Paranoia is an irrational feeling that people are out to get you (in a bad way). But what's a term or phrase for a situation where it irrationally feels like people are giving you positive attention or are harboring positive thoughts or intentions for you?

I'm looking for something for the following situation:

Maybe I'm being paranoid, but since I cut my toenails, I feel like every girl in here is checking me out.

I'm leaning towards "delusional", but that also has a slight negative tinge to it, so I'm seeking other options. I especially like options that come from literary/cultural allusions if I come across one, like:

Maybe I'm having a <insert some character who has experienced a similar situation> moment, but since I got that bikini wax, I feel like every girl in here is checking me out.

Or maybe some idiom or foreign expression that I can add to my linguistic repertoire:

Maybe I'm experiencing a little <insert some French expression>, but since I deodorized this morning, I feel like every girl in here is checking me out.

  • Oversensitive,Hypervigilant? Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 17:03
  • Stranger, I think oversensitive is the correct answer. If you put it up as an answer, I would vote it up. Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 23:03

3 Answers 3


How does "fooling myself" sound to you?

  • I'll accept this since I can actually imagine using in the context of the examples provided. Thanks!
    – trejajo
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 23:24

There is a term just for this situation: Imaginary audience.

The imaginary audience refers to an egocentric state where an individual imagines and believes that multitudes of people are enthusiastically listening to or watching him or her. Though this state is often exhibited in young adolescence, people of any age may harbor a fantasy of an imaginary audience.


It is not as serious as paranoia but in extreme cases, belief in an imaginary audience can lead to paranoia. In this case, the person starts feeling that he is being watched by people all the time.

  • The moment I read this, it hit me that I could have also said, "Maybe I'm just imagining things, but...". I do like this answer though for introducing me to the concept of imaginary audience (and personal fable), though it's not immediately obviously how I can use that term dexterously in a casual conversation.
    – trejajo
    Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 16:31
  • @trejajo: Yes, it might not be as common as paranoia but it is the less negative version of it. Maybe you can consider "delusional" in a casual conversation.
    – ermanen
    Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 16:38

Depending on your degree of paranoia, you have a choice of four words, in the order of increasing paranoia.

  1. wary
  2. cautious
  3. apprehensive
  4. suspicious


  • war·y

    adj. war·i·er, war·i·est
    1. On guard; watchful: taught to be wary of strangers.
    2. Characterized by caution: a wary glance at the black clouds. [Middle English ware, from Old English wær; see wer-3 in Indo-European roots.]

    wari·ly adv.
    wari·ness n.

  • cau·tious

    1. Showing or practicing caution; careful.
    2. Tentative or restrained; guarded: felt a cautious optimism that the offer would be accepted.

    cautious·ly adv.
    cautious·ness n.

  • ap·pre·hen·sive

    1. Anxious or fearful about the future; uneasy. See Synonyms at afraid.
    2. Capable of understanding and quick to apprehend.

    appre·hensive·ly adv.
    appre·hensive·ness n.

  • sus·pi·cious

    1. Arousing or apt to arouse suspicion; questionable: suspicious behavior.
    2. Tending to suspect; distrustful: a suspicious nature.
    3. Expressing suspicion: a suspicious look.

    sus·picious·ly adv.
    sus·picious·ness n.

    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved

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