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Limerence: What It is, the Effects & 26 Ways It’s So Different from Love

In terms of toxic relationships, if limerence is around, it’s toxic with a capital T. Infatuation is one thing, but limerence is quite another. 

limerence love

Sometimes, we’re convinced we’re in love with someone, even if we haven’t spoken to them, or worse, even met them. This often happens to teenagers when they become fixated on a celebrity or sports star. However, that usually ebbs away as their attention goes elsewhere. But for some, limerence is far more rooted in reality and can cause major issues.

When it comes to understanding limerence vs love, it’s very important to know the difference between the two, as complicated as it may seem. Or else you may end up investing yourself in a relationship that actually isn’t based on love.

That’s not a relationship you want to be in, at least, when you think it’s a loving one. [Read: 15 types of toxic relationships, what causes them, and how to get out]

What is limerence?

Psychologist Dorothy Tennov, describes Limerence as “an involuntary cognitive and emotional state in which a person feels an intense romantic desire for another person *the limerent object*.”

But in simpler terms, limerence is a state of mind when you know that you like someone but yet at the same time, you can’t describe it as love. But you would also be crazy about this person and to the world, you would proclaim this form of affection as a crush.

Limerence is a dangerous feeling that just can’t be explained. Many would have felt it in varying measures of ‘crushes.’

A person who is infatuated by a potential limerent medium *their crush* would undergo mood swings and feelings of intense joy and frustrations.

There are times during the heights of limerence when the person could get extremely obsessed over their crush and start fantasizing about them all the time. [Read: Obsessive love disorder – What causes it, 21 signs and how to get over it]

The fear of rejection in love

In limerence, the fear of rejection in love may be so great that the person may never want to approach their crush, or the limerent, because they are so worried that they may be rejected. The shyness of the person based on the fear of giving the limerent object an undesirable view can prevent a relationship from occurring even when both people are interested.

People who experience limerence are so afraid that their crush may never like them back, that they actually never ever reveal their feelings, at times, even for years and decades!

The funny thing about limerence is that it is all about the satisfaction of knowing the limerent person exists, and that’s it.

As long as this limerent object reciprocates your moves, or even shows a sign of reciprocation, you would walk in the clouds and your life would be a wonderful picture. [Read: 8 positive ways to deal with rejection in any scenario]

The person who experiences limerence sifts through and rearranges situations and conversations to give himself or herself hope that things are turning positive with time.

The smallest of positive signs are picked up and endlessly analyzed for meaning. A warm smile, a friendly hug, or a second glance is all it takes to float on cloud nine.

Limerence makes a person oblivious to the fact that there may not be any reciprocation on the part of the limerent person, and this intense form of a crush can be carried quite far before the heartbreaking rejection can be accepted. [Read: 27 painful and soul crushing signs your crush doesn’t like you back]

The effects of limerence

Limerence can cause several physical changes in the body as well as several emotional changes.

The physiological correlations of limerence include trembling, palpitations, weakness, stammering, and shyness. Limerence can also cause apprehension and nervousness because of the constant worry that is associated with the limerent fear.

The extreme sensitivity that is heightened by the fear of rejection can lead to lost opportunities as there will be no occasion where the person would even think of making a move to let the limerent object know about his or her feelings of affection.

The feeling of limerence can make a person feel ecstatic at times and deeply rejected at other times. Much like an addictive drug, it is extremely addictive and yet painful where the sensation of limerence is usually felt, in the midpoint of the chest.

Limerence is a very subtle and yet dangerous form of infatuation, because it is so close to what we feel when we are in love, and yet it is nothing like love.

It’s never easy to find out whether you are really in love with someone or is it just a casual infatuation, or maybe even limerence. But as long as you know that you can muster the courage and let the other person know what you feel, then there is nothing to worry about.

The first and the biggest sign of limerence is hiding one’s feelings for someone, with no motivation to ever confess or ask them out directly. [Read: 15 signs of obsession that may seem like love at first]

Limerence vs Love – The big differences you MUST know

Limerence feels a lot like love when you’re in the middle of it, but it’s very different. Pulling yourself out of limerence isn’t easy, but if you know the differences, you can wake yourself up enough to understand that change has to occur.

Here are the major differences between love and limerence. [Read: Love vs. in love – What makes them so different and yet so similar?]

