For six years, I have written this blog, and added a new post every Saturday morning at 9 am UK time. This is the first week that I thought I would not manage it.
It is currently 11:52 pm on Friday 24th and I have spent most of the last two weeks in the hospital. My father had a heart attack, and is critically ill.
Like all good fathers, he has been the rock upon which I built myself.
As I get older, I catch myself doing or saying things that echo him, and it surprises me how naturally I have adopted his mannerisms without meaning to. I also look like him, and increasingly see the face from my childhood looking back at me from the mirror. That rock is now fracturing.
In other ways, though, I am not like him. He doesn’t know about this blog, and I don’t think he would understand limerence or why I would choose to share my thoughts and feelings about it with the world. When I realised that I had forgotten to write a post until the (literal) eleventh hour, I wondered how this trial could relate to limerence. I thought about the role of suffering and the desire to escape into romantic adventure, but it felt contrived and forced and not coming from a genuine place.
I actually just feel numb.
The one insight I can glean, and it’s an obvious one, is how much my own family – my wife and my children – have meant during this time. My son is sleeping now, and needs me to be his rock as he becomes a man. My wife has been such a source of emotional support that it’s making me tear up as I write. To think that I could have jeopardised that through the limerence madness that gripped me six years ago, makes me feel sick.
So instead of trying to twist this into a post on limerence and adversity, or limerence and grief, all I’ve got are these few thoughts about how disaster can strip life down to the essentials and identify the few things (mostly people) that really matter.
To everyone who has contacted me recently and not received a reply – I’m sorry, but I hope now you understand why.
I’m navigating this period one day at a time. But I’m glad that I managed to not break my run of posting, and that helps confirm how important this site and community is to me. It will be part of a purposeful future that will hopefully be better than the bleak present.
Till next week.
Hey Dr. L,
So sad to hear this news,
Wishing you well at what sounds like a truly terrible time. Hope all goes as well as it can with your dad, keeping my fingers firmly crossed.
Warm thoughts, x
Dr L. So sorry to read about what you and your family are going through. It’s a tough time. Take care.
Limerent Emeritus says
It’s hard to know what to say to someone in a situation like this.
The whole community is with you and I think any of us would be happy to help in whatever way we could.
Looking forward to your return.
So true that all falls away that is not important and the truest and purest of love surfaces. I’m a praying person, so I am praying for your dad, you and your family during this tremendously stressful situation! The human condition is never easy.
That is humbling. Thank you for sharing.
Best wishes Dr L. Take care during this time. Thank you for all you accomplish here.
This might be your most powerful and beautiful post thus far.
Wishing you strength and peace as you navigate forward, with those you love by your side.
I’m sure your Dad is very proud of you, and you are a credit and a joy to him.
Thank your for your consistency despite adversity. It means a lot to all of us.
I have recently found out that I have been limerent for my first love after reading some articles on this page and especially this one –
Why can’t I get over my first love?- .
Thank you for the insight. I do not want to be rude but could you please make an article about how to cope and move on from your first-love-LO?
a side note: The context of the situation
I am currently at the end of high-school.
I fell for my LO during middle-school.
We were mutually limerent. However, although we could never quite express our feelings to each other because of social barriers – what would people think if they saw as together bc of the fact that we are of the same gender – we gave mutual hints that implied we like each other —it was kind of like a forbidden love that was never disclosed –. There was also this hot-and-cold, push-and-pull dance going on between me and my LO because of the fact that we were conflicted and indecisive. I found this paragraph from the article “Limerence limbo” that described our relationship dynamic perfectly:
“Sometimes it’s stalemate
A variation on the previous theme is mutual limerence between two people who are both conflicted. Here, the limbo-inducing dynamic is not caused by manipulative behaviour so much as indecisive behaviour. This is the hot/cold push/pull dance of two people failing to decisively manage their feelings, and ineffectively attempting to sever a connection that they are addicted to.
Even worse, when one of them finds some resolve and withdraws, the other panics and attempts to pull them back in. If the first person has a rescue-fantasy problem, this is pretty much guaranteed to stress test their resilience to breaking point, at which point they start telegraphing interest again, and the panicked second limerent gets temporary relief, followed by resentment about how they have been played for a fool and then they begin to withdraw.”
I am the person who had the rescue-fantasy problem from the equation.
Another important thing to note is that after middle-school ended we basically went NC. A lot of rumination and reverie followed. I used to go out for walks almost daily in the faint hope that I might bump into LO accidentally. I did bump into him a few times and –not knowing what limerence is and how it alters your perception of things — I reached out to him though messages after every such encounter, asking about unimportant and casual things and hoping that LO would respond.
