What is limerence?

topic posted Fri, September 24, 2010 - 3:36 AM by  Unsubscribed
Hello everyone
We have been having a debate over on "Limerent yet again...sigh" about what limerence is and what a crush is, and I decided it was actually a really interesting question and I wanted to ask everyone.

My opinion is that limerence and crushes fall on the same spectrum of experience - they always have for me. Other posters thought there was a very clear demarcation between the two - that a crush was an entirely different thing from feeling limerent.

Talking about myself - as obviously my scale of attraction is the only one I am experienced in - my experience ranges from manageable and quite enjoyable mild attraction (with attendant mild obsessive thoughts) which I might class as a "crush", up through heavier attraction, and then there is a tip-over (at a point I have learned to clearly recognise) into full-blown, full-scale obsession from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep, which I class as "limerence". While these two feelings are distinct from each other - the "limerent" feeling is very different to the "crush" - they are all recognisable to me as aspects of attraction and desire. I respond to some people by immediately becoming limerent - in some cases, within hours - with others I have a crush which then develops into limerence, and sometimes I just have the crush feeling and it doesn't develop.

I do occasionally experience attraction to people without the obsession, but it is never strong and I tend to just forget about it.

So what I am interested in is:

1) Would you define limerence and a crush as aspects of the same feeling, or as completely different feelings?

2) If they're different feelings, what's the difference?

3) How would you define both terms?

4) Do you define yourself as a serial limerent?

The reason I asked the last question is that during my time on this board I've noticed some differences between the people who define themselves as serial limerents and the people who don't. I'm interested to explore those.

What do you think?
posted by:
  • Unsu...
    I just replied to one of your posts in the "Limerent yet again..." topic....

    1) I never really thought about that before. I think that in the case of a crush, reciprocation is desirable - not essential. You think the person is attractive, maybe unattainable - but more likely, nothing has happened between the two parties that formed any kind of emotional connection. It does not have to be a romantic encounter - just SOMETHING which makes you CARE about the other person. For me, if there is no caring, there is no limerence.

    4) Hell yes.

    The first place I ever came in contact with these feelings was in high school. Things were very tense around my home and school was sort of an escape. There was a girl in school to whom I was attracted. I never asked her out (but came close) because I was (a) afraid of being rejected and (b) REALLY afraid that if she said no, I would have a difficult time getting out of bed in the morning because I just looked forward to seeing her and dreaming about the possibility of reciprocation. I couldn't really put my finger on (b) until years after the fact and several more disappointing experiences with LOs.

    For many of the women I encountered over the course of my life, this was a pattern. I can never remember being limerent about my wife - and to this day, I cannot be clear on why that is. Maybe it's because I was doing a lot of work related travel or because we just started dating without too much drama. I can break my life into phases where I was limerent (sometimes for years at a time) about someone. Even though I am married now (and have been for fifteen years), I am smack dab in the middle of one of the most intense limerences in my life - and I think one day, the stress of this will kill me.
    • InDeepYogurt, you wrote " I can break my life into phases where I was limerent (sometimes for years at a time) about someone."

      Are you saying your episodes of limerence have had endings? If so, could you share what it felt like to be "over" it, what was the thing that told you you were free from it?
      • Unsu...
        Hi, Anne,

        I wasn't "over it" as much as either (a) enough time had passed (for me, could be weeks, months or years depending on LO) where other thoughts and activities crowded out the intrusive thoughts (i.e. levels of dopamine and other chemicals related to these feelings had receded) or (b) another LO came along to distract me.

        I wish I had some other practical advice to share here, but I don't. :-(
  • There is a huge difference between a crush and limerence. Someone on the other thread made the analogy of a mood swing and bi polar disorder. Everyone has a mood swing from time to time but not everyone suffers from bi polar disorder.

    Everyone has a crush on someone at some stage in their life. I'm yet to meet someone in person who has limerence. No one can understand why I idolize a person who wouldn't care whether I was alive or dead - to me, my LO is perfect. She has no faults whatsoever. I cannot think of a single thing wrong with her - though I rationally know she must have faults. I want to know everything there is to know about my LO yet I have no desire to have a relationship with her. This isn't a crush, this is infatuation to the point it needs to be discussed with a psychologist or therapist. An angry look from my LO could make me depressed for weeks on end.

    A crush is like a cold, a bit of a sniffle here and there. Limerence is a case of influenza where the doctor has prescribed heavy antibiotics to get rid of it. Yet it clings on until you have no strength left to fight it.
    • Unsu...
      I would like a relationship with my LO, and I think it would work. She does too. I can't have one, though, and she knows it and agrees. Despite the relative certainty associated with that, I still have the invasive obsessive thoughts and fantasies. Like you, the wrong signs from her can have me depressed for days, and if she says a few kind words to me in a text or email, I am euphoric for days.
  • Dear Alice,

    In my case limerence is one aspect of my obsessive behavior.

    1) Would you define limerence and a crush as aspects of the same feeling, or as completely different feelings?
    No. The difference is the intensity, if there is any.
    "Limerence is an involuntary cognitive and emotional state of being infatuated or obsessed with another person, typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one's feelings but not primarily for a sexual relationship." (Wikipedia)

    Yes, just give time to the people, and they will learn about limerence, it is a matter of time.
    "I wish life was not so short,' he thought. 'Languages take such a time, and so do all the things one wants to know about." J. R. R. Tolkien.

    2) If they're different feelings, what's the difference?
    There is no difference. There are two kinds of people in the world, those who found their soulmates, and those that dont. :)

    3) How would you define both terms?
    I prefer to characterize it: "Limerence is characterized by intrusive thinking and pronounced sensitivity to external events that reflect the disposition of the limerent object towards the individual. Basically, it is the state of being completely carried away by unreasoned passion or love; addictive love." (Wikipedia)

    4) Do you define yourself as a serial limerent?
    No. My LO is forever...until tomorrow! Anyway, I have this feeling about my LO in the last 23 years.


    Warriors in Peace - Sunitha Sarathy
    • Unsu...
      You make a good point Jango - forgot to mention that I have some obsessive behaviour too, and I am obsessive about a number of things besides my LOs.

      Personally, I think that's also connected to my limerence, or perhaps the fact that I am already an obsessive makes me more prone to it.
  • Ive had crushes before, and the distinct factor for me is...Im not chronically thinking of my crush, I know the feeling will eventually pass ie, he will do something I deem stupid and make me lose interest,.. and MOSTLY, I have never thought of my crush as a soul mate.
  • I think part of the rift here also involves whether one interprets limerence as a disorder or an experience, which is something that I've found interesting on the tribe.

    I don't view it as a disorder, and I view it as being on the spectrum of attraction. Crush+ gone HORRIBLY wrong. As I said in that thread, I at one time just had a crush on my LO. I didn't like it and I would get dippy about him but unless he was right in front of me, I hardly had a second thought about him. I had no hope, just admired little things about him and would feel wistful. I entirely expected it to pass and everything would be fine. The closer we became, the more emotion and infatuation came into play for me and then once he gave me the slightest hint of reciprocation, of hope, I lost myself. He was all I could think about and it was relentless. Anxiety, euphoria, hypersensitivity, fantasy, all of the earmarks of limerence. I'm always finding myself crystallizing something about him, I've idealized him and reconfigured my concept of him a thousand times to get as close to the best reality as possible. Anything I do or think about comes back to him. I feel like this is never going to go away.

    I think it took the correct alignment of factors to trigger limerence in me. I think I've been close to limerence before but it wasn't quite "right" to get me to this point. I think I'm someone who can be inclined towards it, but this is the only occasion in which I would say I've been 100% limerent, so I'm not serial limerent.
    • Unsu...
      This, notreallysarah, is a remarkably interesting point. Is limerence an experience or a disorder? or maybe it's both? I would imagine having schizophrenia is an experience. Maybe not one you'd choose. But once you have's an experience.

      I characterised my limerent experiences as a disorder for years and years, and I used to beat myself up terribly about limerent behaviour. Those of you who have seen my previous posts will know I've just started having therapy (about six weeks ago) which has been very interesting and helpful. I talked it through with my therapist, "I'm ashamed of this obsessive behaviour," and she said "Why?" and I couldn't answer.

      It's the way I am. It's inconvenient, it's frustrating, yes I think it probably is a disorder or at least a symptom of one, but in the end, it's the way I am and I have to work with it the way water works with a boulder in the stream. I can't go through it, I can't make it go away so, in the end, I have to accept it - and just...go round. Work with it. Turn it into a strength. I can feel that somehow, this is possible. All that dammed-up energy, focused on LOs - if only I could focus it differently - it could change my life forever. If I had that on tap, I could do anything. I just have to figure out how.
  • I'd define myself as a serial limerent. :)

    I can see both sides of the discussion here and I don't think they have to be mutually exclusive. I believe that a crush and limerence are different, but I also see them on a spectrum of attraction. For me, there is a point where the crush or attraction I feel for someone reaches a certain point and the slide into limerence begins. But I would not say that they are the same.

    This discussion reminds me of other discussions on here about whether limerence is love or can contain love. It's a similar concept.

    As for the disorder vs. experience debate, I tend to take an integrated view here as well. For me, limerence impaired a lot of my daily functioning and I viewed it as something I was experiencing against my will and moral framework, so in those respects I would consider it a disorder. It's not something I chose and it produced severe effects in my life situation; I don't think it's healthy and I think I may be permanently susceptible to it. But it is also an amazing learning experience and not something that I'd say I hate or regret or resent having to go through, in hindsight. Limerence is the way I tend to experience attraction, and although I might see it as a disorder, this doesn't mean that I perceive myself as broken or whatnot. It's just how I am. Does this make sense? I'm not sure if I'm clear. To be honest, my perception of what limerence is fluctuates and changes. It's sort of a disorder-addiction-experience all wrapped into one for me.
    • "It's sort of a disorder-addiction-experience all wrapped into one for me."

      I can definitely get behind that perspective. Sometimes I feel disordered by it, or that I am already disordered and it's a symptom, or like it's just a thing that is happening that is just beyond my control. Everything is kind of on a spectrum. Being blue isn't the same as depression and that's not the same as being suicidal. I like to think of it as a volume dial. When I feel particularly limerent, the dial is twisted off to 11 and I feel like I'm fumbling trying to figure out how to either unplug the damn thing or get the dial back on and turn it down.
  • I'm a bit confused about why there was a debate about limerence vs crush. It doesn't seem to me that anyone disagrees that these states differ markedly, but the fact that they are both based on attraction is undeniable too. What's important to me, and what brings people here, is suffering. And people who are "crushing" aren't suffering or bewildered.

    To me, crushes are an experience more commonly associated with adolescence. They involve intense attraction and idealisation, possibly a desire to be noticed too, but I don't recall reciprocation being part of it. There's something *voluntary* about it, just like with infatuation (whether that be for romantic objects or other hobby pursuits). Limerence is different. It's not just the obsessive thoughts, but the involuntary, intrusive nature of them that comes to be so troubling.

    The debate about experience vs disorder is more interesting I think. Adapting one definition, I think of mental disorder as a pattern of psychological distress deemed culturally abnormal. Since culture is arbitrary, "disorder" is therefore arbitrary too. To then turn that into a prescription for an acceptable range of human function is abhorrent to me. Our minds are not car engines that are supposed to run within predictable parameters.

    What is important is suffering and our view of it. I won't pretend that I like suffering - I despair some days - but limerence has been a most excellent teacher, that there is more than one way to look at the events of our lives. If we treat suffering as a lesion - like something to be excised and discarded - I think we miss out on rich learning experiences that can make our lives so much more alive.

    That doesn't mean that we have to be passive about suffering, and maybe this is what some of us are intending when think of the word "disorder" and how we should respond. I came to think of limerence as a maladaptive solution to the difficulties of my life, and as something that I could work to change. I believed that if I changed some of the ways that I derived meaning in my life, that this would disrupt my limerent patterns. As far as I can tell, that worked. I think quite differently now in relationships and I'm grateful for those teachings. A big lesson has been about speaking up.

    I don't think of myself as a serial limerent, but I am a limerent in recovery. I can see that there are features of my thinking and emotional makeup that have predisposed me to past experiences of limerence. In the absence of new evidence, I like to think that those experiences are behind me. I am much more aware of how limerence starts and I am far more attentive now to the conditions of my life that foster it, as well as my own behaviours. The lessons of this experience give me hope and energy as I confront other experiential challenges.
    • "I came to think of limerence as a maladaptive solution to the difficulties of my life, and as something that I could work to change."

      It's an addictive, poor coping strategy. Initially it just kind of was something that happened, a state I was in, and that wasn't so bad. But I turned it into a crutch. When something upsets me I deliberately bring it up to comfort myself which isn't a good way to deal with my problems. I have a history of maladaptive coping strategies, so I have a very hard time of thinking of it as a malady in itself. It's a shoddy attempt at self-medication. When I was neck deep in my self-injury problems I had to understand that it was A problem, but it was not THE problem and I never really dealt with it, just moved on to less destructive/more acceptable strategies. If I think on the limerence as just a symptom of being in love with someone I can't have and I'm obsessed about it, And That Is All, it hardly seems to be much of an issue in itself. But there's a lot tied into the feelings that make it Bigger Than It Is for me, because I've never really learned how to deal with any of these feeling things.

      "I'm a bit confused about why there was a debate about limerence vs crush. It doesn't seem to me that anyone disagrees that these states differ markedly, but the fact that they are both based on attraction is undeniable too. What's important to me, and what brings people here, is suffering."

