Life is full of conflicting desires.
We love cakes, but want to be lean and healthy. We like excitement and we also like security. We crave novelty, and seek the nostalgia of the familiar. We fear loss, but know we sometimes have to let things go. Wisdom is all about balancing these conflicting desires.
One approach to balance is to let your mood take you where it will. When you feel a need that is unfulfilled, you meet it. Crave a cake? Off to the cafe! Miss your mum? Give her a call (if you can). Hear about someone in need? Donate to charity. Upset with your spouse? Argue with them, or go out with your friends.
Following an instinctive lifestyle like this will bring a sort of balance. Your mood will swing back and forth as you react to your emotions, but it will probably average out so that you generally don’t feel too deprived or too gluttonous. You basically trust to the wisdom of your feelings to lead you to what you need, and deal with the consequences as they come.
Many people live this way. They may say that they don’t, but looking at their behaviour will show that they actually do. These are the type of people who say things like “I don’t know what came over me,” or “I just wasn’t thinking.” Indeed, I think most people behave like this most of the time. It’s largely our default setting as humans.
The downside to this lifestyle is pretty obvious. Your choices are dictated by your emotions, which can be capricious, unpredictable and self-destructive. If you react in the moment without thinking ahead, the consequences of your actions can quickly spiral out of control.
The opposite to an instinctive approach to life is to think and plan carefully before making any decision or taking any action. In this scenario, the goal is to resist unwelcome desires, resist temptation, and be strict about your conduct and your behaviour. From this perspective, emotions are a disruptive element that can derail you from the intellectual pursuit of rational goals. Indeed, for people who live in this more calculated way, feelings are treated with suspicion, or even disdained as weakness.
This can also lead to a form of balance. Our intellects constrain our emotional fickleness, protecting us from disaster, but also limiting our prospects of triumph (especially romantic). Slow and steady, straight down the middle, rather than swinging between extremes.
The downside to this lifestyle is also pretty obvious. You end up living a rather bloodless, flat life – in the worst excess, a kind of monastic rigidity.
Also, we’re not actually all that good at making rational, intellectual decisions. Even by trying to optimise rationality, we can end up making bad decisions because of incomplete data, or the stubborn insistence that we do things that run against our true nature (and therefore make us unhappy).
So, which is better?
This dilemma of how to live well is of course a central preoccupation of art and philosophy. One of the most memorable and evocative examples for me is Narcissus and Goldmund by Herman Hesse. It follows two friends who meet as novices in a monastery, but end up living vastly different lives. Goldmund strays from the monastery into the outer world (which seems, conveniently for the plot, to be mostly populated by libidinous women) in which he immerses himself in sensual pleasure and creativity, living a spontaneous and instinctive life. Narcissus, meanwhile, remains within the cloister, living a life of thought and contemplation and rising to the position of Abbot. The friends are reunited as old men and reflect on how their two lives have led to enlightenment through different routes.
It’s one of those books that reflects your own prejudices back at you. Some read it as a exhortation to embrace nature and be fully alive to your artistic sensibility, others read it as a warning that a dissolute life leads inevitably to physical and spiritual decline. I read it as a bittersweet lesson that neither lifestyle leads to true fulfilment. Goldmund ends up aged and alone, no longer able to attract his latest limerent object (not Hesse’s words, obviously – my applied perspective), and facing execution with little to show for a life of selfish abandon. Narcissius has wisdom and status, but has not known love or passion in his calm and dutiful life.
Getting the balance right
For me, the appropriate response to this dilemma is to be wary of the two lifestyle extremes. The way to find useful balance is to understand yourself and where your emotional centre lies between the instinctive and the intellectual. What weighting between rationality and passion do you favour? The correct balance will vary with time, experience, responsibilities and health too. We can afford to be more instinctive in youth as we open ourselves to new experiences, but then take a more calculated approach when we have children and careers to manage. Given all these potential options, we again come back to the starting problem: how do we deal with conflicting desires? This is where my enthusiasm for purposeful living comes in.
The heart of purposeful living is understanding yourself properly. What is the emotional foundation to your identity? Where did that come from? Can you build on that foundation to achieve the things that matter to you in life? Having an honest sense of who you are is the basis of emotional stability – the way to both predict and satisfy the “instinctive” drives in your life.
But then, the next stage of purposeful living is knowing who you want to be and what you want to achieve. What kind of person do you admire? What do you need to work on to improve yourself and move closer to that ideal? What habits and limiting beliefs are holding you back?
That combination of honest acceptance of your true nature, and an aspirational ideal life that you can steer towards, gives you the best chance of thriving. You are more attuned to your instinctive desires and aware of where they are coming from, and you can use your intellectual focus to decide when those instincts serve your purpose and when they threaten it. When presented with conflicting desires, having a clear purpose, a clear guiding principle, gives you a direction to follow.
To move from the abstract to the concrete: I am an introvert that likes to help people. My instinctive response led me into limerence for a woman that I wanted to rescue (whether she needed it or not), because my wiring and life history meant she glimmered for me. Following that instinct led to bad consequences for me and my family.
In contrast, after I had done the work of understanding why I had such a profound emotional response to my LO, I realised that I could help others in the same situation by blogging about the experience. Albeit pseudonymously.
So, taking that emotional impulse to help others and passing it through the intellectual filter of my values and goals, allowed me to find a purposeful outlet for the emotions. I get to feel good about helping people, without jeopardising the relationships I care most about. That’s what purposeful means for me: doing something worthwhile, that is emotionally fulfilling, and aligns with my core values and principles.
The real skill when confronted with conflicting desires, of course, is to let go of the ones that conflict with your purpose. Developing the ability to accept that you can’t have everything, and focus on deciding what you really want, is the surest way of finding peace.
Again, purposeful living helps. If you are generally working towards a goal you value highly, and living in a way that leaves you feeling fulfilled, able to respect yourself, and in healthy relationships with others, it’s a lot easier to cope with emotional conflict when it arrives.
If your life is purposeful, the fear of missing out on other opportunities, different lives, new people, new sensations, decreases. It’s when we feel lost that we most desperately seek a new direction.
