Have you ever been obsessively infatuated with someone?
Like, you know, that someone means the whole world to you. You always wake up with an intense desire to have a romantic relationship with that person.
You feel three things at once- romantic attraction, euphoria, and an urge to have your feelings reciprocated. Well, that’s limerence for you in a nutshell.
In 1979, Dorothy Tennov, an American Psychologist coined the word “limerence” in her book Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being In Love.
It reminds me of the time when the only things that mattered to me were his attraction, his approval, and his love because I was in an involuntary state of deep obsession and unfathomable infatuation with him.
By definition, it goes as,
“impulsive state that includes an intense longing for sentimental requital, fanatical-compelling thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and emotional addiction to another person”.
Is Limerence Real Love?
Lovelorn (lovesick). Languid (longing). Limerent (The one in limerence with the object of limerence). These words are miles away from love. Love is a tough job. I wouldn’t say, limerence isn’t. Limerence is a short-lived infatuated state of mind.
Love develops over the years. It’s something we can thrive on, survive with. Love is a product of commitment and a deep level of intimacy. In limerence, there is no deeper understanding of the limerent object (LO).
Causes of Limerence?
Ever heard ‘Bleeding Love’ by Leona Lewis? Here it goes
But nothings greater, than the rush
That comes with your embrace
And in this world of loneliness,
I see your face
Being in constant touch with the limerent. In my college days, I always had this classmate who was present wherever I went. Later on, I found out that he was in love with me. To be precise, I was his limerent object.
I don't care what they say,
I'm in love with you
They try to pull me away,
But they don't know the truth
The obsessive and compulsive thoughts about the limerent object prevent you from thinking straight.
My heart's crippled by the vein,
That I keep on closing
You cut me open and I
Keep bleeding, keep, keep bleeding love
The feelings you have for the limerent object feel so real, so pure, and so surreal, you don’t want to stop being in love and so you are ready to suffer for as long as you want. One of my friends was so obsessed with a movie star, that she ended up going to jail for breaking into his house.
Then, there’s the biological aspect. The reasons may not interest you much, but there’s always some chemical reaction to something as serious as limerence.
- Increased levels of dopamine – happy hormone
- Decreased levels of serotonin – sleep hormone
Both these hormones produce violent, intense feelings, and euphoria in limerence.
Other causes of limerence:
- Someone who has never been in love or a relationship before
- Someone who falls in love with his or her dream woman/man
- Someone who got love from the LO
5 Constant Statements in Limerence:
• “Madly in love”
If you have heard ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’ by Savage Garden, you will know what a person afflicted with limerence goes through when he or she says they are madly in love!
• “He/She is my soulmate”
Do you know this movie – ‘50 First Dates’, an American romantic comedy film starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore? He fought hard until the end because he thought she was his soulmate.
• “I think I am the only one, they feel this way with”
When your crush becomes an obsession, you come up with such statements. ‘Ghajini’, an Aamir Khan movie proves this statement. He thought his muse felt differently about him alone. Another example? Well, then the ball’s on ‘Tere Naam’, a Salman Khan movie. He was so obsessed with an ordinary girl, that he thought she felt extraordinary only with him.
• “I cannot live without him/her”
This sort of stage arrives when the LO has become such a frequent part of your life, that you cannot imagine your life without him/her. It happened with me, back in the teenage days, when I couldn’t imagine my life without my high-school crush. Now, he’s happily married to someone from our high-school itself.
• “Never felt this way about him/her”
A person, in the tight claws of limerence, always tries to compare what he/she is feeling with what love is. At times, he/she doesn’t even know the real definition of love.
How Long Does Limerence Last?
For some, it can last up to several years. For some, even a few weeks is enough of self-obsessed torture cum pleasure. But if you want me to give you an average period, then it would be somewhere around 18 months to three years. Sound good? Well, pretty bad for the ones into the clutches of a crush.
What are the Stages of Limerence?
Limerence is an amalgamation of three stages:
You have just met your LO, and you are in the ‘getting to know’ phase. You notice subtle signs in yourself. You start to feel like they are special and out of the world. You might want to tune in to “First Love” songs. Everything about them feels so wonderful, that you sort of develop an emotional bonding and a sense of connection with them, without them knowing. You, as a limerent, feel safe in the company of your LO and want to share your life experiences with them.
