The pitfalls of having fictional crushes " />
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The Student News Site of Van Nuys High School

The Mirror

The Student News Site of Van Nuys High School

The Mirror

The pitfalls of having fictional crushes

Fictional crushes aren’t all fun and games. By generating unrealistic expectations in relationships, fictophilia can leave us unsatisfied with our lives and bring rise to loneliness.
Characters like Gojo, Kageyama, Levi and Zuko are among the most beloved fictional icons in pop culture, notorious for feeding into fictophilic tendencies.

Life is not all sunshine and rainbows. Sure, there’s some beauty in the world, but the human experience is largely defined by struggle and heartache. 

In the midst of our stress, fiction media becomes our go-to escape from the woes of reality. Whether it be movies, books or TV shows, fiction has taken over our lives, and its characters have become our closest friends. 

For myself and many others, it’s easy to forget that the people we engage with in books and shows aren’t real. The mirage of these close bonds opens the door to the realm of fictional crushes, otherwise known as fictophilia. 

Fictophilia, fictoromance and fictosexuality are interchangeable terms that describe the obsession, love or desire felt for fictional characters. Fictophilia is considered a form of parasocial attachment, or a one-sided connection with a person you don’t know face-to-face. 

It’s important to note that neither the World Health Organization nor the American Psychiatric Association has identified fictophilia as a severe medical condition. Even so, fictophilia can generate unrealistic expectations in relationships and negatively impact the mental health of fictophilics. 

In a 2020 study, the National Library of Medicine determined four central concepts defining fictophilia, starting with the fictophilic paradox.

The fictophilic paradox walks on the tightrope between our fantasies and reality. Although we recognize that a particular character isn’t real, our infatuation for them remains. This can trigger loneliness or discomfort, as we’ll never interact with them in a truly fulfilling way. As much as we’d love to dive into the worlds of our book boyfriends and TV crushes, our affection will never weave its way onto the page or script.

It’s no surprise that our craze for fictional characters provokes fictophilic behaviors. Since texting, talking or hanging out with make-believe people is impossible, we turn to fan-like activities to engage with our beloved characters. This could be anything from writing fan fiction to drawing fan art to blowing your savings on merch. 

Of course, fictophilic behaviors aren’t inherently bad. But when they spiral into all-consuming obsessions, stress and anxiety can emerge in our lives

Another unwelcome element of fictophilia is the fictophilic stigma. By nature, stigmas foster shame or disgrace. The fictophilic stigma causes fictosexuals to be humiliated at their affection for nonreal people.

We can’t control our feelings, even if our passions are for fictional characters. The fictophilic stigma encourages an endless cycle of self-deprecation and unwarranted shame. Even while reading online forums to research for this article, I noticed numerous posts that expressed embarrassment or guilt at being in love with an anime character. Many felt ashamed at loving fictional characters more than their romantic partners. 

These examples play right into supernormal stimuli, a fancy way of indicating that fictosexuals find more meaning in fictophilic relationships than in real-life relations. Fictional characters might seem superior to those we interact with in our daily lives. 

It’s not necessarily wrong to believe fictional characters are better than real people. Fiction is based on our romantic ideals and feeds into our fantasies. It’s easy to become emotionally invested in stories. Despite being fake, what we experience in films and novels can resonate with us on deeper levels. 

Even so, we dig our own graves by having constant biases toward fictional characters. Separating ourselves from the real world includes separating ourselves from friends and loved ones. Idolizing illusions fuels loneliness and isolation, which can lead to crippling anxiety or depression

Clearly, fictophilia is a Pandora’s box of mental health issues and inner turmoil. Nevertheless, some propose that fictional crushes are just harmless fun. They might uphold that characters can help people understand what they want in a partner, allowing them to work toward the most desirable relationship. 

The problem with revolving our lives around fictional characters is that fiction isn’t real, though we tend to forget this simple truth. Fiction is designed to entertain us, not to reflect reality. 

Characters and romantic attachments are intentionally represented in ideal ways to appeal to consumers. Centering our expectations around fictional people makes way for unrealistic standards in our relationships. We set ourselves up for disappointment when Prince Charming turns out to be not a perfect prince, but a real person with real problems. What’s more, comparing our relationships to fictional ones can lead to dissatisfaction in our real connections, as they can seem unexciting compared to the likes of Romeo and Juliet or Darcy and Elizabeth. 

I get it – fictional characters are extremely appealing. Truthfully, it can be easier to crush on someone you’ll never have to talk to. Even so, we must not blur the line between fictional fantasies and reality. Otherwise, we risk leading a life that seeks love and companionship in illusions. 

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About the Contributor
Abigail Kim
Abigail Kim, Staff
The most magical thing to do in this world is to escape it. This is the power of reading, and it is a force I readily succumb to. A delectable story fills me with the greatest joy, and inventing extravagant tales offers a luscious meal to my hungry brain. My greatest wish as a beginning journalist is to communicate the wonderful quirks of the world through my perspective and to share the divine opinions of every viewpoint. In the eccentric witch’s brew of my mind, I weave characters, conflict, and emotions in fictional writing and dancing, or, as I like to call it, storytelling with the body. On a separate note, if I’m not hunched over my computer, you may find me chomping away on dark chocolate or shrieking at the top of my lungs at a KPOP concert. 
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    OlamideMay 17, 2024 at 1:48 pm

    This is a great article!!!