Love is a ‘special kind’ of feeling experienced by many at different times in their life. This love feeling is generally unpredictable. While some people have told beautiful tales about it, others have had disastrous encounters that make love look like a nightmare. However, the problem surrounding love emotions is that many are yet to understand the role of limerence in relationships. So, what does limerence mean?
The word ‘limerence’ has been in use since 1960, even though many are yet to know about it until this moment. Many researchers define limerence as obsessive love. This explains why individuals use both terms together unknowingly. Most times, people that claim to be in love are actually suffering from the disorder. This is often the case of those that fall in love at first sight. However, you can build a stronger relationship when you understand the idea behind limerence meaning.
What is limerence?
The first limerence definition came from a therapist known as Dorothy Tennov. She defined it as a condition of the involuntary state of mind caused by an obsessive romantic feeling towards someone. Dorothy Tennov believes that love can manifest in three forms:
- Limerence: This is an obsession;
- Loving attachment: This lasts longer;
- Loving affection: This exists between family members.
Limerence and ROCD
A limerence symptom could be an intense feeling that leads to infatuation and uncontrollable longing for another person, known as a limerent object or LO. This love obsession is similar to another disorder regarded as ROCD (Relationship-based Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). However, you should bear in mind that they are different.
While a person with fascination desires to be loved in return, a person with ROCD simply wants to reduce the stress he/she feels about the relationship. Fascination is all about fantasizing and infatuating on another person. ROCD is about questioning, worrying, and doing everything to remove the fears of not being loved in return.
Symptoms of limerence
There are so many limerence symptoms to watch out for, especially during the early stages of a relationship. Some of them include the following:
1. Strong emotional desires
If you have desires for someone to the point that it drives you crazy in a way you have never felt before, whether it is romantic or just sexual urges, or whether the other person knows it or not, this is a clear symptom of Limerence.
2. Always thinking or daydreaming about the other person
Before the relationship begins or at the beginning of the relationship, you will discover that you always daydream about the depth of your relationship with the person. Other times, you tend to dream about what the future would look like with that person. These constant fantasies about the other person usually distract you from going about your daily routine.
3. An obsessive outlook for signs that the other person feels the same way
If the other person does not feel the same as you do, you keep daydreaming about the two of you together, believing it will be a dream come true for you in the end. The outcome can be overwhelming happiness or intense sadness, depending on how the other person responds to the feelings.
4. Intense pleasure whenever you are with this person of your affection
Whenever you are with this person, you have an overly or intense sense of pleasure, which can be felt whether you are in a relationship with that person or not.
5. Manipulating circumstances to bump into the other person
A lot of people, especially those who have a fascination, begin their relationship by orchestrating events or situations where they get to bump into the subject of their fascination.
6. Idolizing them in every way
When you tend to see only the good qualities in the limerent, you do not see the negative, and even when you know, you ignore them outrightly, especially when you have to talk to other people about them. You feel just about the same way in your head. Sometimes, the limerent object has certain annoying habits that you would not have tolerated from another person, no matter how close, but with your limerence, all is forgiven.
7. A lot of time is spent on stalking
Where they are, what they do, who they talk to or spend time with becomes your focus irrespective of how much time these findings take out of your day. At severe stages of limerence, the person with fascination tends to be extremely jealous even if the other partner is in a marriage or the person himself is married.
8. The firm belief that the partner is a Soul-Mate
Fascination makes a person believe that the LO is the Soul-Mate, and together, they will ‘re-write’ the history of love.
9. Lack of concentration
The inability to concentrate on the daily routine without thinking about the limerent object is another symptom to watch out for. You get easily distracted thinking about every action the person took or everything the person said.
What causes limerence?
Biologically, people with limerence and ROCD have one thing in common: a decrease in serotonin level and an increase in dopamine level. All these are located in the brain cells and can be treated with CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Other chemical composition includes norepinephrine, testosterone, and estrogen.
The only similarity between limerence vs love is the everyday effects on brain cells. They both produce healing and reduce stress. Limerent individuals and lovers both show compassion regardless of the chemical composition in the brain. However, while the love chemicals are calmer, limerent chemicals are violent, creating intense feelings and euphoria.
Other limerence causes are:
1. Emotional readiness or need by the individual
A person who is not in a relationship or has not been in a relationship for a long time is likely to become limerent.
2. Meeting the ‘dream’ man/woman
A person who meets with someone that fits their ‘dream’ spouse will likely become limerent.
3. Love reciprocated from the LO with ease
The fact is that putting an end to fascination becomes harder when the love is being reciprocated from the LO.
If you have a friend who is becoming your limerent object, what are the different stages of limerence to watch?
1. Stage of infatuation
At the initial stage, feelings for your friend fluctuate. You second-guess your feelings, thinking if they are real or not. Eventually, the infatuation develops. Then, you start needing to see this individual all the time, even outside of work and consider nothing else. However, the infatuation can become abnormal, and at that stage, you need some therapy to help you differentiate between your real feelings and obsession.
2. Crystallization stage
In this stage, you attempt to reduce or improve certain parts of your fascination relationship. Additionally, you are now aware of the negative sides of the limerent object, which could be wretchedness, emotional dependence and intrusive thinking.
3. Crumbling stage
When you get to this level, your interest in the limerent object begins to fade. He/she is no longer the golden treasure you once saw them as before.
Can you stop limerence?
A lot of people wonder, “how long does limerence last?” The truth is that it can last for as long as you can think of until you find a cure. Therefore, if you have found yourself in this situation, here are some steps you can take to quickly reach the crumbling stage where you are no longer interested in the LO.
1. Be certain about the direction of that relationship
The fastest way to secure a limerence cure is to be 100% certain that a romantic relationship with the ideal individual is unthinkable. Asking the LO out on a date or admitting sentiments is a surefire approach to make sense of whether the LO is intrigued or not. It is a straightforward methodology. It may not be the most exquisite, but admitting your emotions will definitely get the LO out, and under tension.
Getting a firm dismissal from the LO can be a harsh medication. However, after the underlying agony, the feeling will go automatically. Sadly, this direct approach is not always easy. For instance, if the LO is a boss or co-worker, your social life can get complicated.
2. Limit your contact with the LO
This is a long process, but it is effective. All you have to do is control your infatuations by reducing the amount of time you spend or see the LO. You can also give yourself strict rules that reduce contact. For instance, you can not be in any relationship with a family friend, or you can not have an affair at work. Of course, this is a painful process, but you can be sure that it is worth it.
3. Use someone else as your LO
The most brilliant strategy, however not the least demanding, is to locate another appropriate individual as the LO. While limerence is an incredible feeling, it has its restrictions. The greatest is that one can just experience it just for each individual in turn.
For instance, if you start to feel limerent for Person B, at that point, the limerence you feel for Person A will rapidly blur away until you consider them to be merely another random person. The process is simple; go out and meet with more people. This will help you differentiate between love and limerence. On the alternative, online dating can be your next available option if the activities in your current life do not permit a lot of outdoor activities.
Love is beautiful, regardless of the dark stories that you have heard before. However, to enjoy it better, you must know when it is limerence and not love. This way, your love relationship will last forever.