One of my greatest pleasures during this past year has been binge-watching Love Island UK. Yes, taking a minimum of two hours out of my day to watch British singles couple up and compete in challenges is indeed my guilty pleasure—if guilty is even the right word. I don’t want to feel guilty about watching a show that makes me happy, and my guess is, when it comes to guilty pleasures, neither do you.
Guilty pleasures are something one enjoys despite the notion that it’s not held in high regard, or is viewed as unusual, socially unacceptable, or weird. Psychologists believe guilt is adaptive—it motivates people to follow social norms. Essentially, we feel bad when we break the rules, which then prevents us from breaking the rules as often. As such, your guilty pleasures might illicit embarrassment or shame, regardless of whether they actually should, and you might be hesitant to share them with others.
The issue is that when we talk about guilty pleasures, we often emphasize the guilt rather than the pleasure. Fundamentally, guilty pleasures are still pleasures. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Even if my only takeaway from Love Island is the difference between an Irish and Scottish accent or how to make a cheese toastie, I’m still allowing myself the opportunity to unwind and laugh—and that’s good enough for me.
Let’s all agree to create a post-pandemic world where fun-loving guilty pleasures like mine are enjoyed guilt-free, and we can all be our authentic selves without judgment. Treat yourself, if you will. Here are 16 no-guilt guilty pleasures everyone should embrace moving forward...because we all secretly love them already.
16 no-guilt guilty pleasures that we all love
1. Social media stalking
There’s no greater pleasure than stalking an acquaintance (or coworker) on social media and unearthing the songs they listen to in the car, the name of their great aunt and uncle, and their most liked Instagram photo from 2013...then pretending you know none of that when you see them in person. Channel that power for good and Google a hiring manager before an interview, why don’t you?
2. Ordering takeout when you run out of groceries
Who wants to make a grocery list, inspect the bumps and bruises on vegetables, then wait in line at Trader Joe’s when you can just order pizza straight to your doorstep? The answer is no one. Go eat that pizza, girl. Unpaid labor, begone.
3. Playing app games before bed
Sure, we all know that blue light isn’t great for our eyes before going to sleep, but that eye strain is worth it to get to the next level in your favorite app game. Animal Crossing? Gotta have it. Wordscapes? Can’t stop. Maybe that mental microbreak is exactly what you need to unwind after the workday.
4. Knowing the ins and outs of celebrity gossip
We love to pretend that we hate celebrity gossip and tabloids, but deep down, we can’t get enough. It’s really helpful to know what Zoe Kravitz wore to the grocery store yesterday and what Sophie Turner said to Miley Cyrus about her baby’s name, right? Plus, the ups and downs of some celebrities’ careers—Taylor Swift, for instance—are downright inspiring.
5. Putting things in your online cart and never buying them
There’s just something so entirely satisfying about putting a $200 flower vase in your online shopping cart knowing that you’ll never actually hit the “place your order” button. Honestly, the more items in my cart that I’ll never buy, the merrier.
6. Eating popcorn for dinner
We’re all guilty of having a bag of popcorn for dinner. Plopping down on the couch with a full bowl of buttery goodness (and no extravagant dinner expectations) is the best feeling in the world after a long day.
7. Performing full-blown solo concerts in the car
Ariana Grande, who? Catch me at the red light, belting every word to “thank u, next” at the top of my lungs. Bonus points if you continue to sing when a stranger catches you in action.
Read more: 10 Female Musicians You Need in Your Life
8. Binging reality TV shows
No matter how many times you declare and solemnly swear, “oh, I don’t watch reality TV, it’s so staged and authentic,” you know that’s a lie. I mean, have you seen Love Island yet? It’s absolutely lush, mate.
9. Spiraling into the deep depths of YouTube videos
Just call me the queen of the YouTube spiral. You know the drill—you start by watching a nice, calm evening yoga video and then the next thing you know, you’ve watched three compilations of dogs doing tricks, the history of abandoned theme parks, and predictions on when aliens will conquer humans.
10. Curating playlists for every occasion
You’re not alone if you have a music playlist for every possible situation and event in life. Breakfast playlist? Check. Exercising outside on a gorgeous day playlist? Check. Competitive board game night playlist? Checkmate.
11. Wearing pajamas all day
A friend of mine once said, “You’re not a real adult until you’ve purchased a full pajama set,” and I think that’s really powerful. Rocking that full pajama set all day long is the ultimate guilty pleasure.
12. Spending an hour taking BuzzFeed quizzes
How better to procrastinate on your responsibilities by finding out your best quality based on your shoe preferences? Plus, if an interviewer ever asks me which pasta sauce matches my personality, I’ve got my answer nailed down—it’s marinara.
13. Delivering award show acceptance speeches
It’s impossible to watch the Oscars or Grammys without creating and delivering your own pretend acceptance speech. You know what they say, speak your dreams into existence… and into your elevator pitches.
14. Holding fashion shows for one
Speaking of making pretend acceptance speeches...that speech wouldn’t be complete without the iconic look to go with it. Even if we don’t admit it, we all love getting dressed up in our most formal attire at home for absolutely no reason.
15. Pretending you’re in a movie when listening to music on the street
Pass me on the street, and I might look like any other bystander with headphones in. In my head, I’m on the set for a dramatic movie scene, on my way to make a bold career move and negotiate the salary at my new job.
16. Giving your pet a pep talk
Finally, maybe the best guilty pleasure of all is hyping up our favorite furry friends. Sure, maybe your friends think it’s a little weird or dorky to talk to your puppy like a human, but our pets are our emotional rocks, and they deserve it.