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Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love

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Author Dorothy Tennov, Ph.D., on Love and Limerence:

It was over 35 years ago that, having become convinced through personal experience and the writings of others of the enormous significance of that aspect of the human reproductive process known as romantic love, I elected to explore the subject systematically.

My journey of exploration occurred in three identifiable phases. During the first phase, the Phase of Wandering and Wondering Through Questionnaires and Testimonials, I was primarily involved in other topics, but the "love cards" assessments, in which students anonymously selected statements that applied to them and rejected those that did not, and the paper and pencil surveys submitted to groups continued to supply evidence of the importance of the topic, and of its prevalence, but I had not advanced beyond Shakespeare in understanding. Toward the end of that first phase, my emphasis had begun to shift from answers to questions posed by an investigator to the collection of personal testimonies, those of volunteers as well as those of published autobiographers, novelists, and historians.

Transition to the second phase, the Phase of Limerence, was abrupt. It happened in the fall of 1973. Earlier that year I had presented the first formal paper on the subject at the meetings of the American Psychological Association. That paper, titled "Sex differences in romantic love among college students," was based entirely on questionnaire results. There were sex differences in pencil and paper reports, but, as I was later to learn, examination of the details of the experience revealed more sex similarities than differences in the phenotypical experience. The discovery, later that year, of people who had not, did not and apparently could not imagine themselves having the experience that I was describing, marked a turning point. By the time of a second formal paper in 1977, I had arrived at the conceptions found in Love and Limerence, and had begun to write the book.

The third phase began with the publication of Love and Limerence. It was the Phase of Confirmation. Love and Limerence was based largely on interviews that exposed the weakness of paper and pencil assessments. The words of love admitted of different meanings. New data in the form of voluntary written testimonials poured in from readers of the book. Many of these letters used the same words: "What you describe is exactly what happened to me." Others thanked me for allowing them to know that they were not alone, that as crazy as the condition was, it was not a sign of mental ill-health, but a normal phenomenon. The state was one of madness, but the person undergoing the experience was not (necessarily) mad.

In hindsight, it should not seem surprising to the human nature scientist that there should be built into us through evolution control over reproductive functioning that supercedes other motivations. According to what I refer to as Limerence Theory, limerence is an interaction between the feelings of one person and the actions of another. It appears to occur across sexual, racial, age, cultural, and other categories of humans and it endures as long as do the conditions that sustain it. When intense, it crowds other motives out of the psyche.

It should be noted that Limerence is not synonymous with meanings customarily attached to the term "infatuation." Furthermore, and most importantly, it is entirely absent in some relationships and in some people. Finally, in my judgment, both limerence and nonlimerence represent normal functioning.

Limerence presents problems for the modern individual, causing inattention to other aspects of life, especially to responsibilities and to other relationships. Limerence for someone other than the spouse is a major cause of marital and family disruption. Furthermore, the limerent's behavior may hinder rather than enhance a relationship with the desired person if a response in kind does not occur. When frustrated, limerence may produce such severe distress as to be life threatening.

People's reaction to Limerence Theory depends partly on their acquaintance with the evidence for it and partly on personal experience. People who have not experienced limerence are baffled by descriptions of it and sometimes resistant to the evidence that it exists. To such outside observers, limerence seems pathological. Although often the subject of romantic poetry and fiction, it has been called an addiction, an indication of low self-esteem, irrational, neurotic, erotomanic, and delusional. To people who are unacquainted with it first-hand, it inconceivable that any person should assign so much importance to another person. Fortunately, direct experience is not necessary to someone who reads the evidence. There are many scientifically known phenomena that are not directly perceivable. Although self-report is traditionally regarded with suspicion by scientists, reports that are as consistent with one another as these descriptions of limerence are hard to doubt.

This is a scientific book. That it may not seem so is a part of the story itself. In finding limerence, a human condition distinct yet subject to obfuscation everywhere, we enter into new territory, the territory of the universal mental landscape. There is much more to be found there as others continue the exploration.

340 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1979

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Dorothy Tennov

7 books16 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 78 reviews
Profile Image for Meowbie.
30 reviews1 follower
January 6, 2014
I am quite torn about what to write about this book. I have had a lot to do with this concept of limerence over the last few years, and this has given me much time to ponder the place of this book amongst the relevant literature.

I find myself torn because the book serves two functions. The first is to de-mystify and validate the overwhelming and bewildering experience of limerence. Those who have never experienced its power will be quite perplexed about the madness that its victims describe at length. For its sufferers though, this book comes as a breath of valuable oxygen and a point of reference when all bearing is otherwise lost. This is a valuable purpose and, to me, is enough to justify the high praise some give it. I like how Tennov formalised the experience of falling in love and how she chose not to pathologise any of it. She made it a very human and normal experience, and her limerence equation of attraction, hope and uncertainty provides a simple mechanism to understand how the limerent unconsciously manipulates the variables to maintain the imagined dyad.

The second function of the book is to then describe what to do about limerence. This is where the wheels fall off in my opinion. Tennov straight-out rejected Peele & Brodsky's conception of limerence as an "addiction" (they were later vindicated by researchers such as Helen Fisher). This led her to the somewhat fatalistic conclusion that limerence was an endless cycle of transferrence, consummation and starvation. And for some, this is the truth of their existence. As Tennov alludes, a feature of the condition is to deify limerence itself (reminiscent of the brain-sucker in an early Futurama episode), which compels this population to promote the Tennovian view. She could not and would not stand outside this system and see it in terms of attachment or a general dysfunction of relating, although in fairness, the concepts of codependence and adult attachment theory were popularised about 10 years later. So to me, I think she ended up on the wrong side of history in a sense.

My experience of participating in and moderating a limerence support group for several years also led me to this conclusion. As I was sometimes wont to say there, the best books about limerence and recovery don't actually include that word in their titles. Books like Howard Halpern's How To Break Free of Your Addiction to a Person, and co-dependence titles like Facing Love Addiction and No More Mr Nice Guy are far stronger material that offer a 20,000-foot perspective on how inauthentic relating leads to covert contracts, bad boundaries and, apropros here, frustrated romantic attachments.
Profile Image for Vivien.
30 reviews1 follower
December 24, 2007
This book explained my life. More particularly, it explained a phenomenon that has occurred in my life time and again, for better or worse (or more aptly, for best and for worst)... and made me realize that while I often act and feel crazy when in love, I am neither a bad person nor insane. For anyone who finds themselves regularly and unwillingly under the spell of another human being, check this out.
Profile Image for James.
Author 12 books89 followers
August 6, 2012
A superb study of the contrast between realistic love based on an in-depth and accurate knowledge of one's partner on the one hand, and limerence, another word for infatuation, on the other - limerence is based on idealization, novelty, and hormones, and serves to get us into situations where love can develop, but is not sustainable in the long term.

This runs contrary to our culture's "love-at-first-sight leading to happily-ever-after" mythos and leads too many people to think there's something wrong with their relationships, that the "magic" is gone, when limerence fades in the face of familiarity. But limerence is not a sound basis for commitment, and committed love is needed for marriage, parenting, and sticking together through tough times and situations. This book will help people understand their relationships better, and will help those who want to break patterns of unhealthy relationships to change their patterns of attraction and involvement.

For anyone interested in this, a couple of other excellent sources of insight are Janet Woititz's Struggle For Intimacy and the recorded talks of Terry Gorsky (I used to have them on cassette tapes, but they're probably out on CD now) on relationships for adults who grew up in alcoholic and/or otherwise dysfunctional families.
Profile Image for Bryan Mclellan.
61 reviews10 followers
October 25, 2009
For having been originally published in 1979, as I read this book I kept thinking to myself, "why didn't anyone give me this book earlier?"

This is an essential read for anyone who has ever felt that they have abnormally strong feelings for other people, especially when they didn't want to.
Profile Image for Akash Kanase.
14 reviews
January 15, 2018
Very nice book. Very clear about what is Limerence and how it can destroy you. While not much is given how to avoid it or get out of it, Running away on first hint of Limerence is best idea. Must read.
Profile Image for Sophia.
22 reviews
December 6, 2022
Wonderful research! This book gave me a name for the feelings of intense infatuation that has punctuated my life and I am really grateful this research exists, confirming that I am not entirely bonkers! This book also introduced the idea of limerence or falling in love as an involuntary state, which is really helpful for me when the thoughts can seems all consuming.
Profile Image for Joy Bennett.
25 reviews
September 22, 2013
Extremely helpful, for anyone who has loved so deeply it becomes a painful near-obsession. This book can save you hours of therapy!
Profile Image for Julie Bozza.
Author 33 books287 followers
March 17, 2020
'Limerence' is the term used by Tennov to differentiate 'falling / being in love' from what is inevitably then referred to as 'real love', the long-term affection of a companionate bond. Not that there is anything unreal about the intense experience of limerence, as many (most?) of us would know - but it can be unrealistic if the feelings aren't returned. It can also transform over time into 'real love' if the feelings are mutual.

