Limerence: Letting Go and Moving On

As we learn to forgive we discover that we don’t need to idolise people in order to love them.

Limerence (sometimes mispelled as limerance), is when we get an obsessive infatuation with someone, usually when the other person shows little or no interest in us. The LO (limerence object), the subject of our limerence obsession, may even have no romantic involvement with us at all. If we tend towards limerence this causes us to obsess about the person. It can even reach the stage where a person who experiences limerence may obsess about their LO so much that they can no longer do their job properly, or get through their normal daily routine. Studies about limerence have shown that the more unclear and ambivalent the LO’s feelings are, the more intense the thoughts of someone with limerence will have about them.

Limerence and Attachment Styles

There are some indications that limerence is related to our “attachment style”. Our attachment style is our pattern of behavior as we interact with those we are close to. It is increasingly accepted that the way our primary caregiver related to us during our childhood deeply affects how we relate to others even when we become adults. We have become “wired” to behave in certain ways which become automatic and instinctive. As adults we need to become aware of these behaviours and heal them, if they are not constructive and not contributing to our wellbeing.

Four Steps to Forgiveness imageAs we become aware of how we coped with deficiencies in the ways our primary caregiver behaved towards us, we may well decide that we have some forgiveness work to do. After all, our primary caregiver may not have known any better. They probably learned their attachment style from their primary caregiver and so on back for many generations. (Click for immediate download of Four Steps to Forgiveness).

Attachment styles:

Secure: If we have secure attachment style, it is likely that our primary caregiver gave us a sense of support, comfort, and protection during our childhood. This tends to make use feel secure in ourselves whether single or in a relationship.

Anxious: If we have anxious attachment style, it is likely that our primary caregiver was unpredictable at best. They were likely to have been available and supportive sometimes, and unavailable or unsupportive at other times. The Anxious attachment style can cause us to have difficulty being alone. We might be very fearful of possible rejection, as it might raise deep fears of abandonment. In response we might become “clingy” and our LO becomes avoidant in response.

Avoidant: If we have an avoidant attachment style it is likely that our primary caregiver neglected us or even outright rejected us as a child. Our caregiver may have been unavailable to us intentionally or unintentionally; or they may have been consistently mean and unkind towards us. This tends to make use feel comfortable alone, but not in relationships. We could also have difficulty in sharing how we feel and may seem distant or uninterested in others, unless we have taken steps to remedy this.

Disorganized: If we have fearful avoidant attachment style, it is likely that our primary caregiver was constantly dismissive, critical or abusive, towards us. This could cause us to find it hard to trust other people. We may have difficulty feeling close to others and communicating our feelings effectively.

The underlying cause of limerence may be that we have developed one of the above “insecure” attachment styles, which means any attachment style other than the “secure” one. It is like we are looking for the sense of attachment that was denied to us as children. We may idolize our LO and be not able to see their flaws, partly because we have never been close enough to them to see the real person and the normal human being that they are.

Limerence and OCD

Limerence is sometimes said to be linked to OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Obsessive compulsive disorder is where you have recurring thoughts and repetitive behaviours that you cannot seem to control. In limerence, the obsessive thoughts focus on the LO, the object of our affection. The obsessive thoughts can cause us to feel that we have a deep bond or meaninful connection with the other person; yet, this may only be in our own mind. The other person may be oblivious of our feelings towards them, or we may have had only minimal or inconsequential interactions with them. OCD is considered to be a mental health issue and it is best to seek professional help with this condition.

Freeing Ourselves and our Limerence Object

Whatever the causes of limerence, and this still needs much more study, it is obvious that those of us affected by it need to learn to let go and move on. A highly effective we to do so is simply to forgive. We need to forgive our childhood caregivers, and we need to forgive ourselves for whatever mistakes we made out of feelings of limerence. As part of our healing we need to let go of the past and move on. For an immediate download of your copy of the free ebook, The Four Steps to Forgiveness, please click one of the links on this page. As we learn to forgive we discover that we don’t need to idolise people in order to love them.

Written by William Fergus Martin, Author: Forgiveness is Power and The Four Steps to Forgiveness.

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