Dating is fun and complicated and painful and confusing. A major source of pain and confusion is mismatched expectations. Now, having a blog about limerence, it’s sort of obvious that I’d think that limerence is one of the causes of mismatched expectations, but I actually think that the lack of awareness about limerence is the major contributory factor to a huge number of relationship problems. Once we understand limerence, we realise that the dating world will be very different for limerents and non-limerents, and foreknowledge of limerence and its ways can alter our expectations profoundly.
Most straightforwardly, it’s a good idea when dating to try and figure out at a fairly early stage of any nascent relationship, whether your target/victim is a limerent or non-limerent. Because that’s going to have a big impact on what you can expect from them, and makes it a lot easier to predict and respond to the likely behaviour you’ll observe. As for different attachment types, the drives and reactions of limerents and non-limerents will be fundamentally different, and much agony comes from mismatched assumptions about how people in love behave. It’s the tragedy of two well-meaning people with shared desire, but different expectations, misunderstanding each other.
Limerents, as we know, are going to be travelling down the obsessive love road.
Non-limerents are looking for romance and friendship and love, but not the soul-consuming total consummation that limerents crave. That’s clingy and unhealthy in their world. And let’s be honest, even we limerents know it can be a bit much.
To pick this apart, let’s analyse how different love matches would play out in the early stages of a new relationship
1) Limerent–limerent love
For limerents, this is the real deal. Two people totally into one another. Both feeling the massive surge of limerent euphoria, but enough uncertainty on both sides to keep feeding it (I’m assuming here that neither are confident enough in their own attractiveness to be sure of full reciprocation). If obstacles are in the way, the limerence can be intensified. If mutual attraction leads to consummation, these lucky devils are in for ecstatic union, and a heady and intoxicating time.
However… the downside to limerent-limerent love is that the intensity is bound to wear off. At this point, our limerent heroes are going to either settle into loving pair-bonding, or seek out a new limerent object. This is where self-awareness as a limerent really pays off. It helps avoid the cycle of destructive breakups and seeking of novelty that is the fate of the limerence-chaser.
2) Limerent–Non-limerent love
The hardest combo.
From the perspective of the non-limerent, they really like this new person in their world and want to spend lots of time with them, and fool around (as the old folks say), and enjoy the thrill of new relationship energy. But – woe – after a little while their new lover is acting a bit… erratically. Getting jealous of their friends, seeking constant validation, wanting their undivided attention. Wanting more and more and more, as though they crave total immersion and want to do nothing but spend all their time with you. Just them and you. Don’t they realise that love shouldn’t be this stifling?
From the limerent’s perspective, things are different. Oh, the euphoria of consummation. Oh, the dopamine-rush of their company. This one might just be The One. But – woe – just when things were going so well their new lover is acting a bit… erratically. Wanting to spend less time together. Wanting to see friends, and go and spend time around other people, including other potential mates. The cooling of their ardour only feeds the limerence obsession. Suddenly, the limerent starts to fear losing the centre of their romantic universe, and their limerent brain doubles-down on the obsession. Don’t they realise that love shouldn’t be this superficial?
These kinds of matches can keep insecure limerents in a perpetual state of reinforcing uncertainty. They can try and play it cool and convince themselves that they are OK with the lack of mutual limerence, but they are likely to be having the worst kind of intermittent reinforcement schedule if they persist with this kind of relationship. It’s not impossible, if the limerent is aware of their drives, able to moderate their insecurities, and make a clear-headed decision to stick with their partner because they are worth the investment. But it’s not likely to be simple or easy.
3) Non-limerent–non-limerent love
Eh. I don’t know much about this, personally. I guess it’s about finding someone that you like more than all the other someones, but also being open to having emotional relationships with other people and everyone involved being fine about it. I suppose it’s alright if you like that sort of thing.
So, those are the pitfalls out there for the dating limerent. I’ve made the point before, and I’m happy to make it again: I don’t think that non-limerent love is in any way more mature or evolved than limerent love, and it’s a recipe for pain and self-denial for limerents to try and behave as though they are non-limerent. Lots of gurus and relationship coaches advocate this, but it’s a denial of the fundamental nature of limerents. Yes, the mad obsessive infatuation of limerence is objectively unbalanced, but it’s euphoric and life affirming and energising too. Maturity comes from within the individual: the ability to restrain limerence when it’s unwelcome, embrace it when it’s focussed on a worthy partner, and use it to build an incredible pair bond that will last. That’s the ideal scenario for limerents. Not to deny who they fundamentally are.