Uncertainty is central to limerence. It fuels the rumination that drives it (do they like me too? What did that comment mean? How would they respond to my disclosure?), and creates the intermittent reinforcement schedule that is so effective at keeping us addicted. Even worse, it continues to keep us bogged down long after we’ve realised that our infatuation has become an obsession and needs to stop.
Many limerents get to the point of deciding that they need to take action, need to go no contact, need to get themselves out of the limerence pit and “get over” LO. At that point, uncertainty springs another trap – the belief that the best way to end things is to get “closure” from LO. That you can’t move on without finishing things properly.
On the surface the idea of closure seems logical and sensible – even responsible – and it feels right too. Nobody likes loose ends. Surely tying everything up neatly is desirable?
Actually it’s yet another invitation to uncertainty and frustration.
One potential cause of increased uncertainty is an LO who doesn’t want the best for you. They may like your adoration, or they may be limerent for you too. They could be an emotional basket case themselves and incapable of giving you a clear message. They could taunt you with the possibility of closure but then backslide and tempt you and keep you on edge.
But the sources of uncertainty go deeper than flaky LOs. Anxiety about disorderly endings is rooted in the fear of losing control, the fear of an unpredictable and dangerous world that is indifferent to our pain, and the desperate hope that by planning well and steering events properly, we can escape the random misfortunes of fate. It’s the emotional nagging voice that complains about unresolved dramas, and fears them as a potential threat.
To help clarify why closure is an unrealistic goal, there’s one simple, direct question you need to ask yourself: what are you hoping to achieve, exactly?
OK, let’s get the big one out of the way first. Seeking closure could just be your sneaky limerent brain bargaining for more contact and more intimacy and increased odds of getting reciprocation. It’s like you are trying to hoodwink yourself. “I just need to make sure that LO understands the situation properly.” Of course: it’s a high-minded decision to behave like an adult and honestly articulate why you need to break contact.
Naturally, there is the chance you might just drop some big hints about the reason why you need to go no contact. Or maybe not even hints, maybe a direct admission that you are hopelessly infatuated with them and need them to stop tormenting you with their unbearable gorgeousness.
It’s like your limerent brain has thrown a last-minute hail-Mary pass. Risk everything on a declaration of love dressed up as a declaration of departure, and maybe, just maybe, LO will realise that this is their last chance to have you. They could even admit to their feelings too, now you’ve been all open and honest, and give you that sweet, sweet reciprocation…
OK. Assuming that you genuinely do want the limerence to end, and aren’t just bargaining, there’s also a seductive idea that by meeting them one last time you will be able to settle your tumultuous emotions. That you will have a discussion that will somehow dissipate the pent-up frustrations and anxieties of uncertainty and unfinished business that are causing you such discomfort.
It’s worth thinking a bit more deeply about this idea. What would need to happen exactly, to give you the emotional peace you seek? What would they need to say to give you satisfaction, and emotional completeness? What is it that you want them to understand about you?
And where’s the discomfort really coming from? Is it that you want them to validate your own understanding of events – about how things played out between you? Do you want them to admit that they’ve been stringing you along? Are you trying to control the narrative so that you have an ending that you find fulfilling?
The key issue here is identifying where you think that emotional relief will come from? Is it really that you need to receive some sort of blessing from them before you can carry on with your life? Or are you trying to deliver some sort of message to them? Do you need to feel understood? Is it important that they properly grasp what you are going through and know the truth of your situation?
By really analysing this, you can spot the problem. None of these goals are within your control. You can’t get through to an LO that doesn’t want to listen. You can’t expect a thoughtful response from an LO that actually loves the narcissistic thrill of keeping you on the hook for them. If your limerence episode has involved uncertainty and mixed messages from LO, that will carry on, and you will just be trapped in a new cycle of endless frustration because you cannot force LO to behave in the way that you hope will give you relief.
Relief will not come from you saying just the right things in just the right way. It will come from within you.
Quieting the intrusive thoughts
One of the clearest indicators that limerence has spiralled out of control is the development of intrusive thoughts. This is the state where you cannot concentrate on anything else because thoughts about LO keep barging into your consciousness. Sometimes these are pleasant thoughts – daydreams and fantasies – but the experience can nevertheless be debilitating because there is no off switch. This phenomenon occupies the grey area of overlap with mental disorders that also include obsessive thinking (OCD being the obvious case).
So, another possible motive for seeking closure is the hope that it will quieten those intrusive thoughts. The danger here though, is that the urge to “settle things” with LO becomes a compulsive ritual that offers only fleeting relief from the mental intrusions. Even if a meeting goes well, it will almost certainly be followed by a return to ruminating about ways it could have gone better, small errors you made that need to be rectified, or new misunderstandings that you fear have been created. That leads to the desire for just one more meeting to be sure that everything is fully settled – which of course will be imperfect.
Satisfaction will never come from repeating the ritual.
Another common impulse is that you want to walk away from the relationship with LO with them thinking well of you. This could be vanity, but more likely is about your self-esteem and the unbearable thought that LO exists in the world and holds a bad opinion of you.
It may feel awful that they could have misunderstood something about your motives or your behaviour. Do you feel an absolute need to explain to them what you really think and feel? Can you not stand the thought of them needing you as a friend and you being unavailable? Does it feel very important to you that they truly know how you felt about them?
Again, this is a problem of the limits of communication. You simply cannot directly relay your internal emotional state into their consciousness.
You cannot control what they think of you. You cannot force someone to think well of you. Sometimes it isn’t that you haven’t explained yourself properly, it’s that they don’t care to listen. The best you can do is state your truth as clearly as you can and let their reaction play out as it will.
How to actually get closure
I’ve written before about the problems of trying to settle things with an LO. They won’t follow your script, it won’t play out as you expect, it may set back your recovery, and it may have even further reaching consequences if you really shouldn’t have been declaring your feelings anyway, because of social or professional impropriety.
The only reliable way to get closure is to accept that it is not a deal between you and LO; it is a settlement you are making with yourself. You have decided that this period of your romantic life is coming to an end and are going to take the necessary steps to make yourself well again. You make the decision to give up trying to control the narrative, and let go of the old relationship dynamic. You don’t need to make any grand declarations or issue any ultimatums (ultimata?) – just get started on a staged withdrawal process, or go no contact with a polite, bland explanation if it’s needed.
You don’t know how LO will respond to your withdrawal, and that’s OK. You don’t know what they will do next, and that’s OK. Learning to live with uncertainty makes you limerence-resistant. It’s a hobnail boot over your Achilles’ heel.
If you can take responsibility for your own feelings of dissatisfaction and accept that you can’t control other people’s perception of you, you can free yourself of a lot of emotional stress. Once you accept that perfect endings don’t really exist, because perfection is impossible and there’s only actually one final ending in life (!), you can reconcile yourself to the fact that you deciding the end has come is sufficient closure. You’re not hanging on to an illusory hope that a complex, uncertain and uncontrollable circumstance can be neatly tied up with a bow.
As a final thought, that approach to disentanglement also makes it more likely that you can meet LO again in the future without it feeling weird and unfinished.
If you need to.
“Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?”
― William Shakespeare, Hamlet
I never found a use for before.
Reading ,closure is an illusion, is so so 100% accurate.
It can not describe more the feeling i have and have experienced.
Until i searched for this “feeling” i did not know what i had, until i discovered that word “LIMERENCE”.
Just when i think i am getting over it, it comes sneaking back into the brain, by way of memories, images, good moments together. But my case was never fully consummated so to speak. So that makes it harder to get over Limerence.
I never realised how many people have the same problem.
Thank you to all the people writing on this site.I am coming to terms with it ,but not over it.
It has become “a simple prop, to occupy my time” to borrow from an REM song . But it still doesn’t make it any easier.
I’m sorry, my friend.
I’m grateful to Dr.L and everyone on this site.
I found it about 2 months ago and the info here has changed my perspective.
It’s given me hope and I’d wish I’d found it a year or so ago,
No, there is no closure.
“Just when i think i am getting over it, it comes sneaking back into the brain, by way of memories, images, good moments together.”
@Ken. Yup, that’s limerence all right.
I think closure is possible. Not in the sense that you get to sit down the LO and have a heart to heart, but at some point the LE passes. For me, I’ve noticed that the more I had going on in my life that I was excited about, the shorter the time it took me to get over the LO. I met one LO in graduate school, and I was limerent for him while in school, but when I graduated, I moved all the way across the country to a place I’d never been to start a whole new career. I was excited about the future, and I got over the LE very quickly (of course not seeing him anymore helped as well).
Closure…for me, it’s come about gradually through pain and by finding this site.
For many, our intense feelings are a mystery.
Nice to know we’re not alone.
I just know that my last two LEs have gone on much longer than the ones when I was younger. And what I’m starting to realize is that’s because I am bored with middle age and adulthood … and in walked two dopamine fixes.
Song of the Day: “The One I Love” R.E.M. (1987)
Pay attention. “A simple prop to occupy my time,” changes in the third verse.
If you like “This One,” you’ll probably like “Losing My Religion.” I posted it somewhere before, but, here it is again. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u036M7p6-ak
1987 was the year I broke up with LO #2. It was one of the worst years of my life. But, in Feb, 1988, I met my wife and my life got a whole lot better.
Well, well, isn’t this post just dead on. Brilliant as always!!! Dr. L , how do you do it again and again?
At my last proper meeting with LO I actually asked him to answer some questions for me so I could have “closure”. I actually used that term. I felt a quasi-closure for about 4 seconds after we parted and then the obsessive thoughts escalated to a deafening pitch and crippled me more than hey had previously. But… have been absolutely no contact whatsoever for six months now and the figurative voices in my head are quieting although I have rehearsed millions of times what I shall say when our paths cross again (and it’s inevitable they will). Now I have made myself stop, even audibly saying “STOP” to these infernal rehearsals. That is a victory of massive proportions for me. I have toyed with the idea of saying something cryptic to let him know of my extreme mental agony this episode has brought but NO! It will accomplish nothing. No point in punishing him. No point in inviting him in to try to “understand” or “make it better” or worse … tell me “I have no idea what you are talking about”. There is a great little book called “hidden heartbreak” by Emma Lee and in it there is a drawing of the guy saying to the girl ‘But I made it clear from the beginning that my intentions were unclear”.
Nope, I will live and let live and just keep healing in a safe place far away.
I have been reading these articles with interest. My affair with a married LO ended 6 months ago. I have fought tooth and nail to maintain no contact, deleted all my Facebook and Instagram accounts too. Yet I still fight each day not to send a text or letter or initiate some closure. She abruptly blocked my number on What’s App after a 3 year relationship. But these articles have given me insight into what it is that’s really going on in my brain. Very insightful. But No Contact and not seeking closure are essential. Whilst my 6 months radio silence hurts , it is strangely empowering to know I haven’t contacted LO.
That makes sense, Robin, as it is a decision that you took and stuck to. You should feel proud and empowered!
Thanks…I just listened to your Podcast . Very thought provoking. I thought I was unique and somehow mad after a rollercoaster love affair with a narcissistic LO….but now I realise I am someone whose brain fires in a particular way with a particular sort of person. My life has 5 examples of limerences since I was a teenager, I am now 55.
But I do find NC tough, even after 6 months.
I am so proud of you Jaideux. Wow. Hope you’ve continued on with the STOP and are being successful! Very inspiring.
Thank you Laura!
Yes! I am still NC, and unfollowed former LO on social media and more recently unfollowed a friend of his that posted a pic of former LO and his newish SO on his feed. No rancor, I just don’t want to see it.
Former LO’s dad calls me from time to time to tell me he misses me and catches me up on his goings on, but never mentions his son. (THANKFULLY!). At one time I had imagined this man might be my father in law someday, but now I am happy to be kind and friendly to him knowing I have no hidden agenda. He’s a lovely elderly man who I like and who just happened to be the father of LO.
The constant rehearsals for “when I run into LO” have slowed way down, now if it happens I think I can be pleasant and somewhat indifferent, I will not show one flicker of angst or longing or bitterness…the enormity of the LE is my little secret.
I feel so much more content and free and it’s exhilarating! I can make any decision I want and don’t have to factor LO into it. My life and my mind and heart are mine again. I can now view the LE with a philosophical detachment, almost like I have a monacle in my eye, a hand on my chin, and scrolling through the memories of the several years long LE can say “Well, well well, that was rather interesting”. Laura I hope you too are winning your limerent battle.
“The constant rehearsals for “when I run into LO” have slowed way down, now if it happens I think I can be pleasant and somewhat indifferent, I will not show one flicker of angst or longing or bitterness…the enormity of the LE is my little secret.”
Jaideux, in this respect, I strive to be exactly like you! Spoken like a true philosopher! (And doesn’t limerence make philosophers of us all?)
“There is a great little book called “hidden heartbreak” by Emma Lee and in it there is a drawing of the guy saying to the girl ‘But I made it clear from the beginning that my intentions were unclear”.”
@Jaideux. That is an unforgettable line and describes the attitude of some LOs quite well. 😛
Sammy isn’t that true! If only I had noticed early on and run far, far away. Never shall I be ensnared again saith I !
And I hope the same for you, gentle soul.
Well timed and brilliantly written post – thanks Dr L.
Today during the course of my work I was asked to phone my former workplace to query something with LOs department. After trying to find every way to not do it, I dialled thinking constantly “Please not LO, anyone else but not LO” Well you can guess who answered… Thankfully I’d prepared what I was going to say and stuck to it. No personal conversation of any sort. I’m taking that as a win.
However hearing his voice again, as it’s been months since any contact which wasn’t text, has sent my idiotic limerent brain into a tizz. This is a reminder that despite NC, I cannot get LO completely out of my life without moving out of the area.
“Is it that you want them to validate your own understanding of events – about how things played out between you?”
This is me completely. Did he interpret things as I did? How much was in my head and what was real? But then as your post and my therapist said, what would I actually do with that information?
This is just what I needed to hear today. I’ve been no contact now for 4 months and doing pretty well, feeling better all the time. However, although I have no desire for contact again, I have found myself ruminating about what my LO thinks about how the relationship ended – I was fortunately able to cut it off without that last phone call for “closure” – something I regretted at the time but am now SO thankful that I was able to have the strength to do. I have been wondering about what his reaction may have been to not wanting that last phone call, and what he may have thought when I deleted certain social media apps and other means of contact that we had frequently used. I am totally aware that what he feels or thinks is not important to my recovery, but am amazed that my limerent brain STILL searches for ways to think about him. It’s an ongoing need for management and I’m thankful for this blog and other tools that help me know what to do with these thoughts when they occur.
I have very much been there. I remember 2 instances where I tried to explain, get a reaction, get closure show him how I feel (very unglamorous ones for me):
1. The night after I realized there was an EA going on with his new LO. I asked him to meet me at a public but quiet spot. I confronted him about his LO (he called me crazy)I told him I loved him, told him I wasn’t over him (he said I am not his girlfriend so I should stop behaving like a jealous girlfriend). Complete drama, where I cried and basically walked away from him. I thought he just didn’t get it. I later on apologized but said I am glad he saw that because a) that’s prob the worst and only side of me he hasn’t seen, b) you can only react so strongly if your emotions were so intense, trying to tell him how strongly I felt about him.
2. Was after he confessed his EA/almost PA with his new LO, but she ended up choosing someone else over him. That instance was where I told him that I wanted him out of my life completely as it pains me too much. That he’s hurting me and that I prioritize me over him. Well I cried a lot, he begged me to stay in his life. That he doesn’t care about his LO as much as he cared about me. He even went on his knees. I believed him at that point. I stayed, until his LO wanted him again and he asked ME, if he should give her another chance. And that was last straw to go NC.
Well, lesson learnt: it doesn’t matter. Thinking about these instances… it does show how emotionally messed up I was. But I think about them as in the past. Also these strong feelings, they are gone. Took me a long while.
“I should stop behaving like a jealous GF” he watched you break your heart and that’s how he acted. And your worried about upsetting him.. hmm sounds very one sided to me
Well there is always two sides, I crushed his heart when I broke of the PA (the many times I did)… he did tell me how much he was hurt. Mutual destruction.
Thanks for taking my side, Rachel. Pretty sure you could turn this whole story around and see the LE from his perspective where I’d totally be the villain. There is no absolute truth to this situation, only how we as individuals construct our own reality.
But nevertheless, I should only focus on me, my story, and my well being. His view doesn’t matter (to me in this regards).
Agreed. Asking you for relationship advice when he knew you loved him is cruel at worst and clueless at best. It’s happened Tj me too, seems to be a hallmark of LE’s and I shall never let it happen again. Sorry for your pain 🙁
@jaideux: when I asked him what were you thinking asking me for advice, showing me her texts and all, he said, well clearly that shows (now) that you’re not over me yet. 🤦🏻♀️ Duh.
It doesn’t affect me emotionally (that much) anymore. I feel ok with it now.
Its a timely post for me as usual thank you Dr Limerence!
I havent disclosed but am thinking about it these days.. and yes cant see what will be good about disclosing! I start to know my LO hes not capable of showing emotions he will not react which will leave me confused and weak.
i went NC 2.5 years after the first part of our “friendship ” when we were colleagues.. then out of the blue he reconnected and weve been getting closer again since July2018. No specific reason we work nearby we meet once a week, chat sometimes on whatsapp.. like normal friends except he just got married a month ago! We are too close to be friends but yet we are not lovers. Everything reminds me of him he always ask me for my opinion on things.
There has been no disclosure we enjoy each others company it feels a bit like a secret affair but we never talked about our emotions be it friendship / love / etc part of me wants to know what does hewant?? But its obvious we dont want more than that. Of course it crossed my mind that we wouldhave been a good couple maybe , and its a shame we didnt meet before etc
I cut the contact the first time because i wanted to stay in the reality and leave fantasies out of my brain. But when he came back to get in touch again i just left it happen and thought maybe thats the reality we are meant to become close. He came back after his dad passed away and he got engaged…i had a baby.. so a lot happened but i knew we had an unfinished business
So yeah maybe its time again to admit there is no business here and i should leave my fantasies out of my brain
Ulysses Alves says
Great post. It really resonates with us limerents and with our reality.
Now I wonder after reading this: would ghosting be one more option for us to choose to end limerence? In another post you talk about disclosure as being the nuclear option, so could ghosting be a more powerful, or more secure, or just different way to try and finish it?
Ghosting is an option if the limerence has got really out of control or LO is behaving badly, but it’s a bit inconsiderate, and could backfire. LO may be confused and upset by the abrupt silence, and seek contact to figure out what’s going on.
A cooling off is probably better – longer intervals between replies, and less personal stuff. Fade to black, rather than vanishing 🙂
“It’s like your limerent brain has thrown a last-minute hail-Mary pass. Risk everything on a declaration of love dressed up as a declaration of departure, and maybe, just maybe, LO will realise that this is their last chance to have you. ”
Dr. L, I read that and laughed out loud because I, and all of us here know its true! But then, what are you going to do if you complete the pass ?!?
When I imagined completing that pass, my reaction would be “Ha! I knew it!” and then having won that sweet reciprocation, I’d be able to tuck it into my top pocket and walk off the field, into NC, content that it wasn’t all in my head, and that I was an attractive, worthy person. As Dr.L says it wouldn’t be that simple and further uncertainty and possible life altering decisions would follow. Thankfully I didn’t throw the pass in the end!
Neither did, or will I!😁
That was exactly my motivation too, Vincent. I desperately wanted closure just so I could say “I knew it!” I didn’t actually want a relationship with LO (intellectually), I just wanted to know there was something there and she was into me too. Pretty narcissistic, once I thought about it.
Anonymous Limerent says
Yeah, if they’re single and you reciprocate their feelings but then go back to your own life without them, that would be crushing. Still painful if they’re unavailable, but a singleton knowing you share their feelings but don’t start a relationship? That’s just a bit cruel.
AL, another version of being crushed: I will forever have the sting of knowing that really nothing stood in the way of LO and me being together except that despite his desperation to have me intertwined in his life and contact me every day and tell me he needed me etc, he didn’t actually want to be with me. And now he has found the one he does want to be with and they are living happily ever after. I would love to have been told a reason as to why he had to sacrifice his true desire to be with me for a greater good, but there is none….it was all an illusion. And that’s why, to his consternation, I am completely NC.
“I just wanted to know there was something there and she was into me too. ” It may be narcissistic but this was my hang-up which actually stopped me from moving on. So getting that closure for me – incomplete as it may be – actually came from LO confirming that there was something there and she was into me too.
Fair enough, Fred! High risk strategy, though, especially if you have an LO who is less forthcoming than yours was.
I did the nuclear option. I’m ok with the result NOW. For about a month after FD, I was such a mess, crying like I haven’t before and ruminating big time! The ensuing NC has brought me many insights and self discovery that wasn’t possible while we were “dancing”.
I prefaced the disclosure by sending her the link to define Limerence. She is an extremely intelligent and compassionate human being and has been through a lot in life so she was very understanding. I explained how this evolved from admiration to full blown Limerence and in the end she asked if she could give me hug, and we did. She claimed to not have any idea about my feelings but a woman at our place of work at the time saw our interactions and said “I saw what was going on!”. Women seem to have a better intuition about these things .
So I would do it again if I had to even though she didn’t explicitly reciprocate …. and she has respected NC(or is happy to be rid of me)LOL. I don’t think I’ll ever have “closure” but I do have better understanding of myself than EVER before and for that I’m grateful for it has been life changing for living purposefully!!
Thank you Dr. L for taking the time to write about this severe condition 🙏🏾.
I’ve been away from these forums for a while, so first: hey everybody! I had one major relapse with LO at an office party (damn office parties) where she sought me out. I won’t lie, it was wonderful to have some physical reciprocation again. Since then, we both decided to talk through what had happened, what couldn’t happen and to lay down some ground rules. As such, we’ve actually had a pretty good stab at closure so I guess this is a contrarian post, for what it’s worth, and it may only be applicable in my case.
Basically, I disclosed to LO that I was in love with her but she already knew that. In turn, she admitted to feeling both an intellectual and physical attraction that continued even though she’s now got a new boyfriend. By doing so, she confirmed that the whole episode was not just in my head but also said that we could never be together because I have a wife and because she is now involved with someone else. So this was both deeply satisfying but also very sad. It did free me up to try to repair my relationship with my SO and to be less hung up on SO and the whole “did she/didn’t she” ruminations that I spent most of the summer going crazy over.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Welcome back. That’s a big step. Now what is your next step? What are you going to do when another ‘Manic Pixie Girl’ comes into your life?
I thought I never had to worry about it. But I’m certainly more guarded now! Because the other username I thought about was “Limerence Is The Worst!”
Thank you for this blog and your website, as others have mentioned, it has been a great source of support and clarity during a very challenging time……
So I’ve been no contact for 4 months now and doing quite well. LO taught one of my kids last year, so a very delicate situation; honestly I barely knew the guy so no explanation for NC required.
At the peak of my LE, I found myself having freeze/ flight reactions to any encounter/potential encounter. Looking back LO exhibited some overt ‘predatory’ behaviours at a distance, such as staring & contriving ‘accidental’ meetings in the yard, and wanting to think the best of him as us limerents do, I think limerence can only explain the unprofessionalism and risks he took at times.
Your article is well timed as my fantasies and thoughts are now more linked to what I would do if he disclosed? I have every intention of maintaining no contact as far as possible.
My question is, if he discloses, what do I do or say???
I’m married, and I think he is too.
I think you know, but I’ll take a swing: Be cordial, but reiterate that you both cannot restart or continue. Especially since you have much to lose.
Disclaimer….Now this is a bit easier for me since i have not met up with LO in 4+ months. And there is no reciprocity.
I think if a predatory teacher declares his limerence for you, you should run a mile! 🙂
More seriously, if this is at the stage of looks across the yard and him trying to sound you out, the likelihood is that he has a pattern of trying to seduce parents. I mean, I’m sure you’re great (all LwL commenters are beautiful and clever, after all), but if you haven’t really formed a meaningful connection then this is far more likely to be a case of a player looking for vulnerable limerents, than a unintended bond that developed due to carelessness.
I can only see bad outcomes ahead if you don’t take decisive action to shut him down…
Limerence is everywhere! Look at this article in The New York Times, called “a modern love classic.” Now with knowledge about limerence you can see all the things wrong with this, including the response by the LO, and the whole “closure” issue. Might be time for someone to write a Modern Love column that increases awareness that this is limerence, not love:
Would love to hear people’s thoughts.
To add to my comment, my SO and I regularly read the New York Times Modern Love column and generally enjoy it. I was surprised to learn that it’s first column ever was this column about a limerent experience. I think it’s important to distinguish between limerence and love, so when the mainstream media doesn’t, and when there is a focus on “listening to your feelings” and emotional reasoning it almost encourages people to act on limerence when they might not have in a different era.
This part of Dr. Limerence’s new post stood out to me “…you can spot the problem. None of these goals are within your control. Relief…will come from within you.” This speaks to an internal vs. external locus of control. Sometimes it seems as if our culture, by promoting emotional reasoning through the idea of “always trust your feelings” fosters an external locus of control, when we need instead to foster an internal locus of control. Maybe I’m broadening the topic, but I think it’s related.
PS, I agree with you completely. Our culture of “follow your heart” is encouraging all sorts of selfish and self sabotaging decisions. I think “guard your heart” makes much more sense.
Thanks for sharing that article, PS. It was almost painful to read that well written piece, as of course I know exactly what he’s going through, various times. 😂 “don’t beg for something that doesn’t want to stay” – one of the things I wrote in my electronic (pw protected) notes on my phone.
Of course he has to let it go, but one almost hopes that she just leaves him alone and goes NC. Trying to be friends (on her end) is just a bit cruel if you think about it, sending bday notes. It’s understandable she does that, she has no clue what that puts him through. I hope if I ever am in a position like the author’s ex girlfriend, I will do the right thing.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Ah, that essay is very good. My own LE is in its final throes.
To recap, I bought a business. Inherited a bunch of employees, and one was a standout — she was young, capable, and dedicated. Attractive, but not my type, plus I’m married. We worked closely together, and she constantly fed my ego with gushing compliments about how great of a boss I was. Eventually, she declared that she loved me. I didn’t respond–how could I? But secretly, my feelings for her had developed, from appreciation to an intense obsession.
Out of the blue, she quit to work elsewhere. I secretly suspected it was so she could go NC, and I was depressed and struggling–the business suffered because she was really a phenomenal employee. We had some intermittent texts about benefits and life events, and eventually she indicated she would come back. Then she decided to divorce her husband, and my limerence intensified. After a year of working together, I issued her shares in our company so that she wouldn’t again leave. Right around that time she informed me that she was secretly dating the guy who’s office is next to mine!
My limerence seized me with such a force that I had to do something, and I found this site. I can’t go NC, but I gently reeled back the daily contacts I have with her, and re-focused on things outside work.
