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Is “dating down” really so bad?

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Ready for your daily dose of cynicism via pop psychology? Check out this Fox News piece on celebrities dating people less successful than they are, in which a slew of experts posit what that means about them. Apparently, a person can’t just like another who is either lower-profile or lower income without it meaning seriously bad things. So Kate Winslet dating a male model after splitting up with her husband? That’s all about insecurity.

“When you need constant love and affection, the way that people in Hollywood so often do, you can get that very quickly and easily when you date down,” AOL PopEater gossip columnist Rob Shuter says. “Who wouldn’t want to have a full-time fan following you around?”

Dr. Carole Lieberman, psychiatrist and author of the upcoming book, Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets goes on to explain that while celebrities who date down are hoping to use their fame for leverage, it’s not a healthy basis for a relationship: “A celebrity might well date someone who is not as famous because they are hoping that their fame might well keep their new partner attracted to them longer.”

Now, I know actresses and male models aren’t the poster children for depth, and that plenty of Hollywood marriages (and let’s face it, marriages everywhere) are rife with insecurity, but I’m not sure I buy this argument whole cloth. Is it really so hard to believe that people—even celebrities—might have plenty to bond over besides their status in the world? That Matt Damon might be vitally interested in his “regular person” wife Luciana because she brings something other than fame and money to the table? That partnerships can work despite the appearance of external inequalities? I don’t know, maybe I’m being a Bambi about this, but I think that while equality in relationships is absolutely worthwhile, it comes in a lot of forms, and sometimes it has less to do with profile than personal beliefs. What do you think?

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