Rachel got in touch recently about a scenario that is very difficult to cope with – not difficult because of any grand drama, or threats to life and limb, but because there is no simple escape from the emotional net she has become ensnared in.
Often, when we hear someone’s limerence story, there is an obvious route out of it that everyone but the besotted limerent can see. We all wave and shout from the sidelines, but they stubbornly take a different road.
In contrast, for Rachel, the core tensions of her situation – the emotional needs, personal responsibilities and future options – are all very finely balanced. The way out is far less obvious.
Here is her dilemma:
For about two years I’ve been in a state of what I now know is classic limerence. The problem is, I can’t really believe it isn’t love, because this is the first time I’ve ever felt like this despite being in my forties.
Rachel is married, and met her LO online. They quickly hit it off and have been corresponding for some time. Rachel believes that her feelings are reciprocated, but as LO is also married, neither have openly declared themselves.
It’s a situation familiar to many in the community here. Rachel loves her husband, but she did not experience the limerence fireworks for him that she now has with LO. Through the marriage, they have tried to make things work – and broadly succeeded – but they never had the effortless emotional communion she enjoys with LO.
She has tried to reach out to her hsband, but worries that her efforts to seek the same connection is an attempt to change her husband’s personality to suit her needs. In summary: nobody is being unreasonable, and it’s not obvious what, if anything, can be done to improve the marriage.
In addition, Rachel feels burdened with regret for marrying someone she had an inkling would not be a soulmate.
I still love him and don’t ever want to hurt him or our children. I know I can’t destroy my family to ‘follow my passion’, but I also can’t get over the fact that all those years ago I feared we weren’t the perfect match and I only went along with the marriage because of my head rather than my heart.
Now that she has felt the numinous pull of limerence, she realises the contrast with all previous romantic experiences. That is the net she now finds herself in: a marriage that is solid but emotionally flat, and an LO who is thrilling and seems to offer all that is missing from her romantic life.
She is not happy with the status quo, but unwilling to hurt the people she loves and has committed to. She does not want to have an affair, but does not want to drift dutifully through the second half of her life in a second-class relationship. She wants some route out of the emotional pain of being so conflicted, but still holds LO in very high regard and does not want to destroy or devalue her feelings for him.
I have been reading your site and know that you recommend going no contact and “devaluing” LO to reverse the limerence, but I just can’t do it. He [LO] is such a good man and hasn’t done anything wrong, and I feel so bad about running him down. It just makes me more depressed and then I feel trapped because nothing seems to work and I don’t even know what I want now.
No contact and devaluation are both powerful tools. The rationale is that limerents idealise their LO and elevate them into a source of blissful reward. That programming needs to be overwritten if you are going to erase the “LO=reward” script and get back a sense of normality. But – and it is a big but – the methods work best once you have made a resolute, purposeful decision to free yourself. If you are still in the “what do I really want?” phase, then it is likely you will make a half-hearted attempt that has little impact.
I don’t have a simple answer for Rachel’s dilemma. It is one that a lot of limerents suffer through. In the hope of being helpful, though, here are a few observations that might help illuminate some of the boundaries of the problem.
1. This is Rachel’s first limerent experience
Having never experienced limerence before, Rachel has reacted in the way that most of us do to encountering an LO for the first time: “Wow! So this is love.”
I concede that I may have become a bit jaded about this after years of blogging about limerence, but it is very difficult to distinguish between someone who is “truly” in love, and someone deep in the limerent idealisation phase. It’s one of those situations where two fundamentally opposed worldviews both seem to explain all the facts. It’s also difficult to suppress the nagging fear that relationships without the limerent fireworks are somehow less romantically “true”.
At one level, this distinction doesn’t matter when it comes to practical solutions. As I’ve commented before, it is important to try and be objective and see that the strength of limerent feeling has almost no predictive power for how good a long-term partnership with LO would be.
Deep in the idealisation phase it is impossible to believe that your feelings for LO could ever change or diminish anyway. Sure, you might accept it intellectually, but you don’t really believe it. Not emotionally.
For those of us who have gone through limerence, we know this is a pleasant delusion. The reality is that the euphoria fades, and you are left to discover what you have left once the emotional rollercoaster pulls into the station.
The wisdom of hindsight can be especially bitter if you have taken actions that you come to regret.
2. The situation will be amplifying the limerence
This is a dilemma almost defined by uncertainty. There are indicators of reciprocation, but barriers to free expression of feelings. There are families that everyone wants to keep intact, but also the temptation of infidelity. The online distance adds yet more uncertainty – what would it be like to meet? Would the feelings survive closer inspection?
The angst that Rachel is going through comes from the uncertainty of unmet potential. She is feeling closer to LO than she has ever felt to anyone, but is it all an illusion? Is it all projection? Is it an emotional hunger that is being fed from a idealised Perfect Match, or is it true sustenance?
Rachel has come to the realisation that the doubts that have lasted through her marriage have some foundation. There was a psychological vulnerability lurking within, and meeting LO has caused it to transform into a romantic craving that is overwhelming. She has fallen in love by accident and does not now know what to do or where to go.
That is rocket fuel for limerence.
3. We do not know what is happening in LO’s head
Rachel and LO have never met in life. Their view of each other has been built up from online connections – deep conversations, shared photos, and clues gleaned from social media. She has a conception of him, but it is built on indirect knowledge. We all know that the persona we project online is not an unvarnished representation of who we truly are. That makes LO a mystery.
But beyond that somewhat obvious truism about the virtual world, there are more practical considerations. If Rachel decides that her marriage is not sustainable, it is far from clear that LO would be available for a new relationship. If they deepen their correspondence to an emotional or physical affair, would he push for more, pull back, or (most likely) yo-yo back and forth, keeping the limerence furnace fuelled with uncertainty?
LO motives are similarly unclear. Why is a married man corresponding so closely and frequently with a married woman on social media? How would his wife feel about seeing the messages between them? Is it really unreasonable to devalue a man who is – at best – heedless about the psychological impact of emotional intimacy with someone outside his marriage? At worst, he could be a manipulative narcissist.
One of the principles for recovery at LwL is “You don’t know how LO will react”. We kid ourselves that we understand LO so deeply that we can predict how they will react to what we say or do, but we’re usually wrong. This principle is even more relevant when our conception of them is 100% remote.
There isn’t a neat end to this post. Every option open to Rachel comes with painful trade offs. Under these conditions, the best strategy I know for making progress is to focus inwards and analyse yourself. What kind of life do you want to live? What kind of person do you want to be? The key mental shift is to not define your self-image on the basis of how other people make you feel, but to try and tease out who you really are and what you really want out of life.
There are several other posts that relate to this dilemma that might also be helpful: on obligation, Good LOs, and whether a non-limerent relationship is always inferior.
I’ll end by posing some provocative questions, in the spirit of trying to shake out some insight from uncomfortable truths:
- If you knew that LO would reject you, how would you act?
- Could you seek the emotional sustenance you get from LO elsewhere, and from someone you would not fall in love with?
- What do you think LO is getting out of your online relationship?
- Do you want your most meaningful romantic relationship to be founded on deceit?
- Do you think your husband is emotionally fulfilled?
OK. Over to the collective. Wisdom needed.
