What the Robert Pattinson Dating Scandal Tells Us About Our Own Trust Issues


If you’ve been living under a rock these past few weeks and therefore haven’t heard anything about the dissolution of Hollywood’s Twilight super-couple, here’s a rough summary: Kristen Stewart admitted to cheating on boyfriend Robert Pattinson with her Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders, though sources say that the pair did no more than kiss. She issued a public apology, but Pattinson has moved out of the couple’s $6 million house and in with his friend and Water for Elephants cast mate Reese Witherspoon.

Why should you care about all of this? Fundamentally, Pattinson and Stewart’s relationship problems are nobody’s business but their own, and most of us understand that they deserve privacy, but there’s a reason we’re all so drawn to the tabloid headlines. Aside from the obvious fun of reading about the drama of the rich and famous, something about this story is hitting a chord with the American public. As it should: they’re struggling with issues we all face.

One of the aspects of the saga that has most incised Pattinson was the fact that Stewart made a public statement apologizing for her infidelity before even speaking to him. We may not have Us Weekly breathing down our necks, but in the age of Facebook, everyone’s photos and “relationship status” are on display just as much as those of our favorite celebrities. Just like RPatz and KStew, who have always struggled to keep their relationship out of the public eye and been uncomfortable with the constant media presence, we all know a couple who have argued about when to make their relationship “Facebook official.”

Even more interesting than the issue of publicity is the problem of trust, or the lack thereof, in our culture. Pattinson has chosen to throw away a three-year relationship over one kiss rather than talk to Stewart and try to work something out. Maybe this is naïve of me, but I can’t believe that there’s no way to rebuild the trust between the two.

Statistically, infidelity is on the rise. One study showed that 74% of men and 68% of women would have an affair if they knew that they would not get caught. Meanwhile, as cheating scandals become more and more prevalent, our culture is increasingly glorifying a lack of trust as the true sign of love.

Consider the Twilight series that first brought Pattinson and Stewart together. Edward Cullen, considered by many tweenage and older girls to be the platonic ideal of a boyfriend, displays trust issues and a desire to control Bella that set off serious abuse red-flags. Christian Grey, romantic lead of the Twilight-inspired 50 Shades of Grey series, goes so far as to ask his paramour to sign a contract promising that she won’t sleep with anyone else and effectively allowing him complete control over her life.    

Rather than idealizing trust issues, we should be celebrating couples who actually communicate with each other and work through rough patches. Pattinson has a chance to be a better boyfriend than Edward Cullen, and he doesn’t just owe it to Stewart to give her another chance. He owes it to the millions of teenage girls who are watching and taking notes.