We’ve Reached Peak Celebrity PDA | Mint

We’ve Reached Peak Celebrity PDA

Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift kissed at least five times on the field after the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl.
Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift kissed at least five times on the field after the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl.

Summary

Famous couples are exposing the gooey sides of their relationships like never before.

The end of the Super Bowl Sunday night played out more like a rom-com finale.

When Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce reunited on the field after the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers in overtime, they fell into each other’s arms and kissed at least five times. This was after the singer’s dramatic arrival off a 5,700-mile flight from Tokyo to make it to the game on time.

Celebrity PDA—public display of affection—has spiked to feverish levels off the football field, too. We’re awash in starry-eyed stars kissing and nuzzling or, if the couple is Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker, full-on making out on the Emmys red carpet. At this year’s Golden Globes, Kylie Jenner and Timothée Chalamet repeatedly locked lips at their table, while Bill Hader and Ali Wong engaged in a lingering on-camera kiss after Wong won the award for best actress in a limited series. Kieran Culkin used his acceptance speech after winning best actor in a drama series to ask his wife for another child. “I want more," he said. “You said ‘maybe’ if I win! I love you so much."

Connell Barrett, a New York dating coach, said that he believes this PDA comes from a sincere, swept-away place, and that, as born performers, celebrities can’t help wanting to show off their love stories. “They’re playing the role of genuine, affectionate partners, but they’re also inhabiting their role as celebrities and public figures who are giving the people what they want," Barrett said. “They’re like smitten gladiators saying, ‘Are you not entertained?’ "

Swift and Kelce have also kissed and hugged on the field following the Chiefs’s Super-Bowl-clinching victory against the Ravens (while Swift was wearing a diamond tennis bracelet decorated with the letters “TNT"). In another playoff game, Kelce directed a “heart hands" gesture up toward Swift in a stadium suite as 50 million viewers watched.

Meanwhile, Selena Gomez and her new beau, music producer Benny Blanco, have become perpetual cuddlers, seen everywhere from awards shows to court-side at NBA games, as well as in cozy snapshots posted in Gomez’s Instagram stories. A recent photo of Gomez snuggling in bed tagged Blanco alongside the caption, “Mornings with you."

Our tolerance for this kind of entertainment may have increased. In the late 1990s, Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson publicly licking each other’s tongues was derided for being cringey. Ditto for Ben Affleck’s derriere-rubbing cameo in Jennifer Lopez’s 2002 “Jenny From the Block" video. Nowadays, Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker’s many red-carpet spit-swapping sessions made fans root for the pair, while their three weddings became the subject of a TV special, “Til Death Do Us Part: Kourtney & Travis."

“We’ve all gotten so used to having access to others’ private lives, with reality dating shows and even kiss cams at sporting events, that it’s really become so normalized," said Patrice Le Goy, a Los Angeles-based family and marriage therapist.

Of Swift and Kelce, comedian David Letterman, who’s better known for his snarky wit than sentimental declarations, posted a video of himself on Instagram in which he proclaimed his enthusiasm over their romance. “This is such a lovely thing." He went on: “It’s something positive and happy for the world."

The growing ubiquity of celebrity PDAs has also encouraged social progress in the visibility of the LGBQT community, Barrett said, citing famous gay couples such as Elton John and David Furnish, and Kristen Stewart and fiancée Dylan Meyer (the two shared a kiss on the Oscars red carpet in 2022).

Fans have been quick to theorize that celebs who seem flirty are couples when they might not be. “Everyone feels like they’re an expert in body language," Le Goy said. “Only Murders in the Building" costars Meryl Streep and Martin Short were alleged to be dating after the pair’s friendly interactions at the Golden Globes. During an appearance on Bill Maher’s “Club Random" podcast, Short clarified that he and Streep are “just very close friends."

Onlookers can be turned off by PDA that’s too overt, proclaiming that the relationship might be more of a showmance than real love. Swift and Kelce have been subject to scrutiny around the legitimacy of their relationship.

Body language expert Blanca Cobb cites Kelce’s viral heart-hands gesture as proof the relationship is genuine, believing it was too spontaneous to be otherwise. “It all happened so quickly," she said. “Think about it—when you’ve just made a touchdown, so much is happening. You feel on top of the world. Everyone is excited for you. The coach is happy, the fans are going nuts. But your mind is still on your partner who’s watching from up in a box."

Celeb PDA might also influence the general public’s willingness to reach for their own non-famous partners while others are watching. “When we see other couples engaging in that behavior, it normalizes it for everybody else, particularly if we like the behavior that we’re seeing," Cobb said. “It’s like, well this couple is doing it, and look at the response—look how it brings them closer together. You can’t help but want that for yourself."

While the Super Bowl marks the end of the NFL season, the odds of celebrity PDA receding seem slim. Valentine’s Day is Wednesday, and the Oscars are next month.

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