Book Club / Culture

L is the word: why ‘limerence’ is on everyone’s lips

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta." Or so Humbert Humbert goes, prattling on about an unresolved and inarticulably malign desire in the opening header of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita.  What on earth could he be feeling? The answer lies in another tri-syllabic word starting with L.

Limerence -- Furore that leaves you so lightheaded, you almost confuse it with love. Let's break the word down.


What does it mean?

A state of utter infatuation or obsession that involves an unquenchable passion bordering on intrusive. A cataclysmic amount of fantasising. Being drawn to your chosen object of desire like a moth to a flame. And most importantly, no threat of real intimacy. On TikTok, there are 9081 videos all tagged limerence, which run the gamut of advice for anxious attachment girlies to tongue-in-cheek tutorials on the long-lost art of seduction.


What are the three stages?

Infatuation - This is the honeymoon borderline addictive phase. Blood pressure is ratcheting. Our mind snags on the reminder of them without fail, and more importantly on its own accord. There's no other way to put it that Marina and the Diamonds hasn't done so better: 'We've got obsessions...I want to erase every nasty thought that bugs me every day, of every week,'


Crystallization - The second the yearning has cemented, things start to crystallise rather quickly: this person might just be the end-all, for all. We start deifying whoever it is that's taking precedence in our narrative at the time. They reserve far too much credit for existing in the backends of our mind, and we are doing nothing to stop it.


Deterioration - All delusions must come to an end. A decrescendoeing of the mental psyche will return the light back to your eyes. You realise, beatifically, that this in no way a reflection of who you are or what you stand for. Huzzah! To dust we will return.


What are other examples?

Carrie and Big are the picture-perfect reference. That last situationship you had with a Libra guy. SZA's subjects she's enshrined in song especially in the Snooze MV all qualify as stages of limerence.


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