Crazy in Love – or Just Crazy?
The craziness of romantic love – otherwise known as “limerence” – is created by a cascade of brain cocktails that are released in sexual attraction.
Depending on whether the feelings are reciprocated or not, and whether or not it “develops” from intense obsession to a stable healthy love relationship, limerence can be seen as the “upside” or the “dark side” of attraction.
Enter researchers at Connecticut State University in New Haven, who over the past year have begun screening for limerence, which they liken to obsessive-compulsive disorders and addiction behavior.
They say their work with 200 study participants shows some people are capable of having a healthy loving relationship with some partners, and a “limerent” obsessive one with others.
“It’s difficult to tell in the first few months of a relationship whether they’re developing a healthy love relationship or an unhealthy limerent relationship,” says lead researcher Albert Wakin, an assistant psychology professor at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.
Dark Side of Love
“In a love relationship, the feelings give way to a more predictable relationship and it feels good. In a limerent relationship, those longings tend to intensify. Over time, it doesn’t feel good.”
Not everyone agrees with Wakin’s negative take on the limerent state. Romantic love “expert” Dr Helen Fisher, a research professor at New Jersey’s Rutgers University says limerence IS romantic love, with ALL its feelings and behaviors.
“They are associating the negative aspects of it with the term, and that can be a disorder,” she says.
Cutting Contact Advice
Limerence subsides if the love is returned, but the researchers say for unrequited love, their advice is to cut off contact and hope that time will lessen its disruptive effects.
They say it’s premature to ask that limerence be classified in the American Psychiatric Association’s handbook of mental disorders because much more research is needed. The next publication is in 2012.
But, Wakin says, “if our research continues to go in the direction it has been going and that we expect it will go, ultimately what we want to move toward is diagnosis, prognosis and treatment.”
So What About You?
Tell us of your experience in falling “in love”. You might have been more susceptible when younger but limerence can strike at any age – and maybe feels more ridiculous when the flush of youth is long gone. What do you think? Should it be a diagnosed and treated condition? Have “love” ever ruined your life – a least temporarily? We’d love to hear your experiences.