Here, you are now a developed species, ready to pounce on your LO. You want to stay in love for a long time.
I am going to list out your feelings as a limerent:
- Frequent and compulsive thoughts
- Irresistible need for requital
- LO’s actions decide your moods
- Not available for others
- Fantasizing about LO gives gratification
- Physical discomfort (stammering, heart-racing, sweating, shivering) when with LO
- Constant pain in the heart when you know LO is going to reject you
- You forget about everything in your surroundings. Like, in a photograph of your LO, you forget to notice the background, because LO is so attractive.
- Emphasis on positive traits of LO and ignorance/ triviality of negative traits of LO
- A constant urge for exclusivity- exceptionality.
A time comes in the life of limerent when he/she loses interest in the LO. The ‘halo effect’ created in the first stage- infatuation starts to fade away. You start to lose interest in your LO. It’s like leaving the Disneyland emptyhanded and hard-hearted. If you are a newly married couple, then what is it that you feel when the ‘honeymoon’ is over? Well, the limerent feels exactly that way.
16 Hallmarks Of Limerence
For those of who are still figuring out if they are the limerent or the LO, here are 16 signs to help you understand yourself or someone close to you better. Hold on tight!
1) Long-Lasting Love/Ode
Madhubala till her last breath craved and longed for Dilip Kumar. An age-old tale to prove limerence is a long-lasting love/ode. One difference to note here is, when you are in limerence, you think 85% of the time about LO, and when you are in love, you think about everything collectively- job, finances, relationship, hobbies, family, and friends.
2) Consistent Fantasy
Every once in a while, you picture meeting your LO, as if, only after meeting with them, would you feel better, gratified, satisfied, and contented. A constant urge to fantasize about reunion and recreation of the meetings lived is what goes through the limerent’s mind. Something amazingly conveyed by Dierks Bentley in the lyrics of the song- Thinking of You
When I'm all alone or in a crowd
In a quiet place or where music's loud
If I'm on the road, or in the other room
That's how you know, I'm thinkin' of you
3) See Them Everywhere
When you are in obsessive love or limerence with someone, you tend to see them wherever you go. Be it in your house or walking down the street. Even subtle things are enough to remind you of them. This may be sounding romantic to you, isn’t it? But even the best lovers don’t see their spouses everywhere.
4) Not Entirely Lust’s Fault
It’s pretty normal to get confused between these two concepts here. Limerence and Lust. Too difficult for you to comprehend? Let me straighten them out for you. Lust is when you want to have sex with someone. Limerence is not based on sex. You just want the other person to reciprocate the feelings you feel for them.
5) Depression Is A Piece Of Cake
Bill Withers, an American singer-songwriter, was a remarkable sensation back in the 1970s and 1980s for the love he put in his songs. When we talk of limerence and depression, it reminds me of one of the Bill Withers’ songs- ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’. The lyrics go as follows –
Ain't no sunshine when she's gone
Only darkness every day
Ain't no sunshine when she's gone
And this house just ain't no home
Anytime she goes away
It’s more than simple to sink into depression when anything even remotely related to the limerent annoys you like you did not get his or her attention, affection, or reciprocal.
6) Love Placed On A Pedestal
Know what falling in love with a criminal feels like? Britney Spears knows. Her song on ‘Criminal’ is all about it!
You would ignore every little negative trait of your LO because you love them so much. It happened with a close friend of mine; she was in love with a married man. She knew he was wrong in doing that, yet, she wholeheartedly gave herself to him. She just ignored the fact- “married with two kids”.
7) No Introduction Scenarios
Becoming possessive about your loved one to some extent is normal. But becoming so possessive and that you don’t let your loved one meet anyone else? Well, that’s too limerent of you. You become so self-aware of this love-drugged and possessive state of yours, that you don’t want anyone to witness it.
