If you’ve logged into TikTok lately and follow relationship creators, or pretty much anyone who talks about their love life, you might have noticed a new word entering the dating lexicon: delusionship. It might sound kind of scary, but a delusionship is something we’re all probably familiar with—just maybe under another name.
So, what are the signs you’re in one? Ask yourself: Do I fantasize about someone a lot even though we’re not together? In fact, we’ve just started texting. Have I imagined a life with someone even though we’ve not been on a single date yet? Or closed myself off to potential dates because I’m really focused on just one new person…who just so happens to be as good as a stranger? If the answer to any of these is yes, then you’re probably in a delusionship. Yes, you could be in one with your barista, Timothée Chalamet, or your coworker.
If you want an expert definition, Bumble’s dating coach, Dr. Caroline West, says this: “It’s 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.”
Effectively, a delusionship is 2023’s way of saying you’re thinking a lot about a crush. So, yes, we’ve all been there. TikTok proves it, as there are more than 16.1 million tags for the term, with a ton of super-relatable videos of people detailing their experiences.
“You were never mine (you actually were never mine, I was just delusional and thought you were secretly in love with me),” reads the relatable text on one TikTok by mainlyemma. Another by user Jaden reads, “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.”
If this all sounds very familiar and now you’re worrying whether it’s a potentially toxic habit, fear not. Dr. West says a delusionship is inherently bad: “It’s okay to daydream about people and potential relationships.”
Think of your delusionship as a way of trying that person out. Your delusionship could be a way of figuring out if you’re a fit with them and means you’re backing yourself to be with someone you think is desirable. As West puts it, “Being outwardly confident in yourself and recognizing the value you could bring to a romantic relationship is totally fine.”
That said, she warns, “It can be very easy to get carried away with idealising a relationship or our interactions with another person.” Translation: The real person might not be as good as your delusion of them. (In fact, they’re often not.)
Bumble backs that being a delulu—that is, someone who enjoys the occasional delusionship fantasy—could be a good thing, as the trend coincides with an overwhelmingly positive outlook on dating. In fact, 73% of global Gen Z singles on Bumble are said to be, as Dr. West says, “‘Seizing the Date’ and saying they feel positive about the romance that lies ahead.”