I suppose that many of us would have already differentiated between the two states, even if there's been some confusion about how they relate to each other (if at all). Such confusion is one of the problems of it all being dubbed as 'love', so it's good to have a new term to use for clarification.

I was interested to read this tome as a person often subject to limerence, as an author who writes about love and relationships, and as a fan. Tennov mentions that the objects of limerence can be 'celebrities' such as rock stars and movie stars, and includes one case study where the subject had long felt limerence for Paul McCartney. However, I'd love to read more about the limerent experiences of fans, who are just as passionate about created objects such as films and television shows. For many (most?) fans it's not just about the actors or characters, but about the whole created 'verse, its worldview, and/or the stories told within it.

Leaving aside that wish for more, this was an interesting read, and brought some clarity with it.
Profile Image for Quiver.
961 reviews1,332 followers
February 3, 2019
Romantic love—the most intense, either you've known it, or you haven't kind—demystified.

It can be asserted that limerence occurs across sexual, racial, age, cultural and other categories. It also follows immutable rules: It endures as as long as do the conditions that sustain both hope and uncertainty; it is unique in human experience for its control over our thought processes; and its power places the achievement of the limerent goal of reciprocation above responsibilities and above other relationship.
Profile Image for Daeus.
305 reviews3 followers
November 7, 2021
This book feels like someone describing a color that I've known so long and others portray so well in music and art, but here its shared from every angle and its components are broken down for me to much more fully understand on a deep level. Not to ruin it, but just to give Limerence a more solid form.

