Gwyneth Paltrow Explains Where The Phrase ‘Conscious Uncoupling’ Came From In Split With Chris Martin

Gwyneth Paltrow after her conscious uncoupling from husband Chris Martin

When Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow split back in 2014, they released a statement noting instead of just breaking up they were “conscious uncoupling.” It’s been a phrase that has followed Gwyneth Paltrow in particular ever since and she’s finally chosen to explain where the terminology came from. Apparently, it was a term a therapist had used to get them on the same page about exiting their marriage but still co-parenting their kids.

In a new essay this week, Gwyneth Paltrow explained a lot about the end of her marriage with Coldplay frontman Chris Martin. She noted that while they had great rapport, they never “quite fit together” and as the years wore on their relationship kept being like a puzzle piece that would just not go where they wanted it to.

Paltrow in particular says she really, really wanted to keep things amicable, telling the U.K. Vogue that was the moment “conscious uncoupling came in.” It was a way of living apart from one another but still sharing events and moments together, a concept that had been introduced by a therapist.

I had never heard of the phrase 'conscious uncoupling.' Frankly, the term sounded a bit full of itself, painfully progressive and hard to swallow. It was an idea introduced to us by our therapist, the man who helped us architect our new future. I was intrigued, less by the phrase, but by the sentiment. Was there a world where we could break up and not lose everything? Could we be a family, even though we were not a couple? We decided to try.

What happened next is very memorable. The phrase caught fire and became something the internet could not let go. The term was mocked and derided and called “pretentious.” Whether or not that was the intent of the former couple, these days a good majority of people probably equate Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin with the phrase “conscious uncoupling.” It’s cool that they can still hang out, though. Paltrow’s even gone as far as to call Chris Martin basically her “sibling” these days.

From the moment Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow dropped the “conscious uncoupling” letter onto her high-profile lifestyle service Goop, it’s been everywhere. But whereas before people mostly responded with what she says was “a strange combination of mockery and anger,” she says now they’ve seen the relationship she and her ex have fostered. These days, she says she gets a very different response.

Conscious uncoupling/separation/divorce, whatever you want to call it, has now permeated the break-up culture. Instead of people approaching me with, 'Why did you say that?,' they now approach me with, ‘How do you do that?’ It’s very different for every couple but, for me, it meant, more than anything, being accountable for my own part in the dissolution of the relationship. There existed aspects of myself I was trying to heal through this relationship that I wasn’t honest with myself about. I had been blind, guarded, invulnerable, intolerant. I had to admit that and be brave enough to share it.

So, I guess these days she feels more comfortable with the term than ever as it helped her to learn things about herself. The Marvel actress officially wrapped her divorce with Chris Martin in 2016 and since then has found new romance with Brad Falchuk, a producer most known for his work on Glee (where he met Gwyneth Paltrow) and American Horror Story. Things are going very well these days for her and for Goop, but it does just go to show how one minor decision in a press release can change things in a notable way in a person's life. Sometimes being an a-lister can be hard, as Paltrow's pal Cameron Diaz can also attest.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.