Introvert limerents

When in a thoughtful mood, one of the more absorbing aspects of limerence in my opinion is the potential for intersection with other psychological traits and mental disorders. A notion that has been occupying me recently is that the tendency to become limerent may relate strongly to where someone lies on the introvert-extravert spectrum. Given that limerence can be seen as person addiction, the key personality trait that determines how interactions with other people play out is likely to have a significant impact on limerence experiences.

I’m an introvert, so have limited experience of what life is like for extraverts. Nevertheless, it does seem that certain tendencies of the introvert brain make it especially vulnerable to limerence capture.

1) Most people are a drain, LOs are a supercharger

A defining feature of introversion is that interactions with other people – even if positive – are energy sapping, and can only be managed in regulated doses. Alone time is needed to recharge and recover. In contrast, extraverts thrive in the company of others, and become restless and weary during time alone.

Given that difference in temperament, it’s quite a surprise for an introvert when they encounter an LO. Instead of the usual fatigue, the company of this new person is invigorating, exciting, stimulating – all the things that aren’t normally associated with extended time with other people. It’s a categorical difference, even from very familiar friends whose company is welcome and enjoyable. LOs give introverts a taste of extravert energy; of how electric the company of others can be.

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I’ve always thought this is an impressively unambiguous sign

Eventually, of course, even the company of LO becomes wearisome, but even the short-term energising boost of limerent supercharging can be an exciting and novel experience for an introvert. That, of course, adds to the sense that LO is someone especially special and wonderful, and/or that cosmic powers must be at play. “Nobody’s ever made me feel like this before,” can be literally true after an introvert meets an LO for the first time.

2) Rumination comes naturally

Another defining feature of introversion is the centrality of the internal world in contrast to the real, external world. Introverts live more consistently within their imaginations than in the material world. The external world is a source of stimulation that can be explored, before retreating to the internal world to make sense of the experiences encountered. To extraverts, the external world is more real, and the proper location for experiencing life. Rumination and reflection are helpful, but only inasmuch as they can direct one to better action in the real world.

It’s no real surprise, therefore, that limerent rumination comes so easily and naturally to introverts. Obsessive, intrusive, relentless thoughts about LO. Detailed fantasies about past or future encounters with them. So much of the introvert life is defined by replaying and analysing experiences or ideas, and rehearsing future scenarios, that limerent rumination is simply an extension of this core habit. It’s how we make sense of the world; limerence is a just massive amplification of this general tendency until it becomes uncontrollable.

Another thought (but not one that is easily verified), is that the hole into which limerents sink could be deeper for introverts. More of an introvert’s attention is captured by thoughts and memories. Being trapped in a more vivid and expansive internal world could be worse than being trapped in an internal world that is subordinate to the external world.

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That blue sky seems a long way off

3) Escape is harder

When faced with a threat, the natural impulse of any animal is to retreat to safety. For extraverts, this comfort zone is the company of friends and society – which are actually very useful distractions from the thoughts of LO churning around in their mind.

For introverts, in contrast, LO has taken up residence in the dead centre of their comfort zone. Normally, stressed introverts will retreat to isolation to recuperate. But that is where the threat is located.

In some respects, this is a balancing of threats. For extraverts it will be harder to escape LO’s company if they are out socialising in the world. For introverts, it will be harder to escape rumination about LO if they have retreated to their internal landscape. Frankly, it’s hard to escape LO regardless, as they exist as a centre of gravity in both internal and external worlds, but extraversion does offer the opportunity to seek alternative company to distract from LO, while introversion cannot offer alternative isolation. You’re stuck with your own mind.

4) Transference is harder

One possible method for eliminating limerence for an inappropriate LO is to look for a new one. Limerence does seem to be a serial experience: it is not possible to become limerent for more than one person at a time. This tactic is obviously counterproductive  if you are trying to get rid of limerence while in a relationship, but if the limerent is single, then seeking an alternative, healthier, LO is a feasible option.

Given the tendency of introverts to avoid company, it is likely to be considerably harder to find alternative LOs. Especially as the process of seeking and socialising with new people is going to be debilitating, rather than a useful and energising distraction. Introverts generally have a smaller social network than extraverts, so it is also harder to make new connections, even if you pluck up the courage to reach out.

Nowadays, there are technological fixes, but again, extraverts generally have the advantage when it comes to casual encounters. Introverts tend to overthink them.

 

Boo-hoo gloom? 

I promised cat videos in the last post, but appear to have instead written about deep pits of despair. Whoopsie!

