestants might be potential matches, but alas, the roommates went paper-less. “You really remember things,” says Chris. “Every person threw some kind of cognitive idea together.” Shanley remembers Ryan “tried to step up and be the mastermind,” but ultimately, the house went with their mental tabulations instead of any type of formal log.

6. The biggest thing we didn’t get to see? A party.

The night the housemates first met wasn’t even one that voyeuristic viewers got to fully enjoy. “You guys didn’t get to see our first real party in the house when they allowed us to listen to music,” says Shanley. “Obviously they can’t put that on TV because of copyrights, but they let us listen to music, we got absolutely hammered, and everybody was getting along.”

7. The biggest source of drama wasn’t one person—it was the game.

It might not be much of a surprise, but the largest cause of drama in the house was the money at stake, and arguments were common once the game was brought up. “It’s the whole point of the game, but everybody, when the money was brought up, feelings got involved,” says Shanley.

8. The casting interview was super revealing.

Another non-shocker: the casting process involved quite a few questions about the contestants’ personal lives. “MTV knows more about me than even myself,” laughs Shanley. Chris echoes: “I’ve never had to ask myself how many times I masturbate in a day.”

9. They play drinking games while they watch.

Shanley watches the live episodes with friends but always with some liquefied courage, “so that I don’t have to see what I look like on TV.” Chris, on the other hand, has an Are You the One? drinking tradition. “My friends will come over and we’ll make a drinking game out of it—every time Chris says ‘Shanley,’ take a shot,” he laughs. “The way the show is, we get drunk every time.”

10. As for their relationship, they’re still together but far apart.

Long distance has kept Chris and Shanley from being in a regular relationship, but they’re at least on the same page. “Geography is huge for us right now,” muses Chris. “If our careers take us to the same place, and there are talks that they might, then we’ll try where we left off.” If that’s not direct enough, Shanley can clarify: “I don’t see myself with anybody else but Chris right now.”

The season finale of Are You the One? airs March 25 at 11 p.m. ET on MTV; the reunion special airs April 1.

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