It’s 2020. Happy New Year everyone! New year, new decade, new opportunities for personal growth.
As this is the time of year for resolutions, I thought I’d start with a post about how to use them cleverly. I’ll concentrate on the broad goal of overcoming limerence, as the majority of the readers of this blog are limerent but don’t want to be. Or, in fact, to be more precise, they actually, secretly do want to be because it’s so intoxicating, but they don’t want to want to be limerent and wish they didn’t want to want to be.
Most people come up with quite generic resolutions, and that’s part of the reason why they often fail. For example, “this year I will beat limerence” seems like a nice, solid, ambitious and worthwhile resolution, but it has two significant problems. First, it’s too big. Second, it lacks focus. This becomes obvious if you start to pick away at the details.
So, you’re going to beat limerence? Great! How? No Contact? Good start, but what if they contact you? Or what if you work with them? How do you plan to manage temptation? And, given that you failed to go No Contact last year, what are you going to do differently in 2020? Try really hard this time and hope your January willpower carries you through the year?
The other problem with big, unfocused resolutions is that they are generally abstract: what does “beating limerence” really mean? No limerent feelings at all? Never being limerent again? Total indifference to LO? Or, manageable limerence that is less strong but still disruptive? Or being a bit less limerent, but also, maybe, just hanging on to some sneaky fizz by trying to be friends with LO?
With big, abstract goals it’s hard to be sure if you’ve succeeded because it’s hard to know exactly what you were aiming for. Coincidentally, that also makes it easier to give up without feeling so guilty.
Now, I don’t mean to be defeatist about this. For clarity’s sake: I absolutely believe it is possible to meet the goal “this year I will beat limerence,” and I am confident that many of the readers of this blog will succeed in that goal in 2020. But they will likely do it by focusing their resolve and their willpower on a series of smaller, concrete New Year’s resolutions that are possible to keep to. That’s the secret to lasting behavioural change – incremental improvements that add up. And there’s an inescapable truth to breaking any bad habit: if you want your life to be different, you have to behave differently. You have to make the shift to living in a more purposeful way.
So in that spirit, what resolutions could help in breaking the cycle of LO addiction?
1) I will reduce contact with LO
Start with the direct approach. This is a practical, achievable and measurable goal. You’re going to know whether you’ve succeeded, and there are simple and obvious ways to start. Cut back on meetings, cut back on texting, limit contact as much as you can, with the overall goal of freeing yourself fully from LO’s orbit. It may be wise to plan out a step-by-step “staged withdrawal” strategy, both to avoid comments on your sudden change in behaviour, and to wean your LO-addicted brain off it’s intoxicant of choice a bit at a time, rather than attempting a total cold turkey that it is bound to rebel against. But this is a clear, concrete resolution that will certainly help recovery.
2) I will stop indulging in reverie
Another major source of limerence reinforcement is reverie. Once limerence is well advanced, this can shift into intrusive thoughts that are involuntary and debilitating, and need an active strategy to manage, but early on we greedily indulge it at every opportunity. We all of us know the lure of a nice LO daydream to give us a little boost of reward when we’re feeling low.
Like a “Dry January” resolution, you can set yourself the goal of swearing off reverie for (at least) a month. Anytime your mind wanders into daydream territory, distract yourself, or spoil the ending. Be vigilant about slipping unconsciously into the old mental pathways, and deliberately disrupt your routines when you find yourself most vulnerable.
3) I will set some positive goals
A big part of the attraction of LOs is the promise of a more romantically exciting life. Trying to counter this allure with a full-on sackcloth-and-ashes approach to self-sacrifice is not likely to succeed. You need new goals, new sources of reward, new positive ambitions to strive for that will make your life better. This works best when it is linked to a genuine source of fulfilment. For example: I will save for a trip to Hawaii, or I will read a new novel every month, or I will sign up for guitar lessons, or I will walk the Appalachian trail with my best friend.
Set yourself some life-enriching goal that does not involve LO and takes you out of the ordinary routine of your life. You are trying to make your life more stimulating by creating some new, powerful memories of happy times as an alternative source of reward to LO. A big mistake many people make is to think that all resolutions must be deprivations – that you must give something up. But it’s fine to set resolutions that you want to do; indeed it is a very powerful way of countering the sense of loss most of us feel when resolving to break contact with LO.
4) I will work on a keystone habit
There’s a reason why going to the gym, cutting back on booze, dieting, and clearing debts are perennial New Year’s resolutions. In fact, there are several reasons, some more obvious than others. First, of course, these are solutions to some of the worst pains in life – fear of ill health, dissatisfaction with your appearance, fear of falling into a poverty trap. But people fail because, ironically, they cope with fear by succumbing to poor habits that give temporary relief: comfort eating and buying gifts for themselves to get a little dopamine hit. One of the less obvious reasons so many people make these resolutions is that they sense at a deeper level that these are “keystone habits” which once cracked will make everything in life better.
I first came across this idea in Charles Duhigg’s book, and it’s quite straightforward but very powerful. There are some habits that set the foundation for a new, more purposeful life. Fitness is one. Getting enough exercise and enough sleep makes you healthier, improves your mood, makes you feel better about your body, and increases energy, drive and ambition. Using your willpower and discipline to push through resistance and establish a fitness habit also helps your psychology, by proving that you are able to take lasting steps to make life better.
All these same arguments apply equally to improving your diet and eating healthier meals. That’s another keystone habit. Financial discipline is another one: getting your spending under control, clearing debt, and saving some money to give you a cushion against misfortune relieves a lot of stress from life and increases security as well as boosting your self-esteem. You managed to solve a difficult problem through your own labours, and that has a lasting impact on your self-image.
Keystone habits are an excellent way of solving the limerence problem by attacking it indirectly. So, pick a keystone habit, set a resolution, and get ready to enjoy the ripple-out benefits of being more purposeful, effective and happy.
People living well and improving their health and wellbeing are far less vulnerable to the false comforts of limerence. People who set thoughtful and well-crafted resolutions are more likely to improve all areas of their lives.
Godspeed into 2020, everyone!
Serial Sufferer says
Another blog I enjoy reading is Gretchen Rubin, the author of “The Happiness Projects” and other books. Her one-year experiment in happiness led her to habits as fundamental to happiness. https://gretchenrubin.com/blog/
She advocates starting with a simple habit like making your bed when you get up. Her rationale is that it’s an easy habit to adopt. That builds your habit-muscle and gives you confidence in your ability to create a good habit. (Disclaimer: I never did master the making-my-bed habit, but I generally have a much easier time adopting habits than most people. It’s breaking the bad habits I struggle with…)
“Sneaky fizz”…… learning an instrument to start a band with this name. 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂
A month reverie-free is a long time for some of us, but I appreciated a suggestion a few weeks ago to limit reverie to a time-limited moment in the day. I’m trying for just after my kids’ bedtime, and I’ll start working on spoiling the ending.
My SO is a serial limerence indulger. This plays hell on my own self esteem and has led me to a lot of therapy. I see his behavior so often in these articles and he does secretly not want to not want to cause wanting is so addictive. It’s been hard to be patient and understanding so I’m taking some of this advice for myself. Be a better me with the “Super Better” concepts.
I doubt you find much support on this site. SO’s are boring burdens to be borne.
Lisa, everyone deserves support on this site. Maybe you’d feel more comfortable somewhere else if being mean is your thing. Look around- it’s a nice bunch of people.
