Displacement activities

A question from the postbag:

What I wanted to ask is whether you think other activities might be helpful as a replacement or as some sort of therapy? One therapist suggested to me that perhaps I needed other hormone-high activities — ocean swimming, sky diving, etc — to replace the ‘addiction high’ of the limerence/crushing/obsessive phase.

It’s a good one.

The idea is certainly appealing – work yourself into a “high arousal” state through a new hobby or sport, in order to break the link between excitement and LO, and establish a new hyper-stimulus with an LO-free activity.

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Woop!

I can’t speak from experience on this one. I never attempted thrill-seeking as a strategy to break the limerence.

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Unless you count having an extra scone with afternoon tea

One thing that did help, which is along the same lines in some ways, was to make an effort to have more new and stimulating experiences with my family – to make my life richer by linking newness to my “old” life, rather than letting all the novelty come from LO. Success was mixed.

As the limerence was fading, it worked well. I laid down happy new memories and felt more positive about life (and purposeful). But when the limerence was bad almost all activities were invaded by thoughts of “I wonder if LO would enjoy this,” or “I wonder what LO is doing now”, or “I can’t wait to tell LO about this.” That experience was actually one of the key triggers for me realising that I was out of control and needed to take urgent action to try and stop the limerence. I was tainting quality time with my loved ones.

So my gut feeling is that it’s likely to be complicated. If you have made the purposeful decision to leave LO behind and embark on that new, better life you like the idea of, then it’s a definitely worth a try. However, if you are still in the depths of your limerence, then it may just be more experiences that will become linked in your monomanic obsessive mind with “things you are doing while thinking about LO”.

The instincts of my guts are not always to be trusted, though, so what does everyone else think? Has anyone tried this as a strategy? Help, hindrance or meh?

Enquiring minds want to know…

When LOs return

My LO is coming back.

For professional reasons, we are going to be working on a project together for a few weeks. I thought about declining the job. I also thought about the implications of making professionally reckless decisions on the basis of my own personal hangups. I looked at my responsibilities, and decided on balance to take it on and work together again for mutual benefit.

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It’s safe to ride these things, right?

I then scrutinised myself carefully for rationalisations, and then had a good laugh about how much more seriously I’m taking all this since starting the blog. So, I think I’ll be fine, but shields up just in case.

When LOs come back into our lives unexpectedly, it’s bound to be a challenge. Regular readers will know that I’m very sceptical about the possibility of being friends with an LO. Whatever it is about them that resonates so strongly with you is not going to just conveniently go away. Even No Contact, for all its virtues , is not guaranteed protection against limerence; a remembered encounter, an unexpected dream, a Facebook mugging – all can set you back. So how can you protect yourself when LO bursts back into life? How will I protect myself over the coming month?

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Ready for anything

1) No personal stuff

Friendliness is fine. Friendship is unrealistic. The more you share about your life and your feelings with LO, the more you will strengthen the bond. I don’t mean being a humourless robot, but when the conversation drifts towards personal issues, I’m going to try and artfully steer it away again. A good rule of thumb is that sharing information is fine, sharing feelings is risky.

2) I am not a counsellor

I kind of have this drive to want to help people in emotional distress. I’m probably hiding it well behind this clever disguise of a blog that I’ve been writing all about emotional distress, but, shockingly, I do seem to have the empathy gene. For all its virtues, empathy has its downsides – and is partly rooted in a complicated muddle of selfish andĀ altruistic subconscious urges. Given that, a guiding principle is that any impulse to try and intervene to help LO sort out their emotional problems is to be resisted. Helping people is good, but not at the cost of compromising your own emotional stability.

3) I would like this to end well

For all the difficulties caused by my limerence, and for all the blame that can be shared around generously between LO and me, I would like the whole experience to end well. I still care about LO and her wellbeing, and I wish her a long and happy life. I enjoy her company, and don’t want to see her as an enemy just because I enjoy it a bit too much at times. So, adopting a mindful pose before the next interaction should be to the benefit of everyone involved. No alarms and no surprises.

This cautiously optimistic attitude should be modified for anyone with an actively disruptive LO who is not playing nicely (the narcissists, the predators, the flakes), but for generally well-meaning people I think it’s a realistic goal.

 

So, that’s the plan. I’ll report back in a few weeks on how it’s gone…