One of the things I’m most curious about when it comes to limerence, is whether it is a “normal” process that can occasionally go wrong, or – by definition – a mental illness. This kind of question draws us into the murky waters of psychology and psychiatry. Without wanting to get bogged down in issues about whether psychology is a science, and how it has been used for ill in both advertising and promoting neoliberal political and economic systems, I do think there is something very discomforting in the current tendency to see psychological distress as a failing in the individual. If you are suffering, it’s because there is something wrong with your brain, not that the environment you find yourself in is actually toxic. Using psychology to blame the victim, basically.
To illustrate this, we can consider anxiety. Anxiety is clearly a natural response to stress, and while it might feel awful, it has obvious value. You sense danger, your anxiety rises, and you raise your defences or attempt to escape the situation and get to safety. Healthy, and clearly beneficial to survival. However, when repeatedly or continuously exposed to stress, people develop anxiety disorders of various types (and also other chronic health conditions that degrade their quality of life).
In our neoliberal culture, the current epidemic of anxiety disorders is the perfect illustration of the difficulty in locating the cause of distress: are people becoming over-sensitive snowflakes who can’t cope with the Real World, or does creating a social structure in which everyone is valued on the basis of their economic competitiveness drive healthy people into a state of free-floating anxiety? Similarly, should we base our response around telling the individual that their emotions are pathological, or do we confront the fact that our hypercompetitive world is intolerable to a significant number of our fellow humans? Do we medicate people to help them cope with a psychologically-damaging world, or do we willingly compromise economic competitiveness in order to form a society in which even “sensitive” people can thrive?
Ultimately, of course, “we” don’t get to choose. All we can do as an individual is figure out how best to navigate the world we are in, based on our own psychological makeup, and decide how best to use our lives with purpose. Some may choose to compete for wealth to gain status or security, others may throw themselves into community building and protest the evils of capitalism.
Given that background, I am fascinated by the status of limerence as a concept in popular culture. Kind of by definition, limerence forums and blogs tend to focus on the distress caused by being limerent for a non-reciprocating LO, or where limerence for a third party has threatened a monogamous bond. These are obviously cases of limerence as a negative force in life, and so get framed as problems to be solved. Similarly, talking about limerence as “person addiction” invites obvious comparisons with destructive addictions to gambling or drugs. But just as anxiety isn’t itself an illness, limerence can be a positive drive with obvious benefits when reciprocated by the LO, leading to pair bonding and reproduction.
In the psychology and therapy fields, limerence is increasingly discussed as an inherently negative experience and a disordered mental state. Essentially, “limerence” means “when romantic attraction has become dysregulated and led to obsession, distorted perception of LO, and self-destructive behaviour”. It is also most often explained as evidence of attachment issues due to problematic childhood bonding. That certainly isn’t the sense in which Tennov intended limerence to be understood, but of course language is fluid and meanings change with use and utility. So, this could all be seen as just quibbling over words or definitions, but I think it does matter in understanding how to develop lasting healthy relationships.
If we are telling limerents that their trait is inherently wrong and symptomatic of mental illness, or some other personal failing or psychological wound, when in fact it is a perfectly normal trait common to a significant portion of society, we are potentially causing more harm than good. To use another analogy: if we were to counsel a lesbian in a dysfunctional relationship that her lesbianism is evidence of an attachment disorder, and she will never find happiness until she understands why childhood trauma has caused her to fall into lesbian patterns of thought and behaviour, we would be both causing significant harm and failing to solve her problem.
The basic question is this: are the symptoms of limerence a descriptive list of how a significant number of people experience romantic love, or are the symptoms of limerence evidence of an unhealthy mental state brought about by problems with attachment?
I don’t know the answer. But I think it’s an important question if we are ever to understand how to live happily with limerence. My gut feeling is that limerence is natural, and only problematic for most limerents when they get caught up in self-reinforcing cycle of dependency due to stress, a manipulative LO, or problems with existing relationships. In contrast, people who do have an attachment disorder in addition to being a limerent are likely to have a really hard time of it whenever they encounter an LO. As therapists will mainly interact with limerents at times of distress, it’s plausible that the trait itself is being bundled in with other symptoms and seen as part of the illness (especially if the therapist is a non-limerent). If only a small proportion of limerents are prone to crisis – either because of special circumstances or coincident psychological issues – then blaming limerence for the crisis is a error. The error is even worse if the limerent is advised to try and “solve” their limerence problem as a strategy for coping with the crisis.
