Person addiction

Limerence certainly resembles addiction in many key respects. There are the neurophysiological highs, and the withdrawal lows. The cravings, the disruption of everyday routines, the habit formation. There is also the diminishing value of each fix, and the need for escalating stimulus as time goes on to get the same pleasure.  Ultimately, there comes the realisation that the LO is detrimental to your life, but you also know you can’t give them up without significant emotional pain.

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Heads you lose. Tails you really lose.

Despite these parallels, I struggled for a long time with how limerence fitted into an addiction framework. I confess that I do not have an “addictive personality” and so I could not relate my feelings of limerence to, say, alcohol or gambling addiction. Like most people though, there are others close to me that do have these issues, and so limerence did at least help me understand them a little better; at least to the level of empathising that “why don’t you just stop?” is worthless advice.

I read up on sex addiction and love addiction, and again, while there was some overlap, there were also fundamental differences that made limerence seem to be a separate category. In particular, the other two addictions seemed focussed more on the compulsive behaviour than the other party (or parties) involved.

The penny dropped for me when browsing limerence.net and coming across a comment by David Perl along the lines of “limerence is addiction to a person.” That really crystallised it for me: addiction to a person. LO is the drug. It’s not romantic love or sex per se that you crave, it’s LO. It has a nice clarity of focus; good explanatory power.

For whatever reason – whatever combination of your own emotional state and unmet needs and their particular recipe of personality traits – the company of this person gives you an emotional and physiological high. You seek reward until addiction has set in, and then your behaviour becomes erratic and irrational and withdrawal becomes painful. The drug parallel also helps from the perspective of overcoming limerence. You are probably not going to be able to be friends with your LO, just like an alcoholic will never be able to be a social drinker.

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Go on. Just a little sip of LO. You’ll be fine.

This is especially true if your LO is manipulative or narcissistic or limerent for you too. Because those guys will be enablers. They’ll be your drinking buddies, egging you on, telling you how boring you’ve become since you stopped hanging out so much, or how much they miss you – and can’t we just go back to how things were before you got so uptight?

Now, there can be ways through limerence, so it’s not necessarily essential to go cold turkey. If your LO is actually a decent person, you stand a better chance of establishing new habits, and a civil acquaintanceship is feasible as long as you steer clear of intimate conversations or situations. It will be hard and may call for constant vigilance, but then that is the price of liberty. But to return to my perennial theme: your road out of the addiction is self-awareness, honesty, and the determination to live a purposeful life. Act decisively, and work for the future you want to live.

7 thoughts on “Person addiction

  1. This blog represents my experience almost identically. I became limerent for someone and it was definitely the worst experience of my life. We became horribly emotionally entangled and while for my LO the sharing of emotions and experiences was a bit of fun, for me it became something I craved and needed. It also didn’t help that LO was by nature very charismatic but also fickle. I started to feel like a puppet on a string..pathetically grateful and on a high when we connected, and almost starved of attention when LO retreated. It was weird as I have so many other friends and also an SO who I love (very stable but not very exciting..that was probably part of the problem!) but this one person started to represent everything exciting in my life. I spent ages pondering unmet needs and why this happened and ruminating on it all…its annoying as I was pretty content before this person got under my skin. At the moment we are not taking as I keep overreacting to things and I think LO thinks I’m slightly mad. I’ve tried so hard to create some emotional distance but find it impossible. I think the point on the blogs about it being less like a relationship and more like an addiction is a very valid one!

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    • “At the moment we are not taking as I keep overreacting to things and I think LO thinks I’m slightly mad.”

      That’s pretty common when you try to walk a fine line you shouldn’t be walking at all, I was getting along pretty well with LO #4 until the landscape changed and the boundaries that were previously there seemed to disappear. Maybe not from her perspective but definitely from mine.

      To use a bad engineering analogy we went from inside the control band to overshooting everything. We never were able to reestablish equilibrium.

      The right answer was to end the acquaintance and we did, But, we were lucky in that the logistics of the acquaintance made doing the right thing a whole lot easier.

