Intersections

An interesting question that often comes up in discussions about limerence, is the potential for overlap with other personality traits. Perhaps, given the intrusive thoughts and obsessive nature of limerent reverie, the obvious intersection is with OCD. There also seems a common element with stress heightening the conditions; as though the brain is seeking relief from stress through learned mental patterns – either limerent reverie or compulsive thoughts or rituals.

I’ve often wondered if there is an overlap with introversion too – given that one way of defining the difference between introverts and extroverts is whether the internal or external world seems most “real” to them. As LOs exist mainly in the internal world of the limerent’s imagination, it seems likely that introverts would feel the pull of reverie more powerfully and meaningfully. Yet another possibility is high sensitivity: the concept that some people have more active autonomic nervous systems than others, and so find many stimuli “over-arousing”. The experience of limerence is like having arousal overload. Maybe highly sensitive people are more prone to limerence, or have a lower threshold for being triggered into a limerent episode?

These speculations also make me reflect on whether limerence is a pathology. It’s a very common experience for people who are shy or quiet or sensitive to be told that they are abnormal; that their deviation from the norm is evidence that they are in some way defective and possibly even need medicating or behavioural-conditioning to fix themselves.

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C’mon! Get with it!

I’ve mentioned before that there is an element of disease-mongering in the current discourse around limerence. Experiencing limerence – just like experiencing social anxiety or aversion to loud noise – does not seem sufficient reason to justify claims of a mental disorder. Certainly, unwanted limerence is a problem, and has a significant impact on quality of life and the ability to find fulfillment and peace of mind. However, the euphoria of reciprocated limerent feeling is an incredibly positive experience so it seems… counterintuitive to claim this as pathology. Framed as person-addiction, limerence appears negative, but framed as a mechanism for pair-bonding it appears positive.

Like so much about limerence, we’re left floundering in speculation because of the lack of clearly-defined research into the condition. It would be great if sociologists or psychologists would look into this, but that would require greater awareness of limerence in the general population, and a willingness to investigate something that (ever since Tennov’s time) is seen as rather unworthy of academic enquiry. It’s a curiosity that such a central and important part of human experience is treated as somehow frivolous.

11 thoughts on “Intersections

  1. There is one, albeit, unscientific, way to take a stab at this, using MBTI types. Are certain types more prone to limerence than others? I’ve had my Meyers-Briggs type determined twice, about 15 years apart paid for by work. In a work environment, I tested as an ESTJ, twice.

    In a personal context, I’m ENTJ all the way. LO #4, who called herself “a recovering co-dependent,” and referenced limerence at least once, says she’s INTJ. I’d bet lunch LO #2 was an ESFJ, but again, I don’t know if she was a limerent. I have one professional opinion (not diagnosis) she was a Borderline and another she was a Narcissist.

    Determining the correlation between personality disorders and limerence is a different study.

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  2. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/bjv8y5/the-myers-briggs-personality-test-bullshit

    I’m married to a man with BPD. It makes far more sense to look at personality disorders and limerence rather than the Myers-Briggs which is the equivalent of taking a horoscope seriously.

    Also, when doing something that hurts (for real or in theory [yourself, a spouse or a partner]), rather than continuing to do it and ruminating over your motivations – stop doing it. THEN ruminate over your motivations. Otherwise you’re hitting your hand (or theirs) with a hammer repeatedly while musing about your motivations. Drop the hammer.

    I know it’s not the same thing, but has anyone here read Lundy Bancroft’s book, “Why Does He Do That?” It can be applied to women too. How about “The Gift of Fear”? If limerence is all about oneself and behaving selfishly, then you can see how it can be the top of a very slippery slope for someone who has a propensity for other selfish behaviors.

    I don’t want to suggest that anyone here who is limerent is doing any of these things, but because the topic is so focused on limerence, and less so on the ripple effects, it can’t hurt to broaden the scope. Everyone has the potential to hurt those in their orbit in a myriad of ways. It can’t hurt to take a look at behaviors that may be in the wake and ensure you’re not engaging in them. Thoughts lead to actions. It’s rarely actions leading the way.