Sigh. It’s complicated. How much does any of this matter? Probably not a great deal in the immediate support of an individual in distress, but taking a longer view, recognising limerence as an inherent personality trait that can cause emotional harm under certain circumstances is almost certainly more constructive than reserving the term for only those cases where it has escalated out of the limerent’s control.
“How much does any of this matter? Probably not a great deal in the immediate support of an individual in distress, but taking a longer view, recognising limerence as an inherent personality trait that can cause emotional harm under certain circumstances is almost certainly more constructive than reserving the term for only those cases where it has escalated out of the limerent’s control.”
How limerence is currently viewed isn’t all that surprising considering that Tenov’s work is going on 30+ years and people who are most affected by it are likely the most vocal about their experiences. Therapists are like plumbers. You only call them in distress and go with the first one who returns your call.
Limerence can provide a framework upon which someone can understand what makes them tick. I was labeled as “codependent” by a therapist who was helping me understand my relationship patterns. When it come to relationships, why were “damsels in distress” my drug of choice? In contrast to that assessment, another credentialed individual, who was also a close personal friend and knew, and had met, LO #2 when I was in a relationship with her, said I wasn’t codependent. They couldn’t both be right.
Limerenence explained my behavior. It also leads to a lot of other, often metaphysical, questions about things. One of the biggest one being if you’re limerent for “damsels in distress (DiD),” are you capable of responding to someone who isn’t? The answer is huge in terms of someone’s long term happiness in life. That’s where the therapists come in. If you’re preferred LO is a DiD, why is that? It took a competent therapist to figure that out. When I started down a path almost 8 years ago, I was looking to understand events that were over 25 years old. The journey took me back over 50 years. I didn’t bury one ghost, I buried 3.
If you can only respond to LOs, you’re pretty much screwed unless you’re willing to take on some work. If you’re attracted to LOs but can respond to someone who isn’t, it’s more a matter of luck.
Do you find a suitable partner before a dysfunctional LO finds you?
Yeah, I guess the heart of the matter is trying to understand why you become limerent for a particular type of LO (damsels in distress for me too) is a different goal from trying to understand why you become limerent at all. The former leads to personal insight, but the latter risks pathologising a normal process.
Whether you can rewire yourself to become limerent for a healthier class of LO is another really interesting topic…
There are all kinds of interesting questions but a lot of them are pretty esoteric.
I stay away from casinos because I know enough about statistics and compulsive behavior to know it could get really expensive for me. Would I become addicted to gambling? I don’t think so but not worth it to me to run that experiment.
If you look at limerence as “person addiction,” would you want to rewire yourself? Maybe, maybe not. Rewiring yourself appears to be a kind of nuanced transference. You’re not replacing a single LO, you’re replacing a whole class of them. Depending on how you deal with limerence, shifting your drug of choice may or may not help. Replacing alcohol with skiing would appear to be a healthier choice unless you’re still sufficiently compulsive to the point skiing overtakes your life at the expense of other people and things. Same behavior, different context. In college, I knew two people who flunked out of school because they got so engrossed in Dungeons and Dragons they quit going to class to play the game. In any control system, you not only need to know the absolute value of the parameter you’re trying to control at any given time, you also need to know the velocity (speed and direction) of the rate of change.
Something else to consider. In the absence of a threat, a vulnerability carries no risk. For example, you can be deathly allergic to bee stings or penicillin but if you never get stung or get an infection, you could go your whole life not knowing how close to death you were.
Which brings us to the next interesting question:
If you never encountered an LO, would limerence ever raise it’s head? No, but that’s because, by definition, limerence is behavior in a very specific context. If you look at limerents, my guess is you’d see some of the same behavior in other areas of their lives.
I think you have found the answer as to why the world is suffering greater amounts of anxiety.
When DnD was trapping the unconsciously susceptible individual into a world of vitamin D deficiencies bad costume rashes, it didn’t have other options, now high tec has landed, it’s left all our damaged DnD dunces on the edge of reality.
If you think about it…. the timing makes sense.
I’m going through a period of reflection on a time, nearly thirty years ago, when for about three years I had some serious limerence. Last night, I had a dream about my LO.
