By Jenny Everett, SELF magazine
In recent weeks and months, some of our favorite celebrity couples have announced that they're dunzo.
Courteney Cox and David Arquette separated (Wait! They were supposed to give Jennifer Aniston hope that love can last!); Christina Aguilera filed for divorce from Jordan Bratman (Five-year itch already?); and Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins split (But they were so perfectly matched, politically!).
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We can't help but feel a twinge of sadness about these breakups, even though these people are perfect strangers to us. Is this normal, or totally crazy? Turns out, it's not unhealthy to feel a bit down and disappointed, especially if the couple reminds you in a weird way of you and your significant other.
"We've all been encouraged to project our fantasy lives onto celebrities, so when a couple we identify with breaks up, it's slightly as if it's happening to us," says Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. (a.k.a. Dr. Romance), psychotherapist and author of It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction. "We project all our past hurts onto the media image, and imagine the celeb feels like we do."
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In other words, we feel like we know these people, and are emotionally attached. "Actors play characters on TV that we feel like we know, and you feel privy to their private lives," she explains. Tessina says that while celebrity breakups sometimes get us to examine our own behavior in relationships in a healthy way, we need to be careful not copy their negative behavior patterns. "Dysfunctional relationships are bad lifestyles that average folks get into trouble emulating," she warns.
On the flip side, you can use a celeb breakup to better your own relationship by taking the opportunity to chat with your partner. "If you're both aware of the news, you can just say, 'Did you see what happened to Courteney Cox? Do you think that could ever happen to us?' or 'What do you think of David Arquette's behavior?' This can be a healthy, non-awkward way to get a conversation going with your partner."
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While there are lots of disastrous celebrity relationships, there are many that are actually enviable: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson (they seem devoted and down to earth), Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner (the family that goes to the farmer's market together stays together) and Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith (they always seem to be having fun together).
So next time you're feeling down about the latest celeb split, look to these guys for inspiration!
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Photo Credit: WWD