23 March 2010

Public Displays

[Author's Note: Yes, it's been quite a while since I've posted here. Apologies. It's a challenge managing all of my responsibilities and commitments. There's a little more going on on the Facebook page. Hope you'll tune in there, too.]

Ending a relationship is hard enough. Imagine doing it in public, with the press hounding you, your privacy invaded, your most personal pain made public. You wouldn't want that for yourself, would you? But, do you encourage that kind of coverage by purchasing the tabloid magazines and visiting the gossip sites? These are guilty pleasures we all surely indulge in from time to time (even if it's an innocent page peep at the salon). But why are we so fascinated with celebrity relationships? Are they educational or simply escapist? Do you find yourself comparing or compassionate when watching a relationship unravel? There's a reason why we are curious about these things, and your reason would likely be different than mine or hers or his. But I think it is interesting to ask yourself (and your friends) why we want to witness this.

The most recent ending splashing the pages came as quite a shock to all of us. One minute, she is winning awards and thanking her man. The next, she is moving out, and his alleged mistress is all over the internet. And what might be the worst part (at least for us watching from our computer screens or magazines), is that we have been there (or, at least I have): The minute you let down your guard and declare yourself vulnerable, the rug is pulled out from beneath you in the most public way. You find yourself repeating, "I knew it!" and "Never again!" You feel both egg and tears running down your face. And you find that wall going back up, brick by brick and retrofitted to make sure it won't be shaken down so easily again.

[Another Author's Note: No, I won't be naming celebrity names here. I wouldn't feel right getting a hit from someone Googling one of them. It's the same reason I won't send the book to a celebrity going through a break up. "That would be great marketing," a friend once enthused. "Imagine if they were photographed with it!" Attempting to profit from someone else's pain isn't my idea of good business. Or good karma, for that matter.]

Then there's the debate over a certain "curse". Win a prestigious award, achieve acclaim and success and, if you are a woman, your relationship will soon be doomed. Does anyone else find that utterly infuriating? The media seem to be warning women, "Do you want career success or relationship success? Because, sister, you can't have both." That's such a load of crap, and it comes off as something of a threat. Be careful, or it could happen to you. Please. Relationships are complicated. Yes, they can be affected by careers (his or hers...or hers or hers, or his or his), but they can also be complicated by children, changing interests, financial shifts, and personal weaknesses. If relationships were easy, we'd all live happily ever after.

But let's talk about other types of public displays, and that's taking your breakup to the people: friends, family, co-workers, etc. Do you want folks to choose sides (or, worse, do you ask them to)? Do you air dirty laundry that makes your former better half look worse? Have you made a scene when you see your ex in public? I'm not judging. I think we've all done one of the above at least once (even if it were simply secretly hoping your ex ended up friendless for treating you so poorly), and, probably at least once, an ex brought your private business public. But that's the kind of exposure no one really needs, nor should we desire it. What purpose does it serve? I can't think that those types of public displays would really make anyone feel better.

Certain things really should remain private and shared only within your closest circle. That privacy should apply even if you are a celebrity. Forget sending out a "press release". You don't need to broadcast your breakup. Don't hit Twitter to tell the world it's over. Forget about updating your Facebook status with intimate facts about your former mate. Do not press send and forward a private email or post those past texts. That's not going to help the ending get any happier. And surely that's not the kind of spotlight you want to find yourself under. Shine in another way. xo

No comments: