Have you ever fallen madly, deeply in love with someone to the point of obsession? Where you can’t stop thinking about them, constantly check your phone for messages, and feel intense anxiety when apart? This intoxicating state is known as limerence, and it can feel a lot like having obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The rush of dopamine and norepinephrine in your brain creates an addictive loop of thoughts about the object of your affection. Before you know it, limerence has hijacked your mind and life. The high feels incredible, but the lows can be debilitating. But when does this madness of love cross the line into unhealthy obsession? The truth may surprise you.
Is Limerence OCD?
While limerence and OCD share some similarities, they are different conditions. Limerence refers to an obsessive romantic infatuation with a specific person, while OCD involves unwanted and intrusive thoughts that trigger anxiety and compulsive behaviors.
Although people with limerence may experience obsessive thinking about their crush or someone they like, it tends to focus on fantasizing about being with that person. In contrast, OCD obsessions are unwanted thoughts about threats, dangers, contamination, or the need for symmetry and order.
Limerence – The Obsessive Infatuation
Limerence is an obsessive infatuation – an involuntary state of intense romantic desire for another person. If you’ve ever been “madly in love,” you’ve experienced limerence.
The term was coined in 1979 by psychologist Dorothy Tennov to describe an obsessive romantic attraction that involves intrusive thinking about the limerent object – the person you desire. Those in a state of limerence obsess about the limerent object constantly – while awake or even dreaming. Thoughts center around hopes, worries, and fears connected to the relationship.
Limerence also involves extreme sensitivity to any act, thought, or condition that can be interpreted favorably – a kind word or glance can lift you to euphoric highs. Conversely, any perceived rejection can plunge you into despair. In this way, the emotional state closely parallels the obsessive-compulsive cycle of rumination and anxiety that defines OCD.
Other signs of limerence include:
- physical symptoms like accelerated heart rate, trembling, and flushing
- intensely focused attention on the limerent object’s interests and activities
- an uncontrollable urge to obtain their affection and approval
- a general intensity of feeling that leaves objective judgment impaired
Limerence is a temporary state for most, lasting from a few months to a few years. Yes, it can be enjoyable in small doses, but limerence can become problematic if it’s not reciprocated or when it starts interfering with work, relationships, health, and day-to-day living.
Limerent Thoughts And Behaviors Mirror OCD Symptoms
When you’re limerent, your thoughts and behaviors start to mirror symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. You become fixated and obsess over the object of your limerence, constantly thinking about them and struggling to redirect your mind to anything else.
Your limerent fantasies take over, replaying scenarios with your LO on an endless loop. You agonize over every little detail of your interactions, analyzing what they said or did and what it might mean. These intrusive thoughts invade your mind randomly and frequently, disrupting your daily activities and concentration.
You also engage in compulsive behaviors to satisfy your limerent craving, like driving by their house or workplace on the off chance you might see them, even for a fleeting second. You incessantly check their social media profiles for any clues into their life or new photos you can swoon over.
Some limerents even engage in more extreme compulsions, sending gifts or showing up uninvited – all in an attempt to gain their LO’s affection or validation in some way. These unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors mimic the obsessions and compulsions experienced with OCD, trapping you in a cycle that is difficult to break free from on your own.
Just like OCD, limerence can be treated with therapy and conscious effort to modify thoughts and behaviors.
How To Break The OCD Cycle
To break free from the obsessive grip of limerence, you need to make a conscious effort to shift your mindset and habits. Here are some tips to help you cope with limerence and start to move on:
The less you see or interact with your limerent object, the weaker your limerence will become. Stop calling, texting, or stalking them on social media. Out of sight, out of mind.
Challenge Distorted Thoughts
Notice the exaggerated fantasies and idealizations you have about the person. Try to view them more realistically by focusing on their flaws and imperfections. Remind yourself of the reality of the situation and how unlikely it is your feelings would be reciprocated.
Redirect Your Thoughts
When thoughts of the person creep into your mind, redirect your mind to something else. Do some exercise like yoga or go for a walk. Call a friend. Engage in an enjoyable hobby or activity to shift your mind away from the obsession.
Don’t let your self-worth depend on gaining the affection of another person. Work on accepting yourself as you are and being confident from within. Pursue your own interests and engage in self-care. The stronger you feel in yourself, the less power you give to limerence.
Give It Time
Limerence is usually temporary, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now. The intensity will fade over weeks and months. Avoid acting on impulse and remain patient. Stay committed to overcoming your limerence – you will heal and move on to find a healthy relationship.
You also have to be careful not to mix up twin flame vs limerence. They’re not the same thing at all. A twin flame is a soul connection with someone who is basically your other half. Limerence, on the other hand, is just an intense crush or obsession with someone. It’s more about projecting your desires onto them instead of seeing them for who they really are. So don’t go thinking that every strong feeling you have for someone means they’re your twin flame and that they are worth waiting for.
If you’re madly in love and can’t stop thinking about that special someone, it’s probably limerence. While it may feel like the most wonderful thing in the world, limerence can be an unhealthy obsession that takes over your life. The constant rumination, anxiety, and need for reciprocation are signs that limerence has a lot in common with OCD.
Limerence usually fades over time, as the high from the ‘love drug’ wears off and reality sets in. Until then, try to maintain your relationships, hobbies, and daily routines. Seek counseling if limerence is disrupting your life. Love may feel like madness, but true love builds slowly on a foundation of mutual care, trust, and respect.
Limerence is a temporary madness – enjoy the ride, but don’t lose yourself along the way!