Wow! Rachel certainly finds herself in an interesting situation. First of all, it must be amazing (and discombobulating!) to experience “first limerence” in one’s 40s! I don’t know what to say. Congrats? Commiserations? A little of both maybe? 😜
Secondly, Rachel’s case sounds very intriguing (at least to me) because she hasn’t met her LO in real life. This is a purely virtual connection, a meeting of minds but not a meeting of bodies (at least not yet). I don’t really think it’s possible to judge chemistry without meeting someone in person. Some people form wonderful bonds online, then meet in person, and discover they have no chemistry whatsoever with the poor human they deemed so dreamy… (I am not suggesting Rachel should meet her LO. I am merely pointing out a truism of human nature).
I can relate to Rachel not wanting to devalue her LO. I myself am personally a little uncomfortable in general with the concept of “devaluation”. It can seem petty, unkind, spiteful. Also, it can turn into just another way of worshipping LO, and prolonging the obsession. (I.e. I’m not fixating on LO’s good points; I’m just lovingly fixating on LO’s ADORABLE bad qualities. Yay!). 😉
Speaking as a veteran of limerence, I can say with absolute enthusiasm if not with absolute knowledge that the “numinous pull” of limerence is an illusion. And this illusion will suck you in and pull you under and swallow you whole, just like a giant wave at the beach, should you and if you grant it power…
The “numinous pull” of limerence comes from neurotransmitters washing certain parts of the brain in pleasure. (At least that’s my understanding of the science. What are neurotransmitters again? Is dopamine a neurotransmitter?) 🙄
Released dopamine makes LOs look supernaturally beautiful to limerents. Released dopamine makes LOs seem super-special and desirable. Released dopamine makes LOs temporarily appear as gods and goddesses, saviours and paragons. Low levels of another neurotransmitter, serotonin I believe, is responsible for feelings of melancholy when one can’t get or hasn’t gotten a recent hit of dopamine from one’s LO. It’s a vicious cycle, my lovelies.
I am 40 years old now, and I am … cough, cough … having trouble getting “high” these days from limerence. This is not a boast about my amazing self-control. I actually think my brain has run out of the relevant chemicals, more’s the pity! 😆
Side note: do human brains produce a finite amount of dopamine over the course of a lifetime? Could one abuse one’s dopamine production and supply system so thoroughly i.e. through indulging in behavioural addictions such as limerence, that one basically runs out of reward chemicals well before the onset of old age? In my reckless youth, full of lurid fantasy, I think I may have used up my lifetime supply of dopamine. Now I’m running a little short on the good stuff. Help! 😉
All kidding aside, my moods are very stable these days. Low-level happiness all the time. I don’t really experience “melancholy” like I did in my teens. My word, it’s been a long time since I’ve been an official member of the “depression club”. Chocolates and biscuits don’t lift me to dizzying heights anymore, but interest in food continues to increase. I eat a lot more than I did when I was younger. Diet has been discreetly abandoned for the time being. 😉
I think Rachel should feel quite proud of the fact she followed her head and not her heart when she married. Nothing wrong with following one’s head when making important life decisions. (Will the INFJs in the back row please stop booing and hissing. I know you guys actually believe in soulmates, unlike the rest of the human population. And will the INFPs please stop bawling? This is not another episode of your favourite soap opera starring What’s-his-face). 😉😇
“I myself am personally a little uncomfortable in general with the concept of “devaluation”. It can seem petty, unkind, spiteful. Also, it can turn into just another way of worshipping LO, and prolonging the obsession. (I.e. I’m not fixating on LO’s good points; I’m just lovingly fixating on LO’s ADORABLE bad qualities. Yay!). 😉”
— Brilliant and insightful, once again. As for the ongoing dopamine supply, I wondered about this as well. I was bushwacked with a moderate limerent episode when I was in my early 40’s, around the time that my first marriage came unglued. After recovery and finding subsequent internal equilibrium I figured that this level of ‘high chemistry’ melodrama could never happen in my life again. I was now sufficiently wizened. Then…fifteen years later, WHAM I was hit by an even bigger emotive freight train, one that I feel as if I’ve barely survived or recovered from. So I’m feeling a bit humbled as of late. Lightning does seem capable of striking twice, at least when it comes to attraction, and my increasing stoicism over the years hasn’t seemed to be the perfect shield. But I’m totally hearing you here – maturity is a great process and does tend to even out certain waves. You, Sir, are a gifted writer!
I’ve just discovered this blog and only relatively recently become familiar with the concept of limerence at all. I’ve been gorging on so many different posts and threads. Rachel’s case study has resonated with me in a lot of ways, except for the ‘online only’ aspect. I work with my LO. I’m 50, married with kids, and have been in my first ever LE for nearly a year now. I’m blown away by the imagined heaven and living hell my brain has created. Almost impressed by its creativity, force and cruelty. Like Rachel, I was never limerent for my SO (married 22 years). In retrospect I wonder if he was limerent for me when we met and I responded to that on some level. I loved him (and still love him) because he was a thoughtful, caring man who didn’t play games and made his feelings clear to me. But I didn’t feel for him what I feel now for my LO. Not even close. I’ve never felt for anyone what I feel now, so yes, I’m blindsided. Btw, my LO is 15 years younger than me, so yeah, I’m a complete fool, but it feels like he gives me very mixed signals. I see from lots of reading that the definition of limerence includes the idealisation of the LO but I can see his flaws and I do feel I see him warts and all. I’m worried I’m close to disclosing to him, in the hope that he returns my feelings even a fraction. I’m not ready to devalue him, if that’s even advisable. I have to keep working with this guy after all. I desperately need advice on how to stop myself disclosing. Knowing it would be disastrous might not be enough of a deterrent to my addled mind. I’m a bit frightened of myself right now tbh.
Hi Aggy…you and I are the same person and situation, just opposite genders. I’m 50, married 22 years, my LO is a coworker who is 14 years younger, also married. Been at it about 15 months now.
So, I disclosed at about month 10 after feeling great compulsion to do so. You can actually read the real time lead up to my disclosure and the aftermath first in the “Rescue Fantasy” blog comments and then in the “New Years Purpose” blog comments.
I also wrote about it in the “When Not To Disclose” blog comments.
Bottom line…my LO only felt friendship, and my disclosure sent her into turmoil. She went thru a period of introspection and wanted to quit her job at times for which I did everything in my power not to have that happen. I’m lucky that she only internalized the knowledge and didn’t share it with others or her SO. That could have had great repercussions on me.
She has now come out of the introspection and we still have a warm in office relationship but I also practice a level of Limited Contact with her to help tamper my LE. LE did not go away because of disclosure.
All practical advice would tell you not to disclose. I generally agree with this, though I think there are circumstances where disclosure might be beneficial. But that depends on your specific relational dynamics with LO and also what you are trying to accomplish? Are you looking to get into an EA or PA or are you hoping disclosure and reciprocation will lessen the LE or maybe rejection? At best, rejection might lessen the LE. Any reciprocation will intensify it. Read Lost In Spaces story. He has gone through hell due to a fully mutual LE.
For me limited contact is the best form of lessening the LE. No Contact would be preferred but not possible.
I’m sure others will chime in on this as disclosure is one of the crux of limerence.
I never had a desire to disclose to LO. I instead disclosed to my wife. Unlike you or Speedwagon I never got mixed signals from LO. It was clear that she was just a warm hearted and kind woman. The perfect playground for limerence to make me think it was more than that.
“I’ve never felt for anyone what I feel now, so yes, I’m blindsided.”
The earlier you recognize this the better. I was deep down the rabbit hole before I was willing to recognize that my behavior and thoughts were not normal. Even before I knew what limerence was, I should have been able to see my behavior was different with her. But I didn’t. I finally disclosed because my wife had issues and suspicions about my behavior. So in my case (unlike many other people) disclosure was a positive thing. Four months later she is coming to forgive me and give me a chance to reconcile our marriage.
I don’t know if that is an option for you or not. But of what I have seen from either first hand comments or posts from Dr L disclosure to LO is usually not a good thing. Too many factors that a person might not be considering under the influence of limerence that could backfire. Especially in a professional setting like at the workplace. Thankfully sometime before LO left to another job she started seeing a man and that further complicated things. I don’t think I would have pursued her any, (I honestly felt very little romantic feelings for LO) but it certainly helped me keep things in perspective. If I had felt the need to disclose to LO it would have been in hopes of reciprocation or EA which would have worsened how this LE came out than it already has. I am fortunate to have as forgiving of a wife as I have for as far as it went.
Hi Aggy, I understand the desire to disclose. I’ve done it three times: twice to LOs and I disclosed everything to my SO. My current LO disclosed to me. It is always a bad idea to disclose to LO when either of you are in a committed relationship. You might consider disclosing to your spouse. Adam and I both disclosed to our spouses and it seems to be going well for us.
Please read the articles about disclosure. I hope we see you in the comments section again. We try to help each other stay grounded. Limerence is tricky. It is easy to make life-altering mistakes while under the influence of limerence. Talking about your ideas with fellow limerents can help you work through things instead of learning a lesson the hard way. I like how Speedwagon talked about EAs and PAs. Limerence can lead to affairs. You need to decide what is important to you. Decide what boundaries you will never cross. Think about those things when you aren’t drowning in a limerent cocktail of hormones.
Welcome to our club. Best wishes!
Thankyou guys, your responses are a lifeline. I did look at Speedwagon’s time lead of disclosure, and it does make me hesitate. My motivation was to try and help bring this to an end or expedite the death knell of the LE. My rational brain tells me that my LO enjoys our conversations but nothing more. It’s the glimmer I have to ignore. And his eyes. Oh help me, those divine brown eyes. A colleague made a throw away remark this week to someone else that my LO and I “speak in code” and that’s thrown me back in full tilt. I can’t disclose to him and I can’t disclose to my SO, although I see people have had mixed results. I’ll hang in there. I’ve just deleted The Cars “Why can’t I have you” from my most liked songs. Progress.
Hi Aggy, I have the same thing where my LO and I are so mentally in tune (despite the age difference) that people have commented after hearing our conversations (usually a mix of technical stuff mixed with our humor) that we so obviously “get” each other. Really, that is so hard to find in this world! Combine that with gorgeous eyes and it is hard not to ruminate “what if”.
The human mechanisms of bond pairing to produce and raise offspring are not switched off by marriage ceremonies or sharing a double bed. In a loving relationship they can lie dormant and redundant for years. Many situations can turn those mechanisms back on. Nature expects potential procreation opportunities with new partners to be followed up. The existing family siuation is for reasonable people a huge inertia against pursuing a new mate. It’s unfaithful, destabilising and threatening to a reasonable person who is trying to stick to vows made. Nature has a trick up its sleeve for these reluctant pro creators. Massive dopamine hits are on offer for those prepared to leave the existing family and start a new one. Panic, ambivalence, uncertainty and euphoria create huge internal stress. Limerence sets in and the battle between nature and conscience sets in. Limerence is the worst possible information for making a mate choice yet also the strongest drive to get you out of your procreation inertia and into bed with the new golden God or Goddess. It’s probably actually within the normal range of human experience but its extreme when it’s in full flow. It’s just been socially suppressed as a reality since Dorothy Tennov identified it. Dr.L has made the understanding of it and ways to try and deal with it accessible to all. I am just about out the other side of it and I was deluded and blinded by it. It’s tough to get out of it but the sooner you see it for what it is the better. No contact is the key and knowledge and personal therapy important too. Well that’s my six eggs worth.
Thanks Mike. Your post totally resonates with me and sounds like exactly my situation. Trying to live purposefully and trying to concentrate on work, family, hobbies. Intrusive thoughts keep coming in at regular intervals, but now trying to not let them worry me and let them sort of be there in the mind. Hoping that purposeful living will reduce the power of these thoughts. Total NC with LO does not seem to be possible/feasible as we live in the same building. Next best bet is to try to keep the interactions short and formal. Its a very hard situation, but need to fight it out as best as possible. Wish you all the very best.
Limerent Emeritus says
From one virtual limerent (LO #4) to another, Rachel and I should have a drink at the LwL meetup. I’m probably the closest kindred spirit on LwL.
I agree with No Contact but I disagree with devaluation. To me, devaluation is a temporary tactic at best. It might buy you enough time to disengage and let NC work its magic but it does nothing to address any of the issues. From what I’ve seen on LwL, it seems marginally effective. A complicit LO doesn’t necessarily make them a bad person. If you’re wrestling with a moral dilemma, they might be, too. I can tell Rachel all about complicit LOs who go off script.
The drivers of my LE/EA with LO #4 and Rachel’s drivers are different. I had previous LEs, this is her first. Lee and I went through an exchange about an author (?) who had a virtual correspondence for years that essentially collapsed when they finally met. I looked for it but couldn’t find it. There’s another string of posts somewhere about long-term compatibility with your LO.
If she reads enough blogs and comments, she’ll find everything in the blog addressed somewhere.
I’ve seen 3 long-term marriages dissolve to see at least one party go on to a successful subsequent marriage. I’ve seen long term marriages dissolve into mutual bitterness and unhappiness. There are a number of posters here who advocate for polyamory and open marriages. LwL has seen its share of EAs and PAs. There is more than one choice. Some tilt more in the direction of purposeful living than others.
There may be more than one good outcome or there may be no good outcomes. Pick one and roll the dice. Rachel won’t know until she picks one.
Thumbs up on the redhead!
Limerent Emeritus says
I can empathize with Rachael in that I was never limerent for my SO. A lot of this had to do with the fact that I was in an LE with LO#2 at the time I met SO, in full NC with LO#2, and ready to move on and SO came along and we hit it off from the start, no uncertainty, and she was just a fantastic person who was going to make a great life partner. But I never had passionate, I can’t live without you, soul mate feelings for my SO. We dated, it progressed, I made the choice to marry her, and we have done well as a team. 23 years later she still fantastic and actually more attractive to me now than when I first met her. We have a really great marriage and have raised 2 fantastic kids.
Rewind 1 year ago and I fall into an LE for the first time since getting married. It absolutely blindsides me and I have desires and passions for this woman that I have not had…since probably LO#1 in high school. I feel head over heels in love with LO#3 and my LE crystallizes to the point of absolute distress. I have thoughts of an EA and a PA. I take a few steps to pursue LO to the point of disclosure. I can understand the ‘soul mate’ like draw of all this. Is this what true love really feels like?
Well, I am coming to understand it is all an illusion. LO is actually not so great and SO is, and though I am passion filled for LO, I have recommitted to companionship and lasting love for SO and it feels good and right. It is what I committed to and it is what Rachael committed to.
I am not sure what Rachael’s marriage was like before LO came along but this scenario screams of making a choice for purposeful living. I am guessing the right choice is to her family and SO and that probably means full NC with LO. Because their relationship is purely online, logistically it is easy to go NC. Emotionally not so much, but that is the hole we limerents dig isn’t it.
Best wishes to Rachael.