- "Some act on the part of the other person. Some look or word or gesture that is interpreted to indicate possible responsiveness seems necessary even if it is only imagined. Limerence is above all else mental activity. It is an interpretation of events rather than events themselves. You admire, you are physically attracted, you see or think you see or deem impossible to see under suitable conditions the hint of possible reciprocity and the process is set in motion..... at that point I was ripe, and when she gave me that look, I succumbed totally.... At the time I wasn't thinking I'm in love with Sue, I was just thoroughly enjoying the situation. I was also noticing everything about her and everything was beautiful, especially the fact that she seemed to be having the same experience.... the eyes as we shall see... may be called the organs of love."
- "Limerence is not mere sexual attraction... sometimes nothing you would label sexual interest is ever consciously felt. Sex is neither essential nor in itself adequate to satisfy the limerent need..... limerence is a desire for more than sex and a desire in which the sexual act may represent the symbol of its highest achievement: reciprocation."
- "Limerence may begin as a barely perceptible feeling of increased interest in a particular person, but one which if nurtured by appropriate conditions can grow to enormous intensity. In most cases it also declines, eventually to zero or to a low level. At this low level, limerence is either transformed through reciprocation or it is transferred to another person who then becomes the object of a new limerent passion. Under the best of conditions, the waning of limerence, through mutuality, is accompanied by the growth of the emotional response more suitably described as love."
- "Limerence has certain basic components: Intrusive thinking about the object of your passionate desire. The limerent object or LO, who is a possible of sexual partner. Acute longing for reciprocation. Dependency of mood on LOs actions or more accurately, your interpretation of LOs actions with respect to the probability of reciprocation. Inability to act limerently to more than one person at a time, exceptions occur only when limerence is at a low ebb, early on or in the last fading. Some fleeting and transient relief from unrequited limerent passion through vivid imagination of action by LO that means reciprocation. Fear of rejection and sometimes incapacitating but always unsettling shyness in LOs presence, especially in the beginning and whenever uncertainty strikes. Intensification through adversity at least up to a point. Acute sensitivity to any act or thought or condition that can be interpreted favorably and an extraordinary ability to devise or invent reasonable explanations for why the neutrality that the disinterested observer might see is in fact a sign of hidden passion in the LO. An aching of the heart... when uncertainty is strong. Buoyancy, a feeling of walking on air when reciprocation seems evident. A general intensity of feeling that leaves other concerns in the background. A remarkable ability to emphasize what is truly admirable in LO and to avoid dwelling on the negative."
- "I'm inclined towards the generalization that sexual attraction is an essential component of limerence."
- "For the process to develope fully, some form of uncertainty or doubt or even some threat to reciprocation appears necessary... an externally imposed obstacle... may also serve. ... too early a declaration on the limerents part, or on the other hand, too early evidence of reciprocation on the LOs part may prevent the development of the full limerent reaction. Something must happen to break a totally positive interaction. Not that totally positive reactions are without highly redeeming features in themselves, it is only that they stop the progression to full or maximum limerence."
- [calling a person limerent object:] "you respond to a construction of LOs qualities."
- "1. The limerent reaction begins, usually at a point discernable at the time and later recalled... A. The person is someone you view as a possible sexual partner and B. The initial admiration may be or seem to be primarily physical attraction. 2. Once limerence begins, you find yourself thinking about LO and receiving considerable pleasure from the process. There is an initial phase in which you feel buoyant, elated, and, ironically for this appears to be the beginning of an essentially involuntary process, free.... emotionally unburdened.... 3. With evidence of reciprocation from LO you enjoy a state of extreme pleasure, even euphoria. Your thoughts mainly occupied with considering and reconsidering what you find to be attractive in LO, replaying events... and appreciating qualities in yourself which you perceive as possibly having sparked interest in you on the part of LO.... [Maria, the contemporary juliet, sings 'I feel pretty']. 4. Your degree of involvement increases and obstacles are externally imposed or if you doubt LOs feelings for you. Only if LO were revealed to be highly undesirable might your likerence subside. Usually with some degree out doubt its intensity rises further.... crystalization... the doubt and increasing intensity of limerence undermine your former satisfaction with yourself.... you are inordinately fearful of rejection. 5. With increases in doubt interspersed with reason to hope that reciprocation may indeed occur, everything becomes intensified, specially your preoccupation percentage... preferring your fantasy to virtually any other activity... your motivation to retain a relationship, mating, or pair bond continues to intensify so long as a proper mix of hope and uncertainty exist. 6. At any point in the process, if you receive reciprocation your degree if involvement ceases to rise, until, of course, you become uncertain again."
- "The pleasures of love are always in proportion to the fear." Some of the strong physical reactions (eg flush, flittering heart), is a fear response of rejection.
- "...feeding out just enough attentiveness to keep me on the hook, but never enough to let me relax.... a fear of rejection may cause pain, but it also enhances desire.... the recognition that some uncertainty must exist has been commented on and complained about by virtually everyone who has undertaken a serious study of the phenomenon of romantic love....'nobody wants what is easily acquired'...the romeo and juliet effect, in which parents who attempt to interfere in the romance of their children may in fact intensify it. Another traditional barrier that often plays a role in limerence is the deceived spouse, who... can keep things at a boiling point."
- "Rather than commit themselves, they flirt..."
- "One of the invariant characteristics of limerence is the extreme emotional dependency on LOs behavior... uncertainty increases limerence, increased limerence dictates altered action which services to increase or decrease limerence in the other according to the interpretation given. But the interplay is delicate... a subtle balance constantly shifting appears to maintain it.... if you found yourself more limerent than your partner, than your limerence might decline through reduced hope, where if your partner's were higher than it might decline through reduced uncertainty. Perhaps such true awareness would provide a means to control the reaction."
- "the limerent fantasy.... is satisfying only when it retains fidelity to the possible."
- "utter despair poisoned still further by a shred of hope."
- "Limerence can live a long life sustained by crumbs, indeed overfeeding is perhaps the best way to end it."
- "Only those.... categorized as limerent expressed it as an intense need...[theory] love experiences are cumulative. A love experience leaves a strong impression which never fully dies out.... at very low levels of limerence the feelings began to seem.... more a diffuse searching for someone who will provide the longed for mutuality."
- "It is not so much with whom you sleep, but whether you return the feelings is what matters to the limerent."
- "As she described it later: 'even when you think everything is completely meaningless and that you will never have fun in your life ever again, feelings do change.'"
- "'I therefore fear that extensive writing about LO and your feelings of limerence might boomerangand result in intensification of the problem.'"
- "I have tentatively drawn the conclusion that an aspect of limerence is a desire for limerence. Only when recovery is complete do people appear capable of rejecting limerence as one of their most urgent personal goals."
- "Those in the throws of romance did not find their analysis diminished their passion. What did happen was some relief of shame and guilt. Although they remained limerent they no longer felt abnormal."
- "For those who wish cure, the most certain course is prevention. Once you are in its grips, your motions are directed by the external situation, and the only effective action open to you is destruction of any opportunity for reciprocation to occur."
- "Limerence has only one answer: do whatever is necessary to eliminate any trace of hope." [If someone is limerent towards you].
Profile Image for Wanjiru Thoithi.
22 reviews1 follower
June 23, 2018
Part of me wishes this book consisted of only chapters 1 through 4 and 8. Or maybe those were just the parts I was interested in. I found the evolutionary theories and Tennov's analysis of society a bit off at times. Nevertheless this is a good book worth reading. Perhaps not to find conclusions about the subject matter (this book is old and was the first of its kind) but to create awareness and make one ask more specific questions.
Profile Image for Bruno Arine.
111 reviews14 followers
April 21, 2018
I wish I had read this book during my teenage years. That would have spared me of so much psychological hassle back then! This is a mandatory read to every human being who lives in society because anyone can turn into an agent or object of limerence, regardless of gender or age, and it's absolutely normal (estimation is that more than half the population felt limerence at least once) -- and the best part: it is not under our control.

