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What Are Parasocial Relationships? Everything You Need To Know

What Are Parasocial Relationships? Everything You Need To Know

Updated on May 27, 2022

Reviewed by Julianne Cantarella, MSW, LSW , Certified Relationship Coach

Parasocial Relationship - Definition, Signs, Causes, Benefits and More

Are you curious about parasocial relationships? Thinking what on Earth is that? Or, are you someone who needs a little suggestion about your parasocial relationship?

Whatever may be the reason, glad you hit the search bar… because you’ll get your all-in-one answer in this think-piece. 

If you ever relate with a TV or fiction character intimately, that’s a parasocial relationship.

Many people suffer from the negative impacts of parasocial relationships and silently suffer because nobody gets them. 

Well, I do… I’ll show you how to make things just right in your life… and don’t think you’re alone, because many of us seek peace in the same way.

Enough chit-chat done, let’s dive into some business here…

Parasocial Relationship Infographics

Parasocial Relationship - Definition & Signs
Parasocial Relationship – Definition & Signs
Parasocial Relationship - Impacts & How to Get Over from it
Parasocial Relationship – Impacts & How to Get Over from it

What is a Parasocial Relationship?

When a fan forms a one-sided bond with their favorite celebrity or fictional character, and the celebrity isn’t aware, is dead or it’s a fictional character, it’s called a parasocial relationship.

Parasocial relationships are make-believe or one-sided relationships between media figures and non-media figures.

Since the public figures have no idea about the existence of the non-media figure, there’s an invisible bond… parasocial relationships aren’t like real-life relationships.

Moreover, forming parasocial relationships doesn’t stop at alive actors only… a television viewer might bond with dead celebrities, fictional characters, or any TV character.

Media psychology states that since the non-celebrity can’t form face-to-face relationships or real-life relationships with their favorite celebrity or fictional characters from TV shows, they form parasocial relationships.

How? They study the favorite televised characters and the actors playing the part.

Nowadays, viewers’ also form parasocial relationships with social media users like influencers, bloggers, or vloggers.

Sometimes, television personas engage in one-to-one questions and answers which deepens their social relationships with their followers.

Despite the one-sided nature of such clips, viewers imagine a real relationship with their favorite character.

For a deeper understanding check these…

Parasocial relationships examples

People mostly aren’t aware of their parasocial relationships unless they lose the celebrities… Once the celebrity passes away, their mournful reactions define their passion for the celebrity. 

However, sometimes, people do show some parasocial relationships signs when the celebs are alive. Let’s understand with some real-life examples…

1. When the creator of Marvel comics – Stan Lee – passed away in 2018, the entire world mourned for the loss of the gem.

2. When Chester Bennington (a Linkin Park member) committed suicide in 2017, the entire world shed tears. Social networking sites were full of grief-stricken posts.

3. Avid followers of the popular sitcom FRIENDS still rewatch the show because “they deeply relate to a character”.

4. After the death of Heath Ledger (2008), nobody believed anybody could portray Joker as good as him… In fact, you can still find fresh articles about his fans missing him.

5. In Avengers: End Game, Iron Man aka Tony Stark’s on screen death made several fans weep in the cinemas.

Though I’m referring to non-celebrities as fans, it’s quite different from fandom. Let’s learn from…

Fandom vs Parasocial Attachment

Unlike fandom, in parasocial attachment, people feel their favorite characters are their friends or divine beings. Fans only show interest as long as celebs perform. 

There’s quite a difference between fandom and parasocial relationships when it comes to bonding.

Fans will watch their favorite celebrity’s new productions. They’re avid media consumers of their most-liked divas.

On the other hand, a person developing a parasocial relationship feels they’re friends with a fictional character. They might even worship them like a God or Goddess.

When people don’t get enough social interaction, they might satisfy their desires to socialize from parasocial attachment.

There’s quite a stigma about parasocial relationships, many people ask…

Are Parasocial relationships healthy?