A couple years passed. I am close to the end of high-school and still find myself thinking about my LO constantly and wishing that I could have stayed in touch with him after middle-school. I deeply regret my indecisiveness at the time. I tried to reach out to him again, recently through a disclosure letter but he still has not responded –he does not respond to my messages of [Let’s go out] either and I am not sure if him deleting his profile picture after the day I sent the letter means anything. After I sent this letter I discovered your articles and the concept of limerence. I now regret the fact that I sent this letter so soon. I think I should have waited a little more, more precisely until I discovered your articles and limerence, so as to disclose a little better.
This comment is pretty long. I really felt the need to share my experience hoping that I would get some advice as to what to do right now. I am very confused. Should I wait for him to respond or should I try to move on?
I have just read this article. I am sorry for your situation. Thank you for sharing. Take care and best wishes!
I am very moved by your words. Thank you for sharing, despite this difficult time for you and your family.
I think it goes without saying how important you and your work is for so many people. I know many of us have you in our thoughts.
Allie 1 says
So sorry to hear about your Dad Dr L. Warm wishes to yourself and your family.
Echoing all above, a very moving post so thank you for sharing. Such a potent reminder of what really matters in life.
Sorry to hear of your personal adversity, Dr. L. Kindest thoughts for you and your family at this difficult time. Posting every week for six years is an amazing effort. You have done well. Please don’t feel like you’re letting anyone down by taking a breather…
My own father had a heart attack too recently. He is doing okay now, thankfully. (Even asked me for a hug the other day!) However, he is probably a little younger than other people’s fathers.
The relationship between father and son is always an interesting one, if not always a highly visible one. I remember, during the height of limerence, in my 20s, I felt an almost visceral hatred for my own father. He was like a giant tree I wanted to uproot! I wanted so badly to define myself in opposition to him and his values. I wanted to be my own man. I have moved past that strong negative emotion now. But I was definitely going through some kind of belated teenage rebellion. I wanted and needed something/someone to rebel against.
Incidentally, my father is a very gentle and fairly passive character!! He is ridiculously agreeable. I didn’t pick a particularly valid target to rebel against. (I think in limerence we go looking for dragons to slay – dragons which ironically may not exist. But such imaginary dragon-hunting may be a necessary developmental step for men, and possibly for women too. I needed to know who I was outside of my family of origin. I had to “leave my family”, metaphorically speaking, in order to “come back to my family”, metaphorically speaking).
I agree limerence can be “a desire to escape into romantic adventure”. I think that’s why people usually experience limerence in adolescence. There IS something foolish/irresponsible about romance – all romance – even the perfectly legitimate romance that results in marriage and babies. I think I read somewhere that romantic love is the only kind of antisocial behaviour that society tolerates. (Romantic love is “antisocial” even between legitimate lovers because lovers invariably focus on each other and not on the wider world).
It’s nice your wife is a source of emotional support. If you’ll forgive a slightly impertinent remark, whether or not one jeopardises a primary relationship through “limerence madness” is very difficult to say. Of course, I’m not a married person and I don’t really understand the dynamic between married people. Also, I’m incredibly insensitive, being an INTJ and all. But it seems to me that limerence is a largely internal struggle. In other words, I think if an individual limerent isn’t actively engaged in an affair, then the main person the limerent has hurt is himself/herself. I don’t know if much good comes out of excessive self-blame. Emotions are awesome, man. I’m all for emotion. I love to wallow in emotion. But I’m all for common sense too, and a little healthy perspective. 😉
I think I’m out of my limerence now for good. And I’m happy to say I was never as wicked as I imagined myself to be. Nor was I ever as smart or as soulful as I imagined myself to be. The hilarious thing about magical thinking – one doesn’t know one is indulging in magical thinking while one is doing it! (So, so cringe in hindsight, I know!)
I have reached the conclusion that the feeling my LO gave me was simply “a life free of anxiety”. When I was around him, I didn’t feel anxiety, or I felt a different kind of anxiety to the anxiety I was used to. (A pleasurable anxiety maybe?) Long story short, this “freedom-from-anxiety” feeling was the feeling I needed to create for myself. I think I have pretty much succeeded in this goal. I am generally calm or serene these days without relying on external props, and, hence, I don’t need my LO anymore. Also, I somehow doubt that my LO would have actually brought much serenity to my life had he been present in it in a real way!