Now, things are much more manageable. My feelings of limerence wax and wane, but mostly they wane. I still appreciate her, and the feeling is mutual, but I think we’ve both got it under control. Her divorce is complete, her boyfriend has moved in with her and her kids, and I’m pretty much OK.
What worked for me:
1. Stop thinking about her. Use the rubber band on the wrist, play stupid distracting video games, whatever it takes initially.
2. Stop checking FB, Instagram, no cyber-stalking. AT ALL.
3. No texts, no chatty little e-mails.
4. Extremely limited personal communications. I used to give her all kinds of advice and support. It was feeding MY limerence.
You CAN get out of it, but you must control your thoughts and recognize when you start to daydream/fantasize about your LO. Put a stop to it immediately!
The purposeful living thing is a huge help. Do it! Pick something that you enjoy and set some goals.
I’ve tried to transfer my limerence to my wife, with limited success. There’s no mystery or uncertainty there, and she doesn’t compliment me or build me up the way my LO did. But it still helps to focus on her good qualities, and be more appreciative of her beauty and her personality.
Hey MLBIAI, I am glad you were able to find strategies to manage your situation.
Your LE sounds heavy, what you’ve gone through sounds really tough.
I had some questions (out of curiosity) reading it though, I hope you don’t mind: a) would you have given her shares if you weren’t limerent for her (given she was good at what she did and an asset for the company) and b) do you regret having done that now?
Thanks for sharing, My Limerent Brain… I can relate to this, as my LO was initially not my type either…until they started complementing me. My LO was my child’s teacher, and my SO and I were having disagreements over how to deal with this child’s behavior, so when LO always agreed with me it felt great.
Something that worked for me was to remember that “this too shall pass” and that each day with NC will get easier, until it just fades away. And then suddenly recently I tried fantasizing about LO the way I sometimes do at night, and I realized it was not as easy and automatic and I just wasn’t that interested.
I will say that it’s kind of bittersweet. I almost miss having that automatic fantasy to turn to whenever I want to de-stress or distract from something. I definitely used fantasy as a tool to deal with anxiety. Hopefully that doesn’t mean I will be sucked into a new LE.
That article struck a cord with me, not with my current LE but with the only other LE type experience I’ve had. I was much younger than the author and my relationship with the LO was longer but similar to him in that the obsession kicked off after splitting up.
The big problem for him, and me then, was how it ended and how the girl extracted herself from the relationship. This “being friends” concept which is just BS, particularly if the break-up is one-sided, as it creates such uncertainty for the person dumped – maybe there’s a chance still! In the article she was giving him mixed messages, which admittedly he was blowing out of proportion but ultimately she was actually giving him hope that it could be rekindled. That happened to me too, I even tried to go NC (just on instinct back then), I wrote her a letter about why I had to let her go if I was to move on with my life, and yet she came back again and I relented. This was after 2 years of “friendship” post relationship.
Those mixed messages drive you crazy. If you’ve slept together 100s of times like we had, then it’s pretty confusing when that person turns up at your door of an evening with a bottle of wine wanting to hang out, but not be intimate anymore. I remember getting mad with her, sending her passive aggressive texts, actually begging even – looking back of course all disastrous things to do! But the limerence makes you insane, especially as you know that you were actually together and happy at some point and you just can’t figure out what changed.
This was about 20 years ago, and it had a major impact on subsequent relationships. I had this ex on a pedestal that no-one else could match. It took years for me to move on, even as I had other long term relationships. The big mistake looking back was clinging onto the “friendship” in the hope we’d get back together. I should have cut her out when we broke up.
Interestingly though we reconnected a couple of years ago. Over some wine we had a pretty honest conversation about that time, and it transpired that she was having many of the same thoughts as me in that post breakup period: She still had feelings for me then and wasn’t sure if we should have split up. She was seeing someone else soon after, but couldn’t let thoughts of me go, etc. She ended up marrying the other guy and said over the wine that she regretted it and that she should have married me. It was amazing to hear finally and it just instantly cured me of the residual feelings I had for her. Even after all those years I still had these lingering thoughts, regrets about that time, in particular my behaviour and a feeling of inadequacy that often comes after rejection. It was like all that was lifted for me on hearing she felt the same and I wasn’t crazy.
What’s odd is that removing her as the go-to ‘other woman’ fantasy a couple of years ago allowed the new / current LO to fill the gap (and then some).
“What’s odd is that removing her as the go-to ‘other woman’ fantasy a couple of years ago allowed the new / current LO to fill the gap (and then some).”
It’s not odd at all. Is there any similarity between the two women? There are several similarities between L #2 and LO #4.
I used to think I wanted to encounter LO #2. We left a lot of things on the table but nothing good would come of that. I remember too much. When I was on Percocet a few months ago, I was more favorably disposed toward her but my head’s a lot clearer now.
When LO #2 came out of the woodwork a few months after her great confession, I knew when the second thing out of her mouth after “Hello” wasn’t an apology that nothing had changed. Obviously, something had changed or she wouldn’t have come out of the woodwork, but for me nothing had changed for the better. This was all about her. She made the strategic mistake of giving me a month’s advanced warning. She also couldn’t have foreseen that from the time she called until her arrival, I’d be having my hormones carbonated by the SIL of my co-worker. LO #2 was starting in a hole. But, I thought we still had a chance. However, there were a few things I needed to hear from her:
1. I’ve moved back for good.
2. I’m sorry for the crap I put you through.
3. I love you.
4. I trust you.
5. I want to be with you.
6. I’ll do what it takes to make it work.
What I got was:
1. Me: Do you want to get back together?”
2. Me: Will this relationship ever be what I want it to be?”
Her: “No, you should find some sweet thing that adores you and not waste your time with a crusty old broad (33) like me.” [You can’t make this stuff up]
3. Me: “Then why did you call me and why are we here?” [The therapist said that wasn’t the answering she was expecting and that I must have frustrated the hell out of her]
Her: “You’re still my best friend….”
That’s why I think the FB friend request I got from LO #2 a few years back had to be an accident. It was kind of flattering that she could still spell my name after all that time but she can’t possibly think I wouldn’t remember this.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
It was kind of flattering that she could still spell my name after all that time but she can’t possibly think I wouldn’t remember this.
I hate to disagree, but there are lots of conversations I’ve had with people where it is seared into my brain, but they don’t even recall being with me at the time, let alone the discussion. And the reverse is true. My kids will tell me things I supposedly said and I cannot even remember it.
I wouldn’t put it past her to be so into herself that she barely remembers what you said to her and discounts it totally.
Whereas, you were looking to spend the rest of your life with her, and she doesn’t seem like the kind of person who could really conceive of that commitment level.
“ Is there any similarity between the two women?“
Yes, similarity in looks, shape, dress sense, sense of humour, the way they both made fun of me in a playful way. Certainly early on I thought that LO was a younger model of the ex. Both ‘needed rescuing‘ by me (in my mind), so that again was a very strong link between them. Maybe I did just replace one with the other. LO is the same age as me and the ex were back then too, so I was perhaps subconsciously taking myself back there.
But as time wore on with LO their differences became more and more apparent to me. The ex was well educated, smart, someone I could have spent my life with. LO wasn’t those things and I knew any relationship with her wouldn’t last (because of that and the age gap). Despite that LO kind of earned her place on merit in the end, and I think it became more than just a replacement for my earlier fantasy.
I watched High Fidelity again on a plane recently and in that they do top 5s, including top 5 break-ups. It got me thinking about mine, and even though I wasn’t in a proper relationship with LO, she’s now entered the top 5 after the way it ended. The ex is still no.1 though… ☹️
“I wouldn’t put it past her to be so into herself that she barely remembers what you said to her and discounts it totally.”
We covered that, too. After her confession, I asked if she wanted to get back together. She declined and said she was going to make it work with my successor, the guy who she later claimed cheated on her and brought her back to town. I asked what she wanted from me. She replied, “I just want to stop feeling miserable all the time.” I told her I didn’t understand since she was where she chose to be, doing what she chose to do, and sleeping with who she chose to sleep with. I asked who was making her miserable. She hung up on me.
I decided I’d had enough. I wrote a letter saying we’re done. When we had the above conversation, I asked if she’d read it. She said she had and it had upset her until she realized I was only venting, didn’t mean what I said, and threw the letter away. I told her she wasn’t taking me seriously and there was more riding on this than who was taking her to the Prom. So, there is precedent for her dismissing something I said. On the other hand, she brought up things I didn’t remember saying or doing. Oddly, they were things she liked. According to her, I didn’t fail to meet her expectations, I’d exceeded her expectations.
Between when I sent the letter and she reappeared, I’d decided I needed to take some action. I went on a cruise to Mexico and paid $27,000 cash for a Nissan 300ZX turbo. When LO #2 came back into town, I picked her up in it. She asked, “What’s that?” I told her, “The down payment on what would have been our house.”
Cruise to Mexico: $1000
300 ZX Turbo: $27,000
Look on ex-girlfriend’s face: Priceless
No matter how many times I run through this, the story never seems to get any better.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
That’s an interesting story, for sure, and I love the detail about the 300 ZX Turbo.
It’s definitely fascinating to see which comments and conversations are remembered or forgotten by the participants. I also think it’s interesting to see how each participant is remembered by the other.
So there’s no doubt that you had a major role in her life at one point. And she reached out to you via FB later on, so she remembers you with at least SOME kind of fondness.
But somehow she didn’t really know you that well or she wouldn’t have dismissed your letter, or else she didn’t want to believe you when you said to her that your relationship was over.
I think it’s weird that she had such an inability to be content with you, and wanted to look elsewhere, but couldn’t really leave you behind, either.
Do you feel like you dodged a bullet by her rejection of your advances?
“But somehow she didn’t really know you that well or she wouldn’t have dismissed your letter, or else she didn’t want to believe you when you said to her that your relationship was over.”
That was another topic I covered with the therapist. I said it galled me that LO #2 felt that she could cruise into and out of my life at will. The therapist said that was because for over 2 years, that’s what I’d been communicating to her. I told her I didn’t see that. The therapist proceeded to pull things out of the history of the relationship to support that. I told the therapist I never said I’d take her back. The therapist said that was true, I hadn’t said that. I had only told her if she wanted to come back, she had to meet certain conditions and laid them out. The therapist asked what part of “I’ll take you back” was escaping me. The therapist said LO #2 interpreted that to mean she could come back should she want to. My response was that I never said I’d wait for her. If she came back, she had a chance. If I replaced her first, she was toast. I’d turned over another woman to get back with her once and I’d never make that mistake again. I told her her admission about settling for me really pissed me off. The therapist said LO #2 probably didn’t think that admission through and was unprepared for the vehemence of my response. LO #2 had overestimated her worth and my tolerance. Ooops…
“I think it’s weird that she had such an inability to be content with you, and wanted to look elsewhere, but couldn’t really leave you behind, either.” – In that respect, she was like a feral cat that you made the mistake of feeding once. It won’t come in but it won’t leave, either.
“Do you feel like you dodged a bullet by her rejection of your advances?” – The smart money said that the nicest thing LO #2 ever did for me was to decline my marriage proposal. I asked the therapist if in her professional opinion, could we have ever had a viable relationship. Her answer was no. The therapist said I was very good for LO #2 and …”did an excellent job managing her but you’d have done it forever and it would eventually wore you down.” I told the therapist that I never detected the faintest hint of malice or vindictiveness in LO #2 but she could be callously insensitive. The therapist said was a characteristic of a personality disorder. LO #2 saw absolutely nothing wrong in what she said or did. I also told the therapist that I never saw the faintest hint of regret or remorse in LO #2. The therapist replied, “Because there wasn’t any.”
One of the more interesting things LO #2 said was that I was the first adult relationship she’d had. She was 27 when I met her. She told me she’d had an affair with a married man at 19, gotten pregnant and had an abortion. She also said she’d had two previous relationships that ended when she found out they were cheating on her. Her father was in an open affair. She also said that I was the first person to ever pursue her. In all her previous relationships, she started them and she ended them. That implies she either has really crappy luck or she picked those guys because they reinforced her world view. I was inclined to believe in crappy luck until I realized I’d reversed cause and effect. She wasn’t the way she was because of the relationships she had, she had the relationships she had because of who she was. The sobering thing about that last sentence is that it applies as much to us as it does to them.
It would be interesting to know if she went after either of her two husbands or they went after her. From the way events transpired, I’d bet lunch she went after her first husband. I was married less than a year after I met my wife. She was engaged within a year of my getting married. Her first marriage lasted 3 years.
When she sent me the FB request, I checked her out. She had a BF. He didn’t appear on her FB page, but she was on his. He could be my clone. There’s a rough physical resemblance. We have the same taste in the 80s. We’re the same age (ok, not a strong link). We have the same degree. He graduated from college in a state adjacent to my college. He was in the Air Force during the same period I was in the Navy. The therapist said I was probably driving her nuts. Another reason I think the FB request was an accident is what message would the appearance of a guy who’d asked her to marry him convey to her current BF? Now, she had used me as leverage with my immediate successor so it’s possible she was trying to tell him something but the only way to find out was to accept the request. Even if my wife hadn’t explicitly asked me not to accept, I could see myself replaying the conversation I had 30 years ago. I’d be Charlie Brown letting Lucy convince me to try to kick the football. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddmXM-96-no
What I’ve said so far is only the tip of the iceberg. The therapist said that it’s possible that we could have been happy together. She said God can work miracles. She said that with LO #2, that’s what it would have taken and He chose not to.
The therapist said, “Your life could have been so much worse.” So, yeah, I dodged a bullet.
I didn’t intend to write a book.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Scharny, I read every word.
But I never had a PA or even a real EA with my LO.
Your experiences are more intense than mine.
I escaped limerence and will never return.
Song of the Day: “Kentucky Rain” – Elvis (1970)
“Don’t know why you’d run,
What you’re running to or from
All I know is I want to bring you home…
I’ve loved you much too long
And my love’s too strong
To let you go, never knowing
What went wrong…”
“It was like all that was lifted for me on hearing she felt the same and I wasn’t crazy” I think in a lot of instances that’s what you are seeking, to hear that you are not imagining things, that you are not crazy.
I was with a guy once in high school that dumped me by saying he just wasn’t in love with me anymore, yet his actions seemed to show me something different. I went crazy, trying to get back to getter, or at least find out what the real reason for the breakup is. I was close friends with his sister and his exchange student was my best friend (I was also an exchange student), so I continued to be around him at his house. Years later, he confessed one drunk night over chat that the true reason for the break up was that he knew I was going to leave the country and that there won’t be a chance for us to be together so he didn’t want to get too attached to me and stop it before he let’s me fully into his heart. That was 20 years ago. Fast forward, I remained “a family member”, maid of honor at his sister’s wedding and god mother of his nephew and I was even at his wedding (he lives 24h flight away from me). I do see his family every few years (as we don’t live on the same continent) and every once in a while he and I even catch up over email how things are (my SO was at the wedding too and knows we are in contact and even knows the content). I am glad I had that drunk talk with him once as that showed me I wasn’t crazy and gave me the closure I needed.
My Limerent Brain…
Well said! Particularly #2. I’ll add, don’t look for LO in OTHER people’s posts and pics!
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
“a) would you have given her shares if you weren’t limerent for her (given she was good at what she did and an asset for the company)?”
Going to be totally honest here. In the immediate aftermath of finding that she was secretly dating a worker, I regretted doing it because I was mad at her. She shouldn’t be dating one of the employees due to her high place in the firm. But mostly, I was jealous. However, I was mentored in business by an old guy who had given 5% of his company to a woman who was younger and did all the financials. He told me that it worked out wonderfully because she stayed there for years, did quite well for the company, and did great for him as well. So I had entertained that strategy when I got the company–I knew she was a rising star and I didn’t want her to go anywhere else. When she left, it was for a 50% raise! It’s not like my limerent brain was simply admiring her for her yoga pants or something; she genuinely is terrific, and the market for her skills is high. She proved that by finding a job that would pay her what she’s worth, so good for her. She hated her new place, though, and wanted to come back, even at a pay cut. I put up a matching salary, though, to be fair. After she had been with me for a year again, I offered her shares in the company, because I felt like she had proved that she would stick around, and plus, I was majorly limerent. She deferred them until her divorce was complete. Then she asked for them, then she deferred again (she didn’t want to tell me she was dating an employee secretly). It was complicated, as you can see!
“b) do you regret having done that now?” Initially, I totally regretted it. Mainly because the limerence was causing me huge problems every time I saw her, or her boyfriend, plus she and I lost our limerent connection. I was thinking, “You idiot! You can’t take being around her/them, and you’re stuck with this stupid agreement that gives her rights to part of the company, and there is absolutely no way to get away from her without putting the company up for sale! Your idiocy has just doomed you to years of misery, and there’s no way out!” Now that limerence has faded, I’m kinda glad I did give her the shares because she IS a great employee, she deserves them, and I don’t want her to ever leave. The logical part of my brain is OK with everything–it was a plan I developed pre-limerence, and in hindsight, it’s fine. Our relationship has normalized, I’m not the limerent creepy guy that I was turning into, and I have a wonderful employee/business partner, with her happy domestic life sorted out, and we can focus on improving our business together. My wife likes her (she was pretty suspicious of my LO initially because she could tell there was something between us). My LO has some quirks about men; she avoids my office most of the day. I think it’s because she doesn’t like her new boyfriend to see her in talking to me, and she avoids him almost totally at work due to the initial secrecy (although everybody knows now) and she doesn’t want to cause a bunch of weirdness. Whatever the reason, it helps me out a lot to just keep everything professional. Ironically, her divorce fuelled my limerence because it removed a barrier between a possible future for us together; and her new relationship dampened the limerence. LC and this site helped me end it, pretty much. She and I still work together a lot, but if we both by some disaster ended up single tomorrow, I wouldn’t even ask her out.
But I would have preferred to never have developed limerence. You cannot trust your own motives or actions when you’re under its spell. So those are great questions, and I had asked myself those exact questions many times over the past few months.
Thanks for the long answer MLBIAI! It’s good to read stories about how others experienced limerence and got through it. You don’t normally get to ask those “sensitive” questions, so really appreciate you taking the time to answer!
Looking for a general advice. Six months ago my LO chose another woman over me and now he wants me back. Is there any advice for this? Part of me still care about him
Short answer: How much risk are you willing to assume to find out?
On one hand, it may have taken another woman to find out he actually likes you more.
On the other hand, you may be Plan B. It didn’t work with her so he’s rolling down the list.
Your history may give you a hint as to which it is. You don’t know someone hasn’t changed until they’ve proven they haven’t but if you have enough dots to draw the line, maybe you don’t need another data point.
Ask yourself if you think there’s enough upside to get past him choosing another woman over you. If you do take him back, can you maintain enough healthy skepticism to see if he’s using you while avoiding the temptation to rub his nose in the fact you were second choice.
Rachel = idiot
Why is it when I am doing amazing i decide it was cool to message LO who messaged me back with a something or nothing message and then proceeds to not read my next message.
It’s been a month where I have felt so good. Barely any thoughts of LO, I’ve been content and focusing on my life which I have been absolutely loving. Just ranting on here as I’m disappointed with myself. I’ve spent time around LO and have actually been quite put off by him.
Oh well dust myself off and get on with things. Limerence is a b****
It is OK, Rachel, we’ve all been there!
Thanks midlifer. This is horrible. This is what a full relapse feels after a long period of barely any limerent feelings. I remember what triggered it, I locked eyes with LO and it must have brought back the limerence. Ugh, worst night sleep of dreams of LO and cold sweats.
Don’t beat yourself up over it. It is after all like an addiction, there’s the constant trap for a relapse, esp if you can’t go NC. You did so well.
Instead of focusing on the relapse, focus on how great you felt these past few weeks. You’ll get back to that state, and much quicker than previously. Lesson learned, no proactive text or reaching out to LO, ever.
I’ve also not have the best day. A tiny mental relapse, been thinking about how it would be to be close to LO (again). Pushing the thought away. Focus on snapping out of it again.
It’s hard isn’t it. How have you been doing since your meet? Do you think you’ll meet again.
Agreed there is no point. I knew it was a relapse as my rational brain was like nooo don’t text! Lesson learnt!
I’ve been doing ok since we met. I will definitely not reach out to him again. I would assume he is waiting for me to reach out now, especially after him asking when he’ll see me again. We have an xmas party mid December, he said he’s not yet sure if he’ll go. He’s not the person to socialize. It would be better for me if he didn’t go, but even if he does, it’s ok. His LO will also be there. It would hurt me to see them together for sure. I know he still meets up with that group of friends, not sure if they are talking again or not after she dumped him for another guy then wanted him back (and frankly I don’t care) it would hurt to see them together though.
It is what it is (and it is over :)). It feels like breaking up with an ex and finally realizing that it is over and in the past and that there is no point to try and stay friends, as that is just trying to artificially hold on to something that I wasn’t ready to let go. We had a connection but it is in the past now. Feeling a bit melancholic about it.
Sarah, I felt exceedingly melancholic when I had to kill off my LE and it somehow seemed every sad event in my life reappeared in my immediate thought and coelesced into this dark and poisonous haze that was slowly killing me, suffocating me. But once I purposefully trudged through that period of sadness the haze faded and fresh clean sea air started rushing in and now sad memories seem neutralized and my heart is starting to heal. The loss seems less large now and I reflect back on the LE with a bit of wistfulness but it’s magnitude seems to weaken every day. I hope the same for you!
Thank you, jaideux! Yeah, I’m quite ok now. If I think back to my very first post here: “I need to get over limerence but I want to stay best friends with LO 😂”. I so didn’t get it back then. It’s a process to go through unfortunately. But I am on a good path and it seems so are you, Jaideux.
This is how I was feeling but I feel my limerence is rearing it’s ugly head. You can do this Sarah. Be kind to yourself! Life is so much more easier without an LO. You will get through this. Nothing lasts forever and when you feel good again at least you will really appreciate the good times knowing what hell you’ve been through. X
“I need to get over limerence but I want to stay best friends with LO 😂”. It’s really good to reflect on how far you’ve come. It is a process just seems to be a very slow one!
Agreed. I feel sad going through very slow staged withdrawal to limited contact, with many relapses. But, by contrast, a year ago my LO and I were in a frenzy to spend as much time together as possible without tipping over into an EA or PA. Where I am now is a lot healthier.
Yeah, it’s crazy, but it is just a phase and it will be over at some point. In a few years we’ll be looking back at that period in our life and think about how bad we felt back then. But it’ll be a thing in the past. And we’ll think about the one or many bullets we dodged. As of now I see at least two that have missed me and I can feel so lucky.
Yeah. It’s a great moment when you can look back on your old aspirations and see them in a new light. Undeniable evidence of progress.
Miss Anon says
I can relate to many posts on this site, and this one is no exception. After numerous attempts to seek ‘closure’ over the years, I have always been aware enough to know what I’m doing is a thinly disguised way of seeking relief, yet so far unable to stop the repetition. We each have an SO and although there was mutual disclosure, a mistake, that was it. My experience has been a cycle of trying friendship, NC, discomfort of compulsive rumination, followed by one or the other reaching out for ‘closure’… again… always knowing there can be nothing said that will satisfy. A few times I have even been sure that the LE was over (personally, this feeling cannot be trusted), only to have the thoughts turn from anti-LO to compassion and original feelings. I have found that purposeful living is good, but not enough to get over it.
Not feeling the best about my LE today… but I realized, the worst is already over, I’m on my way to recovery. And no relapse is ever going to pull me that deep down again.
Sarah I’m sorry your not feeling great. You are not alone in this feeling! I’m feeling low and missing LO’s vibe. But your words are so right. Noway will we be down that low again. That time has come and gone. What do you think has set you back? My LO just messes with my head. Maybe not intentional but nevertheless he still does things that suck me in. No matter how high my guard is up.
We take the bad with the good and remember that this to shall pass! Hold your head up high cuz you rock
Not sure what set me back. I haven’t seen LO or heard from him, so nothing really that triggered it. Maybe just a thought that popped up in my head? It’s not bad, but I just wondered why he just popped up in my head again.
Perhaps your stage 2 NC x
Continuing on the theme of closure is internal…
I didn’t disclose my EA with LO #4 until 3 years after it ended. My wife and I are entering a new phase of life and addressing long-standing issues of our relationship. I didn’t want to have to work around the EA so I came clean. My wife talked it through with her therapist and it hasn’t come up since. I swept the minefield. Then, again, my risk in disclosing was less than others’ might be.
Since the disclosure, I’ve come to see my wife as my ally. Should any of my XLOs return, they’d be seen as intruders. Dr L was right when he said, “I really wouldn’t advise becoming limerent for someone else as a way to strengthen a relationship, but after the initial heartache has lessened, it can rejuvenate the “us against the world” feeling of a close pair bond.” https://livingwithlimerence.com/2018/05/15/should-you-disclose-to-your-significant-other/
Unfortunately my physical and emotional affair with an LO resulted in my wife and I now leading separate lives after my disclosure. So I think there comes a point in time where disclosure can be something which results in the cheated on partner becoming detached….. Perhaps this is not so much the case with limerences that never developed into full blown physical affairs.
Do you think you’ll reconcile?
Frankly no. I am still deeply in love with my ex LO. …My wife and I lead separate lives..We will have to discuss fully where we go from here at some point. However the depth of my infidelity has finished my wife and I see that.
I take it that your married ex LO isn’t in the same situation and doesn’t intend to end her marriage. Limerence may explain your attraction but what was hers?
Were you dissatisfied with your marriage before you met your last LO or did you become dissatisfied with your marriage after encountering your last LO?
My married ex LO has a husband who she has no plans to leave as there appears to be a financial and emotional bond. She has had other affairs and all have ended in similar fashion. I was just one in a line but my middle aged hormones took control. She is someone who I knew would be kryptonite but I couldn’t help it.
My marriage was in trouble before as I had other affairs. But the LO affair was the final straw….
I am 6 months NC and haven’t seen LO for nearly 8 months but frankly I struggle each day. My attachment system is anxious anyway, whilst LO ‘s is avoidant.
A terrible cocktail..
As for her attraction to me….she said she loved me….
One thought but are all Limerents people with an anxious attachment style and LOs people with an avoidant attachment system?
DrL talks about that in https://livingwithlimerence.com/2018/05/21/limerence-and-emotional-attachment/
What makes this LO so special compared to your other affair partners?
Thanks for the link. The LO has that X factor that stirs something deep in me. Like a Pandora’s box…..A deep emotional and physical longing. This is not my only LO….It’s like almost these people have a power of hypnosis…..
The early blogs go more into those lines of inquiry but you have to access them from either search the site, use the keywords, or from the main Blog page. Unfortunately, that’s currently the only way to access much of DrL’s early material. The last entry on this page, “Midlife Crisis for Limerents,” is on page 17. Some of the best material is on the early blogs.
