Single or taken, we all have a tendency to idolise, admire and avidly follow the ups and downs of celebrity couples’ relationships. It’s especially hard not to when relationships on-screen come to life in the form of Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens. Even if she did have to go her own way; if you didn’t get the pun then it’s really your loss.
Earlier this month, images of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston circulated as they reunited at the SAG awards. Whilst they were relatively innocent-looking, with a hint of longingly looking at one another, people were prettyfast to jump to conclusions that this was it; they were FINALLY back together. Alas, it seems not. Despite a multitude of news stories saying they’re about to go public with their relationship with, and I quote, “no regrets” there’s no actual evidence hinting towards this happening. Considering they got divorced 15 long years ago, it’s unlikely that this love story is about to pick up where it left off but then again, only time will tell.
So, it begs the question: why are we so invested in celebrity relationships? A little digging led me to the conclusion that some of us may be in what is called a “parasocial relationship”. Essentially, it’s a “one-sided relationship, where one person extends emotional energy, interest and time, and the other party, the persona, is completely unaware of the other’s existence.” At first glance, this is actually somewhat laughable – mainly just the part about them being unaware of the other’s existence. In reality though, it does make sense and is what leads us to becoming so emotionally invested in celebrity couples; more so after they split. Luckily these kind of relationships are totally harmless. Unless you take a little too much inspiration from Joe Goldberg.
Celebrity couples can pretty easily morph into what we all believe to be #relationshipgoals. Yet, is this what leads to our own personal relationship turmoil? If Instagram has taught us anything, it’s to not believe everything you see and read online. A picture tells a thousand words; at the same time, it also tells a thousand lies. It’s human nature to compare ourselves to one another but the way we hold celebrities in such high regard compared to the rest of us bog standard human beings means that we try to emulate relationships they have in order to feel some sense of…significance? We all want what we can’t have, and a relationship with (kind of) newly single Channing Tatum is exactly that.
A life in the public eye means that we somewhat see these people (on a screen, that is) about as regularly as we see our friends. We feel like we know everything about them, thanks to various interviews and social media interaction. It’s almost impossible to not get attached to couples, and celebrities in general, when we discuss them amongst our friends like they’re just any ordinary member of the extended group. According to celebrity relationship therapist (ironic), Audrey Hope, “by the very nature of their fame, celebrities ‘belong to us.’ They are in our lives and we all feel like we truly know them, as if they were our own friends and family”. In a sense, the life of a celebrity is almost in pursuit of admiration from people whose existence is completely unbeknown to them.
So, should we really be shying away from our involvement and *small* fascination with their love lives? Not really. Why should we? No harm comes from it, and at the end of the day, it’s what celebrities crave anyway. Why else would they write longwinded Instagram captions and give exclusive interviews post-breakup? In terms of over-hyping celebrity relationships so much so that you begin to compare and contrast it to your own, celebrity or not, comparing other relationships with your own is dangerous ground to walk on. And if it’s something you find yourself doing, you need to take a step back and remind yourself that ‘insta versus reality’ is a thing for a reason.
Image credit: P. Series Stylist via Flickr