Do they like me too?

In an earlier post, I described the second stage of limerence as “the response”. So, assuming you have felt the glimmer, the next thing your limerent brain tries to determine is the possibility of reciprocation. You become hyper-aware of the body language and emotional state of the potential LO. Each interaction is analysed for meaning. Signs of hoped-for reciprocation accelerate the drive to limerence; overt disinterest or hostility can slam on the brakes.

This “nucleation” may be the aspect of limerence in which there is most variation between individuals. At one extreme end we have delusion, where even completely neutral or even negative response can be distorted into confirmation of reciprocation at some level. For the truly pathological, think “Enduring Love” by Ian McEwan which describes de Clerambault’s syndrome. Now clearly most limerents aren’t anywhere near that delusional, but limerence makes optimists of us all. Small signs of reciprocation are used as hope anchors. Signs of disinterest or distaste can be minimised as blunders or tactical errors that can be repaired in the future by better strategy.

This is probably the most delicate stage of nucleation, and a tipping point. How much encouragement (real or imagined) an individual needs to progress to run-away limerence seems highly variable.

First, we all know people (or have been people) who become limerent for fantasy figures – celebrities being the obvious example, where reciprocation is obviously wildly implausible. I’m actually going to classify this a proto-limerence, as while it has many of the same features, the fact that it is entirely in the limerent’s head makes it categorically different from limerence where reciprocation is at least a possibility.

Next on the scale would be limerence for LOs who the limerent only briefly interacts with in daily life, but has nevertheless become fixated upon. Receptionists, co-commuters, shop staff, joggers, that sort of thing. Interaction occurs. Maybe mutual smiles of recognition. Maybe a few exchanged pleasantries or brief conversations. For some people, this can be enough to trigger progression to infatuation.

Finally, there are LOs that the limerent interacts with regularly. Here there is the opportunity to actually get to know someone at a more than superficial level, and so perhaps make more objective judgments about whether reciprocation is likely. At the far end of this category would be the people who become limerent for friends they have known for some time, but were not initially limerent for. Often, this change can be triggered by seeing the friend in a new context, or even sensing that the friend is interested in them. In other words, the reciprocation is the initiating event, even if the glimmer had not be present before (which rather spoils the nice, neat list format of my argument, but never mind).

So what determines where on this continuum an individual limerent lies? Probably a mix of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Some people seem especially prone to nucleation. The amplification of glimmer to obsession takes very little feedback from the LO. Others are more cautious. In addition to these inherent temperaments, circumstances can affect sensitivity. Is the limerent currently in a relationship or actively seeking a partner? Age is another big issue. How many times has the limerent experienced these episodes before? Stress, emotional upset, bereavement; many extrinsic events in life can alter the threshold of one’s sensitivity to limerence.

Are there ways to decrease one’s sensitivity to nucleation? As always, self awareness is the best approach. What is going on in your life at the moment that may be causing you to seek limerent “reward”? Ask yourself, bluntly and honestly: how much feedback are you actually getting from LO? Unless you are spending a lot of time with LO and beginning to bond, you are actually falling in love with the version of LO in your head. It might help to realise that this is quite insulting to the LO.

A good strategy to edge back from the tipping point is to recognise the path that leads to the brink. Given that the limerent is falling for an LO that only really exists in their own head, that is where the path begins. After the glimmer, and a hint of reciprocation, the rumination begins. Endless re-imaginings of interactions. Rehearsal of new conversations; of clever things you will say or do to impress the LO next time you see them.

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Maybe next time I buy a ticket from her, I’ll try a big *wink*

 

Imagining what they would say in response. Reorganising your life and habits to try and increase exposure. Most of all, devoting a lot of your mental energy to fantasising as vividly as possible about the LO. You are single-handedly making them a major part of your life and inflating the significance of this person by endless reverie. That’s what pushes you over the tipping point and down the slippery slope.

