90 per cent of young adults have had a celebrity crush at some point in their lives. And it could be stopping you from having a real relationship.
Since Nicoline Petersen became a fan of singer-songwriter Jacob Whitesides in 2015, no one she’s dated has seemed ‘good enough’ in comparison. “I’m always thinking that they’re not Jacob,” says the 20-year-old from Denmark. “I just can’t help it.”
don’t fall in love with famous people bc they will ruin your life, drive you away from your friends and social life and give you an internet addiction and then they’ll drive your standards so high that you’ll never get a crush on any guys you know in real life ever again
— nicoline (@vodkawithjacob) October 15, 2017
Driven by the fantasy of books, television and movies, people have long-held illusions of what romance is and should be. Now that social media allows fans to get to ‘know’ them better than ever before, celebrities have become the benchmarks by which many of us evaluate our ideal spouse. If your #MCM or #WCW happens to be a public figure, explains psychiatrist and relationship expert Jeremy Nicholson, you might be unfairly comparing them to the people you’re dating in real life.
Having a celebrity crush is pretty normal.
Crushing on your favourite performer is not at all abnormal.
But can indeed lead to ‘regular’ partners seeming less appealing in contrast. “Like a photoshopped picture of a supermodel, we are falling for an unrealistic, edited image when we fall for a celebrity,” says Nicholson. It results in a set of impossibly high standards the said famous person would likely fall short of too.
They might feel more attainable as actual people rather than fictional characters. But Nicholson reasons there is no difference between identifying Emma Watson as your ‘type’ on a matchmaking site and longing to experience The Notebook love story.
Your unrequited love for Rihanna or Zac Efron only becomes problematic when you start to hold your dates to that bar.
In our fame-obsessed society, it’s almost impossible not to enter into these one-sided relationships with people we don’t actually know.
According to a Human Communication Research survey, 90 per cent of young adults have felt a strong attraction to a famous person at some point in their lives and about 75 per cent report “strong attachments” to more than one. Drawing desires and expectations from those we’re constantly exposed to isn’t weird. It’s human nature. Your unrequited love for Rihanna or Zac Efron only becomes problematic when you start to hold your dates to that bar.
So is the emotional investment.
Even if you’re just a casual supporter rather than a superfan, a ‘celebrity crush’ can (and often does) feel real. Think back to the way it stung when the subject of the posters on your bedroom wall started dating someone who wasn’t you.
I’ve never met Nick Jonas. Yet 11-year-old me was genuinely hurt when pictures of him kissing Miley Cyrus surfaced in 2007. I knew mine and Nick’s love affair only existed in my pre-teen imagination. So why did him having a girlfriend bother me? It’s the same phenomenon that has This Is Us viewers collectively swearing off crock pots. That grief they’re feeling for having lost a beloved character isn’t fake―even if Jack Pearson is. They truly are sad, just like I really was a little bit heartbroken over the Jonas brother.
I’m only setting myself up for eternal singlehood. No one will ever fill the shoes of the unattainable lover I’ve cast in my head.
Flashforward 10 years. I, albeit to a much lesser degree, endure similar bouts of rejection and jealousy. It’s when Ed Sheeran puts out a new love song. Or I scroll past a meme suggesting I ‘find someone who looks at me the way Prince Harry looks at Meghan Markle’. Why doesn’t my significant other gaze into me like that? Why don’t we dance in the dark / barefoot on the grass / listening to our favourite song?
No matter how ordinary it is for me to think these thoughts, it’s not at all fair to my partner. I’m only setting myself up for eternal singlehood. No one will ever fill the shoes of the unattainable lover I’ve cast in my head.
Celebrities are closer than ever.
The line between fantasy and reality has never been blurrier, though. And celebrities routinely interacting with fans online or in-person complicates things even more. It dissolves a sense of boundary and makes our relationships with them―at least in part―actual instead of parasocial. Because we now conduct our social lives in the same digital spaces, the old barriers of access are gone. And there’s a newfound proximity in their place.
We can be flies on the wall as Kylie Jenner becomes a mom.
We can be flies on the wall as Kylie Jenner becomes a mom. It feels no different than when our Facebook friends document their pregnancies with sonogram posts and collages of their growing bumps. For Petersen, who is known to Whitesides, kissing him at a meet-and-greet in February 2017 was a turning point. “He made me realize that I deserve the best [in a boyfriend,]” she says.
Don’t meet your heroes.
Through such tangibles gestures, we’ve come to believe celebrities are exactly as they are in our daydreams. Then, we impose the fictitious ideals they project onto our actual romantic prospects. Celebrities are human too, of course, but they are also always playing a role.
Do you really think Ellen and Portia have never slammed doors on each other in a fight over something petty?
As we read in tabloids, they can’t and don’t live up to their reputations all the time. Do you really think Ellen and Portia have never slammed doors on each other in a fight over something petty?
For every Kanye giving Kim Kardashian a wall of flowers there’s a Jay-Z cheating on Beyonce with a ‘Becky With the Good Hair.’ It is vital to remember that we only see stars in their best moments, insists Nicholson, “not on an average Tuesday rolling out of bed for work.” By idealizing someone you don’t know, your celebrity crush is causing you to devalue anyone else you encounter who might actually be really great for you.
“If we live too much in fantasy, we miss the opportunity to find real, satisfying, loving partners.”
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*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.