The most devastating celebrity breakups of 2023

This year was defined by celebrity breakups. As December finally comes to a close, Meredith Clark dissects some of the most heartbreaking splits and divorce filings of 2023

Friday 29 December 2023 22:41 GMT
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This year was one filled with ups and downs, especially when it comes to Hollywood’s favourite celebrity couples. It seems that 2023 was defined by one breakup announcement and divorce filing after another. The year started off strong with #Scandoval, the cheating scandal to end all cheating scandals, and went out with a bang with comedian Kathy Griffin filing for divorce from husband Randy Bick - just three days before the new year.

Some breakups were more shocking than others, such as Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau announcing their separation in September. Then there was Oscar winner Meryl Streep, who revealed that she and her husband of 45 years, Don Gummer, have been living their lives apart for more than six years.

There were some not-so-devastating breakups too, like Euphoria actor Lukas Gage and Kim Kardashian’s hairstylist Chris Appleton calling it quits just six months after their Las Vegas wedding. Plus, who can forget the jump for joy made by Swifties everywhere after the pop star ended her short-lived romance with The 1975 frontman Matty Healy? For then we would’ve never been graced with the relationship that is Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce, aka Traylor/Tayvis/Swelce.

Nevertheless, there were a handful of breakups that broke the hearts of many pop culture fanatics and made us believe maybe eternal love doesn’t exist after all. As the year comes to an end, here are some of the most heartbreaking splits of 2023.

Ariana Grande and Dalton Gomez

Let’s be honest: fans weren’t completely devastated when Ariana Grande and Dalton Gomez separated after two years of marriage. The former couple tied the knot in 2020, but much of their relationship was kept private due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, what did surprise fans of the “7 Rings” singer were reports that she was dating her Wicked co-star, Ethan Slater.

Less than one week after it was revealed the “Thank U, Next” songstress and her real estate broker husband were getting a divorce, People reported that Grande was now dating Broadway alum Ethan Slater. The pair reportedly sparked a romance while filming director Jon M Chu’s movie musical adaptation of Wicked in London. According to reports, they didn’t begin dating until after Slater had separated from his wife, Lilly Jay. The former couple, who had been married since 2018, are parents to a baby boy.

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Unsurprisingly, news of their romance caused quite a stir online as fans attempted to piece together the timeline of Grande’s relationship with Slater. Some people quickly discovered that Grande had liked many of Slater’s Instagram posts, including a Mother’s Day tribute to his wife, and their wedding anniversary post. Their newfound romance also prompted people to dissect and analyse Grande’s dating history, making claims about her previous relationships and unfairly labelling Grande as a “homewrecker”.

With just days left in 2023, Grande recently set the record straight regarding the many “assumptions” that have been made about her relationship with Slater. Taking to her Instagram Story, the Nickelodeon alum wrote in a post: “I’ve never felt more pride or joy or love while simultaneously feeling so deeply misunderstood by people who don’t know me, who piece whispers together and make what they want out of me and their assumptions of my life. I have learned how much more important one of those things is than the other.”

“I am wrapping you all in a cocoon of love and wishing you a very happy, healthy new year,” Grande added. “If you ever feel misunderstood or alone, just remember that it will pass and you are not that. Take a deep breath and know that you are so incredibly loved.”

Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello

Not only were Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello one of the hottest couples of the last decade, but their breakup also hurt the most. It was reported in July that the Modern Family star and the Magic Mike actor were divorcing after seven years of marriage. The news may not have come as a shock to some, considering Vergara had recently celebrated her 51st birthday with a trip through Italy sans her husband.

The True Blood actor had also raised eyebrows with his less-than-sappy birthday tribute to his wife. At the time, he simply posted a pixelated and blurry photo with the caption, “Feliz Cumpleaños Sofía!”, rather than his usual loving tribute.

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During their divorce proceedings, Vergara asked the court to enforce the estranged couple’s prenup, so she would be leaving the marriage with her separate property as well as all her separate earnings. In 2020, Forbes listed Vergara as the highest paid actress with a net worth of $43m, much of which she accumulated during her Modern Family days. She also took on a new role in 2020 as a judge on America’s Got Talent for a sum of $10m per season.

While it’s unclear exactly why Vergara and Manganiello called it quits, some reports suggested that they had “conflicting opinions” about having children. These days, the 46-year-old is reportedly dating 33-year-old actor Caitlin O’Connor. Meanwhile, Vergara has continued to live her best single life.

