The signs of an imaginary relationship

You know all their details – their star sign, shoe size, and what they got from Aunt Susan for Christmas. You plan your schedule around the times you’re likely to see them. They make sure to tell people you have a boyfriend so you can keep up the good vibes.

A parasocial relationship is a one-way, imaginary friendship with a media personality. It’s a common practice among celebrities and social media influencers, but isn’t always considered unhealthy. It can be a good way to foster relationships with celebrities and get to know their personalities.

Imaginary relationships (IRs) are more common than you might think. As long as they are healthy and you keep them in check, IRs can actually be beneficial. People in IRs may use social etiquettes or manners that would not normally be used if they were in an actual relationship.

 They can be a safe place to explore potential attraction with someone and it’s also an excellent way to practice for the type of relationship you want to have someday, says Sally Theran, an associate professor of psychology at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

You tell people that you have a boyfriend

Guys don’t live in the land of subtleties and hints; they need blunt, straightforward honesty. If you’re constantly telling people that you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, then you might need to step up the game.

You might also need to tell those who see you as a potential mate that you’re already in a relationship so they can stop making passes at you. Just make sure you’re doing it in a casual, friendly way so that the person doesn’t take it the wrong way.

It’s also a good idea to start thinking of your imaginary partner as a real person and get familiar with their backstory. You can use a friend’s backstory as a model, or create your own. You can even practice meeting your imaginary partner by going out with your friends and imagining how they would act.

You get jealous way too easily

Jealousy is a normal part of the human experience, but it can lead to some unhealthy behaviors. Thankfully, jealousy can be tamed with healthy communication skills and other coping mechanisms.

If you’re constantly suspicious of your partner or acting on unfounded suspicions, it can be a sign that you’re letting jealous feelings and negative assumptions take over. Having a thoughtful conversation about how you’re feeling can help you clarify what’s triggering those feelings and stop you from damaging your relationship with them.

Stern says it’s important to distinguish jealousy from envy, which is based on wanting something that’s not yours. For example, you might feel envious of your friend’s new car but not jealous of her relationship with a different man. Jealousy, on the other hand, is based on your fear that someone else’s closeness with another person might threaten your own.

 It’s also important to recognize that jealousy usually passes on its own once you’ve given it some attention, according to Leahy. She suggests that you schedule a time each day to acknowledge your jealous thoughts, then put them off until the next time. When you do this, you’re less likely to focus on them, and the intensity of the jealousy fades.

You plan your schedule around the times you’re likely to see him or her

In many cases, your imaginary significant other may be based on a friend or someone you admire. This is called a parasocial relationship and can be healthy as long as you keep it in check.

Think about how they would react to current events and situations and try to see things through their eyes. You can also give them a backstory that you merge with your own, like how they met or why they ended up in your life.

Having an imaginary friend is normal and can actually be a great way to practice for relationships. However, if your child’s imaginary friend becomes disruptive, aggressive or frightens them, it may be time to talk with a professional.