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Here’s a kitten who seems to have bad intentions towards some daisies

To end on a more positive note, whilst there seems to be a good case that introverts would be more vulnerable to limerence than extraverts, the counterpoint is that many introvert traits can also be a positive force for recovery. The key principles for managing limerence are self-awareness, self-discipline, and the desire to live a more purposeful life. Introverts are likely to be more adept at the self-reflection needed to recognise how their own choices and decisions led them into the limerence briar patch. They are also better practiced at marshalling their internal narrative – telling themselves the story of who they are and what they want to achieve. The “reprogramming” needed to break the mental connection between LO and pleasure/reward is also likely to come more easily to introverts, being based around playing out scenarios for what can go wrong if they give in to the limerence drive.

So, while the short-term distraction tactics are more accessible to extraverts, the long-term strategy for mastering limerence and subsuming it into your life should be more accessible to introverts.

So, those are my thoughts. Extraverts with a different view are most welcome in the comments…

66 thoughts on “Introvert limerents

  1. This introvert limerent concurs. Electrifying to the extreme!!! Eventually the LO rudely occupied all the room in my mental safe zone, which proved to be suffocating and panic inducing. Now that his presence has shrunk to one small live wire hanging out in the corner of the room I feel relieved but ever so slightly wistful. It seems my own radiance has correlationly diminished as well.
    I do find it intriguing how you can write with such lucidity on limerence when it’s far removed from you. I’m thankful…but still want cat posts. 😉

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  2. Thanks for posting this and for all the articles on your blog… I’m currently in the throes of LE and being an extreme introvert. It’s been a comfort reading here.

    My LO is an age-appropriate (sort of) student at the university where I work (FWIW she is not my student and I don’t have any authority over her though she is in my department), but NC is not an option. Going through the experience _again_ under these circumstances has been extremely difficult… alternating between the rich inner world and tingling sensation when I’m daydreaming about her, and the emotionless expressions I have to put on when I’m “out in the world” so I don’t give myself away.

    “So, while the short-term distraction tactics are more accessible to extraverts, the long-term strategy for mastering limerence and subsuming it into your life should be more accessible to introverts.” — what a wonderful sentence to read. I wish I’d known these things years ago when I disclosed to my previous LO and it turned into a total disaster.

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  3. Another great post.

    Is there any definitive way to find out whether you’re an introvert or extravert?

    Only asking as like being out, meeting people and doing things, and quite often become reenergised by being with other people, but equally like time alone to retreat/reflect and have some space to myself.

    I found being around LO had that electric buzz you mention, but the moment I left work for the week I would feel so drained from maintaining boundaries.

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    • Definitive? A therapist can probably help you answer that.

      If you want to take a less rigorously scientific guess at it, check out the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. It’s widely criticized in professional circles and you certainly wouldn’t want to make any decisions based on it but I honestly believe you can learn something about yourself and, sometimes, others from it. I took it twice over the span of about 15 years and tested the same type twice although the numbers shifted. Both times it was paid for by my employer as a way to teach people about communication diversity in the workplace.

      If you go the online route, I recommend you try a few of the free tests and then go with the description you feel best fits you. A couple might relate but one usually stands out.

      The first time I took it, 90% of the people were of the same MBTI. The definition of diversity in that organization was anybody other than a TJ in their profile.

      Again, don’t put a lot of stock into it. It’s one more tool you might get something from.

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      • Thanks.

        I’ve looked at 3 tests online and results were:
        ISTJ
        ISFJ-T
        ISFJ
        The detail for ISFJ was spookily accurate and answers the original question – I am an introvert!

        The T/F part I think depended on what part of my life I was predominantly thinking of when answering the questions!

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      • I’ve never taken a Myers-Briggs, and can’t ever keep the acronyms straight. Maybe I’ll try a free one for fun.

        For introversion, I’ve always used the “people tiring/people energising” split, but as with everything about humans it gets complicated 🙂

        One of the thoughts that I didn’t put in the post was that it is possible to learn to adapt to the other trait. I was an extreme introvert when younger, but still sociable enough to have a few close friends. I realised in my twenties that my habit of social avoidance was holding me back, and so I made the effort to get out more (now I think about it, that could have been my first attempt at purposeful living!). I’m still happiest by myself, but also much more comfortable in society. So, there is a continuum of extraversion, and you can move along it in either direction if you commit the time and effort.

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      • Sophie,

        I still have the books from the class and what you say about the T/F are consistent with what’s there. The book says if 3 of the 4 match, go with the one you feel describes you best.

        I tested as an ESTJ but that never seemed to fit. The description of ENTJ fits me better. I asked my wife and daughter which description was more accurate and my wife said there’s no doubt I’m an ENTJ. My daughter agreed.

        LO #4 described herself as an INTJ, which explains a lot of her appeal and how our acquaintance developed over time. We had some pretty intense exchanges. I told her I found her style comes across as dismissive. One thing it says in the description of ENTJs is “This method of “unsettling” people has the effect of livening up conversations and stimulating learning, when the other conversationalists are able to easily withstand the interrogations of the ENTJ.” http://www.personalitypage.com/html/ENTJ_rel.html

        I thought about it and went back to look at some of them. I was interrogating her, sometimes with all the subtlety of a jackhammer. It didn’t go over well with her and I changed my style. I was still pretty direct but not as relentless.

