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When We Hyperfixate on Crushes: Stories of ADHD Limerence

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When cupid’s arrow strikes ADHD hearts, it embeds deep — at least for a time.For many ADDitude readers, falling in love is an intense, all-consuming experience.

The dopamine rush of having a new crush or of being in love is “addicting,” as one reader describes, creating the perfect setting for dopamine-charged hyperfixation and big emotions to take over (especially when it’s unrequited love).When pining for someone’s love and attention becomes obsessive and disruptive, as has happened to some of our readers, that’s a state known as limerence, a term coined by psychologist Dorothy Tennov, Ph.D., in her 1979 book, Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love. (#CommissionsEarned)“Limerence is, above all else, mental activity,” Tennov writes.1 “It is an interpretation of events, rather than the events themselves.

You admire, you are physically attracted, you see, or think you see (or deem it possible to see under ‘suitable’ conditions), the hint of possible reciprocity, and the process is set in motion.”Tennov adds that hope and uncertainty of the other person’s feelings keeps individuals stuck in limerence, which can last for years. “Limerence can live a long life sustained by crumbs,” she writes.[Read: From Love Bombing to Boredom — Is ADHD to Blame for Mercurial Relationship Cycles?]What happens when romantic longing clashes with ADHD emotional dysregulation, hyperfocus, rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD), and a dopamine-starved brain?

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