A parasocial relationship itself isn’t anything bad unless a fan becomes too obsessed or neglects their own life. It can stay healthy as long as fans stay within boundaries.

Human beings need to socialize, and when they don’t get enough of it, they form parasocial relationships.

Adolescents bond with supportive motherly characters and simultaneously develop affection for them… which is quite important to them.

They know they won’t reject or embarrass them, so they can bond without any fear.

Also, such people know it’s not real, so they stop their parasocial interaction relationship when they don’t need them… it’s a win-win situation for them

As long as someone doesn’t use a parasocial relationship to stalk celebs and attempt a real social relationship, it’s great.

Since the media records everything from a celeb’s breakfast to their skincare routine, some might hallucinate real social connections with their favorite media persona.

But some believe it can harm you because…

1. It’s a one-sided relationship, so you’ll never get any affection back from them which can frustrate you.

2. You idealize the character and it stops you from forming real-life interpersonal relationships.

3. You aggravate your fear of rejection instead of facing it. You know the celebrity won’t reject you, so prefer parasocial relationships in life.

4. You aggravate your sense of isolation instead of resolving issues. You withdraw more from society and lose all opportunities to bond with real people.

If you’re interested when it began, read…

Parasocial Relationships History

Though Horton and Wohl first explained parasocial relationships in 1956, this has been around as long as any form of entertainment existed. Parasocial Interactions and parasocial attachments are other related theories.

In the 1956 seminal article – Mass Communication and Parasocial Interaction: Observations of Intimacy at a Distance – Donald Horton and R. Richard Wohl first coined the term “parasocial relationship”.

Horton and Wohl also defined parasocial interaction in their article as the conversational exchanges between media consumers and media personalities.

Giles (2002) explained parasocial interaction deeply.

For instance, while watching any Marvel movie, during a favorite character’s death if you only mourn for that instance, it’s a parasocial relationship. 

And if you still mourn for days, that’s parasocial interaction.

Another extension of this was Gayle Stever’s parasocial attachments – a bond between children and parent figures or romantic partners – the consumer imagines the media persona as a comforting person.

If you want to know how the human brain works with Parasocial relationships, read…

Parasocial Relationships Psychology

Humans desire to bond with others, but they can’t bear others’ rejection or judgment. So, human beings bond with celebrities who can’t judge because they don’t know of their existence. Most of these bonds develop from some type of attraction or mental health concern.

Human beings need social connections to survive, function, feel connected, and be appreciated. So much that its importance comes right after food and shelter.

Adolescent children find the most help from parasocial relationships, however, they know they aren’t appreciated.

So parasocial relationships don’t fulfill their needs of appreciation or belonging, and they keep feeling lonely.

Also, most youngsters feel awkward creating real-life relationships, so they don’t have any friends to interact with during tough times.

That’s when they seek idols to boost confidence and interact with them.

In 1986, there were some studies which revealed that some people use it to broaden social interactions, instead of replacing them – which implies parasocial relationships aren’t the reason behind their aggravating loneliness.

However, social media or gaming addiction can also take a toll on mental health, leading to parasocial relationships.

Lastly, it can be due to physical attraction to characters’ body image, anxiety disorder, depression, traumatic experiences, insecurity, and the negative impact of real relationships.

Even though the psychology is clear, you might be curious about…

How do Parasocial Relationships Form?

Parasocial relationships form due to the attraction of a non-media person for a media celebrity. With time, the fan relates to them and the one-sided relationship deepens.

When media consumers come across impressive fictional characters or public figures, the consumers become so enchanted that they think of the persona beyond the interaction… which leads to parasocial relationships.

More parasocial interaction with the character intensifies parasocial relationship to parasocial attachment style.

Intense parasocial relationships usually end when the public figure passes away or their show ends, or even when the consumer breaks off this psychological relationship… These are parasocial breakups.

Many studies showed that parasocial breakups impact human beings the same as real-life separations.

Curious if you or someone close has parasocial relationships? Check with these…

Parasocial Relationships Signs

Nobody other than you will know whether you have a parasocial relationship with your celeb crush or not. That’s why you must help yourself and check if your parasocial relationship (if any) is healthy. 

