January 1, 2023

Brutally Honest Relationship Advice that we all Need to Hear—courtesy of Chelsea Handler.

Chelsea Handler is known for comedy (the straightforward, sometimes offensive, usually raunchy kind) and, at times, controversy.

But in the last few years, Handler has also been taking steps to show a more vulnerable side of herself. Whether she’s talking about spirituality or white privilege or being in love, it seems her walls have come down a bit.

I haven’t always agreed with her opinions or found her jokes worthy of a laugh—honestly, some of them have made me cringe—but I appreciate the growth she’s shown. And I respect that she’s someone who can be brutally honest about her life, whether she’s blissfully happy or down and struggling.

Toward the end of 2021 and the beginning of last year, during her relationship with fellow comedian Jo Koy, Handler was candid about the highs that come with falling in love, with finding someone who looks after you, who puts you first. It was exactly the kind of gushy sentiments that no one would have expected from her, which made her feelings even more inspiring.


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But in July of last year, Handler announced that she and Koy had ended their relationship.

While their breakup announcement was overwhelmingly positive, and even left many feeling hopeful that they could reconcile, this past week Handler shed some light on what ultimately went wrong:

During her appearance on Brooke Shields’ “Now What?” podcast, Handler said:

“I really believed that this was my guy. I thought, ‘Oh my God, I won.’ Like I got everything. I have my career, I have respect, I have my family, I have so many friends, I have all of these things. And then I thought this was gonna be the person I spend my life with..And then, towards the end of the relationship, it just became clear that this was not my person.”

But it was this bold relationship advice that caught my attention:

“There were just some behaviors that we couldn’t agree on…It felt to me like I would have to abandon myself, which maybe I would have been okay to do if I were 20 or 25, but I wasn’t willing to do that. No matter how much I loved this person—and I loved him so much—I was not going to abandon myself.”

I’ve been there, trapped in that place where we want to make things work so bad that we start twisting ourselves into a version of ourselves that doesn’t feel real or honest or even comfortable. A version that requires us to put on an act, to perform just so we can hold on to someone we desperately don’t want to lose.

Sometimes the changes start small. We think we’re compromising and learning to work together, because those are behaviors we’ve been taught we need to master in healthy relationships. But then the changes get bigger and more drastic, and we realize that compromising only works when both people are invested and willing to give and take.

Otherwise, we’re just putting ourselves last. We’re saying that who we are and what we need matters less. That we matter less.

And honestly, once we get to that place—a place where we’ve lost basic respect and care for ourselves—the relationship is over. Even if we stay together.

I don’t know the specifics of Handler and Koy’s relationship or their breakup, other than what she’s shared, but I commend her for being brave enough to put herself first. To prioritize her own self-respect, even if that meant walking away from someone she believed was her forever.

To be brutally honest with herself, with the person she loved, and with those of us who can use her experience as a lesson.


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