Can Limerence Turn Into Love? (Complete Guide to Limerence)

Limerence is an obsessive, compulsive form of unhealthy infatuation. Often, but not always, limerence is the result of an affair. But no matter who is experiencing it or why, can limerence turn into love?

As a general rule, limerence does not ever turn into real love. Real love is balanced, multi-faceted, and does not exclude other priorities as limerence does. Because of the unhealthy and unstable nature of limerence, it almost always ends between 3-24 months. 18 months is the average length that limerence lasts.

That being said, there are a few things that could cause what looks like limerence to turn into love.

When someone’s deep into limerence, they’re obsessed. They think about their crush all the time and wish for love back. They might see love where it isn’t in what their crush does. This can look like love but it’s centered on getting emotions back. It’s not about sharing love. It may become a strong and respectful bond. Or it could just lead to sadness if the love isn’t returned.

Key Takeaways

  • Limerence can make you feel deeply, but it’s not the same as real love.
  • Limerence is more about wanting your feelings to be returned, not about sharing love.
  • This intense feeling can last up to 36 months. It could turn into a deep love, or it might end sadly.
  • It’s important to know the difference between limerence and love for healthy relationships.
  • Getting help from a professional can be important to deal with limerence.

black and white photo of a sad woman with her hands on a glass window looking out.

Does Infatuation Always Lead to Limerence?

Love and romance cover a wide area. It’s vital to know the difference between infatuation and limerence. They may look alike, but they mean different things.

Infatuation is that first rush of love. You might think you’ve met the perfect match. We call this beginning the “honeymoon phase.” Everything feels just right.

Yet, infatuation isn’t quite limerence. Limerence is a stronger need for your love to be returned. You can’t stop thinking about the person. You need them to show you love. It can feel like an obsession.

Things get interesting when infatuation grows into something deeper. Not every strong start leads to limerence, though. And, limerence can pop up without the infatuation stage, like with a crush at work.

Emotional intensity and obsession are key differences. Infatuation is strong but short-lived. Limerence is deeper and can have long-term effects on feelings and thoughts.

limerence vs love

Finally, there’s a complex path from infatuation to limerence, even love. It’s different for everyone. Knowing these differences helps us understand our romantic journeys better.

Why Does Limerence Happen?

Limerence happens when someone feels an intense, emotional attachment to another person, often believing this person is their ideal partner. This feeling can come out of nowhere and can be overwhelming. But why does it happen? At the core, limerence is about our brain chemistry and our emotional needs.

First, our brain releases certain chemicals, like dopamine, when we meet someone who triggers our interest. Dopamine makes us feel good and excited, almost like the feeling you get from eating your favorite candy. This chemical reaction can make us crave the person’s presence just like we might crave sweets.

Second, sometimes our emotional needs drive us into limerence. If someone feels lonely or lacks confidence, they might see another person as a perfect solution to their feelings. This other person appears as a ‘perfect match,’ and our mind fixates on them, thinking that being with them will make everything better.

Lastly, our past experiences and relationships shape our reactions to people. For example, if someone reminds us of a person we had strong feelings for in the past, our brain might latch onto them quickly, creating a strong attachment.

Limerence isn’t just a simple crush; it’s an intense state that combines our brain’s reactions, our emotional needs, and our past experiences. It makes us focus heavily on another person, often thinking about them all the time and feeling extreme joy or pain based on their actions towards us.

Understanding limerence can help people recognize it in themselves and manage their feelings more effectively.

What Are the 5 Stages of Limerence?

Limerence is a complex emotional state. It often makes people feel overwhelmed and obsessed with their LO. The five stages aren’t explicitly outlined, but we still get a good picture of its phases. Let’s dive into these stages:

1. Infatuation

This phase is all about an intense romantic intensity towards the LO. The person starts focusing a lot on their LO. They think about them all the time. At this point, it’s hard to tell infatuation and love apart because the feelings are so strong.

2. Crystallization

In this stage, the person sees the LO as perfect. They only focus on their good traits. This can create confusion between limerence and love. They might think their LO is their soulmate or limerent object.

3. Doubt

After the initial infatuation fades, doubt can set in. They start questioning the LO’s feelings or their own. This leads to more obsessive love, wanting the LO to feel the same way.

