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Some of us are prone to infatuation. We encounter someone ‘special’ who we click with emotionally and spiritually, and we find ourselves falling for them in an infuriatingly intractable manner.

Infatuation, often referred to as limerence, is a wildly turbulent experience that subjects us to a plethora of positive and negative emotions. Mainly, it causes us to obsess over the object of our adoration and focus on their ‘heavenly’ looks and traits. When we cannot be with this person, the infatuated state is agonizingly painful and must be overcome so that it does not impinge on all other aspects of our lives.

Due to the brain chemicals implicated in attraction (namely dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin), the experience of infatuation is very illusory and unstable. It feels enchanting one minute, and then horrendously depressive the next.

How Can I Shake My Limerence?

You can certainly free yourself from these feelings but will need to be proactive in your recovery and resist the desire to constantly lament over this individual. The following steps will undoubtedly help you if you are infatuated with someone and looking to reclaim your life and happiness.

1. Draw an Ugly Photo of Them

Infatuation may feel deliciously spiritual and like you’ve met your ‘soulmate’, but the truth is much less whimsical; your infatuation is mainly driven by strong an attraction. Regardless of your orientation/preference, our biological wiring and brain pathways draw us to people who are physically desirable to us.

Since you are thinking about this person a lot, it is likely that you have mentally turned them into a mysterious, beautiful demigod. It will be impossible to get over your feelings if you are constantly visualizing your crush as a stunningly attractive being.

Visualize Them How You Wish You Saw Them

You need to bring yourself back to reality by picturing them at their worst. If you have them on Facebook, draw an even more caricatured version of the least attractive photo that you can find on their profile. Think back to the time that you saw them after a heavy night out, or the time that they showed up to a party in a bizarre outfit with horrendously dyed hair, and sketch a little cartoon for yourself to look at.

This may seem immature and facetious, but it will help your brain rewire itself and picture them as someone

  1. more real and
  2. less desirable,

both of which you want when you’re caught up in an obsessive infatuation. This really works and can put a fun spin on the healing process. It will also reconnect you with your inner wit.

2. The Game-Changer: Laugh at Their Flaws

When infatuated, we often romanticize absolutely everything about our crush. We rarely laugh at their negative traits/features; instead, we find poignant meaning and seriousness in everything they do and say. This is because, to the brain, there is not much difference between having a crush and having a partner. You are so smitten that your brain is operating as if you were with them.

It’s possible to trick your brain out of this illusory, dopamine-charged circuit. If you can relate to the above, you will find this tip unbelievably useful: you must find humor in a lot of what your crush does, and think about them in an almost cruel way. I can guarantee you that doing this regularly will help you break out of infatuation quickly.

Finding Humor in Your Crush’s Behavior

I am not advocating for any type of real-life bullying; it can all take place in your own head. When he posts a picture of himself going to the gym, instead of thinking “he is so physically fit, attractive and amazing”, reject those thoughts and instead think “there Mr. Fitness Boy goes again, unable to get over his own vanity . . . what a loser!”. Laugh at how he probably took 300 selfies before choosing one to post. Smirk at the fact that he queues up in pro-health cafes to buy his overpriced vegetable juices. He’s a normal, insecure human like you, not someone who should be worshipped.

If you find out that she’s into partying, instead of admiring her wild streak and glamorizing her even more, turn her into a bit of a joke by thinking “she is a drunken mess, even worse than I was when I discovered alcohol in my teens. How pitiful.” Think about how she probably drinks vodka and dances to 90s pop with her female friends, until one of them inevitably bursts into tears and ruins the evening. You get the drift!

3. Give Them a Silly Nickname

Many psychologists advise against creating a mental ‘character’ based on someone you’re infatuated with since it can perpetuate the obsession. However, it can be very useful to supplement the humor method (explained in my above tip) with a fittingly ridiculous nickname. Naturally, it must be based on real features or traits that they possess, as this will slightly alter the way that your brain perceives them and help you become less infatuated.

What Do I Mean by Silly Nickname?

If you are obsessed with someone who happens to love wearing cargo shorts, start mentally referring to them as the person with ‘more pockets than creative thoughts.’ If you are smitten with a girl who is rather hippyish, think of her as ‘tunnel vision earth-lover’. Of course, this trick can only be sustained with a suitable dose of humor and creativity, but is a useful tool if employed correctly.

4. Eat Healthy Carbohydrates

When you’re infatuated, your brain’s natural chemicals (neurotransmitters) are out of whack, resulting in an unhealthy level of obsession and fixation. It has been found that serotonin levels are particularly low in this state, mimicking those of an OCD sufferer.

