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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Office Hours with Dr. Jim > Celebrity Love

Office Hours With Dr. Jim
by James Houran, Ph.D

In this column, "Dr. Jim" honestly and candidly answers your questions about dating, love and sexuality. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear – he tells you what you need to hear. Dr. Jim is committed to offering you guidance based on responsible clinical practice and hard data from the latest scientific studies. Send Dr. Jim your questions today for consideration in an upcoming issue.

Celebrity Love - Part 1

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Celebrity Love

It seems that love is in the air full force for celebrities these days. And talking about the love lives and love disasters of the stars is always topical. With that in mind, I thought readers would enjoy an interview I recently did on this topic for Cooper Lawrence's upcoming book, The Cult of Celebrity. Celebrities face the same issues all couples do, but their circumstances and consequences tend to be more dramatic than for the rest of us. In a real sense, then, celebrities are object lessons – they can teach us something important about our own relationships.


In the media we are continuously seeing celebrities getting swept up in whirlwind romances, e.g. Pamela Anderson marrying Tommy Lee after knowing him for 96 hours, Britney impulsively marrying her childhood friend for 55 hours then later on marrying Kevin Federline after knowing him for only three months, Julia Roberts marrying Lyle Lovett after knowing him 3 weeks (and divorcing a year or so later). What do you think makes celebrities particularly vulnerable to falling into these kinds of impulsive relationships?

It’s important to note that celebrities can impulsively enter or impulsively leave relationships. I certainly have no crystal ball to tell what relationships will last and which ones will crash and burn, but I can say that celebrity couples face the same compatibility challenges all couples face – except their challenges tend to be more intensified.

With this in mind, impulsivity in celebrity relationships seems to be fostered by several factors in tandem. For instance, many celebrities have the resources to indulge their impulses with little to no regard for negative consequences. Money and insulation by an entourage can minimize negative effects that often follow from impulsive decisions made by everyday people. In fact, good PR agents can turn impulsive acts into positive buzz for a celebrity. Truly successful celebrities also have strong ego drives. They can be quite vulnerable to situations and variables that they feel good to them – that feed the ego. Impulsive acts often feed ego related drives for sensation seeking or escapism. To be sure, many celebrities have little time, no extended periods of personal or relationship privacy, they have often artificial images to live up to and constantly are filming love scenes does not really help relieve feelings of jealously that partner’s may have.  All of these factors strongly work to create or destroy celebrity relationships. 

A day doesn't go by that we don't see a celebrity relationship crashing and burning in the media, and in a majority of cases this doesn't come as a shock. Do you think that continuously being exposed to (and finding entertainment in) disposable celebrity relationships affect our attitudes to our own relationships, and those of friends and family members?

Yes, this can definitely happen since psychologists and consumer marketers alike have long known that fans tend to follow the leads of their favorite celebrities. People look up to celebrities on a very personal level; having role models and mentors doesn’t stop at adolescence. The issue here is that celebrities are treated in our society as modern day religious icons. When we see successful and respected celebrities engaged in disposable relationships (e.g., Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie), it gives everyday people inherent permission, and even justification, for following suit. The idea is, “If they do it, then it must be okay for anyone to do it.”  And that message is a difficult one from which to escape – consider that we are bombarded with celebrity news (and especially news about their private lives) virtually 24:7 thanks to TV, radio, print media the Internet and gossip among friends and family.

Relentless exposure to celebrity relationships in the media isn't going to stop anytime soon. So can we put it to a positive use? Can a celebrity relationship disaster be a talking point for a couple that gives them a chance to sort out their own relationship issues?

Yes, celebrities can help society and couples. Celebrities can serve as positive role models and mentors, they can raise awareness of important social and political issues and they can influence our gift giving and inspire other meaningful acts. On a more personal level, celebrities offer a natural and un-intimidating opportunity for couples to identify and discuss relationship issues – especially issues that are extremely sensitive for even the most loving couples. Of course, here I mean sex and money. Sex and money issues dominate all relationships – be they celebrity or everyday people. Both issues really come down to control and power plays.

Related Links:
» Celebrity Love - Part 2
» Celebrity Worship Questions and Answers
» Dr. Jim on Tom Cruise and Kate Holmes

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