Tracey Cox predicts celeb couples heading for disaster
Step into the celebrity love clinic! Tracey Cox doles out advice to fledgling famous couples who need all the help they can get (and gives her brutally honest verdict on who won’t last)
- Tracey Cox has talked about how being famous can make relationships tricky
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People look in on celebrity relationships and think, ‘How could they have any problems? They’re rich and beautiful’.
The reality is being beautiful and rich doesn’t stop you being rejected, dumped, treated badly or a victim of any of the other humiliating acts that happen to us ‘ordinary people’.
It might even be worse for the famous: if you feel embarrassed after declaring undying love to someone who doesn’t reciprocate your feelings, imagine how it feels when you have 50 million followers witnessing it.
Playing out your relationships in a goldfish bowl, with the entire world commenting and predicting the very worst, puts the very best pairings under pressure.
I feel sorry for celebs who are trying to find love – which is why I’m giving these fledging famous couples my (albeit unasked for) advice.
ARIANA GRANDE AND ETHAN SLATER
Ariana Grande (left) should take it slow with new partner Ethan Slater (right), according to Tracey Cox
After a very public engagement to Pete Davidson and subsequent split, Ariana began dating Dalton Gomez, an LA real estate agent, in 2020. They married in 2021, just five months after announcing their engagement, then separated in 2023.
As is her style, Ariana was fast to form new ties. This time with Ethan Slater, an actor who married his high school sweetheart and girlfriend of six years in 2018. They had a son in 2022 but are now separated.
Ariana started dating Ethan mid-July – her divorce from Dalton finalised early October.
I’m spotting quite a few unhealthy relationship patterns here. The most obvious is that you are ‘monkey branching’: finding new partners before properly exiting previous relationships. This causes your new relationships to struggle because you’re trying to make sense of what happened in the last, while simultaneously getting to know someone new. That sounds confusing and like a lot of hard work because it is.
When a relationship ends, most people spend time dissecting what went wrong. Ideally, they take responsibility for their part in the split (it’s never one-sided), learn from their mistakes and only then dust themselves off and get out there again. If you don’t allow space between lovers, you drag all the baggage and bad habits from your previous relationships onto the next. If you never stop to pause and analyse, you eventually have enough to fill a 747, let alone a private jet.
Tracey Cox (pictured) has shared advice with high profile celebrity couples – revealing why it’s not as easy as it may seem to be partnered up under the spotlight
Stop, take a breath. Try being single for a while. You’ve had trauma in your life, and this can make people scared to be alone. (Twenty-two people died at an Ariana concert in Manchester, and her former fiance Mac Miller died tragically young). But using relationships as band-aids for a broken arm don’t work. New love can only mask old issues for a while.
Another worrying trend: dating people who aren’t properly available. Perhaps Ethan’s marriage was over well before you met, but being the person seen as ‘the destroyer’ puts a lot of pressure on a new relationship. When you hit a hurdle, as all couple’s do, there’s blame and guilt. If you’re both trying to sort through past hurts while building a new life together, I worry the foundations won’t be terribly sound.
Verdict: Allow space between relationships. Take a break and breathe before launching into the next. Ideally, stay single for a while and discover who you are when you aren’t part of a pair.
GIGI HADID AND BRADLEY COOPER
An American model, television personality and member of the famous Hadid family, Gigi is at the top of her game. Bradley Cooper – Academy Award nominated movie star, film maker and consistent topper of most ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ lists – is also riding high at 48.
The pairing of a movie star and a model is nothing new, neither is the age difference. (Gigi also dated Leonardo DiCaprio.) But few last the distance – which is why my advice to Gigi is this…
Gigi Hadid and Bradley Cooper (pictured recently in New York) could be a ‘fantastic fling’, according to Tracey
I get why you’re interested in dating Bradley – he’s handsome, talented, rich and has a rare reputation as quite a nice guy. But I feel obliged to warn you that a 20-year age gap isn’t something to be scoffed at, unless of course you’re seeing this as just a fun fling. If that’s your intention, great choice!
Age gaps work best if you stick to the middle and at 28 and 48, the differences you might struggle with later in life are barely even noticeable. Your sex drives will be fairly compatible, Bradley’s still fit and healthy and you mix in the same worlds so your points of reference for culture will be similar. A fling with a hot, mature, interesting movie star could be just what you need to break the troubling on-again-off-again thing you’ve got going with Zayn. (Gigi and Zayn Malik have a daughter and have repeatedly broken up and reunited.)
Try for a lifelong relationship, however, and the forecast isn’t quite so rosy. New research shows the ideal age gap between couples is still between one and three years: what it was when your grandparents got hitched. The bigger the age gap, the harder couples find it to navigate major life events. Couples have the highest chance of succeeding when everyone around them approves (often not the case when the age difference is large) and when they both deal with life events around the same time.
The thing that undoes most age gap relationships is children: one is ready and has a fertility deadline, the other isn’t or has already had theirs. Creaky bones and aches and pains of general ageing are annoying but liveable if you can moan to your partner, who is going through the same thing. When you’re 50, as vibrant as Bradley is at 48, he’ll be 70. Yes, everyone’s living longer and in better health but 70 is, well, quite old by anyone’s standards. Will you be willing to curtail your lifestyle to suit his health? Will he be embarrassed by the obvious signs of ageing?