To help yourself fixate less on this ‘delightful person’ who you’re convinced is the only thing worth living for, you need to increase your serotonin levels. This will help you leave behind the irrational elements of limerence (e.g. the depressing thoughts and the urge to check on their social media accounts 30 times a day).

One way to do this is to take 5HTP, a popular serotonin-precursor designed to promote good sleep and feelings of contentedness. However, many people do not like to take supplements.

An ideal way to naturally increase serotonin is to eat something sugary. Refined sugar can cause a ‘crash’ on its own and is inflammatory, so it should not be consumed regularly, but it will not harm you if eaten occasionally to help you through this rough life chapter. Ideally, wholesome carbohydrate-containing foods such as sweet potato, brown rice and lentils should be consumed on a daily basis to keep your blood sugar and serotonin levels optimal.

5. Read Books That Expand Your Mind

Anyone who is prone to the complex emotional cocktail that underpins infatuation has an inquisitive and intelligent brain. You are temporarily trapped in an illogical state, but allowing interesting ideas to wash over your mind will do wonders at challenging limiting beliefs that you hold in your subconscious. Reading is a lot like having a healing conversation with someone. Here are two books that will dramatically help the mental state of anyone possessing the limerence-prone mentality.

1. The Limerent Mind: How to Permanently Beat Limerence and Shine: I spent years trying to find a ‘bible’ for you infatuation-prone folk, but many books disappointed me with wishy-washy psychology rooted in conjectures, rather than neuroscience, and left me set on writing my own one! This book consists of a full breakdown of limerence/infatuation from neuroscientific, psychological and spiritual perspectives and all of the steps required to become permanently immune. This is a promise – heed all the advice in this book, and you will never experience unrequited love again.

2. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov: While this is a controversial novel, I believe that it is a must-read and an immense reality check for those struggling to accept that they aren’t “meant to be” with the person they are obsessed with. The depictions of the central character’s strong feelings towards Lolita leave the reader uncomfortable, due to the age difference and power imbalance. We feel immense anger towards him, but also pity him and the delusional infatuation state he is trapped in. Though your own predicament will be nowhere near as bad as his, you will benefit greatly from seeing just how derailing and dangerous romantic can be. This will spur you towards treating your state as an illness and freeing yourself, rather than romanticizing the ‘intensity of your love’.

6. Bring the Infatuation Back to Reality: Talk to Them

Infatuation is made much, much worse when you are not seeing and dealing with your crush in real life. It’s very likely that you’ve created a fantasy version of this person, subconsciously embellishing all their positive traits and ignoring their negative ones. While my above tricks will work to rewire your brain and psychologically aid you in overcoming a tricky obsession, you also need to take some physical steps towards regaining control of your happiness.

You must try and engage with your crush in real life. This concept is supported by neuroscience; there is nothing like real-life exposure when it comes to getting over an infatuation, as it forms new brain pathways that are completely separate to the horribly obsessive ones that you’ve been cultivating for months.

You may feel that you’ve fallen intractably hard and that you’re completely lost in this unrequited love affair, but you’d be surprised at how quickly you could get over this person if you shifted everything ‘back towards reality’.

Dreaming about them in your room will only cause you to float further and further away from any semblance of truth, while interacting with them in person will effectively show you that they are a real person with flaws.

This may seem like cliché, generic advice, but it is given out by psychologists and counselors for a reason: it does work, and it takes away the pain quickly.

7. Avoid Associating Them With Music/Partying/Deep Convos/Fun

When extremely infatuated, it is imperative that you try and have as many face-to-face conversations with them, while sober, in all sorts of moods — when you’re bored, stressed, tired or irritated.

The common pitfall is to only engage with your ‘special person’ while intoxicated at parties. This is no good, as your brain will only associate this person with frivolous, inebriated happiness and inhibition. It also means that you’re much more likely to have deep, meaningful conversations with them, which won’t help you get over them.

Therefore, you must learn to associate them with all of your different moods and feelings, most of which will be negative or neutral in your sober, day-to-day life. Remember, we always want this kept in reality! Life isn’t all about deep, spiritual conversations, pretty outfits and strobe lights.

Socializing with your crush exclusively at night will not accurately reflect how you feel about them, or how they would contribute to your actual life. The trick is to make sure that you associate your crush with all of these lonely/sad/boring times, as this will lead to a more realistic judgment of them and, consequently, less obsession.

