Limerence

Limerance is a term coined by Dorothy Tennov*.

  • Limerance is term that elaborates on infatuation.
  • Limerence as defined by Tennov is the initial, exciting phase of love when chemistry is dominant.
  • The state of limerence lasts 2-4 years and during that period of time the natural body uppers or psychostimulants, namely dopamine, norepinephrine and phenylethylamine are elevated.
  • When the limerence phase fades these neurotransmitters diminish.
  • Limerence can be mutual or one way (unrequited), and sometimes it thrives on hopelessness.
  • Tennov listed 12 basic components of limerence involving the Limerence Object (LO)-the person loved. These signs of limerence or infatuation are as follows*:
    1. Intrusive thinking- can’t stop thinking about the LO.
    2. Acute longing for reciprocation -wanting the LO to love back.
    3. Dependency of mood on LO’s actions or interpretation of LO.s actions (e.g. interpreting actions as indicating reciprocated love).
    4. Inability to react limerently to more than one person at a time (e.g. being turned off to a boyfriend or girlfriend while having a crush on somebody else).
    5. Fleeting relief through vivid imagination (e.g. feeling momentarily better by imaging a wild scenario in which the LO becomes available).
    6. Feelings of shyness and fear of rejection when around the LO.
    7. Intensification of limerent feelings by adversity (“impossible” love).
    8. An “extraordinary ability” to interpret neutral behaviors as signs of hidden passion in the LO.
    9. An aching of the “heart” (central region of the chest) when uncertainty is strong.
    10. Buoyancy (a feeling of walking on air) when hopes are high.
    11. A general intensity of feeling for the LO which leaves other concerns in the background.
    12. A tendency to emphasize the positive and downplay the negative characteristics of the LO (Adapted from Tennov, 1979, pp23-24).
  • Not all of these characteristics are found in each case of limerence. For example, some people never experience an “aching of the heart.”
  • The only way that limerence can be turned off, says Tennov, is by totally removing any hope of an actual relationship.
  • Time can also be a cure for limerence.
  • Brackelmanns’ definition of limerence- a transient psychotic state that we all have to get over if we are to obtain love toward another person.

* Adapted from Tennov, 1979, pp23-24.