There’s a Scientific Name For Being Unhealthily Obsessed With Your Ex
It’s totally normal to take time to get over an ex. In fact, any healthy relationship ends with a bit of a mourning period to help you move on.
What’s not normal is to still be obsessed with your ex years later. And I don’t mean obsessed like checking their Instagram page. I mean obsessed like purposely trying to run into them, thinking about them legit every day, and still missing them ten years later.
In fact, there’s actually a name for people who are dangerously obsessed with their exes, or maybe even someone who they never dated. It’s called “limerence.”
Psychologist Albert Wakin has spent years studying those who experience “limerence” and is an advocate of the disorder being recognized by doctors worldwide so that it can be treated. Unfortunately, because it’s very difficulty to map the parameters, Wakin worries that it never will be recognized as a disorder.
The basics of limerence are similar to any addict, but their brains respond to a person rather than alcohol, a drug, or the like. The problem is, unlike alcoholics who know they can buy alcohol when they want it, those who are addicted to a person don’t have that ability.
“If a person is addicted to alcohol, you don’t worry if alcohol will be available. When you’re addicted to another person, you can’t control whether they’ll be there for you. It drives you nuts,” explained Wakin to New York Magazine.
There are entire sub-Reddits dedicated to those who believe they suffer from limerence, and their posts are as depressing as they are horrifying. While some users re-tell stories about trying to hurt their ex’s new partner, others consider hurting themselves because they feel that they’ll never get over their lost lover.
Reddit user JenniferHewitt explains that she found out her ex was doing his masters at a college nearby. She then contemplated enrolling in classes in hopes of bumping into him, ending her post with, “what’s the point of living if 1) I can never have him and 2) I can never get over him?”
Unfortunately, because limerence has not been recognized as an official mental disorder, there is still no official cure. Supportive Redditors comment on posts explaining that those with limerence should try blocking their ex’s out of their lives completely and turning to family members to remind them that there are people who care.
While some Redditors hypothesized that certain personalities are more likely to fall victim of limerence, we also believe that certain people lead to limerence in their partners. For example, this user’s story clearly tells the tale of a guy who led her on and was manipulative towards her because he knew he could get away with it.
We hope that Wakin’s work pushes the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) to officially recognize limerence so that those who suffer from it can receive treatment.