What To Know About The Viral & Relatable 'Delusionship' TikTok Trend

While '90s babies might be more accustomed to the term "crush," TikTok has recently added a new term to our fantasy infatuation lexicon: delusionship. With definitions ranging from unrequited one-sided love to celebrity crushes to fantasizing about someone at your morning coffee shop, delusionships can encompass a LOT of romantic territory. The term currently boasts over 28 million tags on TikTok, so it's safe to say the feeling is definitely relatable. So, what exactly is a delushionship?

Hayley Quinn, a dating expert at Match, explained to Cosmopolitan, "Unlike a real relationship, delusionships are sustained by a fantasy of what it might be like to be with someone; this could be a great first date who ghosted you, an ex that's never quite left your mind, or someone you have a crush on that's never translated into an IRL date." The broadness of a delusionship's possibilities is exactly what makes the term so popular with people (and probably why so many people have declared themselves 'delulus,' or those that participate in delusionships). 

While this kind of fantasy is obviously widespread, is it possible for it to also be toxic? As many of us know, fantasy life can often lead to disappointment with reality, so how can someone know if their delusionship tendencies are just fun rather than a problem? Whether you're a proud delulu or are new to the term, let's explore delusionships and why you should maybe enjoy them with a grain of salt.

What can delushionships accomplish?

It's perfectly normal to daydream, and what better way to play out a fantasy life or relationship than by plugging in a new and mysterious person, right? Whether it's a way to try out someone new or even a way to re-write the past, delusionships can give people a way to work out not only potential compatibility questions but also their own relationship requirements. Plus, by fantasizing about your part in a delusionship, you are not only acknowledging your own worthiness in a relationship, but maybe even coming to terms with what you want or need from someone else. Fantasizing about finding love could mean you're ready to start truly pursuing it in reality.

Quinn elaborated, "Real-world dating can be confrontational and disappointing. Investing in the fantasy of a perfect partner, without ever having to deal with really being in a relationship with them, can act as an effective buffer to a reality that you just don't want to confront." This can be particularly useful for those who might still be recovering from heartbreak or those who haven't yet defined what they want in a romantic partner or relationship. Using delusionships to play out how you do or don't like certain relationship outcomes can ultimately help you realize what you want. Sometimes you need extra time alone to figure these things out, and delusionships can be an easy, fun, and low-stakes way to help you work through it all.

What to look out for

While fantasizing can be a fun way to play out romantic possibilities, it's important not to get too invested in the fantasy. As Bumble dating coach Dr. Caroline West told Glamour, "It can be very easy to get carried away with idealizing a relationship or our interactions with another person." This can be especially problematic if your fantasy about another person doesn't actually line up with who they are in reality. The more disconnected your fantasy is from the reality of a specific situation or person, the more likely you are to experience disappointment. It's also important to ensure that your fantasizing doesn't cross over into limerance, which can be obsessive and even destructive

Another potential for disappointment can be relying too heavily on delusionship fantasies ahead of first dates. While it is obviously tempting to imagine a perfect date or even a perfect life together with a brand new person it can also be a problem. Not only can an overly detailed fantasy life lead to bigger first-date jitters, but it can outright sabotage your love life. Overthinking a relationship before it's even begun can lead to premature or false expectations in addition to the tendency to ignore potential red flags. By placing a fantasized version of a person ahead of the actual person, you could be setting yourself up for failure. With that being said, Dr. West did emphasize that fantasy is not all bad, "It's okay to daydream about people and potential relationships." Just make sure you're spending more time on yourself than on your fantasy.