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Ask Jono: Help, I'm In Love With Fictional Characters!

Ask Jono: Help, I'm In Love With Fictional Characters!

By Jon_Skindzier

Dear Jono,

Ok I know you've probably been asked this a billion times but: how, in da name of da Lord, do you get over your intense love with fictional characters?

I just can't seem to do it! I'm STILL in love with Fang from Maximum Ride! And now that I've started Homestuck... Oh my goodness, I just drown in so many FEELINGS. Is there some kind of way you can block those feelings out or something? It's turning into such a big problem that I compare my friends and people I see on the street with Homestuck characters. It has set a new standard for how I expect actual human beings to act like.

How do I get back into the real world????

Help!
Feeling All the Feelings

Actually, I have been asked this zero billion times, which is to say not at all, but it's a common enough theme around here that I'm happy to answer it. For starters, you are not weird for getting so attached to to fictionally settings, especially Homestuck. There's a reason that "Let me tell you about Homestuck" has become a meme of its own. It's an engrossing, well-written, absolutely massive story (last I saw a tally, it was 658,991 words long, and contained 12,000 panels and 3 hours of animation). On top of that, it features kids who go on amazing adventures instead of waiting for the school bus in the rain and then failing Algebra. And just so you know I'm not only pretending to know what Homestuck is, here are these golf club covers I once made.

All of the settings that people get really wrapped up in—Homestuck, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings—tend to be captivating for the same reason: they're all so well-realized that you can picture yourself in them, interacting with their characters, instead of being in your normal life with your normal friends and your ordinary dog, who rarely, if ever, manipulates spacetime. But I'm concentrating on Homestuck in particular, both because you mentioned it and because it's the perfect example of why settings like this are so good at drawing you in. You're presented with dozens of characters, with distinct personalities, who are all working through the same lovestruck nonsense you are. It even contains the actual phrase "It's hard being a kid and growing up. It's hard and nobody understands." I'd say that should be the SparkLife motto, but really that should just be the motto of life between 14 and 18.

But you have to realize that you're attracted to these characters because they're fictional. You won't meet Dave in real life and then have him ignore you because he's an aloof hipster. You won't hang out with Karkat and then get weirded out by the realization that he used to be a huge bug. The same applies to all fictional characters; you see the situations in which they're written to be interesting, and you can project onto them all the characteristics you'd want in the ideal person. But real people aren't written to be interesting, because they're real. Maybe there's some guy in one of your classes with the soul of a poet and the heart of a literal person who actually exists, but all you've ever seen him do is smile awkwardly from across the room and then stab himself with a pencil when he tried to wave hello.

Ultimately, obsession with fictional characters goes away as you spend more time with actual characters (which is to say people). This is true of passing crushes on real people, too; having an actual relationship with someone who matters to you helps you forget about a fleeting attraction to someone you never really knew. And this isn't just about romance; it applies to anything you might get too obsessed with. The more you find meaning in your real life, in the real world, the less time you spend feverishly wishing that you were a wizard. (And before anyone tracks me down and bludgeons me with a pewter wizard, I'm not saying that fandom is bad; I'm saying obsession, to the point where you neglect your real life, is bad.)

Please don't read this post like I'm saying "GET A LIFE NERD" and shoving you in a locker, because that is totally not my intention. But the only things that will help you overcome attraction to fake people are 1.) attraction to real people and 2.) avoidance (taking a break from Homestuck for a while, putting away your shipping chart, etc.). I wish I had a more clever solution for you, like making out with a cardboard cutout of John until you tire of him, but there's no quick fix here; you just need to find a bunch of actual human stuff to do and enjoy until the fictional stuff seems less important. Take up hobbies, meet real people, fall in love with them and then go to a coffee shop with them and spill coffee all over them (this is how dating worked for me, anyway). The only way to get back to the real world is go out and start having as much fun as you can in it.

Topics: Life
Tags: crushes, books, advice, ask jono, comics, fictional characters, fictional crushes

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