Time usually resolves limerence, but sometimes we limerents impatiently wonder, where’s the damn off switch?
Now some people are resistant to the very idea of reducing love to a biochemical process in our brains that can be analysed, understood and manipulated, but those people are probably not in the middle of a limerence crisis. While I think my credentials as a romantic are solid, I also have a practical nature and so have spent a fair amount of time thinking about what can actually be done to try and counteract the immediate impact of limerence when it’s unwanted.
In the long term, my favoured solution is purposeful living, which may or may not need to follow a period of deep introspection and possibly professional help in understanding just what’s up with your crazy brain and why you are prone to the limerence rollercoaster. But sometimes, more urgent intervention is desirable, so what tactics do we have at our disposal to try and at least moderate the emotional overload? I’ve talked before about some of the best, but today I’m going to focus on the mind games. Can we deprogram ourselves and stop an LO being an LO?
I’d answer with a tentative yes.
What does forgetting mean? That probably sounds like a silly question, but like much in neuroscience, it’s quite subtle. In some cases, forgetting is a total blank – you just can’t recall the event, person, experience or place. You need external evidence to even believe that such a thing occurred. But that’s very rare for powerful stimuli, and I think we can all agree that limerence falls into that category. So it’s foolish to aim for the goal of total forgetting; what we really want is for that person – the LO – to be less powerful as a stimulus. For us to be able to manage our interactions with them without getting overaroused, and for them to not dominate our minds when we are away from them. Here we are on firmer territory when it comes to research. Associating certain stimuli with reward or punishment, and reinforcing or diminishing those stimuli is at the heart of conditioning and there’s loads of literature to draw on.
Now, as an aside, I want to be clear that the research on limerence itself in this context is basically non-existent, so this is all speculative territory and relies on an analogy between well understood rewards (such as food or pharmacological stimulants) and limerence as a manifestation of finding a specific person a rewarding and potentially addictive stimulus. So, I’m pushing the boat out into speculative waters here…
With that qualification out of the way, let’s dive in.
How do you get rid of a memory you don’t want? Actually, the way we do this is to overwrite the original memory with a new one. Let’s take the example of Pavlov’s dogs. This is a bit hackneyed, but it’s familiar and that’s useful. So, the story goes that Pavlov trained his dogs to associate the sound of a bell ringing with the delivery of food (this isn’t quite what happened, but never mind). After training his dogs in this way for a while, the dogs began to anticipate the food by salivating whenever the bell was rung. This is the classic example of conditioning, which involves “associative memory” (learning a new association between stimuli). So far so good. But what happens if you keep ringing the bell, but stop delivering food? At first, the dogs keep drooling like the messy pups they are. But over time, the bell ceases to trigger anticipation, and the dogs get used to the fact that they are no longer getting their lovely chow and so stop salivating. The previous associative memory has been lost, through a process known as extinction, but it takes a while for this “bell but no food” lesson to be learned.
Since Pavlov’s day, of course, there has been a great deal of research into these processes, and it turns out that the brain is really quite weird and surprising, and fun to mess with. At one level, it seems that extinction should just be a fading away of an old memory that is no longer relevant, but actually it’s more complicated than that. What’s actually happening is that a new associative memory has been learned that overwrites the original one and supercedes it. This is easy to anthropomorphise – “oh, there’s that bell that used to mean that food was coming, but hasn’t done for a while, so no need to get excited.”
At the risk of letting this post get totally out of hand with a discussion of memory and learning, there are three other relevant points before we get back to limerence. 1) Because extinction is a superceding of old associations, rather than forgetting, the old memory can be recalled quickly when the original stimulus is reintroduced. Dogs learn to salivate faster if they have previously been conditioned and then extinguished, compared to dogs learning the association in the first place. 2) Intermittent reinforcement schedules take a lot longer to extinguish than regular ones. 3) Punishment accelerates extinction.