        It’s all moot. now, but I did learn something about how I come across to people.

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      • ENFP on one (16personalities.com) Campaigner Personality that is nearly spot on.
        ENTP on another. I’m definitely close on the Thinking/Feeling spectrum.

        I have never tested as an Extravert before, though I don’t think I’ve taken a test in 20 years. I never saw myself as an Extravert, but I really do enjoy being in small group social situations, and feel the need to be social at work and be friendly with everyone. However, I was definitely an Introvert when I was growing up and when it came to the opposite sex as far as dating went. Being attached (MARRIED!) made it easier for me to be more outgoing with women for many reasons. In the same vein, I’ve also always been comfortable with attached women. No risk, right!??! HA

        Taking these personality tests a few weeks into No Contact after a 4+ year friendship/limerence/love/limerence relationship “just might” have an impact also. I am definitely a different man than I was 10 years ago, let alone 2 years (pre-limerence) ago. It was good to take these tests as it forced me to truly think about myself, who I am.

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  4. Yep, introvert here too! All of that is spot on. I have high EQ too which I think contributes to the limerence in a similar way. Being sensitive to how you’re perceived by other people, treating others kindly and being upset when they don’t behave in the same way. All traits that heighten the limerence imho.

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  5. I’m an introvert by nature, but not shy nor quiet. My hobbies are solitary. I have five bossy, aggressive, and manipulative older sisters. My EQ is high too. It is always a shock to me when people do not respect my feelings. Especially when it’s my time, money and energy that is being depleted. If I have to fight a room full of argumentative women just to express myself, I will mentally and emotionally retreat. I think my birth order, introverted nature and active imagination are contributing factors to Limerence.

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  6. “Most people are a drain, LOs are a supercharger”

    This really is a great post. In retrospect, I loved having LO asked my opinion and taste in all of our shared interests. It was electrifying. Of course, look at that warning sign, “Danger of Death”.

    How very astute.

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    • Yep, and if that’s hard, imagine what it’s like when your LO tells you,

      “You opened up my eyes to what was happening in my relationship. I’ll always be grateful to you.”

      “You’ve been like a rock for me during all this. I value your support and encouragement,”

      “Last night I drank port and listened to Martha Wainwright until I passed out.”

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    • Yes! Agreed! My LO was so unbelievably considerate and determined to have me express my preferences, such a change as I usually acquiesce to those around me (a skill I leaned to survive my childhood). I felt so delighted and surprised at this attention and deference… they say “if it seems too good to be true…it probably is “

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  7. Jaideux,

    There was this girl calling into the talk radio, requesting a song for her life long childhood best friend. He disclosed his loving feelings for her, and she did not reciprocated. He firmly told her that she would not be a part of his life, even as a friend. This tore her to pieces, but I felt like that gentleman needed a standing ovation. That took guts to take ownership of his life and happiness, even at the loss of a good friend. I thought about you. You’re single, the world is your oyster. Cast that limerence onto someone worthy of your beautiful spirit!

    My divorced LO moved on quickly to a single female. It hurt and took an embarrassingly long time to recover from this lost “friendship.” But, I completely understand his actions.

    P.S. I bet that gentleman friend of the caller was introverted and Limerent.

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    • Thank you Irene! I agree…We have to set boundaries, but even better when the LO does it. A friend of mine asked my thoughts on a fellow who was pursuing her. She told me that it came to his attention that one day he found out that a beautiful friend of his was in love with him. Although it must have been flattering he acted with real integrity: he made an appointment to talk with her and said “I am not and will never be interested in you romantically. I want you to move on and find love with someone who is truly in love with you!”. When my friend told me this I said “this is a man of character! Don’t let him get away!”. Happy to report, she allowed this fine man into her life and they are happily married now. I think many LO’s would end a limerents’ suffering if they were so courageous. And many a limerent would do well to follow the guy’s example on the talk show (myself included!). Working on this! I am determined to never be limerent again!

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  8. On a somewhat related note…are limerents “romantics?” How about LOs?

    My father was of the era of “Mad Men.” I was somewhat “classically” trained in romance by my father. I found it largely wasted in the 70s and 80s when I came of age. Few of the women I dated then seemed to understand it, let alone appreciate it. One of the things that attracted me to my wife was that even though she was born in the 60s, romance appealed to her.

    This was in stark contrast to her predecessor, LO #2, to whom romance seemed lost on. Candle lit dinners, soft music, and a fire went right over her head. Although, LO #2’s libido seemed to be directly proportional to the number of stars a hotel had. From some of the things she said, I think LO #4 may have had a romantic streak in her but I never got to explore that.

