April 2022 update:
The quiz developed in this post has now been set up as a complete limerence survey: available here
I occasionally receive emails from people who are going through a romantic crisis, asking “Is this limerence?”
My initial reaction is often surprise, as my correspondent seems to be describing an absolutely classic episode of limerence – so surely it’s obvious? But then I remind myself that it’s just possible that other people are not quite as immersed in limerence and all its consequences as I am.
It strikes me now that these people have a point. There isn’t really a definitive way to decide whether or not someone is a limerent, other than pointing to Tennov’s list of symptoms and asking whether they resonate for them.
One solution – albeit not a terribly scientific one – is to repurpose that list as a sort of quiz, where yes/no questions can be used to pinpoint the defining features of the limerent response to romantic attraction. This seemed like an idea that could be both useful and fun, so here is my current attempt:
Have you ever experienced the following situations when becoming romantically infatuated with another person?
- I become nervous and excited when I am with them – my heart races, and I feel sweaty and clumsy
- I often crave solitude so that I can spend time fantasising about them
- When they are happy and friendly towards me, I feel exhilarated and “high”
- When they are cold towards me, I am anxious and feel panicked
- The whole world seems brighter and more colourful since I met them
- I am more energetic and optimistic since I met them
- Being with them is the most desirable thing in my world
- They are an extraordinary person, and I like the fact that I can see this while others cannot
- I frequently worry about whether they like me as much as I hope
- When I worry that they do not like me, I calm myself by remembering a happy encounter with them
- I am not romantically interested in anyone else since I met them
- My feelings for them are much more powerful that any other interests in my life
- I really want them to feel the same way about me as I do about them
- I often find it hard to concentrate on what I am doing because I am distracted by thoughts about them
- All romantic movies and songs make me think of them now
- I sometimes feel as though they are with me in spirit even though we are apart
- Their possessions, and places they have been, have special significance for me
- I cannot stop thinking about them, even if I want to
- I sometimes neglect my responsibilities to get more contact with them
- I act more impulsively when I am with them
Twenty questions seems like a nice number, but are they the right ones? Well, this post is an attempt to find out, and a plea for feedback.
Here are the three things I most want to know:
- Did any of these options NOT resonate with your experience of limerence (or are any poorly worded)?
- Do any of these statements seem generally true about early love, rather than being distinctive of the manic, obsessive infatuation of limerence? (feedback from non-limerents would be really appreciated here)
- Are there any better questions that I have missed?
Thanks in advance!
“4.) When they are cold towards me, I am anxious and feel panicked.”
I am not sure if other people felt this way, but, for me, it wasn’t just feeling anxious and panicked but despondent and depressed followed by feelings of almost rage. So high highs (euphoria, longing, hope) after being around the LO and engaging with him alternating with periods of low lows when little glimpses of reality would set in that 99% of it was in my head. And that would shift to anger at myself for having believed that anything was ever going to happen and feeling duped and mislead by him yet again.
Yup the word “despondent” works for me too. And the awful impact of those “little glimpses of reality”.
I like the word “pensive” to denote a lingering, reflective sadness. (My response to being ignored by LO).
Hi Marcia & Allie,
I know what you mean about the deep despondency. But I’d say panic comes first for me… I sense something is up, they haven’t texted, so I start going through reasons that they haven’t responded. Initially I’m thinking they’re busy, then as time wears on I begin to sense there’s something wrong… namely that they must not be that bothered which is quite wrong enough at that point. At which stage I’m desperately holding off texting again… but I’ll usually crack and send another message…
Now this is probably familiar but it goes two ways. If I get a message in return I am flooded, overwhelmed with relief. I’m happy again… but of course that’s time limited. Until the cycle repeats.
If however there is still no message then a quickly pass straight back through anxiety and quickly onto despondency… at which point I could be at a music gig with mates or doing any fun, interesting thing you can think of but I’m unable to really engage with joy.
All for want of a fricking text. It’s hard not to feel utterly pathetic. :/
To clarify… depending on the state of the LE, a panic inducing period without a text can be as little as an hour. Sometimes I’ve gone through heaps of stress only to check back and realise their last contact was within the previous 12 or 24 hours! While I’m climbing the walls either wondering what I’ve done, or not understanding how LO could be so cruel as to ignore me for… (checks phone…) oh. 16 hours. Despondency sets in likely after a weekend of radio silence…
Well, my despondency came when I was finally honest with myself that nothing was really happening and never would. I’d think: What am I doing? How much time have I wasted? But then I’d run into him, and the high of being around him … and the whole pattern would start again. Although I do think limerence is very powerful, for me, anyway, I know within a few months that the situation was a complete train wreck. I hadn’t lost my mind or my reasoning. I had the cognitive ability to understand the situation was doomed. It just felt so good to give into it and indulge it.
I can really relate. That is the situation I am in currently. He may feel similarly to me but will never do anything about it. Only tiny crumbs of hope remain but I can’t yet face the miserable withdrawal that will come when I finally reveal the crumbs for the nothing they are. I just want a little of that LO high again post-covid before I let this go. The mantra of a true addict.
“That is the situation I am in currently.”
I even had to let go of the idea that I was in a “situation.” It was just me being limerent for someone who saw me as entertainment. I’m over all these “subtextual” situations where there is all this flirting or sexual tension but nothing happens. To quote the legendary singer James Brown, “Give it Up or Turnit Loose.” 🙂 On another note, I’ve also learned that how someone interacts with you in the beginning is how they are going to interact with you throughout. So someone who is hot and cold and noncommittal is not going to suddenly become consistent and committed. If the way they are treating you is driving you crazy (universal you) and you stick around, you’re just in for a whole lot more of that.
I remember that feeling of relief. But then I would be disappointed in the context. It would be brief or not particularly interesting.
What I want is a declaration of love. Eternal love.
I ask so little!
It’s been very helpful for me to understand the anxious preoccupied attachment style in conjunction with this topic
david harris says
this is a horrifying reality that i am just starting to understand. looking at my phone every 10 seconds for a text. then send a msn message, then check on linked in. finally call. i have created a monster in myself and i cant let go
It’s been my experience that the longer I play, the more time, $, energy and effort I lose on this [Edited by Dr L].
Can completely relate to this. Even 6 months on in this L.E. my heart jumps when his name pops up on my phone, and I feel disappointed and annoyed at myself that my entire mood and how I feel about myself is entirely governed by the extent and nature of his contact, regardless of what else is happening in my life. I am frustrated with myself for giving someone else that much control over my feelings.
Hello, Thomas! I can relate. 🙂
No to 1, 8, 10, 19 and 20 though strongly yes to all the others. The yeses resonated, for sure, but what other phenomena could be similar, but different compared to limerence? What agreement rate would suggest limerence?
Exactly like me.
Like it… a great tool. I think I score about 17 on that so a good measure for me – you have really nailed it.
My thoughts (and I am splitting hairs here):
1) I think I would also score 17 if I had fallen in love in the early stages of a relationship, but I think that is just how a limerent like myself experiences early love – just like an LE but with a happy ending.
2) Maybe a stronger emphasis on addictive behaviours would help differentiate an LE, the not being able to stop, feeling utterly miserable when forced to stay away from them such as when on holiday or weekends. Refusing to accept that there is no hope even when the objective facts point that way. Knowing it is bad for us but being unable to change.
3) A big issue for me is crippling shyness around LO – I guess this is linked to No 1. but worth a mention? Especially pertinent to singles who could actually have a relationship with LO.
4) “They are an extraordinary person, and I like the fact that I can see this while others cannot” This does not quite hit the mark for me personally as am not too bothered by what others think. For me, “extraordinary” is a going a bit far, “special” in some way, or uniquely able to make me happy might be a broader fit. Maybe this point could also factor in the tendency to overlook LOs negatives.
5) Many commentators here report feeling fairly extreme levels of emotional or even physical pain, insecurity and grief during LEs.
6) Not one I do personally, but fairly common are stalking behaviours – social media, fact finding, creating chance encounters, the home/place of work drive by.
Totally agree with your last two comments Allie. The obsessive and compulsive behaviours/social media checking that you feel helpless to control sometimes, despite knowing what you might find there could have a negative impact on you emotionally.
It takes it beyond a simple romantic interest in someone.
#3 hits home for me. I had such crippling shyness around my LO that I would purposely avoid running into him at to times. Other times I would purposely try to run into him. Weird, I know.
