To the maladaptive daydreamers who believe they’re never going to get a stable job or fall in love or live life to the fullest like other people,

- There are so many years ahead of you and so many opportunities for things to improve. You will not be stuck here forever.
- You can’t ever tell what will happen in the future. Your situation is not hopeless.
- Your daydreams, when they aren’t sad or violent, give you an idea of what you want from life. That is a strength. Not everybody knows what they want.
- It will take effort, it might take some disappointments, but in time you will figure out your priorities in reality and your own way of achieving them, despite the things that hold you back.
- Even if things don’t work out, there is always a plan B.
- You will be okay.
- One day you will look back and wonder what you were ever worried about.

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What is the difference between normal and maladaptive daydreaming?

So many people have this question so I’ll try to make this answer short and simple.

Daydreaming means zoning out for a while to imagine (normally enjoyable) situations. Daydreaming is only maladaptive when it is:

a) excessive
(think: Do you daydream more than most people? Do you spend almost all your free time daydreaming? Do you daydream so much it makes it difficult to live your life?)

and

b) compulsive
(think: Do you find it almost impossible to control? Do you keep daydreaming despite negative consequences? When you start can you stop again easily? Do you experience cravings to daydream?)

That’s it. Maladaptive daydreaming = excessive, compulsive daydreaming.

But what about pacing and characters/paras and violent daydreams and all of that stuff?

Many maladaptive daydreamers have noticed similarities in how they daydream. Some of the most common are:

- having extremely detailed daydreams
- having daydreams that repeatedly involve the same people (these people are known as characters/paras)
- feeling very strong attachment to their characters/paras
- having daydreams which are explicitly violent or sexual
- feeling detached from reality or not caring about it at all
- unconsciously doing a repetitive movement while daydreaming. Normally this is pacing but it can be anything.
- needing or prefering to listen music while daydreaming
- imagining the same scenarios over and over until they are perfect
- etc.

It’s normal for maladaptive daydreamers to do the above things. They could even be considered symptoms. But not everyone does them and that doesn’t matter. The only thing that makes daydreaming maladaptive is if it is excessive and compulsive.