Limerance (also known as "romantic love") is an intense, quickly developed yearn for someone -- or rather, for his or her reprocity -- permeated by obsessive thoughts and fantasies that bring intolerable torment if not corresponded. It can be triggered by mere chance, usually due to slight details in the limerent object's traits or actions that spark something in your brain. It's an irrational state of mind that affects reasoning and mood among people otherwise sane; it depletes the limerent's energy through long hours (and sometimes days, weeks, or years!) of sustained lovesick reverie, which can only be relieved by consumation with the limerent object or, in some cases, cutting off the limerent object from your life completely. Tennov, a behavioral psychologist, did a wonderful investigation in her book and became a pioneer in this rather overlooked subject.
Profile Image for Kim Plowright.
31 reviews23 followers
July 15, 2019
Identifying the central concept of Limerence - a feeling of intensely absorbing, crush-y 'romantic' love/object attachment - is really useful. But the book itself is not great - very repetitive, felt poorly researched / cited and leaned heavily on evolutionary psychology in a really un-nuanced way. Also, she *really* hates on psychotherapists at one point in the book, in an 'all psychotherapists are abusers!' kind of way, which was ...surprising. Took me months to finish, which suggests it's not that absorbing.
Profile Image for Jenny.
Author 10 books409 followers
June 8, 2010
FASCINATING look at the obsessive state we can sometimes find ourselves in when it comes to the opposite sex. Tennov explores the mysterious state between lust and love and describes why it can be so hard to end a relationship even when we know it isn't working out. For a really interesting summary, read the wikipedia article here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limerence
Profile Image for Joseph.
91 reviews2 followers
July 1, 2007
Should be required reading for high school. Although It would probably be better to write a version FOR high school. Lots of behavioural paradigms from psychology are like witchcraft metaphors, apparently. This book helps dispel the phlogiston....
Profile Image for Louis C Smith.
129 reviews2 followers
January 2, 2018
Required for those of us who have fallen in love

Expectations too great to be met, intensity too great to endure, imagination too wild to be believed, maybe you have been there.
Congratulations and condolences.
Profile Image for Fer.
58 reviews4 followers
April 6, 2020
Recommended reading for anyone who never stopped having the kind of intense, unfounded, painful crushes you have when you're 14. Because oh my god if you don't learn how it manifests then you are going to feel crazy and probably pretty darn miserable.
9 reviews7 followers
December 11, 2008
important concept--whether or not it is strictly true, the author makes an important contribution in her argument
Profile Image for Monster.
75 reviews8 followers
February 28, 2010
heteronormative; an alienating cannon to the non-limerent.
Profile Image for Tommy Butler.
Author 1 book124 followers
August 25, 2019
Should be required reading for all hopeless romantics at age twenty or so (or later if, like me, you missed the window.)
Profile Image for Gabs.
68 reviews1 follower
May 19, 2020
I decided to read this non-fiction, psychology piece after being introduced to the concept of limerence in my introductory psychobiology class last year. I had never previously heard of the term limerence, but I was in awe at how well it captured that familiar, involuntary, and consuming state of mind I had fallen into several times in the past.

