Word of the Day: Limerence

Word of the Day: Limerence

I can’t get this out of my head. Thank you, Woman Invisible and Exit 4A.

Image result for limerence

I don’t know how I feel about this word. It’s a nice word and all, don’t get me wrong. I love new and big words. It just makes me uncomfortable. Maybe because of its ambiguity or how closely it hits home…

Either way, it brings up a lot of questions.

Doesn’t everyone have an obsessive need to have their feelings reciprocated?

Doesn’t everyone feel limerence for their significant other at some point/s over and over again in their lives?

Can long-term limerence ever evolve into actual love?

Am I just grasping at straws now because I am feeling so lost?

How can you tell if you’re actually in love with a person? Or, is it just limerence?

Was limerence the feeling I was having when I married Doom-n-Gloom or was it always just rebellion against my parents?

Is Loverman simply my current limerent interest? Most likely. Right?

If so, that fact hurts me more deeply than words can express. If it’s true, then I am not sure I can actually love a man per se.

It would seem that I go around telling myself that I love someone when I really don’t.

HOLY CRAP! How do I go about not feeling this way as I establish future relationships?

I found this article by Dr. Richard Cookerly, relational psychotherapist. I don’t know if it helped do much more than bring up an infinite amount of questions and self-doubt within myself.

Here’s an excerpt. I liked this entire section, but I find the paragraph at the end to be most heartbreaking enlightening:

Having at least seven of these symptoms is sufficient to qualify for being seen as probably in limerence and not really in a true, healthy love state.

  1. Experiencing intrusive, interruptive, obsessive thinking about the supposed loved one mixed with, but not limited to, romantic and passionate desire interfering with practical living, clear appropriate thinking and functioning
    I *am* having an affair with him, right?
  2. Having acute longing for another’s reciprocal feelings of desire and focus of attention to the point of disrupting sleep and effecting appetite
    Guilty. Ummm… I’m just guilty on this one…
  3. Having a strong emotional dependency on another’s reciprocating positive regard, sexual desire and approval with frequent over-interpretation and mis-interpretation of another’s perceived relationship related words and actions, and severe feelings of rejection and agitation when experiencing anything undesired occurring in the relationship
    Doesn’t EVERYONE get agitated and experience negative feelings when a loved one rejects them or undesired occurrences happen in the relationship? Doesn’t everyone seek approval and validation?
  4. The inability to be strongly interested in, attracted to, or love-involved with anyone but the person one is limerently focused on resulting in neglectful treatment of children, family, friends and sometimes self
    I don’t know. I’ve never really had a lot of friends – usually just one or two very close ones. I can’t stand my family so I have always avoided them, and I try not to neglect my children.
  5. Unreasonably strong fear of rejection, sometimes at a nearly incapacitating level in the early stage of a limerent attachment, sometimes accompanied with uncharacteristic shyness, awkwardness and fear of doing something which will ruin the developing limerent relationship
    This fear is 100% me. I am always afraid that saying the wrong thing will mess everything up, but I don’t just feel that way about my relationship with Loverman — I feel that way whenever I have a problem/argument with anyone
  6. Anxiety about losing another briefly, relieved with intense fantasy of romantic and sexual union with that person
    Don’t we all fantasize about things that make us happy? Especially when we’re UNhappy?!
  7. Intensification of romantic connecting desires and efforts when meeting adversity or opposition to the relationship
    Aren’t strong and good relationships SUPPOSED to get stronger in times of adversity? And my waxing and waning feelings for Loverman have nothing to do with other peoples’ opinions.
  8. Actively over-interpreting another’s perceived positive responses and characteristics with strong down-playing of that same person’s more ordinary and negative actions, traits, characteristics, words, etc.
    First off, I am a woman. We overthink things. That being said, everybody is different, right? Some actions of friends might effect us more strongly than others. Perception is relative.
  9. Physical pain in the center of the chest, shallow breathing and physical nervousness with a sense of dread when any small, medium or large insecurity or uncertainty about the relationship occurs
    I used to feel this all the time when I was a kid. There would be a huge black hole of dread in my chest whenever I thought I disappointed someone: Parent, Teacher, Minister, God. This isn’t something only related to Loverman.
  10. When small, positive input from the person one is limerent about occurs an over-reaction of ebullience, sense of buoyant ‘walking on air’ and exhilaration results during the early stages of the relationship
    Aren’t compliments supposed to make a person happy? No matter who they are from? No matter how big or small?
  11. A general lessening of acting responsibly or fairly to others, decreased carrying out of obligations, duties, etc. and a decrease of attending to goal achievement with a distinct decrease in functioning with necessary awareness of others beside the person of limerent focus
    It would seem that my BLOG is a limerent focus of mine! LOL!
  12. A tendency to interpret the supposed loved one’s negative actions as somehow positive or give them excuses, acceptance and even high approval, and an avoidance or denial of perceiving their destructive and dysfunctional actions
    I hurt when Loverman hurts me. I do not make excuses to justify him.
  13. High, unrealistic adoration at first, later fading and disappearing
    My feelings for Loverman now are stronger than they were in the beginning. But, in the beginning, I did adore him unrealistically. Ultimately, I guess you can still call it unrealistic because we are both married to other people
  14. Intensive pleasure when together, and intensive anxiety when separated or when the supposed loved one is around possible competitors, later fading to indifference and even annoyance
    We still have intensive pleasure when we’re together, even after 6 years. People change and relationships evolve – sometimes together sometimes apart. So far, my relationship with Loverman is still teaching me things and making me happy. There may be a point in the future where Loverman and I change differently and drift apart. I am anxious for that day 😦
  15. ‘Tunnel vision’ focusing on the supposed loved one and little else, plus blindness to all else of importance, later turning into a blindness to the supposed loved one’s developmental growth, changes and new ways of being themselves
    Guilty 100% – I have to stop giving him money blindly and there are probably other things, too. But I nurture emotional growth in him and he continues to perpetuate emotional growth in me.

