What is Limerence? (& 5 Ways to Recognize it)

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Published Date|
November 7, 2023

What is Limerence? (& 5 Ways to Recognize it)

You meet a new coworker or see someone attractive in one of your classes, and all of a sudden, they’re all you can think about.

Even if you’ve only spoken a few times, you’re certain they’re the one for you. They’re intelligent, you have so much in common, and you can’t wait until they realize the same about you.

Sound familiar? You might be experiencing limerence - not love.

Here at KMA Therapy, our expert team is here to explain the mental health topics you see trending and help you understand how they apply to your life.

After reading this article, you’ll know what limerence is, how it differs from love, and five ways to move through it.

What is Limerence?

Limerence is an intense emotional state that’s often mistaken for love. Coined by psychologist Dorothy Tennov in 1979, it's a state of complete infatuation and obsession with another person.

what is limerence

You think about this person constantly, daydream about a life together, and hope they feel the same way about you.

The 3 stages of limerence are:

  1. Infatuation
  2. Crystallisation
  3. Deterioration

Infatuation is the first stage of limerence. You meet someone who makes you feel safe and comforted, and you begin to imagine how to integrate them into your life. 

You feel deeply connected to them - even if you don’t know each other that well. In fact, this can make them even more attractive to you.

Crystallisation takes this even further. Not only would this person fit perfectly into your life, they would actually solve a lot of the problems you’ve been facing. You ignore the fact that they might have problems of their own - you’d be able to solve them together and build an amazing life.

Deterioration brings you back down to reality. Maybe you find out they’re already in a relationship, or they do something that completely changes the image of them you’ve created in your mind.

You might feel disappointed and really sad - after all, you had a lot of emotion invested into this person, and it’s hard to accept that the future you’ve imagined won’t become reality.

What’s the Difference Between Love and Limerence?

While love and limerence can feel similar, the main difference between the two of them is that limerence is one-sided, while love requires a meaningful connection. 

limerence vs love differences table

Even if love is unrequited, it’s based on an existing relationship you have with that person.

Limerence is focused on chasing after someone you don’t have an existing bond with.

5 Signs of Limerence:

  1. You feel intense emotions, including anxiety and excitement, around them
  2. You’ve placed them on a pedestal - they can do no wrong in your mind
  3. You think about them constantly, even when you don’t want to
  4. You’re scared of being rejected by them if they get too close
  5. You’re driven by a need to be accepted by them

Is it Bad to Experience Limerence?

It’s okay to experience limerence - it can feel good in the beginning and isn’t necessarily unhealthy. It’s normal to fantasize, and it can feel comforting to imagine positive scenarios involving someone else.

But while you don’t have to judge yourself for experiencing limerence, it can start to become really unsettling and uncomfortable if it gets too intense.

Limerence can become painful, and since it’s often tied to your feelings of self-worth and self-esteem, it can quickly start to have a negative impact on your emotions and sense of self.

You might start to experience stress, lose sleep, and focus on this person excessively.

If your casual crush is starting to take a toll on your daily life, explore these three ways to get over a limerent relationship.

3 Ways to Get Over Limerence

When you’re ready to move on from the person you can’t stop thinking about, try these three methods to overcome limerence.

1. Acknowledge and accept how you’re feeling

There’s no need to judge yourself for how you’re feeling. In fact, accepting that your thoughts about this person are starting to become all-consuming and overwhelming is a great first step.

How much time do you spend thinking about them? Are you changing your daily routine, hoping you’ll run into them?

Accept how this has been impacting your life - and then open yourself up to change.

2. Turn your attention to yourself instead

Limerence often stems from a challenge connected to our own emotions and sense of self - you’re focusing everything on another person who you believe can solve your problems instead of focusing on solving them yourself.

When you think of this other person, what areas of your life would improve if they were in it?

Would being with them boost your self-esteem? Would they spend time with you on the weekends? Would they introduce you to exciting new hobbies?

Explore how you can meet these needs yourself instead.

3. Seek out professional support

While you can do a lot on your own, you don’t have to do everything alone.

Speaking to a therapist can help you understand:

  • Why you’re experiencing limerence
  • What areas of your life need more attention
  • How to build your self-confidence and self-esteem
  • What goals and dreams you have for yourself and your future
  • How to seek out and build secure, reciprocal, and supportive relationships

Next Steps for Building Secure Relationships

After reading this article, you now know what limerence is and what to do if you’re experiencing it.

Here at KMA Therapy, we’re here to support you on every step of the therapy journey. 

For over 14 years, we’ve helped our clients learn how to thrive in their life and relationships by customizing therapy plans based on their unique needs. We’ll match you with the best therapist for you and make sure you feel confident through every step of the therapy process.

If you are interested in exploring how therapy can help you to improve your relationships, fill out our Registration Form to get started.

If you’d prefer to keep reading, explore these articles we’ve choses just for you:

About the Author

Emily Weatherhead has a Masters in Community Psychology from Wilfrid Laurier University, where her research focused on improving post-secondary student mental health. She is passionate about finding new ways to make mental health research more accessible and break down the barriers that prevent people from receiving mental health care.

Author |
Emily Weatherhead (Guest Author)
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