Gwen Stefani didn’t understand why men broke her heart: ‘I had such loving role models’

68th Emmy Awards

Post-Gavin Rossdale, Gwen Stefani has changed up her look. It’s not a complete transformation, but I appreciate the fact that it’s almost like she’s drawn a line in the sand with her style, the Gavin Years vs. the Blake Years. The Blake Years have been about slightly more conservative clothing, a little bit of “country” mixed in, and some phasing out of the red lips. She’s weaning herself off of the red lipstick, and she’s been doing this “nude lip” which always makes me double-take. It looks good though. (Left unspoken: Gwen has been jacking her face for years.) Anyway, Gwen and her nude lipstick cover the holiday issue of Marie Claire. She chats about Blake, about heartbreak and about spending so much time in Oklahoma now.

On Blake: “He’s my best friend,” says Stefani simply, and though she claims not to want to talk about their relationship “too much,” she really doesn’t have to.

She didn’t understand her bad luck with men: “For a long time, I could not understand why I’d had so much heartache in my life,” says Stefani, who’d been in only two serious relationships before Shelton—one for seven years with No Doubt’s Tony Kanal, the other for 20 years with Rossdale, the father of her three boys. Both men broke her heart. “I have parents who are still married and in love. I had such loving role models. I didn’t understand it.”

On what heartbreak taught her: “What I learned was that my heartbreak was supposed to happen, that it was my purpose to write about and share my story. I met at least 50 to 100 people before each show on my tour and got to hear that my truth and my story translated, and I feel very lucky and honored knowing that.”

On finding spirituality: “…Spiritual exercise got me somewhere. Some people like to meditate, do yoga, or just take quiet time, but for me – instead of how you talk to yourself, you pray. You surrender and ask for guidance. It’s not all about you.”

On life with Blake Shelton – recently named People’s Sexiest Man Alive – and how they spend their time on Shelton’s ranch in Oklahoma: “It’s very tribal. Blake has a sister, she comes with her kids. We cook and get muddy and dirty. There are ATV’s. Being a mother of three boys, it’s kind of the perfect place. Everything is real now, whereas before, things didn’t seem so real.”

[From Marie Claire]

I felt a little pang for her with this: “I had such loving role models. I didn’t understand it.” I think that’s the answer for why she stayed with Gavin for so long when other women would have gotten out. Gwen believed in marriage, she believed in “forever,” and she believed that people who get married will stay married. She didn’t know how to get a divorce and do all of that. I also felt a pang for her with this: “Everything is real now, whereas before, things didn’t seem so real.” Is it wrong to hope that Blake and Gwen actually are for real? Because I think Blake adores her sons and he’s already doing the step-dad thing. Those kids are attached to him now.

68th Emmy Awards

Photos courtesy of Kai Z Feng for Marie Claire.

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48 Responses to “Gwen Stefani didn’t understand why men broke her heart: ‘I had such loving role models’”

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  1. Courtney says:

    Going through a split now after 16 years (my entire adult life). Cheated on.

    I feel everything she’s saying here.

    • LB says:

      I am sorry you are going through it Courtney, it is a very painful process. I am also a member of the cheated on and split after 16 years with three children club. I feel her too. The pain is finite I promise.

    • Jayna says:

      Aw. I’m sorry to hear that. What a tough time for it to happen, the holidays.

    • Thoma says:

      I’m so sorry to hear that, Courtney. My ex cheated on me after 19 years of marriage. I found out right around this time six years ago. There are no words for the trauma a devastation it causes. All the best you! You will come through this stronger, better, and happier–I did.

    • Coop says:

      Sending love your way, Courtney! The betrayal must hurt your heart beyond words, but boy you’ll be so proud of yourself when you rise from the ashes as the powerful, independent woman you are.

    • Brian says:

      Sorry for your struggle, boo. Keep your head up!

    • Jigli says:

      Go seek Chumplady, Courtney, for support, if you haven’t found her blog already. I wish you all the best.

  2. Neelyo says:

    Saw an interview with her recently and her face doesn’t move AT ALL. It was like she was wearing a plastic Halloween mask with a hole for the mouth.

  3. Elizabeth Rose says:

    Oh wow. I had no idea she processed her feelings this way. I’ve never found her relatable but this interview really got me in both the places Kaiser mentioned. Especially the part about loving role models. I didn’t have that and have always thought that that was why I’ve been through heartache but I guess nothing is a guarantee – that even people who come from loving and stable families aren’t safe, it somehow makes me feel a little less doomed somehow. We’re all just trying to make it in this life. I really wish her all the best with Blake. She deserves happiness.