    Pesky random thoughts….

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    • “On a somewhat related note…are limerents “romantics?”

      Depends on your definition. Does this mean that non-limerent SO’s aren’t romantic? Don’t appreciate romance? Or maybe their (or my) definition of romance is different.

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      • I was “trained” to view romance as a part of the dance of seduction.

        Things like candle lit dinners would be more likely to work woman who appeared to appreciate “romance.”

        Part of the appeal of Los is seeing them as potential sexual partners.

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    • I really don’t consider myself a romantic – for me it’s completely about the mental/emotional connection with someone. Hence how I ended up with this LE starting in a grotty old staff room.

      My husband considers himself romantic but doesn’t get limerence at all. He’s into the “mushy stuff” but discovered quite quickly it didn’t really work/make any difference for me.

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      • “I really don’t consider myself a romantic – for me it’s completely about the mental/emotional connection with someone. Hence how I ended up with this LE starting in a grotty old staff room.”

        Yeah. Me too.

        My husband considers himself romantic and is the limerent (for another).

        “He’s into the “mushy stuff” but discovered quite quickly it didn’t really work/make any difference for me.”

        Ditto.

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      • One question to consider is whether Mr. Lee’s LO is into mushy stuff. If she is and he gets wind of it, he’s getting something from her he’s not getting from you.

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      • Original LO is physically gone. I have no idea if they’re in contact via back channels or not. If they are in contact, then he needs to leave because if he’s not IN this marriage, I want out of it while I have a few decades of me. (I’m going to presume that the actuarial tables are correct.)

        “If she is and he gets wind of it, he’s getting something from her he’s not getting from you.”

        Working on that theory – if this is the sort of woman he wants (original LO or a new one), he knows where the door is located. He has everything to gain if he’s honest with himself.

        As do I. If I’m not what he wants or needs, then I don’t want to waste any more time on the relationship.

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      • “Things like candle lit dinners would be more likely to work woman who appeared to appreciate “romance.”

        Part of the appeal of Los is seeing them as potential sexual partners.”

        Yes, which is why I think it’s disingenuous for anyone in the throes of limerence to protest that it’s just a deep spiritual connection. If that was the case, they would be limerent with people with whom they wouldn’t entertain the idea of having sex.

        “If she is and he gets wind of it, he’s getting something from her he’s not getting from you.”

        The heart wants what the heart wants. Pots of gold at the end of rainbows may be exactly what he needs to pursue in order to be at his happiest. He’s young enough to start over and find someone who is a better fit the second time through.

        At least I won’t face pressure to start a family with anyone else. There are perks to aging!

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      • “As one prone to being a limerent I am the first to acknowledge that Loyalty should always supersede Limerence. No matter how difficult.”

        Be very mindful of that line of reasoning. If you take it too far you may feel victimized and resentful of your SO for decisions you’ve made for yourself.

        Plus few people enjoy feeling like a lozenge or something. “I’m loyal to you because you’re good for me.” Ugh. That’s not a very uplifting thought for an SO.

        General statement to all readers (limerent or not). If you choose to pursue another person, end your primary relationship first and completely. No relationship perks if you decide it’s come to its conclusion. Move out/move on.

        In the meantime, I do hope that your situation is easing a bit. Maybe the change of seasons will promote more pleasant activities with your SO. Sorry, I don’t recall if you have an SO or if you’re single.

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      • This is such a challenging topic. It’s one where I struggle to see the “purposeful” path.

        I agree with the sentiment that blind loyalty is as much a vice as a virtue – exactly as you say, it can lead to resentment if it’s based on a sense of duty rather than intentional self-discipline. But equally, “make your choice, move out/move on” is quite an emotionless perspective on how to handle the conflict between love for a long-term partner and limerence for an unintended LO.

        It seems like it could spiral rapidly into tit-for-tat. “If you want someone else, leave” – “If that’s how indifferent you are, perhaps I should” etc.

        It also seems that real commitment must mean sometimes doing things because of duty even when you do resent your partner (whether spouse or limerent), in the hope that you will get past that resentment and recover the happier life that has been temporarily disrupted. To not give up and ship out when things get tough.

        All of this, of course, presupposes that everyone is acting in good faith. Which they may not be.

        As I said: challenging.

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      • I’ve been loyal throughout our 20+ years together and even despite being told that I’m still running second to someone who is physically gone (I have no way of knowing who he is emailing or contacting while at work, nor do I want to monitor his activities), and despite decades of support and holding down the fort when Mr. Lee has fallen apart in various spectacular ways time and again. If the marriage isn’t meeting his needs then obviously it hasn’t been a picnic for me either. But only one of us has chatted up a prospective new partner and only one of us has stated that the other was their “last chance to get married”.