I related to everything you’re saying here. Tracks almost identically to my history except I’ve only had one LO in my life, and it’s a real doozy… 22 years of on-off Limerence despite being married to an amazing man and raising two kids together. We’re an amazing team and we work… but still I’m drawn to this other man that, really, I know isn’t right for me.
I’m 45 and this is my first encounter with limerence. Hit me like a brick, so I can most certainly relate to what Racheal is up against.
Actually her story is very similar to mine, except my LO is not married but a player. (Narc)
Never did meet him in the flesh.
But if Racheal could go NC and wait a bit, she will come to see that he most definitely has flaws. LO is not her savior and probably not the answer to her prayers either.
It’s gonna be tough for her.
But she will need the crash to start the work on herself and her marriage.
( ooo I’m half way there..oooo I’m livin on a prayer) me! LOL
I was lucky in a sense that I came back down to earth after NC (way after) and I could see my LO as he actually was.
I do, however wish her all the best!
I was thinking some more about limerence today, and I got a brainwave… The brainwave relates to the question that sometimes arises at LwL over whether limerence is really such a big deal or not. I.e. what’s the harm in having an LO? Is limerence really the giant problem it’s sometimes made out to be? Can’t we all just have cake and eat it too?
Here are my initial thoughts:
Limerence is an addiction. Limerence is a behavioural addiction. Limerence can be thought of as “person attention”. More precisely, limerence is an addiction to attention received from a specific person…
Many people, however, in the throes of person addiction, don’t really perceive “person addiction” as a problem. It doesn’t disrupt their lives that much or greatly add to their unhappiness. Au contraire. Person addiction may greatly add to some people’s real and/or perceived levels of happiness in life.
So how can we reconcile these two opposing positions?
Personally, I think there is a “magic tipping point” in limerence where the delicious chocolate brownie of limerence turns into the disgusting radioactive sludge of limerence. When is this tipping point exactly? Well, personally, going off a combination of intuition and lived experience, I would say the tipping point where “limerence goes pear-shaped” is when the limerent experiences an unexpected disruption in the quantity and quality of dopamine hits they’re receiving from LO… Unexpected disruption in supply is when withdrawal pains kick in big time, and cravings intensify to the point of agony.
Not everyone who experiences limerence reaches the magic tipping point. Not everyone’s chocolate brownie turns to sludge. Hence, why different posters at LwL report radically different experiences of the same phenomenon. 🤔
There could be all sorts of reasons why a given LO stops providing regular dopamine hits to limerent. LO could have gotten married, for instance, or started dating if they were previously single. Unsurprisingly, they don’t have much time anymore for little limerent friend. Alternatively, LO could have gotten a more demanding job or started new hobbies or joined a new group of friends. Again, LO has less time to give little limerent friend.
The reason for LO’s retreat from previous closeness is not important. What’s important here is that the limerent’s addiction suddenly becomes apparent/transparent, even to the limerent himself. And the limerent’s addiction becomes a massive problem since the LO is no longer feeding the limerent the dopamine hits required for the limerent to feel okay.
When I was someone’s LO, I never felt like that person’s soulmate, regardless of what they said. Heck, I didn’t even feel like that person’s friend. How did I feel exactly? Well, to be brutally honest with you, I felt like that person’s unpaid babysitter. Now it may sound harsh to say that limerents sometimes treat their LOs like volunteer domestics, but that’s really what the dynamic felt like at times. 🤣
In short, I hope the above explain why it’s not a great idea to get hooked on dopamine releases generated by attention from another human being i.e. why obsessive love is a bad idea in general.
Yes, granted, while the dopamine hits are large and somewhat continuous, everything’s dandy. Limerence REALLY isn’t a problem – at least for a time. However, when LO decides to move on to other people/activities and has less time/energy to give limerent, forced withdrawal will hit said limerent like a ton of bricks. The limerent will (irrationally) feel mistreated by LO’s innocent desire to live life and/or spend time with other people.
I’m not suggesting for one minute that Rachel and her LO have any of these issues. This is just a general comment on the possible side-effects of being a little too fond of dopamine, and why a “beautiful friendship” can turn into a nightmarish estrangement overnight. I suspect dopamine is behind the numinous feelings associated with limerence. I suspect that very high levels of dopamine in the brain makes us “see the divine” in another i.e. infatuation/idealisation. 😉
I like the “tipping point” discussion point here. I think there is an absolute tipping point and it’s the turn from limerent bliss to limerent distress.
Based on stories here, distress seems to come in two varieties, first is distress because of the barriers between a limerent and their LO and second is distress because of unreciprocated feelings or gestures.
For me it was a combo of both and happened at about the 6 week mark after my glimmer.
I personally don’t believe limerance is as simple as when LOs “recipricating”/ giving attention I’m overjoyed and when LOs acting withdrawn I’m beyond devasted, allthough of course I’ve experienced those 2 scenarios like textbook. However there’s been times when in with LO and they were acting perfectly fine but out of nowhere i felt a aching depression in my heart for no reason or at least i don’t know the reason. I feel like. Its much more complicated then addiction. But understanding it is extremely difficult. For example most ppl are limerant for ppl they are attracted to yet i personally don’t even find my LO attractive.
Very well said!
Getting down to the nuts and bolts of it gives it clarity.. like THIS is what is really happening in our stupid heads! LOL
The More You Know..
Thanks for this post. I spend/spent a lot of mental and emotional trying to figure out why LO left. I know it’s the truth that the primary reason was that she was unhappy and stressed at this job and found a less stressful job.
But the lack of contact? Even when she worked here sometimes she’d call me at the office and ask how my weekend was or something along those lines. She always seemed friendly to me.
But more what I think of now, is if I was clingy, over-bearing, or needy with her. I tried to give her space, quite literally, personal space and mental space. I liked doing nice things for her but I also tried to be conscious of the fact that we are co-workers, she’s single and I am married, long before the glimmer ever happened. As a ISFJ I am told sometimes I can be “too there” for someone even though that is never my intention. I often wonder if a helped push LO out the office door a bit faster because I didn’t respect her boundaries whether it was intentional or not.
But all this overthinking isn’t going to matter as to any of the possible reasons LO left. She chose to leave and she chose to break contact when she left. I wish I knew just for the closure. But then I have read Dr L’s posts on closure and know that contacting LO would be devastating to my recovery of my addiction to her.
Thank you again for your comment. It’s very curious.
“Based on stories here, distress seems to come in two varieties, first is distress because of the barriers between a limerent and their LO and second is distress because of unreciprocated feelings or gestures.
For me it was a combo of both and happened at about the 6 week mark after my glimmer.”
That is very interesting. Two potential sources of distress. I have never thought of “barriers” as being a source of distress, but it makes perfect sense when pointed out…
For me, distress came when I inadvertently became “addicted” to my LO during a long friendship and my LO was “taken away from me” without warning – or, at least, that’s how my limerent brain (mis)interpreted events at the time.
The distress stemmed from the fact … I could no longer get my hands on the thing I was using to soothe myself i.e. kind and loving words, affection, attention, on a regular basis, from LO. (We exchanged a lot of letters and phone calls).
My LO did APPEAR to reciprocate my feelings for five whole years. And then, one day, he mysteriously stopped reciprocating. In reality, he got married and I think his wife was not very keen on sharing her husband with some of his old friends. I understand her point of view completely. If I was in her shoes, I would probably make many of the exact same judgement calls.
My LO was a self-described people-pleaser. He had good character, but very weak boundaries. I don’t know if he was nice to me because he liked me or if he was nice to me because he was nice to everyone, and kind of got an ego boost out of being known as a nice guy. I’m a male, and he was also male. There was never any physical intimacy between us, but he showed an interest in artistic stuff.
