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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at ICU (Japan) chapter.

Around 2013, at least some of your friends were obsessed with One Direction, right?

I was one of them, too. I was obsessed. Everything they did made such an impact on me to the point, every thought was consumed by them. They were my best friends, even though they didn’t know I exist.

I recently learned these types of interactions are called “para-social relationships”. Para-social relationship is a one sided relationship where the other person completely doesn’t know you exist. It is often called an “illusion” because one person do not reciprocate the same feelings.

Para-social relationships has always existed, but these interaction has become prevalent as social media develops. Instagram and other social media platforms has made it extremely easy for celebrities and influencers to communicate with the fans, making it easier for fans to believe they are like their “friends”.

Why do we enter para-social relationships in the first place?

According to psychologists, para-social relationships help us with the feeling of loneliness and can distract us from our reality. I can speak about this from personal experience. Every time I was feeling a bit sad about what I was going through, I would look at videos of my favorite artists, and they would let me forget everything that was going wrong in my life. It can also boost our self-esteem and improve our mood.

However, is it really healthy?

It can be toxic and unhealthy when it goes too far, when fans rely too much on celebrities for their happiness and well-being. Because they are fulfilled with the one sided relationship, where no problems arise, people will start to prefer being in a para-social relationship than actual physical relationship. They will start to isolate from the real world and gradually lose the important social connections they had.

I know that going out and talking to new people are intimidating and obsessing over celebrities are far more easier and comfortable. However from a self-proclaimed fangirl, I recommend you to obsess over celebrities a healthy amount. Don’t let your para-social relationships consume you.

Ayana Hatanaka

ICU (Japan) '26

Hi! I'm Ayana, currently studying in ICU! I love music and going to concerts!