The help I’ve found here is the WHAT he is going through and the fact that I’m not to blame. I do like alliteration as much as the next person.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
@Lisa — I hear your pain, but most of the regular posters here are trying to honor commitments to their SOs despite struggling with feelings for another.
That’s pretty honorable, IMHO. My own LE has deepened my gratitude for my own lovely and gracious SO. Even Dr. L’s experience and blogging springs from a desire to keep his own marriage and repudiate his LEs.
People aren’t on this site trying to end their marriages, or rationalize/justify their own poor behavior.
They’re trying to understand these obsessive/compulsive feelings, and minimize/end them. Sharing experiences and encouraging each other proves to be incredibly helpful.
Plus, there are several people here who serve as consciences for the site, and they apply stern warnings to people who stray from our collective ethical respect for committed relationships.
Now, for several reasons, non-limerent SOs aren’t the main audience for the site. But I think that there are many posts that LwL offers them. Here are a couple:
As far as Nevertheless goes, I think there’s a limit to what should be tolerated from a limerent spouse. For one thing, forewarned is forearmed–once the limerent behaviour is understood, it can be controlled. I have to set better boundaries; for me, I incur limerent feelings when I have overly personal conversations with my LO, or try to fix all her problems. I have to strictly control my thoughts and refrain from ‘what-if’ fantasies. On the positive side, I have to spend more quality time with my wife, and honor/appreciate her, and cultivate our relationship. This positive pressure drives out the LE.
But each of us has to make our own decisions and our own path. I genuinely feel for Nevertheless, and hope they find peace.
Wow! Thank you so much I so totally appreciate your understanding and sharing your experience.
The sneaky fizz is what I need to work on this year. I’m not still friends with LO- we’ve not spoken in 7 months, but he still does drive/hike/bike-by’s on a regular basis. I don’t have control over that- but there are some ways that I can control my own responses and internal world with it. It is highly dysfunctional to get sneaky fizz from his behaviors, and I need to make myself think clearly about what it actually means about him (in conjunction with spoiling the ending in reverie) and the story I’m telling myself that I get something from.
I’ve been doing a better job with spoiling the ending, actually, and it sometimes terrifies me to think about what my real life would look like if I chose LO over SO. It would literally ravage everything.
Sometimes I think that the LE’s are like occupying a novel or movie- I become the protagonist in a sweeping romance that’s safely contained on paper or on screen….. until the plot shifts and I realize that I’m actually stuck in it and can’t easily escape.
So, I think for this year, as I am always the protagonist in my own life- I need to be intentional about my plotline. I can’t live in the LE- my relationship with LO is over – and my real life and actual relationships need me in them.
Thank you for this post, DrL.
Hey all, why am I wishing I had taken the opportunity to have a PA with my LO? I worked so hard on resisting it. And managed to refrain. But now I’ll probably go to my grave never having even kissed him. Such a simple pleasure it seems it would have been. Somebody please help to save me from myself and remind me why it would have made everything worse had I done it.
Midlifer. At the moment you won’t see it but in time you will see that you made the best move for you and your family. It would be a heavy price for a cheap thrill that would have only messed with your head even more. You made the purposeful decision of to stay faithful, a really hard decision considering It’s something that you want and crave. You should be proud of yourself.
See I tired to pursue a PA with LO and he rejected me. Oh my god am I pleased he never went through with it now. There are moments where I am intrigued and the rejection hurt but I’m happy that I did not commit adultery. No thanks to myself! I go through phases of wanted this passionate sex life but in reality all I want is a happy family.
Hey, thanks, Rachel, I needed that! Thank you for reminding me. Warm regards to you.
It’s all an illusion remember that. You said no for a reason…. Remember that reason. Good for you! I remember years ago I got entangled with the married man. I was only 19, so young and naive. He said he was breaking up with his wife. We were always sexting and I wanted him so bad o was utterly deluded. He was 40 not attractive in the slightest but had power and I was like a moth to a flame. Finally we met in a hotel and I got all dressed up and felt the most sexy I’ve ever felt.
We had sex… Average sex and afterwards I felt sick to my stomach. It was nothing like my fantasy. The best day I saw LO for who he really was. A vile manipulating married man who had me under a spell at a young age. Even if the sex with your LO was great. You would have big consequences to face be even if you never got found out.. that’s bad karma right there. Keep going focusing on the purposeful life and don’t indulge in these sexual fantasies about LO cuz more than likely it’ll be 3 mins of your life in which would take away your self respect.
Midlifer, I had a PA, and not just a kiss. At the time it was great of course. I honestly felt like I was in love with this guy and I wanted to be with him so badly, I dreamed up a life with him. But I didn’t leave my SO (for various reasons). My LO turned away from me eventually, chasing after another LO of his, not realizing that it was in his hands to ask me to leave SO, which I naively think I could have been easily convinced to in my limerent state of mind. Fast forward to now, what is left of LO and that connection I felt? Nothing! But I have to deal with the fact that I cheated on my SO, for the rest of my life. I now think back of how I felt all limerent, how much in love I was with LO, how much I dreamed of a life with him. Puff… it’s all gone. I am glad no-one knows about this, and I may have the possibility to move on without anyone knowing. I hope LO will stick to his promise to also not tell anyone, but I have no control over that. But I know it, and I have to live with what person I became. I never thought I’d be capable of this.
Your LE will be over, and you will be glad, Midlifer.
My LO got the message through my staged removal of myself that I don’t want him in my life anymore. He leaves me alone (before he wanted me to stay his friend, because of the “great special connection“ we had. I even gave him advise with his LO, which killed me, but I wanted to keep him as a friend. I am glad he is out of my life now, but it took me almost a year to realize that I don’t want him in my life. And as said, I have to now live with what I did. Honestly, I feel like my limerent me was so blinded, in the fog and stupid.
I had an EA with my LO- and I’m sure it was on the path to a PA. I totally understand how you feel- the sadness of missed opportunities and endings. But I will say that not having had a PA is now one of the things I’m most grateful for. My SO and I are recovering from my EA- which is difficult- but I honesty can’t imagine how much harder it would be to get over a PA. There are so many triggers out there for both of us- places and songs and on and on and on….. I can’t imagine if our intimacy with each other was a trigger. I know that people can get through it and come out stronger, but the pain must be unbelievable.
You did a good thing, and good things can come from that.
Midlifer, I often think that too, not a full blown PA but just a kiss. I am still in my LE and think if it had gone PA I would’ve lost all self respect for myself and my LO. You see one of the things I like about my LO is his moral values and the strength to resist temptation, had he capitulated I would’ve probably withdrawn because I like the chase and thus felt massive guilt for being weak and giving in to my wants. For me it’s a two edged sword, the fact that we haven’t embarked on a PA keeps me interested in him while also simultaneously providing a buffer for things going further. I am in limbo.
At least now I can lie next to my SO with a clear conscious that nothing physical happened and if I ever fully disclose it will be my stupid behaviour SO will need to forgive, not adultery.
I’d rather live with not knowing what it feels like to be physical with LO than living with the knowledge and guilt that I willfully destroyed my marriage and SO’s trust.
I’ll tell you the same thing I told LO #4 in my response to her goodbye, “Some people you meet in life are like a piece of fine art. It will never be yours. You don’t even get to touch it but it doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate it when you see it.” I have no idea how she took it.
