Fictophilia Mental Health

A condition known as fictophilia makes a person experience strong desires, romantic feelings, and sexual attraction for a fictional character. It differs from basic admiration and resembles real-world infatuation more.

There have been cases where people, sometimes humorously and other times more seriously, profess a strong attraction to a fictional character. It turns out that there is a name for this phenomenon, and a surprisingly large number of individuals experience it. A disorder called fictophilia (Fictophilia Mental Health) causes someone to feel romantic feelings, intense cravings, and even sexual attraction for a fictional figure

It might be difficult to understand what is fictosexuality and even more difficult to recognize or diagnose it, but there are ways to cope with it, and our Florida Mental Health Treatment Center can help you with that. Learn about the fictophilia mental health phenomenon, what is the psychology of fictophilia, and how to manage it effectively. Reach out to We Level Up Tamarac FL if you need additional explanations or support. 

Understanding Fictophilia Mental Health

A condition known as fictophilia (Fictophilia Mental Health) makes a person experience strong desires, romantic feelings, and sexual attraction for a fictional character. It differs from basic admiration and resembles real-world infatuation more. According to fictophilia definition, people experience human feelings toward their imaginary obsession. Because of this, they frequently can’t tell the difference between reality and fantasy, and the traits of their fictitious crush end up dictating their preferences for a human mate. They strive to be as close to them as possible by looking for comparable qualities in other potential lovers because they cannot be with them physically.

A character from a comic book as a symbol of Fictophilia Mental Health
People with fictophilia experience real feelings toward imaginary obsession, with their fictional crush influencing their real-life preferences.

Fictophilia (Fictophilia Mental Health) is occasionally compared to or confused with aegosexuality (where people only experience sexual attraction or desire for someone when they have an emotional connection with another person) or demisexuality (someone who seldom feels sexual attraction to other people). Graysexuality is closely related to fictosexuality, which is seen as a subset of asexuality. The concept that sexuality isn’t black or white is supported by graysexuals, who fall between the asexual and allosexual categories.

Fictosexuals can undoubtedly relate to people of various orientations. Some fictosexuals identify as bifictosexuals (they are drawn to both male and female characters), or as aro/ace fictosexuals, which means they are romantically, asexually, and fictosexual. Fictophilia is also sometimes mixed up with fetish. One requirement of a “fetish” (sexual fantasy) is that the object of one’s attraction must only be a fictitious character, not a real person. The bond to the character frequently transcends sexual fantasies and may not even be sexual; fictosexuals can get romantically attracted to characters (love and sexuality). Fictosexuality emerges as an adult version of pretend play. It’s vital to understand that fictosexuality varies on the person’s orientation and is not always “straight” or LGBTQ+.

Finally, findings show that fictophilia is different from the immediate reactions people have when they engage with fiction, like acting out scenes, feeling involved, or imagining themselves in the story. In the case of fictophilia mental health, feelings go beyond the act of perception: people ‘attach’ to characters for a significant length of time.

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The Reality of Fictophilia

Fictophilia (Fictophilia Mental Health) is more than just having a crush. Since it uses real human emotions, it evokes strong emotions in people. Despite being fully aware of the characters’ fictional status and the parasocial nature of their relationship, the person may still feel uncomfortable because of their affection for the characters and because they cannot engage with them like they can with real people. There have even been several attempts to marry fictional characters. This has also had some success in Japan, and it is legal everywhere in the world.

A woman holding a Batman symbol.
Fictophilia is blurring fantasy and reality, but some people even marry their loved fictional characters.

Meaning of Fictional Character

What does a fictional character mean? A fictitious character is a made-up person or object appearing in a story, like a book or a movie. Fictional characters may be based on real-life individuals, legends, acquaintances, or figures from previous works of literature. Your audience will feel more connected to you if your characters are well-written, and fandoms might even develop.

Characters from comic books and cartoons like Batman, Captain America, Mickey Mouse, Pinocchio, and Spider-Man can be recognized just by looking at them. The reader’s imagination is required for memorable book characters, even though these characters frequently inspire TV, film, and video game adaptations. These well-known fictional figures can be role models, such as Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, played by Jennifer Lawrence, or Jon Snow from Game of Thrones, played by Kit Harrington. Other characters like Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, and Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer are adored for their peculiarities.

Fictophilia is most prevalent among anime fans. Most men and women are drawn to and almost worship anime characters (loving cartoon characters). The anime men are expertly portrayed and crafted to be perfect personas that appeal to a wide audience, which brings people to have a fictional crush.

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Identification with a Fictional Character

People, especially those with low self-esteem, might “take” these attributes into themselves by identifying with these personalities. This helps them become their ideal selves. You’ve probably observed that you frequently act like a favorite character when you watch them. You unconsciously observe their habits. Usually, the effect is transient. Then you discover a new favorite character, which you duplicate.

