4 Harsh Truths For People Looking For 'Storybook Love'

Mutual limerence is real, but it shouldn't be your goal.

Does Mutual Limerence Really Exist? g-stockstudio | Canva

We've all seen the intense, fated-seeming love portrayed in storybooks or movies. That's mutual limerence. After conquering a big obstacle, both people who have fallen madly, head-over-heels in love, will consummate their love in mutual emotional and physical bliss, admiration, and passion for each other. For many of us, it’s the ideal and why we keep searching for “the one.”

While mutual limerence certainly can occur at the beginning of some romantic relationships, the timing of mutual limerence happening in a sustained way (and at the same degree of intensity for each person) is much, much rarer. To add to this, not everyone experiences limerence!


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Four realities to face if mutual limerence is your goal

1. Mutual limerence is a fading fantasy

If you have had the pleasure (and probably also some pain) of experiencing mutual limerence, you know it doesn’t usually unfold in the same ways we see in the movies. There can be a high level of uncertainty, doubt, and wondering that can nearly drive you mad as you are in a state of hope and anticipation as the longing and yearning takes hold. If you do have the good fortune of having your love feelings reciprocated, you may feel as though the heavens have opened up.


Limerence and mutual limerence is a state of being in love. Like any other emotional state, it can fluctuate in intensity and fade in or out. This can be especially painful if you expect mutual limerence should remain at the same level of passion throughout your relationship, both for yourself and your partner.


As you get to know each other on a deeper level, some fantasy of the other person is bound to fade or not match your idea of who your partner is. This is a normal part of building and growing intimacy. At the beginning of a love relationship, we always idealize the good traits of a person, and then time and experiences together begin to fill in the parts we did not know or understand yet. 

As a relationship transitions into more deeply bonded love, you can fall even deeper in love, but it will feel different than the intensity of limerence.


2. Mutual limerence requires good communication 

You may both experience an intense emotional “high” together as well as when you are apart. You both may also feel a mutually all-consuming desire to be together. The only way to know if the other person feels the same? Communication. The mutual feelings of admiration and affection are validated through open communication and sharing of feelings. Both people confess to limerence symptoms such as being nervous around the other, not being able to sleep, inability to stop thinking about the other, and a general sense of giddiness, for example. Without clear communication, you can get stuck in one-sided limerence, where you don’t know the true feelings of the other person,

Another possibility is that it feels like mutual limerence, but only one person is truly in a state of limerence. What’s happening is when one person is limerent, but the other may have feelings for and even a crush on the other person, it’s not as intense as limerence.

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3. Limerence can feel distressing 

The partner who experiences limerence may have a heightened feeling of euphoria, intrusive and obsessive thinking about the other person, and an uncontrollable desire to be together and to have the love validated. The other person may also have strong feelings yet can keep a distance and feelings more “in check.” This difference can be felt by the limerent person, which can cause distress and an exacerbation of limerence.

Those who experience limerence also tend to be highly sensitive and intuitive about other’s feelings. If you are limerent, you can pick up on slight shifts in behaviors as well as verbal and nonverbal cues and extrapolate off this information. 

The downside is that sometimes the interpretation is incorrect. This is why it is best, though it may feel unbearably risky and vulnerable to communicate how you feel when you are amid limerence. This is a crucial part of better understanding how the other person is feeling as well.

4. Not everyone experiences limerence 

This is a crucial point to highlight. If you are someone who experiences limerence regularly but notices it does not feel reciprocated at the same level in many of your relationships, you’re not alone, and it can feel unfulfilling and frustrating. You may always feel like you’re the one who feels more, wants more, and cares more. 


You may keep dreaming of the “mutual limerence” love relationship where you will finally be loved and feel in love to your fullest capacity. While it’s not impossible to experience mutual limerence, you don’t have to find another “limerent’ soul to have a fulfilling relationship or to feel loved. As long as your partner truly sees you, appreciates you, and shows you care, love, and respect consistently, you don’t have to hold out for the unicorn of relationships.

She is wondering about mutual limerence Wayhome Studio via Shutterstock


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The fact you experience limerence can be a blessing in disguise. You are most likely someone who feels deeply, thinks creatively, has a deep and interesting imagination, and is highly sensitive to others, art, and beauty, possibly where others may overlook such things. To feel love so deeply is a gift in this world! Not everyone experiences the world in this way.

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Stephanie Lazzara is an NYC-based ICF-certified holistic life, health, and relationship coach. She helps her clients build healthier habits for better relationships.