The Deep Psychology of Limerence: Unraveling the Mysteries of Overwhelming Attraction

By Dr Rachel Hannam

Limerence, also known as love-addiction or person-addiction, is often described as an intense state of infatuation and romantic attraction. It is a fascinating (but often deeply painful) psychological phenomenon that has intrigued researchers and individuals alike.

Limerence is distinct from love as it tends to includes idealising the object of affection (the “limerent object”), experiencing intrusive thoughts about them, and an intense desire for reciprocation, which are not primary elements of secure love. When delving into this complex emotional state, we find intricate layers of emotions and motivations, including attachment issues.

1. The Neurochemistry of Limerence:

At its core, limerence is a neurochemical response. When we are infatuated with someone, our brains release a cascade of chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, contributing to the euphoric feelings associated with limerence. These neurotransmitters create a reward system, reinforcing our fixation on the object of our affection.

2. The Idealization of the Other:

One hallmark of limerence is the idealization of the person we’re infatuated with. Our brains tend to focus on the positive traits of the individual while ignoring or downplaying their flaws. This idealization can lead us to believe that the person is perfect for us, even when evidence suggests otherwise.

3. Intrusive Thoughts and Obsession:

Limerence often involves obsessive thinking about the person of interest. These thoughts can be intrusive and disrupt daily life. The obsession may revolve around imagined scenarios, fantasies, or even the smallest details about the person. The inability to control these thoughts is a defining feature of limerence.

4. Fear of Rejection and Uncertainty:

Limerence is also marked by a deep fear of rejection. This fear can create a state of emotional vulnerability, making individuals hyperaware of their interactions with the object of their affection. Uncertainty about the other person’s feelings can heighten the emotional intensity.

5. The Desire for Reciprocation:

One of the most significant drivers of limerence is the desire for reciprocation. Individuals in this state often yearn for their feelings to be returned, believing that mutual affection would validate their emotions. The uncertainty of whether the other person feels the same can intensify the limerent experience.

6. Childhood and Attachment Patterns:

Limerence can be influenced by childhood attachment patterns and unresolved emotional issues. People who experienced inconsistent or insecure attachments during childhood may be more prone to intense limerent experiences in adulthood as they seek the emotional validation they missed during their formative years.

7. Coping Mechanisms and Self-Esteem:

Some individuals turn to limerence as a coping mechanism for unresolved emotional issues or low self-esteem. The intensity of the feelings can temporarily mask underlying emotional pain or insecurities, providing a sense of self-worth and purpose.

The Journey Towards Resolution:

Over time, limerence tends to fade, either because the feelings are reciprocated and evolve into a healthy relationship or because they gradually dissipate. Understanding the deep psychological aspects of limerence can help individuals navigate this emotional state, address underlying issues, and ultimately find emotional resolution.

In sum, limerence is a complex psychological phenomenon that stems from neurochemistry, attachment patterns, and deeply rooted emotional needs. It is a state marked by idealisation, obsession, and a longing for reciprocation. It can be a deeply absorbing and ultimately painful experience, and it is wonderful to be free of it.

By delving into the psychology of limerence, individuals can gain insight into their own emotional experiences, seek appropriate support when needed, and work toward healthier and more fulfilling relationships. At North Brisbane Psychologists, we can help you find ways to detach from your “limerent object” and refocus your mind and energy to live a purposeful life. Call us on 07 3726 5595 or email us on to book an appointment with a suitable therapist today at Aspley, Lutwyche or online. Interstate and international clients welcome!