Living with uncertainty

Uncertainty is a central feature of limerence. It acts as a fuel for deepening the obsession (constantly ruminating on what every word, gesture and meaningful look might mean), and seems to be necessary for limerence to move into full blown person-addiction territory.

Beyond its role in initiating limerence, uncertainty is also a major barrier to recovery. In part, this is because the best options available for resolving limerence carry uncertain outcomes.

First, if you decide to disclose to LO (or your SO), you don’t know how it will go. How will they react? Even people we know very well can surprise us when confronted with such emotionally volatile news as “I have very strong feelings for you/someone else”. LO, of course, may also respond in an ambiguous way, thwarting your best attempts to end the uncertainty by disclosing. To heap the uncertainty even higher, LO may not even know what they want. They may be just as confused and conflicted as you. The outcome: dangle, dangle, at the end of the limerence string. Will you ever be pulled up or cut loose?

time-1594638_640_resized

I advocate always bringing your own scissors

Similarly, although No Contact is the safest path to resolution, it does have an inescapable feature: you don’t know what’s going on anymore. What is LO doing? Do they miss you? Are they depressed? Even worse, are they happy? Argh. It’s agony. Just a quick Facebook stalk to find out for sure. After all, if they don’t know about it it doesn’t really count as contact, does it? Well, they look quite happy in that picture, but maybe they’re just putting on a brave face. After all, remember that time when they told you… and you’re drawn in again.

A big step in mastering limerence is coming to terms with uncertainty. Embracing it, even. Philosophically-inclined people have recognised the value of this idea for centuries, of course. It could be the Stoic principle of not worrying about what you can’t control, or Stephen Covey’s emphasis on concerning yourself with matters within your “sphere of influence”. Life comes with a very large random element to it, and accepting the capricious nature of fate is a surefire way of reducing anxiety about things you can’t predict. We’ve even established this into everyday language with the concept of “being philosophical”.

As desperate as you are to know how LO really feels about you, if you want to move on and leave them behind you, it’s much better to accept the uncertainty and be fine with it. “I don’t know, and that’s OK” is the mantra here.

water-740276_640_resized

Admittedly, “stoical indifference” is a tricky cause to rally around

Partly, this is about letting go of the desire to be in control, generally. Purposeful living helps here. Focussing on your life, your goals, and how you are going to act to realise them helps in letting go of worries over what other people are up to. “I don’t know if LO reciprocates, and it’s torture,” becomes “I don’t know if LO reciprocates, but I’m married, so it doesn’t matter.” Beyond limerence, the choice to focus on your goals, rather than other people’s opinions, needs, and feelings, is a healthy way to live.

Lack of consideration for others is not purposeful, but putting your priorities ahead of other people’s priorities is. It’s caught up in the same principle as being proactive rather than reactive. Act on something because it will help you achieve what you want to achieve, not because someone else’s behaviour has made you angry or stressed. Once you decide that LO is not the author of your life (because you are the author of your life), then what they feel and what they want become secondary concerns. So, not knowing with certainty is no problem.

Finally, it is a fundamental truth about life that no-one knows what’s coming. Uncertainty is unavoidable. There’s nothing you can do about it, so the best strategy is to build your life up into something you are fulfilled by, and proud to live. Fate toys with us all; react to emergencies when you need to, but during the stretches of time when you have your health and vitality, work towards your own goals, and live with purpose.

Become reconciled to uncertainty as a constant companion, and you’ll be much more resilient to the challenges of limerence.