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Why Are We So Obsessed With Celebrity Relationships?

09/08/2017 17:02 BST | Updated 09/08/2017 17:02 BST
Paul Bradbury via Getty Images

Another week, another celebrity breakup. 

This time, it's Chris Pratt and Anna Faris. 

They'd been married eight years - impressive for Hollywood. 

They shared cute photos and said sweet things about each other, and they have a son together. 

But alas, it wasn't meant to be. 

But why do we even care?

It's not like we know them. 

Most of us have never met them.

We may have seen their faces on Parks and Recreation or Guardians of the Galaxy or whatever Anna has done in recent years, but is that really all it takes for us to become obsessed with the relationships of total strangers?

For some of us, celebrities take up almost as much space in our brains as our closest friends. We know everything about them (or everything that they're willing to share or that a journalist can dig up).

We lap up their latest films, TV shows, or music, and we refer to them by their first name like they're our best friend. 

But if we met them in person and treated them like that, they'd probably be pretty freaked out. 

We see these people daily, though.

It's impossible not to get attached to them when their faces are everywhere and we discuss them with our friends like they're another member of the group.

Seeing their faces everywhere makes us feel like we know them.

And social media puts us closer to them than ever.

Celebrities can share everything from what they had for breakfast to pictures of romantic getaways.

This illusion of proximity makes us feel like we're entitled to details about their lives. Their relationships are no exception. 

Their lives are like real-life soap operas.

The more secretive a couple is, the more we want details.

The more details they give us, the more we read into them for hidden meanings, like impending marriages or breakups.

Magazines run articles about why celebrity couples are so perfect or how to make your relationship more like theirs, and we lap it up.

It's easy to forget that celebrities only ever show us sugar-coated versions of themselves.

They fight over visiting in-laws and who used up all the toilet roll just like the rest of us do.

The only difference is that if they whinged about it, they'd get told to shut up and stop complaining about 'normal people' problems. 

They're famous - they're not supposed to suffer from the same issues that we do!

They should be out eating caviar and drinking champagne.

So instead of complaining, they deal with hardships away from the public eye.

Except that when we realise they're going through a tough time - such as a breakup - we want all the juicy details.

One person becomes the panto villain, while the other becomes the wounded animal.

In real life it's rare for a breakup to be entirely one person's fault.

But we both know Hollywood isn't real life.

Nobody in real life does a post-breakup interview in GQ or Vanity Fair.

We're desperate for those candid bits of information, though.

We mine interviews and social media posts for insight into why a seemingly perfect couple broke up.

That is, until one or both of them moves on to a new relationship. That's when song lyrics will be read into (Shout Out to my Ex, anyone?) and magazines will mourn past relationships (Brad and Jen, anyone?).

We love watching new relationships unfold because it reminds us of that warm, fuzzy feeling you get at the start of a new relationship.

Couples like Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, meanwhile, remind us that not all relationships end badly.

How do they keep their spark alive? How can we achieve the same in our relationships? Just what is their secret?

Romance is one of the most popular book genres for a reason.

Deep down, we all love a good romance.

Fictional stories make us feel good, but we know they're not real. Celebrity relationships are (or appear to be).

We therefore see what they have as more attainable than what's in books or films.

And if they've been through a rough breakup recently, all the better.

They're no longer on a pedestal - they're instantly humanised.

Will they bounce back? Will they do a revenge interview? Who will they date next?

Rumours are already flying about why Chris and Anna broke up (his work, mostly).

There's no doubt that everything they do over the next few months will be read into like a literature student reads Wuthering Heights.

The question is, how much of it will be truth, and how much will be fiction?

Thanks to Danielle Davies, Instant Counselling, and Naomi Lewis for their help with this post!