The grass may be greener on the other side of the fence, but the wise response is to remember that the fence is there for a good reason, and if you tend your own lawn with care, it will grow verdant and lush.
Thanks again DRL for another great post. Just to let you and our community know this total NC thing works. I was semi no contact until this last relapse and then I found this community and this blog. After reading the posts/comments and taking the Emergency deprogramming course I pledged to myself to go total ~ I mean total NC. It was tough for about four weeks and now it seems to be better each day. I am a man of faith so I pray daily that I will find total peace and believe prays are being answered.
Per your advise I forgave myself and then ask God to forgive me and I feel forgiven and well on my way to a A purposeful life.
I hope these words will encourage someone to dig deep and be free.
Thanks again for this community.
That’s great to hear, Mike. Congrats on how far you’ve come – that relief of tasting freedom is great, isn’t it?
Dr L, just a little query (hope you don’t mind, do feel free to not to answer as it is personal) but do you have religious leanings or follow a faith? Thanks.
No. I am an atheist. I think I am coming to understand the value of faith better as I grow older, but I don’t believe myself.
Hermann Hesse was one of my favorite authors on HS. My favorite is “Beneath The Wheel.” But, I was 17 or 18 years old.
I know I read “Siddhartha,” “Demian,” & “Steppenwolf,” but don’t remember much about them.
N&G is the only Hesse I’ve read, which now strikes me as surprising given how powerful I found it. Steppenwolf is probably his most well known; maybe I should use this post as a spur to go and pick up a copy…
If you like Hesse, you might like Guy de Maupassant. When it comes to understanding relationships, de Maupassant is nothing short of phenomenal.
There’s a passage in “Bel Ami” where he describes the protagonist beating his mistress along with the dialogue in such detail that I’d bet he witnessed his father beating his mother.
I grabbed a copy of “Steppenwolf” from my daughter’s bookcase and started reading it. I’m about 80 pages in but I don’t think I’ll finish it.
“In the preface to the novel’s 1960 edition, Hesse wrote that Steppenwolf was “more often and more violently misunderstood” than any of his other books. Hesse felt that his readers focused only on the suffering and despair that are depicted in Harry Haller’s life, thereby missing the possibility of transcendence and healing.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steppenwolf_(novel)) It’s easy to miss. Paragraphs are tedious, condescending, and hard to follow. There are no real chapters so it’s one long slog to get through. There aren’t many logical places to stop. Sometimes, it’s like you almost want to hand the Steppenwolf the gun yourself so he stops droning on.
That passage went on to say the misunderstanding stemmed from that the book is intended for the middle aged but often ended up in the hands of younger people. There’s an allusion to N&G in it but you’d have to be aware of N&G to know that. N&G came out the following year.
In my early 20s, I thought of myself as kind of a Steppenwolf. Both my parents were dead by the time I was 23 and I have no siblings. The only person you can really depend on is yourself. But, I didn’t like it and didn’t want to be consigned to it. I wanted someone to care about me and give me a reason to come home. Like the Steppenwolf, I found redemption in a woman, LO #2. She showed me happiness was possible and I liked it. Between the wolf and the man, no doubt the man was better.
“Hermine promises a second meeting, and provides Harry with a reason to live (or at least a substantial excuse to continue living) that he eagerly embraces.” – (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steppenwolf_(novel))
Where I once identified with the Steppenwolf, now, I don’t like him. He despises the bourgeoisie and they don’t think much of him. But, he’a jerk. I don’t recommend reading it. Like Hesse says, “Not for everybody.”
Another fabulous post, another great cat picture. Thank you very much! I too enjoyed Hesse as a youth! Now to figure out who I am and who I want to be …. and what to tweak so my life becomes more verdant and lush.
But first, I am determined to be more self-aware so as to enjoy the marvelous things blossoming right here in plain sight in my existing life!
”Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire; this is also vanity and vexation of spirit .” Ecclesiastes 6:9.
“Vanity and vexation of the spirit” – sounds like a really good definition of limerence!
@Esperanza…I thought so too! 🙂
Yet another post that I’m going to have to re-read a couple times, because it seems applicable to my situation in a number of ways. I’ve come to a very weird time in my now year-long-plus LO. I’m now at a point where I’ve gotten what I want (well, what part of me wants) and am somewhat stumbling forward.
Essentially, LC and staged withdrawal has worked. I guess? I haven’t heard from LO in 11 days… including when I reached out to her 9 days ago, which she never responded to (which isn’t altogether uncommon for her, I’ve mentioned she’s flaky and can be oblivious). There was nothing odd, fractious, or awkward about the last couple interactions we had. The only thing odd about them is that they indeed were the last ones. I have, for the most part, stopped reaching out to her for several months now. Maybe once or twice a month at most. She on the other hand, normally doesn’t go more than 3 or 4 days, a week at the most, without reaching out to me. But now we’re not far off from two weeks, and nothing. LO and I haven’t had an actual one on one conversation on any substantive level in… I don’t know how long, better part of a month, could be a lot longer. I’ve done my best to stop cataloging such things.
You have to remember, she sits about 30 feet from me, across the hall. It’s almost more difficult for us not to run into each other, if only by accident. I’ve never disclosed to her, even a little. She doesn’t know what’s been going on “behind the scenes” (so to speak) this whole time. I’ve never asked her not to talk to me, nor really given her direct indication that I don’t want her to.
So, here I am, effective NC. And I’m confused by where it’s left me. I don’t have the obsessive longing that I see a lot of you guys describe, but she’s still in my head. Not as much as she once was, but I still think about her several times a day. It isn’t the “why wasn’t I good enough to persue” thoughts I was expecting, but a closely related set of “how could she discard me? What happened to her interest in me?”. This isn’t driving me to do stupid things like it might have a few months ago, no it’s mostly just a resigned, if depressed, acceptance. Even if this is what I know I need, it’s not what I want.
