Karen Osborne

When it comes to functional relationships, it seems that celebrities these days don’t have a chance.

Take, for example, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, Katy Perry and Russell Brand. The gossip rags are full of stories about lost relationships and broken hearts. These days, we’re not at all surprised when stars split up. We are naturally wary when we hear about a brand-new celebrity couple. (After all, this is the celebrity culture that gave us Kim Kardashian’s 72-day marriage.) We celebrate a couple’s happiness by wondering when they’ll break up.

When my friends Dan and Marsha started dating in my sophomore year, most of us gave them two weeks until a breakup. Some of us bet a month. None of us thought they would last any longer than a semester. We took bets, just like gossip magazines are doing right now with Kim Kardashian’s relationship with Kanye West.

Sometimes, high school relationships feel like they’re happening in that crazy celebrity world where short love affairs are the norm, not the exception. Friends get together and then break up. If you’re together for over a month, it seems like forever. There are in-crowds and cliques, and people everywhere judging.

If you’re like the majority of people, finding out what you want in a long-term partner is something that starts in high school. Love is a tricky thing at any age. Sometimes it’s blissful togetherness; sometimes it’s a hurtful breakup. But it’s all worth it for that elusive date down the road when you make a lifelong commitment. Hollywood sells you on the idea that if your relationship with your partner isn’t perfect, you’re doing something wrong.

But that word “partner” is important to consider when you’re talking about relationships, whether you’re just in it for a short summer fling or are looking for a long-term love. True partnerships are what the healthiest relationships are made of. Making sure your boyfriend or girlfriend is also your partner is far more important than roses or grand romantic gestures. A relationship is made of the day-to-day stuff.

We all learned what a partner was when we were children. Having a partner means the two people in a relationship are equal in all things. Having a partner means that we have someone who will watch out for us, support us and love us.

Partners share hopes and dreams, stick together, communicate with each other, and, most importantly, commit to staying through the hard times. But having a partner means you have to be one, too. You have to share, communicate and commit. Most of all, partners forgive mistakes.

Your relationship won’t work out if you’re not treating it like a partnership, or if you’re in it because the other person is a quarterback or a cheerleader, or if your boyfriend or girlfriend hits you or abuses you, physically or emotionally.

Likewise, resist the urge to get a boyfriend or girlfriend because all of your friends are dating. If you don’t truly want to or aren’t ready to be in a partnership with another person, you — and the person you’re involved with — won’t be happy.

Celebrities’ lives are often so stressful, so public and so separate that they can’t build the partnerships they need to stay together. I sometimes feel sorry for them because of this.

I gave Dan and Marsha precisely two weeks until a breakup. Little did I know that they would master what it means to be in a partnership and still be together 15 years later. Maybe we should stop judging others, and start figuring things out for ourselves.