How to get rid of limerence

For all its promise of ecstasy, limerence can be an oppressive and disruptive force in life. Most often, it is when limerence develops for somebody inappropriate – perhaps the worst being an LO who at some level likes the attention, or doesn’t know how to handle it sensibly, and so gives off mixed signals that keep the limerent in a perpetual state of (reinforcing) uncertainty. I think anyone who has experienced limerence has at some stage wanted to turn it off. So, is that possible? No.

Short post today!

Ha, ha. I am funny.

Given the impossibility of turning off limerence, the next best thing is to develop strategies for hastening its natural demise. Here are four of the best.

1) No contact

The best and tried-and-tested strategy, that merely requires superhuman discipline. No contact with the LO will, inevitably, surely, lead to a fading of the limerence. If nothing else, it does give enough distance for objectivity to reassert itself and allow you to recall LOs obvious unsuitability and negative qualities. Of course, if LO is actually admirable, then this is not so promising. Smart arsery-aside, no contact is a very sensible strategy. Starve the source of limerent reinforcement. View the LO as a danger to your wellbeing, and cut all ties. Avoid their company wherever possible. Absolutely no social media contact. Get into the habit of always choosing the option that diminishes the chance of accidental contact. Absolutely, under no circumstances, allow your limerent brain to persuade you that you have got your feelings under control and you can be friends with LO now. Yeah, friends. No harm in that. Just friends. Who like to play chicken with the cripplingly intrusive thoughts that add so much spice to their life.

Sometimes, no contact is not possible for practical reasons. So next you could try…

2) Aversion conditioning

The goal here is tricking your brain into devaluing the LO. It’s not a noble strategy this, but it can be effective. When in the company of LO, instead of reflecting on how lovely it is the way their chin has an adorable chubby crease as it merges with their oh-so-kissable neck, find a flaw and fixate on it. Your luck’s in if they have wonky teeth, or a prominent spot, or a receding hairline. The basic goal is to counter your traitor brain’s attempts to idealise the LO by feeding it negative data.

Appearance may not be the best approach here, as it is, after all, still their body and therefore hugely desirable by definition. More potent can be the memory of past shame. An inevitable aspect of limerence is some encounter with LO – perhaps where your flirting was a bit clumsy or LO was in a bad mood – when you were hoping for a bit of sparkle, but instead got the horrible stomach-lurching rejection (or at least, obvious failure to reciprocate). I’m good at shame. I do shame well. If you do too, use this as fuel. Next time you are chatting with LO, and feeling all happy and chilled, REMEMBER THE SHAME. Remember that feeling of being foolish and ridiculous and rejected and wallow in it. Let it seep into you while LO is telling you all about the problems they are having with their SO (that you could obviously save them from). Make the shame taint every good experience with the LO. No mercy.

A particularly effective strategy for me was vividly imaging my wife sitting on a chair in the corner of the room. Try flirting through that.

3) Transference

Assuming avoidance and aversion haven’t worked, your next hope is transference. You need a new LO. One who is suitable, or at least less toxic. If you have a SO, try and reconnect with them. Suggest new adventures. Get out of the ordinary routine. If you are keeping the limerence from them, this might be difficult to explain, but damn it, give it a try. If you don’t have an SO, then the world is your oyster. That limerence is a huge pent-up mass of romantic power. Unleash it on a worthy recipient. Cast around for someone else who gives you the glimmer, and seek their company at the expense of LO.

A possible byproduct of this, of course, is that LO may notice, and then get jealous, and finally see your value and then… oh, God damn it limerence, you monster!

4) Disclosure

Your last option is disclosure. Tell LO, straight to their face.

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AKA the nuclear option*

This will work, assuming that your LO isn’t a manipulative piece of shit. Disclose to them how strong your feelings are, that you don’t want to just be friends with them, that you want a romantic relationship, and that you hope that they feel the same way too. Really make it impossible for them to feign misunderstanding or confusion. If they laugh and change the subject, change it right back.

This might seem catastrophic. You will ruin a beautiful friendship. But be honest with yourself: it isn’t beautiful. Or a friendship. And after you’ve been honest with yourself, be honest with them. If they feel the same way about you, then you have got your heart’s desire. If they do not, then the uncertainty that is the essence of limerence is ended. They will probably now avoid your company, helpfully precipitating the no contact strategy. You will know that you can never pretend that you are just enjoying their company as a friend, and maybe one day their feelings may deepen…etc. It might hurt like a bastard at the time, but it’s a good strategy for living an authentic life to directly tell people that you care about, how you actually feel.

