Popular culture has done us a great disservice in our understanding of romantic love. From a young age, we watch movies and read books that form the scripts of our adult relationships. But popular culture usually gets it wrong, often in the name of entertainment, and ends up confusing love with limerence. Limerence, a term coined by psychologist Dorothy Tennov in her book Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love , has been described as "an involuntary interpersonal state that involves an acute longing for emotional reciprocation, obsessive-compulsive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and emotional dependence on another person. Much to the dismay of diehard romantics, research suggests that limerence is the result of biochemical processes in the brain.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Love and Limerence by Dorothy Tennov. Author Dorothy Tennov, Ph. My journey of exploration occurred in three identifiable phases Author Dorothy Tennov, Ph.
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 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 , 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. 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. 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. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions 6. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Love and Limerence , please sign up.
Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Feb 09, Meowbie rated it liked it. 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 l I am quite torn about what to write about this book. 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.
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,foot perspective on how inauthentic relating leads to covert contracts, bad boundaries and, apropros here, frustrated romantic attachments.
View 1 comment. Dec 23, Vivien rated it it was amazing Shelves: grokked. 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 For anyone who finds themselves regularly and unwillingly under the spell of another human being, check this out.
Apr 22, James rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Every adolescent and adult. Shelves: character-studies , gender-issues , relationships , culture-and-politics , psychology. 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 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.
What is limerence?
Limerence is not a widely known concept. In a not-entirely-scientific poll I asked some people I know , 0. It mostly took the form of interviews and questionnaires, in which Tennov noted a number of consistent traits among many individuals who described their experiences of being in love. She defined limerence as a new term to encompass the features of this common experience. They are paraphrasing and simplifying slightly :. As limerents and non-limerents. Limerence is projected onto the recipient of desire; they become a screen for the movie that is playing out in the mind of the limerent.
Books on love and romantic entanglements abound on the shelves of bookshops, but there are few that take a step back and attempt any kind of hard-headed general investigation. Love and Limerence reprinted now after twenty years moves a little in that direction, without becoming a scientific treatise the evidence it presents is mostly anecdotal, with some figures from informal surveys. Tennov's central argument, illustrated with accounts from individual experiences, is that there is a well defined and involuntary state "limerence" a term chosen to avoid the confusion surrounding "love" , roughly equating with "being in love". Key features include obsessive thinking about the limerent object, irrationally positive evaluation of their attributes, emotional dependency, and longing for reciprocation. Not all people experience limerence, but it is a normal and non-pathological condition. The negative side of limerence is apparent in the effects of unrequited limerence and the problems limerent behaviour can pose the non-limerent. Tennov goes on to look at limerence more broadly, again using accounts of personal experiences.
Limerence and the Biochemical Roots of Love Addiction
Dorothy Tennov August 29, — February 3, was an American psychologist who, in her book Love and Limerence — the Experience of Being in Love introduced the term " limerence ". During her years of research into romantic love experiences, she obtained thousands of personal testimonies from questionnaires, interviews, and letters from readers of her writing, in an attempt to support her hypothesis that a distinct and involuntary psychological state occurs identically among otherwise normal persons across cultures, educational level, gender, and other traits. Tennov emphasized that her data consist entirely of verbal reports by volunteers who reported their love experiences. Dorothy Tennov was born in Montgomery County, Alabama. She received her bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College and a Ph. She was a professor of psychology at the University of Bridgeport for twenty years. In addition to being a professor of psychology she was also a student of the philosophy of science.
Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love