Limerence, When Love Becomes Invasive And Obsessive...

Last updated by Lauren Hart

Everyone falls in love. It’s a wonderful feeling in most cases, but sometimes it can overwhelm us and turn into an obsession. In fact, it has a psychological state linked to love which causes much suffering. It’s called limerence! So what exactly is it? What causes it? Can it be cured? When love becomes an obsession... Let us explain.

Limerence, When Love Becomes Invasive And Obsessive...

What is limerence?

Limerence is a term developed in the 1970s by the American psychologist Dorothy Tennov. It’s a condition in which the person develops an obsession with love. It’s the result of being romantically attracted to someone, but anxiety will interfere with the feeling of love. Limerence therefore belongs to the family of obsessive-compulsive disorders, in the sense that it’s an involuntary state where the person suffering has intrusive thoughts 😥.

The difference between limerence and erotomania

It’s true that there’s a notion of obsession in both cases 🤔. However, erotomania is more associated with psychosis, whereas limerence is a state of neurosis. The sufferer isn’t aware of being an erotomaniac, whereas in the case of limerence, there’s real suffering. The erotomaniac makes up their own love, but the passionate lover suffers it.

An obsessive love

Limerence is therefore added to love, and this disorder can appear just as easily in a long-distance relationship, where the two people have never seen each other, as in a couple, and just as easily in platonic love as in carnal love. Limerence can start with a crush, a sexual attraction, or a strong state of affection and then become an obsession.

At the beginning of a relationship, everyone has the feeling of being in a state of obsession, as the feeling of love is so strong. However, intense feelings will stabilize and adapt over time, leading to a stable, committed, and healthy relationship, which isn’t the case with limerence, which will remain an obsession with the other person.

The causes of limerence

Limerence can have several origins, which differ from person to person. It can be rooted in a wound of abandonment that occurred during childhood. The individual will develop an emotional dependence and will need to love and be loved excessively. Obsessive love can also be the result of one or more very positive experiences. For example, in the case of an online relationship, if the meet goes perfectly well, the individual will develop an idealization of physical beauty and a potential future together.

In general, the state of limerence occurs more in people who tend to develop obsessions quickly and desire what they want to the point where their personal life is disrupted.

👋 You may be interested in this article: Behavioral disorders: The list & their definitions

The symptoms of an obsession with love

When you develop a state of limerence, you may experience both physical and psychological symptoms. The latter manifest themselves in different ways, starting with mental ruminations in which attention is focused exclusively on the loved one. Limerence can also produce great emotional instability, ranging from outbursts of joy to fits of tears and anger. It’s also possible to develop a great fear of rejection, which contributes to the obsession, but can also cause depression 😞.

👉 Limerence is characterized by its intensity, the person experiences excessive love. They’re particularly sensitive to jealousy and have great difficulty communicating. This often leads to a toxic relationship. As the emotional state varies enormously, the physical symptoms are quite strong. There may therefore be:

  • Tachycardia,
  • Stomach aches,
  • Eating disorders (problems with appetite, nausea, etc.),
  • Sleep disorders (insomnia, nightmares, paralysis, etc.),
  • Stuttering (in the presence of the loved one),
  • Shaking and sweating,
  • Red patches,
  • Anxiety attacks (even if this is a psychological result, there are physical consequences).

How can limerence be cured?

Limerence can’t be treated without the individual becoming aware of their suffering. The trigger needs to come from them, from seeing an imbalance in their relationships. That’s the first step, and from there you need to understand why the obsession with love is taking hold. It’s possible to take a step back from your behavior, but this won’t completely soothe the intrusive thoughts.

The best way to overcome this condition is therefore to seek psychological support from a psychologist or psychiatrist specializing in obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD). They’ll be able to suggest the type of therapy best suited to the patient, but one that’s particularly suitable for limerence is cognitive-behavioral therapy. Indeed, this enables the therapist to work on the patient’s thoughts in order to “reprogramme” them. As such, the behavior will be appeased and the obsession reduced.

👉 As long as the person affected by limerence isn’t aware of it, this state may persist over time and materialize in every relationship 😔.

Editor’s note: Vital follow-up care

As Lauren explains, limerence is a source of great suffering, so don’t wait to make an appointment with a psychologist and set up some appropriate treatment. If you know someone who’s suffering from limerence, the first step is to make them aware of the problem, and you can help them gradually along the way.

🤗 Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, being happy... It’s here and now!


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Article presented by Lauren Hart

Writing is a beautiful means of expression that I cannot do without. It has allowed me to channel my hypersensitivity, plus I love writing about psychology and personal development. For me, self-understanding is the best way to move forward!

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Wengood's favorite tunes 🎵

Wengood's playlist


  1. Only LoveBen Howard
  2. Invalid date
  3. Fix YouColdplay
  4. Beautiful DayU2
  5. Thinking out LoudEd Sheeran
  6. White FlagDido
  7. Lay Me DownSam Smith
  8. Nine Million BicyclesKatie Melua
  9. Put Your Records OnCorinne Bailey Rae
  10. Summertime SadnessLana Del Rey
  11. Imagine - Remastered 2010John Lennon
  12. Shake It OutFlorence + The Machine
  13. Space Oddity - Love You Til Tuesday versionDavid Bowie
  14. What A Wonderful WorldLouis Armstrong
  15. With Or Without YouU2
  16. HelloAdele
  17. Don't Stop Me NowQueen
  18. Skinny LoveBirdy
  19. WingsBirdy
  20. Californian SoilLondon Grammar

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