    All of this applies to SO’s too, of course! We’re no more perfect than anyone else and when upset, we’re as likely to behave poorly too. Particularly once we’ve sensed that our nearest and dearest is too focused on one special party outside of our relationship. SO’s often sense something is off, but when we bring it up we’re gaslighted, or we talk ourselves out of it. “Oh, I’m overreacting. Surely she isn’t brooding over HIM.” That can make us a bit nuts.

    I hope everyone has a lovely weekend.

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    • Lee,

      Schreiber wrote this article, “THE MALE BORDERLINE – Surviving the Crash after your Crush”

      If you read it, I’d be interested in your opinion of Schreiber.

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  3. I’ve never seen any real utility in Meyers-Briggs but it makes great conversation with that PLO you’re eyeing at the party. Plus, it sounds a little more intellectual than Horoscopes or Tarot Card readings although those can work pretty well, too. In college, I used to do Tarot Card readings at parties. Girls loved it.

    I worked in an organization that tested as over 90% ISTJ (engineers). Our idea of diversity was anybody with “FP” at the end of their profile. In all my professional experience, I’ve never seen a Team Lead say, “We need an ENFP for this job. Call HR and find me one.” It’s not like we put their types on name plaques so that nasty ENTJ doesn’t trample the INFP’s sensibilities.

    I haven’t read either of the books you mentioned but I’m familiar with them. I’ve read other books on being in a relationship with someone with a PD. My history of the 5 years I crossed paths with LO #2 went to 13 pages.

    Shari Schreiber has a great series of online articles on what it’s like to be in a relationship with someone with a PD. They may not apply to you but they’re very interesting and well written. I was a moderator on a site for men in relationships with Borderlines/Narcissists for several years.

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      • It’s interesting that you and I would end up on the same site at the same time….

        When I was “uncovering the past,” I sent the therapist my history of my experience with LO #2 and a link to Schreiber’s “HAVEN’T WE MET BEFORE? The Borderline/Narcissist Couple” article. I asked her to read them and give me her professional opinion as to whether that’s what was going on.

        At the session, she said while it wasn’t a precise match we were doing a pretty good imitation of one. She said I had distinctly narcissistic defenses but I wasn’t a narcissist. I asked why? She said that I had a conscience and knew when to quit. She said if I was a narcissist, I’d still be in that relationship or one like it and since she was working with my wife, too, she said I wasn’t. In reference to LO #2, she said, “You’ve convinced me she’s a borderline, quit trying to convince yourself she isn’t.” That conversation took place 20 years since I last saw LO #2 which goes to prove that simply trying to bury things doesn’t work.

        When all this started coming to a head, I had a pretty good idea WHAT, I was doing. It took therapy to uncover the past to the point it explained the WHY I was doing it and reconcile it. Limerence provided the piece that explained HOW all this played out. All told, it’s going on 9 years since I started working on things. A lot of it was DIY with periods of therapy thrown in as different layers came off the onion.

        It was worth the effort.

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      • Okay, I found the article and it reminds me of this book (which I read once I figured out that Mr. Lee had BPD – with or without BP): Understanding the Borderline Mother: Helping Her Children Transcend the Intense, Unpredictable, and Volatile Relationship
        by Christine Ann Lawson

        So much of it sounds familiar. Not all of it applies to Mr. Lee. Also less applies because years ago I got tired of walking on eggshells (another book I read!) and took to stomping on them. More recently I have called Mr. Lee out on the cop-out/passive aggressive “You deserve better than me” nonsense. Fine. I deserve better. STEP UP and BE the man you feel I deserve. I’m not a cheater (neither is Mr. Lee – really) so if you can’t step up/quit whining, then think about your life without ME in it.

        Were you around for Ozzie Tinman? Did you read his book? One Way Ticket to Kansas: Caring about Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder and Finding a Healthy You 1st Edition
        by Ozzie Tinman (Author)

        More recommended readings from way back when: Emotional Blackmail, when people use Fear, Obligation and Guilt; Don’t Shoot the Dog (by Karen Pryor); Emotional Vampires (oversimplified and a bit cutesy – but still worthwhile for me); In Sheep’s Clothing; Snakes in Suits (pretty much anything by Dr. Robert Hare) and no doubt there are others.

