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Unrequited Love and Mad Limerence

Unrequited Love and Mad Limerence.

The typical love story that all of us have known is to fall madly in love at the start and eventually settle into a pleasant commitment. The other possibility that is not so typical is to suffer a devastating breakup and be left in unrequited love. A comfortable marriage, most would say, is swell; some would call it myth. For most people, attachment is a relief, the ultimate reward, a safe haven. But some would rather not contemplate attachment or detachment when they are in the stage of limerence. This stage feels like the greatest joy, the height of euphoria, walking on air. During our 20s, most of us are always looking ahead, insisting that relationships move forward to be satisfying. Our goal then is for it to progress to marriage. However, in the 30s, we try to live in the present. As discussed before, limerence ideally last 6 to 12 months, and in our 30s we want to maintain status quo.

Limerence includes being constantly lost in the thoughts of the limerent object, intense desire for unrequited love to be returned, nervousness in the presence of the object of limerent’s desire and fear of rejection. In one-way love, the unrequited lover finds considerable relief in the mere thought of his love being reciprocated.

Tennov says that distance intensifies limerence and makes the limerent do anything possible to be around their beloved and overcome any obstacle to stay close to them. This also makes them imagine certain actions of the limerent object (LO) to be especially favourable and meant only for them. They even cook stories in their mind with those thoughts and tend to draw fabricated inferences from the words of their beloved.
Now is there a way to extend the period of limerence? It has been observed that in unrequited love, limerence can even extend to decades. Hope, confusion, and uncertainty kept it going. The limerent person can’t stop thinking about the LO: What did he mean by that? How can I interpret his tone of voice? How is he responding to me? Their LOs gave them mixed signals, like ignoring them for months and then calling. The phenomenon is defined, in part, by feeling a loss of control. A prolonged fixation on someone who doesn’t love you back is considered, by some psychologists, a pathology called erotomania, which I will discuss about in my future posts.

However, in a normal love affair, when your partner doesn’t send mixed signals, you don’t experience uncertainty and the love is mutual, limerence declines. Unless you want to start pretending you don’t have feelings for your partner, or playing hard to get, the end will come. Discouraging news. But ask an unrequited lover!

Barriers and hurdles in the relationship also lengthen infatuation. If one person in the relationship is married to someone else or lives in a different city, the struggle is romantic and could lead to extended periods of limerence even in a normal love affair. In that way, if your partner travels a lot for work, it’s good. The pain of his leaving and the happiness of his return can prolong limerence.
Another adversity options that has been explored is ‘fights’.  It may sound funny, but a fight can intensify the feeling, making you work harder to put things right, hence increasing desire and limerence.

A part of any infatuation is the joy of discovery. So, it can easily be said that “unknown” triggers limerence. Until you know a person you are in love with, mind, body and soul, there is some or the other kind of infatuation that keeps you thinking about them and dreaming about all that you don’t yet know. As you learn about the object of your affection, the insights propel you to the next stage, which is attachment.

Physical contact with the beloved is neither necessary nor enough for a limerent, unlike people experiencing normal physical attraction. If a limerent has been in unrequited love before, the lessons learnt from it make the limerent sub-consciously compare their current beloved with the object of their love in the past, and start believing the current one to be the most ideal choice, hence strengthening the limerence.

I am going to write more on Limerence in my next post. Please share your experiences in the comments section and I will add them it in my future blogs.

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