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Parasociality

Meaning, feeling like fictional characters or public performers are the closet thing you have to friends, vicariously enjoying their relationships instead of making your own real-world ones. Just came across the term, and it describes my lifestyle to a T—makes sense now that ‘Precious Box’ is my favourite George Michael song. It’s also the way many people are getting through COVID lockdowns.

How can someone break free from relying on it, though? I feel like I don’t have the social muscle or even capability required to make and keep decent friends or a healthy social life, and it’s too late to start (28/F/lesbian, high-functioning Asperger’s). I don’t stalk or anything crazy (way too shy and avoidant for that), but I do spend hours and days fantasising about friends who aren’t real, because real people have been letting me down for decades. You are all the closest thing I’ve had to friends in the last ten years (and thanks for that, btw).

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by Anonymousreply 1602/23/2021

OP, I feel your pain. Stay strong and know that things will improve. The late 20's are a very difficult time.

Whatever you do, don't transition, take hormones, cut off your breasts, etc.

It's not the answer.

by Anonymousreply 102/11/2021

OP - we all live vicariously these days because we are in our heads so much and isolated. Celebrities are, well celebrated, because talented ones express the anguish of loneliness and, of course, you relate - hey, it's normal and that is why they sell. Once this COVID crap is over, or even now, find a chat group of real (not anonymous) people with similar interests and talk. You would be surprised how many friends you can make. And remember, when you feel shy, everyone makes a fool of themselves sometimes, so don't even worry about that.

by Anonymousreply 202/11/2021

1) Ignore all the shitty people on here who can't stop themselves from writing mean things because they find themselves hilarious.

2) GET THERAPY. You are very clear on what one of your major issues is. That's huge. You have your finger on the problem, so you will make great progress when working this out over time with a professional. Interview a few therapists, talk about the issue, see what they have to say or what their familiarity is with it.

by Anonymousreply 302/11/2021

Thanks people. Know I can always count on you!

[quote] Interview a few therapists, talk about the issue, see what they have to say or what their familiarity is with it.

You think, R3? Having been to counsellors and therapists before, I am gunshy—never had a good one, so maybe I asked the wrong preliminary questions or ignored red flags? The problem with a lot of Asperger’s/autism therapists is that most of the clinical research and methods they know apply either to kids or grown males—adult women are hugely underreported, and there’s barely any literature or support out there for us beyond a couple of big websites and a tiny handful of clinical psychologist books. Worth one more shot, but honestly I’m burned out on it and have trust issues (plus no money to pay for sessions lmao). I was sort of fishing for self-help with this thread, but you’re right that I may need support as it’s a big issue.

Curiously I like the bitchy black humour here, it cheers me up. Yet if someone said stuff like that to me irl I’d freak out and get upset or put off. Funny how it works!

[quote] we all live vicariously these days because we are in our heads so much and isolated. Celebrities are, well celebrated, because talented ones express the anguish of loneliness and, of course, you relate - hey, it's normal and that is why they sell.

Good explanation, R2. I hadn’t really thought of that. Reassuring to think that my symptoms are a reaction and reflection of the general malaise, and not just my weirdness (being ASD, I’m used to jumping to the assumption that everything is down to my weirdness). Now I’m thinking I should write an angsty book or play or tv series and cash in on these inconvenient emotions...XD

Chatrooms are worth a try, totally. I’m a little weird about being off-anon (like I said, AVPD), but it will be a good chance to test the limits of my comfort zone.

[quote] Whatever you do, don't transition, take hormones, cut off your breasts, etc. It's not the answer. Seems popular with young autistic females.

Hah, don’t worry, no chance. I’m redpilled to that all stuff; thanks to a brush with medical establishment malpractice when I was younger, it’s easy for me to realise it’s a biotech scam to abuse vulnerable women & gays for experimentation. Sadly, I’ve lost a couple of old schoolfriends to this claptrap—one is even getting the surgery. So sad.

R1 I will keep fighting with your encouragement!

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by Anonymousreply 402/11/2021

Isolating due to COVID is no help, but it’s worth considering the notion, and doing something about it. Railing against a message board that offers “pointless bitchery” is sort of missing the point.

by Anonymousreply 502/11/2021

N-acetyl cysteine helps with maladaptive daydreaming - maybe something to try, R4?

by Anonymousreply 602/11/2021

R6 that’s cool, didn’t know that. Will definitely check it out (adding it to my health food store shopping list as we type).

R5 not railing over here, I came for the bitchery and I’m still here ten years on.

My question wasn’t about messageboard users or intending to malign anon posting—rather about avoidance problems in real life, and how I can navigate the issue without turning my back on DL. No doubt there are other posters like me here, but I think the majority are actually very well-adjusted sociable people who can teach me a thing or two and offer guidance. I ask out of respect, fully expecting trollish mocking answers (and looking forward to laughing at myself about them) as well as legit help. It’s all good.

by Anonymousreply 702/11/2021

OP, do you talk to invisible people, or do you just get into the celebrity gossip train and your next stop is the celebrity scandal rabbit hole?

Because there’s a HUGE difference between believing celebrities are your pals whom you chat with or converse with as invisible friends, and going deep into the gossip side of it.

