Updated: Apr 5
I LOVE this topic!
As many of you reading this are probably aware by now, we have not been given a very sustainable, realistic, or even idealistic model of relationships to learn from.
Many of us learned from our parents (yikes). Many of us learned through movies and T.V. shows. Many of us learned though romantic songs with lyrics like "that boy is mine". And all of us were raised in a patriarchal society where the feminine is not supported and therefore operates from the shadow self (in all sexes) a lot.
We also all have our own versions of misogyny that we oftentimes don’t even realise exists and act out upon as well. And the feminine, funnily enough, is what truly understands relating. The right parietal lobe in the brain of a person assigned female at birth is likely to have more grey matter than people assigned male at birth. Which is also the side of the brain associated with emotions and relating. This is a complex topic that I will go deeper into in an upcoming article.
It is no wonder then that our relationships oftentimes suckkk, considering that the feminine is crushed, operating from the shadows, unable to do its job in creating healthy relationships! (coupled with with our shitty relationships models). Shadow feminine behaviour in relationships (from all sexes) being a force to be reckoned with such as passive aggressiveness and manipulation. Cue in shadow masculine, such as control and competition, and we have a recipe for disaster.
Therefore, many of us now find ourselves ill-equipped for healthy expressions of love and relating, though we desperately crave union with another. Which creates a huge potential for falling victim to our old patterns, trauma bonds, fantasy of what love is, and lastly limerence.
What the hell is limerence you ask?
I would be honoured to share this extremely common and often misunderstood and misinterpreted emotion.
Limerence is defined in the dictionary as being "the state of being infatuated or obsessed with another person, typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one's feelings".
Does this emotion sound familiar to you at all? Does it remind you of the time you waited by your phone for a text from someone giving you the bare minimum? Or when you started swapping out your last name for his/hers/theirs to see if it sounded good, even though you have only had sex once?
Introduce Little Miss Oxytocin, the bonding chemical. Plus a cocktail of other chemicals, opening us up to some pretty outrageous ideas of our newly found "the one" candidate.
Limerence occurs when we flooded with these love chemicals. And, just like any other drug, our logic and inhibitions are often often tossed aside, our decision-making is often impaired, and the anxieties of life generally melt away (apart from the anxiety of "does he/she/they like me?").
The experience of limerence can be soooo deliciously lush, fun, ecstatic, and even other worldly. However, if we are equating these feelings with love, we are often in for a bit of a shock once the honeymoon phase is over, the love chemicals begin to lessen, and life's anxieties start to creep on in.
Can you still love your partner in this state?
When the mind-blowing sex that was had during a state of limerence, where the love chemicals not only eliminated stress but in fact enhanced the sensations of pleasure in the body, suddenly becomes a chore, monotonous or boring, and sometimes even painful?
When the shiny magnificence of our "the one" candidate becoming obnoxious, irritating, or "oh its you again"?
When the intelligent, easy-going and playful self is replaced by the hurt inner child who has no idea how to love and be loved in an emotionally mature way?
Again, while love drugs are so great for yummy love making with new partners, for seeing the best in someone (despite red flags), and for creating beautiful yet somewhat idealistic romantic fantasies, it can mislead us into thinking that our arousal and libido should always be this easy to access, that love doesn't require work, and that all is smooth sailing when you find "the one".
In hindsight we can always see the red flags for someone who was in fact quite bad for us, which is yet another side affect of not understanding when we are in a state of limerence, unable to make well-informed choices about who we share our time and hearts with due to our inebriation from our love drugs. Of course there is nothing wrong with enjoying some yummy limerence with someone- as long as we are doing so knowingly.
Relationships are work, and once the love chemicals fade, we start our first day on the job. If this person is still someone we cherish and desire to be in partnership with post-limerence, the relationship may look very different than it did in the beginning. As our romantic partners are those who know us the most intimately, they are the ones who see the unintegrated parts of our ego, our inner child, our shadow selves. To love someone through their shadow requires commitment, dedication, and work, and we never know exactly how this will look for our partner and their shadow. It also requires us to become vulnerable in sharing our own shadow, dropping our "I am perfect" persona and revealing it all in order to heal and grow. Things can get messy. and therapy has long been stigmatised, though can be one of the most helpful tools throughout a healthy relationship.
Regarding the mind-blowing limerence sex- when we are not doped up on love drugs, we generally need to put much more effort into getting ourselves into a state of openness and surrender. Once limerence fades, many people think that they no longer love/are attracted to their partner, or that they are broken. When in fact, many times it is as simple as changing the approach to sex from how it worked at the beginning of the relationship to how it can best support them in the present moment.
Another side of limerence that I'm yet to speak into is when it is one-sided, oftentimes experienced in crushes, casual hook-ups and "fuck buddy" relationships. This one-sided dynamic can be so painful for the person in limerence. What I find fascinating is that over time, once limerence fades (this can take days, weeks, months or even years) that some people don't know what they even saw in this person to begin with! And some people falling completely out of limerence once they "get" their prized trophy.
Limerence fantasies are beautifully creative, and show us who we want people to be, but have you ever been truly discerning with who gets your energy, accepting nothing less than respect and worship (whether casual or long-term)?
Limerence romance is passionate, but have you ever been truly loved, not despite of your "flaws", but because of them? Loved through your shadow? With your inner child's hand held through it all? Your ego met with kindness and understanding? Your wounds soothed so that you can fully bloom?
Limerence sex is great, but have you experienced sex as it constantly evolves within long-lasting love, due its its cyclic, fluid and edgy nature? Or casual sex that involves respect, communication, honesty and worship?
Love and/or self-honouring sexual choices aren't always easy (for some it is though, yay!) Both take sexual intelligence, emotional maturity and communication skills, but the vulnerability, pleasure, intimacy, understanding of self, open-hearted ness, growth and connection that comes from it is soooo worth it!
Much love to you allll 💕