Everyone’s familiar with having a crush. Some, with infatuation. Parasocial attachment? Sure. But then there’s limerence — a newish word coined to capture a diffuse but well-known type of one-sided fixation. The question, as Alexandra Molotkow sets out in this illuminating piece for Pioneer Works’ Broadcast, is whether it should be thought of as a conventional psychological diagnosis.

To some, limerence is romantic; to others, it’s a scourge. For many, it’s both. A recent Cosmopolitan feature described limerence as a self-regenerating obsession that rarely leads to a healthy relationship. The magazine ran a poll alongside the article, asking readers how they felt about “falling in limerence.” Eighty-seven percent picked the answer: “Give me an all-consuming romantic infatuation or don’t waste my time.”

Though it’s almost five decades old, limerence today feels almost excessively timely. It travels well online. Algorithms feed you more of what you already like, simulating obsession, encouraging you to care about people you don’t really know. Social media can intensify a preexisting preoccupation, shoving the person (the LO, limerent object, in the jargon) into your feed, offering opportunities to lurk. But there is help available online, too: spaces for “limerents” to find each other and form community around a shared plight.