As for why you’re wishing you went for the PA, I can think of a few possible reasons:
1. At least by going for it you’d have something to show for all the angst the LE causes. It’s the low road but you’d have gone somewhere. Some people say moral high ground is overrated and it can be really inconvenient. But from divorce settlements to firefights, you almost always rather be on the high ground.
2. Taking into account that you’re considering ending your marriage, attempting a PA might force that issue. It could provide the incentive you need to move forward with ending your marriage. If your SO finds out about it, he might kick you to the curb and do the dirty work for you. It could provide an incentive to reconcile.
3. It could produce something else entirely.
But, those are pure speculation and you won’t know unless you try it.
Dear Rachel, Sarah, Janesays, Lee-Anne, and Scharnhorst,
I’m grateful to each of you for your kindness and generosity in listening to me and responding so thoughtfully. I appreciate every story, perspective, recollection, reflection, question, and warning that you each shared. It helps to have a full range of scenarios delineated and to think through them even though I don’t intend to act on this wishful PA impulse.
Yesterday I read Mark Manson’s book ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck’ (which is not as obnoxious as the title makes it sound; I recommend it, though I think he’s too young at ~34 to comprehend midlife issues). He observes that life = problems and argues that happiness = the activity of solving problems, whereas misery = feeling trapped with problems you cannot act to solve, or failing to take responsibility for solving whatever problems you have. Here my question is not, ‘what action would make my problems go away,’ for nothing on earth can do that. Any action taken to solve any problem will set you on a path where New problems will inevitably arise. The trick is to make choices well-grounded in constructive values in the hope of replacing your current problems with somewhat better problems that you will generally enjoy solving. I had an insight that the value my painful LE has brought to consciousness for me is ‘to express myself honestly as a sexual person’, but, while married to a spouse who has deeply and maybe permanently lost interest in sex, this is now in tension with another core value, ‘don’t betray your spouse’s trust’. It may be that *first* ending my marriage is the best way to *then* build a life where I can freely express my sexuality, at which point it won’t matter whether the person who has been my LO says yes or no, because I’ll be free to meet other lovers who are willing and able to reciprocate my desire for deep connection. And meet them I will, however long it takes. That’s how I feel about it right now, at least. That would be an example of replacing my current problem (seeking deep connection but feeling trapped between two unavailable men, my SO and my LO) with a better problem that I can act on and will enjoy solving: that is meeting available lovers who are as excited about me as I am about them. Whereas having a PA while married would give me a lot of other and worse problems that I wouldn’t enjoy solving along the way. The pivotal value is to act with integrity, and I want to express myself honestly as a sexual person *while* acting with integrity, and if ending my marriage is the price, then so be it; the alternative is to kill off an essential element of myself. Or so it seems now. None of this agonizing is really *for* LO; it’s for me and for my SO. LO could move away or disengage or disappear in an instant; he owes me nothing; whereas i’ll always have to live with myself. and my SO will always be a part of my life too, whether or not we divorce. So integrity comes first.
Now some people would say, ‘Don’t overthink it.’ But I believe this is the right amount of thinking.
So, again, thanks for the dialogue, my limerent friends. I hope that others may be helped by reading our comments too.
Have you had this conversation with your SO? Have you told your SO how important this is to you? Have you told him that you’re looking down the road and see 20-30 years (whatever) without the physical intimacy and you don’t like that vision? That it’s not something you’re willing to deny yourself?
If he’s willing to work with you, you may have a chance. If he dismisses your feelings or is incapable or unwilling to work on it with you, that tells you a lot. The more important something is to someone, the more effort they put into saving or improving it.
I’ll tell you another story. It’s not directly related to the subject but relates to what people will do when something is really important to them.
As a kid, I saw mother send a coffee cup through the kitchen window. She was aiming at my father’s head. I don’t remember when my father left but they didn’t stay married. About a year into my marriage, I pissed off my wife. She grabbed a coffee cup and wound up. I told her that if that coffee cup landed anywhere other than where she picked it up from the marriage was over. She put it down. Later, she asked me if I was serious when I told her the marriage would have been over. I told that I’d never put up with the crap my father took from my mother. 31 years later, she’s never picked up another one.
If it’s important, you do what you have to.
If you can imagine you were confiding all of this to someone who was limerent for you (assume you didn’t know), you’ll know the level we were on when LO #4 was confiding in me. She told me she valued my support and encouragement, that I was the one who opened eyes to what was happening in her relationship, I was like a rock for her, and that she trusted I had her best interest at heart.
Holy moly, Scharnhorst.
That is something to imagine.
Thanks very much for your further thoughts, too. Yes, I’m going all-in with my SO to rejuvenate the very fine connection that we used to have in our marriage. That is the first thing to do. I’ve talked a lot with him about what’s in my heart, so he knows how important it is to me. Thank you for your encouragement.
Your coffee cup story makes the point vividly.
Scharnhorst, I like the coffee cup story, funny how things like that can trigger something within you so many years later. Thank you for sharing.
Midlifer, I’ve had another few long talks with my SO and told him I can’t live without physical intimacy for the remainder of our marriage. He seemed genuinely surprised that it was my main issue even though it’s almost verbatim the same conversation I had with him back in April last year. Without fully disclosing about my LO I told him in detail how the lack of intimacy made me feel and if this were to continue our marriage will inevitably end. I think he finally woke up. Last night he asked if I had told him everything and I said no, there’s more, but that will come out when I feel ready to talk and you are ready to listen.
I can see he’s genuinely trying every day, I need to stop pushing away as it’s become a habit over the last two years for me to mentally and physically withdraw. It’s hard to reverse the tide.
My Limerent brain is an idiot – perfect post, I am here to genuinely save my marriage not complain about my SO or seek permission to “go for it” with my LO. While I feel empathy for the pain the SO’s reading this blog are experiencing I have to say I am not in this LE by choice. I don’t choose to experience and feel the volatile mixed up shit I’ve been going through these past two years. I don’t choose to feel like my life is spinning out of control and that sometimes I think I am going bat shit crazy. Also be mindful that some readers here could be at the lowest point in their lives with nowhere to turn but here. They may be seeking emotional support but may be too petrified to ask for help for fear of judgement.
I like the “pick your problems” idea, Midlifer. Much better to be dealing with purposeful problems (painful conversations with spouse about the importance of sexuality for you) than destructive ones (the fallout of a PA with LO).
As to why you sometimes wish you’d had an affair – there is inevitably a tension between your desire and your integrity, and sometimes we do just feel like giving in to the devilish side of ourselves and indulging, consequences-be-damned. I think there is a part of us all that sort of revels in disruption, especially if we are unhappy in the status quo. I think there can also be a nagging feeling that choosing the faithful, upstanding path is a safe (even cowardly?) option, whereas people who act impulsively and break social conventions are romantic and vivacious. In the final analysis, though, those types of people end up being very destructive and selfish. The path of integrity leads to a much better place.
Beautiful response. I love how this site (with you setting the tone) champions integrity in a world gone mad.
Dr. L that is exactly why limerence is so difficult for those of us in the midst of midlife. I recognize that I have a great, but safe (read: ordinary) life. As I entered midlife I started to feel an impulsiveness to take risks and even be reckless about a great many things. That is exactly when LO entered my life and my LE began. I became reckless even with my heart. No regard for consequences. I’ve become so sick of living life responsibly. I fear I will end up having lived a life of “quiet desperation” as Thoreau put it. It’s not that I don’t know the consequences (eg. throwing a beautiful life away), I just fear more the thought of reaching the end of my life and discovering that I had not actually lived (another nod to Thoreau). That scares the hell out of me.
