Although the title of this site is “living with limerence”, and so could seem analogous to “living with diabetes” or “living with OCD”, limerence really isn’t all bad. Most limerents, if given the option of a permanent limeroid-ectomy, would emphatically decline. Limerence can be one of the most euphoric experiences in life. Although my personal experience is limited, I’m sure it feels very like a chemical high. If your LO is a worthy person, and if they can – while unable to offer consummation – at least reciprocate enough to make you feel like a happy fool, rather than a complete fool, then their company can be intoxicating and exhilarating. Turning off limerence would be akin to willingly sedating oneself, and while limerence for a toxic LO can be a catastrophe, to be incapable of limerence for a worthy LO would also be awful.
When Tennov defined limerence, she did not frame it as a pathology. It was described as a common set of experiences that, while having the potential to be distressing, could be the prelude to healthy affectional bonding. Later researchers have steered limerence towards the pathological end of the spectrum of emotional states, reserving the term for circumstances that cause overt suffering and mental distress to the limerent. I have some sympathy for this position, because limerence in a positive context is probably not so very distinct from the non-limerent’s experience of romantic love, especially if the absence of uncertainty prevents a full nucleation. Nevertheless, the fact that limerence can turn pathological in the wrong set of circumstances shouldn’t be a cause to reject the phenomenon wholesale as a negative life experience. The optimist in me wants to believe that it is possible to benefit from the capacity for limerence, and use the energy associated with it to productive ends. I guess only experience will determine whether the attempt to capitalise from limerence is riding a stallion, or riding a tiger.
So what are the positive benefits of limerence? Oh goody. Time for a list!
It’s almost effortless to justify this. Shakespeare! Pop music! Poetry! How much of art through human history has been fuelled by limerence? It’s obviously recognisable in some cases, but even when limerence isn’t an overt driving force in the plot of a work of fiction, so many artists use self-expression as a mechanism for exorcising their limerent passions. At a less elevated level, how many limerents are moved to write love letters or love poems that may never be seen by a reader, but nevertheless offer relief through externalisation of feeling?
Big feelings need big outlets. Limerence can be a spur for unleashing creativity in even the most staid people. And who wants to leave the earth without leaving some sort of unique impression?
A fine balance this one, and all about focus. During limerence, the limerent can feel supercharged. If all is going well with LO, life seems rosy and full of possibility. Perhaps this energy will be directed into creativity, but it can also be used to help keep motivated and focussed on another job at hand. This can be as simple as thinking “LO will be really impressed if I manage to get this done”. I’ve even tried to trick myself with this by telling an LO I was planning on doing something that I always wanted to get to, but never seemed to be able to find the time. That project is going to get a good old injection of energy if the alternative is diminishing my status in the eyes of LO by not following through. I suppose this can also be seen as using LO to get a hit of euphoria-power for your own selfish needs, which is a bit unworthy. But I wouldn’t mind if I were the LO in that situation (unless the limerent was deliberately disrupting my day). The danger with this strategy is when your energy is diverted entirely into feeding the limerent urge, and all other projects become neglected. But, we’re focussing on the positive today, so let’s pretend for now you can handle the limerence responsibly.
Most limerents care more about their health, appearance, charisma and overall attractiveness when in the midst of a episode of limerence. It can be the motivation needed to get to the gym, to learn a new language (especially if the LO speaks it), to improve your diet, to refine your social skills. Very few limerents make the calculation that LO is going to be more impressed if they neglect their personal hygiene, gain weight through sedentary life and poor diet, and narrow their interests to limit their conversational repertoire. Motivation to gain health and new skills is an obviously positive thing, even if it doesn’t succeed in amazing your LO with your awesome attractiveness. And best of all, if you can manage to keep up the self-improvement for long enough that it becomes an ingrained habit, you can keep it up even after the limerence has passed, and establish good routines for the rest of your (improved) life.
