By Anna David

One glance at the nearest supermarket checkout rack and it’s clear that our obsession with celebrities’ love lives knows no limits. From their first meetings (at fabulous Hollywood parties or on blind dates set up by their agents) to their starry-eyed proposals and six-figure weddings, followed (inevitably, it seems) by their stormy divorces, we can’t get enough. And it’s not just that we love hearing the juicy details – we really care about what happens to our favorite and not-so-favorite couples. Our hearts break a little when a good-seeming thing (like Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe) falls apart, and we shake our heads and think, Told you so, when a train wreck of a relationship (we won’t name names) meets its preordained end.

This cultural obsession with the loves of the rich and famous may seem more heated than ever in our lightning-speed Internet age, but it’s nothing new, says Jake Halpern, author ofFame Junkies. “We’ve always been taken with these kinds of stories – it goes back to Greek mythology, where people would follow the sex romps of the all-powerful Zeus,” he says. “Celebrities are our modern mythology – we find what they do fascinating and we draw examples from it.”

Which isn’t to say they set good examples: A third marriage at 30? Participating in a reality show that will showcase every crack in your relationship to the masses? Declaring eternal love for a virtual stranger from the cover of a magazine? Celebrities have done it all, and while they don’t always seem to learn from their mistakes, that doesn’t mean we can’t. Here, the wisdom we can gather from their misfires – and, yes, occasional triumphs – of our larger-than-life counterparts.

1) Protect your relationship from the outside world. Thanks to reality TV, there are countless examples of couples that have opted to share a little TMI (too much information) with the public, from the basic bodily function (hello, Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson) to the pouty he-said-she-said of every little fight. Britney Spears’ Chaotic, which followed her romance with K-Fed from its lusty beginnings through their wedding day, sure lived up to its title, but it could have also been called Inappropriate. (Did we really need to hear her rave, “Our sex is soooo good” to a makeup artist?) And we’ve all seen way too many celeb couples gush about each other in interviews – only to implode months or weeks (even days) later.

Essentially, the louder a couple shouts their love from the rooftops, the more quickly it seems to disintegrate. “Certain things should be kept private or the relationship will be destroyed,” says therapist Gilda Carle, Ph.D., author of Don’t Bet on the Prince! Celebs who overshare may believe it brings them closer to their fans, and that might be true – after all, who doesn’t love hearing a sweet proposal story, whether it’s from your best friend or your favorite actress? But when you lay your heart open to the whole world, there’s nothing left that’s just for the two of you alone – something every relationship needs in order to survive.