How The Hell Do You Consciously Uncouple?

by Mallory Schlossberg

As you are very likely aware, one of the most famous couples in Hollywood has split up. No, correct that phrasing: Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin have consciously uncoupled. And before you even ask, we're thinking it, too: What the hell is conscious uncoupling? It sounds like Goop's way of saying, "We're breaking up, but I'll mask to the public that I'm hurting inside."

But, believe it or not, the concept didn't come from Paltrow's well-tressed head. Conscious uncoupling is a concept that has been around for years, implausible as it may seem to anyone who's been through a traumatic breakup. (See video below.) So what is it? Essentially, the idea that breakups should, rather than destroy us, build us up to become powerful people — it is possible to leave a relationship not distraught, but accepting that the relationship has run its course and is now complete.

Easier said than done, but it certainly sounds in tandem with a Goop lifestyle. Might we eat some soaked raw almonds while we digest this? Though there's no denying there are healthy ways to move on and move forward after a breakup — or the end of a marriage, no less — surely the decision and the end of a loving relationship must be stultifying. Hence the great effort to create a term that sounds so amicable, like, "conscious uncoupling." ("I'm feeling great! I've consciously uncoupled! So yes, I'm back on OkCupid!")

Maybe after a conscious uncoupling you eat the whole bag! (Of kale.) Or maybe you do a balanced detox — not one that's hallucination-inducing, like the Master Cleanse. But, joke as we may, the logic behind accepting the tragic fate of an ended relationship is rooted in science. Paltrow posted a five-part article defining what this term is for all of her curious fans. The "uncoupling" is linked to how we have longer life expectancies than we used to. Assuming we knocked a few decades off of our current life expectancies, having only one love might make sense, say uncoupling experts. But now that we live more "lifetimes" than we used to, having multiple marriages makes sense. Uncoupling experts say that "'til death do us part" seems like a pressure-filled challenged. But is it? Uncoupling, to some, might also sounds like a lazy way out. Yes, you might live longer now that you're healthier, but with great power couples comes great responsibility!

Most of us don't entirely subscribe to the Goop-endorsed lifestyle. We don't soak our almonds. We eat fast food at times. We don't do cleanses. So it makes sense that we wouldn't entirely subscribe to the "conscious uncoupling." Much like diets that only consist of kale, we know that it's out there — it just seems implausible and attainable by only a select few. Where there's heartbreak, let there be heartbreak. And wine and chocolate.