I recognize that it’s the height of hypocrisy to wonder how she could abandon my friendship when I’ve mostly abandoned hers (the difference being she isn’t fighting limerence, at least not so far as I know). I also realize it’s totally nonsensical and illogical to be upset that she has “left” me when I wanted nothing more than to get her out of my head.
It’s a very weird place to be. The next time I see a message from her light up my phone, assuming that happens, what will I do? I don’t know. Even worse, the next time she walks into my room (which will happen, even if it’s not to talk to me), how will I act? How will I feel? All the purposeful planning in the world may prepare me for how to act, but not for how I’ll feel.
I never really wanted LO to go away. I wanted these unwanted feelings for her to go away. Maybe LO turns out to be not nearly so special when the limerence fades (or so I keep hearing), and I won’t care much that she’s gone… but I am not so sure about that. I am quite positive that once upon a time there certainly was something there between us, whatever it was. In retrospect, it was probably just the beginnings of actual friendship (before limerence reared its head), however that is still something that seems tragic to have successfully snuffed out.
Hi Jackson. In a fairly similar situation and phase of limerence to you. I’m luckier in the fact she is on the floor below in the office making LC a bit easier. I am going through / have gone through a similar transition to you. No longer do I chase, feel the anxiety but it has turned into depression and moderate to say the least. I dare say it’s more comfortable this way. There is no more of that constant electricity running through you. Super intrusive thoughts are just finished off by ones worthlessness. It’s almost like depression is the ultimate weapon against the limerent side of your brain.
The tragic aspect too, definitely tricky to wrap your head around. Limerent inspired or not there is still no one who I genuinely would do anything for. When I wish them a happy weekend I meant it and would do anything just to catch up with them and see how they are. For all the bad in the world and myself there is something that feels wholesome and selfless about these feelings which isn’t half tragic to have to snuff out. The best way so far is to say look I have the feelings above, genuine or not. Maybe you don’t want these feelings applied to you now, so I won’t be around for now. But in 10 days, 10 months or 10 years time if you need a friend I’ll be there. Again I appreciate what’s inspiring what I’m saying above and in 10 years time I’ll be like ‘yeah whatever who are you’ but you’re talking to a guy who wrote a suicide note last week and if thinking this way has given me some comfort and has bought me some time then so be it. Lesser of two evils is the understatement of the century.
Hi there, I can definitely identify with what you are going through when you wrote: “For all the bad in the world and myself there is something that feels wholesome and selfless about these feelings which isn’t half tragic to have to snuff out.”
When my LE started, I was already on the path into a deep depression although I didn’t really realize how bad it was and thought I could climb out on my own. I really didn’t care about anyone or anything anymore and nothing excited or interested me. It really scared me. And then suddenly my LO came along and I saw a glimpse of good in the world and felt myself smiling and laughing authentically again and even crying, as opposed to just faking it. The feeling of actually being interested in and caring about someone and feeling that in return was amazing. It was like someone turned the light switch on and suddenly the world had color again.
Don’t forget that you are capable of having wholesome and selfless beautiful feelings towards others. You saw that you were capable about caring about someone or something again, and you can get back there and find the right people to direct these feelings towards.
Although I was aware that I was using the LE to self-medicate and felt terribly guilty about it, I accepted it for a while as a lesser of two evils and did what I could to learn from it. Tragic things happen in life, don’t beat yourself up about your LE too much.
It sounds like you realized during your LE that you are capable about caring about someone or something again. I hope that you realize that you can get back to that point again. It also sounds like you are feeling really depressed now, so please take care of yourself by finding someone to confide in. We’re here for you, so keep posting and getting it off your shoulders.
Discarded and worthless, pretty much sums up my feelings.
I also feel bouts of depression and sometimes think purposeful living can take a flying jump!
So today my LO showed up out of the blue with his SO in towe. I had already organised to meet a girlfriend so couldn’t back out without explaining why, it’s unusual for him to show up on a Monday, he rarely does. First positive, my heart didn’t lunge nor beat out of my chest when I saw his car, I was quite calm but a little nervous. It took every ounce of will power to greet them with a friendly smile (no chit-chat) before moving to sit with my friend. It was tense, but I persevered and ignored their group while chatting to my friend. We left first, I said goodbye and walked off, my friend did ask if anything was wrong as she noted I was friendly but frosty to LO.
I had to hang around waiting for a shop to open so I could pick up a gift I had ordered but I stayed away from LO. I did notice in my peripheral vision that he walked past me twice, I ignored him. He then left the mall and sat in his car which was parked next to the exit doors for half an hour (I could see his car in the window reflection) before he drove off. This is very unusual behaviour for him.
Now I could be overthinking this but I felt it was a test by his SO to see how I’d react in his presence since not seeing him for 9 weeks. His “hanging” around was another tests to see if I’d interact with her husband. The old me would’ve trotted up to him and chatted to him, the old me would’ve joined the group while waiting for the shop to open.
I didn’t , quite proud of myself.
You’re overthinking this.
Yeah I think so too. Remember your perception changes so much when in the fog. We project so much more into these things than are actually there. It was most probably nothing… Well done for your reaction though.
I felt like LO would do stuff on purpose… Convince myself actually but now I can see clearly it was more than likely my head distorting reality.
Thanks, I needed to hear that. It’s actually comforting, sometimes my brain runs away without me!!
I used to think LO avoided places I was becuase he was in to much pain to see me… I actually found out that he was working on a new thing and he had to start early. I felt like a idiot but was a little wake up call… It’s hard to not overthink and analyse things.
Well, I think you deserve a round of applause! You handled things beautifully and while you may never know the reason for his behaviour the important thing is that you don’t care! Right? 😉
Just focus on your success, and may there be many more as you break free.
Jaideux, Scharnhorst said “It doesn’t matter” because if you say you don’t care you still do 😂
I’ve got that one up my sleeve for next time……it doesn’t matter anymore, I like it.
“I don’t care” is an OK sentiment but it’s passive. It doesn’t do much for you.
‘It doesn’t matter” is empowering. You’re driving the bus. Caring is irrelevant. Caring is a battle you don’t have to fight. In WWII, the US reclaimed much of the Pacific by “island hopping.” They didn’t land on every island, they took back the strategic ones and isolated the rest to die on the vine. The Germans didn’t attack through the Maginot Line, they went around it. Once you’re far enough past them, caring resolves itself.
