What does limerence feel like?
To understand what limerence feels like, we have to first understand what limerence is. Understanding limerence, in the beginning, can be quite challenging, as it’s often mistook love.
The concept of love is constantly being rewritten by the popular culture, across movies, TV, shows and songs. They often describe these feelings as intense addictive love, which is limerence, rather than actual real love.
Stop for a second and think of your favourite romantic movie. You might recall movie scenes where a girl is compulsively re-reading a single text message from her secret lover or when a man is fantasising about the woman of his life, his “soul mate” this can be after years of separation.
These are common signs of limerence and not love. Love takes work and time, while limerence is a state of mind of being addicted to love (and not the object of your love). Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to stop this feeling, this state of being has nothing to do with your will of choice, being rather caused by biochemical processes in your brain.
The concept of limerence was introduced by the psychologist Dorothy Tennov in her book Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love. She describes it as “an involuntary interpersonal state that involves an acute longing for emotional reciprocation, obsessive-compulsive thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, and emotional dependence on another person.”
So how does limerence feels like? How do I know if it’s love or limerence?
To be completely honest, it is not that easy to differentiate between love and limerence at the beginning of a relationship. Many times, limerence can turn into meaningful and healthy relationships based on true love. On the other side, when it comes to limerence, the attraction can easily turn into obsessive thoughts and fantasies. You can experience limerence even if the other person does not share the same limerent feelings for you, but, your primary goal will be for them to reciprocate these intense feelings that you have.
To help you navigate through understanding your experience and feelings, here you have a few of the “symptoms” that a limerent person might experience.
- You are obsessively thinking and fantasising about your LO (Limerent Object)
When we think of the object of our desire, we get the feeling of love and affection that we need. It might feel that you can’t help but always think about your love interest’s every single word or action. You might obsessively think of them and a possible future together even if there is no relationship between the two of you.
- You crave for your feelings to be reciprocated
Your obsession with them is based on a need to have your feelings reciprocated. When you experience limerence, you might obsess over any kind of clue of reciprocation, such as recalling any encounter in details or reading texts over and over again feel getting high in love. You might even imagine yourself as the “hero/heroine” in different fantasies you have with this person, moments in which you save them from dangerous situations with the hidden hope that they’ll finally love you.
- You feel despair when their feelings are not reciprocated
Because limerence is a state of mind and is caused by a chemical imbalance in our brain, you can easily experience intense joy or extreme despair, depending on the reaction of the LO. You might feel euphoria one second, yet the next one you might feel destroyed and extremely depressed. When you are close to them you feel nervous and can experience more anxiety and nervousness than usually (more than someone who’s in love). When you are away from them, you always have a fear of rejection, that you’ll do something wrong or disappoint them.
- You put the limerent object on a pedestal
Similar to the “honeymoon phase”, when you experience limerence you ignore the negative traits of the other person. Someone who is not limerent can see both positive and negative traits of other people and like them despite these traits, while a limerent person will avoid and refuse to see any negative trait of their limerent object, even trying to find a reason for such behaviours.
- You create mind games
As your main objective is to get the affection and interest back from your Limerent Object, you might imagine or prepare scenarios that can enable you to meet this person. Usually, these meetings are “accidental”, or at least they seem so, either by being in the same event they are at or in a place that they frequently visit. These mind games allow you to create the interaction and connection, with the hope that they’ll reciprocate your feelings.
These are some of the signs that can help you understand if you’re rather caught up in a fantasy.
If you sometimes catch yourself thinking of someone else, don’t’ worry, this is not limerence. Limerence happens when this thinking becomes obsessive and intrudes on your thoughts at many times during the day and makes your daily life harder to manage. When It’s hard to concentrate on your job or be present at home with your spouse and family then maybe these are signs that you are experiencing limerence!
Limerence can be present during the start of any relationship, but with limerence, there is no real genuine love. The sole purpose of limerence is to gain someone or something’s affection. For a person who experiences limerence, it doesn’t matter if the other likes them or not. Indeed, Limerence can help two individuals form a healthy and long-lasting bond because while the limerence effect is gone, a deeper love has been installed between the two. Limerence has attracted them to each other, but love is what keeps them together.
Limerence can last for years and it can be one-sided as well. I’d like to share a bit of my own story of limerence that I experienced many years ago, how it felt for me and how it affected my perception of my marriage. Maybe some of you will share the same feelings.
“I had experienced crushes before, just a passing fancy to someone I found attractive. This experience was different. It rapidly morphed into something in a different league. Within days my mind became hijacked by a fantasy I found impossible to control. These thoughts occupied my mind from the moment I awoke until I found a brief respite in my disturbed sleep. I stopped eating, lost interest in life and pretty much stopped functioning. I constantly replayed our brief conversations to seek meaning in her comments. In short, I had become addicted to another person. I was on a rollercoaster of emotion, overwhelmed by a tsunami of confusing thoughts. How could my mind be so overrun by someone I knew next to nothing about?”
If you’d like to read the whole story, you can do it here.
So, if you believe your feeling limerence right now, what should you do? Firstly, understand that limerence is more than a crush or infatuation, it is a state of mind that you can’t simply stop from happening. But what you can do is to accept your feelings and not repress them. Once you feel comfortable with that, try to understand how limerence manifested in your life and how it is affecting this and your relationships.
Through true vulnerability and honesty towards yourself and your partner and being be able to understand how you can overcome this challenge together, can you start to make sense of limerence and its effects. Only then can you learn to manage the intense feelings and make the changes so that it doesn’t happen again.