Discover why some couples get stuck in the early infatuation stage and never create a true, lasting love in highlights of my radio conversation for A Lasting Love with Ross Rosenberg. He’s a veteran psychotherapist-author Human Magnet Syndrome-Why We Love People Who Hurt Us.
Hadley: Many love song lyrics are written about limerance. A term coined by a researcher named Tenov in the 1960s, limerance is a period of passionate, intense infatuation with another person. It is the falling in love experience when we think about this person all the time. We see them as perfect, as if we are blind to their flaws.
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Song lyrics about a limerance phase include, "Can't live, if living is without you"; and "Why can't I breathe when I think about you?" and, "I'm desperate for your love."
This phase of love-is-blind obsession is nourished from within, while our bodies make plenty of feel-good, in-love chemicals known as dopamine. I call them "Cupid's Cocktails" when I write song lyrics about limerance.
The rush of Cupid's Cocktails often causes couples to bond. When the rush wears off within the first few years of a relationship, a couple may wake up and realize they have little or nothing in common. They may feel the strong desire for a new rush of Cupid's cocktails in a new phase of limerance, making them vulnerable to emotional or sexual affairs.
Limerance is not a guide to a happy relationship when 2 dysfunctional partners fall in love, because feelings of limerance will be replaced by conflict, chaos and misery, instead of joyful, lasting love. What are your thoughts on limerance Ross?
Ross: Limerance is a natural biological part of the human experience. It’s unavoidable and one of most wonderful experiences we feel. So all people are affected by the blinding nature of love.
Hadley: That’s true in your 20s when you experience a new rush of hormones and brain chemicals. What if you’re dating in your 40’s, 50’s, 60’s?
Ross: Limerance is universal across all ages, whether you start a relationship in your 20s or 60s. We experience it differently at 17 or 18. You may try to control it in mid-life, but it’s there.
For example, when my eyes first met my wife’s, it was automatic attraction, and I was 45 at the time.
Hadley: What happens when intense attraction wears off?
Ross: Once limerance wears off, your true personality comes forward. So a narcissistic person starts feeling more important and starts expecting special treatment from their partner.
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Hadley: This is why couples say that their partner changes after they get married, yet their true personality traits are just shining through. This is why it's important to understand your own emotional personality traits and whether you and a romantic partner are more geared to giving or taking in a relationship.
Emotionally healthy people are able to give and receive love, appreciation, kindness with your intimate partner. How do emotionally healthy people attract a great love match?