Also, try and become limerent for someone who has a really interesting or soul-nourishing hobby. Like scuba-diving, or chess, or Argentine tango. That way, when you feign interest to impress them (as you obviously will) and start to learn something about it, you will accidentally get the benefit of a solid life skill as a bonus.
Really a subset of 3, but worth considering separately. If you’ve read my earlier posts, you’ll realise that I very much subscribe to Socrates’s dictum “the unexamined life is not worth living”. I learned a lot about myself from my last limerent episode. I am glad it is in the past, but I don’t regret the gain of recognising my triggers, my deep-seated drives, and the aspects of my relationships with my parents and loved ones that had made me vulnerable to that LO. That sort of self-awareness rarely comes without a crisis of identity, and boy does limerence deliver that! This has the touch of the invigorating cold shower, but handled with reflection and honesty, it is possible to emerge from limerence with a better understanding of yourself that will protect you in the future. Many people recommend seeking professional help with this, and I would certainly agree that if money and time make it possible, it is definitely worth pursuing. However, I share Tennov’s anxiety that a poor counsellor (she particularly criticised Freudian psychoanalysis) is worse than no counsellor, and may do active harm. The conundrum of not being able to determine whether a counsellor is helping without having sufficient experience and self-confidence to adequately assess their skills, is a real problem. So I would strongly advocate honest self-analysis as the first stage. You know yourself best, and if you can develop the ability to be ruthlessly honest with yourself, you’ll be in a much better position to both judge the value of independent counselling, and benefit from it.
Limerence can be a positive force in life, if you cultivate the life skills to honestly judge your own drives and capabilities. Limerence, when tempered by an awareness of your own vulnerability, can be a blessing. The skill is in recognising when an LO should be avoided, when they can be trusted, and when they are so well suited to you that they can be sought as a potential significant other. Non-trivial, especially when in the grip of the reality-distortion field of a limerent episode, but possible with self-awareness and true self-honesty. And then, limerence can offer life enriching power.
This is a wonderful, uplifting post. Thanks for providing the link, Dr. L. You mentioned “hacking” the experience in another post; it is such a great idea. Since you mention self-knowledge in the last paragraph, I wanted to float an idea by everyone. Several folks have mentioned their weakness for “a damsel in distress.” The corollary is probably wishing for, or pining for “prince charming.” Don’t you think some of the limerent experience could have deep roots in cultural stories? Could those experiences fluctuate as culture changes? There is a good article about the writer/producer/director of the “Frozen” animation movies, Jennifer Lee, and how she is purposely trying to create a new fairytale story line paradigm shift for kids: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/07/style/jennifer-lee-frozen.html. Will the next generation of limerents be mesmerized by heroic princesses and goofy snowmen?
Have you read https://livingwithlimerence.com/2017/12/31/why-is-limerence-so-powerful/ and https://livingwithlimerence.com/2018/10/08/the-stories-we-tell-ourselves/ ?
If you tilt toward the meteaphysical, check out the twin flames blogs.
“That sort of self-awareness rarely comes without a crisis of identity, and boy does limerence deliver that!”
Attempting to get over my limerence changed my entire life and way of thinking. I realised why I attached to people and became needy and clingy. And ended up learning all about self love, and that I’m enough, and that being alone isn’t a bad thing at all. My attachment style changed and went from anxious/preoccupied to secure.
I never want to feel limerence ever again because I associate it with the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life. But I wouldn’t take back the lessons either.
Kajal C says
Feels good to read that you have healed and the past, painful times are over. I pray you never face them again.
I would love to know how you healed and the steps taken. Kindly let me know if there is a way to connect.
Song of the Day: “Stranger in Paradise” – Tony Bennett (1953)
So, my oboe teacher has me working on Borodin’s Polovetsian Dances. It’s oboe friendly but still beyond me. It was adapted for the musical “Kismet.” So, after watching a bunch of really talented kids perform it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiexn6O9To4), I decided to listen to the popular version.
