Limerence - Article series
Limerence - Article series Part 1 - What is this thing called limerence?
This is part 2 of my series of articles on limerence :).
Part 2 - Subdefinitions of limerence
Subdefinitions of limerence
During her original work Tennov coined the term limerence to differentiate 'romantic love' from other forms of the phenomenon and to avoid misunderstandings based on different definitions of the word 'love'.
However, there is no consensus about the precise definition and especially the distinction between infatuation and limerence, hence limerence is used in a variety of con- and subtexts.
Limerence as objectification of another person
To a certain extent the human mind always creates objects of other persons in memory. The look of that person, his/her traits, shared memories and emotions, his/her weaknesses, everything related to that one specific person.
When being limerent, the process of crystallization takes place; meaning that the mind overly focuses on and stores information about positively attributed or in-that-way-interpreted things of the LO.
This leads to an image about the LO we have in our head which is no longer balanced or based on reality.
Although the negative traits of the LO are perceived and stored, they are emotionally distanced from when being recalled or processed.
Limerence equals infatuation
Many authors and people refer to limerence as the scientific expression for an infatuation; having a crush on someone, or the feeling of "being in love".
Again there is no consensus about whether limerence is in fact just an expression for an infatuation: it doesn't become clear from Tennov's work whether she was trying to differentiate limerence from what is commonly called infatuation.
Many people separate limerence from infatuation by defining limerence as a form of a more "severe" infatuation.
Limerence as the negative side of an infatuation - limerence equals unrequited love
Often the use of the expression limerence refers to the negative aspects of it. The struggle with unwanted intrusive thoughts, unwanted emotional dependency, paralyzing fear of rejection, etc.
Although this is commonly used as separation, it was not intended by Tennov (she explicitly mentioned it in her work) and is hardly used in professional literature.
Many people also generally refer to limerence as “unrequited love”. Often unrequited love involves limerence (as a creation of a crystallized image of the LO in the limerent’s mind and hence a disappointment when forcefully brought into synchronization with reality) and “unrequited” therefore refers to the negative aspects of it. Sometimes limerence may be a result of a mixture of misinterpretation and subconscious denial of reality when the limerent denies the emotions of decreasing uncertainty and extinguishing hope. The limerent then interprets reality in a favorable way – finding and searching for reason, explanation and evidence for hidden passion and feelings in the LO.
Limerence as a distinguished state from being infatuated
Many people and researchers also use the term limerence as an attempt to differentiate between the “common” infatuation and symptoms of limerence.
It is then tried to see limerence as a completely different state of mind in comparison to an infatuation. Some argue that this is what Tennov did in her initial work, but there doesn’t seem to be much evidence for it.
But yet again, it appears that this use of the term limerence embodies the negative aspects of an infatuation rather than defining a distinguishable state of mind and consciousness.
Limerence defined as the ‘passion’ within a relationship
Some researchers, especially relationship experts and -counselors refer, with the use of the word limerence, to the ‘element/aspect of passion’ within a relationship. In this sense it is used as an expression for the ‘feeling of being in love’ within an already established relationship.
When being used in this sense it differs from the pure equalization with an infatuation by including aspects of what is commonly referred to as “romance” or “romantic activities”, tension in a relationship and the process of habituation to emotions involved in a relationship, as well as removing many of its negative aspects.
Limerence as a sub-state of an infatuation
Sometimes limerence appears to be distinguishable by the amount and intensity of ‘fear or rejection’ involved with an infatuation. The symptoms of this fear are identical with social anxiety and can result in obsessive, compulsive behavior. This is why limerence is often identified as OCD when being treated by professional therapists who are unaware of the concept of limerence.
Sometimes the fear of rejection is so intense that the limerent prefers non-interaction to actual interaction with the LO. It becomes more evident when the fear of the revelation of feelings of the limerent towards the LO is considered.
In general limerent individuals tend to be uncomfortable, shy and insecure around their LO, independent from their self-esteem, self-confidence and personality.
So what exactly is limerence now?
Although Tennov tried to make the state of mind as distinguishable as possible, she did not quite succeed in doing so, except from making it distinguishable from other emotions generally assigned to ‘love’.
This obscurity between limerence and infatuation may result from the vague definition society or the individual has when using the word infatuation.
If we assume that the variable of “fear of rejection” is independent from the description of the state of mind for a moment, then the state of infatuation and limerence are at great deals the same.
But the definition of limerence becomes clearer when seen in comparison to the absence of the state, as Tennov originally defined and identified the state.
Full non-limerents do not tend to have the typical symptoms of limerence, nor have they ever experienced or are capable of understanding them. Yet they are able to experience the typical symptoms of an infatuation to a certain extent. Tennov impliedly suggested that although the reaction may be similar, the origins and roots may be quite different and therefore identified limerence as a distinguishable state of mind and consciousness.
Although not quite correct therefore, limerence is colloquially used to describe the state of being severely infatuated or the negative aspects of an infatuation.
Looking forward to discussions and comments :)
Hope you like my articles
Part 3 will deal with the subtypes of limerence.