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It’s been 10 years since the King of Pop passed on, and people are still fascinated by Michael Jackson’s life.

So much of it happened in the public eye that people really feel like they watched Jackson grow up over the years. He was definitely an eccentric figure, not the least of reasons being the way his unconventional and often tragic childhood shaped him into the man he eventually became.

While many who continue to speculate about his life are drawn primarily to the controversy surrounding his Neverland ranch, there are others who still just wonder if Jackson was ever able to form a meaningful romantic connection with someone else and if his two marriages were ever genuine.

So what exactly made Jackson’s love life so tragic?

It was difficult for him to escape his fame

Michael Jackson performs onstage
Michael Jackson | George De Sota (ID 5073478)/Redferns

For most of his life, Jackson was one of the most famous people in the entire world. There was nowhere he could go where it was possible to truly escape his fame. Unfortunately, that bled into his love life as well, because any woman he went on a date with was only ever interested in talking about him and his career.

As his bodyguard and long-time confidante Matt Fiddes told The Daily Star Online, Jackson had many opportunities to go on dates, including with A-list actresses who were excited to meet him, but they always fizzled out because they could never find anything to talk about at dinner besides Jackson’s fame.

“They wanted to talk about his music, his fame, and he just wanted people to stop going on about it,” Fiddes told The Daily Star.

It makes sense — how can you truly get to know someone if you can’t stop talking about their public persona? Jackson was desperate to meet someone who would see past all that and forge a more intimate connection with him.

But instead, he always found himself sitting across the table from someone who wanted to gush about how much they loved his music. 

His marriage to Lisa Marie Presley was genuine

One thing Fiddes made a point of mentioning is that Jackson was for sure interested in women and that regardless of what people say, Jackson did at least have one relationship that was true and real — his marriage to Elvis Presley’s daughter, Lisa Marie Presley.

One of the reasons they had such a strong connection was that being a Presley made Lisa Marie very aware of what it was like to live with fame, so she and Jackson bonded over that shared unique experience.

This made them “perfect” for one another, Fiddes said, but their 3-year marriage ended in 1996 due to “irreconcilable differences.” 

Very shortly after his marriage to Presley ended, Jackson began another marriage to a woman named Debbie Rowe with whom he had two kids, Paris and Prince (his third child, Blanket, was born via surrogate).

Assumedly, his marriage to Rowe was also genuine, but no matter who he was with, his relationships often struggled to withstand the public scrutiny that came with them, and he and Rowe split after a few years as well.

Jackson never quite found the companionship he would have liked

Fame-chasing and lack of privacy aren’t the only reasons Jackson struggled, as he had been coached by record companies for years to think that if he got married, it could have a negative impact on his career.

This means that no matter how much he wanted to be with someone, he had to deal with the paranoia that that marriage could have a disastrous impact not just on his life but on hers as well.

Like many of the eccentricities and paranoia that plagued Jackson’s life, it seems that being alone was a tragic outgrowth of simply being the King of Pop.