30 Famous Women on Heartbreak

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"You can survive anything." — Jennifer Aniston
"You can survive anything." — Jennifer AnistonPhoto: Getty Images

Some cope with heartbreak by devouring pints of ice cream; others take an impromptu weeklong residency at KFC to pair buckets of tears with buckets of fried chicken. Whatever the coping mechanism — junk food, sun, solitude, exercise, tears, or travel — the bottom line is this: We’ve all been there. Whether it’s referred to as a breakup, separation, “conscious uncoupling,” or divorce, the upshot is the same: The relationship has ended and a wave of emotions is bound to follow.

Below, we’ve gathered heartbreak quotes from women who’ve experienced breakups in full view of the public and come out on the other end with grit, grace, and strength. Read on for words of wisdom from Rihanna, Amy Poehler, Jennifer Aniston and more on their personal experiences facing heartbreak, dealing with it, and moving forward with their lives.

Mary Karr

“Even Jesus bitched about his suffering, and if we read him right, he suffered our agonies too. No one leaves this planet without having plenty of heartbreak.” — Poetry Foundation, December 2012

Serena Williams

“I think everyone kind of goes through [heartbreak]. It definitely isn’t a good feeling. I think having surgery is definitely a lot easier — having a pulmonary embolism is definitely a lot easier than a heartbreak.” — Piers Morgan Live, May 2012

Selena Gomez

“At first I didn’t care [about the tabloid scrutiny]. To me it was: I’m 18, I have a boyfriend, we look cute together, we like that. Then I got my heart broken and I cared. Because people had no idea what was going on, but everywhere it was a million different things.” — W magazine, February 2016

Sylvia Plath

“There is so much hurt in this game of searching for a mate, of testing, trying. And you realize suddenly that you forgot it was a game, and turn away in tears.” ― The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1982

Erykah Badu

“My best advice for moving on from a relationship is you gotta go all the way through it. If you don’t want to let go yet, keep on calling and getting hung up on. Keep on following him around and getting embarrassed. When you get tired enough, you will evolve, I promise. But you gotta go all the way through it. You know, you gotta get your weave snatched out a couple more times. You gotta keep moving. Go through it. You’ll evolve.” — her Twitter, December 2015

Amy Poehler

“Imagine spreading everything you care about on a blanket and then tossing the whole thing up in the air. The process of divorce is about loading that blanket, throwing it up, watching it all spin, and worrying what stuff will break when it lands.” — Yes Please, October 2014

Nora Ephron

“People always say that once it goes away, you forget the pain. It’s a cliché of childbirth: you forget the pain. I don’t happen to agree. I remember the pain. What you really forget is love. Divorce seems as if it will last ­forever, and then suddenly, one day, your ­children grow up, move out, and make lives for themselves. The divorce has lasted way longer than the marriage, but finally it’s over … The point is that for a long time, the fact that I was divorced was the most important thing about me. And now it’s not.” — I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections, 2010

Jennifer Aniston

“You don’t want to feel that when a marriage ends, your life is over. You can survive anything. Compared to what other people are surviving out there in the world, this is not so bad, in the grand scheme of things. Human endurance is unbelievable. Think of what mothers of soldiers have to rise above! Everything’s relative. Nothing’s broke. Maybe a little bruised.” — Vanity Fair, September 2005

Mindy Kaling

“He broke up with me. It was years ago that that breakup happened … [I was] so sad. Not angry. Sad, sad. That was the hottest I’ve ever looked because I stopped eating. When I get depressed I stop eating. So I was so miserable and so beautiful.” — “Howard Stern Show,” September 2014

Elizabeth Wurtzel

“I was, after the breakup, what you call a complete wreck. For the first time in my life, my pain had a focus. And I just couldn’t help myself. I didn’t care what anyone thought, I didn’t care that all the girls in school would say, See, he finally got wise, I didn’t care how stupid I would look with teary mascara stains and purple eyeliner tracks down my cheeks, I didn’t care about anything except how this was the worst pain ever. I used to weep for never having anything worth losing, but now I was simply resplendent — puffy, red, hysterical — with a loss I could identify completely.” — Prozac Nation, 1994