Song of the Day: “Hungry Heart” – Bruce Springsteen (1980)
This may be my favorite Bruce Springsteen song. The background vocals are amazing. There’s just something about this song that I relate to.
” I fear I will end up having lived a life of “quiet desperation” as Thoreau put it. It’s not that I don’t know the consequences (eg. throwing a beautiful life away), I just fear more the thought of reaching the end of my life and discovering that I had not actually lived (another nod to Thoreau).”
Thoreau may not be the best role model when it comes to love or a few other things. There’s a significant amount of criticism of him. Check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_David_Thoreau. What’s important to you? If you look back on your life, how will you decide if you lived or not? Are you keeping a bucket list and 70% of the items crossed off is passing? Do you seriously think that when you look back you’ll think, “Well, those last 50 years were a colossal waste of time.”
A friend of mine said I’d had an interesting life. I told him everybody has an interesting life. He said he’d never had a naked blonde dry-firing a .44 magnum out of his dorm room window, he’d never held a woman by the belt as she leaned over rail of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge at 0300, he’d never almost capsized a fishing boat surfacing a submarine in the Straits of Juan de Fuca at midnight (I could see their faces in the periscope.); he’d never been to London, let alone gone to a reception at the Dutch embassy there. LO #4 used one of my blogs as the basis for a chapter of her book. That woman will never never escape me.
Those were all pretty cool experiences but I don’t grade my life against them. I also like to think there are still cool things out there for me.
My life’s pretty good. I know that one woman loves me. Another woman said she loved me and I think she meant it when she said it. There are two other women from the past that probably didn’t love me but I think they liked me a lot. I think there are two other women out there who could possibly love me if I gave them a chance. I have two kids that I think will remember me when I’m gone.
Your life is your life. You get to define it as you want to.
Thank you for opening this conversation about wanting to give in to our desire vs. resisting it. I understand this so well and all the comments are very helpful for me too. Thanks everyone!! Midlifer, as you wrote, it’s a matter of integrity and you can be proud of yourself. I’m not sure I would resist if my LO reciprocated and I had the opportunity. I’m not proud to write this, but honest.
There is just one thing I’d like to add: you wrote “I’ll probably go to my grave never having even kissed him.” Well, I think for us in the midst of midlife crisis, that’s a crucial aspect of the problem. There is a sense of urgency to live. To indulge before it’s too late. Before we are too old. Before it’s all over. Who thinks about such things when we’re getting married? I would lose all self respect if I gave in to temptations. But do I respect myself if I sacrifice myself? Staying faithful shouldn’t be a sacrifice.
Thank you, Emma, that is so well-put and rings true for me regarding midlife.
I think what may have saved me this time is that in my first marriage (which was ill-advised to start with and lasted less than five years, not that it’s an excuse, but I just add that for context), when I was in my late 20s, I did have a PA and I recall how horrible the shame, guilt, and secrecy felt: lesson learned. And my first husband blindsided me with a torrid PA (which led me to end that marriage), so I recall the grievous pain of being betrayed: another lesson learned. I would not want to bring such pain to my now-husband of 22+ years. I think my visceral memories of those experiences, having been both the cheater and the cheated on, were ultimately what held me back this time, despite the new and different force of midlife longing. I suppose at the level of viscera vs. viscera, pain-avoidance (including empathizing enough with my husband to avoid bringing pain to him) bested pleasure-seeking.
Thanks to everyone for your further reflections.
My 2020 Goals!
1. Stop with the infernal reverie (I think I get a mild sneaky fizz even when I ruminate on the infuriating and heartbreaking things, but definitely do I get the fizz when I recall the wondrous adventures and generosity and thoughtfulness…..oh no here we go!)
2. Avoid glimmer givers (unless they make honorable intentions CLEAR).
3. Keep my nails done, (I am a nervous cuticle picker and if I have them beautifully manicured I leave them alone, and in 2020 I am celebrating my limerence freedom by having a year of pretty hands). My generous and thoughtful present to myself.
4. Entertain more. During LE I now realize I preferred to be home alone when I had free time to be available talk for hours on the phone to LO, or talk for hours on the phone with girlfriends about LO (What could this wonderful gift mean? Why did he invite me on vacation? What about that pretty girl he posted a picture a picture of on instagram? If he told me they weren’t dating, why do they look so couple-y?…and on and on). Now I am going to delight my REAL friends in real life and in person with my charm, wit and culinary creations! HA!
5. Go for more walks or runs in beautiful surroundings and not allow a single LO thought to surface. (Seems impossible, but it’s a goal!).
6. Nurture healthy friendships, young and old. Write those letters I’ve been meaning to write with my beautiful fountain pens, send the thank you cards, call and check on pals from the past I have neglected.
7. Get more organized with my physical space, my paperwork, the trunk of my car, and my thoughts. This way I feel I will have more control of my thoughts and my time and therefore realize there is no time or place in my life for a LO.
8. Focus on learning a new language in an organized way. (Organization is my weakness).
9. When exhausted, conditions are ripe for getting sentimental about the LE, and then feeling sure that everyone else has a fairy tale romantic life, yet I came so close but must have done something wrong (and all that inane drivel) so when exhausted…GO TO BED. Mornings are always far more sane.
10. The cats, the cats. Must cuddle cats. This should probably be #1. 🙂
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Excellent post, Jaideaux. You’re a good friend to us and inspiring to boot!
Thank you! You are all good to me too….a nice bunch of limerents aggregated here in my opinion….
I have lots of good intentions, but my follow through isn’t always consistent, and the intrusive thoughts are ever so hard to prevent or even seek and destroy before they intrude….
but we are all trying our best, and are like a little army of limerents battling the addiction and rescuing the wounded and supporting each other through this mental war! (Imaginary fist bump).
I enjoyed this post, as always. However, when thinking about “beating” limerence, I always think about the fact that limerence always has a natural ending. I think Tennov says it’s 18 months to 3 years, approximately? Maybe some LE’s last longer than that, but how common is that? So yes, setting goals to reduce contact with LO, avoid rumination, etc. is good, but eventually limerence will run its course anyway, so it’s more about being patient, not resisting temptation and waiting and knowing that this too shall pass, and may pass more quickly with NC, living with purpose, etc. I guess my thinking is that these resolutions aren’t to “beat” limerence, but to manage it until it passes, and limit the damage. Like a tornado, it’s better to duck for cover and wait until it passes then to go out into the middle of it and get tangled up in it.
It’s difficult to know because we’re all different, so are the LOs and you don’t have the counterfactual decision to compare it to. I decided to fight (eventually) and am pretty close to the 3 year time frame. Had I not fought, would I still be in it? Probably. I’d also probably have attempted a PA and blown up my marriage and or job. But we won’t ever know because that timeline didn’t occur.
To me the big decision is NC or not. If you go NC and let the storm pass I think it will, if you go NC and fight your urges I think it passes quicker. If you don’t go NC then I think you’re in for a very long ride.
My LE, if it helps:
– Early 2017, start working with her
– Mid 2017 boundaries start to push back, by the summer my obsession starts
– Autumn 2017, start therapy to tackle what I then realise is a problem
– mid 2018 find concept of limerence, start making first steps to change
– End 2018 go NC
– 2019 year of slow, steady recovery (with one backward step of texting her)
– 2020 feeling good, largely out of the woods
So pretty much 3yrs 😳
My LE journey so far:
– Easter 2017, unofficially meet LO at school parking lot
– End of 2017, officially introduced to LO, felt spark/glimmer
– Early 2018 got to know LO better, boundaries tested, lots of pushing and pulling back, obsession kicks in.
