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Are you in a one-sided relationship? The tell-tale signs and how to get out

Is it infatuation or something more? Experts weigh in on the fact or fiction of "delusionships."

Your boyfriend is the absolute best.

He's handsome and charismatic, not to mention a major box office moviestar. In fact, given that Ryan Gosling is your significant other, you're the total envy of all your friends.

Of course, it's all in your head (unless you're Eva Mendes), but that doesn't mean it doesn't feel real to you.

"I imagine most women have been in some type of delusionship with Ryan Gosling at some point in their lives, maybe even some men," says Thomas Edwards, dating coach and founder of The Professional Wingman.

Frankly, there's nothing wrong with it that given that pretty much everyone, at one time or another, has crushed on a celebrity, musician, or someone they encounter online or in real life.

But what, exactly, is a “delusionship?”

The latest in a string of relationship trends to take root on TikTok, the term is self-explanatory. “It’s about the fantasy and the romanticization of a relationship that doesn’t exist,” explains Edwards.

In most cases, a delusionship is nothing more than a joking way of describing an infatuation that's gone a bit overboard. But the fact is, for some people, it can go much deeper.

To better understand the concept, TODAY.com talked to two dating experts who break down what it means to be in a delusionship, how to recognize if you're in one and what to do if you are.

What is a delusionship?

In essence, a delusionship is pretty much what it sounds like: a delusion in which you think that you and the object of your affection have more than just a passing relationship.

"A delusionship is being lost in the fantasy of a crush or what it would feel like or be like to be with someone romantically," says Samantha Burns, licensed counselor, relationship coach and author of the book "Done with Dating: 7 Steps to Finding Your Person."

"Sometimes you might even feel territorial over that person, whether it's trying to be physically close to them, talk to them, document every move on social media or getting jealous when the interact or flirt with someone else," she says. "But you're not in a committed or defined relationship with them or they might not even know that you're romantically interested in them."

According to Edwards, delusionships are easier than ever to fall into thanks to social media. Platforms like Instagram make it easy to learn a lot about someone in a single swipe, which can lead to you developing feelings for said person, despite never having actually met. Ultimately, this sense of closeness results in a "synthetic relationship" that doesn't really exist.

"You can be connected with someone on social media and watch their Twitter timeline, watch their Facebook feed or their Instagram reels and you can get to know someone because they're giving you an opportunity to see in on their lives," Edwards says. "But here's the reality: You do not know this person."

When does a delusionship become a problem?

Similar to a next-level crush, delusionships, as a whole, aren't a problem, unless, of course, they become one.

"I think it's healthy to think about 'what ifs,' because there's subconsciously a part of you that feels deserving to be in that fantasy, which is good for your confidence," says Edwards, who explains that if we didn't have even the smallest bit of hope that we could somehow end up with the person of our dreams, it could potentially reflect low self-worth.

"We all have our celebrity crushes and we kind of fantasize a little bit of what it could look like to actually have a relationship with them. There's a part of that that's really healthy," Edwards tells TODAY.com

Where it gets problematic, however, is if that ideation over someone unattainable, celebrity or otherwise, prevents you from engaging in another, more tenable, relationship.

"If the fantasy and the feelings associated with it get in the way of your ability to connect with people in the real world or see viable options that are in front of you, then that can obviously be a negative in terms of the impact being in a delusionship can create," says Edwards.

He also says that if your fantasy becomes the standard to the point where no one else can ever measure up, it can create unrealistic expectations and blind you to real-life possibilities.

According to Burns, delusionships can also cross into troubling territory if instead of innocent infatuations, they become obsessions.

"Is it impacting other areas of your life, where it's distracting you, where you can't be productive at work, where you're waking up feeling down or depressed because you're not with this person?" Burns asks.

If so, it might be cause for concern, along with potentially triggering feelings of unrequited love, which can impact both your mood and behaviors.

"If that means you're no longer going on the dating app to meet other people or no longer being approachable and focused on meeting people out organically or isolating yourself just to stalk them on social media for hours on end, that clearly isn't healthy for your life," says Burns.

Being in delusionship can also lead to mental health issues if you allow it to go to far, according to Edwards, resulting in feelings of low self-esteem and depression.

How to tell you're in a delusionship

While obsession is the extreme end of a delusionship, there are other, more subtle, signs that the relationship you're currently in (or think you're in) may not be mutual.

Not unlike a "situationship," which is a relationship that's more than just friends, but doesn't have the trappings of a committed relationship, ala "friends-with-benefits," a delusionship may include some kind of connection, but that's where it ends.

"Maybe they did flirt with you, maybe you even had one date or a first kiss, but they're not necessarily showing anymore interest, but in your mind, you're still holding out or fantasizing about it, even though they're not giving you any concrete signs that it's going anywhere," Burns explains.

Curious to know where your relationship stands? Burns offers a few markers in which to gauge whether it's legit or a possible delusionship, starting with reciprocity.

If your person-of-interest initially flirted or engaged, but no longer reaches out via text or hasn't taken any further action to promote the relationship, Burns says it may be time to cut your losses.

"If you're getting mixed messages or maybe there was something, an initial spark or intrigue, but it fizzled, be real with yourself that there's no consistency and their effort and energy is not matching yours," she says.

Another red flag is if you find yourself over-analyzing every interaction or communication in hopes of finding evidence that the person is as interested as you are – or even interested at all.

"If not," says Burns, "that's when you need to pull back from the delusionship and start investing your time and energy in other people."

What to do if you're in a delusionship

If you suspect you're in a one-sided relationship, there are a few things you can do.

According to Burns, start by talking to friends, a therapist or even a dating coach to get some perspective on the situation.

Burns also recommends looking inward and deciding that you're worth more than settling for a relationship with someone who doesn't reciprocate.

"Raise your standards and say, 'Hey, I deserve someone who is willing to put in the effort and energy into pursuing me and wants to date me. And I'm going to walk away with my head held high knowing that I'm not getting the attention I desire,'" she says.

Burns also says that it's important to be patient and good to yourself while recognizing that getting over an infatuation isn't as easy as just "getting over it."

"Be realistic that your crush isn't just going to fade instantly," Burns says. "It might take a while for those embers to burn out."

To help, she suggests supplementing your life in other ways including trying new hobbies, practicing self-care and getting back in the game.

"Be open to meeting new people," says Burns. "It might take a little time for that crush to burn out, but just have faith and trust that it will."