So, let’s know what’s on your mind… 

1. You’re an up-to-date follower

If you follow them in all media channels and know about everything they post on each of them… from the pictures or videos to their captions and hashtags… you know it all – of course, you’re a huge fan, but it’s also a sign of parasocial relationship

2. You romantically love them

Perhaps your favorite character saved you from committing suicide… you found encouragement in their songs or dialogues. And now your sole reason to live is them.

If you feel or fantasize about a romantic connection with your favorite character, that’s a parasocial relationship sign.

3. They’re your trusted aid

Nobody knows about your darkest secrets… the intense negative emotions you felt during a certain stage in your life.

You feel people will judge you, fear you, think you’re a villain or a shame to society.

However, your idol will surely understand you, because you created a deep bond with them.

Through their performances they pulled you back to the brighter side, so how can they judge you?

Such feelings are another sign of a parasocial relationship.

4. You think you’re friends

Since you’re an avid follower of their social media updates, live conferences, and even interviews, you know a lot.

You know their diet, workout routine, everything. And only friends know a lot about friends… that’s a parasocial relationship sign.

5. You blast them with DMs

Do you send messages to their public profiles? Perhaps you got replies and felt close with them. Their replies encouraged you to DM them more.

That’s another parasocial relationship sign. Also, if you got many replies from them, it was probably their social media manager, not them.

6. They don’t advertise for money

Everyone out there advertises products for money, but your idol isn’t greedy. They recommend products that are actually useful for their fans.

So, you buy everything that they promote. Even if it’s something you don’t really need in your life, you must grab them because of their suggestion.

If that’s you, you have a parasocial relationship.

7. Authentic or not, gotta follow ‘em all

Other than your idol’s actual social handles, there are always some fan-built pages that post more frequently than your idol themselves.

After all, they’re busy, someone does the job, and you can’t resist them.

If you like all of their fan pages and spend long hours on your system liking and commenting like a ritual, that’s a parasocial relationship sign.

8. You’ll soon marry them

In many romance dramas, they portray a fan meeting their idol… they fall in love and soon get married. Do you fantasize something like that about your idol?

Hope to walk past them and catch their attention? Or, hope to get caught up in a situation where you save them and show them you’re their soulmate.

If that’s so, then that’s another parasocial relationship sign.

9. You tried to get hitched

Perhaps you didn’t just fantasize about such scenarios, you tried to realize them.

Say, you get all of their concert tickets or find their shooting location to meet them. Or even check their social media updates to verify their location.

You always wanted to meet them once and convince them to marry you. If that’s your story, you have a parasocial relationship.

10. They are a GOD(DESS)

There’s no one like your idol… the entire industry doesn’t hold a candle to them because of their compassion and talents.

You have a dedicated wall full of their posters, achievements, and everything else. If you’re a low-key devotee of your idol, it’s a parasocial relationship sign.

11. You bond better with them

Nobody around you gets your feelings. People estrange you for having different choices. However, in your idol’s interview, they said “Each of us are different and that’s amazing”.

That’s when you believed that your idol is your only friend. Only they can understand you, and you relate to them better than real-life acquaintances.

If you feel more strongly for them than your family and friends, that’s another parasocial relationship sign.

12. Their beauty regime is yours

You follow them so much that you know all of their lifestyle habits, their diet, fitness habits, beauty habits, the way they talk, banter, everything.

And since you feel so close to them, you copy their lifestyle as much as possible. For instance, if they own pink loungewear, you need one too. If they follow a 20-step beauty routine, you’ll too.

If that sums up your life, you’re in a parasocial relationship.

13. You think they know you

When they address their fans in front of the media, you relate so intensely that you’re sure they know you.

Perhaps, a few days back you DM-ed them about some life circumstances, they sent you their condolences… weeks later they post something on their page or sing a song that hits the mark.

You’re quite sure they talked about you and feel giddy… another sign of a parasocial relationship.