What can we learn from all this to help with elimination of limerence? Given what we know about conditioning and extinction, we could devise the follow method for mental mastery of limerence:
1) Recognise that being with LO or ruminating about LO is giving you pleasure and continuing in these behaviours is reinforcing your conditioning.
2) Decide that you want to extinguish that associative memory.
3) Devise a negative feedback programme to hasten extinction and overwrite the original positive association.
That’s the plan. What does it look like in practical terms?
No contact if possible, obviously. If not possible, then limited contact is next best. Either way, contact is not always in your control, or predictable. However, another key aspect of limerence reinforcement that most certainly is within your control is rumination. Entering a reverie and fantasising or rehearsing interactions with LO is a way of seeking pleasure in the early stages and relief from withdrawal in the later stages of limerence. You need to break that association. Each time you willingly enter reverie, you reinforce those connections, and reinforce the associative memory “LO = pleasure”. That’s why we do it. Reverie gives relief from discomfort by imagining a positive encounter.
If you are one of those limerents that enjoys a rich imagination, you will almost certainly have invented some pleasant fantasy scenarios with LO. These are the perfect mechanism for generating your own extinction programme. By inventing new outcomes to your reveries, you can turn your sweet, rewarding fantasies into sour punishments.
Let’s say you imagine driving off into the sunset with LO as a daydream. Now you need to vividly imagine LO suddenly shouting “I’m sorry, I’ve made a terrible mistake! Stop the car! I have to leave! I don’t know what I was thinking! I never want to see you again!” (include all the exclamation marks). You can go to town on this – the key thing is to make your reverie punishing. When you fantasise about having a new life with LO, turn it into a nightmare of rows, regrets, misunderstandings and emotional devastation. When I was in the early stages of my last limerence episode, I used to idly fantasise about “what if…” and built up an embarrassingly elaborate scenario in which my life had played out differently and LO and I could have ended up together. Once I realised the limerence was harming me, I managed to re-imagine that scenario into such a train-wreck of disaster and humiliation that I now shudder a bit whenever the thought enters my mind.
This whole mental game can seem a bit contrived, and while it helped me, it may not work for everyone. You may feel uncomfortable – that’s fine (and probably means it’s working). You may even feel it is disrespectful to LO, who you are now actively reworking into a terrible person that you want to avoid, but don’t despair – your internal world is your sole domain. As tyrant you have complete freedom to do as you please, guilt free. No LO will be harmed by this process.
Whether or not this tactic proves fruitful for you, a good understanding of what associative memory is and how extinction works undoubtedly helps in kicking the habit of limerence daydreaming.
You’ve really got to want to, though.
If you have an aversion or dislike for a particular scent and can find a bottle of it, take a sniff whenever the LO appears. Scent is a strong trigger for memories and if the LO has a particular smell (brand of soap or something), it might not hurt to try and counteract it.
Some people hate the smell of peppermint or lavender, others hate particular brands. Dior H’omme vintage inspired this quote, “Lol, thank goodness I’m not the only one who doesn’t like smelling like I’ve been sleeping on (sic) RuPaul’s boudoir… ” It was commonly listed as one of the worst.
Ooh. Good one. Scent is a really powerful, but subconscious mood-influencer, and I’m sure scent is one of the drivers for me in becoming limerent for particular LOs.
Maybe carry around a box of anti-LO snuff at all times? Snorting some down whenever they’re around would be an effective way of discouraging them from seeking your company too.
Dragonfly Counseling and Coaching says
This is very eye opening for me in terms of scent and associative memory extinction. Gonna try something like this especially since scent was part of the experience for me.
