What is Limerence?
"To experience full blown romantic love is perhaps the most exhilarating, ecstatic and euphoric experience we could possibly have. It is so captivating, so powerful and so enticing that we are simply compelled headlong into the most delightful, delirious and disturbing emotions imaginable
The wounds of romantic love are as intense as its blissfulness. It can be truly an experience of agony and ecstasy, and invariably is! To have experienced this "divine madness" is an almost intolerable privilege.
To have never known its intensity may leave us with a quieter life, but romantic love when tasted changes our perceptions for ever."
In 1979 Dorothy Tennov researched the whole area of 'romantic love' in response to the profound effects it was having on so many of her students. She published her findings in a book called 'Love and limerence"'.
The dictionary lists some two dozen meanings of the word "love". Ancient Greek has five distinct words for love all expressing key qualities of particular types of love. But in English we have just one word: "love". How do we then distinguish between romantic love and affection, liking , fondness, caring, concern, infatuation, attraction, or desire. What exactly is the difference between loving and liking someone?
To deal with these nuances of love, Tennov came up with her own word "limerence" to describe the state of "being in love". She suggests that "limerence is not in any way pre-eminent among the types of human attractions or interactions, but when limerence is in full force, it eclipses all other relationships". I use the phrase 'romantic love' to describe Tennov's limerence.
This is how one person described their first feelings of "romantic love".
' I think I noticed Sue and felt physically attracted the minute I entered the room that evening. When I saw her dance, I was also impressed with her extraordinary talent. At that point I was ripe, and when she gave me that look, I was succumbed totally. We danced together several times and I was in seventh heaven. At the time, I was thinking, I'm in love with Sue. I was just thoroughly enjoying the situation. I was also noticing everything about here. And everything was beautiful, especially the fact that she seemed to be having the same experience.'
Sound familiar ? The arousing, awakening, heightened and intensely exhilarating feelings of limerence or romantic love are so captivating that they soon become addictive and our need to re-experience them again and again can drives us into all sorts of obsessive behaviors, and compulsions.
But whatever happens, however it is defined, it is intensely real, very personal, powerful, gripping, and life and love explosive!! Just look at the following headings below to see how others have defined this "romantic love", this divine madness", this "limerence".
The 'coup de foudre' (thunderbolt) of romantic love can make us deliriously happy as the intensity of passionate emotion overwhelms us. The "seventh heaven" state describes well the almost trance-like qualities of romantic love. Dorothy Tennov after extensive research listed what she saw as a number of key attributes of "limerence".
Of course romantic love because of its intensity and all consuming needs and demands, is a difficult and at times, dangerous path to follow. Those who have walked the path know full well its power, passion and persuasion, as well as its pitfalls .