Can You Really Fall In Love With a Fictional Character?

The word “love” has a variety of meanings. A person can say “I love my mom,” “I love my sister,” “I love my fiancé,” and “I love my cat” and mean something different each time. Merriam-Webster also has a separate definition for affection for impersonal things like music, food, or favorite places to be.

Fans of fiction (including books, movies, television shows, etc.) take that last definition even further. They say “I love Kaylee Frye (from Firefly and Serenity),” “I love Mr. Darcy (from Pride & Prejudice),” or “I love Hiccup (from How to Train Your Dragon 2).” These fictional characters are technically impersonal things because they are only ideas, but people’s affections for them can feel very personal. Is this an impersonal love? Is it any different from love for the story? If it can’t be reciprocated, can it be anything like the “real” love people feel for family, friends, and significant others? And what would the implications be if it were real?

Hiccup in How To Train Your Dragon 2 is considered an attractive cartoon character.

How Many Ways to Say I Love You?

To determine if love for fictional characters can be real, it helps to determine what “love” means. The Greeks went even further than Merriam-Webster. They had at least seven different words that translate to love in English, each with different applications.

Philautia is self-love; that definitely does not apply to love between real people and fictional characters. Pragma is love based on reason and external factors like arranged marriages or public appearances. Real people aren’t put in arranged relationships with fictional characters, so that term is out, too. Ludus is the version of love people feel in “no strings attached” relationships. As Psychology Today puts it, “ludus works best when both parties are self-sufficient.” Fictional characters do not meet that criterion (they are dependent on writers for their existence), so their real-world lovers probably don’t feel ludus.

Eros is close enough to ludus that the latter is sometimes mistaken for the former. It is the Greek term for physical attraction that drives people to make love and sometimes more eccentric demonstrations of their passion.

When fans speak of their love for fictional characters, a common assumption is they are physically attracted to the actors portraying them in movies or television shows. It’s not Sherlock Holmes, Loki, and the Doctor they love, for example, but Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, and David Tennant.

The Doctor, especially David Tennant’s incarnation, is the object of many crushes.

Even when the character originally comes from a book, if an adaptation exists, that is the version that appears in the posters and life-size cardboard cutouts. Thus, say the observers, fans feel eros for the actors, not the characters. However, some fans describe feeling physically attracted to animated characters. The voices provided by real people may be part of the reason, but they cannot account for all of the flattering fan art.

Which characters become the objects of a fan’s eros is largely determined by subjective taste, just like who finds whom attractive in real life. However, a character can be cast, costumed, and/or animated in specific ways to elicit physical attraction. This is sometimes called fan service. It draws attention to the shallowness of eros and calls into question how genuine this kind of love is.

Philia is also known as platonic friend-love. Eros is physical lust, whereas philia is a desire for understanding. As Aristotle described it, philia is based on the belief that the one you love is useful, likable, or virtuous. Real people can seek to better understand their favorite fictional characters by reading more, watching more, or coming up with their own ideas. Authors and show-runners give their characters development for that very purpose.

As Aristotle described it, philia is based on the belief that the person you love is useful, likable, or virtuous. This description is especially appropriate because fictional characters often have many distinct qualities worthy of platonic admiration. In a similar way, fans say they hate the characters they find distinctly non-virtuous or unlikable. If a fan’s significant other is abusive or otherwise unpleasant, that fan may be particularly drawn to heroes with kind hearts. This situation and many others like it are philia at work. 

Storge is familial love. People develop it for other real people through familiarity; young children learn to love their families not because of physical attraction (despite what Freud might say), but because they grow up together. Admiration (philia) is often part of it, but it usually comes after storge. Fans may develop storge for fictional characters that they “grew up with” or otherwise spent a lot of time reading about or watching. Psychology Today points out that storge can be “unilateral or asymmetrical,” so it seems a good fit for what fans call love of characters that cannot reciprocate.

Storge is most relevant when a character dies or otherwise leaves the story. Fans may feel levels of loss “normally” reserved for family members and very close friends. Authors even have this feeling for characters they create; J.K. Rowling has admitted to crying when she found herself forced to kill her characters in the Harry Potter series.

J.K. Rowling cried over killing her own character.

Last but not least, agape is the word for the altruistic or selfless love people have for strangers. Not everyone embodies agape for their fellow non-fictional people, but fans may feel a genuine desire for their favorite fictional characters’ best interests. If it is love, it is indeed a selfless love, as the object of the fans’ affection cannot do anything in return.

Again, which fictional characters receive agape is up to the individual fan. The seemingly random connection some fans feel for short-lived characters in horror stories may not feel like love, but it is technically agape. Perhaps it is the relatable characters or simply the tragic, sympathetic ones we develop this altruistic love for. Some fans develop agape for fictional characters specifically because they enjoy the story containing those characters; maybe it’s a chicken-egg question of which affectionate feelings came first.

So there are four possible meanings for a fan saying “I love Aladdin.” It could mean “I am physically attracted to this cartoon drawing” (Eros), “I find this person likable and virtuous and I want to learn more about him” (Philia), “I have developed a fondness for this person over the years” (Storge), or “I have altruistic concern for the best interests of this person” (Agape). Most likely it is some combination of these feelings. It seems there is much more to be explored simply in defining what love means in this context, not even considering the implications.

Everybody loves Aladdin.

If Loving You is Wrong…

The author of “Ask Anne” says this about feeling love for fictional characters: “People do this all the time. Love at first sight is love of the visual appearance of a person combined with love of a fiction.” This is what makes eros work in general. This fact can lessen the concern that fictional characters cannot return the affections of their fans. It should be no more concerning than a celebrity crush. Affection for real-life famous people is based on their visual appearance (eros) and what fans imagine their personalities to be. The only difference with fictional characters is fans are told what to imagine about their personalities by the writers and sometimes the actors behind the characters.

As Anne goes on to say, affection for fictional characters becomes problematic when we prefer our chosen fiction to relationships with real people. It seems similar to the problem with pornography; porn is made specifically for people to feel eros for a fantasy, a fictitious person, and those who fall for its allure run the risk of dampening their affection for real people. It is easier to avoid this danger with movies and television shows that aren’t porn, but fans should still beware that their reason for “loving” a fictional character may really be lust. In this way, feelings of eros for fictional characters can put strain on romantic relationships between real people. A fan may develop unreasonable standards for their real-life significant other, hoping he/she will look or act more like the object of a fictional crush. These fans may struggle to keep or find significant others. Feelings of storge for fictional characters may lead to a similar problem; fans risk losing affection for the real people they should feel familiarity and love for.

