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Love is dead. Or at least that’s what the last several months have shown us. First, it was Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth who announced their split in March. That one hurt. As a wife, mom, book club queen, and founder of a billion-dollar production company, Witherspoon seemingly proved that you really can have it all. Low-key relationship, couple-y red carpet moments, and thriving family—she made me (and no doubt millions of other fans) think that maybe I, too, could have a dynamic career and get the guy.
Next, it was Kevin Costner and Christina Baumgartner, who confirmed their breakup after she filed for divorce in May. Their drama played out in court, where they fought out contentious legal battles over child support, prenuptial agreements, and the payment of legal fees.
July arrived, and, bam!, we were hit with three high-profile breakups in the span of two weeks: Ariana Grande and Dalton Gomez, Ricky Martin and Jwan Yosef, and Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello. Then, somewhere between July and August, we lost two seemingly solid reality TV couples: Summer House’s Carl Radke and Lindsay Hubbard (who officially confirmed the news with a heartbreaking statement on September 14) and Bachelor Nation’s Jason Tartick and Kaitlyn Bristowe, shocking Bravo and Bachelor fans everywhere.
Sadly, there’s more. In mid-August, Britney Spears and Sam Asghari confirmed they would be calling it quits after 14 months of marriage. Even Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness are ending their marriage — 27 years after saying, ‘I do!’ Just when I thought we were out of the celebrity divorce-filled woods and about to usher in a loved-up cuffing season, filled with Jonas Brothers and J Sisters tour content, came the most shocking news of all: Hollywood sweethearts, fashion It couple, and poster children for unconventional height differences, Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner, are getting divorced.
It all started with a People report on September 3 that Jonas had retained a divorce lawyer. While that didn’t look promising, I think many Joe and Sophie stans (hi, it’s me!) were holding out hope. Just several weeks before the split rumors started circulating, Turner posted a PDA-filled photo dump celebrating the kickoff of The Tour, and on September 4, Jonas shared a picture with his wedding ring very obviously on. But sadly, by the next day, the rumors were confirmed; Jonas had filed for divorce, and the couple shared a joint statement on Instagram citing a mutual decision to “amicably end our marriage.”
Things didn’t stay amicable for long. Accusations of Sophie’s partying and allusions to her being a bad mother emerged almost immediately. Women jumped to Turner’s defense, pointing out (and lamenting) the unfair expectations around young motherhood. FWIW, Jonas warned against believing rumors that didn’t come from his “lips” at the Jonas Brothers’ Los Angeles concert. But the fact remains: Fans everywhere are mourning the loss of one of their favorite famous couples.
Part of the reason I’m so torn up over this split is because Jonas and Turner were once the embodiment of couple goals, the blueprint for finding a partner who won’t hesitate to love you through it all. Over the years, Turner has been very vocal about mental health struggles, even once saying Jonas had “saved [her] life” by being her rock during her darkest times. Yes, a romance like that is rare, but these two gave people hope that it could be had.
Now, my TikTok FYP is stacked with endless tear-jerking videos of Jonas getting choked up on stage, and, I can’t lie, it hits me where it hurts. I don’t think I’ve fully processed their breakup. In my mind, Joe and Sophie are still the adorably sweet, loving, and supportive couple that we knew and looked up to mere weeks ago.
Joe Jonas was one of my first celebrity crushes, so it feels like I grew up with him, like I know him. I’ve been pondering what went wrong, like it was my own relationship that unraveled. When did it start to go south? Did I ignore the red flags? Is love even real?
Deep down, I know that Joe and Sophie’s relationship has no real effect on my personal life. But I also know I’m not the only one who sees all these breakups as a personal affront. Why does something so removed from our own reality feel so distressing?
Divorce attorney and author of Live, Laugh, Find True Love, Sarah Intelligator, explains that it’s nearly impossible not to compare our own personal connections with those of celebs, despite the fact that we only see what they curate. “Relationships are inherently flawed. Transfixed by the fairy-tale perception of this (most likely) deeply flawed celebrity relationship, we strive for that unattainable perfection in our own relationship, only to be disappointed when it doesn't exist,” she says.
In today’s ultra-digitalized world, in which we follow celebs and family members alike on social media, it can feel as though we actually know these stars. We formed parasocial, or one-sided, relationships with those we follow. According to licensed psychologist Dr. Blair Steel of Carrara Treatment, Wellness & Spa rehabilitation center, the reason fans get invested in celebrity relationships is because our manufactured connection to them “can mimic the intimacy shared in face-to-face relationships.”
“Particularly, when celebrities' life experiences are shared over time, viewers can feel as if they 'know' the individual,” explains Dr. Steel. “Intimate details and openly shared opinions deepen the bond for the media user.”
We develop real feelings for people we’ve never met — which explains why many people fantasize about marrying a celebrity crush. “It is not uncommon for vulnerable emotions such as gratitude, encouragement, inspiration, and even desires to be shared, which can deepen the sense of companionship and connection,” she adds.
In today’s society, scrolling TikTok and Instagram is entertainment. We follow celebrities to get a glimpse into their aspirational lives (and relationships) and forget about our own, less glamorous ones, says Rachel DeAlto, chief dating expert at Stir. “We find the elements that we can relate to, as well as use their lives as a form of escapism,” she explains.
Then, we become invested in their seemingly perfect lives because our desire for a connection makes us form an “attachment,” says DeAlto. The craziest part? We can feel the same psychological benefits from our parasocial relationships as we feel in our actual ones. “We have an innate desire to connect with others,” DeAlto says. “We are wired for it, even when it is one-sided. In some ways, these relationships can feel like an extension of one’s IRL network and provide similar psychological benefits.”
But that doesn’t mean we should start ditching our real-life friends.“In my experience, everything in moderation is healthy,” she says. “Excess may be an indicator that we are trying to either overcompensate or avoid reality.”
There’s no doubt I will continue to get swept up in celebrity drama, details about their lavish lifestyles, and their (seemingly) enviable relationships because, at the end of the day, I just love love. As DeAlto stated, there’s nothing wrong with a little healthy stanning. But bear in mind, just because a celeb posts a lot doesn’t mean we’re privy to the full story. Because celebrities really are just like us: They’re not immune to fights, breakups, or divorces.
If there is one positive to come out of this devastating time for celeb marriages, it’s that I (and my fellow stans) can learn to have more realistic expectations for celebrities — and myself in my own double-sided relationships. Actually, two positive things: Joe Jonas is single…
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