Limerence Vs Love: Signs And Dangers of Limerence

You’ve met a new woman and she has totally rocked your world. She’s beautiful, sexy, intelligent, funny, and gives you all the romantic feels. But let’s pump the brakes for a second here. Are you really falling in love with her, or are you falling into limerence?

“Limerence? Say what?” you ask. Not to worry, we’re here to help you figure it out.

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What is Limerence (Is it Love?)

First of all, let’s clear up what limerence even means. A relatively modern term coined in the 1970’s, limerence is defined by the New Oxford American Dictionary as “the state of being infatuated or obsessed with another person, typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one’s feelings but not primarily for a sexual relationship.” 

Sounds familiar, right? When we are attracted to someone or we think we’re falling in love, aren’t we all “obsessed” with the object of our affections to a certain degree? 

That’s what makes the difference between limerence and love difficult to spot at first.

Limerence and falling in love may look a whole lot alike at first. The biggest difference is that love requires an actual, real connection with the other person.

Limerence, on the other hand, is basically living in fantasy land, where you’re lusting after someone and chasing after them without actually creating any meaningful relationship. 

So are you falling in love, or are you falling into limerence? There are a several differences you should take note of.

YouTube Video by Private Therapy Clinic– Limerence Explained (Limerence Vs Love)

Signs You’re Falling into Limerence

You Think the Object of your Limerence Will “Complete” or “Save” You

(Object of your Limerence heretofore known as “LO“)

Ask yourself whether you have done the inner work you need to do to be ready to receive a real relationship, and not just looking for someone to swoop in and “fix” you and all your problems.

No one person can “save” another person. So if you’re feeling messed up but convinced that the solution to your problems can be found outside of yourself, you’re probably experiencing limerence, not love.

You Want Them at all Costs, Whether They’re Good For You or Not

A true, mature love relationship should be about mutual respect and growing together. Such is not the case when it comes to limerence.

The liminent person will idealize their LO regardless of whether the person is good for them or not.

The LO is often unavailable, unaware, or uninterested in developing an actual relationship with the liminent person – and the liminent person actually likes it that way whether they realize it or not. 

You Are Blind To The Person’s Faults

Are you seeing more red flags than a North Korean army base but ignoring them anyway? You are probably in limerence, not love.

True love gives each partner the ability to see each other’s imperfections and shortcoming, but still liking them anyway.

You know the other person isn’t perfect, but they reciprocate your feelings, and they may be perfect for YOU. 

You Put Them Above All Else

Is this obsession taking precedence over your needs or responsibilities? Are you ignoring your friends and family, your schoolwork, or your career in order to focus obsessively on this person?

The object of your obsession might reinforce your behavior by connecting with you occasionally, but doesn’t offer you any real friendship or love. 

You’re Afraid of a Genuine Connection

Due to psychological issues and trauma that may go all the way back to a person’s childhood, a limerent person may fear real connections and prefer distance and their own fantasies to truly getting to know someone. 

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Can Limerence Turn Into Love?

We wish we had better news for you, but the answer is almost always “no.”

Because limerence is generally felt by only one person, and not the object of the limerence, these one-sided relationships are unfortunately likely to end in disappointment and frustration for the person experiencing limerence. 

Because limerence is a form of obsession, the person experiencing it is prone to make rash and life-altering decisions to make room in their lives for the object of their limerence; including leaving their current relationship or even divorcing a spouse.

Unfortunately, as we’ve previously discussed, these types of “relationships” tend to be non-reciprocal and one-sided – and one-sided relationships almost never transform into a stable and mutually happy relationship for both parties involved.

What Triggers Limerence?

The state of limerence can be triggered at least partially from psychological issues including a lack of one’s self-worth or self-confidence.

Whether going all the way back to a person’s childhood or gradually over the years, the limerent person craves love, attention and care from others, but has been traumatized to the point that they are fearful of real connections with a significant other, so they prefer to obsess and keep their distance. 

For some people prone to limerence, their feelings can be triggered by something as simple as someone giving them a smile or a small compliment.

If the limerent person is shown the slightest bit of attention or interest, they are likely to over-analyze the L.O.’s actions and will soon start fantasizing that the object of their obsession loves them as much as the limerent “loves” them. 

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Stages of Limerence

Generally, limerence doesn’t just happen all at once; instead, it unfolds in three distinct stages.

When you meet a new person and you begin to be attracted to and intrigued by them, you might notice yourself experiencing the following emotions in this order: 


Of course, we are all infatuated with the object of our desire in the early stages of a relationship. So at this point, it’s going to be tough to distinguish limerence from the early days of “falling in love” with someone. 