      I'm not really sure what to make of a lot coming up lately about the legitimacy of a particular limerent experience. I can just as easily write myself off as being in an emotional crisis about wanting to have an affair and that doesn't count as much as a single LS's experience? I just don't really like the air of invalidation, that's not why I'm here.
    • That's a great phrase, Meowbie, "limerent in recovery" because that kind of describes where I am.

      I've been limerent for the same person for over 20 years, so I think the serial thing sure does not work for me. Limerence never goes away, but most of the time, I have figured how to live life around it. Most of the time the intensity has dulled down.

      I think limerence is more of an addictive situation than an obsessive one. A crush -- I do not think there is much in common except for a quick initial attraction. When I recall crushes, most of them come back from some almost-forgotten memory. They bring a smile or two with them. Limerence does not bring smiles, just sorrow and you can never forget with limerence, no matter how very much you want to. Therein lies the problem.
    • "I'm a bit confused about why there was a debate about limerence vs crush."

      The words were stated: "Limerence can also be defined as a crush." Those words personally offended me. I responded with my own offensive redress, and a healthy discussion has been born. Let's try to make the best of it and not start a negative chain reaction.

      "The debate about experience vs disorder is more interesting I think."

      I agree that it is very interesting and have been putting thought into that as well. We should start a separate thread for this topic. I'd like to keep this discussion open, so long as it is done in a positive and respectful manner.
      • Unsu...
        "The words were stated: "Limerence can also be defined as a crush." Those words personally offended me. I responded with my own offensive redress, and a healthy discussion has been born. Let's try to make the best of it and not start a negative chain reaction."

        I'd just like to second this - I think that we've accidentally come across something that people feel passionate about and while everyone (including me) lost their rag, it is now all good and we have an interesting debate going.

        However, I do want to just quickly say I think the statement I made there was affected by the Bad White Wine Fairy (who regularly appears in my house, drinks all my wine, goes online and writes ungrammatical posts and then spends all my money on eBay)

        So I'm sorry that I offended too.

        Disorder vs experience...well, I've never been any other way, so I haven't had the life-changing episode of limerence that a lot of you have and in a weird way I do actually envy that. It does seem to me, from the outside, that a lot of you have entered a much wider emotional and spiritual world through having that crisis, terribly painful as it is.

        I'm hoping, and working with my counsellor, and doing CBT, and maybe one day I can enter a much wider emotional and spiritual world through *not* having limerence.
        • SZ
          offline 8
          I've already commented in another post, re: the (huge) difference between a fun and (relatively) harmless crush, and (soul-destroying) limerence... for me, anyway.

          Once, however, when trying to explain to a friend how I felt, so she could understand, I told her I had a crush... on steroids.

          She got it, 'cause she recommended .... therapy.
        • Unsu...
          What is CBT?
          • Unsu...
            One thing I've learned in life is that you can analyze something to death and understanding that thing doesn't make a shade of difference in how that thing affects anyone. I've copped to being a Myers-Briggs INTP on another thread, so trust me, I have done my share of analyzing stuff to death.

            You could call limerence a hailstorm instead of a disorder. How it affects me or you at an emotional level probably won't change for either of us. It is what it is - a state we get into that, most of us agree, we don't really like being in.

            To that point, I am going to start another thread, this one based on the "richness of experience" many of the people on this forum mention.
          • Unsu...
            Cognitive behaviour therapy - it's based around changing the way you behave and allowing that to change the way you think. It's really useful for me, although I know there are other limerents on here who have not found it helps.
            • My therapy was based on behavioral psychology. They have decided that I must take some pills.

              I am stable now. My secret of the day: I have tried by myself not to take these pilss for a few days last week and I almost sent a message to my LO.

              It is difficult to me to know that I am dependent of any short of medication in order to avoid such "drama queen" behavior of passionate man, or discussions like "Do we mean love, when we say love? " (Samuel Beckett ). Experience, disorder or possession? I say: Yeaaaah.

              Secchi ft Orlando Johnson - I Say Yeah


              • "Experience, disorder or possession? I say: Yeaaaah. "

                True Jango.It is all of these rolled into one.I can say it's a unique experience,or it's an obsessive disorder or that he took possession of me.
                All of it are true.

                It's all the more traumatic for me as I have to watch him suffer and am not able to do much.
            • I think and have always thought CBT would be helpful for me as I've some familiarity with it but have not actually received it. I have an inability to allow myself to feel good or get better which is really why I'm here, I think!
      • Unsu...
        Hi Chameleon/JFA/Jeff from Alaska/?/?/? (yes, I guess Chameleon is more apt!) I guess you could say we are all offended by different things. It personally bugs me when someone keeps changing their name in an anon discussion group - what are you running from? What was wrong with Jeff from Alaska or maybe Jen from Detroit?

