Celebrity Breakups Break My Heart, Whether or Not I'm in a Relationship

I always get a lump in my throat when I hear anyone is splitting, whether they're family, friends, or celebrities I've never met.
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Claire Lower
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I always get a lump in my throat when I hear anyone is splitting, whether they're family, friends, or celebrities I've never met.

I hate divorce. I don't think anybody likes divorce, but I have a visceral aversion to it. I vividly remember my mom explaining the concept to me. She was picking me up from a friend's house, and I had noticed that my friend's father hadn't been home the whole time I was visiting, which I found odd. "Her parents are getting divorced, sweetie," my mom said. "What does that mean?" I asked. "It means that they're not married anymore."

This dog marriage lasted longer than mine.

This dog marriage lasted longer than mine.

The fact that this was even an option freaked me out in a very serious way. "You and Daddy aren't going to do that, though?"

"No. We aren't going to do that."

"You promise?"

Less than a year later, my dad moved out to a little one-bedroom apartment in a neighboring town, and my sisters and I started spending every other weekend with him. 

Honestly, my parents' divorce was probably a good thing. I don't think they were well matched in the lifelong partner department, but I was still heartbroken. I always get a lump in my throat when I hear anyone is splitting, whether they're family, friends, or celebrities I've never met. When my mother left her second husband, I bawled for hours, even though my stepdad was an emotionally abusive, pretty terrible human being.

I really have no reason to be emotionally affected because Joshua Jackson and Diane Kruger are calling it quits. Besides watching Dawson's Creek as a hormonal preteen, I don't have any deep attachment to either of their work. I really like Lady Gaga, but the fact that she and her fiancé are "taking a break" shouldn't affect my day-to-day existence, and yet reading both of these news stories made my heart ache.

As someone going through a divorce, I feel particularly sensitive to failed relationships. They make me feel sad, cynical, and wistful all at once. Oddly, reading about celebrity splits doesn't make me as anxious as it did when I was in a relationship. When I was married, each celebrity divorce I would read about seemed to threaten my marriage. This is obviously an insane way to think, but Wayne Coyne leaving Michelle Martin made me terrified that my husband was going to leave me. If they couldn't work it out, what chance did my relationship have? If Amy Poehler and Will Arnett couldn't make it work, how the fuck was I supposed to swing this long-term monogamy thing? (Thank god Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman got back together. That was a real "love is dead" moment for a bit.)

I have always said I would only get married once. "There is no reason for this not to work," I would tell my husband, my family, my friends, everyone. "If this — heaven forbid — doesn't work out for some reason, I'm not doing it again, because that means marriage just doesn't work for me. Because there is no reason for this to not work." 

Don't worry, that's not my license plate anymore.

Don't worry, that's not my license plate anymore.

I was recently seeing a man who had been married twice, eight years each time. "I just feel like it's so defeatist to not even make five years," I told him one afternoon, when we were day drunk, wandering around Portland. "It's like a starter marriage or something."

"Yeah, dude," he said, in a not very comforting manner, "that's pretty fucking dumb."

Really, I think it's just overwhelmingly sad when people decide their relationship is no longer worth the effort required. Weirdly, it's the amicable divorces that get me more than the nasty ones. People should have intense, upsetting reactions to being left or leaving the person they promised to love forever. 

I was in a yoga class when I realized that my marriage was over. I spent over a third of the class in child's pose, hiding my face so the teacher wouldn't see me crying. Next to me, my husband flowed through his vinyasa. Walking home after class, I broke down.

"You're not going to fight for me," I kept saying.

Relationships are hard. Marriage is very hard. But I feel like you know that going in. Maybe long-term monogamy isn't realistic anymore, but I guess I always expect more effort, more fighting to work it out, more something. To be fair, we have no way of knowing why celeb marriages dissolve, or what those couples did to try and keep theirs together. Frankly, it's none of our business. But, as insane as it is, each divorce I read or hear about (celeb or otherwise) feels like a tiny reminder of my own failure. 

"There is no reason for this not to work," I would say, almost like a mantra, believing it fully, but I'm sure everyone feels like that when they get married, whether they're famous or not.