The Jonas Brothers' Breakup Helped Me Come to Terms with My Own Family Drama
After I moved away from home to attend fashion school, my younger sister and I rarely saw each other in person. Somehow, though, we still found the time to gossip about dates, music, friends, and annoying teachers via text or the cousin group chat. And it was one of our cousins who first broke the news to us over WhatsApp: the Jonas Brothers had broken up, breaking our little hearts in the process.
My relationship with both my siblings, but especially with my sister, has always been complicated. While we were never the closest of friends, like the Jonas Brothers seemed to be, we were close enough. As kids we were always each others' default friend. We'd wear matching everything and spend hours playing with our Barbies and watching Lizzie McGuire and That's So Raven on the Disney Channel. Together, we obsessed over the Jonas Brothers' new single, "Year 3000," and the fact that Miley Cyrus and Nick Jonas were a couple — they were absolute goals.
As we got older, though, we began to drift apart. Maybe I took my role as the "oldest sister" a bit too seriously — if only because at the time I felt like I had to — and bossed her around a little too much. Still, we were excited to see each other during summer and winter breaks.
But the days passed one after the next, until I looked up and realized that we were no longer a part of each others' lives. There was no break-up conversation, just the knowledge that her heart was not in our sisterly relationship anymore. She wanted out. Much like Joe Jonas when Nick abruptly broke the news that he wanted out of the JoBros back in 2013, I was left heartbroken, confused and trying to find a way to make things better, trying to find a way to somehow fix something that I had no idea had been broken for a long time. Can I blame her for pulling away? No, not entirely. I'm far from perfect. I can be hard to get along with and we have very different opinions on … pretty much everything — from personal style to politics. Still, it hurts more than I will ever admit to her to not have my sister play the important part in my life that a sister should (yep, my pride is one of those things that makes me less-than-perfect sometimes).
When the Jonas Brothers documentary, Chasing Happiness, came out in 2019, I was excited to get a second chance to see them together as a band. While I watched, though, I remember tears running down my cheeks as I realized that their issues as siblings and as a band were not all too different from those my siblings and I had to deal with. I was surprised to find out they actually stopped speaking for years, and could barely stand to be in the same room together for long periods of time. It felt all too familiar. I realized that Kevin — who has always been my personal favorite JoBro — was right when, during the opening scene of the documentary, he says there needs to be open and honest communication for things to work out this time around.
It was hard to watch and realize these siblings' experiences and my own were not so different, after all. For years I had tried to understand how it was possible that someone could suddenly feel like they wanted different things in their lives, things that did not necessarily include their family members (and bandmates), and as I watched the famous brothers' stories, I got my answer. Listening to them cite jealousy and built-up resentment while things seemed perfect from the outside felt heartbreaking, but it was also validating, and gave me a tiny spec of hope. When Nick pursued a successful solo career, Joe formed a new band that allowed him to grow creatively, and Kevin explored his role as a full-time dad. My sister and I had less glamorous versions of this: I moved back home to work in the family business and pursue a writing career, and she got a big corporate job. Our lives and goals no longer matched each others', but I knew things could be solved someday.
I still hold out hope for a day when I can call my sister to talk about our life, our work and our relationships. If the Jonas Brothers could work through the ups and downs of their somewhat public relationship as a band and as siblings, I remain optimistic that maybe someday my sister and I will be able to work through ours, too. Even if it does take a few years.
Breakups That Broke Us is a column about the failed celebrity relationships that convinced us love is dead.
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