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Unrequited Love Drive

Unrequited Love Drive.

Limerence can be unending. Some people who’ve nursed a fixation on their limerent objects (Los) for decades, were interviewed by experts. What’s the trick? Their feelings were unrequited. They received mixed signals from LOs, like being ignored for months and then suddenly receiving a call one day. For these limerents, it was hope, confusion, and uncertainty that kept them going. This phenomenon is characterised, in part, by feeling a loss of control. The limerent person can’t stop thinking about the LO. Questions keep popping up in the lover’s mind- what did s/he mean by that? How can I interpret this tone of voice? How is s/he responding to me? A prolonged fixation on someone who doesn’t love you back is considered, by some psychologists, a pathology called erotomania, which I will talk about in my future posts.

It is also believed that if the LO is responsive, doesn’t send mixed signals, you don’t experience uncertainty, the love is mutual, and limerence declines. Unless you want to start pretending you don’t have feelings for him, or playing hard to get, the end of limerence will eventually come.

Romantic love, as has been explained, is not an emotion. Rather, it’s a motivation system- a need that compels the lover to seek a specific mating partner, it’s a drive, it’s part of the reward system of the brain. The brain links this drive to all kinds of specific emotions depending on how the relationship is going. All the while, the prefrontal cortex is assembling data, putting information into patterns, making strategies, and monitoring the progress toward this great prize of life.

When you move into the attachment stage, after limerence, where you see an increase of vasopressin and oxytocin, the other hormones return to normal. Most couples in attached relationships have less sex than those in the infatuation stage. After the infatuation stage is over, sex takes a back seat. The phrase addicted to love applies to women and men who crave the excitement and sex of infatuation, floating from one intense affair to the next, leaving a pile of heartbroken, attachment-seeking partners in their wake. Some scholars say two, maybe three years is an ideal time for limerence to last. During this stage, that is called infatuation, you experience increases of norepinephrine and dopamine levels in the brain and of testosterone, too, since lust forms an important part of limerence.

Love also hurts. In a recent study, researchers found that 40% of people who had been dumped by their partner in the previous eight weeks experienced clinical depression and 12% severe depression. It is estimated that annually one million women and 400,000 men are stalked 50 to 70% of female homicides are committed by lovers and spouses.

As mentioned in my post Unrequited Love and Infatuation, limerence or infatuated love is a state of mind resulting from unrequited love. Although most people feel intense euphoria and experience the release of dopamine, oxytocin, and elevated levels of testosterone and oestrogen at the beginning of a relationship, these hormone levels eventually return to normal after six to twenty-four months. However, those who suffer from limerence are permanently trapped in this stage of euphoria and their cognitions and behavior become obsessive and compulsive.

The condition of Limerence is ripe with room for dialogue. First and foremost, is this an actual condition or are we merely giving people an excuse for letting their thoughts go into overdrive? Secondly, since some antidepressant medications have shown to work in inhibiting the obsessive thoughts, is Limerence actually an extension or unique sub-type of depression? Can disconnecting from the person of interest really eliminate these maladaptive symptoms?

The only hope in the extension of period that limerence is going to last is the barriers and hurdles that lengthen infatuation in a relationship. For example, the two of you live in different cities and do not get meet for a long time, or one of you is married. In such cases, the struggle is romantic. If your partner travels a lot for work, it’s good. The pain of his leaving and the happiness of his return can prolong the stage of infatuation and hence limerence. This means you could expect another six months of the euphoric feeling.

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