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      • Yes, I had a pretty normal friendship with my LO as well before my my emotions changed everything. I think that is one of my biggest regrets…that I’ve messed up a friendship that was ok to start with, and we can never go back to that. It would be impossible to explain the raw emotion that started flowing through me though…the ecstasy when we felt connected, the panic when I felt we didn’t, the anger when I’d been let down. LO isn’t perfect – thoughtless at times and can blow from hot to cold and cancels plans at the drop of a hat – but I just couldn’t keep my emotions under control. I’d always prided myself on being very emotionally balanced, and didn’t even know I was capable of letting someone get under my skin to such an extent.

        I’m going to try and keep the NC thing going this time. I want a peaceful summer without jittering around with my phone, wondering if LO will reply to a text or what LO is doing.

        I think the powerlessness of a situation like this is the worst feeling. You feel that your emotions are in someone else’s hands and that made me incredibly edgy and fragile.

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  2. Reclaiming yourself is like piloting a boat. You need a rudder and you need propulsion. You have to both.

    Without propulsion, you may be able to orient yourself but are at the mercy of the wind or current. Without a rudder, you can get somewhere but you can go in a bad direction, out to sea or on the rocks.

    To make this post even more of a groaner, deciding where you want to go is influenced by your “moral compass.”

    Some blogs talk about the minefield you sailed into and how you got there. Some of the blogs here talk about tactics and strategies to get out of the minefield. Some blogs talk about how to implement those tactics and strategies, and some blogs talk about why some choices are more ethical, moral, or noble than others.

    There can be a lot of layers in a LE. The onion analogy is pretty good but I prefer thinking of it as a mirrorball. There were a lot of facets, some of them are pretty subtle, and they can spin around pretty fast in your head.

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  3. A question about living with limerence. Some background first

    I’ve known someone for decades that I was close with but didn’t love. Last year I fell in love with them. At first I put aside the thought but eventually thinking of them started to consume me. It’s debilitating when you think about a person virtually all day long. I also knew they didn’t think of me this way and I started to get depressed.

    Eventually i couldn’t hold in inside any longer. I told them. They claimed to me (and others) they loved me in a difference sense, After some painful discussion we have since parted ways.
    We are still connected through other people that we are mutually close with but we don’t communicate with one another directly. This is unlikely to ever change.

    Since that time my feelings of love and depression have only become more entrenched. I closed down my business. I’m barely functional (mostly in bed). Living with my mother. And on meds.

    I believe in unconditional love on a philosophical level so both my feelings and rational side tell me that I don’t want to move on to someone else even if the person I love never loves me back. Living without the prospect of love though seems to have ripped away my motivation to do anything. The depression is ongoing.

    Here is the question.

    Is there a thought process that allows me to keep my love (without moving on) but not exist in this debilitated state?

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    • Wow, Elpetha. That’s a hell of a question.

      First: I am sorry to hear what you are going through. Given the impact on your life, I hope you have sought help from medical professionals. I am guessing so, as you mention meds, but please do continue to take advice from people who know more than laybloggers…

      From the perspective of limerence, the most I can say is that your path is not the typical path that the majority of limerents follow. To know and care for someone for decades and then succumb to limerence is unusual. It’s much more typical that familiarity causes limerence to fade over time. I can’t pretend that I understand the significance of that, but it may suggest that you are dealing with limerence emerging due to some other stressor or external cause (rather than bumping into an LO by chance). Can you think of a trigger that set the limerent experience off?

      With respect to unconditional love – I would say I am more of a sceptic than you. Adult romantic love is, to me, a distinct category from love for children or parents. There is always the possibility that someone who you fall in love with will treat you badly, even abusively, I’m not suggesting this would be true for your LO, but the point is that there should always be a limiting boundary for what is acceptable for you in a romantic relationship. So, I suppose what I am saying is that unconditional love is possible, but unconditionally pledging yourself to one person regardless of their feelings for you, or behaviour towards you, is potentially very psychologically damaging.

      When I look back at previous SOs, I remember them with love and affection (mostly), but know that they are part of my past. You can keep those feelings of love in memory, but once those people have left your life, it is rational and healthy to seek new love with others. Future love does not diminish past love, it just follows it. Also, dedicating yourself exclusively to someone who is not available to you is not altogether an act of love. It’s more like self-sacrifice. As you suggest, denying yourself reciprocated love rips away your motivation, and a major purpose in life. I don’t see how anyone benefits from that.

      It’s a very hard question to answer, but I hope that is some food for thought, at least. Best wishes.

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