In the end, it lasted way longer than we expected, but after three years of age-mismatched coupledom, Madonna has called it quits with French dancer Brahim Zaibat, her rep confirms. The pop icon, 55, was last seen with her 28-year-old backup hoofer beau on Dec. 1, when they visited the Kabbalah Centre in New York.
News of the split comes three months after they were hit with engagement whispers, although talk of trouble has been brewing in recent weeks. Fueling the rift reports: The many affectionate Twitter photos Zaibat has posted with his leggy partner on the French version of "Dancing With the Stars."
A source tells Perez that the breakup was caused in part because the Big M felt Brahim's participation on "DWTS" was "too cheesy," with another insider adding that there's "no chance" of a reconciliation.
Expect the rumor mill to try to link the megafamous mother of four to her first ex-husband, Sean Penn, with whom she recently rendezvoused for a goodwill tour of Haiti. Tagging along on the trip: Rocco, her 13-year-old son with second ex-husband Guy Ritchie.
Last year, Madonna shrugged off the nearly three-decade age difference with Zaibat.
"I didn't, like, write down on a piece of paper I'm now going to have a relationship with a younger man," she explained to "Nightline." "That's just what happened. You see, that's the romantic in me. I just met someone that I cared for, and this happened to be his age."
And she insisted their relationship was surprisingly normal.
"I am the easy one. I go home and I wash my face and I put on my sweatpants and I lay down on the bed and I say, 'Oh, please rub my feet,' and you know, he says, 'No, you rub my feet,'" laughed Madonna. "So, you know, behind the curtain, I'm just like everybody else."
Besides, "I don't want to live my life on my own," she acknowledged. "I love being a mother. My children fill me up in many ways, and inspire me in many ways, but I need a partner in my life, and I think most people feel that way."