Do they like me too?

In an earlier post, I described the second stage of limerence as “the response”. So, assuming you have felt the glimmer, the next thing your limerent brain tries to determine is the possibility of reciprocation. You become hyper-aware of the body language and emotional state of the potential LO. Each interaction is analysed for meaning. Signs of hoped-for reciprocation accelerate the drive to limerence; overt disinterest or hostility can slam on the brakes.

This “nucleation” may be the aspect of limerence in which there is most variation between individuals. At one extreme end we have delusion, where even completely neutral or even negative response can be distorted into confirmation of reciprocation at some level. For the truly pathological, think “Enduring Love” by Ian McEwan which describes de Clerambault’s syndrome. Now clearly most limerents aren’t anywhere near that delusional, but limerence makes optimists of us all. Small signs of reciprocation are used as hope anchors. Signs of disinterest or distaste can be minimised as blunders or tactical errors that can be repaired in the future by better strategy.

This is probably the most delicate stage of nucleation, and a tipping point. How much encouragement (real or imagined) an individual needs to progress to run-away limerence seems highly variable.

First, we all know people (or have been people) who become limerent for fantasy figures – celebrities being the obvious example, where reciprocation is obviously wildly implausible. I’m actually going to classify this a proto-limerence, as while it has many of the same features, the fact that it is entirely in the limerent’s head makes it categorically different from limerence where reciprocation is at least a possibility.

Next on the scale would be limerence for LOs who the limerent only briefly interacts with in daily life, but has nevertheless become fixated upon. Receptionists, co-commuters, shop staff, joggers, that sort of thing. Interaction occurs. Maybe mutual smiles of recognition. Maybe a few exchanged pleasantries or brief conversations. For some people, this can be enough to trigger progression to infatuation.

Finally, there are LOs that the limerent interacts with regularly. Here there is the opportunity to actually get to know someone at a more than superficial level, and so perhaps make more objective judgments about whether reciprocation is likely. At the far end of this category would be the people who become limerent for friends they have known for some time, but were not initially limerent for. Often, this change can be triggered by seeing the friend in a new context, or even sensing that the friend is interested in them. In other words, the reciprocation is the initiating event, even if the glimmer had not be present before (which rather spoils the nice, neat list format of my argument, but never mind).

So what determines where on this continuum an individual limerent lies? Probably a mix of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Some people seem especially prone to nucleation. The amplification of glimmer to obsession takes very little feedback from the LO. Others are more cautious. In addition to these inherent temperaments, circumstances can affect sensitivity. Is the limerent currently in a relationship or actively seeking a partner? Age is another big issue. How many times has the limerent experienced these episodes before? Stress, emotional upset, bereavement; many extrinsic events in life can alter the threshold of one’s sensitivity to limerence.

Are there ways to decrease one’s sensitivity to nucleation? As always, self awareness is the best approach. What is going on in your life at the moment that may be causing you to seek limerent “reward”? Ask yourself, bluntly and honestly: how much feedback are you actually getting from LO? Unless you are spending a lot of time with LO and beginning to bond, you are actually falling in love with the version of LO in your head. It might help to realise that this is quite insulting to the LO.

A good strategy to edge back from the tipping point is to recognise the path that leads to the brink. Given that the limerent is falling for an LO that only really exists in their own head, that is where the path begins. After the glimmer, and a hint of reciprocation, the rumination begins. Endless re-imaginings of interactions. Rehearsal of new conversations; of clever things you will say or do to impress the LO next time you see them.

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Maybe next time I buy a ticket from her, I’ll try a big *wink*

 

Imagining what they would say in response. Reorganising your life and habits to try and increase exposure. Most of all, devoting a lot of your mental energy to fantasising as vividly as possible about the LO. You are single-handedly making them a major part of your life and inflating the significance of this person by endless reverie. That’s what pushes you over the tipping point and down the slippery slope.

Usually, therefore, it is within the limerent’s power to stop that slide by recognising the limerence-promoting behaviour they are engaging in. That said, there is a special kind of hell reserved for those limerents who nucleate on a manipulative son-of-a-bitch LO who craves the attention, and broadcasts reciprocating signals like a mobile phone mast. More on them in a later post.

27 thoughts on “Do they like me too?

  1. “First, we all know people (or have been people) who become limerent for fantasy figures – celebrities being the obvious example, where reciprocation is obviously wildly implausible.”

    This was me as a teenager. One LO was a singer. The other was an actress with a heavy “bad girl” vibe (I remember indulging in a few rescue fantasies).

    What’s interesting, though, is that I haven’t had any of those experiences as an adult, and I know I never will. Just the thought of it makes me laugh. It all seems so silly and naive. Which means that my celebrity limerence (or proto-limerence, as you call it) came to an end. I don’t have it anymore. It’s not a part of me.

    So, how did that happen? And can it happen with full-blown limerence? It’s certainly promising.

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    • It’s interesting you say about that, because until last year (when current LE began) I had always had a slightly obsessive crush on one TV character or another. I don’t recall when it started but don’t remember a time when I didn’t have one, but at the same time have realised how immature it is.

      The trick to get rid of it was usually to meet the real actor then it disappeared… usually moving on to another!

      However these last 8 months have been the first time I’ve experienced real limerence, and as it was someone I had to maintain at least a professional relationship with, it has been far scarier!!

      Still working with my therapist to try and work out why I have those crushes, but I know my husband preferred it when they were all fictional characters.

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      • That’s a useful data point, Sophie. I wonder how common proto-limerence is among limerents and whether it’s an early stage of limerence (as suggested by the proto-) or a separate phenomenon. In other words, did our proto-limerence go away, or did it develop into something worse?

        It would be useful to know if anyone alternates between real-life and celebrity LOs. In other words, do limerence and proto-limerence ever overlap?

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      • Sophie,

        You actually got to meet the actor(s) you had a crush/crushes on? That’s interesting.

        How does one get “the glimmer,” reciprocation, and uncertainty from someone you’ve never actually met? You can certainly fantasize about someone you’ve never met but real LOs always provide something to the limerent.

        I guess “proto-limerence” is as good a label as any. Maybe the appearance of limerence-like feelings for someone you never met could be called “ersatz limerence” but it has a lousy ring to it.

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  2. I hadn’t even considered the “obsessive crushes” (or whatever label we want to give it) in the same way as the limerence until I started exploring this with my therapist!

    I have always followed lower-key TV series – the sort where the actors do theatre work in between series – so meeting them was relatively easy – find other fans online and go see a show they are in, then stage door after. Separating the character from the actor was the reality jolt that they are very different and the bubble would burst. Having no real-life relationship certainly made it easier to move on from, rather than an LO who is a colleague and friend.

    There was never a glimmer, but the one thing I did notice was my interest in the character usually started once they had a romantic storyline. Probably coincidence but who knows… my head is a mess!! The obsessive thinking was very similar, but the fantasies were more sexual than the hope for reciprocation that I have experienced as limerence.

    Real limerence is without a doubt far far harder to move on from!

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    • This is really interesting. There obviously is a gap between an obsessive crush on a stranger, and full-blown addiction to a LO. Maybe proto-limerence is an indicator that we have the kind of brains that are prone to limerence, but it’s a sort of “searching” stage, as though we are scanning for suitable LOs in the environment? Once we finally meet a potential LO, then the glimmer-reciprocation-uncertainty cycle kicks in and moves us from crush to limerence. So, crushes are a sign that we are primed for limerence…?

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      • But I had crushes when I was a pre-teen and a teenager but I’m not limerent, or prone to it (yet? ever?).

        So I don’t know if that is a particularly big indication of future limerence.

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      • That’s good to know, Lee, thanks. Maybe its not such a promising idea.
        I also only had crushes during adolescence. Nothing as an adult – “just” limerence.

