The term limerence, coined in 1977 by psychologist Dorothy Tennov, describes an obsessive, painful love with physical characteristics of heartache --- i.e., chest pains --- along with intrusive thoughts about the object of your limerence and an overwhelming desire for reciprocation. If your feelings are reciprocated, you are not in limerence --- limerence is, by definition, one-sided. There are two ways to overcome limerence: reciprocation or separation. Since you can't force someone to reciprocate your feelings, your best course of action is to limit interaction with the object of your limerence and find healthy ways to refocus your energy.
Sever interactions with the object of your limerence. Breaking physical connections leads to emotional independence, and the act of separation itself helps you realise that you have some control over your state of limerence.
Analyse any acts of kindness or friendliness from the object of your limerence, and remind yourself that those actions are not signs of reciprocation. A person with limerence relies on the hope that the object of his or her limerence "comes around" eventually. Once you learn not to rely on this hope, you can move toward recovery.
Distract yourself from intrusive thinking with hobbies, work or educational enrichment. You may find that harnessing the energy you formerly used toward your limerence leads to success in another area of your life --- which, in turn, lessens the feeling of emotional instability and low self-worth that can feed feelings of limerence.
Make a list of the unpleasant features in the object of your limerence. This exercise is not intended to demonise the object of your limerence --- rather, it's important for you to see him or her as a flawed, regular person and to reinforce the idea that having a relationship with that person will not necessarily make you happy or fulfilled.
Make a list of the qualities you see in yourself that you believe your significant other should value. The crux of limerence is that it is unrequited, and if you learn to value your own strengths, you'll be less likely to develop an emotional attachment to someone who doesn't recognise and admire those strengths.
Talk about your limerence with supportive friends and/or family. Explaining your feelings to someone besides the object of your limerence helps you put them into perspective and feel less emotionally isolated. There may be times when the intensity of your limerence feels overwhelming, and having a support group to bear your feelings will lessen the pressure on you.
See a professional therapist immediately if you have thoughts of harming yourself or others. Using informal research and surveys, Dorothy Tennov estimated that about 11 per cent of people suffering from limerence have attempted suicide.
Tips and warnings
- See a professional therapist immediately if you have thoughts of harming yourself or others. Using informal research and surveys, Dorothy Tennov estimated that about 11 per cent of people suffering from limerence have attempted suicide.