We all have experienced the feeling of intense attraction towards another person. All we want to do is to try to spend time with them, woo them into liking us. Get their attention by going the extra mile to impress them. We often describe it as “being in love” or “crushing on someone”. But if these feelings get a strong hold on you, distract you from your day-to-day activities, and hinder other parts of your social life then it may be a problem. Then you might have been experiencing something called limerence.
Delicate Boundary Between Passion and Obsession
Limerence is the intense infatuation towards a person and a strong desire to pursue a romantic relationship with them, even if they don’t reciprocate the same. Limerence makes a person so involved with his desire for another person that they go to different extents in their obsession. This might seem similar to Shahrukh khan’s character in the Bollywood movie ‘Darr’ or even ‘Anjaam’. Of course, that was limerence in an exaggerated state, but you get the gist of it. It has some symptoms which are very similar to the “falling in love” phase but both are different, though walking on a very thin line of difference.
Also Read: Why do People Fall in Love?
So, let’s go through some symptoms of this mental state called limerenc:
- The person may feel intense physical arousal like, a racing heart or a flushed face even at the mention of the limerent object.
- Person gets very self-conscious and clumsy around the limerent object.
- They fantasize about them being in the romantic relationship or even the future of them getting married and starting a family.
- They intensively analyze the object’s behavior to feed their delusions of reciprocation.
- They idealize the limerent object thinking them to be the one or their destined soulmate here to rescue them or complete them.
- They spend too much time in grooming themselves to impress the person
- They might feel extreme emotions or mood fluctuations depending on the object’s behavior.
These emotional highs also come with emotional lows. Which happens when limerent is rejected by the limerent object. The limerent may feel intense despair and sadness. It comes with the feeling of hopelessness and also a big stroke at self-esteem.
Also Read: How love emotions impact our brain?
Decode Love and Limerence
Now, you may wonder that these seem so similar to everything we have seen in romance genre movies or books. These are what you call the first steps of falling in love or love at first sight and being in love. But what actually is the difference between love and limerence? To understand this, we have to first go through what is the definition of love.
Love in layperson’s words is intense feeling of deep affection and attachment and wanting to commit to another person. It is selfless and involves genuine concern for the wellbeing and feelings of others. You want the person to be happy regardless of whether they are with or without us. You respect other person’s wants, feelings and wishes. It is calming, and doesn’t force itself.
Contrary to what limerence is. Limerence is unhealthy obsession which may look like love as we have seen in the media but is actually settled to serve ones own needs. It is selfish and sometimes doesn’t even consider other person’s feelings. It wants the other person to reciprocate the feelings. Limerent might even start getting jealous of the limerent object’s other relationship. On rejection, they might even become angry and vengeful toward the object, disrespecting their wishes and even resorting to mind games. (limerence, defination and stages)
Limerence’s Metamorphosis into Consummate Love
Limerence is an independent state, confined to the mind of the person experiencing it. It is also different from sexual desire. An individual in limerent state doesn’t necessarily want to have sex with the object of their desire rather the focus of it is the mental obsession of whether the object feels the same way towards you. It’s the fantasy that is exciting than the realization of the fantasy (Limerence)
Also Read: Interesting psychology behind first love
Now, given everything the question is, can limerence turn into love? As we all know by now that limerence and love walk on a thin line of difference. Mostly because of the selfless nature of love. However, we can propose that it can turn into love. Limerence is the starting point of love, of the light breezes, the intense stares and butterfly in the stomach feelings. But only if there is equal reciprocation and mutual feelings of respect and of trust can we say that it has turned into love. These are actually the foundation of consummate love as described by Sternberg’s triangular theory of love.
It includes passion, intimacy and commitment. The passion part is present with the limerence feelings, but when the limerence wears off, there is a tendency of the relationship to break. It is at this point, if love comes in, both the partners work on the relations and put efforts to commit to each other, comes another component which is commitment. With time there is development of emotional intimacy where you are comfortable getting vulnerable and feel safe with the other person which is where comes the intimacy component. Hence you experience what is called consummate love.
Also Read: Self-love as a form of Self-discipline
Beyond the Illusion
So, we can expect limerence to turn into love over time. But it is not always the case. Limerence does not guarantee love. In fact, it can be problematic as we tend to ignore all the red flags of the person and become submissive if there is a reciprocation of the feelings. And if there is rejection we can experience negative feelings of anger, sadness and even vengeance.
It can be really difficult to differentiate between love and limerence. But as mentioned, if your attraction is only one-sided, affecting rest of your life, making you fall back the rest of work, making you too much emotionally dependent on another person then you might be experiencing limerence. And you might need help. Hence, you must always lookout for the signs and be careful what you get into.