Oh this IS a good one! I remember telling him how the ‘spice’ curry made me sick to smell and eat. (The Curry we buy as a spice is not curry it’s which ever company who makes the spice mixture and version of it. Google and read up on it, that’s not my point here) Well he used to cook us a diner of fish and a few things which became very enjoyable and then one day he decides he is going to add ‘curry’ to the fish. As I’ve stated in others parts of this blog I believe he is a Narcissist and they don’t respect your boundaries. He cooked the fish with curry without regard for my discomfort or aversion. I ate a bit of it but my stomach bloated, the smell was in my nose and taste in my mouth for hours and I put the plate by the sink half eaten. Now if the aversion to curry weren’t so hard on me I could get a jar of it and sniff it each time I get obsessive about him…I”ll now try to think of that incident and remember the scent of it…great idea I HOPE. I’ve done well the last few days and haven’t been in here to ‘obsess’ with fellow ‘sufferers’ but yesterday at a football party with 15 people around ALL I could think of was HIM! I’d have to go outside from time to time to keep embarrassing myself with tears. Someone had told me something he posted on social media and it kicked off this insane process! I DO NOT WANT TO BE THIS WAY. Tears, internal emotional pain, this is not me! But here I am doing it all over again…curry! think curry Susan!
Rubber band around the wrist trick! That’s what worked for me. Everytime I had introduce thoughts about LO, I snapped that rubber band as hard as I could on my wrist. I was literally leaving little welts but guess what? It took under a month for the thoughts to stop and I had been sleeping with LO for 6 years prior to that! I learned to reprogram my brain so that when it thought of him, it associated the thoughts with real physical pain. I also had to go no contact which was very hard considering that LO constantly reached out and I had to keep explaining that he got into a relationship so he needs to leave me alone and not message me. He refused until I threatened to show his messages to his significant other. Anyway, I am getting a little derailed from my point which is: no contact and rubber band trick will get the job done in no time!!
I am going to try this! I am just wondering if it could backfire. I.e that you start liking the smell because you start associating it with your LO.
Just wanted to give a word of thanks for the blog, Dr Limerence. Currently going through a wonderful/horrible limerence experience with someone who isn’t my SO (of course).
Finding someone who writes about this thorny topic with humour and compassion really takes the sting out of situations like this. Keep it up!
Thanks Bram! Glad to help.
If this would be helpful to others (it was to me), you could think of a limerence as a powerful adverse entity; sure, you would struggle and have casualties, but there’s no question what should be done. Like a revolution, or a war with aliens. You might even make a story out of it.
I really hope that this can help my SO who isn’t keen on going NC with his LO. It’s breaking my heart and I feel like I’m dying inside. He’s angry at me for asking that he goes NC. Am I supposed to set them up on a blind date? (sarcasm) I just am tired of the worry and stress. I’m tired of being available and supposed to know that I’m loved and yet, he won’t go NC. Maybe the Pavlov idea will help. Thank you.
Hi Wading. Is this your SO’s first limerence experience? If so, he probably doesn’t realize how destructive the experience can be. In his mind, he probably thinks he’s in control of the situation. That’s only natural: the limerent brain is an expert at self-deception.
He probably won’t fully understand this until he learns it for himself. Hopefully that involves you convincing him to go NC and him looking back someday and saying, “What the hell was I thinking?”
Following this. I’m in a similar boat: wife of a man who refuses to go NC with his LO (he claims she’s his “best friend” and he would surely go crazy without her). It’s agonizing. I’m curious to see if you were able to get your SO to finally consent to go NC?
That’s a deep question. Is it possible to persuade a besotted limerent to go No Contact? I guess it may be possible to lead someone to the realisation that they are jeopardising their marriage, but whether you can make an ultimatum work… I suppose it depends on the person involved and how they react.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the effect of limerence on impacted spouses. Maybe another post is in order…
Please do write about it.
🙂 I’m on it.
My husband told me about his involuntary reactions to Miss Exotic. Then he mentioned that he didn’t know if he wanted a lover, daughter or spouse. I stopped him and told him he forgot there was someone else in the relationship who had a say. Me. And if he wanted a lover, then he needed a spouse and I wasn’t going to stick around for it.
