Is This Love Addiction?

Does a well-known actress and relationship podcaster have an existential issue?

Posted Nov 05, 2019

Anna Faris is a highly talented actress, comedian, producer, and podcaster. She has written a funny, honest book about herself, emphasizing her sex and intimate emotional life, titled Unqualified, published in 2017. This is the name of her hugely popular relationship podcast in which, like her book, she discusses sex and intimacy and offers advice, a role for which, as Faris says, she is unqualified. She is bold.

Faris starred in and produced a 2011 movie titled, What’s Your Number?, meaning how many people you “have slept with” (elsewhere Faris uses more earthy terminology). Faris tells us her number is five (including one one-night stand). She told her husband at the time she wrote the book, Chris Pratt, this number 5-6 days after “we started dating.”

“We started dating” means after they “began sleeping together.” They actually had been hanging out and enjoying one another for a few months acting together in a movie. But Faris had to wait until she left her previous relationship before, you know. This serial monogamy approach involving few partners—Faris is 42—seems to be a hybrid of her own sexual urges and her parents’ stern recommendation that she only should have sex with one man, the husband they wanted her to marry in her early twenties, and live with the rest of her life, which was their approach.

Faris has seemingly come as close to reproducing her parents’ marital style as a popular actress and human being who has married and divorced twice by the age of 40 could possibly do. Faris tells us her entire life history of intimacy and sex (with one add-on, to be described).

1. She has sex with a boy in high school whom she follows to the University of Washington, where he dumps her. She then stalks him. She later reunites with him briefly, then dumps him.

2. She moves from Seattle to LA to continue a relationship with an actor she meets in Vancouver, whom she soon moves in with and marries for three-and-a-half years. Their divorce settlement involved her paying him nearly a million dollars (which Faris doesn’t discuss in her book—money being the last taboo).

3. She meets Chris Pratt on set in 2008 while she is still living with her husband. She leaves her husband and instantly becomes intimate with and engaged to Pratt. They marry in 2009. They separate in August 2017 and file for divorce that December. Unqualified is published in October.

4. She and Pratt have a son and seem to have a good divorce relationship. Pratt wrote the Foreword to Unqualified.

5. Subsequent to the book’s appearance and her separation from Pratt, People reported this month that Faris was spotted with a huge diamond ring, and speculated that the ring marked her engagement to boyfriend Michael Barrett. According to People, “Barrett and Faris began dating in 2017 after working on her film Overboard. The two were first spotted together in September 2017.” (Remember, she separated from Pratt in August.)

No doubt Faris will in short order reveal more about all of this, as is her custom. Prior to her doing so, we can note these characteristics of Faris’s approach to love and intimacy.

1. Faris has been in ironclad exclusive intimate relationships as soon as she became sexually active in high school. She describes herself as being completely devoted to each of her lovers. She feels very strongly about limiting her sexual/intimate devotion and involvement:

I have no idea why I thought it necessary to share this (her number of sexual partners with Pratt). It ran counter to all my instincts as a woman who should have felt like she could sleep with however many people she wanted to. I fell into this trap of, Oh, look, I’m precious! My vagina has barely even been touched! I hate that I felt that way.

2. Although Faris describes herself as an ardent feminist, she has never been alone, outside of a committed relationship (of which she seemingly has had five), for her entire post-pubescent life.

3. Faris describes in Unqualified how her first two committed relationships were with men with whom she was totally mismatched. 

4. She seems to feel differently about Pratt (disclosure: my daughter wrote a cover story about Pratt for Esquire in 2014, in which he spoke lovingly of his wife and child).

Pratt seems to be a very nice, devoted family man. However, he and Faris have very different life interests: Pratt hunts and likes country music; Faris hikes and likes indie. He played high school football, she was an outsider, a drama club member who was mocked and bullied. In the Foreword to Unqualified, Pratt writes:

I don’t really read books all that much. I mean, I know how to read, as in sounding out words and phrases, sentences, and the like. I can spell, too! I’ll stop now. I feel like I’m bragging. But let’s just say books aren’t really my specialty. Per se.

On the other hand, Anna is a voracious information collector. She reads, hears, watches, and retains an inordinate amount of stories—from podcasts and NPR pieces to New Yorker articles. She’ll often pore over the newspaper while simultaneously watching a TV show and blow drying her hair. She reads the big five: The New York Times, LA Times, The Seattle Times, The New Yorker, and The Economist. Whereas I read “The Big 5” sporting goods ads, looking for good deals on guns and Rollerblades.

They do seem to share a desire to be kind and nice to people and to one another and their son. But is this degree of sharing sufficient to maintain a lifetime—or a decade—of intimacy? (I sense that Barrett matches Faris’s interest profile better.)

The topic for a future Unqualified podcast self-examination by Faris:

Given my outsider status and sense of my physical limitations (Faris was a small girl—she has had breast augmentation—and was insecure about her attractiveness), combined with my parents’ devotion to a 1950ish marital ideal they communicated to me, did I repeatedly squeeze myself into intimate relationships that were a poor fit? Was this a compulsion that is central to my identity? Is it escapable or lifelong? How does my current relationship fit this pattern, or not? Should this pattern be a concern for me to explore and try to modify? Can thinking about these issues help me and other people who listen to my podcast and read my book?

Addendum. Faris and recovery. Noted with pleasure: Although in one of her best-known roles, in the television series Mom, Faris plays a single mother in recovery, Faris enjoys alcohol as a regular part of her life and has used marijuana and ecstasy in social situations. She never mentions addiction, alcoholism, recovery or the 12 steps in her book. These are not parts of her real life, which in itself marks her as different in modern Hollywood, although not in the kinds of circles she seems to travel in. Oh, perhaps this dichotomy is something else she might explore in her podcast.