The good news is, despite the worries of many fans, there does not seem to be evidence that feeling overly attached to fictional characters is a sign of a mental disorder (assuming fans understand that fictional characters are, in fact, fictional). If it were a symptom of something, it would be especially difficult to stop, and real-life relationships would be in big trouble. But fans can rest easy knowing that affection for characters will not irrevocably damage their ability to feel things for real people.

Meanwhile, agape and philia are actually admirable in this circumstance. Caring for a character’s best interests and wanting to learn more about them can be constructive. This is good practice for empathy. For example, authors often make the love interests of their protagonists and narrators attractive, drawing attention to their admirable characteristics to make it clear why the main characters are falling in love with them. When fans feel similar affection for these characters, they can empathize.

Some people struggle with connecting to people and empathy in general. Well-told stories help fans understand and connect with characters through means other than familiarity and attraction to visual appearance. This can be surprisingly helpful for people with “emotional deficits.” The additional advantage of practicing emotional connection on fictional characters is there are less strings attached. As Will Grayson said in the John Green/David Levithan novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson, “You like someone who can’t like you back because unrequited love can be survived in a way that once-requited love cannot.” Again, as long as the fans understand that their fictional crushes are fictional, they won’t be badly hurt when nothing comes of these feelings. 

Many real-life relationships start with attraction to physical apperance (eros). Over time, hopefully, the lover will develop philia (admiration for the other person’s good qualities) and agape (selfless caring for their well-being). It is certainly possible to feel these kinds of love for fictional characters. These pseudo-relationships can become fond memories when fans move on to a real-life love story. And the characters will always be there when they need them.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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103 Comments

  1. I’ve been in love with fictional characters in the past… I started back around 4th or 5th grade, I think, and went straight on until I got close to hitting twenty. Nowadays I just ‘ship’ characters in a story together, and am pretty content with that… but man, I could get obsessed with a character when I wanted to, haha.

    I guess it was because loving a character was so much ‘safer’ than dealing with the potential drama of crushing over someone in real life. After all, the character wouldn’t push you to do anything you felt uncomfortable with- they’re in your imagination, for crying out loud.

    • I also “ship” characters. _Stranger Things_ had me obsessed with Joyce and Hopper, Nancy and Steve (I started to feel bad for him later on when he became a kind of nice guy), and Mike and Eleven, of course. In my world, those couples needed to exist. Ha.

  2. Carroll
    1

    I’ve been waiting for an article to this topic for the longest time. You handled it so well!

    • Thank you so much. It’s my first “real” published work, so it makes me glad to get such nice feedback.

  3. As a teenager I was in love with Aragorn (Lord of the Rings) and much later I crushed on the vampires Louis de Pointe du Lac and Marius (the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice). At the moment I like Sherlock Holmes very much for it seems that he is asexual himself!

    • Hmm. That is something I hadn’t considered: how people who identify as aromantic or asexual relate to this topic. Do they feel things for fictional characters that they don’t feel for real people? And how do we classify those feelings? Not actually enough for a sequel to this article, but worth considering. Thanks.

  4. Great piece you have here. 99.9% of my crushes have been on fictional characters, and even more specifically, animated characters. My Mum thought it was cute when I was a kid and figured I’d grow out of it, but I haven’t done and I get the feeling she wouldn’t appreciate it these days, haha. Sonic the Hedgehog was the first one I ever had anything resembling a crush on when I was really little, and that hasn’t really diminished… >.> I don’t identify as ‘furry’ or anything of the sorts, but there’s just always been something about his personality that really draws me in. Because I find that, even with fictional characters, I don’t feel attracted to them just because of their appearance.

  5. By definition, love is a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties. A fictional character is “another”. Personal ties may be obsession with the character, as it is personal, and it ties you to the fictional being. It is possible, and I have proven so.

  6. Stephanie M.

    I used to think having crushes on fictional characters was ridiculous, at least once you were past the age of about six. Then I read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and got a little crush on Lupin – made worse when I saw his actor, because he’s hot! Like most Jane Austen fans, I also admit to an appreciation for men like Tilney and Brandon, if not full-on crushes. So, not so ridiculous after all.

    Beyond crushes though, I think the best parts of falling “in love” with fictional characters is when they become your friends and you feel friendship love or philia for them. This has been and sometimes still is the case for me with a lot of characters, esp. females with whom I identify. They feel more like my family than my real family does at times, and they are as real to me as any people in the “real world.”

  7. I think that this is an excellent analysis on the all-too-common phenomenon of falling in love with fictional characters. I’ve been in love with plenty of fictional characters. The added appeal of falling in love with these characters (for me at least) was creating a fictional version of myself to interact with them within in the universes of their stories-a version of myself that has all of the virtues and charms that I admittedly lack in real life.

    • You’re very right. There’s an awful lot of Doctor Who fan fiction about fans getting to meet the Doctor and fall in love with him in person. But considering how Mary-Sue-like they become (as you say, the virtues and charms the real people lack), that love is probably only as real as the girl falling in love with the Doctor, whether she’s a “self-insert” or not.
      Aren’t feelings weird?

  8. I’ve been in love with plenty of fictional characters. The added appeal of falling in love with these characters (for me at least) was creating a fictional version of myself to interact with them within in the universes of their stories-a version of myself that has all of the virtues and charms that I admittedly lack in real life.

  9. Jenette
    0

    If I were to have a religious affiliation it would be books.

    They are more or less my life to be honest 😛 I think of the characters as real, I mean after all someone poured years of their life into creating a whole world. if that’s not real then what is right? so yes, I most definitely can say that I have fallen in love with characters in books. I actually hope one day that I can meet someone who I can feel the same way I do about books :P…

    It’s unfortunate though, because I always fall for the characters who are taken. 🙁

  10. I sort of crush on a lot of female characters, but I think it’s more of a sense of deep admiration. My current one is Green Arrow.

    • Sounds like philia, in your case. Then again, I can understand Shirtless Stephen Amell causing some eros.

  11. Fictional characters are not to be loved. THEY ARENT REAL!

    • That is certainly a point to be considered. Thank you. My article simply sought to suggest that as long as the crush doesn’t harm people or their real relationships, it’s not that bad after all.

  12. Love is just a series of chemical reactions in the brain, creating a feeling of strong affection that we call love. If this happens in somebody’s brain and If they feel that then they are in love, regardless of whether that love is returned.

  13. Chaffin
    0

    I was just telling my friend this morning that I think I actually fell in love with Ian O’Shea from the book, The Host.

