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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.

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).

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.

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.

Written by

Award-winning journalist, coauthor of “The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels,” mom, changing the narrative about older women

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