– Mid 2018, realise I am in trouble so tried to pull back. Minimise contact, feeling generally miserable.
– September of 2018, LO re-established contact, I get back on the “Ferris wheel”
– Easter 2019, had a big blow up with LO but it cleared the air back to being friends. Found this website. Big talk with SO.
– October 2019, back to obsessing and grown close to LO again (eyeroll)
– November 2019, both over stepped a mutual boundary and he goes NC for a month = me crying and feeling like shit.
2020 – Currently NC, but that will change in February as school goes back. Hoping to stay LC but preferably NC
So going into its 3rd year for me 😳
PS, I read a comment from a man who was limerent for 40 years. He hadn’t seen his LO in most of that time but was still robustly limerent for her. The brain (if allowed) can self-generate enough fuel to keep the limerence going until we die.
But good on you for ending yours so decisively and in a ‘normal’ time frame.
I am a serial limerent, only found out about it all as a result of the latest LE. I am almost 3 years in and 10 months NC. I have learned that I will never forget any of my LO’s, but the latest one will hold a special place because I now know why I’ve been like this. The limerence in my life was just a symptom of other underlying issues.
I’ve failed in NC 4 times last year. It was terrible for my confidence and my nerves. We are both limerent. So, I decided to try with a very small step – no meetings, still texting. I’ve avoided him for three weeks and I saw small improvements. Than, I’ve decided to stop sending any “emotional” or metaphorical messages. Also for three weeks. Now, I’m on my way to reduce contact in general and eventually go NC completely… I can honestly say that I can see improvement. Less reveries, less obsessive thoughts, and I’m again capable to enjoy in small things for an hour or two, like books, magazines, shopping, coffee with friends. Wish me luck… Happy New year to everyone!
@Midlifer “make choices well-grounded in constructive values in the hope of replacing your current problems with somewhat better problems that you will generally enjoy solving. ” That’s brilliant, thanks for summarizing the book. I think the two things I’ve had to work the hardest to become clear on are my values and my boundaries. I know if I stick to those, I won’t regret anything I do, every challenge will be feedback on areas where I’m not yet clear, and will lead to more clarity and strengthening.
I find it interesting that LEs seem to last 2-3 years (except that one multi decade limerent). That’s a looong time if your SO is aware and has to suffer through your insanity.
I’m still working on restoring full intimacy with my SO. Many of us men will cite ohysical obstacles, however i believe if men were really honest, most of those obstacles are psychological (That’s really on us, boys.)
Looking at my LO now from 6+ months of NC, it’s difficult for me to admit that I ignored the double digit number of red flags!
The good news is I’ve been offered several good oppts. and one great opportunity in the last 2 weeks. I’m doing my best on purposefully living.
I’m wishing the best and productive new year for everyone!
I hate to admit it but my last LE lasted 7 years. I am a slow learner I think, and have a high tolerance for foolishness and an extraordinarily hopeful nature that hangs on tenaciously for what “will surely be one day…if I just wait”.
I also am content with crumbs (extremely exciting and delicious ones I might add) and have a massive fear of commitment. I got so much positive feedback and reassurance from LO that I was very, very special to him that I just basked in that warmth, enjoyed being treated like a princess, and waited patiently to be crowned Queen as I was in no rush and felt quite safe and happy in my limerent cocoon. It was like being in a fun rom-com! The crown of course, actually went to someone else….and I am slowly healing and realizing that I had lost myself during those years and am in some ways am now coming back to life! I feel great surges of creativity and intellectual curiosity returning to me, and am jumping onto every adventurous bandwagon that is presenting itself.
And yesterday I went really, really blonde.
New Year, New Me, Death to Limerence..
James Afourkeeff says
I have had some additional thoughts on the post “If I only knew”.
Seeking “closure” is one aspect driving limerent obsession, but I have thought of two more items that I believe are equally responsible for driving obsessive limerent thoughts.
For one, the obsession to “know” if limerence was reciprocated has a deeper influence. If you don’t even know what happened, how can you really learn anything useful for the next – inevitable — LE? So, the obsession to gain closure can be definitively expanded to include an obsession to understand enough detail and nuance to be confident that you will be better equipped the next time a LO crashes into your life like an exploding meteorite!
Then there is the classic “agony of defeat”: What if you were nearly certain that you had been mere inches from success with a new LO, that you had applied all of the useful advice acquired the hard way, over time, only to have everything blow up in more spectacular fashion than it had ever done before?! Add to this that a LO only comes along about every ten years, on average.
Here is an analogy: Imagine you are a professional mountaineer and you have your eye on conquering some impossible unclimbed peak over in Asia somewhere. The preparation for such an expedition is obviously monumental. Let’s say you now have the opportunity to face off with your challenge, but you are forced to abandon the climb within a hundred meters of the summit, because of some error you made in your plan. You vow to return someday; and when you finally do, you have the same, or an even worse outcome. The challenge definitely seems possible, but there is always some unforeseen issue that you hadn’t thought of, that foils success.
I suspect none of us were actually within a hundred meters of the summit. In our imagination, yes, but from the perspective of the LO, we were still at base camp. We really didn’t ever have much of a chance, contrary to the signals we were given.
I like the “agony of defeat” idea, James, but I agree with Jaideux that it’s probably only in our imagination. That said, it would be a powerful driver for limerence reinforcement – thinking that the summit is just over the next rise if you can just keep going. It’s probably related to a”sunk costs” fallacy too – “I’ve given so much emotional energy to this that I can’t give up now”.
James A says
And therein lies the agony, never being able to confirm anything!
“”I suspect none of us were actually within a hundred meters of the summit. In our imagination, yes…..””
And there is the crux of our collective “problems”, we as Limerents have VERY active imaginations. I know for a fact in my case just thinking I am within a hundred meters of the summit is what keeps me going, that and the fact that the blasted finish line keeps moving away from my grasp.
If I can just push that little bit harder, I know I can make it, I-know-I-can 🙄 groan…
So my LO disclosed feelings and from there webecame very close. He would be messaging constantly, constant compliments and genuinely seemed to care about me. It was all him and then when I got hooked I tried to take things further and he said absolutely not becuase he loved his wife… After this he continued to act as normal with the compliments and saying things about our ‘amaxing’ connection. I was left so confused. To this day I’m not sure really what his game is/was I’m on super low contact and even blanked him a couple of times. No more Mrs nice gal. His behaviour left me in such a speculative state? He liked me and was pursuing me but when it come to it he was like ‘what, no? We’re friends?’ One minute he would tell me his wife was awful and then be all happy families. Leaving me so confused all the time, causing massive rumination. I wasn’t sure if he was doing it on purpose or was it in my head. Either way I’m not happy with his behaviour and I feel like done with it. Yes I still crave our interactions but when cravings hit im staying strong. He do his thing and I’ll do mine. I’m not putting myself through it anymore. I don’t even want to be friends which is a big milestone in my limerence and I put so much value on this friendship but it was not authenticate in the slightest.