14. You don’t relate to your friends and family

When you meet with your friends you only discuss your idol. But they don’t relate and can’t keep up with you.

Since that made you feel uncomfortable, you withdrew from friends and family.

You feel more comfortable staying in your room to watch their videos, or hoarding onto their pictures from magazines and posters… and that’s another sign.

15. You feel jealous of their partners

When you see your idol make intimate real life or on screen appearances with opposite gender’s co-stars, you feel jealous of the other person, or even curse them.

You believe your idol deserves much better than someone who will actually care for them – like you – over a player or fox disguised in a human’s face.

So, if you cry when they kiss their co-star on screen, that’s another sign.

If you relate with most of the signs, then let’s know more with…

Am I in a Parasocial Relationship?

If you follow a particular celeb or influencer, relate with them extremely, and even hamper your personal life because of them… you got your answer. 

Still doubtful? Figure it out with three steps…

Step 1: What’s in your feed?

Begin with who you follow, what kind of content you check, and if there’s any favorite among them. Note down the ones who are your favorite and you still binge on their shows.

It can also be someone who passed away and you still grieve for them. Or, it can even be a game, cartoon, or anime character.

Step 2: What’s so special about them?

Next, find out how much you relate to them. Do their song lyrics inspire you a lot? Or their heroic act is something you wish for yourself.

Perhaps you imagine yourself in their superhero suit and save a city?

Since you love them so much, what do you do about it in your life? Evaluate your development since the time you found their content.

If there’s no development, that’s a red flag.

Step 3: How much do you invest?

Since you’re a great fan, do you invest a lot of time, energy, or resources in them? Do you hurt when they feel down or others shame them?

Do you have online fights with others to defend your idol? Or, do your fantasies about your idol hamper your school or work routine?

If yes, it seems you are in a parasocial relationship.

Curious why it even happens? Let me tell you some…

Causes of Parasocial Relationships

If you find parasocial relationships strange, then let’s be clear that there are plausible reasons behind forming such one-sided relationships.

It might develop from a lack of relationships in your life or due to a fondness for their behavior.

Let’s find your reasons here…

1. You starve for relationships

In the post-covid scenario, with long quarantines, you now know the value of social relationships, face-to-face bonding.

However, at the time, you didn’t have a choice and got consumed in despair.

Well, not just covid, you might even face difficulties forming relationships otherwise. The best way out of this trouble is through parasocial relationships.

Parasocial relationships fill in a huge gap in your life in the form of celeb crushes and role models.

2. You can’t differ real and reel

No, that’s nothing to be ashamed of… it’s how our brain is made to function. The human brain can’t differentiate between the voice or face of someone onscreen and someone in their life.

Sometimes the human brain reacts equally to both kinds of people and treats media figures as people they meet regularly.

Though you’re aware they’re not your friend, you can’t help reacting to them like they are. It’s how the brain reacts, nothing weird.

3. You appreciate their body or voice

Sometimes, people fall in love with their idol’s body image or their voice. They swoon over their favorite game character’s voice, wish for the same, and with time also start connecting with them emotionally.

Your appreciation changes into idealizing them in all aspects… which becomes comparable to crush or infatuation. Here onwards your one-sided parasocial relationship begins.

4. You want to beat loneliness

Everyone is unique, so it’s hard to find another person who likes the same things. When you find you’re the black sheep of the bunch, it’s natural to feel lonely.

Usually, you’re not alone, but lonely… because nobody gets you. You crave someone who will understand your thoughts.

That’s when you find a celeb with a similar palate and build imaginary bonds with them which is a parasocial relationship.

5. They call “you” friend

Nowadays, most influencers or public figures play this psychological trick to build their fanbase. They look at the screen and call you “precious”, “you matter”, or “friend”.

Don’t get them wrong, they do that to make content that helps their followers.

While they’re addressing the whole bunch, you may think that they’re addressing only you, leading to parasocial relationships.

