Limerence & Starvation

April 23, 2007


“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love… and be loved in return.” – from the film Moulin Rouge.

Liza Misra, a psychotherapist, says, “Those who dwell on feelings of unrequited love are generally those who assume that true love is necessary for ultimate happiness and this need to love before one can feel happy is called dependency. Interestingly, unrequited love can actually last a very long time, for many years or even decades – paradoxically the lover’s feelings usually reach a breaking point as they continue to deepen. Unrequited love may end when the lover receives reciprocation from the loved (consummation), develops less intense feelings for the loved (starvation), or channels his / her feelings towards another, more reciprocating person (transformation).”

Every breeze that blows

brings your scent to me;

Every bird that sings

calls out your name to me;

Every dream that appears

brings your face to me;

Every glance at your face

has left its trace with me.

I am yours, I am yours,

whether near or far;

Your grief is mine, all mine,

wherever you are. – Nizami Ganjavi (1141-1209)


When asked how a person can get over the bitterness and hurt of an episode of unrequited love, Delhi-based writer on spirituality, Swati Chopra, says,”I think if one truly loves someone, one is not dependent on the other’s response, and even if one’s love is not returned in kind, one can wish the other person well with all of one’s heart and move on with one’s life. Freeing ourselves, and making our love a positive force in itself, will free us of the burden of unrequited love.”
According to sociologist Madhuri Raijada, most cases of unrequited love are simply infatuation. “One-sided love according to me is a crush, though love is a very relative term. People who can’t get over unrequited love are usually those who have made love their be-all and end-all in life and have made the beloved an obsession.” Indeed, the state of being in unrequited love has often been described as
limerence.jpg rather than love. Love (in most of its connotations) involves concern for the beloved’s welfare and feelings, with little or no expectation of gain in return. In contrast, limerence demands reciprocation and is characterized as ‘passionate love gone wild and a state of cognitive obsession'”.

Even a trivial utterance or behavior on the part of the limerent object is misconstrued as a sign of love, which keeps the hope of reciprocation alive resulting in feelings of euphoria, which inevitably turn to despair and misery when facing neglect. The word limerence was coined by Dorothy Tennov, a professor of psychology at the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut, around 1977. Her book Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love, published in 1979, became a best seller. The word ‘limerence.jpg‘ is not found in current dictionaries, but is nevertheless in use by psychologists while discussing romantic relationships.


5 Responses to “Limerence & Starvation”

  1. O'Maolchathaigh Says:

    “…neglect, despair , and misery.”
    Yeah, that’s it alright.


  2. O'Maolchathaigh Says:

    Interesting, the things we do to ourselves.


  3. LuLi Says:

    Yeah, i suppose it is completely self inflicted. I wonder if a certain type of people succumb to it?


  4. O'Maolchathaigh Says:

    Doesn’t it seem as though it’s the loner types? Those who are not very integrated socially? – not necessarily in a bad way, but just generally apart from others?


  5. LuLi Says:

    Definately, I’d have to agree. Although I’m not anti-social or lacking in friends and company, I do need to spend a substantial amount of time alone. I can’t be around people 24/7 and I’m often missing in action or hard to get a hold of for this reason.


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