Britney Spears and Sam Asghari

For fans of the “Toxic” singer, her breakup with ex-husband Sam Asghari hit close to home. Britney Spears began dating the 29-year-old fitness instructor in 2016, when Asghari starred in the music video for Spears’ song “Slumber Party”.

It’s no secret that Spears was embroiled in a bitter legal battle to end her conservatorship, which was finally terminated in November 2021. Fans had grown fond of Asghari during the process, especially since he appeared to be Spears’ biggest support system as she fought to have her father, Jamie Spears, relinquish control of her multimillion-dollar fortune.

After nearly five years together, Asghari popped the question in September 2021 and they were married in a star-studded backyard ceremony in June 2022. But just one year later, rumours circulated surrounding Spears’ alleged infidelity and Asghari’s so-called attempts to renegotiate their prenuptial agreement.

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At the time, sources told People that Spears and Asghari’s marriage had “been very toxic between them for a long time,” while another insider maintained that the “Womanizer” singer was faithful to Asghari throughout their relationship.

Meanwhile, one outlet claimed that Asghari allegedly wanted Spears to “pay him more than what their prenup provides” in return for keeping her secrets following their split, but this was quickly denied by a representative for Asghari in a statement to The Independent.

Despite their divorce, Spears had nothing but positive things to say about her ex-husband in her best-selling memoir, The Woman in Me, which was released in October.

Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval

When it comes to Bravo’s critically-acclaimed reality series Vanderpump Rules, there’s always drama happening both on and off-screen. Back in March, fans of the Bravo show were stunned when it was revealed that cast member Tom Sandoval had engaged in a six-month long affair with his Vanderpump Rules co-star, Rachel “Raquel” Leviss.

At the time, the TomTom Restaurant and Bar co-owner was in a relationship with fellow cast member Ariana Madix for nearly 10 years, but the two have unsurprisingly split in the wake of the scandal.

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It all went down when Madix had found “a selfie video that was sexual in nature from Leviss” on Sandoval’s phone. After news of their breakup was leaked to TMZ, both Sandoval and Leviss issued public apologies to Madix in the wake of their infidelity.

Cameras quickly began filming to capture the fallout from the cheating scandal, and viewers were lucky enough to watch #Scandoval unfold during the show’s tenth season. During the season 10 finale, fans witnessed the explosive final conversation between Madix and Sandoval, as she confronted her ex-partner about his infidelity. Now, Madix is currently dating fitness trainer Daniel Wai.

The highly-anticipated 11th season of Vanderpump Rules premieres on 30 January 2024, and fans will finally be able to witness the aftermath of the year’s biggest cheating scandal.

Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas

Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner’s divorce was one of the most difficult breakups of 2023 to process. Fans fell in love with the unlikely pairing when they first began dating in 2016, namely because of Jonas’ “wife guy” energy and their amusing height difference.

The Jonas Brothers singer and the Game of Thrones actor were married in Las Vegas in 2019, when Turner was 23 and Jonas was 29. They welcomed their first daughter, Willa, in July 2020 and a second daughter, whose name they have not announced, in 2022.

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However, things turned sour when it was alleged that Jonas “had access to a ring camera” where he saw Turner “saying and/or doing something” that made him realise that their marriage wasn’t working. A source told TMZ that Turner had an apparent affinity for “partying”, which had been a reason behind Jonas making the decision to divorce. However, Turner stated in court documents that she learned about their separation through media reports.

Following the many allegations, it seems that things have since calmed down for the former couple. In October, Jonas and Turner entered a four-day mediation to discuss their custody and parenting plan in light of their divorce. Now, the actor is rumoured to be dating British aristocrat Peregrine Pearson.

Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness

Perhaps one of the most shocking splits of the year was Hugh Jackman’s divorce from his wife of nearly three decades, Deborra-Lee Furness.

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In September, the longtime couple announced their separation in a statement with People. “We have been blessed to share almost three decades together as husband and wife in a wonderful, loving marriage. Our journey now is shifting and we have decided to separate to pursue our individual growth,” they said. “Our family has been and always will be our highest priority. We undertake this next chapter with gratitude, love, and kindness. We greatly appreciate your understanding in respecting our privacy as our family navigates this transition in all of our lives.”

At the time, the Australian couple had been married for more than 27 years. They share two children together: Oscar, 23, and Ava, 18.

When they began dating in 1995, Jackman and Furness initially raised eyebrows for their 13-year age gap. However, they soon became one of the most beloved couples in Hollywood.

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