Not even Taylor Swift can escape the pressure to get married

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Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce only began dating in the summer but already speculation among fans over whether they’ll get engaged is reaching fever pitch.

The rumors reached their peak as Kelce prepared for the Kansas City Chiefs to take home the Super Bowl Ring– and some fans hoped the athlete would have a ring of his own for Swift following the win.

Why is there a rush to see Swift and Kelce get married?

The public’s relationship with Swift’s relationship

Swift is not the only celebrity to have faced excited fans looking for a wedding sooner than later. Swift and Kelce are both 34, and neither have been engaged or married yet. But fans have closely followed Swift’s relationships since she was a teenager and have been there for the dating and the breakups.

“The eternally optimist in me is saying that consumers idealize marriage and want the best for the celebrities,” said Kate Kurtin, a professor of communication studies at California State University in Los Angeles, via email. “The cynic in me is saying that consumers feel an entitlement to know details about celebrities’ lives and ‘get the scoop’ and see all the pictures and marriage is the next demand they are placing on Swift and Kelce.”

When celebrities break up, especially Swift, fans tend to take it hard. That’s particularly true for those in a parasocial relationship with the star. That’s a one-sided relationship with a celebrity that is not a friendship but can feel like one, Kurtin said, who has studied the phenomenon.

Fans who are in a parasocial relationship dynamic tend to be more invested in the relationship than a casual fan, as they are following more closely and keeping up with the articles, photos and videos.

“They are happy for her, just like they would be if their interpersonal friend seems to be happy in a new relationship,” Kurtin said.

The honeymoon phase explained

The couple is still in their “honeymoon phase,” a new relationship where the individuals see one another through “rose-colored glasses,” said Katherine Sloan, a licensed clinical mental health counselor in Asheville, North Carolina, who has been following the star’s relationship.

During the initial stages of a happy relationship, the brain experiences a flooding of neurotransmitters that create pleasure responses, such as dopamine and oxytocin, Sloan said. “We don’t see the red flags, we are just so elated, that, you know, we’re in love with somebody, we don’t notice the nuances that are later going to come up.”

Big decisions like marriage and when to have children are not ones to be taken lightly, yet the pressure only seems to increase after someone reaches their 30s, she added.

Kelce had responded to the questions of marriage from the media with poise, but it can be trickier when the question is coming from family and friends. What’s more, pressure about marriage can put pressure on the couple, Sloan said.

How to handle pressure to get married

The best way to handle the intrusive questions is to set clear boundaries about what topics are open for discussion and which ones are best to be avoided.

“We can be clear about what conversations are and aren’t allowed with other people,” Sloan said. “We can tell our family or friends like, ‘Hey, I’m feeling pressured. And I need time to make sure that I’m really compatible with this person.’”

It is important to have good communication with your partner and understand how they may feel about the pressure, as well as how to answer questions together going forward.

As for Swift and Kelce, they are the only ones who can see what goes on behind closed doors within their relationship.

“I think people are just so invested in it, because people have watched her grow up and have seen her struggle with relationships and want to see her happy,” Sloan said. “And hopefully, this will be it. Hopefully, this is the one. But we don’t know.”

And while fans are longing to see that fairy tale wedding for Swift, and as many people do for their friends and family, the question of marriage is only for the partners to discuss, Sloan said.

As Swift might say, you (and we) need to calm down.

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