This type of special friendship has a name-a parasocial relationship-and it could even be good for you. Here's why.
When Laura Moore, a business school student in Toronto, first "met" Liz Lemon on 30 Rock, she thought, “I've found my soul mate and she is on TV.” The clincher: A season one episode when Liz, explaining to Jenna how her new relationship is going, said “Terrible. I just want to go home and watch that show about midgets and eat a block of cheese.”
For Laura, the line was a revelation. “I’ve thought that exact same thing!” she says. She’s been a fan ever since, relieved by the thought that someone else thinks like she does.
Television has returned after its summer hiatus, but if you’re a little too excited to hear about your favorite characters’ adventures and heartbreaks (and maybe caught a few reruns just to “hang out” with them over their agonizingly long vacations), rest assured: You are not insane.
Feeling like you’re friends with a fictional character is a common phenomenon—one that psychologists call “parasocial interaction”—and it can even be good for you.
Parasocial interaction is psych-speak for relationships that, unlike real friendships, only go one way. (As in, Friends’ Rachel Green has no idea that you exist even though you know that she once owed fifteen dollars in a poker game and watched her daughter’s birth.) These fictional friendships are surprisingly similar to real-life friendships and go from first meeting to intimacy to breakup, just like any real-world affair.