I also agree with #4 that I knew he wasn’t extraordinary and that my feelings were out of proportion to his specialness. I was well aware of his flaws, but found them endearing rather than annoying.
“For me, “extraordinary” is a going a bit far, “special” in some way, or uniquely able to make me happy might be a broader fit.”
A great description. For some of us, LO is exactly this.
“#3 hits home for me. I had such crippling shyness around my LO that I would purposely avoid running into him at to times. Other times I would purposely try to run into him. Weird, I know.”
I did the same thing. I worked with my LO, and sometimes I’d see him coming down the hall and get so nervous, I’d go the other direction. Other times, I’d tell myself, “Okay, today we are going to have a conversation,” and I’d force myself to go and find him because I hated being that wimpy and giving in to the fear. And, then…oh, the exhilaration of being around him when I finally did talk to him. But there was an exhilaration in the nervousness, too.
To say one more thing about that, I think my LE had less to do with my LO specifically and more to do with the effect he had on me. After I’d see him or talk to him, it would take me hours to calm down and I couldn’t concentrate. One time he ran his had all the way down my back. I thought I was going to pass out. 🙂 No mere mortal had that affect on me. 🙂
I admit that I had doubts sometimes on whether I’m limerent or not, so having some quiz like this as a reference guide is very useful. I remember reading a similar article on thought catalog that was my own big “aha!” moment in regards to limerence.
My own opinions about the quiz:
– #2 doesn’t ring very true for me. Maybe I did it a bit during the worst phase of my obsessive period with this last LO, but, in a more general sense, no. Then again, I’m a pretty solitary person in general so maybe it’s just me. Another one that doesn’t quite resonate with me is #12. The closest that I can think of is that my own daydreams (I have a huge tendency to get lost in my own thoughts) become very LO-centric when in limerence, but not to the point that I can’t enjoy my usual hobbies because I’d rather think about LO (I may, though, wonder things like how I can get LO into some of them, when I know/think that they probably don’t share them).
– In regards to #8, for me at least is less about thinking that LO is unique and special and I can only see it, and more that I’m able to see my LO’s flaws and incompatibilities between us on an intellectual level, but then my limerent brain quickly brushes them off as “nobody’s perfect”, or as something that we’ll be able to work out in the future. Don’t know if it’s a relevant difference, though.
– On a more general level I think that #11 and #13 maybe have the problem of being a bit generic and pretty much indistinguishable from early normal love, but I’ll let the non serial limerents decide on that one.
– I also agree with Allie above that stalking behaviors are a big one in differentiating normal love from limerence.
Other than that, I’d say that is a pretty good one.
“I’m able to see my LO’s flaws and incompatibilities between us on an intellectual level, but then my limerent brain quickly brushes them off.” I agree with this completely. It’s a distinguishing feature of limerence for me. Along this same idea, I would also say that limerence brings out the self-critical in me. I blame myself for our incompatibilities: I should be this or that to be a better match with her. Which is ridiculous.
Another feature for me is the inability to stop trying to bring her up in conversation with other people, trying to glean any possible new information about her or even just to hear her name.
Vicarious Limerent says
All of them resonate with me to a certain extent, but I am not as sure about 5, 6 and 19. In particular, I don’t neglect my responsibilities to CONTACT LO #2, but I do neglect them to think or ruminate about her. This is very timely because I was still not sure if my feelings for LO #2 amount to true limerence, but after taking this quiz, I think they do. Things just feel different from LO #1 because LO #2 is an actual friend and someone who is in my life — and I am pretty sure there was a certain degree of reciprocation from her, unlike LO #1, who is basically a stranger. I was commenting on the discussion forum just yesterday how I don’t remember some details LO #2 has told me about herself (and questioned whether I was really limerent for her as a result), but I think that differs from LO #1 in that I don’t really know LO #1, and therefore I was craving any little tidbit I could find out about her. But with LO #2, I have hung out with her many times and have even been to her house and have met her daughter.
I knew what I was feeling for my LO was unhealthy. The obsessive thoughts, overlooking his faults, and unconditional “love” made me doubt my sanity. I asked a close friend and 2 therapists: What is wrong with me? Why can’t I let him go?
(I even told LO that I was confused as to why I couldn’t move on. )
It was embarrassing and depressing to be so wrapped up in someone who had moved past it months ago. And who had never cared much to begin with.
I found some information and then this site. It made sense after that.
I don’t believe I am limerent. I believe that special circumstances transformed my LO from man to My Ultimate Person. He’s not. He’s not even someone I want to be friends with. That yearning is strong though.
Appreciate all of you and the insight you offer.
I relate to what you are describing, “ I asked a close friend and 2 therapists: What is wrong with me? Why can’t I let him go?”
“It was embarrassing and depressing to be so wrapped up in someone who had moved past it months ago. ”
Even though I can be rational, and know he is not exceptional, that he is just another one of millions of people walking the earth, I can’t stop my obsessive remembering. It is embarrassing and weird. I am trying to accept it as beautiful and human. My new inspiration is the song, “But Beautiful” sung by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. Good luck, Compadre.
Most of these ring true for me at least to some degree, except for the impulsiveness. Maybe this just isn’t in my personality though. Otherwise, very accurate!
I think #1, #6 and #11 would also be indicators of just being in love I would say.
#8 and #13 ring very true to me. I thought LO was so special and wondered how no one else saw that and I was worried someone would see it too.
Yes to #19 and #20 too. Not really the neglecting part but trying to squeeze in as much time with LO as possible, going out of my way to “create” situations for us to meet, even just for a 5min coffee break.
Being more impulsive… I am per se not an impulsive person, but I would say with LO I was not able to control myself or let my rational head be heard, so I think Limerence definitely brought that out in me.
I recently just really shake my head when thinking about how Limerence made me a different person. It’s like I don’t even recognize myself anymore when I think back to those times.
2. I often crave solitude so that I can spend time fantasising about them.
I’m not certain about this one. However, LO took over my thoughts and distracted me so intensely that alone time to think about him was unnecessary. He was always THERE.
Early love is a beautiful thing when mutual and evolves into something better.
8, 12, 16, 18
These go a step beyond early love. They cross the line into limerence due to their intensity.
With regard to #2: I have left parties, dinners, family gatherings, and the like because I “missed” my LO. Being at home tucked in bed hoping for an elusive dream of him might be preferable to real world interactions, even if I am having a good time.
Happily I currently score 0 out 20, but If I think back to my LE I would say that 18 of them were applicable to varying extents. The only ones I don’t recognise are 16 and 17 – I never felt LO was “with me” when she wasn’t, and places she had been didn’t mean much. Places that we had been together, then yes.
I’d add a couple more:
A) I spent a lot of time rehearsing future conversations with LO. What could I say to sound funny, smart or elicit some sort of reciprocity from her? They used to go around and around in my head, and then when we actually had the conversation the reality was nothing like I’d imagined.
B) Forcing some intimacy. I used to tell her secrets, let her in to my private thoughts in the hope she would see how important she was to me and that she would do the same back.
Shaggy Dog Love Story (Not Dogs Shagging)
A couple months ago I started dating an old friend after both of us ended long term relationships. I had been telling friends I was looking for a “Pandemic Husband”, a casual sex partner that I could be in a bubble with for a couple of months during the winter in the pandemic. This old friend told me he wanted to become closer friends with me and hoped we could hug each other, a delicacy in the pandemic. He also told me that after a decade of living in the US, he was moving back to his home country in a few months. I was attracted to him and it sounded like our needs were compatible. We began by taking a series of hikes, over a month or so, for several hours at a time and having some long phone calls and texts. I made dinner for him in my garden, once. We had a very comfortable rapport.
One night after a very long hike, we sat at a look out and talked for a couple hours, and then we hugged…for another hour. It was my first human contact in 8 months of the pandemic. I told him that since I touched him, I didn’t want to let him go. He wrote to me later that evening and told me he would remember that night forever. The next morning we met for breakfast, that night we had sex and he slept over, and he slept over the next night too. I felt strong and confident passion for him, as though I was ready to fall all in with him emotionally, even though I didn’t want a long distance relationship. I would give my all now and feel pain later, after he left. It felt worth it, since the feelings were so strong. At one point in those first few days, he said in an agitated voice, “Why couldn’t you have told me you were single, sooner? We could have been together sooner and I might not have decided to move away!”
