dele thought that maybe, just maybe, she could quietly slip news of her and her husband’s separation into the world without much notice. It was Good Friday, 2019, and their marriage had been over for some time. A holiday weekend, she figured, might deflect some of the attention she had been dreading.
“Fucking idiot,” she says of her plan.
Adele and her husband, Simon Konecki, had been together since 2011. Their relationship was remarkably under the radar given Adele’s growing stardom, partly because she really only emerged from her life as a wife and mother to their son, Angelo, to release record-shattering albums. Their wedding was so private there aren’t even pictures online.
Adele’s dread only intensified after a press release went out that Good Friday evening. A close friend flew out from England to Los Angeles to make sure the then-30-year-old wasn’t on her own as the news spread. Tweets and memes flooded social media, expressing not just shock that the relationship had ended, but also excitement at the idea that Adele’s heartbreak would inspire new music.
You can understand where the fans were coming from. Adele built her empire on heartache: moving reflections of pain and its aftermath, like finding “Someone Like You,” or merely saying “Hello” to an ex after years have passed. At the time Adele and Konecki announced their breakup, nearly four years had passed since her last album, 25, and her audience was hungry for something new. And what’s a better album prompt than a high-profile divorce?
For Adele, the fan reaction was bewildering. “During something like that, that kind of significant thing to happen in life, your mind sort of goes to those places: ‘Why don’t they like me? Why would they write that if they’ve followed me for 10 years?’ But in reality, that’s not their responsibility. In reality, their responsibility as a fan is to want a good record and to hope I deliver. So I took it with a pinch of salt, and it was fine.”
(Adele knows a thing or two about waiting forever for a favorite artist to release new music, like her friend Kendrick Lamar. “Fucking hell!” she says of her anticipation for the rapper’s next LP. Unlike her fans, she’s already had the privilege of hearing a few of Lamar’s new songs in the interim.)
Adele had enough to worry about besides Twitter and the expectation of new music. Rumors and assumptions spread like wildfire, but the reality is that there were no heroes or villains in her divorce. Konecki was a good husband and continues to be a great father to Angelo. He’s still one of Adele’s best friends, even texting her memes while she and I are together. Instead, the end came with the heartbreaking, if less dramatic, feeling that she was getting further from the person she hoped to be.
“I didn’t really know myself,” she says. “I thought I did. I don’t know if it was because of my Saturn return or if it was because I was well and truly sort of heading into my thirties, but I just didn’t like who I was.”
Adele wanted to be settled and happy, in a home full of loving, organized chaos. She never really felt that, or at least she never felt truly present in it. “It made me really sad,” she recalls. “Then having so many people that I don’t know know that I didn’t make that work … it fucking devastated me. I was embarrassed. No one made me feel embarrassed, but you feel like you didn’t do a good job.”