A reader here informed me last night that I was quoted in the New York Times (on my birthday no less) for being “caustic” about Gwyneth Paltrow. Not about the jade eggs she sells to stick up your hoohaw, but Paltrow’s friendly divorce of “conscious uncoupling” fame.
I’m not a fan.
At the time, reporters tapped counselors and relationship experts to explain what conscious uncoupling meant. (The New York Times called it a “new, ungainly phrase.”) And the online backlash was swift: Critics mocked the stars for their upbeat announcement, which many interpreted as holier-than-thou. One advice blogger, Tracy Schorn, said in a particularly caustic post that she was thrilled the term was being received with “the snark and derision it so rightly deserves.”
“On the other hand,” she added, “the notion that divorce should be free of baser emotions like grief and anger is still a solid part of our culture.”
Okay, I once wrote a column entitled, “Gwyneth Paltrow Can Bite Me” about the epidemic of smug, friendly divorces.
You know the kind. Let me summon my inner ChatGPT and cobble one together from the many Mommy influencers.
Bryson and I have grown apart. And it is with the deepest love and affection that we must now live on opposite sides of the concertina wire divide on our biodynamic farm. Bryson has his polycule of farm laborers and I have the children. Whom we share like a CSA box of daikon radishes. Bryson doesn’t care for radishes, so I make interesting centerpieces with them. (Follow me on Insta!) The point is The Children! We are above rancor for their sake. I never utter a word against the polycule. Instead I take all those emotions and knit potholders. “Why did you and Daddy divorce?” Juniper asked. “We didn’t in our hearts” said I. “We just vibe in different ways. With separate tax returns.” Anger kills. Forgive! Scroll for the full recipe of toxic positivity!
Look, if people can break up ethically and with warm regards, I’m all for it. What I don’t understand is bludgeoning the less fortunate with your smug self-satisfaction. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR ALL OF US TO BE FRIENDS WITH OUR EXES.
Because there are abusive marriages. And people leave them at great personal cost, and sometimes peril. So to feel friendly toward an abusive ex would not only be inauthentic, but dangerous.
I’m not saying emotionally vomit on everyone’s shoes. (Although I think a fair amount of oversharing is common in the early days of chumpdom.) And I’m not saying bad mouth the ex to your children. I’m saying: You are entitled to your feelings. You don’t have to go along with the societal divorce script of warm bonhomie.
I’m sure celebrities pay a high cost for being perceived as “bitter.”
You are not a Hollywood celebrity. Or probably a Mommy influencer. Or Gwyneth Paltrow, who is both these things.
You’re a chump. Someone defrauded you. It hurts like a motherfucker. You get past it, but it’s not a foundation for friendship. Hollywood is the land of make believe. Chumps are people who had their reality stolen. Ergo, we prefer to live in the real world.
This has been a public service announcement. As you were with your unfriendly divorces.