Power issues also play out in age gap relationships. As the younger partner, you’re in the ‘pupil’ position. He’s lived longer so probably (hopefully) knows more. The power is automatically on his side and there’s a tendency to view older partners as a teacher or parent: someone to hide things from if you’ve been ‘naughty’. You may feel you can’t have fun for fear of being thought immature. Bradley, meanwhile, has been through a lot of the experiences you’re about to have and perhaps doesn’t want to go back for round two.
At the start of age gap relationships, there’s a lot of fun and teasing about each other’s differing tastes and views. The time to exit is when the comments get a little barbed.
Verdict: A fantastic fling but troubles ahead if you try to make it last the distance.
HARRY STYLES AND TAYLOR RUSSELL
The relationship between Harry Styles and his new girlfriend Taylor Russell (both pictured) has been described as ‘promising’ by Tracey
Known for dating older women – Olivia Wilde (10 years older), Caroline Flack (11 years older), Kimberley Steward (15 years older) – Harry has finally chosen someone his own age. Exactly his own age, in fact: actress Taylor Russell (Bones and All, ‘The Effect’ stage play) is also 29. Taylor has said in interviews that she always expects to be bruised by love but ‘…that’s OK. It’s worth it’. I’ve got my fingers crossed for these two.
Congratulations for breaking your pattern of dating older women. (As I’ve discussed above, large age differences can cause issues.) You’re now dating ‘off-type’ which is something I heartily encourage.
Most people have a ‘type’ – a look, an attitude, an age, a strong personality trait – that attracts them.
Our ‘types’ start forming from the minute we start noticing the world, which is when we start making our individual ‘love map’. Our love map is a list of things we like or don’t like about people, that our brain subconsciously refers to when we meet someone. If your Aunt Betty was creepy and made you eat your greens, anyone with her mannerism of putting her nose in the air will turn you off. If you had a (reciprocated) crush on a kid in primary school with long blonde hair, that’s filed under ‘yes please’. By the time we reach our 20s, our love maps or partner lists are long.
In some ways, it’s helpful. Avoiding spendthrifts because your Dad was one, will stand you well in life. Other times, not so much. Refusing to date people who aren’t blonde and blue-eyed is shutting off one hell of a lot who might be perfect for you. I’m not sure how the ‘must be older’ point got added to your list, Harry, but I’m happy you’ve put it aside to give Taylor a go.
It’s a promising sign when someone questions their dating patterns and dares to step outside their own square. This usually results in a higher quality relationship: one that’s based on things that really do count, like moral values or personality traits like kindness.
Be warned though: it can feel uncomfortable when you challenge your own norm. For most, though, dating off type is a positive exercise. Even if it doesn’t last, it offers something fresh, new and exciting. It forces you to behave differently because you’re with a different type of person. The relationship dynamics aren’t what you’re used to: again, usually a good thing.
Verdict: Go for it – and don’t panic if it feels a little strange at times. Change is a challenge but nearly always positive.
TIMOTHEE CHALAMET AND KYLIE JENNER
He’s an elfin-faced American-French actor who has clocked up an extraordinarily impressive acting pedigree at the tender age of 27. Kendall, 26, is a Kardashian: so famous, she’s recognised by her first name only. Kendall’s life has been captured on camera for public consumption since she was 16 and she comes from a family who appear driven by fame and money. In contrast, Timothee’s an ‘indie’ with a Wikipedia page littered with intellectual, artistic achievements.
Kylie Jenner and Timothee Chalamet (pictured at the US Open in September) are another couple under Tracey’s spotlight
Dear Timothee and Kylie
In a way, it makes sense that you have found each other. A shared love of fashion, fame, the same heart-shaped face (lots of couples have the same face proportions), both used to legions of adoring fans clamouring for attention, roughly the same age…That’s a lot in common.
But compatibility relies more on similar backgrounds than you think, and this is where problems might arise. Despite significant media attention, Timothee, you rarely discuss the romantic side of your personal life, so are used to a level of privacy. Kylie, for you it’s impossible to hide. Timothee might be ‘the best actor of his generation’ but you are a brand, a global phenomenon. Your recognition level is on a stratospheric level and the constant intrusion will be a lot for him to deal with.
With a French father who is an editor for UNICEF and a mother who is a language and dance teacher, it’s fair to assume you were probably rewarded for your talent and intellectual achievements more so than financial success. Kylie, you are a formidable business woman and one of the world’s youngest billionaires by age 21. I worry there could be a clash over core beliefs and what is most important to you both in life.
Looking at it from a more positive perspective, your different values and backgrounds might strike a pleasing balance of ‘yin’ and ‘yang’. But that’s not going to come without one or both doing some considerable bending.
Verdict: Starkly different upbringings and backgrounds can mean compatibility clashes.
Visit traceycox.com for Tracey’s products ranges, blog, books and weekly podcast, SexTok with Kelsey and Tracey.
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