In today’s day and age social media has become an inseparable part of our lives. Social media, as a platform, has a huge influence on our lives and impacts our opinions. As users of social media, we can put forth our perspectives and support what we agree with. We follow numerous celebrities and influencers, adore them, and eventually become their fans. Some fans develop passing crushes for their preferred celebrities and thus like to be updated about them. This gradually transitions into stalking for many people. But is it healthy?
We believe that a constructive relationship is where two individuals evolve and grow together while supporting each other during the highs and lows. But what about such a relationship that is merely one-sided and has come into existence owing to the excessive use of social media platforms? If you have not guessed it yet, we are hinting at parasocial relationships. In today’s post, we will throw light on what is a parasocial relationship, its signs, whether is it healthy and how to heal from it. So, stay tuned till the end of the post to be well acquainted with the nitty-gritty of a parasocial relationship.
What is a Parasocial Relationship?
A parasocial relationship is formed when a media user engages in a one-sided relationship with a media persona. The media persona can be a celebrity, an influencer, live-action fictional characters, animated characters, or any other figure that a media user comes across while accessing any of the social media platforms, movies, Tv shows, web series, podcasts, or radio talk shows. A parasocial relationship is not merely limited to friendship but also extends to romantic relationships. Like each coin has a flip side, this relationship can be negative too and one can form one with multiple personas at the same time.
Such a relationship feels very much real as the individual takes the social media interactions to be face-to-face interactions. They invest emotional energy, time, and interest just like an actual relationship whereas the media persona remains completely unaware of their existence. The individual feels empowered in such a relationship as the chance of rejection is negligible. Some choose a parasocial relationship as an escape from the reality of their strained everyday dynamics. In recent times, there is an increase in such relationships owing to the unlimited internet and social media access.
Parasocial relationships have strengthened over time as the interaction of fans and celebrities has expanded due to social media platforms. To know more about this, let us take a detailed look at the signs of a parasocial relationship.
7 Striking Signs of a Parasocial Relationship
1. Stalking Social Media Accounts
At some point in time, we all must have stalked our favorite celebrities on social media. But what about this is so different in a parasocial relationship? An individual who has invested their time and energy in such a relationship will obsessively stalk their preferred personas on social media platforms. They will like and comment on every post. This just does not end here. They will keep a tab on the comments section and take note of the important bits and pieces. Creating multiple fan pages, discussion rooms, forums, and other platforms is a part and parcel of such a relationship. They stalk the persona so closely which develops a feeling that they know them forever.
2. The Soulmate Connection
When we meet someone special, our vibes match and there is an instant connection. If we both invest time and efforts to nurture the bond, it can develop into a beautiful relationship and we can find our soulmate. A parasocial relationship too starts on a similar note. An individual feels that their vibes match with their adored celebrity or influencer. They start to nurture and cherish this by investing one-sided emotional energy, time, and efforts in the relationship. Eventually, they start feeling that their preferred media persona is their ‘soulmate’ and they start harnessing such a connection with them.
We all have role models who inspire us to perform better and thrive consistently to achieve our goals. In such cases, we maintain our authentic selves while trying to imbibe some of their qualities that can help us attain our goals faster and effectively. But in a parasocial relationship, the person tries to imitate each and every factor of their preferred persona. Be it their lifestyle, their style, their hobbies, their behavior, or their food habits, the individual tries to imitate it all. Blind imitating itself is a problem but in a way where the person does not make any efforts to retain their authentic self is even more concerning.
4. The Conversations and Meetings
Just imagine if we coincidently meet our favorite celebrity or influencer?! We will be extremely elated. We might not only tell the whole ordeal to our friends and family but also cherish the memory for a long time. If not a meeting, just think about getting a like or reply from our preferred persona. We will just be elated. But in a parasocial relationship, an individual deliberately tries to meet their preferred personas again and again. They stalk them on social media knowing about their whereabouts and try to meet them frequently. Their messages on social media might be such that they might compel the persona to reply back.
