It can be difficult not to become invested in overexposed celebrity relationships. After all, reports of blossoming love amongst famous people are exceedingly interesting and rarely free from controversy or drama. (Then again, is any romance?)
Whether or not we like to admit it, we're influenced by what we see in the media and we often learn to apply it to our own lives. People generally enjoy following others’ romantic endeavors; perhaps we see certain relationships as aspirational, or maybe we want to avoid making their mistakes. And so, we're drawn to celebrity couples, and as such we have strong feelings about their breakups. Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt were exemplary of public investment in a celebrity relationship, when their decision to end their marriage in 2005, citing irreconcilable differences, caused an emotional outcry from fans. The public had grown attached to the “golden couple” and saw them as one of the industry’s most steady and reliable pairings. Another infamously contentious divorce was between Woody Allen and Mia Farrow - especially since Allen’s new wife was his adopted step-daughter, Soon-Yi. This divorce and marriage led to conjecture worldwide; when it ended, Farrow accused Allen of molesting their then 7-year-old daughter Dylan, inciting a complex and extensive legal battle. Allen and Soon-Yi were married five years after his divorce from Farrow.
These are only a few instances of controversial breakups in celeb history and, as this list will show, there are plenty more recent examples. Though we are certainly entertained by the love lives of stars we look up to, sometimes we're saddened by them, too. The following stars’ relatively recent splits caused high controversy amongst gossip columnists, fans and curious observers internationally.
10 Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling (2008)
It is tricky to separate actors Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling’s true-life romance from their famed performances as lovers Allie and Noah in The Notebook. The pair began officially dating in 2005 after filming ended. Though the couple broke up in 2007, they remained civil, to say the least. After a quick rekindling of the relationship in 2008, the couple officially ended things for a second time, both stating that they have remained good friends. Even after the breakup, Gosling stated in an interview with GQ, “God bless The Notebook. It introduced me to one of the great loves of my life.”
9 Jon and Kate Gosselin (2009)
The Gosselin family gained their fame from the TLC show Jon and Kate Plus 8, which followed the family’s hectic life caring for eight children. During its run, the show was one of the network’s highest rated programs, and stirred up plenty of talk even beyond its fan base. In 2009, however, the pair ended their ten year marriage; in the divorce papers obtained by the Associated Press, Kate stated that the relationship was “irretrievably broken.”
When the pair announced the split on an episode of the show, fans and media alike began to speculate about the reasons and to wonder about the ways it would affect the Gosselin children. The drama surrounding their divorce escalated in 2014 when, on VH1’s series Couples Therapy, Jon Gosselin angrily vented about Kate, calling her “narcissistic,” and a few other unprintable names.
8 Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore (2011)
7 Amy Poehler and Will Arnett (2012)
When this pair of Emmy-nominated comedy virtuosos split, many fans were both surprised and saddened. The couple are both well-loved comedians, and even appeared together on-screen in Blades of Glory, Horton Hears a Who!, On Broadway, and Monsters vs. Aliens. The couple wed in August of 2003 and remained together until their separation in 2012. The divorce is Poehler’s first and Arnett’s second (he was previously married to Penelope Ann Miller). Reports on the split have simply stated that their romance “fizzled out.” That being said, the pair parted amicably. A source close to the couple stated that, “Will and Amy feel more like best friends than a married couple – and sadly they lost their spark.” Both actors still have respect for one another and, of course, their children (Archie, 3, and Abel, 2) remain their priority.
6 Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez (2012)
5 Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes (2012)
In June of 2012, it became official that actor duo Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes would divorce after five years of marriage. Affectionately dubbed “TomKat,” this couple was one of Hollywood’s most famous. Who doesn’t remember Tom’s epic Oprah appearance where he jumped up and down on the couches proclaiming his love for Katie?
The duo began dating in 2005, and Cruise popped the question – obviously, at the Eiffel Tower – after only about two months as a couple. Cruise reported, “Today is a magnificent day for me, I’m engaged to a magnificent woman.” A year later, the couple gave birth to Suri Cruise, who has become a mini-celeb in her own right. Yet, in 2012, the couple split. Holmes filed for divorce and aimed to get full custody of Suri. Later reports stated that much of the reason they broke up was Tom’s religious affiliation with the Church of Scientology. Supposedly, Holmes wanted to keep Suri away from the religion. However, as with any relationship, there are likely myriad complicated reasons for the divorce. As Tom said in an interview, “there are many different levels to it…There is no need to protect my daughter from my religion.”
4 Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart (2013)
3 Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom (2013)
Reality star Khloe Kardashian and former NBA player Lamar Odom got married in 2009 after a month of dating. The lavish wedding was filmed and later aired on the popular show Keeping Up With The Kardashians as Odom’s teammate Kobe Bryant, TV personality Chelsea Handler, and the show’s producer Ryan Seacrest, among others, looked on. The couple charmed enough viewers that they were given their own reality show spin off of Keeping Up on E! called Khloe and Lamar, which aired from 2011-2012.
In 2013, however, trouble started brewing. In August of 2013, Odom was arrested for DUI. After the incident, Odom checked out of rehab only hours after checking in. Sources reported that Kardashian gave Odom an ultimatum: get help or face a divorce. So far, it appears Lamar has made his decision – and so has Khloe.
2 Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus (2013)
Miley and Liam surprised fans when they called off their engagement in 2013, but their relationship had always been a bit rocky. The couple originally met in 2009 when filming The Last Song together. The two began dating when Cyrus was 16, but kept their relationship private during its first few months. About a year later in August of 2010, the couple reportedly split, but quickly reconciled after about a month. Rumors about their breakups circulated in August and November of 2010, and yet again in 2011 when Miley's controversial bong video went public.
Throughout their relationship, the two had denied rumors of an engagement - but in 2012 they became officially engaged. In a tell-all interview with Barbra Walters in 2012, Cyrus commented on their four year relationship, saying there were never "any lies," but she is happy to be able to be by herself. Though headlines implied Miley expressed the sentiment that she could not be herself around Hemsworth, in fact, her stance was far more poignant: she said, "I don't want to ever have to need someone again where you feel like, without them, you can't be yourself."
1 Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin (2014)
Oscar winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin tied the knot in December 2003 in a private wedding. After ten years, however, the two ended their marriage, marking one of Hollywood’s most shocking and most peaceable splits ever. To describe the nature of the break-up, Paltrow used the memorable terminology, “conscious uncoupling.” Paltrow wrote on her lifestyle website Goop, “it is with hearts full of sadness that we have decided to separate.” However, the two have recently been rumored to be “recoupling;” the pair still live together and are frequently seen out together. Some have compared them to Liz Taylor and Richard Burton because their on-again off-again romance seems unlikely to end in any enduring way.