What Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper Can Teach Us About Love and Friendship

I loved Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born. I loved their duet in Vegas. I only watched The Oscars to see their performance of Shallow, and promptly turned off the TV after Gaga’s acceptance speech for the Oscar for Music (Original Song).

I’ve seen Gaga in concert and she is dynamite…a legit talent who doesn’t really need anything but her own voice to entertain and seduce you. So when it comes to picking a team — Gaga or Irina — you can probably figure out where I stand. (No offense, Irina). Which is why as I was scrolling through post-Oscar coverage online, Dana Karlson’s article, Why Do We Want Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper to Be in Love So Badly? caught my eye.

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From where I sit, it looks like Gaga has it bad for Bradley. The way she looks at him, the amount of gushing praise she has heaped upon him, and the fact that she is beholden to him for casting her in his movie and catapulting her even further into stardom — and he’s pretty damn easy on the eyes — who wouldn’t crush hard, at the minimum?

But what I thought was a one-way street may indeed be two. The way he looks at her, all the press junket hand holding…there is deep and genuine affection there. On both sides. I think all 100 people in the room can see it. Just look.

Of course, the love lives of others (even those in the public eye), are none of our business. So why are we so mesmerized by this seemingly unrequited love? Why do so many of us want to see a Bradley/Gaga hookup IRL? The man is taken, in a committed relationship with the mother of his little girl. He seems happy. Or at least most of the time. But it still feels like there is something amiss, doesn’t it? Like an engagement ring, at least? I mean, he put a ring on Jennifer Esposito back in 2006, even though they pulled the plug on that marriage five months later.

Maybe that’s it. Fear of commitment…fear of another failed marriage? Yet he has been in a relationship with Irina for years now. So why not marry the mother of your child if you’ve done it before? And Gaga just broke it off with another fiancé (um, the body language was a key predictor of that one). So while they are not with each other, they aren’t fully committed to anyone else at this point. At least not on paper.

Aside from off-the-charts chemistry, complementary musical notes, and similarities in upbringing, work, and talent between Gaga and Cooper, what else has so many of us hoping for a Gaga/Cooper fairy tale ending?

“What makes us wish so hard for the undying passion and happiness of two people we don’t actually know?” Karlson asks. “According to psychologist Andrea Goeglein, PhD, it’s not about them at all. ‘It’s not that people are rooting for Cooper and Gaga—they’re rooting for themselves,’ she says. ‘They are projecting what they want in their own lives, what they may be missing. The Gaga-Cooper dynamic just reminds many what chemistry looks like so they have fun building that into something deeper.’”

So there you have it. What we wish for in watching the Gaga/Cooper dynamic is what we wish for ourselves.

And I’m not talking about that first rush of infatuation. The newness. The hotness. The spine-tingling, synapse-exploding physical and mental attraction — all the things you feel before you start sharing a bathroom and a mortgage. Sure, we all crave the kind of relationship that smolders, there is no doubt about it. But only on the surface.

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What we really want is the best friend quotient that Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper so obviously have. That ride-or-die commitment. Supporting one another to and through the pursuit of dreams. Believing in each other, when the other 98 people in the room don’t. That’s what we really want, isn’t it? To know there is always someone there to help straighten a strap before an event, to bounce ideas off of, to be bold and barefaced with, without fear. Your own personal cheerleader.

That is the spark we see between these two, that we don’t witness when observing them with their love partners. It’s friendship that we detect and crave, the kind of connection that sustains romantic relationships for 50 years.

As any of you who’ve been in a relationship know, the fire that burns so hot at the beginning eventually reduces to embers. But if you are truly friends, after the first few layers of infatuation and novelty are stripped away (as they inevitably are), there are still many more layers of simpatico to sustain you. There is a deeper, unspoken soul-love that remains and transcends the physical. It bonds you together, through the proverbial thick and thin.

So while I still wish we’d see a Gaga/Cooper romantic coupling, I know it’s probably not going to happen (sigh). But that’s OK. Because even as “just friends,” they are a force to be reckoned with, and a stellar example of the power of friendship in the form of philia, true fondness and affection for another human being. Simply wanting the very best for them, no strings attached. And that is something we can all learn from.

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