You dismiss and transcend them. Leave them behind. LOs are expendable. Many LOs are unaware of things so they’ll never know. And you’re better off without the ones that know and keep you in the game when they shouldn’t.
Easier said than done but the payoff can be big. Empowerment spills over into other areas of your life.
Vicarious Limerent says
@ AboutAGirl, I am worried about you when you say you wrote a suicide note. Are you in a better place now? Is there someone you can talk to about your feelings? This is obviously trite, but no one is worth ending your life over. It may seem hopeless now, but I am sure we will all get through this and be in a better place in the future. Everything I have read about limerence says it eventually goes away. I read on another site that it generally goes away after 3-36 months (in my case, I am hoping for the shorter end – especially since I am nearing the three month mark). Take care of yourself and try to find some activities that will take your mind off your LO (I know, easier said than done, but it does help). Remember we are all here for you!
I too am feeling quite depressed, and I have actually been in touch with two EAP counsellors to try to get some help with my depression (I believe I was depressed before my LO walked into my life; she was just an escape from the other very real problems I was and am still facing). I am not sure if I ever really had highs when it came to my LE because I hardly know my LO and wasn’t really in contact with her. There was always a certain despair because I knew my LO was off limits to me (I am married). She never reciprocated and there was no contact other than a short period of being her friend on Facebook. Still, I continue to fantasize about being with her and I suppose that part is nice; I believe that is what’s keeping my LE going if I am honest with myself. I always say this has been an entirely negative experience, but I do enjoy the fantasies. But I am beginning to realize those need to stop if I am ever to recover from this.
Hopefully I’m not spamming by submitting this twice – I think the page crashed last time. Thank you so much for creating this site – it’s wonderful to be reminded that there are so many people out there with our neural wirings.
I came here to recommend this phenomenal article/extensive piece on the psychology behind limerence, which has truly helped me overcome my most recent (and worst) episode:
I’m now in a healthy and exciting real relationship and, though I don’t want to jinx it, I’m experiencing the first few limerence-free months of my life. I’m content and optimistic, rather than manic and suicidal. It’s all been down to me addressing the root cause and my unhealed wounds.
I also really recommend messaging the author of the article directly if you want some extra help/tips, as she’s always replied to me and has provided me with some expert insights into my own issues.
The limerence subreddit is also comforting, but please don’t spend too long on there – it’s like a stagnant puddle of limerents in the delusional phase and can worsen your state.
Now that I’m in a relationship that doesn’t involve intermittent reward or me having the person on a pedestal, I cant BELIEVE the insanity of my last limerent episode. The concept that I spent every day crying over what was essentially a fantasy bond/whether or not my LO had viewed my Instagram story is just absurd to me! All a lesson, though. Never again!
Hey SerialLimGirl I have also read Lucy’s blogs before and too found them really helpful. It can be debilitatingly lonely being a gay female and unrequitedly limerent, the usual story is about a boy and girl who have reciprocation on some level (at work, at the gym, married with kids etc- which is fine), or a narcissistic limerent taking over an unsuspecting vulnerable soft hearted person. This blog, and Lucy’s blogs are pretty much all there is out there to help people like me, so thank you. Thank you for being a lifeline in this misery, and I hope from the bottom of my heart other people (esp gay women/men find this blog and read it, because it’s genuinely a comfort and a small step towards a better life.
Vicarious Limerent says
Another excellent post. I certainly am dealing with conflicting desires at the moment. I actually feel like I am being torn in three directions at once: (1) the desire to stay with my wife and work on my marriage; (2) the desire to leave my wife and pursue my LO; and (3) the desire to leave my wife and try to meet someone else. I have recently begun to realize that even if my marriage ends I don’t necessarily have to be alone. I keep telling myself I have options and choices. I also tell myself I don’t have to try to make my marriage work forever before pulling the plug. I realize I have very little chance of landing my LO even if my marriage is over, but she at least alerted me to the type of woman I think I would like to be with if my marriage does end.
The problem is I do love my wife. I don’t want to leave her, but the thought of being together with her for the rest of my life often seems bleak, unappealing and boring. Frankly, she is just not going to let me have the type of life I want, and I no longer even think we want the same things in life. This saddens me, and my wife is really scared right now. She has been syrupy-sweet with me the last few days to the point it seems phony and almost sickening, but I know the next major fight is just around the corner. She doesn’t want to lose me, and I think she would not do well if we went our separate ways. I am legitimately worried about her if we did divorce. My brother agrees with me and says exactly the same thing. I am trying to turn things around in my marriage to give it a good try before giving up, but at what point do I throw in the towel?
I am terrified my subconscious is sabotaging my attempts to turn my marriage and life around in a misguided attempt to try to be with my LO. If I do end things with my wife, how can I be sure it isn’t my limerence that is motivating me? It would be tragic to end my marriage, try to hook up with my LO, get shot down in flames and then be in a position where I want my wife back. I need to be absolutely sure before making any changes, and I need to give my marriage and my wife a real chance before moving on.
I like this quote from another site: “If you make life-changing decisions while in this limerence state of mind, you risk losing a lot. Limerence eventually fizzles out.” I think that is very important to remember, but can I wait until the limerence has passed before deciding what to do? The post I am referencing above also has a list of 16 signs of limerence – ALL of which I am experiencing:
Hi VicLim, definitely be as sure as you can before you take any action to end your marriage. The limerence fog is bad, it clouds your brain and you really can’t take logic decisions. Don’t throw in the towel too soon.
And thanks for sharing that link. Pretty much all of the 16 symptoms applied to me in one way or another. Some less than others but still, I can see myself in all of them. Crazy.
A LE can definitely cause you to re-question your marriage. I had the same experience. Did I want to stay in or did I want out? I knew logically that my LO was never really a viable option, but one can always dream, right?