The important difference to note is that the person experiencing limerence is usually obsessed with a person who, for whatever reasons (in a relationship, married, a superior at work, etc.) is unavailable. And the unattainability of this person only serves to make them more desirable in the eyes of the person experiencing limerence.

At this early stage, the limerent person is feeling all of the feels associated with addictive-type behavior; i.e., “butterflies in the stomach,” stress, thinking about the other person constantly, to the point where the intrusive thoughts distract them from daily living. It’s an all-consuming, overwhelming desire for the other person.  


In the crystallization stage, (while infatuation is ongoing), the limirent person is beginning to convince themselves that the object of their obsession is perfect, flawless, and the solution to all of their problems.

Because they haven’t entered into a relationship with the L.O., they idealize the person and will put them on a pedestal. The limerent person is basically living out a fairy tale in their own mind. And generally, the L.O. is totally unaware of it. 


In the final stage of limerence, the person experiencing it will be hit with a heavy dose of cold, hard reality.

He or she will begin to realize that they will never actually be able to have the person they’ve become obsessed with. The limerent person will eventually become disappointed when they realize the person they thought was “perfect” for them really isn’t, and will ultimately have to let go of the object of their obsession and all the fantasies that went along with it.

There is a feeling of loss. And often, the whole process will start over again once the limerent person sets their sights on a new, unobtainable person. 

How Long Does Limerence Last?

How long can one remain in a state of limerence? Well, fortunately, not for very long.

Limerence can really only last about 18 months to 3 years, unless  it is unrequited. Sadly, unrequited limerence can go on for quite a long time. This is because the object of the limerent person’s desire is so out of reach and unattainable that the limerent keeps longing for the person and living in their fantasies. 

Generally, it’s not really possible for limerence to last longer than about 2-3 years.  

fragile love handle with care

Signs It is Ending

Few things are more telling that you are trapped in limerence than the complete inability to see your LO’s flaws objectively.

You need do no more than observe the nearest married couple to find that anyone in a real romantic commitment occasionally finds their partner annoying.

A new partner will seem appealing to the maximum, but in a matter of months, any undesirable quirks, rituals and opinions will start to seem jarring.

While their hatred of cats may have initially left you intrigued, you now see it as a major point of incompatibility and wish they would stop talking about it.

Their tendency to never sleep or eat enough starts to seriously bug you; before, you saw them as cool and invisible, but now you realize that your mother was right – they do always look tired and run-down.

Who do they think they are, considering themself elite and exempt from basic human needs?

As limerence is never affected by this real-life relationship transition, you will consistently see this person as a flawless angel. Their weaknesses and controversial behaviors will seem quirky and have you entranced and enchanted, to the extent that you will not be capable of comprehending why others could even start to criticize.

When the limerence ends, they will suddenly drop back down to the ‘mortal realm’ and you will see them through an altered lens of contempt and accurate judgment.

limerence vs love

Limerence Vs. Love Addiction Vs. Crush

Some people use these terms interchangeably to describe someone in a state of romantic obsession. But if we look closely enough, we can see that there are distinct differences between a state of limerence, love addiction, and crushes. 

Love addicts can be described as constantly chasing the euphoria, or “high,” of “falling in love” when they connect with a new romantic partner. This makes their condition very similar to any other sort of addiction, whether it be booze, drugs, food, shopping or something else.

Of course the feeling of elation and being on a constant high can’t last forever in a real love relationship. So as soon as these addictive feelings start to fade (usually after a few months), the love addict will bail out, in search of their next “fix.”

It’s a cycle that, as with limerence, often repeats itself over and over. 

Limerence describes an altered mental state that people can experience when they develop an overwhelming (and usually unrequited) infatuation for another person. Limerence might be better described as an addiction to people rather than an addiction to love, because the limerent person craves and obsesses over the company and the reciprocation of their feelings more than anything.

Love addicts are constantly in search of that hit of dopamine and euphoria that comes with romantic excitement – and that can come from any person.

But limerence is a constant state of uncontrollable desire for a specific person. 

We can best describe the key difference between a crush and limerence as to how much space it takes up in your life. You can have a crush on someone – a pleasant feeling arising whenever you think about or interact with this person – but it doesn’t affect your life to the debilitating degree that limerence does.

It is possible to be really attracted to someone without being limerent, however. Your crush adds excitement and pleasure to life: it’s not the sole focus of your life. 

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Limerence is sort of like a crush on steroids. This person, your LO, dominates your every waking moment and you feel like your obsession has taken over your life.

You can’t concentrate on anything other than how much you want this person, to the extent that it prevents you from living your life fully.

You go from euphoric highs to sad and desperate lows and back again.

Love or limerence – they look really similar in the beginning of a relationship when emotions, excitement and lust are running high.

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