Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce and finding happiness and hatred all at once

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Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce are adorable – or they're cringey? They're beautiful – or they're repulsive? They're giving you hope – or they're making you feel lonelier than ever?

When happy couples hold hands, share a smooch, make heart hands and more, people on the sidelines form opinions about their interactions. Some are positive and supportive. But often people pass judgement and have negative thoughts while watching a happy couple be, well, happy. Why?

"She’s a woman supporting her boyfriend, just as he’s supported her," one mom of a Swiftie wrote in a public Facebook post. "Maybe it’s love that will last, maybe it won’t, but can’t we be hopeful and happy for someone else’s happiness?"

Experts say your take on happy pairs, like Swift and Kelce, may reveal way more about you than the couple in question.

"Our tendency to be happy for others or experience jealousy is strongly related to how we are experiencing our lives and relationships in the present," says Miranda Nadeau, a licensed psychologist.

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, left, celebrates with Taylor Swift after Kansas City's 17-10 victory against the Ravens in the AFC championship game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Jan. 28, 2024.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, left, celebrates with Taylor Swift after Kansas City's 17-10 victory against the Ravens in the AFC championship game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Jan. 28, 2024.

Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce and finding joy in 'Swelce'

Maybe you're one of those people who can't stop gushing over Swelce or a couple more close to home.

"How people react to seeing other's joy and happiness is very telling," says Maryanne Fisher, a psychology professor at St. Mary's University in Canada. "Some people are genuinely happy at seeing other's (including celebrities) happiness." You might be feeling "freudenfreude," or "a vicarious experience of another's joy – think opposite to schadenfreude, where one gets pleasure from another person's misfortunes," Fisher adds.

If you are a Swiftie, you may feel this more pronounced. "It is likely that the effect is increased when we feel a connection with the person involved, which fans may certainly experience with celebrities," Fisher says. "This sharing of joy has all sorts of positive effects; it makes us believe things are positive and good, and relatedly decreases stress and the associated cortisol hormone."

Are you 'unconsciously projecting?'

On the flip-side: Finding yourself feeling bitter?

"It could stem from displeasure in one's own life – for example, secretly thinking that one's own relationship is unsatisfying may lead to them feeling deep-seated envy toward those who express affection, and this envy may be presented as low-grade anger, or displeasure," Fisher says. You may also experience fear of never finding love of your own, or fear of betrayal from a now-distracted friend.

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It's easy to see yourself in other people – especially when they're as famous as Swift and Kelce, who likely have no connection in your life beyond the parasocial. Maybe you're a Swiftie, but in one of your sad girl eras.

"A lot of people may be unconsciously projecting," says Cecille Ahrens, a licensed clinical social worker. "We often project our fears and desires out into the world. We also tend to displace our feelings, our unmeet needs, our grievances onto the wrong people. (Swift and Kelce) are great targets for these defense mechanisms."

These reactions, too, could mean you're living with a scarcity or abundance mindset. "With a scarcity mindset, we may believe on some level that happiness or love are finite and limited, and that someone else being happy means we're that much more unlikely to experience similar joy ourselves," Nadeau says. Social or financial circumstances might affect how you look at the world and prompt this attitude.

As for an abundance mindset: "We're more likely to be happy for others in their contentment," Nadeau adds. "There's no threat to us or our attainment of love and satisfaction. And it's a lot easier to be happy for others when we're in loving, generous, exciting relationships ourselves."

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Or maybe it's not that serious

It's possible to oscillate between feelings – to begin accepting others' love stories even when you are jealous – though it's easier said than done to adjust your mindset. "Still, we can deepen our sense of what we do have in our lives and grow our abundance mindset by practicing gratitude," Nadeau says. "Feeling deep appreciation for what we already have helps us to want the best for others too."

Your feelings may not signal any kind of deeper trauma to work through, either.

"Someone who does not really care about someone could just think it's sweet to see happy people and leave it at that," Fisher says. "Also, we need to remember that it can also mean that they really did not like the person to start with, and the change of events has just simply given them a way to express this dislike. It's hard to believe, but not everyone is a Swiftie."

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce and why you love the couple or hate them