Have you ever found yourself suddenly, almost inexplicably, head-over-heels for someone?
It’s like one moment you’re fine, and the next, you can’t stop thinking about them.
That intense all-consuming feeling that won’t let you think about anything or anyone else.
Limerence is an involuntary state of intense romantic infatuation with another person, characterised by intrusive thoughts, fantasies, and emotional dependence.
It is often accompanied by anxiety, obsession, and a longing for reciprocation that can be very distressing if not received.
If you’re experiencing limerence, it’s important to know that you’re not alone.
It is actually more common than you might think, and there are many things you can do to overcome limerence. This article will provide you with information on what limerence is, what causes it, and how to overcome it.
Why Am I Prone to Limerence?
Here are some of the key factors that can contribute to limerence.
Limerence is often associated with an insecure attachment style, which can be developed in childhood due to inconsistent or unresponsive parenting. People with insecure attachment styles tend to be more anxious and preoccupied with relationships, and they may have a stronger need for approval and validation.
Limerence can also be triggered by low self-esteem. People with low self-esteem may be more likely to idealise others and to believe that they are not worthy of love. This can make them more susceptible to limerence, as they may see the limerent object (LO) as a way to fill a void in their lives.
Limerence can also be triggered by periods of vulnerability, such as stress, loneliness, or emotional turmoil. During these times, people may be more likely to seek out external validation and to idealise others. This can make them more susceptible to limerence, as they may see the limerent object as a source of comfort and security.
What Makes Limerence Worse?
When limerent feelings are not reciprocated, it can intensify the longing and fixation. This can be especially painful, as the limerent person may feel rejected and unloved.
Putting the limerent object on a pedestal and ignoring their imperfections can make limerence worse. This can create a fantasy world in which the limerent object is ‘perfect’ with the limerent person believing they’re destined to be with them.
Lack of Closure
Uncertainty about whether or not the limerent object feels the same way can keep the limerent person in a state of unfounded optimism. This can make it difficult to move on and to let go of the limerent object.
Regular contact with the limerent object, whether face-to-face or online, can fuel the obsession and make it difficult to move on.
Social Media Monitoring
Constantly checking the social media profiles of the limerent object can often worsen the obsession.
Low self-esteem, feelings of loneliness, and emotional voids can deepen the fixation as the individual sees the limerent object as a solution to all their issues.
Stress and Emotional Turmoil
Stressful life situations or emotional upheaval can increase the desire for escapism that limerence provides.
Romanticising the Experience
Viewing limerence as a romantic experience rather than an unhealthy obsession can make it harder to overcome it.
Limited Social Circle
Having a small social network and few outside interests can lead to over focusing on the limerent object.
Relying heavily on the limerent object to provide emotional validation can increase the sense of dependency.
Mental Health Issues
How to Overcome Limerence and Get Your Life Back
Step 1: Recognise the Impact of Limerence
Start by recognising how limerence affects your emotions, thoughts, and daily life. Accept that it’s a condition and let go of the idea of romanticism.
Step 2: Prioritise Your Well-being
Make a conscious choice to prioritise your well-being over the intense feelings of limerence. Reclaim the capacity for your own conscious choice.
Step 3: Divert Energy Towards Self-care
Instead of investing all your energy and time into limerence, divert it towards activities that promote self-care and personal fulfilment. Focus on your needs separate from your limerent object.
- Nurture and reconnect with loved ones: Surround yourself with individuals who truly appreciate you. Spend time with friends and family, and engage in activities that bring you joy and meaning.
- Explore new hobbies, interests, or challenges: Find pastimes that spark your passion and provide a sense of accomplishment. This could involve taking up new classes, joining a club, or pursuing a personal project.
- Strive for independence: Build a fulfilling life that isn’t reliant on your fixation on a single person (LO). Focus on cultivating your own happiness and self-worth through personal growth and meaningful connections.
Step 4: Address Underlying Issues
- Identify and challenge cognitive distortions: Recognise and address any negative or unrealistic thoughts you may be having about yourself or the limerent object. This could involve practising mindfulness or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
- Work on developing healthier attachment patterns: If you have an insecure attachment style, consider seeking professional help to develop healthier patterns of relating to others.
- Address personal insecurity and low self-esteem: Building self-esteem and confidence can help to reduce the intensity of limerence. Engage in activities that boost your self-worth, such as pursuing your passions and practising self-care.
Step 5: Seek External Support
- Talk to a therapist or counsellor: A therapist can provide guidance and support as you work through the challenges to overcome limerence. They can help you develop coping mechanisms, identify underlying issues, and create a personalised plan for recovery.
- Build a support network: Talk to trusted friends or family members about your struggles with limerence. Their understanding and encouragement can provide valuable support during your journey to recovery.
