If you’ve never heard of it, you probably aren’t alone. But Limerence is something you probably experienced whether you knew it or not. It’s also something you can use as a lesson, so you don’t end up on the same Limerence path next time around.
What is Limerence? Limerence wraps itself up in excitement, joy, happiness, and closeness that you feel when you’re with another person. Everyone has seen it happen in the movies or read about it in books, and almost everyone would like the chance to experience it themselves. Unfortunately, Limerence is not love; however, it does a great job of imitating many of the emotions you feel when you are in love.
But there are key differences, and it knows about these differences that will help you avoid confusing Limerence with love. Read the in-depth guide below and learn all about Limerance. Find out why there’s no such thing as a perfect relationship or a fantasy come true love match. Limerence takes the guise of many different forms, with all of them pretending to be something they aren’t.
What is Limerence?
Limerence came into its own when Dr. Dorothy Tennov used it in 1977. Basically, Dr. Tennov may have inadvertently found out how Henry VIII really felt about Anne Boelyn. During Dr. Tennov’s study of love, she reread many of Henry VIII’s poems to Anne Boelyn, although his love read more like what Shakespeare called ‘limerent’ feelings than real love.
Dr. Tennov was one of 100 scientists that were trying to deep dive into the flesh, blood, and testable qualities of love and sexual attraction vs. a perceived romantic love that was given the name Limerence. Dr. Tennov realized with some ironic humor that when eyes lock or hands touch and your heart feels a flutter, it may have more to do with Limerence than love.
Limerance is more representative of the love that you see on TV, read about in books or see in movies than it ever is anything resembling love in real life. That’s because on TV or in movies, love is magical and fits the realm of fantasy fiction much more than it fits into non-fiction or true-to-life experiences. The definition of Limerence is a mental state that people think of as true love or being in love.
Signs of Limerence
There seem to be ever-growing signs of Limerence, and most of them can grow into other signs making it a complex and challenging condition to experience or understand. Some of the signs that most psychologists agree upon include but aren’t limited to:
- You hypervigilant about their whereabouts or when and how they will be with you
- You suffer from physical symptoms and ailments when not with them from anxiety to stomach aches, nausea, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and more
- You manipulate an activity or event where you’ll accidentally run into them, or your fantasize about one even if you don’t act on it
- You refuse to see or admit to them having any flaws and romantically idealize them
- You feel electrified or a powerful connection to them you feel you have no control over
- You get jealous if they are five minutes late or irrationally upset about something they did even if you’re not in a relationship with them
- You become very depressed and feel hopeless if they ignore or reject you even if you’re not in a relationship with them
- You obsess over every word they said or look they gave you when you’re with them
Ultimately you feel like life isn’t worth living if you can be with them or have them in your life. You think life will become unbearable for you and the pain too intense to endure if you don’t get their attention or their approval.
There is a real, underlying reason why Limerence causes us to feel an intense rush of emotions, including physical desire, when we see the object of our affection. It’s a scientific phenomenon that impacts our brains by releasing chemical dopamine by the neurons in your brain. We often become almost obsessed with our romantic partner, and we get reward-motivated signals from our brain that dictate our behavior when we’re with them.
Yet Limerence isn’t agape love or the spiritual and deep love of two people who marry and weather the storms of life together through thick and thin. Limerence defines the state of being madly in love for a reason, and that reason is that’s it’s an intense, yet short-lived passion that can contribute to obsessive behavior. Dr. Helen Fisher took up the scientific studies where Dr. Tennov left them and found that a Limerence attachment in a relationship will increase in intensity and feeling the more roadblocks or barriers there are to overcome to win or have the other person in the relationship they seek.
It’s often why the feelings of Limerence emote everything from joy to sorrow, depending on the person’s last interaction with the person they are experiencing such emotional swings back and forth. Often those experiencing Limerence will have pain in their stomachs or intense headaches when feeling these intense emotions, which also impacts their chemically impacted brain’s release of dopamine.
Limerence Case Studies
There are countless Limerence case studies that have been documented and researched since 1977 when it picked up its pithy name. All of the ways, actions, reactions, and experiences can be drilled down by asking some very relevant questions. These questions include but aren’t limited to;
- Was the person I thought I loved unavailable, out of my reach, or even narcissistic?
- Did we have an intense physical attraction with a lot of sexual energy and desire?
- Did the relationship have healthy boundaries?
- Did I become obsessed and suffer from mood swings about getting them back after we broke up?