But is it really okay to have such relationships? Let’s find out from the…

Impacts of Parasocial Relationships

Parasocial relationships may help you develop as a human being, or they can shatter your sense of reality.

Depending on how a person invests in their relationship and liking towards a celebrity, the impacts can be good or bad.

Here are the most common impacts…

1. You become dependent

The celebrity in parasocial relationships doesn’t have any idea that you exist… so they won’t criticize or praise you for anything you do.

In real-life relationships, when you do something wrong, someone reprimands you. But your celebrity crush or friend won’t. You find it easy to be yourself “around them”.

So, you become more dependent on parasocial relationships to escape criticism.  

2. You forget reality

The person on the other side says “You matter to me” and your eyes well up. That’s because you forgot there are a few screens in between you and your idol.

Also, they acted it out from a pre-planned script, it wasn’t real… all part of the play.

Even in motivational videos, speakers talk so that they can inspire you… they don’t possibly want to bond with each person watching it.

Some people forget it and fantasize about idols.

3. It can impact your relationships

When you’re a fan, you’ll find fan society and pages of your favorite character, even share it with your friends and family.

You bond deeply with those who share similar thoughts about the character. You build interpersonal relationships with new people online.

Or, strengthen your relationships with friends and family while discussing the character.

However, your relationships turn sour when someone insults your favorite character. Sometimes, even long-term relationships face an end because of disagreements.

4. They can impact your choices

Public figures advertise political parties, promote commercial products, even discuss something about climate change, racism, or gender equality… and you believe they’re 100% correct.

It depends on your idol whether they made a positive or negative impact on the fans. Many fans lead a lifestyle filled with their idol’s opinion, which adversely impacts them.

5. They knock out self-doubt

When idols encourage their fans, some people who have the zeal to improve their life, actually make a change.

Many people follow what their idols ask to become a better person. They accept challenges and improve their life, gain confidence, become efficient, and believe that everyone loves them.

They look forward to their idol’s daily or weekly videos to lead happier lives.

Though parasocial relationships can bring both good and bad effects in your life, there is a fixed set of…

Benefits of Parasocial Relationships in Real Life

If you stay within your limits and have a healthy parasocial relationship, i.e., don’t forget the reality, you can enjoy the great benefits of parasocial relationships.

However, the keyword here is healthy… don’t dismiss real-life engagements and commitments.

Here’s why you must be proud of your parasocial relationships…

1. Your desires become crystal-clear

You bond with a fictional character that impresses you. You seek something in them that you lack in yourself or your life.

For instance, it may be the support of a parent figure in your life or a romantic partner. It can also be the qualities you want in yourself.

You get clarity about your desires in real-life interpersonal relationships.

2. You build new bonds

Some fan pages host real-life and virtual fan meets where they discuss interesting facts about a common fictional or media character. Some even encourage cosplaying their characters.

This way, you find people from unknown regions with similar tastes and bond with them deeply. You socialize and make great friends over this common interest.

3. You find great motivation

If you lack confidence, your idol can be your motivator. They are your idols because of certain traits… Like any regular fan, you learn about your idol’s hardships and success stories.

Then you feel if they can, I can too.  

Nowadays, many people also gain motivation from their idol’s music or personal fights. 

4. They calm you down

Human beings go through times when everyone in their close circle fails to understand them… like adolescence or midlife. During these transitional phases, people lose their sense of purpose in life.

Parasocial relationships help you escape from reality and find solace.

Perhaps, you felt s**t about how your boss treated you… so you can’t wait to get rid of the negativity after listening to your idol’s songs.

5. You survive psychologically

Human beings need social interactions to survive… However, everyone isn’t an extrovert or ambivert. Introverts can’t easily befriend people; they feel shy or overthink how the other person perceives them.

Real-life relationships become a struggle, however, relationships in a parasocial setting don’t make them overthink.

They understand that the celeb doesn’t judge them as real-life humans might.

They replace real-life communication with communication with other fans or just stay comfortable with parasocial relationships.

It saves them from mental health concerns caused by fear of rejection or judgment of others.

