Getty Images E! Illustration
There will come a time in every celebrity’s life—or, at least, every celebrity who chooses to date among their peers in hollywood—when they will find themselves with a celebrity ex. It’s just math, really. The chances of staying with the first star one dates is pretty impossible. So yes, there will be exes.
And when this happens celebrities can choose one of two paths: They can be friends or they can be enemies. Clearly most will choose to be friends, but there are certain precautions that must be taken before one embarks on a conscious uncoupling of this sort. There are things to do, and there are things absolutely not to do. So all future celebrity exes, take note! Let the friendly (and not-so-friendly) exes that came before guide the way.
To start, this first rule cannot be stressed enough. Do. Not. Live. Together. After. You. Break. Up. We understand the temptation here: Any celebrity who has started a family with their ex does not want to split up said family. You are focused on keeping your children’s lives as stable as possible and the idea of shuttling them back and forth between new homes feels upsetting. Plus, the house you did share is probably a kick-ass mansion that nobody wants to give up.
But celebrities are also millionaires, and most of the time millionaires can afford two kick-ass mansions. Co-habitating will only complicate things and also postpone the inevitable new relationship hurdle that every former couple must overcome. Instead try living down the street or in the same neighborhood. You can both have your fabulous spreads, and you no longer have to wake up when they come home late or see them before they’ve had their morning coffee. If there’s any good to come of being single, it’s not having to deal with someone before they’ve had their morning coffee.
That being said, getting coffee together is actually a great, E! News-sanctioned, celebrity ex activity. More generally, we advocate for hanging out during daylight hours. It can be hard to decide what a former couple should do together when you’re trying to be friends: Should you get beers? Have dinner? Wait outside for last-minute Hamilton tickets?
As long as everything is completed during daylight hours, do as your heart desires. Once the sun goes down things get tricky for former flames trying to be friends. You need the sun there to shine a glaring light of truth onto everything from your hand placement to a laugh that is a bit too flirty. So get coffee, and bonus points if you show up fresh from the gym.
Go to church. We don’t necessarily want to bring Jesus into this if He’s not interested, but attending Sunday services has worked for many a now-cordial pair of celebrity exes. This is really only advised if it’s something you did together before you broke up We can’t expect Rich Wilkerson to perform former-couple miracles, now can we? Plus, the attire required for church ensures that no one is going to have a wandering eye long hemlines and high buttons are your friend.
Once a former couple has graduated from those stages it’s time to take it to the next level: Mutual vacations. It sounds crazy, sure. But this isn’t a romantic stay in an overwater bungalow in Fiji here. Just something cool and casual, hopefully with the children you are co-parenting or a group of mutual friends. A big villa in Cabo, say, or a ski trip to Aspen. Take it from Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin: They’ve traveled together several times and are basically the picture of what to do as exes.
But while you’re on that vacation, don’t you dare think of reconciling. Seriously, that is the biggest mistake that a former celebrity couple can make. It never works. Just don’t even try it. You will end up breaking up again and this time there will be no question of staying friendly.
A few other quick tips to keep things cordial enough for friendship: Don’t go off-script after you’ve issued a joint breakup statement. Do work together, but only on a movie that isn’t awkward. That means don’t play a couple. Do constantly praise each other in the press post-breakup. Don’t do a tell-all article in a big glossy magazine. Do make nice with their new significant other. Don’t stalk them on Instagram. (That’s great advice for the famous and non-famous alike.) Do try to avoid too many of the same public events at the beginning. Don’t make it too obvious, because it will only get people talking.
And, because it begs repeating, don’t try to get back together.