    I really don’t see how it’s NOT possible, as long as you READ about the fictional character. Something about reading just makes you feel so connected to them. I don’t think you can fall in love with a fictional character by a movie.

    • I know what you mean. One point in the books vs movies debate is many fans find dissonance between how the characters look and act in their head and the portrayal of those characters in movies. Thus the idea that love for a movie character is just Eros for the actor, not real love for the person being portrayed.

  14. I’ve always thought Korra from Avatar was pretty attractive, and a badass.

  15. The human mind is weirder than fiction. That’s why I prefer to deal with computers. They don’t do weird things like fall in love with fictional characters

    • Ay, there’s the rub. If you prefer computers to people, there’s a reasonable chance you’ll find a fictional character who’s more appealing to you than most real people for some of the same reasons. Then maybe you won’t find it so weird.

  16. Amyus

    A great article and obviously very well researched. I’m pleased to see it’s encouraged feedback and discussion. A fascinating subject, by the way and one that touches many a heart. I have to confess to having a soft spot for Yuki Nagato from the Haruhi anime series, so even this old wooden heart isn’t immune to a touch of agape 🙂 Nicely done.

  17. SaraiMW

    An interesting discussion, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Love is a powerful driving force and one that we also respond very strongly to within the development of such characters. One aspect I am always interested in is the love for characters that reject love (to a narrative extent) such as Sherlock in the BBC version and Snape – I often wonder if we are drawn to loving the perceived “unloveable” on TV, but in real life would never even consider such people as potential for a love interest.

    • Good point. I think the love you’re referring to is agape, a selfless love for everyone. If you met someone with Sherlock or Snape’s “personality defects” in real life, maybe you would find it harder to love them or even like them, or maybe it would be easy enough because of this “practice” you’ve had.

  18. I do roleplaying (freeform style) and I often find myself becoming incredibly attached to my characters, to the point that I find it very difficult to roleplay them in any kind of relationship. I’m not sure if it’s like a mother’s ‘don’t touch my babies!’ protectiveness or a ‘they’re MINE’ posessiveness. I’ve never had a crush on a real person.

    • Seems similar to the storge an author feels for their fictional characters. Hank Green tweeted recently, “Don’t mind me, just revising my novel and crying because the people I invented are having relationship drama.”

  19. ryantte
    0

    I’m in love with L from Death Note. I can’t help it…. I just am. 🙂

  20. Lovely read. I’ve had crushes on loads of fictional characters. I remember my first crush was on Bruno from Strangers on a Train. Yeah, him. I guess that just started a cycle that hasn’t quite stopped. Since then I’ve had crushes on characters ranging from Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet (Is he not the best character?) to Adenoid Hynkle in The Great Dictator to a mild crush on Roger from I Dream of Jeannie. (And occasionally Tony Nelson, but only when the mood strikes me. And do I have a squish on Dr. Bellows? You bet I do. Poor guy.) (Oh, and I would love to have lunch sometime with Abner from Bewitched. He rocked like nobody’s business.) (Oh, and OK so I did have a crush on Rorschach from Watchmen. I avoid saying it because people act like I’m kooky when I do.)

  21. Mozella
    0

    Falling in love with a hero or heroine in a book is nutty enough but nuttier still are those who fall in love with movie stars or band members! Oh well, dream on…!

    • That’s eros. Nutty, yes, but the brain chemicals and hormones want what the brain chemicals and hormones want.

  22. I have been in love with a character which does not exist in the real world. And I don’t just mean in the obsessive infatuation sense; this has gone on for well over a year, and I’ve watched my feelings develop and change from infatuation to a deeper love, in the exact same way as my feelings did for my ex-partner of five years.

    It’s hard to make someone understand, but the close friends who have watched the entire process agree that what I am feeling is no different than any other ‘true’ romantic love. For me, it was possible because a.) I wrote character-centric fanfiction, which got me in my character’s head for months and b.) he was an unpopular character (I became universally recognized in the fandom as /his/ guardian), which gave me a very personal sense of emotional intimacy with him.

    I’ve also used self-insert fantasies to literally create a life with him, with simple routines (5:20 PM every day, when he would get home from work had he actually been real, I sit down with ‘him’ to watch a show and share a cup of tea together, among other daily shared routines). Nor do I idealize him or ignore his faults; I’ve written out exactly what arguments we’d have (some lasting months and never have a total solution), and write 128K fanfiction that capitalizes on his weaknesses. His weaknesses and faults are as important to me as anything else.

    As for the question of whether or not this is healthy: I engage in this, understanding that it prevents me from wanting to cultivate romantic relationships with other people BECAUSE I am in a position in my life where cultivating longterm romantic relationships is infeasible anyway (I move countries every year). But moving countries every year also means that I cut myself off from all my real life social support annually, friends and all, and imagining this relationship and indulging in these emotions gives me a sense of social support and connection even when I keep moving. Further, I’m a health psychologist, and the hormones associated with such emotions are related to positive health outcomes and better immune function, etc., so by allowing myself to feel those emotions and to flood my system in those hormones does actually improve my health!

    • Some people use a book, movie, or TV show to fill a need for support, connection, and healthy emotional release. Using a particular character is certainly an alternative, as long as it’s healthy. Good for you. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Chrystal
    0

    I don’t think constantly thinking about this cartoon character, worshipping him, wishing he really exists, drawing him, writing about him, and collecting images of him constitutes as love……well maybe a little.

    I love VEGETA! Vegeta Prince of the Saiyajins!!

    In fact, I’ve only ever loved fictional guy characters. Even fictional characters in movies and shows. Never been sexually attracted to them, but I’ve definitely been obsessed with many.

  24. tuuuune
    0

    I think it’s a pretty normal thing for people who read a lot or something. I mean, I’ve had fictional crushes since childhood, and know so many people, sexual included, who also do.

  25. I’ve found myself being attracted to a fictional character from animes. For me I can find alot of them to seem too good to be true and more emotional and passionate then real people can be..

    • When watching anime, since I was 13, I would think stuff like how I wish this girl end up with this guy and how I wish that girl had a guy and so on. I hate seeing a series and some girl stayed alone.

  26. Fictional characters are far beyond just a smiley face on a piece of paper. They have personalities, appearances, and are purposefully better than real people. They don’t have physical genetic flaws and they can’t break your heart or deny you. Fanfictions and such sometimes include “OCs” and get the reader involved which simulates real life with this character. Just because they “aren’t real” (which they are real to some people who have different concepts of real) doesn’t mean you can’t feel an attraction to them. It’s like seeing a movie actor or actress on TV. You know you’ll never be able to be with them or even meet them but that doesn’t matter because you admire and love them so much. You dedicate a part of your life to them by checking news about them, their history, other movies they’ve done, etc. If a fictional character has a personality, events in their lives, family & friends, an appearance, a voice, a life, isn’t that about the same as a real person? But they can’t dump you or cheat on you after getting you pregnant… that was both the truth and a joke.

