The allure of bad boys and girls

All limerents are at some point going to be confronted by the need to try and understand why they become limerent for particular LOs. Some will be unfortunate enough to realise that they repeatedly become limerent for bad boys or bad girls – LOs who are fundamentally incompatible with a stable, loving future. The cliché here of course is the Player – the charismatic seducer who is really only interested in games and conquest.

Limerents that notice this pattern often decide to “swear off” LOs as trouble, and seek more stable partners for long term relationships. This is profoundly rational, but does also leave the disquieting feeling that they may have “settled” for a partner they find less exciting or sparkly than hopeless LOs of old. Leaving aside the complications of long-term love and where best to seek it, I think it’s also interesting to ask the question: are players more likely to trigger limerence?

Classically, the allure of bad boys and girls has always been appreciated. The loveable rogue. The seductress. Bluebeard. Guinevere. These are archetypes that we all recognise at a deep level, that we know are trouble, but that are also powerful and desirable. The thrill of playing with fire. But why is that so appealing, and why should we be more likely to become limerent for such people?

Let’s get speculating!

1) Dominance games

The banter of flirtation is very often an elaborate game of dominance display. Both parties are testing, teasing, looking for boundaries, and how much they can get away with while exciting and retaining the interest of the other party. As many others have noted, this is actually a really lousy way of identifying a partner (one of my favourite reflections on this is here). Basically, you establish any nascent relationship on a basis of competition, social guile, and game playing. If you play games, you attract game players. So why do so many people do it? Well, it’s modelled in films and books as “the best at banter gets the best mate”, it’s exhilarating if you’re winning, and most people are extremely guarded about their true selves and so project a persona in order to shield themselves from scrutiny. Bad LOs have attained mastery at these games, and so if you step up to the plate, it’s likely you will get suckered in.

baseball-2086604_640_resized

I’m not American. Why do American clichés always spring into my mind? Oh, yeah. Cultural hegemony.

2) The shock of transgression

Linked into the preceding idea, another contributory factor to the allure of the bad LO is that most people are well behaved. Possibly not when alone or with the cloak of anonymity, or when stressed or desperate, but most of the time, in ordinary social discourse, most people choose politeness and want to be liked. Thank god, because otherwise life would be even more competitive than it already is. However, the bad LOs play by different rules and delight in transgressing the normal social niceties that constrain most of us. This has the shock of novelty and taboo breaking. An LO with a tendency to love bomb, or be bluntly sexual, or “neg”, or find other mechanisms for shocking you into a suddenly more complex and unfamiliar interpersonal dynamic, can leverage the emotional destabilisation towards increased intimacy. Players often capitalise on the shock of transgression, and the associated physiological arousal that makes you more alert to your environment and adds salience to your interactions. People that excite us – negatively or positively – grab our attention.

3) Game playing and reinforcement  

Players don’t only use these little tricks during seduction, or course, they keep it up as time goes on and flirtation moves to dating. The kind of LOs who love the chase and the seduction are not the kind to settle into a blissful union with a limerent. It is likely, therefore, that any limerent who succumbs to their charms is going to be in a state of uncertainty throughout whatever “relationship” develops with their bad LO. The limerent will be craving reciprocation, occasionally getting it, but then also seeing their LO flirt and play the field – possibly clandestinely. The neuroscience of limerence/person addiction is a regular theme of the blog, and this sort of dynamic would be the prototypical example of intermittent reinforcement increasing addiction. If a limerent is seduced by a bad LO, they are likely to get drawn into a relationship dynamic that causes their limerence to explode out of control.

4) Saving the flawed hero

From the way I’ve marshalled my arguments so far, I’m giving the impression that this is an elaborate, manipulative game being played by narcissistic players. In many cases it may well be, but there is always the possibility that some of these bad LOs are, down in their heart of hearts, actually good. Like Darth Vader. Sort of. Anyway, the player can perversely provoke a kind of rescue fantasy in some limerents, who convince themselves that their LO is a flawed hero who has fallen into bad habits because of problems with intimacy, or a craving for true love, or because they haven’t met the right person yet (them, natch). I’ve pondered before about whether there is a philosophical difference between someone who causes emotional harm through selfishness, and someone who causes it because of an underlying emotional wound of their own that makes them too broken to bond (and needs a patient limerent to teach them how to love properly). Either way, the limerent ends up emotionally harmed. Some of us are like moths to the flame of the disordered.

heart-3111760_640_resized

It’s a trap!