In hindsight, I think he was attracted to my artistic talent, and I mistook his attraction to my talent as some kind of hidden romantic interest. I think he wished he could be artistic like me, but the truth is he wasn’t. I think his friendship with me was based on an interest in and slight envy of creative people. He wanted to encourage me in my work (writing poetry) and maybe hoped some of my talent might rub off on him if he spent time with me. (It didn’t!!)
I think I have finally stopped hating him and I have finally stopped blaming him for all the intensely negative emotions I felt after he vanished from my life. Was the distress caused by the fact I couldn’t have him? Yes, quite possibly.
So, um, yes, for me, distress did not come from lack of reciprocation, but rather, from the abrupt cessation of apparent reciprocation – apparent reciprocation to which I had become accustomed and then heavily addicted. As far as my limerent brain was concerned, I had him and then I lost him. He might tell a different story. He would probably laughingly say that I never lost him because I never had him!
Funnily enough, when I was around him, I felt as if I was in the presence of the divine. He was beautiful. He looked like an angel from certain angles. (My brain definitely released lots and lots of dopamine in response to him!)
I’m so sorry, Rachel. Not sure I have much wisdom to offer. There are some similarities to my situation (although it sounds like my marriage is much less fulfilling than yours is – sexless for almost 9 years, never mutual LE, but very much a “right” decision for both of us to marry). But my LE (like yours, my first in decades, and certainly the first since marriage) was somewhat reciprocated before LO apparently decided that continuing a PA was not wise or moral. And while he is most assuredly correct, he never spoke to me about that decision, just decided to pretend nothing happened after a brief sexual encounter, and 9 months later it is still unaddressed even though we need to see each other for work once a month or so. He flirts now and then, will be in contact privately now and then, say he wants to “catch up” and then ghost me when I ask when he would like to meet.
I guess my advice is this: devaluing one’s LO doesn’t always work! I am not in classic LE anymore – I no longer idealise LO, for example — but I am still obsessed with him, but now it is nothing but pain. My obsessions are not so much pleasant fantasies, but more about why he did what he did, why he won’t talk to me, why I am so worthless that he won’t apologise etc. I am livid with how he has treated me, and that he has totally evaded any adverse consequences for it. He has never even faced the pain he caused me. So in other words, turning your fantasies into nightmares, and your idealisation into “demonisation”, in my case has only turned into constant heartbreak, depression, and frustration. So I am not sure devaluing is necessary, and it is certainly not sufficient, for ending an LE.
NC is another story – for me LC has been helpful. (Full NC not possible unless and until I quit work).
I think DrL’s advice is (as ever!) sound – think about his questions and examine yourself. And do so with the knowledge that an LE will fade, the devil you know is almost certainly not worse than the devil you don’t, and that blowing up your life for someone you’ve never met is a huge risk.
I wish you all the best (truly, not in the Gwyneth Paltrow sense!).
Limerent Emeritus says
If they’re ghosting you, blowing hot and cold, etc., being angry with them and seeing their behavior for what it is isn’t devaluation.
It’s a healthy response to being mistreated.
Devaluation is seeking faults or flaws that don’t directly relate to their behavior as it relates to you that you leverage for your purpose; like getting past an LE. It’s a fabrication.
It’s one of the reasons that I’m not a fan of devaluation.
It’s a complex web, your evaluation of your own behaviour, then onto their behaviour. Objectively and subjectively. Analysis of probably numerous transactions and communications in many different situations. The rights and wrongs of both parties. Its like you need a team of anthropologists, psychologists and ethical advisors all working together in your own head to make judgements and decisions. Any of the evidence may be tainted by rose coloured glasses, sour grapes or limerent exhaustion. Then you get a warm message from LO and everyone critical of the goings on in your head is ushered out while you bathe in the latest dopamine bath. The whole analytic team then have to be ushered back into your head a few days later when an ambiguous test is received. Much deliberation, assessment and soul searching ensues while some part of you sits at the back of the court thinking, this is all a waste of time because it’s completely flawed and dysfunctional. Oh hang on LO has a couple of hours free next Tuesday. Court dismissed.
This was so brilliant! Love the idea of a team of analysts. Great analogy, Mike. You put a smile on my face. Thank you!
What a great way to put it Mike. If only we could not over-analyze. I haven’t found devaluing LO to work very well in my case, maybe it works well for others.
Some interesting ideas there, mate. Let’s unpack them, shall we, for the sake of the group? 😉
“If they’re ghosting you, blowing hot and cold, etc., being angry with them and seeing their behavior for what it is isn’t devaluation.
It’s a healthy response to being mistreated.”
I admire the fiery passion in your statement and your compassion for fellow limerents. However, I don’t agree with you fully. You’re clearly batting for “Team Limerent” and your bias is showing. Remember, part of recovery from limerence is developing insight into and empathy for how your LO might be feeling…
If an LO ghosts a limerent, for example, it may be because the limerent’s desire for attention from the LO has become suffocating/overbearing/overwhelming to the LO. LOs, at the end of the day, are simply human beings, and human beings sometimes need “emotional breathing space” from other human beings. 😇
I think if an LO ghosts a limerent, in some cases, that’s just the LO acting out of self-preservation. The super-close relationship has become oppressive to one party. The LO is in the right (for seeking space) and the limerent is in the wrong (for being too pushy). However, ghosting someone is also the height of bad manners. Ideally, the LO would respectfully inform the limerent what has gone wrong in the connection and why the LO now validly needs some space. 🤔
Blowing hot and cold is a bit of a different matter. I agree that mixed signals are incredibly annoying. People who blow hot and cold, in my opinion, usually do so because they don’t know what they want. This sounds like your LO #2. She was the INTJ, right? I’m an INTJ too, and honestly, I think I fell in love with that woman the moment I heard about her! Her behaviour kind of makes sense to me! The lady was a free spirit, basically, and you were trying to take away her freedom under the guise of love. Can you really blame her for brilliantly outmanoeuvring you? (I’m good-naturedly teasing you, mate, just in case you can’t tell). 😜
Now back to the main discussion: I think most limerents in the throes of limerence don’t actually have enough clarity to judge whether they’re being mistreated or not. This is one of the big problems with limerence – when clarity goes out the window, fairness also goes out of the window. 🤔
Let’s put it another way. I may have suffered terribly as the result of limerence. Nevertheless, as an INTJ – a personality type admittedly obsessed with fairness – I insist all parties in a squabble receive a “fair trial”. Fairness as a principle cannot be jettisoned just because someone’s feelings got hurt. I am neither “Team Limerent” nor “Team LO”. I reserve the right to speak eloquently on behalf of both camps. If we allow our biases alone to guide us through difficult waters in intellectual debates, we will never arrive at the deeper truths of existence. We will never evolve as individuals. We will never learn what it is to be human. 😉
“Devaluation is seeking faults or flaws that don’t directly relate to their behavior as it relates to you that you leverage for your purpose; like getting past an LE. It’s a fabrication.
It’s one of the reasons that I’m not a fan of devaluation.”
