Limerence, often described as a state of involuntary obsession with another person, is like an all-consuming experience of romantic fixation. This can be incredibly painful and make people wonder what is wrong with them and why it hurts so bad.  Living with a whirlwind of emotions, intrusive thoughts, and unrelenting questioning, can leave you feeling lost, overwhelmed and confused about why you can’t stop thinking about this other person. As a therapist I’ve witnessed first-hand the profound impact these experiences can have on individuals’ emotional well-being. It can be debilitating, obsessive and hard to move on from given the need to seek validation from the person desired (the limerent object).

Why Does It Hurt So Much?

Limerence is more than lust or love, instead, there are intoxicating highs and crushing lows, which can evoke a profound sense of longing and yearning for something beyond your grasp. It’s a reminder of your desire for connection and belonging, coupled with the fear of rejection and abandonment. Limerence taps into past wounds which amplify the intensity of emotional pain creating a hidden hurt as the longing of the person can only be discussed with others so much before hitting the wall of critical responses or blanket statements like ‘get over them’.  This loneliness with limerence can magnify the ache of unfulfilled longing.

Is There Something Wrong with Me?

I’ve heard many clients question their worth and sanity when they are lost in limerence. This self-doubt often arises from societal expectations and internalised beliefs about love and relationships. These often put conditions on the grief of being disconnected from a limerent object. It’s important to recognise that experiencing limerence doesn’t signify inherent flaws or shortcomings but rather reflects the complexity of our emotions and the intricacies of interpersonal dynamics. Moreover, our attachment styles and coping mechanisms are shaped by a myriad of factors, including early childhood experiences, societal influences, and individual temperament. The bottom line is that it is complex and if it becomes too much it would serve you well to start to work through this in a way that looks objectively at what could be happening at a deeper level.

Young girl suffering form ptsd

Limerence and Attachment Styles 

Attachment theory offers valuable insights into how we form and navigate relationships throughout our lives. At its core, attachment theory posits that our early experiences with caregivers shape our patterns of attachment and influence how we relate to others in adulthood. It also forms a core sense of who we are and how we can expect to be treated by others.

For them, limerence may serve as a coping mechanism for people who are more anxiously attached, creating an intense longing for connection and validation from the object of affection. Here the focus rests on another person rather than the experience of being without them. This may touch on past experiences of loneliness, abandonment, and rejection. The pain from past wounds can maintain the current loops of limerence.

Can limerence be stopped?

In a recent case study published in the Journal of Patient Experience, cognitive behavioural techniques were shown to be effective in treating limerence.

CBT empowers individuals to identify and challenge distorted thoughts and behaviours associated with limerence. By examining the underlying beliefs driving the obsession and longing, you can develop healthier coping strategies and cultivate resilience in the face of uncertainty. Through mindfulness, cognitive restructuring, and behavioural experiments, individuals can regain a sense of agency and control over their emotional lives.

If the pain from the past runs deep, it is also possible to work at that level. EMDR has become well known for its effectiveness in helping individuals work through key pain points in their lives to heal present-day difficulties.

Navigating the Healing Journey


The key steps to stopping limerence are to develop self-awareness, notice any intrusive or obsessive thoughts and then observe them as though they were another person’s. Looking at them as though they are information to be curious about rather than accepting readily creates a distance from them which helps to neutralise them and view them objectively. You can learn to catch unhelpful thoughts by challenging how true they are, where the evidence for or against them lies and creating more helpful thoughts to replace the unhelpful thoughts with.

2. Attachment style

Limerence can be related to a certain attachment style. If so, it is worth learning about your attachment style and thinking about your experiences growing up. Were there significant times when you felt lonely, abandoned or isolated? These experiences will be completely unique to you and you can assess how impactful they were by tuning into how they make you feel in there here and now. As a quick rule of thumb, the higher the emotional charge in the present moment, the more significant the experience during childhood. Starting to heal your inner child is an important step towards stopping limerence.

3. Improve your Relationship with You!

Focussing on another takes the attention from you. It might be that you were used to seeking value from another person growing up and that this pattern continued to adulthood. Seeing value in yourself only when a person you deem important sees value in you is a sign that you are not prioritising or valuing yourself. It’s time to work on the primary relationship with yourself. Is your self-worth based on fragile, unstable, and unpredictable external factors, or does your self-worth live deep inside you? Spend time connecting to your joy, and your values, reassessing your evolved sense of self through journaling and rebuilding a relationship to your body free from shame. The more you develop your relationship toy you, the less importance weighs on another person’s approval of you.  Embarking on the path to healing requires courage, vulnerability, and a willingness to confront the depths of our emotions. If you find yourself struggling with self-doubt and uncertainty, know that doing the deep work is hard and struggling along the way is not a sign of weakness, but rather an act of self-compassion and empowerment. Therapy can also offer a safe and supportive space for exploration, where you can unravel the complexities of limerence and cultivate adaptive coping strategies.

4. Consider Therapy

In therapy, you’ll have the opportunity to explore your attachment patterns, identify triggers that exacerbate limerence, and develop practical skills for managing intrusive thoughts and emotions. Together, you and your therapist can work towards cultivating a deeper understanding of yourself, fostering healthier relationships, and reclaiming agency over your emotional well-being.

If you would like to have some support with detangling from limerence, consider contacting Dr Kaur today and booking an initial assessment.  Invite yourself to take the first step toward healing today.  You are not defined by your struggles, but by the courage and resilience you demonstrate in the face of adversity. Embrace your journey, embrace your truth, and know that healing is within reach.

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