In the latest break-up heard round the world, we lost another Hollywood power couple. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin started the Hollywood baby boom and were key in popularizing weird celebrity baby names. Chris’s inspired music and Gwyneth’s lack of a pretentious filter kept them constantly in the tabloids. It was a long marriage by celebrity standards and you can’t deny that they handled it with far more grace and class than most celebrity couples that break up. Rather than denying it and hiding it until the paparazzi caught moving vans inside the gated community, they made a statement before anyone could speculate. That was pure classy Gwyn, right there.
But this break-up was different than most. This was the first that gave us a new phrase to refer to a break-up: conscious uncoupling. Can’t you see it as a new Facebook relationship status? It could be right up there with the “it’s complicated” option. After all, we could always use more ways to describe the ever-evolving relationships in the world today.
It’s not out of character for someone like Gwyneth Paltrow to coin a new term to set her separation apart from the break-ups of every other person in the world. But, let’s be honest, conscious uncoupling is just a fancy way of saying “we’re breaking up.” All break-ups are conscious. Some take more time and consideration, yes, but when you break-up with someone, you know you’re breaking up. So Gwyn is really just letting us know that she knows their relationship is ending.
So, will everyone start referring to their own break-ups as uncoupling, conscious or not? Perhaps it will. Especially because of the way relationships have changed over the years. It’s rare that a person has a very serious relationship these days, thanks to hookup culture. When you and the person you’re hooking up with stop hooking up, maybe that is the new break-up. It’s too simple and too common a term to refer to the almost extinct long-term, all-in, ‘til death (or divorce) do us part, committed relationship. Now that our relationships are changing, our vocabulary has to change to keep up. And, of course, it would be the great Gwyn to gift us with this realization.
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