Usually, therefore, it is within the limerent’s power to stop that slide by recognising the limerence-promoting behaviour they are engaging in. That said, there is a special kind of hell reserved for those limerents who nucleate on a manipulative son-of-a-bitch LO who craves the attention, and broadcasts reciprocating signals like a mobile phone mast. More on them in a later post.

The Glimmer givers

What makes someone a potential limerent object? What special something tickles the arousal circuitry in just the right way to trigger escalating limerence?

It may be a fool’s errand to try and untangle this particular knot, but it’s fun to try.

There are some correlations between limerents and  LOs that seem too common to be coincidence. The first is sexual attraction, but this is just kicking the can down the road a bit, because it just raises the question of what causes that. The second is gender. Tennov reported complete consistency in her sample population in having a single gender focus for limerence – either heterolimerence or homolimerence – and a certain amount of frustration in individuals in their inability to become limerent for the other gender (which for social or personal reasons they felt they should prefer). I have a lasting memory of an interview with George Michael where he was talking about sexuality, and commented something along the lines of “It’s not who you can get it up for, it’s who you fall in love with.” Tennov failed to find any bisexual subjects who were limerent and therefore was unable to assess the possibility of bi-limerence, but that may have been an issue of sample size or societal mores (her research in the 1960s would presumably  have been in an environment where honest expression of such matters would have been more inhibited). The third correlation is to socioeconomic class. This one is more mutable, but there does seem a majority of limerence-matches within a social stratum than between them.

The limerents in Tennov sample were also able to clearly articulate surprisingly specific – but objectively trivial – features of the LO that first attracted them:

“I liked Betty’s hair. It was long and very dark brown with waves, the kind of hair that moved when she turned her head.”

 

“The first thing that attracted me… was his height. Barry was exactly the same height I was, and I loved it.”

 

And, with a nice touch of self-awareness:

“I fell in love with Bernard because I thought he might love me in return. I must also admit that his money and success and all the power that seemed to go with them probably also played a role.”

 

The commonest and most potent trigger was the LO’s eyes.

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Can’t think why

 

So how can sense be made of all these subtle cues that tip some people into the LO category, whereas others (perhaps with equally charming eyes) don’t measure up? Although this is all a bit speculative, I think there are some key unifying ideas.

1) Gender archetypes

Childhood is formative in unexpected ways. My personal experience is that many of the women that I feel a glimmer towards fit into broad categories defined by the adult women who were present in my life as a child. Friends of the family, occasionally-seen aunts, teachers, librarians, etc. became laid down in my memory as (pre-sexual) archetypes of womanhood. I’m beginning to notice clusters of traits that I now realise are evocative of a certain notion of womanliness, which can be anchored to an important role model from my youth. This is in a non-literal sense. I don’t actually seek out versions of my aunts. I’m not weird. I am normal.

2) Genetics

Smell is a big thing. A potent intoxicant. Lots of studies have borne this out – that the scent of certain individuals is especially pleasing to other certain individuals. Theories abound as to why, and the leading one at the moment seems to be that the immunological markers that can be detected in scent are an indication of fitness in a mate; different markers imply different immunological backgrounds that would complement nicely and result in vigorous babies. There’s a touch of the evolutionary just-so story about this idea (just how good are the olfactory receptors at encoding immunological antigens, really?), but there is no doubting how glorious my wife’s sweat smells.

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Reminder: I am normal

 

Similar arguments are often made about visual complementation, although curiously the claims here can be contradictory. Sometimes the idea is that we seek counter-traits (if you have a big nose you seek a button-nosed partner to balance out your children), sometimes that we seek those that look like ourselves or our parents. I’m not sure how important this is for limerence, beyond the need for sexual attraction; especially as limerence has the extraordinary ability to transfigure your (let’s be honest, probably pretty average looking – you know, fine, but not Stunning) LO into the epitome of true beauty. God, her button nose is so gorgeous. Especially when she smiles and it wrinkles up on the edges. *Sigh*