Limerence does fade with time. If you are lucky, you will learn many valuable spiritual lessons from your limerence – a LE will be a time of unprecedented spiritual growth. Having a limerent episode does not make you a bad person. But I understand the angst and confusion engendered by a process that doesn’t seem to have a clear, predetermined end in sight. I didn’t know my limerence would last 27 years, for instance. I thought I was going to be a lifer, and a small part of me was perfectly okay with that. Then I discovered all this marvellous wisdom on the Internet… (Thanks, Dr. L, for throwing cold water on my fantasy life!!) 😆
I don’t think of my LO as an LO anymore. I think of him as a muse – a person who once inspired me, but who no longer inspires me. The reason he inspired me was I didn’t know all that much about him. He was a mystery, and that mystery in turn led me to get in touch with many hidden or forgotten or underdeveloped parts of my own personality in order to try and figure him out. I thought I was discovering him and what makes him tick, but I was really just discovering myself and what makes me tick. (I’m a horrid little narcissist, apparently. No, just kidding! I am a very sweet, gentle man who happens to have a handful of narcissistic traits. Plus, I’m obnoxiously opinionated. Why didn’t anyone tell me I have an obnoxious streak?) 😁🙄
Let’s put it another way: I fell in love with my “real self” and not another human being. However, I projected this “real self” temporarily onto another human being, for the sake of convenience. Meeting my LO might have felt like fate for a time and at the time. But it wasn’t fate. It was coincidence. My “real self” is the self that emerges when my “ideal self” merges with my “shadow self”.
Limerents should never felt inferior to their LOs. And, at some point, limerents should gently ease LOs off that pedestal. Why should limerents ease LOs off pedestal? Well, I’m so glad you asked. The reason (I believe) there is so much “chemistry” between limerents and LOs is limerents and LOs have a lot of overlapping traits. You can’t really be inferior to someone so alike. Nor can you be superior to someone so alike. Limerents need to learn to see both the good and bad in their LOs at the same time. And limerents need to learn to see both the good and bad in themselves at the same time, and embrace their own flawed humanity.
When you’re in an active state of limerence, age-wise, you may be a full-grown man or a full-grown woman. However, emotionally, when you’re in an active state of limerence, you’re still looking at the world through the eyes of a child. Hence the wonder. Hence the terror. Hence the magical thinking. Children idealise people, and see things in a black-and-white way. Emotionally mature adults don’t idealise other people and realise life consists of near-infinite shades of grey. 😉
This is one of the most thought-provoking and beautifully written responses/comments I’ve come across on this website, and I’ve been following Dr. L. for over a year. My hope is that you have an ongoing venue, online or otherwise, in which to share your writing talent and meditative analysis. Thank you for posting. This was an eye-opener.
I never rebelled. I always did what I was told and what was “right”, at least by what my parents and the Bible taught me. Once I reached late teens/early twenties I was idealized by church patrons as the prodigal son. I participated in church lessons and taught in Sunday school. And volunteered for other church functions when I could. I dated within the religion as was expected of me, though I didn’t date much.
In fact the only shocking thing I did in my life, as far as in my parent and the church’s eyes was marry a woman that wasn’t of the religion. I waited until we got married because premarital sex is a sin. My wife has been the one and only woman I have ever been intimate or even friends with. I have never entertained the thought of having a female friend that wasn’t of my wife’s family. Thereby making the connection to a woman a little bit safer.
Like you, I realize reading your post, that I too was trying to find the real me. What I found is this selfish little prick that I have been stifling for 46 years of my life. I didn’t sow my royal oats, party, be promiscuous, rebel … I always did the right and healthy thing. If my eyes became aware of another woman (after marriage) I looked away. I remember the shame I gave myself for thinking that one of my wife’s cousins was an attractive woman. “I mean wtf Adam that’s terrible”, I would tell myself.
How can you rebel against what is good and right. My parents only wanted me to be a good man in the eyes of God and society. Even if the religion misguided them in any way they had the most noble of intentions for me. Then I go and marry some “wordly” woman and disappoint them. Was my love wrong? She is a wonderful woman. I do love her. We had two children together. And for the most part had a great marriage up until recently.
Then here comes LO. This beautiful, sweet and friendly woman that I was paired to work with for four months. To do what we had to do, by creed of the upper brass, required LO to train me and then I could help her with the actual work. She was so patient and appreciative as she moved through the training with me. We talked about our lives and marital statuses. She had been recently divorced. She looked at me when I talked and listened with all her attention. (Our marriage has been struggling for the last 3 years or so long before I ever met LO for reasons that would take too long to post.) Wow that’s really damn flattering. We had a similar sense of humor so we mostly laughed at each other’s jokes.