5. The Compatibility
A relationship is ruled by many C’s. But the ‘C’ standing for compatibility is very important and should not be neglected. As and when we get to know our partners, we start to understand them and spend some quality time with them, our compatibility shoots up which is indeed very great! In a parasocial relationship, a person spends more time on the social media accounts of their chosen celebrity or influencer. They understand their nature by stalking them on social media, making attempts to meet them time and again, and trying to be them. In all this, they start to feel that they are ‘compatible’ with their favorite media persona. With passing time, this adoration converts into worship!
6. The Trust Factor
Trust is one of the most essential factors to nurture a relationship. When we trust someone, we support them in difficult times and take a stand for them when they are in peril of self-doubt. All of these factors contribute to building a strong foundation for a relationship.
But in a parasocial relationship, the individual does this even more passionately! Celebrities are known for controversies and someone who is in such a relationship will defend their favorite persona at any cost. They will be offended on their behalf and can even get into a fight. They will trust the media persona so blindly that they will not be able to tolerate anything bad about them. This continues till defending them and justifying for them even in their worst deeds.
7. Neglecting Real Life Relationships
We surely love spending time on social media by following some old friends, scrolling for the latest updates, and being updated about our favorite celebrities or influencers. But all of this does not substitute for the real-life relationships that we have with our friends and family. Despite our time on social media, we love spending quality time with our close ones.
But in a parasocial relationship, an individual only tries to maintain their relationship with their preferred persona which in turn hampers their real-life relationships. They are so engrossed to know each and every aspect of the celebrity, that they forget that there is a life beyond social media and relationships beyond that respective celebrity. All of this causes them to neglect their real-life relationships.
Is a Parasocial Relationship Healthy?
A parasocial relationship is like a coin. Each coin has two sides. Similarly, such a relationship comprises both the positives and the negatives. Focusing on the positives, while imitating their favorite media persona, an individual can adopt many of their positive behavioral traits, their passion to thrive for personal development, their approach towards life and problems, their determination to persist for a better lifestyle, and much more. It can be a momentary escape for people who are low on confidence and scared to face rejection. A parasocial relationship is based on one-sided interactions and thus might boost the confidence of such individuals.
But the negatives outweigh the positives. Such a relationship can be very toxic if the connection is strong. In the process of imitation and trying to be like them, an individual loses their authentic self. The person might forget their sense of judgment when it comes to that celebrity which is not beneficial. Defending someone blindly if even they are morally wrong is not correct. Parasocial relationships can be an escape for some people but replacing all other kinds of relationships or interactions can be harmful. Also, neglecting real-life relationships for a parasocial relationship is not correct. Lastly, it can hurt in long run, especially if the celebrity or influencer is in a relationship or tying the knot.
In such cases, these people might be desperate for solutions. If you are looking for one too, don’t worry we have got your back.
How to Heal from a Parasocial Relationship?
A parasocial breakup might not be an easy one to deal with, especially if the connection was strong but some small steps can definitely help one overcome it. First and foremost, one must cut their time on the internet. This will also help them to spend less time on social media, thus giving them fewer opportunities to stalk their beloved media persona on social media platforms. Next, one should spend more time with family and real-life friends instead of neglecting them. Further, one should try to understand the difference between adoring someone and worshipping them.
Also, such individuals should attempt to meet new people and strike up two-way conversations. This will prove to be effective in overcoming the pattern of one-way conversations. All of the above-stated steps will not aid in bringing changes overnight but eventually, this will work. But one must remember to be gentle and not beat themselves up for this. Despite trying all of these, if one is not able to heal from a parasocial relationship, one should seek help from a professional. If you wish to seek help from an ICF-certified Life and Relationship Coach, click here.
With these last words, we come to an end of our post ‘7 Striking Signs of a Parasocial Relationship.’ We hope that this article gave you an insight into parasocial relationships, and how to identify one and deal with them. Let us know your thoughts on parasocial relationships in the comments below. Click here to read our latest article. Subscribe to read more such updates and follow us on Instagram to be updated with the latest polls, quizzes, affirmations, carousal tips, and much more!
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