3) Bonding archetypes

Spend any time on relationship help forums and you will come across the term “FOO”, meaning “family of origin”. It always makes me think of Larkin’s acid poem (“They fuck you up, your mum and dad…”). The idea here is familiarity; what feels right in terms of behavioural dynamics. Do you like mutual mocking, or does it make you feel insecure? Do you compete with your partner, or do you need constant affirmation and support? Does it feel satisfying to prioritise your partner’s needs? Does sacrifice feel like an expression of love? Most of these sorts of preferences will have developed during your immersion in similar dynamics during childhood. An especially powerful scenario is one in which childhood attachment was not secure. As an adult, these individuals (and how many of us had perfectly secure attachments?) can subconsciously seek to repeat the patterns of an unhealthy bonding experience and “get it right this time”. It doesn’t end well, usually.

There is a whole body of literature on attachment styles (are you anxious, avoidant, or secure? Take an online test today!), which is probably a bit much for now, but the basic idea is that you are particularly drawn to a style you recognise from childhood. And that triggers a subconscious need to recast disordered bonding with a similar individual in your past, and make your emotional world right at last. As they say on Limerence.net, limerent and LO have “complementary pathologies”. There is nothing so alluring as a damaged soul you’re sure you can fix.

As with all aspects of limerence – in fact pretty much all aspects of life – self-knowledge is your best hope of making sense of this rag bag of subconscious drives. Spot the glimmer, and spot the triggers for glimmer in yourself, and the next time you meet limerence, you can laugh in her beautiful button-nosed face.

The Glimmer

In the last post, I argued that there is an initiating “glimmer”: a frisson of excitement, that acts as an indicator that a particular person you have just encountered has the potential to become an LO. It seems that there is some sort of blueprint deeply integrated into each limerent’s psyche that the subconscious mind is able to rapidly access, and (if it spots a match) activate the limerent circuitry.

[quick side note: I’m going to be occasionally using unscientific terms like “psyche” and “subconscious” in the vernacular sense that most people understand them, to help illuminate ideas. I am not actually a mind-body dualist – these felt experiences emerge from underlying neuroscience]

An ultrafast connection is made that links all the various pieces of sensory input (physical appearance, body language, scent, tone of voice, laugh etc.) and triggers an response: arousal. I don’t mean here sexual arousal (although that is often present), but physiological arousal – similar to the fight-or-flight adrenaline response. This causes heightened awareness and symptoms of sympathetic nervous system activation (increased heart beat rate, pupil dilation, sweating etc.). In my experience, the nature of this limerent glimmer is distinct from simple attraction. When meeting someone especially beautiful or athletic or famous, for example, one also often feels nervous, tongue-tied and “over-aroused” in their presence. This is different. The glimmer feels more personal, more significant, and more charged with emotional power – as though the atmosphere has suddenly electrified.

How the limerent responds to this spark of recognition is likely to be the major determinant as to whether they progress to limerence. This is the moment to nip things in the bud if you do not want to succumb. An active decision to avoid the company of the potential LO is a wise move. An immediate decision to consider this person a potential danger rather than a potential friend is a useful mental device. This probably sounds a little dreary. Friends are good, but not friends who are going to turn your life upside down the more time you spend in their company. It’s a cost-benefit calculation.

The reason most limerents don’t follow this very sensible advice, of course, is that limerence is a bastard. Just as the subconscious is fast at spotting a limerence match, it is also fast at justifying why it’s a good idea to get to know this interesting person, and learn more about them and their insightful ideas. It’s the same arousal circuitry again, enhancing the salience of the person (making them seem to be the most important stimulus in the environment), triggering nice reward feedback that gives you warm fuzzies when interacting positively with them, and generally making you feel more alive and more motivated to seek that sensation again in the future.

Fortunately, as a species, we have an impressively swollen cerebral cortex, meaning our executive centres can override our lizard brains. The trick is to get the executive to implement good pattern recognition and initiate avoidance behaviour. More commonly the lizard brain persuades the executive to use its impressive powers of rationalisation to construct a pleasing narrative to justify giving the limerence everything it wants.