On the fourth or fifth day after we began our physical relationship, he admitted to me that he had a new relationship with a woman in his home country, with whom he had sheltered in place for a few months before he came back here. They had a plan to be together now, and that’s why he was moving back.
Aaaargh! I am not into cheating or being a side partner!!
A couple days later, I told him I wanted to end our romantic relationship due to the new revelation. He agreed that was best, and we had another 24 hour lovely date, then exchanged gifts and goodbye notes, and meant to stop seeing each other. But a week later, we ended up having sex again, with some longing texts leading up to that. In the ensuing three weeks before he left the country, we saw each other about three times a week and texted once or twice a day. That is when my pain started, terrible longing and desire. It was awful when we were apart and wonderful and harmonious when we were together. I often told myself that every day that we didn’t see each other, that got us closer to the day he left, was a success. We just had to get to his departure date so I could start getting over him. We talked about how we would basically stay out of contact once he left, that he had the best chance for success with his girlfriend if our thing was totally over. But sometimes he would say he would like to maintain a friendship.
We saw each other the last three days he was here…and then he left. We exchanged brief goodbye texts. Neither of us has reached out to the other since then.
I blocked every possible social media/phone/WhatsApp/ avenue between us, including his girlfriend’s social media and his best friend’s, so I can’t see his likes or photos through them, either.
He left two and a half months ago. I have experienced about 17 of those 20 quiz items, over this guy. I am dying to get over him, while I feel I am in love with him. I do not usually fall for people this hard. I can barely concentrate on work (though it’s getting better.) I am very relieved that he doesn’t know how I feel, since I have not contacted him. I wish for a message from him. I don’t think he will crack, as I have not.
Is this limerence or heartbreak? Are they the same? My situation also had the awful feature of infidelity, of which I am not proud. In my long dating life, I have fallen this hard for only a few other people, all whom I dated, and yes, eventually got over. I think limerence is the most apt description of this phenomenon. But is heartbreak the same? Has anyone analyzed this? I don’t suppose the answer to this would cure me…
Against the 20 questions, I was 8 out if 20. Against, Tennov’s 10 plus the one DrL threw in, I was 8 of 20. As written, many of them don’t resonate much with me. Phrased differently, I think I’d score higher. For example, ALL romantic songs don’t remind me of my LOs but the right one’s do.
Using the usual DSM criterium of it takes 5 of 9 (~56%) traits to be a confirmed diagnosis, using DrL’s quiz, I’m not that close to limerent (40%). Against Tennov, I’m definitely a limerent.
21. My feelings about this person compel me to consider doing things against my own best interest.
22. I have suffered tangible consequences from my “relationship” with this person.
23. I’ve disclosed my feelings to this person.
24. I feel there is something special or mystical between us that’s beyond what most people feel in a relationship.
25. I feel there’s something in our way that’s preventing us from making this work.
26. I feel like this person understands me like no one ever has or, possibly, ever will.
I’m not sure you can do this as a single quiz. When I was working with psychologists on insider threat, one told me that the usual diagnostic screening test, the MMPI II administered by your typical clinician (e.g., “a marriage counselor in Iowa”) would be unlikely to identify a potential insider threat. He said a better method was to use the Personality Assessment Inventory and maybe Hare’s Psychopathology Checklist – Revised along with a semi-structured interview by someone who knew what they were doing. He said by looking at a few questions, he could identify areas that needed looking into.
If you took Tennov’s criteria and developed a series of several questions for each, you might be able to develop a better picture. I googled “Limerence Assessment Tools.” https://drum.lib.umd.edu/bitstream/handle/1903/20272/Wolf_umd_0117N_18334.pdf?sequence=1 came up. Page 20 references some limerence questionnaires used in other studies but I didn’t hunt them down. There’s also the issue of translating the knowledge into something of practical value.
If you’re looking for topic for your PhD thesis in Psych, limerence could be it.
I’ve spent some time down that rabbit hole. All the studies I could find point back to an unpublished questionnaire used by one group who presumably shared this with other investigators but never published it in any literature I could track down electronically.
There seem to be a number of Masters theses devoted to this, but not much in the formal psych literature.
Part of the problem is the circular issue of without a definition of limerence how can you assess the quality of the questionnaire?
But those academics didn’t have you guys… 🙂
I definitely would answer yes to 22-26 when in the the throes of limerence.
I concur. Though in my personal experience, I do recognize 24 and 26 as delusional symptoms of psychotic episode.
Wow, just shows how the LE experience varies… of 21-26, I am only a Yes for 25.
24 & 26 are a partial Yes sometimes but I know I can get carried away projecting my romantic desires onto reality sometimes… in the harsh light of day, I don’t really believe either to be true sadly. A “seemingly special connection based upon a natural and deep mutual understanding” probably better represents my personal experience.
I agree with Sharn on music. It’s not that every song makes me think of LO, but ones that do are going to be on loop on my stereo, mobile phone, and failing those in my head for much of the time. So it’s not all music, it’s some – but from that point on I’m ignoring the rest.
Of the extra criteria I think definitely this sense of mystical romance rings true (26). But rather arrogantly I often feel that I understand THEM like nobody ever will… which is what makes it special i suppose and also fits into the who ‘they are truly wonderful and only I can see how truly wonderful they are.’ Feeding into rescuer behaviour because often I assume they don’t know how great they are either. The couple of narcs I’ve crossed paths with over the years really found me fun, I’m sure.
Thanks, All, for the excellent comments and suggestions.
Definitely agree that more is needed on the obsessive end of things (and social media stalking is a good bet).
Re. formal tests – yes, quite right, Scharnhorst. I’m aiming more for self-directed checklist than diagnostic tool. A bit above a magazine quiz, hopefully, but not one for the DSM.
Dr. L, do you think one day limerence will have it’s own official diagnostic code? And be viewed as a treatable disorder? And one day there will be limerence rehab centers? 🙂
Also, will there be limerence medication that blocks not only the LO’s effect on the limerent but also the limerent’s memory of the LO? 🙂
Oh Marcia how I wish there was such a medication. I haven’t visited this site for some time….thought I could just gleefully accept this limerence thing and live with it, (after all my only contact is on social media, I do all the contact and stalking, and only brief responses from him) but no, living with it happily is never going to happen, and it will be two years in May that this has been going on…..for those of you that might remember me, my situation is impossible and totally inappropriate……but there it is……..regarding the quiz, yes to almost every one of them….
@Maureen. Sorry to hear you’re still struggling with your limerence. Wishing you well.
Limerence rehab centres definitely sound interesting – a place to go while suffering withdrawal symptoms maybe? Hope they have nice food! 😛
Limerence can affect many, many areas of daily functioning. It’s hard to believe our “impairment”, for want of a better word, is caused by infatuation with a single person. I know it was easier for me to start moving on from limerence when I admitted to myself that all my problems (or at least all my emotional problems) came from a single cause (i.e. wanting LO to want me back when that was never going to be the case).
1, 3, 6 – to a degree – more like feeling special to someone else – I don’t know if that makes sense or not, 9 – wasn’t a frequent worry, but more of a “am I making a fool of myself?” feeling and then deciding to roll with it because feeling a little foolish is part of the dance, 11 and 13.
I may have been a little distracted at work, but not to the point of jeopardizing my job or neglecting my responsibilities.
I’m not sure if others agree on this, but when I’m in the middle of an LE, my behaviour towards others can be heavily influenced by thoughts of LO.
I’ve honestly been sullen and grumpy on social events with friends entirely based on a text I’m hoping and waiting for and upset that it hasn’t arrived. I’m sure there are many occasions but one night out to see a band I absolutely adore was ruined by rumination and frustration and checking my phone constantly and just feeling so hurt.
So yeah… I mean this is an obvious thing… as with limerents who detach from their established romantic relationships… so that could be on the list, though I’m not sure how to put it concisely?
I still look back on that evening at the gig in particular, I was with many fond, longstanding friends and I could barely raise a smile.
I might just be an unusual case, but wanted to share that #11 (“I am not romantically interested in anyone else since I met them”) didn’t resonate with me; I dated and was romantically interested in multiple other people while I knew my LO. Then again, I also identify as polyamorous, so this may be part of my romantic orientation?
Possible suggestion for a replacement: “No matter who I’m romantically or sexually interested in at any given time, they always remain the person I feel most intensely for.” (Sorry if that’s still too similar to early, non-limerent love!)