4. Deterioration

If the LO doesn’t feel the same, deterioration starts. This phase might bring disappointment, shame, and even depression. Dealing with unrequited love can be very hard.

5. Ending

The final phase is the ending. It’s when a person moves on from the LO or seeks help. Letting go of intense feelings can be very challenging at this stage.

Knowing these five stages helps people spot and handle limerence better. It can help change it into love or move on healthily.


How to Know if the Person in Limerence is Really in Love

It’s hard to tell the difference between limerence and real love. Limerence feels like passionate love but is more about needing the other person to love you back. It’s needy, desperate, and clingy, and totally unbalanced.

Real love, on the other hand, is about respect, understanding, and a deeper bond.

You can spot the signs of true love by watching how someone acts over time. Limerence might last up to three years but it tends to fade. Love, however, can grow stronger with the relationship. If someone starts focusing on making the relationship better and shows less obsession, real love might be growing.

Also, look at how they deal with tough times together.

True love faces challenges and wants to solve problems to grow stronger. Limerence, on the other hand, might fall apart when things get hard or if feelings aren’t returned. If the person is open to talking, getting help, and working on the relationship, their feelings could be turning into real love.

In the end, loving someone fully means seeing them as they are, not just an ideal image. True love survives the loss of the initial crush. It’s about choosing to deeply love the person, including their flaws, with a lasting bond.

Limerence Love
Intense, intrusive obsession with the “limerent object” Balanced, reciprocal emotional connection
Idealized, distorted perception of the object of affection Realistic understanding of partner’s strengths and weaknesses
Often characterized by unrequited love Mutual, fulfilling connection between two people

What to Do if Your Partner is in Limerence With Someone Else

Finding out that your partner is in limerence with someone else is tough. Here’s what you can do:

1. Understand Limerence: First, know that limerence isn’t the same as love. It’s more about obsession and intense emotional attachment. Your partner may not be trying to hurt you. Their brain is just reacting to someone else in a way that feels out of their control.

2. Communicate Clearly: Sit down with your partner and discuss how you feel. Use “I” statements to express your emotions. For example, you might say, “I feel hurt and confused by your closeness with this person.” Don’t accuse; just explain your feelings and ask them about theirs.

3. Set Boundaries: Discuss what you both can accept going forward. If their relationship with the other person is too painful for you, it’s okay to ask them to cut back on their interactions. If they value your relationship, they should be willing to make adjustments.

4. Seek Understanding: Ask your partner to explain their feelings. Understanding why they’re drawn to someone else can clarify the situation. Are they missing something in your relationship, or is this about something within themselves they’re struggling with?

5. Consider Counseling: It might help to talk to a professional. Couples counseling can provide tools for handling this situation and strengthening your relationship. A counselor can also help your partner understand their feelings and how to deal with them.

6. Take Care of Yourself: It’s important to look after your own emotional needs. Spend time with friends, pursue hobbies, or even consider individual therapy. Your well-being is just as important as your relationship.

Handling a partner’s limerence is challenging but addressing it directly and compassionately can lead to a stronger relationship or a clearer understanding of what you both need.

Approach Avoid
Open and honest communication Confrontational language and accusations
Empathy and understanding Dismissing or minimizing your partner’s feelings
Collaborating to find a solution Ultimatums or demands

Does Limerence Mean This Person is Your Soulmate?

Limerence might feel like finding your soulmate because it’s intense and all-consuming. However, feeling limerence for someone doesn’t necessarily mean they are your soulmate. Let’s break down why that is.

Limerence is a strong infatuation.

It makes your brain release chemicals that cause you to obsess over someone. You might think about them all the time, feel very happy when things go well with them, and feel very down when they don’t. This can feel like true love because it’s so powerful, but it’s actually more about emotion and less about a deep connection.

A soulmate is thought to be a perfect match for you, not just someone who makes you feel intense emotions temporarily. Soulmates are supposed to understand and connect with you on a deep level. They share your values and goals, and the relationship with them is built on mutual respect and understanding, not just intense feelings.

Limerence often focuses more on the idea or fantasy of a person rather than who they really are.

You might overlook their flaws or disagreements between you because your brain is too caught up in the high of limerence. This can make it tricky to build a stable, long-term relationship, which is more characteristic of what one might consider a soulmate connection.

limerence stages

Is Limerence a Mental Condition, Physical, or Spiritual?