I’ve looked her up on the internet- not to get in touch, but just because I’m curious about these very intense feelings I had. I don’t think she does social media, but she’s eminent in her field so it’s not difficult for me to see what she’s up to, at least professionally; this is interesting in itself because, although we started in the same place, she’s reached the top of her profession whilst I, though happy enough in my job, haven’t.
My feelings all those years ago were typical of how I viewed women at the time. Having gone through all sorts of ups and downs since, I’m able to view them with a certain amount of detachment. They were so far from being conducive to happiness that I tend towards viewing them as an illness or, at least, an aberration. Revisiting these feelings runs a small risk of re-igniting them.
The risk may not be as small as you think! Please be careful!!!!
“My feelings all those years ago were typical of how I viewed women at the time. Having gone through all sorts of ups and downs since, I’m able to view them with a certain amount of detachment. They were so far from being conducive to happiness that I tend towards viewing them as an illness or, at least, an aberration.”
That sounds potentially very lonely and a self-fulfilling prophecy. I doubt you are completely capable keeping this belief and attitude under wraps and people (women in particular) will pick up on it and avoid you, or treat you with wariness.
I hope you’ve made a good happy life for yourself in the meantime.
“when repeatedly or continuously exposed to stress, people develop anxiety disorders of various types (and also other chronic health conditions that degrade their quality of life).” I wonder if I have developed an anxiety disorder. I don’t know how to cope with my limerence. I’ve been experiencing panic and anxiety attacks for a year now which has never occurred before. I think I have a pattern when it comes to pursuing any kind of relationship, but I’m always able to have the strength to move on whether it be from a friend, a love interest or a family member. This time is different. I spent less time with this person than anyone before and my feelings are stronger than theyve ever been for anyone. It’s been over a year. I’ve attempted to cut contact with this person. Block them. Ive relapsed many times. Now he’s in a committed relationship and I’m internet stocking them both and the people they know just to find pictures of them. I’m deeply ashamed but I can’t stop. My anxiety and depression has never been like this before. I was lively, outgoing, vivacious and an opportunist. Now I find myself at times afraid to leave my room, crying nearly everyday, replaying memories on loop, unmotivated, and completely uninterested in the things and people that made me happy before. I’m not undesireable, but I have no interest in becoming interested in anyone else. I feel traumatized by my experience. Much of what you’ve expressed in this article resonates with me. I have been seeking help. I’m open to discussing it but I’m so ashamed now being that my woes have not changed that I don’t feel I can’t speak with people about it anymore without driving others away. I’m considering anxiety and depression medication which I have always believed strongly against for myself personally. I feel the effects mentally and physically and I’m burned out. I want to speak with someone who is well versed on this condition.
I suggest you find a therapist who specializes in trauma and get a full physical work-up from your PCP.
There could be more going on than you realize in other systems (thyroid, for example). It’s worth the bloodworm and time.
“I’m considering anxiety and depression medication which I have always believed strongly against for myself personally.”
Would you refuse to wear glasses if you needed them? Probably not! In the meantime, try working out. To the point of sweating. Not because it will magically cure anything but because it *may* make you feel slightly better, it may be good for you physically while you wait on bloodwork or while finding a therapist who is a good enough fit for you. If medication helps you get over the worst of it – that’s great. You’re not committed to them for life, hopefully. It’s not like being a Type I diabetic!
Good luck. Take care of yourself.
Really sorry to hear how badly you are impacted. It does sound like you are caught in a mental trap, and need to take some sort of disruptive action to break the cycle. Antidepressants can be effective when used to halt a self-reinforcing downward spiral – kind of re-establishing a temporary equilibrium so you can start to address the underlying issues. Not something to dabble in, but I would keep all options open, and talk with a professional about whether that could be part of a treatment plan.
Shame is a really common element of limerence. It can be a useful guide for behaviour, but if it lasts too long then it becomes destructive. Often we are ashamed of things out of proportion to how serious the moral infraction. Yes, internet stalking is not good, but it’s only really harmful for you. I mean, definitely a habit to stop, but not one to crucify yourself over.
There’s lots of the site about how limerents feel and what can be done to lessen the worst of it. Hope some of it helps. But where you are now is Not OK, so please do continue to seek help wherever you can find it.