He said it was the freezing cold bucket of water over his head that brought him back to reality. He was horrified that he had never once considered that I would make a decision on my own behalf or that what he was talking about would hurt me so deeply. He was really embarrassed by how tunnel-visioned he was about it all.
He did what he could to minimize contact with her and took it very seriously. When she left for a new job he was vastly relieved. It had been difficult to have her as a co-worker when every time he heard her voice he would have an involuntary response. He didn’t like it very much when he recognized that he had compromised his integrity in the slightest.
I didn’t ask for NC. It was impossible anyway. But I did tell him that if I had the slightest whiff of him lying to me by omission or commission I would respond accordingly.
Correction: mistress, not lover. To have a mistress means there is a spouse.
Lee, My husband attempted to go NC at least 3 times. Each time he was NC, I would discover he was back in contact when he started “finding” things about our marriage to pick apart and complain about. Like he was finding reasons why he *had* to be talking to her… highlighting problems that didn’t actually exist, or blowing minor things way out of proportion (you left the laundry on the couch so you obviously don’t love me!). His final attempt at NC started when I had a bit of a breakdown and told him I didn’t know how much longer I could hold on… I think the biggest detrimental factor for his failed NC was that he was literally stuck working next to her 40 hours a week. He was completely unable/unwilling to move to another shift if it meant not being around her. When he learned she was quitting the workplace, he was despondent. Finally made the move to day shift, now we have more time together but his mind just is not focused anymore. If she texts him, I can literally watch him completely zone out and disengage. He’s not physically seen her or heard her voice in weeks now, they’re down to just texting. This past week we went to a concert she was also attending. He was looking around for her everywhere while they texted so I asked him if she knew where we were and if she was coming over. He admitted he told her where we were standing and then remarked he hoped she didn’t come over, as it would be “too awkward”. Hmph.
“If she texts him, I can literally watch him completely zone out and disengage. He’s not physically seen her or heard her voice in weeks now, they’re down to just texting. This past week we went to a concert she was also attending. He was looking around for her everywhere while they texted so I asked him if she knew where we were and if she was coming over. He admitted he told her where we were standing and then remarked he hoped she didn’t come over, as it would be “too awkward”. Hmph.”
Sunshine – I’m really, really sorry. That is disrespect on a level that I would find intolerable. There is another web site that *I* think you might be better served reading but I don’t know if it would upset Dr. L. if I mentioned it. Tracy Schorn runs it.
Dr. L. – Please edit or remove this post if necessary.
Thanks for your caution, but I’m fine with mentioning Chumplady! I also agree that I would really question the motives of an action like that – what is being communicated by “I really have to tell her everything I’m doing, but I don’t want to have to explain myself in front of you”? Well, other than a lack of consideration of Sunshine’s feelings, naturally.
Re. comment policy: probably need to write a guide soon, but rule of thumb for now is “constructive advice for the commenters is the aim, which rarely involves attacks on people’s character.”
Lee- I appreciate the nudge to CL. I have browsed through some of the articles but it seems so… vitriolic. I’m not trying to hate on my husband, nor am I trying to ruin his life. I’m trying to understand what he’s going through, and be here for him the best I am able to. If it gets to a point where I feel it’s too detrimental to either my or my daughter’s emotional health, I will have to walk another path.
“Following this. I’m in a similar boat: wife of a man who refuses to go NC with his LO (he claims she’s his “best friend” and he would surely go crazy without her). It’s agonizing. I’m curious to see if you were able to get your SO to finally consent to go NC?”
It may take you down a path you don’t want to go but the next logical question to him is, “If that’s the way you feel, why are you still here?”
“Each time he was NC, I would discover he was back in contact when he started “finding” things about our marriage to pick apart and complain about. Like he was finding reasons why he *had* to be talking to her… highlighting problems that didn’t actually exist, or blowing minor things way out of proportion (you left the laundry on the couch so you obviously don’t love me!).”
I agree that marital problems can influence limerence. There were problems in my marriage when I encountered my last LO.
