Yes, I'm a waifuist. Yes, I hate the waifuism community. Yes, we exist.
If you're unfamiliar with waifuism (or only know of it through passing jokes), I recommend you first read through this waifuism guide, as created by the lovely Lucifer. If you're not gonna do that, though, I'll break it down as quickly as I can.
'Waifuism' is when somebody has a relationship with a character which is treated as a real, actual relationship. It is similar to self-shipping, but is far more serious in nature.
Similar concepts, with mildly varying definitions, exist. For example, 2Dism is basically the same thing, except you don't view your partners as fictional, per say. Fictosexuality is a term which means exclusive or primary attraction to fictional characters, with an implication of aroasexuality towards 3D people. 2D love (sometimes shortened to 2DL) is a term originating in Japan that denotes intense and long-lasting feelings for fictional characters, and does not imply aroasexuality towards humans, or primary attraction to fictional characters. 'Pygmalic' is a term coined by another very cool Neocities user, Nephro, and refers to anyone who has a preference, falls in love with, or otherwise feels attraction to fictional characters, as well as any other non-person entity; again, without the implication of being aroace towards 3D people. Generally speaking, I identify the most with the 2Dism and pygmalic labels, but I find myself at home within all of these communities.
This article isn't about any of those other communities, though. It's about waifuism, which, I believe, has the biggest community of all of the examples listed. A community with which, as you can probably tell from the title of this article, I have some issues. So, for simplicity's sake, I'm going to be calling myself a waifuist.
First and foremost, my biggest gripe with the community: the polyphobia. This community hates polyamorous people so much it's unreal. If you join just about any waifuist space, you will see almost immediately in any set of rules: 'no polygamy'.
For those uninitiated: polyamorous people are people who are open to or interested in romantic involvement with more than one partner at a time, with the consent of all parties involved. While it's debated whether or not it's inherently queer, this identity is often associated with the LGBT+ community; the majority of polyamorous people seem to be queer in some way (in my experience). Polyamorous groups can have lots of different forms; it can be one person with multiple partners, everyone loving each other in a literal 'love triangle', and way more. Polygamy, on the other hand, involves being specifically married to multiple partners; polygamy is almost universally heterosexual, and it always has one person (male) having multiple spouses (female). Polygamy is oftentimes associated with cults, or the religious far-right. As you can see, these things are very different. But, when waifuists say 'no polygamy', they are always grouping polyamory into it. Which is to say: if you are polyamorous, you are not allowed in the vast majority of waifuist spaces.
This is usually justified on the basis of the relationships being treated as real ones, and their 2D partners being treated as equal to 3D ones. Nevermind the people with multiple fictional partners who would be or are polyamorous with 3D partners as well. But, when that logic starts to be applied to them... Well, it's a very sudden heel-turn, let me tell you. Point out that their waifu is a Nazi? Rapist? Abuser? Actual, literal child? All of a sudden it's a whole lot of, "But they're fictional," and a whole lot less of, "You have to view your 2D partner just like you would a 3D one."
And, yeah, the waifuism community is fucking full of kiddie-diddlers. Scrolling through any waifuist community, you'll see that immediately, and it's one of the reasons why the community has such an awful reputation. (It's also full of misogynists, too; women who try to enter the waifuism community are usually met with open hostility, skepticism, or even doxxing.)
But, basically, the community is way too open with who can be considered a 'waifu', is what I'm saying, right? Well, I can't even say that. Because if you have an unconventional 2D partner (e.g., anyone other than a conventionally attractive anime girl), you will be banned from most waifuist spaces, as well. I know multiple people personally that this has happened to, and even more strangers who I've seen post about it. And the waifuist communities that do this will never tell you this upfront, either, but it's true! As you can imagine, this is a big issue for me, as someone who is in love with a literal LEGO monkey. This even happens in communities where they have FAQs which include them stating things like 'as long as a waifu is fictional, there are no limitations to who can be one'. (Looking at you, r/waifuism.)
Again on the really weird restrictions that the community has, there's a ton of super weird and super strict rules. We've already touched on the polyphobia, of course, but there's also the way that you're not allowed to be 'too in love' with your 2D partner. But you also can't be 'not in love enough', either. You're not allowed to be dating or in love with a 3D person while also claiming a 2D partner, and to do so is treated as cheating or a betrayal. 'Hugblanketing' is a term coined by the waifu community to derogatorily refer to someone who they think is only 'casually' into waifuism (which is frowned upon), or who they think is only using waifuism as a coping mechanism (also frowned upon). A person can fall out of love with their 2D partner, and begin dating a new one, but if a person is deemed to be 'switching excessively' (whatever that super-subjective term means for the people in charge of the community in question), then they can be banned from communities. All of these rules and the bullying and ostracization that oftentimes comes from breaking these rules can make this community super intimidating and scary for those looking to enter it, and this is the reason why I was hesitant to dip my toes in for a long, long time, and only began looking into it in recent months.
Basically, all of this to say: the majority of the waifuist community is made up of pedophilic, polyphobic, misogynistic elitist Reddit users who bully out anyone who doesn't fit all of their super-strict, oftentimes unspoken, rules. And I fuckin' hate it, and I fuckin' hate them!
Obviously, not all waifuists, or those in related communities, are like this. All of my friends who are waifuists aren't (and if they were, we wouldn't be friends). I'm a waifuist, and I'm not (thank fucking God). But these problems within the wider waifuist community are prevalent and universal enough that I've become disillusioned with the idea of interacting with the wider community in any capacity. I'll stick to my small group of fellow unconventional 2D significant other-having friends who aren't elitist freaks, thank you very much.
Related reccommended reading: fictosexual.neocities.org