        I’m tired. I’m particularly tired of watching him mope over another woman in my presence and I’ve told him so. Either choose to be in this marriage or not. Our time is running out in this life and I would prefer to be alone if he’s going to mope over her, or if he’s found another LO to moon over and further shortchange our relationship by expending huge amounts of time imagining life with someone else. Which is annoying because he has the luxury of that sort of time and energy because of how much I do to keep a roof over our heads.

        If he wants to chase rainbows he’s free to do it. I would prefer that he be honest and forthright about it. Not sneaking around (if he is sneaking and making plans). If he wants a second chance at starting another family and “doing it right this time” he won’t get it with me. It’s a biological impossibility. Nor do I want to adopt.

        Confusion can be cleared up quite nicely by taking the opportunity to go forth and explore your options. Someone can sit on a fence long enough with the result of getting cut in half.

        Yes, loyalty can be a virtue and a vice.

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      • Lee it’s clear my little comment struck a nerve and I’ll be circumspect in the future about sharing my thoughts. My point was the the LIMERENT owes loyalty to their SO, despite their predicament. I appreciate this site for trying to help ones resolve their limerence and restore happiness to their unions. I viewed the limerent as disloyal. (Unintentionallly and usually regretfully I would assume). To answe your question about myself, I am unattached and my limerent objects have been as well. Hope things improve for you, however that may be.

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      • No, Jaideux, there is no need for you to feel badly or apologize. I was simply trying to point out that it’s a double-edged sword; it can be misused and misapplied for the best of reasons and by any party. I am a loyal person. By nature or nurture, I don’t actually know.

        No harm, no foul. I don’t want you to think I was upset with you in particular. I was free associating.

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      • I appreciate both of your contributions jaideux and Lee. My aim is for an open forum for all thoughts (within the boundaries of decency), so good faith expressions of ideas and feelings are always welcome.

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  9. Matt’s post from yesterday nailed aspects of it for me today: https://mustbethistalltoride.com/

    “Provide enough negative experiences for another person and they won’t want to be around you anymore. Provide enough emotionally painful experiences for another person and they won’t even want to know you. Hurt someone intensely enough, and they won’t even be the same person anymore.”

    “You withdraw from your spouse or romantic partner and hide because you’re feeling sorry for yourself, OR you’re leaning heavily on her for support. To nurse you back to health.

    No matter which reaction you chose, you forced your wife to invest a bunch of emotional/mental/physical energy into trying to navigate your feelings (often the same feelings you belittle her for demonstrating when they’re about something that matters to her).

    If you withdraw, you leave all of the work of home and children, etc. to her.

    If you vampire her energy to prop you back up, you leave her short of what she needs to get through the days with her workload.

    But here’s the worst part:

    When SHE has a minor setback in her life, maybe you don’t see it as being a big deal. Or. Maybe you try to help her solve her problem with all of your superior man-wisdom, when all she really wants is a trusted confidant who is steadily, reliably in her corner.

    These are the types of little interactions, where we are taking more from our spouse and marriage than we are giving to them.”

    “You know what I WASN’T doing—ever?

    I wasn’t thoughtfully taking care of things my wife would have taken care of while I was recovering on the couch. If I was sick on the couch, not only would my wife have brought me food, blankets, meds, etc., but she would have also kept the kitchen spotless, kept the laundry going, managed the family calendar, and much more.”

    THAT is what I’m dealing with and have been time and again throughout our marriage. I support him when he’s down or when he’s had a setback, but when I need it, he’s half-hearted. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve told him exactly what I need from him (and there are times when I don’t want to tell him, I want him to use his emotional and intellectual intelligence to think about me – he does it for his co-workers ALL THE TIME) or that at the very least, I need him to step up and carry more of the marital/parenting duties than he has recently because I’m burning out. He doesn’t sustain the effort.

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    • Despite being the limerent, I can completely sympthise with this. I had similar issues with my husband.

      We’ve been together over 10 years, so not quite as long as you and it sounds like my husband hasn’t been quite as challenging, but I was struggling with a similar lack of support. It became particularly problematic when my daughter was born. Her refusal to take a bottle made my husband decide he couldn’t help, and I found constantly having to ask for support to be tiring, so resorted to my familiar – though admittedly unhealthy – trait of “not having needs” as my therapist put it, just bury them, keep going. My husband was in a job he didn’t like, but it paid well and refused to change, but constantly moaned to me about it.

      So with hindsight, it wasnt exactly surprising that on returning to work (to a new branch) when I started to get glimpses of my own identity again and was getting great emotional support from a colleague that this LE developed. I’m not condoning what has happened, but looking back over it to work out why has been helpful in working out a way forward.