Re-questioning your marriage can be a good experience if done right. I also struggle(d) with feeling desire for my LO and felt really guilty about it, but on the other hand, I was happy to feel any desire at all again seeing as how I was depressed. The desire made me feel alive again.
It got me thinking about whether it was possible to feel even half of that desire for my SO again, and I happy that in my case it was. It took first talking about what we wanted and needed in our relationship and being bluntly honest and vulnerable towards each other. Being open to changing and allowing the other to change. It was lots of hard work and I don’t think that we would have gotten through it if we hadn’t also focused on the sexual intimacy part as well in this journey.
One speaker/author who really helped me in this journey was Esther Perel. She’s given some great talks on desire in long term relationships. I think you might find them helpful. https://www.ted.com/talks/esther_perel_the_secret_to_desire_in_a_long_term_relationship#t-846507
@Lisa I wish I had the guts to do this. I have more or less got things back on track with my SO but we still haven’t addressed the sex issue (there is no sex, I want it but I don’t know if I want it with her, I don’t really know what she wants). Obviously we need to talk about it because I can feel that I am still at a high risk of either reigniting the LE with my last LO (who I still can’t stop thinking about) or another one coming along. I’m just so scared of ending my marriage that I am too scared to talk about this stuff with SO. Ugh. All so hard.
Same here Sam, no sex here either. I want to with SO but he still can’t , we’ve tried talking about it but that’s all it is right now….talk.
I am ready to strangle him 😒
Meanwhile N/C with LO is helping but the embers are still burning ready to burst into flames.
Vicarious Limerent says
Me too, Sam and Lee-Anne. Intimacy is hard. I am not sure if we can get it back, but we are trying.
Vicarious Limerent says
Thanks Sarah and Lisa. It is comforting to know others have been through similar experiences and I will definitely check out Esther Perel’s work.
Hi all, I just wanted to share some videos that have helped me with understanding limerence:
Why am I missing my LO and wanting to reach out … I’m worried he’s slipping back into a fantasy version of himself. I feel so sad! I just want to slap myself right now as I really need to let this go. I’m so low cuz I feel like this is never gonna end and I’m going to be stuck in this forever. I’m battling with myself so much as I just don’t know why I can’t move on from this. I just keep coming back to this same place. It’s exhausting!
Rachel, just for you…..big “virtual slap” 👋🏻
I know how you feel though, I was doing quite well the past few weeks of N/C, I see my LO twice this week and bang, waking up at 1:30am every morning yet again and tossing and turning till 3am while my stupid brain goes through a gazillion scenarios of what I’d say to LO vs what I’d REALLY like to say. I am so freaking exhausted 😵
Oh this sucks! That horrible mid night waking is the worst and it’s well known that lack of sleep makes limerence (everything worse) I always take herbal sleeping pills when I keep waking.
Can anyone answer this… One reoccurring dream I have of LO is that I’m following him around, needing him and he just avoiding me, telling me he doesn’t love me and in this dream I’m sobbing. I’ve had similar dreams like this for months. I’m not sure what this means Inna deeper level. Is it that I’m insecure and not feeling any self worth?
Rachel, that’s my bloody reality right now , your dream!
I’d say its your subconscious fearing abandonment while you physically are trying to let go of your LO. Don’t forget you are consciously going N/C, consciously forcing your mind to stop thinking about him, you are swimming against the tide of your Limerent feelings and your brain is rebelling.
My bet is your subconscious is telling you what you really already know. You don’t want to believe it.
I’ve never had a dream about LO #2 where we had stayed together or reconciled. Not a single one. I had dreams where she or I discussed it but never pulled it off. It’s just not there.
In all my dreams about LO #4, we never were more than casual acquaintances. In about half of them she didn’t know me at all and involved trying to introduce myself. And, it really doesn’t matter.
Have you read https://livingwithlimerence.com/2018/04/08/limerence-dreams/?
I remember the feeling like LO #4 was in the room with me. Every so often, I still get the feeling that one of them is watching me. But, it doesn’t last long.
Fading Light says
Hi Rachel, i have had many many many dreams like yours about my LO over the past 3 years.. All of them showing different situations, different places, all of them waking me up in the middle of the night feeling miserable. But all said the same, my LO ignores me, all i can do get some scraps of his love and attention but he always vanishes when i need him, or tries to avoid me. In some of my dreams i was taking planes or trains to meet him and all of a sudden i would not remember what was our meeting place and i could not find his phone number and then i knew i was going to miss our appointment and he would not do anything to find me. One i dreamt i was in his house we were chatting, his wife arrived, parked the car, i said to you want me to hide he said yes (i was hoping he’d say no you can stay, you are part of my life), so i ran out in the garden and hid behind trees, crawling being trees and there was mud everywhere, so i ended up covered in mud; I ran away back to the street and i could see him through the window, he was looking at me but did not wave at me or send a kiss or try to get me back. He let me ran away in the streets. I’ve made sooo many dreams like that, or we were at a party and i wasn’t sure if we were a couple or not, and i would ask him if we were going to meet soon, just the two of us and he would avoid answering and then go talk to other people at the party. So my subconcious yelling at me that this guy does really care for me, despite our 3 years PA, that he is just using me and then running away… I find dreams very powerful because they tell us what we know is true but we dont want to accept it, we deny it.
Funny enough, few days before we ended or PA and went no contact, few days before we were going to meet, he said he had a dream that he was stealing apples and got caught, and then that he was trying to hide failures on his car before selling the car. It sounded to me like very negative dream, like he knew he was stealing from me and his wife, using the 2 of us for his own benefit and trying to hide is flaws and culpability.
Problem is that i also dream of him every night and sometimes it is just romantic, we hold in each others arms, or worse of all, we have sex, so i wake up super sad and miss him a lot.
I’m the same fading light. The dreams are probably the worst. I wake up feeling horrendous, sometimes even crying!
Your description of your dreams are very interesting and are so so similar to mine. Mine are all me lowing myself and chasing him. One dream I remember I overheard him laughing to his wife about me and how much of a idiot I am. Every time I wake up in a cold sweat and deleting worthless.
I hope your doing well? I hope LO has not tried anymore contact. Are you staying strong?
Vicarious Limerent says
What’s strange is I don’t recall ever having any dreams of my LO. They say we have dreams every night that we don’t remember, but I certainly don’t remember having any dreams about her. Is it because I only ever met her once for about two hours and my memory of her is starting to fade? I can’t even really remember her voice. It almost feels like she is a ghost or a figment of my imagination at this point. Does she really exist? Still, I have seen pictures of her so that keeps her memory alive. Perhaps the fading memories are a good thing, and maybe that’s why I am starting to feel just a tiny bit better. I am also concentrating more on thoughts of my marriage and my wife as opposed to my LO these days (not that they are all good thoughts, but I am at least focusing on the right things).
For some reason, this song (which is playing all the time on satellite radio right now) is making me think of my LO whenever I hear it (Another Life, by Motionless in White – the band looks kind of strange but I like the song very much): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pj2miRJ6bZs
I hear you. Me too. It’s been more than a year since NC and I still think about her every day.
It’s horrid. But purposeful living does help…
Isn’t it crazy how the intensity of the LE is directly proportional to your insomnia? I have that too. Seems you and I have a lot of similar issues with our LEs.
Sorry. Meant to reply to Lee-Anne
It’s driving me nuts B, on the positive side my sexual ruminations have stopped but only because my feral brain has gone into fretting overdrive. It’s stuck on a loop in repeat mode.
I hate waking up in the middle of the night and then spending hour upon hour going over every freaking detail that led up to LO going N/C.
I wake up at 1:30am with heart palpitations and sweating and just cannot go to sleep.
I just want sleep 😩😩
Sleep is just as important to us as AIR. I have insomnia since childhood and it became much worse with last LE. Some nights of ZERO sleep, just tossing and turning for 8-10 hours! Eventually our brains just say “F it” and it finally gets some deep sleep. Depending on what part of the world you’re in there are various sleep aids either over the counter or prescription. Please use only as directed if you choose to use them. Hopefully it’s only temporary and as the LE fades, AND IT WILL, sleep will return to normal.
I have childhood issues and as a result my sleep will never be normal but LE really threw a spanner in it.
I had 2 vivid dreams about LO. One where all I wanted was a date to get to know her on a deeper level and the other where we just hugged. In retrospect both came true just before NC, so why is she still on my mind………? THAT’S LIMERENCE!🤷🏾♂️
Vicarious Limerent says
Terrible insomnia for me too. I haven’t slept properly since I met my LO. I can’t even sleep in anymore. Funnily enough, my best time of the day is early morning because the ruminations don’t usually start right away. Having said that, I am feeling a little better today – like I can actually live without my LO now. I hope this feeling is permanent because I can live with this lower level of limerence. I shouted some things at myself again in the car last night about how this woman (who I don’t even really know) will make me lose my job, my career, my marriage, my reputation and perhaps my sanity (and even my freedom if I take this too far, which I doubt I would, but still). The last time I did that it seemed to work for a while, so I am thinking a little pep talk, reminders and tough love directed at myself might be the key.
cecile monty says
Hi All, sharing something that’s working for me. I used to be on 7mg mirtazapine (antidepressent, a strong one), since 2 years, but was still very obsessive about LO and my mood totally dependent on him. The psychiatrist increased the dose to 15mg 2 weeks ago as she was worried i would go suicidal. I saw her yesterday and she increased it again to 22mg after I told her about the obession that would not decrease even though i had been doing a huge work at trying to reprogram myself.
now GOOD NEWS: it seems the high dose of Mirtazapine now seem to have a positive impact on the obessions/compulsion. Today I’ve been able to only check is online profile maybe 20 times (instead of 100) and think.. what the F… i dont really care, and not really feal a high or a low anymore. I’m telling you all that because i can feel this is brain chemistry at stake.
Mirtazapine needs a prescription, and it is not just an ISSR, it works on another neurotransmitter as well and has positive impact on obessive disorders. Apparently there is no risk of addiction to this medecine; Also, it was initially prescribed to me by the sleep clinic where i leave, after a consultation with a neuroscientist because i had insomnias since i met my LO and now was addicted to ambien. I managed to end the ambien addiction by taking Mirtazapine and now the increase in mirtazapine intake seem to reduce the obession..
Even though it is super important to apply the best practices share in this blog i think the medecine can also be a great help, in addition to the cognitive reprogramming..
Sorry for my terrible English…
Do you have desperately heavy episodes when you trying to resist to reach out, I’m trembling and shaking and feeling like I’m having a panic attack?
It’s so hard to hide those from my loved once and keep things looking normal…
Yeah, sometimes it takes everything you have in you not to lose it.
Like when you’re in the car with your SO and a song comes on that reminds you of your LO. If your SO likes that song, it’s not like you can just change the channel. You ride it out. There’s another person in the car but it’s not your SO and you grip the steering wheel so tightly that your knuckles turn white.
Thank you so much for your reply, you are the very first person I spoke with about my LE 🙂
I’m in the middle of mutual limerence (both married with kids) and desperatly trying to establish NC, with no cooperative LO. I have also history of depression episodes during the coping with death of love ones. Feeling totally down and helpless. Also considering myself as weak and big fat lyer.
Limerence can be overwhelming and coming to grips with it can be almost as overwhelming. There are a lot of facets that can come into play. As you start to understand one facet, it raises questions on more of them. It seems to get worse before it gets better. Having a conscience is a good thing. self-loathing isn’t.
If you can, try to focus on one thing at a time and keep the focus on you. The focus often starts with the LO but if you’re being honest with yourself, it really isn’t about them.
There’s a lot of really good material in DrL’s early blogs.
Struggling today, really struggling.
Today is our usual group meet up day, he didn’t show, again. 4th Friday in a row.
I am angry all the time, and the strength of that anger seems to increase with every N/C day.
I am angry that he controls if I see him or not.
I am angry that I am tip toeing around school in the hope I don’t bump into him.
I am angry that I care.
I am angry that he doesn’t give a shit that this is hurting me.
I am angry that he has no clue what I am going through.