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Which is this, basically

If you decide to indulge that pleasant reinforcement, you risk escalation of the glimmer to full-blown limerence. Finding the balance is the art. Like any potential addict, you are best placed to determine how much is too much. Many alcoholics swear off booze for good. Not a single drink. Only safe way. Many “social drinkers” convince themselves that everything is fine, and a bottle of wine or two a night is normal. Self-awareness is the heart of this. If experience has taught you that indulging limerence leads to massive emotional turmoil, you should probably try practicing a period of going teetotal and treating the glimmer like nectar-flavoured poison. If you can surf the frisson-wave for the thrill of the ride, then give it a go (and hope you don’t wipeout).

For me: I’ve settled on a strategy of passive exposure. I do not seek the company of potential LOs (and am vigilant about self-serving justifications), but if circumstances lead to an encounter, I try and enjoy it responsibly. Otherwise I might become a humourless misery-guts.

 

How does limerence begin?

It’s clear that many people are prone to experiencing limerence. Those same people often assume that all people experience it, and it seems, on the face of it, a sensible conclusion: popular culture is saturated with representations of limerence and its effects. But the actual cause of limerence is less clear, and rarely examined. Misty eyed romantics, of course, would say it’s ineffable. Love, man; it’s a mystery.

But it’s not. Not entirely.

Tennov covers many of the commonalities between limerent’s experiences, and focuses repeatedly on the issue of how limerence is initiated, deepened and sustained, and there seems to be a regular pattern. Many other anecdotal reports substantiate this, and it’s worth investigating, so you can prepare yourself for the next time it happens. I would say there are three major stages:

1) The glimmer

Most limerents are able to become limerent for more than one LO in their life, but clearly not for everyone they meet who is a potential sexual partner. There is something about particular individuals that chimes with a given person, and often it is recognised at a subconscious level very soon after meeting a potential LO. Personally, I’m now getting better at spotting the glimmer: the immediate sense that something about this person is potent. Their appearance, their mannerisms, their scent, their laugh – some trait accesses the networks of connections in the brain that triggers limerent interest. How those connections are established and what they link to is a fascinating topic for another post, but the key issue is that some (largely subconscious) selection criteria are met and the person is filed as a potential LO. I suspect that this glimmer is the same elusive “spark” that people complain is missing from a disappointing date, but without the ability to actually articulate what it was that was missing.

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So pretty

At this point, things can go either way as to whether or not the limerence progresses.

2) The response

If the potential LO is not interested, radiates their lack of interest, or on better acquaintance turns out to be highly unsuitable in some way, the potential is never realised and the glimmer dims and dies. Interest dwindles back to baseline. If, in contrast, the limerent senses reciprocation, then… matters progress. If the LO shows overt signs of attraction (flirtation, indicators of arousal, more than average interest in the company and opinions of the limerent), then an amplification occurs. Few things increase someone’s attractiveness more than the realisation that they might fancy you too. Now, the potential LO is a nascent LO. The limerent will desire their company more often. Discomfort and nerves start to creep into interactions with them, and awareness of one’s own appearance and potential appeal becomes heightened.

At this point, things still aren’t settled. If the LO is available and interested, and both parties make clear their attraction, then a love affair can begin. This may be ecstatic, but the full heights (depths?) of limerence may not be reached. Similarly, if changed circumstances or trivial obstacles intervene (LO moves, or is less available for company, or is overkeen), interest can wane, and limerence end. To really hit the heights, limerence seems to need…

3) Uncertainty 

They want me. I know they want me. Don’t they? But they have an SO, I know they do. Why are they acting like this? I’m imagining it. In fact, didn’t they say that loads of people flirt with them, and there must be something about them that attracts the wrong sort of attention? God, how embarrassing. They were probably warning me off. By talking about flirting and how attractive they are? I’d better go over that last interaction again in obsessive detail until I’ve really settled this. In fact… oh, God, if I’d only said that then they would have probably said this and then I’d know.

