If you are here, you might already feel you have some of the symptoms of limerence. You feel the state of madness and can’t stop thinking about this other person. You fantasize about them almost all the time, yet you feel very shy around them. What if they don’t feel the same about me? You ask yourself many times.
When you feel limerence, you want to create an intense and romantic bond with the LO and you have many intrusive thoughts and feelings about that person. This person can be a friend, a colleague or even an acquaintance. You feel shy around them and you constantly hope that they’ll reciprocate the feeling. Maybe they do act genuinely nice and friendly with you, but you tend to interpret every single action and behaviour as hidden affection. You believe you are finally in love, that you’ve found the one. At this point, you even started to contemplate if this can truly turn into love. In the end, it feels as you are “crazy in love”, as is commonly described by everyone. You love them and would do anything just to be with them.
If this is what you feel right now, you might be confusing passionate love with limerence, and, if you don’t deal with it correctly, it might have unwanted repercussions on your life. Being aware of the early signs of limerence is important and can make a difference in the way you deal with the situation. This is especially relevant if you are currently in a long term committed relationship, such as marriage. Although you may not be able to control your limerent feelings, the chances that you find yourself limerent for someone else other than your partner are much higher when you feel that your current relationship is stuck or doesn’t fulfil your needs.
If you ever watched the play or read the book Romeo & Juliet, you might be familiar with their impossible and crazy love. Their passionate love story has made history worldwide. Who doesn’t want to be in a love story like that? However, no one seems to care about the fact that they both die! This happens in real life, well not that couples die, but that we confuse real love with limerence. The tragic end was the only way to keep their love from being spoilt, despite the prohibitions of their families. In limerence it is always about you, the primary person (Romeo) and your Limerent Object (LO, Juliet) not forgetting the third factor, the reasons why you can’t be together (their families).
Most of the time limerence is used in connection with passionate love. This is why it might be hard to see and feel the difference. We are so used to looking for passionate love that we find it hard to make the distinction between real love and limerence. The honeymoon phase, the one at the beginning of a relationship, is the stage most often mistakenly for love. This is the stage of the relationship where everything is perfect, your partner or your LO doesn’t seem to have any flaws and you just want to be with them in any kind of way, romantically, spiritually and sexually. But be aware, this stage can be limerence and not love.
Compared with love, limerence usually lasts anywhere between 3 and 36 months, which makes it unsustainable for a long-term relationship. Limerence was firstly defined by the psychologist Dorothy Tennov in 1979, as „an acute longing for emotional reciprocation, obsessive-compulsive thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, and emotional dependence on another person”. It’s like being “lovesick”, remember Romeo and Juliet being madly in love. We commonly hear about it from the media and pop culture. However, sometimes limerence can turn into a long-term relationship when both partners have limerent feelings for each other. But most of time limerence is felt only by one side and the person experiencing it is the most affected. By being “crazy” in love you can also fall into depression or dangerous behaviours to help you get, or feel that you get, the attention and love from your Limerent Object.
Moreover, one important difference is that, while passionate love is shared and is focused on the shared love for each other, limerence brings fear of being viewed as an unsuitable relationship partner. When you experience limerence, you are afraid that your LO won’t reciprocate your feelings and often feel anxious around them. The state of limerence is also influenced by chemicals in our brain and, usually, it doesn’t last for very long (even though sometimes it can last a lifetime!). During this period, limerence has the chance to transform into something more serious and sustainable or not. Sometimes, if both partners feel limerence towards each other, it can turn into a deeper connection based on respect and love for each other. If the two people can spiritually connect with the other and then see themselves as they are, with their pain, fears and vulnerabilities, the relationship may have a chance to transcend limerence.
Most of the time, as limerence is felt only by one side, it ends up in disappointment and shame. When you experience limerence you might be prone to take life decisions, such as divorcing or breaking your current relationship, just to make space for your LO. But, unfortunately as previously discussed limerence rarely transforms into love. If you do decide to pursue a relationship with your LO, it would be helpful to understand first how the limerent feelings have appeared, so you can learn how to manage them better if they’ll appear again in your next relationship, with your LO.
Also, if you are currently limerent for someone else outside your current relationship, try to take into account your partner’s feelings and perspective. At this point, you are not very likely to be very attentive to your partner’s feelings, since your main point of interest is your Limerent Object. You want your LO to reciprocate your feelings and together have a romantic fulfilling relationship. Yet, the reality is different, you are in a relationship with your current partner and it would be useful for both of you and them to know how your limerence experience feels like. This could also help you bring each other closer and, maybe, save your marriage.
In conclusion, remember that the feelings of limerence is not a voluntary act. It is an overwhelming and obsessive feeling towards someone else. Also, limerence lasts on average between 3-36 months, so give yourself time to truly understand your feelings and move on. Just because you are limerent towards someone doesn’t mean you are not capable of truly loving a person and even stay faithful to your current partner. In the end, it is your decision how you decide to take care of your limerence with yourself and your relationship. You can always seek professional advice to help you understand your emotions and guide you through the process.