For the most part, I enjoyed significant portions of this piece, especially in terms of hearing the experiences of "The Group" that Dr. Tennov had interviewed for the sake of creating much of the foundation behind her claims, characteristics, and concepts. It was really interesting to be able to analyze my own personal experiences as well as those of her cohort through a more academic and technical lense; however, that's what a lot of this book was: anecdotal inference. Because her cohort wasn't necessarily huge (I think it was several hundred people), I do think Dr. Tennov came to conclusions or made connections that weren't necessarily justified or supported.

Literarily, I think there are far better-written non-fiction works; whether it was for the sake or reinforcement or something else, I felt like Dr. Tennov was very repetitive in her arguments or frankly, droned on. This shortcoming in her personal writing style prevented me from truly being immersed in the book, resulting in me having to force myself to trudge through some paragraphs until she'd go onto another point. Some of her tangents felt more like a preachy rant than anything else; in the chapter about the opinions of other professionals, she made it clear she has a vendetta against psychotherapy (remember, this was written in the 70s when her interviewees lived through a time where Freudian thought wasn't completely dismissed and female hysteria was still a valid diagnosis) as she spent several pages bashing the exploitive, dark truth of what happened with many people during their sessions.

Being that this was written nearly 50 years ago, I feel like some aspects of the book didn't age well; despite having a "homolimerence" subsection within one of her 8 chapters, I felt like this book was immensely heteronormative as well as western. I think the strength of this book would've been more evident had she collected information beyond comfort bias and reached out to individuals from other cultures and parts of the world. Additionally, while I do recognize that the prejudice was far greater then than it is now, I interpreted some of her points regarding non-heterosexual experiences as dismissive.

The most interesting sections of the book were in the 7th chapter, when she dissected the anthropological significance of limerence, and in the sections where she quoted Simone de Beauvoir. In fact, reading the excerpts from The Second Sex in this book has me inclined to order the original myself!

Overall, I thought her use of weaving real-life stories as "support" for her descriptions and arguments was really interesting, especially since I think we all are inclined to relate to stories of love, lust, limerence, and breakups - to an extent anyway.

While I do recognize that limerence isn't voluntary and often parallels symptoms of addiction, I do think Dr. Tennov should have done a better job of distinguishing these qualities of simple limerence from the very similar symptoms of being entrapped in an abusive relationship. I think explicitly recognizing that not all limerence has pure roots is important, because people who may not recognize the danger of their situation may dismiss the feelings they have as simply "being head over heels" for someone who actually is greatly hurting them in ways beyond limerence. She talks about one example briefly, but doesn't expand beyond showing that limerence isn't rational and that even those who are physically abused can have immense attraction and mental preoccupation with their abuser.

Ultimately, times have changed in the almost 50 years since this book was published; while I did enjoy breaking down the characteristics of limerence in an academic perspective as well as relating to the real-life experiences of others (as this made my past experiences feel more universal), I do think there are some technical and conceptual flaws to this book that are worth acknowledging as well.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Madly Jane.
606 reviews126 followers
September 19, 2022
Hmm. I've been reading on this book off and on for over half a year. In whole, I've read it twice. It is about Limerence, which is a form of "false love," similar to infatuation, only it's much more than that. I suppose obsession and infatuation and human desire to be loved is a core aspect of it and it's not returned. But what it is, really? Is it a habit, an addiction, a psychological pathology. Maybe some of each? I haven't decided. And I've read the book twice with interest. Probably because I've focused on psychology the last decade. And I never could really come to a conclusion on this theory. I could never see it whole and separate from pathologies that affect love and are not called limerence.

When we first fall in love, we are basically, obsessed, all of us, we are in lust, sort of narcissistic, and maybe even falling in love with ourselves. Those early courtship days, where chemistry rules are intense and full of feelings, and even great sex or maybe not. If you are emotionally immature or suffer from some pathology, you may get stuck right here at this point. All your love affairs will end after a few months or years and will never sustain a long term relationship that is sure to be a struggle at times, but satisfying. But that is another book. If you are an emotionally balanced person, not perfect there, but closer to the center of things, at some point, this love/lust changes, but I can't really define all the reasons why, because just try to define love in a roomful of people. You are going to get many answers. And why some relationships last and some do not may not have anything to do with lust and intense feelings (or it could) but mutual respect and caring. Is that not love also?

But being addictive to a person, with intrusive thoughts of that person, with a preoccupation of that person, so attached to another human being that you are miserable at times, that you neglect your work or your life in pursuit of a relationship that does not even exist!!!!!---that is pathology.