    • “If a fictional character has a personality, events in their lives, family & friends, an appearance, a voice, a life, isn’t that about the same as a real person?”

      No, it isn’t, because the entity is MADE OUT OF MAKE-BELIEVE, not flesh, and has no substance.

      • Online dating, long-distance relationships, and friendships on Facebook and other social media all lack physical contact – “flesh,” as you say. The feelings, love or otherwise, romantic or platonic, are no less real. The difference, of course, is there will never be physical contact with fictional characters, so they won’t be your lifelong true love.

  27. I have a tendency to become extremely emotionally invested in my D&D characters. One of my long-time adored characters is a half-elf rogue/fighter named Qi (she’s taken on several different surnames appropriate to her situation in life), who’s highly intelligent but not so good at expressing herself. I’ve created a ridiculously extensive character background for her, and have drafted character sheets for her parents and her contacts before she joined the party (though they’ve disappeared somewhere), drawn preliminary maps of her hometown, attempted to write small drabbles of her story, and drawn tons and TONS of pictures of her throughout all of her various outfit-appearances evolutions. I’m especially happy that she’s managed to find a life-long companion (not so much in a romantic/sexual manner, but a friend of AWESOME) that she can rely on and who can rely on her in return (my best friend’s character from the campaign, a gnome sorcerer 83).

    • That sounds like storge, born out of familiarizing yourself with the characters. It seems to happen a lot with writers and actors.

  28. I’ll always have a thing for fictional guys. They’re just so easy to fall in love with.

    • I have fallen in love with fictional characters many-a-time in my long life!

  29. There are characters throughout my life that I’ve wanted to meet, who I wanted to give a hug to (usually because they needed one badly), and even some I thought I’d have a lot in common with. There have also been characters from stories that I have a lot of sympathy/empathy for and relate to, but I wouldn’t know how to deal with them, or even want to, in real life. However, when I think about it in retrospect, I think the affections I have or have had toward characters have been more along the lines of “squish” than “crush,” let alone all-out romantic love. Even that description, I don’t know if it’s accurate.

  30. Masterful article! Real people can make fictional people pretty appealing!

    • I was ‘in love’ with many fictional characters for years!

  31. It’s certainly possible to become enchanted with fictional characters, but not to be in love with them.

    The main problem with loving fictional characters isn’t that it’s only a one-way love, because love can be one-sided and unrequited. Instead, the problem is that fictional characters are limited to what their creators make. They are thus smaller personalities than any real person would be, and there’s too little there to provide the basis for love.

    • Fair point, but I might argue childhood and high school sweethearts don’t have much more of a basis for love. If you believe each person can only fall in love once, then yeah, fictional characters don’t make the cut. But depending on your definition of love…well, that’s what my article tried to explore.

  32. Mark Cecil
    0

    My first ever crush, when I was a kid, was Diana from V. An evil genocidal murderess, and I was in love. Then there’s Lady Death and Purgatori, of Chaos Comics. One’s a necrophiliac bitch, the other’s a bloodsucking slut. I loved them both.

  33. REALLY interesting study.

  34. Carnahan
    0

    I believe you can fall in love with fictional characters and are more susceptible to when you are young. When you fantasise about someone that you have a crush on and imagine them to be all these different things. You build them up to be this perfect piece of fiction. But then if you have the privilege of making that fantasy a reality, you become let down, as that person can never match up to the fantasy character that you have made up of them in your head. The reason some people become so infatuated with movie stars and famous people is that they create a whole view on what they believe that person would be like, even making excuses for them when they see something stupid that they have done in the mags, just like they would a lover. So I do believe it is possible to fall in love (in a sense) with a fictional character.

    • rivercan
      0

      Although it’s not the same as having a real human partner. You can’t hug a fantasy.

  35. I have had unadulterated obsessions with many, MANY fictional characters over the years, from animated movies/shows and animes and books and video games…plus the innumerable characters of my own that I draw and write about.

  36. Genevive Fitzsimmons
    0

    There are some of my own fictional characters that I’m a bit in love with; in fact all my characters are a lot like real people to me (and I have plenty that were borrowed from anime or video games). If I draw or write about characters I haven’t worked with in a while, it’s like being reunited with old friends I’ve really missed, and I have a lot of feelings in my heart for each of them.

  37. you can fall in love with the idea that the character is real. we all have a fantasy of what we would like our ideal partner to be.

  38. Thank you for writing this. I wouldn’t say that I fall in love with characters so much as I come to love them, as real people. I care deeply and emotionally about my favorite characters, but even if I could I don’t think I’d want to be involved with any of them romantically. I just put a lot of emotional investment into stories with strong characters. Although I do tend to call that my “love life” because, weird or not, it’s incredibly fulfilling to me.

    • That’s a good distinction. Often, the assumption seems to be that if it can’t be the reciprocated “in love” romance, there shouldn’t be any kind of love for fictional characters. But as my article said, there are many kinds of love.

  39. I’ve had a lot of fictional lovers. And honestly, I’m so glad that our love has ended after reading. Now I can calmly move forward and avoid such types in my real life)

  40. I’d say that most of my crushes have been on fictional characters (or the actors who play them) rather than real guys.

  41. This was amazing. The title is certainly a question many people have wondered at least once. The Greeks had these great words and distinctions for love which, while not part of our vocabulary, still influence how we see love. This was a great approach to understanding the affection and grief we feel for fictional characters.

  42. Munjeera

    There is safety in this type of vicarious romance. It is the whole point in my view.

  43. ChristinaBattons

    It’s so interesting topic. Thanks for such a big piece!

  44. Nam
    0

    I’ve been emotionally and physically attracted to the same fictional character for the past six years. Often, I wish for this to be a real person – not to find the qualities of this character in a real person, but having the unrealistic desire for them to suddenly step out of the limited parameters of their fictional world.

    I’ve had crushes on many characters and a few real individuals in the past, but never have any lasted this long. A lot of times, I just grow bored or disinterested – for no apparent reason.

  45. takenbysleep
    0

    I seem to fall for the non-typical fictional characters. Yondu, Moriarty, and now Lemongrab (yeah…). I’ve married all of them in my imagination and we’ve had kids. I’ve also had crushes on Michael Scott and Andrew Bernard from The Office. I think deep down I just want to have kids and a nice husband who is a bit weird.

