A married person may find himself/herself to have strong feelings for another member of the opposite sex despite being in a committed relationship. The person may feel in love but the love here doesn’t mean agape love which refers to acceptance and sacrifice for the beloved, yet it also doesn’t mean eros love which is merely sexual attraction. In psychology, it is termed as “limerence,” coined by Marissa Tenov.
According to Tenov, limerence is “an involuntary interpersonal state that involves an acute longing for emotional reciprocation, obsessive-compulsive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and emotional dependence on another person.” In a way, it is similar to infatuation.
Involuntary here means that it is brought by a biochemical reaction. The brain produces hormones of serotonin, dopamine, and norepeniphrine, the last one being referred as the love hormone. These hormones provide a feeling of happiness and excitement among others.
Being in this blissful experience is somehow similar to addiction and intoxication. Experts said that this state of being in limerence or infatuation usually last between one to two years.
Getting to know someone and experiencing limerence is like contracting a viral disease. The individual experiences intrusive thoughts about the other person (limerent object, LO) , increased heartbeat in the presence of LO, and other else.
Falling in limirence is a problem when the individuals are in a committed relationship. But it doesn’t mean that when you’re in limirence, you are helplessly in love or is bound to cheat. Though we are strongly influenced by our unconscious, physiological urges, we are still human beings with free will, self-control, and proactive choice.
So if you’re in a committed relationship, here are some ways you can cope with limirence and not fall into temptation.
1. Accept the limerence.
Do not be guilty if you fell into limirence with another person. Truth is, even if we’re already committed we can get attracted to someone other than our spouses. In addition, the more you resist, the more it will persist. By acknowledging and accepting limerence, you will begin to properly address it.
2. Do not remain alone with the LO.
One client who is in a commited relationship told me that she has decided to stay away from her LO, which in her case was her officemate. But every time she and the officemate were left alone, either in the office or in the car, her resolve to stay away weakens. And so she and LO would get physically affectionate again.
Thus, it is wise not to let yourself be left alone with the LO.
3. Limit personal interactions with LO.
If the LO is someone who you are working with, then confine the interactions to professional matters only. Refrain from asking and sharing personal questions and information such as “what happened to you yesterday?” and “you seem sad, what is bothering you?”
Questions like these allow two people to give and receive emotional needs, thus forming an emotional bond. And if this continues for long, it could pave a way to an emotional affair.
4. Focus on your spouse and marital relationship
Falling into limerence with someone could be caused by a lot of things: Your relationship is growing bland, you’re getting bored with life, you have a weakness, or it is just an instant strong attraction brought by your physiology.
But whatever the cause, you need to remind yourself that 90% (or approximate of it) of what you want in a life partner is already in your spouse, and that risking that 90% for that 10% is not worth it. This was according to renowned preacher, Bo Sanchez.
So instead of nurturing the limerence by deepening your friendship with the LO, focus on the good things that your own marriage and your partner have. Cultivate your relationship with your spouse to make it more nurturing and rewarding.
5. Get busy with your work or self-growth
If in any case you’re feeling unfulfilled with your life, and this limirence is adding color to your graying existence, then you can find a way to add something to spice up your life (and even your relationship with your partner).
Do something you’re passionate about. Take up that crash course you’ve been putting off. Or join that organization you’ve been eyeing on. Whatever it is, it will not just distract you from the limerence, but it will also add growth and fulfillment in your life.