Attachment healing and limerence

Limerence is similar to a romantic crush that has an obsessive quality attached to it. It is a projection, an idealisation of how you would like someone to be inside your head, rather than who they are or, for that matter, what the reality of a relationship with them really is.


The idealisation of this person is, of course, known to you but when they fail to live up to your version of who they are and how (within your idealisation) you expect them to be, you can’t accept that. In a way, it is setting yourself up.

There is no true connection with that person because it is always overridden by who you think they are and how you think they should behave within your imposed identity upon them. Your priority is how you want them to be inside your head.

Real connection does not and cannot happen within limerence.

How to recognise limerence

Limerence is more cerebral than physical for a start - more in our minds rather than grounded and in our bodies. It's more of a redemption fantasy, which some people in the know think is engaged in with the more insecure attachment types.

I disagree with this being more prevalent around what some define as the more 'insecure attachment types' because, apart from the securely attached, all the other attachment types are just different versions of insecurity. The wound is the same, just how they display them is different. But it certainly is prevalent amongst those of us who have emotional wounds, and the insecurity that comes from that wounding.

The person you are engaging in a limerence fantasy with will feel less earthed and more fuelled by an overwhelming need to be wanted by them and recognised by them. It’s headier and the dopamine hit comes from imagining them wanting you, rather than you even enjoying being with them.

Remember...this is your version of how it is rather than reality so it can be quite a disappointment and a disembodied experience.

So if the fantasy of being with someone overrides the actual being with them, we want to be in the daydreaming version more and can go on and on engaging in this version, solitary though it is.  

The why

When you have a real connection with someone, you have to show up. Doing that involves reality and, in that, a real felt experience of being with them - who they are, how you feel around them and how they feel around you. It is, in essence, virtual.

Limerence lives alongside the safety of what is imagined, rather than experiencing the safety aspect of what it is, and so it's beguiling to many who have been hurt by relationships, both early and more current.

For some who have been emotionally wounded in childhood, it can be the only 'place' where they feel they are capable of being loved by someone.

Buying into the whole 'soulmate', 'twin flame', and 'divine union' idea and getting lost in the comfort are triggers that feed and validate fantasies - where becoming more susceptible to exploitation and promise is the only reality. l have personally been in that place. It is not worth the time you waste - it certainly wasn’t for me - but it ticked the box of being reassured by what is imagined in lieu of what you might actually have - and having it was, and felt like, better than nothing, even though it was really nothing.

That does not mean that real hope, and having hope, doesn't have a healthy place. Wishing and wanting to belong and share love with someone is normal. We are wired to want to share love with another and belong, but we need to practise radical honesty with ourselves. 

We grow and learn through our experience rather than what we imagine something to be.

Our imagination can dare us to create, which is how real things begin and then actuate when it is healthy. But it is from the 'being in' that we can truly know through a lived experience.

Limerence disempowers you from growth - letting go of fantasies is more about believing in yourself rather than the safety of what is imagined.

This occurs in a lot of long-distance relationships.

l had this going on for three years with a man in Italy who l used to go and visit - to the point of being on first-name terms with the flight attendants on Ryanair! "Come and live with me" he said regularly, and so l did. l moved by whole life to live with him. He found me a beautiful apartment near his family, where we planned to live together. What actually happened after l moved into this apartment was that...he didn’t.

Looking back, knowing what l know now, it was a mistake to have invested so much in what was imagined and fantasised about, rather than what actually 'was', so l learned from the experience. I learned that how things really are versus how you wish them to be has a lot to do with the quality and value of a lived and known reality, which can never be replaced with or by fantasy.

The need for fantasy rather than reality can be born out of a lack of emotional connection in your early family life. Right now, the dating thing is so bizarre and the opportunity to be virtually involved is so much more prevalent and less emotionally messy by the lack of actualisation.

We can, of course, toy with what we imagine we might have with someone. We are drawn to and attracted by the version of ourselves that might take flight. That can be, and often is, quite natural and healthy in the beginning. But when it stays in the realm of fantasy, we never get to have it.

Where does this leave us though and what does it leave us with?

Here my mantra is, "Through awareness through the discovery of 'why', we can begin to walk down a better road that brings us true love rather than an idealised version of it."

Through my coaching, l offer people better choices based on what l have learned and what l have lived through. If you feel anything you have read in this article might be something you are having difficulty with, book a Discovery Call with me. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, N8
Written by Gail Berry, Emotional and Relationship Coach
London, N8

Written by Gail Berry Emotional Coach - both a therapist and an alternative medical practitioner who works with healing people’s core wounds and uses Bach Flower Remedies alongside talking and behavioural therapy to make real change and transformation possible.
07771 715072
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