I recently visited a friend’s yard sale, where I came upon an old Ebony magazine with Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley on the cover. It’s been 17 years since they shocked the world by uniting two of music history’s “royal” families in short-lived matrimony, but I still remember the hype.
As I read the article, I thought about how so many of us romanticize romance … and look to celebrities for inspiration – both on-screen and off-screen. But consider how many celebrities have gotten hitched and/or became co-parents, proclaiming that they found “true love,” only to break up years (or sometimes months) later. Michael Jackson, Lisa Marie Presley, Mike Tyson, Robin Givens, Prince, Michael Jordan, Vanessa Williams, Rick Fox, Hallie Berry, Jill Scott, Paul McCartney, Lionel Ritchie, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jenifer Lopez, Sean Combs, Marshall Mathers … the list goes on and on. Creating this list took me as long it took to type their names (two minutes tops – I don’t type fast). Now, try to come up with a list of celebrities who haven’t split in two minutes. That’s a challenge.
What I find interesting is not the track record of celebrity marriages; it is that the public cares so much and that many of us seem to model our behavior after what we think celebrities are doing in their relationships. Interviews read like scripts: “So, where did you guys meet? How long did you date? When did you know that he/she was ‘the one’? Are you going to have children? What do find special about him/her?” Celebrities just provide the faces to fill in love stories that have already been written … because we want to hear them. If we did not want to hear, read or see these stories, they would not be presented. In a time when long-standing print publications have gone out of business or cut their number of pages in half, the many celeb rags featured in grocery store lines across America seem to be doing just fine.
Clearly, there is an entertainment factor at play. But many of us also seem to want what we read in the magazines for ourselves and for our own relationships. Even though celebrity relationships seem to come and go in a manner that many of us would not want to emulate, there’s something about their seemingly-glamorous, larger-than-life romances that warps our perceptions of what relationships are “supposed” to look like. In truth, we would be fools to think that we really know what is going on behind closed doors or in relationships in general. And even if we did, what works (or doesn’t work) for them would not necessarily work for us. They are unique individuals with unique relationships, just like us.
Now, if you are buying and reading celebrity gossip for entertainment, please do your thing. I am not talking to you. But if you believe what you read, or if you find yourself measuring your own relationships against those of famous couples, please reconsider. I suggest we let the celebrities (and ourselves) off the hook. The next time you see a magazine featuring a famous couple, leave it on the shelf. Do not buy it, or at least, don’t buy into it. Their relationships are as vulnerable as the next man’s, and no romantic spin that anyone puts on it will change that. All relationships are experiments where you put two unique elements together and see what happens. Some elements bind together for life; others repel instantly; and some group together for a while and eventually drift apart. My goal, and maybe your’s (if you want to be a Powerful Person in a Partnership) is to figure out what makes me happy, not what makes my favorite actor or athlete or anyone else happy … and to have some fun along the way.
PS: To become a Frank Love sponsor you can make a one-time contribution, or contribute monthly by clicking on the amount you’d like to donate each month: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $35, $50, $75, $100, $200 or $500.