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date: 20 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Imaginary relationships (e.g., imaginary companions, diary friends, parasocial relationships, continuing bonds) are social ties created in a variety of forms at many points throughout the life span. These inventions parallel real relationships in that they include an imagined sense of reciprocity, are often associated with emotions, provide social benefits to their creators, and can last for months or years; however, creators of imaginary relationships are aware that these pretend partners are not real. The form of an imaginary relationship may be linked to the social tasks of the developmental period in which it is created, and qualities of these relationships may be related to their functions. In general, the existence of imaginary social partners is a testament to the importance of social relationships in human psychological functioning.

Keywords: continuing bond, imaginary companion, imaginary relationship, parasocial relationship, reciprocity, social development

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