Best wishes – Dr L
Hi Kennedy, I so feel your pain. I’m 50+, and just in the past week finally found a name for my 35+ years of suffering. I never knew why ALL of my significant relationships felt wrought with anxiety since my first at 15yo. Why do couples walking down the street seem happy, while even in a committed relationship I would feel extreme anxiety whenever away from her, and obsessed with thoughts of my world falling apart if she left me, and probably worse: I find that my whole world centers around this object of my affection(?) – I don’t care about my job, eating right, living right nothing – my goal centers solely around feeling like I’m getting the attention I want/need from her. This pattern occurred thru multiple relationships, and was always a self-fulfilling prophecy of dooming the relationship to failure. Not having any answers why my relationships were little more than perpetual turmoil, I’ve avoided anything more than casual dates for 10 years, feeling lonely and alone, and not willing to risk the pain of debilitating depression. Now an ex GF (a definite and strong LO, married, and with a child) from 10y ago contacted me to be a bit ‘more’ than friends – I’m powerless to say no, yet the anxiety immediately returned. I can barely concentrate at work, I have solo conversations with myself in which I’m talking to her – it gives me an odd comfort because I feel like it connects me to her. I’m back to living each moment in fear of spiraling back into the abyss. I’ve learned very little of this has to do with her – it’s all inside me. Aside from general terms, in all these years I have never found anywhere where someone else described living through and with these types of symptoms. I’ve just initiated counseling appointments, and daring to hope for the first time in a long while that joining support groups could help me find some relief. I hope this finds you well.
“Now an ex GF (a definite and strong LO, married, and with a child) from 10y ago contacted me to be a bit ‘more’ than friends – I’m powerless to say no, yet the anxiety immediately returned.”
Jeff – You deserve to be someone’s #1 guy. Not a guilty secret, one that could destroy a marriage. Don’t be party to a lie.
You do have the power to say no – but it’s hard because you WANT to say yes and hang all the consequences. But those consequences will land all over you and a child. If she wants to destroy her marriage by cheating that is awful and you don’t want to be dragged into it. You could find yourself looking at a subpoena someday and what if she were to get pregnant?
I hope the woman of your fantasies isn’t a liar and a sneak.
“I’ve just initiated counseling appointments,”
Awesome! Do bring up limerence to the therapist. It’s not particularly well known and the therapist may have to do some homework along the way too.
1800 to 3000mg of NAC daily really helps the ruminative loop patterns of the mind. Check out the case studies online of NAC for OCD
A “near-death” limerent experience brought me here. Just a couple of days ago I experienced a brutal and overwhelming limerent “ambush” upon meeting a woman for the first time who is going to be a business associate going forward. In almost no time we were discussing very deep personal matters concerning her acrimonious divorce, child custody issues, and how devastatingly cruel her ex-husband’s post-divorce treatment of her has been. As a man who is also divorced, as well as knowing betrayal through women in my past, I could instantly relate. As we spoke, I felt myself being flooded with overwhelming feelings of pathos and all-encompassing attraction for this “damsel in distress” that I had just met and only known for mere minutes. We ended up talking one-on-one for at least an hour, and the general level of mutual disclosure was very intimate, especially on her part. Our connection felt so pervasively absolute and real, so vulnerable, heartfelt, and deep, SO INTIMATE, that I wanted to embrace her and say “I love you.” But we had to part ways, and upon doing so I was already both intoxicated & giddy, anxious & fearful. By the following morning, I was in limerent hell; completely flooded and overwhelmed with attachment anxiety for her, I experienced a lead-weight level of depression that made it difficult for me to function the entire day and night. Not seeing her, not being able to continue our soul baring exchange was excruciating torture. I had experienced the greatest joy and ecstasy of encountering what felt like an instant soulmate, only to have her immediately ripped from me. Of course my language here is florid and dramatic as is needed to convey the experience, and I realize that this pain I am feeling is all about me and how I am wired. Worst of all, from my perspective, is the fact that we must both observe a formal relationship going forward that requires us to have proper boundaries for the sake of business. And while I have been able to ignore the white elephant in the room thus far in our subsequent follow-up communications, I have also made it clear as diplomatically as I could that I have heartfelt feelings for her. She has likewise been complementary but formal; other than her highly emotive and even affectionate demeanor during our first encounter, she has not worn her heart on her sleeve afterward about how our initial connection has reverberated with her. While this extremely dramatic response to our impromptu first meeting is not unprecedented for me— I am definitely a classic limerent historically speaking , it has been years since I have been in the death throes of such a terrifyingly powerful experience of instantaneous limerence. For those who only know limerence as an abstract concept, be very, very thankful!