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      • The last case of what I’d call an infatuation/crush was a few years before I met LO #1. I still remember the first time I saw her. It was at a volleyball game for new students. I took one look at her and I was gone. I chased her for two semesters and she went out with me exactly once. One day I saw she was wearing a ring. She told me she had a boyfriend in the Army. I told her if she’d told me that up front, I wouldn’t have acted like an idiot for 8 months. She said she thought I’d get the hint. The story didn’t end there but it’s beyond this discussion.

        I was so smitten that my father noticed it. He thought it was really amusing. The thing was there was no glimmer, no uncertainty, and no reciprocation but I still had a crush until she told me about the BF. If she was a damsel-in-distress, she didn’t let me know. My taste for them wouldn’t come for almost a decade.

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  3. Scharnhorst, how do you differentiate between a crush and a limerence experience? For me, a crush is just the early stage of limerence. Whether it progresses to a full-on obsession depends on the frequency of my contact with the crush and other factors that I’m not aware of.

    You would think that common interests would play into it, but apparently not: My most recent LO and I had very different tastes in music, movies, and politics. At one time, those were are all deal-breakers for me, so each time I discovered a new incompatibility, I felt a small sense of relief and thought, “Okay, this relationship would never work. The limerence will die at any moment.” But it didn’t.

    I’m still kind of amazed by that.

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    • Yes! I understand! My current LO has opposite (and annoying) interests, humor style and we are even from different cultures (which my limerent brain finds super interesting)! LO does not seem to have a “poetic soul “ (which I thought was mandatory in a love interest ) and I can’t for the life of me figure out how he managed to weasel his way into my brain other than he is quite attractive, very generous and thoughtful, highly complementary, and we both takes turns being the friend in distress and support each other mightily. Great for him, but awful for my limerence problem!

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  4. For me there were several differences. With the Crush, the attraction was immediate and intense. All it took was one look. With LOs, the feeling was never immediate. It developed over time as I got to know them.

    The Crush never blew hot and cold. It was pretty much all cold. I saw her frequently enough on campus to keep me in the game and she did go out with me once, maybe twice, the first year. One time I ran across her while walking with my friends and the reception prompted my friend to ask if anyone else got goosebumps from the chill in the air. I bought her roses for her birthday, March 12. You could get a dozen for $5. Thinking back, that might have been a little over the top but she didn’t seem to mind.

    But, I can never say she offered any real encouragement. She did give me a ride to the airport at Xmas break but that was about it for reinforcement. I was one lovesick puppy that Xmas break. My father met her 4 years later at graduation. He said he understood why I was attracted to her.

    The real LOs I got to know and they triggered something in me. It took months to years to develop. Another significant difference was with the LOs is I didn’t initially see them as prospects and I was friends with all of them. I was never a friend with the Crush. LO #2 actually said to me, “If I don’t sleep with you is that the end of the friendship?” That question set the expectation for that relationship pretty low.

    The Crush is one of the most significant women in my life. The story continued into the next year and ended when my, at the time, unknown rival, her current husband of 30+ years, came to my room and physically threatened me. For a relationship that never got off the ground, it was really interesting.

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    • Scharnhorsr, You were perceived as a threat. Funny how the close and bonded attachments one can have with LOs unnerve their SO’s. That in itself can trick a limerent into thinking they have “a chance”. It’s just a trick. If the LO wanted us, they would find a way. They just want us for that “special attention” they get from us and really, they don’t deserve it. I feel so cold and harsh saying this! It’s bravado, but I am trying to convince myself of the validity of it!

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  5. ” One time I ran across her while walking with my friends and the reception prompted my friend to ask if anyone else got goosebumps from the chill in the air. I bought her roses for her birthday, March 12. You could get a dozen for $5. Thinking back, that might have been a little over the top but she didn’t seem to mind.”

    “The story continued into the next year and ended when my, at the time, unknown rival, her current husband of 30+ years, came to my room and physically threatened me. For a relationship that never got off the ground, it was really interesting.”

    Scharnhorst – You may want to revisit your behavior at the time and ask yourself if it was disquieting. Women do not, as a general rule, tell men to go away and leave them alone, or when they feel uneasy around someone.