Ugh. This is what makes it all so hard and causes all the rumination. Part of the problem is we know there is *something*. I don’t believe we are imagining it all, but it’s more: what do we do with these feelings, compliments, and disclosures that fall short of let’s burn everything and be together? Can there be a healthy space for that? Between the extremes of NC and a fully realized relationship, perhaps if we can live with the inevitable uncertainty of the undefined space, then maybe it’s acceptable. Until I suppose the craving for more surfaces. I sometimes want to scream – what do you want from me? But that is where accepting uncertainty and purposeful living has to come in.
Butter, in my mind I have screamed ‘what do you want from me so many times’. Your pursued me, didn’t want anything physical but continue to act as you do… Awful really. It hurts but I just want LO to leave me alone now to recover. This has been going on for long enough. I think he has got the message. I cancelled two events in which I he would have been there over the last month and only replied to his message one time and didn’t continue. My mind is still asking, why? What was the point on all that. What was your game? Did you just like my energy and attention. These are questions that are going over. Every time I think of LO I think of sadness, anger and pain. I think I’m devaluing LO naturally with NC. I want to see him and then my mind flips to all the pain I’ve felt over the last year or so and I can’t go back there. I’ve never got this far in my recovery before as I usually cave and break NC but I think once you’ve been hurt 1 to many times, enough is enough no matter how bad the cravings get.
@Rachel: “ Your pursued me, didn’t want anything physical but continue to act as you do… Awful really. ”
I am a person that doesn’t assume a person is bad per default but give them the benefit of the doubt that they are good, so I don’t think your LO per se plays a vicious game, fully conscious about it, wanting to inflict pain upon you.
I think a) yes there is definitely something there and he is most definitely attracted to you and under different circumstances would try to get closer to you. No doubt. b) he is probably very conflicted about his feelings for you himself. We all set certain barriers for ourselves, how far do you let something go? How big is the grey zone and to what point could you still twist it around and justify that it is not that bad, you haven’t crossed THE line? How many times have I read here, yes I have fantasies but they are still only in my head, I haven’t acted on it, so I haven’t crossed THAT line. An EA (or fantasies) would still hurt an SO, but somehow you can twist it and say it is still borderline ok. So what I am trying to say is, your LO has probably set that line for himself, that anything physical, not ok, but all his other things? Grey zone, just friends… we all know it is not “just friends” and he is just trying to reduce his own cognitive dissonance.
Bottom line: he would never have a PA with you, he (at this point) loves the attention from you, it validates him, it gives his ego a boost, and on top of that, he has the upper hand as HE said no to a PA, but YOU wanted it, so he thinks he could if he wanted to, but HE’s the good guy saying no to temptation.
I hope this explanation helps to find some answers to “what does he want”. He doesn’t want anything further with you, he wants to keep his ego boost up. As you mentioned, you feel the anger and pain he inflicted on you. This was an important step for me in my LE to get over it. Feeling all that anger about it. Use that (as you do), keep your head up high and move on, he is not worth all this agony.
@Rachel I got caught in that once. I now know that some people are just playing a game: they enjoy pressing someone’s button and getting the little reward of a response, a little thrill of “I could have her if I wanted”, but all they want is that reassurance of their own desirability, probably because they’re too afraid of relationships to get involved. If this is what’s happening to you, this is a toxic and quite pathetic person and you must refuse to play the game: don’t just go NC, if possible, get mad at them and make it clear you won’t stand for this absolute BS. Since I’m not good with harsh speech, I simple turn my back on them and walk away.
The goid news is that you now understand that you want deeply to be desired and to have a relationship, but aren’t very confident about yourself. You might feel you are ‘losing’ this person, but believe me, there is no one there to win. But remember, he found you very desireable, he wouldn’t have been so conflicted if he didn’t. Of course he did, you’re a fabulous prize for some lucky guy. Other men also find you desireable, they’re just not as bold as this one, because they are real and he’s just play acting. If you put this one behind you as quickly as possible, these better guys can get through to you with their more subtle cues. The secret is to smile at every guy you meet.
@satchie thank you for your reply. I think your right in my deep need to be desired. I guess this is something I have never really noticed on a conscious level.
I am mad. Very mad at him and myself for letting this crap go on for so long. Thanks again for your support it does mean a lot to me to have people reply with their thoughts. I hope you are finding yourself limerence free
Is it possible that it’s all a game for LO? That would be so awful. I am beginning to do a phased withdrawal and feel terrible for not being as supportive as usual. This LE has been going on so long with no real disclosure and no real progress. I see no other way forward.
@ Rachel. My latest crush would have gone deep in LE in the past, but I feel proud about how I resisted it. Both of us being much older, I reminded myself constantly how many women probably broke their hearts hoping and waiting for this perennial bachelor to change, and I was determined not to be one of them. I also respect myself much more than I used to, and won’t allow any guy to make a fool of me. If you hold to that position, and stay charming and light-hearted at the same time, he’s the one who looks the fool.
Rachel, I agree with Sarah, I don’t think LO is playing a game per-sé, he’s probably enjoying the attention for sure but is attracted and this is his way of justifying his “boundaries”.
I don’t think my LO is being devious either, I think he’s attracted, enjoys the thrill of being liked by another female and probably feels flattered by the attention. At the same time I think he’s not after a PA, but likes to keep me around for the ego boost occasionally.
I am more angry at myself, it’s not LOs fault that I have obsessive thoughts, I wish I could just enjoy the flirtation and attention without getting emotionally involved.
Thank you Satchie , Butter, Sarah and Leigh-Ann for your thoughts and support.
I do feel that LO isn’t doing this on purpose. He probably doesn’t even know the depth of this emotional obsession. I’m not usually one who takes flattery well, I have always taken my marriage very seriously so I do feel bitter that LO got into my head so much. But he is not to blame entirely. However, what is wrong is his continuation of his luring ways.
I absolutely agree Sarah with every word. His boundaries are that if nothing physical happens then all is good. In my mind it’s all bad. With what Satchie said my self respect on kicking in and I was thinking this last night. If this is all for his ego then you can be sure that he will not get a shred of extra attention from me. Limerent or not I am a stubborn person and once I can see that someone is using me for anything it is game over. So hopefully this is a turning point for me. I am not putting myself through emotional hell just to fuel his ego. Not a chance anymore.
I think that’s the right attitude, Rachel. “So hopefully this is a turning point for me. I am not putting myself through emotional hell just to fuel his ego. Not a chance anymore.”
I hope as well this is the turning point for you and the final step for you to truly let go.
You are worth something, you have value! I said that to myself as well at the time (that was June, It took me a couple months more to end my LE in my head and finally feel free and myself again). It still is along process to detach fully from him, but you can do it. Use the anger, stop any ruminations.
Song of the Day: “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” – Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty (1981)
Not my favorite Stevie Nicks tune.
Sarah I’m glad your finally letting go of your toxic LO. It’s hard road and it feels never ending at times. Glad to be leaving 2019 behind me.
Rachel, “Limerent or not I am a stubborn person and once I can see that someone is using me for anything it is game over. So hopefully this is a turning point for me.””
That’s exactly where I am at! My main 2020 goal is to stop giving this LE oxygen and more fuel to keep burning. It’s not going to be easy as my stubborn self will clash with my people pleasing side and I dare say there will be some internal conflict, plus if LO is going to be his super charming self it will be extra hard. I just need to maintain super LC then quietly slip to intermittent NC without piqueing LOs interested.
If Sarah and others here can do it then so can we!
