Are You Experiencing True Love or Limerence?

Everyone has felt that spark that occurs when you’re around someone who makes your heart race. These feelings often give way to the start of a healthy romance. However, sometimes, what you’re experiencing isn’t true love, but limerence instead.

What Is Limerence?

Nearly everyone has experienced limerence. Limerence refers to the feelings you have when you first become enamored with someone. You crave their presence, long to be with them and might believe they’re “the one“. You cannot stop thinking about them, and pursuing them takes precedence over everything else. Eventually, these feelings decrease, the butterflies fly away, and reality sets in. At this point, the real work of maintaining a healthy relationship begins, and red flags come fully into the light.

Not everyone who experiences limerence towards someone will have a relationship with that individual. Sometimes limerence becomes an obsessive fixation that severely disrupts your quality of life. Ultimately, limerence is not a sustainable way to cultivate a healthy relationship, and it’s important to learn the difference between genuine romantic interest and infatuation.

The Signs of Limerence

While healthy love requires meaningful connection, limerence is all about the chase and physical lust. Some hallmarks of limerence include:

  • Thinking the other person completes you
  • Ignoring red flags
  • Prioritizing their needs over your own
  • Being afraid of genuine connection

Limerence often veers into an unhealthy obsession once it slides into lovesickness or stalking behavior. However, some couples successfully overcome limerence and cultivate a beneficial relationship built on healthy love and boundaries.

Stages of Limerence

People experience three stages of limerence, and the time a person spends at each stage varies.

  • Infatuation – Infatuation may manifest as physical symptoms (racing heart, queasy stomach or anxiety) and an inability to stop thinking about that person.
  • Crystallization – You begin to perceive that person as “flawless,” see past any potential flags and admire them unconditionally. In addition, you may do everything you can to seek their approval and preserve the relationship.
  • Deterioration – At this point, reality sinks in. You may realize the person isn’t who you thought and even start to dislike them. The illusion of the other person then disappears, and the relationship falls apart. The end of this fantasy leads to disappointment and frustration.

How Is Limerence Different From Healthy Love?

Some couples within healthy relationships experience a level of limerence at the beginning of their courtship. After all, limerence is a form of deep infatuation with another person. However, a significant component of healthy love is the intention of both partners to maintain a solid relationship built upon a foundation of mutual love and respect. If one party remains deeply rooted in limerence, it can be challenging to forge a healthy partnership. Knowing how to identify limerence before it starts can help you understand the feelings you experience the next time you think you’re falling in love.

If you’re looking for additional dating tips to help you feel more empowered as you search for your ideal partner, check out my free Dating Survival Guide.