    You may have been staring too much, or known too much about her movements and one or both of them didn’t care for it much. Perhaps other people who saw you mentioned it to them. Or maybe it was nothing but why would her then-boyfriend take it upon himself to physically threaten someone over nothing? Was he a jerk? Is he one now?

    I know it’s all in the past, as it should be, but ask yourself if your behavior then would make you worried for the well-being of a young woman in your life (daughter, niece, best friend’s kid, etc.).

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    • I don’t think she felt uncomfortable. Now that I think about it, she’d come to my dorm room and I’d help her with physics and calculus. We’d listen to Tommy James over brandy when we were done.

      When I got back to school the following year, she found me the first week. She told me she’d broken up with her BF and asked if we could go out. We went out once or twice and things started to taper off. She was going to the fall formal with me. From what little she revealed about her previous BF, I think she had liked the attention. He was 1200 miles away most of the time and alluded that he might not have been faithful. The unknown distant BF was to be repeated with LO #1.

      I called her the day after the visit. She was surprised and apologized. She asked, “He threatened you?” I told her that he didn’t want me “…messing around with my woman and I don’t want to hurt you after practice.” (He was a jock) She said, “If that’s the way he wants it.” I asked her if that was the way she wanted it and she said, “I guess.” I told her then the only thing I had against her was that I should have heard that from her, not him. She said she hadn’t told him about me. She said it must have been her roommate. That made sense because I met her roommate the previous year and we did not get along. I don’t remember why we didn’t get along but we didn’t and I got a sense of hostility from her. I have absolutely zero evidence that her roommate actually had anything to do with things but it would’t surprise me to learn she’d planted the seed in his head. Her roommate’s BF was also a jock and I didn’t fit into that circle.

      As for her BF/husband, I think he’s a jerk but what I think about him doesn’t matter. She made a choice, my objection was to the way I learned about it.

      I had friends in Campus Safety and, if I wanted to, I could find anybody. I had access to their class schedules, I could find out where they lived, what kind of car they drove, where they parked, their SSNs, etc. I thought about messing with the guy since I could do it with relative impunity but my better nature won out. Knowing I could was enough. The other kicker was when he threatened me, my roommate answered. It was pretty late and the lights were off. I was in the shadows. I could see him but he couldn’t see me. He had no idea what I looked like but I knew what he looked like. We’d pass each other frequently and he had no idea who I was.

      After that, in the next 3 years, I only saw her on Graduation Day. We crossed paths as we headed toward the stadium. She looked at me, smiled, planted a big kiss on me, and said, “We made it!” I had mono at the time but the kiss happened so fast I didn’t have time to stop her. We told each other what plans we had after graduation. She gave me her number, said to call, and we’d have a drink before I left town. I called it once, she wasn’t home, and I never tried it again.

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      • “he other kicker was when he threatened me, my roommate answered. It was pretty late and the lights were off. I was in the shadows. I could see him but he couldn’t see me. He had no idea what I looked like but I knew what he looked like”

        Clarification, please. Did you let your roommate be threatened by him, when BF mistook him for you? Or did you come out of the shadows to listen to the guy and discuss the situation face-to-face?

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    • Lee,

      Something else… I know you’re not a big fan of the MBTI but it can help explain some things. I test as an ESTJ at work but I’m an ENTJ everywhere else.

      ENTJs are considered, assertive, persistent, and direct. When we see something we want, we go straight at it. We can take “No” for an answer but we don’t like it and if we ask a direct question and get anything other than a direct answer, we’ll interpret in the way we want to. We’re direct with people and we expect them to be direct with us. ENTJs make up ~3% of the population. That means ~97% aren’t ENTJS and an assertive, persistent and direct approach may not work with a lot of them. Depending on their methods, I can see where more extreme ENTJs might come across as creepy.

      I was sent to supervisor’s school where we did some exercises to see what kind of management style we had. We took the same test under two different conditions. The first was how we’d do things when things were going well. The second was how we’d do things when things were under significant adversity. In the first case, my management style was a mentor-coach. I used the events to train and develop subordinates. Under adversity, my style took a big turn. In the second case, my style was to use any and all legal methods, “up to and including subterfuge”, to accomplish the task, It was pretty accurate.