  46. Isa
    3

    I’ve ONLY been in love with fictional characters, and not only that but I’ve been obsessed with characters’ relationships (you may call it “shipping”) for the longest time. I used to think that it was simply a matter of age but turns out that nothing changed over the years, I’m now 27 with many “real life dates and relationships” in my record and still I’ve never actually felt for real people anything close to what I feel for fictional characters. It’s not limited to romance either, there’s a lot of characters for whom I feel a deep friendship too. The only real people who make me feel anything as strong are my closest family members, no one else. Basically I would gladly live in my head forever. Probably my standards (which I impose on myself too mind you and I work my ass off to respect) are simply too high for normal people, I’ve only ever met one guy who could maybe come close to my ideas but ofc he was already married. So yeah… I’m basically resigned right now, better make the most out of my fictions since I’m probably going to live in this castle of glass I constructed for myself forever, which isn’t born from love of fictional characters but from what you probably could call narcissism: I value myself too much to “settle” for anything less then the ideal love, and that one is pretty fucking hard to find (all the time I have friends telling me “I’m so in love him/her” when really, they are not. I’ve only met a couple of people who were actually in love, the majority of relationships are based on delusions, deep friendship, convenience, desire for a family, fear of being alone… which are not what I want to base a romantic relationship on. And I may sound like an asshole but it’s the truth, it’s not like I can help it.)
    The thing is, characters are foundamentally the embodiment of different ideals, and you would find the ones that match your desires almost perfectly because they are spawned from the minds of other humans who probably have the same desires as you, or close enough, because at the end of the day we idolise always the same values. These desires are also the ones that usually people try to fit in into their real relationships with various degree of insuccess. By realizing this (as many people who have serious fictional crush do) you learn more about yourself then the average human and actually start to separate your ideals from reality by giving them fictional faces, which translate in you being less prone to idealise real people. This means having a pretty hard time “falling in love” with them. So actually the problem for someone like me is exactly the too harsh separation between fantasy and reality. Shocking.

    • Hoo boy. Many great points; thanks for the input.
      As I pointed out, love for idealized fictional characters can have dangers similar to pornography. I did say philia – admiration for the good qualities of the character – is a good thing in this context, but I see now that it can adversely affect your standards for real people and thus endanger real life relationships. But at least you’re aware of that potential problem.

  47. Isa
    3

    I don’t know if “losing your delusions about reality” can be considered a danger through, and if it is than it’s the same as the one that comes from any type of introspective psychological therapy. I have a friend who works as a psychologist and has had the same issues as me since she reached the exact same conclusions about relationships as I did, without any fictional character involved. Sure you have higher stadards, which can be a problem, but you also realise that you don’t actually need anything less than those standards if you don’t fear being alone and are not set on having a family. I read sometime ago a comment made by a guy who said “I’ve been in a relationship all my life, I’ve put 3 marriages past me, and now I understand that all this time I’ve been faking something that simply wasn’t there. I wish I could go back and live my life staying true to myself”. As I said, the majority of relationships I’ve seen around me and all the ones I’ve lived are not based on love, unless you are part of the very few lucky (it is all luck) ones you can either accept it and settle, because you absolutely want a relationship, or go on and live searching for something better, knowing that maybe you’ll never find what you are looking for (but at least you tried). A sure thing is that, once you’ve gained it, this sort of hyper realistic viewpoint is impossible to ignore. But again, is losing the ability of deluding yourself something you should fear so much? The answer is yours to give and it has everything to do with your life goals, if you are someone who can’t and/or don’t want to be alone then by all means avoid this kind of introspection or know that you’ll probably have to make the conscious decision to “settle” afterwards. It is of course still a possibility, the difference is that you’ll be aware of the compromise you’ll be making. After all your standards are yours to set, you only have to be sure that they are at an height you are willing to compromise for at the moment. The castle of glass build on your ideals can be shattered at will, still it’s so pretty to look at that I don’t know if I’ll ever want to do it. But seeing it gives you the power to decide for yourself, once you separate the absolute beauty your fantasy can conjure from reality it’s all about taking responsibility to consciously mediate between your deepest true desires and what you can actually achieve in reality.
    In the end life is always about compromising, there’s not only one answer that works for everyone.

    Ps: sorry for the long lecture, I’m at home with the flu with a lot of time to write (lol). Also I may be not that much coherent and my non-native English may be showing its limits, I apologise for any mistake and I hope I made some sense 😉

    • No problem; long comments make for great discussion.
      I absolutely get what you’re saying. I’m an introvert for the same reasons I’m a fiction-loving nerd; sometimes even platonic friendships don’t seem worth the time and effort. And I’m aware of the pitfalls of focusing on having a relationship rather than finding the right one.
      But hear me out for a second. It seems you use fictional characters to represent your high standards, and the idea that a real person could meet those standards is a “delusion” that you’ve broken. To “settle,” you say, is to return to that delusion.
      You also seem to be saying that finding someone who really meets those standards would be the same as finding someone you love, which is “all luck.” I see how you could think that if all the relationships you’ve seen have been as you described. Still, that seems like a problematic definition of love and a grim way of looking at the world and living life.
      I don’t think love is about “settling” for someone who’s “good enough.” It’s about appreciating the good qualities in this person who is just as imperfect as you and appreciates you in return and complements your own imperfections. It’s not about “compromising” your standards of “absolute beauty”; it’s about having realistic expectations in the first place and then finding someone who you care about in spite of those expectations or who even surpasses those expectations somehow.
      To be blunt, if your “castle of glass” is based on fictional characters, I would suggest lowering your standards, whether you’re actively looking for a relationship or you prefer to stay single right now. Otherwise, I imagine you’ll be missing the fine qualities of the people around you that you could be appreciating on a purely platonic level.
      This isn’t a shot directly at you, mind you. I’m mainly philosophizing, just like I was doing in the article. As I said, I can relate to your point of view; it made me think. Thank you for the discussion.

