For some incels, getting a girlfriend is easy. All it requires is their imagination. Based on a Tibetan concept adopted by 20th century mystics, creating a “tulpa,” or a being created from one’s own mind, has become an alternative to IRL partners for a subset of men on the internet.
Tulpamancy, or the process of creating a tulpa, isn’t exclusive to inceldom. Again, broadly speaking, tulpas are defined as beings who originate from our imagination but who eventually take on a sentient form after hours of thinking about them and attempting to communicate with them. The difference between a tulpa and the classically defined imaginary friend is that tulpas are believed to have their own thoughts and actions independent of their creators. As the r/Tulpa description succinctly explains, “Ever wondered what it would be like to have a mental companion who can think and act on their own? That’s what a tulpa is.”
From a psychological perspective, the process of originating and interacting with a tulpa could potentially be a means of meditation or self-exploration. Either way, the concept is obviously rather metaphysical in nature, pushing the boundaries of what we understand about consciousness and spirituality. As with everything, though, someone’s gotta go and make the whole thing horny:
According to r/Tulpa, which discusses tulpas in a general sense, having sex with a tulpa is a tricky subject. Three years ago, a since-deleted user asked the subreddit for their thoughts on the subject. “Having sex with a tulpa is okay, so long as both people are consenting and okay with it — and that the tulpa is old enough,” u/EmeralFrost responded. To their way of thinking, “young” tulpa are highly suggestible, and it’s best to wait until you’ve known your tulpa for an extended period of time before becoming physical with them. No matter what, though, EmeralFrost argued that a tulpa should never be created exclusively for sex. “There’s no way to justify it, at all. Tups are people too,” they wrote, before adding, “Personally, I join in when he’s masturbating. It’s pleasure, it feels good and I may as well join him and have some fun, too. I almost feel like it’s a wasted opportunity if I don’t.”
Still, despite EmeralFrost’s words of wisdom, plenty of guys on forums like Incels.is continue to create tulpas for sexual or romantic purposes as a form of coping, whether they authentically believe in the tulpa or not. Often, they select anime, My Little Pony or other animated figures to serve as the visual representation of their tulpa.
Some take it even further, summoning a succubus for a girlfriend instead. “Sex with spirits can be better than with a foid,” one user recently remarked on Incels.is. “You have to put in the work to get there, not to mention that practicing the occult has other benefits like TRUELY [sic] understanding god instead of what these bitchass churches want you to believe about god.” A guide to summoning a succubus shared on the forum explains that when performing the ritual for summoning, “you will feel a strong sensation near your prostate (men only), and it will be like a 0-100 orgasm, only that it will not stop. It’s actually rare that you ejaculate during this experience, but it can happen.”
Notably, many incels don’t believe that their fellow incels with tulpas are all that serious about it. “tbh i always thought tulpa posters were just larping. why dont you maxx lucid dreaming instead? way less dangerous than self-induced schizophrenia,” wrote one user on an Incel.net forum thread on the topic.
Whatever the case may be, it seems like a relatively harmless means of finding companionship (save for any self-induced schizophrenia), albeit probably not the most effective one. If you really do believe in the power of the tulpa, though, there’s another pretty substantial risk to consider: In the past, some practitioners have found that their tulpas have become too powerful, eventually growing sinister (a distant cousin of sorts, I guess, to the succubus). Ultimately then, they have to be destroyed.
Or to put it another way, having sex with an imaginary girlfriend might seem fun now, but it may not be worth it when it comes time to kill her.