The gossip side of it is tantalizing and more importantly, mind numbing during CoViD. Especially for those of us who aren’t chugging down some booze and/or drugs, as the preferred way to zone out.

Personally, having lived in tinsel town for most of my life, I have met a few celebs and am celeb adjacent by friendships with their kids or whatever. Almost all connections here are past connections, and if I see some gossip about them, well, that’s even more mind numbing. Lol.

It’s harmless, OP. You sound very self aware, and lonely. I totally get why you do it as a coping mechanism, however, eventually you get bored with the mind numbing aspect and as the Covid vaccines roll out and we are more protected from assholes who refuse to mask up,, things will get back to normal and hopefully things like going back to work, etc., takes this present dynamic many of us are in, and puts us all back in professional and social settings where we don’t have to seek mind numbing shit to pass the time.

I’m not sure if you are actually seeing things or hearing voices? If so, that’s something that needs to definitely be addressed because that is a problem that is called an illness, which requires actual help by a medical professional. Same with disassociating. Not the day dreaming that one does when looking up at the sky while stretched out on the soft grass, but like, real disassociating, where you lose time and relevance to your conscious environment.

Other than that? I don’t see a big problem here. Everyone does this rabbit hole shit, that’s why we come to DL, or dig deep into true crime genres, which is another one of my mind numbing escape coping coping skills.

I think you’re OK, OP. Give yourself a break and know that we’re all in this together and just doing the best we can right now.

This too, shall pass. And until then? Please wear a mask! 😘

by Anonymousreply 802/11/2021

[quote] OP, do you talk to invisible people, or do you just get into the celebrity gossip train and your next stop is the celebrity scandal rabbit hole?

Hahahahaha well R8, it’s neither, I’m afraid!

In my case, it’s more that I casually silently fantasise about what it would be like if I knew famous people or fictional characters, or more often if I *were* someone else famous or fictional. Sometimes I’ll put myself mentally and emotionally in the body of a character as a way to drift off to sleep, or to check out of a difficult, traumatic, enraging, or mind-numbingly dull situation (I’m passive-aggressive and struggle with asserting myself or standing in my power, probably ties in...)

Don’t know why, as I’m not consciously seeking fame and I know I wouldn’t cope with it IRL, plus I don’t look up to such people. I admire some semi-famous/well-known artists, but wouldn’t want to be friends with them. Perhaps I do subconsciously crave attention and validation, idk. Or more possibly I’m not very happy with my own persona.

The issue isn’t really the parasociality itself, more that I find it satisfying enough to replace real relationships. I find normal interaction so exhausting and tedious and such a dead-end much of the time, that it’s much less fraught and soul-sapping to just make-believe I’m someone else who knows who they are and trusts others and has fulfilling pursuits/friendships/career options. It’s slightly intrusive to the point it splits my focus and distracts me from my present reality and the people I’m actually with, but thankfully I’m not hearing voices or having delusions or talking to the air—that’s a whole different problem.

As for gossip, I’m probably less invested than most posters here, so I’m not too worried about that. You’re right that it’s a safe and harmless way to cope with our mad ugly reality of late, and as part of a normative human life it’s no big deal.

by Anonymousreply 902/17/2021

OP have any of the artists/people you admire created an active online fan community? I follow several bands and comedians and there are definitely real friendships that fans have developed among themselves. Some go on vacation together, meet up for shows (when there still were shows), etc.

It might be a nice way to meet people with common interests and slowly peel back the layer of anonymity as you get to know them as people.

by Anonymousreply 1002/17/2021

OP, I asked for help on DL last year for being heartsick and in love with a famous person (pre-covid). There was the usual 'pointless bitchery' which we all enjoy, empathetic anecdotes, and great advice like looking into maladaptive daydreaming. For better or worse, I revealed my crush and DL was mostly unkind. BUT it helped! I looked at the person in a different light. My biggest takeaway was maladaptive daydreaming which sounds close to parasociality.

by Anonymousreply 1102/18/2021

[quote]I feel like I don’t have the social muscle or even capability required to make and keep decent friends or a healthy social life

What about group therapy? Not only is it a place to open up but in a way it’s socialization and communicating with others in an environment where it’s okay to ask for feedback.

by Anonymousreply 1202/19/2021

R12 interesting idea. Not terribly appealing, but you might be right that it could be a work-around.

Honestly, my kneejerk mental image of group therapy is like the AA meetings in the movie DRUNKS. I’d probably end up rambling and making terrible jokes like the Parker Posey character.

by Anonymousreply 1302/23/2021

^^^argh, meant to post the clip.

I love Parker, and she’s fantastic in this movie, so no disrespect meant.

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by Anonymousreply 1402/23/2021

R11 been looking into maladaptive daydreaming, and I think it applies to my situation to some extent. I definitely relate to the condition.

How can one find real life more satisfying than dream and fantasies? Real life is just so....mundane, you know?

by Anonymousreply 1502/23/2021

Do you do all the wellness stuff, exercise, 7-8 hours of sleep, eat semi healthy etc? If not, find online groups to help you with developing those habits. Find a celebrity wellness guru. Use that celebrity as motivation. Basically use your Parasociality as a tool.

by Anonymousreply 1602/23/2021
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