“First off, it feels odd that we have to share this kind of thing with everyone, but it’s a consequence of the lives we’ve chosen to lead… We have lovingly chosen to separate as a couple.”
This morning Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan-Tatum announced their separation after almost nine years of marriage.
Their joint statement posted to Instagram immediately drew cries of LOVE IS DEAD and I’M NOT CRYING YOU’RE CRYING. But they were #CoupleGoals, we choked out through many sobs. If they can’t make it, no one can.
The similarities between the Step Up actors’ separation and that of Anna Faris and Chris Pratt in August 2017 are hard to miss.
Both announced their breakups on social media.
Both have a young child – Faris and Pratt a five-year-old son Jack, and Tatum and Dewan-Tatum four-year-old Everly.
Both separations felt, to the outside world, so out of the blue.
It came as a shock that these people we didn’t know but were so emotionally invested in were parting ways.
Where did it go wrong? They seemed so perfect… on Instagram.
And there it is, the common thread tying these two high-profile celebrity separations together. Both couples were idolised for their prolific, witty presence on social media; their captions and selfies and hashtags painting an idyllic painting of marriage perfection.
Research published as early as 2014 shows the more perfect relationships look online, the less perfect they’re likely to be in real life.
It’s called ‘relationship visibility’ – when we feel more insecure about where we stand with our partners, we tend to make the relationship more visible to the outside world. Cue selfies, ‘Throwback Thursdays’ and another Instagram story at brunch.
But when we feel good about our relationships, we don’t bother posting as much. Perhaps because we’re too busy enjoying our partner’s company to gram?
Sexologist and relationships expert Nikki Goldstein thinks so too. For her, often it’s the people who post the most who are seeking validation for their relationship from other people in place of from their partner.
“You see people who will focus so much on taking a ‘relfie’ – a relationship selfie – and getting the right filter and hashtags that they’re missing the moment. I think, why don’t you take a photo because it’s a nice memory and a moment you want to look back to?” Goldstein told Daily Mail last year.
“The likes and comments can be so validating that when someone is really struggling, that’s where they get their up from – not the person making the gesture, but what other people say about it.”
It’s for this reason Faris was so shocked, angered even, by the public outpouring of grief over her and Pratt’s separation. Because it turns out their relationship was not the quirky, life’s a party highlights reel we saw online.
Just some of the reasons we thought Chris Pratt and Anna Faris had the ‘perfect marriage’. Post continues after video.
“Chris and I did talk about [the public’s reaction]. We got, like on the Twitter feed, ‘Love is dead’ and ‘Relationship goals.’ It was like ‘People seem to think we got all this sh*t all right.’ I had a little bit of a childish feeling of ‘Oh come on, f*cking grow up’ — a little anger [about it],” Faris told Dax Shepard on his podcast, Armchair Expert.
“But that’s not fair either because I cultivated it. We intentionally cultivated the idea of like ‘Look at this beautiful family’ and there were so many moments that were like that but like anything on social media, you don’t post ‘Where the f*ck is the toilet paper?’ or whatever…I think it’s a very hard forum to be genuine, and I think it does a disservice to people to not be.”
Earlier this year before news of their separation broke, Dewan-Tatum spoke to Health Magazine about how people saw the tributes and holiday photos of her family online and presumed she and Tatum had the ‘perfect life’.
“When people say you guys have such a perfect life, I want to scream and tell them no one’s perfect. We’re not perfect! Are you kidding? We fight like other couples, we disagree about things, we have days where we don’t really like each other,” she said.
“I think there are such things as great fits. It is a great fit as long as you are growing together, and I think up until this point we’ve really grown together.”
With their breakup no longer a secret, Tatum and Dewan-Tatum are now, in their words, “helping each other to live the most joyous, fulfilled lives as possible.”
And for some, this along with Faris and Pratt’s perfect relationship breakdown will continue to be baffling.
But if nothing else, both of these separations can teach us an important lesson about fiction versus reality; one that’s never been more relevant.
Do you think ‘happy’ couples on Instagram can also be happy in real life? How does social media affect your relationship?
Mamamia Out Loud share their advice for a listener having their own relationship doubts below.