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Compared with some past years, 2018 wasn’t too much of a disaster for celebrity couples.
Not too many spouses of over a decade divorced, and there weren’t copious amounts of custody battles or mudslinging on social media.
To be sure, there were a lot of breakups, as there always are when you take a representational sample of beautiful and talented men and women, throw them into a fishbowl and let the relationship chips fall where they may. But not all splits are created equal (sorry, Lil Xan and Noah Cyrus) and only a select few land under the “omg, the sky is falling!” umbrella of shattered hopes.
Yet as Kristen Bellonce told us (from the sanctuary of her happily intact marriage), “I think there’s a little bit of lack of acknowledgment about really loving something that was. If there are two people that decide not to be together, it shouldn’t really be a heartbreak for everyone.”
Sigh, she was just trying to make us feel better about Chris Pratt and Anna Faris getting divorced last year.
At least those two seem to be getting along well and have moved on to other, hopefully fulfilling relationships.
Meanwhile, there are a lot of factors that go into making a breakup sad, aside from how long two people were together or how in love they looked on the red carpet. What comes next—i.e. Brad and Angelina as opposed to, say, Ben and Jen or Chris and Gwyneth—sometimes can’t help but shade what came before, or make us look at those partnerships and how they ended through a new lens. Also, when relationships ultimately crumble after a long struggle to save them, that often causes extra sighs—of emotion and, maybe, relief.
But always, to each their own journey.
So in the words of Kristen Bell, here are some of the ex-couples who decided this year not to be together anymore. And no matter how it ended, we appreciate them for what they were.
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Jennifer Aniston & Justin Theroux
They separated toward the end of 2017, but they spent New Year’s Eve together, so how were we to know?!
“We are two best friends who have decided to part ways as a couple, but look forward to continuing our cherished friendship,” the couple of almost seven years and husband and wife for 2 1/2 years said in February…Above all, we are determined to maintain the deep respect and love that we have for one another.”
What a disappointment, though. This was supposed to be it for Aniston, who had been through so much already.
“The good news is that was probably the most—I’m choosing my words really carefully—it was kind of the most gentle separation, in that there was no animosity,” Theroux assured us via the New York Times in September. He astutely pointed out, “Again, neither one of us is dead, neither one of us is looking to throw hatchets at each other. It’s more like, it’s amicable. It’s boring, but, you know, we respected each other enough that it was as painless as it could be.”
Aniston told InStyle that whichever versions of the narrative had her inevitably heartbroken, they were all wrong.
“For the most part I can sit back and laugh at the ridiculous headlines because they have gotten more and more absurd,” she said. “I guess they’re feeding into some sort of need the public has, but I focus on my work, my friends, my animals, and how we can make the world a better place. That other stuff is junk food that needs to go back in its drawer.”
Speaking of junk food, we could go for some chocolate right about now.
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Rebecca Gayheart & Eric Dane
Their faces were practically set in stone on Mt. Hollywoodmore (not a real thing), they were together so long. But alas, after 14 years of marriage, Gayheart filed for divorce in February. They have two daughters together.
“We will continue our friendship and work as a team to co-parent our two beautiful girls as they are the most important thing in the world to us,” they said. “We kindly ask that you respect our privacy during this time as we navigate the next phase of our lives.”
The exes were seen spending leisure time together as the year went by, but Gayheart admitted that the split hasn’t been easy.
“We’re doing our best,” she told Us Weekly in October. “But we are trying and we are committed.” As for co-parenting, “There are so many things” that are difficult about it.
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Kendra Wilkinson & Hank Baskett
Oh, how they tried.
The Girls Next Door star married the football player at the Playboy Mansion in 2009 and they embarked on a life together, first in Philadelphia and then Indianapolis—wherever Baskett’s career was taking them—and then eventually L.A. Son Hank IV was born in December 2009. They opened their lives up to reality-TV cameras for Kendra and then Kendra on Top, which aired for six seasons and ran through the alleged-cheating scandal that pretty much blew up their lives in 2013. The couple re-bonded over the birth of their daughter, Alijah, in 2014, but ultimately the past proved too heavy of a burden. Despite counseling and one reconciliation after another, Kendra filed for divorce in April.
And once she took that step, she wanted the whole thing to be over as quickly as possible.
