Is Falling In Love with Fictional Characters a Disorder?

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In this blog, we will answer the question, “Is Falling In Love with Fictional Characters a Disorder?”, and we will also cover relevant topics like falling in love with fictional characters, what is love, and how to cope and deal with being in love with fictional disorders.

Family Counseling
Family Counseling

Is Falling In Love with Fictional Characters a Disorder?

Well, a short answer to that question is that there is no official diagnosis of a disorder if you fall in love with a fictional character but it can often affect various aspects of your life and cause you troubles. 

However, we need to have a better understanding of this concern and explore various aspects of this question. 

Falling in Love with Fictional Characters 

Every time we watch a movie or read a book, we might find that we are feeling attached to the characters or sometimes even related with what the character is going through which can trigger an emotional reaction to the scene playing in the movie, book, show, etc. 

There is nothing wrong with liking, or even loving fictional characters. After all, they have all the desirable qualities and we know they will never break our hearts. It’s a win-win situation, almost too good to be true. But, what happens when this love turns into an unhealthy obsession and it becomes too true to be good? It can spill in various aspects of your life. 

What does ‘love’ mean?

We first need to understand what exactly love is and what it actually means. It helps to define what “love” is in order to decide whether or not love for fictitious characters can be real. The Greeks were even one step ahead of Merriam-Webster. They had at least seven separate terms that meant “love” in English, each with its own set of meanings.

Eros

A Greek word that refers to the physical desire that motivates people to make love and occasionally more eccentric displays of their passion.

When fans talk about their feelings for fictitious characters, it’s common to assume they’re drawn to the actors that play them in movies or television shows.

For example, it’s not that they actually love Harry Potter or Sherlock Holmes, but the actors’ Daniel Radcliffe and Benedict Cumberbatch. 

Experts have claimed that viewers have eros for the performers rather than the characters. 

Philia

A term that refers to platonic friend-love. Physical lust is eros, whereas philia is a longing for understanding. Philia, as defined by Aristotle, is the belief that the person you love is useful, lovable, or virtuous. 

Reading more, watching more, or coming up with their own ideas might help real people better comprehend their favourite fictional characters. For this reason, authors and showrunners give their characters’ growth.

Philia is founded on the conviction that the person you love is valuable, agreeable, or virtuous, as Aristotle defined it. This definition is particularly apt because fictional characters frequently possess a wide range of attributes deserving of platonic admiration. 

In a similar manner, supporters claim to despise personalities that are clearly unvirtuous or unlikable. If a fan’s significant other is abusive or otherwise awful, he or she may be drawn to heroes who have good hearts.

 

Can you really fall in love with a fictional character? 

The word ‘love’ has different meanings. A person can say, “I love my dad”, “I love my boyfriend”, and “I love my dog”. All of these are different kinds of love. Merriam-Webster offers a different definition for a fondness for impersonal objects such as music, food, or favourite places to visit.

Fans of fiction (including books, movies, and television shows) go even further with that last term. They can say “I love Hermoine” (from Harry Potter), “I love Elizabeth” (from Pride and Prejudice) or “I love Sherlock” (from Sherlock Holmes).

Because they are merely concepts, these fictional characters are technically impersonal, but people’s feelings for them can feel very personal. This can be happening due to the amazing depiction of the character which seems like a real person with this life around them. 

Is this a love that is impersonal? Is it any different than falling in love with a narrative? Can it be anything like the “genuine” love that individuals feel for their family, friends, and significant others if it isn’t reciprocated? What would the implications be if it turned out to be true?

Can my love for fictional characters turn into a disorder?

In a movie whenever there is a fight between the hero and the villain, we often find ourselves rooting for the main character. If we are too connected to the characters, we also start yelling at our screens like “Yes, kill him!” .

This occurs because our brains are unable to distinguish between actual life and what we see on the screen. It’s understandable because our brains evolved before the advent of modern media.

Our conscious thinking only kicks in when we unconsciously yell at a character and let us realise how stupid we were being.

Parasocial interaction is represented by this phenomenon. Parasocial connections can develop as a result of repeated parasocial contacts. Viewers believe they have a personal relationship with the people they see on screen in such false, one-sided relationships.

At the very least, sportsmen and other celebrities are actual people who, if you’re lucky, you might meet one day. However, people create parasocial interactions with fictional characters as well.

This is remarkable since the brain appears to be unconcerned about the fact that there is no way of meeting these people.

Parasocial relationships and their categories 

There are two categories of parasocial relationships:

  • Identification- based

When people try to identify with a character they like, they develop identification-based parasocial interactions. Characters in fiction are designed to be likeable. They have a lot of the characteristics and attributes that we want in ourselves. They appear to be leading the lives we desire.

Identifying with these personalities encourages people, particularly those with low self-esteem, to ‘absorb’ their characteristics. It assists them in becoming their ideal selves.

You’ve probably noticed that when you watch a character you enjoy, you tend to act in the same way they do.  For example, after watching the show ‘Suits’, you start to adopt the personality of Harvey Spectre. You take upon their demeanour subconsciously. Usually, the effect is just transient. Then you stumble to find a new favourite character and decide to imitate them.