The final stage for a full blown limerence reaction seems to be uncertainty. If for some reason there are obstacles to the free expression of mutual feeling, it acts as fuel. Either consummation or direct rejection can lead to the downregulation of limerent feelings, but uncertainty seems to inflame them. Again, why this should be the case is a fascinating topic, but it’s probably a volatile combination of: unattainable things being more desirable, unpredictable rewards being more salient than predictable rewards, and the confusion of mixed signals leading to over-analysis and the slippery slope into rumination.

So, those are the 3 essential ingredients for a classic, full-blown, please-make-this-torture-stop-Oh-no-hang-on-I-think-I-kind-of-need-it, limerent episode. Next, let’s pick them apart one at a time.

My story

This is the biographical post. Feel free to skip, if looking for more universal themes.

I suppose my first experience of limerence was a crushing crush on a girl at school (we were both 16/17 at the time). She was short, and pretty, with long brown hair, and no interest in me. I gazed at her in Biology lessons. And thought about her relentlessly. I eventually plucked up the courage to tell her, and suffered the crushing pain of rejection (somewhat leavened by the deep-down awareness that it was bloody obvious she didn’t feel the same). There was some relief from the telling and the certainty of disclosure, and looking back, I think it would be more accurate to describe it as proto-limerence (I certainly got over it quickly enough when I left school).

My second experience of limerence was the real thing. I was at university, and had a few simmering attractions, but nothing too noteworthy until I met LO1. She was completely inappropriate for the earnest young man that I was. Loud (gobby even), eight years older, smart-alec, a smoker and frequent user of illicit substances, tatooed and pierced (when that wasn’t a commonplace), engaged to someone else, and underneath the brash and confident exterior, deeply vulnerable and emotionally wounded. I liked her immediately. Many of my friends did not. Most importantly, in retrospect, there was obvious mutual sexual attraction (even obvious to a naif like me – LO1 wasn’t subtle). We spent a lot of time together, got drunk together, and I got more and more addicted. It was an optimal mix for limerence. She was engaged (adversity!), but her fiancé was often away for long periods (hope!). She was obviously interested (reciprocation!), but would back off from guilt or shame (uncertainty!). I meanwhile, pined and obsessed and desperately tried and failed to stop the intrusive thoughts and, you know, do some studying. In the end, I got so frustrated that I started dating someone else. Someone perfect for me. Someone single (good start), pretty, quirky and funny, who helped out at homeless shelters and animal sanctuaries (I’m not exaggerating), and who didn’t stand a chance in hell of securing my affections while LO1 existing in the world. After a few guilt-ridden months I called it off. Lesson learned: you don’t get to choose who you are infatuated with. I still have LO1’s phone number in my wallet.

My third experience of limerence was in my early twenties, when I met my wife. This one is your basic fairytale. Saw her across a crowded room. Knew immediately that this was someone almost certainly wholly inappropriate, and therefore irresistible. Bumped into her in said crowded room and hit it off. Caught the same train together after the party so we could keep talking. Arranged to meet again. And again. Reciprocation, bliss, marriage, kids, lasting affectional bonding.

My fourth experience of limerence was… unexpected after 15 years of happy marriage. It was also the stimulus for me discovering limerence as a concept, and starting this blog. LO3 worked for me (big red flag number one). Was engaged to someone else (big red flag number two). Was a skillful and inveterate flirt (eh, it’s all red flags from here on in), and we spent a lot of time together, talking. Knowing what I know now, all the elements are there: a sense of mutual attraction, uncertainty, adversity, and opportunity for intense interaction and bonding. It felt great. After a long period of contentedness, the thrill of novelty and the mania of limerence. Except now, for the first time in my life, limerence was a net negative force. I felt high a lot of the time, but then went home to my family and could not turn off thoughts about LO3. You can kid yourself for a while that you can handle it, and take the good without having to deal with the bad, but eventually you have to confront the fact that you are telling yourself a convenient lie. Spending “quality” time with my children whilst distracted continuously by thoughts of LO3 was the deciding factor. Some lies are too big to ignore.

