Are You In A 'Delusionship'? The TikTok-Viral Dating Trend, Explained

You know that relationship you have with someone, except they don't really know you two are a couple, and the connection is actually all in your head? Most of us have had these fantasy relationships at some point, and now there's an incredibly appropriate new term for them: "delusionships." As relationship expert and Bumble dating coach Dr. Caroline West explained to Glamour UK, delusionships are "the infatuation that you have for someone you don't have an established relationship with — someone you see on the train every morning, or someone you have matched with on a dating app but haven't met up with yet." You might be in one if your love interest takes up an embarrassing amount of your mental real estate, yet they've never made a move to make things official — or, in some cases, they might not even know you exist.

Delusionships may have been kept under wraps in the past, but more people are starting to flaunt their "delulu" side and poke fun at their made-up romances in viral TikTok videos. To date, the delusionship hashtag boasts nearly 18 million views on the platform and counting, and several of the top clips have received numerous comments from others who can relate.

The dating trend might speak to you, too, if you're in the throes of lovesickness. However, it's important to not stay in the delusionship phase for long.

Delusionships can have their downsides

Many TikToks depicting the delusionship phenomenon make it clear that these imaginary-relationship relationships aren't always fun to be in. "When my mom asks why I'm so sad but I can't tell her it's because my delusionship I talked to twice ghosted me," reads the text on one video by a creator named Jaden. In another clip, TikToker Regan Anderson humorously blames overly optimistic "TikTok tarot girlies" for keeping her stuck in a delusionship she wanted out of.

Of course, having a crush isn't a bad thing. "It's ok to daydream about people and potential relationships," Dr. Caroline West told Glamour UK. Paying attention to your fantasies may help you learn more about the qualities and behaviors that matter to you if (and when) you decide to pursue a real relationship.

On the other hand, it's important to not take a delusionship too seriously or let it dominate your life. "One of the biggest differences between infatuation and (a mental health issue) are time spent consumed with the other person in your thoughts and actions, length of time that the infatuation lasts, actions taken to sustain the infatuation, such as constantly looking at their social media, following them around, changing your lifestyle to have more access to them," Raquel Martin, a licensed clinical psychologist, shared with USA Today. If your delusionship is interfering with your ability to function, reach out to a mental health professional who can help you stay grounded in reality.

Can a delusionship become a relationship?

Your delusionship with that cutie in your office or a drool-worthy actor might be just for fun, but what about a delusionship with someone who actually seems like relationship material? As Jess Matthews, a relationship coach, told Elle Australia, "if your delusionship is a real person, within your real world then by all means, take the time to make considered observations based on the circumstances then, make a move."

Keep in mind, though, that trying to turn your crush into your bae might require coming to terms with your far-fetched fantasies. "If the delusionship is too idealized it can create problems in that it becomes hard, or virtually impossible, for the person of interest to 'live up' to the idealized image," T. Joel Wade, a professor of psychology at Bucknell University, revealed to USA Today. This can create unrealistic expectations that lead to major disappointment later.

Finally, know when to stop wasting your time on your current crush. While it can be painful, take note if they fail to reciprocate or take any relationship-building actions. Even if you want to believe they're interested, they might not be — or at least they aren't giving you the clear signals you deserve — if they let you initiate every conversation and lead every date.