Some people may repeatedly watch a show to sustain their new image because the effect of this “personality theft” is transient. An easy outcome of this is media addiction. There is nothing wrong with looking up to and using fictional figures as role models. They teach us a lot and can positively influence our personalities, which consist of various character traits. However, becoming overly fixated on a single character may be an issue. It can be a sign that you lack the self-confidence to rely on yourself. You might be utilizing a made-up identity to support your personality.

Children and teenagers lack self-confidence, so they are much more inclined to develop an obsession with imaginary characters. They must have the Superman statues and the Batman costumes because they are still developing their identities. Adults who act this way may come across as silly, infantile, and lacking self-awareness.

A figurine of Superman, frequent sexual interest to fictosexual people.
 What is fictophilia, is it a mental illness? A short answer to the question is falling in love with a fictional character a mental illness is NO.

Is Fictophilia a Mental Illness?

Fictophilia (Fictophilia Mental Health) belongs to a group of phenomena known as paraphilias, which, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), represent atypical sexual interests. APA draws a distinction between paraphilias and paraphilic disorders. Paraphilic disorders additionally require the experience of distress, impairment in functioning, and/or the desire to act on them with a non-consenting person. 

So, a short answer to the question is falling in love with a fictional character a mental illness would be no. However, fictosexual people are facing problems to be understood by the society. Fictosexuality might not be a diagnosable mental condition, but the stigma around it still exists. Because of the relationship’s perceived sexual nature and the idea that there is something wrong with fictosexuality, people are both captivated by and critical of fictophilia. Fictophiles frequently face stigma, which could be lessened by peer support.

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What is the Psychology of Fictophilia?

There hasn’t been much research on fictosexuality. However, new romantic parasocial attachment studies mention that attachment objects may also be made up. When media consumers think they are dating a fictional figure, they engage in parasocial relationships. Most parasocial attachment studies have not specifically looked into the parasocial traits exhibited by fictional characters.

Research on parasocial relationships mostly focused on celebrities and influencers, meaning actual people, but the general population doesn´t get to know and interact with them face-to-face. Investigations on this topic revealed its negative impact on well-being, mostly through the effect it has on self-confidence coming from comparing oneself to people they follow on social media

Similarly, parasocial ties based on identification are created when viewers attempt to identify with a character they like. Fiction seeks to create likable characters or fictional crushes. These characters frequently possess the characteristics and features we strive for in ourselves. They appear to be leading lives that we would like to lead.

Little research exists that speaks of attachment to media personas (arguably fictional characters as well) as having all the elements of attachment to a person from one´s environment. People fantasize about them and invest in the ¨relationship¨. For instance, as a replacement for getting to know a person, a fictosexual person might do thorough research on the character.

Another interesting observation is that while fantasizing about fictional characters, people get to imagine their best selves in those relationships. That idealized self can increase motivation to form a parasocial bond, creating a loop people often do not want to leave. Fantasizing seems to be a crucial element in forming parasocial relationships with fictional characters, and it predicts the intensity of it. What practitioners are warning about is that creating these parasocial relationships with fictional characters, emotionally investing in them, and not being able to receive anything in return might affect future real-life connections and bonds. Fictosexual people might be searching for the same flawless partner or be frustrated because they themselves do not possess fantasized qualities they can easily project in parasocial relationships. 

Why would someone fall for a fictitious character? 

Mass media is just another way to communicate with individuals in the mind. Finding suitable partners is one of social interaction’s main objectives. Because fictional characters frequently possess appealing qualities, people often seek these qualities in prospective partners. They fall in love with these seemingly ideal characters as a result. Naturally, they are designed to look flawless. These fictitious characters’ excellent qualities are frequently overstated. Because we are multifaceted, it is rare for us to categorize people as either good or bad neatly.

A disorder called fictophilia causes someone to feel romantic feelings, strong cravings, and even sexual attraction for a fictional figure.
Fictophilia causes someone to feel romantic feelings, strong cravings, and even sexual attraction for a fictional figure.

A study also shows that there is a preference for a certain type of character based on one´s attachment style. Those with higher attachment anxiety form stronger parasocial emotional bonds with nurturing fictional characters as it soothes them. Those with more avoidant attachment styles lean toward characters who have traits they value, such as autonomy, as it reaffirms their behavior.

Warning Sings: How Do I Know If I’m Fictosexual?

Fictophilia is not a widely understood topic. Therefore, many struggle to answer the question of how do I know if I’m fictosexual? How can you tell if your fictitious attraction is more than simply a crush and something that will pass on its own? 

