Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes seemed to have one of Hollywood’s most solid relationships. But on June 29, Holmes filed for divorce after five years of marriage. Are we surprised? Not really.
The “Dawson’s Creek” actress tactfully deflected questions about her husband when interviewed by Elle magazine before the split, stating, “He has been Tom Cruise for 30 years … I know who I am and where I am and where I want to go. I’m starting to come into my own. It’s like a new phase.” Cracks were beginning to show. But we also weren’t shocked because, well, this was a Hollywood marriage, and so many of them fail. Why?
Romance is addictive
“The parts of the brain that light up when you’re in love are the same that light up when doing cocaine,” says dating coach Evan Marc Katz. “There’s an addictive quality to toxic relationships. People become addicted to the highs and lows.”
“Every second you’re with the wrong person is every second you’re not with the right person,” he adds. “Ending a bad relationship is addition by subtraction.”
If the relationship is a burden and you no longer feel connected, breaking up is the only way you’ll eventually find the right person. That said, Katz doesn’t rule out the feeling of loss if the relationship filled your time and was bigger than you as an individual.
Hopefully, a couple has done everything in their power to work things out prior to getting a divorce. “With Katie Holmes, I’m sure it was a calculated, thoughtful decision. It’s probably something she agonized about, something they tried to fix. The culmination of years of dissatisfaction.”
Why Hollywood is addicted
According to Katz, this addictive quality is probably why most Hollywood couples call it quits more often than not.
“It’s not about Tom and Katie — the real problem with Hollywood marriages is that people get caught up in the cult of themselves,” he says. “You have two beautiful people living this high life, with tons of money and who think they can do anything. They are big dreamers driven by passion. They don’t realize that this isn’t what life is about and that marriage, on a day-to-day basis, should be safe and predictable and somewhat mundane. It’s not always going to be exciting.”
Eventually, the passion wears off and all you’re left with is that person, warns Katz. “You need to know each other before making the commitment to spend the rest of your life together.”
There should be fewer marriages, as people should spend far more time dating, argues Katz.
“The attraction phase lasts between one and a half to three years. Until that high wears off, you’re blinded by passion and tend to make foolish decisions. So many people get married and pregnant when they’re still in their drug phase. If you waited for the high to wear off, you’d think a lot more clearly about your long-term compatibility.”
So how long should we be “dating” for?
“Two and a half years,” advises Katz. “What you’re really looking for in a relationship is the state you’re in when the drug wears off. Passion isn’t a great predictor of the future — just a great feeling.”
Tom Cruise: The cult of ‘HE’
“Tom Cruise doesn’t do things in moderation. He has no limits and isn’t afraid to fail,” says Katz.
But there’s a difference between being a good guy and a good partner.
“We don’t know why, but he’s failed in marriage three times. If you’re so committed to your work that you’re emotionally unavailable and don’t have time to listen because you’re caught up in the cult of yourself, then you can still be a great guy, just not a great life partner.”
Cruise’s fervent following of his religion, Scientology, is thought to have contributed to the split. “People can agree to disagree about religion, but with anything that someone is extreme on — it makes anybody who isn’t like them intolerable,” says Katz. “The other person would have to be that extreme. If he was so evangelical about it that he was pushing Holmes to be him instead of respecting their differences — that might be the whole story.”
Katie Holmes: What about “HER”
In her rare post-split appearances, Katie Holmes looked relaxed and meticulously groomed. But don’t try and figure out her life story from a few paparazzi shots, says dating coach Evan Marc Katz. “Since Katie Holmes announced her divorce, she’s been caught on camera smiling and laughing. But we see what people give us. That she’s decided to plaster a smile on her face and stand up straight says very little.”