Ficto (orientation)


Prefix: Ficto-
Main Umbrella: Aspec

Genders: Any
Attracted To: Fictional characters

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Ficto is an orientation prefix encompassing the exclusive attraction to fictional characters, the prefix 'ficto-' deriving from the English word 'fiction'.[1][2][3][4] It is also an umbrella term for orientations that are influenced by fiction or by fictional characters. Alternative spellings include ficton-, fictio-, and fiction-.[5][6][7]

Fictiophilia is described as a distinct phenomenon that differs from standard responses to media.

"Whereas consuming related fiction belongs to fictophilia, its defining feelings go beyond the act of perception, as people ‘attach’ to characters for a significant length of time." -Karhulahti, Veli-Matti. Välisalo, Tanja[8]


In the United States of America

In 18th century United States of America, a study of individuals' feelings towards celebrities (who they were now able to learn about without knowing the individuals personally due to faster travel of information) revealed that the majority of people described their relationship with celebrities using romantic terms like "infatuated with" and "in love with".[2] This built upon a long human history of intense and enduring personal bonds with gods, monarchs, ancestors, mythological characters, and many other similar beings, despite usually never being able to meet face-to-face.[2] In the 1950s, this experience was given the name "parasocial relationship" in media research, applying both to real individuals like celebrities or actors who one does not know personally and to fictional characters of any kind, as no significant difference has been found between the two.[2][9]

In Japan

The discussion of love and attraction to fictional characters as part of Japan's otaku culture has been discussed in academia and the news since at least 1980. [2]

Contemporary (2000s-) Research

Contemporary research in the United States of America has found that parasocial relationships are not related to a lack of real-life social interaction or relationships, instead being associated with a want for validation and belonging: the same needs that drive people to connect with and seek out others in their personal life. [10] Parasocial relationships have been categorized as functional extensions of social circles, as they utilize the the same social skills and psychological responses as non-parasocial relationships, and demonstrate a similar level of complexity and diversity. [10] Research on specifically relationships with fictional characters has found that the terms "fictosexual" and "fictoromance" have been found in over 1,000 online discussions about fiction since at least 2009, often in the context of asexuality, fandom, or mental health forums where people sought reassurance and support, and searched for others with similar experiences. [2] Strong feelings of shame and embarrassment were often described, due to fully understanding that said characters were fictional and inherently different from human beings, yet having feelings towards them of equal or more intensity than they felt towards their real-life peers or partners. [2] In a different study, where people were asked to answer open-ended questions about how they would like to interact with well-known characters on various TV shows and movies, common responses included a sense of familiarity and trust, a want to talk to and share their thoughts with the characters, physical attraction, and a desire to receive advice or help: the same themes as those found in studies about real-life social relationships. [10] A study on specifically romantic parasocial relationships found that people reported the same benefits as those in non-parasocial romantic relationships do, such as positive emotions and passion, commitment, intimacy, companionship, and feelings of love, including among people who had both parasocial relationships and a non-parasocial partner(s). [9]

Recent Japanese research has discussed how different cultural concepts of reality and fiction change how ficto- attraction is viewed. [2] The view of most researchers from the United States of America can be described as either "disconnected" (ficto- behaviour is natural but is not real attraction and should not be allowed to interfere with relationships with real people) or "connected" (attraction to fictional characters is fundamentally different from attraction to real people, but both can be important). [2] A third stance developed in Japan is the "integrated" view: that the line between "fictional attraction" and "real attraction" is blurry and subjective and not important. [2] The integrated view states that while fictional characters and flesh-and-blood humans are not the same thing, there is no fundamental difference between love and attraction for one vs the other, and acknowledging that is the healthiest way to live with ficto- attraction. [2]

Related Terms

Label Relationship Description Difference
Verita- Opposite Attraction to real people. The verita term excludes attraction to fictional characters.


Label Orientation Flag Creator(s)
Fictoplatonic Platonic
Fictoromantic Romantic
Fictosexual Sexual


Label Prefix / Suffix Flag Description Creator(s)
Fictorose -rose
Similar to the fictoromantic and fictosexual flags, but with a blue stripe inspired by the demirose flag SwimmingButton[11]

Prefixes and Suffixes

Label Prefix / Suffix Flag Description Creator(s)
Fictoflux -flux Describes an individual whose ficto- attraction fluctuates in intensity. [Name of term coiner, or flag creator if original coining doesn't exist]

Flags and Symbols


  1. "fiction". Cambridge Dictionary, Accessed on 24 Jun, 2023.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Veli-Matti, Tanja, Karhulahti, Välisalo. Frontiers in Psychology. "Fictosexuality, Fictoromance, and Fictophilia: A Qualitative Study of Love and Desire for Fictional Characters". National Center for Biotechnology Information, 12 Jan 2021, Archived on 21 June 2023.
  3. Court, Andrew. "What is fictosexuality? All about the real people turned on by fictional characters"., 27 Apr, 2022,
  4. "What is Fictosexuality?". Gender Specialist, 31 May,
  5. bananashavenobones. "Aspec Fictosexual/Fictonsexual". Wattpad, Accessed on 24 Jun, 2023.
  6. moanaca_towels. "fictiosexual". Urban Dictionary, 19 Apr, 2016,
  7. "Fictionsexual". Slang Define, Archived on 5 Jul, 2022.
  8. Veli-Matti, Tanja, Karhulahti, Välisalo. Frontiers in Psychology. "Fictosexuality, Fictoromance, and Fictophilia: A Qualitative Study of Love and Desire for Fictional Characters". National Center for Biotechnology Information, 12 Jan 2021, Archived on 21 June 2023.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Adam, Sizemore, Aimee, Brittany. Interpersona: An International Journal on Personal Relationships. "Parasocial Romance: A Social Exchange Perspective". Psych Open, 28 June 2013, Archived on 23 June 2023.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Tukachinsky, Riva. Chapman University. "Para-Romantic Love and Para-Friendships: Development and Assessment of a Multiple-Parasocial Relationships Scale". Digital Commons, 2010, Archived on 23 June 2023.