      LO is still very much in my head, but I am trying to ensure I communicate better with my husband so that if I need emotional support, he has a fair chance to provide it. Me disclosing about LO has been a massive wake up call, and with the support of our therapist we are making progress. I’m learning to be more open and honest rather than being “fine” so that I don’t have to handle his insecurity, but still struggle when he asks me outright “How’s the limerence thing going?” As I don’t even know really myself. I have always made an effort not to moon over LO when we’re together, that tends to creep in either during the day when I’m at home with our toddler or when I’m doing one of the less pleasant tasks at work (and wish I was still in my old job).

      I’ve thought about leaving (even discussed with LO reasons for staying/leaving marriages – that was a warning sign!!) but ultimately it’s not a bad marriage, I want to give it a chance and my husband really is making an effort. Also some of the school Mums are newly single and I really don’t envy their struggles.

      I hope that you and Mr Lee manage to work things out in a way that serves you both well.

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      • Sophie,

        A small thing about men. “Fine” is a word no man likes to hear from a woman unless it’s immediately followed by a collective noun like “art,” “wine,” or “dining.”

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      • “LO is still very much in my head, but I am trying to ensure I communicate better with my husband so that if I need emotional support, he has a fair chance to provide it.”

        “…ultimately it’s not a bad marriage, I want to give it a chance and my husband really is making an effort.”

        That’s really heartening to read Sophie and I hope better days are ahead for you and Mr. S.

        “My husband was in a job he didn’t like, but it paid well and refused to change, but constantly moaned to me about it.”

        Yes, there is a lot of that, but he absolutely positively refuses to DO anything to change his circumstances. Years of it. When asked, I’ve made suggestions only to have them shot down or not acted upon. Then more complaining. Plus jealousy over the fact that I have a job that I like most of the time and I do very well. But he completely ignores how hard it was for me to find this job and the fact that when I wasn’t happy I worked hard to land a different position. There was luck involved, but I did my best to make my luck too.

        “I hope that you and Mr Lee manage to work things out in a way that serves you both well.”

        Thank you. I hope so too but I’m reaching the end of my tether. I’ve told him so and that’s when he told me that he only married me because I was his last chance and I was “good for him”. That’s not a good feeling. So, we’ll see.

        I do hope for better for you and your husband! As well as the other people reading here, regardless of their relationship status.

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      • Thank you. I hope so too but I’m reaching the end of my tether. I’ve told him so and that’s when he told me that he only married me because I was his last chance and I was “good for him”. That’s not a good feeling. So, we’ll see.

        I can see how that would test your patience (and loyalty) to breaking point.
        Hope you find the right path forwards, Lee. One that is “good for you” too.

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      • Sophie,

        My wife and I were in marriage counseling less than 2 years into our marriage. One of the first things the counselor did was assess our communications styles. She said that while she believed we loved each other our communications styles were so different that she wondered how we could agree on a restaurant, let alone work on really important issues.

        It took a marriage counselor to get me to understand that, “Do you want coffee?” could be more than a “yes” or “no” question. My wife learned that I tend to live in a very literal world and if she wants me to know something, it’s better she tells me as directly as she can.

        Once we got past that hump, things got a lot better.

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      • Scharnhorst-

        Communication issues sound quite common.
        We both read “Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars” and although there were a great deal of generalisations, it was an interesting read. Also the act of both reading the same book at (more or less) the same time was helpful.

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    • “Provide enough negative experiences for another person and they won’t want to be around you anymore. Provide enough emotionally painful experiences for another person and they won’t even want to know you. Hurt someone intensely enough, and they won’t even be the same person anymore.”

      I got to Phase II with LO #2. She pissed sufficiently that I left before she could get me to Phase III.

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    • There’s a lot of wisdom in that mustbethistalltoride post.
      I would characterise it as the opposite of living with purpose – it’s living thoughtlessly, and taking your partner for granted.

      Of course, that is the way that a depressing number of people do live…

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      • Seeking advice.

        You mentioned “living thoughtlessly and taking your partner for granted.”

        I have two yearly social events approaching this holiday season that my LO will most definitely be in attendance. My husband is aware of why I have bowed out last year. He is not as sympathetic now. Limerence is in my opinion a serious condition like high blood pressure. I treat it like it’s a health issue. Very careful of not feeding it (NC), avoiding anything that would trigger it (high levels of stress), awareness and knowledge of my condition. It works wonderfully.

        My question to All:

        Do I go to bat over these very minor events or stand my ground and refuse to attend for continued health? I think my husband is oppositional-defiant and I’m passives-aggressive. We’re both highly aware of our deficiencies.

        Outside of these few occasions, LO would never cross my path. I’m of the opinion to fight my husband and refuse to attend. He is welcome to go stag. I’m just shock that I have to fight my own husband to honor and respect our marriage.

