There's a name for that initial infatuation we feel. It's called limerence — and it's a trick.
I'll never forget Danny. I would whisper his name at night, and fall asleep dreaming of him and me holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes. My greatest fantasy was to lay in the field near our house with him. Just lay there and kiss him.
I was gob-smacked, head-over-heels in love to the point of obsession. It felt like something I couldn't control. I thought about him around the clock; everything was about him. I would leave notes for him in secret places with hearts and arrows.
When I saw him, I was barely able to breathe. It was physiological, not just emotional. Love sickness.
I looked for signs in how he walked or what he said. Where was the proof that he was in love with me just as much? I hurt when I wasn't near him. I was in pain, shattered, when I thought he didn't love me back.
Most of us have had that experience when you feel so in love that it's all-consuming and affects other areas of your life. It’s different than a sexual fantasy that you create; we’re talking about something that controls you.
And just as quickly as the tempest rose in me, it faded. I found myself moving my attentions elsewhere, which can explain the way many relationships just seem to dissolve. Why?
School girl crushes are one thing, but what if an adult relationship starts out with this kind of obsessive to a point of destructive love, can it become real love?
There’s a name for this kind of false love, which was coined in 1979 by psychologist Dorothy Tennov — limerence. Some people argue that limerence is all a trick of animal instinct — strong feelings that drive a couple together with intense feelings of passion, so they can mate and stay together for the first few years of the child’s life when he or she needs both parents.
And then... let the diminishing feelings begin, so the couple can part, wander off and spread more seed into the gene pool.
Many relationships fail because one or the other people experience this intense "falling in love" feeling and think it's the signs of a true love, while it may just be a false sense of love that never evolves into real love.
But is there a possibility that those over-the-top, erratic feelings can be nurtured into a deeper love? Absolutely!
When you feel yourself experiencing obsessive feelings quickly for a guy, and all your girlfriends advise you to not move too fast and to not see him more than once a week, and you dispel all their words, you should be warned. Take it slowly.
The relationship can turn into what we know of as true love, but you may have to fight for it and work at strengthening the love bond.
Think about how you’ve talked about past relationships that haven’t quite worked out — didn’t you say something like, "It was so intense at first. I was madly in love! But then it faded and so I checked out and moved on... because it obviously wasn’t true love"?
But what about fighting for the relationship? Instead of running away when you feel a decrease in the love intensity, why not move closer?
Maybe if you’re a super-romantic, you think that intenseness, those highs, are what it’s all about. You need to always be in that first love phase of flowers, wine, chocolates and lacy lingerie.
But those crazy highs are often met with crazy lows, where if the guy doesn’t say or do the right thing in your mind, you feel devastated.
If you can make it through those highs and lows and not run away during one of the depths, you can foster a mature love that withstands the bumps and glories of limerent love.
Just get through to the other side where you can truly love a person, because now you truly know them and you've had experience with them. You see who they really are and how they truly feel about you, and you're no longer freaked out by silly things or dependent on grand romantic gestures.
This is where the real love starts. This is where real relationship building begins.
It doesn't mean that you don't feel passion for him anymore; it just means that you have more of a sense of assurance that the love is there and real. You don't need to read in between the lines so much anymore. You no longer beg your friends to read his texts to you to determine if he loves you or not.
Your heart doesn't have to go into palpitations and you don't chew on your nails wondering if he's going to call you. You’ve developed trust and a deeper knowing-ness.
You know he's going to call because you have an assurance, a deep knowledge, of a deeper connection that isn't all based up in the sky in a lovey-dovey cartoon heart.
Your love is based deep down below. You’ve both had time to see each other at their worst. You're still together and your bond grows stronger.
You can still look back nostalgically to the beginning times of your relationship when the passion was super-high and the stakes were high like a romance novel, where everything was life or death, yes or no, now or never.
But it was also full of conflict and uncertainty. Life was a roller coaster ride of not knowing when and where you were going. There's a lot of maintenance of your emotions on a daily basis when you live in a limerent relationship.
If you can make it through those early highs and lows with somebody and still be together, by that point, love can be massaged into a stronger existence. Stick with it when things are just humming along quietly.
Work to move into the knowing, the safety, and the beauty of being in a fully loving partnership as opposed to being madly in love for just a moment.