People sometimes ask why does limerence exist?  The thinking goes something like this.  Mother nature invented or evolved limerence so that two people will become strongly bonded together, for two to four years, which is just enough time to get a child started in life.  Then their feelings for each other will fade or turn off, so that they will end their relationship and go looking for others to temporarily mate with and, therefore, mix the gene pool.  This is one of mother nature’s ways of ensuring genetic variety and improvement of the species, along with contributing ultimately to the survival of our species.  It is thought that most limerent people start to ‘fall out of love’ when after two to four years they either don’t have a child or a child has been born and is on the way to growing up.  Of course, this automatic shutdown of strong, positive feelings for the supposed loved spouse or mate often brings about great emotional, relational, familial and social disruption.  This is especially true in a society that has made little or no allowances for this kind of relationship phenomenon.

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As you can see in my blue text answers, I will admit that I have almost all of these symptoms. And you can also see that I posed a lot of questions excuses.

It has caused a lot of introspecting and has totally thrown my idea of love completely out the window.

Am I even capable of love or am I destined to spend my life “falling in limerence” with every man who shows a decent amount of interest in me?

I feel so much more broken now than I did before.

Before I thought I was looking for something. Now I feel like I am destined to have these temporary, empty relationships.

And it’s instinctive?

I feel adrift in this knowledge…


Stay tuned for next week’s Word of the Day: Love.


8 thoughts on “Word of the Day: Limerence

  1. I don’t know… the good doctors words seem to apply to any relationship, rather than just a limerent one. I do remember all those feelings when I met and then married my husband some 20 years ago. I think the point about limerence, in my opinion, is that it’s a bit of a halfway house to love. It’s a good name for all those radical feelings in an affair that are exaggerated because it’s outside of reality. If Limerence only existed for procreation, people couldn’t stay married. Granted there are many, many affairs, but society as a whole still views monogamy as the norm… maybe we have to evolve….who knows. But, I definitely don’t think you should get yourself down in the dumps about it! Enjoy the benefits of limerence! 🙂

    1. Thanks. When I first wrote this post on Saturday, it had almost completely different content. Loverman and I had a really ‘deep’ talk Sunday and it totally changed my view on the word and a whole lot of other things.

      I guess it all depends on what he ‘decides’ and when he thinks it’s okay to talk to me again.

      I need to get out of my marriage… *sigh* Loverman is almost out of his and I think he is wanting me to take a bigger step. I don’t know. The things he said yesterday were so cryptic. I have so much thinking to do…

  2. First, thanks for the shout-out!

    I muscled through Dorothy Tarnov’s seminal work on Limerence (a tough read) and, just like Dr. Cookerly’s listed points, what you need to take away from the concept of Limerence is that a healthy “mature” relationship moves through the limerent stages and evolves into a true love relationship. So, yes, most of us would see themselves in the definition of Limerence, but (according to the clinicians who do work in this area) you can tell if you’re in a mature relationship when you’ve moved through the stages (like not feeling as if you’re a nobody with a destroyed sense of self when you’re not around your limerent object/boyfriend/girlfriend.)

    Follow WordPress blog “Exit 4A” and on Twitter: @Exit4a <—Shameless plug

  3. I encountered limerence from the same excellent blog sources :). I find this whole discussion not only enlightening, but entertaining at the same time. There is no doubt I am in limerence, but with more than 1. Is that even possible?

Talk to me :-)

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