11 days that destroyed Miley and Liam
Less than two weeks after a carefully-worded statement hit the press declaring that Hollywood sweethearts Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus were separating, their attempt at keeping things amicable has been hit with a wrecking ball.
It all started so respectfully. Our hearts were breaking from news that our favourite couple was on the rocks, but their press release offered plenty of hope that they'd one day reunite (again).
"Liam and Miley have agreed to separate at this time," a spokesman for Cyrus told People magazine on August 10.
"Ever-evolving, changing as partners and individuals, they have decided this is what's best while they both focus on themselves and careers. They still remain dedicated parents to all of their animals they share while lovingly taking this time apart."
Sometime between then and now, something snapped between the two, and Hemsworth suddenly filed for divorce citing "irreconcilable differences".
So what's the real story behind this increasingly messy split?
The original statement was a shock, but it didn't take a relationship expert to work out that they'd intentionally used soft language - like "separate at this time" and "lovingly taking this time apart".
These are not the words of two people certain that they want to be apart forever - and history told us they were prone to a bit of on/off action.
Cyrus and Hemsworth met as young lovebirds on the set of The Last Song in 2009 and got engaged in 2012 before breaking up two years later.
Then in 2016, they reunited with another engagement and secretly wed in December at Cyrus' house in Franklin, Tennessee.
According to most reports, things quickly soured and Hemsworth and Cyrus separated in June, but had decided to keep their time apart low-key and respectful … until it hit the press.
Once it did - everything changed.
THOSE ITALIAN PHOTOS
First, there were the photos of Cyrus, 26, kissing reality TV star Kaitlynn Carter, 30, during a PDA-heavy Italian jaunt.
The photos were released just hours after news broke of the separation, providing a jarring double-blow of a shock to fans - and by many accounts, to Hemsworth himself, who was holed up with his brother's family in Byron Bay at the time.
As the days rolled on and amid growing feverish speculation and whispers of infidelity, Hemsworth took the bold step of releasing a statement via Instagram.
View this post on Instagram
Hi all Just a quick note to say that Miley and I have recently separated and I wish her nothing but health and happiness going forward. This is a private matter and I have not made, nor will I be making, any comments to any journalists or media outlets. Any reported quotes attributed to me are false. Peace and Love.
But from there, things took a nasty turn.
THE BLAME GAME
Suddenly, after weeks of staying quiet, sources from both camps were weaponised, hurtling barbs and thinly-veiled accusations at each other.
Far from keeping us in the dark with their amicable and "loving time apart", Cyrus and Hemsworth were - via their "sources" - increasingly trying to one-up each other in the blame game.
Given Cyrus' occasionally wild past and the telling interview she gave with Elle in July, plenty of people assumed that a major factor in the split was her desire to revert back to her partying ways.
"I mean, do people really think that I'm at home in a f***ing apron cooking dinner? … I definitely don't fit into a stereotypical wife role. I don't even like that word," she told the magazine.
But as that narrative quickly began to form, TMZ published quotes attributed to a source on Cyrus' side, insisting that it was actually the opposite.
According to the outlet, the Malibu singer battled "valiantly" to save her and Hemsworth's seven-month marriage but struggled to accept his heavy drinking and "use of certain drugs" - a claim which he has since denied.
People magazine also published a scathing story claiming that Cyrus had tried to kerb his partying and that he would "lash out at her".
"Everyone always thinks Miley is problematic and immature and a hardcore partyer while he's this chill surfer dude, but that's actually (not accurate)," People quoted a source as saying.
That particular accusation may have eventually been drowned out amid all the other noise had it not been for the fact that just days later, Cyrus released a jaw-droppingly blunt song clearly aimed at Hemsworth.
Here's a snippet of Slide Away:
I want my house in the hills
Don't want the whiskey and pills
I don't give up easily
But I don't think I'm down
So won't you slide away
Back to the ocean, I'll go back to the city lights
Move on, we're not 17
I'm not who I used to be
You say that everything changed
You're right, we're grown now
The message was clear: Cyrus wanted people to know it was Hemsworth, not she, who needed to grow up.
But Team Hemsworth wasn't taking any of that lying down.
It wasn't long before a friend of the Hunger Games star told Page Six that he'd been "blindsided" and left "heartbroken" by the photos of his estranged wife and Carter.
"They are still married and they really did love each other. She's really immature and always has been," a source said.
One of Carter's The Hills castmates, Brandon Thomas Lee, even weighed in on the drama, accusing the women of trying to "mess" with their exes (Carter also recently split from The Hills alum Brody Jenner).
"This whole is just so - I don't know, I didn't want to even get involved with it, but it just seems so fake to me," Lee told E! News of Cyrus and Carter's "romance".
"It's just like, why? They're just obviously messing with their two ex-husbands. And they're all friends! It just seems so ridiculous to me."
Page Six also claimed that "people close to Hemsworth" had revealed that Cyrus sources had been "working overtime" to "paint (him) as the problem" - and that he was hurt by the coverage.
"Liam is one of the kindest, gentlest people out there. Him being wild or drunk or deadbeat is absolutely ridiculous," the source said, adding that the booze claims are "100 per cent a distraction" from Cyrus' alleged infidelity.
MAKING IT PERMANENT
Exactly eleven days after announcing their tentative separation, Hemsworth hired famed lawyer Laura Wasser and abruptly filed for divorce from Cyrus.
"Liam is just done with it. There is no turning back and he knows he wants to move on," E! News quoted an insider as saying.
"They have not had a lot of communication. There is nothing to say."
So what made him break things off for good? Slide Away can't have helped, nor would reports of Cyrus basically "having sex" with Carter at an LA club last week.
Either way, the events of the past couple of weeks flipped the relationship from "separated at this time"- to dead in the water.
MILEY HITS OUT
Perhaps it was the shock at his sudden filing that made Cyrus finally flip - or maybe she was just desperate to finally defend herself publicly - but after that, the words came tumbling out via a lengthy Twitter thread.
"I can accept that the life I've chosen means I must live completely open and transparent with my fans who I love, and the public, 100% of the time," she began. "What I cannot accept is being told I'm lying to cover up a crime I haven't committed. I have nothing to hide."
"I f**ked up and cheated in relationships when I was young," she wrote. "But the truth is, once Liam & I reconciled, I meant it, & I was committed. There are NO secrets to uncover here. I've learned from every experience in my life. I'm not perfect, I don't want to be, it's boring. I've grown up in front of you, but the bottom line is, I HAVE GROWN UP.
"I can admit to a lot of things but I refuse to admit that my marriage ended because of cheating. Liam and I have been together for a decade. I've said it before & it remains true, I love Liam and always will."
The only good news out of the situation is that the couple had a prenup, and with no requests for spousal support, the divorce should be finalised quickly - a rarity in Hollywood.
The agreement reportedly outlines a clear separation of their profits during the marriage, with both Cyrus and Hemsworth retaining the homes they individually purchased.
Unfortunately for all the hopeless romantics following the Hemsworth/Cyrus love story over the past decade - unlike other times, this breakup is likely to stick.
Think about it: Cyrus and Hemsworth called off their engagement and split up back in 2013, but managed to maintain mutual respect and affection publicly in the years that followed prior to their eventual reunion.
This time? Not so much - and divorce has a finality to it that rarely offers a point of return.