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Limerence: In Love, Obsessed, or Both?

There's a word for that head-over-heels feeling.

Ever had that "I-need-him-I-know-we-are-meant-to-be-together-I-know-it-I-can't-breathe-I-can't-sleep-I-love-him-so-much" feeling, you may have experienced limerence.

Psychologist Dorothy Tennov's book Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love (1998) gives an insight into that involuntary feeling of want she has described as limerence. Tennov states that limerence in itself is normal and non-pathological. However, limerence can cross the line into pathology when a person is no longer able to function at their day-to-day activities. It is especially tough when a person's feelings of affection aren't reciprocated.

Limerence is characterized by:

  • Obsessive thinking about the object of your affection

I know you can identify with this one. You can't get any work done. You've forgotten how to tie your shoes. All you can think about is him/her. You're on a high from the endorphins in your brain. You can't eat, you can't sleep.

  • Irrationally positive evaluation of their attributes

Also known as, "Oh, he's an axe murderer? I can work with that."

  • Emotional dependency

You feel like you need him/her around to just be able to breathe. You feel an ache when they are not around - even when they are just at their office ten miles away. Or in the next room.

  • Longing for reciprocation

This is where it gets tricky. The cruel side of fate is that your affection may not be felt by the other party. You may tell yourself, "He/she hasn't called because they are so busy." While this may hold true for a couple days, if you haven't heard back from your intended beloved for a week or two, it's time to reevaluate the situation. However, those feelings of irrational love remain. If only your heart would listen to what your brain already knows.

Time heals the intense pleasure (and suffering) of limerence. This can be a good thing if you are in an unrequited relationship; in a long-term relationship, it's when things start getting real.

If your feelings of unrequited affection towards someone are causing impairment in your daily life, consider talking to a counselor.

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