8. Manage Obsessive Thoughts With L-Theanine

I urge you all to quit coffee if you are trapped in a phase of emotional instability, as the highs and lows that it introduces to your life will aggravate any existential thoughts that relate to romance. However, quitting caffeine cold turkey is difficult and can temporarily worsen depression and negatively affect productivity. For this reason, I recommend opting for a milder source of caffeine, the healthiest and most brain-healing being matcha green tea.

Why Matcha Green Tea?

While studying neuroscience, my eyes were opened to the intricate ways that the substances we ingest affect our perception of reality. Matcha is rich in the amino acid L-Theanine, which has a potent stabilizing and mood-lifting effect on the nervous system through gently increasing GABA, serotonin and dopamine levels.

I drink this brand daily, which is cheap, gorgeous and velvety (hint: the mint version is delicious). It completely eradicates any intrusive thoughts and depressive, romantic longing that I am experiencing, and has helped me reach a state of objectivity and peace in some of my toughest life chapters.

Despite containing caffeine, matcha (as with all other forms of green tea) is only mildly stimulating due to the way that caffeine and L-Theanine work in synergy. The latter mellows out the caffeine high and prevents the low serotonin levels that follow coffee consumption, meaning that you do not ‘crash’ nor do you experience anxiety.

Please do break free from drinking multiple coffees a day, and realize that a lot of scientific papers promoting coffee consumption are funded and untrustworthy. The truth is that milder sources of caffeine that offer anti-inflammatory health benefits are the way forward!

9. Accept That Most People Don’t Get What They Want

When infatuated, it’s very easy to believe that this person is ‘meant for you’ and that life is doing you a huge injustice by not letting you be with them. This can take you down the path of thinking selfishly and believing that you deserve them and a mutual romantic connection, almost as if they were an object.

A harsh truth in life is that sometimes things feel inexplicably right for us but we have to kiss goodbye to the possibility of getting them. It doesn’t matter how stunning this person looks or how captivating their mind is to you — your connection with them (if there even is one) clearly isn’t turning into a relationship. You have to move on from this and start to live for yourself again, setting goals and keeping busy.

You may struggle to accept this and feel aggrieved as if this pain is unique to you. Looking around, it might seem like everyone else is happily dating someone and you may jealously wonder if they feel this intensely, painfully and strongly about their partner. Worry not, because they probably don’t (even if they once did); feelings of infatuation fizzle out quickly, and often they aren’t there in the first place.

Some people don’t look for infatuation and fall into relationships with people who simply make them feel comfortable. Perhaps they have felt limerence before and now know it never lasts, or perhaps they have never fallen passionately in love with someone before so couldn’t even comprehend how you feel. Either way, they aren’t living out your wildest dreams, so stop feeling envious and as if you’re entitled to be with this person; it’s not a ‘human right’ to date someone who makes you feel this height of emotion.

So, next time you’re filled with envy after seeing people content in their relationships, remember that they’re not experiencing the crazy, titillating dopamine rush that you’re experiencing. Most people aren’t, because infatuation is rare, short-lived and illusory — let that console you a little.

10. Seek Closure: Don’t Revel In the Highs of Infatuation

We can all relate to experiencing the lows of infatuation; abject misery and sadness are typically what sends us to the internet, searching for the cure to a broken heart. It is in these moments that we look at ourselves and realize that we’re irrationally addicted to someone and need to move on. However, it’s very easy to let yourself feel some of the highs of infatuation, without realizing that the highs are equally neuroatypical and dangerousIn fact, if you’re experiencing the highs intensely, and you’re letting yourself treasure pleasant thoughts revolving around this person, you’re far from recovery.

Why? There’s a duality to infatuation: You’re in the throes of it not only when rejection/an inability to be with that person makes you depressed, but also when the thought of them makes you incomprehensibly happy. In order to truly overcome infatuation, you need to deflect the positive thoughts in addition to the negative ones. Allowing yourself to be inundated by the ups of romance will mean that you inevitably crash down, experiencing the opposite of those sky-high feelings, and you’ve learnt that you cannot handle the lows.

You need to get good at identifying ALL infatuation-based thoughts as

  1. unhelpful to your recovery and
  2. completely illusory, even if they make you feel lighter and more ecstatic than anything has before.

The negative thoughts hurt us and are the most problematic, but the positive thoughts allow you to slip further into romantic feelings and ideation.

Infatuation is a dance in uncertainty; if you are feeling the highs at all, the limbic, animalistic part of your brain will keep chasing those highs because it wants to make you feel good. It wants you to be productive and happy day-to-day, so that you can fight off illnesses, gather food and care for your family. Just as it makes you crave chocolate when you’re stressed, your inner indulger presents you with delightful thoughts about your object of limerence when you’re bored/unhappy. If you let these thoughts occupy a place of prominence in your mind, it will continue to do so because its tactic will have worked.

