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Limerence (also infatuated love) is a state of mind which results from a romantic attraction to another person and typically includes obsessive thoughts and fantasies and a desire to form or maintain a relationship with the object of love and have one's feelings reciprocated. Psychologist Dorothy Tennov coined the term "limerence" for her 1979 book, Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love, to describe a concept that had grown out of her work in the mid-1960s, when she interviewed over 500 people on the topic of love.
Limerence has been defined by one writer as "an involuntary interpersonal state that involves intrusive, obsessive, and compulsive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are contingent on perceived emotional reciprocation from the object of interest".
Limerence, which is not exclusively sexual, has also been defined in terms of its potentially inspirational effects and in relation to attachment theory. It has been described as being "an involuntary potentially inspiring state of adoration and attachment to a limerent object (LO) involving intrusive and obsessive thoughts, feelings and behaviors from euphoria to despair, contingent on perceived emotional reciprocation".
Attachment theory emphasizes that "many of the most intense emotions arise during the formation, the maintenance, the disruption, and the renewal of attachment relationships". It has been suggested that "the state of limerence is the conscious experience of sexual incentive motivation" during attachment formation, "a kind of subjective experience of sexual incentive motivation" during the "intensive ... pair-forming stage" of human affectionate bonding.
The concept "of 'limerence' provides a particular carving up of the semantic domain of love", and represents an attempt at a scientific study of the nature of love. Limerence is considered as a cognitive and emotional state of being emotionally attached to or even obsessed with another person, and is typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one's feelings—a near-obsessive form of romantic love. For Tennov, "sexual attraction is an essential component of limerence ... the limerent is a potential sex partner".
Limerence is sometimes also interpreted as infatuation, or what is colloquially known as a "crush". However, in common speech, infatuation includes aspects of immaturity and extrapolation from insufficient information, and is usually short-lived. Tennov notes how limerence "may dissolve soon after its initiation, as in an early teenage buzz-centered crush", but she is more concerned with the point when "limerent bonds are characterized by 'entropy' crystallization as described by Stendhal in his 1821 treatise On Love, where a new love infatuation perceptually begins to transform ... [and] attractive characteristics are exaggerated and unattractive characteristics are given little or no attention ... [creating] a 'limerent object'".
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