I think devaluation is such a controversial concept because there’s a great deal of confusion over what the term “devaluation” even means in a limerence context, let alone any other context. I imagine what Dr. L means is not so much “devaluation” (trashing someone’s real and/or imaginary bad qualities) but “de-idealisation”. I.e. limerents typically put LOs on pedestals, and learning to stop putting LO on pedestal is a crucial first step to recovery. 😉
Dr. L is presumably asking for “re-evaluation of LO’s real and/or perceived merits” and not “devaluation” per se. Dissing someone’s bad qualities purely for the sake of dissing someone’s bad qualities is little more than random emotional abuse, and I don’t think that’s what recovering limerents are encouraged to do at all… 🤔
So, in a limerence context, devaluation doesn’t mean (or shouldn’t mean) gloating about all your LO’s fabricated flaws and genuine shortcomings. In a limerence context, devaluation means (or should mean) admitting your LO is just a human being with all the quirks and foibles and hang-ups human beings have. I.e. LO gets tired, sick, hungry, bored, randy, distracted, the same as everyone else. 😆
Dr. L doesn’t want us to devalue our LOs, I feel. Dr. L wants us to humanise our LOs so that there is no longer such an unhealthy asymmetry to the relationship.
Okay, that’s enough “man-plaining” from Mr Sammy for today. Gosh, I love playing the “wise-but-grumpy village elder” to people who are older than me!! 😁
P.S. I’m not picking on you, Limerent Emeritus. You know I’m a big fan of your frequent contributions, right? Love, love, love your work! So much fun to read! 😜
Limerent Emeritus says
I never expected much of a response to that post. It’s actually flattering. At this point, I see myself as kind of a docent on LwL. In that context, I can justify repeating myself over and over. Tour guides at museums give the same speech all the time to new audiences.
I don’t disagree with you. Your points are all valid.
In response to your posts:
LO #2 is the redhead ESTJ. LO #4 is the redhead INTJ. Get it right! 🙂
Your post got me thinking about the 4Ds:
As you point out, the Ds have subtle but distinct differences. It’s easy to use the wrong one. Whether you’re on the giving end or receiving end depends on the verb tense.
WRT LO #2, I didn’t feel devalued by her. Until the day we parted company, to hear her talk, I was the best thing that ever happened to her. However, she could be incredibly demeaning, all without obvious malice. She could be just that callously insensitive.
WRT LO #4, I never felt devalued by her. I doubt she gave me enough thought to bother devaluing me. I felt dismissed by her. I found her dismissive behavior demeaning. One D led to another D. That pissed me off. One therapist said that I didn’t take being demeaned well. So, when I felt dismissed by LO #4, I went to war with her. In her goodbye, she said, “I’ve been thinking about this for several weeks.” That made me feel good. I was in her head, at least for a little while.
LO #4 and I never actually spoke to each other. I think there was a reason for that. Actually talking to each would have made things even more real and I don’t think either of us wanted to go there. I know I didn’t. The EAP counselor asked me where LO #4 was. She was outside Seattle. The EAP counselor said, “Lucky for you.” My response was if LO #4 was 25 miles away vice 2500, this could have played out entirely differently.
Going tangential: And, another kicker of the virtual LE, you don’t get to actually interact with your LO. The best you can do is something like Facetime. I never got to actually look into her eyes, I didn’t get to actually her the inflection in voice when she was communicating with me, I never got to bury my face in her hair and smell her scent, and I didn’t get to read her body language. LO #4 has a lot of YouTube videos and we were virtual pen-pals for over 5 years. I know what she looks and sounds like. I know her cadence and inflection. I know her sense of humor. She said that she liked my imagery and snark. In some of her post-break up videos, I got an idea what she looked like after she hit bottom. When I read her messages, I could hear and see her speaking to me. This woman was way more of a threat than I realized.
Back on topic:
To me, “devalued” does carry negative connotation. It comes up regularly in posts about spouses of limerents and DrL published a guide on “how to practically respond to devaluation by a limerent partner.” Devaluation came up a lot in LO #4’s correspondence to me.
As you note, I think de-idolization is more accurate. DrL covers Idealization https://livingwithlimerence.com/the-psychology-of-limerent-idealisation/. There’s also a discussion of it in https://livingwithlimerence.com/therapy-for-limerence/#comment-1469 [since you’re already in love with my XLO, I tossed this in. She’s referred to as LO #3 there. I added previous LO and renumbered them.]
OT: If you’re interested, I’ll pass on her name via DrL. I can see this one:
“Hi, you don’t know me but one of your former moderators is posting all about you on site called “Living with Limerence.” He has a lot of interesting things to say about you. From one INTJ to another, you sound like somebody I’d really like to get to know.”
“There are nineteen rules governing literary art in domain of romantic fiction — some say twenty-two…
13. Use the right word, not its second cousin.” – “Fennimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses” – Mark Twain https://twain.lib.virginia.edu/projects/rissetto/offense.html
Limerent Emeritus says
Continuing the discussion…
Your post reminded me of another Shari Schreiber article. To me, it relates.
“The loss of connection with someone we’ve valued/cherished is hard enough to manage–but feeling underestimated by them adds insult to injury! If we’ve acquired the capacity to handle confrontation and resolve conflicts, and someone exits the relationship emotionally and/or physically instead of discussing their concerns, it’s a betrayal of the trust and affection we’ve shared. When this happens, it leaves us feeling diminished and angry, because here’s what they’re passively expressing: “I don’t regard you as capable of resolving this issue with me,” or “I’m uncomfortable sharing my real feelings with you,” or “You and your feelings don’t matter here,” and “It’s easier (on me) to forfeit this connection and disappear, than to muster the courage I need to repair it.”
Someone’s personality could be naturally more direct or confrontive than yours; they might have traits that seem very matter-of-fact, controlling or harsh, but they may be unaware that these aspects intimidate or frighten others. Strong personality traits can make them seem volatile and threatening, making you want to avoid them whenever possible…
Unwillingness to speak about what we’re feeling prompts destructive, passive-aggressive behavior. When it comes to slowing the pace of an intimate involvement or wanting to leave, our passivity drives certain actions that are far more injurious to another, than if we stated our concerns and/or needs!…” – https://sharischreiber.com/whos-doing-your-dirty-work/
I went straight at LO #4. I was pretty direct. I accused her of stonewalling me. Her response was, “Because of what you said, I thought it best not to respond to certain things.”
In reality, LO #4 dismissed me. She made a unilateral decision and what I thought or felt didn’t matter.
If you want to pull the string of Passive-Aggressive behavior, check out Martin Kantor https://admin.umt.edu.pk/Media/Site/SSH/SubSites/cp/FileManager/Ebooks/DCPe-26.pdf Just skip to page 145.
When dealing with LOs, their behavior, and ours, can come across as Passive-Aggressive.
Maybe DrL can do a blog on limerence and Passive-Aggressive behavior.
Limerent Emeritus says
“Can you really blame her for brilliantly outmanoeuvring you?”
LO #4 didn’t out maneuver me. I stopped attacking. I saw it was the wrong way to approach her.
From the way we bantered, I thought she could handle it. I was wrong. I quoted the Personality Page article in an apology to her.
“Make come true the feelings I’ve been dreaming of.”
It’s a curse and LO did nothing to stoke the fire. But I keep poking at it and keeping it warm enough to keep it burning when she done doused it with water. You’d think by now I’d realized LO doesn’t have any stake in this. But I still keep throwing out my emotional energy and absolutely getting _____ nothing in return. Why is it so damn difficult to devalue someone who you valued at such a high pedestal despite their either complete disinterest or indifference?
Why does this woman mean so much to me? I’m 45, shouldn’t I have my shit together?
“Everybody knows it’s true, everybody knows I’m hooked on you.”