See such thoughts for what they are, which is your brain making its own fun. Don’t let yourself grip onto them or be the basis of daily delve into the realm of fantasy. Sure, this person may have liked your profile picture, but that means nothing. It shouldn’t be giving you a buzz that lasts for hours. If you cannot separate yourself from the illusion of limerence and find the highs impossible to dampen, remove yourself from social media. Be a little rude to this person in real life, so that they won’t be too kind to you and give you hope/dopamine kick.

Do whatever you need to do to get better; you’re unwell, and they’re not. Read about the relationship between OCD and limerence here.

11. Find Peace in This: Their Silence Is Really Rejection

I am returning to this article to add the final, and potentially most important, point. It appears that a propensity to obsession, depressive states and anxiety are all implicated in infatuation/limerence, but these states cannot exist without uncertainty.

Most of us who experience limerence are relatively introspective, dreamy and often spiritually-inclined. The way that we experience romance is intense; when infatuation is unrequited or impossible we typically feel like we’re losing a soulmate and missing out on a truly authentic existence.

Right now, you probably feel that you’ve been shown a wonderful, exciting dreamlike world that has been taken away from you. The pull that you feel towards this person is colossal, and due to shared values and beliefs, it may seem like cosmic madness that you two are not together and something totally, spiritually wrong.

This has always been the way that I have experienced limerence. As someone prone to spiritual thinking and magical ideation, I always struggled to overcome the notion that I would be settling for life if I didn’t end up with that person, and that the powers of the universe wanted us to be together.

The best way to counter this illogicality and find peace is to realize that this person has seen your soul, and has still decided that they don’t want to be with you. They have spent time around you and, consciously and subconsciously, have formed a clear opinion of you through not only your behavior but also your aura. There’s nothing more that you can do and there’s no real uncertainty.

You might argue that they don’t know you yet, convinced that if only you could have shown them your intelligence, your softer sides, etc., that they’d have loved you back. You might be thinking “my situation is unique — they do like me, but they don’t want to be with me”. However, they aren’t feeling the same way towards you, and nothing that you could possibly do will make them return your incredibly strong, unstable feelings.

Perhaps I won’t be able to convince you otherwise, but I can guarantee you that you will look back in years, see this situation objectively and understand what I mean. Even if this person gives you mixed signals and is hot and cold, that behavior alone is enough proof that they don’t truly want you. If they did, they would make it known. They wouldn’t occasionally ignore your messages for weeks, they wouldn’t snap at you and seem bored of conversation at times and they wouldn’t date other people and tell you about it. It’s horrible to face the truth, but this person isn’t interested, at least not in a way that matters.

They may be attracted to you, which is a recurring trope in infatuation . . . do they sometimes seem to meet your eyes with a glimmer and seem interested? If so, that is still irrelevant — they don’t love your mind like you love theirs and they never will. They aren’t trying to be a part of your life.

When in limerence, it’s so very easy to enjoy dancing in the uncertainty. After all, doing so gives you access to the highs. We’re addicted to the euphoria that this state lets us swim in, all of us — you might deny it, but a small part of you knows that you would get better if you truly treated this as a drug addiction. If you cut all contact and ignored the good traits of this person, it’d fade, and you know it. You just don’t want to let go of the hope that you’ll end up with them, and the blissful feelings associated with that.

Realign Yourself With Reality

But, since this is disrupting your life, it’s time to do just that and to focus on obtaining closure. How? Realign yourself with reality; take their silence as rejection, because that is what it is. Take their short replies, distant smiles and their dates with other people as rejection, not as uncertainty. Are they asking you about your childhood, trying to separate you from a group of people (e.g. trying to organize coffee/drinks/anything), or sharing secret details with you?

If not, take that as rejection. It’ll shatter you initially, but then you’ll stand up, pick up your pieces and will move on from them in a matter of weeks/months, I promise you that. Once the fantasy is out the window and you’re focusing on the way that this person actually treats you/prioritizes other people, infatuation just won’t be sustained and you’ll recover.

It goes without saying that if someone wants to look into your soul, go on adventures and create long-lasting memories with you, you’ll know. Keep living authentically, find happiness in being alone and the right people will come along who will be begging to stay in your life. You can’t have a soul who isn’t meant for you, nor can you make them want you. Stop lying to yourself, stop settling for uncertainty and let yourself see the truth.