How Jonah Hill Triggered Sarah Brady, According to Therapists
Actor Jonah Hill welcoming his first child with partner Olivia Millar may have been the tipping point for his ex-girlfriend, Sarah Brady, sharing their alleged private text messages to the world, according to therapists.
The text saga, which has captured the world’s attention, is also « a sad story about a good thing breaking down that has fueled a very public display of feelings, » according to psychotherapist Toby Ingham.
Surf instructor and model Brady, 26, released a series of messages allegedly between the Hollywood actor, 39, and herself from when they dated in 2021. She also shared what she presented as private messages from after they broke up and planned to meet in person.
Brady accused Hill of being « emotionally abusive » and trying to control her with a list of demands, which he labeled his « boundaries » in a relationship. In December 2021, Hill allegedly wrote to Brady: « Plain and simple: If you need: surfing with men, boundaryless inappropriate friendships with men, to model, to post pictures of yourself in a bathing suit, to post sexual pictures, friendships with women who are in unstable places and from your wild recent past beyond getting a lunch or coffee or something respectful, I am not the right partner for you. »
After sharing these messages to her Instagram stories, Brady shared a « warning to all girls, » writing « if your partner is talking to you like this, make an exit plan. Call me if you need an ear. »
‘Dirty Laundry Aired in Public’
The texts have not been confirmed by Hill to be genuine, and he has not spoken publicly about Brady’s comments. That has not stopped people from all over the world to weigh in, especially online, with some therapists saying Hill « weaponized therapy speak » to control her, and some celebrities slamming Brady for sharing private messages.
Still, even after having seen the alleged texts, it was « difficult to really know what goes on in another person’s relationship, » Ingham said.
« it’s an old cliche, but when relationships break down, there’s often some dirty laundry aired in public, » he told Newsweek. « I guess what she was doing was saying he’d been rather unfair and demanding and controlling. »
Many people have slammed Hill for trying to control Brady’s career and outfits by saying he was setting a « boundary » in the relationship because he would have known she was a surfer and a model before getting together with her.
« Immediately I was totally ‘icked’ out reading Hill’s messages, » clinical sexologist and relationship therapist Naomi Hutchings, who is based in Australia, told Newsweek. « He has totally got that all wrong because that’s not a boundary at all. »
« A boundary is supposed to be about something that you create for yourself and what he was actually doing was putting a whole bunch of things in place using therapy terms. I think he was trying to sound more enlightened than he is, but basically I think that was control. »
But for Ingham, « when things get complicated in a relationships, when there are more arguments… more uncomfortable things start to be said, shared and aired. »
The psychotherapist based in England added: « I guess him having a baby with his new partner, it’s not a big leap to think that’s actually been quite a provocative thing for Sarah. »
Hill welcomed a child with Millar in June. Newsweek contacted Hill’s representatives by email for comment and Brady via Instagram.
Like ‘Receipts To Prove This Happened’
In his book, Retroactive Jealousy, Making Sense of It: How to stop obsessing about your partner’s past, Ingham wrote about the phenomenon of people in relationships who get « agitated and disturbed » with their partners over facts they already knew about them, i.e. their partner’s past.
In this case, Hill already knew about Brady’s profession and social media posts, but the alleged text messages would suggest this became a problem once they started dating. It could also apply to Brady who seemed to chastise the Moneyball actor for dating Millar so soon after they’d broken up.
« When we meet someone, we share information about our old relationships, which, incidentally, I don’t think is a great idea… and then the issues we end up in are often less to do with our current relationship and often more to do with our own history of attachments and growing up, » Ingham explained.
« In other words, the problems aren’t really exactly to do with our partner and their past, the problem is often more to do with us and our pasts. »
Ingham added: « It’s pretty typical now with social media, that everyone’s checking on everyone else’s old relationships. And in a way Sarah posting this whole story is throwing extra fuel to a fire of her past relationship. »
Hutchings said that while she « personally » doesn’t like how people are releasing screenshots of private messages on social media, she also « understands that for a lot of people—where they’re being victims of abuse, sometimes they’re not believed—so it’s like they’ve got the receipts to prove this happened. »
She added: « Because if you look at some of the other language there, it’s like she’s trying to please him and go ahead and do some of these things. »
‘Recognize When You’re Falling Into Obsessing’
Women who are generally raised to be « people pleasers » more than men, according to Hutchings, so Brady may have initially agreed to Hill’s alleged requests. But like for many others, it might « take a while to realize that the person putting the boundary in place is actually doing something that’s actually controlling or even manipulating. »
« Boundaries are supposed to be about how to keep your own person safe and not controlling other people’s behavior, » she added.
« So it can be difficult… and you question yourself especially if you’re already in a bit of an unhealthy or toxic relationship, » Hutchings said, adding that maybe Brady posting the messages was a way of « playing out » what happened so she could get a better understanding of it herself.
Both therapists agree that good communication and healthy boundary-setting are crucial for a strong relationship. But also understanding your own triggers and emotional baggage will help keep relationships free from toxic behaviors.
« The key thing with it is to recognize when you’re falling into obsessing about your partner’s past… and differentiating whether ‘this obsessional side of me is more to do with me than it is to do with anybody else,' » Ingham said.
« In therapy, what I try and do is see if it’s possible to disconnect the way in which the obsessional behavior has become fixated upon the partnership, and to see if we can work out the history of obsessing over things. »
Ingham continued: « The third thing is if you can identify that you’re getting caught up in the obsession of thinking, then you have a chance of stepping back from it. And that might mean breathing exercises or mindfulness. »
« I think the real help is working with someone like me who has expertise in helping people understand the obsessional side of themselves and how that may really relate to older attachment issues. »