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      • Trying to put myself in his shoes, wonder if he is hurt that this person stull has a hold on you? I can imagine how painful it could be to a SO to know they are not the one that gives their spouse the dopamine rush.
        That being said, I admire your courage to protect your mind and heart and marriage. It seems you know what to do, just finding the way to get your SOs support is the trick!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m inclined to trust what you know about yourself and not go. It won’t kill him to go alone. I go to events alone and have done so for over 20 years. I’m an introvert but I that doesn’t mean I never want to spend time with family or friends.

        Now, if your husband were amenable to offering active support in the form of limiting the amount of time you both attend, squiring you about the entire time you are there with him, maybe arranging that you should leave early, a signal that means “Uh-oh, we have to go NOW!” and he’ll honor it (or not get into a snit for ‘leaving him’ later if you drive off in your car/hail a cab) then maybe give it a go. For a limited time.

        I imagine you would put in an appearance if it’s one of those “spouses must attend or your chance at a bonus or a raise is toast” events. Do they need spouses around for the whole time, or merely to put in an appearance then they can disappear?

        But that takes a lot of planning and awareness by both parties. Plus trust and even more communication. It sounds exhausting to me.

        Maybe a different health situation would resonate with him more. Type I diabetic and a candy factory (bakery) – would you combine the two? PTSD? Would he take a recently returned combat soldier to play paintball? Particularly if the vet said, “I can’t handle it”? Of course he wouldn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s precisely his point. Subconsciously, he wants me to declare by attending that LO has no effect on our lives. Unfortunately, it is still very much an issue with me.

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  10. It’s exactly like that, an alcoholic window shopping at a wine shop. Why throw yourself at temptation? He’s thinks if I’m not physically misbehaving, then it’s not a problem. My Limerence isn’t about LO. It’s my personal wound reflected off this particular person. It’s my addiction to the dopamine and chemical effects the Limerence induced daydreaming had on me.
    These events are harmless church sponsored musicals. He’s just being defiant because it means so much to me. It’s that oppositional defiance issue. Unfortunately, the more he argues with me, the more the Limerence resurfaces. It’s a vicious cycle that I’m learning to break. Or at least minimize.

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    • In your defense:

      Why would any man coerce his wife into seeing a man she’s attracted to when she told him she’s attracted to him? It’s insensitive at best, it’s almost sadistic at worst. Does he have the need to win so badly that he’s willing to do it at the cost to you?

      In his defense:

      Maybe he’s tired of lying for you about where you are. Making someone else do your dirty work is Passive – Aggressive. While not in this context, I’ve been in the position of having to lie to cover my wife’s repeated absences or other things and it gets old, really old, if for no other reason than you have to remember what excuses you used with who and not go to the well too often. It can breed resentment. Lying is a touchy subject in general but walking into church knowing you’re lying, even for a noble reason, could be an internal conflict. I love my wife but I resent being put in the position of having to lie for her. I lied to our kids, I lied to our friends, and I lied to our family. I don’t like that.

      As Lee pointed out, there may be some compelling reason for going, like getting the raise.

      But, you’re going to have to decide what’s in the best overall interest of your marriage and your happiness. Those two should be congruent but they may not be. Since, you know these events come up twice/year, you need a permanent solution to it. Unfortunately, there isn’t an obvious one.

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      • I’d agree with Sharnhorst’s analysis. This is one of those marital disagreements where both parties are in the right and both parties are in the wrong. It entirely depends on how you look at the situation.

        Some other thoughts on what he may be feeling: that your church community may be wondering if there is a problem with your marriage; that he wants to show everyone (especially LO) that you are visibly “with him”; that he sees your absence as LO “winning” in an imagined battle for your attention; that it reflects badly on him that you don’t want to come.

        I suppose another way to approach it would be to ask your husband what is the most important thing about the event for him. In other words you want to understand: is it more important to him that you are present regardless of the risk that LO poses, or is it more important that you demonstrate your emotional commitment to the marriage by not giving LO any opportunity to get in your head?

        Making clear that you are avoiding the event because you care about him and that you don’t want to give this other person any of your time may help. But he may take that as a challenge (that LO is so amazingly important that you can’t even risk the slightest interaction).

        It’s always going to be tricky to explain to a non-limerent spouse why you can’t even be in the same room as LO, without them thinking that it must mean LO has a stronger emotional hold over you than your spouse does. I think the alcohol analogy could be helpful, except that it again raises the issue “why don’t you get drunk on me?”

        Good luck navigating this. It really does look like a situation with no “correct” answer, so stick to behaving with integrity and hope for the best.

        Liked by 2 people

      • “…without them thinking that it must mean LO has a stronger emotional hold over you than your spouse does.”