There are occasions where disclosure is not appropriate, of course. If they or you have a SO, and you do not want those relationships to end (side note: if you do want those relationships to end, then end them before you disclose. Nobody said being a decent human being was safe and easy). If they are vulnerable, and there is a power imbalance of some sort (professional being the most obvious). Finally, if you do disclose, and the LO evades the issue, makes light of it, or gives you a vague or non-committal response, you are probably limerent for someone who is going to make your life a misery of indecision and insecurity. You are better off without them. Seriously. Go back to strategy 1, and repeat until you win.

 

*Yes, I know it’s a volcano.

8 thoughts on “How to get rid of limerence

  1. When I was getting out of my LE which had gone from a “friendly online relationship” to what met 2/3 of the criteria for a full blown emotional affair, I tried #1 first. It didn’t work too well.
    By that time, I was well aware of the minefield that I’d sailed into. It wasn’t a question of knowing what the right answer was, it was a question of pulling it off without hitting any mines in the process.

    So, after thinking it through, I decided to go to #4. We’d gotten into this mess after she’d broken up with her allegedly cheating boyfriend and she started reaching out to me. I thought that if I came clean and told her I’d become attracted to her, she’d see the irony in reaching out to a married guy, throw the flag, and end things. Not necessarily noble but, at the time, she was big on not being lied to and things would end honestly. It backfired and she wanted to get closer. The thing was, the closer she got, the higher my anxiety got. She got on my wife’s radar. It was not pleasant.

    I told a friend that I’d disclosed and she said, “You really told her that? For a smart guy, you make some really bad assumptions.” This was the same woman who when I told her what was happening said, “Get away from her and stay away from her. Stay involved with this woman and this will not end well for you.” Sometimes, people will tell you things, if you’re smart enough to listen to them.

    Logistics were in my favor and my distancing was eventually enough for her to end the acquaintance. She made the call that I tried to make but didn’t.

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    • Hi Sharnhorst,

      Thanks for your comment.
      Yes, disclosure can be a high risk strategy. The most frustrating being an ambiguous response from a flaky LO, or thinking you know how LO will react but misjudging. It’s often unpredictable.

      You have a wise friend. That’s a blessing!

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      • One upside of disclosure as an exit strategy is that if it works, it eliminates that seed for rationalizing the need to return for closure.

        No hope, no uncertainty, no upside to maintaining the relationship, and no “unfinished business” to bring you back.

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      • Absolutely. Also, disclosure means no room for hiding in “friendship” while hoping that one day, somehow, everything will change and you’ll know exactly how they feel about you. And seize the perfect moment and perfect words to persuade them of your appeal. Fear about disclosure is often fear that if you lose the cloak of friendship, you’ll lose an opportunity for future persuasion. Uncertainty means there’s hope.

        Disclosure cuts all of that false hope and uncertainty away.

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  2. This is the best advice I’ve seen and also the only time I’ve laughed about my “condition”! I really appreciate this post and how artfully and humorously it is presented. The part about viewing your LO as a threat to your well being is awesome, I’ve had the thought that I had to save myself, even if suddenly avoiding LO made my issue even more obvious and suspicious. It was and it did and there was no need for me to disclose when I suddenly started avoiding him – too obvious, but it killed 2 birds with one stone I guess. And the memory of past shame technique is spot on effective.

    I’m still battling after a year but I’m about 60% better. Getting there. Thank you.

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  3. This is brilliant and so lovely to have it put in light-hearted terms. As we are both single and I’ve tried everything else to no avail, this has persuaded me to go for disclosure, if and when we ever meet again. Really I’ve nothing to loose apart from months or years of heartache and self-delusion. I was widowed, quite young, 18 months ago, and this fantasy – with the vagueness and uncertainty that defines limerence – has helped in a strange way to put some light into those dark times. But it’s also added to the pain. The times I spend with LO are lovely. I think he does care and is unsure. Just not enough and probably never will be. I will loose a lovely friendship, but I’ll also be able to get on with my life and face reality, which I must.

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