Lee-Ann I am very LC I do have to see LO no avoiding but I have unfollowed on social media and deleted his number. I think our situations are very similar. My LO didn’t pursue anything and I remember you saying you used to drive and if you drove past him then that would give you at hit.. me to! I feel as Sarah said gave the power to LO, or I did in that moment of madness. Well it’s time to take it back. Everytime I think of LO I keep telling myself how happy his is with his SO and he was only using me for his ego. This really hurts which I’m hoping is helping breaking the reward association.
Previously I decided to stop coming on LWL as I felt it was becoming part of the obsession but now I see that be coming off my guard slipped. This next attempt at NC I’m staying here and valuing the support of each and every person. I think it’s a wonderful blog with wonderful people. We can do this
Go back to the flowchart in https://livingwithlimerence.com/2019/03/17/the-definition-of-limerence/. There are a significant number of us here that have SOs and aren’t free to pursue the LE to it’s conclusion, win or lose. You can’t lose a game you never really played to win with someone who isn’t even aware of the game. Defeat is imposed upon you. If you let someone defeat you, you forfeited. Climbing a mountain, you can be defeated by nature, even killed by it. You might be influenced (e.g., by your SO), maybe even coerced, to give up an LE but you still determined the outcome. At best, it’s “agony of forfeit.” The emotions could be the same but the responsibility for them isn’t. When you’re defeated, you can blame someone or something else. If you forfeit, you usually only have yourself to blame. Psychologists use the term “dancing” when discussing these types of relationships. They don’t talk in terms victory or defeat.
In our last real exchange, LO #4 never actually said goodbye. What she said was she didn’t think continuing to correspond was appropriate. In the next paragraph, she shot the elephant in the room by bringing my wife into the discussion. The way she expressed things left open the opportunity to rebut her and make a case for continuing. But, to do that, I’d have to try to convince her she was wrong when she wasn’t.
A lot about LO #4 appeals to me and if I was in the position to find out, she’s someone I would take a run at. I told her that.
Her perception may be entirely different but I think we got to a point where we made the acquaintance real instead of this 19th century letter thing we had going. When it looked like she might, I panicked. The closer she got, the higher my anxiety went. After I reset the boundaries, we didn’t last long. I have no idea of what might have happened if I’d been free to pursue things.
It could have gone very well or it could have gone nowhere. At my age, there’s a difference between being available and being single. For me to be available would be terrible, for me to be single would be beyond terrible.
Since I got married, I’ve met a lot of people in my life where I thought “what if I’d met this person under different circumstances?” That thought usually never made it to the next day but one did. In 30 years, only one of those ever took root and became a problem for me.
I question the idea that any real life relationship has a summit, perhaps believing that, is what causes limerence (not to mention painful breakups). What exactly would this ‘summit’ consist of? How long would you spend there? Just long enough to plant your flag and take a photo of yourself? Since you’ve likely been in shared limerence before, you know it’s followed by the long tedious process of climbing back down and returning to your ordinary life. In my opinion it’s a delusion to imagine it will somehow serve as the pinnacle of your entire existence, permanently give your life the meaning that it lacks, and make you happy and contented until you die.
Those who have summited a real life mountain quickly become obsessed with their next challenge, or become depressed because they’ve lost their sense of purpose. As well, a human being is not a mountain to be conquered, but a complicated individual with needs and desires of their own. One of the very strong desires of modern human beings is not to be ‘conquered’ by anyone.
In my opinion, it’s more important to learn how to share your life and genuinely love a real, available, person, or even spend your time climbing real life summits.
Well said , Satch.
My LO was a savvy businessman and sometimes would talk about romantic or even familial relationships as if they were business deals or games to win or lose. I think it’s kind of like the conquering of the mountain mentality.
I once pointed out that real life isn’t a game. He gave me a slightly bewildered look.
I’ve never played games but somehow I did think that if I waited him out I would win his complete heart. The grand prize!
Now I know I was delusional. So new plan: am busy filling my life with people and things that are real and don’t make me wait in vain and don’t give me signals that they they will one day make the wait worthwhile.
I just discovered the concept and this site and feel overwhelmed with gratitude.
I’m 47 married with three wonderful teen kids. For 8 months I’ve been in a highly intimate emotional affair with some heavy online sexual flirting with LO and barely seen him in real life. When it all started I was going through the distressing aftermath of a child illness that rocked our lives. My kid is ok now, he’s out of the woods, his prognosis is no longer life-threatening, and he’s cured… but I couldn’t deal with the idea of his potential death. Even if the doctors assured us he’s ok I couldn’t adjust. I wasn’t able to sleep, work or eat or anything. And my husband tried his best to dissuade me from indulging in these dark thoughts but in a quite patronizing way. This triggered resentment towards my SO of 25 years. All of our past disputes, misunderstandings and disagreements have taken up all the room. For many years I put my own carrier on hold to raise our children and tend to everybody’s wellbeing. In the last years I was able through hard work in a self-forgetful way to build a very satisfying carrier of my own but it all happened with no recognition of all the strategies I had to imagine to reconcile work and family and the loneliness of it. So when I met LO I was ready to fall hard for him. In some aspects LO resembled my husband (same job for instance) and in other aspects he was a link to my childhood for we come from the same part of the world before moving (even if we never met before). It was both wonderful and anxiety-provoking because LO was very controlling. I was overwhelmed, I confided extensively to him, allowed him into my deepest desires and fears. LO is married with kids also and was very controlling, which I found in the early stages quite fun and it relieved me from untold guilt towards my SO and towards his wife (I don’t know her but nonetheless I felt sooo guilty). But as we became closer and closer (or at least I thought so) it became a burden, something that crushed me for I was waiting for a sign day and night. He said he was sorry for me but didn’t want to change anything about this pattern. For instance, I didn’t have the right to initiate our discussions or anything. He’d tell my I was just the fun of his midlife crisis and in the same time he’d say he has a lot of tenderness and that I meant a lot. All these mixed signals, the contradictory waves of proximity and remoteness made me totally lose control even of my everyday life. I think I was even depressed and totally addicted to our relation (that never got physical in real life). It all ended when I said it doesn’t suit me anymore to be deprived of any initiative and that I longed to a little bit of balance. He just said then we must end everything. And it ended brutally. Even if I knew it is for the better I still am very forlorn. I did all the right things : psychotherapy, cultural activities, reading, rekindling with my SO, putting lots of effort in my job that I love dearly and that is fulfilling, be available for our teens, chatting with my closest friends, writing, working out, etc etc to no avail.
It’s been eleven weeks of NC (I even managed to lessen the social media aspects) but I still feel miserable, with no sens of purpose, unable to be again deeply connected to my SO. It feels like role-playing and not the intense life before this affair.
I have been interested in this idea of what it means to “beat” limerence. For a while I thought it meant never thinking about LO again, and if I ever did, even for a second, it meant I hadn’t “beaten” limerence. Recently I have had a new idea, which I am interested to hear if others have had this experience as well. This idea is about harnessing all the energy and passion that have been associated with the LO and transferring them to SO instead. So now if I think of LO, I realize that it’s not about LO as a person (hence the use of the term “object”) but about my own desires, unfilled needs, etc. So if I have a sudden rush of passion or feeling, instead of trying to squash it, I will try to separate the feeling from the trigger, and replace the LO with SO in my mind. After many months of doing this, I have found that now these same feelings can be trigged by SO. It’s almost as if I am “limerent” for my spouse now, which sounds weird, but oddly nice. So I can keep all the love,energy, desire, (NRE), which maybe is what I was craving all along from this LE. Otherwise, trying to squash an LE completely (“beat it”) means losing all these wonderful feelings, and then life becomes dull again, and you just wait until the next LE to trigger them to come out again. Maybe this is a different experience from others, but I wanted to share how I feel about this concept of “beating” a LE, because it’s not how I have experienced this.
