Jon Hamm & Jennifer Westfeldt Are My Relationship Role Models

I don’t care too much about celebrity couples, the flings and breakups and and marriages and babies. I’m far too cynical for all that: there’s so much smoke and mirrors going on in Hollywood that half that stuff is publicist B.S. anyway.

But I read the article in this week’s New York Times Magazine about “Friends With Kids” director/star Jennifer Westfeldt and her co-star/boyfriend, a little actor you may have heard of named Jon Hamm. They both sound like normal people who are bewildered by all scrutiny on them just because they’re famous and they’ve carried on a happy-sounding, healthy-sounding relationship for 14 years. How the hell do they do it? And how can I steal their secrets?

  • Ego doesn’t seem to be a problem.  They started dating at different places in their careers — and stayed together as it has shifted.  Jennifer’s career was initially much more successful than Jon’s. Her first film, “Kissing Jessica Stein,” debuted in 2001 and her second film, “Ira And Abby,” debuted in 2006. Jon Hamm didn’t find his career success until “Mad Men” went on the air in 2007. If you were a regular filmgoer in the early aughties, you probably knew who she was, but now she’s sort of been relegated to “Jon Hamm’s girlfriend” status.  
  • He welcomes and wants her success. My heart just about fell out of my chest when I read Jon Hamm praising his partner vis-a-vis pointing out the double standard against strong, successful women who write and direct.  “People are going to be naturally predisposed to dislike sisters who are doing it for themselves,” Jon told the magazine. “And it’s crazy, and it’s not just men; it’s very often other women. There seems to be this expectation of: ‘Hold on, lady. You just stay in your place. Don’t try to reach for too much.'” Swoon. How many dudes in Hollywood can say the same?      
  • They are each other’s ying and yang. My boyfriend is going to laugh at me for comparing him and I to Jon Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt, but reading their dialogue in this piece reminded me exactly like my own relationship and how we balance each other out. Jon Hamm describes his partner as “a tremendous optimist” and a “hopeless romantic.” She calls him “a little darker.” He says he’s a “pragmatist.” She admits she’s “a little more gullible,” “tends to think everyone’s awesome” and gets her heart broken often because she isn’t suspicious of other people. Then he smiles and says “That’s why I’m here.” SWOON.
  • They force themselves to be “really active in our commitment.” Another part of this interview that I loved is when they talk about how they make their busy careers work. Jennifer was cast in a Broadway show while Jon was filming “Mad Men” and so they carried on a long-distance relationship for awhile, flying cross-country even if it was just to see each other for the weekend. “I’m not going to be like: ‘Well, I’m on a TV show, so who’s going to take care of the dog? Who’s going to hang out?'” He said. “It’s like, ‘You’re going to go to Broadway, and we’ll figure it out.’ And the opposite is true.” How refreshing to read about successful person whose attitudes towards each other are not “my way or the highway.”
  • They might have kids, they might not. But they’re happy just the way they are. I used to ardently desire getting married and having children. It was only until recently that I’ve come to conceptualize the idea that I could be happy without doing either of those those, or neither of those things. When asked whether the couple plans to have kids, Jennifer Westfeldt says she never planned to be 42 and childless. But on the other hand, she concedes, “We have a pretty great life together.” And they have done so for 14 years.

I don’t get the feeling that Jon and Jennifer were putting up a front for the reporter, but I’m also sure there have been bumps in the road they weren’t discussing here. Of course they’re not obligated to discuss their relationship’s bumps in the road, especially since they both seem intent on a measure of privacy. Whatever they’re doing — that which they share and that which they keep private — is working. I can only hope that when I’m 42-years-old, I’m as professionally fulfilled as Jennifer Westfeldt and happily waking up each day next to the love of my life who happens to be a hot manpiece. 

[New York Times Magazine]

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