Anybody who has traveled through a grocery checkout knows that there’s an entire media industry that revolves around celebrity love lives-who’s hooking up, breaking up, doing this, doing that, getting hitched, getting ditched, and denying this, apologizing for that. Sure, it’s fun to speculate about what Hollywood love lives must really be like, but now that we’re fully entrenched in the era when any celeb relationship becomes one word (Tomkat, Brangelina, Bennifer, etc…), I think there’s a bigger question here: What are these public celebrity relationships doing to your private ones? That is, what messages are these couples sending to you, your loved one, and anyone who’s trying to have a relationship sans bling, sans paparazzi, and sans 4 a.m. nightclub sightings? Let’s take a look.
Celebrity Message: You’d Better Protect Your Goods
As if it’s not bad enough for the rest of us that the two prettiest people on the planet are now together, Brad and Angelina’s relationship also sends a pretty strong message: Even if he’s already married, a guy can fall prey to beautiful women at work. Though I’m not here to say what did or didn’t happen between the triumvirate of BrAngelinAniston, most folks interpreted their situation as this: Guy is happily married to beautiful woman. Guy goes to work with another beautiful woman. Guy hooks up with second beautiful woman. First woman gets stuck with Vince Vaughn. The celeb warning: It reinforces the difficulty some men have staying faithful in tempting situations. The positive real couples can take from it: Work is a challenge for all couples, and that can only be overcome if you continue to woo each other even after the knot is tied.
Celebrity Message: Even the Good Ones Have it Tough
Few Hollywood romances measure up to our idea of the perfect relationship. We all know the timeline of most celebrity hook-ups: The two meet up. They hook up. Declare their love. Get married. Buy matching sportscars/designer pets/vials of blood. Then call it off within two years, subject to introduction of nanny. And we take it for what it’s worth — celeb relationships indeed are not like regular ones. The celeb warning: When we see a Hollywood relationship that we thought had teeth — Reese and Ryan, for example — eventually fail, that sends the message to many folks that no matter how good your relationship looks on the outside, it’s still vulnerable at any time. The positive real couples can take from it: Note the weakest points in your relationship, and make them strong.
Celebrity Message: All Guys Better Be Jumping Off Couches
Okay, so we could take the Cruises in a million different directions, but here’s one thing that bugs — that we constantly have to hear how… in… love… he… is. Good for Tom, good for Katie, and for their beautifully photographed Suri. Happy for ya. But Tom’s over-the-top behavior upon his declaration of love for Katie is like telling guys (and the women they’re with) that they better find their own forms of couch jumping when they express their love for their women. (Luckily, in reality most women aren’t looking for gushing, over-the-top displays of affection: 68 percent just want a guy who will hold her hand or give her a quick kiss in public, according to a Men’s Health/Cosmopolitan survey. And while 81 percent of women say they want to be with a man who can communicate if there’s something on his mind, they don’t need him to wear his heart on his sleeve.) Of course, lots of men could stand to be more effusive and more romantic, and women certainly deserve that. But to expect guys to publicly fawn and fawn and fawn is about as unrealistic as, oh, Paris Hilton becoming a nun. The celeb warning: Methinks he doth protest too much. The positive lesson real couples can take from it: Actions trump words; demonstrate your love, don’t tax the couch springs.
Celebrity Message: Commitment Schmommitment
Really, the biggest message we get from celebrity hook-ups is that marriage is the commitment equivalent of dating. Find someone you like, get married. Don’t like that person any more, get divorced. It’s hard to understand why celebrity couples seem to rush into marriage faster than Sanjaya fans rush to the phone lines. We see it all the time — quick marriages, quick divorces. And I think that can send the dangerous message that marriage doesn’t really matter. While I’m certainly not one to say that there’s only one traditional way to have a relationship, I think that the message being sent — a wedding is as casual an occasion as happy hour — cheapens a tie that ought to be more precious. The celeb warning: A wedding is more than a party with cake. The positive lesson real couples can take from it: Listen to your wedding vows, and honor them.
By David Zinczenko