After learning the benefits, wanna get onboard? Don’t know how? Here’s…

How to make a parasocial relationship work for you?

Your parasocial relationship is probably healthy already, but it never hurts to double-check. Relationships help you to grow into the finest beings, and so does parasocial…

If people call you a daydreamer, why not learn the magic with these…

1. Hunt down the positives

It all began with something “cool”, that you can’t do or have yourself. Might be a life they lead, a quality they have, or even the inspiring change in their life.

So, what was your reason to begin your parasocial relationship? Carve your path with the attractive qualities in your life.

Your idol plays a musical instrument you always wanted? It’s not too late to learn by yourself. Find ways to love yourself as you love your idol.

2. Find the boundaries

So, what are your daily activities revolving around your idol? 

Watch their performances, like, share, and comment on their posts, read their magazine interviews, grab merchandise… That’s healthy and cool.

However, do you stalk them? Or, feel hurt when they date? Or, do you send them intimate gifts at their housing complex?

If you feel stalking your idol will make them happy, then let me tell you, it instead makes them feel exposed.

3. Knock reality in your head

Your idols have the job to entertain or motivate you… however, you don’t own them. They have a life of their own, which they’ll lead on their terms.

Also, stalkers make idols insecure and feel threatened. If you really like and respect your idol, you won’t make them feel miserable.

At least you can find peace from their performances but your idols cannot. So, you know so many public figures retired early because of stalkers… your favorite idol might do the same.

Whatever you do, stalking won’t make you their friend or a life partner.

4. Cut down the daily dose

If you stalk your idol, make them uncomfortable, or even lose focus from your life because you’re busy watching their performance… It’s time to pause and reflect.

Restrict yourself within a routine for your idol worshiping. Whether you’re a working adult or a student, limit yourself to checking their feed only thrice a day for 10 minutes each.

Also, get rid of some of the apps they’re on… more apps, more distraction. If you must, follow other celebs alongside to moderate your obsession.

Only you can save yourself, so don’t cheat.

5. Don’t be shy

Parasocial relationships aren’t bad if you stay within your limits. In fact, they can help you deal with lots of troubles in life.

So, don’t ditch your parasocial relationships because they made you commit crimes. They didn’t, it was you who lost the sense of judgment.

You can still fix it, be proud to have the zeal to survive in your own way… proud to set apart right from wrong, that’s why you’re reading this.

If your parasocial relationship isn’t working, whoa there! Learn the secret from…

How to get over a Parasocial relationship?

If you know your parasocial relationships aren’t working, that’s your first step to recovery, so cheer up.

Believe that you can get better, and soon. Beating yourself up over this will worsen the situation so DON’T. 

Rather, focus on yourself and pave your way to complete recovery with these…

1. Shun the self-loathe

Have a parasocial relationship? Feel bad for going too deep into it? Perhaps, you neglected your friends, family, or even yourself… and you feel guilty for the lost time and opportunities.

Guilty feelings are fine, but awareness is even more important. If you know something’s wrong, accept the reality and work towards a better future.

What’s the point of loathing yourself? Take this opportunity to change yourself.

2. Hunt the causes

No parasocial relationship begins without a cause. Once you identify the true reasons, you’ll know what you lack in your life.

Perhaps, your caregiver abused you in your childhood, or your partner doesn’t support you enough.

It can even be a lack of confidence in your daily life or even a lack of deep relationships in your social circle.

Find out what you really desire in your life…

Hint: it’s not the idol.

3. Treat yourself gently

Whether you found your reasons or not, seek a mental health practitioner or therapist. If you didn’t find where it all began, they can help you find your reasons.

Also, you probably can’t open your heart about your feelings to friends or family… they might dismiss your feelings and concerns. So, consulting a therapist about the heavy stuff is the best idea.

Your therapist can help you find a route out of your current situation.

4. Build real relationships

No worries if you don’t want to share your deep secrets with anybody, but you can bond with friends and family in other ways.

