As the song famously goes, "breaking up is hard to do."
It's just as hard when celebrities are faced with deciding how to share the news of their split with their legions of heartbroken fans. Do they face the news head-on and issue a formal statement? Do they treat the entire ordeal like a hushed secret? Do they air their emotions on social media as if they're breaking the news to their lifelong best friend? Depending on the desired effect—privacy, candidness, clarity—there are a variety of approaches to take when it comes to the art of publicizing (or concealing) a split.
To begin, some star couples keep the news on lockdown, opting to file for divorce covertly while trying avoid giving any signs of personal strife on the surface. Such was the case with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's famously unsuspected split when the mother of six quietly filed on a Monday. Of course, the world was not so quiet when the news broke the next day.
Meanwhile, the exes gave an early indication of the complication that was to come when they issued separate statements, albeit asking for the same thing—privacy.
"I am very saddened by this," Pitt said. "What matters most now is the wellbeing of our kids."
According to celebrity attorney Laura Wasser (whose clients include Jolie), there is a method to retaining privacy. "People may not even realize that [a] couple is getting divorced but we're actually all the way through the entire settlement before they even file anything with the court and announce to the world that they're splitting up," she told Vanity Fair. "Then they don't have to go through their entire divorce-settlement negotiation under a microscope."
While avoiding the subject is one way of going about split, some opt for smiles instead. The day news broke of Scarlett Johansson and Romain Dauriac's breakup after two years of marriage, the actress and her ex crossed paths at an art gallery.
Instead of avoiding each other like the plague, the friendly pair instead posed hip to hip for photographers and smiled, a signal to anyone watching that things are amicable—at least they appeared to be.
Others cried. Chrisley Knows Best reality star Savannah Chrisley opted to share the news of her split from boyfriend Blaire Hanks by way of a tearful message to fans streamed on Facebook Live.
"All of you guys are so invested in my family and our lives and I feel like when we signed up for the show, we gave you a promise to show you our lives and to be as honest as we can about it and that's just what I'm trying to do now," she explained through tears. "So to cut to the point…Blaire and I are no longer dating."
Sticking to her medium, YouTube star Colleen Ballinger (also known as her character, Miranda Sings) got choked up as she sat in front of a camera in her living room and explained to her followers that she and fellow YouTube star Joshua David Evans had broken up after a little over a year of marriage.
Evans shared the news the same way and their videos combined have accumulated in excess of 16 million views thus far.
In recent years, social media has become a powerful tool for celebrities to reach their fans on a personal level and explain difficult news beyond the standard typed-up paragraph. Amid reports that Lady Gaga and Taylor Kinney had broken their engagement, the pop star took to her digital accounts to clarify the stunning news.
"Taylor and I have always believed we are soulmates. Just like all couples we have ups and downs, and we have been taking a break," the songstress candidly wrote. "We are both ambitious artists, hoping to work through long-distance and complicated schedules to continue the simple love we have always shared. Please root us on. We're just like everybody else and we really love each other."
Whether it's in an iPhone note or written up with pencil and paper, most couples rely on the age-old couple's statement to confirm what the world is already buzzing about. When Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner shook the country with news that their decade-long marriage was over, they did so with a perfectly agreeable joint message.
"After much thought and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to divorce," they shared in 2015. "We go forward with love and friendship for one another and a commitment to co-parenting our children whose privacy we ask to be respected during this difficult time."
While Jen and Ben were committed to co-parenting, exes Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin were focused on their "conscious uncoupling," according to a message shared on the actress' website, Goop.
"It is with hearts full of sadness that we have decided to separate. We have been working hard for well over a year, some of it together, some of it separated, to see what might have been possible between us, and we have come to the conclusion that while we love each other very much we will remain separate," they said with help from the Internet.
"We are, however, and always will be a family, and in many ways we are closer than we have ever been. We are parents first and foremost, to two incredibly wonderful children and we ask for their and our space and privacy to be respected at this difficult time. We have always conducted our relationship privately, and we hope that as we consciously uncouple and coparent, we will be able to continue in the same manner."
Just like that, couples across Hollywood took their final bows and kept fans in the loop—even if only with a smile.