I remember one day LO made a comment to me about myself about how sweet and kind I was to her with no ulterior motive. She said that most men weren’t like that with her. (This was around the last month we worked together.) And she said she didn’t know at first what I thought about her but now she knows she feels safe with me and can trust me. Uh oh. As a rescuer and insecure-attachment style that was a very hefty compliment. Throw in ISFJ and my head was several sizes too big.
To get to the point, I feel this longing to be around her. Nothing sexual or romantic just wanted to be around her. i realized as my thought exceeded what my actions were at the time, it was that selfish little prick trying to get out. “Youve been loyal all this time even living in a sexless/loveless marriage for the last three years. You deserve some attention from a woman. Men and women can be friends. There’s nothing wrong with that.” Oh sure that prick starts out trying sound as if a friendship with much younger single woman had no danger. But he pushed to escalate it. “You know her favorite coffee and coffee shop I bet she’d like it if you bought her one. It’s nice to do things for friends.”
I have denied myself something selfish for all my life that like Bruce Banner there was a Hulk being formed inside of me all these years just waiting for the right time. And LO was that right time. The selfish prick was rationalizing my behavior. Telling me it was innocent. Justifying just hanging on the very edge of flirting.
Suddenly everything she did was perfect. She was an angel in a human body. Meanwhile that selfish prick tries to compare my wife to LO in a negative way. That just makes it easier to justify my borderline behavior with LO even easier. “You deserve the feminine attention of LO because you aren’t getting it from you wife. You would never deny her that would you?” Me: “That sounds reasonable.” And so it went on. Just hanging on to that edge.
“LO I like what you did with your hair.” vs “Wow you look absolutely stunning.”
“I can’t believe he would cheat on you!” vs “I bet you’d be an amazing wife he’s such a prick.”
So my mouth may have been running the show right but my brain wasn’t. So he needed to get out and get satisfied. I had been pushing him down all my life by doing the selfless things. Always trying to make the right decision. But I am saying to ya’ll it WILL come out someday. You can’t completely bury your emotions. And so my selfishness came out and wallowed in the light of LO. And though she never reciprocated in an inappropriate way, I do think now that she at least knew where she stood in my mind and heart and enjoyed the special treatment. And who wouldn’t? We all like to be liked.
People here that I have talked to in the two months I have been here are telling me to do something for myself. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t feel shame. So I am still learning where I can properly put this emotion of selfishness so that I can balance it between selflessness. And I don’t know how to do that yet. But LO taught me that (whether she intended to or not) I have a dark corner in my heart. And it’s still dark there because I still have selfish thoughts of her. I resist calling/texting her. But I don’t always resist thinking about her and still building that fantasy world about her and I. I guess the selfish little prick isn’t satisfied and I need to figure out how to keep him at bay.
It’s been 9 months since I have seen her in person and 7 months since I spoke to her over the phone. And today isn’t much different than 5pm June 3rd as I watched her drive away. I’m taking this as I haven’t learned my lesson yet. Getting over LO is going to mean I am going to have to learn this lesson and accept who I am with flaws, weakness and of course selfishness. You’ve really made me think on this with your post Sammy. Thank you for sharing so much about yourself and helping me start on my own journey to find out who I am and not who I think other people want me to be.
“But I am saying to ya’ll it WILL come out someday. You can’t completely bury your emotions.”
Have you heard of Carl Jung’s work on the shadow? What you described sounds very much like it. I think Dr L covered it in an article here: https://livingwithlimerence.com/the-devil-within-us/
Thanks Limmy that was an interesting read. It does sound similar to what I am trying to face within myself. I have to accept I did a selfish thing. I hurt myself, my wife and maybe even LO. I can’t change that. But I can stop it from happening again if I am aware of the personalities within me. And balance them so that I can be a balanced person outwardly. Thank you for the link Limmy.
Stop. Calling. Yourself. A. Selfish. Prick.
Seriously- stop. You have deep feelings for another person. You didn’t act on it. By your account you had a warm and friendly relationship- you didn’t have an emotional affair. You make an effort with your wife. You are on this site to help with accountability and for guidance.
You are just being human. Most people in marriages get crushes or just like and enjoy the company of other people at times. It’s normal- not sinful.
The main reason why I think you need to deal with these feelings is that it is really debilitating for you. I think this episode of limerence is asking for you to change or grow in some way.
But enough of the beating yourself up. It’s not useful- or even accurate based on your behavior. I would maybe consider what you gain by being so hard on yourself.
Amen Sister! I second everything Coldwater said.
