Are You in a Parasocial Relationship?
- Are You in a Parasocial Relationship?
Monogamous, Polyamorous, Long distance, Open…those are some of the many different types of relationships you can identify with. Unknowingly many of us are guilty of being in a lesser known relationship type, parasocial relationships.
What are they?
In parasocial relationships an individual becomes invested or attached to a media figure or fictitious character who doesn’t return the emotion. These types of relationships are often one-sided with the admired party likely not knowing the other person exists. Due to the predominance of social media, media figures have come to include not only celebrities but influencers and regular content creators.
What do these relationships look like?
Think about when you’re first getting into a show. As you watch the characters through their journey you begin to establish your favorites. You become invested in their well being and you keep watching because you want to know they’re okay. That’s the beginning of a parasocial relationship.
Maybe there is a celebrity who has caught your eye in the news. As you learn more about them and their personality, the more you think that, this person would probably be perfect for me or we would be great friends. The more these feelings grow, the more you want to know about them and their day to day lives. Eventually you catch yourself defending your favorite celebrity as if they were your own personal friend!
These bonds you form are parasocial relationships.
When does it stop being healthy?
Parasocial relationships are normal and healthy. Since we are mentally wired to make social connections, when we are presented with these figures we naturally create bonds with them.
When the bonds we form cease being a fiction of our minds and become real to us, it starts to evolve into something unhealthy. This can lead to someone expressing feelings of deep hurt or betrayal when a public figure deviates from the person they built them up to be in their mind. Or cause them to ask things or express opinions to what is virtually a perfect stranger because they feel like they really know the celebrity, influencer, or public figure. The relationship that they believe they have with the person has become too real to them. The boundary between reality and fiction becoming blurred is what makes parasocial relationships move into the realm of an unhealthy relationship.
Most likely all of us have been in a parasocial relationship at one time or another. Some of us might even be in one (or more than one) now. They are perfectly healthy as long as reality is kept ever clear and we keep in mind that the person we see depicted or presented is only one part of a multifaceted individual capable of flaw and error or purely an expression of a vivid imagination if the person is imaginary.