• Kelly J Massey

Word for February: Limerence


Limerence is a psychological attempt to understand romantic attraction. Take the definition for example: the state of being infatuated or obsessed with another person, typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation for one's feelings.

Psychologist Dorothy Tennev coined the term in her 1979 book: Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love after several years of study in which she examined the romantic patterns of over 500 people during the 1960s.

Yes, I know. Don't get stuck on the '60s, there's good stuff here that spans humanity's lifespan that we're still trying to understand and it doesn't always involve hippies.

Limerence is indicative of creating inspiring yet involuntary feelings in the individual as they express a need for attachment to the object of their affection. These often involve intrusive and obsessive thoughts that can cause extreme exhilaration or despair, depending on how the individual interprets their interactions with their limerent object. Unfortunately, those who have developed a state of limerence often fear that the intensity of their feelings could not be reciprocated-thus leading to rejection. Kind of like the story of Daphne and Apollo. (Don't make fun of Cupid, he'll hit you with a gold arrow and the object of your affection with lead.)

Apollo and Daphne by arosenlund, image found on DeviantArt

Yet, in spite of the fear of rejection, they cling to the hope that their limerent object returns their affections. This hope is balanced by the uncertainty of their interactions with their limerent object as all the little interactions, all the body language, every little word and glance is analyzed as they look for possibilities that their affections could be returned.

The physical characteristics of experiencing limerence will probably sound familiar to you: trembling, shyness, stuttering, blushing, heart palpitations, pupil dilation, etc. It's at this point you're probably asking yourself: "Isn't this just known as a crush or infatuation?"

No, it's not. It's psychology, dammit. Crush is a colloquial term and infatuation is an immature short-term version of passing interest. Limerence is what you must watch out for when you go out and interact with all the beautiful people in our beautiful world.

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