Thanks I have read the middle aged article and frankly it could have been written by me…..
I have found your contributions most helpful too…. Thanks Scharnhorst
I like these articles: https://thoughtcatalog.com/holly-riordan/2019/09/you-didnt-date-but-that-doesnt-mean-it-wasnt-real/ and https://thoughtcatalog.com/holly-riordan/2019/12/why-almosts-linger-in-your-head-and-your-heart/
Thought Catalog has a category for “Almost Relationships.” While not all LEs are “almost relationships,” more than a few of them are. Limerents in committed relationships may relate to these.
Thanks Scharnhorst…helpful little articles.
LE’s are often not appropriate but they can be very real.
My LE was not inappropriate (both of us single) but perhaps the depth of feeling was only real on my side. But…LO did write emotive letters to me about his great love and appreciation for my friendship and he went nuts when I wouldn’t go to his wedding, so perhaps his fondness for me was real, but very different than my reality. And that’s why I’m here.
Song of the Day: “Say Something” – A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera (20130
This song gets to me.
Me too. It kills me.
Spotify top 100 came out this week. Music was a huge part of bonding with LO; I can’t stop thinking about checking his profile to see if his top hundred is public- to check to see if all his playlists are still public. I can’t stop thinking about it and don’t want to do it- hoping writing this will help me. Also thought of making my public in case he checks- feels like a setback
So glad my LO isn’t on Spotify. A big draw for me to her was her taste in music. She is just different. Reminds me of when I was in high school. She is what I used to be but abandoned somewhere along the way into adulthood. Social media is such a pitfall for limerents and I’m sure Spotify is no different. Hang in there Janesays.
I’m not on any other social media, and I’m so thankful (now that I’m in this spot) that I don’t have to fight that temptation too.
I didn’t look on his- I did look on mine to see if my list was public: it isn’t.
I totally get the younger feeling that the LE can bring. My LO and I would make playlist after playlist, pour over lyrics, write eachother stories, attempt poetry, …. very young love stuff.
I erased all the playlists I made him and that we made together- and I’ve been pretty light about even listening to the stuff I listened to during our EA. The playlist that just came out is a mix of before abs after NC. I’m making my way through the whole playlist and trying to look it in the eye and process it. It’s been ok- although I had such a viceral desire to look at his profile as a result of it. Which I weathered.
The emotionally illicit nature of this relationship makes it so challenging to file. It’s not young love heartbreak- it’s an emotional affair… so the emotions feel similar but without the simplicity, if that makes sense….
I’m replying to myself. Had a relapse of sorts and checked LO’s spotify- found that he’d deleted all our shared playlists from EA, but he replaced them with new ones. I listened and they’re like listening to a letter written to me after the “end”. It’s hard to describe the pain I’ve caused myself by doing this. I’m absolutely obsessed by the thought of making public the playlist I’ve been working on since the “end”. I know rationally it’s a terrible and unfaithful idea, and it won’t leave my brain. Help.
One good thing that I see in this. I had a very threadbare idea that my EA was the result of problems in my primary relationship- knowing it was fully my decision and my fault, but retaining a sliver of justification in the corner of my mind that I wouldn’t have done it had I felt really loved, heard, seen by SO. Well, it’s a lie. I have the best relationship with SO that I’ve ever had now- and he’s giving me everything that I’ve said I needed. I’ve been more honest with him and am seen, accepted, loved and heard, and I want to cry over losing this lie of a relationship and also grasp with everything in me the closure that I know to be an illusion and a trap.
Any feedback would be much appreciated.
Janesays, I feel ya. Making the playlist won’t do any good, it will delay healing and cause further pain.
As you say, your relationship with SO at the moment is good – focus on that!
The EA is over and you now need the mental strength to accept that. It won’t go anywhere, it is over. It’s ok to feel sad, feel the pain, tobe angry, to grief… from my experience, NC is the only thing that works.
Janesays, it sounds like you are finally getting your “closure”. Of course it’s going to hurt and the temptation to respond is huge, I suspect your LO might be hoping for a “reply” from you. Or perhaps it’s his way of ending this. Either way it’s not necessarily a bad thing, it might just be the final push you need to put this all behind you and move on with your SO, a kind of cutting of the umbilical cord so to speak. Yes I know it hurts and you are super tempted to post your new playlist, but please don’t. You’ll be glad later that you didn’t.
Time to let go.
Oh Jane I can imagine your pain your going through right now. If you feel the pain and I mean sit with it, cry and sob if you have to. The only way to get over limerence is through it. This hurts like hell but this is the closure you need. Time to untangle yourself from you LO. Accept it’s over. Please don’t do the playlist idea. You will regret it. Take each day as it is. Cry and be in the moment, know this pain won’t and can’t last forever. Concentrate on the task in hand, whatever you are doing. Close the day off before bed knowing this is going to a painful road but it’s the only way to freedom. Take care of yourself Jayne
Also what you’ve done here is seeked out lo and it has caused you pain. Know next time anything LO will bring you pain and keep telling yourself over and over until it sticks and you no longer seek him
Song of the Day: “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair” – Mitzi Gaynor (from “South Pacific,” 1958)
The right playlist can be very inspiring. Make it work for you, not against you.
But there are some things you’re better off avoiding. I have a thing for “rescuer songs.” I always have. Songs like “Last Worthless Evening,” “An Innocent Man (this one’s great if you have any NAMALT in you),” and the co-dependent classic “I Can Help” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_CFVkNA508. Ok, that last one is a little too far out, even for me.
There are certain songs that I associated with LO #4, most notably some of the later works by Meatloaf and Richard Marx. It was so bad, I bought Richard Marks Greatest Hits. LO #4 really liked Billy Joel and Nilsson. She pretty much trashed them for me with a few exceptions that have stronger associations.
Scharnhorst, my weakness songs are any from Coldplay especially “Yellow” because they are so melancholy. The other main song is “Me and Mrs Jones”, mainly because the lyrics is verbatim LO and I.
Rachel, I also left LWL for a few months but my reason was because I thought I had this LE under control and I scoffed at the idea that LO and I couldn’t be friends. WRONG! How delusional of me! Needless to say I scuttled back here quick smart after my last failed attempt at friendship with LO and I ain’t leaving!
I appreciated the feedback I got from my last post. I made a mistake, and I have had a difficult time rebounding emotionally from it.
I talked about having looked up my LO’s profile on spotify and finding a bunch of new playlists. My temptation was to make mine public, and I, rightly, got suggestions that that wouldn’t be in my best interest. And so I decided not to. The thing that I did wrong was to make my own copy of LO’s playlist and to make my own playlist just for me… well, what I didn’t realize is that every new playlist is automatically made public unless immediately, manually, made private. There’s no announcement of the list- it just goes on my profile. It took me probably 8 hours to realize that it was on my profile, and I made it private right when I realized it…. but LO saw it. This is crazy because I haven’t had anything on there for 7 months, which means that he must be regularly checking my profile. I know he saw it because he immediately changed the name of the playlist I’d copied… and added a bunch of songs. Music, as I’ve said, was one of the biggies in our EA. I was just flooded with shame and dopamine and fear and…. it was an honest mistake after a bad decision (checking his profile) and it set me off on a period of compulsive checking and guilt and curiosity. It brought back the conflicted, ambiguous feelings of the EA. I realize how much peace I’d gained over those months of NC. I’ve never had complete freedom, but I had so much more peace. My playlists have all been made private, and I’m trying really hard not to check his profile or listen to the playlists he’s made (such a stealer of peace and integrity). But it is a major fall-in-a-hole. The other problem is that he’s never stopped, in all this time, showing up where I am and doing drive-by’s. By doing this I feel that I’ve basically told him that works. Also, it’s cruel to him. If anyone should understand the horrible power of uncertainty in limerence its me*. So I just basically feel terrible. Actually, I’m beginning to feel ok again, but only after some days of intentionalilty. And I tried to remember what DrL. said about associating all those awful feelings with LO. I want to stop hurting people and I’d love to find the off switch on this.
I love reading everything on this site- so nice to know I’m not alone
Sorry to hear about the setback Janesays, but it sounds like you are responding constructively. I’d definitely agree – anchor that awful gut-churning feeling of having accidentally revealed yourself to LO. That’s what the LE brings you, when it’s indulged.
But, the other key thing is to learn from the experience. Dust yourself down. Forgive yourself the moment of weakness. Focus on how much better you felt during no contact than “accidental exposure” and resolve to last longer till the next relapse.
Eventually, you’ll reach the point where you never relapse again…
“But, the other key thing is to learn from the experience. Dust yourself down. Forgive yourself the moment of weakness. Focus on how much better you felt during no contact than “accidental exposure” and resolve to last longer till the next relapse.
Eventually, you’ll reach the point where you never relapse again…”
Thank you so much- that is what I’m resolved to do. I can see a million little indulgences in my mind that layed the foundation for the initial poor decision. I’m a participant in this. Now a participant who is more on to myself and the excuses I use to gain some of that sneaky fizz. I can’t afford it- and I don’t want it ultimately. I need to be on to myself all the time and remember that all those feelings will pass with time. Thanks so much for the response- I’m broken and hopeful
The dots kind of connected for me last night. I woke up in the middle of the night, and this made clearer sense than it has all along. I hope that I can explain it clearly.
I understand the need to connect the feelings of disquiet, guilt, and anxiety with my LO… and that makes sense. But what I realized last night is that I’ve been connecting those feelings with my SO because that’s when I feel them. I indulge in the sneaky fizz, and then when I see or talk to my SO I’m flooded with all those negative feelings- not because they come from him, but because I know that he would be hurt by me, and that makes me feel awful.
My SO is actually amazing. He’s kind and handsome and smart- he’s a total catch. And we get along really well- in all areas really. We had a rough patch for a bit- which has been hugely helped by the discovery of my EA (the hardest thing that’s ever happened, but the getting through it together has been a HUGE blessing). So I’m not in the camp, anymore, of being able to pin any of this on a deficit in my marriage, but I see now that this is something that is in me to examine and learn from. This is a glitch in my programming.
I guess what I’m saying is that along the way, in my LE, the wires got totally crossed and I started associating the good, bonded, glittery feelings with LO and the scary, guilty, anxious feelings with SO. So now that I see that- my mission is to uncross the wires. I am going to be very intentional with seeing that all my warm, safe, loving, peaceful, attracted, fun, bonded feelings always ONLY come with my SO. And the feelings of fear and anxiety and ambivalence and guilt only come when I indulge my LE. And really that’s the truth, so this is an exercise in embracing reality.
I couldn’t see any of this if I weren’t here.
That’s a really good point, Janesays. Even though the negative emotions come from the fact that we know we are behaving inappropriately with LO, we experience them when we are with our SO. Subconsciously, that can link SO to bad feelings, when the actual cause of the bad feelings is guilt about LO.
“I started associating the good, bonded, glittery feelings with LO and the scary, guilty, anxious feelings with SO.”
OMG Janesays, that could actually be true for me too! I’m not sure… I’m battling with this thought. This would mean that the bad emotions I feel with SO are the consequence of my LE, and not the cause.
This adds to my already huge feeling of guilt, which doesn’t make me feel better at all.
Maybe this is one of those things that appears to be really bad news, but is actually great news.
And I’m learning that guilt is a really useless tool- it seems like it will make us better people ultimately, but really it’s just punishment without end. I think the better thing- the best thing really- is to really learn from our lives so we don’t have to stick on repeat.
This is really difficult, for me at least, but I’m committed to learning now. Maybe truly committed for the first time. And I can see how many things I’ve used in my life that haven’t served me- or the people I love-well at all. Things like secrecy and self-protectiveness. Things like trying to find the love I crave without being truly willing to be emotionally intimate. I’m much more afraid than I ever realized.
Maybe the great news is that all that needs to change is me… much easier (or much more difficult) than dreaming that if I could only change my externals all would be well…..,
Thank you Janesays, you are right that guilt is the most useless tool, and that the aim is to learn something from our experience. Not easy for me.
I like the metaphor you used: “my mission is to uncross the wires.” I managed to disconnect the LO wire, but can’t seem to reconnect the SO wire! The “warm, safe, loving, peaceful, attracted, fun, bonded feelings” are gone. My SO is suffering, he sees I’m unhappy and he’s trying to do whatever he can in his own way to show his affection. It’s not his fault, it’s mine, I don’t feel anything anymore, it’s broken. It may be temporary because I’m grieving, or I can’t admit it yet. But yes, I can’t help to feel guilty.
there’s a post here called rewriting history that I think is really great. I can only speak for myself, obviously, but I had definitely begun to rewrite history with my SO. We talk about it a lot now- that maybe the case being built against the other is actually true, but it doesn’t mean it was only true. We had some big things to work on in our marriage- and right before he discovered my EA we were talking about how unhappy we both felt at the time. That we felt stuck with each other and semi-hopeless to change. I, at the time, thought that the EA was actually allowing me to look at the truth of my marriage for the first time- which now makes me shudder with terror. That it was giving mew clarity rather than undermining and tainting and poisoning everything. I had no intention of EVER telling my SO about my LE or EA- if it were up to me- and for reasons that seemed to make perfect sense- I would have gone to my grave with it. And planned on getting out and stopping; I just thought I had to do it all by myself. I was failing to see that my attempts to end it before (3) had left me feeling so lonely and bereft that it was impossible for me to leave on my own. The only thing I ever really succeeded at was getting myself in deeper. My SO discovered my EA- and I am so so so so so grateful that he did. First of all- I was sinking and it was the first phase of rescue. Also- it was truth for the first time in a long time. It was almost- actually- a feeling of relief. Leading a double life isn’t for me. It’s too hard.
And my SO and I have worked through this together- it’s been the hardest thing we’ve ever done. I wouldn’t have said, before, that I trusted him (ironic, no?) but I trust him now. To accept me, to listen, and to stand by me.
But getting over this limerence takes time. I got myself in deep emotionally, and the wires certainly got crossed, but things are gettting clearer and clearer. I really underestimated the damage that this was causing- the regret and remorse I would feel with my SO. The regret and guilt that I would feel for playing with the heart and emotions of another human being (LO), and the cold look that I would have to take with myself. I used to think myself quite a good, strong person. Now I see how weak I can be- again, a good news that looks like bad news.
@Avalanche, sorry for the VERY delayed reply but hopefully someone will see this. I had that exact idea re: telling LO about the concept of limerence, assuming she is unfamiliar with the term. I know I was. I had never heard of limerence until my LE hit me. After much internet research I stumbled upon the term limerence and this blog. I often wonder if I should get ‘closure’ by telling LO exactly what this is. And I totally agree with Dr. L’s discussion of perception management. I don’t want LO to think I’m a creep or just some married guy who chases a skirt. I’ve always been faithful to my SO and love her deeply. But I was ambushed by this LE. The intrusive thoughts are involuntary. Yes I may have opened the door to it but it quickly took over and I had no power to stop it (seemingly). I want her to know the agony I dealt with and that it was not coming from a place of pure lust or sexual urges or being unsatisfied in my marriage. I tell myself that if LO were to understand limerence she would understand me and feel compassion. And I have disclosed already. We work together so NC is not an option. I think about this in the context of her one day leaving for another job. I dread that by the way. I know one day it will happen and I’ll never see her again. But I think maybe when that day comes I’ll sit her down and have this talk and tell her this is what it was all along (because I’m probably too scared to tell her presently because I’m afraid it will further creep her out – limerence is ‘person addiction’ after all). When she leaves, I want to tell her I will miss her and it will be painful for me to see her go but ultimately will lead to healing. I want her to have fond memories of me and not think I’m a total creep.
B, I would be very cautious about telling your LO about limerence. Why not tell you may ask?
1. It might be so thrilling to her ego to know how besotted/obsessed limerents really are. Some LO’s seek out potential limerents to give their ego a giant boost. Do you really want to give her that confirmation?
2. She might be totally freaked out and scared of you. Limerence may not seem benign to a non-limerent.
3. She may not “get it” after you explain and find you super duper creepy.
4. She may not care at all and display total lack of compassion.
5. She may laugh at you or look disgusted. You will carry that memory forever.
6. She may tell her friends and this thing would humiliatingly snowball.
7. She may tell your SO, or it could get back to her.
8. She could tell someone you work with, or your superior and it could be viewed as harassment. This could affect your career.
9. Rather than have the fond memories of you that you hope for, she may be somewhat traumatized by your conversation and those will be the memories she retains.
10. You may not get closure after all.
I would suggest that from now on treat her in a distantly cordial but professional way, and if she doesn’t bring up your past disclosure, act like it never happened. This will make any creeped out feelings she may have to fade. Have a picture of your wife on your desk and make it clear to all that you truly love her as you say you do. Try to make as much space as you can between LO and you, and let your heart heal and the limerence drug to detox out of your system. Eventually nature will take it’s course and you will truly feel closure.
B, I agree with Jaideux! I expect it’s more likely than not that it would come off as creepy, which is the opposite of what you intend, and the results of which could be devastating for you. The downside is only too real and the upside is illusory, and if you ever talk about it with your LO, you give up all control over what happens next with that profoundly sensitive information about yourself. Please don’t do it!
My co worker LO left yesterday, I will not see her again . I wrote her a card with a gift. She sent me a lovely email and amongst other things wrote this
“I can’t thank you enough for being open to change but even more than the work side of things, for being so lovely on a personal level.” I have not reached the depths of some here, a crush probably, but this gives me warmth of a mutual care that doesn’t happen often in life (I am 60) I hope this the beginning of closure, I am more than pleased for her and her new beginnings.
I miss her.
I know the feeling Anon90, probably more so for you since it wasn’t your choice that she left.
Hope you are ok……..
Thankyou, not yet. I wish her well and thought I want to keep. I care for her.
Like everybody else here, can’t get her out of my head. Such a beautiful person…
My attempt to post a ‘song of the day’ like Scharnhorst. Heard this one today and was gobsmacked by a few lines.
“What if I never get over you” by Lady Antebellum (2019):
“What if I never get over? What if I never get closure? What if I never get back all the wasted words I told you? What if it never gets better? What if this lasts forever and ever and ever?”
This made me think of all that’s been written about the length of limerence (1 to 3 years etc). I’m at the 1 year mark. I am waiting on time. But “what if time doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do?”
The time frame of LEs is 1-3 years. Recovery is an entirely different story.
My LOs tapped into long-standing issues going back to childhood. Ending a specific LE didn’t get rid of those. I’ve said this before. You often come out of relationships with more baggage than you went in with but you never come out with any less.
My wife said for years that she thought I had unresolved issues surrounding my parents. She tagged my father. She also said I had unresolved issues about LO #2. She was right but she tagged the wrong parent and didn’t understand that my issues with LO #2 (and later LO #4) were tied together. When I started working with a therapist, it turned out that was one very big iceberg and a whole lot of people came into play. Since all those people are long dead, none of those relationships were affected by digging into things. Let’s just say that after a lot of work, my opinion of some people changed.
Whether time does what it’s supposed to do depends on what your LO tapped into (i.e., what the glimmer is doing for you.) It also depends a lot on whether you want to let time work for you. If what your LO tapped into is superficial and that’s what you want, time will work its magic. If what your LO tapped into isn’t superficial, it can hang with you a long time. For me, we’re talking decades. It may not define or overly influence you, but you can carry it with you and learn to live with it. You can turn it into grand opera and build a little shrine to it in your head that you can visit whenever you want. It’s your secret, a little hidden part of you that you come back to and nurture from time to time. And, to keep it, you have to nurture it. Neglect it, and it fades and loses its luster. Neglect it long enough and when you go back, it’s overgrown, dirty, and empty. You wonder why you bother to come back. It will be like driving through the neighborhood you grew up in. You recognize things, but they’re different now. You don’t belong there anymore.
It also makes you vulnerable to recurrence of LEs. Avoiding threats is good, correcting the vulnerability is better.
Vicarious Limerent says
@ Scharnhorst and B: I had actually heard 3-36 months as the typical duration of an LE, but perhaps a year is more accurate as the minimum. I was hoping for three months in my case because I am now just past the three month mark. Still, self-reflection about my marriage and life seem to be taking over slowly from limerence as my primary preoccupation (although the limerence is still very much there).
It is funny how you mentioned going back to an old neighbourhood because I did that just yesterday and experienced those very thoughts about no longer belonging there. I think I was trying to replace a current bad habit (limerence) with an old bad habit of mine (nostalgia). Sometimes the lesser of two evils is preferable. While it was nice to see my old apartment building and walk through the local mall, I didn’t feel the same sense of nostalgia the old neighbourhood used to bring me. I just didn’t feel like I belonged there anymore. I began to get a sense that I shouldn’t live in the past anymore (whether that past was three months or 15 years ago), and that mindfulness and focusing on the present is a much better approach. That old neighbourhood in the city used to represent freedom to me, before my wife and I bought a house, moved out to the suburbs and had my daughter, but I realized that my life is here now in the local area. Even if my marriage ended, I would probably stick around here now. I have roots here, and I couldn’t afford to buy a place in the city (although I still love to visit). That surprises me because I used to be such a city boy. It could also just be because my LO lives in the local area, although I am hoping there is more to it than that.
B-This is no small crumb of comfort and everyone is different how they process things, but my LE has been over 4 and a half years with a 4 year gap, it seems in retrospect now.
I thought I was over it, especially when I went for a job interview in town earlier this year that was (and now discovered still is, now I know he’s still around) in the same street where my LO lives. I have this job now and the place where I had the interview is going to be a hub where my team will have meetings and other events, but fortunately I do not have to go there every week. However, I recall fear of bumping into my LO on the day of the interview did not enter into my consciousness, so I knew that I had “recovered”.
Until this May… I became unwell due to an overreaction to some hormone treatment, both physically and mentally. The emotional and sexual aspects of this experience ( the hormone treatment temporarily rebooting my libido ) became a huge trigger for the LE feelings relating back to this LO I met 4 years ago. My relationship with the LO 4 years ago wasn’t as substantial and enduring as most of the posts on this page, it was just an EA on my part swiftly followed by lustful feelings and I got a vibe that it was slightly reciprocated because of his conduct towards me, however enough to fire something up in me long dormant ( I have a SO/family – been in this relationship nearly 21 years and boredom in this relationship has assisted the LE somewhat).
I didn’t know what limerence was until May’s trigger over the same person reared it’s ugly head. And fortunately I came across Dr. L’s website with great comfort and I am going through the online course now.. However, the LE -it gets you when you are at your lowest and most vulnerable. The microcosmic impact of the global pandemic on my thought processes just exacerbated the whole episode too, thinking we’re all going to die/ that life’s too short -I’m a middle aged limerent (I think it’s much harder the older you get) and should seize an opportunity if there’s any chance of reciprocation.. These things don’t happen to me often , but now looking back, I’ve had other LE’s before, even since childhood).
Anyway I made a big mistake by disclosing by email to this LO after 4 years of NC, what happened to me after I distanced myself from him and now what happened to me this year. I have no dignity whatsoever- even went to the lengths of what he did to my reproductive organs when I thought of him 🤦♀️! A second email a few days later went off, citing love songs with messages. As intensely as I relapsed this time was as abrupt as I stopped- when I got “better” and put it all down to an person with a diminished responsibility because of illness.
I now cringe at what I wrote…I dipped in to Dr L’s website, looked at some of the Blog topics, embarked on the online course and wrote down my experiences . This last thing was quite cathartic, though part of that cathartic process was badly skewed by thinking that if write and tell LO about my experiences post LE years ago and this time, would also be cathartic. However gradually, with my new job getting busier, pandemic lockdown easing (stuck at home not being able to do much this spring doesn’t help with ruminating) things had got better these last few months.
The last time I had the LE with this LO, a couple of emails exchanged between us after I parted company with him and a final note from me to say sorry for my behaviour ( I ended up in hospital 4 years ago and partly held him responsible then for my health problems , that’s a long story in itself ) he sent a FB message saying thanks for my note and asked if I wanted to meet up again ( to look at / explore what my issues were- he was a sort of an enabling LO at the time, a group leader, if you like ). I then ghosted him and kept it that way for 4 years, eventually recovering- or so I thought . Until the trigger happened this May and I was almost back the way I was 4 years ago.
Dr L has helped and everyday has got better and better. My relapse in May , sending 2 emails to an address of his I went out of my way to find ( he went off grid for a while it seemed, FB group and personal account closed down , I had a business card of his but couldn’t find it . A Google search enabled me to find another address. No response -ghosting me, I thought, or perhaps (my wish fulfilment to allay my embarrassment over the fact that if he actually did read those emails, what he must think of me) a better thing would be that he was a ghost literally himself. I started ruminating that perhaps the virus got the better of him! That was (horrible to be thinking such a thing!) my best option for closure or unburden myself of the shame in my impulsive weak behaviour by contacting him again after all this time. My ruminations about a missed PA over this LO were then taken over by ruminations that he no longer was alive and the only way I was going to find closure and piece of mind was to check records , or go even one step further , hire a private detective to see if he was dead or alive! I new that this most recent LE was dangerously becoming close to a stalking scenario… Anyway, I’ve managed to quash those ideas and only until very recently, the day to day mental/emotional processing has lessened and lessened .
Until yesterday that is… When I saw him in the centre of town where I live. I think he saw me a split second before my eyes clocked him and to my satisfaction (or dismay?) almost at the same time he brought his head down quickly and then seconds brought it up again and then I could verify it was him. I kept my head steady , as I recall and my eyes only briefly glimpsed so as to avoid eye contact. I read online that head bowed down can mean many things, shyness, submission , threat (none of it positive, but I was satisfied that I didn’t show a reaction as much as he did)
And now I am back to square one, thinking why did he react the way he did? Mostly ruminating about whether he has seen those emails ( and that’s why he reacted ) or hoping he hasn’t to spare my blushes…
Dig in deep with finishing the online course work, I think to myself… At least I don’t have to waste money hiring a private detective! I am tempted to have one more intentional contact to tell him not to worry I won’t bother him anymore , or will him to tell me I was imagining the reciprocation or there was something there too all that time ago…Just to be finally honest with me his of intentions.. Or to tell me to f*** off. I would want any those outcomes- 1) so that my feelings were validated/quashed. And 2) as I am more likely to come across him again in the street ( when I go to my work place) then I will feel nothing – because we’ve “closed”.
My final thought on this is what happens if I go through cycles of getting over it and every time I happen to see him will it just retrigger everything? I will probably NC him but I can’t control the chance passing in the street if we live in the same town. I did say in my emails this year it would be better if he wasn’t in town anymore. I had said that were planning to move but the pandemic stopped all of that too. The compulsion to actually stop him in the street if our paths cross
(closer than they were yesterday, so I could do it ). Just to finish what was half started all those years ago, is so strong right now because of my resurged limerence…
If I was you, I would just enforce NC now and forever….as any kind of contact is a hit…
I have sent horribly embarrassing emails off to my LO and would do anything to get them back…but what is done is done. If he has any question as to if I am pining for him or not, he has to realize I have had not allowed any contact for well over a year, so that proves that my past communications were just temporary insanity!