    • Jayna says:

      Yeah, it was a poignant interview. Her parents are very down-home people. Her parents and brother and sister-in-law and their daughter go up to Oklahoma often. So it’s a big family affair up there between Blake’s sister and kids and Gwen’s adorable niece and her own children running around. She snapchats holiday dinners, and it’s all mismatched plates she’s collected. One plate is my mother’s one plate I kept after she died, and I’ve lost it. But all the videos are really just like a normal family with lots of kids and noise and family laughing. A lot of people don’t know that Blake’s brother was killed when Blake was 16, so holidays are bittersweet for him. That’s why he has a home in Oklahoma to be close to his sister and mother. His father passed away also.

      Gwen’s kids and her niece Stella did little cameos in Blake’s new music video. The two oldest boys and her niece can be seen dancing in the beginning, and at the end, the back of the littlest one’s head in the scene. People can say a lot of things about Blake, but he fell in love with someone older than him going through a lot of emotional baggage and with three kids, one in diapers. You don’t see that happening with musicians, really. They always move on to a 20-something-year-old, like Gavin is now with. I hope Gwen and Blake work out. They seem to accept each other as they are, not trying to change each other. Blake’s fashion sense is still flannel shirts.

      Blake’s video with brief shots of Zuma and Kingston and Stella, and little Apollo.

      • Jigli says:

        But it doesn’t add up, sadly. Blake cheated on his first wife with Miranda, and then Miranda cheated on him. He’s really in no position to offer solace to someone who has been betrayed, sorry. Bad combo again.

    • shlockOftheNEw says:

      Well, the people who didn’t have loving role models (like me) are more the norm and can shake things up. People vacillate between cold and manipulative; “lasting power” is shrunk by so many healthy and dysfunctional trends in society. Some of the “breaking out” of “family culture” can be healthy for women in particular, but it’s hard to accept the new paradigm of blended family; we live in a cultural Pandora’s Box.

  4. minx says:

    Well, Gavin didn’t seem like the best marriage material. I don’t know anything about the first guy.

    • Jayna says:

      Toni was a great guy, still is. They started dating when they were teenagers, like 17 I think. Dating that young and being in a band together all the time with Gwen becoming the breakout star as the frontwoman, he was eventually ready to move on, as many young men are, and spread his wings and date. She wasn’t. She was in love with him. To their credit, the band stayed together. Gwen wrote a great album off of the pain of the breakup while in No Doubt, their breakout album. They remain friends.

    • Tourmaline says:

      I read somewhere that before the paternity test revealed Gavin was Daisy Lowe’s father, he lied to Gwen and said that he had never even slept with Pearl Lowe…

  5. JA says:

    She NEVER took her makeup off when married to Gavin, if that’s not a metaphor for how their marriage was, I don’t know what you tell you. Gwen you’re a beautiful talented woman… you’re enough! You don’t need the constant procedures to stay beautiful… enjoy your life, your children, your hopefully real new love!! I like Gwen and I hope she loves herself to live a happy life.

    • Sylvia says:

      Wow, that’s incredibly sad. I can’t imagine living like that, not being able to truly be your most naked self around your own husband. I love her, she’s so beautiful and seems like a genuinely sweet woman, and I worshipped how badass she was when I was a girl, so it’s sad to see her with such deep self esteem issues. But Gavin seems like a douche who did a number on her. I also hope she learns to love herself regardless of any man. It really is the only way to truly be happy.

      • shlockOftheNEw says:

        What about women who say they “never flatlulate” around their partner because it would “ruin the romance”. I just can’t have a life partner who I have to be one dimensional around. I’ve beens single for a decade, and while I sometimes “should on myself “, I’m more at peace than all married/divorced friends. I have Love, just not an uptight contractual “romantic” version!

  6. jammypants says:

    Having recently been very heartbroken, I feel her pain.

  7. Laura says:

    I hate for anyone to be sad but it really does start with loving yourself first. Sometimes when your heart gets broken, it just happens, it’s life.

  8. Sequinedheart says:

    I feel for her in these interviews.
    On the topic of her scaled back look: that last image, the white dress, feels like a June Carter-Cash cosplay.

