Why are celebrity couples compelled to write joint breakup notes?

Do they owe it to their fans?

Why are celebrity couples compelled to write joint breakup notes?

The world is obsessed with films and series, especially those featuring well-written characters that leave an indelible mark on our hearts, lingering long after we've watched them. Whether it's the lead characters of Friends or the girls-next-door Geet and Naina from Jab We Met and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, respectively, we're besotted with these fictional characters and, by extension, the actors who play the part. So much so that we often expect them to exhibit incredible tales of love in real life too. These parasocial relationships often foster such strong investment in the lives of celebrities that they become a part of our own lives.

We celebrate milestone romantic events in their lives—the talking stage, the 'we will claim to be just good friends' stage, and the wedding if things lead to that. But what happens when the couple goes their separate ways? Many celebrities who have parted from their partners have announced it with an official joint statement. From Farhan Akhtar and Adhuna Bhabani, Dia Mirza and Sahil Sangha, to more recently Kusha Kapila and Zorawar Ahluwalia as well as Esha Deol and Bharat Takhtani, many celebrity couples have issued joint separation statements. In fact, even more than a decade ago, couples had been "consciously uncoupling" (as Gwyneth Paltrow termed it) and quitting the possibilities of gossip at their expense.

But why are celebrities feeling compelled to release a joint statement? Let’s explore.  


A post shared by Kusha Kapila (@kushakapila)

Breakup speculation and timelines  

Be it tabloids or social media, speculation around a celebrity couple’s separation is often thrown into discussion publicly while stripping them of their right to privacy. Even after a divorce or separation is confirmed through “sources” or observation, rumours about the reasons behind it are actively circulated. Such situations may cause emotional and mental uneasiness to a celebrity couple and a public announcement may help them control the narrative. “It can be very scary to share news that is considered taboo in our society. Even though divorce is becoming more common, it is still heavily stigmatised and public figures tend to get the most scrutiny, which could negatively affect their mental and emotional health,” explains Dr Tara Suwinyattichaiporn, a sex and relationships expert and tenured professor at California State University, Fullerton.  

It also helps them assert autonomy over their personal lives. “By controlling the timing along with the manner of the announcement, celebrities can mitigate speculation and rumours while also exerting some level of agency over the narrative surrounding their relationship,” points out Mehezabin Dordi, a clinical psychologist at H N Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre.  

Sonali Gupta, a clinical psychologist and mental health advocate points out that during a divorce or separation, a celebrity couple may have “multiple people reaching out to check if what they are hearing is true, which can be overwhelming, frustrating, and exhausting. So a statement with closed comments helps to address it.”  

Mutual closure  

Since their love stories are more or less in the public eye and often romanticised, fans tend to need closure as they are invested in it. “Their fans have been supporting them and promoting them, and share their emotional responses throughout their relationship development and family planning,” explains Dr Suwinyattichaiporn, “A joint separation statement does give closure to the public because it shares a level of intimacy and transparency with their fans.”  

However, it also offers closure to the celebrity couple, as they can write an end to this chapter of their lives, in the way they want. Announcing it to the public also makes it feel a little more real, thus helping them in the moving on phase. “For the celebrity involved, releasing a joint separation statement can indeed aid in achieving closure by formalising the end of the relationship and signalling a new chapter in their lives. Announcing the separation publicly may also serve as a form of acceptance, as it acknowledges the reality of the situation and allows the celebrity to begin the process of moving on,” explains Dordi.  

Having said that, Gupta points out that closure, even for public figures, is a very private journey and it is an “an ongoing and complex process which takes immense inner work”.  

Connection with people  

Releasing a statement directly to the public, without having a middle person (read media) helps celebrities connect directly with people and makes them seem more human and relatable. “By sharing their personal experiences with their fans, celebrities can also foster a sense of intimacy and relatability, which can help to maintain or even strengthen their public image, make themselves more human in the face of a challenging situation,” explains Dordi.  

Such an event also affirms the idea of parasocial relationships, wherein the fans of a celebrity are invested in their lives and experience the need to feel that connection with them. “Parasocial relationships can be extremely powerful in a positive way because they push these celebrities to fame, stardom, and ultimately becoming more successful. However, at the same time when something that is perceived as negative, like a divorce or a breakup, takes place, they need to directly speak to their fans and the public to maintain that parasocial relationship,” Dr Suwinyattichaiporn points out.  

Does it impact how society views relationships?  

People often envy celebrities for the life they live. On the outside, it looks like they have it all. They have the looks, the money, and a great PR who makes them look flawless in the public eye. What happens when even the people who gave out couple goals part ways? Does it make society feel pessimistic about the longevity of relationships? That can be a tricky territory, but having said that, celebrities set a good example of how to deal with a breakup with dignity. At least, most of them do. Dr Suwinyattichaiporn believes a joint separation statement “allows us to feel like the uncoupling or the breakup was amicable, peaceful, and harmonious” and that “people see these breakups in a much more positive way”.  

While we credit them for giving us major couple goals, are the celebrities giving us breakup goals as well now?