I, too, was romantically interested in others but LO was ever present. If someone had asked me “LO or guy you’re with,” I would’ve said LO in a heartbeat.
These were, for the most part, casual dating situations that went on for weeks or months. Only one, I believe, could have crossed the line into serious. But it never got that far.
Me three. Although other romantic interests are usually just a weak echo of my feelings for an LO. But with time and emotional investment, they have become a viable transference option before for me.
I would love for transference to occur. Last week or so has been especially LO-focused mentally, and I’ve been seeing someone I like. I don’t think it’ll transfer to this man. I might have to break it off soon. My relationships have always been slow burns though. Even with LO.
“I would love for transference to occur. ”
That happened for me once … when I met the next LO. 🙂 I wonder if other people have had that experience. The only way to completely get over one LO is to meet another. (Unless one actually has a relationship with the LO and limerence dies.) I mean, one may be mostly over the LO but there may be still some half-burnt embers there. 🙂
You may be swapping heroin for methadone but you’re still an addict.
But, functioning at some level is better than not functioning at all.
Transference only sucks if you swap like for like. The next time, it could result in a real relationship with someone she have fallen in love with… happy days.
My responses presupposes that limerence is a negative to the majority of posters on LwL. There are also many posters whose LO’s are unsuitable candidates for LTRs, DrL being a notable exception.
If you’re capable of responding to suitable candidates, what are you transferring? If you’re entering a potential relationship in good faith, it’s more like transcending the previous relationship. You still have baggage, but you try not to bring it with you.
If you’re not capable of responding to suitable candidates and glimmer still appeals to you, it seems likely there would be transference. Same baggage, different LO. The outcome of any new relationship is never guaranteed but if past performance is truly an indicator of future performance, you can get a pretty good idea of what your odds are, especially if you don’t change anything. “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” applies to a lot of limerents.
My experience with LO #2 didn’t sour me on relationships, it made me want to find another one. That relationship didn’t work but maybe the next one would. I was happy once and I thought I could be again. And, it did. I crossed paths with LO #2 for 5 years. At the end, I didn’t know what a good relationship was but I had real good idea of what a good relationship wasn’t. I knew my wife was different from LO #2 by the way she didn’t make me feel. I liked it.
I was telling a Navy buddy about LO #4. He knew LO #2 when we were dating and how things ended. He looked at my wedding ring and said, that putting aside the obvious elephant in the room [or “canoe in the bedroom” – Mia], why would I even consider pursuing a woman who reminded me of LO #2 when I’d spent two decades with a woman who was nothing like LO #2. I didn’t have an answer for him.
We’re probably debating semantics. You do what works for you.
When I look back on my life, I can’t really recall many periods since about age 12 when I did not have a “love interest” of some sort in my life. That might have been a minor attraction, crush, fling, boyfriend, ex, SO or, a small number of times, a full blown LE. I think in most cases, my feelings for the previous dissipated fully only when I had a new “love interest” i.e. repeat transference, with a variety of different outcomes. I have never found this to be a problem (until now!), and have always accepted it (welcomed it even) as part of who I am, and believed it to be a pretty normal part of human experience as I know many people like this.
I get your point that some are more damaged by their LE, or repeat the same LE experience over and over, sometimes going for the same unhealthy architype each time, and that transference is a poor idea in those cases. But there are also many limerents out there like myself, that do not carry much in the way of relationship baggage. And if they are single, why not keep looking… I am happily married to an LO.
Do I want true transference? No, I don’t think so. The bad times with LO were so much worse than the few good times. I doubted myself. The anxiety that he caused, whether he meant to or not, led to physical and mental pain. That’s not what love is supposed to be. I’m not looking for someone who makes me feel the way he did, good and bad. I’m looking for someone who makes me laugh as much as he did. We connected so well on that particular level. He’d surprise me with insightful comments.
That’s what I’m looking for.
“I think in most cases, my feelings for the previous dissipated fully only when I had a new “love interest” i.e. repeat transference, with a variety of different outcomes. ”
Well, ideally you (universal you) take some time to get over one person, figure out what went wrong, heal and then are able to be open and ready for the next person. But I don’t think anyone does it like that. They just kind of grab for the next branch.
“Only one, I believe, could have crossed the line into serious. But it never got that far.”
Why? What stopped it?
He wasn’t up for it. His business was hurt badly by the pandemic, so that was stressful. He’d also just gotten out of an off-and-on long term relationship. We weren’t dating long. Only a few weeks. We sparked right away and I liked him. Lots of differences though and I might have ended it over politics eventually.
James Afourkeeff says
Almost every one of these questions on this quiz DEFINITELY applies to me, with the following exceptions:
2 I have always had plenty of solitude to think about an LO, because every LO has rejected me.
8 I agree that my LOs have been extraordinary individuals, but many others often swooned over them too.
10 When I worry that they don’t like me, I look back at evidence that contradicts this.
11 I have gone for years long stretches without a romantic interest, because ALL romantic interests have been LOs.
15 Romantic movies and songs make me reflect on ALL of my past LEs.
16 This is the only one that doesn’t apply to me, or it’s reversed. It is because I feel they are NOT with me, in sprit or otherwise, that helps drive my desperation.
19 and 20 I have always tried to maintain my routine and responsibilities even while my entire being is subsumed in a surreal limerent netherworld of cosmic significance. I think I would probably still get up and try go to work on the morning of an Extinction Level Event.
I can’t think of any more questions or any better questions at this time. What is more remarkable about these 20 questions is that none of them are redundant. A list like this usually has redundancies; read the list of the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai to see what I’m talking about.
Clinical and Calculating says
I’m currently married to someone who is in limerence with someone else, but I have been in limerence (not with my spouse) in the past so I can empathize/remember. One thing about your list/quiz is that it is going to depend on in what stage the limerent is, and if the LO is also in limerence with the other. If it is early on and mutual, then the panicked and depressed markers will not yet exist because both are just gushing over each other and fawning over each other, craving time together 24/7, and this the mentally ill limerent will fail to score high enough on the quiz since they aren’t experiencing any of the pull away and feel “this doesn’t apply to me, so MINE is true love not limerence”.
Clinical and Calculating says
“This the mentally ill” was supposed to say “_thus_ the mentally ill” in that last sentence.
Yeah, that’s true, CaC. It is a problem with defining a phenomenon that has phases, if someone is stuck in phase 1. Really, though, all the phases are needed to fully “diagnose” the condition.
But, I suspect that the people seeking out a quiz like this will have started to experience the post-euphoria symptoms and are seeking help. The blissed-up first time limerents are too busy gazing into their LO’s eyes to read anything.
“both are just gushing over each other and fawning over each other, craving time together 24/7, and this the mentally ill limerent will fail to score high enough on the quiz since they aren’t experiencing any of the pull away and feel “this doesn’t apply to me, so MINE is true love not limerence”.”
I don’t think it is that way for everyone at the start. Many married limerents are horrified that they are experiencing such strong feelings and attraction for someone else. 10 days into the start of my LE, while feeling excited and euphoric, I was really struggling with constant intrusive thoughts, inability to focus or sleep properly and feeling like my mind was completely beyond my control. I had been content with life before my LE and just wanted to return to that state. I resorted to googling “how to get rid of an infatuation”, found this site and recognised immediately what was going on. This site was the emotional cooling compress I needed and restored some semblance of sanity in me.
I would add:
Feelings of extreme and irrational jealousy toward other potential romantic partners (or even casual friends) of LO.
And over-analyzing tiny details or what they have said or how they have acted around me in an effort to find secret meanings or messages that LO intended to communicate to me.
“Feelings of extreme and irrational jealousy toward other potential romantic partners (or even casual friends) of LO.”
Yes. Every new woman who came into our work place, I’d always wonder if my LO would like her and if she would take his attention away from me.
True for both. Last part especially. Another layer of irrational thinking.
I too felt the same, but I don’t think it really is irrational thinking because more than one of my LO’s did in fact get swide swiped by a new excting person when at the time I was firmly ensconced in the dreaded “friend zone”. These encounters turned into something very real for my LO’s and their new paramours.
The arrival of these new shiny people did serve to be the catalyst for me to end the LE, which is a good thing, but when you have LO’s that glimmer at everyone, you can never feel secure, and that panicky feeling is a real warning signal that something is VERY WRONG with the ‘relationship’.