In recent months, the joint custody that they both asked for seemed to be going well, with the exes’ Instagram accounts boasting photos of them (individually) with the kids. As the year wound down, Hank took his son to TwitchCon in October, and in December little Hank and Alijah acquired a Christmas tree and went to visit Santa with mom.
“Been dating myself lately,” Kendra captioned a selfie at the end of November. “Getting to know myself and even falling in love. Love and happiness is real without waiting on someone or something to do it for you. Been taking a lot of patience, empathy, and discipline…. well, except with the dick head I flipped off on the road the other day…”
At least when you’re dating yourself, you don’t have to drive anywhere.
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Brooke Burke & David Charvet
The parents of two (plus two daughters from Burke’s first marriage) were together for 12 years and married for seven. Calling it an amicable split, the pair quietly started divorce proceedings in April.
“Although I believe this is a positive change, I am deeply saddened because I loved being married,” Burke wrote on Modern Mom. “It took me a long time to differentiate between giving up and letting go, and even longer to recognize when it was time to do so. We are still a family full of love, simply redefining our dynamics. I believe this is a necessary decision for my entire family unit.”
On Steve a couple weeks later, the topic of the day being divorce, she told host Steve Harvey, “I mean, you know I just recently filed for divorce so this is all very fresh and vulnerable for me. But my goal and my prayer is to move forward with an open heart and to take the beautiful memories and to learn from the challenges that I faced and not to bring all the baggage, which is mine, and pass it on to someone else whenever that day comes.
“It’s easier said than done, ask me in six months…” (Five months later, she was kissing a male friend in Malibu after a motorcycle ride.)
Talking to Us Weekly at an event in August, Charvet said, “The kids are doing good. It’s been an interesting year, but a good one.” As for his newfound romantic availability: “I’m not focused on dating,” the singer, actor and Jones Builders Group co-founder said. “I’m kind of focusing a lot on work and my children and making sure that everybody’s good. School’s starting next week, so we’re getting ready for that. I’m not as great with homework, but I’m really good with taking them to school and being there for them.”
Burke said as much in May, calling him an “amazing dad.” She told Us, “He’s awesome, so no issues there. We take the high road for our kids…I think that’s what a responsible parent does at the end of the day. It’s a little bit about me and a little bit about him and a whole lot about the kids, so we share that common belief.”
Jenna Dewan & Channing Tatum
It’s impossible not to still get a little verklempt thinking about these two, what with their meet-cute, and their dance routines, their daughter Everly…
“We fell deeply in love so many years ago and have had a magical journey together,” they shared jointly on social media in April. “Absolutely nothing has changed about how much we love one another, but love is a beautiful adventure that is taking us on different paths for now. There are no secrets nor salacious events at the root of our decision—just two best-friends realizing it’s time to take some space and help each other live the most joyous, fulfilled lives as possible.”
Tatum unwittingly summed up what we’re feeling now when he told Vanity Fair three years ago, referring to the odd experience of seeing Step Up—the movie they met and fell in love on—10 years after making it: “It was hard because you’re like, ‘Wow, I remember it being so much better.’ Then other times you’re like, ‘I remember it being worse.’ Things happen that change your perspective.”
Nikki Bella & John Cena
Fans rooted for these two in and out of the ring for six years, but though they still have a lot of love for each other, they ultimately just didn’t want the same things.
The WWE stars kicked off 2018 with an engagement party despite ominous teasers for the third season of Total Bellas indicating that they weren’t on the same page as far as planning a future together. But since Cena, who was married once before, had stated his position on the subject in Rolling Stone in 2016—”I don’t want kids, I don’t want marriage”—it was sad but not horribly shocking that those issues are what ultimately proved the insurmountable sticking point.
“John never really wanted to get married in the first place, but one of the biggest points of contention or disagreements they had through their relationship was that Nikki wanted to have kids and start a family and John didn’t,” a source told E! News after the couple announced they had split up in April.
That wasn’t the last word on them, however. Two months later they took another stab at making it work, to see if getting married was, in fact, in their future. But by July, they knew it was time for each of them to move on.
“After much time and soul-searching alone and together, we have decided to officially part ways,” Nikki said in a statement to E! News. “I had a beautiful and loving 6-year relationship with a wonderful man. I have the utmost respect for John, but I know this is what’s best for me.”
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Ariana Grande & Mac Miller
The artists shared some heady highs and depressing lows over the course of their two-year relationship, from the joys of recording and performing together to the devastation that was the terrorist bombing at Grande’s Manchester concert in May 2017.