      They say how you do anything is how you do everything. I may have operated that way at work sometimes but I don’t think I ever applied it in the relationship context.

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      • This string has hit a nerve.

        LO #4 described herself as an “Avoidant INTJ.” She’s smart, articulate, outwardly confident, and has a delightfully snarky sense of humor.

        This is what it says about ENTJs as friends, “The ENTJ thoroughly enjoys lively, intellectual conversations – welcoming such interaction as a learning opportunity for all parties involved. They have a tendency to be direct and challenging when interacting with others, which tends to put people on the defensive. This is in fact exactly what they’re after – the ENTJ wants to learn what you know, and understand as many of the nuances of your knowledge as the context of the conversation will allow. They go after this knowledge in a very direct, confrontational manner. With this approach, they will learn not only the facts of the knowledge, but also the background of the individual’s stance on that piece of knowledge. How well does the individual understand the topic? How invested is the individual in their stance? This method of “unsettling” people has the effect of livening up conversations and stimulating learning, when the other conversationalists are able to easily withstand the interrogations of the ENTJ. People who are uncomfortable with being challenged, or who are less than confident in the topic being discussed, are likely to be subdued into not expressing themselves with the ENTJ.” (http://www.personalitypage.com/html/ENTJ_rel.html)

        The harder I pressed her, the shorter and more direct her responses became, that is when I got a response. When I found the passage above, the word “interrogation” got my attention. I went back and looked at the emails we exchanged. I was interrogating her. The other thing I realized was that the harder I was interrogating her, the less likely there was to be a response. And, it wasn’t just one email, it was many of them. I was backing her into a corner. I apologized to her and I backed off.

        Keep in mind, I was in the middle of LE that I shouldn’t have been in at all. But, that’s the extent to which she was inside my head at the time.

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      • “I know you’re not a big fan of the MBTI”

        No, I’m not. It’s junk science, if I’m feeling generous about it.

        “ENTJs are considered, assertive, persistent, and direct. When we see something we want, we go straight at it.”

        That is also how men have been trained to behave for quite a long time and are/were rewarded for it. Women, not nearly as much nor as well-recompensed. You may want to revisit your upbringing and how you were socialized. What was squelched by others, what was encouraged.

        “They say how you do anything is how you do everything. I may have operated that way at work sometimes but I don’t think I ever applied it in the relationship context.”

        I’m hazy on your timeline, but have you had emotional affairs/LO’s while married? If so (and I’m not accusing you of it), that is definitely an act of subterfuge if you do not keep your spouse fully informed throughout.

        Of course, keeping a spouse fully informed throughout the process (part of the email stream, told when and where to show up for meals, etc.) would probably force the issue and bring one relationship or both to an end. Or make it stillborn. It appears to me that it’s not nearly as much fun or as likely to give you shots of adrenalin when it’s not behind someone’s back.

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      • “They go after this knowledge in a very direct, confrontational manner.”

        “People who are uncomfortable with being challenged, or who are less than confident in the topic being discussed,”

        The other word used to describe this style is “rude” and sometimes “arrogant”. It comes across as someone who doesn’t want to have a conversation, who isn’t listening to you because they are busy formulating a response without considering what you are saying and dismissive of what you have to say.

        Unless you’re defending your dissertation or undergoing a board of scientific counselor’s review, this is offensive behavior to many people. It may indicate that you’re not privy to a lot of information simply because someone doesn’t want to waste their time trying to make you listen to them without interruption and without respect.

        I imagine you have softened your style as you have matured, but I bet you got shut out of a lot of possible interactions as a result. Not saying you haven’t done well but you might be surprised at how much you missed.

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  6. Lee,

    ‘“They say how you do anything is how you do everything. I may have operated that way at work sometimes but I don’t think I ever applied it in the relationship context.”