For instance, take your family on a vacation, or pick up a common sport with your friends. Do something that needs interacting with others and time away from any media.

5. Connect the dots

Focus on what you learned from this journey.

Nothing happens in your life for nothing… Even if you faced a huge mishap, or lost something precious, it doesn’t imply you deserved it.

Instead, every incident teaches you core lessons about your life. Once you find your lesson, you’ll proudly carry it forward into your life and label it your “unique wisdom”.

Though you cleared your doubts about Parasocial relationships, there are a few more things you must know, so check these…

FAQs about Parasocial Relationships

That wasn’t all about parasocial relationships, there are still some minor things you might be curious about.

Find more information on things related to parasocial relationships that people commonly ask…

1. What is a Parasocial Breakup?

As a parasocial relationship is an imaginary relationship of a commoner with a public figure, it can also have breakups. When you stop this one-sided relationship with a celebrity, it’s called a parasocial breakup.

It can happen if you find a better idol to move on, or your idol’s show ends or stops airing.

If you didn’t initiate the parasocial breakup, the pain can be similar to real-life separations like anxiety, depression, insomnia, aggression, or even fear.

Sometimes people engage in a loop of toxic parasocial relationships with repeated parasocial breakups which end up harming them.

2. Who is most likely to develop parasocial relationships?

Mostly, young adolescents, teenagers, and people suffering from loneliness, bullying, or lack of confidence develop parasocial relationships.

However, adults show a far lower inclination towards parasocial relationships.
9 out of 100 teens between 13-17 years possessed online media influence in 2015. This number grew to 12 out of 100 in 2017.

People behave more friendly on social media platforms… similarly, even if idols reply to DMs their response is friendlier than real-life interactions. This implies why young teens are more active on social media nowadays.

3. What role does social media play in parasocial relationships?

More than 80% of the parasocial relationships studies showed relationships with TV and films, whereas very few emphasized social media.

Social media allows viewers to interact with celebrities directly which implies its great influence. Say, when a celebrity replies to fan messages, the relationship becomes more social.

As per Stever, Social and parasocial are two ends of a relationship scale. Social edge holds the relationships with both-sided interactions in regular life.

Parasocial edge holds relationships with live celebs out of reach, dead celebrities, and fictional characters with one-sided or imaginary interactions.

And in the middle portion of the scale lies reachable celebs that might respond to your social media messages, talk to you at a concert, or give you an autograph when you run into them.

So, social media developed parasocial relationships to new heights.

4. Should Parasocial Relationships be formed?


Parasocial relationships might have some negative impacts, but they provide more positives. As long as a person doesn’t cross the boundaries, parasocial relationships are quite helpful for psychological survival from an inability to form regular relationships.

Many people make long-term friends with the same interests which gives them a sense of belonging. With the current digital era, parasocial relationships have become a boon to the mass.

5. Are Celebrity Worship Syndrome and Parasocial Relationships the same?

Celebrity Worship Syndrome (CWS) is the kind of parasocial relationship where a fan gets addicted to the celebrity.

They obsess over knowing their idol’s every minute personal detail. Some also define CWS as an obsessive-addictive disorder.

People with CWS suffer schizophrenia, paranoia, or other psychotic disorders… which isn’t compulsory for all people with parasocial relationships.

CWS can also develop from poor body image, excess stress, depression, and anxiety… such people forget their purpose in life and struggle to maintain interpersonal relationships.

They escalate to stalking when they lose their mind. Basically, CWS is a type of parasocial relationship only with its downsides.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

Whether you have a crush on a celebrity or find fatherly love from a game character, that’s completely normal. 

Nothing’s wrong with pacifying your life troubles with parasocial relationships. In fact, you found a way to calm the storm inside you… many people can’t do that, so be proud. 

However, parasocial relationships can’t replace social relationships. They do give you a daily dose of relief from your struggles and motivation before you set off to work and after you return from work. 

But, you need social relationships to ground yourself to reality and keep mental health concerns at bay. 

Balance your life with both…