Bourdain, Spade’s Unconventional Lifestyles Did Not Lead to Suicide
Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade were living unconventional romantic lives at the time of their suicides, but it is wrong to point the finger at that
With the back-to-back suicides of two beloved icons, designer Kate Spade and chef, author and TV personality Anthony Bourdain, just last week, many of us are wondering — why? They seemingly had it all: money, fame, successful businesses and loving, committed partners. But as people try to wrap their head around their suicides, they inevitably want to point fingers and often the fingers are pointed at their loving partners: maybe they weren’t all that loving and committed. And that’s exactly what’s happening in the discussion about Spade’s and Bourdain’s deaths.
In the days after Spade’s death, we learned that she and her longtime husband and business partner, Andy, were living apart, according to a statement he released shortly after her death:
For the past 10 months we had been living separately, but within a few blocks of each other. Bea was living with both of us and we saw each other or spoke every day. We ate many meals together as a family and continued to vacation together as a family. Our daughter was our priority. We were not legally separated, and never even discussed divorce. We were best friends trying to work through our problems in the best way we knew how. We were together for 35 years. We loved each other very much and simply needed a break.”
Unnamed sources claimed their marriage had been strained and that Andy was shopping to buy a place of his own. But in truth, not every couple who lives apart from each other has a struggling relationship. In fact, many couples become live apart together couples — LATs — by choice because it offers many benefits. Others take a break from their marriage to diffuse tense situations and to get some much-needed self-reflection and growth. Others transition into a parenting marriage — they remain remarried but remove the sexual and romantic aspects of their relationship so they can continue to be involved with their child and co-parent as partners. Others are like my mother, who, at age 50-something, left my dad in New York, moved to Miami, and got herself a job and a new life because she’d “had enough.” After about 10 years, my dad joined her.
Just because the Spades were living apart doesn’t necessarily mean their marriage was troubled or doomed — or that it led to Kate’s suicide.
Anthony Bourdain’s ‘free relationship’
Twice-married Bourdain was in a loving relationship with actor Asia Argento since 2017, a relationship mutual friend and actor Rose McGowan described as a “free relationship.” In an open letter to the public, McGowan wrote:
When Anthony met Asia, it was instant chemistry. They laughed, they loved and he was her rock during the hardships of this last year … Anthony and Asia had a free relationship, they loved without borders of traditional relationships, and they established the parameters of their relationship early on. Asia is a free bird, and so was Anthony. … Do NOT do the sexist thing and burn a woman on the pyre of misplaced blame.”
Why would anyone “blame” Argento? Oh, could it be because she was spotted holding hands with and hugging a French reporter in Rome while Bourdain was in France shooting for his TV series, Parts Unknown, causing some to slut-shame her? Well, if they indeed had a “free relationship” — which could be interpreted as a monogamish union — then what’s wrong with her canoodling with someone else? Nothing! But — and this is a big but — perhaps Argento and the reporter were just … friends. Good friends, old friends, new friends — who cares? Why do we sexualize every opposite-sex relationship? It’s OK for men and women, even partnered men and women, to be affectionate and physically close to each other … right? Especially if it’s within “the parameters of their relationship.”
Mental illness touches many relationships
Andy Spade was open about Kate’s battle with depression and anxiety; Bourdain has been incredibly transparent about his flaws and demons. They are hardly alone. About one in four adults lives with a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. That means mental illness touches a lot of romantic partners: marriages in which one spouse is depressed are nine times more likely to end up in divorce; even treatments for mental illness can cause problems in a relationship. Depending on the mental illness, the possibility of suicide is real — whether the relationship is intact or ends.
The reasons why people commit suicide are complex. But it is wrong to blame a troubled relationship or unconventional romantic lifestyles for someone’s suicide, especially since so many people are experimenting with different ways of being and loving and coupling.
RIP, Anthony and Kate. Thank you for all you gave us. You will be greatly missed.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, please — please — call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 1–800–273-TALK (8255).
Originally published at omgchronicles.vickilarson.com