So, I think there is reason to think that bad boys and girls have a special talent for triggering limerence. It’s not the whole story, of course, as there are many other “bad” LOs – ditherers and dreamers and drama-seekers – who will also be Bad News in terms of reinforcing limerence. But the Buccaneers and Femmes Fatale do seem to swell the ranks of the LO army.

37 thoughts on “The allure of bad boys and girls

  1. The central premise of “bad boys/girls” is the limerent’s belief that they can somehow fix, save, rescue, or rehabilitate the LO. It will be different with me.

    Analogous to the first responder community, there are a various types of “fixers.” You have rescuers, protectors, and medics. There’s also a fourth type, tinkerers. They modify people’s behavior for less noble reasons. Shaw’s “Pygmalion” being the best example. I was a “tinkerer.” But, my justification was I was trying to help them, to make them better. In the case of LO #2, like the Pygmalion of mythology, I fell in love with the creation. It’s narcissistic to think you know what’s best for anybody but couching it as helping them at least creates the impression of nobility and avoids the associated cognitive dissonance.

    LO #2 had an affinity for cheaters. Her father allegedly was in an open affair and 4 of 6 of her failed relationships I knew of involved her cheating with a married/committed man or being cheated on. It informed her world view.

    LO #4 never met a narcissist she didn’t try to rehabilitate. According to her, her father was a narcissist and cheated on her mother. She has a series of failed relationships and said she spent 7 years with her most recent, allegedly cheating, narcissist. She could spot a narc a mile away but they could play her like a piano. It was like watching a trout rise to fly.

    One similarity between codependence and limerence is all it takes to blossom is someone who fits your profile and affords you an opportunity, opportunity being the big driver. No opportunity equates to no reciprocation which equates to no crystallization.

    The problem is no one coming out of adolescents will have any clue about any of this. They won’t know what they’re vulnerable to until they they encounter the right threat, after which, if they seek help at all, they won’t address the real drivers. They’ll try to be happy withing a fundamentally dysfunctional relationship.

    It’s no wonder there are so many unhappy people. What’s amazing is there are as many happy people as there are.

    Like

  2. Is there a connection between “fixing”, “rescuing” or “tinkering” as a way to downplay or delay examining one’s own shortcomings or difficulties? All that energy spent advising, guiding and rescuing could have been directed on oneself instead. Or maybe shared more equitably.

    Plus if you find merit in Karpman’s Drama Triangle, to rescue someone puts you in a position of some power. If you aren’t a victim, you’re less likely to need, want or appreciate being rescued. Or “tinkered” by an emotional partner.

    Thoughts on a rainy day.

    Like

    • Absolutely yes, to your first question. I think the drama triangle is a powerful way of recognising that all parties are both caught in, and contributing to, a pathological set of relationships.

      The potency of the rescue fantasy comes from an urgent emotional need in the limerent to “save” someone. It isn’t a beneficent, selfless drive, it is a strong personal craving that gives a neurophysiological high when satisfied. Quite why the drive to save is so emotionally fulfilling is not directly obvious, but it’s almost certainly based on some deeply embedded psychological trait(s) in the rescuer. We could speculate all day on how much of that is nature and how much nurture (quick answer: it’s obviously both in a big old messy tangle), but it is also a very effective way to avoid doing the hard work of looking to “save” oneself.

      Like

    • “Quite why the drive to save is so emotionally fulfilling is not directly obvious”

      Oh, I don’t know. It’s a hell of an ego boost. To be so much more competent and capable than another person. To swoop in and save the day! To put them on the path to (success, happiness, maybe even adoration of their hero or heroine) is heady stuff.