So, simple enough: the escalating limerence has to stop. Usefully, I was getting the vibe from LO3 that she wanted it to stop too. So, I’ll just turn it off then: *turns switch*… *turns switch again*… *turns switch increasingly frantically*… Oh shit.

Then followed a period of introspection, study into male mid-life crises (I’m such a cliche), the discovery of limerence and the road to Damascus moment. I’m making it sound linear, but it wasn’t. In the midst of the angst, I disclosed to my wife what was happening. She wasn’t very happy, but she also knows me so well that she had had an inkling. There followed some frank and… emotionally charged conversations about the state of our marriage. Once I’d learned about limerence I described it to her. And then came the kicker: she was a serial limerent herself. It turns out that I’m a lightweight. All through our marriage, she has wrestled with the same issues. Hooray! Crap!

So, we are now emerging from a rather tumultuous period. Our marriage has lost some of the innocence of ignorance, but we are both wiser and better equipped to face the challenge of limerence in the future. No more fairytales, but then that’s not a sensible way to live, after all.

LO3 no longer works for me, but I still see her occasionally. We keep the topics of conversation light, and the limerence has faded. She’s still one of my favourite people to spend time with, but I know that friendship is impossible, and I’m OK with that.

What is limerence?

Limerence is not a widely known concept. In a not-entirely-scientific poll (I asked some people I know), 0.0% of my peer group had heard of the term. So, it’s good to give a clear definition.

Limerence was coined as a term and concept by Dorothy Tennov in her 1979 book “Love and Limerence”, and emerged from her study of romantic love.

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Wisdom within. Plus an endorsement by Simone de Beauvoir ffs!

It mostly took the form of interviews and questionnaires, in which Tennov noted a number of consistent traits among many individuals who described their experiences of being in love. She defined limerence as a new term to encompass the features of this common experience. They are (paraphrasing and simplifying slightly):

  • Frequent intrusive thoughts about the limerent object (LO), who is a potential sexual partner.
  • An acute need for reciprocation of equally strong feeling.
  • Exaggerated dependency of mood on LO’s actions: elation when sensing reciprocation, devastation when sensing disinterest.
  • Inability to react limerently to more than one person at a time.
  • Fleeting relief from unrequited feeling through vivid fantasy about reciprocation by the LO.
  • Insecurity or shyness when in the presence of the LO, often manifesting in overt physical discomfort (sweating, stammering, racing heart).
  • Intensification of feelings by adversity.
  • An aching sensation in “the heart” when uncertainty is strong.
  • A general intensity of feeling that leaves other concerns in the background.
  • A remarkable ability to emphasize the positive features of the LO, and minimise, or empathise with, the negative.
  • I would also add to Tennov’s list: a desire for exclusivity.

Interestingly, when describing these traits to the same people that I queried about “limerence” as a term, the responses seemed to split into two general camps:

“That’s just love. You don’t need a special word for that.”

“Don’t be silly. Nobody really feels like that; it’s childish.”

This of course fits with Tennov’s core thesis: that people can be understood as fundamentally different in their experience of love. As limerents and non-limerents. (Either, of course, can be “limerent objects”, which really is an apt coinage. Limerence is projected onto the recipient of desire; they become a screen for the movie that is playing out in the mind of the limerent. They are treated as an object, not a human being seen in their full complexity).

But as with all things worth studying, there is more complexity and subtlety once you start to investigate more deeply. A defining feature of limerence, which probably does separate it from “puppy love” or “a crush”, is the involuntary nature of the experience once it has taken hold. I think this is most readily understood in the case of intrusive thoughts. “Oh I daydream all the time about him” doesn’t really get close to the invasive, relentless and compulsive nature of limerent rumination. You can’t turn it off. You can’t read a book, because every other sentence triggers a thought-bridge back to Them, and that’s it: concentration is impossible. You can’t listen to music, because all songs are about Them. You can’t seem to have a conversation with someone else without finding yourself mentioning Them in relation to… well, anything. They become the central force of gravity in your life. A black hole of attraction.

