Love or Limerence?

Love or Limerence?

Despite its occurrence, limerence is a relatively unfamiliar concept for many people. Limerence is an intense, obsessive form of infatuation, where someone experiences overwhelming and often irrational feelings of attraction towards another person. As people, we may rationalize these feelings as an intense crush, or even love at first sight. However, it is important to recognize them for what they actually are.

The individual experiencing limerence may find themselves preoccupied with thoughts of the person they are infatuated with, often daydreaming about potential scenarios. This often entails fixating on the perceived perfection of the person, creating an idealized and unrealistic version of them. This fixation goes beyond the normal bounds of a crush, manifesting as an overwhelming desire for reciprocation and a deep-seated need for the subject's approval. While we may believe this stems from our feelings for the individual, it is actually rooted in the unconscious desire for validation.

Validation plays a significant role in limerence, with individuals seeking affection from the object of their infatuation in order to validate their self-worth and desirability. This seeking of validation becomes a motivator, driving behaviors aimed at securing attention and approval. This overwhelming desire becomes a coping mechanism to soothe anxieties and validate one's self-worth through the perceived approval of the person they are infatuated with.

Attachment theory, a theory introduced by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, offers profound insights into the dynamics of emotional bonds. In the context of love and limerence, understanding one's attachment style is imperative. Throughout childhood, an individual’s attachment style is developed through the consistency of a caregiver’s responsiveness, emotional support, and their ability to meet the child's needs. Through this, a secure or insecure attachment style is formed. An individual's attachment style influences how they approach relationships and cope with emotions throughout their lives.

Individuals with secure attachment styles tend to approach relationships with confidence, trust, and effective communication. Love, for them, means a healthy partnership. On the other hand, those with insecure attachment styles may find themselves struggling with things such as limerence. These individuals may find themselves seeking external validation to fill the emotional voids created in childhood.

At Brightside Behavioral Health, our clinicians may assist in understanding individual attachment patterns. This allows the client to identify and understand their emotions in a way they have not previously considered. If the concept of limerence resonated with you, we are here to help you gain the tools necessary to build secure attachments. If you are interested in learning more, visit our website or call us to make an appointment at our Warwick, Johnston, or Cranston offices.