      Plus to have your opinions and experience not merely valued, but cherished. Very intoxicating.

      A great way to avoid doing the heavy lifting within one’s own mind and soul, plus it comes with KIBBLES (credit to Chump Lady)!

      Like

    • For me, I was pursuing an emotionally corrective experience with my LOs.

      In “The best cure for limerence.” DrL says, “I have only ever become limerent for “damsels in distress”. Specifically, women who are bold and confident on the outside, but hiding an emotional wound within. I don’t fully understand why,…” In the same locale, he and I may have been chasing the same women.

      For me, the “emotional wound” was unhappiness. I don’t remember my mother ever being happy. She went through 3 marriages, 1 kid (me), and died of an apparent accidental overdose of placyidyls and alchohol. The grandmother who raised me installed the “bold and confident on the outside” filter. I don’t remember her ever saying anything positive about my mother (or any of her daughters inlaw for that matter).

      I don’t know if LO #1 was unhappy but she had a “yearning undefined” (thanks, Don Henley). LO #2 had an almost pathological aversion to happiness. I told her shortly after I met her that if she didn’t get a handle on that, she had the potential to go through life as a very unhappy person. At our last meeting, she brought it up. The last thing I remember her saying to me was, “I hate you for that.”

      LO #3 was very similar to LO #2, right down to a claimed abortion. But, since that never went anywhere, I can only speculate as to how she turned out.

      With LO #4, I could sense it. After one email, she asked, “What do I telegraph to you?” With my filters, she was a Jumbotron. I could see it. When things collapsed for her, she corroborated my suspicions.

      The source of my attraction was the primary focus of therapy for me. When we were discussing it, I told the therapist I can spot an unhappy woman. She came back with, “Not all of them.” As much as I wanted to pull that string, I didn’t.

      We discussed emotionally corrective experiences. The therapist was pretty savvy. She said if my goal was to make another woman stop crying and contribute to her happiness in a way I wasn’t able to for my mother, based on what LO #4 said, I succeeded. She said now that I’d done it, I could quit now and I didn’t need to associate with the LO, anymore.
      Maintaining a relationship with the LO would no longer contribute to the goal and would make my life worse.

      It took awhile to sink in but she was right.

      For me, it was never about ego.

      Like

  3. ” I don’t remember my mother ever being happy. She went through 3 marriages, 1 kid (me), and died of an apparent accidental overdose of placyidyls and alchohol.”

    “She said if my goal was to make another woman stop crying and contribute to her happiness in a way I wasn’t able to for my mother, based on what LO #4 said, I succeeded. She said now that I’d done it, I could quit now and I didn’t need to associate with the LO, anymore.”

    How is that not about ego? You were powerless to make your mother happy as a child, you were able to make another woman happy/less unhappy as an adult.

    I’m overlooking something here.

    Like

    • Somebody else had to explain to me that I’d met the goal. I didn’t even know what I was trying to achieve.

      I didn’t swoop in and save anybody from anything. I wasn’t any more competent than they were. I just knew I’d seen it before and went into auto.

      It wasn’t heady. There’s always a payoff to anybody who’s in this kind of relationship. I like to think that I contributed to their happiness or at least didn’t detract from it but with them, it’s moot.

      Like

    • My thoughts on this: the emotional satisfaction isn’t because of an ego boost (“I’m so competent and wise I can fix anyone”), but because at a deep level you need relief from being around someone that you care about who is unhappy.

      It’s not selfless and it’s not egotistic, it’s more like… really wanting to help the person who is triggering your limerence symptoms recognise their worth, and see how much you value them. At one level that could be seen as being about ego, but the sensation of emotional fulfilment is very different from pride, or triumph, or superiority, or other more egotistic drives. It’s closer to the happiness that comes from helping others.

      Like

  4. “… really wanting to help the person who is triggering your limerence symptoms recognise their worth, and see how much YOU value them.” (Emphasis mine)

    “It’s closer to the happiness that comes from helping others.”

    Okay…but it’s someone whose good opinion you want and value because you want an intimate relationship with them. Or you want more of the dopamine surge you get from being around them.

    That sounds more like the ploy of a Nice Guy ™. A stratagem, if you will.

    Women don’t want nice guys. In my experience, with friends, partners, and other interactions, they like *KIND* guys. The difference is a subtle one, but it’s important.

    ‘Niceness’ is a set of completely superficial behaviors that boils down to ‘being inoffensive.’ Someone can be a ‘nice asshole’ just as easily as a caustic asshole. Niceness also comes along for the ride with kindness in many cases, but is motivated by genuine care for others regardless of how it ‘pays off.'”

    My experience has been that most of the deeply embittered ‘nice guys’ are just as self-centered as the jerks they gripe about; they just don’t have the balls to weather rejection from healthy women while playing the numbers game, hitting on women until one responds favorably.

    If your goal is to ‘get’ a girl, and you’re trying to accomplish it by being a nice guy, you are being very inefficient. If your goal is to form long-lasting relationships with people you care about, and possibly have a romantic relationship with them, well, kindness is a quality to cultivate.

    It’s about motivation, really.”

    Now, that may not be the motivation behind what either of you were doing, but it does bear some thought. Would other SO’s of limerents have viewed it as being entirely altruistic, or is there the possibility they would view it as greasing the skids for a comfy exit into the warm embrace of another?

    It could be both, but as limerence so often has a sexual or pair-bonding component, it’s usually better to play the odds.

    That is why Mr. Lee spent months taking off his glasses so he couldn’t see his LO clearly, sitting at a distance and keeping contact to a minimum. He saw himself rushing to get her a pen (which she was perfectly capable of doing herself) when she mentioned in passing needing to go grab one. With other co-workers, he would have loaned someone his, but not gone out of his way to get one. So yes, motivation and intent matter.

    He’s said that he is relieved that she’s moved on. He didn’t like behaving like a love-struck adolescent, or feeling like one at this point in his life. That he has to stop looking for endless amounts of validation from others outside of himself. That is really hard to do, as I know. But he’s doing well.

    Like

    • I think I understand what you mean. That there is, as a subtext, a dishonest motive driving the desire to “rescue”. I don’t exactly disagree, but to an extent that argument could be applied to any behaviour that makes someone feel good. “Ah well, you got your dopamine hit so you’re being selfish really.”

      I’m not trying to pretend that there is some noble basis to the limerent urge to rescue. As you say, there is undeniable sexual and romantic interest. However, the sensation as experienced is not like the sensation of a strategem paying off or a clever ploy moving you ahead in your plan to seduce LO. It is a deeper feeling of relief and… rightness/fulfilment [hard to articulate] even if it comes from unconscious drives that are pushing you to pair-bond.

      Curious analogy with the Nice Guy stereotype. Have to think on that one. While I’ve never thought of myself as a nice guy (too direct), and Sharnhorst certainly doesn’t strike me as one :), it may be that some Nice Guys are frustrated limerents trying to rescue their way into their LO’s affections…

      Glad to hear that Mr Lee is doing well.

      Like

    • “However, the sensation as experienced is not like the sensation of a strategem paying off or a clever ploy moving you ahead in your plan to seduce LO. It is a deeper feeling of relief and… rightness/fulfilment [hard to articulate] even if it comes from unconscious drives that are pushing you to pair-bond.”

      I was clumsy in my earlier reply. I don’t think that either you or Scharnhorst are deliberately employing a strategy, but it doesn’t hurt to think about whether or not it’s running in the background. It may not be, of course. But one way to test the theory is to ask yourself how you felt if the LO didn’t express a suitable appreciation for you, or wasn’t appreciative enough. This is like quicksand, isn’t it? The more I flounder around trying to get a nuance across, the deeper in it I go.

      Yes, we have some upcoming events that I hope will deliver more pleasure than not. Even good things are stressful, after all.

      I hope you and the rest of the Dr. Limerence family are also doing well and looking forward to springtime fun.

      Like

  5. ” But one way to test the theory is to ask yourself how you felt if the LO didn’t express a suitable appreciation for you, or wasn’t appreciative enough. ”

    If you, look at Dr. Ls’s blog, “What is limerence?”, #2 in the list of Tenov’s traits is “An acute need for reciprocation of equally strong feeling.” Lack of reciprocation is a factor in the extinguishing of limerence. But, it still leaves you a limerent. In that respect, limerence is always running in the background. It may go into remission but unless you deal with the root issues, find the right threat and fires right back up. All it takes is the person to fit your particular LO profile and afford you an opportunity and you’re off to the limerent races.

    Based on what was happening in my life at the time, I was aware my LO profile was active. I was thinking about the decision I’d made to cut off LO #2 25 years earlier. Then I encountered LO #4 and had my first LE in over two decades. When I was working with the therapist, who said I was co-dependent, I said that was ironic since I’d never actually met that woman. It was all done via email and PM. In that respect, we had an almost 19th century relationship. The therapist said, “The woman wasn’t aware of the role she played.” There was a game going on but I was the only one playing it.

    There are universal threats and conditional threats. Snake venom affects pretty much everybody. Bees are only a threat if you’re allergic to them. LOs are conditional threats. If you’re allergic to bees, you probably want to avoid honey farms. If you understand the “glimmer,” you should have more than enough warning to avoid trouble. There are ways to learn if you’re allergic to bees before being stung by one but that’s not how most people learn they’re allergic to bees. Limerent experiences can often be just as unpleasant.

    I didn’t go into therapy to learn about threats, I went into therapy to understand my vulnerabilities. I’d like to think I’m no longer limerent but there is absolutely no upside in trying to test that. I think the work I’ve done has removed the primary driver. I think I’d still detect the glimmer but, at the moment, I don’t think it of it as something to consciously avoid.

    Bold, confident damsels in distress harboring terrible wounds don’t seem to fascinate me like they used to.

    Like

  6. I just wanted to say what a great and relevant post this is, and the same for the comments afterwards. As i’ve mentioned before I’m in the same boat with my LO in that I’m in the white knight role at work and I’ve saved her (career wise). We’ve now become close and I’m her confidant with certain home issues. The other day we’d spent a long time talking about her current dilemma and later that evening I texted her an idea. She didn’t respond until the following day (yesterday) and it was just a couple of words and just before she was due to see me at work anyway.

    I’m not sure why but it really triggered a reaction in me. I was so irritated that she didn’t seem to appreciate the time and effort I put into her, both personally and professionally. She still has this kind of teenage “too cool for school” attitude and began thinking about all the other ways she appears to take our relationship and the things I’ve done for granted.

    So Lee’s comment: “But one way to test the theory is to ask yourself how you felt if the LO didn’t express a suitable appreciation for you, or wasn’t appreciative enough” was particularly apt. That’s exactly my feeling now. She’s not been appreciate enough. So this is more about me than her….

    Like

    • This is a great opportunity Vincent. Remember how you feel now: irritated at her lack of response and her “too cool” attitude, and possibly a little foolish for investing so much into her problems. Really steep yourself in that sensation. Associate it with LO.

      Next time she comes on strong, remember how you felt now and try and summon it again. It’s a very good countermeasure to the elation that can rise up when LO is more responsive.

      Like

      • Well 4 days on and I still feel the same. I haven’t been able to shake off the irritation. What is strange is that I know I’ve blown the actual incident out of proportion but also know it’s an undercurrent of the relationship and indeed limerence in general. Does she appreciate me and everything I’ve done for her? Or I guess the real underlying question… does she like me? When you get information that suggests the answers are no, you take it hard.

        I’ve barely spoken to her since and there’s been none of the prolonged eye contact, personal chat or making fun of each other. She’s not really tried to break the ice either as she’s probably a bit confused. I think it’s a good opportunity to reset the relationship and make it more professional from here onwards. Part of the staged withdrawal.

        Like

  7. “I’m not sure why but it really triggered a reaction in me. I was so irritated that she didn’t seem to appreciate the time and effort I put into her, both personally and professionally. She still has this kind of teenage “too cool for school” attitude and began thinking about all the other ways she appears to take our relationship and the things I’ve done for granted.”

    The reason it triggered a reaction was you invested time and effort in her. I put a lot of effort into LO #2. The nicest thing she ever said to me was, “You taught me how to stand up for myself and I’m grateful to you for that.” This is going to sound really egotistical but she thrived when I had her back. When I cut her loose, she went back to her old affinity for cheaters.

    She was engaged within a year after I got married to her successor. Her marriage lasted less than 3 years. When I heard about it, I was actually angry at her. I wanted to ask her, “After all the time and effort I put into you, this is how you pay me back? 5 years together and you didn’t learn a damn thing.”

    I totally get that reaction.

    I just found out LO #2 is at least engaged, possibly remarried. Maybe she did learn something after all.

    Like

  8. @scharnhorst – yes I’ve been thinking about that a lot, rehearsing the conversation as usual. I’m torn between telling her (most of) the truth, I.e. I’m annoyed because I put so much into you and get so little back, and the second option being “yes I’m annoyed but don’t want to talk about it”. I can’t say no, that she’s not done anything wrong.

    Like

    • “I’m torn between telling her (most of) the truth, I.e. I’m annoyed because I put so much into you and get so little back,”

      Exactly what did you expect her to give you? She is going to ask.

      “I can’t say no, that she’s not done anything wrong.”

      Professionally, what did she do wrong?

      Like

    • “I’m torn between telling her (most of) the truth, I.e. I’m annoyed because I put so much into you and get so little back, and the second option being “yes I’m annoyed but don’t want to talk about it”. I can’t say no, that she’s not done anything wrong.”

      Option 1 would be like sticking the gun in your mouth and pulling the trigger. Option 2 comes across as petulant.

      She doesn’t owe you appreciation or affection. It’s nice when you get it but it wasn’t part of the deal. You imposed that on her.

      Circling back to, “Or I guess the real underlying question… does she like me? ” I’ll ask you the same question the therapist asked me when I expressed a similar opinion.

      “What would you do with that knowledge if you had it?” The therapist pushed into, “Would you be willing to sacrifice your marriage to pursue her?” I said I wouldn’t. The therapist said, in that case, I didn’t need to know.

      Like

      • I don’t want to go into specifics but I have put a lot into her professionally, given her an opportunity for a career that others wouldn’t have, and been there for her through a lot a personal stuff. There are flickers of recognition from time to time but her actions suggest she’s not grasping the opportunity and she appears to take me for granted. The latter is my limerence kicking in for sure but the former is pretty objective. Both are entangled in my mind though, and I’m having trouble divorcing one from the other.

        Like

      • You assumed risk in giving her the opportunity. Don’t compound it by trying to get her to grasp it and appreciate you for it.

        It’s frustrating to see someone squander an opportunity, especially when you gave it to them. You have a few decades on her. It’s not surprising she doesn’t see things the way you do. Intelligence doesn’t equate to wisdom. Someone can be really savvy in one are and completely naive in another. Toss in that we all have baggage. The older we get the more we tend to accumulate but everybody has something.

        In that respect, you may be lucky. If she knows at her age what you know at yours, she could be looking down your throat.

        Like

  9. Option #1 reads like an EOC suit (or #metoo).

    Option #2 sounds sulky, entitled and fodder for laughter at lunch. Or while having dinner with her friends.

    I’d be more concerned with whether or not you respect one another. If you put either scenario into play you may lose respect from more people than LO.

    She is supposed to separate from you, go forth and be successful. That is how you find out if you were a good mentor or not.

    Like

      • I’d say a good option #3 would be to recognise that this situation is beginning to turn sour, that that is actually a good thing for you, and to plan for a graceful staged detachment that leaves everyone on good terms.

        You’ve done a lot for her, some of it warranted, some of it partly driven by limerence, but it adds up to a positive overall benefit for both of you. Expecting more now is likely to be unrealistic – not least because you now see how limerence has been distorting your judgement of both the positive (your high regard for her abilities) and negative (your resentment at her ingratitude) aspects of the dynamic.

        I don’t think there is all that much value in planning ahead for rehearsed conversations. My experience was that they never went the way I expected anyway, so all the rumination beforehand was futile. Just focus on where you want to get to (emotional disentanglement but on good terms) and act with that goal in mind. If she asks “is everything alright?” you can say “Yes, I think everything will work out fine,” or similar as that is a sincere expression of what you are working for, rather than a judgement on her (or your) past behaviour.

        And definitely cut back (eventually to zero) on the evening and weekend texting. She is pushing boundaries – you know it, your limerent brain likes it, and it’s keeping you hooked. A chance to exercise your discipline muscles…

        Like

    • Treat in the same manner you would a subordinate you took under your wing for whom you do NOT have the hots.

      You overextended yourself to her. You are the mature adult with the skills and contacts she wishes to develop. She doesn’t owe you slobbering gratitude. You gambled that she would be forever in your debt and it would led to…something. It didn’t. Thus means there is a lesson in it for you, not pettiness for her.

      If you feel she led you on, well, you are not single. You should not be playing this game with an unmarried woman in whom you have too much interest.

      Dial it back. Be a mentor, not an aging Lothario.

      Have you mentored others? I think you have. If they did fine, revert to that. Don’t be frosty with her because you didn’t get what you wanted emotionally. It will reflect badly on you.

      Like

      • “As i’ve mentioned before I’m in the same boat with my LO in that I’m in the white knight role at work and I’ve saved her (career wise). We’ve now become close and I’m her confidante with certain home issues.”

        “Does she appreciate me and everything I’ve done for her? Or I guess the real underlying question… does she like me?”

        “I was so irritated that she didn’t seem to appreciate the time and effort I put into her, both personally and professionally. She still has this kind of teenage “too cool for school” attitude and began thinking about all the other ways she appears to take our relationship and the things I’ve done for granted.”

        Yes. Look at it from the point of view of someone who is 15 – 25 years younger than yourself. Even 10 years can loom large at times.

        What would YOU have said about the ‘old’ married man who was behaving like this? (You are married, I think. At any rate, you’ve stated that she has a boyfriend and you are otherwise attached as well.)

        I remember what a lot of women in their 20’s had to say about married men who are 35+ years old who were just a little too interested in their careers, their lives, etc. It’s not very flattering.

        Your irritation is a good thing. It means on some level you know you’ve gone too far. You’ve mentored others in the past – right? If they’ve moved on and done well for themselves then you did right by them. Revert to form. You gave away what she needed to earn and that wasn’t a wise decision but it’s not her fault that you did so.

        If she is as capable as you think she is (otherwise why would you take her under your wing initially), she will be fine. She may even appreciate being treated more like the other young/new employees.

        Like

    • You seem to be under the misapprehension that I’m some sort of Harvey Weinstein character. This is a two way relationship. She initiates text conversations a night, weekends and when either of us is on vacation. She’s the one that holds eye contact for longer than normal and tells me personal things. Life isn’t as clear cut as it seems from behind your keyboard unfortunately.

      Like

      • You are in a position of greater power and authority. Think – a professor and a co-ed, or a PI and a post-doc. Both may be legal age but one wields a great deal more clout.

        You can back away from this without losing face with her and in the workplace but you can’t continue to tell yourself that you didn’t bend the social norms quite a bit to her benefit because you were limerent for her. You are better than this.

        “Like Dr L I’m a bloke, married, I have 2 kids, hitting that middle age and I’ve fallen massively for a (much) younger coworker. It’s probably been a year now and I’ve been struggling to understand and justify my feelings.”

        “The coworker reports to me, she’s nearly half my age, and she’s beautiful, funny, sharp and makes fun of me – all big triggers of mine.”

        “I’ve not disclosed to anyone. My wife has noticed me being distant and knows LO #2 is there and sees her as a threat. I’m hoping to deal with it so as not to hurt her. If I had to put money on it I’d say LO #2 was mutually limerant, but she’s so young and knows I’m married with kids that she’s probably put it down to a crush. She’s likely got daddy issues and I’ve been playing that type of role. But no-one looks at me like she does, and she texts me at the weekends, on holiday etc. I’m more than a boss to her. Anyway I can’t disclose to her because if I’m wrong it’s an HR disaster and I’ve blown up everything.”

