Content warning: mentions of depression; brief mention of pedophilia to invalidate it; mostly, this is written with my tongue firmly in cheek and with a great deal of affectionate self-mockery, and should not under any circumstances be taken seriously.
Introduction and How To Use This Guide
They say that if you’re good at something, never do it for free. My blog is, of course, free to read, but nonetheless, I thought this was a good time to take my greatest skill and share it with the world. You see, since I was a child, I’ve really only had one major talent:
Falling ridiculously, hopelessly in love with fictional characters.
Whether it was Aragorn, Captain Janeway, or more obscure characters from more obscure media, I have put an incredible, possibly alarming quantity of mental and emotional effort into spinning out elaborate scenarios in my brain. It’s never been enough to interfere with my daily life—I still eat, clean, pay attention to my spouse and pets, write amusing and excessively verbose sex toy reviews, et cetera—but it is a part of me, and it is, quite frankly, one I enjoy very much. At some point I thought I’d grow out of it, but I’m thirty-three, so at this point, this particular habit of mine is here to stay, and I don’t mind. It’s fun.
(There have been times as well that it’s been genuinely helpful for me; when I was at my most depressed, shortly after college when I was in heavy amounts of therapy, I often latched onto my fictional crushes of the day and had mental conversations with them which, as with journaling or other creative endeavors, often helped me to work out some of my problems, as well as helping me to express love for myself through another’s voice when I wasn’t ready to do so in my own. But we aren’t here to talk about serious coping mechanisms.)
Perhaps you, too, would like to partake in this singularly unrewarding (but extremely enjoyable) hobby. Perhaps you are already a practitioner in the Way of Fictional Fancying but would like to explore the phenomenon on another level. Cyclical in nature, I think I’ve found a way to break it down to some basic steps. Please, join me as we explore how to accomplish this particular…whatever it is.
Some preliminary notes:
Having a powerful imagination and a tendency to overthink fiction is a necessary prerequisite to participate. Being neurodivergent isn’t required, but I have found it helpful.
Step by Step Guide
1. Innocuously enjoy some form of media
As with many things, one is often not looking to fall madly in love with a fictional character. You may be simply wishing to enjoy a piece of media. Perhaps you want to watch a popular film, or read a book that a friend recommended. Perhaps you happen upon a random TV show while scrolling Netflix, and something about it catches your eye. It may be that you are already in the throes of romance with some other fictional character, and you’re certain this will leave you immune to the charms of a new one. Or perhaps you don’t think that it will be an issue at all, because of course you are an adult, in charge of your own mind.
2. Notice some character.
Oh, this may be the dashing heroic lead played by whatever Hollywood heartthrob is the thing at the moment. They’re funny and sympathetic and they have incredible chemistry with their equally attractive costar.
Or, perhaps it’s the extremely handsome villain who does terrible things but has such a charming sense of style and charisma and they do that thing with their hands.
Or it’s the random grumpy support character who was supposed to be written as a contrast to our dashing heroic lead, but has all the best lines and delivery and is played by a veteran character actor who gives them depth that may not have even been written for them.
Or it’s a morally ambiguous individual whose voice is dripping with innuendo and wears tight leather outfits.
Or it’s some Doug Jones monster.
3. Think about that character.
This is the dangerous part!
Because you see, if you leave that character in the book, then you’re fine. Enjoy the story! Enjoy the character! Then put them down.
But maybe…maybe you can’t.
Maybe it starts out innocently enough. “I really liked that character,” you think. “The actor did a great job…I wonder what the character was thinking during this part.”
And there we have a problem, because then you wonder what the character was thinking during another part. And then you wonder what the character would think in some other scenario. Or this other one. Or…
4. Look the character up.
This is the other dangerous part.
Because, you see, for almost any piece of media, there are fans of that piece of media. You know what those people do? They make gifsets, or fanart, or fanfiction.
Sure, Sturgeon’s Law says that 90% of anything is crap, meaning that a good amount of that fanfiction is going to be absolutely terrible. But sometimes it’ll be really good. And those gifsets are just charming! And the discourse! The memes! And frankly, some of those terrible fanfics could be a lot better if they changed one or two little things, I mean…
Well, now you’re fantasizing about the character. Maybe it’s sexy things. Maybe it’s romantic things. Maybe it’s everyday scenarios. Perhaps it’s with that other character you loved, popularly referred to as “shipping,” because you just want to explore how this could go. Perhaps it’s with you—no shame! This is a safe space.
But now this character is occupying serious mental space as you consider…possibilities. Because you have a good grasp of what this character is like, having spent the last three days devouring Tumblr posts about them. Maybe at night before bed, you imagine things. Maybe while you do the dishes, or another boring task. Maybe…maybe while you sit down at your computer and open a word document? Oh, hell, what are you doing now?
6. Create (optional)
Maybe you end up drawing pictures, or writing fanfiction. You might share that fanfiction. You might keep it to yourself. You might change the names and circumstances and recreate it as new erotica on your sex blog. No one will know, as long as you don’t do something stupid like mentioning it on said sex blog.
Sometimes, if you’re lucky, a friend or partner happens to be in love with another character (or the same one!) in the universe, and if you’re stuck in 2005 like my spouse and I are, you might do roleplays over instant messenger. But that would be ridiculous so honestly you shouldn’t do that.
Or, perhaps, all you end up doing is making memes or posting jokes about your fictional character of choice. All over Twitter. Possibly annoying all the people who follow your Twitter. That’s fine, too.
Fall into a positive feedback loop. You look at more gifsets. You watch more episodes. You create more Content, even if it’s just Tumblr shitposting (“Imagine this character wearing this outfit I found in a 70s Sears catalog!”) that somehow makes you think of this character more. Find yourself drifting into more fantasies, some more improbable than others. You decide to make their trademark favorite food for dinner.
8. You have accomplished…Character Love!
Good job! You are now in love with a fictional character. Your thoughts are oft-occupied by thinking about their beautiful eyes or that weird thing they do with their mouth when they laugh or trying not to think about the fact that their actor is an actual shitbag human being.
Of course, your new fictional date mate is not all you think about. You have a real life. You might have friends (although, I mean, it’s possible that they’re all obsessed with this character, too). You have decisions to make about work and school and pizza toppings.
But sometimes…your beloved character might accompany you, if only in the odd passing thought. Or in the form of a t-shirt you bought.
9. Innocuously enjoy some other form of media
Ah, hell, here we go again.
Troubleshooting & FAQ
I realize my guide may not cover all small details, so hopefully this little section will help if you have any questions!
Q: Are there bad ways to fall in love with a fictional character?
A: I’d love to say that there are not, but some people on the Internet apparently suck, so: yes. Some tips: Don’t harass other people who like (or don’t like!) your new imaginary partner. Don’t harass the actor who plays them. Don’t send actors your fucking fanfiction, I am begging you. Don’t bully people over ships.
Also like…it goes without saying but pedophilia etc is not valid enough to even discuss here.
Q: How do you stop it if you don’t want to fall in love with fictional characters?
Q: Don’t you know that this is weird and cringy behavior? Grow the fuck up.
A: I am harming no one. Also, my spouse thinks it’s cute.
(Lifehack: find a real partner who’s as much of a nerd as you are so you can spam each other with favorite character content.)
Q: What fictional character are you currently in love with?
A: Oops, we’re out of time! Sorry, no further questions. Thank you for joining me, and I hope you have a wonderful time with your newfound hobby!