    I’m hazy on your timeline, but have you had emotional affairs/LO’s while married? If so (and I’m not accusing you of it), that is definitely an act of subterfuge if you do not keep your spouse fully informed throughout.”

    Nailed me!

    What I meant in the statement was I don’t remember using subterfuge when I was dating anybody. However, in the context of LO #4 and my marriage, you’re correct. I didn’t encounter the term “emotional affair” when I was in the LE and the therapist never used the term but just because you don’t label something doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening. Both the therapist, and eventually, LO #4 brought up the deception in particular. When LO #4 first told me what was happening, a friend told me, “Get away from her and stay away from her! Stay involved with this woman and this will not end well for you.” LO #4 said, “If you have to hide our correspondence from your wife, it’s not good.” I wanted to retort, “Ya, think? That never dawned on you at any point in the past year?” But, she was saying goodbye so I took the pitch.

    I was in an emotional affair with LO #4. When I learned about them, our relationship met 2/3 of the criteria and I think the only reason it didn’t meet more was the fact we were geographically distant and the criteria required actual contact. For example, dressing up for your EA partner doesn’t apply when you’re 2000 miles apart. One criteria that neither of us broached was even if we were dissatisfied with out partners at the time, that topic was off-limits. When her relationship ended, that went out the window for her after that.

    In 30 years of marriage, only one woman got inside my head, LO #4. It took months with the therapist to find out why.

    That’s the thing, It may have been about LO #4, but it was never because of her.

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  7. This post is going to get messy.

    “Clarification, please. Did you let your roommate be threatened by him, when BF mistook him for you? Or did you come out of the shadows to listen to the guy and discuss the situation face-to-face?”

    My roommate answered the door. He never in any way threatened my roommate and I wasn’t about to come out of the shadows to confront him. The guy never tried to enter the room. He stayed at the doorway. The entire conversation probably lasted less than 3 minutes. When he left, my roommate turned out the light and I made the comment I thought I’d been threatened. My roommate said there was no doubt in his mind. Somebody else must have seen it from the hall because several people asked me about it the next day. The hardest part about the episode was his thinking he intimidated me into not “messing with (his) woman.” I didn’t back off because of him, I backed off because of her.

    “The other word used to describe this style is “rude” and sometimes “arrogant”. It comes across as someone who doesn’t want to have a conversation, who isn’t listening to you because they are busy formulating a response without considering what you are saying and dismissive of what you have to say.”

    LO #2 called me “cocky and arrogant.” My wife says “rude” and “arrogant” still come out periodically but not nearly as often as when we were first married. That topic came up when I started working with a therapist years ago when I was exploring the relationship with LO #2. What we came up with was that cockiness and arrogance were my techniques of choice as a Dismissive-Avoidant to keep people at distance. They work!

    Your comment “I imagine you have softened your style as you have matured, but I bet you got shut out of a lot of possible interactions as a result. Not saying you haven’t done well but you might be surprised at how much you missed.” is completely accurate. I was so good at keeping people at a distance, I became a social pariah in high school. I wanted people to leave me alone and they were more than willing to accommodate me. It took 2 years for me to dig myself out of that hole and one of the criteria for me asking a girl out was she wasn’t a direct participant in what happened. One reason I went to college where I did was I didn’t want to go to the same college with people I went to high school with. They knew me.

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    • “He never in any way threatened my roommate and I wasn’t about to come out of the shadows to confront him.”

      But he thought your roommate was you.

      “When he left, my roommate turned out the light and I made the comment I thought I’d been threatened. My roommate said there was no doubt in his mind. Somebody else must have seen it from the hall because several people asked me about it the next day.”

      I don’t understand why he didn’t say, “I’m not Scharnhorst” or you didn’t step forward and say, “Roommate, he’s looking for me.” Maybe he was huge and you were nervous. But it wasn’t the action of a forthright person.

      It was many years ago, hopefully you don’t let other people take the blame in your place in other situations. Maturity takes hold for most of us. Presumably you’re a mensch today, if you weren’t then.

