On Limerence...and - wait for it - a break-up processing template. You heard me.

Yep, I've gone and templateized getting over someone. Don't judge me. More on that in a few minutes. First, a lesson and some thoughts on a crazy emotional love-related roller-coaster called Limerence. What is Limerence? Hint: if Love and Lust had a baby...

If Love and Lust had a baby, they would name her Limerence. Limerence is a little crazy. She is wildly optimistic, hopeful, and obsessive. From Wikipedia:

Limerence is an involuntary cognitive and emotional state of being infatuated or obsessed with another person, typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one's feelings but not primarily for a sexual relationship (although it can further intensify the situation). The term was coined by psychologist Dorothy Tennov to describe the ultimate, near-obsessive form of romantic love. Limerence is sometimes also referred to as infatuation, or is colloquially known as a crush, but in reality it is something much different.

Does that sound familiar? Have you ever experienced limerence? Reflecting on that question was like asking myself, "Do you breathe?!"

Earlier this year, my dad could see that I was love-struck over a boy I couldn't really have. Instead of lecturing, judging or advising, he simply wrote the name of a book on an index card. That index card and book, Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love by Dorothy Tenov, changed everything for me.

This is your brain. This is your brain on Limerence.

When we fall in lovelikelust (aka limerence) with someone, it's almost like our limerent brain becomes a form of the lizard brain. If the lizard brain's currency is fear, the limerent brain's currency is fantasy. Sometimes we have fun living in fantasyland...but not when it becomes a torture chamber representing everything we want but can't have.

It is inherent to the definition of limerence that the object of our affection - the romance of our dreams - is unattainable. Which is what makes limerence very different from love. Love is shared and reciprocated and eventually grows and develops into something real. Elisa breaks down the limerence experience beautifully in a post called Limerence and Licorice.

Components of Limerence (from Wikipedia):

  • Limerence involves intrusive thinking about the limerent object.Other characteristics include acute longing for reciprocation, fear of rejection, and unsettling shyness in the limerent object's presence. In cases of unrequited limerence, transient relief may be found by vividly imagining reciprocation from the limerent object.
  • Feelings of limerence can be intensified through adversity, obstacles, or distance. A limerent person may have acute sensitivity to any act, thought, or condition that can be interpreted favorably. This may include a tendency to devise, fabricate, or invent "reasonable" explanations for why neutral actions are a sign of hidden passion in the limerent object.
  • A person experiencing limerence has a general intensity of feeling that leaves other concerns in the background. In their thoughts, a limerent person tends to emphasize what is admirable in the limerent object and to avoid any negative or problematic attributes.

What if you are Limerent and it is making you miserable, but you can't move on?

Tennov doesn't really answer this question in her book. She essentially throws her hands in the air and says, "beats me!"

I think the only way to counter the limerent brain's pining is to ask, "What is REAL?" over and over again:

  • What are the FACTS?
  • How do I actually FEEL, averaged out, over the course of recent days and weeks and months?
  • Finally, how can I act from a place of inner integrity based on TRUTH, not based on what-ifs?

Enter the Break-up Template!

My next book will clearly be a "quit the CRACK that is limerence" how-to manual. You know, just as soon as I learn how to conquer that crazy beast in its strongest moments.

This template is an exercise from my upcoming book (mark your calendar for March 29, baby!). If you are going through a break-up or still trying to get over someone, the questions in this template will help you sort through your thoughts, mourn your losses, and start to see your situation more clearly.

Download the template here (and forward to a friend or give 'er a rating if you like what you see!).

I want to hear from you. If you found this template helpful, would you let me know? Did I miss anything? How do you handle break-ups? Any limerence-busting tips?


All You Need is Love E-Book - Now Available!

Speaking of Love and Limerence, my dear friend Elisa just released her free "All You Need" e-book, a compilation of posts in which 28 bloggers pontificated on love (myself included) back in February. Download your copy by hopping over to Elisa's latest post here.

Happy Turkey Day!

To all of my American readers -- have a wonderful Thanksgiving!! For those living in other countries, I promise to eat a few extra cupcakes for you :)