Wow, Chatterton. I think you might win the prize for “zero to limerence” acceleration time!
It sounds as though you were caught out by a very unprofessional first encounter, and that you do need to maintain boundaries from now on. Some people do just pour out their emotions to near strangers like this. It can be tough if you’re a limerent on the receiving end…
I just want to tell you a little cautionary tale. My last LO had just been left at the altar when we became acquainted and his cheerful demeanor belied the fact that he was distraught and needed someone to vent to….at any hour day or night. I soon became besotted and allowed this venting…thinking that in time he would see that I was the one that was actually his soul mate! Intense limerence (on my part) ensued, which lasted for years, until he married…someone other than me. I am still recovering…and actually regret allowing myself be a party to his recovery, since I had such strong feelings. Someone else with no romantic feelings would have been better suited to the job. as Midlifer said:
“So, even if I were single, I would not want to fall for being a ‘buffer’ or ‘emotional airbag’ for him”.
I like the term “fall for”. Like Dr. Limerence says:
“Some people do just pour out their emotions to near strangers like this. It can be tough if you’re a limerent on the receiving end…”
No truer words….and for me; ‘tough’ is an understatement.
Escape while you can!
Boundaries are beautiful!
Oh, Chatterton, I feel for you! That’s a horrific limerence ambush.
The element about her divorce and her oversharing about it with you, when you had just met and in what was supposed to be a business meeting, really seemed to me to raise a red flag. One thing that helps me as I try to distance myself from my LO is to reflect on all the reasons why I should be wary of dating him even in the absence of barriers. In my case, the barrier is that I’m committed to my marriage. In your case it sounds like a major barrier is your business relationship. A common thread however, is that my LO is coming out of a divorce and is very far from being over his ex. So, even if I were single, I would not want to fall for being a ‘buffer’ or ‘emotional airbag’ for him, as discussed by Natalie Lue here:
I hope this is helpful to think about and I wish you as speedy as possible a release from the throes of limerence.
Thank you everyone; I am very touched by your insightful replies and appreciate the cautionary admonitions, as well as the honorary “zero to limerence” acceleration time prize 🙂 I guess my “instant limerence” comes from being both a classic limerent since childhood as well as a battle weary veteran with limerent shell shock, all of which has saddled me with this ambush meltdown. Neither of us are married, but I think our newly established working relationship is the big white elephant in the room which is going to keep us in check for at least awhile and impel us to mutually ignore the obvious connection that became immediately apparent upon our first meeting. I am (of course) overwhelmingly attracted to her, but cannot tell if she is attracted to me or not. But given my meltdown reaction to her kryptonite, my better sense is telling me that I would do well to pass even if she offers herself up on the proverbial silver platter. I say this because I have learned the hard way, as I’m sure most here have, that anyone who is calibrated to incite such instantaneous feelings of limerence in me is proverbial poison. A most delicious way to die to be certain, but I just don’t think I have it in me to do that to myself again. Let me be very clear here that I do not see myself as a victim nor her as a perpetrator; we just have that unfortunate limerent chemistry which I can ill afford to court at this point. We will see what unfolds going forward, but for the time being I need to pull myself back together from this ambush. Thanks again to everyone for your support !
I am a 25 year old female with severe depression, anxiety and recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I have stumbled across the term ‘limerence’ in a desperate attempt to find out why I’m struggling with relationships, which has lead me to Google search my ‘symptoms’. This is the closest I have come to understanding it and I do have a mild sense of relief that there may be a logical explanation for my issue….
I know I’m young, I haven’t necessarily had adequate experience – but I definitely feel like my experience with relationships has been far from healthy.
I struggle to maintain a relationship for any longer than 6 months to a year. When I meet someone remotely suitable, it almost seems to feel like a game to me to start a romantic pursuit. Often there is no overwhelming sense of connection. But once the courtship has begun, for the first few months, I am completely disabled by it. I become infatuated, clingy, with intense separation anxiety, I get anxious that their feelings are untrue, I become manipulative (I won’t ask for reassurance, ‘because they could lie’ I’ll create scenarios in which they have to provide adequate proof that they are committed to me). Once I get through that, there may be a few months of natural, happy me – and then all of a sudden nothing. No feelings, no sexual desire, nothing. Coming to the conclusion that I was no longer in love with the person, each time, was incredibly depressing. I could never figure out why, I had to assume that they just ‘weren’t the one’. I then, not consciously, would seek out a new LO.