Step 6: Manage Triggers
- Limit contact with the limerent object: If possible, minimise contact with the limerent object, as this can help to reduce the intensity of limerence. Avoid social media stalking, and try to limit opportunities for interaction.
- Challenge intrusive thoughts: When intrusive thoughts about the limerent object arise, acknowledge them without judgement and redirect your attention to more positive or productive thoughts.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness techniques can help you focus on the present moment and reduce the influence of limerence-related thoughts and emotions.
Step 7: Embrace Self-love and Completeness
- Recognise your own worth: Recognise that you are a valuable and deserving individual, regardless of the limerent object’s feelings. Focus on building self-love and acceptance.
- Cultivate healthy relationships: Seek out fulfilling relationships with people who genuinely appreciate and respect you. These relationships can provide a sense of support and validation, reducing the need to rely on limerence for fulfilment.
- Focus on personal growth: Pursue self-improvement and personal growth through activities that align with your values and interests. This can help you to feel more fulfilled and secure in your own identity.
- Seek professional help when needed: If you are struggling to overcome limerence on your own, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a therapist or counsellor. They can provide personalised support and guidance.
The Journey of Overcoming Limerence
Everyone’s experience of limerence will be slightly different, which means the journey of overcoming limerence will also be unique. But like many mental health disorders, one can overcome limerence with the right approach and support.
How Long Does Limerence Last?
The length of time that limerence lasts can vary quite greatly, usually ranging from a few months to several years.
It depends on factors such as how emotionally resilient the individual is, the nature of their relationship with their limerent object as well as other life circumstances.
One thing to bear in mind is that when limerence is not reciprocated, the feelings of obsessiveness and possessiveness can persist much longer due to a lack of closure.
Sometimes, receiving a firm rejection can be the best medicine for those experiencing limerence, as it can jump start the healing process.
Signs Limerence Is Ending: Indicators of Change
Realising that the intensity of limerence is fading can feel like an awakening The constant anxiety surrounding your Limerent Object begins to subside.
Suddenly, you no longer feel like you’re ceasing up every time you’re in their presence; the overwhelming heart pounding sensation strat to soften.
It’s like emerging from a dense fog where everything in your world revolves around them and only them.
And now, there’s so much more space and capacity in your life to take on more than you’ve been able to in the recent past.
There’s a real sense of reclamation, and the compulsive desire to always be trying to impress and plan a fictitious future fades to black, replaced by a more realistic view of them as a person, not as a means of survival.
Perhaps most noticeably, your feelings towards them transition from deep neediness to one that is more neutral.
If you’ve been living with limerence for a long time, this transition can feel a bit strange as you adjust to a new way of being.
Realising that you’re no longer under the grip of limerence may feel weird at first. But it’s simply a shedding of your old skin and the embracing of your new more empowered version of self.
Limerence Relapse Prevention
While overcoming limerence is a gradual process, it is possible to prevent relapse. Here are some strategies to prevent you from falling back into old limerent patterns:
- Identify early warning signs: Learn to recognise the early signs of limerence, such as an increased interest in the limerent object and a feeling of longing.
- Develop coping mechanisms: Have a plan in place to deal with these early warning signs, such as engaging in relaxation techniques or reaching out to a support system.
- Maintain a strong support system: Keep in touch with your support network and let them know if you are feeling tempted to relapse.
Overcoming Limerence Treatment: Therapeutic Approaches
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Limerence: Exploring Cognitive Distortions and Adaptive Strategies
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) aims to identify and challenge the underlying cognitive distortions that contribute to limerence, such as idealisation of the limerent object and belief that there has to be reciprocation. Through cognitive restructuring, individuals learn to develop more realistic and balanced thoughts, reducing the intensity of limerent emotions and behaviours.
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) for Limerence: Managing Intrusive Thoughts and Compulsive Behaviours
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) involves exposing individuals to thoughts, images, or situations related to the limerent object without avoiding or compensating for them. By confronting these triggers people learn to become accustomed to their anxiety and diminish the influence of thoughts and compulsive behaviours.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for Limerence: Embracing Mindfulness and Living a Values-Driven Life
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) focuses on embracing thoughts and emotions with a non-judgemental approach fostering adaptability and emotional resilience. Individuals are encouraged to prioritise living a life aligned with their values, participating in fulfilling endeavours and connections beyond the influence of limerence thereby diminishing its control over their existence.
Schema Therapy for Limerence: Addressing Underlying Core Beliefs and Unhealthy Relationship Patterns
Schema therapy explores the underlying core beliefs and past experiences from early life that might play a role in limerence. By both recognising and working with these underlying patterns, people can cultivate a better relationship dynamic and decrease the chances of relapsing back into limerent relationships in the future.