  48. Isa
    3

    But, you see… in the exact moment you say “lower your standards” aren’t you proposing a compromise? Settling IS lowering your standards, it could be arguably the very definition of “settling”. And I didn’t say my standards are equivalent to ideals (ie:fictional characters), for sure I explained myself poorly here. This so called standards are not based on “qualities” (I don’t have any settled “requirements” I look for, that would be horrible indeed) and are not related to perfection/imperfection, my standards are merely emotional, as in what I actually feel for the person in front of me, devoid of any superimposed idealized version of reality born from my personal desire of finally be in love with someone. The delusions I spoke about are the ones people make up all the time to try to fit their partner in their own expectations and life goals. Understanding that maybe you are in a relationship mainly because “you don’t want to be alone”, for instance, is a deal breaker when it comes to the question “am I actually in love with this person or am I desperately trying to convince myself that I am because I fear being on my own/not finding anyone else?”. The “convince myself” part usually means imposing part of your fantasies on your partner, it’s one of the most common causes for breakups (the “you want to change me” stuff) when something happens that makes the idealized person crash with the real one. As I said, understanding your desires and ideals and giving them an outlet (fictional worlds) brings this type of mechanisms to a conscious level, diminishing their power by a lot. It’s like finally seeing the glass that had been distorting your perceptions since forever, once you are aware of it you can concentrate on the reality beyond it and still admire its prettiness whenever you want to. At the moment I have no interest nor need for a romantic relationship with someone I only “care about”, I call that a friendship (friends with benefits at most… still my experience with this type of arrangements it’s not so positive, usually someone gets hurt in the end. Sex is fun and all but often misinterpreted, I’ve been called a slut and a bitch because I cut the “benefits” part out after 2 times, as if it was some type of permanent upgrade… still useful to test the friendship part tho) and I’m not going to pretend it’s something else, I would first and foremost hurt the person involved as I already did in the past. I’m not saying that doing it is wrong, and I’m very aware of what is realistically possible, I’m only saying that your standards are yours to set at whatever height you are confortable with at the moment, the only person who gets to decide if they are too high or too low is you and it is always a compromise between the freedom and desire to keep searching and the need to stop and rest. Unless you find that person who can really capture and hold your complete interest that is, which is absolutely a matter of luck. Anything else in my dictionary is settling, but again I’m not saying it’s a negative thing, awareness only means that you are responsible for the choice and you don’t get to complain to your partner if years later you are not satisfied with it.
    Be true to yourself and your feelings, by all means explore life in whatever fashion you want and stop only when you feel it’s okay to do so, not out of fear but out of satisfaction: this is my motto as of now lol. Fictional worlds are there to keep my mindspace full of life and feelings and to stage my true desires, it’s relaxing to know that whatever happens I can always close my eyes and imagine something beautiful.

    • Okay, I was also unclear in my response. When I said “lower your standards,” I meant to say lower your expectations. Settling implies there is a person or thing that doesn’t meet the requirements so you change the requirements to let them in – you settle for less because it’s better than nothing. I wouldn’t recommend that either.
      Lowering your expectations, on the other hand, means not setting the standards too high in the first place, not “staging your true desires” in fiction. That just seems ridiculous to me. Even if you’re not letting yourself get hurt, I expect you’re going to hurt someone else at some point. People calling you rude names because they thought they’d reached a certain level of intimacy with you may be just one symptom of that.
      Again, I don’t mean to criticize you personally. But going off what you said, it still sounds like your views on love can lead to an unfortunate lifestyle. If someone with your philosophy does enter a relationship, they expect the other person to disappoint them at some point, but as long as they’re aware of that from the start they can’t or won’t complain? Sounds dangerous. Sounds like the road to pornography, affairs, and divorce. Doesn’t matter if one person is “trying to change” the other or not, if they hold up a barrier of glass and reserve deep emotional connection for fictional characters, they may as well be addicted to porn, far as I can tell.
      I still say love exists outside of “luck,” and that ain’t it.
      Again, thank you for contributing to the discussion. I like to see my article striking a chord like this.

      • Isa
        4

        Mail notification so I’m back with an answer already I’m so sorry, it’s just that I tend to get passionate about this kind of analysis and I rumble forever. Again sorry, it’s just me and my mind that can’t leave things alone gosh.
        Ok back to the point:
        1)Standards=expectations, there’s no difference from a psychological point of view, consciously lowering expectations is still settling since you are aware of your initial goal. Anyway, there’s no “requirements”, I already clarified that my expectations are only about my feelings.
        “If someone with your philosophy does enter a relationship, they expect the other person to disappoint them at some point, but as long as they’re aware of that from the start they can’t or won’t complain?” Exact opposite, assuming we are talking about the “settling” scenario (because otherwise there’s nothin to expect to be disappointed by, sure feelings can change with time but your initial decision is clear as day) by knowing and accepting what it is from the start you won’t get disappointed, even if it’s not what you initially looked for. And if after years you feel like lowering your expectations was a mistake then no, I really think you shouldn’t blame your partner for that, it was your decision. It’s not a philosophy, it’s just introspection.
        Btw my “expectations about my feelings” are set on reality, probably I should have made this clear. The thing with pornography is that it creates a fake image that acts as the sole comparison for reality while in this case my expectations are all derived from my actual experience, and to clarify I’ll try to define them (should have done this sooner). First and foremost, I know what love is to me because I feel it on daily basis (for real people). It’s hard to describe, it’s a fluid concept with a lot of nuances, as you said, and it’s highly subjective, but I’ll try to give a backward definition to what I consider the core of all types of actual “love”: to me, “loving” someone is what gives you that feeling of utter despair whenever you even briefly imagine a world without them, it’s the absolute certainty that the loss of that person would profoundly alter your identity to the point of defining a time before and after the event, and it’s the fear that maybe you wouldn’t actually be able to recover from the loss all that well. It’s the knowledge that you’ll do anything to protect that person, and It’s the desire to live eternally with them by your side. I feel this way about my mother, my father, my grandpa. I also feel this way about two of my closest friends.
        Then we have Romantic love with the added element of “lust” (not going to define it or I’ll never finish), which I’ve felt for different people but still not for someone I also “love” as described before. That’s what I’ve never been, “in love”. Still, it’s not surprising if we consider that of all the people I’ve met in my life (and of the many I would say I “care about”) I love only 5, 3 of whom are my closest family. So, this is my very real expectation, to feel both this type of love and lust at the same time. And simply based on how many people I’ve actually come to love in all my life (lust is doing a bit better but not that much) I know that I’ll have an hard time searching. Do other type of love exists? Absolutely, but this is the core of what any type of actual love is for me, what I know and what I want to go with my lust. Where do fictional characters I said I’ve “been in love with” fit in here (usually it’s more like I empathize with a character and experience their feelings for another)? Simply, they are the embodiment of what my brain imagine “feeling love and lust at the same time” to be like by overlapping two emotions I know and giving them some twist based on the story. It’s just an outlet (chatarsis maybe?), a fun one too, not the source material.
        On the other end I really don’t get what’s controversial about the statement “to find a person who you really love and who loves you back in return is a matter of luck”? It is luck, you can more actively than others go on search but if and when you find that person (or people, not saying it has to be one) it’s still fundamentally luck. Love outside luck? What’s that? If you are in love then you were lucky! Great!
        And for the record, people don’t usually call me names lol nor do I give them any reason to really (not a saint ofc but ganbarimasu). I also have no issues sharing my emotions with others, on the contrary I always take great care in being very very transparent in my close relationships (of all kind), I highly value intimacy, and that’s why I got particularly upset that time. Btw my “friend with benefits” was the one who proposed the arrangement in the first place with very clear terms so no, he really shouldn’t have assumed anything. It’s just another instance of someone proposing something while expecting something else and shoving that untold expectation over the other person involved, only to then get angry when said hidden expectation is not met. It’s why I prefer to keep my delusions were they belong, in my head. My glass is the same one everyone has (the one made of our own personal fears, desires, expectations and so on) I just see what color is mine and thus what distortion derives from it and I try to minimize the impact.
        Ok, rant done. I apologise again for the wall of text and for making this a discussion about myself, I just felt I needed to clarify a bit, maybe there’re others who can relate so perhaps it’s not too pointless? Eh wishful thinking here. Thank you for indulging me ! And for the article! You made me reflect on many things, which is a great thing!