Right now I feel the worst I’ve ever felt in my life. I’ve been in a relationship for nearly 7 years. Which monumental for me. I went through the same process as usual for the first few months, intense emotional swings and anxiety, followed by a few good months and then emotional and physical desertion. When I started to feel empty again, I was devastated. My SO and I are very different, I’ve known a lot of trauma, I am very compicated and introverted whereas he is, uncomplicated, positive, extroverted. He is the sweetest, kindest man I’ve ever known. He’s handsome too. He’s stayed by my side during intense depressive episodes and emotional outbursts, he really takes care of me. I knew I’d be a fool to lose him. So I did everything I could to improve my state of mind, I went back on the meds (I’ve always been on and off), I put a lot of energy into isolating my negative behaviours and fixing them. I wanted so much to salvage my relationship.
I had a nervous breakdown, in 2015, which pretty much crippled me. I won’t go into that but basically, I believed I was going to die imminently, horrifically and painfully. At the time, I managed somehow to drag my quivering mess into work everyday, where I had just started working in a new department. I was trained by, and working with an engineer, 30 years my senior, an INFJ like myself. He understood me in a way no one ever has before. I made a real connection to him. He has since been my LO, and this time I’ve tried so hard not to give in to it because I’m so scared that it’s just the same broken psychological problem happening again. As I have not satisfied this extreme obsession, it’s going on two years. I’ve been convinced for the first time in my life that this person may even be my soulmate. He knows this also – he expressed to me that the feelings were reciprocated and have been stuck in limbo ever since. I am absolutely infatuated with this man. I have such feelings of affection for him, that it comes out in physical pain. Sexual fantasies, separation anxiety, paranoia, you name it.
I have been consequently suffering with extreme depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
I need help, that’s for sure.
Unfortunately I live in the UK and so far I’ve only had very basic treatment on the NHS for depression. You tend to be thrown under a category, it never reaches levels this deep.
If anyone took the time to read this, I’m so sorry for the long post.
Stef, thank you for sharing your story, and I’m sorry for what you’ve been going through! I also suffer from severe anxiety and depression, which limerence only makes worse. Your statement about dragging yourself into work every day really resonated with me, because I had the same experience. I feel like whole months and years of my life were lost to depression and limerence. I could just barely function at work, and that was all I could. Every second was spent in terrible, silent pain.
I also believed in “soulmates” for a long time. I’m a serial limerent, which means that I saw every new LO as a “soulmate.” After the 4th or 5th LE, however, I realized how silly this was; they couldn’t ALL be my soulmate. That’s when I really started to suspect that my LEs were not spiritual experiences, but psychological ones. Limerence is all about brain chemistry and the psyche. It helps to remember this.
Please keep reading this blog and seeking answers. It will go a long way toward helping you; it helped me. There are tons of old posts here that will help you understand what limerence is and how to beat it.
Also check out the limerence forum, which is hosted on a different website (I don’t think I can post links here, but you will be able to find it through google). You might gain some insights there that you won’t find here.
Thank you for taking the time to read my post. It has been awful. It’s so complicated, for so many reasons I can’t even begin to explain. LO is bordering dismissive avoidant. Just keeps me hanging on by the tiniest thread. This is the longest and strongest I’ve ever felt for anyone, I never believed in soulmates until this one person. It’s like some parallel universe and we’re the only two people in it. He absolutely drives me bonkers. I’ve had a few serious attempts at relationships and have always grown out of them, which I put down to having mainly built them on common interests rather than a real, solid foundation. I have such a solid foundation with LO. While I feel like I’m recognising an unhealthy pattern of behavior which I’m now questioning has been limerence, I’m conflicted feeling like I don’t WANT to get better. I LOVE THIS. I feel butterflies in my stomach, my lips physically ache from wanting, this insatiable desire to feel their skin and write poetry with my hips, but also be the one to heal their pain, cry with them, hold them, learn from them, share experiences with them. And I’ve felt this way for two years with unwavering passion. Like “well, if I feel this way about someone why can’t I just be with them, don’t I deserve that?”, because after having a breakdown and believing death was imminent, I have a serious complex about decision making because I don’t want to have any ‘regrets’. But the thing that’s stopping me is what if its psychological? What if it just happens again? And again… And again… It’s literally taking over my whole existence. Sorry for the irritating use of the word ‘literally’. I’m not an intellectual and I find it helps me with emphasis…
OMG, I know how you feel. I have a LO and I’m miserable. I’m married so it isn’t appropriate. Since I met him at work, I have quit my job and I have cut off all contact a year ago but these thoughts won’t go away. They plague me throughout the day. I hate it. Will it ever end? This has led to depression and anxiety. I’m in counseling but I’m so sad. I wish I never the man. Life was so much better before him. It’s a curse.