We both have our lives to live and they don’t include each other in any way. Looking forward…not back.
I’ve even thought about writing down my 2 voices when I seek closure, breaking NC, go crazy, etc.
Just to separate them, because the manipulation of the L voice is so sneeky, I can’t tell them apart anymore.
I write down what my L brain wants and thinks, I let the angree todler speak.
Than I write down what the self compassion, adult, soft, rational side of me would advise and thinks.
It’s a bit like schematherapie where you can observe the both sides without having to act on them immediately. No judgement for both.
I’m going to try this today, see what it does…
Going along I noticed that there is a huge amount of judgement in my L brain, about my LO ( who has not done anything wrong he is just who he is, an introvert who I don’t understand at all, hello uncertainty) but also towards me. ” Why am I so dramatic, why can I just move on, I should not feel so bad etc. Being angree at my feelings is like a dubble loup of negatively.
I also see that my L side is a huge protector, not a very efficient one, but it’s trying desperately to not get rejected by being super alert on rejection. By getting angree at LO by warning me to not get hurt etc . I have to be in my toes to not get rejected and hurt.
What makes me feel rejected and hurt 24-7 even when I’m not rejected.
So far giving the sides a voice helps a little. Not to take away the pain but to be less harsh about it.
One of the unappreciated aspects of hypervigilance is it gives you something to do. You can kill lots of time scanning the horizon for threats or changes.
Hypervigilance isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In some situations, it can keep you alive. When I was on submarines, we lived in a constant state of low-grade hypervigilance. We became attuned to the ship. We knew how things smelled, what things should sound like, what temperature they should be, etc. For example, one of the last things you want to hear on a submarine is absolute silence. It means you’ve lost all electricity and nothing is running.
Limerents appear able to become hypervigilant, some extremely, for signs of rejection, reciprocation, or possible opportunities. We can build our lives around it. When I was in the LE with LO #4 and was a moderator on her site, I developed a pretty good idea of what “normal” was for her and our interaction. I suspected she wasn’t happy with her relationship. In all her public posts and emails to me, she referred to her live-in as her partner. One day she she started referring to him on social media as her BF. I expected it would be followed by an announcement they were engaged or had gotten married. As a half-joke, I asked her if it was a promotion or demotion. She emailed back that he’d been demoted and she publicly began to decouple from him. That’s when she started opening up to me. Their relationship had changed and I went into hyperviligant overdrive analyzing that one.
As a tactic, maybe there’s a way to manage the hypervigilance itself and work on the drivers later.
Funny you should mention writing your thoughts out, as I just began doing this yesterday. I wrote for over an hour. I tell myself it is just a diary or journal to help put my thoughts and feelings into words. It is strangely therapeutic seeing my words written down. I feel shame but it is also liberating and enlightening. I also tell myself I may eventually give this letter to LO. I know that’s a dreadful idea. So maybe I won’t. What do I hope to accomplish?
But maybe I will…
B….I wrote a letter to LO and started to read it to him (when I was unwisely advised to disclose) and became so emotional that he grabbed it and said I will read it myself, don’t worry….but then conspicuously failed to give it back and I was so confused about his ambiguous response I didn’t ask for it back then….well I agonized over the content of that letter for the next few years and begged him to give it back to me (we were still ‘friends’). He eventually did but joked about how he could make a copy…I live in fear that he did and someone will see it and I now would give anything to have not written it (or let him see it) in the first place! I am NC now, but we travel in the same circles and if this stupid letter resurfaces I will be more humiliated than I can even stand. Don’t send it…..trust me. In years to come you will regret it with all your heart. They don’t need to have even more of an upper hand over us than they already do!
That sounds horrible. He sounds like a terrible person, for what it’s worth. I guess it’s easy for me to see a clear distinction from my LO, who I would never in a million years see acting like that. I see her response as either (1) accepting it with compassion and understanding, or (2) refusing to accept it in order to prevent things from getting weird or to protect herself from deeper feelings, etc. Either way, I still know it’s a bad idea to give it to her. I tell myself I will hold it, adding to it and revising it over time, and maybe give it to her if she ever leaves for another job (which I know would mean I would never see her again).
B, well it could be she doesn’t have deeper feelings and likes you just where you are, adoring her but not making things awkward for her. We limerents are often tacitly guided by our LO’s to ‘keep our place’ and just quietly endure the inequity of the relationship so that they (the LO’s) are not uncomfortable. To be transparent and honest should force the relationship one way or another but LO’s often have a way of sweeping our declarations (or obvious hints) of attachment right under the rug. In my opinion, an honorable LO would distance him/herself so as to let our ‘feelings’ die a natural death, but so often that doesn’t happen, which leaves the heavy lifting to us, which is so difficult as we are addicted to them and so lovelorn….. It would be so much easier if the LO said “I am sorry, you are a wonderful person but I don’t have those feelings for you, and I don’t imagine I ever will. I think it’s best if we put some space between us and you can find the person you really deserve”. I have only heard of that happening once…and it was spoken by my friends future husband to the person who was limerent for him. I told my friend who was deciding wether or not to date him “that man is a man with a fine character! Please give him a chance!”. She did, and they are happily married to this day. My new criteria for a love interest is to avoid anyone who deals with infatuated souls any differently. That’s the gold standard in my book!
“It would be so much easier if the LO said “I am sorry, you are a wonderful person but I don’t have those feelings for you, and I don’t imagine I ever will. I think it’s best if we put some space between us and you can find the person you really deserve”.
That’s what LO #3 pretty much told me. I didn’t directly disclose to her but I think she figured things out pretty quickly and she shut me down before I had a chance to get attached to her. I had no trouble getting past her. We ended up staying friends through our respective courtships and marriages until they left the area and we lost contact.
I think that’s what I might have wanted to hear from LO #4 when I disclosed. I was already attached to her by then. In stead of shutting me down, she came back with a variant of “But, for the fact that you’re married…” and tried to strengthen the attachment. It was approaching the point of “put up or shut up” when she threw the flag
Article of the Day: https://thoughtcatalog.com/bianca-sparacino/2020/04/when-youre-finding-it-hard-to-move-on-from-an-almost-read-this/
If any group knows about “almosts” it’s limerents.
Excellent article Scharny….but my only dispute is when it says they ‘aren’t ready for a commitment’ , that may not be true. They just aren’t ready for a commitment with the limerent. 🙁
I agree. It’s not a precise fit.
“We limerents are often tacitly guided by our LO’s to ‘keep our place’ and just quietly endure the inequity of the relationship so that they (the LO’s) are not uncomfortable.”
That’s it Jaideux. Perfectly said.
It’s funny, my LE is so far behind me now (16m NC) but I’ve had a bit of an echo lately…. some transference with someone similar. Again, much younger and I’m in the mentor type role. She sought me out at work, we got talking, went for a few coffees and for the last few months we’re in touch via social media DMs fairly regularly which has elevated it past work now. I was aware it was the last LE somewhat repeating itself but felt it was different this time and had it under control. She just doesn’t provoke the same level of feeling. I think the lockdown actually exacerbated it though, as there’s more time for little messages to lighten the mood.
It was OK until I found myself last week getting very frustrated after an offer of help of mine was ignored (this has been a bit of a trend). As I sat there at home, having flashbacks to similar situations in my LE, it dawned on me… I’ve made her uncomfortable. She liked the mildly flirty Or amusing messages, but when it starts to get real, it’s not what she wants (even though she said she did).
So I’ve cut right back and left her alone. I simply can’t have another LE, but thankfully I’ve had an early warning sign. More work to be done on myself as to how I’ve ended up here though….
Hey Vincent…how fabulous that you responded to the early warning sign. I have had a couple of close calls in the last few months with potential LO’s myself but the fact that I “nipped limerence in the bud” with them shows me how much progress I have made and how I am starting to become self-aware. I still am super vulnerable and have the real potential for relapse (that’s why I am here too!) and yet I have hope that my last Massive and Soul Crushing LE was in fact my Last Massive and Soul Crushing LE. I can learn, I know I can! But us limerents are works in progress….and we must never let our guard down lest unsuitable LO’s take root in our hearts!
I’ve definitely learned that stopping at the glimmer is the safest and easiest way of managing limerence, by a mile. Yes, I might miss out on getting to know someone interesting, but balancing that against the potential emotional catastrophe of willingly walking into limerence makes for an easy choice 🙂
I see it now as a helpful early warning system.
“Potentially emotional catastrophe”…. well said, Dr. L. The most interesting person on earth isn’t worth that!
I concur on that quote of Jaideux being right on. The ‘needs plausible deniability LO’ as Dr. L calls it. It is so accurate. It makes me angry. LO uncomfortable? Sorry! You have completely upturned my life. You can feel uncomfortable and get the [email protected] over it. But I’m gonna say what I’ve got to say and you’re gonna hear it.
And I realize that sounds foolish because she can report to HR for harassment etc etc. But I KNOW my LO has feelings because she told me so. She just wants to pretend and live out the charade. She won’t tell anyone because she’s as guilty as I am. I know she won’t. She is just better at pretending. But I won’t stay silent. She has to hear this. Her comfort level be damned.
Sorry you are having a rough time. You may want to stop and consider – what are you trying to acheive? Remember the limerence is about what’s going on with you, it’s not really about her, regardless of her feelings. You are responsible for the direction of your life, not anyone else. Better to use the anger to move away from the situation and on to better things.
B, I completely understand your wanting her to ‘face the music’. But weigh carefully what you stand to lose, and if this disclosure is really worth it. If you lost your job for a charge (unfounded though it is ) of harassment it could haunt you far longer than this limerent episode might last. Also if she fabricated a tale to colleagues about you being a creeper that basically became obsessed with her and she denied all responsibility or mutual feelings ….that could be hard to refute. People have a way of becoming intrigued with sordid little tales like that and the they come back and bite you when you least expect it. Is she really worth it?
Imagine a worse case scenario and with all its permutations….and weigh it against holding your head high and walking away with your dignity. And of course if there are other people in your life that could be negatively affected about her flipping the story against you….maybe protecting them is more even important than protecting yourself. Proceed with caution and I wish you the best!
I’d agree with Bert and Jaideux on this. What is your purpose, B? If it’s to make LO feel uncomfortable and force her to listen to some home truths… to what end? To satisfy your anger? To provoke her into admitting her feelings again?
OK. Let’s say that happens exactly as you hoped. Now what? How is your life and situation improved by having this all out in the open? Is it now more likely that you will be able to part on good terms? Or that your other relationships will improve? Or that your LO suddenly declares she wants to be with you after all?
Or, will it provoke her to report you, lie about the situation, and desperately manage her image with your co-workers and friends?
If you choose to deliberately unsettle someone, you might find that they return the favour…
@Dr. L, Jaideux, Bert:
I know I know. Just venting my anger I guess. And I have asked the ‘what do I hope to accomplish’ question myself (I mentioned it a few comments up actually). I can think of 2 things:
1) to force her to face her own feelings and stop pretending, catapulting us into an EA or PA, or
2) to turn the tables on her to provoke deeper feelings for me but then I withdraw; now I am the LO. Now she gets to suffer as I have suffered.
Ironically, as low as my self esteem is with this LE, I have supreme confidence in my ability to impart all of this through the written word (I am somewhat of a writer and I know how to strike a chord with her emotionally, I just can’t ever say it in conversation).
Both goals are truly messed up. But I guess I am messed up myself. I could only admit this to a bunch of strangers. Thank you.
Spite is like jealousy, it can be tough to manage and can get away from you, especially if you drink.
Spite and overconfidence can be an ugly mix
“She has to hear this.”
No, she doesn’t. And if you do so, you are harassing her and if she is smart, she will report it. She’s not interested.
“She is just better at pretending.”
Consider that she went along with what you said because she is worried that if she disagrees, you will harm her. You may not think you’re a creep, but what matters is how she feels about you for real.
This is really good advice, and it helps with recovery. Even if it’s not true, entertaining the idea that LO has just been being really “nice” because they don’t want to upset you, rather than because they like you, is a useful mental “cold shower” to wake you up to the fact that you could be misreading the situation badly.
And then remember that they could exploit that same misreading, tactically.
Anon For Today says
Sorry this post is a bit long and ranty…
The amount of LO bashing I read makes me feel a bit uncomfortable sometimes. While I am sure there are some genuine narcissist LOs out there, I don’t think they are very common and I don’t think labelling our LOs as narcissistic attention seekers, and making them even partly responsible for our LE, is a productive life strategy. We criticise LOs for enjoying our attention yet we have also sought, enjoyed and used our LOs attention – how can we set a behavioural standard for them that we are unable to follow consistently ourselves. Surely our LE is a problem purely of our own creation, even when our LO has flirted with us or reciprocated in some obvious way. How we respond to their behaviour is up to us – us limerents choose, maybe unwittingly, to milk that attention, project our desires into a mental version of them and fantasise about romantic or sexual scenarios with this mind created LO. We cannot expect them, especially if they are a non-limerent, to understand the depth of our obsession, take any responsibility for it or act in a way that helps us resolve it. That is up to us, and us alone.
I understand the importance of knocking LOs off the pedestal we create for them, but ultimately what we spend our time thinking about sculps our neural pathways and shapes our future behaviour so surely it is better for us to try and practice compassionate distancing with our LOs rather than angry blaming and unrealistic behavioural expectations. LO has their own inner world, most of which is probably entirely unrelated to us – they have their own trials and feelings to struggle with, they may also bounce between their desires and their integrity thus behaving inconsistently.
Maybe a potential topic for future post DrL?
Yes, it’s a core principle of the LwL recovery strategy that it’s happening in our heads, and that no-one ever got over limerence by proving it was all LO’s fault. It isn’t a healthy approach, because even if LO was leading the limerent on, it’s still up to them whether they engage with the temptation or not.
All that said, a certain amount of venting is predictable when limerents work their way through the anger phase of recovery. When they feel foolish for giving in, and lash out a bit. Usually, we try to steer those folks back towards the light of self-development in the comments, but I agree it can get a bit uncomfortable to read.
Anon For Today says
“a certain amount of venting is predictable when limerents work their way through the anger phase of recovery. When they feel foolish for giving in, and lash out a bit”
Thanks DrL, that really helps. I will bear that in mind when I next read that type of reaction and feel more compassionate to those feeling that way.
It’s an important point you raised. LO-blaming is not purposeful, and it’s good to remember that.
Even if we limerents are the ones who ultimately have to stop the addiction, if a LO has deliberately fueled the addiction , acknowledging that important fact reveals information that the limerent can use to see the LO realistically, versus having them on a pedestal of perfection for adoration. I was uncomfortable seeing LO in anything but the most positive of lights during the LE although I was being warned by friends to look at his heedless behaviour honestly. Now I see things clearly and see that I should have set boundaries early on, etc. but I also see how my limerence revealed his character flaws and that, I feel, is a very healthy thing for me to acknowledge and learn from. There is no anger left toward him , but I don’t entirely blame myself for the LE either. It was a shared error in judgement.
I wonder if we looked beneath of our feelings of judging and blaming our LOs, many of us would find the pain and hurt of rejection, and the disappointment and frustration of not getting what we desperately crave. For me at least, truly experiencing these difficult emotions, accepting them and nurturing myself is an important step in my recovery…..when I can find the resolve to actually recover that is!
Wishing you the best Jaideux – sounds like you have had a tough ride but are coming out the other side all the stronger for it.
@Allie, sorry just saw this! I hope you’re doing much better yourself and yes, I do think I am coming out of this stronger and wiser. 🙂
“I wonder if we looked beneath of our feelings of judging and blaming our LOs, many of us would find the pain and hurt of rejection, and the disappointment and frustration of not getting what we desperately crave. For me at least, truly experiencing these difficult emotions, accepting them and nurturing myself is an important step in my recovery…..when I can find the resolve to actually recover that is!”
Love everything you’ve said here. 😛
“The amount of LO bashing I read makes me feel a bit uncomfortable sometimes. While I am sure there are some genuine narcissist LOs out there, I don’t think they are very common and I don’t think labelling our LOs as narcissistic attention seekers, and making them even partly responsible for our LE, is a productive life strategy.”
I know this is an old comment, but I’ve been thinking about this topic, trying to understand the psychology behind it. Here are my thoughts:
(1) Resentment (warranted or not) may sometimes build up in the limerent’s mind because the limerent’s relationship to LO is a unique relationship – which is to say, a limerent is not reacting to anyone else in their life in the way they react to LO. The usual “rules of engagement” go out the window, thanks to all the emotional turmoil. The “inability to escape one’s own psyche” is pretty maddening. 😉
(2) A non-limerent LO may be a lovely, lovely person. But they’re probably going to underestimate the intensity of the limerent’s feelings/attraction, even if the limerent does disclose and attempt to make things perfectly clear.
I think the average non-limerent LO can’t understand why the limerent might not want to remain friends following a disclosure/rejection scenario. After all, the non-limerent has probably been able to remain friends comfortably with exes and/or former crushes who said “No thanks”. The non-limerent LO might assume the limerent is being spiteful in going NC. or otherwise withdrawing from what was (to the non-limerent LO anyway) a genuine, mutually enjoyable bond.
(3) Social custom almost dictates that people tell white lies regarding their own feelings, out of a desire not to hurt other people’s feelings. E.g. let’s say a girl rejects a guy. What’s her first instinct? Her first instinct, if she’s a normal girl who’s been socialised the normal way, is to be super-nice to the guy she’s just rejected, in order to smooth over any ruffled feathers. However, this “niceness after rejection” in some cases could be (mis)perceived as ongoing uncertainty…
Alternatively, a girl might really like a guy and avoid interacting with him or seeking him out as a result. See, human beings almost do the opposite of what’s logical and expected when it comes to romance. (A logical person would seek out the person they like and avoid the person they don’t like/don’t want. Social custom makes it very hard for people to act consistently and still be polite).
(4) Narcissists are people who are addicted to attention, and some get depressed when they can’t secure enough attention. Narcissists are essentially “children in adult bodies” who want the whole world to admire them. They aren’t villains by any stretch of the imagination – they have their own very painful addiction. I think narcissism is only a problem when it’s mixed with other traits such as sociopathy. A “pure narcissist” is transparent (in their desire to be the centre of attention) and mostly harmless (except perhaps when they’re telling fibs). 😉
(5) I think limerence is a little trick our brains play on us, and we get stuck because we’ve inherited the genes for obsessiveness, which a lot of people apparently don’t inherit – at least not in regard to potential romantic partners.
I’ve realised one of my LOs was very similar in looks and personality to one of my least exciting platonic male friends. Yet I fell head over heels for one guy and remained utterly indifferent toward the other. How can this be? Clearly, my brain just tricked me into believing Person A was super-desirable and Person B was bland, when Person A and Person B were virtually indistinguishable in reality. (Maybe Person A just gave me a smidgen more encouragement. Who knows? Maybe Person A just opened up more about personal stuff, and my brain jumped on that as proof of deep connection? But any difference was surely slight…) 🤔
Obsession is very painful. Going over and over what someone has said or done is very painful. I believe the obsession creates the feelings of resentment (and exhaustion), although I don’t think LOs are personally to blame for engendering these feelings in limerents. Limerents must look to their own biology for answers.
I think the strength of the limerent’s own reaction is perhaps the true cause of suffering. Maybe the limerent needs to divorce his feelings from the object of desire, and accept that the feeling and the object of desire are not as inseparable as they appear? It is the limerent himself (or herself) who has brought together two unrelated things – powerful emotions and a idealised human “conduit” – using fantasy as a bridge. Constant fantasy feeds the illusion that the human is the source of the powerful emotions and strengthens the brain’s natural reward response. 🤔
Maybe, as Anon for Today suggests, we need to “take back our projections”? Unfortunately, it’s hard to take back projections when we’re clinging to the belief that these projections are true reflections of the world/love/other humans we encounter on a daily basis and/or a sure-fire way to obtain pleasure/relief. 😉
Allie 1 says
Interesting analysis Sammy.
Am sticking my hand up… I was Anon for Today.
Not sure why I did not want to put my name to this post… it was early in my days on this site I guess! 🙂
Oh my gosh, Allie! That is so funny! Especially considering I think what you wrote under the alias “Anon for Today” was/is kind of brilliant and definitely thought-provoking!! 😜
Do you always do your best work under pseudonyms? 😆
Seriously, though, I think this particular comment of yours was thoughtful, nuanced, sensitive, brought things back to the human realm, but very sharp and intellectually well-grounded too. You must have been on a real roll that day! Good stuff!
I think I like your comment because, intentionally or otherwise, you seem to be taking a moderate line/middle-of-the-road approach. And, in the long term, I think that’s a very healthy strategy. I understand that people may feel angry and want to vent in the early stages of withdrawal. And maybe a “hard line stance” is necessary when first weaning oneself off addiction. However, as withdrawal pains subside, I think it’s okay to adopt a more forgiving, conciliatory approach and remember one’s soft feelings toward LO. It really depends on where one is in the recovery process…
Your “compassionate distancing” remark to me seems to be related maybe to Buddhist ideas about non-attachment, which I like. 😉
I don’t know why some of your thoughts/opinions resonate with me so strongly? Maybe I’m not so different from other people on this site, after all? Maybe I’m not as cynical and logical and “above it all” as I pretend to be? Maybe I’m just a closet idealist! 😆
Allie 1 says
Thank you Sammy, I am enjoying a good wallow in all that lovely validation 🙂
Maybe my comments resonate because we are both pragmatic idealists… which sounds like an oxymoron but you can be both! Idealism creates emotional vulnerability which neither of us are comfortable with so we wrap it up tightly in cynicism and rational analysis.
“At that point, LO #2 was beyond redemption and I didn’t care how she took it. ”
I don’t do that. If someone starts being inconsistent with me and repapering/disappearing, acting flakey, acting weird … I’ll pull back so far, he won’t be able to find me. I am not hunting people down. I won’t do it.
On top of that, I can’t stand being hunted down. If I made it clear things are over, that is. I had one guy who was still trying to force me to talk to him five years after I cut off all communication. As if him pressing the issue was going to make me change my mind. Or maybe he was punishing me. Idk. I worked with him. A bad, bad choice.
Limerent Emeritus says
Venomous snakes NEVER attack out of malice but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous should you encounter one. You could spends months, maybe years, reading all the literature on being entangled with someone with a PD. Whether it’s intentional or not, they can wreak a lot of havoc.
If you haven’t guessed, I have no use for people with PDs. I don’t see them as very sympathetic individuals. Neither do many therapists, for that matter.
LO #4 is a PsyD. She said she spent 7 years with a sociopathic narcissist who she claimed cheated on her and allegedly assaulted her. She said her father was a narcissist. I don’t think she ever met a Narc that she didn’t try to rehabilitate. She’d rise to a narc the way a trout rises to a fly. Then again, she describes herself and an “avoidant INTJ” and a “recovering codependent.” She told me that she was prone to depression, drank to the point of passing out when depressed and said, “It sucks to be back in therapy.” Read that again, “…BACK in therapy.”
In 25 years of marriage, LO #4 was the only woman to get inside my head and that’s how she describes herself?! Hoo boy! That’s why God invented therapists.
My experience with likely Borderline LO #2 wasn’t anywhere near that dramatic. I survived it. It was painful but not fatal.
In fairness, it took me a few rounds of therapy to grind through it all as the layers peeled away. Based on my family’s dismal 0-5 track record in marriages, I was a lousy risk. I think that affected LO #2’s perception but my wife thought I was worth taking the chance on. It’s one of the reasons I love her.
Vicarious Limerent says
I think we’re all capable of being somewhat narcissistic without being actual narcissists in a clinical sense. We all enjoy having our egos stroked. It feels good when people are attracted to and interested in us, even if we don’t feel like we’re madly in love with them. I am pretty sure my own LO enjoys the attention from me and the knowledge that I really like her, but I don’t think she is an outright narcissist. Enjoying the attention of someone of our preferred gender — especially if we think they are attractive — feels good and makes us feel better about ourselves. Maybe we are all guilty of leading people on to a certain extent at times, but to the point other people made, non-limerents often don’t understand how deep our feelings can be for our LOs. Uncertainty and intermittent rewards from our LOs is classic fodder for limerence, but I believe a lot of people are unaware they are even guilty of doing this.
On the other hand, I believe it was Dr. L who said this (although it might have been one of the regular commenters), but there is no more powerful an aphrodisiac than the thought that someone might fancy us. Sometimes we will only sit up and take notice once someone starts to give us some attention and validation. This applies not only to LOs, but also to limerents themselves. I was nowhere near limerent for my current/former LO (LO #2) the first few times I met her. I thought she was fun and attractive, but I wasn’t that blown away by her until she started to flirt with me. Once I thought there might be a bit of a spark on her end, I began to be really attracted to her, and the rest is history.
“Sometimes we will only sit up and take notice once someone starts to give us some attention and validation. ”
It’s nice when someone is interested, but just the interest alone has never shifted me to being interested. The person would have to be appealing to me, and then chances are I’ve probably already noticed them. Now, in those instances, their showing interest certainly kicks it up a million notches. 🙂
Limerent Emeritus says
I don’t remember DrL saying:
“… there is no more powerful an aphrodisiac than the thought that someone might fancy us.”
It’s definitely been a topic of discussion. I agree that it’s a powerful draw. It certainly played into my LE with LO #4.
What DrL did say was:
‘As they say on Limerence.net, limerent and LO have “complementary pathologies”. There is nothing so alluring as a damaged soul you’re sure you can fix.’ – https://livingwithlimerence.com/the-glimmer-givers/
Pretty much sums up my taste in LOs.
Dr L says
Knowing that someone fancies you is quite an effective aphrodisiac for many people
Can’t claim credit for the idea, though. As old as time 😉
Yeah, but it has to be an offer you actually want. Not all offers are created equal.
Limerent Emeritus says
OT: Did you get the job?
No. I stewed about it for a couple of days, but, like so many things in life, there’s not a darn thing I can do about it.
Thanks for asking. That was sweet of you to remember.
Limerent Emeritus says
Sorry to hear that you didn’t get the job.
Hopefully, a better opportunity will come along soon. 🤑
“Venomous snakes NEVER attack out of malice but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous should you encounter one. You could spends months, maybe years, reading all the literature on being entangled with someone with a PD. Whether it’s intentional or not, they can wreak a lot of havoc.
If you haven’t guessed, I have no use for people with PDs. I don’t see them as very sympathetic individuals. Neither do many therapists, for that matter.”
