From the U.S.: I am 37 and I cannot stop myself from imagining I am in a different scenario and talking to people who aren’t there. Every day and sometimes before I sleep or when I drive, I am always making up scenarios and characters in my head and live in them. I have these characters, almost celebrities or famous people, I have made up with their own image and I have a character I have made for myself and now I just automatically slip into this character and talk to the people I have made up without even realizing I’m doing it.
This started when I was a child. I really struggle to just go through everyday life without pretending to be someone else or talking to someone who I know isn’t really there. Sometimes, I imagine I have a conversation with a friend and after that, I behave with this friend according to my imagination. I have tried to stop myself from doing this before, but I couldn’t even do it for a day because I just automatically do it.
Sometimes I base these characters off people I know or have seen. I know it may because I had a lonely childhood without played with other kids. But, now, I need to solve this because when I see my kids, I feel I do not deserve this or I should treat myself to become a good father for them.
I used to not be bothered about doing this but now it is such a big part of my life and I can’t stop it I am worried if it ever will. I want to be able to live my life just being myself and not pretending I’m someone else or talking to people who aren’t there. But a part of me doesn’t want it to stop because I almost rely on these characters as someone to talk to and I like the person I have made up for myself because she is better than me. I have so many details about these characters in my head that they seem like they could be real people. I am wondering what exactly makes me do this.
It’s not at all unusual for lonely children, especially smart and creative lonely children, to create imaginary friends and to develop intense relationships with them. These “friends” tend to disappear when a child goes to school and starts to socialize regularly with other children. The exceptions are kids who are very shy or who are bullied. The shy, the bullied, and the outsiders often continue to keep some or all of their imaginary world alive for a time.
You didn’t share enough of your history for me to make more guesses than that. But what is important is that this habit is now getting in the way of your life and may be even getting in the way of your relationships with your own children.
You are probably going to need some help with this. If you could successfully shelve the imaginary gang, you would have done it already. It would probably be helpful for you to talk to a therapist to gain more insight into the source of the problem and to strategize ways to be more “present” in the present. With understanding and support, you are likely to reach your goal.
I wish you well. Dr. Marie
I’m Always Pretending to Be Someone Else
Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker
Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
APA Reference Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). I’m Always Pretending to Be Someone Else. Psych Central.
Retrieved on September 21, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2017/04/03/im-always-pretending-to-be-someone-else/
Last updated: 8 May 2018 Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.