When to disclose

In a previous post, I described disclosure as the nuclear option for getting rid of limerence. While obviously jokey, it is true that disclosure has the potential to really blow up your life in a big way. If it doesn’t – if you disclose but your relationship with LO drifts back to the same pattern of confusing friendship-but-also-some-intimacy that characterises the typical limerence experience – then I’m sorry to break it to you, but your LO is a git. Seriously, would anyone of integrity let a relationship that they knew meant so much to you drift along in limbo? They are either a narc or a coward, and you should avoid people like that if you want a fulfilling life.

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Empowered limerents of the world unite!

Anyway. Where was I? Oh, yes, disclosure.

Many limerents want to disclose. Powerfully want to. They want LO to know how special they think they are. They hope that LO will feel excited and gratified by the knowledge, they want LO to reciprocate, and they want their shared intimacy to advance to a deeper level. They may also want to make a show of the fact that they trust LO with such personal and potentially explosive information. Basically selfish wishes (and probably largely subconscious), but understandable in the madness of consuming desire and actually fine in many circumstances. Sometimes, though, such wishes should be resisted. Disclosure is the best tool for ending the uncertainty, but it isn’t by any means a discreet or elegant tool. So, when is disclosure a good idea, and when is it a bad idea?

There’s a lot to say about this issue, so this will be a post in two parts. It’s a lovely sunny day in the part of the world that I’m currently relaxing, so let’s start with the good:

You are free to act on your feelings if they are reciprocated

If you and LO are single, and you want to start a relationship, then disclosure is a good idea. If LO is equivocal about you, then that is important to know. If they give a non-committal response, it’s a good idea to make a clear statement, like “OK, thanks. If it’s OK with you, let’s not hang out for a while, while you think about how you feel. Get back to me once you’ve thought it through.” Then assume it’s a no, and be pleasantly surprised if they instead come back for more.

The psychology behind this is straightforward: LO is likely to feel a bit weird about your company straight after disclosure. Giving them space to process it is likely to work in your favour. If they are definitely not interested in you, that gives them time to come up with excuses about not seeing you any more, which, while undeniably painful, is actually much better for you than staying limerent for a non-reciprocating friend. If they haven’t really thought about you romantically before, but find you attractive, then disclosure can work in your favour by making them start to think of you romantically. Knowing that someone fancies you is quite an effective aphrodisiac for many people. Finally, if the response was lukewarm, you’ve made yourself the perfect excuse for going no contact. Do not get in touch with them again, unless they get back to you after thinking it through and want to get it on.

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Of course, if LO is limerent for you too, then no such sophistication is needed

You want to know how they feel but are getting mixed messages

Another scenario is that LO is emotionally evasive or seems conflicted, or blows hot and cold. I’ve cautioned before about why this is the most reinforcing behaviour that an LO can exhibit, and that it is rarely a good sign that you’ve started to bond with a good match. Nevertheless, some folks just have trouble clearly expressing themselves, so disclosure is the best way of deciding the issue for them. If you’re slipping into limerent reverie but can’t tell for sure if they are interested in you, then it’s time to stop the guessing games for the sake of your own sanity. Deep breath. Courage. Disclose and find out.

If they continue to give mixed messages or keep you hanging, then you have learned what kind of character they have. They are either chronically indecisive or enjoy the asymmetry of the relationship. Avoid people like that. Now, some people may see this as overly hasty, and point out that many people react badly to being rushed or given an ultimatum when it comes to love. But you’re not asking for a ring, you’re just expressing your own feelings and asking about theirs. If that’s too much for them, then you’re trying to bond to someone who can’t even commit to admitting their own feelings. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect such a person to make their mind up.

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AKA piss or get off the pot

You think they will not reciprocate, but you want the limerence to end

A counsel of despair this one, and rather like pulling a plaster off quickly. If you are trapped in limerent limbo with a non-reciprocating LO and want out, disclosure should mean that you cut off your source of supply. Remove the plaster covering over your festering fake friendship, and expose everything to the light of day. Then you have the perfect reason for no contact, and they will probably be fine with that, now they know how you feel. Again, if they seek to continue or deepen your relationship after you have disclosed and they have rejected you, you should have grave reservations about their motives and protect yourself by maintaining no contact.

Overall, how your LO responds to disclosure will tell you an awful lot about them. If they reciprocate and admit their limerence for you, then you are going to be blissfully happy for a while. Lucky you! If they bluntly rebuff you, they are straightforward but uninterested, and you can at least part on honest terms (don’t underestimate how helpful that is for recovery). If they are interested, but hesitant, and decide to try a relationship out and see how it goes, you have probably just discovered that your LO is a non-limerent. That’s fine. Lots of splendid non-limerents in the world who could be excellent partners, but recognise the implications of that for how the relationship is likely to develop, and have realistic expectations. Finally, if they do not give you a clear answer, and want things to carry on as they were, run away as fast as you can. Do not try to be friends with that person. Do not torture yourself. Run, and free yourself to find someone better for you.

 

10 thoughts on “When to disclose

  1. “Remove the plaster covering over your festering fake friendship, and expose everything to the light of day.”

