Stop Assuming Brad Pitt Wants a Romantic Partner
Our obsession with Brad Pitt’s dating life reinforces coupledom — the way society idealizes, privileges and prioritizes romantic, sexual love over any other kind of relationship
People are worried about Brad Pitt. Although he’s newly single and available now, ever since he and Angelina Jolie split in 2016, there’s been a kerfuffle about his dating life. “Who would have imagined in the year 2018 women would be scrambling to deny reports that they were dating Brad Pitt?” asks E! Online.
More women are evidently claiming they’re not dating Pitt than are. What could be the problem?
Honestly, this isn’t a problem, and certainly not a problem attractive middle-aged divorced men generally seem to have. In fact, more of them say “I do” again after divorce than women — is it because we gals are smarter? — and they’re quicker to say it than women, too.
Could it be that the 54-year-old six-time Oscar nominee who has twice been named People‘s Sexiest Man Alive has a dating “problem”?
He does have a few things going on that might give a woman pause.
It’s too soon
Some say Pitt is looking to date too soon. I’m not sure there’s a universal “right” amount of time to be separated before dating. That said, during and after my divorce, I felt like I had a crapload of things I needed to focus on — my kids, myself, my job, survival — before I could feel healthy and happy enough to throw myself out there.
Too many kids
Pitt has six kids with Jolie — 17-year-old Maddox, 14-year-old Pax, 13-year-old Zahara, 12-year-old Shiloh, and twins Vivienne and Knox, 10. He may be a loving dad, but as Tiffany Haddish joked, “I don’t know if I could deal with a man that’s got that many kids.” Well, it isn’t a joke for people who are looking to find a partner. Not many people want to be insta-parent to a kid or two, let alone six of them. especially since society doesn’t look kindly on stepmothers.
An ugly custody battle
Beyond being a devoted dad, Pitt is still in an ongoing custody battle with Jolie, two years after their split. Few people want to get enmeshed in an ugly divorce, or even deal with someone who’s just separated and not even divorced. And even fewer people want to deal with a “crazy” soon-to-be former wife (and for whatever reason, most hetero men refer to a former wife or girlfriend as crazy whereas most women refer to their former hetero hubby or boyfriend as narcissists).
If I were an age-appropriate single woman for Pitt (hey, wait — I am!), I would most certainly not want to get into a relationship with him right now (although a dalliance might be lovely). He needs to focus on his kids and himself before he can be a present and engaged partner, and, according to media reports, he is.
That doesn’t mean he’ll have any trouble finding someone to date. He most likely won’t.
But what’s up with trying to partner him with every women he’s seen with? Our obsession with his dating life — and the romantic life of every celebrity, from George Clooney to Oprah to Jennifer Aniston (especially Jennifer Aniston!) just reinforces coupledom — the way society idealizes, privileges and prioritizes romantic, sexual love over any other kind of relationship. It’s what philosopher Elizabeth Brake calls amatonormativity.
Maybe Pitt really isn’t interested in having a girlfriend or wife again — now or ever. Maybe he’d like to have consensual non-monogamous relationships. Maybe he just likes to hang platonically with wise women like Sat Hari Khalsa. Would any of that be a problem?
Not all relationships are sexual
The bigger problem for Pitt — and, honestly, most of us — is that whenever we’re in the presence of a member of the opposite sex, the assumption is something romantic, and thus sexual, is going on, regardless of whether we’re single, married, cohabiting, dating, divorced, widowed, asexual or gay/lesbian.
That’s a narrow way of viewing relationships, writes William Deresiewicz, and it too quickly sexualizes any kind of relationship:
We have trouble, in our culture, with any love that isn’t based on sex or blood. We understand romantic relationships, and we understand family, and that’s about all we seem to understand. We have trouble with mentorship, the asymmetric love of master and apprentice, professor and student, guide and guided; we have trouble with comradeship, the bond that comes from shared, intense work; and we have trouble with friendship, at least of the intimate kind. When we imagine those relationships, we seem to have to sexualize them. Close friendships between members of the same sex, after all, are also suspect. Even Oprah has had to defend her relationship with Gayle King, and as for men and men, forget about it.
Brad Pitt — handsome, talented, moneyed, self-aware, youthful despite his age — will probably have no problems finding a romantic partner if and when he wants one. We just shouldn’t assume he does.
Want to learn how to talk about monogamy? (Of course you do!) Then read The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels (Seal Press). You can support your local indie bookstore or order it on Amazon.
Originally published at omgchronicles.vickilarson.com