I started out with Suse 6.1 and after that tried all kinds of other distros until I stuck with ubuntu as it was surprisingly accessible back then. When they switched to unity and gnome 3 became what it became, I was so appalled that I wanted to find something else, rather than just switching DEs. I ran debian for a while and discovered linux mint after a few years, which is now my main distro.
I congratulate them on dropping Unity as their default, but won't come back any time soon. Mint is the perfect overlay for all my needs.
Actually my fiancee just discovered krita as an alternative to photoshop and wanted to have a linux distro to run it more stable (krita for win7 is pretty buggy/laggy), and I just finished installing mint 18.1 MATE as a dual boot option.
Now when I imagine she would have to use unity, I think she would not like the experience. With MATE she will have a fast, intuitive DE and all the perks that come with the ubuntu repos but without the crap. I am excited to hear what she has to say after using it for a while.