When your relationship lives in the spotlight, it withers in the spotlight.
Some celebrities have gone to great measures to keep their private lives private. Remember Janet Jackson’s eight-year secret marriage to Rene Elizondo, confirmed only when they got divorced?
Not so for Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson, who in the summer quickly confirmed their (what seemed unlikely) pairing via Instagram and matching “Harry Potter” robes. A reportedly $100,000 engagement ring, $16 million shared New York apartment and some matching tattoos later, they were a full-fledged Internet obsession that put their love on display via late-night interviews, award show red carpets and “Saturday Night Live” episodes.
But real life was also happening to these two humans, and the relationship that became the object of endless fascination ended. Here’s a step-by-step guide to breaking up while famous, the Pete and Ariana edition.
1. Go silent
The actual news of the breakup doesn’t come directly from the celebrities involved. Instead, all we discover comes from an array of tabloids, citing “unnamed sources” confirming the split.
In the case of “Grandson” (which is Grande plus Davidson), TMZ reported that “it simply was not the right time for their relationship to take off.” Grande’s long-term former boyfriend Mac Miller died in September, and TMZ called out Grande’s tweets about her going through a rough patch.
Messages about how there are no ill feelings between the two get telegraphed in the coverage. People noted that Davidson’s social media accounts were no longer active amid the news, and Grande had previously said she was taking time off from her public life.
2. Return the ring (but keep the pig)
As with any breakup, particularly one that doesn’t seem to involve poisonous rancor, decorum dictates it’s best to return the engagement ring (at least that’s what Miss Manners has to say about it).
Per TMZ, Grande reportedly gave back the very expensive engagement ring Davidson had given her. Makes sense.
But what about pets? There’s the matter of Piggy Smallz, the pet pig they had and adored — so much so that Davidson got a likeness of the pig tattooed on his torso.
According to TMZ, the pig remains in Grande’s care: “Ariana bought the pig and it was really hers from the get-go, so she’s keeping it.” Fair enough. Davidson had previously explained that the pig was her idea, anyway. “Can I just say, this girl, she was like, ‘I want a pig!’ And then an hour later it was just there,” Davidson told Seth Meyers last month. “Like I’m still trying to get a Propecia refill for the last two weeks.”
3. Cover tattoos
Forget diamonds — tattoos are forever. Davidson and Grande wasted no time getting tattoos with each other, in another very public proclamation of their affection.
But, when things end, you’re stuck with a tattoo that can be nothing more than a reminder of how things went wrong. And “Grandson” apparently took some immediate measures. The headlines screamed: “Ariana Grande covers up Pete Davidson tattoo with a plaster,” “Ariana Grande covers Pete Tat like a bad boo-boo” and “Exclusive: Pete Davidson covers up Ariana Grande-inspired neck tattoo.”
4. Cryptic statements
While all the gossip websites divulge every little detail and eagle-eyed Internet sleuths zoom in on every paparazzi photo, you don’t say much about it at all.
Grande didn’t exactly confirm the split but returned to social media briefly, posting a message on her Instagram stories after taping NBC’s “A Very Wicked Halloween”: “ok today was v special and i’m so grateful i was able to be there. time to say bye bye to the internet for just a lil bit. it’s hard not to bump news n stuff that i’m not tryna to see rn. it’s very sad and we’re all tryin very hard to keep goin. love u. and thank u for bein here always.”
What is this “news n stuff?” Is this a direct comment about her still-not-officially-confirmed breakup? You can’t be 100 percent sure.
5. Talk openly about it
If you can’t be truthful in comedy, when can you be? A week after word first broke of a split, Davidson reportedly talked about the breakup in a stand-up set Saturday night at the Largo in Los Angeles, as part of the “Judd and Pete for America — Benefit to Swing Left” event.
Davidson cracked jokes that directly addressed his failed relationship, according to E! News. “Obviously, you know, I, we broke up or whatever but when me and her first got engaged, we got tattoos,” Davidson said. And now, he’s busy “covering a bunch of tattoos."
“Well, as you can tell, I don’t want to be here,” he told the crowd, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “There’s a lot going on. Anybody have any open rooms? Anybody looking for a roommate?”
Incorporating your pain into your art? The breakup cycle is now complete.