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The Illusion of Love – Limerence

The Illusion of Love – Limerence

I remember visiting Udaipur earlier on this year, where I got acquainted with a British woman who happened to tell me something curious.

In conversation, she confided, “My friend in Liverpool is planning to fracture her leg just so her ex could text her back.”

As ridiculous as it may sound, events did pan out that way. And according to this British woman, her friend’s actions were justified because she was in ‘love’.

This isn’t the first I have heard of such an incident.

Back in college, one of my acquaintances wanted to desperately date this girl; he chased her for 5 years without a shred of reciprocation. This was unrequited love at its best – for him, her mere acknowledgement was enough. She was a goddess who could do no wrong, and I daresay that instead of praying for her, he must have been praying to her!

One common factor ties both the stories – the perceived feeling of love. People in ‘love’ are compelled to take drastic measures; its intensity is binding.  Which also begs the question, “Is this feeling actually love?” followed by the subsequent question, “And at what cost?”  A feeling that makes you want to harm yourself cannot possibly be love.

Luckily for us, there is a word that explains the above dilemma – Limerence.

Limerence is a feeling that threatens to overpower you – you’re unable to stop thinking about your crush; their undivided attention and reciprocation is all that you desire (certainly not a healthy feeling). The problem is we live in a world where movies have shaped our perception about love. To begin with, you always have this one guy who pursues a girl relentlessly and as circumstances goes, he gets the girl for their ‘happily ever after’ scenario.

We have taken the words ‘happily ever after’ and quite literally beaten it to death. We glorify the chase – that endless chase for love.  And if the chase is successful, we can’t stop singing paeans about it. In other words, no matter how common and dire the situation is, it is not given that much of importance.

When the person suffers from limerence, their ability to think rationally gets affected first. People who were reported to be limerent stated that they couldn’t differentiate the qualities that existed in the person they were limerent about. In other words, if their LO (Limerent Object) had average qualities, their description about them would entail that these very same qualities would be exaggerated by 1000 folds while simultaneously numbing other not-so-good qualities about their LO.

The American psychologist Dorthy Tennov, who coined the term “Limerence” was convinced that  the symptoms of limerence included:

  • Extreme Shyness (In the presence of the limerent object)
  • Endless Analysing (of what they say)
  • Adulation

These are just to name a few but the list goes on. Limerence may affect people from various age groups and it is not necessarily limited to sexual attraction. In some cases, people on the receiving side of limerence have no sexual attraction towards the limerent object (the people they are crushing on).

But all is not lost for people who are suffering from limerence. Even though it is not given that much importance, limerence is actually a psychological condition. It has serious repercussion on mental health and there are ways in which the damage could be limited. Cutting all forms of contact is the first painful step to recovery; extinguishing all hopes with respect to the person whom they are chasing is the only respite. At no point can you go back to talking to them when you are recovering, it will only lengthen and increase your intensity of your emotion. The other way is if you could transfer your Limerence to someone else.

Something easier said than done.

Limerence thrives on two components – uncertainty and hope. As long as you find a way to hold on fast to these concepts, you have a chance of knocking down limerence out cold.

So the next time someone uses the world ‘love’ frivolously, ask them, “Do you know what limerence means?”

What do you think?

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