Stevie Nicks

“That electric crazy attraction between Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks never dies, never will die, never will go away. He’s married, he’s happy, he has three beautiful children that I love. You know, he’s found a good, happy, calm, safe place — but who Lindsey and I are to each other will never change. It’s over. It doesn’t mean the great feeling isn’t there, it must mean that … you know, we’re Beauty and the Beast. It means that the love is always there but we’ll never be together, so that’s even more romantic.” — MTV, April 2009

Madonna

“Last year, you and Guy Ritchie got divorced …

“You don’t have to lower your voice when you say that. It’s not a bad word. I thought we were talking about music, though. If you can connect the idea of divorce to music, I’ll talk to you about it.” — Rolling Stone, October 2009

Katy Perry

“There were two weeks of my life after I found out the truth of my marriage where I was like, ‘OK. All right. I can’t feel this. This is too intense right now.’ I was, like, just eating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and drinking, and that’s it … There are two ways you can go: You can either nurture yourself or go destructive. I have gone down the destructive path before, and that didn’t work for me. You dig deep beyond those scars and find that soft tissue again, and you massage and nurture it and bring it to life, little by little, through serving yourself well. I did it through hikes and vitamins and therapy and prayer and good friends.” — Marie Claire, January 2014

Uma Thurman

“When I was first going through my separation, someone said to me, ‘It will take you half as long as you were in the relationship before you’ll feel better.’ And I wanted to knock them out cold across the table. Because, of course, I was in agony. And the last thing I wanted to think was that I was going to stay that way for a long time. But interestingly enough, it is over four years later — we were together eight years — and I finally feel like, cool. I feel better.” — Redbook, February 2008

Elizabeth Gilbert

“If you are among the brokenhearted today, I am so sorry for what you are going through. I know what you are feeling. There’s a hole in center of your chest that nobody can see, and it feels like your soul is leaking right through it. You either cannot sleep at all, or you sleep all day. You either cannot eat at all, or you cannot stop eating. You are either dead numb, or you cannot stop sobbing. You are either incapable of working, or terrified that somebody will make you stop working and then you will have to focus on your terrible sorrow. … I guarantee you — we have all been there. Every single one of us. And if we could survive it, you can, too.” — “A Letter to the Brokenhearted,” her Facebook, January 2015

Jerry Hall

“There is nothing more humiliating than loving him so much that you forgive the infidelities.” — McCall’s magazine, 1992

Emma Stone

“I was crawling on the floor. I remember throwing up. Like, within the hour … I have never felt anything quite like that. It was so visceral. It’s like someone has killed you and you have to live through it and watch it happen … It was awful.” — Interview, August 2012

Reese Witherspoon

“[Divorce is] very humiliating and very isolating … But, by the way, if it’s not painful, maybe it wasn’t the right decision to marry to begin with. Those are the appropriate emotions.” — Elle, March 2009

Princess Diana

“There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded. Friends of my husband’s were indicating that I was unstable, sick, and should be put in a home of some sort to get better so I wouldn’t be an embarrassment.” — BBC, 1995

Taylor Swift

“There’s just been this earth-shattering, not recent, but absolute crash-and-burn heartbreak, and that will turn out to be what the next album is about. The only way that I can feel better about myself — pull myself out of that awful pain of losing someone — is writing songs about it to get some sort of clarity.” — Vogue, January 2012

Rihanna

“I was very lost. I have to say I felt really confused. I hate talking about it but it was really crazy because I felt so out of touch with myself and when that happens it’s scary because nothing you say or do feels like it’s you. You just lose touch of everything that you love and everything that you would normally do; how you would dress or how you would say something … [But] once you’re back on your feet — if you ever make it back on your feet — that’s the ultimate achievement. I remember I was in New York at the Trump Hotel and I woke up and I just knew I was over it. It was a different day. I felt different. I didn’t feel lonely. I felt like I wanted to get up and be in the world. That was a great, great feeling.” — Marie Claire UK, December 2010

