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A Psychiatrist Looks at the Love in A Star Is Born

Warner Bros.

I am going to confess that I am an adoring fan of A Star is Born. I watched the movie from a theater in Germany, after high encouragement from my date. It was the first movie I had seen in a year. And from the onset, I was hooked.

The success of the film a Star is Born suggests that our culture is ready to focus on how we measure success. It implicitly inspires us to raise standards of connectivity and re-consider how we touch, communicate, give, receive and prioritize our relationships. Is there energy between us or are we just next to one another? Our culture, communities and homes are asking us to take the time to build vibrant and satisfying and compelling love lives. A Star Is Born phenomena speaks to this trend.

There is something about A Star is Born that resonates and reawakens our need for more love in our life. The movie provokes a range of emotions across the gamut. When I watched it, in the audience, some people were crying, wanting to comfort either character. Others likely were thinking about how they wanted a love that deep and combined. I have had other people directly tell me that they were concerned that the relationship between the main characters conveyed unhealthy dynamics.

As a psychologist, I’ve spent years listening to how people talk about love, what their own histories are, how they express their ideals and are slightly weary to hope for change. These conversations served as the ultimate petri dish for The Letter Code, my latest book, which I was happened to be finishing when I saw A Star is Born.

The Letter Code conveys with simplicity something that is pretty complex, and often confusing. Understanding it is a simple and easy classification system, gives users an advantage to creating fulfilling connections with their significant others. After personal analysis and a short quiz, you identify what letter you are most in line with: A, H, W or Y, and what that means about the way you love.

The shapes of the four letters visually represents four primary motivations that drive people’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors in their romantic relationships. When I was watching A Star is Born, immediately, I thought “They are both Ys!”

Ys want a full-time teammate, a partner in crime, a best friend and they enjoy a shared identity. They inherently believe that loving in this way is far more productive than being independent.

The A Star is Born “it-factor” lies in that the film embraces certain ideals we have in love, challenges if these ideals are useful or expressed in our current love life and asks us as a culture: how close to really need to be with your significant other in order to feel love?

Don’t worry, if A Star is Born didn’t inspire you to go into business with your long-time partner, there are other love codes that do empower you to go after what works for you. The message is: you can love in a way that works for you. And, there are people out there that need you to do just that.

Despite your position on how Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga interact in and out of the movie, it is evident that there is certain magic about “them”---the “them” they create together or the unit that is more than each of them alone. But even though they have this professional magic and allure and clear talent, who knows how they each feel in their hearts, at home, when they aren’t performing. Maybe each one of them aren’t Ys at all.

No matter who you are, how lonely or socially competent, like both characters in the movie, you deserve to be loved. Instead of waiting for someone to magically find you, or for your partner to drag you into therapy, or for you to feel like you and your partners are strangers, maybe it’s time we each spent a little time understanding what our heart needs. Loving with it will be then become a whole lot easier.

And watching amazing love films will be a LOT more fulfilling.


Krystal White, Ph.D. is the author of The Letter Code: Deciphering Why You Love the Way You Love. She is also a leadership psychologist with more than 15 years of experience working with individuals, organizations, and communities. Dr. White holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, is a board certified child and adolescent psychologist, and has completed a medical fellowship at Madigan Army Medical Center in developmental pediatric psychology. She also holds a master's degree in Christian Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a master's degree in mind, brain and education from Harvard University.

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