History shows me that my former LO’s don’t have the best outcomes with their romantic relationships…my guess is that they perhaps keep glimmering even when in committed relationships, or maybe their characters flaws are actually far more prononounced than I would have ever imagined when in the thick of limerence.
“….but when you have LO’s that glimmer at everyone, you can never feel secure, and that panicky feeling is a real warning signal that something is VERY WRONG with the ‘relationship’.
…my guess is that they perhaps keep glimmering even when in committed relationships”
There is a good number of people who do that. They can never get enough attention and flirt with everyone. And if you determine your LO is that kind of person, it is soul crushing to realize you are one of many.
As my father once said to me with respect to relationships,
“Just remember, at any given moment, you may be number one, but you may not be the only one.”
Also, glimmer is in the eye of the beholder. There’s a difference between charisma and glimmer.
Marcia, agreed. Especially when they make you feel like you are the one and only, that they couldn’t live without you, and that it would be cruel for you to distance yourself as they “need” you so desperately.
Then when the dust settles, you realize that you were played.
Scharny, that’s definitely true…but there is a fine line from garden variety charisma, vs affectionate ambiguous comments and actions that add fuel to a limerence fire. That’s glimmer used for dubious ends, charismas evil cousin.
“There’s a difference between charisma and glimmer.”
There’s a huge difference between charisma and openly flirting with everyone. As the former U.S President Barack Obama said, “If you are comfortable in your sexuality, you don’t need 8 women twerking around you.” That pretty much sums it up. A man who has to flirt with almost everyone is deeply insecure.
“Then when the dust settles, you realize that you were played.”
Yes, and you have been. I used to be very flirtatious, and then I realized I was flirting with a bunch of people I didn’t even want. And most of them were married, so it really was a waste of time. Dipping in the wrong pond, so to speak. Although at my age, that’s pretty much what the pond looks like. 🙂
Clip of the Day: “Reflections on Empathy” – Heinz Kohut (2009)
The best part comes between 1:45 and 2:45.
I’ve come across a lot of flirtatious people and a lot of charismatic people in my life. I’ve never become limerent for any of them. I’ve only come across a few people that knew me well enough to get me to trust them enough to really manipulate me and I only consciously allowed one to do it. But, that’s how I’m wired.
“But, that’s how I’m wired.”
My last LO was very flirtatious. The one before that wasn’t. But after the last one, I am done with flirtatious people. Now I see married people as, well, the equivalent of being dead. 🙂 Just not even worth the energy of the flirtation. Unless they are actually going to follow through, and most of them don’t want to. Well, I’ll correct that. The ones you want to follow through won’t. It’s the ones you don’t care if they follow through who are down for anything, as one of them so subtly told me.
For me, the defining feature of limerence is that the attraction/desire for a romantic relationship with LO has become involuntary. I think limerence can be a confusing concept for many people because the early stages of limerence (i.e. before it becomes compulsory) and romantic love may be the same e.g. feeling shy and nervous, sexual excitement/lust, wanting to look nice, pleasant daydreams, a bit of flirting, a bit of impulsive behaviour, showing off, etc. The involuntary nature of the desire – that, for me, is the crucial distinction.
When the line is crossed from voluntary to involuntary attraction is hard to say, and must differ from person to person.
Once I’ve crossed that line, however, usually after at least 3-4 “grand gestures of apparent reciprocation” from LO, possibly in response to my own overtures, gestures which trigger pure euphoria, I start having brutal mood swings between euphoria and despair. Other people would read my despair as sadness and maybe depression. Rage only happens after rejection/permanent loss of LO.
The euphoric feelings are absolutely wonderful and I didn’t know they weren’t completely “normal” (i.e. universal) until I started reading about limerence. I can relate to the “walking on air/floating on clouds” sensation of happiness (after a seemingly positive interaction with LO) that Tennov talks about. Extreme happiness based on the random behaviour of another human, in other words.
Limerence also gave me irrational feelings of guilt. (The delusional belief that LO is hypersensitive to my moods and feelings? The delusional belief we have a “mental connection” and should henceforth communicate telepathically?) I felt I was personally responsible for LO’s behaviour good and bad, including those times he was ignoring me – which were all-too-frequent for my tastes! 😛
Limerence involves idolatry for me. My LO becomes an idol I worship from afar. I even believed mine didn’t masturbate, which is ridiculous, considering his age and sex. I had fantasies of him being perfect – physically perfect and morally perfect. I absolutely could not detect any flaws in him whatsoever during the course of the infatuation. He wasn’t a mere mortal to me – he was superhuman.
A strange (and troubling) belief that LO and I are a “couple” despite the fact we’ve never discussed the matter. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
I’m sure all these points are different ways of saying what’s already been said above. Scharn’s “special or mystical connection” resonates with me as well. Everything about LO and LE feels super-charged with significance, as if LO holds the key to the universe and all rivers and streams flow into LO’s sea. Yikes!
I’ll do the checklist properly, so answers can be more easily compared and analysed. Forgive me too if I include a little humour in my responses:
1. I become nervous and excited when I am with them – my heart races, and I feel sweaty and clumsy
Yes. Racing heart and have almost fallen over a few times.
2. I often crave solitude so that I can spend time fantasising about them
Yes. You mean there’s any other reason people crave solitude?
3. When they are happy and friendly towards me, I feel exhilarated and “high”
Yes, a drug-like high. Best feeling in the world.
4. When they are cold towards me, I am anxious and feel panicked
Um, not anxious. More like annoyed, angry, or sad. (Is that my entitlement showing?)
5. The whole world seems brighter and more colourful since I met them
Yes. Like walking around in a Disney movie.
6. I am more energetic and optimistic since I met them
Yes, but only when LE is progressing nicely.
7. Being with them is the most desirable thing in my world
Yes. A few hours in their company feels like heaven.
8. They are an extraordinary person, and I like the fact that I can see this while others cannot
Um, I know they’re extraordinary in my imagination. Not so sure about real life. I’d prefer others didn’t see them as special so I could have them all to myself.
9. I frequently worry about whether they like me as much as I hope
Yes and no. I assume they like me and then wonder why they haven’t called.
10. When I worry that they do not like me, I calm myself by remembering a happy encounter with them
Yes and no. I fantasise about the “happy encounters” to get another hit of euphoria. I bypass the worrying stage.
11. I am not romantically interested in anyone else since I met them
True. Unless I’m trying to make them jealous and pay more attention to me.
12. My feelings for them are much more powerful that any other interests in my life
Yes. Except the interests I’m pursuing in order to impress them.
13. I really want them to feel the same way about me as I do about them
Yes. Bull’s-eye. Emotional reciprocity is what it’s all about, baby.
14. I often find it hard to concentrate on what I am doing because I am distracted by thoughts about them
Yes. Inability to focus can derail a life. Or a boring university course.
15. All romantic movies and songs make me think of them now
Um, not really. My LO was a boy and lots of movies/songs are about girls. The link, for me, between pop culture and LO = not so strong. Although I appreciate many pop songs are about limerence and enjoy the cleverness of the lyrics.
16. I sometimes feel as though they are with me in spirit even though we are apart
Yes. At least while the LE was going well.
17. Their possessions, and places they have been, have special significance for me
Not possessions and places. But weird things like colours and words maybe.
18. I cannot stop thinking about them, even if I want to
Yes. Classic limerence. This one can’t be overstated.
19. I sometimes neglect my responsibilities to get more contact with them
Yes and no. I neglect responsibilities to daydream about them.
20. I act more impulsively when I am with them
Yes and no. More impulsively but less spontaneously? I show off around LO. I almost pretend to be someone I’m not in order to impress him. I tell more jokes, clown around, etc. Am not as reserved as I usually am. I put on a show for him. It’s a very controlled and calculated form of impulsivity.
Quick Summary of results:
15 yeses and 5 maybes.
Questions 3, 13 and 18 are the ones I associate most strongly with limerence.
Questions 6, 9, and 11 could easily relate to the feelings of person experiencing a non-limerent love affair. I believe non-limerents would relate to question 6 the most. I.e. they’ve met someone they really like, and spending time together is fun, but they’re not obsessed and they’re not going to be obsessed at any point.
Regarding question 20, maybe it could be changed to something about extreme self-consciousness around LO? Or maybe “feeling super self-conscious around LO” could be added as another, different question?
“All romantic movies and songs make me think of them now.”
