Media And Your Love Life

The other afternoon I decided to take a breather from studying  and break for lunch. As I’m enjoying my lunch and flipping through the channels - I stumble upon an episode of “VH1 News Presents: Celebrity Cheaters”. The next thing you know my 20 minute break turns into an hour long obsession with this show, and once the program came to an end – I found myself feeling completely paranoid. 

Although my partner and I have an amazing, conflict-free relationship (as well the utmost respect and trust in each other), I couldn’t help but contemplate those awful “what-if” scenarios in my mind. I soon realized how ridiculous I was being, yet at the same time I still couldn’t help but feel completely drained from this program. 

I began thinking about the media’s influence on our lives and the ways in which news about “Hollywood cheaters” is constantly thrown into our faces on a daily basis. And although you can monitor and screen some of the gossip (for instance, NOT wasting an hour watching VH1 television), sometimes the media has a way of sneaking into your everyday life without your consent. 

Think about when you go to the grocery store – as you stand in that dreadfully long checkout lane, what is scattering the isles (besides candy and other goodies)? 

Photo courtesy to NYdailynews.com

Photo courtesy to NYdailynews.com

Tabloids. And numerous tabloids at that. 

Sure, sure. Not all magazines are dedicated to reporting on celebrity gossip. But when a majority of the magazines have headlines such as “CHEATER”, “SEX-SCANDAL”, “DIVORCE”, “BETRAYAL”, “THE OTHER WOMAN!”, (you get the picture), it’s a bit hard to ignore. 

And it’s not just the “gossipy magazines” that report on the drama. If the so-called cheater is important enough, it makes headlines everywhere. For instance, think back to when the Tiger Woods scandal broke loose. 

Newspapers, magazine, Internet sites, broadcast organizations, radio stations, even “prestigious journalism outlets” such as the NYT, CNN, and the Washington Post were in on this scoop. And the crazy thing is, this went on for months! It was even brought up in my public relations lecture last year! 

So looking to the bigger picture, what does this infiltration of information do to our love life? What kinds of stereotypes and awful parallels does the media unconsciously allow us to draw between what we see in the news and our actual realities? 

Could the media possibly be inspiring men and women to cheat? 

And if celebrities are getting caught cheating due to the public eye constantly policing their every move; what about those average-Joe relationships in which society isn’t serving as a watch dog – keeping them on the path of faithfulness? 

Obviously I understand this is not an optimistic outlook, but I’m mainly poising these questions because I’m attepting to play devil’s advocate here. 

I just think this is an interesting concept because the media  forces so many stigmas and labels upon our thought process without our realization that it’s even taking place. 

For instance (last year in the PR class that I mentioned earlier) during our viewing of Tiger Wood’s public apology – a female classmate turned to me and said, “What can ya’ do? Seriously, all guys are cheating tools. It’s a known fact; it’s just the stupid ones get caught, the lucky ones don’t. We all know this, yet we still put up with them…” 

(I know, I know. WOW.) Let’s think about how false this statement is… 

This is obviously not a fact, because not ALL men cheat – nor are all men “tools”. And as for the whole “we all know this” part, who on earth is “we”? 

Clearly not all men have the desire to cheat, in fact I’ve dated many guys who would never even dream of it.

And what about the ladies? Why are the women always looked at as the victim here? 

Anyways, the point behind my example is – people develope these preconceived notions in their heads thanks to what they’ve seen around them and eventually this way of thinking could prohibit people from ever trusting one another. 

Obviously you can’t take what’s happening with celebrities too close to heart or allow it to interfere with your own thoughts about your relationship, because you never know the validity of the stories. But I’m interested to hear your thoughts MSP viewers, has the media’s constant messages about infedelity ever intervened on your love life? 

Follow us on twitter @mysexprofessor. You can also follow Madeline Haller, the author of this post, @voiceMLINE. 

About Madeline Haller

Madeline Haller

Madeline Haller is an Assistant Editor for MensHealth.com. Haller received her bachelor's degree in journalism from Indiana University, with a second concentration in gender studies. When she's not writing for MSP/MH, you can find her running, enjoying a cup of coffee, or searching for the perfect shade of red lipstick.