Tags: celebrity crush | real relationship | infatuation

Yes, a Celebrity Crush Can Impact Your (Real) Relationship

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By Wednesday, 20 January 2021 10:10 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Unrealistic Infatuation Influences Reality

"Oh, Frank is just infatuated.'' ''Sylvia has always carried a torch for him.'' Partners often excuse and explain the fixation their significant others place on unattainable partners, often media and public figures.

Celebrity crushes are common, and most are harmless. But not always. When extra-relational fixation and attention adversely impacts emotional well-being and detracts from interpersonal investment, there is a problem.

Energy devoted to following, viewing, or otherwise exhibiting preoccupation with relational alternatives, is time unavailable to spend on real relationships.

How does idol infatuation develop in the first place? Research reveals that at least chronologically, the answer is perhaps sooner rather than later.

Parasocial Relationships

A celebrity crush is a common adolescent experience. Often the focus of fixation is a pop singer, movie star, or otherwise age-appropriate public figure. Many young adults can vividly remember the objects of their affection from adolescence.

Studying college women, Sarah E. Erickson and Sonya Dal Cin (2018) examined recollection of parasocial romantic attachments experienced during adolescence.

They define parasocial relationships as ''relationships with media figures, which involve users' cognitive, affective, and behavioral responses to a persona, as if s/he were a personal acquaintance.''

For young people just beginning to learn about romantic relationships, Erickson and Dal Cin recognize that parasocial attachments can provide a way to bond with peers, as well as a ''safe space'' to consider what romantic relationships involve before embarking upon a dating relationship.

However, Erickson and Dal Cin also note that their data found adolescent romantic parasocial attachments to be maladaptive — "resulting in reliance on romantic relationships as a foundation of self-worth, negative evaluations of sexual experience, and endorsement of traditional gender roles.''

What about for adults?

One potential problem relates to the amount of time and energy devoted to following one’s favorite celebrity, time that could be more productively spent cultivating and nurturing real relationships.

Emotional Preoccupation

Certainly, any type of extra-relational preoccupation detracts from relational quality. This has been demonstrated to include fascination and idolization with celebrity figures.

In one study, Ágnes Zsila et al. (2018) began by noting that celebrity worship, defined as ''an obsessive fascination with a famous person,'' was linked with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. In their own research, they found high levels of celebrity worship to be associated with compulsive behaviors including problematic internet use, a desire for fame, and maladaptive daydreaming.

More recently, as noted by Ágnes Zsila et al. (ibid.) in an article about the relationship between celebrity worship and problematic social media use (2021), celebrity worship has been shown to be at least potentially maladaptive in its association with addictive behaviors — including problematic internet use and weak social skills.

They cite prior research revealing that people with an obsessive fascination toward a celebrity may experience insecure attachment to others, such as a best friend or even family members.

Although Zsila et al. (supra) in their 2021 study did not find social media friending to be associated with celebrity worship, they note the importance of identifying ''risky'' patterns, such as using social media to combat negative emotions, in order to prevent individuals from developing excessive admiration of a desired celebrity with whom they may develop ''an obsessive, delusional emotional bond.''

Choose Reality

Taken together, there appears to be both empirical and anecdotal evidence that time spent obsessing over celebrities or other public figures, as harmless as it might initially seem, may have unintended adverse emotional consequences, and is time that would be much better spent nurturing and developing healthy (real) relationships.

This article was originally published in Psychology Today.

Wendy L. Patrick, JD, MDiv, PhD, is an award-winning career trial attorney and media commentator. She is host of "Live with Dr. Wendy" on KCBQ, and a daily guest on other media outlets, delivering a lively mix of flash, substance and style. Her over 4,500 media appearances include these major news outlets: CNN, Fox News Channel, HLN, FOX Business Network and weekly appearances on Newsmax. She is author of ''Red Flags'' (St. Martin´s Press), and co-author of The New York Times bestseller "Reading People" (Random House, revision). On a personal note, Dr. Patrick holds a purple belt in Shorin-Ryu karate, participates as a concert violinist with the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus, and plays the electric violin professionally with a rock band. Read Dr. Wendy L. Patrick's Reports — More Here.​

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How does idol infatuation develop in the first place? Research reveals that at least chronologically, the answer is perhaps sooner rather than later.
celebrity crush, real relationship, infatuation
Wednesday, 20 January 2021 10:10 AM
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