Parasocial Relationships slang term meme example.

Parasocial Relationships

Part of a series on Internet Slang. [View Related Entries]

Updated Sep 16, 2022 at 01:52PM EDT by Zach.

Added Sep 15, 2022 at 04:50PM EDT by Phillip Hamilton.

PROTIP: Press 'i' to view the image gallery, 'v' to view the video gallery, or 'r' to view a random entry.

This submission is currently being researched & evaluated!

You can help confirm this entry by contributing facts, media, and other evidence of notability and mutation.


Parasocial Relationships, sometimes referred to as One-Sided Relationships, are illusory psychological relationships experienced by fans of a celebrity or public figure (such as a streamer or content creator) in which the fan considers the person their friend despite having limited or no actual social interactions with them. The term was coined by Donald Wohl in 1956 and saw a rise in online use in the late 2010s, spiking in 2021 in regards to relationships between viewers of Twitch streamers and the relationship between fans of comedian John Mulaney and actress Olivia Munn.


The term "parasocial relationship" was first coined by Donald Wohl in a 1956 study by himself and Richard Wohl, where they studied the interactions between media viewers and media figures, finding evidence of people acting as though they had real relationships with figures they'd never interacted with.[1] Before the term was coined, some of the earliest examples of parasocial relationships could be considered relationships that people had with gods and political figures.[2]

Parasocial relationships have been a continuous subject of study since being coined, including a 1987 study by Rebecca Rubin and Michael McHugh[3] and a 2009 study by Amanda Laken.[4]

Use Online

On June 1st, 2013, Stever and Lawson published a study specifically looking into parasocial relationships between Twitter celebrities and their followers, finding that the direct connection that Twitter gives followers to aspects of the celebrities' private lives fosters parasocial relationships.[5] A 2016 study by Celie O’Neil-Hart and Howard Blumenstein found that 40 percent of millennial YouTube users believed their favorite creators understood them better than their friends, showing an example of parasocial relationships online.[6] In 2018, The Verge published a story by Megan Farokhmanesh about how YouTubers foster parasocial relationships with their viewers, writing that these relationships are "vital to YouTubers' success"[7] as they create more dedicated fans.

The terms "parasocial" and "parasocial relationships" became increasingly popularized online, including in memes, around 2019 largely in reference to the relationships between Twitch streamers, content creators and podcast hosts and their viewers. One of the earliest memes to use the phrase was posted by Instagram[8] user critical_thanos_theory on July 6th, 2019, and references the podcast Cum Town (shown below).

Do you think the aggressively one-sided parasocial simulacrum of friendship I get from listening to podcasts is enough to convince my insurance company that a C-- Town patreon membership is covered under psychiatric medication?


On July 2nd, 2020, YouTuber Glink posted a video titled, "The Parasocial Problem with Livestreaming" where he discussed the parasocial relationships that Twitch streamers garner with some of their viewers. In the video, he interviewed several streamers about the topic (shown below). The video gained over 891,000 views in two years.

On December 25th, YouTuber Jschlatt posted a video where he discussed the parasocial relationships between himself and his fans, garnering over a million views in two years (shown below). In the video, he told viewers it should be clear that he doesn't want them to know everything about him and said, "I'm sorry, I don't love you," comparing his content to a TV show.

On December 27th, YouTuber Patrick Atallah posted a video titled "I'm not your friend" calling out viewers with parasocial relationships toward him (shown below, left). On the same day, Twitch streamer Ludwig also posted a video titled, "I Am Not Your Friend" where he reacted to Atallah's video and expanded on it, garnering over 1.1 million views in two years (shown below, right). In his video, Ludwig said parasocial relationships are worse on Twitch than on YouTube because viewers can interact with streamers to a further degree.

Throughout 2021, discussions about parasocial relationships in regard to content creators increased. In September 2021, the discussion about parasocial relationships increased after Olivia Munn and John Mulaney announced they were having a baby. Some fans of the celebrities were critical of the news, inspiring accusations that they were acting parasocially.[9]

On November 19th, 2021, streamer Pokimane posted a video on her second YouTube channel where she discussed parasocial relationships (shown below, left). On December 18th, the Ludwig Clips YouTube channel posted a clip of Ludwig reading a text conversation where someone said they think of streamers as friends, garnering over 40,000 views in nine months (shown below, right).

On June 13th, 2022, Instagram[10] user martin_rosner posted a webcomic joking about the parasocial relationships between podcasters and viewers, garnering over 9,000 likes in three months (shown below).


Enabling / Encouraging Parasocial Relationships

Some content creators have been accused of enabling and encouraging parasocial relationships in order to foster more loyal fanbases to the point where it could be detrimental. For example, creator Belle Delphine was accused of this by selling her bath water in mid-2019.[11] Streamer Amouranth was similarly accused of this when she sold her farts in a jar in early 2022.[12]

In September 2022, Minecraft streamer Dream began selling a USB slap bracelet to members of his "Dream Smile Club" that contained files including his baby pictures on it.[13] Some people, including Twitter[14] user and commentator Bowblax, accused Dream of fostering parasocial relationships by selling such a personal item.

Search Interest

Various Examples

dream @dreamwastaken. 2d dream "you're just a number to him" "yeah a PHONE NUMBER in his contacts 11 1,178 3,121 dream 67.7K dream @dreamwastaken Replying to @dreamwastaken and @greenmanlovebot This is how dangerous parasocial relationships can form. Dream doesn't love you. He can't love you. Dream doesn't KNOW you. He can appreciate you but he can't f------ love you. : Anonymous 886 KB PNG 06/10/21(Thu)18:25:05 No.4919770 I'm in a parasocial relationship with Gawr Gura of Hololive EN and I wouldn't change a thing. >>4919934 # >>4920268 # This is a watermelon if you see an apple it's because you have parasocial relationships with meme accounts All I *F--- YOU Parasocial interaction Purm Ind Ofer 400 personalitie with them. Dean prwi a iment Character personification Parasocial relationship Maps Shop So xial Attraction real Task Attraction tysical Attraction Parasocial interaction refers to a kind of psychological relationship experienced by an audience in their mediated encounters with performers in the mass media, particularly on television Vie der media I HATE YOU eractions I hope y'all are developing parasocial relationships with me me and the girlies cultivating an online presence that is et Your PUSE Squirt Out When Tor Leo so niche MATTSN it alienates us from our analog friends & fosters unsettling parasocial relationships w strangers on the internet

External References

Recent Videos 9 total

Recent Images 13 total

Top Comments

Nox Lucis
Nox Lucis

I'd brag my immunity to this, but then I struggle to form meaningful emotional attachments to others in any context, leading to feelings of perpetual isolation.
Does that count as the opposite problem?


+ Add a Comment

Comments (10)

Display Comments

Add a Comment

Namaste! You must login or signup first!