I can broadly see where you’re coming from. And I mostly agree with you – people with PDs can do a lot of (often unintentional) damage. They can also be extremely exciting and seductive, as you probably already know. 😉
However, a working knowledge of PDs I think can be a good thing in general. For example, if I understand someone has a PD, then I’m much less likely to take that person’s behaviour personally, or get sucked into drama that essentially has nought to do with me. (I.e. she’s not “secretly in love with me and trying to make me jealous”. She has a personality disorder and is afraid of abandonment). 🤔
There is an upside to being an avoidant. Usually, I “run away” from “difficult people” before they can cause me too much distress!! Other, braver souls may choose to remain in the trenches longer and battle it out. Consequently, I may not develop the same jaded view of people with PDs that more conscientious people would. I’m less likely to experience “compassion fatigue”. I’m simply “in the firing line” less often. I make a point of protecting my mental reserves/emotional energy. I don’t make myself consistently available to troubled souls. My “lack of emotional depletion” means I can still feel quite fond of said folk in small doses. 😜
My mother has both narcissistic and borderline traits. I’ve found a rudimentary understanding of her conditions has helped me as an adult set boundaries with her in a kind but firm way, and also understand exactly what type of boundaries should be set. My mother doesn’t like boundaries very much, but she will grudgingly accept boundaries when imposed. It’s very hard to be assertive with someone who’s supposed to be a mentor/role model. But, as an adult, I feel like I’ve pulled it off without being too overbearing. 😉
The thing about people with PDs I like the least is their inability and/or unwillingness to regulate their own emotions. However, I had trouble regulating my own emotions when I was in my 20s. So it’s a case of “let him that is without sin throw the first stone”. I have to cut other people some slack if I want to be forgiven for my own youthful (and limerence-related) meltdowns, which are still fresh in my mind!! 😜
Knowing some of my male LOs may have had narcissistic traits makes it easier for me to forgive them. Narcissists seek out validation. I was/am a great source of validation and at certain times in my life, I was only too happy to give out validation willy-nilly. I think, at the end of the day, I was the one who confused romantic love and validation, and I can’t blame any LO for that.
Your comments about INTJs are interesting. I hope you’ll forgive me for adding my two cents as an INTJ man. I think the general consensus on INTJs is that INTJs often lack the warmth and vitality of other personality types, but are very honest and straightforward, even to the point of being blunt.
In other words, I think if you asked a healthy INTJ woman whether she had feelings for you or not, she would give you an honest answer, and not beat about the bush, even if the answer was likely to hurt your feelings. (INTJs aren’t famous for their tact or their adherence to social norms. We like to call a spade a shovel). 😉
The fact the INTJ women in your life caused you so much confusion suggests to me there was something amiss in these interactions. Either these women weren’t healthy INTJs and were dealing with some major emotional problems of their own, or, alternatively, these women were fine and you were fine and you and the women just constantly miscommunicated regarding intentions…
I think INTJs generally repay honesty with honesty, and loyalty with loyalty. Sometimes, we’re so honest that people refuse to take our answers at face value. People are unaccustomed to so much honesty – it’s unnerving. It would be a mistake to look for “deeper meanings” in the words of an INTJ. An INTJ, in most cases, is willing to share their authentic opinion when asked. Feelings are a different matter. INTJs aren’t so great at divulging feelings. 😉
Did you (back at the relevant time in your life) want your INTJ woman to share her thoughts with you or did you want her to share her feelings with you? Chances are, if a true-blue INTJ, she constantly shared her thoughts with you, even without being asked, and not her feelings. You, on the other hand, might have found yourself continually mining her matter-of-fact statements for evidence of feelings which weren’t actually being expressed… 😉
I hope none of that analysis comes across as too harsh. Non-INTJs are forever expecting me to have some big emotional reaction to relatively minor events in my life. But INTJs just don’t have big emotional reactions to every little thing that happens. We like to save our emotions for special occasions! And, even then, we feel our emotions are private and not something that needs to be broadcast.
I think some INTJs feel that sharing their emotions would cheapen said emotions, and I have great sympathy for that point of view. I have learnt to show my emotions more (or at least learnt how to simulate conventional displays of conventional emotions) in order to connect with people/prove I’m not an android, etc, etc. 😉
Limerent Emeritus says
As the resident LwL SME on INTJs, here’s the story.
I was definitely trying to get her to reveal her feelings. She knew mine. I’m nothing if not direct.
The weirdest exchanges happened after I went NC and she contacted me after 3 months. It bothered me. It was like those exchanges had never happened.
I went to war.
I told her I found her style dismissive. She’d say something, I’d respond to it, and either I’d get no response from her or her response didn’t have anything to do with our exchange. I told her that it was a lousy way to do business, especially when someone is being honest with you. I told her that LO #2 operated that way and I didn’t like it any more coming from her than I did from LO #2. I used LO #2’s name which I had never done with LO #4 before. I told her that if she kept it up, one day she’d piss off somebody who really cared about her.
She came back with that she didn’t intend to be dismissive. She said,
“Based on what you said, I thought it best not to respond to certain things.” She said she wouldn’t be contacting me again.
So, she was dismissing me, she was making a unilateral decision.
I thought about it and told her that I didn’t want to end the acquaintance as a result of a misunderstanding. But, I asked her why she thought it best not to respond? I asked her what was she afraid would happen if she had responded?
I told her that “Back off!” was a perfectly acceptable response and if she thought that I was over the line or out of line, tell me. I’m a big boy. I can take it.
I told her that I don’t like being told “No” but I hate being dismissed or ignored. She said in the future, she’d be more direct. But, I never got answers to my questions.
Not long after she accused me of internet stalking her and later apologized. She sent me a FB request. I asked her if I was stalking her, why would she give me more access, not less. She never answered that question either. The closer the shot, the shorter her responses became. I don’t think she was used to someone coming at her like that.
I asked her a lot of questions that I never got answers to.
But, as the therapist asked, “What would you do with that information if you had it?”
Some things, you’re just better off not knowing.
In her goodbye, she said she wished me “no ill-will.” I thought that was nice of her [eye roll].
Oh, and if it makes any difference, she’s on the Scorpio side of the Libra-Scorpio cusp.
If you want to deconstruct more, check out this string.
“Based on what you said, I thought it best not to respond to certain things.” She said she wouldn’t be contacting me again. … So, she was dismissing me, she was making a unilateral decision.”
I don’t mean this in a snarky way, but you’re a married guy. She probably didn’t feel she owed you an explanation. It sounds like she was trying to put up a boundary. My LO pulled the plug on anything physical happening between us after something did. He made that unilateral decision. I never got a consult on that. I never got a consult on anything. He made the decision for me. But them’s the brakes. When you’re in a “gray zone” situation where at least one of the parties is taken, the former rules and expectations don’t apply (and some people don’t feel they apply even if both parties are single).
Limerent Emeritus says
I know she didn’t owe me an explanation and I told her that.
However, I was responding to things she had said to me.
There’s often an implicit expectation that when someone responds to something you brought up, you acknowledge the response. To ignore it or pretend something never happened borders on Passive-Aggressive. Especially, when it’s a pattern.
And, by that time she was as complicit as she could get.
She didn’t have to break NC after 3 months or send a friend request, but she did.
It had everything to do with my being married. She made that clear in her goodbye 3 months later.
“And, by that time she was as complicit as she could get.”
Maybe she got tired of being complicit. Idk.
“She didn’t have to break NC after 3 months or send a friend request, but she did.”
You’ll never know. People vacillate. People are inconsistent. You said yourself that you’d never met her face-to-face and wouldn’t have an affair with her. So what’s in in for her? At some point, someone has to make a move and do something, or else you stay pen pals. I think most single women realize a flirtation/interaction with a married man is kind of a waste of time. If they’re serious about wanting more. There were definitely married dudes I had flirtatious friendships with who I had no intention of every crossing the line with.
Limerent Emeritus says
“You’ll never know. People vacillate. People are inconsistent. You said yourself that you’d never met her face-to-face and wouldn’t have an affair with her. So what’s in in for her?”
There you go.
The thing is that we didn’t offer each other anything and neither of us asked for anything.
But, that didn’t stop me from wanting to know if she felt anything for me.
The best I got was when I disclosed was, “Wow! I had no idea. I’m flattered, and under different circumstances, might even be curious. But, circumstances are what they are.”
It goes back to once you’ve said goodbye, just stay gone. I’d like to think I’ve learned my lesson about responding when they do cycle back through but I won’t know until someone does it.
It’s useless speculation. Both therapists said that I was a slow learner.
“I’d like to think I’ve learned my lesson about responding when they do cycle back through but I won’t know until someone does it.”
I’ve had a couple of those, and they never worked out. Once someone shows you they are inconsistent, it’s just a matter of time before they do it again. Mr. Sometimes Flim Flam doesn’t suddenly become Mr. Steady and True.
Limerent Emeritus says
I forgot this part.
When I told the therapist what I told LO #4, her response was, “You really told her that? For a smart guy, you make some really bad assumptions.”
All I can say is that it seemed to make sense at the time.
I guess I just don’t understand the point of disclosing if you didn’t intend on following through. I never actually disclosed to my LO, but I made a really big pass at him … and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out where I wanted things to go. And I was fully prepared to go there. Had I not been, I wouldn’t have put the offer on the table. This is another reason it’s bad all around to try to get involved with someone who is partnered up. They don’t know what they want. They think they do, but they don’t. He gave me so many mixed signals. Which for a limerent fuels the situation. Had I been a rational, thinking person ( :)), I would have been turned off by the indecision. Let’s face it: Indecisiveness isn’t sexy.
Limerent Emeritus says
“I guess I just don’t understand the point of disclosing if you didn’t intend on following through.”
I learned of LO #4’s deteriorating relationship from one of her friends. I knew when LO #4 told me that it wasn’t if the acquaintance would end, it was when and how. That’s covered in detail elsewhere.
Disclosure is one method you can attempt to use to get rid of limerence. I thought LO #4 would shut me down. But, she didn’t.
Disclosure as a method to end limerence is self-serving and makes your LO do your dirty work for you. Disclosure for any reason is self-serving. My rationalization was that I wanted to be honest about my reason for no longer being a moderator on her site and not leave any unfinished business. Hence, the therapist’s “bad assumptions” remark.
The first blog was originally published in 2017. It may have my first post on LwL. A lot of detail of the LE with LO #4 is in those blogs. My view of limerence and the LE has evolved over time.
I asked a coworker if she’d be concerned if a casual acquaintance of her husband started confiding in her about what had happened to LO #4. She said she’d be very concerned. She also said that it was “way inappropriate” for LO #4 to confide in a married man because “it’s too easy for that to go sideways.” One therapist said the biggest break I caught was that we were so geographically separated.
The first round of NC was really hard. I was marking days off my calendar at work for every day I didn’t contact LO #4. I’d set timers when I wanted to contact her and forced myself to wait until the timer went off and see if I still wanted to. I used Scott Adam’s Affirmations technique (http://www.cryan.com/pdf/Affirmations.pdf). Crude but effective. Unlike a chemical addiction, I don’t remember any physical effects except some mild anxiety and depression.
She was the one who came back. She had a pretense but it was flimsy.
Again, you can’t erase history. The best you can do is learn from it.
It depends on how you disclosed.
“I am stepping down as site administrator. I’ve developed feeling for you and I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to continue. Good luck to you in the future.”
That shuts the door completely.
But: ” It’s probably not a good idea for me to continue as site administrator. I have developed feelings for you.”
That leaves the door open … It begs for a response and a disclosure from the other person. It seems to be what a lot of limerents do … I’m not going to make an official, no-doubt-about-it move, but I’m not going to shut it down, either. I ‘ll just float for a while. Going to leave the door open 5%.
Limerent Emeritus says
When I disclosed, LO#4 left that door open. She said if I got things under control, we could stay friends. She said she valued my support and encouragement and being there for her.
I thought I had so we went another round but it only got worse. So, I went NC. The idea being to let it all just drift off.
It worked for 3 months. Then, she reappeared. The next few months were kind of surreal.
On New Years Eve Day, 2015, I sent an email saying things had gotten really awkward and asked if we could start fresh in the new year. The next morning I got her email pulling the plug.
Some days it seems like yesterday but most of the time, it’s hard to believe that it ever happened.
“When I disclosed, LO#4 left that door open. ”
You could have shut it.
I just don’t think any limerent really discloses with the 100% intent of shutting things down. Part of the limerent, no matter how small, is hoping the other person expresses relief that — finally! — someone said something … and you ride off in the sunset together. That response usually only happens in movies. 🙁 Because by the time someone does disclose, the fact that things haven’t happened naturally on their own speaks volumes, unfortunately.
Limerent Emeritus says
What do you want me to say? I get it. This horse is well beyond dead.
I allowed myself to engage in an LE/EA. While LO #4 could have made things easier, it wasn’t her responsibility to make things easier. If anybody wasn’t acting in good faith, it was me. WRT my wife, I certainly wasn’t acting in good faith. It may be hard for you to believe but I don’t like being a schmuck.
At this point, I pretty much explain everything. But, I can’t defend anything.
I think we’ve beaten this one to death… again.
I’m not asking you to defend anything. But you have written that disclosure is good way to end the limerence. I’m just taking a different viewpoint. Disclosure prolongs things, IMO. Now, NC ends things.
Limerent Emeritus says
I didn’t say disclosure was a good way to end limerence. Disclosure is one possible way to attempt to end limerence.
I tried it. Based on my experience, I wouldn’t recommend it.
I made a lot of bad calls.
“Disclosure is one possible way to attempt to end limerence.”
I think it can help end limerence, if the limerent listens to the LO’s response. Because anything less than a “Hell, yes!” is a no. But if the response isn’t a clear “yes” or “no” and lies somewhere in the gray zone (which I think a lot of LO responses probably do), I think it’s too easy for the limerent to misinterpret that response as having slivers of hope. And I think that most limerents who disclose, even if they think they want to hear “no” so they can close the chapter and move on, still have at least a small part of themselves hoping for a different outcome. I mean, who lays their heart on the line hoping they’ll be shot down?
Limerent Emeritus says
I think I’ve given Sammy enough to work with.
Limerent Emeritus says
“And I think that most limerents who disclose, even if they think they want to hear “no” so they can close the chapter and move on, still have at least a small part of themselves hoping for a different outcome. I mean, who lays their heart on the line hoping they’ll be shot down?”
My FTE to this would have been for LO #4 to say, “Wow! I like you, too. If you were available, I think we could have a lot of fun together. But, you’re not available. If that ever changes, look me up. Good luck and take care of yourself.”
What I got was, “I’m flattered and, under different circumstances, might even be curious. But, circumstances are what they are;” “I wish you no ill-will;” and “I hope you can understand my position.”
Based on the Strengths and Weaknesses on https://www.personalitypage.com/html/INTJ_rel.html , LO #4 was the quintessential INTJ. I agree with part of the assessment of INTJs as Friends. She has a delightfully snarky sense of humor. As a Lover, I can see where the description of INTJs might apply to her but I have no actual experience to base an opinion on. LO #4 has no children but I can see where the description of INTJs as Parents might apply.
When I went to war, I went straight at LO #4 with all the subtlety of jack-hammer. It wasn’t the best way to communicate with her and I backed off. I did the same thing with LO #2 at the end and I didn’t back off. At that point, LO #2 was beyond redemption and I didn’t care how she took it. I hit a point where I may not know what you’re thinking but you sure as Hell will know what I’m thinking. LO #2 leveraged ambiguity to the max. And, what she couldn’t rationalize, she’d flat out dismiss. LO #4 appears to thrive on plausible deniability. I can remove those. But, like anything else, doing that has consequences.
It took a marriage counselor to teach me that, “Do you want coffee?” can be more than a “Yes” or “No” question with anything other than “Yes” being a default “No.” That same marriage counselor also taught my wife that it wasn’t fair for me to expect to read her mind and intuit what she wanted. It took a few years but I learned to give more nuanced responses and my wife learned to ask for what she wanted it.
I told LO #4 that I couldn’t read her mind and since we were communicated electronically, how was I supposed to interpret her silence or non-relevant responses? If she didn’t want to talk about something, that’s her prerogative. But, it would be polite to acknowledge the issue.
Limerent Emeritus says
My multitasking stinks this morning.
I’m actually getting stuff in from work.
Limerent Emeritus says
Getting back on the right thread…
I never hunted either of them down. They both approached me. They offered me the shot and I took it. If you go, stay gone. Remember?
The therapist said that at the end I really went after LO #2. I told her I took exception to that. I didn’t start the conversation the therapist was referring to. LO #2 did when she said “You seem different.” It was our first meeting after her admission of possibly settling for me. The therapist said that she’d revise that. LO #2 knocked and when the door opened, I gave it to her with both barrels. That was fair. LO #2 isn’t stupid. I told the therapist that I thought LO #2 would have seen it coming. The therapist said LO #2 never saw that coming. Come to think about it, LO #4 probably didn’t either but we were in an entirely different space.
When she asked, I told LO #2 that I’d thought through some things. LO #2 asked what. I told her. I had no idea she’d ask that question and to this day, I don’t know where the response came from but I had one. It was a doozy.
When I looked at LO #2, her mouth was hanging wide open and she had this utterly dumfounded look on her face. I’d never seen that look on anyone before and I haven’ seen it since. Not ever.
We were in a restaurant after the Rat Pack concert. I asked her if she wanted anything else and all she said was, “Please take me home.”
I often thought that what I said had little or no effect on LO #2 but that conversation did.
The next time we saw each other, LO #2 was really nervous. I told the therapist about it and her reply was, “Ya think?” But, once again, LO #2, not knowing when to keep her mouth shut, came out with the question, “Are you seeing someone?”
That conversation didn’t go well for her, either.
Did you live in the therapist’s office? 🙂 I was in and out of therapy, off and on, for years, and I don’t think I could quote more than one or two things they ever said. I have learned more from this site than any therapy ever taught me. I read other people’s posts and think: OMG, that is Crazytown. And then I realize my story is really no different. It hits me like a ton of bricks. So much time wasted ruminating on Ineligibles who are long gone and don’t care.
Limerent Emeritus says
Live in a therapist office? No. But, between my marriage, my kids, and my past, I spent a lot of time over a decade in and out of them. I also spent a fair amount of time working with them as part of my job.
As for ruminating and remembering things in excruciating detail, it’s a holdover of PTSD. Some things I doubt that I will ever forget.
It’s my head and I’ll let things float around in it if I want to. Another trait I have is once something gets my attention, I get an almost obsessive focus on it. It’s intense while it lasts and some last a long time. But, they do eventually stop. Some of them entirely, some fade to a low level.
I got obsessed with PDs, golf, craft beer, and the oboe. I’ve learned as much as I care to learn about PDs. I still play golf. I stay take oboe lessons. I’ve given up beer entirely. I probably have $2K in homebrewing equipment collecting dust in the basement.
At first, it worried my wife. I’d lose interest in something I was really into and she’d ask what’s wrong. Now, my wife rolls her eyes, sighs, “Here we go again. How much is this going to cost?”
Responses are voluntary, remember?
I’m going to opt out here. I think we are two fundamentally different people who don’t understand each other.
Limerent Emeritus says
“There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naked_City_(TV_series)
My very first comment after I’ve spent two days being entrenched in reading and reading some more. Had finally found someone that understands this beast. I wonder how many of you have pureO (OCD) and or anxiety? 🙋🏼♀️
Tom G says
Thank you so much for writing and posting this.
Today on another forum, someone was attempting to convince me that I would never resolve limerence without disclosing / seeking closure. As I read that, after 12 days of MC, I started sweating and my heart pounding. As much as I desire LO I did NOT relish jumping back in the mid of discussing my desire for her when she very well hasn’t thought of me much over the past 12 days. This would certainly cost me some dignity and probably cause her to lose some respect for me in the process. LO knows I wanted a deeper relationship but could not accept it with my current status. I have to continue NC, and accept that our friendship is over. I should not dwell on it, but if there really is anything in her heart for me, the proverbial ball is in her court to reach out to me to share that. (That won’t happen.) There is nothing more I can do in this situation that will satisfy me, so why risk it.
Anyway, thanks again for this particular page. I was starting to worry that this guy was right and I would need to get back into it again. Nope.
Miss Anon says
Tom, have you considered that the ball could actually be in your court from her perspective, as you are the one with the power to change the circumstances she is not comfortable with? Maybe something to consider.
I feel like sometimes not knowing what could happen if the barriers weren’t there can drive uncertainty and lots of obsessive thinking. It’s impossible to know.
I understand the stress and anxiety that comes from NC, it is awful and I feel for you immensely. Self reflection and trying to understand what really want the future to look like can sometimes help. I truly wish you the best and relief from the negative feelings.
Tom G says
I appreciate your perspective.
LO knows I am separated and coparenting in the same house. And that we plan to split in 3 years when my youngest graduates.
She didn’t want to risk a deeper friendship due to the social risks that poses for her and her daughter. I feel like I’ve given her ample opportunity to delve deeper into the situation and discuss options, but she never opened up with me on the matter beyond her request to remain friends.
Are you suggesting I need to reopen the topic with her again and discuss whether physical separation / divorce from my spouse would change her views on reciprocating?
Miss Anon says
I wouldn’t dare to suggest what anyone else should do, I am certainly no expert but can only talk from my own experiences. Over the years I tried many times to resolve through disclosure and talking about it, looking for closure but if I’m honest it never helped and sometimes made things worse for my emotional state, because the barriers never changed and no amount of talking brought any relief. In hindsight I wish I had saved myself the trouble, dealt properly with the feelings within myself and stuck to the original NC, which I’m embarrassed to say is a very long time ago. I thought it was love at the time, before I discovered limerence. Not sure if that helps.
If you’re at that point, Tom, then you’ve done what you can. Reopening things, trying to get a more detailed response from LO, or pretending it never happened and “let’s be friends” are all bad options, in my opinion. It sounds like you’ve been purposeful, she’s made a decision, and that’s as close to closure as you can really get!
I suspect a lot of people say “I need closure” when they mean “I still have unresolved feelings that are upsetting”.
Tom G says
Thank you for your helpful reply, Doc
“ It sounds like you’ve been purposeful, she’s made a decision, and that’s as close to closure as you can really get!”
Yes. I got my “answer”. So why am I still having intrusive thoughts and losing sleep at night ruminating?
Do you think the limerence is requiring the answer to a different question.. ie “If I were fully available, would my feelings for you be returned”
And how much of a jackass would I look like in trying to get the answer to that?
Yeah, your limerent brain does want an answer to that question, but what are you going to do even if you get that answer?
Say it’s a “No”, and you feel foolish and pretty crappy. And then your limerent brain starts thinking “what if I had asked earlier, or in a different way, or what if I had been single when we’d met, or what if I work on improving myself and going back to her later? Or did I just play it wrong?”
Say it’s a “Yes”, and you get a spike of euphoric release. And then your limerent brain starts thinking “so, why doesn’t she want to take things further? Should I leave my wife now? Was she just saying it to get rid of me? Exactly what circumstances would she be willing to get together under?”
Or, if you get temporary release from hearing “yes” but then start to wonder, did she really mean it, and does she still feel it?
You’ll never get relief from the uncertainty. Working purposefully to learn to live with uncertainty is far more likely to give you peace.
This is so true. On my final “date” with LO I drank a couple of whiskeys and mustered up the courage to ask for “closure”. My instincts were telling me something and I think in honesty it was my last attempt to see if I could be the one chosen! I cringe now at the memory of that conversation, because in review he managed to tell me how beautiful and smart and personable he found me but never gave a reason as to why it wasn’t going to ever happen and even reminded me that he had once considered “us”. It was sort of like being given hope and rejection simultaneously and I felt a sort of happiness which I thought was because I had “closure”. What I actually had was more fuel for the LE. Attempting closure was just another word for getting a “hit”. And then he disappeared for a while and before you could say Jack Robinson he was married and wanted me back in his life. I am pleased to say I am NC but that whole asking for closure did nothing but exacerbate the problem. LO’s don’t like giving us closure. If they did, and they were succinct and crystal clear in their non-interest, most of us would stop being limerent for them then and there. It’s the ambiguity that keeps us in limerent prison. We have to give ourselves closure, they never will.
Tom G says
Thank you for sharing this part of your story, and helping me to decide against seeking closure. One thing In particular that you share rings true. At the beginning of my dealings with LO, I asked her on two or three occasions if she would meet me for coffee. In each case, I explicitly offered her the option of replying with a “No, Thank You”. And while she did not respond in the affirmative, she never offered me the “No, thank you” which I basically threw in her lap. If she had ever given me that, the limerence would not have begun, or would have been quickly extinguished. But instead, this went on for a while, with me getting more focused on her and trying to figure out when and how to let her know more about my marital status or lack thereof.
A simply fg No thank you would have saved me months of agony and wasted time.
You’re so welcome Tom. I’m just glad your LE didn’t last for years or decades as some have experienced.
‘I suspect a lot of people say “I need closure” when they mean “I still have unresolved feelings that are upsetting”.’
God, yes! 😮
…and the potential rage you feel when the “closure” doesn’t soothe.
Tom G says
Day 13 of NC. It’s a Friday afternoon.
I still remember occasions where I would be texting LO, and she would come back with “Have a nice weekend”. That would hurt so much. Fellow Limerents would understand why; it’s essentially saying “I’m gonna do my weekend, and I won’t be thinking about or looking to communicate with you during it.” Just one of the many lows amongst few highs; where most of us addicts end up..
Have a nice weekend, All. 😉
I used that tactic with LO as I was attempting my staged withdrawal. A few txts on Friday evening and then I’d try to draw it to a close by saying “have a nice weekend”. I meant it exactly as you say: Let’s leave this alone for a couple of days. It’s subtle though, and she didn’t read it like that. She’d text me over the weekend if she wanted to, or not.
Texting is a minefield. You think you’re being obvious with something but without being able to combine it with the appropriate body language, the message can be lost in translation, sometimes even interpreted the opposite way. Emojis help a bit, but not always. 🤔
At our last meeting, I stopped in the middle of MY initiation of a PA after very brief SC because I was afraid of the risks involved. I cannot stop obsessing that LO feels rejected, and that if I had communicated better, or been more confident or more assertive that it would have progressed to a PA and LO would not have gone cold, shut me down and eventually block me. All of these very intrusive and debilitating thoughts, and I am at the same time relieved it wasn’t a full blown PA for whatever that’s worth. But my addiction right now is so violent that if I had the chance to make up for what probably feels like sexual rejection to LO I would, as Mia put it, sell my mother if I thought it would bring LO back to the old signs of reciprocation. Addiction at its finest. I tried immediately to get LO back by explaining myself, but as you so well articulated, Dr. L, “Sometimes it isn’t that you haven’t explained yourself properly, it’s that they don’t care to listen.“ It’s for the best, but it feels the worst.
