Limerence : a painful harmful love

 

You’re at a workshop. You make eye contact with a person . It feels intense . A connection has been made . You chat. You feel there is a mutual understanding of specialness. You feel you have fallen in love, but really in love, not just   a crush. Not a sexual lust. A feeling so intense that it begins to overtake your mind and life.

Limerence is an unexpected, overwhelming and debilitating experience. First coined in the 1960’s   by Dorothy  Tennov, limerence   relates to feelings of “being in love” but  an intense form, a self involved form of love.

Whereas love makes one feel selfless and desiring to please the beloved, limerence captures one in a personal isolated world which is all consuming and relentless. Limerence is an acute onset, unexpected, obsessive attachment to one person, the Limerent Object,(LO)  which is rarely reported in scientific literature.

You begin to fantasise about this person . Idealization sets in . When you think about this person , suddenly  you are anxiety free . Your old childhood wounds for deeper attachment, wants and  desires are met through thinking about this person . Your childhood  craving for  affection and connection are triggered through the love of this particular person. Naturally you are motivated to just keep thinking about this person as it gives you relief from childhood pain and hope. And  boom bang , your world is unsettled.

You’re excited and afraid, paranoias sets in. You want to hide your interest in this person , you idelaize him/her/they. and spend many hours interpreting potential signs of interest reciprocity. Reading a text message over  and over again , revisiting the encounter endlessly, seeking signs of reciprocity.

It so dominates your thoughts as you are flooded with dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin , that you feel emotionally out of control, dysregulated , that is disrupts your daily rhythm and you find yourself neglecting regular interests. , relationships and responsibilities.

The problem is your love is not reciprocated by your Love Object (LO) In fact she/he/they may be oblivious to you and to your limerence. 

In the beginning you are on a high. You are excited and the world is full of possibilities . You take extra care with our grooming and feel you are more expressive of your authentic self. However this soon turns into guilt and shame as you realise that feelings are not reciprocated , that actually how you feel was more due to your imagination and need for connection than to the reality of your LO’s feelings. It becomes exhausting and painful.

You become obsessed with getting this person to reciprocate emotions with you. Just to get relief you imagine the love is reciprocal , as you have an intense fear of rejection .

People who experience limerence suffer with ruminative thinking, free floating anxiety and depression in this  fixation and the disintegration of the self occurs.

The LO may be become aware of your “love” when you begin to harass or stalk .   This usually results in negative outcomes. As you can imagine, it  causes major relationship and family breakdowns. It can even result in self harm as your obsessive thinking and non reciprocation of the LO  progresses.

Limerent episodes happen  in a heartbeat and can range from 1-7 years.  The internet has increased opportunities and incidences.

The cycle is  : you fall instantly and urgently in love, rejection from the LO occurs, you continue and kid yourself into believing that  consummation (ie perceived emotional reciprocation ) has occurred. After a period of time, transformation occurs. which means that you accept the fantasy is over, you’ve got lit and got professional help or found a new LO which will end the last limerence.

Do you feel  currently or have you ever felt this desperate love?

  • Excessive rumination, – cannot stop thinking about this person /Love Object (LO)
  • Free floating anxiety
  • Depression as a result of Limerence
  •  Felt yourself disintegrating in this state of love
  • Disclosed or not disclosed to your LO
  • Have you had this limerence before or is this your first time?
  • Life feels meaningless and pointless as you are utterly possessed by love for the LO
  • Despite rejection by the LO , you continue to seek contact
  • Occupies so much of your time
  • Interferes with your  In Real Life  intimate relationship and family life
  • Emotional rollercoaster
  • Stalking ? In Real Life or Online?
  • Do you feel guilt or shame?

In limerence the LO becomes the person’ s hobby, passion , obsession . You know it is irrational but it is over powering. Scouring every action or inaction , facial expression, every minute of the contact So much anxiety floods you.  You vacillate between euphoria and despair. You experience physiological dysregulation: palpitations, dizziness, sweating disruption in sleeping and eating patterns. You have intrusive and repetitive  thoughts

Panic sets in when you have not heard from your LO, and then the stalking . Online , following him/her/thye on social media, watching their whatsapp presence, accompanied with feelings of heightened anxiety.

Disclosing your feelings of love  to your LO is a conundrum as consequences abound: disclosing may be  a way for you to get relief from the onslaught of emotions limerence holds over you. Or a final crushing of all hope that rules your life.

Limerence may have an abrupt ending or  may result in prolonged painful periods of starvation and /or minimal attention. The LO  may be  persistent  in his/her/they  rejection , complete lack of reciprocation or perhaps mixed emotional  reciprocation messages from the LO .  The LO may strategise to settle into compassionate acceptance which brings less pain for the Experiencer.

You’re pretty set up to be at risk  for Limerence if you’re in a relationship where there is dis-ease or boredom, if you or others close to you, suffer from depression, or have negative life events happening , such as a death or loss. And mostly if you have childhood attachment wounds, meaning that you did not get the connection nor attention from your parens or caregivers that allowed you to attach and feel safe and beloved.

Limerence can be dated back to  the Romantic era, a time  when  troubadours, poets, writers  and composers spent their creative energy dedicating their art to a beloved, a beloved that many times  they never met, just admired from a distance. The art of creating for a beloved , the feeling of purpose and joy that brought, was more valuable than meeting and sexing that person.

In some way I feel that the internet has brought us back into .that place of limerence. Online we have opportunity to express love , live in the fantasy of love and longing without taking the risk of ever meeting and being rejected by the other. I respect this choice .. on condition it is consensual and there is no harassment not abuse accompanying your need for recognition , attachment and connection .

for more information on Limerence, contact me . 

 

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