Are The Oscars Relationship Killers Or Is It All Just A Myth?

27.02.2018 Diana Boettcher
ⒸAhmet Yalçınkaya – Unsplash

Receiving an Oscar is one of the highlights or even the highlight in an actor’s career, but does the joy of winning the award come with the risk of a relationship breakup? What I’m talking about here is also known as the “Oscar love curse” –  it’s when an actor’s relationship ends shortly after receiving the Academy Award. Many believe that this typically happens to actresses and less so to their male colleagues.

On March 4, this year’s winners in the 24 categories will be announced. I thought that was reason enough for me to dig a little deeper and explore whether there actually is anything to the “Oscar love curse”. I’ve looked at the winners and nominees in the categories “Best Actor in a Leading Role”, “Best Actress in a Leading Role”, “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” and “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” and analyzed the relationship status of the 110 actors who over the past 11 years have either won Oscars or have been nominated.

Remarkably, and in contrast to public opinion, it was not the actresses’ but more the male actors’ relationships that ended shortly after they had received an Academy Award. What the data tells us is that actresses are four times less likely to break up than their male counterparts.

Of the winners in the category “Best Actor in a Leading Role”, 36 percent separated in the weeks after receiving the award. And of those nominated for this category, it was still high at 27 percent.

Actresses also have reason for concern, though, as 27 percent of the winners in the category “Best Actress in a Leading Role” broke up soon after bringing home the golden statuette.

The winners and nominees in the categories “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” or “Best Actress in a Supporting Role”, however, have very little to worry about as only one winner across the categories and eight of the 88 women as well as eight of the 88 men nominated saw their relationship fall apart.

As a couples therapist, I don’t think that’s simply down to chance or bad luck. I often observe very similar trends among my clients. Those with a very successful career often struggle in their relationships. And receiving an Oscar, even being nominated for one, is not just an accolade, it propels the actor into the spotlight and makes them first choice for some of the highest-paid roles. You can see how the actors then spend months on end solely focused on their careers. Unfortunately, that can lead to losing the emotional connection with a partner and once that’s gone, a relationship is inevitably heading for a breakup.

Often, women invest more energy into their relationship than men. They tend to find it easier than men to at least sometimes put their partner first, which helps them find a better work-love balance by adjusting their work routine in a way that allows them to be happy in their career and in their private life. That may well be a reason why actresses are less likely to break up after receiving an Oscar.

Now, here’s my advice to this year’s winners and nominees: thank your partner for being there for you, for helping you reach this milestone and for the sacrifices your partner has almost certainly made along the way. Attribute part of your success to your partner. Make your partner feel that whatever happens, they’re the one that matters to you most. After all, it’s the combination of a happy relationship and a rewarding career that makes for a fulfilling life.

KatgeorieNominee / WinnerYearNameMoviePartnerDate of Break-Up
Best Actor (male)Winner2017Casey AffleckManchester by the SeaSummer PhoenixAugust 2017
Best Actor (male)Winner2016Leonardo DiCaprioThe RevenantNina AgdalMay 2017
Best Supporting Actress (female)Nominee2016Rooney MaraCarolCharlie McDowellSeptember 2016
Best Actor (male)Nominee2015Bradley CooperAmerican SniperSuki WaterhouseMarch 2015
Best Supporting Actress (female)Nominee2015Emma StoneBirdmanAndrew GarfieldOctober 2015
Best Actor (male)Nominee2014Leonardo DiCaprioThe Wolf of Wall StreetToni GarnDecember 2014
Best Actor (male)Nominee2014Chiwetel Ejiofor12 Years a SlaveSari MercerSeptember 2015
Best Supporting Actor (male)Nominee2014Bradley CooperAmerican HustleSuki WaterhouseMarch 2015
Best Supporting Actor (male)Nominee2014Jonah HillThe Wolf of Wall StreetIsabelle McNallyApril 2014
Best Supporting Actress (female)Nominee2014Jennifer LawrenceAmerican HustleNicholas HoultAugust 2014
Best Supporting Actor (male)Nominee2013Philip Seymour HoffmanThe MasterMimi O’DonnellNovember 2013
Best Actress (female)Winner2013Jennifer LawrenceSilver Linings PlaybookNicholas HoultAugust 2014
Best Actor (male)Winner2012Jean DujardinThe ArtistAlexandra LamyNovember 2013
Best Actor (male)Nominee2012George ClooneyThe DescendantsStacy KeiblerJuly 2013
Best Supporting Actor (male)Nominee2012Jonah HillMoneyballAli HoffmanSeptember 2012
Best Actress (female)Nominee2012Michelle WilliamsMy Week with MarilynJason SegelFebruary 2013
Best Actor (male)Nominee2011James Franco127 HoursAgyness DeynAugust 2011
Best Actor (male)Nominee2010George ClooneyUp in the AirElisabetta CanalisJune 2011
Best Actor (male)Nominee2010Morgan FreemanInvictusMyrna Colley-LeeSeptember 2010
Best Actor (male)Nominee2010Jeremy RennerThe Hurt LockerJes MacallanMarch 2010
Best Actress (female)Winner2010Sandra BullockThe Blind SideJesse JamesMarch 2010
Best Actor (male)Winner2009Sean PennMilkRobin WrightAugust 2010
Best Actor (male)Nominee2009Mickey RourkeThe WrestlerCourtney LoveFebruary 2009
Best Actress (female)Winner2009Kate WinsletThe ReaderSam MendesMarch 2010
Best Supporting Actress (female)Nominee2009Taraji P. HensonThe Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonLamar OdomJune 2009
Best Actor (male)Nominee2008George ClooneyMichael ClaytonSarah LarsonMay 2008
Best Actor (male)Nominee2007Ryan GoslingHalf NelsonRachel McAdamsNovember 2008
Best Supporting Actress (female)Winner2007Jennifer HudsonDreamgirlsJames PeytonNovember 2007

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