I’m thinking item 15 could be reworded to help with meaning? I know what the line is trying to say, having read Tennov’s book, but unfortunately it’s too simple and literal as it stands. Something else might be better, something along the lines of:
“Having experienced limerence, I now understand the intense emotions expressed in love songs/romantic movies that I previously saw as wildly exaggerated and/or over-the-top.”
I think this second line better captures the relationship between music and limerence. However, I appreciate it might be too wordy and abstract for some readers!! I’m clearly leaning in the other direction toward excessive complexity.
Maureen? Your situation sounds terrible… I am so sorry you’re going through that. I’d love to talk to you, if you’re willing?
I only discovered the word Limerence, and this site, 3 days ago, hoping it can be a lifeline for me too! Pretty sure I’m a limerant even though only scored 14/20. Maybe the presence of physical symptoms should be among the questions? LE started last June, and with all the anxiety I completely lost my appetite, only ate because it would have raised suspicion otherwise. Lost a noticeable amount of weight. Was also extremely moody, absolutely despondent if more than a day passed without hearing from LO. My family noticed but I was able to blame it on other issues, my father was ill, he died in October. I haven’t changed my routines for LO, the executive brain is still in control there – but I’ve wanted to. Over summer I was warned my father didn’t have much time, that I should visit. I live abroad, and what with Covid, the first flight I could get was the beginning of August. LO also lives abroad and had an ailing relative in the UK, he’d hinted at visiting mid-August. And I wanted to delay my visit to coincide with his. I didn’t, in the end, but I’m ashamed I wanted to.
Other questions don’t apply to me – I’m not shy around LO, and he’s never cold or distant, I think he might be limerant for me, too, great, except we are both married, with young children, living in different countries, and the pandemic means we can’t meet. We dated briefly at uni, 20 years ago. Really hoping to meet people here to talk to/listen to/ suffer in company with – talking about it feels like a release, but psychologist so expensive, and I’m afraid of ruining real-life friendships – I’ll need them if SO finds out and I get served divorce papers 😱
Hi Julia, and welcome to the limerence tribe!
Sorry you are suffering from this insidious crazy affliction. And also very sorry you lost your Dad, sounds like a tough year all round.
Aspects of your situation are similar to mine… LO & I both have spouse & offspring (though maybe older), potential mutuality yet my executive brain is still in control, but only just. My LO is my boss at work so I used to see him daily, although have not seen him much in person since Covid started. You will hopefully believe that your LO being abroad is a blessing eventually.
You are in the right place to connect, this site seems to attract some genuinely deep and lovely people. It has become my second (and much healthier) addiction during lockdown.
Have you always harboured feelings for LO, or did something happen to re-ignite them?
Wishing you well.
Thank you Allie!!! So nice to not be alone, I’ve really found that LE has an isolating effect – and I think loneliness was one of the reasons I ended up in LE. Does your SO know?
I think the starting point of LE was joining Instagram – LO followed me, messaged me, started to flirt, and eventually I responded. But we’d had the glimmer at uni, and looking back, he’d always stayed in contact with me. Then as I got more involved, he started to pull away, it was at it’s worst this summer. I’ve felt like I’ve had it more under control recently, but I’m not sure if that’s just because he’s been kinder and messaged more regularly! Then this weekend he’s been quiet, and I’m struggling.
Hello, I’m Brazilian, so I apologize if English is not perfect. But, this was the only group I found that talks about limerence.
I think a guy has limerence for me.
I know him more or less since he was a child, the first time we saw that this whole story started, I was 12 and he was 15, now I’m 21.
I live next to a boy who is a friend of him, the meeting was very strange even. I was super scared, I was at the door with a friend when a car came down the street and stopped right next to me. And he stood there looking at me and laughing, along with a friend. I couldn’t even see his face properly, but I’m sure it was him.
After that day he started showing up a lot on my street, thanks neighbor. Very much, I was here almost every day that I even lost count and didn’t even remember anymore.
There were days when he would appear here on my street on a motorcycle, he would stay in an old wooden garage repairing motorbikes with his neighbor, inside the car, I know he was always on my street.
He never tried anything with me at that time, I was twelve and he was fifteen.
One thing that struck me was the day I was returning from a friend’s house and I was across the street.
when I looked to the side and the creature was in a black hilux standing at the door, I think it was from a tire shop and he was the driver. I got scared, heart went in the mouth and came back , I kept walking and he came after me with the car, He was practically on my side and the boy who was on his side was smiling at me, because of the delighted face I think he was saying or thinking I was very beautiful. So he went right ahead, took a huge turn and went back to where God knows where.
A year later, when I was 13, I think it was in the middle of the year, that he went to study at the same school as me. My crazy friends came to tell me that he was at school, I stopped at the door to see him coming in.
I told a “friend” that I liked him and everyone in the room found out, there was a time that he appeared at my door and stood there looking at me.
The other time, this is the last I remember, a girl came into the room saying that he was calling me over there in the library. It was a shouting and I left the room, and he was there at the door, my friend gave me a tug and I left with her. I felt sorry for him that day, I think he left school right after that…
Another year passed, he was fourteen.
And he was sitting every day at the door of my school, I looked to the side and he was there, he was staring at me and staring, his friends were laughing because they were either thinking of me as a joke or of him, why do we agree that in the meantime it is for the person to lose interest. There was a time, right? That there was a girl crouching in front of him, they should be talking something and I was horrible, wearing shorts and hair up, a total mess. And he ignored her, seemed not to give a shit what she was saying, so much so that the girl turned and looked at me. I passed by, laughing.
From my classroom, I could see his house and vice versa, I could also see him. And he was always there, sitting on the balcony, nowadays I realized that he seemed to be watching me, I don’t know. Why was he there so many times.
I think I didn’t see him for two years, he must have left town. I was at the end of high school when he came back into my life, at first he seemed to be ignoring me and I thought, he is right there is no reason to be insisting on me after so long and all my answers have been negative. Then, there was a time that he appeared at the door of my school, across the street.
It must have been three years since we had seen each other, the person should have forgotten me and given up on me completely.
It was just when he appeared at my window, I was startled. He gave me that look, whispered my name and I said hi, very spoiled and went back to sweeping. The creature left, thank God!
so my mom told me a few years ago that his mom was asking me and calling me daughter-in-law. everyone in his family looks at me strange. I just don’t think I’m getting paranoid.
My LO went frigidly cold on me, aloof is an understatement! We go to the same gym, and it was heaven on earth at first, but now he literally walks past me, as if I’m a ghost. He doesn’t even look in my direction, yet alone, utter a word. And whenever I look his way, he’s sure to always have he back towards me. Jack Frost ain’t got nothing on him, man. I get callously ignored, all while he’s the happy go lucky guy, with his other gym buddies. Literally, says hello to everyone but little ole’ me.
The final straw was when he made a move on one of my gym pals, right in front of me. For the life of me, idk how I didn’t break down right there, it was gut wrenching! I sobbed my eyes out, the whole car ride home. I canceled my gym membership the very next day.
#1, 5, 6, 11, 14, 15 and 16 ring true for me in the early stages of falling in love.
Just went through this recently so it’s all very fresh, still.
Those are all the reasons that falling in love is so great!
Dr L, it’s like you just hand picked them straight out of my extensive list of experiences. Every single one resonates with me. The one I felt most striking was the final one about acting impulsively. When I think back over some the experiences I’ve had with LO, I wonder who that person is. She is not me! It’s like I have an outer body experience and have no control at the time. If someone else told me they had done the things I had for him, I would be shocked to my core. But I did these things without a second thought, ME! I don’t recognise my self at all anymore. Literally anything he suggested, I agreed without any thought of consequence. I think this LE has gone so far (as I’ve only learned in the last few weeks about limerence and realised this is what I’m going through) I can tick every single box. This site is my lifeline right now.
Thank you, this quiz is very helpful. I can answer yes to all but two of your questions. 17 is a no for me as I have not had the opportunity to interact with any of his possessions nor have I had the opportunity to share any of his places he’s been outside of a shared workplace years ago. 19 is also a no for me as I have not had the ability to have any contact with my LO for the past four decades, so neglecting my responsibility for self care due to daydreams and fantasy of LO is the only thing that applies to this question.
I hardly knew my LO as he’s happily married and I’ve been avoiding him from early on. The problem is that 4 months later it isn’t abating. So I’ve just got the bad things about limerence and none of the good!! Pretty much 11-18.