It’s been a couple of months since I first posted here. Limerent for a close family friend for 3 years now, I see her every day. I have no idea if LO is aware of my feelings. I continue to struggle daily, my mood fluctuates and lack of sleep is now problematic. I have struggled implementing the emergency deprogramming techniques in DrL’s course and no contact is impossible. Disclosure seems like a viable option at present. Any advice would be appreciated as this never ending circle of misery is driving me crazy.
Michael the participants in this forum have been so helpful to me in understanding. It can feel unbearable at times. I don’t have anything wise to say expect to echo what I’ve heard here, like if LO wanted me in his life I would be, I can contact LO just not today, this is your brain trying to get back in balance, don’t blame yourself for loving, and the most helpful being that if LO is not contacting me after initial reciprocation it is probably that he is trying to detach. It feels less harsh than outright rejection. I think I heard a lot of this from Mia.
I don’t know a cure for living with limerence. And even though I know NC is pretty close, it feels like waking up an addict and fighting not to use during every moment of every day. I understand.
Michael, we understand your struggle.
I think it’s important to ask yourself why you wan to disclose.
Will it be an act of self-love of is it your limerence who want something to happen.
And be brutally honest.
Sometimes my mind gets so manipulated that I start to believe my own thoughts.
What I noticed that the the things my friends tell me, and I discard them all the time, are always accurate. They have my best interest in mind, more than my limerence. So I consider to start to listen to them 😀
I also know that things can get so complicated in my mind that if I make a slip up, mistakes , setbacks and relapse I will not be angry at myself. I will start again.
NC, do things you really enjoy, give it time and be kind to yourself is the only advice I can give.
That is so true (@Mia). Friends I confide in, whose advice I ignore… until the only sensible thing is to act upon it. A friend who can view the situation outside of a limerence mindset would be super useful Michael.
Good luck… and we’re here!
Thanks Chicster for your reply. Even though I see my LO on a daily basis I feel invisible to her. Zero reciprocation now…no eye contact, closed body language, superficial conversation. I’m a completely different person around her now, awkward and stagnant. This LE has made me a very negative and distant person to be around generally and that’s why I keep pondering disclosing to her in the hope to get my old self back. That’s the way my brain works at the moment…I hate it. A constant struggle.
I started a new job role in a new department today, and I keep thinking these new coworkers may never see the old me—happy and free. I get it.
It’s interesting that you notice that LO is drawing away in her manner and conversation… you then go on to wonder about disclosure! I totally relate to this…
That end of the poker game all-in moment… I’d advise against disclosing to LO, but maybe disclosing to a trusted friend if one is on hand might release some of that pressure.
Her drawing away is likely entirely genuine in terms of her re-evaluating/moving past the situation. So disclosure risks stirring up a lot of uncomfortable feelings to little benefit. A worse interpretation is that she’s trying (possibly subconsciously) to trigger you to up your game. This would be the start of a massively unhealthy dynamic of cat and mouse and ends somewhere quite ugly from experience.
If things were different, if things were practical and if it was being handled better you’d be under no illusions and messages would be clear. As it is, going by her behaviour I’d take this as an opportunity to disengage yourself, over time. Painful as that is.
…I saw your earlier post some while ago, you have an SO, right Michael?
Could you disclose to them and figure a way of putting distance between you and LO for a while?
Hi Thomas, sorry I have been away for a few days with my SO which was great. It had done wonders for my mood! No problems with NC during this time although I thought of her quite often. On return from holidays LO was there to great us. Back to square one. My 7 year relationship with SO has been a turbulent at times but I love her so much and want to spend the rest of my life with her. If I disclosed to her our relationship would be over, no doubt about that. So I will continue to be civil but distant with LO and try to work through this. I don’t know what else to do.
Closure is an illusion I think because limerence is a biological reaction that kicks in without knowledge or consent of LO. The only real closure perhaps is recovering from limerence completely and being able to see the experience in hindsight, through objective eyes. Realising one has been stumbling around in a dream. Closure is impossible while brain is still trapped in limerent fog.
I’m not sure of the merits of disclosing to LO if LO is someone who doesn’t experience limerence and has never heard of it. They will probably feel very upset and confused someone has developed such odd feelings for them. I’m more in favour of assuming LO isn’t limerent back and quietly going NC if possible. There is something much worse than romantic rejection and that’s social humiliation.
I got a weird sort of closure. A mutual friend of LO and me visited me recently and said LO hadn’t been very pleasant to them at times in the distant past. This person was a genuine friend of LO. That was closure in the sense it proved LO couldn’t have been a perfect person, worthy of idealisation. She was an ordinary human, with ordinary human flaws, and it was wrong to put her on a pedestal.
This hit hard. I wish I had read this before I decided to end all contact with my LO and declare how I felt.
He’s married with kids and I’m engaged and this is our 2nd time around wanting to be together but being unable due to timing ( as he calls it) and circumstances. We are both LO for each other and both admit we’d be amazing together and for a long time we communicated about maybe having an affair as we were both very attracted to each other and both unhappy but were both not able to leave our homes.
In the end the intensity and the fantasies were crippling me and it was all consuming and guilt inducing . So I said I was feeling hurt and upset over what were we’re doing as I wanted to be with him but we both couldn’t leave and I hated the idea of potentially hurting my partner and his ( and more). He agreed and I poured my heart out to him about how ‘special’ he is and how much I wished we could be but it was for the best to end it for now and I explained to him that it felt like I was in love with him but it was kinder to myself and others to let him go.
And yep, the response from him was so cold and unemotional. Wasn’t worth me saying how I felt as it went without acknowledgment and implied I had hurt him. We have not spoke since but I cannot stop thinking about him. I thought I needed closure from him but i need to give myself the closure.
After reading these blogs and posts I’ve become embarrassed that I told him how I felt because I realize what I thought was fate and star crossed love with bad timing was just two limerent brains caught up in fantasies. Ouch! I keep reminding myself if his flaws and the lies I caught him in as well as the way he couldn’t say goodbye kindly. These help, to see him as a flawed human.
I tried to have a closure conversation with my LO, that was only partially ‘successful’. He certainly didn’t express the sorts of emotions I’d hoped for, or expected. Nor did he try to ‘hold on’ to me (and we’re both single and were in a PA!).
But what I think WAS good, and what you also have done. Is YOU were heard. YOU were honest. That’s so brave, and actually very powerful. Who knows why your LO reacted as he did? It sounds like the stakes were very high for both of you, it may have been fear, or guilt, or any combination of mixed feelings. It may have been an (appropriate?) act of self defence in the face of a volatile situation. My LO was pretty silent on the phone, it’s his way, but also what could he say?
When you lay down those feelings you must be doing it for you… and if you weren’t at the time then you can now decide that you were! Because actually you did what was right, and you brought this to an end because that’s what’s best for you, LO and your families. You’ve done entirely the right thing, in deciding to end it, and in bravely stating why to LO.
Well done, I’d say!
Honest question on the ‘giving LO a letter’ idea discussed in the comments above. I know it’s a terrible idea, but what if the letter is more confrontational and scornful toward LO? In a situation where LO will be leaving a job and will never be seen or heard from again, what is there to lose by ‘taking the gloves off’ so to speak and letting her have it? Her telling someone about it is not a real possibility by the way. It will be super awkward for sure, but part of me thinks it’s the best way to kill the LE once and for all just before going permanent NC. If I try to manufacture some mushy, tearful goodbye and tell LO what she means to me, I have a feeling that will only make NC more difficult. She would likely respond (as usual) with more uncertainty, possibly admitting to me she still has feelings as well, etc. I can just see myself in NC hell, daydreaming about LO and wondering if she’s still thinking about me, wherever she is, and lamenting on how I could have worded something a little better so that she would have finally said yes. That will just feed the desire to re-establish contact. On the other hand, by taking a more confrontational approach, I ensure that LO leaves only with bad thoughts about me, removing any uncertainty in my mind that there could ever be anything between us. Kind of embarrassing no doubt, but I’ll never see her again so what do I care? In essence, it would be burning the bridge to my limerence. Has anyone ever done something like this?
@B – this is what I did. It wasn’t my plan, I was going to do the staged withdrawal Dr L has written about on here, but we fell out. Or more specifically, I fell out with her when certain info came to light in her final few days in the office. Initially I just blanked her. We typically sat next to each other, but I couldn’t even look at her I was so mad, so I booked out a meeting room and worked from there. Next day I was with a client all day, had some wine, got back to the desk late only to find her still there working. The heart panged a bit but I just grabbed my stuff and walked off. On my way home I thought actually i want her to know exactly why I so annoyed. I don’t want her wondering.
So I sent a series of texts, explaining, telling her what she’d done and why it was so hurtful. I finished by saying we were done. She read them straight away but didn’t respond. Her final day she said goodbye to everyone but I made sure I was elsewhere.
So it wasn’t a strategy as such, but that anger helped propel me into NC, and I presume my texts and actions stopped her from contacting me. For a month or so I think it worked well – it was a source of motivation. But then the anger subsided, the guilt emerged, as did the realisation that I’d overreacted. I think I knew that at the time too, but I used it to ensure I went NC.
I had so many people talk to me about her (not knowing how things ended), asking how she was getting on in the new job. A few people said she was upset with how things ended. So I started to wobble. A few months later I relapsed and sent her a text.
But the bridge was well and truly burnt. Her reply was brutal and snuffed out any lingering hope or possibility. That, whilst humiliating, was what I needed to finally bring this to a close. She’s not been in touch since (nearly 18m now), bar a single “like” of a social media post of mine a few weeks ago. I presume that was an accident.
How do I feel about it all now? A bit embarrassed to tell you the truth. I wished it hadn’t ended that way, I wish I could have engineered a graceful exit and kept more of my dignity. But so be it, we can’t change the past.
Thank you Vincent. That does help. I can see how the anger would eventually subside, leaving remorse in its place, which could just as easily slip into wanting to break NC (if for no other reason, to apologize for overreacting).
Just curious, what was the “certain info that came to light” about her? Also, were one or both of you unavailable at the time?
Yes I am married, plus I was her boss and twice her age so there were obstacles everywhere!
Despite sounding unlikely, we built up a relationship over the course of 2 years. It wasn’t physical, but it arguably reached EA. I was equal parts boss, father and boyfriend. We were in touch constantly, she ran absolutely everything by me. We’d text each other literally 100s of times a week. She admitted to having feelings she couldn’t explain at one point, and afterwards her friend told me that if i wasn’t married she would have gone for it.
But she had a habit of doing some stupid things – some work related, some not – that really betrayed everything I did for her. At the end, there was another one of these, and after the prior one a few months before I’d warned her that I couldn’t keep forgiving and forgetting and anymore I’d walk away. So I stuck to my word. It helped that I’d decided to go NC anyway, and I used this latest incident as the catalyst. I still had my SO’s words ringing in my ears too: “it’s me or her” 😮
If I can be blunt I don’t really think it’ll work as you hope. You’re basically acknowledging that LO has the power here but if you upset her enough then she’ll do the NC for you.
But then even within your comment you acknowledge this:
‘If I try to manufacture some mushy, tearful goodbye and tell LO what she means to me, I have a feeling that will only make NC more difficult. She would likely respond (as usual) with more uncertainty, possibly admitting to me she still has feelings as well, etc. I can just see myself in NC hell, daydreaming about LO and wondering if she’s still thinking about me, wherever she is, and lamenting on how I could have worded something a little better so that she would have finally said yes. That will just feed the desire to re-establish contact.’
Which to me is fairly transparent fantasy with a dash of catastrophising. Because hey I’m a limerent too! What makes you think that you won’t regret and blame yourself later on? Wonder ‘if I hadn’t been so mean?’
Also… if she’s genuinely going to be out of sight and gone, I’m not sure it’s really ethical to write a harsh letter which may be hurtful simply to aid your decision to go NC. Unless you’re sure these home truths are valid complaints for which she is culpable. Even then…
I think the kindest way forward for everybody is to let her go and focus on your recovery. I don’t think its ethical to hurt ir attack an LO because you’re unsure of your own willpower.
Apologies if that sounded harsh.
No apologies necessary. That makes sense. I admit the idea that “she will do the NC for me” is kind of the point though. I want to remove from my mind the idea that she would ever want to contact me or want me to contact her. Doing that would seem to fit the bill.
But as you and Vincent point out, I would eventually be overcome with guilt and want to reach out to her to fix it.
…also I’d be a hypocrite if I said I’d never felt (or actually acted upon) the impulse to punish/lash out at an LO. But I don’t remember it feeling good at the time.
Good luck B.
Should we block our LO? Especially if social media was the ‘safe’ communication form? Because I keep going to but afraid that I’ll upset him if he notices. How silly is that? Here I am crying over him with guilt and sadness but still worried about upsetting him and potentially ruining any future with us together ( provided we both end up single which tbh is highly unlikely)!
I personally dont block, because LO did not do much wrong and it makes it more forbidden for me, and so more aluring. ( besides he doest contact me , haha ) But if it helps you, go for it!
LO is a grownass man, he will survive ! You probably overestimate his reaction to it.
Thoughts about ruining an unlike future is limerence talking.
Question: Is blocking an act of selfcare? ( only 2 answers yes or no )
‘besides he doest contact me , haha’
Honestly, I’ve blocked LO, told him I want NC and he’s not even scrabbling over all of my dramatic hurdles to stay in touch. Doesn’t he know how much I miss him?
(I’m a right piece of work, I am :D)
Grrr I told LO I did not want to see him to see if we could start again, I I told him ‘farewell ‘ and I didn’t want to stay in contact.. And I’m still pissed off he doesn’t ignore my requests.
Short answer: It depends.
Do you really care what he thinks? Will he retaliate somehow?
Are you friends on Social Media? If not, why not block him?
If you are friends, and if you share a common professional or social circle and blocking them could draw attention to you, it may not be the best idea. It might not be wise to block your kid’s soccer coach LO. Other people might start asking questions. If not, it makes a symbolic statement. They can make a dummy account and still see you but if you keep a tight profile, they don’t see much.
Run a search for “social media” in the “Search this website” box.
Depends on how well you know yourself and how likely you are to relapse if you don’t block.
I didn’t block LO but I unfriended her on the one social media platform we were connected on, and then purged my phone, computer and desk with any reminder and any form of contact number, email etc .
She stayed on our group WhatsApp for a few months which annoyed me as I knew it was a temptation, but then thankfully she left one day just after I posted something. Interesting timing.
I haven’t for quite a while but I’ll still do a driveby on the social platforms where she has an open account, so it’s not foolproof but it’s helped me not slip back I’m sure.
She liked a post of mine recently, which must have appeared in her feed because someone we both knew liked it. That made me smile, but reassuringly, I didn’t agonise over what it meant, which shows some progress. If there is ever contact again, she needs to initiate it. I’ve made a vow to myself which I’m not breaking.
It sounds like we have followed similar paths… my LO could still in theory make contact (phone, or more likely standard text message).
I’m not sure if I’m hoping or dreading or maybe both?
What are your feelings about LO reaching out? Do you have any idea of what you would do (assuming it’s a casual ‘Hi, how are you’ non-urgent contact)?
I’d be delighted if she got in contact as it would be a nice bit of validation and she would have blinked first, not me! Haha. I’d be pleasant, say “good to hear from you”, but I’d leave it at that. I wouldn’t prolong the conversation, rather just keep it as short as possible.
I’d actually like that exchange to happen as it would mean that our last words weren’t bitter ones and maybe I could remove that pang of regret about the way things ended.
I have blocked my current LO, but I have done it for myself. As Mia & Scharn indicate it really depends on personal choice and circumstance. Funnily enough, I had an aborted NC during which I blocked him before. When NC failed and we made contact I explained my reasoning honestly, which again is a luxury of not having an SO or a shared social group which might have affected my ability to be honest. Obviously if I had to consider serious negative fallout of my openess, that would have certainly coloured by decision.
The positives for me are this:
A) it would be humiliating to friend request him again after declaring my intention to go NC, this is a big barrier for ME.
B) it protects me from HIM ‘missing me’ and spontaenously liking a photo, or advertising his presence in some other way.
C) it means that when I open Messenger it doesn’t tell me when he’s online, and I can’t see if he’s changed his profile picture. I used to have a destructive habit of checking up when he was ‘last online’ on various sites – which heightened my irritation when a message from me had gone unanswered for hours and he was ‘online 4 minutes ago’. This was a painful and compulsive habit.
He has blocked me from a dating app we both use – which has irrationally annoyed me, rather hypocritically. However – I’m happy not tracking his pursuit of other potential partners, I just wish I had the control over it. But, meh.
For me it was part and parcel of deleting his contact details, messages, and all references in my call history from my phone. I’m self-sabotaging myself because my willpower alone has never quite been enough during LE.
I still have one avenue of tracking down his phone number – but it is laborious, and takes long enough that I can stop myself before I get to the details.
However – when I broke NC last time (and reconnected/unblocked LO) honesty was my best policy. He wasn’t actually offended about my blocking once I explained that it was my way of self-policing, and I actually took total ownership of the decision. Frankly, it’s pretty flattering for some egos when somebody point blank says ‘I was trying to save me from myself!’ It was shortly after discovering limerence, and so I had language to explain my situation – which I’ve not had during previous LEs.
Obviously for married/seriously committed limerents with potential harm to SOs/professional standing etc. disclosing to an outsider/colleague/family friend is a high risk strategy. Now I think of it, I have (thus far) only been limerent when single & never for a co-worker… learning on here about the struggles of married limerents and co-worker limerence is really humbling. I’ve found my ‘no strings’ version debilitating/humiliating enough at times.
I’ve waffled (as I do!)… but I think if you can block, and want to, framing it as an act of self-care works well.
So – sorry Mia. I meant YES. 😉
It is difficult to follow the advice in this article. Does this count as “polite, bland explanation”, or am I kidding myself? I was in a LTR with LO many years ago which ended because… (TODO: figure this out).
RE: I’m pregnant
Congratulations from the bottom of my heart. I understand what it means to you to have children, and I know you will be the mother everyone wished they had had.
At the same time, I have to ask you not to contact me. Forgive me for making this request. I hope that you can see that your good news brings me pain. Since the day we fought for the first time in [location], I have been addicted to you (or at least the idea of you). This addiction has caused me a lot of pain, and I want it to end. Alcoholics should not go to the bar.
I know it was me who contacted you last month because I was worried about you. I always wanted to protect you, but I have to admit that I cannot. One day you will suffer and one day you will die, and I can’t do anything about it.
Now you are pregnant, married, and happy, so I put my faith in your future family, your husband, and your god to protect you for the rest of your life.
Is there any point in sending this? We never officially broke up, hence I end up here.
My first instinct with this is that very little good will come from it. If you truely want to free yourself, just leave the message unanswered and block her account/email/phone number.
Your last sentence is caring and profound. You can do that without the declaration of your addiction, and get the outcome with no drama. When you do feel better, you will probably be glad about that non-confrontational approach in retrospect.
Thanks for your reply. I haven’t sent this message, because as you mentioned, there didn’t seem much point, especially seeing as we aren’t in contact a great deal. I guess I could send the first and last paragraphs, but then I know I’ll be anxious about getting (or not getting) a reply. So I’ll probably just do nothing and work on making peace with myself instead.
Thanks also for the brilliant website. It has helped me a lot.
Article of the Day: https://thoughtcatalog.com/rania-naim/2020/10/fear-the-day-people-with-good-hearts-give-up-on-you/
When you’re tempted to tell off your LO, read this instead.
Scharny this article deserves to be read over and over. It’s just perfect. Thank you so much for finding and sharing it!
“Fear the day people with good hearts speak up and tell you how they really feel because their words will haunt you for the rest of your life when you’re sitting alone filled with regrets because you lost the people who truly wanted the best for you. People who truly wanted to love you and be there for you.”
I remember when I had that conversation with LO #2. It was in a coffee shop in West Seattle after seeing Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr. play the Seattle Coliseum. It was the first time we’d seen each other after she admitted that I was Plan B.
She said, “You seem different.” I told her that I’d thought through some things since our last conversation. She asked “What?”
I told her I didn’t trust her anymore and would never let her get close to me again. I told her I was looking for something and when I found it I was gone so she shouldn’t make long-term plans for spending time together. I told her that she’d convinced me that I’d never get what I wanted from her and the time I spent with her could be better spent replacing her. I told her the picture was pretty bleak. I honestly don’t know where it all came from. It just all rolled out. I wasn’t looking at her when I was talking.
When I did look at her, her mouth was wide open and she had the most dumbfounded look on her face. I asked if she wanted anything else. All she said was, “Please take me home.”
I don’t know if what I said had any lasting effect on her but it did at the time. I don’t think she’ll ever allow herself to be alone and I don’t think she’s capable of regret.
I remember telling LO “one day I will slip through your fingers like sand”. He looked at me in horror but then composed himself as I don’t think he believed me. He expected me to always be there for him in all the ways the article described despite any attachments he might form. But one day I finally reached the point of no return.
When I made that comment years earlier I suppose I was foreshadowing . I don’t even know where the comment came from…but I guess somehow I just knew.
I am so thrilled to have my dignity and mind and heart back. As the NC marches on, I feel more relieved the LE is over with every passing month.
The most frustrating thing was that she knew what she was giving up. I never felt unappreciated by her. She just didn’t trust me. Here are some of the things she said:
1. “I can’t live with you but I don’t want to live without you.”
2. “You could say the sweetest things. It was like there was an angel on your tongue. You would say something and I’d just melt.”
3. “They [penuche fudge half-dipped in chocolate] were special to me because they told me that wherever you were and whatever you were doing, for those few minutes, you were thinking about me.”
4. “I never thought of myself as attractive or desirable but you always made me feel like I was.”
5. “When we made love, you always put everything you had into it. You never held anything back.”
6. “I’m still a nurse today because of you.”
7. “You’re the only person who ever pursued me. In all my other relationships, I started them and I ended them. You’re the first adult relationship I ever had.”
8. “You didn’t always tell me what I wanted to hear but you always told me what I needed to hear.”
9. “You taught me how to stand up for myself. I’m grateful to you for that.”
10. “You never held the fact I had an abortion against me.”
11. “I never worried about where you were or who you were with. You were always where you said you’d be. If there was a problem, you always called to let me know.”
I asked if that was available to her, why would she fly 1000 miles to sleep with someone who was cheating on her?
“It’s one of those things that feels good in the night but leaves you cold in the morning.” LO #2 loved U2’s “Joshua Tree” and would paraphrase lyrics in her responses to me.
That’s when I asked if I was Plan B and she admitted it and I almost backhanded her.
I asked the therapist about it. The therapist said it wasn’t that I wasn’t good enough for her, LO #2 thought I was too good for her. She didn’t think she was worthy of someone who really loved her and was afraid it wouldn’t last. So, she pushed me away rather than take the chance. The therapist said I would never be able to overcome that. It was too deeply ingrained in her.
@Scharnhorst, I’m always amazed how you remember conversations in such detail!
I wrote them down. The therapist said it’s a mild symptom of PTSD. She thought I had it.
yes, what a great article – thanks Scharnhorst.
Its where I got to with LO, I just gave up on her in the end. I did so much for her but she kept throwing it back in my face with her actions. I even warned her over lunch one day, after she’d done something really dumb, and told her that I wasn’t her father, I didn’t have unconditional love for her, and that if she kept p***ing me off, I’d leave her to fend for herself.
It took another couple of months from that for her to break me (by then I resolved to go NC anyway), but I just couldn’t take it any more. I was running such enormous risk by maintaining our relationship, and risk has to balance with reward otherwise there is no point to it, and frankly I couldn’t live off the micro rewards she was giving back to me.
I’d love her to read that article, because leaving my feelings to one side, she lost a mentor, advocate and protector with her behavior, and maybe one day she’ll look back and regret it, even if just for a fleeting moment.
“Fear the day people with good hearts close their hearts off because as much as they are capable of loving you with all they’ve got or forgiving you when you weren’t sorry or going out of their way for you repeatedly, they eventually realize that they deserve the same kindness, compassion, love and support that they’ve been giving you.”
I remember that is exactly how I felt when I decided it was time to file.
“Fear the day people with good hearts put back all the energy you took from them into themselves again because only then will they realize how much you drained them and only then will you realize how much you took them for granted.”
It’s like cutting a 200 pound sand bag loose.
I interpreted this article in the same way as Lee. That those word would have been written by my SO about me during the worst of my LE.
Luckily we are in a much better place now. I reinvested time, energy and attention to our marriage.
I still makes me feel very guilty to read those words though. Good article to keep handy when our limerent brains are moving our focus away from our loved ones while obsessing over LO…
I know closure regarding limerence is not possible, technically speaking. However, I feel I have achieved a measure of closure by participating even for a relatively short time in this forum i.e. sharing my story, hearing other people’s stories, and learning about the basic science behind addiction.
Of course, I’ve been looking for answers a long time and reading other books, including Dorothy Tennov’s one. However, this blog brings together a lot of ideas in one place. It’s a wonderful resource in that respect.
Dr. L, I hope your research into limerence continues to prosper. It’s great someone is looking into this area. I think the practical benefits of such research alone make it a worthwhile endeavour – to alleviate (unnecessary) suffering. I’m not sure what motivates the work, but thank you for everything you’ve done.
“I know closure regarding limerence is not possible, technically speaking.”
What do you mean by closure? To me, it’s not longing for the person, not pining for the person, not still having feelings. It’s even looking back on the LE and saying, “Why did I fixate on this person so much? He ain’t all that, ” and really meaning it. I have experienced this with every LE I’ve had, with the exception of the current one, and I’m about 75% of the way there (though it’s admittedly taken a long time).
“What do you mean by closure? To me, it’s not longing for the person, not pining for the person, not still having feelings. It’s even looking back on the LE and saying, “Why did I fixate on this person so much? He ain’t all that, ” and really meaning it.”
I’m starting to see that what you say is a really good workable definition of “closure” and one that I can comfortably and happily embrace.
Perhaps, previously, I wanted some big explanation as to why limerence happened to me at all. But I guess if I want an answer to that all I need to do is read up on the neuroscience. It’s a biological reaction, etc, etc.
As a direct result of limerence, I went through a period of having really bad feelings, like I couldn’t escape from the pain inside my head. I’d obviously been raised with a certain value system, etc, which roughly translates as: “If you do the right thing or try to do the right thing, the natural outcome of that should be happiness”. Up until that point, I’d spent my whole life trying to do the right thing, so I couldn’t really grasp the sudden onset of misery I was feeling. There wasn’t any room in my worldview for pain like that – pain that seemingly comes out of the blue, with no known cause.
Obviously, I’m a little older and a little wiser now. I know good people can go through rough patches (and vice versa) and mental illness doesn’t discriminate. The universe (or God) doesn’t necessarily owe me anything for “good behaviour”. But, yeah, limerence didn’t fit neatly into my beliefs at the time.
I couldn’t understand why I was so unhappy. An explanation of (or compensation for) my unhappiness would have counted as “closure”. Maybe I thought the Cosmos owed me something? Madness, I know.
It took me such a long time to get over this particular LO. He was so loving and yet so distant at the same time – my lovesick brain just couldn’t work it out. It’s like I got I gift I didn’t ask for, a gift that made me extremely sick. 😛
@Marcia. Maybe I’m a little bit different from other posters on this site in the sense that I don’t think I ever craved limerence? I.e. I went from being this logical, carefree, always-cheerful boy of 12 who pooh-poohed romance and only cared about schoolwork and hobbies and sport to being this huge emotional mess by the time I was 16, who could barely concentrate on schoolwork, etc. I cried all the way to school camp in grade eleven because I “had no friends”. (I did have friends, actually, or kids who considered me a friend – I was just scared of talking to them, lest I say the wrong thing!)
I had panic attacks that were so bad I had trouble staying in the same room as other people. Once, during lunchtime at work, I had to flee the staffroom – I just become flooded with emotion for no reason at all.
My peers at school had a mixed reaction to my heightened emotional sensitivity that came about because of pre-limerence. There was a lot of admiration, but there was also a lot of suspicion. Female teachers praised my poetry and at least one male teacher laughed at my poetry – on assembly! I think my sexual orientation alienated me from same-sex peers. I wasn’t one of those gay boys who easily strike up friendships with girls. My social circle remained predominantly male right to the very end.
I had such an intense fear of rejection from everyone, especially the same sex. Male peers teased me in a good-natured way, but I was too insecure to understand the humour and that humour is often a form of acceptance in male circles. It’s only now, at thirty-eight, I can interact with male shop assistants/baristas and basically feel nothing. My emotional reactions to everything seemed too extreme. I couldn’t find a way to moderate my emotional responses. I was super-alert all the time, a lightbulb burning at maximum wattage. I never felt comfortable in my own skin.
“But I guess if I want an answer to that all I need to do is read up on the neuroscience. It’s a biological reaction, etc, etc.”
I think it’s a confluence of the biological and the emotional — who you are as a person, where you are in life, who you LO is, how they ding the unchecked boxes in your psyche, maybe what you want and need but are not getting.
“I went from being this logical, carefree, always-cheerful boy of 12 who pooh-poohed romance and only cared about schoolwork and hobbies and sport to being this huge emotional mess by the time I was 16”
Sixteen was a watershed year for me, too. I went from mimicking everything my parents said and did to trying to slowly rip myself away from them and become my own person. I also went through a depression. It’s certainly a time of a lot of hormonal changes. It sounds to me like you also maybe have been having some depression issues, maybe some anxiety issues, and a good number of the adults around you failed to be particularly supportive, if downright cruel. There’s nothing wrong with being an emotional person. And now that you are adult, you can find people who will appreciate you and steer clear of those who don’t.
“There’s nothing wrong with being an emotional person. And now that you are adult, you can find people who will appreciate you and steer clear of those who don’t.”
@Marcia. Thank you for your kind response. I don’t know if the issue is being an emotional person per se. I think the problem, for me, is worrying I won’t be able to control my emotions in public. I feel I should always have perfect self-control. I realise now that maybe my slightly negative attitude to emotion is unwarranted.
That is to say, most of the people in my life, guys and girls alike, are more emotionally open than me. There’s nothing wrong with emotional openness – in fact, it’s the way people connect and build relationships i.e. sharing what they feel. However, emotional openness wasn’t encouraged in my family of origin. (I think my mother wanted/needed all the attention focused on her).
I also have a few outstanding issues regarding emotions and masculinity. Australia still has quite a macho culture compared to other Western countries and there’s a part of me that believes masculinity and emotional openness aren’t compatible traits. I struggle to live up to the gender code I feel my country has, although I wonder how much of this code is all in my head. I.e. men are more open and women are more independent than ever before.
You’re right – it’s taken me a long time to “find myself”. You saying your own teen years were a bit awkward makes me feel a lot better. In retrospect, I see I did have some anxiety/depression issues, yes, that sort of got swept under the carpet by parents/teachers. 😛
“I also have a few outstanding issues regarding emotions and masculinity. Australia still has quite a macho culture compared to other Western countries and there’s a part of me that believes masculinity and emotional openness aren’t compatible traits. I struggle to live up to the gender code I feel my country has, although I wonder how much of this code is all in my head. I.e. men are more open and women are more independent than ever before.”
Sounds trite, but you can just be your own version of masculinity. I don’t know how you feel about personality tests, but the enneagram test really helped me understand myself better. At least what my deepest motivations were, and if you read about the other types of personalities, you can understand other better, too.
“A lot of my identity was tied up in being an academic high achiever. And all of a sudden I found I could no longer concentrate well enough to bring home consistently high grades. My sense of connection with peers wasn’t strong enough to give me an alternative identity. I lost my bearings, so to speak. It was really hard to maintain a stable sense of self-esteem.”
I still say that at least one adult around you should have noticed you were struggling and offered support.
“Sounds trite, but you can just be your own version of masculinity. I don’t know how you feel about personality tests, but the enneagram test really helped me understand myself better.”
@Marcia. Thank you. 🙂
“I still say that at least one adult around you should have noticed you were struggling and offered support.”
And thank you again!
You mentioned being 16 and going through some difficult times. You are now 38. Do you feel a strong sense of connection to that high school part of your life? For me, personally, I don’t. I think the key life period for me was from ages 24 to about 35 — that period affected me the most, and I’m still coming to terms with some of it. But that’s me. Different life phases affect people differently.
“You mentioned being 16 and going through some difficult times. You are now 38. Do you feel a strong sense of connection to that high school part of your life?”
@Marcia. Um, yes and no. I kind of feel that was the point in my life where “everything went wrong”. A lot of my identity was tied up in being an academic high achiever. And all of a sudden I found I could no longer concentrate well enough to bring home consistently high grades. My sense of connection with peers wasn’t strong enough to give me an alternative identity. I lost my bearings, so to speak. It was really hard to maintain a stable sense of self-esteem.
Sometimes I’d like to “rewind” my life to 16 and make a whole slew of different choices, etc. However, that’s impossible. And nobody’s “life trajectory” is perfect and free of mistakes and hiccups.
My late 20s and early-to-mid 30s were quite exciting. I was still riding high on the manic energy of limerence, despite LO being long gone from my life. That massive burst of “manic energy” evaporated around the age of 37/38, where I find myself now.
I’d forget the years between ages 20-27, say, if I could. They were just too painful. I was wandering in the wilderness, feeling a lot of anger, and going nowhere fast. The sadness of my teens gave way to the anger of my early/mid twenties and the anger of my early/mid twenties gave way to the bizarre exuberance of my late 20s/early 30s. Have I been running away from something my whole life?
I’m probably just repeating what’s already been said in a different way, but I think closure is elusive for two reasons:
(1) Limerence often involves us telling ourselves a story about the “relationship” with have with our LOs. Often, this is quite a grand narrative. The truth, however, might be a lot more prosaic e.g. he/she just wasn’t into me. We might struggle to find closure because our limerent brains can’t reconcile the “grand narrative” with the mundane-but-realistic ending. We think there should be a grand finale to match the grand narrative.
In other words, if the average LE was a movie script submitted for production, the studio bosses would probably say to the writers “we’ll make it, but only if you change the ending. Our polls tell us audiences don’t want a boring ending”. The narrative we create in our heads while suffering from limerence reads like a thriller, as mentioned elsewhere on this blog. Truth can be strangely anticlimactic. The ending feels like it belongs to a different genre of film altogether.
(2) As a number of posters have pointed out, closure is impossible simply because some LOs thrive on emotional ambiguities. They don’t want to clarify intentions because it could lead to loss of benefits/self-respect. (They might have to admit to themselves they were using someone and no one wants to have a negative image of themselves). Of course, in some situations, it’s not LOs who are exploiting ambiguities – it’s our own limerent brains. Extravagant romantic fantasies can only flourish if we intentionally close our eyes to reality.
Sometimes it’s us, the limerent, who doesn’t want to get too close to the truth.
We are like Icarus in Greek mythology flying too close to the sun. We don’t want the sun to melt our wax wings and bring us crashing back down to earth. We pretend the sun isn’t there. We pretend the laws of gravity ultimately won’t apply to us. We pretend that we will somehow be the only exception to the rule.
“Limerence often involves us telling ourselves a story about the “relationship” with have with our LOs. Often, this is quite a grand narrative. The truth, however, might be a lot more prosaic e.g. he/she just wasn’t into me.”
The truth can be hard to hear but a formal rejection of some kind is well…kindness.
I’ve never had a problem with rejection (hurts of course!) and I’ve tried to be honest with those I’ve dated.
Limerence hits some of us when our brains are needing the chemicals Dr.L describes. Maybe we’re midlife crisis, or feeling alone.
There does not have to be a grand narrative (there could be). Feeling a deep connection may be enough.
When LO was subtly pushing me away, I asked why.
“You’re still married,” he said. My ex and I had been separated for a few months after a few years of rough.
If he had said “It won’t work for us.” That might have helped me.
Instead, his reply and similar statements pushed me toward limerence.
I should have seen through it but he’d been my emotional support for months by then. It was a tough time. In therapy, but I would have benefited from medical support as well.
It’s always easy to see these things when we are looking back.
“Limerence hits some of us when our brains are needing the chemicals Dr.L describes. Maybe we’re midlife crisis, or feeling alone.
There does not have to be a grand narrative (there could be). Feeling a deep connection may be enough.”
@Beth. That is well-said.
“It’s always easy to see these things when we are looking back.”
Yes, it is.
This is a very old post, and I don’t know if I’ll get a reply here, but I have been in the throes of limerence with a person for 2.5 years now, and only recently starting to define it as such.
My LO is a very, very close friend. We are regularly in touch and I don’t always initiate contact, he calls me if I don’t reply to a text, in my attempt to disengage. What is a ‘bland and polite’ way to ask for space in a relationship like this? I am just tormented at this point. He is a very good person and he has really not led him on. Not wanting to lose his friendship has kept me in this situation for as long as it has, but I really cannot take it anymore. I need to start my road to recovery and it cannot happen with him so accessible and so present in my life all the time. What can I say? Ghosting him would be horribly inconsiderate of me.
How about telling him that you’re going through some stuff and you need space and time to work through it so you will be “taking the phone off the hook, to use a phrase from ancient times (which means you don’t want to be contacted)?
Just have to say that I agree with Sammy! “Closure” can be achieved when a person learns to accept reality and live in the present.
I love what Marcia said, too. Sometimes we look back and see things more objectively.
I had limerence for an ex-boyfriend…key word is HAD. Now I laugh at myself! He wasn’t worth it.
I thought I needed “closure”. Nope. I needed to wake up, accept that it was over and move on with my life.
My husband has also struggled with limerence for a girl who dumped him 33 years ago in high school!
I think that in his case, it’s because he was a boy who thought he was in love with her.
He had a few sexual encounters with her and sometimes to a teenager, that means “love”.
To quote Marcia (hope you don’t mind, Marcia) that girl wasn’t “all that” back in 1986 and she still isn’t now in 2021!
But in my husband’s mind…he still sees her as a cute blonde 16-year-old, not the reality of who/what she is now.
She is now an overweight, washed-up woman who has aged poorly. Not being catty but it’s true.
My opinion (for what it’s worth) is that limerence can be an escape from reality. We can sometimes see things in a different way, rather than the way they actually are. My husband’s high school girlfriend wasn’t special…he put her on a pedestal she didn’t deserve to be on, like I did with my ex-boyfriend years ago.
Closure came when I finally woke up and decided to move forward. There are some things that shouldn’t be revisited.
We live in a world with billions of people, so to hang on to somebody from the past isn’t healthy.
Learning to let go is important so we can live better lives and be happy with current partners or those we may meet (for those that are single).
No disrespect to anyone…just my two cents!
“Just have to say that I agree with Sammy! “Closure” can be achieved when a person learns to accept reality and live in the present.”
Thank you for your comment here. There’s always a part of me that worries I “spoke too soon”. Mindfulness is actually quite hard to practise. I don’t want to give the impression I’m in total control of my mental life. 😛
Sometimes, I think I’m over someone entirely, and then my brain goes back to ruminating, as if there’s still something left unexplored. I find it remarkably hard to “let go” off people entirely. I mean people still remain in my head even after all contact has ceased. I’m a brooder, I suppose. I always wonder “what if?”
“We live in a world with billions of people, so to hang on to somebody from the past isn’t healthy.”
This is a great observation, and very true. However, I’ve found the people I knew in my high school years, and during university/first job, have the strongest hold on my imagination, maybe because my identity was still forming then. I think I’m less inclined to be impacted emotionally by someone I’ve met as an adult, and only known as an adult. Not saying it doesn’t happen, though…
I’ve had friends tease me about my crushes: “You sure like to carry torches for people.” I’ve also had friends ask me whether I’m a teacher or something, because apparently I spend a lot of time talking about my high school friendships, (friendships with non-reciprocating LOs specifically), even though I graduated high school over 20 years ago. See what I mean – certain people from the past and a certain timeframe from the past have a powerful grip on my imagination.
So, at the risk of sounding horribly contrary and unable to commit to anything, there’s a part of me that agrees with the original premise of this article – closure is an illusion. In my case, specifically, I can’t get closure on one or more relationships that might have happened, but didn’t ultimately happen. (Unrequited love). And my desire to “explore and explain” is self-defeating from a purposeful-living perspective, though it might be of some value creatively. 😛
I understand, Sammy. I hope my comment wasn’t out of line. What you say about identity during the early years makes sense…I was like that with my high school boyfriend (whom I had an on/off relationship with until I wised up in my mid-20’s).
In my case, I had it bad. This guy had a powerful hold on me for a long time. But then I met my husband, and I also did some intense work on myself to heal.
That former boyfriend died in 2016 and I actually felt nothing at all when that happened. The spell was broken when I remembered all the horribly abusive things he’d done.
Now I wish I’d never dated that guy! But I learned a lot from it, so there’s that.
“My husband has also struggled with limerence for a girl who dumped him 33 years ago in high school!”
This is a good topic to elaborate on. I have talked guy friends who do something similar. Still very much torn up over a breakup that happened 30+ years ago, even though they moved on and married someone else years ago. Some talk about the breakup like it happened yesterday. Is it more common for men to do this? Or does it have nothing to do with gender?
I wish I knew the answer to that too! My hubby’s mom said that she thinks men have more trouble with breakups if it happened when they were young.
Maybe she’s right? I don’t want to generalize, though. By the way…she also hinted that this girl broke his heart and he might not be completely over it. You can imagine how that makes me feel.
I felt that way about an ex too, but I was able to move on and now I have zero feelings for that dude. Never thought I would say that…but I’m free of limerence now, and it feels good!
If I dare say what I think it is with some men and their old high school sweethearts, it might be like Sammy said about how impressions are made when identity is being formed in youth.
In the case of my husband’s high school girlfriend, she wasn’t pretty, nor did she have a stand-out personality.
But she was the first girl to really show an interest in him sexually and we all know what that does to boys when they are young.
She broke up with him around graduation time, because she wanted to explore other options in college.
From what I know, she ended up married to a guy she met in college and had two kids.
I think because of her, my husband still prefers blondes (I am not blonde) and one time he got really depressed at finding an old picture of her in his office, claiming that it would “offend” me.
I thought that was weird because I wouldn’t be offended…but if he still has feelings for her, that is a problem.
“I thought that was weird because I wouldn’t be offended…but if he still has feelings for her, that is a problem.”
But he really can’t have feelings for her, can he? At least not for who she is now. He’s a different person, too.
@Marcia…you ask a good question. I would like to believe that he doesn’t. I believe that he loves me.
But I also think that there’s a part of him that is still hurting, and hopeful when it comes to her.
The rational part of him knows that things ended in 1988. But there are also buried feelings and (again! the fantasy element) of maybe not wanting to accept the changes that come with time, distance, maturity.
It’s hard for some people to realize that their LO is no longer “all that” (if they ever were, anyway).
His reaction to the picture surprised me because he seemed sad/angry/ashamed and I couldn’t understand why.
The photo was of them together in high school. Maybe it brought up hurtful memories, but he was insistent on hiding the picture from me.
Then just last month, he made a weird hypothetical comment like “what if my girlfriend from high school were to call me”…I laughed hysterically because I don’t see her as a threat. I was like “you wish, dude!” He wasn’t happy about that, but I was trying to be realistic.
But then his mom’s comment planted a seed. This girl seems to have left quite an impression after all this time.
Not sure what to make of it.
1988?! Idk. I can barely remember that far back. I’m a limerent, so I certainly understand longing for someone you can’t have or can’t fully have, but it fades. It’s faded every time to nothing, like you and your ex, and the longing was with recent people. I’m not saying your husband is a limerent, but I’m just trying to understand thinking about someone from so long ago. I don’t think I’d be that understanding of it.
Do you think it’s middle-age nostalgia for an earlier time? When there were no responsibilities and he had his whole life ahead of him? I mean, middle age can be a bit dull.
Oh yes…another thought. The idea of “closure” seems to come from Hollywood, where lost loves will reconnect and somehow things will be wonderful.
Sometimes that happens, but life doesn’t work that way. It’s far more complicated than that.
There is a TV show called “Cobra Kai” which is a spin-off from “The Karate Kid” movies.
There’s a part in the show where two of the male characters (both of whom dated the same girl in high school) are excited to meet up with her again.
One of them is married, which makes things all the more weird for his poor wife! His wife seems to take it well, but it’s cringe-worthy to watch adult men acting this way over a high school girlfriend.
It’s just a show, but I think these things happen in real life too. It’s a relief when the object of their limerence makes it clear that although it was nice to see them once more, the past is over.
“It’s a relief when the object of their limerence makes it clear that although it was nice to see them once more, the past is over.”
I agree. I don’t have any animosity towards past LOs (past, not recent, I’m working on that). And to refer to your topic, I feel no animosity toward the people I went to high school with, but that was 20 Marcias ago … 🙂 There is no need to revisit. 🙂
Absolutely, Marcia! I’m at the point now where I want nothing to do with most people from my past.
The one I loved deeply died in 2016 but by that time (as bad as it sounds) his death didn’t affect me.
I don’t hate him, I don’t love him anymore, I feel nothing at all for my ex. It’s crazy considering how I once felt.
Now I’m just indifferent. I can only describe that as a type of freedom.
“I’m at the point now where I want nothing to do with most people from my past.”
Me, too. I’m like you. I am indifferent.
Limerent Emeritus says
Song of the Day (redux): “Same Auld Lang Syne” – Dan Fogelberg (1980)
“Went to have ourselves a drink or two
But couldn’t find an open bar
We bought a six-pack at the liquor store
And we drank it in her car”
I don’t know who I’d be drinking those beers with. It could be several women, but I know exactly where the liquor store and parking lot would be.
Oh man, Dan Fogelberg! A truly great artist and that song is still classic. A limerent’s song if ever there was one.
Limerent Emeritus says
If you liked that one, you’ll probably really like this one.
“Lonely In Love” – Dan Fogelberg (1987)
It came out about 4 months after I broke up with LO #2.
Oh, I wanted to add…it hurts to be married to somebody while knowing that they never really got over somebody else.
To me, it’s a bit unfair to the spouse who is “second best” to the long-ago boyfriend/girlfriend, especially when the spouse has been a part of their life longer than the ex was.
I never felt insecure about the high school sweetheart until recently. I think it’s because his mom confirmed that the breakup still hurts him to this day, and because there have been occasional comments indicating that he hopes she will contact him someday.
It’s oddly specific because he was with other women after her (even engaged to one of them!) and yet he doesn’t speak of them in this way.
I actually feel bad for his ex-fiancee (a woman he made out to be a witch) because I’m not sure that he ever loved her.
He seems to have viewed certain women as “placeholders” in a way.
And while he married me, I feel that deep down, he still wants that girl from high school. I can’t help but wonder if there is still some infatuation/obsession with her, although their contact ceased after 1988 (to my knowledge).
I also went through something similar years ago but I tried to not bring that into my relationship with him.
It wouldn’t have been fair to him. I became aware that my fixation on my ex was unhealthy, and I took steps to heal from it.
Hard work, but I did it. And once I reached that point in my journey…closure came, along with peace of mind.
I was able to devote myself to being present with my husband and not focusing on a toxic, dead relationship from the past.
I think with some men (on the subject of gender-related breakups from the past and limerence)…fantasy is involved.
They never healed from the wounds of being rejected by a girl that they might have idealized (this happened to Ted Bundy with his high school/college sweetheart).
In reality, this girl may not have been anything exceptional. But as Sammy stated, to a young man who is newly feeling the thrill of first “love” or physical sensations, it leaves an emotional and mental imprint that can last for a long time.
This is where the fantasy comes into play and it can hurt future relationships (as well as the person suffering from limerence).
What helped me overcome my limerence was finally seeing my ex for who he was…a nasty, cheating, lying, abusive, racist, pot-smoking piece of trash.
The blinders came off and I was free. I think if my husband were honest with himself, he would see the reality of who that girl is.
She broke up with him in a cruel way to date his best friend (and screw around with other guys after graduation as well).
She had a “good girl” image outwardly, but would do extremely perverse things in private. And I’ve seen pictures/video of her that are not attractive.
Her high school photos show this very plain preppy-type of girl with mousy hair and huge glasses. Her current photos now in her 50’s show a heavyset (no disrespect to anyone with a large frame, just describing her) woman of very average looks.
I know that there’s more to it than appearance…but her personality seems very bland as well. So the only conclusion in my mind is that it had to have been the sex part of it.
Because otherwise, I just don’t know.
Limerent Emeritus says
Poke around the blogs and read my and Scharnhorst’s, my previous screen name here, comments. Somewhere in LwL, I think I’ve covered everything you’ve talked about.
Only 11% of any iceberg is visible above the surface. It seems obvious and easy to an outsider but it’s not to the person living it.
And, just like an iceberg, they can cause a lot of destruction to innocent people along the way.
You can learn a lot here. Keep reading.
I’ll check out what y’all said, for sure! I was limerent too, so I know it’s definitely a complex subject. I look forward to reading your thoughts.
@Marcia…you have me cracking up over here with “1988?!” yes ma’am, 1988. He is quite a bit older than me so he was graduating high school when I was only a little child. I was still playing with dolls while he was playing with girls (LOL!)
So I try to be understanding because maybe it is about nostalgia from the VERY distant past. Maybe it’s not really about her, per se.
But then again…there were others after her. There was his ex-fiancee, then other girlfriends, then another girl from high school that he hooked up with at a class reunion about 20 years ago.
So it makes me wonder, why her specifically? It could simply be nostalgia, but I feel like there’s more to it.
My ex and I had a far more recent history (our high school graduation was 2002). So I was limerent and lovesick too, and it was an extremely difficult process to heal from. Plus our relationship continued after high school, I had a miscarriage, there was a lot of heavy stuff to deal with.
But I did it. It’s just the idea that somewhere deep down, my husband might still hold onto memories/fantasies/feelings for this person from the 80’s.
I wondered if I was just being crazy or insecure, but now I’m not so sure. He denied still feeling that way about her, but sometimes you can just tell when a person is holding onto things.
They avoid the subject most of the time (until little things slip out unconsciously) and on some level, you can sense that you are being compared with the memory of this LO.
Limerent Emeritus says
Oh, God, have you come to the right place.
You’re gonna fit right in.
Ha ha, I was afraid of that! But maybe you’re right.
Hmmm … I graduated a year after your husband and can barely remember the names of my classmates (thought I can most definitely remember the music from that time! 🙂 ). You are a more patient woman than I am. I wouldn’t know how to process that. Recent people — someone you meet and BLAM! there’s “that thing.” That happens. But 33 years ago? And I can’t really understand idealizing (for lack of a better word) a first sexual experience because for a lot of women, it’s just bad. Some of us have to experience a few more dudes before we get to the right one. 🙂 It’s very rarely the first. But even remembering those “cauldron of fire” sexual experiences, I have no desire to rekindle anything with those guys.
Agreed, Marcia. I was just a kid myself back then, but I love the music and TV of the 80’s. It holds a lot of nostalgia for me too.
Other than my ex, I can’t say I’ve had that whole “BLAM!” feeling with anyone else. I’ve been attracted to people in the past, but there was no real intensity. What I’ve come to realize, though, is that with excitement/drama comes hurt (in my experience)…so a more stable relationship is what I need and my husband mostly provides that. I was attracted to my husband when we first met, but it wasn’t limerence.
It was more that I thought he was handsome and we had great conversation and “let’s see where this takes us!”
On the sex issue re: his high school sweetheart…I hope this isn’t too personal, but what makes it more odd to me is that they never actually went “all the way” (to use an old phrase).
It was more like they played around sexually in the 4 years they dated, but stopped short of completely “doing it”. I could understand if their sexual activity had been more advanced, or if it had resulted in pregnancy or marriage at some point, but it never got to that level.
So that deepens the mystery a bit. I wonder if there was a part of him that hoped to be more intimate with her after high school was over, and then whoops! When graduation approached, she broke up with him.
I don’t even think she wanted to remain friends anymore. From what I’ve heard, she was just like “bye, it was nice knowing you”.
“I don’t even think she wanted to remain friends anymore. From what I’ve heard, she was just like “bye, it was nice knowing you.”
I’m of the belief that if you meet someone and that person isn’t moving heaven and earth to be with you, it’s not supposed to happen. Nobody “gets away.” That person doesn’t want to be gotten. I don’t think it even matters if both people are with already with someone else. If it’s supposed to happen, it will. And if it doesn’t, the two people may already be with the right people. It sounds overly simplistic, but it is.
So yeah, that whole closure deal…maybe that’s what it is/was for him. Not only the “what could have been?” but also wanting her to explain why she broke up with him. It’s safe to say we can relate (right?)
But sometimes we just don’t get the answers we want or need. That’s life.
“…but also wanting her to explain why she broke up with him. ”
It seems pretty obvious. They were in high school. She was what, 18? They were kids. She was moving on to another phase of her life.
“It’s safe to say we can relate (right?)”
I mean, to a point.
So true, Marcia…some relationships aren’t meant to last. Some things in life aren’t meant to be. It’s sad and it hurts, but sometimes later we look back and find lessons in the struggle, plus it can be a bridge to meeting somebody who truly IS right for us.
But we can’t do that if we don’t live in the present.
And I’m with you on that part about “nobody gets away”. Feelings can’t be one-sided. We can’t chase other people or force them to love us in return.
That was what helped me out of the limerent fog I was in. It also helped me see value in myself, rather than continuing to lose my dignity over a person who didn’t value me.
That, to me, was closure.
I think that in his case, it might have been mostly the hormones as a high school boy. He probably was on Cloud 9 with her and thought their relationship would be “forever”.
Can’t say I blame him…first romance can be potent. But from what I understand (and even his mom said it!) this gal really was just looking for a “trial” boyfriend until she went off to college and could meet more sophisticated guys.
I think my husband truly did (possibly still does) care for her, but her feelings for him only went so far.
That hurt runs deep for some people if they never do the work to heal. And then they marry people like me, who HAVE done the work, but feel like we will never truly be the one they want.
“Some relationships aren’t meant to last. ”
Most relationships don’t last. Not just in romance but in friendship. They’ve done studies. Look at who a person’s close friends are now and then revisit them 7 years from. Only 30 percent of the original friendships will remain.
“But we can’t do that if we don’t live in the present.”
“But from what I understand (and even his mom said it!) this gal really was just looking for a “trial” boyfriend until she went off to college and could meet more sophisticated guys.”
I had a friend in high school who dated a guy to have a date to social events.
Limerent Emeritus says
As bad as she treated him would you say he thinks of her as “the one that got away?”
Do you think he feels there’s something he missed and wants a “do over?” Does he think that they’re not making it was somehow his fault?
Those feeling s can hang with you a long time?
It was 30 years ago. They weren’t even legally adults. I could see being 22 and still having these feelings … but not much beyond that. Nobody got away. She didn’t want to be gotten. She’s long gone. He’s mourning something that doesn’t exist. And I write this as a limerent who has wasted YEARS mourning something that doesn’t exist.
Limerent Emeritus says
There’s a lot of speculation flying around.
The only person who knows is not part of the discussion.
He might not even be able to explain it.
Ok, take M’s story out of it. How does a woman out in the dating world filter for this? Some signs are obvious. I once dated a guy who was going through a divorce. He was so clearly not ready to date and wouldn’t have been dating me if the wife hadn’t wanted a divorce. Nobody wants to win by default. But a little bit more difficult is how to spot a decades-dormant situation, as most people don’t talk about that until months or longer into a new relationship.
Very good points, Marcia. It’s not something he talks about often, but when the subject does come up, I can tell that there are unresolved issues.
It’s not what he says…it’s more what is unsaid. Withdrawing, becoming quiet and distant, tense body language.
The mere mention of her name (he won’t say it out loud) can trigger this too. I admit to not always being nice about it, but that’s because I believe problems should be worked out, not denied or buried.
My approach to it has been mostly gentle, though. I agree with you that the feelings are irrational since it’s been 30+ years…but emotions can be that way.
It’s tough, but I’m trying to be more understanding of why there still seems to be unfinished business on his part.
I was hurt and said some mean things a few weeks ago (asked him if he still had feelings for her, told him to get over it).
His personality is hard to decipher sometimes because he rarely opens up to me. I don’t bother him about it, but it would be nice if he could share what’s on his mind. He knows he can tell me anything and I won’t judge him for it. But first, I need less denial/withdrawal and more honesty.
From your posts, it’s clear you are trying to be understanding and compassionate and that you care about your husband very much.
that’s a question only he might be able to answer. But if I can take a stab at it myself, I think you may be onto something.
He was a small-town boy who was more of a shy, studious type…so his first girlfriend dumping him out of the blue may have blindsided him unexpectedly.
He may have wondered why (which is natural) and wanted another chance, but she wasn’t interested.
Sometimes people miss the ones who hurt them the most, although it makes no sense.
Limerent Emeritus says
If you want to keep pulling strings, check out
Be warned, there are a lot of strings you can pull. Tug on one and several more can appear.
Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t.
Do you have a more or less clearly defined goal here? Having a goal can held focus your efforts and, more important, can help you decide when to stop looking and quit.
You can learn a lot pulling these kind of strings but they can take you places that you had no idea you’d be going to and have can have some nasty unintended consequences.
Nobody wants to know about their partner’s inner life. Probably best for the partner to withhold the information. No need to tackle anything.
Limerent Emeritus says
“Nobody wants to know about their partner’s inner life. Probably best for the partner to withhold the information. No need to tackle anything.”
I disagree with this one. If someone’s partner’s inner life is spilling out and causing problems in the relationship, it’s fair game.
It’s the person with the baggage’s problem to deal with but the partner has a right to know what he/she is up against so they can make an informed decision about the relationship.
Whatever direction that takes. Based on some posters on LwL, limerence has contributed to more than one relationship/marriage dissolving.
“It’s the person with the baggage’s problem to deal with but the partner has a right to know what he/she is up against so they can make an informed decision about the relationship.”
Agree with this, but having someone else lurking in your psyche should be shared before one gets seriously involved with someone.
And there’s no point in being married if you aren’t sharing your in life.
Limerent Emeritus says
“Agree with this, but having someone else lurking in your psyche should be shared before one gets seriously involved with someone.”
Unless they surface after you think you’ve put them behind you. Whether you were significant in their life or not, there are people in your life that you’ll never forget. There just are. Some people have more effect on you than others.
My wife knew LO #2 was lurking in the background and felt threatened by her. She thought I’d dump her and go back to LO #2. My wife doesn’t know that I did that once and she never will. My wife said that she thought I wasn’t over her and felt like she was second choice. We’ve covered that ground before and I don’t know how many of my posts on LwL deal with getting to the root of that and fixing it.
You can honestly think they’re in the past but pull the right triggers and they come roaring back into your head with a vengeance. DrL covers why that be in multiple blogs.
You assume people are a lot more self-aware than they actually are. When it comes to navigating through life, they’re not charting a path through forest, they’re living day-to-day dodging trees.
“You assume people are a lot more self-aware than they actually are. ”
Didn’t you say you got married within a year of it ending with LO#2? Surely you must have known she may have been still lurking. And you have to understand I’m pushing 50. By 50, people should have some self awareness.
“You can honestly think they’re in the past but pull the right triggers and they come roaring back into your head with a vengeance.”
They shouldn’t be pulling you back in from 10, 15, 20 years ago unless you are contacting them, allowing them to contact you or asking about them from mutual acquaintances/checking up on them on Facebook, etc. Let sleeping dogs lie. And beware the former LO who is suddenly single and trying to recycle. Don’t let ego obscure what is really happening.
“My wife doesn’t know that I did that once and she never will. ”
That is why I broke it off with soon-to-be divorced guy. He was all over the map. He was playing both of us, and he was not going to end up by himself. Thank goodness my limerence had faded so I could see him clearly. Wife dumped him. I dumped him, but there was probably another one waiting in the wings. 🙂
Limerent Emeritus says
“Didn’t you say you got married within a year of it ending with LO#2? Surely you must have known she may have been still lurking.”
One more time since this story is buried somewhere else… tl/dr
Nope. I assumed LO #2 was gone. From the time LO #2 came back the last time until the final goodbye was about 4 months. I don’t think we even so much as shook hands.
Queue up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORarKBSplwI – “Moonlighting”(1987)
5 minutes after LO #2 learned I was dating my future wife, she came on to me. We were in my living room. She didn’t slap me, we didn’t make it to the floor, and the “Be My Baby” wasn’t playing in the background, but we were moving in that direction. Then, she came out with the immortal, “If I sleep with you now, you’ll own me, again.” Not, “I love you.” Not, “I’m sorry.” Not, “Can we talk about this?” She cut right to the chase. It’s hard to believe LO #2 could be so forthright and so clueless at the same time. One of my goals prior to meeting my wife was to see if I could LO #2 back in the rack, just to see if I could. I got close enough. I didn’t have to consummate it.
I told her, “Neither of us wants that” and I asked LO #2 to leave. My eventual wife was visiting her folks. She called shortly after LO #2 left and said she wanted to come home the next to be with me. For the record, my wife knew LO #2 and I were still seeing each other. When my wife made that call, we hadn’t been dating a month, she’d broken two dates, and we hadn’t slept together. The jury was still out but I knew if slept with LO #2 that night, I’d have ended any chance I had with my wife. It was one of the best decision I ever made. But, I sometimes wonder how my life would have been different if I had slept with LO #2 then. It may have been a life-defining moment, but until I can afford Fantasy Island or I get a shot at doing the Jimmy Stewart, “It’s a Wonderful Life” experience, I’ll never know. I told LO #2 that my wife knew LO #2 was there and if she asked if anything ever happened, I wouldn’t have to lie to my wife.
When I saw LO #2 for the last time, the first thing out of her mouth was, “I have the feeling you’re telling me goodbye.” She knew when I asked her to leave that night that it wasn’t if, it was when. “When” came in less than two weeks.
I never contacted LO #2 and, for 25 years, she never contacted me. And, then I got a friend request from LO #2. I don’t know if the FB request was an accident or not. I told my wife when I got it. She asked if I was curious. I told her very but there was only one way to find out and asked her if she was willing to assume that risk. Some things are best left alone. My wife looked at me a second and said, “No,” so I deleted the request. I haven’t heard from her since and I doubt that I ever will. LO #2 and I aren’t together for very good reasons. I have a therapist-reviewed list of them. On those rare occasions now when I want to rose color nostalgia, I refer back to it. It’s also one of the reasons I’m still here. Too much reality on LwL.
I asked LO #2 to marry me two years before I met my wife. There was no choice to be made. When I had a choice between them, I chose my wife. She wasn’t second, she was first.
As for the short duration between meeting my wife and getting married; after 5 years with LO #2, I didn’t know what a good relationship was. But, I sure as hell knew what one wasn’t. It wasn’t how my wife made me feel that told me she was different, it was how she didn’t make me feel.
As for pulling me back. My wife and I went through some serious times in the marriage. I’m talking a $600 consultation with the best divorce shark in town and the counselor at the county crisis center telling me he’d sign an affidavit I could take to a judge recommending I get sole custody of the kids and she get supervised visitation serious. Our marriage and her kids being on the line serious. And, unlike LO #2, my wife didn’t run when things looked bleak, she got her stuff together and fought for us. I told her as long as she fought for herself, I’d fight along side her. But, if she didn’t fight for herself, I was taking her kids and leaving.
I started revisiting a lot of my life choices during that period. If LO #2 had sent that FB friend request 2-3 years earlier, things could have played out entirely differently. She might have given me all the incentive I needed to pull the plug. But, LO #2 didn’t send it then and I didn’t pull the plug.
Personally, I think it’s irrelevant if you aren’t seeing or dating the person. If another person is parked in your psyche/heart, it’s not a good idea to date someone else seriously. It’s ok to have some space between people and take some time to process. Or to date casually. But that’s me. I would steer clear of anyone who was just out of something serious and pushing for something serious. Soon-to-be-divorced guy was on his SECOND divorce. I’m sure he overlapped second wife with first wife. Was trying to overlap me with second wife. I’m just glad, as I said, the limerence had faded by then.
Limerent Emeritus says
I think you and I are going around in circles again.
You telling me how you think it should be and I’m telling you how it was for me.
I think we beat this one to death.
That’s an engineering versus artistic-type brain for you.
Limerent Emeritus says
“That’s an engineering versus artistic-type brain for you.”
Yep, reality vs fantasy.
Thanks to both of you for your kind, thoughtful replies! I’m grateful to have found this place. Although it doesn’t completely apply to my own situation, there’s a lot of insight here.
I’m with Marcia on the Facebook issue. With limerents (and former limerents) social media can be a tricky animal.
Avoiding triggers is part of the healing process. We can’t move forward if we keep looking back. I understand where you’re coming from too, LE. I hope you continue to work through the process and that your wife feels loved in spite of this issue.
Being second choice isn’t fair to anyone…and with women, it can make us feel like we aren’t pretty enough or worthy enough (even if that isn’t true).
Just some insight into how your wife might feel. She wants to be the only lady in your life. She doesn’t want to feel like only half of your heart belongs to her.
It’s true that there are people who make an impression. The reasons for this could be numerous. But what helped me was realizing that at the end of the day, they are simply human beings. They have flaws just like anybody else.
Idealizing them is unhealthy, especially once you’ve married a different person. You have to ask yourself what is so special about him or her?
That’s probably how your wife feels…and that’s kind of the same with what I believe about my husband, too.
It makes a person doubt how real the marriage/relationship is if a LO is hanging around (either physically or in your mind).
That can make a person feel like they should’ve remained single, so they wouldn’t be second choice.
I’m an “all or nothing” kind of girl.
“I’m an “all or nothing” kind of girl.”
I can do super casual, and you can come over for an hour a week. 🙂 If that’s the case, I don’t care if you are hung up on someone else. But if we are moving into something serious, it seems disingenuous and self-serving to move forward while keeping me in the dark about the other party.
Also, I just want to be clear…our marriage isn’t in trouble from what I can see. But since last month, when he made the hypothetical comment about the high school sweetheart, then his mom telling me about the pain the girl caused him, there’s been this weird tension between us.
I don’t think he has ever talked to the ex-girlfriend since we’ve been married. She moves around the country because of her husband’s job, from what I know, and she didn’t attend their most recent class reunion in 2008.
So I don’t know if he has ever contacted her via Facebook or if she’s ever reached out to him. It might just be a case of wanting somebody from afar, but that ship sailed more than 30 years ago.
I mostly don’t think I have anything to worry about when it comes to her. It seems to be harmless, unrequited love for the most part…a schoolboy fantasy from a time that is long gone, about a girl who is now a completely different person.
Although him having thoughts of her does irritate me a bit, she’s not a threat.
Limerent Emeritus says
“But since last month, when he made the hypothetical comment about the high school sweetheart, then his mom telling me about the pain the girl caused him, there’s been this weird tension between us…Although him having thoughts of her does irritate me a bit, she’s not a threat.”
So, then, what’s the goal? If she’s not a threat, are you just going to let things go and see if the tension dissipates? Are you going to put the antennae up and look for indicators? Doing that without him knowing it takes a lot of finesse. What will you do if you see any?
What’s the plan?
No specific plan in mind, LE…more like “sit back and observe”. So like you said, just see if the tension dissipates.
I’m just trying to play it cool for a while. After 12 years of marriage, it’s interesting to see how complex he can be…although he tries to hide that part of himself.
Limerent Emeritus says
One of the side effects of limerence is that now she’s not only inside his head, she’s inside yours. At least, for awhile.
You are spot on with that statement, LE. What bothers me is that she is now living in MY head rent-free.
I am now doubting whether his love is the real deal. Or if I have to settle for being with somebody who might only partly love me, but his heart and mind belong to a ghost from the past.
And although she is no threat, it bothers me because (like I said above) I can’t see anything so wonderful about her.
I know that sounds unkind but it’s true. I now find myself making comparisons with a woman I’ve never met.
I’m 14 years younger than she is, a lot prettier, a loving wife…but now I feel like I will always be in the shadow of this ex-girlfriend from the 1980’s.
It’s not said but I can feel it.
On some level I suspect that this may be why he was basically a serial dater before he met me. Maybe in his mind, no woman can live up to her. I have looked at pictures and even a video of her, trying to see what it is.
I simply don’t see it at all. Some people do have an effect/impression like you said, but with her…I just don’t see it.
This is not somebody that most people would look twice at. Very plain-looking, dull personality from what I’ve seen in video and what I’ve heard, nothing that would explain the attraction (or his subconscious judging her against all other women).
I know that sometimes there is more than meets the eye. I hope I don’t sound too shallow. But to hold on to a long-dead memory/fantasy when he has a wife that many men would like to have, is an insult to me.
Limerent Emeritus says
“On some level I suspect that this may be why he was basically a serial dater before he met me. Maybe in his mind, no woman can live up to her.”
You can go there. But, I don’t recommend it. There are some questions you don’t want to hear the answers to. You can spend a lot of time going down this alley but you may not be any better off if you do. In the short term, she’ll take up more head space, not less. The longer you take her with you, the harder it will be to get rid of her.
‘I hope I don’t sound too shallow. But to hold on to a long-dead memory/fantasy when he has a wife that many men would like to have, is an insult to me.”
Totally understandable. What you feel is legitimate. He’s called a whole lot of things into question and it shakes your foundation? It’s not fair. It would be surprising if it didn’t hurt. It shows you have self-respect and self-worth. Those are good things and he’s shaken them.
You’re confused now, anger and resentment may not be far behind. And, that’s ok. You just need to be careful you don’t do something you’ll regret out of spite.
I wish I had an easy answer to getting her out of your head but at this point, I’m not sure you can. It’s going to take time. How easy it will be is up to you.
Have you considered seeing a pro and talking about this? I’m talking for you, not couples counseling. You may get there but take care of yourself first.
Thanks so much, LE…you seem to really grasp what I’m saying. I try not to obsess about it but it’s just been weeks of feeling this way.
Also, he told me (somewhat guiltily) not to beat myself up with thoughts of her. Well, that’s just it…I didn’t before!
I assumed that she was old news and that I wouldn’t have to compete with her or anybody else.
Maybe I was wrong.
Limerent Emeritus says
“I have looked at pictures and even a video of her, trying to see what it is.
I simply don’t see it at all. Some people do have an effect/impression like you said, but with her…I just don’t see it.
This is not somebody that most people would look twice at. Very plain-looking, dull personality from what I’ve seen in video and what I’ve heard, nothing that would explain the attraction (or his subconscious judging her against all other women).”
This one can drive you flat out bonkers. It doesn’t seem rational and it makes no sense.
I don’t know if you ever read any of my posts where I talk about getting so angry at LO #2 that I almost backhanded her. What led up to that was she was telling me all the things she missed about when we were together. How I made her feel special, how I was there for her when she almost killed a patient, how she never felt attractive or desirable but I always made her feel like she was, how she never worried about where I was or who I was with because I was always where I said I’d be, how when we made love I never held anything back and I put everything I had into it. I should be in the Boyfriend Hall of Fame.
I asked if that was available to her, why was she flying 1000 miles to spend the weekend with the guy who was cheating on her.
She said, “It’s one of those things that feels good in the night but leaves you cold in the morning.” (U2, “I Still Haven’t Found What I Was Looking For”)
I asked the therapist about it. Her theory was that a guy who cheated on her and treated her badly was what she felt she deserved. It wasn’t that I wasn’t good enough for her, in her mind, I was too good for her. The therapist said that went back further and deeper than I could affect. I told the therapist I thought I could turn LO #2. The therapist said if I could have, I would have and I didn’t. The therapist said it’s not that they can’t change, it’s that they usually don’t. They don’t think they have a problem so they don’t do any work.
It’s bad enough when someone causes you to question the life you’ve built together. It’s still sh-tty but with someone who’s prettier, smarter, more successful, whatever, at least there’s an apparently logical reason for it. But, to get flipped for a downgrade? Say what?! No wonder you’re insulted.
That loop is really easy to get stuck in. One of the questions is can you get past it without digging into it? That’s where you may want to consult a pro.
Did any of that help?
You’re looking at your situation too logically, and it doesn’t involve logic. You can do a deep dive into someone’s psyche or childhood, compare your qualities to the “rival” (kind of waste of time in that qualities are subjective), but at the end of the day it’s about feelings, which we cannot control in another person. We cannot elicit feelings in someone else, and sometimes someone is going to affect us more than we affect them. And it’s very painful, but it’s just the way that it is.
Limerent Emeritus says
“You’re looking at your situation too logically, and it doesn’t involve logic.”
That’s pretty presumptuous. People are wired differently. If it works for me, it works for me.
Mine is only one perspective. I post something and people are free to agree with it, disagree with it, or dismiss it entirely.
That’s one of the things that makes LwL so cool.
As much as I wanted to believe that my life was some kind of cosmic grand opera, reality just kept getting in the way. The reality that people I thought should care me didn’t and that I couldn’t influence things and alter outcomes was a bitch. It’s one thing to just relinquish something. It’s another thing to understand why you had to relinquish it. The therapist asked if I regretted LO #2 go. I told her, “No.” Letting LO #2 was the right thing to do. What I regretted was that letting her go was the right thing to do. There’s a difference.
That matters to some people and doesn’t matter to others. It matters to me.
Clip of the Day: “Come Inside My Mind” – Robin Williams (“reality…what a concept,” 1979)
Considering how his life went, this routine is really deep and goes way beyond just being a comedian. It makes you wonder.
Just trying to cut down on the rumination over someone who is out the door, which I have spent far too much time doing. Some people don’t people want you. Some people do. It’s like trying to figure out why a company hired somebody else. You’ll never know.
Limerent Emeritus says
“It’s like trying to figure out why a company hired somebody else. You’ll never know.”
Not true. Sometimes, you do know. Sometimes, they’ll tell you. True, no hiring manager is ever going to tell you that you didn’t get the job because you’re a whack job, you’re kind of a legend in your industry, and your reputation has proceeded you.
Years ago, I applied for a job with the DEA. I came in second. The hiring official said I lost out to a guy from the FBI. He said our technical qualifications were equal. The reasons?
1. He was in law enforcement. I was in a related field but not LE.
2. He was local and I was across the country. They didn’t have to pay to move him but they would have had to pay to move me.
I was qualified but he was more qualified and he came at less cost to them. Makes sense. I’d have made the same decision.
Again, everybody’s different. I was wired to think that there’s almost nothing I couldn’t fix and what little I couldn’t fix, I could find a way to work around. Left uncorrected, that can trap you for a long time. It’s arrogant and kind of narcissistic. As Bowlby said, “But, if it’s true, it’s true.”
It took a lot of time and effort to realize that there were some things that were beyond my capability to fix or alter. There just were. I’ve learned to live with “That’s just the way it is.” Actually, that’s not true. There’s always a reason for “the way it is” but as you pointed out, you may never know what it is.
But I don’t like it and having a possible reason makes it a lot easier for me to accept.
So, what’s preventing you from cutting off the rumination, accepting it, and moving on?
“So, what’s preventing you from cutting off the rumination, accepting it, and moving on?”
I am 75to 80% of the way getting over it and it’s TTMO. Time to move on. It’s funny in that I almost always only talk about /think about the most recent one. Previous people recede into the background. And I will get that way with him.
You know what has really helped? The pandemic. Nothing shows you more who cares about you than a pandemic. And I have lost interest in people (friends, family) who hand out little crumbs. It’s just really shown me how important it is to show up, and the reasons why they do or don’t show up don’t matter.
Limerent Emeritus says
That’s another area where you and I are different.
I crossed paths with LO #2 for 5 years and, for 3 of them, she was the most important person in the world to me. She’ll always have her own chapter in my life’s story. I can’t cover the period from 1983 to 1988 and leave her out of the story. She was the story.
I knew LO #4 almost as long but there was never anything significant until the last year and it didn’t alter my destiny. She’ll never be more than a footnote.
The circumstances were different but LO #4 will never carry the same weight that LO #2 does.
For us, the pandemic was a surreal annoyance. We thrived during the pandemic. Most of the people we know did but it hit some people hard.
“That’s another area where you and I are different.”
Are there any where we are similar? 🙂
“I can’t cover the period from 1983 to 1988 and leave her out of the story. She was the story.”
I certainly get it, but, for me, I just edit the story. I don’t want to be considering someone my story if they only regard their time with me as a footnote. And I don’t think I’ve met someone where we are both each other stories, or we’d still be together.
Limerent Emeritus says
“Are there any where we are similar? 🙂”
We’re both here.
But I won’t be in a few months … ha ha ha …when I am 100% over the last LO (cough, cough … waste of time) and I am preparing for the arrival of Mr. Johnny Depp. JK … he is wealthy and famous. I’m sure he doesn’t date middle-aged women. 🙂
Limerent Emeritus says
Only 162 shopping days until Xmas!
Haven’t bought a Christmas present in years.
uncertainty is the biggest trigger that keeps my limerence alive. That is why I always i absulutely must be rejected to be told it to my face.
I had mutual limerence with married man. One day he vanished. I dont need to discribe any of you the entire proccess of my withdrawal. I “knew” that i need a closure. 3 weeks of excrutiating inner pain I connected him. To my surprise he answered me immidiately that his wife became very sick and he has to be with her and it has nothing to do with me.
I assume when his wife got sick the entire affair fog was brushed off him and he realized what is his priority in his life and what is a right thing to do. He does not love his wife romantically, but he loves his kids to death and just devoted to his family completely, so it is understandable that he is with them duruing hard period.
I am saying that our limerence was mutual because looking it at weeks later after it stopped I can see that his behavour was very much under influance of “affair fog”.
Anyways there are 2 things I want to tell others who did not have the same experience but want to know what it is to have it mutually and does closure helps?
1 it is amazing at the beggining but you will fall on the ground eventually.
2 “closure” helped me for 5 min. I felt so much relief, like a huge stone was moved off my chest.
But later on everything was back. Same pain, same longing.
This article is correct : closure is an illusion and you have to find it inside of you.
Allie 1 says
This post absolutely nails how I am feeling right now. When single, I have disclosed to other (also single) LOs before and the in-your-face, undeniable rejection really helped me move on, hence the urge to disclose is very strong right now. For all the reasons listed in this post and more. Oh to be free of uncertainty! But I must not do this.. again, for all the reasons listed in this post, and because it would be wrong of me to force that conversation on my LO.
It is so true that real closure can only come from within, no-one else can give it to me. I think it was Vincent that suggested that I can create my own closure narrative, whatever best fits the facts. I can say it to myself with more conviction and certainty than LO would ever be able to do in a real life super-awkward
conversation. e.g. “I loved him and he loved me… he is a good man so was not able to be with me… he needs to keep his distance for both our sakes… it was a forbidden love and that’s why we couldn’t speak of it… if circumstances were different then maybe… but they are not and never will be. It is time to move on.”.
Amongst the sadness and pain of withdrawal, I can at least find some comfort in that.
Hi Allie – yes that worked for me in the end, alongside NC. I needed to get to that level of acceptance that me and LO weren’t meant to be, but also that I wasn’t crazy to imagine that there was something there.
It helped me to discuss the relationship with other people who were witness to it. I remember comments like “Oh she was besotted with you” or “the way she used to look at you….” were really comforting to me. Her friend also told me directly that she would have taken things further if I wasn’t married.
I used that to help craft the narrative that we both clearly had feelings for each other, and whilst mine were probably more intense than hers, it wasn’t one sided. Any relationship would have been highly inappropriate and neither of us were willing to go that far, which was ultimately the right decision.
It’s like a tragic love story and that’s ok.
Hi all – thank you for all the posts and to Dr L for this site. So so helpful.
The illusion of closure has been a real challenge for me with my LE. I don’t like loose ends or unclear communication. Long standing self esteem issues mean I find the concept difficult that my LO is out there and doesn’t like me/thinks I’m a fruit loop after having a very close friendship (that turned limerent for me – which I disclosed to LO with a communicated desire for NC). Like many of those that posted here – closure for me is coming from within ME – not from seeking some sort of reassurance etc from my LO (that will never come). Anyway, in addition to helpful journaling and this amazing site and using some Acceptance Commitment Therapy approaches – I tried a strategy that seemed to help last night. I used my creative energy to write myself a letter from the perspective of my LO. It definitely seems to have helped – and felt I was further defusing the LE. Anyway thought I would share in case anyone else wanted to give it a whirl and see if it helps / or if anyone had tried the approach (apologies if someone has already posted this type of approach)