Mar 13th, 2017, 10:57 AM

Stop Idolizing Celebrity Relationships

By Elizabeth Knox
Image Credit: Creative Commons (George Biard)
The next time you think about labeling a celebrity couple #RelationshipGoals, take a minute to consider what goes on behind closed doors.

Worshipping celebrity relationships has been accepted as a new cultural norm. It seems celebrity relationships have become so sacred and revered that their ideologies have been written in a canonical bible called Celebrity New Testament. But celebrity couple worship romanticizes not only the good, but also the bad and the ugly.

Last September when news broke of the breakup of one of Hollywood’s most iconic couples, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie — more lovingly known as “Brangelina” — the whole world seemed to have a meltdown. Facebook news feeds were cluttered with articles proclaiming the death of love. Twitter users everywhere tweeted their despair: if Brad and Angelina can’t make it work, who can? 

This is where our problem begins. Putting these couples on pedestals and idealizing them has created a sense of fantasy in real relationships, a dangerous concept that plays with the human psyche. For years, people had looked to Brangelina for the perfect life and perfect family, but when they broke up that ideal was shattered. What’s more, Pitt was originally accused of being abusive, further demystifying and devastating the perfect image that so many had admired. This fascination and obsession with celebrity couples is not only dangerous, it also leads to the more pressing issue of normalizing unhealthy relationships.


Image Credit: Flickr Celebrityabc

The first true wake-up call came in 2009, when Rihanna and Chris Brown called it quits after it was uncovered that Brown was abusive. The picture of this “ideal” couple was stomped on and the issue of normalizing abusive relationships emerged. After the scandal, Rihanna did an interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC in which she explained the incident was a cautionary tale leading her to the realization that her life had an impact on other women, especially young girls.

Rihanna said she decided not to stay with him, stating, “When I realized that my selfish decision for love could result into some young girl getting killed, I could not be easy with that part.” And she was right. So many girls idolized her relationship with Brown that, if she chose to stay with him, she would be telling these women to ignore the caveats and stay in their abusive relationships. But here comes the kicker: she later reunited with him, essentially telling society and young people that it’s acceptable to tolerate an abusive relationship.

Their relationship furthered the cultural belief that abuse is a customary part of being in love. However, it’s not just abusive relationships that are being normalized, unhealthy on-again, off-again relationships are being standardized and romanticized as well. This is apparent with the unstable and destructive relationship between Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber, introducing the drastic and enticing idea: volatile relationships with questionable commitment are ideal.


Image Credit Left: Lunchbox LP Flickr Stream, Image Credit Right: Flickr Lou Stejskal

While Gomez and Bieber have given this idea a reputable foundation, the idea flows within the Hollywood-dating stream from couples like Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick, who are no strangers to a detrimental, alcohol-filled relationship to Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth. But Bieber and Gomez are particularly concerning due to their young fan bases, sending the message of normalcy to their devotees.

I have even heard people say they “wish they had a love like Jelena,” (Jelena is their couple name). It eaves me baffled. How could anyone want to be in a relationship that is always on the rocks? The answer can be found with a quick Google search of "Celebrity Worship Syndrome", a real psychological disorder that describes the sense of admiration and obsession many people feel towards celebrities. It seems that the fascination has gone so far that even the most banal of elements of their lives are esteemed and studied. The most severe form of the syndrome is known as “border-line pathological”, a term that, in my opinion, can be attributed to many lost souls.

It’s time to stop romanticizing celebrity couples and start looking reality in the face. There are no perfect relationships, and if you go looking for one in a celebrity duo you won’t find it. It’s time to find a fresh group of luminaries who are able to inspire and promote healthy relationships. Perhaps this can even be found in your own home.

So the next time you think about labeling a celebrity couple #RelationshipGoals, take a minute to consider what goes on behind closed doors.