Then why am I laying with my head in my wife’s lap while I type this while she’s sleeping and I’m thinking of LO?! Cause I’m a bad. I don’t want to be a bad person but I am. I love two women. Why?
Adam, you are a good man with lots of love in his heart. You behave appropriately towards the people in your life regardless of how you feel.
You could try to be more present with your wife. Tell me something you like about her. See if you can discover something new about her.
Very sorry to hear about your father, Dr L, and sending you and your family very best wishes as you navigate the time. Thank you for thinking of us and maintaining your unbroken run of blog posts, even though I hope you know we would have understood if you had been unable. Thinking of you and your dad.
Please do what you need to for your father and family! I’ve been there and know how important family support is. We’ll still be here. Sincere prayers.
I am getting at that age that I have to realize the reality of my parents age. My mother lost both her parents age due to illness. Im sorry for your family sir but thank you so much for this site. It may well save my marriage. Im very grateful.
Lost in Space says
Dr. L – I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. Sending warm thoughts and love your way.
And thank you for this post – it really resonated with me. The only person (outside of the wonderful people on this site) that I’ve talked with about my current LE is my father. I was nervous telling him about it, not sure if he’d understand. He listened without judgement, and then told me that he understood very well – and in fact told me that he’d had a similar experience a few decades back when he’d fallen for a coworker and serious contemplated leaving my mother for her. The main thing that held him back was wanting to remain a constant presence in the lives of me and my sister, who were both very young children at that time. He said he never wanted to have to look me in the eye later in life and try to explain why he’d chosen a path that took him out of my day to day life. And he encouraged me to think the same way about my own 3 children, and to use that thought to keep myself on track even if nothing else could. I appreciated his advice very much, and it’s been one of the main things that has kept me from going off the deep end.
Limerence is a lie says
I have not tuned into this blog for quite a long time, but I am feeling vulnerable to limerence lately and thought I would check in. One thing I do know through self awareness and therapy is limerence is a coping mechanism especially those who have been neglected as a child. You have been front and center for many in this forum who have come to rely on you, but maybe you need to move on with your life and give up your limerence hat. You have more important things to focus on. Good luck Dr. Limerence.
Louie Jeffries says
You have shared and given so much to this group. I echo everyone’s sentiments to wish you strength and warmth during this difficult time. May you find the strength you need within yourself and in those closest to you to get through this challenge. Best to you and your family.
Dr. L, you have been the rock for many of us here when we are attacked by limerence and lose our coordinates. Thank you and please take good care of yourself during this difficult time.
Dr.L, let not your heart be troubled. This is a time for reflection on life and mortality.We all go through this suffering at one time or another. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will
guard your heart and mind . Philippians 4:6-7. Blessings
So sorry to hear this and I hope you are ok. I just want to say to you that you’ve been an absolute LIFELINE for me and I’m actually half way through my emergency deprogramming course which is incredible-obviously I wouldn’t be able to find this anywhere else. Honestly your blog and all your work is a lifeline and I’m eternally grateful. Huge hugs x
I am so sorry Dr. L and I hope your father is very much on the mend and you all have many years together.
Nurse Limerent says
Dear Dr. Limerent,
I am a critical care nurse and a recovering limerent, so I suppose you could call me Nurse Limerent. 😀
I hope that your father is doing well. Thank you for your honesty in your post.
I also thank you for posts and knowledge. I have suffered from what I thought were “extreme crushes” twice now since being married for 13 years, but finally understand that this is a brain wiring/programming/tendency that I have lived with all of my life, and not some kind of mental illness or spiritual attack.
Thank you for finally helping me “diagnose” this as limerence, and providing real-life advice that helps us recover from — and hopefully prevent more — episodes. I understand this is an informal diagnosis, but limerence can make us do very irrational things and feel very irrational feelings, and while the high is euphoric, the comedown is extremely painful. “No contact” has been my best weapon of choice when I can manage it at work.
Thanks again, and best of health to you and your family.
She shared with me a tragedy that happened on set with her favorite show Supernatural. Apparently someone was shot and killed on set due to a gun accidentally being loaded with live rounds. She is a very compassionate woman. I love her for that. She has a lot of heart for a lot of people. I like that about her. Few people will find that kind of compassion for someone theyll never know.
Oh, that is sweet. You enjoy seeing your wife display compassion for others. Thank you for sharing.
It serves me in that Im getting what I deserve. If I “forgive” myself Im just making excuses. Yes I care for LO as deeply as my wife. Yes its two different types of love. But you dont understand that and I swore to death do us part! I cant undo that. You dont back out of that. But no one told me it might be possible to wholly love two women. No one told me. And my heart is broken.