With the number of newly engaged and/or married celebrity couples recently announced, it is obvious that something is in the air.
Within the last two months alone, there have been eight celeb engagements and one marriage. The engagements thus far: Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth, Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied, LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian, Ginnifer Goodwin and Joey Kern, Lily Allen and Sam Cooper, Jessica Simpson and Eric Johnson, Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minnillo and Tony Romo and Candice Crawford. And the marriage: Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky.
So why the sudden flurry of committed coupling? According to relationship expert and professional matchmaker Amy Laurent, we can chalk it all up to the phenomenon known as "mistletoe syndrome."
"Around the holidays people get more in the mood, more romantic," Laurent explained to MTV News of the term coined by her friend, artist Annika Connor. "Those are the times when people start re-evaluating their relationships. [It occurs] in November, December, January, and we see a lot of marriages, a lot of engagements," she said. "And then there is withdrawal after the syndrome wears off, come Valentine's Day, February, March."
Regarding the growing list of engagements, Laurent said she feels confident that all the couples in question have taken the plunge for the right reasons and not from the effects of mistletoe syndrome.
"The thing I really like about Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minnillo, they've been dating for about four years. They've stayed strong," she said. "There was a brief breakup in 2009, but they got back together shortly thereafter, and it didn't really last long. The signs are all there that they can last through the trials and tribulations. ...They are going to survive the test of time. Nick has been married before. It's not something he's jumping into. She's 30, he's 37; it seems like a strong relationship."
For Simpson and Johnson, Laurent said she is definitely rooting for them. "She's really come into her own," Laurent said, citing Simpson's prior relationships and periods of time in which she was single as the proper learning experiences she needed to be ready for the right one.
"That's why I think it's all about timing. I think she learned from those experiences," Laurent said. "Now I feel like she's in the right place for it at the right time. Again, it's all about timing. She's definitely someone I'm rooting for."
Laurent also had a rosy prediction for Portman and Millepied. "I have so much respect for her. She is in such a good space right now with her personal life and her professional life," she said. "If you look at her history, she's been able to balance her life and succeed in Hollywood without getting wrapped up and becoming a Lindsay Lohan. She's been able to successfully keep down to earth and stay somewhat private. She's made good decisions all along, I don't think this is going to be any different."
Finally, with regard to Rimes and Cibrian, Laurent said that the fact that the couple has survived the tabloid storm of scrutiny (they were criticized when they started dating after allegedly cheating on their former spouses) should bode well for them.
"The fact that they've come this far to me says that there is a true relationship, a true bond," Laurent said. "And there is something to be said about how they've overcome the trials that they've been through," she added. "I think it's something real, I think they have a good chance."
What do you think of all these newly engaged celebs? Have you experienced mistletoe syndrome? Tell us in the comments!