Monday, May 4, 2015

Is Tiger Woods's peaceful break-up a sign of the times?

by Lisa Flemming, Guest Writer

News broke recently that Tiger Woods and girlfriend Lindsey Vonn were ending their three-year relationship due to the hectic nature of their respective athletic careers. Us Weekly posted a statement from Vonn in which she refers fondly to her time with Woods and describes a mutual decision to break-up--really, about as amicable a parting as one could imagine.

Naturally, this all calls to mind the fiery cheating scandal that ended Woods's marriage (and some say, effectively, his career) a few years back. Given the image of Woods at the time as a serial cheater, it was somewhat surprising that he ended up in a committed relationship fairly soon after his divorce. It was even more surprising that he and Vonn never seemed to hit a speed bump, at least not publicly. Really, it seems as if she managed to tame Tiger, and the two seem to have experienced about as normal and healthy a relationship as possible for two internationally renowned celebrity athletes.

Photo by Keith Allison

All this comes to light at a time in which many of us expect to see celebrity relationships end with drama, vitriol, and rumors of infidelity. Part of the problem, certainly, is media-related.... It's not necessarily that celebrity couples cheat more often, but rather that when they do, we hear about it. At the same time, however, basic statistics and information about what causes infidelity in marriage have always indicated that we shouldn't exactly be surprised that high-profile couples often struggle with this issue.

According to a survey Adam & Eve conducted about cheating, the four most common reasons for infidelity are "it just happened out of the blue," "it was exciting," "it was due to sexual boredom," and "due to loneliness." Excluding the explanation that cheating was "exciting" (presumably the case in the majority of new sexual encounters), these reasons fit naturally with celebrity lifestyles. These are beautiful, wealthy, and appealing people often thrust into the company of other beautiful, appealing people. This makes the idea of things happening out of the blue seem more likely than in ordinary situations. Additionally, emotional loneliness and sexual boredom are certainly more common problems in couples that spend a lot of time apart and from athletes to movie stars, celebrities lead busy lifestyles that often force them to do just that.

All this is to say, it's not always surprising when a celebrity cheating scandal arises. And for a while, it seemed as if a new one was breaking news every few months. But is the seemingly amicable split-up between Woods and Vonn actually indicative of a wave of happier celebrity relationships and peaceful break-ups? Consider some of the bigger stories in this regard in the past year or so . . . .

Coldplay front-man Chris Martin and film star Gwyneth Paltrow come to mind as perhaps the highest profile celebrity couple to break-up in recent years, simply because the split was drawn out in nature. Paltrow finally filed for divorce this year, but the two are seeking joint custody of their children and have somehow, for the most part, avoided nasty rumors throughout their separation process. But theirs isn't the only recent split that seems more constructive and natural than scandalous and heartbreaking. The LA Times has done us the favor of chronicling celebrity splits thus far in 2015, and browsing through them there's an almost shocking trend toward friendly parting.

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, who co-starred in The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel, are noted citing similar reasons to those listed by Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn (basically, hectic scheduling) for their break-up. Musical performers Ariana Grande and Big Sean are described as remaining "close friends" after announcing their split following eight months of dating. Miley Cyrus and Patrick Schwarzenegger are believed to have parted amicably, and Bradley Cooper was even accompanied by his friendly ex (Suki Waterhouse) to the Oscars!

Those are all just in 2015, and believe it or not last year followed a somewhat similar pattern. From Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton to Freida Pinto and Dev Patel, we saw numerous long-lasting, high-profile relationships end without scandalous cheating allegations, and with apparent friendliness on both sides. Jennifer Lawrence, too, had a reportedly amicable break-up with long-time boyfriend Nicholas Hoult. She even spoke favorably about their time together while speaking out against the nude photo leak that affected so many celebrities last year (and included photos she'd taken of herself for Hoult).

This isn't to suggest that celebrities have stopped cheating on one another, and in the end this is only a handful of examples. But following years of scandals--Tiger Woods, Jesse James, Tony Parker, etc.--it's been a refreshing trend of late.

Perhaps most importantly, it almost feels as if the celebrity community has made a collective decision to set better examples in how to break up. Of course, this didn't actually happen, but whether it's sensible to do so or not, people look to celebrities to set examples and provide influence. Considering this, a virtual wave of amicable partings and friendly encounters between exes is a refreshing look for Hollywood and the greater world of celebrities.
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