        • Anamnesis
          1

          @Isa – I have read your discussion with utmost interest and I just wanted to say I totally sympathise with your view. I went through a very similar analysis in my latest life, having suffered from unsuccessful relationships and lots of hurt due to the said expectations and delusions as well as due to lowering the standardards exactly… I am very taken by the way you could clearly outline this very difficult topic. Also, setting “expectations” comes down to realizing who we really are, which is really difficult at times, while we (people) mostly try to pursue the expectations of society juxtaposed against unspoken needs (often perceived as selfish and egoistic) forcing them through the back door onto reality and failing tremendously, often not really understanding what went wrong. It sometimes takes many years and I guess is connected with some sort of maturity to find yourself in a place where you actually *know* who your are and what you want. It is dramatic for me to see how people struggle with life (relationships, having children, etc being totally unhappy and frustrated – myself I hardly know any really happy people – most are in a rush, and never/almost never fulfill their dreams, and their mouth are full of propaganda about what socety expects to be understood by default as happy).
          Now having said that I’m also having a fiction episode in my life (I actually write stuff and indentify/love deeply with what I create, based on something started by someone else, but I pushed it way forward from the starting point, so it is deeply mine I guess) which allows me to let go and be more forgiving for the reality that is around me. I bless this possibility, as it allows me to be a more full human being. I denied that for many years before, but actually *allowing* it in, regardless how ridiculous it might seem for many “wise” people, it gave me the freedom that I never had before and allowed me to be more fully-fledged person exploring what I really like and want and defining myself better.
          @noahspud – I totally appreciate your article and I read it with high interest, and it was very fruitful to see your point of view on Isa’s opinion. A lot of food for thought 🙂 Thanks!!!
          ps. I really do not see a difference between the early stages of “falling in love” with the real person or “falling in love” with a character (I’m not talking about the physical possiblity to touch though;)), sometimes we see the real people we fall in love with far less realistic than we can build up fictional characters. Anyway the “pink glasses” make any falling in love in fact falling for a fictional character which can later turn into more realistic love or a tough disappointment…

  49. YES! This is so well-written! And I think you’re right, there may not be a label for it per se, but it’s very much possible, just like fictional characters are also able to draw out other emotions from us such as anger, empathy, and sadness. I honestly think that’s the mark of an excellent book and an excellent writer, being able to evoke an emotional response from your audience with the characters you’ve created!

    • Thank you. I appreciate that.
      As I said, feeling upset when a character dies or leaves is a sign of storge, love through familiarity. While we may feel upset that a show or book would dare take that beloved character away from us, it is a mark of quality entertainment.

  50. Very creative article idea!! It would be great to think about love for fictional characters in the context of fan fiction and what that means!

    • Based on comments I’ve seen, many people express their love for a fictional character by writing “self-insert” fan fiction in which they have a relationship with that character.
      Fan fiction could also be used to express agape, genuine interest in the well-being of the character. A fan can rewrite the ending of a story so it is happier for a particular character. This is often called “fix-it” fiction.
      Although I have read a fair amount of fan fiction, I’m sure there is someone else with an even better knowledge base who could tackle this topic. Perhaps I’ll put it in the Topic Suggestions section.
      Thanks for the input.

  51. I’d regard a writer who can make readers think they are actually in love with a character as a kind of litmus test for excellence. I’m attempting my first work of fiction after a lifetime of writing nonfiction and science, and I’m trying to put flesh on my characters. The really great writers don’t just give a character flesh and bones, but a soul as well, and that takes a special kind of empathy–a way to connect with an imagined character on a deep level.

    I think such skills can be learned–I hope so–but I have no illusions that it won’t be a steep and tenuous climb. Many–probably most–fall along the way. It’s a reason the really exceptional writers are… exceptional.

    • Good points. I would say the goal is agape and/or philia; you want readers to care about the well-being of your characters, feel worried when they’re in trouble, feel admiration for their good qualities, and desire to know more about them, thus hoping for another book.
      The really exceptional writers are sometimes measured by readers developing feelings of storge (familiarity) a long time after reading the book; we think of Anne Shirley and her group as old friends we can reunite with.
      Then there’s eros. If you can make a reader feel physical love for a character, you’d better hope you’re also instilling another kind of love, or else you’ll be remembered as the opposite of an excellent writer. Do people like Christian Grey or Edward Cullen as people, or just for the eros?
      Thank you so much for the input. It made me consider the topic from a different perspective. As an aspiring fiction writer myself, they’re good thoughts to have for me too.

  52. How cool. Thank you. My very first posted comment on The Artifice and I have a reply in just minutes–and a well-considered one at that. I think I’m going to enjoy this forum; never tried anything like it before.

  53. What a wonderful article. I found the use of the seven words used in Greek to mean “Love” to be both captivating and intriguing. I did not know the Greeks held such expansive view points and philosophies on a single word. It seems sometimes the simplicity and over use of words in our English language can take away from the meaning and depth of the word.

  54. Love is a complex topic that many people cannot grasp. This article cleared up some issues on what live really means and the different kinds of love.

  55. I adore Giovanni, and each time I reread Baldwin’s opus, I want to rescue him and situate the young man in a happier Room. If one person in literature should not be beheaded, it is certainly this unfairly cursed romantic.

