Love vs Limerance

lim·er·ence
ˈlimərəns/
noun

PSYCHOLOGY
the 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.
In my practice, I have seen more than a few clients who have had the experience of being painfully infatuated with someone who did not return their affection. In this article, therapist Pamela Milam, defines this experience of limerance and compares and contrasts it to the experience of being in love.

 

In my therapy office, psycho-education was a big part of my job. Clients came in to discuss their feelings, and I taught what I knew about feelings. One of my clients (I’ll call her “Leslie”) felt miserable, reporting that she was in love with her supervisor at work. She saw him every day, dressed in the morning with the goal of impressing him, and imagined that he might be her soulmate. Leslie suffered through fantasies that kept her awake at nightfocusing on unrealistic and improbable scenarios in which she would discover that he loved her, too. She had trouble concentrating.

We discussed the fact that a simple crush on her boss had turned into something damaging and unhealthy. She said that she had been in love before, but the prior love had felt healthier somehow—a more positive, mutual experience. The more recent experience had a whole different set of features.

In her book Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love, psychologist Dorothy Tennov describes the typical features of limerence: