Sammy got in touch with a great suggestion for a post topic:
Dorothy Tennov writes in her book that limerents often feel betrayed by their LOs (presumably after things have gone south). If you or any of your contributors have any insights to share, that would be appreciated.
Why do limerents feel betrayed? Is it because LOs act unexpectedly or do something that proves they’re not in love with the limerent? After my friendship with my LO came to a natural end, I felt betrayed. Feeling betrayed seemed to make it harder to move on too. Why did I feel my LO owed me something? Why did I feel he belonged to me in some weird way? What is the betrayal business all about? Is there a chemical basis to feeling betrayed as well?
Lots of good questions, there. Let’s start with the last.
The neuroscience of betrayal
Betrayal is a complex mix of emotions. It’s linked into anger, disgust, violation, fear, and desire for revenge. It’s one of those cases where a fairly high-level cognitive task activates multiple subcortical systems that trigger physiological responses (especially arousal, disgust/contamination, and stress responses). Those systems cause profound changes in your body, but it’s the context that determines the emotions you actually feel.
To illustrate this point: arousal can be triggered by lust, fear, excitement, anger, shock – all those stimuli increase alertness, heart beat rate, sweat production, pupil dilation and more – but it’s the context in which it happens that determines the overall experience for you as an individual.
In the context of betrayal, there are some studies that show increased activity in the anterior insular cortex during games of trust (e.g. games where money is staked between you and a stranger and you have the chance to cooperate or cheat). That’s interesting because the insula is involved in precisely this process of selecting emotional context. The anterior insular cortex controls disgust and indignation (amongst other things) – so that’s how you link those negative emotions to a betrayal of trust.
This is all fascinating stuff, but mostly descriptive – we can identify those areas of the brain that are active when we anticipate the risk of betrayal – but there isn’t a simple neurochemical substrate. Similarly, knowing which regions of the brain light up doesn’t give much predictive power. The real question is why does the behaviour of an LO trigger feelings of betrayal?
Let’s work through the possibilities
You feel betrayed because you were betrayed
The simplest scenario to understand is the one where your feelings are entirely justified. Sometimes LOs can deliberately cultivate a false connection, because they want to get you hooked on them. Sometimes you just are betrayed.
This can take several forms – shared secrets are passed on, intimacy is used to manipulate your feelings, the LO can hint at exclusivity or commitment in the relationship but continue to play the field. Often they are purposefully vague or oblique, betting that if you discover their duplicity later they can plausibly deny it. They are perfectly happy with your misapprehension of the situation.
It’s understandable to feel betrayed under these conditions – you gave of yourself in the expectation of reciprocity that never came. They cheated you emotionally, even if they could legalistically point out that they never actually agreed that you were “a couple” precisely.
Becoming limerent for someone untrustworthy is bound to lead to betrayal.
The next scenario is also simple, but painful. You develop feelings for LO, perhaps after an initial period of flirtation that gives you hope, and start to get excited about the romantic possibilities. If the limerent glimmer kindles into a nice fire before you declare yourself and make a move, it can really hurt when they reject you.
No one likes to be rejected, despite it being an almost inevitable aspect of life. It wrecks your mood, leads to anger and embarrassment, and the stinging shame of having misread the situation and fallen for false hope. You took an emotional risk, you made yourself vulnerable, and they did not value the offer of your romantic self enough to accept.
Risk taking is stressful, and emotional risk taking has big consequences. You felt the connection was special and so built up the courage to take a chance and find out for sure, but they shattered your illusions. It’s as though they don’t recognise the magnitude of what you’ve offered. It feels like they don’t care how crushed you are.
Sometimes we can react to these situations with anger. We’re affronted that they could have been so heedless, and careless with our hearts. That can curdle into a sense of betrayal.
The third scenario to consider is an extension of the last. If you are deeply bonded to LO before you risk disclosure, the sense of betrayal will be even greater when they reject you. The more you emotionally invest in them, the more you build up hope and expectation.
This is the classic trap of the friendzone. You know they like you, but aren’t sure how much they *like* you. You fear that being too frank will spook them, and so you hold your romantic cards close to your chest. There can be lots of confounding factors – perhaps they’ve previously given an ambiguous response, perhaps they have a dismissive-avoidant attachment style and pull you in only to cast you out. Regardless, the fundamental problem is that by staying close to them, oxytocin will be doing its work of forming a bond. That bond will arouse a powerful sense of connectedness for you, making them a source of emotional sustenance and giving them central importance in their life.
Unfortunately, the same thing isn’t happening for them.
Now, a complication here is that there are multiple levels of friendship. You would expect a Good Friend to be sensitive to your feelings, to make some sacrifices because they care about you – and you would certainly feel betrayed if they started broadcasting your secrets to the world, for example. But you probably wouldn’t feel betrayed if they started a new relationship. In fact, you’d likely be happy for them.
Sammy’s question is actually a good barometer of this: do you feel that LO owes you more emotional commitment than your other friends? If so, it’s because you have formed a deeper affectional bond, and that explains why you feel betrayed – and not just sad – when the friendship falters.
Your judgement is distorted
What causes the kind of bad decision-making that pushes you into the friendzone? Well it may well be because limerence completely knackers your judgement. Bluntly, you are more likely to misread situations and make poor decisions when you are deep in limerence.
The problem is two fold. First, you are prone to reading too much into your LOs actions and behaviour (good old confirmation bias goes into overdrive). Second, you are likely to be very sensitive to the prospect of losing access to your LO supply. So, you cling to hope, while fearing loss. Not a great combination for decisive action.
Another factor that complicates things is that LO is unlikely to have any idea how much the relationship means to you. Worse still, you probably sense that obliviousness, and get even angrier because… why can’t they see?! How can they be so clueless as to miss all the obvious hints you’ve subtly dropped?! Are they so indifferent to you that they’re missing all your cues?!
In the final analysis, this is a no win situation. What you want above all else is reciprocation of equally strong feeling, and so you will always be disappointed (except in the rare case of mutual limerence). Any relationship – close friendship, friends-with-benefits, confusing casual sex that never goes further – will be asymmetric. You know how much energy, expectation and importance you have invested in them, and that is not being returned. Even though you can rationally understand that you are the cause of the one-sidedness, it still feels like a betrayal at an emotional level.
They never even gave you a proper chance.
The best way out of this trap – as for so much else in limerence recovery – is to recognise that the sense of betrayal lies within you. Those feelings are yours to learn from. You won’t get relief by seeking revenge or trying to force them to acknowledge that they have wronged you. If you take that path, through limerence-induced indignation, you are likely to regret it once the fog of limerence disperses and you recover sounder judgement.
Even if you have good cause to feel betrayed (if your LO is toxic), the best lesson you can learn is that you now know beyond doubt that they are untrustworthy. Where the sense of betrayal is less justified, the lesson is that you were assigning far more significance to the connection than LO was. The pain of betrayal is actually the pain of your misguided expectations. Hope for romantic connection is wonderful and nourishing, but it should not come freighted with obligations.
Finally, if you do find yourself in the situation again when you sense the glimmer and want to have a romantic relationship with this potential LO, it’s a good idea to reveal your feelings early. It’s more honest, it makes them understand better what’s going on in your head, and it decreases the danger of slipping into a friendzone of false hope and limerence limbo.
As with so many other aspects of life – in romance, it pays to be purposeful.
This is so brilliant I am going to have to take some time to process and respond.
The bitter sense of betrayal looms large in my mind but does help me stay NC.
It is so helpful to see betrayal dissected here.
Good point, Jaideux. Betrayal can be used in deprogramming, as well as teaching lessons.
Another benefit you can draw from a bad experience.
” What you want above all else is reciprocation of equally strong feeling, and so you will always be disappointed (except in the rare case of mutual limerence). Any relationship – close friendship, friends-with-benefits, confusing casual sex that never goes further – will be asymmetric”
I think you hit the nail on the head, Dr. L., which is why limerence is so fraught. What a limerent wants is mutual limerence — for the LO to grab their hand and jump, figuratively and literally, over the cliff with them. However, the statistical likelihood of someone being available and interested is not all that high. But that they are also limerent … well, you’ve hit the motherlode if you can find that! 🙂 I’ve done the FWBs and the casual, “we don’t’ want to put a label on it” dating situations with LOs in the past, and I tried so convince myself I was ok with it. I was so excited initially that anything was happening. But the excitement soon gave way to disappointment … and then anger, and then betrayal.
Did you go that route (FWB) after knowing about limerence?
No. I just learned about limerence. The LO who was an FWB was more than 20 years ago. Not only was I limerent for him, but it was also the hottest sex I’d had to date. There was no way I was walking away from that. 🙂 At least not at that time in my life. Heck, I don’t know if I’d walk away from it now. 🙂 I met my most recent LO nine years ago. I’m just hoping that, if I meet another LO, I recognize the signs and bail, both physically and emotionally, at the very first signs the situation is less than optimal. Fingers crossed.
As someone who experienced mutual limerence, it was great. Until she came out of it before me, at which point it was… definitely not great.
Even the best case scenarios have downsides.
What was it about her coming out of it first that was definitely not great? I’ve only had one LO who became a boyfriend, an important distinction because, with the others, I still wanted more from them. He was the only one I came out of limerence with. All of that nervous sexual energy, all of that delicious longing, all of that feeling like the room was spinning … gone. The problem was, I then could see him completely clearly, and I didn’t really like him. A few months later, I broke it off. Now, he was never limerent, so I don’t think the landing was as rough, though he did say things had become less exciting. But that may have something to do with the fact that I lost interest and was kind of sleepwalking through it.
“All of that nervous sexual energy, all of that delicious longing, all of that feeling like the room was spinning … gone. The problem was, I then could see him completely clearly, and I didn’t really like him.”
Ah Marcia! Interesting, isn’t it? I believe this would happen to many of us if reciprocity occurred. With my LO, I strongly desired more time with him. We’d met and I knew he wasn’t right for me but I could not let go of that good feeling. On some level, I knew more time would shake off what I now know is limerence. Or, if he had reciprocated (he initially did but then pulled away) fully, I probably would have ended it. The magic and desire would have dissolved. It still hurts deeply at times. The betrayal of him, and of my brain. I’d been pretty happy most of my life and then, after him, I wasn’t. He was all I could think about,
“I’d been pretty happy most of my life and then, after him, I wasn’t. He was all I could think about,”
I know exactly what you are going through. I decided I wanted my LO, and that was it. In a sense, he was my goal. When it become clear nothing was going to happen, I lost my human anti-depressant, as you so wonderfully described it. I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself. I lost my “mojo,” as they say. And then I traded one addiction for another. From him to food, which made me feel worse. I am trying to work on some side projects that have meaning to me. It has helped. If you found a side gig, it might help you to shift your focus a bit. It’s hard, now, that we are in a pandemic, but is there some activity you really like, something that would give you a sense of accomplishment? I tell you this much: I am never again making a person a goal to strive for.
Very wise and thank you for the suggestion. I am searching! Striving for a person is not healthy and my focus on him was not, as it isn’t for any of us. I’ve usually had goals/challenges throughout life. I definitely felt the empty nest hit, one of the life changes I didn’t realize would be so difficult. (Begone, progeny…I was kidding! Come back!)
Wrong person, wrong time, I’ve been telling myself.
I tried to refocus by moving, changing jobs. Hike like a fiend. Date, have sex.
NC of any kind is my only hope. I cried a little today thinking about LO but have accepted it as part of the process. The hard, exhausting cries are a thing of the past.
“Date, have sex.”
If you don’t mind me asking, how was that? I have done a bit of both since meeting my last LO, but … it’s not easy. Even the men I had some interest in … well, it never came close to the level of interest I had in my LO. These situations have been short-term flings, but I don’t think it would be right to date someone and enter in to a relationship while so hung up on someone else. (And, by the way, it does get better. The limerence does slowly fade. SLOWLY 🙂 )
With a few of the men, the sex was much better than with my LO. Most of them have been flings, however. My LO made me feel safe, warm. Sex was part of it but a small part. The biggest betrayal with my LO is that he was hung up on someone else. I believe he may be in limerence with her (they’ve never met in RL; online/video). Another lie.
I did meet someone I genuinely liked. We hit it off, had a few weeks of fun. Wonderful intimacy. However, he wasn’t feeling it/his business was struggling in the pandemic, and it ended. Hurt for a few days but I was fine. I thought, “This is what it should have been with my LO.”
I met LO at the worst time.
I agree with you that it is not right to enter into a new relationship when you’re still thinking of your LO. I’m upfront with who I date. End it immediately when I know it won’t work. I would never hurt someone the way he did me. I cut off men who I believe might care about me when I have been clear that I do not feel the same.
“With a few of the men, the sex was much better than with my LO.”
Hmmm … you made me think about my past LOs. I’ve had sex with 3 of them. With one, the sex was pretty good, heightened of course by the novelty and the intensity of the limerence. With the other two, the sex was fantastic, the best of my life. I think I do have to be super into the guy to like the sex, but I also have to like what they are doing. Sex is really a crapshoot in terms of whether two people click or not.
“The biggest betrayal with my LO is that he was hung up on someone else. I believe he may be in limerence with her (they’ve never met in RL; online/video).”
I’m sorry you had to go through that. I had one LO do that … ramble on about the girl he used to love and the women he was hooking up with. I hope now I would have the backbone to put up some boundaries. He treated me very badly … but I let him.
This is what I suspect is happening in my situation. After two years he is pulling away and I am left to pick through the memories and conversations for clues as to what happened since just a couple of weeks ago.
Pointless really as it still results in the same truth. That this is ending. But it’s incredibly painful when in the middle of it to try and move on.
“What a limerent wants is mutual limerence — for the LO to grab their hand and jump, figuratively and literally, over the cliff with them. However, the statistical likelihood of someone being available and interested is not all that high. But that they are also limerent … well, you’ve hit the motherlode if you can find that!”
@Marcia. You’ve said it all perfectly. Even before I knew what limerence was, I was using the word “mutuality” to describe what I wanted. Mutuality of feeling. In other words, I wanted LO to feel the exact same way about me as I felt about him. (Impossible, right?) He was the most important person in my life, emotionally speaking, and I wanted to be the most important in his life, emotionally speaking. No sex would be fine. I just wanted to matter to him! 😛
“The simplest scenario to understand is the one where your feelings are entirely justified. Sometimes LOs can deliberately cultivate a false connection, because they want to get you hooked on them. Sometimes you just are betrayed. “
This was my experience. He put in a great deal of effort to be part of my life. Calling every day, texting. He’s an intuitive man, so he knew what to say. After he decided he didn’t want a long distance relationship, it was almost too late. He’d inserted himself thoroughly into the emptiness that – during those months- was my life. He wanted to keep that communication going. He’d say enough to keep me hanging on.
The betrayal came from his efforts to become the most important person in my life. I grew to trust him more than anyone. He knew that. He pretended to care. And then he pulled away. He misled me about his feelings and lied about other areas of his life. Real relationships are something he’s unable to do. “Ask me anything,” he would say. He’d lie even when asked directly, even when we both knew he was lying.
By the end, he proved he wasn’t a decent person or friend. Intelligent, charming, “authentic.” Open with his feelings, but a sociopath (my guess) just the same. Was he lying to me, himself? These are questions I stopped wondering about some time back. He could not be trusted. All the signs were there, but I overlooked them because he made me laugh when not much else could. An antidepressant in human form. I fell into limerence before I was strong enough to sever ties with him. I don’t expect to hear from him ever again. But…I mentally compose responses to texts that will never come. I’m working on it tho!
That’s a really neat phrase, Beth. And just like antidepressants, it’s all too easy to become dependent.
Glad you found the wisdom to stop wondering about those “why is he like this?” questions. Keep working on the resolve!
“The betrayal came from his efforts to become the most important person in my life. I grew to trust him more than anyone. He knew that. He pretended to care. And then he pulled away. He misled me about his feelings and lied about other areas of his life.”
@Beth. What you write here is powerful stuff, and I must say I’m moved by it. Betrayal to me seems like an unusually strong emotion in the normal suit of emotions humans experience and yet it’s rarely talked about or discussed. I think people like to “bury their betrayals” – the very concept of betrayal is painful.
Limerent Emeritus says
“I think people like to “bury their betrayals” – the very concept of betrayal is painful.”
That’s because trust is so central to our lives. I doubt most people consciously think about trust and what it means.
Reflections on trust:
– When I dropped the dime on LO #2, I didn’t tell her that I didn’t love her anymore, I told her I didn’t trust her anymore.
– When we were getting started, I told LO #4, “Heaven help the man you ever really trust.”
– When my wife and I were contemplating divorce for reasons that had nothing to do with infidelity, I told her that I didn’t want to spend the last third of my life with someone that I couldn’t trust.
– I only allowed two women to be in the position to betray me and my knowledge, neither one did. If they did, they were smart enough not to tell me and good enough to pull it off without me catching wind of it.
– You can be attacked by someone that you don’t trust but you can never be betrayed by someone that you don’t trust.
– “Love is an ever-expanding sense of trust in another, along with admiration and respect for their talents, character, attributes and qualities.” – Shari Schreiber (https://sharischreiber.com/course/at-any-cost-saving-your-life-after-loving-a-borderline/)
– “When trust has been breached, so has respect–and second chances can be very few and far between.” – Shari Schreiber (https://sharischreiber.com/whos-doing-your-dirty-work/)
This spoke so much to me. Here’s to leaving those unarrived texts unanswered.
This reminds me of my pondering just this morning. I was thinking of my past LO and wondering “why was it so hard for me to just appreciate what we had? Why did I feel like I needed more? We had a nice time together for a few exciting days, it could have just been a beautiful memory, but I had to ruin it by wanting more. He didn’t owe me more, it’s not like he was a surgeon who cut me open and then got bored halfway through the surgery and got up and walked away leaving me lying on the operating table cut open with all my internal organs exposed.” And then I realized actually, that was exactly what it felt like. And in his case, I think he did intend to cut me open, because his confidence was far greater than his capability or commitment. He thought “oh sure, open heart surgery, I can do that, sounds like fun!” But once he was in there he realized it was harder than he had expected, shrugged, and got up and walked away. So I felt betrayed.
It took me a long time and a lot of work to sew up the wound but I did. But then around summer 2019 I found myself picking at the stitches. And picking. And picking. And when a man came along and touched the scar, it burst open and suddenly he was my new LO. He didn’t do anything, he wasn’t the one who cut me to begin with and he didn’t even intend to open the wound, he barely touched it but it was just waiting to open from all my picking so it didn’t take much.
First LO is the first scenario you described. Second LO is the second. I’m interested to know more about how disgust and revulsion are involved.
Esmerelda you write beautifully and your words resonate with me and I am sure many others. We really need to let our wounds heal thoroughly and protect ourselves from those who can reopen them.
“This reminds me of my pondering just this morning. I was thinking of my past LO and wondering ‘why was it so hard for me to just appreciate what we had? Why did I feel like I needed more? We had a nice time together for a few exciting days, it could have just been a beautiful memory, but I had to ruin it by wanting more’.”
@Esmeralda. I’ve pondered this question myself. For me, the LE always felt like it was going somewhere. Time seemed to stop altogether, speed up or slow down mysteriously in his presence (and his absence). My mind was always racing. I was forever anticipating what was going to happen next. And nothing happened next … a dead end! Why couldn’t I see the puzzled or amused looks on his face? (Well, I suffer from face blindness, but that’s another story).
My limerence for a straight guy was like sitting on a train that never left the station, and I’m staring out the window having all these beautiful dreams of the wonderful places I’m gonna see. Psychologically, I must have felt like I paid a huge amount of money to go on a fabulous world tour. I’d waited my whole life for the opportunity. Adventure here we come! And then the train doesn’t leave the station and I’m the only person on the train. Perhaps that’s why I felt cheated, etc? No one was offering me a refund for my clearly useless (invalid?) ticket. 😛
I agree with Allie that romantic love always comes with risks – the risk of being hurt, the risk of being betrayed. As adults, we have to assume, or at least acknowledge, those risks. Still, the pain of disappointment can be pretty intense. I think us limerents – we invest SO MUCH of our emotional energy into a particular love object that it’s hard to never see a return on that emotional investment. We put all our eggs in one basket and Mr Fox comes along and gobbles the lot for breakfast – just like in the fairy tales!!
In reading what other people have written on this post and other posts, I’m struck by how much an even short interaction with someone can deeply affect us. The general narrative one hears is, “Oh, it was only one date or it lasted only month or he wasn’t even your boyfriend, it’s just some random co-worker, get over it.” And the other person, well, they go about their lives without the knowledge or understanding or maybe even the concern that they have affected us. And then my next thought is, “Have I done that to someone else? ” Behaved very callously and dismissively, without kindness.
“And then my next thought is, “Have I done that to someone else? ”’
I can’t answer to that specifically, but it’s likely that you’re aware when someone feels something “extra” for you. We’ve all run into that and make a choice whether or not to encourage it. Most of the encounters I read about here are with LOs who cultivate the connection. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. My LO, who I believe has been in limerence with another woman for years…she’s aware. She uses him just as he used me. Had he been upfront with me early on when I asked about it directly, I’d never have allowed him in emotionally. Once I fell in limerence, I, too, allowed him to hurt me. My fault for not setting boundaries, something I’ve always been able to do.
Article of the Day: https://thoughtcatalog.com/becky-curl/2019/08/a-reminder-that-you-are-the-villain-in-someone-elses-story/
As far as I know, I’ve only been a villain once in my life.
LO #2 and I broke up briefly in the summer of 1985. I thought it was over and started seeing someone. The woman seemed to really like me. LO #2 made noises about reconciling. We had almost 3 years of history and, more important, I thought we had a future. So, I dumped the woman I was seeing and got back together with LO #2. Even worse, I did it poorly.
I still remember that woman standing in my living room with tears running down her cheeks. She said, “[LO #2] is using you!” I told her that was a chance I was willing to take. It turned out that woman was right about LO #2 but, by then, I couldn’t look her in the face. If I could do one thing over in my life, it would be to spare her the pain I caused her. I don’t know if we’d have been a good long term match but she didn’t deserve what I did to her.
After that, I made a promise to myself that I would never turn over another woman for LO #2 again. When I started dating my wife, she knew LO #2 was lurking in the background and I could tell from her questions that she was worried I’d dump her for LO #2. She didn’t know I had done that before. She doesn’t know it to this day.
That was exactly my point to Beth. The article you posted said it better. At some point, we’ve done a number on someone else. We may not realize it or intend to, but unless we don’t ever interact with people, at some point we all have caused someone else pain.
I was not disagreeing with you. 🙂
We’ve certainly hurt others.
I’m thinking of my own situation and of others whose LOs play head games.
I’ve tried not to be the villainess, but I’m sure there are men who would say otherwise.
“I’ve tried not to be the villainess, but I’m sure there are men who would say otherwise.”
I know I treated the LO who became my boyfriend badly. I justified it by telling myself I had told him repeatedly I didn’t want a serious relationship, but I knew he did. Of course, he bore responsibility for his own actions, but it still would have been compassionate of me to end it a lot sooner. I also told myself he was one of these guys who went from woman to woman and kind of grabbed on to whomever showed up, and that knowledge horrified me (still makes me queasy :)). So I was sure he’d have a jump off in no time, which I’m sure he did. You can see where I’m going with this.
I feel I must point out that taking the risk to love is taking the risk of heartbreak. We must take ownership of that. It is not our LOs fault that we just can’t get over it.
As long as I stay honest, I am not a villain if I love someone then fall out of love, or fall in love with someone else and choose them instead.
I also think it it not always completely clear cut for the LOs that hurts us and we often project motivations on to them. If I started to be keen on someone a little, and then they came on to me like a full-on love-you-forever steam train, I would feel the need to back off in fear of hurting them. They may then pull back, and my interest re-ignites. That is how desire works in the early stages of relationships… it needs space to grow, and both sides usually want equality of feelings – the one that is more keen AND the one that is more ambivalent.
Of course (Beth), there are genuine ass****s out there that milk our feelings knowingly, but surely they are the minority. I’ve certainly never met one.
Before him, I’m sure I felt the same. And I believe they are the minority, but there are narcissistic-like people out there who enjoy the attention, the emotional boost of having someone care about them. I ignored red flags early on. I didn’t and do not blame him for *my* feelings. I understood after six months in that my feelings were not healthy and that it was my issue. However, honesty at the start and throughout the following months would have, I’m certain, helped and limerence would have been avoided. I’ve had my share of breakups and moved on from them in a pretty healthy fashion.
Allie, I truly hope you don’t meet one, especially at a precarious time in your life.
I keep picturing the sad woman. In my mind, she’s wearing a beautiful dress and her hair is pulled back in a loose bun.
What a tough moment for her, for you.
It was nothing like that. Her hair was too short for a bun and she was wearing jeans. It was far harder on her than it was on me.
I worked with her brother-in-law (not the BIL of the love-bomber.) He introduced us. He knew I’d dumped his SIL to go back to my ex. But, from his demeanor, it didn’t appear that she’d told him much else. She had way more class than I did.
She was a Green-card German. I had to report my contact with her to our security organization. She was a phenomenal cook. She made me rouladen and schnitzel. She lived in a small house near work. I don’t even remember what she did for a living but she wasn’t a professional of any sort. If she told me why she’d come over from Germany, I don’t remember.
Another thing I remember was she had a great tan but no tan lines. None, zip, nada. I asked her about it. She, her sister, and BIL, were members of a local nudist colony I didn’t know existed. She asked if I wanted to join but I declined. Her European candor took some getting used to but I liked it.
Every so often, I’d ask my coworker how she was doing. He said that she’d been evicted, moved to Seattle and got a job, and her car had been totaled when it caught fire on I-5. I wasn’t directly responsible for any of those but I sometimes wonder if things had been different between us, would her destiny have been different? She didn’t seem like a flake and I never got any limerence-inducing vibes from her.
I found her on FB via her BIL. It looks like she returned to Germany at some point but there wasn’t much to see. I hope things went better for her.
Maybe they could make a movie, “It’s Not Such a Wonderful Life,” that chronicles all the destruction we left in our wakes. The amount might surprise us.
I choked on my own tears while reading this. I will comment more later. I am feeling so overwhelmed with emotions after reading this. No truer words can describe this pain of betrayal. Yes, it’s a fn betryal. That’s the word I’ve been looking for all this time. 😢
@LB. Kind wishes. Hope you feel a little better soon.
Dr. L, thank you for taking the time to write this article for us. Honestly, I thought my question was a wee bit obscure and was worried there wouldn’t be enough raw material to cobble together a response. But you’ve done a stellar job and I do believe the “rejection stings” option applies best to my own situation. Kudos!
Interestingly, even reading this article made my heart pound a little. It’s been years, and yet this LO still owns a tiny part of me and hearing others talk about him triggers a “fight or flight” stress response. The same thing happened six months ago when a mutual friend mentioned him casually in conversation. The mere mention of his name still makes my heart pound, though I no longer want to be involved with him. He’s cast such a long shadow over my mental life. It’s like he still has power over me, though I never had a scrap of power over him.
I would like to talk about the last day I saw LO. It was about 15 years ago. I’d recently been discharged from hospital following my most serious suicide attempt and was obviously still in the “transient state of neurochemical imbalance” that we all know to be limerence proper.
I tried to kill myself again that day. I won’t describe how, as it’s not relevant or appropriate. What is relevant is I made a pact with myself beforehand – if I survive this particular suicide attempt, it’s a sign from God I’m meant to go see LO. (You have to remember I was raised by fundamentalist Christians who believe God communicates with humans directly. Also, I was 23 years old and in a state of considerable mental distress. I wasn’t entirely in my right mind).
I survived both suicide attempts (obviously). I went out and bought chocolates and a bunch of flowers (supposedly for LO’s newly-minted wife), and I went on a very expensive taxi ride to LO’s newly-acquired house in the suburbs. My lovesick brain just had to see LO “one last time”. Honestly, I needed him to tell me to my face he didn’t love him. I felt I needed HIM to put a stop to all the madness, to end the misery. Only he had the power to liberate me from my suffering.
Turns out LO wasn’t home, but out doing chores. Wifey was home. She invited me in, said something along the lines of “just bear with me”, and stalked off into another room to ring her hubby (my LO) on the mobile. Hubby came home directly. The queerest thing – he wasn’t angry at me. Nor was he happy to see me. He had no expression on his face at all, just a stupid blank look. He was indifferent to my presence in his house, had no idea why I’d come, and didn’t invite me to stay. He and wifey were apparently preparing for guests (cousins).
So calm and generous and nonchalant was LO in fact that he even offered me a lift home in his car, which I refused. On my dad’s mobile, I rang up another taxi and treated myself to another expensive road trip. I did leave the chocolates and flowers behind on the sofa, though – pathetic tokens of my pathetic unrequited affection.
What did I feel when I turned up on LO’s doorstep and he basically treated me as if I were some bulky piece of furniture that needed to be shifted to a more convenient storage location? Well, I’ll tell you what I felt. I felt rage. I felt indignation. I felt humiliation. I felt burning hatred and anger and fury toward my ungrateful LO.
Of course, being a typical man, I said nothing, showed no emotion, and did exactly as I was told – I got in the taxi and went home, no questions asked, my own face as inscrutable as a mask. Still, stupidly, rather pathetically even, I asked LO for a hug before leaving. LO declined a hug, but offered me a handshake instead. Perhaps he thought he was being manly and agreeable? I refused the offer. Passive-aggressive one-upmanship is a game two can play, I silently reckoned.
Not that LO was being passive-aggressive toward me in any way. He was just being his usual polite, friendly, noncommittal self. Why should he offer me a hug? He didn’t owe me a hug. He wasn’t in the habit of hugging same-sex friends, or even opposite-friends for that matter. Even toward his delightful fair lady wife, he showed precious little visible affection. Maybe, in some part of his stupid sheep-brain, he loved her. But he didn’t love me. And apparently hugs goodbye were completely out of the question.
Oh yes. In the interim, some meaningless chitchat may have also ensued. I wanted to see wifey’s ring. Wifey had no ring to exhibit. She said it was still at the jeweller’s, getting resized. (What kind of man buys a woman a ring that doesn’t fit?) I wanted to see wedding pics (proof positive LO didn’t love me). For some strange reason, LO and wife had no such pictures available for public viewing.
It was like they’d faked their union: there was no tangible evidence in the entire house that a marriage had even taken place. Weird, no? They’d been hitched for over four months. Were they living in sin and just didn’t want anyone to know? Did they feign a romance to get rid of Sammy, that “tiresome fifth wheel always in our hair”? I kid, I kid regarding the last point. But, honestly – their lack of “happy couple paraphernalia” was spooky! My limerent brain was going bananas. LO doesn’t love me and from the looks of things he doesn’t love his wife either! Bizarre! How will the poor girl cope? Hope she has a good divorce lawyer!
Now let’s cut to the truly, truly, truly embarrassing part of my tale. I have one last disgusting, depressing, humiliating detail to dish. Unlike LO and LO’s wife, I did leave behind ample evidence of my real feelings for everyone to pore over – should they be so inclined. After all, for five wildly beautiful years, I’d worshipped, adored, and idolised this man. He was a god to me, a hero, an angel. I considered him the love of my life. I often dreamt about him at night. I thought about him all day, every day. He was never far from my thoughts.
I wrote him letters. Oh gosh, who are we kidding? I didn’t just write him letters. In a five-year period, I wrote him hundreds, possibly thousands, of letters and I sent them to him too. I wrote him hundreds of letters which stopped dangerously short of being love letters. I so badly wanted to cross that line, but I never did. Still, any sensitive woman would know something was up. (LO’s wife/then girlfriend was not a sensitive woman. She invited me to her eighteenth birthday party and I accepted. I even travelled in the same car as LO to said party).
Nor were the letters unsolicited. LO and I were pen-pals, a relationship he initiated and even encouraged at times, and somewhere in all that he said he loved me at least once without me forcing him to say it. As far as I was concerned, he was the one who crossed a line. He confessed to forbidden passion, not me.
About six months before LO wed his lady love, I asked him to destroy all letters I’d sent him. Quite frankly, I was feeling guilty about having been so emotionally naked with another human. I felt exposed. LO cheerfully and immediately agreed to my request, as if it were nothing. Who knows? Perhaps he had already destroyed them? Or maybe he was too lazy to read them by that point (he had a busy life) and filed them neatly away in the nearest waste paper basket?
I was paranoid by that point, however. I’d just watched a documentary on TV about the life and times of Oscar Wilde and I was sure my letters could be used against me (to blackmail me for being a homosexual, for example, in our tight-knit Christian community where homosexuals were still considered among the slightly less palatable variety of sinner). LO wasn’t in the least bit paranoid. LO had apparently missed the homoerotic subtext in my letters, and even the tasteful references to the Song of Solomon failed to move him. Talk about dim-witted (or just plain arrogant!)
So, yes, um, rejection is not something I handle very well. I’m a proud, proud man (or was at the time) and I don’t give my heart away easily. That is why I think, at least in part, I felt so betrayed. I know my story sounds ridiculous in the retelling. But it’s a true story and the pain was excruciating at the time. Betrayal indeed.
The worst part of it? Other people, including LO’s own mother, actively encouraged the friendship. She even told me to keep being friends with him after he’d married. Just goes to show “grown-ups” don’t always know best! LO’s younger brother was the only person to give me good advice. He was half-baffled, half-amused by my crush on his brother and reminded me that people don’t always get what they want in life. A hard lesson I clearly needed to learn.
Thanks again for a wonderful article. 🙂
That had to be really hard to write. Have you ever told anyone what you just told us? That’s a lot of weight to carry. Who was helping you then?
That’s one of the things that makes LwL so great. We can tell the stories we never thought we could tell anyone and the people here will listen. We pay people to help us and most of them don’t come anywhere near getting us to feel what we feel here.
@Scharnhorst. Thank you for your kind words. My dad and younger sister were there to help me when I had mental health problems, though they didn’t know the exact cause. I’ve told some of the story to my older sister – she also suffers from limerence. This is probably the first year in my life I’ve put all the pieces together and made a coherent story out of the experience.
“That’s one of the things that makes LwL so great. We can tell the stories we never thought we could tell anyone and the people here will listen.”
“Wifey” comes across with more than a hint of derision.
You say she “stalked off” but you turn up at their home, uninvited and when they were planning on entertaining others. If you sent hundreds of letters, she probably was quite aware and was concerned you were dangerous and you were in her home. Then you demand to see her ring (and no, it isn’t unusual to get a ring resized) and wedding photos – as though she were the interloper in her home and marriage.
“LO had apparently missed the homoerotic subtext in my letters, and even the tasteful references to the Song of Solomon failed to move him. Talk about dim-witted (or just plain arrogant!)”
Or someone who hoped that if they ignored it, you would take the hint and back off. In five years he CHOSE not to tell your community that you were homosexual. You really think he and his younger brother never discussed it? That no one noticed the hundreds of letters and wondered WTF was going on?
It’s like the novel Clarissa by Samuel Richardson. 970,000 tedious words of pretense and pretension. But the “holy death” concept, particularly used to punish others, probably has a lot of appeal to limerents who are prone to pretentiousness and preening about their superiority to others.
@SWAK. I apologise if anything I wrote came off as derisive – I didn’t mean to disparage anyone, only to relive and “write through” what was for me a intensely painful and difficult experience as a kind of cathartic exercise. I can certainly appreciate now that I assumed there was greater intimacy between me and LO than there actually was. I read into the situation.
Yes, I guess limerence can make people very, very pretentious. That’s a good observation. But I think everyone is a little bit pretentious when they’re young and don’t have enough life experience to keep things in perspective. Limerence, as we all know, can give one “tunnel vision”.
My writing style might came across as pretentious, and maybe that’s what you’re objecting to? However, my writing style here is deliberately overblown because I’m employing irony (in the form of self-mocking humour) to make an emotional point. I certain don’t consider myself perfect or superior to other people. Quite the reverse. If anything, I’m trying to poke fun at my extremely foolish and unreasonable point of view.
Thank you for your feedback, however. Negative comments can be as valuable as positive ones. I don’t know if LO and his brother ever discussed anything. I come from a narcissistic family structure when family members don’t communicate with each other directly, and my LO came from a similar family structure. I think my LO was oblivious to my feelings for him until the very end, when it was too late to fix the misunderstanding. I think LO’s brother was concerned but confused, as he was dealing with his own emotional problems.
I’m not defending my actions – my behaviour wasn’t admirable in any way. I’m merely sharing a troubling experience that happened when I was much younger. Perhaps a flippant tone is the wrong approach to such a serious and important subject, but it’s how I write. A spoonful of comedy makes the medicine go down. And what a bitter, bitter medicine it sometimes is!
Best wishes. I shall have to get around to reading Clarissa someday! 😛
My heart goes out to you. It must have been such a tough experience. Hope you are better now.
“He was just being his usual polite, friendly, noncommittal self”
This really resonated with me for my own case.
Incredible precise and precious text, except for this part: “You will always be disappointed (except in the rare case of mutual limerence)”. At least in my case. We had a case of mutual limerence, but it went terrible wrong anyway (short term emotional affair, me finishing it abruptly, because both of us have SO and I felt so overwhelmingly guilty and like human scam). He was devastated, beging me to stay in touch. I was crushed also. But, anyway, one month into total NC I had intense feelings of betrayal and disappointment. I guess I was secretly expecting (hiding the truth even from myself) that he would try to keep myself in his life harder. Two short messages (I haven’t replayed) were so blah blah, and meant nothing from my perspective. I know those feelings are incredibly selfish, I know it’s totally irrational, but it’s true. And that truth show me a depth of my limerence.
Guess nobody remembers me, I was a visitor here eight or nine months ago, I even forgot my own nickname 😂 But, nevertheless, I want to say thanks, from the bottom of my heart, to you Dr L and to you, Jaideux. You’ve told me some serious encouraging words.
Anyway, tomorrow I will be at 3 months NC mark. It’s still very hard from time to time, I miss him dearly sometimes, I think of him every day, but I see so crystally clear that I feel so much better without that awful, exhausting, life-threatening limerence, without him in my life. I can again enjoy small things, I can concentrate on my work, and, at the end, or at first place, maybe, I can look at myself in the mirror I respect myself again as decent human being.
Nens, thank you so much for the update and how wonderful to know that you are recovering. The feeling of self-respect is really far more valuable than the high of limerence, or being dependent on another human for validation.
I think many of us miss the “special moments” of the LE, but they were never really as beautiful, authentic and mutual as our memories would like us to believe.
Keep up the good work and it’s so nice of you to check in here and share your story and your progress. Please check in again soon!
Great to hear from you again, dear 🙂
How are you doing?
Like I said, I am nowhere near total recovery, but one thing is incredibly important to me: I honestly wouldn’t change, not any more, THIS feelings of small pride and integrity, even coupled with unexpected jealousy, anger, sadness, for the most intense peaks of our LE.
Thanks for all the feedback, guys.
I’ve reviewed the info in my mental databases. While I concede LO had flaws, including a passive-aggressive streak, I can’t see him as being evil, narcissistic, or routinely manipulative.
Also, I have no doubts in my mind as to his sexual orientation – heterosexual. Oh sure, he had his little moments of whimsy and tenderness and sentimentality. But he was sweet in a straight-boy way and not a gay-boy way. I’ve mixed with enough men from all walks of life to know the difference.
So the question remains. What prompted his often-inconsistent behaviour, his often-inconsistent behaviour which in turn prompted my limerence?
I have only one hypothesis left: LO was/is an eccentric. Good at Maths and Science. Mediocre at language. Well-intentioned but emotionally tone-deaf. LO’s unpredictable actions should be correctly identified as a reflection of his quirky, nonconformist personality and not as evidence of malice or cruelty.
In fact, eccentricity may be the very thing that LO and I had most in common. It was the glue that joined us. We were both a little bit creative, a little bit reticent, a little bit weird. I felt so self-conscious about my own weirdness in high school, however, I barely noticed his.
The mother in me loved the child in him. Maybe, on some level, I even pitied him. Who knows? Because I now see the “emotional abuse” he inflicted on me was always unintentional, a by-product of mutual and persistent communication difficulties, I can find it in my heart to forgive him. One can’t resent a child for erratic and sometimes-impulsive acts. One can’t hate a child for occasional inattention.
For a time, though, I did hate the so-called competition – LO’s girlfriend/wife. (Why do we always blame the female party?) I hated her because she got the “prize” I wanted for myself. She got LO. However, she was/is a down-to-earth lady and I’m sure she’d be very amused to hear her husband described as a “prize”. Indeed, I’m sure she has all manner of entertaining things to say about her man’s unique profile of gifts and abilities. Everyday life with LO can’t be anyone’s idea of a picnic.
All jokes aside, I’m glad she’s around to take care of him in my tactful and permanent absence. God knows he needs someone to keep an eye on him. Better her than me. Better her than me. Plus, if she didn’t value him for whatever it is he brings to the table, I dare say she wouldn’t have married him in the first place. LO’s wife is nobody’s fool. I always thought she’d make excellent wife material.
Now that this particular limerent episode has blown over, and been suitably mourned, I can allow myself to feel fondness again for LO and his wife. LO was not a bad man. LO was an eccentric. He had a strange and beautiful innocence about him which captivated me, and his lack of social polish was part of that innocence. What a surreal journey! What a nightmare rollercoaster ride!
My happiest memory? LO holding my hand in the backseat of cars. Like I said, he had his little moments of whimsy and tenderness. The gesture meant nothing, of course. LO is almost certainly an evergreen non-limerent (according to my sustained analysis of the situation). He’ll never know what it’s like to be a man with the genes for ecstasy loving a man who doesn’t possess the genes for ecstasy. Some of the best moments in life are meaningless – evidently.
Song of the Day: “Harden My Heart” – Quarterflash (1981)
Looking at another old song in a different context.
This always was a jam.
@Scharnhorst. A gorgeous song! Thanks for the link. I especially like the chorus. 🙂
I would like to thank everyone and anyone who has left kind and supportive comments regarding my story. I haven’t got to them all yet, but I appreciate every expression of goodwill. I just needed to “vomit up all the pain” quickly to get the poison out of my system. Sorry for the long-winded and self-absorbed monologues I sometimes post – I know it can be a pain to read big blocks.
I would like to assure readers that I’m doing great now. There is no cause for concern or worry. I am happy, healthy, and emotionally stable. I am no longer limerent for this particular person, or experiencing unbearable distress when I think of him. (I rarely think of him, except to make some philosophical point about limerence). Most of the emotion has died away. In fact, the reason I can write so easily about my experiences is because they’re over. I don’t feel traumatised by my LE anymore, although I was clearly traumatised at the time.
Freedom from compulsory longing for another human – it feels remarkable and I am enjoying what to me is a very novel sensation. If nothing else, I get to explore my own personality now and just focus on “being myself”, without living in awe of someone else. I see the “elephant in the room” as addiction itself. Addiction is the monster that disrupts our lives. I don’t blame myself or LO for LE.
Let’s put it another way. Yes, LO gave me enough mixed signals to sink the Titanic. However, if I hadn’t been homolimerent in the first place, such mixed signals wouldn’t have bothered me: I wouldn’t have even noticed them. And in a society where most people are straight, it’s reasonable to assume one’s friends are straight too. There are no villains or victims in this story – only well-intentioned human beings who failed to communicate clearly with each other.
I apologise if my words distressed anyone. I don’t want to imply that limerence always ends badly or that LOs are horrible individuals (though some might be!) My case is a unique case, and it played out the way it did most likely because of my own background and neuroses. I suffered a lot, but I was also strong enough to absorb and learn from such suffering. I’m more resilient than I thought.
I would like to thank Dr. L for creating this blog. Honestly, when I came here, I was a bit arrogant. I didn’t think I’d learn anything. Not really. But I was wrong. This blog has helped me pierce together bits of the past, make links between events and emotions, etc, and clear my head. This blog has been brilliant, actually, and I’m glad we have a place where we can learn together about limerence.
Thank you to everyone who posts here. I’m feeling like my old self again. 🙂
Glad to hear it. Your account of the last meeting with LO was really affecting, but I felt in a good way. I’m so glad you survived that time in your life and have found the resources to recover. What a thing to have lived through. I’m so glad that I came out in my teens (because although it was tough it was at least possible). I’m also lucky that I live in London, so once out I had plenty of LGBT venues… if anything that was my entry into a ‘community’. Your recollections of growing up in such a controlling anti-gay set up are… eye opening.
Wishing you well.
@Thomas. I really appreciate the support. It means a lot, mate. 😛
Recently, I have re-read the article Dr L. wrote here on betrayal one more time and would like to highlight my favourite bits:
“Sammy’s question is actually a good barometer of this: do you feel that LO owes you more emotional commitment than your other friends? If so, it’s because you have formed a deeper affectional bond, and that explains why you feel betrayed – and not just sad – when the friendship falters.”
“What causes the kind of bad decision-making that pushes you into the friendzone? Well it may well be because limerence completely knackers your judgement. Bluntly, you are more likely to misread situations and make poor decisions when you are deep in limerence.”
“Another factor that complicates things is that LO is unlikely to have any idea how much the relationship means to you. Worse still, you probably sense that obliviousness, and get even angrier because… why can’t they see?! How can they be so clueless as to miss all the obvious hints you’ve subtly dropped?! Are they so indifferent to you that they’re missing all your cues?!”
“Where the sense of betrayal is less justified, the lesson is that you were assigning far more significance to the connection than LO was. The pain of betrayal is actually the pain of your misguided expectations.”
The first time I read the article, I skimmed it a little, as the topic itself made me feel too emotional. (It’s hard to watch a movie or take in an essay if one is on the cusp of tears). I’ve come back to the article, however, in a calmer frame of mind, and I see “mismatched expectations” applies to my case as much as “rejection stings” does and hence the choice of quotes above. LO and I certainly had “mismatched expectations” of friendship!! (And many other things apparently).
In limerence, does the emotional part of our brains highjack the rational parts of our brains, so that we can no longer think clearly? I certainly feel something like that happened to me. It was a hostile takeover by the emotional part of my brain!