This is what we wish limerence was.
LO = best diet plan ever! haha
True, very true, lost like 1/8th of my body weight because of limerence. Reduced my appetite, I felt like I was full on “love”. I think its partly because of the natural amphetamines your brain produces. That also explains the massive amount of energy, and less sleep. It also partly explains the increased sex drive, although testosterone and estrogen are increased too and have a major impact. Pretty interesting stuff.
“It also partly explains the increased sex drive ”
Mine definitely increased but only for the LO, really. I was hooking up with someone else at the height of the LE and I had no real interest in it. Started to see it as largely practice for when I got my hands on LO. 🙂
Limerent Emeritus says
Where were women like you when I was in the market?
I can see the conversation now.
Scene: A small bistro during Happy Hour.
“Mambo No. 5” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EK_LN3XEcnw is playing in the background.
The Guy (TG): “Ok, why am I here?”
You: “There’s this guy I really like and I’m trying to up my game. I need a good sparring partner. If you like it, maybe he will, too. I’ll pick up the bar tab.”
TG: “Works for me. When do we start?”
You: “Right now.”
Two people are seen exiting the bistro.
I must have just hung out in the wrong places or with the wrong people when I was younger.
“Where were women like you when I was in the market?”
So you want to used for practice? Ok. I wouldn’t. And the guy mistook my interest in sex for interest in sex with him. It was very, very casual, but he would not leave me alone when I broke it off.
And, as I wrote, I had no real interest in him, so the whole thing turned out to be kind of icky. It started out as a “why not? there’s an offer on the table” and I let it drag on too long.
Limerent Emeritus says
As long as I understood it going in, why not? I might learn something that I can use. You just need to watch out for Oxytocin. My wife liked that I had experience and knew what I was doing. She just never wanted to think about how I got that experience.
Yeah, you can learn about sex from books and videos but sex is one of those things best learned from OJT. And, like a lot of things, the more you practice, the better you usually [albeit, not always] get at it.
Allie 1 says
“but sex is one of those things best learned from OJT”
I disagree, books and videos can help loads. Otherwise, some people just have an awful lot of experience of doing the same thing each and every time and believe they are great at it… and more often than not it is whatever gives THEM pleasure. Not that I am bitter 🙂
“As long as I understood it going in, why not? I
Well, I guess for a one-and done, but repeated sex implies some level of basic interest in the other person, at least sexually. And I only came on to him to stick it to my LO, who wouldn’t have sex with me. I was hoping to make LO jealous. Why the other guy didn’t question why I suddenly completely ignored LO, after months of giving him attention, and threw myself at him made no sense to me. But he was such a narcissist. Probably never occurred to him that someone wasn’t into him. As I said, the whole thing was kind of gross.
“Yeah, you can learn about sex from books and videos but sex is one of those things best learned from OJT. And, like a lot of things, the more you practice, the better you usually [albeit, not always] get at it.”
Yes, you have to practice. Sometimes you learn through practice stuff you didn’t even know you liked.
Wow, that brings me back! I dropped a bunch of weight hoping LO would notice. Barely, but my SO did…and other behaviors.😳😁
I’ve been celibate for nearly 5 years by focusing on these “pros”. I was able to write a 242 pg novel using one of my LO’s as a muse (although I’ll admit the revision process is difficult while currently in the midst of a whole new obsession), and strangely enough, I’ve been told I’m aging way better than most women my age- which I contribute to seasonal bouts of limerent euphoria and lots of feel-good endorphins. Limerence is kind of a super power…
LOL. I am aging very well also. It never occurred to me I had limerence to thank!
You’re lucky. I’m rightfully blaming my first grey hairs on the stress I’ve been going through due to limerence.
But yes, LO has been a great muse. It’s been weeks of NC, but just seeing her profile pic randomly show up on my contacts inspired me to draft another song.
I’m just a bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to „use“ the energy in that way with my first LO.