I am angry that he was able to walk away without a backward glance while I can’t .
I am angry that he severed this “friendship” with a hacksaw and left abruptly, no explanation.
I am angry that I still cry daily over him.
I am angry that he can switch off all his emotions while I drown in mine.
I am angry he did the right thing by going N/C while I was happy to continue down this path.
I am angry that he’s in the privileged position of knowing what was discussed with his SO, how he feels about me AND how I feel about him.
I am angry that I still have hope.
God this sucks, it’s like an endless merry go round that I just can’t seem to get off. Just feeling so down and rejected today. Just when I think things are getting better it all turns to shit the next day. I swear if he walked behind my car right now I’d reverse over him, that’s how angry I feel today.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Well, anger is a step forward for me, anyway.
In the height of my LE, I was so moon-eyed that I refused to believe that my LO could do anything at all wrong. I couldn’t have had any anger other than jealousy towards LO.
The anger helps you continue the NC. The anger makes you not care what happens. Once you get through the anger stage, you can calm down, take a deep breath, and things start to look more normal.
I hope so MLBIAI, because at this rate my LO might be dead before the week is over. I am just working out if I can make his death by strangulation look like a legit accident 😒 Then there’s the small detail of getting rid of his 6’3 sorry ass, I might need an accomplice which complicates things further.😠
Lee-anne, I went from the “he was the most amazing human, I miss him so much” to the anger stage, and now I am transitioning from anger to semi-indifferent disgust. I look forward to complete indifference, with an occasional contemplation of what I have learned from all of this.
The good thing is that I feel that with reaching each stage I am lighter, and freer, and have more control of my mental faculties. So hang in there….it will get better. I have had to be really hard on myself to try not to ruminate….because that is a loop that delays progress. And I have maintained total NC.
I am still not entirely out of the woods, but I can see that I am getting closer to the edge. It gets better.
Oh I know this feeling to well Lee-anne. It’s exhausting, draining and destroys your self worth. But the thing is, you have worth, you are not govourned by your LO. I know it feels like it but you are not. Your brain is stuck on a loop and your the only one who can break it. We all have read and know deep down it’s actually nothing to do with our LO’s. If it wasn’t this LO it would be another one…
I have felt exactly the same word for word that you have felt. LO had all the power, he rejected me and then decided to avoid me and then initiate contact with something that would suck me back in. This anger is a really good step in the right direction. Let is seep in but not for to long. After all the anger I felt numb for ages. The trick is to separate for the fantasy/illusion that is going on in your head. You have to try to see this for what it is. An addiction, your brain is withdrawing from essentially a drug and it’s not happy. If you stay strong and keep going, diss miss any thoughts of LO as part of this illusion and I’m sure you will be our of this.
I had a relapse over the last couple of week becuase LO said some stuff with emotionally connected with me. I started to think I was in love again. Now I see that it is the illusion and the fantasy I have created, the addiction to these feelings. The highs and the lows are all part of the drug addiction. Stay strong honey and you will be just fine.
Thank you Jaideux and Rachel, I’ve just come back from work and already feel better. You are correct, it so emotionally exhausting, people are asking me if I am ok so it must be showing on my face. The only good thing about the anger is it leaves very little time to ruminate. I am so busy plotting his death that I am forgetting to fantasise about him ha ha ha
Geez I am so looking forward to feeling indifference, I’ll be doing a happy dance the day I feel that!!
I am so happy I have you all, I don’t think I’d cope if I couldn’t come here. You all are the only ones I can “talk” to.
Thanks so much for allowing me to vent xx
Yes, this site is a lifesaver! Hugs to you!
Well, four hours ago I’ve told him that I don’t want to see him ever again, and that I want full NC from now to eternity.
It would be lot easier if he was a jerk, offensive, angry, but he just was so sad.
I feel so desperate and incredibly sad. Also I’m a person who is almost incapable of crying.
God help me.
You’ve taken a courageous step, Nensi, and that is bound to be quite a shock. Give yourself some time to process this next stage, and experience the sadness and tears. You made the choice for good reasons; use that as your guiding star.
As time passes and your emotions settle, you can review where you are and how you are doing. For now, be proud for taking a purposeful decision.
Thanks so much dr L.
This site remembered me which person I want to be.
Nensi I admire you so much. You have been so brave, and made a decision that will save you from worsening future pain. It’s even good for him too. Try to think that you did this for both of you because it’s not healthy for him to be in a one sided love affair. Once you heal (and it will take while) you will slowly see how courageous and wise you were and how much self respect you now have. I wish I had had the strength to do what you did early on in my LE. You will make it through his agonizing part, and start to feel better, I promise.
Thanks, Jaideux for your kind words.
I’m very much in pain right now…
Right now, every single thought in my mind goes around his sad, beautiful face, and him repeating two or three questions over and over, “Not even for your birthday, or New year… Not even to ask you how are you once in a year?” And me, repeating like a machine, “no, no, just no, never”.
Like two very much disappointed children, and he is five years older than me, and I’m 35. Almost like a burlesque.
Yes, it feels like you killed a beautiful harmless thing. The only problem is that it wasn’t harmless. To be in an uneven relationship, dear friend on one side, and deeply in love on the other, does terrible damage to the one on the deeply in love side. The friend side will go on and find people they are romantically interested in, (or maybe already are) while the deeply in love side is just stuck in an emotional prison of hopes that aren’t being fulfilled. And being stuck in that prison is very bad for one’s long term mental and emotional health. You both will heal and think of one another fondly in the years to come, but without pain. It just takes time. You did the right thing.
Nensi God will help you if you trust him and ask. I’ve been there and done that.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Hi, everyone 🙂
This is my first post. I’m in the middle of mutual limerence with my ex colleague, we are both married. We have both disclosed to each other, tried to be friends, but it failed (surprise, surprise). Five days ago I initiated NC and he agreed… However, I offered him just one thing, if necessary – brief help about something that is extremely important for his job and career in general (I was pretty much involved in that project, and I know that maybe he is unable to finish it without help). We can do it via couple of emails, no texting, no seeing each other, no phone calls, but now I’m questioning that offer of mine… In one hand, he is really good human being and I don’t want to be a jerk and withdraw that offer, but on the other side, does that compromising NC? I have no intention to ask him does he need help, just wondering what to do if he asks it. Please share your thoughts with me…
Hi Leonela, and welcome!