  9. HH says:

    If I’m not mistaken doesn’t Blake have cheating rumors from his prior marriages? The way he’s talked doesn’t necessarily make me doubt the truth to those rumors. He seems like one of those people that cheat and then conveniently update the timeline of when their marriage was on the rocks.

    • Jayna says:

      He cheated on his first wife with Miranda. I don’t know about him, but Miranda cheated a couple of times apparently toward the end of their marriage, while off making records and on the road.. He tossed her stuff out of their house the last time.

      • Jigli says:

        Correct, just what I commented above. A cheater offering a shoulder to cry on to someone’s who’s been betrayed, saying they can share the pain … Just no.

  10. justcrimmles says:

    I’m having a hard time with Gwen currently. She was, at least publicly, like one of the cool girls way back in the 90s, Return of Saturn was my shit when I was 19, she “got it” and didn’t take herself too seriously. I even will disagree that the Harajuku era was true cultural appropriation, based on the grounds that it was street fashion and kawaii culture she was inspired by, not something deeply, culturally
    significant and meaningful. As for the Harajuku girls, her wording sucked, I would have referred to them as muses, not pets, so yeah, that was gross. But I don’t think she really has a mean, hateful bone in her body. She’s just this sheltered woman, striving to live her life to some unrealistic ideal she’s set for herself, and she doesn’t know how to function as a single woman. She’s possibly also not that bright. And the truth is, that’s really who she always was, and that’s the disappointing thing.

    That, and this whole alleged meeting with Paul Ryan. “Not doing politics” is also a political choice, Blake 🙄😒

    • Olive says:

      Gwen jumped the shark with this Blake relationship. Good for her if she’s happy, but he’s a piece of work.

    • Brian says:

      She was always this person it’s just that most of us did not see it beyond the cool rock chick image.

    • shlockOftheNEw says:

      Gwen has an eye for style and is an optimistic person. Let’s face it, I never saw her as anything other than a grown up Valley Girl.

  11. Andrea says:

    She believes in love to the point where she chooses poorly. Just because you had great role models doesn’t mean you’ll be the best picker. Plus, girlfriend has had self esteem issues since the 90′s. I get that we all have them, but hers seem severe. She pedestalled Tony and Gavin, that’s why they ultimately disappointed her. Let’s hope she doesn’t do the same with Blake.

    • Jayna says:

      It’s always easier said than done . I don’t think Tony was a poor relationship at all. They started out together very young and worked together while dating. He was a young guy who wanted to date, who had tied himself down young with Gwen, and needed his space.. Those relationships usually always run their course for everyone of that age. They seem to care about each other, though.

      Gavin was the questionable one. But Gwen was on the road year after year, cutting records year after year for a big part of her adult life until having babies and cut back. Female artists on the road like that find it very hard to maintain a relationship that lasts. She and Gavin lasted a long time because their careers came first and weren’t together for long blocks of time during their long dating relationship. After they married, she was still very career-driven. Gavin has talked about being married to the bigger star and how that could be difficult. He once talked about being on the road, and the other guys had their wives or their girlfriends with them for a lot of it, but Gwen had her own career and couldn’t really be with him much but that he understood, even though he wished she could be.

      She had low self-esteem, but she was not the little stay-at-home wife giving everything up for a man. She didn’t give up everything for Gavin, nor has she for Blake. And Blake treats her wonderfully and makes her feel loved. If it doesn’t last, does that still make it a mistake?

      Is she any different than most people? A breakup with a long-term boyfriend, who was a good guy, but not ready to settle down. One bad marriage. Hell, Angelina Jolie is on her third divorce.

  12. Lucy says:

    I’ve always liked Gwen a lot, still do (even if I can’t stand Shelton nor do I get his appeal). I truly feel for her here. It’s like she’s just realizing that maybe her idea of romantic love is not quite what she always thought it was.

  13. Kevyboy says:

    Does her face move?

  14. Isa says:

    I think Gwen looks incredible, even if her face doesn’t move. I really want to do that nude lip.

    I just want her to be happy. When relationships end it can be really painful, but I feel like she looks at them as failures. 7 years and 20 years are honestly quite impressive. She has 3 beautiful boys. There’s a saying about how sometimes you have to let go of your idea of how things should be, so things can actually be. Idk, I slaughtered that, but I tried. 😂

  15. HoustonGrl says:

    Cheating is so devastating, not just for the injured party but for the whole family. My dad cheated on my mom the whole time they were married. I have a very hard time trusting men now. Cheating is so wrong and hurtful, and worst of all it can so easily be avoided.