8) A Potent Stimulus For Drugs
You see your LO as a demi-god, someone who just came down from the godly world to be with you, and someone who radiates beauty, elegance, royalty, and flair. The addiction to your LO is equivalent to a drug addict’s addiction to marijuana. The withdrawal symptoms are so prominent, that you experience extreme mood swings, anxiety, and depression. Everything a drug-addict goes through. Scary, isn’t it?
9) Leave Everything Apart
Stalking your LO becomes your sole purpose of existence. You look no further. Kind of like, ‘Stalking You’ by A Boogie wit da Hoodie.
I feel like I'm stalking you, I swear
I keep on watching your Snaps,
I'm stuck on your Instagram
And girl, I don't even follow you, I can't
Too busy calling you back,
sometimes I don't understand
10) Time Spent Is Inestimable
You ever thought of spending the rest of your life with someone? Well, it happens all the time in limerence. Any shared conversation or activity with the LO makes you want to have them for the rest of your life. Every little moment spent with the LO is so precious and so magical. You never want it to end.
11) The Magnetic Pull Is Strong
A sort of magnetic connection to them develops with time. You can feel that magnetic field and powerful vibe around them. Even if you barely know them, you feel like you have known them and felt this magnetic pull for years and decades together. Somewhat like, “Janmo Janam ka Saath”.
12) Breeding Of Irrational Jealousy
Even when you are not in a relationship with your LO, you might have excessive jealousy breeding inside of you. There is no relationship between the two of you, but there’s immense jealousy. Imaginary, but present. You cannot date anyone else, because you feel so strongly about them.
13) Excessive Focus
“Aaj Main Upar, Aasman Niche” kind of feels run through the veins of a limerent. No, I am not joking. Everything around the LO is so beautiful, that it makes you fall in love with everything in your surroundings. The excessive focus on your LO makes your dopamine levels go up. Mostly the focus is only on the ‘good parts’ of LO and the ‘bad parts’ are not given any consideration.
14) Manufacturing Of Accidental Scripts
Living with limerence turns an LO into a fanfiction. A limerent wakes up with the only agenda, to obtain love from the LO. So, to do that, there’s constant playing and replaying of accidental scripts in the mind. That is limerent tries to meet with the LO in his mind and practices the dialogues in the script to make the LO fall in love with him/her. In most of the scripts, you as a limerent are the rescuer or hero or heroine in the life of the LO. This reminds me of Enrique’s mesmerizing number- ‘Hero’.
15) Unblemished Creation Of Beauty
For you, as limerent, red flags about LO are not dangerous. They are flawless creations of God. You adore both their good as well as bad qualities. Something that would happen in ‘blind in love’.
16) Inevitable Longing
“Tadap Tadap Ke Iss Dil Se” from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam clearly explains what inevitable longing means to you. You know you cannot live without them, and you know you cannot fall for someone else. That sort of longing is painful, tortuous, and unbearable.
Is There Any Cure For Limerence?
Most people who have been in love can say, that love is a permanent thing wherein you have temporary moments of ecstasy and obsession. But in the case of limerence, it is a temporary thing where you have permanent feels of ecstasy and obsession. Until and unless, you realize it yourself, that you are suffering at the clutches of limerence, you cannot find a cure.
Don’t worry, here are some workable steps for you to feel good about:
Make Sure You Know Where You Stand With The LO
Analyze your relationship. Work on it. Get sure-shot signs from your LO. Be 100% sure of your relationship. If it’s a yes, then work on it. If it’s a no, then don’t be a damsel in distress or the lost prince. Do you know the saying? “There are too many fishes in the sea”.
Limit Your Touch With The LO
If the LO is your family friend, colleague, or close relative, then you need to be stricter with yourself. It’s going to be painful, but it is worth the effort you put in.
Fall In Love With Some Other LO
This is the easiest way out. If you don’t get your favorite donut, you must fall a different donut. Likewise, if you don’t get your LO, you must find someone else to be your LO. Approach them.
Have immense faith in love. Love is a beautiful feeling. And, even more, beautiful when you get love back.
Living with limerence is not that simple. Especially, when your LO is right next to you. Love turned into an unhealthy obsession is the correct definition of limerence. You need to make sure you don’t be limerent or go crazy at the hands of a limerent.