1. You truly feel you can’t live without them

When you’re in love, you feel that you don’t want to live without this person. But when it’s limerence, you feel that you can’t live without them. And there’s a huge difference between the two.

The thought of not having them next to you gives you feelings of anxiety and unbearable pain for the possible loss of their affection and attention. [Read: Oneitis and the problems it can cause in your love life]

2. The relationship isn’t fully developed

Limerence usually occurs in the initial stages of a new relationship or even if a relationship is nonexistent.

This happens before you actually get to know the person for who they are. Instead, you’re living in a fantasy, while you’re daydreaming about your future with them or picture who you want them to be.

3. Limerence is emotional dependency

When your limerent object of affection is not having a good day, you don’t have a good day. If they withdraw from you, you become depressed and feel a sense of hopelessness.

Your emotional state depends solely on how this person feels. It’s almost as if you’re addicted to them; this is limerence. [Read: Why being addicted to someone is not the same as being in love with them]

4. Limerence isn’t reality

Here’s the thing: limerence isn’t based on mutual feelings for one another; it’s not reality. Yes, this person exists, but you don’t know who they are as a person; instead, you have in your head an idea of who they are.

When it comes to love, it’s when you know who the person is, including their flaws, and yet, you choose them.

5. The connection feels intense

This is something people can feel, whether it’s love or limerence. But there’s a big difference. Limerence is when you feel an intense connection with someone you don’t know.

Love is when you do feel a strong connection, but there’s a stable foundation and understanding between both people. [Read: 15 ways to handle the pain of loving someone you can’t have]

6. You pay very close attention to their words and actions

If it’s love, you don’t need to watch this person constantly, trying to decode every word they say to you.

But if it’s limerence, you inspect everything they say under a microscope, trying to uncover clues and hints that they feel the same way for you. Sounds familiar?

7. You’re obsessed with everything they do

With limerence, you’re obsessed with everything this person does. You stalk them on social media, and constantly see who they’re talking to, what they do during the day, and how they react to you *if you two know each other*. Your entire day revolves around them.

8. You “accidentally” bump into them

We all know it’s not by accident. When you’re in love, there’s no need to create scenarios to see this person. But when it’s limerence, your relationship isn’t based on mutual love.

You feel this need to see them, so you accidentally show up where they work, or bump into them at their favorite coffee shop. This behavior borderlines stalking, and you need to work on stopping this. [Read: How to stalk on social media and find just what you’re looking for]

9. You place them on a pedestal

You don’t actually know this person and who they really are, but when it’s limerence, you don’t care. Instead, you have an idea of who they are, and aren’t interested in getting to know the real them.

So you place your idea of who they are on a pedestal, making them look like a flawless person, regardless of whether or not they’re actually horrible.

10. You’re very jealous

If it’s limerence, just the fact you see this person with someone else drives you absolutely insane.

You become overwhelmed with jealousy and feel you need to compete for your spot next to them. Even though you two aren’t together *or they probably don’t even know you*, you can’t date anyone else because you feel this bond between you two. [Read: Parasocial relationship – Is your celebrity fascination healthy for you?]

11. You have physical symptoms of limerence

When you don’t see them for one day, you feel physically ill and anxious. If you have to call them, your heart starts beating a mile a minute, and you start to sweat uncontrollably.

When you see them with someone else, you start to feel dizzy and nauseous. Your emotional state is showing physical symptoms.

12. Limerence is based on self-interest

Love is genuine and pure. You love this person for who they are, not what they can become. But with limerence, these feelings towards this person are self-interest based. It’s all about how this person makes you feel, as opposed to who they are and how you make them feel.

In other words, limerence is all about you. [Read: The signs you’re lovesick and unique ways to get out of it]

13. Limerence can make people do crazy things

Limerence is an intense experience, and it causes people to act out. When experiencing limerence, some people will give away their money, get married very quickly, and even ditch their family and friends.

It’s an obsession that can go very wrong if not realized sooner than later. [Read: Are you rushing into a commitment? The grim signs you’ll regret it]

14. Physical intimacy isn’t necessary

For an individual who is experiencing limerence, there is no thought given to the physical act of making out.

Getting physical with your crush is not essential or satisfying to a person who experiences limerence, unlike a person who is physically attracted to someone.

