Have you ever come across a word that you never seen before and the meaning floored you? Well, last weekend, I randomly came across the word: LIMERENCE which means:
noun: psychol a state of mind resulting from romantic attraction, characterized by feelings of euphoria, the desire to have one’s feelings reciprocated, etc.
The meaning intrigued me, because in comparison to stable and requited love, limerence is an all-consuming and powerful phenomenon that involves a neurobiological addiction to attention from the desired person.
A complex and painful experience, it encompasses not only highs and lows, but also a strong sense of having found one’s ‘true love’ – In fact, most people that have symptoms of limerence believe that they have found the love of their life and that their feelings will never fade.
Most exciting requited relationships involve an initial honeymoon phase, during which both individuals float through life in an oxytocin and dopamine-rooted state of bliss. However, this phase notoriously ends after 3-12 months. And, as studies show, it is literally neurochemically impossible for the brain to keep producing the same feel-good transmitters when the stimulus is constant. Our nervous system constantly striving to maintain a homeostatic balance….sooo scientifically there is no way it’s mentally normal to remain on a love high.
A Limerence, however, is an entirely different entity. People with symptoms of limerence adore everything that comes with this problematic situation, such as: constant emotional upswings, latching onto them and allowing themselves to spiral into full-blown fantasizing and magical idealism regarding their perfect future with this person.
4 questions to that will allow you to see if you have ever had symptoms:
- Do you consider anyone to be the source of an incomprehensibly powerful, drug-like ‘rush’ that feels exciting and visceral rather than soft and warm?
- Do you feel sick or extremely depressed when you are not around you supposed lover?
- Do you believe this person is undeniably your soulmate?
- Do you decline introducing them to people because you think someone will steal them away?
A useful way to discern between budding romantic feelings and pathological limerence is to consider how you feel about incorporating them into your wider social circle. It is natural for romantic and sexual feelings to take the front seat initially and for new lovers to temporarily spend less time with friends, but soon enough, people will want to introduce this special being to their friends and create joyful group memories.
Limerence Sufferers May Also Do This:
This person stops you desiring other drugs…
Normal romantic feelings complement your life and soften the blow of reality, but they do not permanently render you immune to the coping strategies that you employed before finding the person. Limerence, on the other hand, washes your prefrontal cortex with so much dopamine and noradrenaline that will sometimes find themselves magically ‘relieved’ of binge eating, sugar addiction and the desire to chain-smoke.
Abandon anything to have them…
So convinced that their future would be perfect and blissful with a person they willingly let go of anything and anyone that stops you from being with that person. If you are sure that you would renounce all previous passions and circumvent any obstacles to be with this person, you are admitting that you are completely emotionally dependent on their attention and suffering from drug addiction.
Any moment with them is profoundly precious….
Typical couples in love bathe in similar ecstasy when doing mundane things together in the initial phase of the relationship, but feelings are rapidly altering as the days, months and years that goes by.
Any shared conversation or activity with your desired lover is absolutely magical, because it allows you access to the cocktail of dopamine, oxytocin norepinephrine that you have grown to love so much.
None of their bad habits annoy you…
Few things are more telling that you are trapped in limerence than the complete inability to see their flaws objectively. A new partner will seem appealing to the maximum, but in a matter of months, any undesirable quirks, rituals and opinions will start to seem jarring. That sort of never happens with a person suffering from limerence.
As limerence is never affected by this real-life relationship transition, you will consistently see this person as a flawless angel. Their weaknesses and controversial behaviors will seem quirky and have you entranced and enchanted, to the extent that you will not be capable of comprehending why others could even start to criticize. Only when the limerence ends, will they suddenly drop back down to the ‘reality’ and you will see them through an altered lens of contempt and accurate judgment.
Time spent on other things feels wasted…
It goes without saying that platonic relationships will seem absurdly banal and lacking in any real emotional substance compared to the spiritual feelings of limerence.
How to fix it
Unfortunately, at this stage the causes of limerence behavior is not fully understood. However, at least it is more widely known. We believe that there is a particular chemistry that happens between the two individuals.
So far, the only treatment program that I have heard of that has worked for some people has been cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy where a psychologist helps manage unhelpful thinking patterns. If you’re concerned about feelings you’re experiencing, or feel like you may benefit from CBT, the best course of action is to speak to your doctor. You do not have to face this alone.
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For other emotional issues you may be facing, especially during this pandemic check out this awesome site for even more help www.lifeline.org