Gwyneth Paltrow made headlines this summer when she self-deprecatingly said that she's "f--ked up so many relationships, so many."

Accountability is always refreshing but, really, the woman who helped usher the term "conscious uncoupling" into the mainstream shouldn't be so hard on herself. Two people who are meant to be, or who are at least ready to commit for the long haul and see what happens, are not so easily wrested apart. Which isn't to say one or the other can't screw it up, but there are countless reasons as to why that relationship was not the right one but this one is. It takes two to tango, and two to break hold.

Brad Falchuk is certainly proof that Paltrow isn't as bad at the coupling part as she might claim. The prolific TV producer and the Oscar-winning Goop goddess are reportedly engaged after more than three years of dating, part of which they spent avoiding any splashy signs of togetherness before finally feeling comfortable going out as official significant others.

"I'm actually a pretty good friend, and a good sister and daughter and mother, but I'm at my potentially most vulnerable and f--ked up in the romantic slice of the pie," Paltrow mused on the podcast Girlboss Radio in August. "So it's taken me a lot of work to get to the place where I have a good romantic relationship."

It's unclear as to whether she's considered herself a work in progress for decades or if she did most of her soul-searching more recently, after she and Chris Martin divorced. But if you've paid attention at all to her latest wellness endeavors, you know that the past nine years, since Goop launched, have been extraordinarily transformative for Paltrow—and if part of that led to a new lease on her capabilities as a partner, then that's great.

Meanwhile, with time comes maturity and hindsight, and hopefully the opportunity to appreciate one's journey for what it is—the necessary path that brought you to where you're supposed to be. Here are the gentlemen who've played leading roles in her life along the way, as well as the bit players who got close enough to be mistaken for potential leading men:

Robert Sean Leonard, 1993

Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Gwyneth Paltrow, Donovan Leitch


Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow

Marion Curtis/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Jason Blum

M. Von Holden/FilmMagic

Ben Affleck, Gwyneth Paltrow

Kevin Mazur Archive/WireImage

Gwyneth Paltrow, Scott Speedman

Evan Agostini/ImageDirect/Getty Images

Chris Heinz

Thos Robinson/Getty Images

Luke Wilson, Gwyneth Paltrow, 2002

Antony Jones/UK Press via Getty Images

Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson, 2001


James Purefoy

Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

Gwyneth Paltrow, Bryan Adams

Margaret C. Norton/NBC/Getty Images

Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for J/P Haitian Relief Organization

Gwyneth Paltrow, Brad Falchuk

Joe Schildhorn/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

For Halloween, Paltrow and Falchuk channeled the head-in-a-box shocker from Se7en, effectively bringing Gwyneth's romantic journey full circle. 

As news of their engagement broke this week, a source told Entertainment Tonight he had given her a ring "a long time ago," but only recently had she been wearing it where people might notice (and subsequently make a really huge deal about it).

"They both knew it would happen, but it wasn't a big thing to them because they were both in long marriages before. There wasn't a rush," another insider told Us Weekly, which first reported the news.

Gwyneth and Brad. Both divorced parents of two. Both independently successful. Both agreeing they're better together.

"I've had an extraordinary life, where things have happened in a huge way—huge success, huge joy, huge pain, huge loss. And the reason I feel happy today is because I've milked the f--k out of every opportunity," Paltrow told The Edit this summer. "I haven't made one mistake that I haven't used as a stepping stone to get somewhere else. I'm ruthless when it comes to using the hard things."

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