Limerence is an intense emotional state characterized by an obsessive infatuation and longing for another person, typically involving romantic or sexual attraction. Coined by psychologist Dorothy Tennov in her 1979 book “Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love,” limerence is considered a form of involuntary and intrusive thinking about the object of one’s affection.
In limerence, individuals often experience the following symptoms:
- Constant thoughts about the person they are infatuated with.
- Intense longing for reciprocation and emotional connection from the object of affection.
- Idealization of the person, often perceiving them as flawless or having almost magical qualities.
- Heightened emotional responses to both positive and negative interactions with the person.
- A tendency to interpret ambiguous or neutral actions as signs of affection.
- An overwhelming desire for physical and emotional closeness with the person.
- An increased sensitivity to any perceived threats to the relationship or attention from others.
- Difficulties focusing on other aspects of life due to the preoccupation with the infatuation.
Limerence is often experienced in the early stages of a romantic relationship, and it can be intense and all-consuming. However, it can also occur in situations where the affection is unrequited or where there is no possibility of a relationship with the object of infatuation.
It’s important to note that limerence is different from genuine love or a healthy, balanced relationship. Limerence tends to be short-lived and may wane over time, especially if the feelings are not reciprocated or if the individual gains a more realistic perspective on the person they are infatuated with. In contrast, love is a deeper emotional connection that involves genuine care, understanding, and mutual respect between two individuals.