Limerence is an involuntary state of deep obsession and infatuation with another person.
Lovesick. Longing. Limerent. In 1979, psychologist Dorothy Tennov first coined the term ‘limerence’ in her book Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being In Love to describe an involuntary state of deep obsession and infatuation with another person. She interviewed 500 people in the throes of an obsessive love, sometimes on an unhealthy level.
Limerence includes a sense of being emotionally dependent on the object of your affections, devastation if these feelings are not reciprocated, and fantasies about the other person which can border on extreme and elaborate.
The Symptoms of Limerence: An Overview
Although there is an overlap between the experience of love and limerence, limerence is different in that a person in limerence isn’t as concerned with caring for the other person so much as it is about securing that person’s affection.
Limerence isn’t so much about commitment and intimacy as it is about obsession. A person in the state of limerence exaggerates the positive attributes of the object of his or her affection and downplays their flaws.
A limerent person can suffer from such a hyperfocus on the other person that they begin to lose focus on their lives and revolve their entire day around interaction with this person. The lyrics to Jennifer Paige’s infamous song, “Crush” comes to mind. “It’s just a little crush. Not like I faint every time we touch. Not like everything I do depends on you.”
Even the tiniest of interactions with a limerent person’s ‘crush’ tends to give them a rush and an intense sense of pleasure. This is rooted in the biochemical nature of love, which is very much like a drug addiction.
Love lowers an individual’s serotonin levels to a similar level as those with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and lights up the reward centers of the brain, creating a euphoric dopamine high that is extremely difficult to detox from. Dr. Helen Fisher discovered that the brains of people in love resemble the brains of cocaine addicts. This is why you may experience a deep withdrawal effect when the object of your affection is not around or when they’ve withdrawn from you.
It’s important to note that in limerence, the addiction to this other person is often heightened by the fantasy, not the reality, of who they are and the nature of the relationship.
A person in limerence tends to look for “clues” that the other person reciprocates their feelings. He or she finds hidden meaning (even if there is none) in the other person’s actions and words that may even hint or indicate any sort of flirtation or affection.