Intersections

An interesting question that often comes up in discussions about limerence, is the potential for overlap with other personality traits. Perhaps, given the intrusive thoughts and obsessive nature of limerent reverie, the obvious intersection is with OCD. There also seems a common element with stress heightening the conditions; as though the brain is seeking relief from stress through learned mental patterns – either limerent reverie or compulsive thoughts or rituals.

I’ve often wondered if there is an overlap with introversion too – given that one way of defining the difference between introverts and extroverts is whether the internal or external world seems most “real” to them. As LOs exist mainly in the internal world of the limerent’s imagination, it seems likely that introverts would feel the pull of reverie more powerfully and meaningfully. Yet another possibility is high sensitivity: the concept that some people have more active autonomic nervous systems than others, and so find many stimuli “over-arousing”. The experience of limerence is like having arousal overload. Maybe highly sensitive people are more prone to limerence, or have a lower threshold for being triggered into a limerent episode?

These speculations also make me reflect on whether limerence is a pathology. It’s a very common experience for people who are shy or quiet or sensitive to be told that they are abnormal; that their deviation from the norm is evidence that they are in some way defective and possibly even need medicating or behavioural-conditioning to fix themselves.

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C’mon! Get with it!

I’ve mentioned before that there is an element of disease-mongering in the current discourse around limerence. Experiencing limerence – just like experiencing social anxiety or aversion to loud noise – does not seem sufficient reason to justify claims of a mental disorder. Certainly, unwanted limerence is a problem, and has a significant impact on quality of life and the ability to find fulfillment and peace of mind. However, the euphoria of reciprocated limerent feeling is an incredibly positive experience so it seems… counterintuitive to claim this as pathology. Framed as person-addiction, limerence appears negative, but framed as a mechanism for pair-bonding it appears positive.

Like so much about limerence, we’re left floundering in speculation because of the lack of clearly-defined research into the condition. It would be great if sociologists or psychologists would look into this, but that would require greater awareness of limerence in the general population, and a willingness to investigate something that (ever since Tennov’s time) is seen as rather unworthy of academic enquiry. It’s a curiosity that such a central and important part of human experience is treated as somehow frivolous.

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