Urgh, sounds awful; but that’s the other weird feature: it isn’t. Certainly not at first. Mutual limerence experienced by two individuals free to express their feelings is, of course, surpassingly blissful – the “ecstatic union” described by Simone de Beauvoir and inspiration for uncountable numbers of poems and songs. But even in times of uncertainty or adversity, the sensation of limerence can be highly pleasurable in itself. The rush of excitement at the perception of mutual attraction. The thrill of power and hope when you make LO laugh. The intoxicating sense of buoyancy when in the presence of a happy LO.

And intoxication really is the best word I can think of to capture the sensational overload that comes with limerence. Love intoxication. It’s addictive. Like a junkie, limerents indulge themselves whenever they get a chance. “Oh good, a moment alone. I can have a nice fantasy about LO”. “I normally take that route home, but if I take this small diversion in completely the opposite direction I may just happen to bump into LO”. “I better just text LO about this important bit of trivia….. Yes! They’ve responded!” But like any other addiction, after a while the exquisite spike of pleasure can devolve into a habit, and then a craving, and then an impediment to the proper, healthy sources of happiness and fulfillment in life.

So, on the principle that the blissed-out mutual limerents are too distracted to bother with reading a blog like this, I’m going to focus most of my posts on trying to understand limerence as a phenomenon, with the goal of devising means for enjoying it as an addictive stimulant to be indulged in at the appropriate times to the appropriate degree. I do believe that limerence can add vivid colour to life, without compromising the pursuit of meaningful happiness.

The beginning

Thank you for visiting my blog.

It seems fitting to start with introductions, and an explanation of what I’m hoping to achieve with this. My name is… not important. I’m going to keep this pseudonomous, at least for now, and I’m sure that most of the visitors here will understand why. Limerence is an agonisingly personal topic, and if I’m going to be able to express myself honestly it would be best if I don’t expose myself unnecessarily to casual acquaintances (and employers).

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You’ll never break my cover

So, goal number one is to satisfy the desire to discuss limerence in an unabashed and open way. As a general rule of life, I think that self-awareness comes from honest examination of one’s own behaviour and motivations, vigorously resisting the temptation to frame the narrative in a way that protects one’s delicate ego. Despite that principle, I wouldn’t blurt this stuff out in public.

Goal number two is education. The discovery of limerence as a concept (and Dorothy Tennov’s book, specifically) was a revelation for me, and seemed to both explain my own predicament (and history), as well as a huge sweep of human folly. The idea that non-limerents exist was jarring at first – as with most limerents I guess I assumed everyone felt the same and that anyone that didn’t was just defective – but of course more reflection made me grasp the tragedy of two tribes forever doomed to misunderstand one anothers’ motives and drives. I made it to my fourth decade as a generally curious individual without becoming aware of the concept of limerence, so any resource for education and dissemination seems to be an obviously Good Thing.

Goal number three is to help others currently enjoying the ravages of a limerent episode.  When limerence is mutual then it comes as close to bliss as anything I’ve ever experienced, but it often isn’t. Coping with unrequited or inappropriately directed limerence is… non-trivial. The best strategy for resistance is to arm yourself with knowledge. Immersion in information about the psychological, physiological, behavioural and social bases of limerence has proved an effective tonic for me, but that information was found haphazardly, and was of variable quality. Hopefully, gathering the good stuff together here will be helpful. If nothing else, ruminating about the nature of limerence is a good distraction from ruminating about a specific limerent object – and it has the side benefit of drip-feeding to the subconscious the deep truth that limerence is about you, not Them, and that it is caused by your emotional needs not their transcendent brilliance.

So, with all that in mind, welcome again. Let’s get started.