Because the ‘personality theft’ effect is only brief, some people would binge-watch a show in order to keep their new persona. This is a recipe for media addiction.

There’s nothing wrong with liking and looking up to fictional figures as role models. We may learn a lot from them, and they can positively influence our personalities. In truth, we all borrow elements from many characters to form our selves.

However, if you become overly fixated on a single character, you may have a problem. It could indicate that your sense of self is too shaky to trust your own self.’ You’re probably relying on a fictional identity to mask your true self.

Teenagers and children have a shaky sense of self. As a result, they’re far more inclined to become obsessed with imaginary characters. They need that Batman costume and those Superman statuettes because they’re still figuring out who they are. Adults that act in this manner come to seem as a juvenile, foolish, and lacking in self-confidence.

 

  • Relational parasocial relationships

These are parasocial relationships in which a media consumer feels they are romantically involved with a fictional figure. A strong and lasting emotion of love or desire for a fictional character is classified as fictiophilia. This is more than just empathizing with these characters, which we all do to some extent.

Mass media is just another way of communicating with people to the brain. Finding potential mates is a fundamental goal of social interaction. Because fictional characters typically have attractive characteristics. These are often characteristics that people seek in possible partners.

As a result, they fall in love with these seemingly ideal characters. Of course, they’re made to appear flawless. The positive characteristics of these fictional characters are frequently exaggerated.

How to deal with being in love with fictional characters? 

  • Know that you are not alone

You’re far from the only individual who is drawn to a fictional character.

Many people might draw emotional and verbal cues from fictional characters even if they are not in love with them. Fictional characters can influence our real lives in a variety of ways, including romantic sentiments.

  • Share your feelings with your friends

You’re probably not the only one in your group of friends who enjoys a certain kind of fiction. Even if they don’t like the book you’re reading or the show you’re watching, they’ll understand some of your emotions. 

  • Remember the character isn’t real

In the end, you were taken in by a character who did not exist. Make sure that is crystal clear in your head, even if it requires repeating it over and over again.

Look for the defects or bad characteristics of your character.  If he doesn’t have any, that itself is a flaw.  No one is perfect, and you wouldn’t want to be in a true relationship where your spouse had no flaws.

It can be helpful to have other people express these things to you in order for them to feel more real. With your buddies, discuss your wish to be shut off from this imagined world. They can assist you in determining what is real and what isn’t.

  • Try to not let this admiration of characters or actors affect you daily life. 

Sometimes this extreme obsession or fantasization of being with the fictional character wreak havoc in your work, interpersonal relationships, studies, health, etc. You need to understand that this is an admiratio of the art of acting, the art of writing such characters, the depictions, it all feels idealistic but you have a life which needs your attention and you need to move on.

Conclusion

Falling in love with a fictitious character has the advantage of providing insight into your own psyche. It identifies the characteristics and qualities you seek in a possible relationship.

However, because such characters’ positive traits are exaggerated, you’re prone to be disappointed when people in the actual world don’t live up to your expectations.

 As a substitute for real-life relationships, some people create romantic connections with fictitious characters. Probably due to feelings of isolation, social anxiety, or dissatisfaction with their real-life connections.

The important thing to remember here is that your brain cannot be deceived for very long. Your conscious mind eventually realizes that having a relationship with someone who doesn’t exist is impossible.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): Is Falling In Love with Fictional Characters a Disorder?

 

Is obsessing with a fictional character a disorder?

No, fictiophilia is not an officially recognised disorder. The fundamental reason for this is that most people create healthy parasocial ties. They take lessons from their favourite personalities, admire them, adopt their characteristics, and go on with their lives.

Is falling in love with a fictional character normal?

It is actually normal to fall in love with a fictional character but you should not let it affect your life, relationships, work, studies, etc. Fictional characters are like an escape and it is okay to have them but do not let these feelings of admiration ruin other aspects of your life. 

What causes Fictophilia?

Fictophilia is often caused due to the perfect depiction of the up and downs in the fictional characters which hits too close for the reader, viewer, etc. The reader can feel this deep sense of emotional connection with the fictional characters

Discussions of fictophilia were generally initiated by people experiencing love, desire, or deep attachment to a fictional character and often wanting to discuss whether it was ‘normal’ or ‘healthy,’ or searching for others like them

What is Fictosexual?

Fictosexual is often the term used to refer to a person experiencing sexual attraction towards fictional characters only. People who are fictosexuals often experience their sexuality being deeply affected by the fictional characters in the movies, shows, books, etc.  

Why am I so attached to a fictional character?

We identify with fictional characters as if they were another “actual” person right in front of us when we watch a TV show or a movie. Identification, self-other taking, and the proximity effect are some of the psychological consequences we experience.

What is Fictoromantic?

Fictoromantic is a term used to describe people who experience a romantic attraction only towards fictional characters and their romantic feelings are influenced by these characters they see in the books, movies, and TV shows. 

References

https://www.curveball-media.co.uk/when-we-fall-in-love-with-fictional-characters/
https://www.wikihow.com/Cope-With-Being-in-Love-With-a-Fictional-Character

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