      Hardest thing I ever did was stand up and admit that it was MY fault that someone’s windscreen got cracked. We were stupid kids (I think I was 10 – 12 years old – somewhere in there), tossing stuff off of the roof of a friend’s garage into the street. STUPID. I still stood up and admitted to it when the driver stopped, got out and understandably wanted to kick someone’s ass. To this day I wonder why he didn’t order me to come down, march me home and raise a ruckus. I deserved it. I hope his insurance covered it in full!

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      • I didn’t let my roommate take the heat for anything.

        My roommate only answered the door. My roommate didn’t have to say. “I’m not Scharnhorst.” When the guy asked for me, I answered him. The guy asked, “Is Scharnhorst here?” and I responded.

        I engaged him in the entire conversation and my roommate never said a word. We were in bed when the guy knocked on the door and my roommate got up to answer it. We thought it was one of our dorm buddies. Aside from holding the door open and keeping me in the shadow, my roommate took no part in the actual conversation. I made a mistake in the previous post. The lights were off in the room and my roommate didn’t turn them on. I only saw the guy because he was framed in the door by the lights in the hall.

        After he asked if I was there, the first thing the guy said was “My name is —- and I’m Crush’s BF.” immediately followed by the “I don’t want you messing….” statement. I saw no reason to get out of bed in my underwear, turn on the light, and invite him in. I responded with something like “Ok.” He said something like, “Good” and left.

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  8. “I didn’t let my roommate take the heat for anything.

    My roommate only answered the door. My roommate didn’t have to say. “I’m not Scharnhorst.” When the guy asked for me, I answered him. The guy asked, “Is Scharnhorst here?” and I responded.”

    Oh good, thank you for clearing that up. The way you wrote it originally wasn’t clear enough to me.

    “After he asked if I was there, the first thing the guy said was “My name is —- and I’m Crush’s BF.” immediately followed by the “I don’t want you messing….” statement.”

    She had no reason then or now to be honest with you, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if she didn’t sic him on you. If only to have him puff up and then do the circle and spray ritual.

    “The Crush never blew hot and cold. It was pretty much all cold. I saw her frequently enough on campus to keep me in the game and she did go out with me once, maybe twice, the first year. One time I ran across her while walking with my friends and the reception prompted my friend to ask if anyone else got goosebumps from the chill in the air. I bought her roses for her birthday, March 12. You could get a dozen for $5. Thinking back, that might have been a little over the top but she didn’t seem to mind.

    But, I can never say she offered any real encouragement. She did give me a ride to the airport at Xmas break but that was about it for reinforcement. I was one lovesick puppy that Xmas break. My father met her 4 years later at graduation. He said he understood why I was attracted to her.”

    She didn’t shut you down either, so she may have enjoyed keeping you on a string, using you to wind up BF (does he really love me? How would he respond if someone else were interested?). Young women and young men can be really insecure/stupid/manipulative in these matters. I dislike passive aggressive behavior and LO #1 demonstrates a number of the hallmarks.

    There is no reason to try to unravel it now from her side, but you may want to consider if she used you to test BF’s interest or ‘force’ him to make a commitment. Not that it matters any longer, of course. You and Mrs. Scharnhorst are still an item after all.

    I hope you two have a lovely weekend.

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    • Interesting thought.

      When I challenged her, she didn’t hesitate to back him up. I don’t think he was present at the beginning of the second year when she looked me up but I think he appeared not too long after. I remember running into her at the Student Union. She was with a guy who could have been him. I don’t remember if she introduced us. If she did, neither of us remembered each other.

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  9. To circle back to William’s question on how you can tell the difference between a crush and a LE, maybe you can’t if the events don’t play out in a way that supports limerence.

    With the Crush, the initial attraction was purely physical. After she told me about her BF in the Army, the infatuation disappeared. When she reappeared the following semester, it might have gone into limerence had we’d gone beyond the superficial but events overtook that. I don’t know if she’d have become an LO or not because it never got that far. At the time, I didn’t get the vibe (i.e., glimmer) from her that I saw in 3 of the 4 LOs.

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