I was always someone who had an intense, obsessive side to my personality. Whenever I am interested in something, I would dive deep into it. I would read voraciously about the topic, talk about it, think about it all the time. Whenever I encountered music I loved, I would play it all day long for days – lost in a daydream.
This obsessive side of my personality has always served me well – it’s the reason why I love investigative work and – no boasting – I do make a pretty good researcher, something I’ve parlayed into an enjoyable career.
Where it doesn’t serve me well though, is when the object of obsession is a person.
Life before knowing what limerence was all about
If you are familiar with my personal story and experiences with limerence, you’d know that I’ve been limerent many times in my life – from random strangers on the bus to classmates I didn’t even speak to (lol) to celebs (a huge former weakness). Yes, not my proudest moments.
I used to think though, that these intense feelings I had for someone were just normal, I mean, I’m obsessive and thinking about them made me happy! (But when I encountered unsavoury stuff about them – my mood would plunge).
It was only when I spoke to others about my feelings that I started to realise it wasn’t quite…normal. Here I was in my late teens/20s, and instead of focusing on my life and potential real-life relationships with men who were into me, I was daydreaming about a guy who I didn’t know about at all.
I thought these were normal crushes though. Were they though? Is there a difference between a crush and being limerent?
Crush vs limerence
Crushes are actually a very normal part of life, of growing up and figuring out your identity and who/what you are attracted to. It’s incredibly normal to fantasise about a crush as well and is totally okay when you are an adolescent or in your teenage years.
Crushes tend to fade after awhile and while they can feel obsessive for abit, they don’t consume your life that much. They are fun experiences and for many, are ones that we look back on with affection and nostalgia when we are older.
When you are in one of those limerent episodes, the person is all you can think about. Nothing else matters except being with that person. You fantasise being with them forever (and actually believe it). When you find out something you don’t want to know about (i.e. they are married or attached), it feels like your life has ended. Emotional volatility and turbulence characterise your days.
If you actually have been around obsessive fans of pop groups (Kpop groups – if you know what that is), famous actors, celebrities, athletes, you’d know what I’m talking about.
I was once a Kpop fan about more than 10 years ago now (when the music was actually not bad, coughs), it wasn’t uncommon to meet fellow fans who were absolutely obsessed about a particular singer. And I mean obsessed – buying merchanise, all the CDs of the person, attending fanmeets, being magazines, being part of expensive membership clubs or fanclubs, concerts, the whole lot.
I was in my late teens then, a normal teen trying to find my way in life and figure out who I am. Many fans were the same. But there were others whose entire existence revolved around these celebs who didn’t even know we existed.
Can limerence be cured?
Absolutely. I’m a success story! It took some time and I had to be willing to admit to myself first that there was something quite unhealthy about this particular habit of mine.
Limerence is an addiction, an obsession. Once you recognise it for what it is, you can then begin taking the steps to curing.
One of the most important steps or solutions that I recommend to clients is to – start getting interested in yourself. Your life. What do you want to do? Who do you want to be? Then go do it.
Get obsessed with you and your life. You only lead this life once.
At the same time, it helps to work on your sense of Self, to build up your self-esteem, your personal power, your strengths. Acknowledge the shortcomings but know that you are unique.
It also never hurts to start building up your social networks, get into social activities, go for fun events (that are not your celeb-crush related) and meet other people.
Limerence usually stems from a combination of several things – social isolation (most limerent people have little friends and don’t have strong social networks), an obsessive personality, emotional unavailability and a deep sense of loneliness and longing for connection. It is also related to a low sense of self and a lack in life purpose/direction.
I have to say though, that once I started turning that obsession inward – to myself, my life changed alot. I also noticed the friends/people that fed my limerent fantasies before (Friends who were also obsessed with celebrities) started to fade out of my life. There wasn’t anything much holding the friendship together besides that common obsession with said celeb.
To end off, I’ve never forgotten this quote that a good friend from elementary school once shared – “Never revolve your life or identity around a person. People are fundamentally flawed and at some point, something about them will occur that will shatter your fantasy about them”. I can’t remember now what the context was around, but I’ve always kept it with me, though we’ve long lost touch.
Incredibly apt advice for limerent individuals.