Since there is no list of symptoms for fictophilia mental health, what you can do instead is try to keep yourself in check for these three signs: 

  • You face a fictophilia paradox: You are aware that the character you developed feelings for is not real, but you still deeply yearn for them. Despite acknowledging that your relationship is parasocial, your feelings are real, and you are experiencing sadness and discomfort because your feelings cannot be reciprocated. Paradoxically, you might also feel supported by your fictional partner as the relationship feels real to you. 
  • You engage deeply with a fictional character: You first go to great lengths to find out as much as you can about that character. In extreme circumstances, you may even memorize the smallest aspect of someone, such as their personal history or wardrobe. Another red flag is when they have occupied most of your digital area, if not all. Your gallery is filled with their images, and you have accounts just for them. You might also be engaging in daydreams and fantasies, cosplaying, creating fan art, or writing fan fiction centered around the character. You get strongly affected by the development of your character, their storyline, and the relationships they have in media. 
  • You prefer fictional characters over real people: Fictional characters are seductive because of their superior emotional qualities and conventionally attractive physique. You might feel no one can compare with them. Additionally, they cannot hurt, betray, or abandon you, providing you with a sense of comfort and safety. 

All these signs might not be enough for you to answer how do I know if I’m fictosexual, as you don´t see anything wrong with these behaviors. It is true that they are not inherently problematic, but they can take the time, energy, and mental space you could put in a real relationship. You might be missing out on a real-life relationship that can bring you reciprocity of your feelings, satisfaction, and safety you desire. You might also end up frustrated and sad as you are not getting anything in return. Therefore, consider implementing some mental health strategies to keep you grounded, focused on other people, and engaged in enjoyable real-life activities. 

An anime character.
What is fictosexuality? Understanding the fictophilia meaning helps in recognizing the emotional attachment some people develop toward fictional characters.

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Coping with Fictophilia Mental Health

As it is not recognized as a mental disorder, there are no guidelines by APA on how to deal with fictophilia. However,  there are some general recommendations for mental wellbeing

8 Steps for Mental Wellbeing and How To Improve Mental Health

Although fictosexuality is not a diagnosable mental condition or disorder, the stigma attached to it still exists. 

fictophilia mental health
Although fictosexuality is not a diagnosable mental condition or disorder, the stigma attached to it still exists.
  • Staying Positive
  • Practicing Gratitude
  • Taking Care of Your Physical Health
  • Connecting With Others
  • Developing a Sense of Meaning and Purpose in Life
  • Developing Coping Skills
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation Techniques

Additionally, our experts recommend some daily practices to help you feel grounded and connected with your social and physical environment. One of the holistic practices useful for a variety of mental health challenges is mindfulness. Learning how to practice mindfulness can bring inner peace and help you connect with yourself rather than looking for connections outside the real world. Practicing positive affirmations for mental health is another way to remind yourself of your worth. They help with self-esteem and self-respect, so you don´t feel compelled to project it onto a parasocial relationship. Finally, engaging in hobbies and activities for mental health is not only beneficial for mood and stress management but can also result in friendships and genuine connections.

Therapy sessions with certified mental health experts who focus on fictophilia and participation in support groups where people may exchange stories and coping mechanisms are also options for those looking for assistance with fictophilia mental health. Furthermore, articles, books, and online courses can offer practical advice and helpful insights for managing this issue.

A woman smiling while looking in the mirror, happy she overcame the fictophilia mental health issue.
Words of affirmation and mindfulness can help you cope with fictophilia mental health.

Are You Still Confused About Fictophilia Mental Health?

We understand that fictophilia mental health might still be a confusing topic. We also know it might be a result of underlying mental health issues. This is why we encourage you to seek information, advice, and assistance from professionals to understand yourself and your mental state better. Contact We Level Up Tamarac FL, and let us help you clear all your doubts and answer all the questions you have. Our calls are confidential and non-binding.

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Search We Level Up Tamarac FL for Fictophilia Mental Health Topics & Resources

Erickson, S.E., Harrison, K. and Dal Cin, S. (2018). Toward a Multi-Dimensional Model of Adolescent Romantic Parasocial Attachment. Communication Theory, 28(3), pp.376–399. doi:

Karhulahti, V.-M. and Välisalo, T. (2021). Fictosexuality, Fictoromance, and Fictophilia: A Qualitative Study of Love and Desire for Fictional Characters. Frontiers in Psychology, [online] 11. doi:

Liebers, N. and Straub, R. (2020). Fantastic relationships and where to find them: Fantasy and its impact on romantic parasocial phenomena with media characters. [online] ScienceDirect. Available at:

Rain, M. and Mar, R.A. (2021). Adult attachment and engagement with fictional characters. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, [online] 38(9), pp.2792–2813. doi:

Travers, M. (n.d.). 3 Signs You’re Experiencing ‘Fictophilia,’ According To A Psychologist. [online] Forbes. Available at: [Accessed 29 May 2024].