Celebrity couples come and go more frequently than they do in pleb society. Just another reason shit is hard for the beautiful people. We really shouldn’t be invested in these breakups. Or, at the very least, we should be used to them by now. Yet, like most things celebrity, we ravenously consume news of famous failures in love. Except for those who are above it. Good for you! Your life is richer than most.
This summer appears to have been an especially rocky one. Some breakups were celebrated by lookie loos. Some were inconsequential because I’m old and don’t know who people are anymore. Some were the first sign that the couple existed. Some rocked the world for ‘90s girls. Some I thought had happened years ago. Some were boring. Some were absurd. And the most recent one made us scream “Nooooo! Love is dead!” Though, I seem to be the only one to have that reaction about John Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt. Everyone else seems to be celebrating it as an opportunity to slice off Hamm’s bacon (so sorry).
(Bonus sad news I had somehow missed and now am completely brokenhearted about: Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton split almost a year ago. Tragic.)
These breakups have absolutely no bearing over our lives. We don’t have to pick sides. They aren’t going to make social gatherings more awkward for us. We don’t have to help anyone move or let them crash on our couch while they sort out the transition. And, yet, we find ourselves experiencing sympathy pains reaching for the ice cream and cry-trigger movies.
Psychologist, Alicia H. Clark’s explanation makes sense. We expect perfection in every aspect of a celebrity. Perfect clothes. Perfect bodies. Perfect homes. Perfect versions of what we are. So when that perfection cracks it becomes a reflection on what we can expect in our own lives. Hence the “If they can’t make it no one can!” reactions. But the reality is probably closer if they can make it, anyone can.
The pressures of being pulled away from your spouse for weeks or months at a time paired with temptations/jealousies that present themselves to rich, famous, attractive and internationally beloved individuals would unquestionably strain the healthiest of unions. So, while there is little reason to fight about finances, and subsequently, who has to pick Timmy up from soccer practice (thank God for the six nannies), there’s plenty of other, arguably more difficult bumps to navigate.
And, the thing is, deep down we know this. It’s why the relationships that make it past the first few years carry more weight. Because they beat the odds. But heaven only knows what those odds really are. We don’t see inside those relationships, we have no idea if the arrangements they’ve worked out to stay together are something we’d ever want or even tolerate.
The strange thing for me is, the summer dissolution that hit me the hardest fell somewhere between celebrity and one I was actually connected to. It was a couple I used to know. I attended their wedding years ago as a hopeless single yearning for what they had. They seemed so connected. It was clear they not only loved and adored each other, but they really enjoyed each other. It was the picture of what I wanted for my future.
Time passed and I lost touch with both of them. There were a few failed attempts to meet up and a wedding invite. Social media suggested they were still going strong, but I really had no way of knowing what was going on inside their relationship. And whatever it was couldn’t be further from my business even if they had been untouchable celebrities.
The only reason I knew they were divorced is because my Facebook newsfeed told me he was in a new relationship with someone who was not his wife. I immediately blamed him for breaking what they had because he had clearly moved on to some hoochie who couldn’t hold a candle to his ex wife. Though I’m sure that’s entirely unfair. After I got done being offended for her, I did what peoplethings do best. I made it about me.
How could they end it? Didn’t they know how happy I was that they were so happy. Didn’t they know how much stock I had put in the success of their relationship? How dare they give up so easily. They could have made it until the end if they hadn’t let go at the slightest sign of trouble. Obviously, that’s probably not what happend. And obviously they owe me no more explanation than Jen and Ben do.
I simply have to take it for what is. An example of the complexities of human nature and relationships. And evidence that I need to stop putting people on pedestals. No one can or should weigh their odds of success in relationships or any other facet of life based on the inner workings of another person’s situation.