        I do think we need to be careful we don't alienate people. I'm new here and I think this board is more about letting people open up about their suffering than debating technical differences in definition from some place of moral high ground. It reminds me of two traumatized people arguing about their pain: "Mine is greater!" "NO, mine is greater!" When we compare pain we disrespect the human experience. I'm not a Tennov follower. I don't think she speaks the gospel. I think she is a woman with an opinion, but I think all of our experiences here - from LOs and LS's, further our understanding of limerence. I agree that there may be varying degrees and people in vastly different places, too, but let's allow space for anyone who took the chance to post here. I'm still too afraid to really post my story, it is coming out in bit and pieces. This discussion and others like it make me feel unwelcomed here. I have to wonder, will I be stoned for revealing myself as both LO and LS, will I need receive the compassion that every person deserves? We all respond differently to dysfunctional love. Some are crippled by it and use it to change,, some embrace it and almost seem to enjoy it, most of us are alternately tortured and delighted by the rush of feeling. These are all valid reactions. If I were taking the risk to post, I wouldn't need anyone telling me my experience wasn't valid because it didn't fit some narrow definition.
        • "I wouldn't need anyone telling me my experience wasn't valid because it didn't fit some narrow definition."

          Agreed! Invalidation of experience is a powerful thing and it isn't something that belongs much of anywhere let alone a support group. If we get focused on definitions, everyone is going to feel alienated and put on the defensive. "Is my experience not good enough? Then where do I belong if not here?" I feel that way myself. I'm sorry if you're uncomfortable, Laby. We do have a number of members who have been both LO and LS, so I hope that you stick around and find some solace in the information exchanged here. We're an emotional bunch, obviously, so maybe emotions have just been running a little too high?
          • Unsu...
            Thank you for saying that notreallysarah. I really appreciate that. I expect things to get a bit lively here at times, but just want everyone to feel welcome. :-)
            • Hmmmm, interesting. This topic has gotten a rise out of a few people here.

              I don't know. I wasn't under the impression that anyone was being invalidated here...just a difference in opinion, no need for drama. Everyone seems to experience limerence a little differently. I think it's useful to talk about what limerence is--I like this topic because everyone can bring their own perspective to bear and we get a full range of expression about limerence--but sometimes I think we can get over-focused too, like you and notreallysarah said, Laby. I've certainly become over-focused a few times before. ;) But I think Meowbie has a point--suffering is common to everyone here, and is probably the thing it would be most helpful to focus on.

              Who is invalidating who? I think the invalidation argument goes both ways. Perhaps Alice felt invalidated by the opinion that limerence is not at all a crush. Perhaps Chameleon felt invalidated by the argument that limerence could be described as a crush. I think it's pretty natural to get a little emotional about this, since the experience is so close to us. I agree that no one has a complete monopoly on what limerence is, but there are some hallmarks we can agree on, and the rest is up to different individual opinions...which are being expressed here.
  • 1) Would you define limerence and a crush as aspects of the same feeling, or as completely different feelings?
    Having experienced both, I have to say that they are completely different.

    2) If they're different feelings, what's the difference?

    While both involve an attraction, a crush is simply a very strong attration that is akin to a minor form of infatuation. On the other hand, limerence is defined by obsessive and disruptive thoughts and behavior, an overwhelming psychological need to obtain the approval of the limerent object, and a sense of need for the limerent object which further perpetuates the situation by making the limerent unwilling to take any sort of action which would have even the most minute chance of earning the rejection of the limerent object.

    In short - a crush is strong attraction, limerence is an obsessive psychological dependency upon another.

    3) How would you define both terms?

    See above...

    4) Do you define yourself as a serial limerent?

    No - I've only ever been limerent for one person.
    • Unsu...
      Been thinking about this some today. Not that I'm ever not thinking about it.

      From the perspective of a serial limerent, it occurred to me, attraction is like drinking wine. A little makes you feel good; a crush, flirting, someone pretty, they make you feel good. The problem is I'm basically an alcoholic, so I take and take and take until I pass out...until it poisons me.

      In a jango style, I was listening to this song today and thinking: the lyrics remind me of how I feel about my LOs.

      "Mr Pharmacist, I'll be back...with a handful of empty sacks."
      • I don't think I have ever been as attracted to someone as I am to my LO, this is beginning to make a lot of sense to me. I've never really wanted anyone so badly. I was never limerent for my SO, our relationship was much too easy, I had no need to want and I'm easily satisfied.

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