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The Internet’s Obsession With Celebrity Relationships

A deep dive into the internet’s obsession with the personal relationships of celebrities.

Credit: shutterstock/Master1305

Many of us have had those moments where we get sucked deep into pop culture news, mainly because of internet consumption. Celebrity relationships and their private lives may become the topic of discussion, in real life or on social media. While this can be fun for the moment, a line has to be drawn with how invested you find yourself. 

I consider myself to be the perfect combination of a cynic and a hopeful romantic. So when I see a headline of a new famous pair, part of me becomes fascinated. While my interest peaks, there is still that everlasting thought that it may or may not be real. This helps me to remind myself and others that there is no reason to idolize their relationships.

Unfortunately, an increasing number of people online aren’t able to draw a dividing line between the two lives. So much so that what once was amusing dinner gossip has now become borderline obsession. One thing most of us can agree on regarding the matter is that some of you have lost your minds. 

Where Does This Obsession Stem From?

Couple in bed on their phones.
Couple in bed on social media. Credit: Shutterstock/DimaBerlin

In some ways, it has a lot to do with admiration. Someone who values love and romance will see these relationships as something they want for themselves. It is especially prominent when it is a celebrity they are attached to and think of as their friends. Some of it is due to relatability. The artists we connect to on a deep level because their music speaks to us in ways many of us can’t describe ourselves. They go through the same things as us and can sometimes make it seem like they are a part of our lives.

In other ways, it comes from how much access we are given to their lives. There was a time when we were left guessing whether the whispers of their private matters were true. Now, there’s no mystery and a lot of people find themselves feeling entitled to their business now that they have received some access. The term many use for this is “parasocial relationship”.

Enter The World Of Parasocial Relationships

Parasocials are one-sided relationships in which one party is emotionally invested while the other isn’t aware of their existence. This is a term used very often when describing stan culture. These fans feel a deep connection towards these celebrities, deep enough to where they consider themselves as their keepers. They sometimes have intense emotions about their favorite creator entering a new relationship, investing in it to an extreme.

Celebrity worship syndrome. Credit: Shutterstock/Linaimages

I feared for the day the internet’s favorite stars, Harry Styles and Timothee Chalamet, would be taken off the market publicly. My fears were vindicated after seeing the immense hate sent towards their respective partners. Taylor Russell, mostly known for her roles in indie films, quickly became public enemy number one with fans of Harry Styles. Most of the love she has received has been overpowered by the hate and racial-infused threats his fans give on social media.

While obsessive fans are responsible for worshipping celebrity relationships, some figures are also to blame for the relationships they created.

The Need For Boundaries In This Day And Age Of Social Media

Stan culture is undeniably toxic, but we should extend some grace to fans and hold some stars accountable. The reason most fans feel they have a right to every detail behind their private relationships is partly due to the lack of limitations some give.

With cancel culture, many fear being called ‘ungrateful’ if they stand up for themselves against fans. While this fear is valid, it won’t help the current issue of fans intervening in their life. There may be a shift on the internet if celebrities call their fans out on their behavior.

The Prevalence Of PR Relationships

Romance is one of the world’s most powerful devices; in Hollywood, it is a product. For example, romantic comedies or any project with a hint of romance needs to have a relationship between costars to promote it. The chemistry between costars is what gets the public excited about the project. The romance between two public figures is what keeps their names in the headlines, ultimately bringing in more money and deals. Once publicists noticed this reaction, the PR relationships outside of filming started. 

PR relationships are another factor in where the obsession comes from. Once your relationship is intended to be a marketing ploy, the public becomes the investors. Like actual investors, the public wants to receive updates and provide input on every decision, especially the break-up.

Fake famous symbol. Credit: Shutterstock/Dmitry Demidovich

Many people feel deceived by PR relationships, but there are two things to remember when it comes to them. One is that they wouldn’t be able to achieve this if the public didn’t take so much interest in their lives. The other is that we shouldn’t be so invested in celebrity relationships because we don’t know them and probably never will. 

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Aspiring writer & full-time advertising student at Ball State University. When I'm not in school, I spend my free time reading contemporary romance novels and ranking local coffee shops with friends!

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