Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? Yes? Then at least once in your life you have been fictosexual. What is it? Shoelifer explains everything about this (impossible) form of love.

“Even as a teenager I was still in love with Kocoum in Pocahontas.” This confession, made just before the plane took off (hello stress), was made to the author of these lines by her best friend, returning from a sizzling summer vacation. Weird? No. Because being fictosexual is an ultra-common and universal phenomenon. Proof, it even has a name (the new trend of naming absolutely everything). 

So, what does it mean to be fictosexual? It’s simply the act of feeling a sexual attraction and/or romantic feelings for a fictional character. Honestly, tell us you’ve never had your heart race for Batman?

Orientation? Fictosexual

It is, therefore, a genuine sexual orientation, brought to light thanks to social media,. especially Reddit. It is also a phenomenon studied very seriously in academia, especially by Tanja Valisalo, a researcher at the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). She even wrote a book titled “Fictosexuality, Fictoromance, and Fictophilia: A Study of Love and Desire for Fictional Characters.”

In this book, the researcher explains, “The object of desire can be a character from a book, comic, television, cinema, games.” However, “fictosexuality does not necessarily exclude other forms of sexuality or attraction to real people.”

Three shades of fictosexuality

Moreover, there are several shades of being fictosexual because fictosexuality extends to all genres of fiction. Thus, we talk about:

  • Gamosexual, for people who love video game characters.
  • Cartosexual for those attracted to animated or comic book characters (manga, comics).
  • And finally, novelosexual for the attraction to characters in a novel.

If you had never heard of it before, it’s normal. Fictosexuals are mostly found on the web, away from mockery and judgments. Often, they form closed groups on Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit to exchange among themselves, and also to “give life” to their fantasy by writing “fan fiction.”

A mix of pop culture and celebrity worship

Why is being fictosexual  not so surprising? Simply because pop culture is an integral part of our daily lives, and sometimes it is challenging to separate reality from fiction. Especially in the current, anxiety-inducing world, it is tempting to take refuge in one’s imagination.

In the British Journal of Psychology, sociologists Lynn E McCutcheon, Rense Lange, and James Houran also make a connection with the cult of celebrity, a phenomenon firmly rooted in collective thinking. According to these academics, this concept comes in three stages:

  • Entertainment social (wanting to know more about a celebrity and discussing it).
  • Intense personal (developing intense or compulsive feelings for a personality).
  • Borderline-pathological : here, it’s serious, doctor, as it involves an obsession that turns into erotomania, which seems quite complicated for a fictosexual, according to Tanja Valisalo.

Often, a fictosexual is seen as just a hysterical fan. However, this is not the case. According to Valisalo, most adult fictosexuals question their mental health a lot, and doubt their personal fulfillment in the material world.

Roles created to attract

Being fictosexual (even for a moment) is almost inevitable. Literature, cinema, games: all these universes master the mechanics of attachment and are happy to use them. Otherwise, these genres wouldn’t have survived.

Sexologist Chloe Scotney, who has delved into fictosexuality, explains it well:”Most of the time, characters are developed to highlight the most interesting and charismatic elements of human nature– things that we simply don’t tend to encounter in real life.” Even flaws are romanticized.

fictosexualThus, it arouses attachment, empathy, and therefore a form of resonance. But if it takes too much space, take a step back. Or, disguise your better half as Kocoum.

Picture (c) : Bridgerton , Netflix 

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