A couple, one is on the back of another, who are in love, not limerence.

Are You in Love or Is It Limerence?

March 20, 2024

4 min.

Love involves deep emotional connection and acceptance, while limerence is intense infatuation and longing for reciprocation.

By: Charlie Health Editorial Team

Clinically Reviewed By: Dr. Don Gasparini

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Table of Contents

Many kinds of relationships involve intense feelings, but not all are love. Whereas love involves a deep and reciprocal emotional connection, limerence is a kind of romantic obsession. And, whereas love involves long-term mutual respect, limerence can be fleeting — someone can have intrusive thoughts and fantasies about a person one day and lose interest the next. Keep reading to learn the differences between limerence and real love and see which state your relationship is in. 

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The key differences between limerence and love 

Colloquially, love and limerence may be used interchangeably, with people using “love” to describe a relationship actually defined by limerence. However, research shows that the concepts are distinct emotional states. Here’s a breakdown of key differences between limerence and love: 



An intense state of infatuation with another person, often marked by intrusive thoughts, emotional dependency, and a strong desire for reciprocation.

A complex and profound emotion marked by deep affection, care, mutual respect, and commitment towards another person.


Love is a complex emotion characterized by deep affection, attachment, care, and commitment toward another person. In a healthy relationship, it involves a strong sense of intimacy, trust, and mutual understanding.

Limerence is a state of infatuation or obsessive attraction towards someone. It is marked by intense longing, intrusive thoughts, and a desire for reciprocation from the other person.


Love is often seen as a long-term emotion that develops and deepens over time. It can endure through various challenges and changes.

Limerent feelings, on the other hand, tend to be more short-lived and intense, typically lasting from a few weeks to a few years. Limerence often fades as a person gains clarity about the relationship or as the object of affection becomes less idealized.


Love typically involves mutual feelings of affection and commitment between both parties in the relationship. Limerence can be one-sided, with the person experiencing it fixating on someone who may not share the same feeling or even be aware of their existence.


Love tends to be stable and consistent, evolving as the relationship deepens and matures. Limerence is more volatile and unpredictable, fluctuating in intensity and often causing emotional turmoil for the person experiencing it.

How do limerence and love manifest differently in relationships?

As mentioned, limerence involves intense infatuation with and obsessive thoughts about another person, who is usually idealized (meaning their flaws are overlooked). Real love, on the other hand, is defined by mutual respect — it involves knowing and accepting another person’s flaws and imperfections and staying committed to them nonetheless. Here’s how limerence and love manifest differently in relationships: 

A relationship defined by limerence

  • Intense, obsessive feelings 
  • Emotional dependency 
  • An idealized perception of the other person
  • Short-lived infatuation 

A relationship defined by love

  • A stable and enduring emotional bond 
  • Accepting both the strengths and weaknesses of the other person
  • Independence and autonomy within the relationship
  • Long-term commitment and growth

Limerence can feel exhilarating and all-consuming, but it tends to be based on fantasy and projection rather than a deep understanding of the other person. While limerence can be exhilarating, it's important to recognize that it may not necessarily lead to a healthy or sustainable relationship in the long term. 

How to tell if your relationship is in a state of limerence

Here are some questions to consider if you’re wondering if your relationship is in a state of limerence: 

  • Are you constantly thinking about the other person, often to the point of obsession?
  • Do you idealize the other person, seeing only their positive qualities and ignoring their flaws?
  • Do you feel emotionally dependent on the other person for your happiness and well-being?
  • Do you have a strong desire for validation from the other person?
  • Do you experience intrusive thoughts or fantasies about the other person?
  • Do you notice physical symptoms, such as butterflies in the stomach or a racing heartbeat, when you're around the other person?
  • Has the intensity of your feelings for the other person faded relatively quickly, or if the desired level of reciprocation is not achieved?

If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, you may be in a limerent relationship. While limerence can feel exhilarating, it's important to recognize that it doesn't necessarily indicate a healthy or sustainable relationship in the long term. Carefully assess your feelings and seek support if needed to navigate the intensity of their limerent feelings.

A couple sit and talk with each other, one is wearing an orange shirt and one is wearing a white shirt, and they can't decide if they are in limerence or love.

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