Alexa Chung

“I asked my mum instead [about heartbreak] and she told me: ‘Nobody goes through life without having their heart broken and one day you’ll wake up and it will be okay’ … There are upsides to despair. You can wear a blanket instead of a coat and your friends won’t judge you. You can smoke indoors because nobody will have the heart to tell an inconsolable girl that a smoking ban has been in place for eight years. And you find out that people are very nice and that they care about you even if the person you care about most doesn’t. When somebody makes you laugh when you’re sad, that’s the most enjoyable laugh you’ll ever experience.” — It, October 2013

Anne Hathaway

“I think the thing that I have learn[ed] is that a bad love experience is no reason to fear a new love experience. But you have to be very honest at every single stage with the person about how you’ve been hurt, and hopefully they will be supportive about whatever it is that you have to go through … Everybody has bad relationships and, at the end of the day, they are just a great way to set yourself up for a good relationship.” — The Telegraph, 2010

Ava Gardner

“When you have to face up to the fact that marriage to the man you love is really over, that’s very tough, sheer agony. In that kind of harrowing situation, I always go away and cut myself off from the world. Also, I sober up immediately when there is genuine bad news in my life; I never face it with alcohol in my brain. I just rented a house in Palm Springs and sat there and just suffered for a couple of weeks. I suffered there until I was strong enough to face it.” — Ava: My Story, October 1990

Nicole Kidman

“Well, I can wear heels now.” — Late Show With David Letterman, July 2001

Ellen DeGeneres

“What I don’t mind saying is, it was the first time I ever had my heart broken. I’d always been the one to leave relationships, and I had been in long-term relationships, and it was the one time I really believed this is forever. I’m going to be with this person forever, and I felt safe and I felt we shared so much together, and it was the first time I’ve had my heart broken, and it was in a big way. Because there is no closure. I’ve had a girlfriend who was killed in a car accident. I know what it’s like to lose someone. and that’s a horrible feeling, [but] it’s almost worse to lose someone and know they’re still alive out there, and I don’t understand.” — Los Angeles Times, September 2001

Tavi Gevinson

“You can’t stay with your high-school sweetheart forever. People do, but you shouldn’t … I flew straight to New York for a wedding and then I visited Taylor Swift at her home in Rhode Island. I hate being heartbroken, but who better to discuss it with than Taylor Swift? … I had some time in Oak Park to reclaim everything that had happened in my life thus far as my own. And actually, coming out of the breakup has kind of reignited my love for fashion, because it’s a way of asserting a new identity and becoming a new person and giving yourself space.” — New York, August 2014

Miley Cyrus

“When I went through a really intense breakup — you know, I was engaged — and when I was with [Liam] or when I was on Disney, the thing that gave me the most anxiety was not knowing what to do with myself when Disney wasn’t there to carry me anymore or if I didn’t have him. And now I’m free of both of those things, and I’m fine. Like, I lay in bed at night by myself and I’m totally okay, and that’s so much stronger than the person three years ago, who would have thought they would have died if they didn’t have a boyfriend.” — Elle, May 2014

Jennifer Lopez

“Back then the pain hurt so much, but I didn’t want what happened to finish me. I wanted it to help me grow for the better. I didn’t want to just survive it; I wanted to come out of it stronger than I was before. It took a lot of digging to do that … Right now I’d say it was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through, because of the kids. When you’re this little scrappy girl and things happen, you just cry yourself to sleep. But when you’re responsible for two other human beings and their lives and emotional well being, that’s a biggie. You’re constantly wondering: ‘Am I doing the right thing here?’” — Glamour UK, March 2014

Gloria Steinem

“Your old lovers get to be your really old lovers, and you can’t remember who broke up with who, or who got mad at who — just that the two of you remember things that no one else in the world does.” — New York Times, March 2014