Limerence was defined by psychologist Dorothy Tennov, to quote the article:
It is characterised by an initial period of elation and intense emotional arousal that can progress to an involuntary, obsessive craving for another person.
It includes a fair few features which those who try to understand romance would probably be familiar with, for example:
Frequent intrusive thoughts about the limerent object (LO)
Insecurity or shyness when in the presence of the LO, often manifesting in overt physical discomfort
A remarkable ability to emphasise the positive features of the LO, and minimise, or empathise with, the negative.
A general intensity of feeling that leaves other concerns in the background.
But the really interesting thing to me is what the writer says next:
Interestingly, when describing these traits to the same people that I queried about “limerence” as a term, the responses seemed to split into two general camps:
“That’s just love. You don’t need a special word for that.”
“Don’t be silly. Nobody really feels like that; it’s childish.”
Before I knew the term aromantic, and even though I had never heard this described as limerence I was certainly in the latter group.
I had absolutely heard people talk about their nervousness around a romantic partner, talk about them in a way that seemed obsessive, the dependency of one partner’s mood to the other. I figured they were just exagerrating. I probably said something very similar to that second response, I certainly thought it.
Limerence now allows me another tool to explain how I feel and why I feel the way I feel, thats really cool.
Now, there were a whole load of interesting thoughts about the links between aromanticism and limerence/non limerence in the prompt. I’m not experienced with this but here are a few rambling thoughts of mine.
The Focus of Limerence
Limerence seems to me to be focused on the person, rather than the relationship. For a person limerent towards another, what we might call a ‘traditional’ romantic relationship is a likely goal. Note there are no characteristics listed in the defining features that were linked earlier which say it should be the goal, but the characteristics seem to lend themselves towards it.
The desire for exclusivity added by the author is the nearest one. The need for reciprocation makes living with each other a useful step as it massively increases your time together. Intensification of feelings by adversity really lends itself to a sort of relationship where you and the limerent person are seen as one group, a couple.
From what I have now read, there are people who experience strong limerence but do not wish for it to become a romantic relationship, and there are people who do not experience limerence but who want a romantic relationship of some sort. This is completely unsurprising for me.
What do I Want to do With my Life
One of the prompts this month was:
If you identify as aro or arospec, do you think you are non-limerent? Does limerence factor into why you identify this way?
Although some people in the prompt links talked about non limerence as their reason for being aromantic I am not going to do that. I tend to think of my aromanticism not just as not feeling these experiences, whether we may think of that as limerence or something else, but also not having any desire to enter a romantic relationship, and having no need for that sort of relationship.
One thing I have been reading through quite a bit is Nothing Radical’s post on an earlier carnival of aros, called ‘Confessions of a Former SAM aro‘.
Non limerence as a factor in my aroness would probably be something I would have been really looking at if I were me from last year, completly thinking of being aro in terms of this one term ‘attraction’ and trying to explain my experience in those terms. I would likely have seen limerence as this moment of understanding, I’m aro because I don’t experience this attraction and I now have this more detailed, more scientific understanding of what makes romantic attraction.
The perfect ideal for me would be a big list of feelings that other people feel that I could go down, cross off and be done with it. Canon, proven aro.
Now however, I am less sure. I keep coming back to this quote from Nothing Radical’s post:
I grew to realize that the whole concept of “attraction” and the idea that attraction is the sole determinant of orientation doesn’t make much intuitive sense to me either. While I do distinguish between things like sexuality, sensuality, and aesthetics, I don’t necessarily think of all these things as “types of attraction.” In fact, I find the whole concept of “attraction” to be very messy and ill-defined, and predicating my identity on it doesn’t really make much sense to me in hindsight.
I guess I’m going down that road in some way as well, and while limerence is interesting, I’m not sure how I want to fit this in with being aromantic. I am not sure how much weight I give limerence in defining how I think about aromanticism. Maybe I will at some point figure out what I want to do with this but it would end up being a VERY late entry to the carnival.