Psychology

The Reason Behind Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin's Quickie Engagement

Just over two months after Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin got engaged, they were seen at a New York City courthouse on Thursday, September 13. Reports have been mixed—some claiming it was a civil ceremony and others claiming it was a move to get a marriage license. So, if they're not married today, it's clear the wedding is fast approaching. Both Bieber and Baldwin are religious, and it looks like they’re taking the whole marriage thing seriously, but why are they running down the aisle when they are planning to spend the rest of their lives together?

Unless a celebrity publishes their diary entries on social media, it is difficult to pin point exactly what they're thinking, but Carol Diamond, LCSW, author of the book Relationship Roulette: Improve Your Odds at Lasting Love,  has a few theories. Bieber and Baldwin may be far too confident about their good sex life. Or one of them may be hiding something about themselves, anxious to lock in the relationship before the other person really gets to know them. As a socialite-turned-model and a pop star, they're both extremely busy, so maybe they're ready to get the vows done so they can move on to their happily ever after. 
Any whirlwind relationship also has emotions wreaking havoc on their brains. Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist, studies love and relationships in a highly scientific way—she puts people in brain scanners and analyzes the results. “People involve three distinctly different brain systems in mating and reproduction," she explains. "One is the sex drive, second is feelings of intense romantic love and third is feelings of deep attachment to a partner.”
If you marry very rapidly in this state of craziness, you often don’t even know who you’ve got.
The parts of the human brain that regulate romantic love are located near the base of the brain, near the faculties that regulate thirst and hunger. “Thirst and hunger keep you alive today," Fisher says. "Romantic love and feelings of attachment enable you to pick the right partner and send your DNA on into tomorrow. Romantic love is a basic survival mechanism, and it’s very, very powerful.” She points out that people don’t just pine for love—they live for it, kill for it and die for it—and cautions, “If you marry very rapidly in this state of craziness, you often don’t even know who you’ve got.”

When someone is madly in love, they experience what Fisher calls “positive illusions”—they overlook everything they don’t like about the other person and focus on what they do like about them. She says, “The bottom line is that in that early stage—if you marry very early in the relationship—you have a very powerful brain mechanism telling you that this is the right thing, that it will last forever. And you have a whole lot of the brain shutting down, so that you can overlook all kinds of things that you might notice in a couple of years.”

Fisher’s research shows that in the first eight months or so of a relationship, when a couple feels madly in love, their brains show activity only in regions linked with romantic love. By about 17 months into a relationship, their brains also show activity in regions linked with attachment. “Romantic love can happen instantly, but attachment in the brain takes time to grow. It takes time to really get to know somebody, to admire and respect them on a daily level, and have that attachment brain system become activated,” she describes.
The bottom line is that in that early stage—if you marry very early in the relationship—you have a very powerful brain mechanism telling you that this is the right thing, that it will last forever.
Diamond agrees that the Baldwin's family's reported concerns—specifically that the young celebrity couple are moving too quickly—are valid. It’s important for a couple to get to know each other before they commit to marriage: “They have to develop a sense of trust. They have to be able to be vulnerable with that other person and be able to trust them.” The author emphasizes that they also have to know each other’s past histories. “History repeats itself. If you’ve had three relationships and they all failed, well—Why? What is your part? That has to be worked out and accepted by the other person.”

People’s behaviors tend to change after they get married, and time together prior to marriage better prepares the duo for what is ahead. “The emotional state that you see when you’re engaged, or ready to get married, may change,” Diamond mentions. The cliché that people have less sex once they’re married proves true, because "that chemistry and that passion goes away.”

A human being in a high-functioning society walks through life channeling learned behaviors and the way one acts in a marriage is no different. Some people have deeply-held ideas about what marriage looks like, and they subconsciously recreate them in their own marriage. As an example, Diamond offers, “There are people who had parents who weren’t huggy and kissy. When they’re dating, they can be huggy and kissy, but when they get married, they may not be able to be close.” However, when someone is rushing into nuptials, they don't have as much time to witness how the married couples around their partners behave—therefore being less aware of whether or not their lover's potential married behavior is right for them.
While getting married quickly sounds romantic and exciting, science shows that it’s better for your relationship if you date for several years before settling down. According to Fisher, a 2015 study of 3,000 married people in the United States shows that “compared to those who dated less than a year, couples who dated for one or two years were 20 percent less likely to later get a divorce. Couples who dated for three years or longer were 39 percent less likely to get a divorce. So the data shows that when you marry fast, you may be jeopardizing your future to some extent. That’s not everybody, and romantic love can certainly overcome all kinds of things, and if you pick the right person, it can work—but that’s the data.”

Then again, Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin met when they were kids, and even hooked up years before they made their love official. So maybe, just maybe, they're familiar with each other’s faults and romantic histories. A short engagement may spell bad news for some couples, but Bieber and Baldwin could be the rare celebrity couple that is, as Bieber’s leg tattoo says, “Better at 70.”
Here's to hoping.

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