        Anyway, I stuck with Mr. Lee. I never regarded him as a fixer-upper, still don’t – but we have had some blazing rows through the years where he fiercely resented my insistence that he treat me with more respect and dignity than he wanted to at the time.

        I don’t want to put forth too many details, just in case he ever finds this site. It would embarrass him and at this point, he is doing more self-work than ever. I did plenty through the years (therapy, journals, medications when I was depressed, working working working, etc.) so I’m happy to take a break from it all and rest on my laurels a bit.

        He’s also had to overcome the sexism with which he was raised. He’s not the family leader because he has a twig and berries. The family leader is the person whom the others follow or at least turn to for guidance at times. That would be me. If someone wants to be the leader, fine – have at it. But I expect them to stick with it and not just fall apart when it gets hard.

        I have a high grit factor overall. Mr. Lee does in some things, but not in others.

        I don’t know. I love him and sometimes I don’t exactly know why. The same is true for him, no doubt. Probably all of us who have had a long-term relationship! A sense of humor definitely helps. So does resiliency.

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  4. Lee,

    You’re certainly aware of what you’re dealing with. I have “Snakes in Suits.” One of my favorites is Herve Cleckey’s “The Mask of Sanity.” Since I wasn’t in that relationship anymore, I didn’t spend much time reading about how to cope in one. From what I saw from my time as a moderator, you appear to be the first success story I’ve seen.

    After we broke up, LO #2 told me, “I can’t control you. You don’t need me. You were only with me because you wanted to be. There was nothing to bind you to me. I was afraid that one day you’d wake up and not want to be with me. If I gave myself to you and you left, I’d be devastated… You did everything I ever asked of you. The harder you tried the more I resented you for it. I made things so hard for you.” The therapist said, “It’s easier (to understand) when they confess.” The therapist said everything I needed to know about that relationship was in that paragraph and when I understood those, things would start to fall into place.

    Six months later, she was back in town looking for a shoulder to cry on after my successor was allegedly cheating on her. I asked if the relationship would ever be what I wanted it to be. She said, “No, you should find some sweet young thing that adores you and not waste your time with a crusty old broad like me.” I was a slow learner.

    A month after that, I got her to admit that if she wanted to look around some more and if she didn’t find anything she liked better, she might come back and settle for me. I almost backhanded her in the car. I’d reached my limit.

    25 years later, she sent me a FB friend request. I posted a picture of my wife and I from our first New Year’s Eve when my wife was a 23 yr old blonde, blue eyed, bundle of hot. I quoted LO #2 with her “…you should find…” comment, with her initials, the name of the restaurant we were in when she said it, and the date. After the quote, I added, “I found one!” and deleted the request.

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    • Success is a relative term. I never liked being put on a plinth & shot him down when he did so, plus I made certain to tell him I’m not perfect, please don’t dehumanize me by saying that, not in jest, not as a compliment, don’t do it. I’ve called him out on his shit. Our kids have too.

      They’ve called me out too, but not as often or with as much vehemence.

      I’m pretty direct. More so as I’ve aged or matured. I sometimes wonder if we’ve made it this long is a bit of inertia between some moments of blazing insight. I definitely think bpd411 helped because I shut him down a lot more frequently and firmly than many others. Plus I think he really does love me, or feared being alone again, probably both to varying degrees.

      Here we are. Mostly ok. I’m pleased he told me about LO early on. I still can’t say that I liked hearing about it, or feeling obligated (again!) to be the one curious enough to see what was going on, how common, etc., but he has joined me on this journey. I have never told him he’s BPD because it would be better if he figured it out. I’m his wife, not his therapist. Nor am I his mom. We’ve had some battles about that too. I refuse to do it. Sometimes he resents that, other times he doesn’t resent it. The resentment is lessening as the years go by. Aging? Learning that I won’t rise to the bait? Both? Hard to say.

      Like you, I do lean toward some narcissistic stuff, but I know that about myself and have since adolescence, so I work very hard at beating it back & down. Plus I do care about other’s feelings, as well as my own. I don’t like seeing Mr. Lee unhappy, but I can’t fix it or him, so I don’t bother. I support his efforts though. He was more motivated than many. Especially as the decades have rolled by.

      Glad you shook your unhealthy LO.

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