    I was up late & had to get up early, so I may have misinterpreted this post entirely. If someone who is limerent for another pursues a romantic goal behind the tower shield of “I just want to be your friend”, then isn’t the limerent the ‘faker’ rather than the LO? I know there are LO’s who simply enjoy stringing smitten potential lovers along (and they are stinkers for doing so), but is there any reason to be bitter or upset with a LO who doesn’t want a romantic relationship if your own motives were hidden (worst case) or unclear?

    Of course there are lovely relationships that start between two friends, but if one person is in it with an unstated goal from the beginning, it’s a bit much to accuse the LO of being duplicitous.

    As I mentioned, I’m tired so this may not have been the thrust of this post at all.

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    • He may be referring to the strategy I used disclosure for. It’s in “How to get rid of limerence.” I think that may have been my first post on this site. The idea was by disclosing, we couldn’t use the “just friends” excuse, anymore.

      I thought she’d shut me down but she didn’t. From the time I disclosed until she said goodbye was about 9 months. As bad as it sounds, I think I would have tried to find a way to keep it alive as long as she let me. When she said, “I don’t think continuing to correspond would be appropriate,” she put me in a double bind and effectively checkmated me. I either agree with her and say goodbye or try to convince her she’s wrong when she wasn’t and go deeper into an emotional affair. I wasn’t going to destroy my marriage for her and I don’t think she would have retained any respect for me if I had. When I worked for her, she said she valued my honesty and integrity. She also wasn’t stupid. If she could turn my loyalty to my wife, some other woman could turn my loyalty to her.

      What I found so compelling that I was willing to walk a line that I knew I shouldn’t have been walking at all took about 6 sessions with the therapist to figure out.

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    • My interpretation – admittedly clouded by my current situation – is that yes the faker is the limerent, trying to kid themselves they’re just friends whereas the LO may genuinely perceive it that way. No bitterness towards the LO intended, but the limerent just needs to get out of limbo. The conflict for me is in my head between the rational part that can see the situation for what it is, and the bit I really want to lose, which keeps popping in hope for what should never be.

      Sorry if I don’t make sense!

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      • There’s a great article on Thought Catalog, “Can A Man And A Woman Really Have A Platonic Relationship?” It says that if you have to put up boundaries or alter your feelings it’s not a platonic relationship. By those criteria, it wasn’t platonic for me once LO #4 started opening up to me. I saw where it was going and I wasn’t able to fake it so I disclosed.

        When I disclosed to LO #4, her response was, “I had no idea. I’m flattered and, under different circumstances, might even be curious. But, circumstances are what they are.”

        At that point, by maintaining the relationship, she went from unwitting to complicit.

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    • You know, Lee, re-reading the post I did seem to be in a bit of a grump (despite the sunny weather)!

      The notion of the “festering friendship” is probably a bit strong, but the idea is that limerents are often self-deceiving and pretend that LO is a friend like any other, and make noble statements about “not wanting to ruin a friendship” by disclosure, when they really mean “I don’t want to risk losing access to LO”. That’s when disclosure can be a purposeful and honest act – remove the pretense of friendship and settle the issue. Get yourself out of limbo, and see how LO reacts.

      But clearly, the grumpy undertone to the post is about LO’s who listen to the disclosure and make some sort of ambiguous response, wanting to keep the limerent around for selfish reasons of their own (e.g. they like the attention). That’s a festering friendship too.

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  2. I may come off as phony, but for me, disclosure wasn’t an option. Too cowardly to do that. Instead I wrote a long text at night saying why we couldn’t stay friends any longer because of broken trust blah blah. She texted back in the morning with a “fuck you” and blocked me. She later showed all the intimate texts that I had sent her to my mutual friends. Lost all of my social circle in one fall sweep.

    We did meet a week later by chance and I apologized for the way I broke up with her.
    Later that night she unblocked me on phone even though I had not asked her to. No contact for 3 days now. I plan to stick to my part of the deal.

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    • That does sound like a bit of a toxic dynamic, Severus. No contract seems a good plan.
      Interesting point about sending a text – I guess that does count as disclosure, although maybe yours was more confrontational that confessional? The email dump to mutual friends is another reminder that things can go wrong very quickly once relationships break down. One of the reasons I would always advocate for focussing on yourself, your own limerence issues, and what purposeful steps you can take as stage one. You can never truly predict the actions of an LO (and certainly can’t control them).

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    • That sounds gut-wrenching, Severus. How very unkind of her.

      “Later that night she unblocked me on phone even though I had not asked her to. No contact for 3 days now.”

      Shouldn’t you block her number? Don’t rely upon her to do what you wish her to do. Do it for yourself.

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    • Best of luck, severus. She really doesn’t seem to have your best interests at heart. I think ‘no contact’ is the way to go here.

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  3. Good luck!

    It possible that it might get worse before it gets better. Under no circumstances should you be alone with her. Don’t be surprised if she shows up at your door. If she leaves you alone for 4-6 weeks, you should be ok.

    It might also help to start establishing an electronic alibi. Use that debit/credit card to buy things like coffee, several times/day.

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