Limerence can be understood through mental, physical, and sometimes spiritual lenses, but it is primarily a psychological condition influenced by our brain’s chemistry.

Physically, when you feel limerence, your brain releases dopamine and other chemicals that make you feel extremely happy and obsessed with another person. This reaction is similar to what happens when people experience addictions.

Mentally, limerence involves intense emotions and obsessive thoughts about the person you are limerent towards. It can dominate your thoughts, affecting your ability to focus on other aspects of life. This mental preoccupation often leads to emotional highs and lows, depending on the limerent person’s interactions with the object of their affection.

Childhood experiences, particularly trauma, abuse, or neglect, can increase the likelihood of experiencing limerence.

Such early life challenges can affect how one attaches to others later in life. People who faced instability or lack of affection in childhood might seek intense emotional connections to compensate for what they missed. They might also find the fantasy and obsession of limerence a temporary escape from past pains.

Researchers like Bowlby and Ainsworth have shown that early attachment styles can influence relationship behaviors in adulthood, suggesting a link between childhood experiences and adult patterns like limerence.

Spiritually, some people interpret limerence as a journey toward personal growth or a manifestation of deep-seated spiritual needs. This perspective sees limerence as an opportunity to explore unresolved issues or to grow beyond current emotional patterns.

Overall, while limerence has a strong physical (chemical) component, its roots and triggers are deeply embedded in psychological and emotional grounds, often influenced by early life experiences. It is not classified as a mental health disorder by standard medical definitions, but it can significantly impact one’s mental and emotional well-being.

hand holding a cell phone with a red heart on the phone screen

How the Person in Limerence Can Overcome It

Overcoming limerence involves both understanding your emotions and taking practical steps to manage them. Here are several strategies:

  1. Recognize the limerence: Acknowledge that these intense feelings are part of limerence and not necessarily true love. Understanding that limerence is more about your emotional state than about the other person can be a big first step.
  2. Limit contact: Reducing or stopping contact with the person can help decrease those intense feelings. It’s like removing a stimulus that keeps triggering your emotions.
  3. Distract yourself: Engage in activities you enjoy or find new hobbies. Keeping busy helps distract your mind from obsessive thoughts.
  4. Talk about it: Sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or a therapist can provide relief and offer new perspectives on your situation. Sometimes, just talking about your feelings helps lessen their intensity.
  5. Reflect on your feelings: Try to understand why this person triggers such strong emotions. Is there something missing in your life or personal dissatisfaction that might be contributing to your limerence? Addressing these deeper issues can reduce the power of limerence.
  6. Focus on self-improvement: Use this time to improve yourself. Whether it’s learning a new skill, getting healthier, or just reading more, improving yourself can boost your self-esteem and help shift your focus away from your limerence.

By following these steps, you can start to regain control over your emotions and reduce the impact of limerence on your life.

Does Therapy Work to Eliminate Limerence?

Therapy can be effective in addressing limerence.

It provides a space to explore the underlying emotions and triggers associated with these intense feelings. Therapists help by identifying patterns in thinking and behavior that contribute to limerence. They use techniques like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to challenge obsessive thoughts and behaviors, teaching strategies to manage them.

Talking to a therapist also helps individuals understand their emotional needs and how these might be leading to limerence.

This insight can be crucial in developing healthier relationships with others and oneself. Moreover, therapy can offer support in developing new coping mechanisms and in setting personal goals, which can redirect focus and energy away from the limerent object towards more fulfilling and self-sustaining activities.

For many, therapy has proven to be a turning point in overcoming the grip of limerence and regaining emotional balance.

Final Thoughts

Limerence is a deep feeling that affects our relationships and mental health. It’s not real love but an intense desire for someone to feel the same way. This emotion often leads to obsessing over getting a similar emotional response.

Loving someone too much is not always a bad thing, though. It can turn into a better, long-lasting romantic relationship. For this change to happen, you need to be aware of your feelings, be mature emotionally, and think deeply about why you feel this way.

If you’re caught in the cycle of limerence, seeking help is wise. A therapist can guide you through understanding and managing these powerful feelings. They can also help you shift from being obsessed to enjoying a healthier kind of love.

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