    Rubyfruit Jungle’s Molly Bolt I desire as a best pal. She’s so boldly outrageous, I would await her daily phone calls with an addict’s passion.

    As for Céline’s delightfully abhorrent, endlessy flawed Ferdinand Bardamu, I can’t wait to revisit Journey to the End of the Night, but once a decade is probably a suitable amount of time to pass between encounters.

    So is not being able to get enough of, the same as being in love? It doesn’t sound healthy, but possibly the characters I relish explain why my relationships have been so goddamn unsuccessful.

    • What you’re describing sounds like storge, which is technically love. To me, it’s the definition of “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” And it’s not healthy to do that with fictional people when it means you’re missing possible real-life connections and/or convincing yourself that storge is enough to form a relationship.

  56. I firmly believe that Spike from Buffy will always be a love of my life.

  57. Zohal99

    For me an important part of loving fictional characters, is good writing. Whether it is a character from a film, TV show or a book, good writing should allow us to feel as though the fictional character is real and can exist in the real world. This often means, that a fictional character should feel as human and fleshed out as possible. How often do we love a character who is one-dimensional? From Castiel to Hermione Granger to Iron Man, these are characters who are three dimensional and despite existing partially in a ‘supernatural/fantasy world’ feel as real to you as anybody else.

  58. I can’t even list all the characters I love, unconditionally. This really put it into perspective for me though: “As Will Grayson said in the John Green/David Levithan novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson, ‘You like someone who can’t like you back because unrequited love can be survived in a way that once-requited love cannot.’ Again, as long as the fans understand that their fictional crushes are fictional, they won’t be badly hurt when nothing comes of these feelings.” I do understand that my fictional crushes are fictional, but for most of them, I storge them. Is that correct? Is storge a verb or a noun? But, also, I also eros and philia them. I just feel like I’ve loved them forever and want the best for them and I guess I’m attracted to them, but that’s kinda secondary. Definitely installed some unrealistic expectations in me, but I haven’t really found that to be problematic . . . yet.

  59. I remember watching Game of Thrones and being attracted to Emila Clarke’s character, Daenerys. Rather, I was more attracted to Emila Clarke then her fictional counterpart. While I found her fictional counterpart interesting, if given the choice of who I would have liked to have dinner with, I would pick the actress herself. Would many other GOT fans make the same decision or do I occupy a minority?

  60. This is fantastic. The question is perfect. Love for a literary character, absolutely, especially when we remember that the most important literary character is often the narrator. What reading other than a merging of one person with another? This is Walt Whitman addressing his reader in the 7th section of “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”:

    Closer yet I approach you,
    What thought you have of me now, I had as much of you—I laid in my stores in advance,
    I consider’d long and seriously of you before you were born.

    Who was to know what should come home to me?
    Who knows but I am enjoying this?
    Who knows, for all the distance, but I am as good as looking at you now, for all you cannot see me?

    That’s love, right?

  61. Falling in love with a fictional character is like falling in love with a cute boy in high school—crushing, infatuation, puppy love, or lust. We use those words to determine that falling in love with that cute boy in high school doesn’t mean that you’re in love with them, but the feelings of love are still there. You still feel that pleasurable twist in your gut or hear your heart pound against your chest. Then, you’re expected to leave the crush-zone in a few weeks or so. What happens when you don’t? What happens when you still feel those emotions years later? Is that considered love or is that still considered infatuation? I’m not sure. The human mind is a weird one.

  62. Interesting to realize that Betty Crocker was created in 1936 and over the years this fictional commercial character has received hundreds of marriage proposals. I assume that many of these men eventually moved on to more substantial and real relationships. Love, might, at times, be the wrong word to use; admiration, enjoyment at listening to a fictional character make an astute observation, the way a character interacts with others, these might be things that create an appealing character and can be used to help a real person more clearly articulate what they might want in a real relationship (hopefully more than just a woman who spends her time creating recipes and cooking).

  63. Janette

    This is interesting! Quite helpful when it comes to developing characters in stories, to figure out what kind of appeal you want the audience/reader to feel or gain.

  64. That invisible barrier between reality and fiction. If love exist, then that’s exactly where it should be I guess. I never thought about it from the Ancient Greek perspective… I just usually refer to it as identification. Thank you for the new perspective.

  65. I think it is possible. Look at the popularity of “Otome” games on the App Stores such as “Midnight Cinderella” or games from a series called “Shall We Date” and many more. Young women (and men?) pay $$$ to play these games and spend time with their “love interests”.

  66. I love this perspective!! The discourse structure of taking us through the stages of the defined ‘loves’ and explaining well-known scenarios of these feelings with characters was really interesting. 🙂

  67. Nice article! Love is so abstract. It is one of the rarest things the earth is able to hold that I believe can be classified as tangible and intangible. Due to its existence or form, it gives permission to allow other to place love where ever it is needed or deserves to be. One of the best recognition of love is the feeling of love. So where ever that feeling is formed, that is where it belongs. If that means falling in love or placing that feeling of love on a fictional character, so be it.

  68. I love falling in for fictional characters because it shows the author is a genius!
    The idea that a writer can change your emotions and feelings like that inspires me.
    I love a dark, mysterious Male character – often seen in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series (recommended read) she creates these characters in such a believable manor, that you want them to be real. You long for them, you feel for them, and you cry for them. This is what every writer should be able to do! Captivate their reader, making them feel emotional. It’s a talent! For years I wished her characters were real so I could hug them and cry for them. But they’re not, and that’s the beauty of it. So yea, I think you can fall in love, and really, you should fall in love – if that’s what the authors what’s you to do

  69. Great article and really good points. I feel as though our affections for a fictional character can be more damaging to ourselves than people around us. The books I’ve read often describe a character as highly attractive – ‘He had high cheek bones, a strong jaw and eyes which blazed like fire. When he looked at me I felt like I was set alight and my world as I knew it shattered into a million pieces.’ – The amount of times I’ve read something similar to that is mental, and when I was a young person I feel like these descriptions set unrealistic expectations of what to expect when I love someone. I certainly fell in love with the idea of characters more than the character themselves. Sometimes we feel like we love a character because we are yearning for a similar connection within our real-life relationships. Passionate lovers, rock-solid friendships and knowledgeable mentors all exist in real life but if we feel like our friends, lovers and mentors don’t meet our standards we might be more prone to search for these things through fiction.

  70. Love is always an interesting and mysterious thing, so it’s nice to see an article analyzing how it can breach the barriers of fiction and reality.

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