I’m totally over this. Let’s go for coffee!

Hee hee. Limerence and its wily ways. I recently came across this quote from Irvin Yalom (an eminent therapist) about overcoming infatuation:

Nor is the dissolution a steady process. Setbacks occur— and nothing is more likely to bring about a setback than another encounter with the beloved. Patients offer many rationalizations for such new contact: they insist that they are over it now and that a cordial talk, a coffee, or lunch with the former beloved will help to clarify things, help them to understand what went wrong, help them establish a lasting adult friendship, or even permit them to say good-bye like a mature person. None of these things is likely to come to pass. Generally the individuals recovery is set back, much as a slip sets back a recovering alcoholic.

I’m guessing most limerents recognise this impulse. The gentle self-delusion that it’s now fine to spend time with their LO, because they’ve worked through their issues and are now all empowered and wise and emotionally stable. Of course, it’s really driven by the desire to get a little hit of their drug of choice, rationalised by a high-minded desire to get closure.

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Ahhh. Two of my favourite stimulants at once.

This trap is most often encountered after a period of no contact, when the most urgent feelings of limerence have genuinely subsided. With the new clear-headedness that no contact has enabled, it’s easy to believe that you can meet as friends and enjoy uncomplicated time together. Maybe even learn more about yourself by analysing your feelings when you meet. Or validate your recovery, by demonstrating how resilient you are to their charms now.

Gotta agree with Irvin “None of these things is likely to come to pass.”

So is that it? No possible hope for full recovery and a neutral friendship with LO? I’ve opined on this before, but in the spirit of not being totally defeatist, there may be some cases where it’s possible.

1) The limerence was fully discharged 

You can plausibly meet again as friends on the far side of limerence. The simplest case here is if a sexual relationship took place, and because of that consummation you worked through the limerence and it’s now gone. Less complete, but possible, is that you disclosed and received an unequivocal “no”. Again, that could smother the fuel of limerence by removing uncertainty. One could debate the wisdom of seeking friendship from someone you desire but who does not reciprocate, but it is plausible that limerence has been snuffed out beyond recovery.

2) You truly feel indifferent

In the let’s-meet-for-coffee scenario above, someone who still has a glimmer of limerence will feel a quiet thrill of excited anticipation. That, of course, means you’re not over LO half as much as you would like to believe. If, in contrast, you can ask yourself the question “how would I feel if I didn’t see them again?” and honestly answer “OK”, then you may actually be OK. In fact, a good test would be to decide “I have lots of projects on at the moment, and meeting old-LO isn’t a priority” and then see how your dormant limerent brain feels about that. It’ll let you know if it’s cross about losing its fix.

3) They are a guilty pleasure

Not sure if this one is healthy, but I guess it is possible to treat an LO like social drinking – an occasional indulgence that can be managed for the pleasure it brings. I suppose an unwitting LO could be safe, but it’s a relatively high risk strategy from your own perspective if you are in a long-term relationship. Plus, it’s kind of icky.

As Granny Weatherwax says “Sin… is when you treat people like things”.

 

Overall, you’ve got to ask yourself how important it is that you can be friends with an old LO. What are you proving to yourself? How much would they add to your life, really? Are you surrendering your purposefulness to them? Are you trying to cling to the old comfort of the person addiction that once meant so much?

It’s hard to believe you can’t find the benefits of friendship elsewhere…

4 thoughts on “I’m totally over this. Let’s go for coffee!

  1. “Patients offer many rationalizations for such new contact: they insist that they are over it now and that a cordial talk, a coffee, or lunch with the former beloved will help to clarify things, help them to understand what went wrong, help them establish a lasting adult friendship, or even permit them to say good-bye like a mature person. None of these things is likely to come to pass. Generally the individuals recovery is set back, much as a slip sets back a recovering alcoholic.”

    I was planning to have lunch with LO today to discuss why I must change my behavior (moving toward NC), effectively saying goodbye. But I realized that, in person, I wouldn’t be able to get through what I want to say, and I no longer see the (long-term) positive in getting together. I have asked to talk on the phone later today, as I can control (and read) what I want to say and try to keep it short.
    There is nothing easy about this, as I was struck with limerence last year when LO announced she was leaving my office. A real emotional breakdown by me. The feelings were reciprocated and morphed into a clear EA with physical aspects looming until LO had an awakening (or fear crept in). I will add that we did love each other and became extremely close emotionally. Each of us were committed to others, so we were both guilty of going down the wrong road. LO wanted to stay “in touch”, which meant all of the linkages and attachments helped me become entrenched in limerence for another 11 months. We continued to be extremely close and discuss intimate matters. I did want to stay connected to her, but I now see that I could not handle that. I even knew I couldn’t handle it as it was happening, but on the flip side it felt awful to think about not being needed or confided in. It will be tough to lose my “best friend”, but I don’t see any other way.

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  2. I had the phone call today. I had felt some distancing vibes from LO over the past weeks as she went on holiday with family. Communication was shut down, which gave me a chance to reflect on things (AND FIND THIS BLOG!), while not sending or looking for any messages. Basically a mini-No Contact period. LO told me today that she felt more free not having to worry about any remotely possible emails from me being read by her husband; she felt that hiding my communication from her spouse was a negative thing (REALLY??) I told her some of my issues regarding her, and that this period of No Contact was healthy overall for me, though we both missed the regular notes to each other. Basically, we each feel the unhealthiness of the situation for different reasons. So No Contact is underway, though there will be some natural times that we will cross paths the next month.

    There were things that I wanted to say, but knew not to say. And there were things I wanted to ask that deep down I knew that I didn’t really want to hear the answers. They would have only given me ammo to dwell upon. I will not make any predictions for my future emotions, but I am hopeful.

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  3. Once someone figures out they’re limerent, the process is fairly straightforward. Any potentially life altering question comes down to 3 things:

    1. Could you?
    2. Should you?
    3. Would you?

    At some point, limerents play the “What if?” game. If we could craft the “fairy tale ending, (FTE)” what would it be. Once we have the goal in mind we apply the above questions.

    – Can we pull off the FTE? My last LO was 2500 miles away. I didn’t think she’d hop on a plane to see me & I knew I wasn’t going to her.

    – We’re skipping #2 for a moment to address #3. Do you really want to do this? “Want” can be really labile and can turn on a dime.

    – “Should you” is where it gets messy. It brings in all kinds of issues like purposeful living, integrity, morality, fidelity, etc. “Should you” defines character.

    The questions become fairly straightforward.

    What do you want and what are you willing to do to achieve it?

    I tried to walk a line and wasn’t able to pull it off. In the end, I knew where my loyalty lay and made a choice.

    If you disengage successfully, by whatever method, you may find you really didn’t lose as much as you thought you did.

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