An uncontrollable condition of intense obsession and infatuation with another person is known as limerence.
Lovesick. Longing. Limerent. The word “limerence” was originally used in 1979 by psychologist Dorothy Tennov in her book Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love to describe an uncontrollable state of intense fixation and love with another person. She spoke with 500 people who were experiencing intense, often unhealthy, love-related obsession.
Limerence comprises having vivid and detailed dreams about the person you are infatuated with, feeling emotionally dependant on them, and being devastated if they don’t return your feelings.
The Symptoms of Limerence: An Overview
There are similarities between the experiences of love and limerence, however limerence differs in that a person experiencing limerence is more focused on gaining the other person’s attention than on caring for them.
Limerence is more about fixation than it is about closeness and commitment. Limerence is a mental condition when a person emphasizes the good qualities of the object of their passion and minimizes the bad.
A person with limerence may become so hyperfocused on the other person that they start to lose track of their own lives and base their whole day on their interactions with that other. It reminds me of the words to Jennifer Paige’s controversial song, “Crush.” Just a small crush, I guess. Not that I pass out whenever we contact. Not that you’re the only factor in all I do.
A limerent person’s “crush” usually gives them a thrill and a great sensation of pleasure even from the smallest encounters. This is a result of love’s biological makeup, which is extremely similar to a drug addiction.
Love wakes up the reward centers of the brain, producing a euphoric dopamine high that is very difficult to detox from and reduces one’s serotonin levels to a level similar to those of people with OCD. According to Dr. Helen Fisher, those who are in love have brains that are similar to cocaine addicts’. This is why you could feel a strong withdrawal effect when the person you’re infatuated with is absent or has distanced themselves from you.
It’s important to note that in limerence, the addiction to this other person is often heightened by the fantasy, not the reality, of who they are and the nature of the relationship.
A person in a limerence has a tendency to search for “clues” that the other person feels the same way about them. He or she interprets the other person’s behavior and words, which may even hint at or suggest any form of flirting or affection, as having hidden meaning (even if there is none).