I have always been limerent. Started in first grade if you can imagine. I crave attention and this man gave it to me. I know my childhood caused this but I’m an adult and responsible for myself. I can’t blame my dad any longer. But I would say, I do think it’s an attachment problem. I also think society has fed me a bunch of lies about what true love is. I’ve watched too many romantic movies I guess.
Stef I feel bad for you… it seems like your current partner is such a prize, and yet seems not enough….and I know that our limerent brains aren’t logical. I hope this site helps you to self-treat and heal the hole that triggers limerence. I think that is what we all want….but you are young and have something so good right at hand…and believe me, LO’s are usually a great disappointment in the long run. I feel like you’ll be ok (with some hard work) and am cheering you on from across the pond!
Stef, so sorry you are having a rough time. Are there any free services you can use? Hotlines? Please continue to reach out for help. Take care of yourself .
This post is so comforting. I waste a lot of the precious energy I have leftover after limerence wondering if I am Jennifer Jason Leigh from Single White Female. Not helpful.
> My gut feeling is that limerence is natural, and only problematic for most limerents when they get caught up in self-reinforcing cycle of dependency due to stress, a manipulative LO, or problems with existing relationships.
Having read a lot of this blog while processing my so far only experience of limerence from 2013/14, I agree. I didn’t have any childhood trauma, was raised in a loving and intact family and apart from some severe anxiety as a result of the limerence, I’ve never had any psychological problems before and after.
My LO wasn’t bad or manipulative in any way – she was an amazing best friend and a very attractive woman, most likely a perfect match for me, just a bit out of my league. The limerence didn’t come out of nowhere – she made a very strong gesture after which it became fully blown. The „energy boost” that I got from the limerence + also dating another woman definitely increased my odds, but it wasn’t enough.
Especially considering the stats from „How common is limerence?“ (https://livingwithlimerence.com/how-common-is-limerence/), it seems to me that especially people with a INF personality who kinda yearn for a very close soulmate-like romantic connection would develop limerence as a normal part of growing up and falling in love.
At least I’m INFJ myself and both of my two long-term relationships were with an INFP who also experienced limerence when they were younger.
I think this article may be missing the point. It seems to me that “limerance” is different from healthy longing or romantic interest. That’s the point—it is not just ordinary infatuation. It is obsession. I don’t understand the author’s downplaying of it as a normal human emotion. The author’s thesis that it can lead to attachment and reproduction I think might just be an occasional byproduct, but in most cases it is unrequited. I think the continuance of the obsession despite the lack of reciprocation is what makes it “limerance,” an unhealthy state of mind that is not at all a normal human emotion.
“My gut feeling is that limerence is natural, and only problematic for most limerents when they get caught up in self-reinforcing cycle of dependency due to stress, a manipulative LO, or problems with existing relationships” – this resonates, I could have written the prior post by Findus. No early trauma or abandonment, good family and upbringing. As I explore Limerance I look back and see it throughout my life. Most of the time a non-issue. I get obsessed with someone but don’t take action – but the symptoms were there. With my current LO – very stressed with work, my (ex)wife would not reciprocate (how I need), little emotional support which I viewed as trying to manipulate me, Covid set the world upside down, US politics made me angry… and my Limerance took over big time and I gave into it wholeheartedly. The outcome has been disaster. Working on putting myself back together, just finally learning about Limerance after all this helps… but I don’t want to stop. Logically I get it and know, but what is life without that “feeling”? Why isn’t it real? If I don’t chase it will I ever find it again? It truly is “heroin” and an addiction.