"Imaginationships" Are The Delulu Dating Trend TikTokers Love

An imaginary crush can be fun.

Originally Published: 
Could a relationship in your head be better than the real thing? Meet "imaginationships."

If you ever planned your entire wedding after just one date or daydreamed in vivid detail about what it would be like to run away into the sunset with your crush, then you already know the joy of an imaginationship — aka the new “dating” trend that has more than 2 billion views on TikTok.

Situationships, of course, are the all-too-common canon event where you talk to someone and act like a couple, but never quite make it to full relationship status. These on-off, hot-cold semi-relationships are fun, but they’re also an emotional rollercoaster. If you get left on read one too many times, that’s when an imaginationship can start to sound more appealing.

To give it a definition, an imaginationship is when you fantasize about dating someone without ever actually dating them, says Anna Hintsyak, the resident dating forecaster for the female-led dating app Pure. Think of it as a delusional (or delulu, as the youth are now saying) next-level crush minus the disappointment of a situationship.

In an imaginationship, you aren’t dating, talking, hooking up, or even necessarily texting your love interest. Heck, they might not even know you exist — and that’s the best part. Since you never get to know them, the imaginationship can’t go south. It’s 100% fun and perfect and happy the whole time because you get to make it all up.

On TikTok, @lilaclaurels noted that the relationship you create in your head is always going to be lightyears ahead of reality. Instead of talking to your crush, who will likely instantly ruin your opinion of them by saying something weird, she says it’s all about “pining from afar” so that the illusion of how perfect they are never shatters. This applies to people you know IRL and those you don’t.

While all of this sounds gratifyingly unhinged, imaginationships are actually just another term for unrequited love — something that’s been around since the dawn of time. According to Stephanie Carnes, Ph.D., LCSW, LL.M., a New York City-based clinician at New York City Psychotherapy Collective, humans are wired for connection and we also have really strong imaginations, so it makes sense why fictional relationships are so enticing — especially when you don’t actually know the person. See also: everyone’s collective crush on Pedro Pascal.

Essentially, imaginationships are one part delusion and two parts delightful escapism, and Carnes confirms. “When we actually date someone, we learn about different aspects of their personality, including some characteristics we may not love,” she tells Bustle. “In an imaginationship, we get to fill in the blanks about our crush any way we want without the risk of being confronted by unexpected red flags or inevitable disappointments, as we often encounter when dating IRL.”

To really sum up the whole vibe of the dating trend, behold TikTok creator @greyzindacity. She doesn’t want anyone to talk to her because she’s too busy planning her wedding, naming her future children, and looking up houses on Zillow for her imaginary future with her imaginary partner. Sounds just like the imaginationship I have with Jake Gyllenhaal, which has been going strong for six years.


Anna Hintsyak, resident dating forecaster for the app Pure

Stephanie Carnes, Ph.D., LCSW, LL.M., NYC-based clinician, clinical supervisor at New York City Psychotherapy Collective

This article was originally published on