Men and women watch television in different ways, at least in my experience. There are exceptions to every rule, but most guys I know watch television shows for the action, drama, and the storyline. They want to know who the killer is, or if it’s a comedy for the punchlines and the jokes. They don’t really invest their time or emotions/feelings into the relationships within the show themselves. Most women on the other hand will primarily watch a show because she is invested in a couple or a relationship on the show. She wants to see if they will interact in that episode and then spend the rest of the week dissecting everything her favorite couple said or did to each other. Sometimes, women will ship people together who barely have any interaction, but based on one episode they are forever cemented in her mind as a couple who is meant to be and then spends the rest of that television show either hating who that person really is with or living in denial. Sometimes even, women will ship two characters that are straight together in what is referred to as “slash shipping”. Slash shipping means that someone believes that two characters who are straight on the show are secretly gay and in love with each other. It’s prevalent for this to happen with two men, but there is also femslash, in which two straight women are in love with each other.
A lot of writers purposely understand their demographics being women aged 18-49 and they purposely put in love triangles, couples, bromances (two male best friends), friendships, and other ways to entice their female viewers to fully invest their emotions and time into their show. These writers will string viewers along with the promise of a couple being together, some go as far as the entire series before giving the fans what they want in the literal last episode (Harmon and Mackenzie- JAG). Sometimes the couple gets together after one season (Sam and Diane- Cheers), sometimes it’s halfway through the series (Booth and Bones- Bones or Beckett and Castle- Castle) and sometimes they are off and on through the whole show until finally getting back together at the end (Ross and Rachel- Friends). Sometimes writers string along fans of a couple and give them hope, only to dash their hopes at the end of a series by not putting them together (Tony/Ziva- NCIS and Sawyer/Kate- Lost), sometimes favorite couples break up and never get back together (Sam/Diane- Cheers).
Regardless, women still root for their favorite couples, they get upset when they don’t see their favorite characters happy with the person they think is perfect for them and they love to guess what someone is thinking and feeling when they are interacting with their favorite couples. It’s totally normal and honestly, totally healthy.
So if you find yourself a secret shipper, thinking someone will make fun of you for engaging with a show because of who you want together, don’t worry. There are millions of us out there and we’ll welcome you with open arms. Just don’t be a jerk about it.