    • Jayna says:

      And to have it be your nanny of like four or five years, who you trusted and considered family, and that your husband would do it with her in your own home while the nanny acts all sweet to your face is like you are some joke to them, and is even more devastating. It’s a mind-fvck is what it is to try to deal with that. It’s a betrayal so massive.

      The odd thing is I do believe Gavin loved her and never wanted a divorce. He is just a person whose actions are duplicitous and can lie as easily as breathe, and on the other hand, can come across as a seemingly loving husband and father,

  16. Donald sucks balls! says:

    Gwen was the Sh*t in the 90s! I’m just a girl, was the anthem of my youth. She was strong, courageous, and beautiful. It’s very difficult to see Gwen like this now. She resigned her identity and her spunk over to Blake. She was my Wonder Woman when I was a teenager. Now, she seems willing to be someone else just to not be alone.

    • Fleur says:

      I was a 12-13 year old when she rose to fame and I, too, remember her peak 90s era. She was the ultimate badass, getting up on stage, rocking until she was covered in sweat, headbanging, up there with the boys. if you look at her 90s footage of her live concert performances, she was absolutely electric and not at all into girly fashion. It’s totally fine to like both punk and ultra feminine stuff, but when she transitioned to a solo artist she seemed to lose that punk edge. I’m sure it’s in there still. All I know is she was the only one singing the hugely ironic “I’m just a girl” in that era, and she was the voice of a young female generation, girls who had those feelings but didn’t know how to express them or had never seen them articulated.

      Honestly, early to mid 90s was an awesome time for female role models in music: sarah mclaughlin, fiona apple, tori amos, gwen stefani, even natalie merchant and alanis morisette. I feel sorry for the young girls today who don’t have that. I like Selena, Miley, etc, and I think they try their best to make change and be a voice for women. Still, the generation before them were amazing and brave, and so real, such trailblazers.

      • Ramona Q. says:

        Yes, and Jewel, Ani DiFranco, Sheryl Crow, Tracy Chapman, Garbage, Joan Osborne, on and on.

      • Sylvia says:

        Yes, to all of this! The 90s music scene really was an amazing time for women.

      • Dee Kay says:

        I think the music scene in 2017 is really owned by women stars!! Beyoncé and Rihanna are at the top of their game and rule the charts and concert sales. Adele is nearly universally loved or at least admired and also sells albums and concert tix like crazy. Then there’s the female singers beloved by Gen Z: Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Alessia Cara, Tove Lo. There’s also Katy Perry, Sia, Pink, Nikki Minaj, Lana del Rey — maybe they’ve peaked already (but maybe they haven’t — they could still have great creative albums, we just have to wait and see) but they still sell out shows and they will be revered for the rest of their lives by their fans. I think right now is an amazing time for young women to be music fans, the industry is dominated by talented women, several of them GOAT-level geniuses, at the moment.

  17. perplexed says:

    I think the kind of lies Gavin spouted would have traumatized me a bit.

    Some men lie and cheat, but his seemed to be on another level. I would find it difficult to ever his level of lying.

  18. Bothsidesnow says:

    Sometimes the hurt comes from out of the blue. One day you think that everything is heavenly and then the next you get an text with 14 bulleted sections of everything that’s wrong with you. Nah….you can’t really stay after that. There’s meanness and then there’s cruelty.

  19. Ozogirl says:

    Tony is a great guy, but they were young and she smothered and idolized him and I don’t believe he loved her as much as she loved him, then she married a rock star who she knew was a liar and cheat, and now she’s with another cheat who is twice divorced. Chill and be single for a bit. Get to know yourself. She molds herself into who these guys want her to be. I’ve been a fan for over 20 years, but she has become unlikeable in the past 3-4 years.

  20. African Sun says:

    Loving the 60s makeup on the magazine cover. She looks cute.

  21. Dee Kay says:

    I was a huge fan of Gwen in the 90s and 00s, and now I am actually a bigger fan of Blake’s than Gwen’s (I only know him from The Voice, he is the best part of that show every season), and I hope they stay good. The one thing I wonder is whether Blake will want biological children. Maybe Gwen could undergo fertility treatments but if they want kids, I hope they consider adoption, just so that Gwen doesn’t expose herself to unnecessary health risks. (But you know, to each their own, women have the right to decide what to do with their bodies — but adoption is awesome!)