But to devalue her isn’t kind. She didn’t do anything to solicit my limerence. She was just a nice lady, apparently, in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s not her fault. I have already defended her to my own wife numerous times. How am I suppose to devalue her? And why should I? She’s a wonderful woman, a loving mother, a hard worker, and a dedicated partner. Why do my failings constitute her value?
“You got your dreams to follow, but if I had the chance tomorrow, you know I’d do it all again.”
And I would. In a second. Just for that high again I’d endure all the pain over again. All the uncertainty, marital angst, and emotional turmoil. Just for that rush again when I hear her say my name and smile at me with those sparkling green eyes.
I get the strategy of at least realistically looking at LO. Most of us have elevated LO. I know I post a lot of lyrics; music has been speaking to me more than before in my emotional state. I’m kind of coming apart on this one. I know I am not being very coherent today. I would like to get LO out of my head and heart but at the same time I don’t want to let go. Even the tiniest bit of LE feels better than thinking about letting her go.
I remember the first time I found out that the name LO went by when I met her wasn’t her first name. I’ve always know LO by that name and I couldn’t imagine calling LO by any other name. Her and another co-worker (where she worked before) had the same first name so LO went by another name for distinguishing purposes. I told LO that I couldn’t think of calling her any other name. LO said it was okay to keep calling her by that name, even though I was the only one in office that still did when I was working with her. Oh boy oh boy did I ride that high. I called her by a name that only I did and she was okay with that. In fact she wanted me to call her that. Wow. It’s a shame that a simple nice thing from LO seems the world to you, and you are the one doing it to yourself and not them to you. And it just drags you in further. It’s like quicksand, the more you struggle the more you sink but at some point you either calm yourself and get free or you surrender and sink. I almost want to surrender.
Allie 1 says
“I would like to get LO out of my head and heart but at the same time I don’t want to let go. Even the tiniest bit of LE feels better than thinking about letting her go.”
” It’s like quicksand, the more you struggle the more you sink but at some point you either calm yourself and get free or you surrender and sink. I almost want to surrender.”
Yup, that totally sums up my LE experience too. Calm acceptance has not freed me completely but over time it has gradually given me the head space to live with purpose again.
What has helped me in the time since LO left is that her life now, is the way she wants it. And it seems to be good for her and her daughters and she seems, much more than she was before, happy and less stressed. It would be incredibly selfish for me to interfere in what she has now just for my own reward. She deserves better than that. If I really do care about her in a selfless way than I will do what is best for her.
It’s not much consolation to the pain but at least I can have hope that by doing the right thing, whatever LO does think of the time we had together it is possibly positive. Rather than ruin that possibility I’ll continue NC.
Allie 1 says
I also find this story very relatable.
I have never succeeded in devaluing LO either. He is not perfect but is good to the core, and I don’t believe it is healthy for the human mind to spend time focussing on petty judgements and criticisms… we are what we think after all.
Rachel says of SO “they never had the effortless emotional communion she enjoys with LO”. The combination of mutual limerence neurochemicals and carefully cultivated online communication makes emotional communion effortless. This would not bear out if a long term real partnership followed. No relationship is effortless in the long term domestic partnership format no matter how romantic or intense the it is to being with.
The head vs heart debate is also interesting… I chose my SO (and current LO) using both head and heart. Head alone or heart alone would just not work for me, it must be both.
I am fortunate in that I married an LO so know that the end result of an LO relationship vs non-LO is exactly the same after 5 or so years. But those first few years with LO/SO…. wow, some of my best! I deeply crave that experience again so the thought of that with someone new will always be tempting. And if that person came with other “head based” benefits over SO, such as possessing lovely qualities that I deeply admire and knowing from rationally understood experience that we would be good together… sigh…. the temptation is even more powerful. It is the thought of the damage I would cause to those I love that has always held me back, and that I would profoundly miss my SO as I love him. I just don’t think there is any one right or wrong answer to what do in this situation but most people ultimately stick with their current partner becuase it is lower risk.
I believe my LO has moved on emotionally now so not even an option for me, if it ever was. I just wish I could do the same! I am not really suffering just find life a little flat and lonely even with purpose 🙁
There are many interesting observations in the comments above this one. The concept of devaluation seems like an idealised theory which hasn’t ever worked for me. Trying to be more realistic about LO – maybe that helps. Rachel’s experience is new to me – an online LE.
In my more impatient moments I sometimes want to bluntly advise everyone to be strong and go with NC if at all possible. Yet here I am again seeking knowledge, hope and relief from every new comment I read. I’ve been NC for three months. I’d like to think that could be a tipping point, especially as I have not seen LO for a year.
That’s the rub though because LO and his SO took the trouble to visit me a year ago. There were several hugs. I remember every detail, of course.
Apart from the specific lwl blog on the subject, I haven’t read much about ghosting. Sammy’s observations on the subject are welcome and, if I’m brutally honest, I realise that I was that pushy limerent from time to time. WhatsApp (chat now deleted) was so easy….
I feel very much the limerent who was in the wrong, given all the circumstances, and I am still currently having to get by day by day.
It amazes me how, like Adam, these invasive feelings can remain so powerful, even with attempts at purposeful living. Whilst the messages are now gone, I still recall the deep affection that was shown to me and it is that memory that wants me to challenge being ghosted.
I want to say: “I now realise that you are ghosting me. I was slow to pick up the vibes. Being ghosted by a close friend without an explanation is truly horrible, a deep cut. I think I now understand what happened. This has hurt me a lot because, believe it or not, you became my closest friend and mutual confidante.” I do not plan to send such a message.
I should probably delete this regurgitated ramble but I’ll leave it here, for what it’s worth, because today I’m in the quicksand (analogy courtesy of Adam). Incidentally, Adam, I can assure you that, where emotions are concerned, wisdom doesn’t always come with age. Unlike you, though, I would definitely not endure this pain again if I could wind the clock back three years.
You’re comment reminded me of a song lyric (that seems to be happening a lot lately) about the strong feelings and the missing of LO despite long lengths of time.
“I was blinded by what I didn’t want to see
And I knew all along you were gonna leave
So why do I still wish you’d miss me?”
Nine months down the road of NC and I would light up like the sun if she called me or I got to see her. It doesn’t matter if I perceived she has been cold or distant to me intentionally. I would hug her and all would be forgiven no matter her intentions for maintaining her side of NC, or if she is just living her life.
I think the reason the feelings stay so intense is if I admit it, if I had the glimmer for LO when she was still single I may have taken a chance. I would have taken the chance to see if she felt the same way. If she was only holding back because of the marriage too. I felt a mutual pleasant connection when we would talk. But before the glimmer I didn’t think of her that way at all, and wonder if some of the lingering feelings are of regret that I didn’t find out for sure. Was the pair bonding of limerence meant to be? Or was it the wrong place and the wrong time? These questions play at me, when I think of LO. Would LO have been happy with me if she did feel the same? Was it better she be with the man that she is with and limerence was a curse rather than a blessing?
A lot of what if’s I know. And admitting that I might have acted differently if LO had been receptive is a big thing to admit to myself. Even contemplating ending marriage for another woman is a big pill for me to swallow. But in the end I think all involved are better off where they are even if it me that has to suffer. Because honestly what kind of foundation for a relationship is built on limerence and ending a marriage because of an altered state of mind? Not a good one.
But as Bobby Gonzales sang ….
