What is limerence?
The original definition of limerence, a term coined by Dorothy Tenov, a psychologist in the 1970’s as an involuntary state of mind which results from a romantic attraction to another person combined with an overwhelming, obsessive need to have one’s feelings reciprocated. It is characterised by the following: Intrusive and obsessive thinking about the object of our infatuation – referred to as the Limerent Object (LO) – Replaying and rehearsal of our interactions with the LO – Anxiety and self-consciousness around the LO and an Emotional dependence on our LO. Impaired functioning around our LO.
Some commentators use the term limerence to describe the early stages of that infatuated addictive energy of love that most of us feel in early relationships – so called New Relationship Energy (NRE). With time and with reciprocation, this often transforms into a more secure and enduring love. Where the progression of a romantic relationship is hindered (often by marriage or other long term relationship) and where the uncertainty remains, enduring limerence often ensues.
What is love addiction?
A love addict’s core fantasy is the expectation that someone else can solve their problems, provide unconditional love, and take care of them. When this unrealistic need isn’t met, love addicts may find themselves feeling resentful, and may create conflict in their relationships with others.
Some love addicts find that when not involved in a love-addicted relationship, they are able to care for themselves quite adequately. However, when they become involved, the love addict quickly finds that their self-care capacity steadily declines.
What is the relationship between limerence and love addiction?
Our belief is limerence is a subset of love addiction. All those that grapple with limerence are at their core, love addicts, although not all love addicts develop limerence. I describe limerence as love addiction on steroids. We believe a combination of love addiction, traits of OCD and an addictive personality sets us up for enduring limerence.
We also see romantic infatuation, unrequited love and obsessive love as all parts of the same condition. Whilst the symptoms may vary, the origins and treatment differ little.
Why do we get limerence / love addiction?
People generally become love addicts due to a past history of abandonment from their primary caregivers. Adult love addicts usually recognized as children that their most precious needs for validation, love and connection with one or both parents were not met. This affects their self-esteem dramatically in adult life. It results in a fear of abandonment and an underlying fear of intimacy. To a love addict, intensity in a relationship is often mistaken for intimacy.
Building healthier relationships and finding ourselves.
With time, many of the members on the forum here come to realise that limerence is all about them. Their object of desire was just a catalyst. As the saying goes, when we are ready, the teacher will appear. When we have moved beyond the obsessive addictive energy, we realise we are the one with the issues and that we are the ones that have to do the heavy lifting to heal ourselves. The reality is there is no magical other. We are the ones that have to learn how to fill that hole in our soul. With time, we desire moving to healthier more conscious relationships, with ourselves and others.
After David grappled with his episode of limerence many years ago, he set up the online forum www.limerence.net to help others. David is now recognised as one of the few practitioners globally that fully understands this condition, its origins and its treatment.