“We have loved and adored and respected each other since the beginning, since before we even met, just because we were fans of each other’s talent,” Grande explained to Cosmopolitan in the spring of 2017. “We weren’t ready at all, though, to be together. It’s just timing. We both needed to experience some things, but the love has been there the whole time.”
Love wasn’t enough to keep them together, though, and eventually the relationship proved too hard to sustain in light of Miller’s fragile hold on sobriety. His arrest following a DUI crash about a week after they broke up in May sent his defenders scurrying to social media to hate on Grande, who eventually was compelled to point out that being in a “toxic relationship” wasn’t exactly healthy for her, either, and she wasn’t required to stay in one to appease the crowd. At the same time, she called her love for him “unconditional” and stated that she’d always be there for him.
Over the summer, Grande started dating—and then quickly got engaged to—Pete Davidson, and Miller seemed to take it in stride. In August he released Swimming, his fifth studio album, to much acclaim and was looking forward to going on tour. But on Sept. 7, he was found dead in his L.A.-area home of what an autopsy later concluded was an accidental drug overdose—fentanyl, mixed with cocaine and alcohol.
“i really can’t wrap my head around it,” read some of what Grande posted on Instagram in response to the tragedy. “we talked about this. so many times. i’m so mad, i’m so sad i don’t know what to do. you were my dearest friend. for so long. above anything else. i’m so sorry i couldn’t fix or take your pain away. i really wanted to. the kindest, sweetest soul with demons he never deserved. i hope you’re okay now. rest.”
It soon became clear that it was not the right time for her to be planning to get married, so she broke it off with Davidson and ultimately memorialized her
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Jenni "JWoww" Farley & Roger Mathews
The Jersey Shore star and her husband had been together for eight years, married for three, and have two kids. They were a couple who made good after meeting in the most inauspicious of circumstances—smack in the middle of JWoww’s first season of her boozy MTV series, Seaside Heights not necessarily being the place for them to nurture a romance at that time. But Mathews proposed in 2012 after they were safely on the ground following a skydiving adventure, and they tied the knot in 2015.
What with all the excitement surrounding Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino‘s wedding and looming prison sentence, and all the drama between Ronnie Ortiz-Magro and his girlfriend Jen Harley, Farley filing for divorce in September seemed to come from out of nowhere.
“They have not gotten along for a while,” a source told E! News. “They argue a lot and Jenni was just tired of it.”
Mathews immediately vowed to win her back, but though they were still spending time together with the kids the prospect of a reconciliation looked increasingly unlikely once Farley secured a temporary restraining order against him in December. Mathews recorded video from the back of a patrol car, captioning the post, “Reality is stranger than fiction. You guys are about to learn the truth and I promise you. You aren’t ready. The truth is my greatest asset. There is no my truth, there is only THE truth.”
Farley’s rep said any legal action she took had to do with the welfare of their children and “any statements and social media posts depicting anything to the contrary are entirely false, misleading, and intentionally designed to cast Jenni in a negative light. She is proud to be a hard working parent who provides for her children.”
Kaitlyn Bristowe & Shawn Booth
With so many more Bachelor Nation heartaches than success stories crowding the airwaves, it looked as though these two were going to be among the select few who made it. Sadly, three years after Booth beat out perennial bridesmaid Nick Viall for Bristowe’s hand, they ended their engagement.
“It’s been a really hard few months now,” Bristowe said on her podcast, Off the Vine With Katilyn Bristowe, in November. “I really did think we’d get through it.”
She remained optimistic for as long as possible, hoping they could make it through what we were told were some “major issues” with their relationship.
“To be honest, I thought we would choose the road where we would end up together,” she said, her voice breaking. “I just never took our commitment, or being engaged, lightly at all. I had the mindset of doing whatever it took to make it work. And now realizing, maybe to a fault, with all the hard moments in life come life lessons and that’s what I need to take from all of this. Sometimes you need to take a moment and take a step back to think about what you are fighting for and if it make sense for your long-term happiness.”
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Cardi B & Offset
If she’s better off without him, aside from his forever-place in her life as daughter Kulture‘s father, then so be it. Basically we’re just always rooting for things to work out for Cardi B, so if she’s sad, we’re sad. We’ll go with the flow on this one.
So, onward and upward—and better love next year.
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