Like the previous commenters, I partly agree on the statements from the checklist. Some perfectly describe what limerence feels like to me, others I can’t relate to at all or they seem to miss the point by a bit for me. I guess like with any underlying condition, “symptoms” may vary. However, reading the article got me thinking about what characterizes my personal limerence experience and I would like to share and get some input on whether this resonates with you as well:
I think it all boils down to cognitive dissonance that I am unable to dissolve. To me, it feels like being in “a psychotic state” while still having a full grip of reality, which makes the experience so unbearable. It’s hoping they will reciprocate my feelings while being fully cognizant it is not going to happen. It’s deliberately choosing to daydream about them while knowing it deranges my life because I neglect all my responsibilities. It’s idealizing them while comprehending they are far from ideal. It’s this manic obsession that I am completely aware is unsubstantiated.
Maybe I should disclose that I only ever become full-on limerent for LO that are not available for whatever reason. If a LO actually reciprocates my interest and is available for a relationship, I snap out of limerence pretty easily and find a “healthier” approach to the situation.
So, what I mean to say by all of this is: Limerence for me mostly means having intense feelings and thoughts I perceive I shouldn’t have. As soon as I get to a point where those feelings and thoughts seem warranted and “allowed”, the experience completely changes it’s quality.
Can any of you relate to that?
Limerent Emeritus says
“Maybe I should disclose that I only ever become full-on limerent for LO that are not available for whatever reason. If a LO actually reciprocates my interest and is available for a relationship, I snap out of limerence pretty easily and find a “healthier” approach to the situation…As soon as I get to a point where those feelings and thoughts seem warranted and “allowed”, the experience completely changes it’s quality.”
Makes sense. There are any number of potential reasons for it. Some questions are:
– Do you want to change things?
– How much work are you willing to do to figure it out?
– Are you willing to accept the risk of doing the work?
You can probably figure it out but it may take a lot of effort and some outside help at some point.
“I think it all boils down to cognitive dissonance that I am unable to dissolve. To me, it feels like being in “a psychotic state” while still having a full grip of reality, which makes the experience so unbearable. It’s hoping they will reciprocate my feelings while being fully cognizant it is not going to happen. It’s deliberately choosing to daydream about them while knowing it deranges my life because I neglect all my responsibilities. It’s idealizing them while comprehending they are far from ideal. It’s this manic obsession that I am completely aware is unsubstantiated.”
I love this paragraph. It sounds like you’re observing your limerent feelings with some more detached part of your brain, which is not a bad thing, although it can lead to loads of internal conflict. Maybe something fruitful can come out of that internal conflict, as you work toward resolving it? 😛
Basically, you’re aware of the “madness” of limerence e.g. nobody can be so perfect/the person doesn’t reciprocate. And yet you don’t want to give up on the dream that, yes, maybe, just maybe, you’re in with a chance!
It’s great you’re aware of the conflict. Cognitive dissonance indeed.
And you’re right – having a “full grip of reality” is often what makes it seem “unbearable”. The heightened consciousness we have as humans appears to hurt us more than anything else. We can’t “wish away the emotional pain”. 😛
“Limerence for me mostly means having intense feelings and thoughts I perceive I shouldn’t have.”
We are singing from the same hymnbook! That’s absolutely how I felt during limerence. I felt limerence shouldn’t be happening at all – that there’s something illegitimate about the whole experience. Yet, here I am, a very nice and completely-sane-last-time-I-checked person, having this “illegitimate experience” with a seemingly indefinite lifespan… Thank you for sharing!! 🙂
I have recently discovered what limerence is, I had never heard of it before. I’m not sure if it’s what I experience or not. I only really resonate with 1 and 13.
I’m hoping someone can help me, or give me some advice. I’m sorry in advance for how long it’s going to be!
A little background – my parents split when I was very young, which has harmed my ability to make relationships now I’m sure of it. I do think it left me with attachment issues. For example, after my father left, I was in constant fear that my mother was going to leave me as well. I also didn’t want to go to school if my siblings weren’t going (if they were sick or whatever) as I thought it was a plan that my family had to leave me at school. Even when my mother was late to pick me up from school, I would panic and fear that she wasn’t coming to pick me up. My mother just dealt with it by saying I was “being silly” etc. She wasn’t overly affectionate, and I remember fearing when I was young that she loved my siblings and other family members, but not me.
I also think I felt guilt that my dad left, as if it was my fault because I was the youngest child and he left when I was around 2/3. My siblings seem to be able to have normal romantic relationships.
Growing up I had a few crushes on boys in school, and I would get very shy around them. I do remember never wanting them to know or find out.
In high school, I didn’t particularly have any strong crushes, apart from my first year, but he moved away the next year so it was no problem, I didn’t find myself thinking about him after he moved. I had a few little crushes after, but I don’t believe they were at the point of where I was obsessed with them, and they usually only lasted a few months at most.
In my last year of high school, I found out a guy had a crush on me. I liked the attention, and we would talk via social media quite a bit, but in person I was too awkward to talk to him. He believed I didn’t like him, and looking back now he put a lot more effort in than I did, and we never ended up dating, we just stayed friends. Although I’m not sure if I really did like him, I think I liked the idea of him. In college I had another 2 crushes, but this time it was a little obsessive. My first crush, was in one of my classes, I will call him B to avoid confusion. I found myself attracted to B the first time I met him, and we had what I would explain to be “moments” where we would catch each other’s eye contact, and not look away for longer than normal, and I felt a “spark”. He was nice to me, although I got the feeling he was a bit shy around girls as he was friends with one of my guy friends, who had told me he’d never had a girlfriend. I never told my guy friend that I liked B however, but we would get to interact a bit because of our mutual friend. I had the feeling B liked me, as we would be very close in class situations, for example if we had to stand around a table while the teacher showed us something, and he would almost be touching me. I also remember one time my guy friend put a laptop on my books when he was talking to me and B said something along the lines of “don’t put that on her stuff,” and took the laptop off of my things. My guy friend also showed me shirtless photos of B, that they had done for an art project which I thought must of meant something. But, the next year B was never in any of my classes and I never saw him around college, so it sort of ended there. I did later find out that one of my girl friends I had told about B had approached B and asked him if he liked me, which I didn’t ask her to do, and she said he said that he did, but he thought he would be a bad influence on me. I think that was because he didn’t particularly come across as someone with big goals and aspirations.
Anyway, a few years after college and I’m in my early 20’s, still never had a proper relationship.
I came into contact with someone about a year ago, that I used to go to high school with. It wasn’t a situation where I spoke to him, I just saw him and we had eye contact and I hadn’t seen him since high school and I remember thinking how good he looked now. He is 2 years younger than me.
Anyway I’ll call him J to avoid confusion.
I saw him a few times a week, but he was always with his friends and it was not in a situation where we had the chance to talk. I had to stop going to the place we saw each other for a few months, so I lost interest because I never saw him. But, I had to begin going again, so I saw him again. I would get very excited but also nervous. I would catch J looking at me and sometimes his friends would sometimes playfully punch him or almost “hype” him up. I tried to play it cool and not seem super interested, because I thought I’d seemed a bit desperate with my previous crushes. We lived in a similar area, so I was walking home with my headphones in, and he crossed the road and came and walked next to me (no one else was walking near us) but I was so nervous I sort of sped up trying to avoid him. Afterwards I was so disappointed in myself as it would have been perfect to start a conversation, but I couldn’t. Another time his friends were playing basketball with him and I walked past his house(no one else was walking past) and they all stopped and stared at me. I didn’t look back at them as I was too nervous. Anyway, we stopped seeing each other in that setting, but unlike other crushes I still found myself interested without seeing him for a few months. I then saw him working at the local grocery store. We would make eye contact pretty much every time we walked past each other in the store, although sometimes I would avoid eye contact. He would walk past me closely, and I have even walked past and turned around and he was looking at me. I am also pretty sure I saw him smiling to himself after he saw me smiling and catching up with a friend I bumped into. I followed J on Instagram, but he didn’t follow me back for a while and I thought he must not be interested, but he recently followed me weeks after I followed him. I’m concerned I’m getting a bit obsessed? I don’t think about him constantly, and I can easily stop thinking about him. It’s more I am so hopeful of a relationship with him, when In reality I don’t know him that well, only from when we went to school together. I find myself having relationship fantasies about him as well. But it’s not like the intensity of the above statements. I don’t feel like my life has been negatively impacted since meeting him – I can focus on other things without thinking about him, and I don’t feel bad if he doesn’t look at me. I have however found myself looking at photos of girls he’s liked on Instagram, and trying to go to the grocery store on the days I think he’s working which is what has been concerning me. I also am studying online, and need to get a job to earn money, our town is very small with only a few cafes and food places most of which I have already applied for, but I have been thinking of applying at the grocery store. Would this be a bad idea? Or could it mean maybe a relationship will blossom?