Hi PS, that’s an interesting concept, “harnessing all the energy and passion that have been associated with the LO and transferring them to SO instead.” It’s wonderful you’ve been able to do this so successfully!
I tried to do that a couple of months ago, in the beginning when I was starting to understand what limerence was. It worked then, and it has helped me reconnect with SO for a while.
But it doesn’t work anymore now, and worse, it hasn’t helped me getting rid of limerence.
Why? I think my LE has revealed personal problems which aren’t easy to solve. (Would anyone become limerent if there weren’t any underlying issues?).
When I was in full limerence, I could to use the highs to make steps in the right direction and to take care of myself. Now that I made progress towards “beating limerence” (thanks to LwL, I now see LO more how he really is, an object created by my brain), I feel a lot more depressed, helpless and powerless. I kind of lost the crutch which helped me coping. Not totally, I’m still having some hits each time I see him or hear his voice, but it’s not “working” as before.
So now what? Beating limerence for what purpose?
PS and Emma, “harnessing all the energy and passion that have been associated with the LO and transferring them to SO instead.” I am also in the process of trying this concept, it’s partially helped me reconnect with SO, we talk more and I try to hug and kiss him more. I know it will take time and patience on both our parts. Unfortunately in the intimacy department I have a closer relationship with my vibrator than my SO (someone here recently quite tongue in cheek mentioned if we got one that it would solve our LE issues, all I can say is I wish!!)
Anyway hoping to change that too.
The NC from LO has helped with my rumination but I still dream about him almost every night. Ironic really that I’ve gone from subconsciously obsessively thinking about him to unconsciously insistently dreaming about him. I’ve managed to control one urge but not the other, sigh……..
Ada, “but I still feel miserable, with no sens of purpose, unable to be again deeply connected to my SO. It feels like role-playing and not the intense life before this affair.”
You are not alone in feeling this, I am in the same boat as you, as are many others here. Welcome to our group, hope you find the support and understanding here that I’ve experienced.
Lee-Ann I had the weirdest dream the other day and yes I do dream of him every night. My dream was that I was playing football with my son and his friend I was wearing my very expensive LB shoes. (Shallow I know but keep reading). So as I kicked the ball my shoe came off and went into is back yard! I was so upset and these shoes were a present from my late father. Anyways, even though I was desperate to get them back I didn’t go. I think this was a materialisic but vital message to not seek him and avoid him whatever the cost. This gave me some more willpower to continue with NC.
This is my thoughts on the whole beating limerence, over the past year I’ve had time when I’ve let my guard down and thought I have beaten limerence only to be fooled. This time I’m not looking at the end goal. I’m taking each day as it come. Noticing my thoughts and trying to combat the false limerence. This mindset is really helping. I let cravings pass no matter how much I want to cave.
I have felt pretty soulless after the limerence fades but this is where purposeful living comes in and also the power of positive thoughts. Some times you have to really seek out the positives. When they do come feel them in their glory and go to bed thinking of that positive moment. Keep doing this again and again.
Many thx Lee-Anne for your answer and support. Just these few words mean a lot. I think many of us here share similar experiences/feelings.
Mama Mia says
Hmmmm, that makes me wonder something. I mention in a comment below that I am recently divorced. And it was not during an LE that the divorce occurred. But I do recall that in one of the 3 LE’s that I suffered with during my marriage, there was a moment in which there was some touching. Never full consummation bc I’m very very conservative, but one making out that was THE single most intense sexual (without sex) experience in my entire life. It completely destroyed sex for me thereafter. For 4 years after that day, sex was either unbearably cringeworthy or at best tolerable, and usually the former. I even decided at one point that I was asexual bc of how awful it made me feel. But hearing you mention your troubles with intimacy makes me wonder if in fact this disorder was (one of) the underlying problem and I just failed to make the connection. Hmmm. Either way though, I have zero regrets about the divorce. But I definitely want to figure this out bc I hope to remarry eventually and I want to be happy. That said, I pray things get better for you. This transference technique is def worth looking into!!! I don’t have a SO to try it with, nor am I limerent right now, thank God. But I’ll def keep it in mind!
Hi Emma, that’s what I was feeling too: “beating limerence for what purpose”? Helen Fisher wrote about different personality types based on 4 different brain systems, one of which, the “explorer” expresses traits linked to the dopamine system. I think this site has discussed the role of dopamine in limerence, and Helen Fisher has written a lot about dopamine and limerence and how, in her view, limerence is a special experience that people with more active dopamine systems are more likely to experience than others. (She, herself, identifies as an “explorer”). So rather than try to suppress my (perhaps) “explorer” tendencies, I am trying to figure out how to accept these tendencies and make it work for me, rather than against me. Another interesting thing that Fisher talks about is how antidepressants lower dopamine, and therefore people who take anti-depressants are less likely to experience limerence. This was interesting to me, as I had a limerent experience as a teenager, and then took anti-depressants for many years after that, and never had another LE. I stopped taking anti-depressants about 5 years ago, and last year had another LE. So I would be curious as to others’ experiences in this area as well.
Mama Mia says
I haven’t read so much about limerence for a while because for a while there, I was fine! Married 10 years. I’d had 3 LE’s during my marriage, 2 of which I disclosed to my husband. But I’m now very very recently divorced (thankfully not due to any LE, just incompatibility) and going through emotional changes and perhaps mild loneliness. Whatever it was, I disclosed to a close guy friend of mine, a guy that I once was an item with before my marriage and had kept contact with, a guy that became an LO during my marriage but that I was able to free myself from, and even have a very guarded friendship with. Why the hell i thought it was a good idea to tell him about my divorce, I can’t best say. Why I thought it safe to have a few long long conversations with him, I don’t know. Honestly I was fine. He even started insinuating that he’s happy that he finally has a chance with me. I was still fine! I even rejected him. But the letter he wrote me that followed….it knocked me COMPLETELY off my feet. Suddenly, appetite not right, insomnia. Utter desperate need to reach him. Chaos. Couldnt think. Couldnt quite breath properly for a few days. Oddly enough, because I’d dealt with him so calmly and so rationally up until that moment, I didn’t even recognize what was happening. I thought I “fell in love.” Lol. I could smack myself. But once i remembered, I told him that I need NC and did just that. Of course, rereading messages between us prolonged the fog. But finally, when I removed our whole chat from my phone, and continued to redirect, redirect. Redirect, redirect my thoughts (3 near panic attacks later), thankfully, the fog has lifted. I’m proud of myself. That’s my shortest LE to date! About 1 week! I’m sooooo happy. The only question I ask myself now is, what the hell to do with the guy. He has like actual logical real love for me. When I’m in my right mind, up until now, I haven’t wanted to be with him. Though logically, he is a really nice person. It’s only when I loose my mind that…… So, meanwhile, he is there. And because he doesnt understand limerence, he doesn’t know that my feelings are fake, simply symptoms of a mental dopaminergic feedback loop. The logical me feels bad for him. But I do love and respect him. I’ve known him for half of my life. How does one have a real relationship with someone who triggers them? If we don’t marry (and I’m trying to decide if that’s a good idea or not) then, I’m sure we cant be friends. He triggers me to near self destruction. What say you all?