Gwyneth Paltrow has been in some pretty high-profile relationships in her life, including her recent engagement to Glee cocreator Brad Falchuk. The couple met on the set of Glee and began dating in 2014, announced their engagement in January, and then on April 14, had a massive star-studded party to celebrate (featuring guests like Steven Spielberg and Reese Witherspoon). They certainly look happy and comfortable in one another’s company, but for Paltrow, it’s been a long road to this kind of intimacy and happiness with her partner.
Paltrow recently sat down for an in-depth conversation with relationship expert Esther Perel for the Sunday Times. During the discussion, she spoke at length about her engagement to Falchuk as well as her past relationships. The interview started with a question about couples Paltrow finds inspiring. According to her, couples she knows — including some high school sweethearts who are still married — “still giggle and go away without kids and have sex all weekend, 20 years later!” and she finds that “amazing.”
Perel expressed surprise when Paltrow came up with multiple examples of this kind of relationship. Paltrow explained, “I’m actually the only one in my life who got divorced. This used to feel like a failure — it took me a while to reframe that divorce isn’t a failure.”
Paltrow’s very public divorce from her ex-husband, Chris Martin (which they famously deemed “conscious uncoupling” in 2012), was finalized in 2014 — the same year Paltrow met and started dating Falchuk. According to her interview with the Sunday Times, the difference in her current relationship is really noticeable. “In the past, I’ve been in relationships with men who had intimacy issues, so I could be, like, ‘I’m fine, I’m ready to do this,’ and let myself think he’s the one with the problem,” Paltrow said. “In a way, some of the relationships were designed to keep me out of intimacy.”
She added that in many of her relationships, she wasn’t actually in love, but merely seeking approval, which she chalked up to her “desire to overachieve.” Ouch. Paltrow’s candor in this interview is awesome. She seems to call out her former partners here (including Ben Affleck and Brad Pitt), but the self-reflection on how that failure could serve to help her grow is important. This is a sentiment many of us can probably understand — relationships, after all, are tough, and sometimes it’s easier to fall into a pattern than find something that makes us truly happy — but once we get to that point, it feels all the more amazing.
Apparently, even superstars like Paltrow struggle to find a romance that lasts for the right reasons —something she says she’s finally found with her fiancé. “I feel I’m in an adult relationship that is sometimes uncomfortable,” she explained, “because he sort of demands a certain level of intimacy and communication that I haven’t been held to before. What came up in the first couple of years of our relationship was how incapable I was in this realm, how I feared intimacy and communication.”
It sounds like Paltrow has found the kind of stability she craved in past relationships, which is great. Although we hate to hear that anyone has struggled to find a solid emotional connection, Paltrow’s interview with the Times makes her seem a lot more relatable. We look forward to her upcoming nuptials.