I feel it is also worth noting with some of my other crushes as soon as I thought they might be interested in me, I lost interest in them. That’s not the case for J though.
I also sometimes find myself thinking J is way too good for me, and could find someone more attractive than myself. Other times I find myself thinking I deserve him and I am more than attractive enough for him. I’m really stumped as to if I have a limerence situation, or if there’s something else, or if this is a completely normal situation.
I apologise for the lengthy post!!!
Hi Chloe, and welcome.
I think we can say with confidence that limerence is not the issue that you are struggling with. If only two of the “markers” are true for you, then it’s a pretty good indication that you are not suffering from addiction to your crush – and it’s reassuring for me to know that the quiz can help reveal this (so, thanks!).
Instead, I think you have correctly identified some of the deeper issues with attachment/abandonment from your childhood. That early life experience can make it very difficult to form uncomplicated romantic bonds easily in adulthood. Coupled with an ordinary degree of shyness and insecurity (as most people have around their crushes) that can make it really hard to act naturally, as you don’t really have a good sense of what “natural” means or feels like.
If it is an option, I’d recommend seeking out some professional support around attachment – a therapist or clinical psychologist who understands the issues well and can help you understand how your experiences have shaped your romantic life. That is likely to have the biggest impact on your ability to move forwards with purpose.
Hope that is some help.
It’s really hard to define limerence for all time. However, if I had to reduce it to just a few imperfect lines, I’d say limerence more often than not turns out to be some variant of “unrequited love for someone the desiring party can’t have and can’t move on from”. At least that sums up my situation – a very painful and embarrassing case of unrequited love which I didn’t even recognise as unrequited love until much later, until it was too late. 😛
Intrusive thoughts are an absolute defining feature of the condition. If someone told me they’re not experiencing intrusive thoughts about their love object, I’d say that they’re not experiencing limerence after all and are comparatively lucky, because they can make a fairly clear-eyed decision about who they’d like to date. Also limerence, once established, makes it impossible to focus on other aspects of life such as work and study and platonic friendships. Limerence highjacks concentration and seriously impacts the sufferer’s ability to function in daily life.
Having said that, I don’t blame you at all for wondering if you’re limerent. I think shyness is incredibly common in potentially romantic situations for many, many people. Doubting one’s attractiveness to one’s desired partner (insecurity) is also incredibly common, and actually quite sweet. (Better than arrogance, right?)
What you’re experiencing, to me, sounds like physical attraction to a cute guy, and your shyness and insecurity around him sounds like they fall well within “normal range”. Hopefully, any nerves will ease when/if you get to know the guy better. You’ll probably learn he feels a bit shy and nervous around the opposite sex too and such shyness/nervousness is completely human and something both males and females have in common. Give yourself permission to be human. 😛
“Doubting one’s attractiveness to one’s desired partner (insecurity) is also incredibly common, and actually quite sweet. (Better than arrogance, right?)”
I going to disagree with you on this. Maybe not arrogance but confidence can be extremely sexy. And confidence mixed with some bawdiness … I’m going to have a hard time resisting that. 🙂
“I going to disagree with you on this. Maybe not arrogance but confidence can be extremely sexy. And confidence mixed with some bawdiness … I’m going to have a hard time resisting that. 🙂”
I believe, as always, you make a very good point. I was just thinking this morning that all my LOs oozed confidence. It might not have been confidence based on anything real e.g. real achievement, real talent, but it was confidence nonetheless! And, yes, I was attracted to that. In fact, I think I was a little too easily impressed by that…
Also was watching “Notting Hill” on the other day. I thought it was a very proper English movie. But the flirting between Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant’s characters – it does get bawdy at times! I mean, they’re discussing Mel Gibson’s fuzzy posterior at one point. Gosh! 😛
“But the flirting between Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant’s characters – it does get bawdy at times! I mean, they’re discussing Mel Gibson’s fuzzy posterior at one point. Gosh!”
LOL. I find Hugh Grant too “batting eyelashes” and “accept my apologizes for my presence” in that movie. I am watching the period romance “Bridgerton,” and the female lead says, “If we are courting, you need to bring me flowers,” and the male lead responds, “If I were courting you, I wouldn’t need to bring you flowers. I’d need just five minutes alone with you in a drawing room.” OMG. Someone said that something like that to me … I ‘d do what ever he wanted. 🙂
I was hanging out the clothes on the line and I think I’ve just had a psychological breakthrough, and it’s all thanks to you, honey! So thank you, my dear! 😛
I’ve realised I’m attracted to men who could be said to embody the character trait of “arrogance”. Not mere confidence, mind – arrogance. I’m drawn to arrogance. I’m impressed by arrogance. I’m into guys who are arrogant. (What the heck is wrong with me? Haha!)
I don’t know what this means, or what the implications are, but it feels like an exciting discovery… 😛
Camille Paglia is a very famous social critic who discusses an amazing range of issues, including feminism, sexuality, the differences between the sexes, etc. She would have been at university in the late 60s, a time of great cultural upheaval, and she echoes some of the things you’ve said on the forum…
Paglia believes heterosexual men “marry in the shadow of their mothers”. She believes straight men look to straight women for “nursing” e.g. someone to make my lunch, comfort me, manage my schedule, etc. Straight men do want women who play that mothering role to some extent. Paglia believes, on the other hand, that heterosexual women are attracted to guys who might not seem that evolved/sensitive. She believes “swagger is sexy”. The boys who can swagger are the boys who catch the eyes of the girls. 😛
It’s all hopelessly politically incorrect, of course, but Paglia is onto something I believe. My attraction to arrogant men is not rational. My attraction to arrogant men takes place on some subliminal biological level that even I haven’t been aware of until recently.
Have you ever observed a straight man who OTHER STRAIGHT MEN think is a complete and utter fool, but who nonetheless has no problems whatsoever making a big splash with the ladies? This, I believe, is the mysterious “arrogance factor” at work. Paglia is right. Swagger is sexy and maybe heterosexual women and possibly gay men, (who share some of the same emotional wiring as heterosexual women), are biologically hardwired to dig machismo?
I can’t believe I’ve been in denial about all this for so long!!! 😛
I LOVE Camille Paglia. I kind get a kick out of her. She’s a contrarian. She likes to irritate the feminists. 🙂 In all seriousness, she’s an extremely bright woman.
“Straight men do want women who play that mothering role to some extent. ”
You wrote about it being natural that people are nervous around people they like, and I totally agree. The last guy I spent time with was nervous, visibly nervous. I remember asking him what I could do to make him more comfortable. But I was nervous, too. It’s a lot to ask of someone to make up for their nervousness and yours.
Hello, Thomas! I can relate 🙂
Thank you for this interesting post. I have been browsing your blog as I am experience a rather intense LE at the moment. I resonate with almost every one of these statements with the exception of #11. I have a current partner I’ve been with for 6.5 years. After falling into a LE for a new individual, and communicating about this with my partner, I have actually felt stronger romantic/emotional/sexual connection to my long-term partner as a result. I understand that for most people in monogamous relationships this may not be the case. However, as I lean into this new paradigm of polyamorous love, I am finding that my limerent feelings are actually reigniting for my current partner in a similar but less intense way than they are towards my new LO. I’m not sure if this phenomenon is unique to me because I am open to loving multiple people at the same time, but it’s quite an incredible experience.
Joan Airey says
I think constantly fantasising about being with LO, which is of course an impossibility, could be featured here.
Tony Jupp says
My life was seriously being compromised but my addiction to LO luckily what with he Christmas break gaving me some respite to calm my delussions. To talk is very therapeutic and I hope that stumbling upon this site with so many experiences expressed will give power to those susceptible to Old.
Someone help me please.. idk what to do.. it hurts so much. I try to deny having this to myself ..I just can’t go on like this. I just want it to stop.