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Why We Care So Much About Celebrity Breakups

Photograph by Getty Images

A few days ago my Facebook feed was filled with angst and tears about the death of something very beloved and sacred. No, not Cecil the Lion—I'm talking about the marriage of Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale.

It's been a rough summer for love. Back in June Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck announced they were divorcing, in July Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton announced they were splitting; a few days ago Reba McEntire spilled that her marriage was kaput, too, followed by the Gwen and Gavin news. Then came the bombshell that pushed everyone over the edge: Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog ended their romantic relationship.

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"Love is dead!" the Internet tweeted after the lovable frog and his swine soulmate shared that they would be "seeing other people, pigs, frogs, et al."

Amongst my friends and acquaintances, the most dramatic reaction was saved for the Gwen and Gavin news. I saw lots of really reasonable people losing it over the uncoupling of these two people they have never met in real life. "THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!!" one of my friends texted, followed by lots of crying emojis and, alarmingly, the one of the bloodied knife. I don't think she was this emotional at her own wedding.

If Ben and Jen can't work it out, what hope is there for the rest of us?

OK even I admit to feeling a little shocked and saddened and might have been picturing a perfectly coiffed Gwen singing these words to Gavin while he walked out the door of their mansion one last time: "Don't speak / I know just what you're saying / So please stop explaining / Don't tell me cause it hurts." Don't look at me, I have something in my eye. Sniff.

So, why do we care so much about celebrity breakups?

For me, it's simple—I thought Gwen and Gavin were an adorable couple with three cute kids. They seemed like a normal, happy family in spite of their wealth and fame. Gwen was often seen at our local neighborhood playground, hanging out like any regular mom. Ditto for Jen and Ben—they seemed to be a perfect match, and talked lovingly about each other in public. Who doesn't want to see a great love story last forever?

The answer is, we all do. "When we see a famous pair that appears authentic and in love, we root for them," clinical psychologist Erika Martinez explains in an interview with Yahoo Health. "We're all hard-wired for love, to recognize it and seek it."

Others may take it more personally, and feel like it somehow diminishes the possibility that non-celebrity mortals can ever find love. "We don't want them to be human like us; we want them to be better so we can strive to be better ourselves," psychologist Alicia H. Clark says. In other words, if Ben and Jen can't work it out, what hope is there for the rest of us?

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But cheer up—there was some good news to come out of the recent divorce-apalooza: Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett are staying together. "Jada and I are ... NOT GETTING A DIVORCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!" the actor posted on Facebook after rumors surfaced that they had split.

So for now, let's take a break from all of the sadness and breathe a sigh of relief, dry our tears, put away our sad emojis and get back to believing in love. Unless of course, this is true.

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