- Do I still want them to regret losing me?
- I want them to know I’m the one who got away and think about ways to make sure they understand that.
- Why do I feel abandoned, lost, jealous, or enraged that the relationship is over?
You can never ask yourself enough questions at the end of a relationship, but when the relationship was one of Limerence, there are case studies that can help you determine if what you felt was love or something else.
Case Study #1
On any subreddit message board, you’ll find messages from the brokenhearted from time to time. Some will bare their innermost feelings, and a case in point is a subreddit post that states, “I think about her 100 times a day. I think about her going to sleep and when I wake up. I think about her still even though it’s been fourteen years that I’ve been obsessing over her like this.”
This intense emotional back and forth after many years of being apart is much more likely to be Limerence then love. In fact, Dr. Albert Wakin, a professor at Sacred Heart University, a professor who has spent many professional career years studying Limerence and the lovelorn states the following.
“It’s time to add Limerence or obsessive love to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) because it’s so easy for Limerence to veer out of control and move into a dark pathology. Psychology and neuroscience research are just now working on the idea, research, and studies together, so it may still be a while before this happens.”
Case Study #2
Debbie was in a long-term on and off-again relationship with Troy. Troy would break it off with Debbie every few months and continually cheated on Debbie even when they were together. Yet Debbie took back Troy every time he came back.
Debbie also obsessed about Troy when they were broken up and did everything she could to get him back, even knowing he would probably cheat on her and leave her again. Like a drug addict, Debbie couldn’t think straight or understand why she felt the way she did, but she knew it would be almost impossible for her to let go of the intensity and euphoria when she and Troy were together. Love addiction led Debbie to stalk Troy when they weren’t together and threatening any other woman Troy was dating.
Finally, after twelve years of being on and off-again relationship with Troy, Debbie sought help and found that Limerence may be the reason she was experiencing such highs and lows. Debbie found there was a healthy way forward if she stayed in treatment until she figured out why and how she fell into this unhealthy relationship pattern with Troy.
The Limerence State of Mind
The Limerence state of mind is still a mystery if you’re trying to drill down to every detail and component that makes up Limerence. But the people who seem to suffer the most from Limerence are those who not only have an obsessive-compulsive reaction to the object of their affection, but they also feel addicted to them. It takes more than feeling obsessive-compulsive about someone or feeling addicted to them.
It’s thought that you must have the combination to affect the brain-imaging studies that are now showing up on MRI scans and more that are being done by more and more psychologists in conjunction with neuroscience researchers. Obsessive love doesn’t discriminate either. You will have these elaborate fantasies that aren’t based on real-life or even of this world sometimes.
That’s why people with no previous history of any psychological illness can find the Limerence experience terrifying and difficult to navigate. Even when in treatment, some people trying to get over a Limerence experience or state of mind would be having wild mood swings, and constant thoughts about the Limerent object of their affection.
It stands to reason if you can be obsessed about the Limerent object, there has to be someone who is trying to determine what the cure is so you can find your way back to emotional health. Love addiction, when in a Limerence relationship, feels long-term, and they are full of physical and sexual attraction. You feel romantic attachment, and everything you do together feels more intense and powerful.
That’s why one of the best and most potent cures for the Limerence state of mind is self-awareness. Finding out who you are and being totally honest about what you want and what you’re doing is a significant first step in fighting back against Limerance behaviors. You cannot find peace in stepping away from the Limerence relationship if you can’t find your own peaceful and serene center.
Every action we take or emotion we feel comes from a place within us, and we must come to learn where and how that comes about through our psychological makeup. The only thing that helps us move forward when we go through negative or painful experiences is finding the lesson learned and using it, so we don’t go through it again. That’s why recognizing the signs of when you’re about to self-destruct, or self-sabotage can help you prevent the final behavior from happening.
Moving Forward Into a Long-Term and Emotionally Recipricol Relationship
When the time comes when you’re ready to take a positive step towards a future that provides peace of mind and a calm sense of self, there’s a place you can go to help you find the steps forward you need to take. Reach out to How to Get Over Someone You Love and you will find articles, books, courses, and hope. Everyone feels pain from time to time, but feeling pain and not being able to find a way to escape it can overwhelm you.
In the end, the only person you have control over is yourself. Finding a peaceful way forward means you have to learn to let go of the past that’s holding you back. You are worth so much more than what you’re settling for, so reach out today so you can take the first step into your future where you refuse to settle for less.
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