15. You want your crush to feel grateful

When you’re physically attracted to someone, you want to be with them, and you most definitely want to get passionate with them. But when you are attracted to someone via limerence, you would create fantasies where you’re the hero or the heroine of your crush’s life.

You offer them a lift when they’re stranded in the middle of nowhere. Or, you protect them from someone, when they’re in a fight. You save this person from an accident.  And all sorts of fantasies where the end result isn’t sex or a cuddle, but gratitude!

16. Limerence can be long lasting

Limerence lasts a lot longer than puppy love, infatuation, or romantic passion. They can last for several months, or at times even several years. [Read: Falling out of love and why it happens to you]

17. Limerence has ups and downs in intensity

Limerence has several periods of time when the person would not feel any sort of affection towards the limerent object. But these low-level periods are always alternated with feelings of deep infatuation and hope for reciprocation.

18. True happiness only comes from reciprocation

A person who is going through a stage of limerence will find it hard to think about anything but the limerent object, and he or she will have an intense craving for reciprocation more than any other emotion, not even love.

Even a small gesture of reciprocation can make the person feel elated and on top of the world.

Most of these reciprocations may even be something trivial as a second glance or a smile. There will be a craving for appreciation and the person will try catching the attention of the limerent object. They’ll become furious if someone comes in the way of this attention-seeking activity. [Read: Requited love – 17 ways to turn unrequited love into reciprocation]

19. Limerence doesn’t have long-term potential

When you love someone, it’s based on making each other happy by spending time together and sharing each other’s interests, hobbies, and talents.

But with limerence, there is no genuine love. Limerence is only about gaining someone or something’s affection. It doesn’t matter whether that person actually likes you or not. 

20. Endless daydreams and fantasies

Whether you’re in a relationship with this person or not, you spend your time fantasizing about them. You think about the future with them, how it’ll look like, how intense your relationship will be.

And, of course, all this fantasizing is distracting you from your everyday life. [Read: Infatuation symptoms that say you’re sick in love]

21. You see them in everything

Whether you’re at work or walking down the street, everything you see reminds you of them. There’s nothing you don’t see that doesn’t remind you of them. And although this may sound romantic, even the strongest of couples don’t see their partners in everything.

22. The relationship isn’t deep

You two could just be starting to date or don’t have any sort of relationship. Your relationship is quite shallow, at least for now.

The thing is you’re already five steps ahead in planning the wedding and what your children will look like. But you don’t even know this person. See the problem? [Read: 12 things you MUST do if you want to stop obsessing over someone]

23. You overanalyze everything

Okay, okay, we personally think everyone is guilty of overanalyzing the words and actions of someone we like. So, just because you overanalyze, doesn’t mean it’s limerence.

But overanalyzing is one of the signs. If you’re analyzing every breath they take, every word they say, and connecting it to you, then it’s becoming a little obsessive. [Read: How being smothered in a relationship can be confused for love]

24. You believe they’re your soulmate

Whether you have had a soulmate before or not, you believe that they are the one. Your reasoning is that they feel this intense connection, almost as if you’re being pulled into them. The thing is, you barely know this person. 

25. You manipulate situations to be with them

You figure out where they’re working and “accidentally” show up to their work. Perhaps you manipulate people around you to get closer to them.

If you find yourself orchestrating events in hopes of getting closer to them, this is a very common sign of limerence.

26. You easily sink into depression

When you don’t get the attention or affection you desire from this person, you feel hopeless. That hopelessness comes with mood swings and depression since you feel rejected. [Read: How to deal with a depressed person – 12 ways that honor them]

The hopes and fears of limerence

Limerence can make a person feel really happy and elated when the limerent object reciprocates the glances and moves, but with every intensely happy moment, comes another moment that can create the opposite emotion. With limerence comes a fear of rejection.

The fear of rejection causes self-doubt and a lot of uncertainty, which causes pain and at the same time, an uncontrollable desire to fantasize about the limerent object. Limerence can hit us when we least expect it, and can even make us feel miserable at times.

If you feel you’re struggling with limerence, it’s time to take a step back and realize what’s really going on.

[Read: Don’t ignore these 14 signs of obsessive love]

Limerence all comes down to obsessions and fear of rejection. If you want to have a healthy and loving relationship in the future, you need to work on recognizing your patterns of behavior.

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...