Ah, 6 p.m. on a Friday. Historically, it’s a time when the general public is as tuned into the world as a lobotomized oyster. So when Olivia Wilde and Harry Styles’ PR team pushed out the news that their highly publicized relationship—which dominated this summer and fall’s tabloids—has tapered out, one has to assume there’s a capital-R Reason.
“Right now, they have different priorities that are keeping them apart,” a source told People. Styles will continue on his 5,000-city Love on Tour tour. Wilde plans to focus on her kids, her work, and her double-checking that her ex-beau Jason Sudeikis isn’t splayed out beneath her car. A relationship that started with such a hard launch has now tried to Irish exit out the back door. But unfortunately for them, I am waiting in the alley armed with QUESTIONS! Namely—why such a quiet closure after months and months of cacophonous tabloid fodder?!
The timing of this split, and the reticence with which it was announced, definitely lends itself to the theory that the relationship was tied to the marketing and rollout of Don’t Worry Darling. The breakup comes almost two months to the day after the film’s release. If this is the case, though, I’m sort of surprised they didn’t keep up the ruse until after awards season. And further, some of the duo’s behavior the prior week just doesn’t feel very “we’re a complete PR relationship” to me.
Wilde was spotted dancing with her kids at Styles’ concert three days before their breakup was announced. Maybe she wanted to cash in on some free tickets before the relationship’s expiration date? But it does feel sort of reckless to bring the kids you share with your contentious ex-beau to a huge, publicized event of your boyfriend’s if you know you’re going to be done-zo with said boyfriend by the weekend, right?
And the day before the dancing, Wilde and Styles were photographed by Backgrid, a paparazzi agency known for staging celeb pics, leaving the gym. The Daily Mail title would have you think they were working out together, but deeper into the piece, it seems like they were actually ships in the night. Still, the decision to push the united front, if we are to believe that they’re staged, doesn’t align with the split they’re trying to sell us just a few days later.
Personally, I’m inclined to believe there was some substance at the base of this pairing. I will never ever in my life forget the first photos of the couple, attending Jeffrey Azoff’s wedding. Olivia’s outfit—the headband, the silk clutch that looks like a sex toy pouch, the Laura Ingalls Wilder dress—screams “this is my first time leaving a sex den in three days.” Yes, those photos, too, are Backgrid, but there is simply no denying the chaotic concupiscence emanating from them.
Don’t drag me to hell, but my personal theory is that young ‘n free Styles pushed the brakes on the relationship following Wilde’s contentious and public back-and-forths with Sudeikis. I think the breakup and the relationship might have been real, and burying it might be aimed to downplay the heartbreak.
Whatever real feelings existed or didn’t at the center of 2022’s most discussed duo, we must now bid them farewell. Their contract, manufactured or genuine, has expired. Maybe I’m just a sucker for love, but my favorite thing about this relationship was that (at times) it really felt like a relationship.