Limerence is a state of romantic obsession or intense infatuation born of the desire to create an emotional connection or relationship with someone
Although it has recently become a topic of debate on Tiktok, the term ‘limerence’ was actually coined in the 1970s by psychologist Dorothy Tennov. She shared her findings following 500 interviews with people about romantic relationships who displayed similar obsessive symptoms when recounting their experiences of being in love.
Limerence should not be confused with a crush or natural feelings of longing or unrequited love that many teenagers experience. The two parties involved are the person experiencing limerence (the Limerent) and the object of their affection (Limerent Object or LO).
It can start out in a very similar way to love with the limerent experiencing excitement, joy or shyness when the LO says hello, smiles at them or gives them any sort of attention.
However, limerence progresses in a one-sided manner when the Limerent starts to believe there is a strong connection between them while the LO is completely oblivious to this.
The LO does not realise that every interaction they have with the Limerent is being turned into a fantasy narrative whereby they believe that even the smallest compliment is an unspoken declaration of love. They project their feelings of intense desire onto the situation and become obsessed with gaining the LO’s commitment.
In this Tiktok video, one therapist posits the theory that limerence can be associated with factors including attachment issues early in life, being on the spectrum or a recent experience with grief.
Counsellor and CBT therapist Kelly Armatage says limerence produces an ‘altered mental state and brain chemistry’ due to massive dopamine highs and low serotonin. Watch her video below:
These are the main differences between limerence and love:
- Craves affection
- Sees the other person as flawless
- Experiences constant emotional highs and lows
- Has intrusive thoughts that make them unable to think about anything else
- Gives affection
- Recognises the other person’s flaws and accepts them
- Experiences emotional stability
- Able to compartmentalise their romantic relationship from other aspects of their life
If you want to talk about love, limerence or anything else, you can contact Childline 24 hours a day by calling 1800 66 66 66 or by hitting the Live Chat button on our website