        “Nothing has happened between us, it’s all been very slow and subtle but there’s a connection there no doubt. —–> We’ve acknowledged that much as people at work have commented and asked whether something is going on.” <———–

        "My decision making at work is being affected"

        "Yes, we have counselling services available and I may well use them."

        "I’m one of the most senior, high profile people at my firm and she’s one of the most junior."

        "I have given her a better job than her CV would reasonably justify. Is that because I thought she was hot? No, because she’s good and underestimated by everyone else because she’s young, blonde and pretty (white knight to the rescue). I do admit that I only found this out because I was attracted to her in the first place and spent a lot of time with her however…."

        Mark
        July 28, 2018 at 5:06 am

        Have you followed Mark's advice to the letter? You can do this but it's gone on so long that you really have to back away at a steady pace and bear the burden of your hurt feelings without lashing out at her. Without projecting that she is some sort of succubus. You are not a victim. You are an adult, a successful professional and now you should consider how you are going to extricate yourself from a potentially very messy situation. If you are too abrupt or rude to her, she may go to HR and there is a possibility of her citing hostile work conditions. Which wouldn't reflect well on you.

        You've guided others in the past to successful careers. You can do the same with her if you review what you did and did not do for them. It's okay to stick with tried and true, particularly now. I do hope you've stopped trying to justify your feelings for and about her.

        This is exactly why dealers get changed out at the blackjack tables. Whether you get them to feel warmly towards you or hostile, you've gotten to them and they need to be rotated out so they don't give any sort of signals to the players. Your feelings about her are affecting your judgment. What can you do to lower the heat so you're not boiling over with limerence or devaluating her?

        Like

      • Lee, I don’t think Vincent needs his own words quoted back to him. None of us know the full reality of the situation he is in from the fragments of information we read. You have a settled view on the situation, which you have expressed clearly. I’m sure there are lots of women in their twenties who have opinions about older men who show an interest in their careers. Just as there are many men in their forties who have plenty of opinions about twenty-something women who flirt to gain advantage and then act all outraged if questioned.

        The point of this site is not to confront people with what we perceive to be their shortcomings. The point is to help them understand the situation they are in and how they can productively improve it. Let’s keep focused on the constructive stuff and away from the “ageing lothario” insults.

        Like

  10. Lee – why do you quote my own words back at me? I know what they say, I wrote them! You haven’t caught me out, I’m not your husband, I’m on a limerence blog looking for help with my limerence. Those are all my thoughts and feelings, laid out. I know I’ve bent social norms, I’ve said so, I know I need to remove my self from the situation – I’ve said that too. I’m not trying to justify anything, I’m not painting myself as a victim, I’m just trying to figure this out. I will defend myself at being referred to as an aging lothario however. Would your comments be different if I was called Vanessa?

    What I can’t do is do what I’ve done with other people I’ve mentored before because I wasn’t limerent for them!! That’s literally the whole point!!!! This isn’t normal, this isn’t something I’ve experienced before, the logical answers aren’t the right ones because this is a very complicated situation and limerence isn’t logical. And yes Mark’s advice was excellent and something I’m attempting.

    Like

    • If you keep poking yourself in the foot – drop the staff. You focus on your current feelings but not what you are doing to minimize their effect. That is why I suggest reviewing how you mentored previous people. It worked – right?

      This is also a big weakness with therapy. So much rehashing – so little emphasis on doing something differently.

      No, you aren’t my husband. He brought it up early and addressed it directly. So he’s not in the same predicament, or worse, a year or more later. YMMV.

      Like

      • Lee, this is a “having the last word” response.
        I appreciate that feelings run high on this, but a central principle of this blog is that it is intended to help limerents. I do not want anyone to regret posting personal material that is honest (even if it opens them up to criticism). Please lay off the point-scoring.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s