Under regular conditions, this is not normal. (I suppose I could find one or two situations where fantasy helps a person cope through a traumatic time. Like daydreaming does. Or writing novels does. Or making art does. Maybe a love fantasy, that is not totally pathological, is no more than an art project. Who knows? Who decides. You cannot decide from reading this book.)

THIS thing called limerence IS A MENTAL FANTASY. And maybe a fantastical theory, too.

We are not talking about love at all.
Limerence. If you want to call it that, is something else, but what is it truly.

Moving on.

However, many people do feel all these intense feelings as part of the falling in love process. And they are perfectly sane. They may experience some pathology, because of other predicaments. Isolation being one. Low esteem another. Depression a good guess. But these things could pass and the state of limerence could resolve itself.

So when is the line crossed and how do we compare real love with limerence? Does real love even exist?

At the moment, I typed in limerence on Google and got a definition, then I picked up my book and read through several marked and underlined passages and it was total confusion on my part in trying to sort all this out. They were different in some key ways.

I really liked the idea of this book. But let's define love in a healthy relationship, even one that fails and is full of neurotic people and then compare it to an unhealthy limerence relationship with the same factors. Only then can we really take data and process data. If this book has its way, love and limerence are two confusing things.

The experience of being in love is so open to debate in definition by many people, including scholars. It appears that limerence is not clearly defined either, and looks like the opening quote that says "it's not love, it is the force of evolution as the compulsion for the particular, this particular one above all others. Often is called love...."

How amusing. How clever. For compulsion is an aspect of love, only it does not become pathology. The only clear line between love and limerence truly found in this book is the line, ""Above all, I want you to want me." So it's a love gone sour, gone in its obsession for what love can do for the narcissistic aspect of the one who is loving, It lacks compassion for the other person at heart. I am not sure what that really is about or where it comes from.

What a mess. This book has lots of great ideas, it even has a theory, I can see the edges of limerence. But it is badly organized and it needed real love to juxtapose against. It is recognized that limerence and sex have a complicated relationship. But what does that mean? Many relationships have that same complicated dynamic. Entire marriages might. I think one of the things is that people who experience this have these intrusive thoughts, this cognitive obsession. And guess what, it's focused on a person and a feeling of love. But is the cognitive obsession really the force at fault, and not feelings of love, is it the pathology and so forth. I am thinking of Borderline Personality Disorder to a degree. They all seem to have the same pattern of love as people with limerence. BPD: "I love you. I want you. I need you to love and want me. You are perfect. And then boom--you are not perfect, I hate you now. I hate myself. I hate everybody." Extremes. Black and white thinking.

I can't love this book. Pun intended. It's messy. It muddies the water with no sense of clarity. Yes, I think it describes a pattern in people, but I am not sure what the pattern is or what it means or why it happens. None of that is clear, just the examples of people who are experiencing pathology and confusion, even a young girl who had a childhood fantasy of being in love with Paul McCarthy and daydreamed and wrote in her diary about it. Was that limerence or something else???? Yes, she pretty much went on in life to fantasy-like relationships that were not healthy, but what is that about? I am not sure.

Finally, Tennov never really tells you what love is or what healthy love looks like or what even heartbreak from a healthy love feels and looks like. Her book is subtitled: The Experience of Being in Love. But where is it? Where is the love? You won't find it in this book. You will find chaos and struggle and pathology of some kind. Limerence is not its name.
90 reviews
June 30, 2021
I don't understand why this book is not better known, although Tennov explains herself in the book why tepid reception from the academic world was to be expected. I came across the concept of limerence about a decade ago but really decided to see what was behind it recently and after reading several self-help books on love addiction, no matter how much valuable information they may contain, I did not expect such a clinical, profound, nuanced, culturally rich account of the widespread phenomenon of limerence, and equally widespread phenomenon of non-limerence. This is not a self--help book and this is not a frivolous subject but a fascinating anthropological/sociological exploration. Tennov conducted scientific studies and exposed her conclusions here. Several times in the book, she indicates that one of her goals is to help people better understand each other and clear up a lot of confusion and suffering in romantic relationships due to misunderstandings and I do think that if more people read her book, her endeavor may be successful. At the end of the book, she also explicitly enunciates many questions naturally stemming from her studies and interpretation, that she considered being preliminary background to further research. One can only hope that more time will be dedicated to the subject in a time of redefinition of human interaction.
December 28, 2022
A very fascinating and insightful take on the psychology of love and relationships, particularly with infatuation and unrequited love. I feel like more people need to read this to understand how and why unprecedented emotions brought on by certain relationships can affect them in their lives. It’s one of those topics not frequently spoken about but is an underlying backdrop for many of the things that occur in everyday life and society. I could see this book being used in research in conjunction with criminology, psychology and sociology classes. It also explains pop culture and mass media, why certain pieces of art have been such a timeless and mass success over a number of years. It makes you see how human condition is really universal across history and cultures. At the individual level, I would recommend this book to anyone whose life has ever been affected in any way, shape or form by romantic relationships and connections, that has been inexplicable or even detrimental. Given the rise in mental health crisis and the amount of believers in the Twin Flame phenomenon (which I’m not saying doesn’t exist at all but is harmful to one’s mental well-being if the objective facts and reality are dismissed), this book would be a refreshing splash of truth and reality. It certainly has been therapeutic for me to read about it since I have been affected by this throughout my life.
Profile Image for SOAP CHAMP.
621 reviews
May 9, 2023
This book simultaneously provided a lot of clarity for me and my personal experiences while making it extremely confusing understanding the different between limerence and love. I suppose when you only have one definition of something your whole life, it's hard to change it. This felt very well researched and I appreciate that Tennov wanted to express this as a human experience and not as something terrible that people should be punished for feeling.