Dr.L, I feel pathetically grateful to you for writing this article for me (and for all of us here at LwL). It’s uncanny how similar many people’s LOs and LEs can be. I know that might be an over-the-top (emotional) reaction to a mere essay. However, the emotion is due to the subject matter. You really did a great job for us. The article is even more “on the money” than I originally thought. Thanks. 😛
For me it is a combination of things. Yes, they led me on and played me. Yes, I was rejected. But the extra knife in the chest was meeting the woman he rejected me for. She made it very clear that she barely liked let alone loved him, constantly insulted him behind his back, found his son annoying (which really hurt as I can’t have kids and would have loved to be a step mum to him), and was running around asking me and other women if we knew any wealthier men we could introduce her to (since he was a let down in terms of money). And he knew she was a gold-digger as he openly complained to me and other people about her behaviour after rejecting me.
But he still considered her a better partner. He was given a choice between a woman that loved him and a woman that loved his money and he chose the gold-digger. That has completely destroyed any shred of self esteem I had. I’ve been in therapy for the last year and still don’t want to speak to anyone or leave the house. I feel completely worthless, like a total waste of space. If a woman as nasty, bitchy, shallow and manipulative as that is considered higher value than me, then I must be the most disgusting, ugly, evil person on the earth.
Aaaw Elle! Your low opinion of yourself is so heart-breaking to hear! I am sorry you have been going through this!
Please understand that HIS choices are about HIM and not at all about you. It might feel desperately personal from your perspective but it really isn’t. The truth is, he is an idiot that doesn’t know what is good for him. Some people are just led by certain parts of their anatomy instead of their heads… sexual attraction is messed up sometimes and some prefer the roller-coaster of hot/cold uncertainty to a consistent warmth. That is not a reflection on you at all.
Are you sure you love him or are just limerent for him? I ask as he doesn’t sound all that great to me and you sound lovely.
@Elle. Sorry you’re not feeling great about yourself at the moment. An unhappy experience in love can certainly shatter our confidence and leave us questioning our worth. I know it’s a cliche, but if there was ever a good time not to take what someone (i.e. your LO) says or does personally … now might be that time.
Don’t take this man’s choice of partner as a reflection on your character or value. As others have said, it’s about him and where he’s at in life, and not about you. You might have been a great match for him, a good stepmother to his children, etc, but you can’t force him to choose you over someone else. Desire isn’t logical.
On the other hand, if his current lady friend is “bad news” with a capital B, eventually he’ll come to see that from spending time with her. People can’t hide their negative traits forever. I think the truth eventually comes to light. Difficult people are difficult people and usually remain difficult people their whole lives.
I think it’s helpful also to not get into the habit of comparing ourselves to other people, because there are always going to be people better-off and worse-off than ourselves. Your LO, for example, could be with a girlfriend who’s amazing. Now that would be a pretty challenging set-up to cope with too, hey? But I know how hard it is to be the one left holding “the losing hand of cards”, as it were.
Sending you warm wishes, honey.
“If a woman as nasty, bitchy, shallow and manipulative as that is considered higher value than me, then I must be the most disgusting, ugly, evil person on the earth.”
It makes no sense but says way more about him than it does about you. Rod Serling once said that he had no responsibility for “the pathology of idiots.” I like Rod Serling. It’s a good thought.
LO #2 told me that I beat out my successor in every category. She knew she was trading down and what she was walking away from. I didn’t have to convince her I was the better option, she knew that I was the better option and walked anyway. I told the story to a woman friend and she called LO #2 an idiot. In “Letters From The Earth,” Twain says, “It is like valuing a watch that must go wrong, above a watch that can’t.” I like Mark Twain, too.
I asked the therapist why someone would do that? The therapist’s theory, based on what I’d told her, was that LO #2 didn’t feel she was worthy of someone who loved her and treated her well. The therapist’s theory was that LO #2 raised to believe that she deserved someone who cheated on her and treated her like crap. LO #2 told me she was afraid that one day I’d wake up and not want to be with her.
The therapist said that since she knew what she was doing, nothing I could have said or done would have changed it. The therapist said why LO #2 was the way she was didn’t matter. She was the way she was.
You are thinking about it too logically, and none of this is logical, as all of us on the site can attest. We can’t figure out we want the LO so badly even though we know they are objectively a bad choice. Picking a partner isn’t like picking a health plan or a college. It can make no sense to the outside world and, depending on the person, can be a very subjective choice.
Because I’m wired to think that what little I can’t fix I can work around, it was necessary to convince myself that I’d done all I could and didn’t miss anything. I left no stone unturned and I looked under every leaf. I flat out LO #2 asked if I had been playing a game I couldn’t win. She replied, “Pretty much.”
But, I had to still convince myself of that. There are some things you just don’t want to believe despite the overwhelming evidence in front of you. I didn’t just work with one therapist to figure this out, I worked with two, and talked to a few more. I wanted to see if they they came to the same conclusion and they did. It still hurt but the doubt was gone.
I watched LO #4 go through a similar process with her ex. My bet is if he hadn’t been so open about cheating on her and eventually allegedly assaulted her, he could have kept her on the string indefinitely.
Nobody likes being had but being made to look stupid on top of it makes it even worse.
” I flat out LO #2 asked if I had been playing a game I couldn’t win. She replied, “Pretty much.”
That is exactly my point. The game is not based on objective criteria or boxes one has to check off … because the boxes you are internal with the other person, and one person checks off those boxes more than someone else does.
“The therapist’s theory, based on what I’d told her, was that LO #2 didn’t feel she was worthy of someone who loved her and treated her well.”
In one of our last conversations, before I tried NC, LO said “I hate myself; you know that.”
Yes, I did and had for a long time. He felt that he was paying for things he’d done in his youth.
We did have a connection but he didn’t want real. The online world of our social media group was where he thrived and felt successful. He won’t give that up for anyone. Took me too long to realize he wanted a message board pseudo girlfriend who would prop him up and stay out of his way.
Lonely people fall into these online communities and…stay. Much easier than real life effort and disappointment.
You turn off the computer, the Skype chat and you have…nothing.
It’s as real as Limerence, so an illusion of caring and community.
LO is a senior coworker. He is really into fostering of talent specially women in Tech. He hired me and for 2 years he love-bombed me… not in a manipulative way. He praised me to skies to everyone & to me. Consistently. Told me basically he was a fan. Kept pulling me into every project/team he had.
After a couple of years my LE started. It was one-sided. He only saw me as a talent. I slowly became limerent for him… feeling we had a special connection. We did not. It was my own mind playing tricks. He is an attractive, well-loved fella. But no doubt my own ego & self-esteem issues played a role.
He has now moved on to other new talent he is fascinated by. Effusive praise. Pulling them into his special projects. He still likes me & respects my opinions but has cooled down a bit.
He is my mentor too. It is such a tough thing… keeping a friendly, professional mask on. I am no longer his new shiny penny, and that hurts so much. Should not. But it does. Physically hurts.
The betrayal I feel is all my fault. He promised nothing. He is who he is.