I think the best thing to do is to stick to what you agreed. Help on the project if he reaches out, but don’t volunteer yourself. Then, maintain your other boundaries. If you change your mind now, it might feed the uncertainty further (why is she changing her mind? What will he think of me changing my mind? etc. etc. down the rumination spiral).
But, looking ahead, be clear on your goal. No contact is the best way to wean yourself off him for good, and if you are able to implement it without leaving any open “back doors” then it is likely to work best.
Vicarious Limerent says
So, it’s been three months since I last commented here on the main blog (although I have been active on the members-only forum). I think I am ready to post an update on my situation, and I believe this post is the most relevant for me to comment on. I am not going to be as active on here as I was, and I am still concerned about oversharing and spending too much time on here, but here goes.
I am happy to say that my limerence has been reduced probably by about 85%. I still really like my LO, but it feels more like a garden variety crush than an obsession by now. I probably still think of her daily, but the thoughts aren’t intrusive at all. I just passed the one year mark since that fateful night when I met my LO. That is a long time to be obsessing over someone I met only once, so I think time itself is a major factor. It has been like this for two months or so now, so I don’t think I am ever going back to the height of my LE.
However, the biggest factor is that I’ve met someone new! I wasn’t expecting this, but a new friend of mine started to give me the glimmer about two months ago. I think she is gorgeous, despite being quite a bit older than me. This woman is fun, exciting, VERY young for her age and decent, kind, successful, hard-working and funny. She likes much of the same music I’m into. I am not proud of this, but there was some mutual flirtation between us for quite a while, and I have been told she likes me (whatever that means). The problem is obviously that I am still with my wife, and I shouldn’t be thinking about anyone else. My glimmery friend has started commenting on guys she finds attractive and they are all completely different from me; she has also started dating again after her divorce a few years back. I guess I’m not her type, but there definitely was/is a spark there. At a minimum, it was nice to be liked by someone. The problem is that I really like her and would love to date her if my marriage ever ended. I cannot grudge the lady her happiness and I think she should be dating someone, but I just wish it was me! Still, who knows what the future will bring, and maybe she would consider me even if I’m not her “type”?
There was a debate on the private forum about whether or not I am limerent for this woman. While this feels totally different from my experience with my LO, I am definitely saddened by the change in attitude from my glimmery friend and the fact she is dating someone now. Still, this whole experience has told me that it never was about my LO. It was all entirely about my marital problems and my subconscious mind telling me I should be with someone. I find that I am much more open to thinking about eventually being with someone else — not my wife, LO or glimmery friend and likely someone I haven’t even met yet. I find the whole idea quite exciting in many ways (I know that’s wrong in some ways, but more on that below).
Things have not improved with my wife, but I have been doing what I believe is the right thing in being steadfast, open and honest with her that I am leaning towards separation and divorce and that the spark is completely gone for me. She is kind of burying her head in the sand in a way, but I am not going to lie to her or give her false hope. On the other hand, I am at least willing to go the counselling route, and we are going to go for sure in January. I finally convinced her to focus on having the best Christmas and we can and deal with our marriage and family issues in January. I believe she is still trying to fool herself into thinking everything will be alright, but I am not going to try to make things out to be completely fine when they’re not. I am at least willing to have my mind changed, but I am about 95% sure I want us to go our separate ways — and I am basically fine with that at this point. I am at peace with my decision, but I still worry about how badly separation and divorce would impact her. Still, I do still love her in many ways, and I don’t want to lose all of our shared memories and waste all of that time spent together. There is a chance counselling will help — and I am willing to go into it with an open mind and in good faith — but more than anything I need to be satisfied that I gave it a try. I know that divorce would break my wife’s heart and destroy her in many ways, but I also have to think of myself and my daughter and what’s best for all of us. When the thought of staying with her for the rest of my life feels bleak, boring, unappealing, unexciting and like a life left unfulfilled, I think that is telling me a lot.
Glad to see you having a clear picture of what you want to have in your future, VL.
Good luck with that.
Vicarious Limerent says
Thanks Benjamin. It has been great interacting with you and some of the regular commenters from the blog on the private forum. I have missed some of the regular commenters who aren’t on the private forum though. In some ways, I began to feel like I got to know many of the people in this community. In many ways, limerence isn’t my biggest problem, I have largely gotten over my LO and I am not even sure if I am limerent for my glimmery friend. Therefore, I don’t think I will be commenting on here quite as much, and I probably should also cut back my activity on the private forum. Everything feels very different from how it was with my LO (and again, I don’t know if this is actual limerence or not).
I just had an interesting insight about my LO, which is that he is currently – clearly – pursuing a purposeful life!
(for context, we were probably mutually limerent, both pulled back, are trying to be friends and mostly succeeding, I think, and I suspected that my LO is a serial-limerent)
I find this pretty interesting, as I am independently searching for my life purpose too. But also, how I see and feel about my LO has shifted ever so slightly as well. First of all, he feels less of an object and more of a person? I am used to feeling desire for him, but now respect?
One of the things that I found really compelling when I first met LO was that he was obviously a past hedonist (addiction, alcoholism, gluttony, self-destruction, and all manner of devilry) but like me, now a little lost, and looking for something. Perhaps it is no accident that we pulled together at that juncture in our lives – two children lost in the woods. But perhaps it is not surprising either that because we had a bigger goal in mind already (after having caused so much destruction in our wake, a limerence affair would be a clear choice to continue down that path of destruction) we made the effort to stick to the path of a greater purpose.
Also, suddenly I find myself extremely unwilling to throw a fellow human being off their path of purpose. Life is hard enough as it is!
“The real skill when confronted with conflicting desires, of course, is to let go of the ones that conflict with your purpose.” That is the trick. Thanks Dr L.