        Speaking as the non-limerent spouse, that doesn’t ring true and truth is imperative. Well, it is for me at any rate (see: not lying to cover for spouse’s absences). YMMV. Clearly he has a huge emotional hold over you at this time. Maybe you can truthfully tell your husband that you don’t like this weird Svengali-like fascination or effect LO has on you and you love Mr. I., so you don’t want to invite more of these harmful flights of fancy by seeing LO. At all. I doubt you’re casting yourself into the role Trilby, but you are talking about a musical and all.

        Any chance of borrowing a pair of glasses that basically make it impossible for you to make him out if you decide you do need to be there physically? Hopefully once you’re seated it will be somewhere you can’t see him anyway, so you can watch the play. Or is he just enough of a “jerk” (I had another word in mind) to literally come over and “mess” with your mind? Or is your husband unkind enough to do that to you in some sort of power play?

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      • No, my husband is not being unkind in requesting my attendance at this very trivial event. I think you all have hit it on the nail that he wants validation. That LO is not important and should not dictate our actions. I will have to make it clear to my husband that LO is not the competition. It’s my Limerence and over active imagination.
        It’s been a year and a half since LO and I stopped interacting with each other. In one entire year, I’ve spoken to LO for 10 minutes. I’m a completely different person since I learned the term Limerence this year. I’m sure LO has changed too. It’s not about my husband or LO anymore. The root of the problem truly is Limerence.
        My husband wants physical validation and reassurance. I want to be faithful in heart, mind and soul. I can only accomplish it away from things that triggers the Limerence. Such as LO…
        I’m convinced that if it wasn’t this particular LO, it would be someone else. I’m just a very reluctant Limerent. I’m very judicious in my actions now that I recognized it.
        I’m not going to attend. It makes me nauseous just thinking of being in the same room as LO. I’ve associated LO with pain and suffering.
        RSVP for only one this year.
        Thank you everyone!

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      • Well I hope he comes around to understanding your point, enjoys the show and you have an evening to do something fun too. Something that is all about IRENE!

        Liked by 1 person

    • “Maybe he’s tired of lying for you about where you are.”

      Why does he bother to lie? That’s on him. All he has to say if asked is that Irene isn’t attending. He doesn’t owe anyone an explanation as to why she isn’t there.

      I don’t lie for the times that Mr. Lee hasn’t attended. “He didn’t want to come.” I’ve told it to friends and family through the decades. At this point, no one expects him to show up and it’s a non-issue. If someone wants to ask why he isn’t there, they can do so.

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      • “If someone wants to ask why he isn’t there, they can do so.”

        That was supposed to be, “If someone wants to ask HIM why he isn’t there, they can do so.”

        Like

      • “Something as simple as, “He didn’t want to come” may work in situations with friends and family who are close enough to you both to get it. It works for most business events where co-workers don’t socialize much. If a co-worker. at the Friday happy hour, a response like, “She wasn’t up for it” would be plenty.

        It’s harder in a faith community where “fellowship” is take seriously and there’s a genuine level of concern among members. They may not care very much but they’ll probably ask. The last place you want to come across as a liar or hypocrite is there.

        I can imagine the awkward silence in a lot of churches that would follow that statement.

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      • I’ve said it so often, including at big events (my own *0th birthday party hosted by a family member) that it no longer phases me. I can recall being asked where Mr. Lee was when he stopped attending religious gatherings altogether, at least once or twice. They got the same response. He didn’t want to attend. It’s not like I attend every week either. When people get the same response, they eventually stop asking. It didn’t take long.

        If they are that concerned, they know how to place a telephone call and speak with Mr. Lee or Mrs. Scharnhorst directly. To the best of my knowledge, no one called and spoke with him about it.

        At least that is how I handle it. YMMV.

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      • “I can imagine the awkward silence in a lot of churches that would follow that statement.”

        I guess it was awkward for them, but it didn’t bother me then and it doesn’t bother me now.

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  11. Also you may want to consider a social compromise. You don’t attend the church-sponsored musical but the two of you will go to (fill in blank) event of his choosing together. Maybe a different concert, or a movie or frisbee golf. Whatever. Throw yourself into it. Buy the tickets, etc.

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  12. Irene, I respect you for wanting to be faithful in heart, mind and soul. I think you are really onto something by reassuring your SO of your love and devotion and that perhaps the only thing in which to share with your SO as to why you cannot go to the event is this:
    “It makes me nauseous just thinking of being in the same room as LO. I’ve associated LO with pain and suffering.”
    If I was someone’s SO and they told me that, coupled with clear signs that they were in love with me and only me, I think I would relax and feel at ease.
    If SO thinks: “I make my partner happy and this other person makes them miserable….and well then I suppose the other person is no longer a threat. I win. ”
    I hope it all goes smoothly!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Only you know your SO, and how he would react. Anything that is said cannot be un-said. It is so difficult to predict how one’s SO will internalize any comment about LO. I like the social compromise idea a lot.

      Liked by 2 people

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