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Old 07-31-2020, 02:26 PM   #1
tryingtobeconstruct
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Default Obsession with a person has a name: limerance

After three years of torment, I've finally found out there is a (sort of) recognized condition for what I'm going through. During that time, I've obsessed about a particular woman. I can't stop thinking about her, all day every day. My condition is called "limerance". I've worked with about eight counselors since it first started, but only the latest person I've talked to has been able to help me find some clinical information about it. I'm sharing some of that information here in the hope of helping other people going through this pain.

Keep in mind that I'm not a trained psychologist, counselor, or anything like that. I'm just someone suffering from the condition and I've done some research about it. Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

In a nutshell, limerance is an uncontrollable obsession with the romantic relationship with a specific person. That "specific person" part is key: it's not obsession about romance in general, it's about a specific person. The person with the obsession is the limerant. The person the limerant obsesses about is the limerant object (LO). The other key concept is that the obsessions are intrusive; basically you can't stop obsessing even though you try.

There are other properties and definitions of limerance that I won't get into here. I'll link to a paper about it below that has more clinical details.

For me it started about three years ago. I met a woman online for the purpose of pursuing a sexual relationship. It was never intended to be a romance or long term relationship. It was all about sex. We met in person once, then she told me in an email, in a perfectly polite way, that she didn't think it would work out and she didn't want to pursue the relationship anymore.

Immediately upon reading her email I collapsed on the floor. It felt like I'd been beaten with a bat. That was the start of three years (and counting) of obsession with her.

The first six months were the worst. I would break down into crying fits when the thoughts became overwhelming. I had to take two weeks off of work and almost checked into a psychiatric hospital. I thought about her from the moment I woke up until I went to sleep. She was all I could think of. I agonized over every detail of our brief relationship, wishing I could have done better. I thought about ways I might get a second chance. It wouldn't stop. I would try to distract myself and think of other things, but my thoughts were always dragged back to her.

Curiously, I didn't spiral into self-destruction. I was able to use the desperate hope of getting a second chance as motivation to be self-constructive (hence my nickname here on Psych Central). I began working out and got into great shape. I took up some extracurricular activities to try to meet other women. Eventually I did meet another woman... we love each other very much and have great sex. I'm happy when I'm with her. But she doesn't know anything about this problem I have..

Eventually the pain eased up. Now I'm able to distract myself for a good portion of the day. But thoughts of her are still in the background. At least once a day I still feel despondent because I'll probably never be with her. I let myself get out of shape again and I carry a lot of shame about that.

Even today I make choices that, while not bad choices, are still based on irrational motivations. I'll clean up my apartment "just in case she comes by today". I know these motivations are irrational, but they're still there. Awareness of the irrationality of the obsession is a common theme in limerance.

Unlike many limerants, I didn't stalk my limerant object. I don't email her, try to see her, or contact her in any way. I avoid the grocery store I know she probably shops at.

That's my story. I still suffer from this condition, but it helps just a tiny bit to know that is a recognized condition. There are professionals who study this sort of thing.

This article is the best description of the condition that I've found. It's free to download.

I hope this information can help anybody else who is suffering through limerance like I do.
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Old 07-31-2020, 02:54 PM   #2
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Smile Re: Obsession with a person has a name: limerance

Thanks for sharing this. The term "limerence" is one I have been aware of in the past. But I doubt it's one that would have come to mind now were I to be replying to a post written by someone who was struggling with it. So it's good to be reminded of it. I hope you are able to find a way to finally let go of yours.
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Old 07-31-2020, 03:45 PM   #3
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Default Re: Obsession with a person has a name: limerance

I learned the term from PC and not from professional therapists. The thing that makes those feelings cease is the realizing there is no possibility of a reality of a relationship with that person.

I had thoughts for many years that I did very little about in action and was so perplexed as to why I even had these idealistic, fantasy thoughts. As soon as I learned about limerence and knew there was no reality ever to be, it simply went away.

Thanks for posting. During my time on PC, Iíve noticed only a few others have these same obsessions and Iíve mentioned limerence to them too.
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Old 07-31-2020, 04:53 PM   #4
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Default Re: Obsession with a person has a name: limerance

Part of the problem for me is that there is, theoretically, still a possibility that I could be with her. I know it's virtually impossible, but I can't let it go.
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Old 07-31-2020, 05:13 PM   #5
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Default Re: Obsession with a person has a name: limerance

Quote:
Originally Posted by tryingtobeconstruct View Post
Part of the problem for me is that there is, theoretically, still a possibility that I could be with her. I know it's virtually impossible, but I can't let it go.
Thatís why the obsessive pining continues. Does this person give you just enough encouragement to keep you dangling?
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Old 07-31-2020, 07:24 PM   #6
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Default Re: Obsession with a person has a name: limerance

I have no contact with her at all. I haven't had any contact with her after she told me she didn't want to see me. But we live in the same town and have some mutual acquaintences.

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Old 07-31-2020, 10:01 PM   #7
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Default Re: Obsession with a person has a name: limerance

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Originally Posted by tryingtobeconstruct View Post
I have no contact with her at all. I haven't had any contact with her after she told me she didn't want to see me. But we live in the same town and have some mutual acquaintences.
Maybe itíll help to distance yourself from the mutual acquaintances.

There are qualities your imagination attributes to her that she probably doesnít really possess. Itís a crush that you think would be so great if it would materialize, but it probably wouldnít in reality.

I suspect these obsessive attractions are about not being able to have what we want to have, but itís an illusion that we imagine it would be if it really happened...if that makes sense.
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