“Though I know it’s over now, for me it never will be
You’ll go on to someone else, forgetting all about me
Don’t tell my heart to stop loving you
You know that’s more than my heart can do
Now and for all of my whole life through
Don’t tell my heart to stop loving you”
Limerent Emeritus says
Another oldie but goodie…
“Am I That Easy to Forget” – Engelbert Humperdinck (1969)
Attached limerents have to tweak the lyrics a little but the sentiment’s the same.
Wow that’s a just bit too relatable. Like it though and added to the playlist.
“Sometimes you have to accept someone else’s choice even if it will hurt you more than they will ever know.”
Is there a Master Playlist? So many amazing songs I have learnt from you guys.
Limerent Emeritus says
The answer is “No,” no master playlist.
There are two related blogs.
The first is an early blog. As DrL added more content, it fell into disuse. More and more songs got added to individual blogs and comments. Also, on the original LwL, posters could directly imbed videos. When LwL was updated, we couldn’t. As a result, a lot of links are unlabeled. There are a lot of good songs and videos on there.
I post and try to title my posts “Song of the…” So, searching any given blog would trip the songs without wading through all the comments.
There are so many facets to limerence that making a master list I think would be hard. We could pick a topic under the Music blog and make each thread it’s own genre. Limerents, LOs, Infidelity, Goodbyes & Rescue Songs to name a few.
Every time I try to devalue my LO I just wind up devaluing myself. There’s no “good” and “bad” LO, there’s only whether or not he sees me as good or bad, and what I did to deserve it. When I try to fixate on something wrong, the ruminating just gets worse. Did I provoke that reaction? Or what’s wrong with me that this is what I desire? My thoughts are most quieted by the idea that he feels the same but cannot pursue because of his circumstances and strength of character. I know that type of thinking will delay a resolution, but at least it causes fewer intrusive thoughts.
A couple of points.
Be careful about rewriting history. I cannot speak for Rachel, but we can look back at our ongoing relationships as having been always stale, or never fulfilling when under the effects of limerence. Small incompatibilities become deep issues, that they weren’t until we had found another to pop on a pedestal with comparison to our current spouse.
I think the online thing is a particularly red flag. I know there’s limerents here who’ve fallen for folks online, but when ‘you’ve never felt like this before’ for somebody you’ve not met in an embodied sense, and whose feelings for you, you don’t know for sure then this really is fantastical limerence and likely rooted in your own unmet needs, rather than something of genuine potential.
I’ve not really tried devaluing LOs. I think it would be quite hard, and would feel a bit unauthentic… Which might sabotage my commitment to NC. For example, convincing myself LO is awful, might also allow me to convince myself that we can just hangout because I’ve realised how awful they are. I find it more useful to acknowledge that I think they’re great, that I’m a bit mad, and so I need to stick to NC.
“devaluing LOs…would be quite hard, and would feel a bit unauthentic… Which might sabotage my commitment to NC. For example, convincing myself LO is awful, might also allow me to convince myself that we can just hangout because I’ve realised how awful they are. I find it more useful to acknowledge that I think they’re great, that I’m a bit mad, and so I need to stick to NC.”
Good points here, Thomas. But I see “Devaluing LO” more as “de-idealising them” – in other words, not making them “awful” but rather seeing their flaws clearly, focussing on the (in my case many) times they have hurt or humiliated you, and then bringing them off the pedestal on which we have placed them. I agree with you 100% that thinking that you can break NC since “I’m over it now” is a trap. I’m using a variation of your last sentence as my mantra: “I am strongly attracted to them even though they are unhealthy for me, the relationship is harmful to me, and I need to stick to NC”.
If idealizing LO is a fallacy, so too is devaluing them. Devaluing them is playing the same game, just in the other direction. It doesn’t really deal with the heart of the problem, which is limerents projecting in their heads some sort of value judgement onto LO. The person who said devaluing LO feels like devaluing ourselves is onto something. Because any value we place on LO is about ourselves, not them. Asking what it is that LO represented to you and how you might meet that need in yourself in a different way might get closer to actual growth than playing some weird mind sleight of hand. Some LOs are good. Some LOs are bad. That is irrelevant. It’s like saying there are good and bad people in the world generally. The problem is that your mind made them into an Object (I always imagine a full length mirror) that is hugely intrusive to the point it causes distress. The question to ask is why?
Why? I would say that is different for each limerent and their LO. Me? LO was fulfilling I need that wasn’t getting met at home. Why I wasn’t doesn’t too much matter. What mattered that it wasn’t and LO inadvertently filled that need just being the kind sweet lady that she is. She did it unknowingly and I responded somewhat unknowingly to what was going on. Hopefully she will not mind, but the much insightful poster Miss Lovisa put it this way ….
“Adam’s masculine instincts were awakened by his LO: he could do nice things for her and her kids (provide), he had his eye on that boy who dated LO’s daughter and on LO’s new SO (protect), he would love to be in the role of LO’s new SO and be the man in her life and her daughters’ lives (preside). His LO woke up his instincts and made him feel alive. Adam was designed to do those things (in my opinion, he was designed to do those things by an all-knowing Creator). His spirit saw an opportunity to be what he was created to be and it woke him up.”
I think I am up to 125 songs on my youtube limerence playlist. This being the most recent addition. While I have known this song since came out, in limerence it makes much more sense. Both in regard to my wife and LO.
Sometimes When We Touch — Dan Hill
For me my LO devalued himself. Turned out later he was married with kids, which I didn’t know at the time and which helped me see things clearly, realistically. I feel awful for being pulled into something like that without knowledge, could of never ever forgive betrayal like that. There is devaluation, there is no future, no contact and will never be.
Devaluation helps in a sense, as I feel repulsion by the thought of it all, a nightmare, a headache. However, I still can not stop intrusive thoughts of whatever nature. In that sense devaluation didn’t help the way I hoped it will, as now, besides a broken heart, I also have intrusive negative thoughts/feelings of hurt for being played, shame & spite I didn’t see it earlier, fantasies of revenge and whatnot. Still preocupying me far too much to be normal, almost a year after disclosure. And making me feel despair it will never end. Or feeling totally helpless (I know this is not true, but at moments I feel like that).
All of this has just been an extra proof to me how much this ill-sort-of-love has been purely a product of my mind, with a little base in reality. A ~circle~ of wrongly connected synapses, lighting far too often under changed brain chemistry, keeping themselves in stand.
The worst are the mornings: in my dreams I am free, but then the reality kicks in and punches me in te stomack after awakening. Every morning without exception, again and again. No devaluation helps against that.
At moments and out of pure despair, I have thougts of electroconvulsive therapy, or even lobotomy, just for pain to finally go away. To stop. To forget.
I also often feel misplaced in time. Like I am too gentle for world as it often apears to be now. That (limerent-type-of-loving) person like me will never be able to find equal, honest, respectful and reciprocative love. Only to go through mud and thorns of ‘casual dating’. So why bother…
I hope you’re feeling better now, Draga. I had the same feelings towards an LO who treated me extremely badly – and confusingly – and I was in such a state for a long time, feeling devastated, unwanted, confused and angry. I even thought about messaging his mum on Facebook (who I didn’t know and who didn’t even know I existed) to tell her what a bad job she’d done with her horrible son!
It went away, through forced NC (I had to leave my job), but I still sometimes think about it with rancor and humiliation. Such is the lot of a limerant personality I suppose. Not that I know much, having only just, at the age of 50, discovered the concept of limerance. I am so glad I did though, as I have spent my life thinking I’m a horrible person and wondering why I can’t be like everyone else.
Anyway, this is just to empathise and hope you are feeling OK.