Rihanna is so rich and powerful. And yet I hear she still hangs out with her abuser, Chris Brown. Doesn't she have the resources to do better?
—S. Lavina, via the inbox
Rihanna may be many things: Wealthy, beautiful, surrounded by handlers. But experts tell me that even that kind of privilege and a whole mess of yes-people can have no bearing on what may or may not be a continuing rapport with her convicted abuser...
First the facts: We already know that Breezy dated Rihanna, pummeled Rihanna, reconciled with Rihanna, went to the same club as Rihanna, cut a couple of duets with Rihanna, tweeted Rihanna and then unfollowed Rihanna.
Still, there's a ton of Internet blather about very recent meetups, one of which reportedly happened this month at Jay-Z's 40/40 club.
It would be unfair to second guess what's going on in Rihanna's head, but I can say this: If she's having trouble staying away from her abuser, she isn't alone, and her troubles are shared with millions of women worldwide.
Yes, most of those other women are living without assistants and designer wardrobes. In fact they're facing a stack of bills and kids to feed—worries that Rihanna does not have and which tend to exacerbate battered women's syndrome.
And, yes, you'd think that a squadron of paid sycophants would help in a situation like Rihanna's; after all, the "Where Have You Been" singer never has to field a call or text from that mechanical dummy again if she doesn't want to.
But experts insist to me that, in the end, money doesn't matter as much as you may think. Assistants can serve as a firewall, of course, but only if a celebrity lets them. In contrast, they tend to get fired if they tell a star what she needs to hear instead of what she wants to hear.
"With so many of her other needs being met, Rihanna has the luxury of making many of her decisions based on emotion," suggests Dr. David Reiss, a psychiatrist who has a wealth of experience in this area. "And stars get what they want; what strikes them at the moment is what. And what they want is what they get, without even thinking it through."
In fact, says Reiss, who has worked with other celebrities, Rihanna may think she has to keep seeing Brown to make decent music. Yes. Really.
"A lot of times, with celebrities, they may justify their actions by saying ‘I'm sacrificing for my art,' or, ‘This person is my muse and I am his muse,' and powerful people around them may support that," Reiss says.
In other words, the world loves celebrity personal drama, and don't be shocked if the record labels are failing to voice their objections.
There are other possible factors, too, of course: Therapists tell me that Rihanna may have a low opinion of herself, or that Rihanna thinks she can change Breezy, or that drama equals love, or that Ri-Ri is revisiting some trauma from childhood.
I won't indulge in that kind of armchair diagnosis, because there is no public evidence to support any of it, but I will say this: I hope the girl knows a few good bodyguards.