Other points of note:
- weird comments about weight
- a lot more queer representation than I expected in a book from 1979
- lots of personal anecdotes
- incredibly short and unsatisfying chapter on how to actually deal with being limerent

It's really unfortunate that there hasn't been any groundbreaking psychology research published on this since Tennov's book. I can only imagine the amount of information we have 40 years later that has yet to be explored.
Profile Image for Waad Adel.
15 reviews
July 18, 2018
Lots and lots of questions explained, it’s like she wanted to tell a lot of us “ don’t worry, you are not alone in this, you are not sick, you are completely normal “.
When I read the introduction to the book or even when I first read about the book, I was so curious to know the author and I was so glad it’s a woman, yet I wish she were alive, I wish I could contact her and tell her a lot about my own experiences and I know she might be the one person in the world who would like to listen to every word and analyze it so correctly.
I wasn’t lucky enough to meet her or get in contact with her but I am glad that a stupid search about my feelings lead me to this book, to this masterpiece, that I finally understand myself and a lot of people around me, am glad that a lot of situations and experiences have finally made sense.
Rest in peace dear, even if you haven’t done anything in your life except this book, it’s more than enough, you have given the world a gift that will never get old and will never die.
I am sure that anybody who has read this book will never forget it, especially limerents, who you taught them who they are.
I am glad you came to the world even if it wasn’t in my age or I wasn’t in yours, even if I wasn’t lucky enough to meet you, am still glad you were here and you always will be, you will live forever in this book, forever.
December 29, 2022
In knowing our philosophy, we tend to read other person's actions as gestures of love or limerance.

No one should underestimate the impact of human relationships, particularly when the actions of limerant object or LO are taken for granted as responses to our own thought processes. In fact, any one in love or in a state of limerance is bound to take notice of the minuscule of the reaction of LO as complimentary to the thought processes. The indirect considerations of LO may be taken in positive or negative manner by the limerant. The whole matter of love or limerance, perhaps falls in grey area for a large number of men and women. It is incomprehensible and makes little contribution to either limerants' or nonlimerants' lives.
Profile Image for Meg.
237 reviews11 followers
August 7, 2018
really interesting at some points, i loved reading about the experiences of limerence and how it plays out. especially reading about that teen girl in love with Paul McCartney, man i am exactly the same with celebrities. i know that by having read this book, the way i behave + self-reflect on/around romantic crushes will now be framed around limerence, which i think is very helpful (especially understanding how i idolise/crystallise a person, and how uncomfortable it must be to be on the receiving end of that.)

that said, goodness this book was tedious to get through. this was a good book to read before bed bc i'd be unconscious within 7 pages.
108 reviews3 followers
July 29, 2019
I'm glad this book has given a name to what I'm feeling, and have felt before.
On the one hand I feel broken, less of a human, on the other, apparently I'm not alone and it's indicative that I am, in fact, human.

The book offers stories, definitions, zeitgeist analyses of psychology, but no real answers on what to do, if anything.

It's a good book to learn more about the feeling of being 'obsessively in love and regarding the other more as an object than as a person', but you're stuck with just learning about it.
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