But, blaming you for his behavior is really bad sign that’s outside the scope of limerence. If you accept responsibility for his bad behavior, it’s a tacit admission of guilt and he’ll use it against you forever. Maybe not with this LO but it’s a weapon in his arsenal.
Is your failing to meet his expectations a new phenomenon with this LO or have you seen it before in other areas?
This is the first time we’ve encountered this. There was never any real discussion prior to his depression/attaching to the LO about issues in the marriage. Guess that would be a communication problem: he was bothered by something that didn’t necessarily bother me so much and was unaware of how to start a conversation about it. He would also “read into” things that were said, instead of asking for clarification.Add to that, we were also operating on very little time together due to opposite schedules, which was an issue we discussed (he was supposed to swap to day shift). He was extremely affectionate and loving towards me, early in the situation he was very remorseful and upset about his inability to keep away from her, each time I pressed for NC he became further and further removed from me. He has said on multiple occasions that he knows what issues we had weren’t solely my fault, he’s aware he shoulders blame there as well. The big thing I hear him repeat is he “just wants to be happy and not cry all the time”.
You should also be aware that he will find more and more faults with you and the marriage as the limerence progresses. It’s encouraging that he was remorseful at the start, but it does now sound as though he has slipped deeper into limerence and is devaluing you actively. That’s not uncommon, but it’s also not acceptable.
I bet you’d like to be happy too. Most people would. The key thing is that everyone needs to take responsibility for their own happiness. Being in an affectionate (if imperfect) marriage and then having a breakdown and suddenly becoming limerent for someone else is not an indication that the marriage was the problem. It’s an indication that your husband is looking for someone else to take responsibility for him, and this “amazingly supportive” colleague might just be the magical person who can fix his depression. Of course, she can’t, just like you (or anyone else) can’t.
It will be hard, but rather than trying to get him to go NC with LO, you might want to lay out to him the effect his behaviour is having on your family, and ask him to take responsibility for his own fate. He may not be reachable yet, but until he does face up to the fact that this is his problem to solve, you will drive yourself mad trying to second guess what’s wrong with him and what you could do to somehow solve this for him.
I hope it works out. I’m leery of someone who keeps moving the goalposts on what you need to do to “make” him happy while absorbing himself of any responsibility for his actions. Plus he’s not telling you when he slips up, you’re catching him. At least that is what it sounds like.
“Do or do not, there is no try.”
Clearly you are “doing”. I hope he is too.
What I found useful in disengaging ( though I am far from cured) was to think of my SO and all the great things I love about him then compare that to all the things I really dislike about my LO ( like with a drug you can see the bad sides but still want it: a crackhead knows crack is bad for them but is still addicted). My SO made it clear he would leave me if it went anywhere with the LO. We discussed what was a stake , a long term loving relationship and camaraderie, lots of laughs, 2 great kids…all that for lust for an egotistical narcissistic much younger guy ( who fueled my illness, made me doubt, suggested I leave So…not helping). The NC and constant self reminding of LO faults and imagining a real relationship with him and how crap it would be has helped me stop obsessing and lessened the addiction to manageable levels…
“What I found useful in disengaging ( though I am far from cured) was to think of my SO and all the great things I love about him then compare that to all the things I really dislike about my LO”
The more I read about limerence and the more I read the posts on this site and think about my own situation, I am really beginning to see limerence as an elaborate escape hatch. If you have an SO, limerence offers an escape from the relationship or an escape from something about your life. If you are single, it’s either an escape from something about your life or an escape from real intimacy. Because if you wanted real intimacy, you wouldn’t have fixated on someone so incapable of giving it to you. A decent number of the posts on here have one theme: the inaction of limerence. The limerent isn’t really going after the LO. Maybe dipping a toe in but nothing full throttle. Because I think deep down they don’t want anything to happen. It’s about the wanting. It’s not about the having. The problem then becomes .. you are checked out of your own life.
I think it’s time to see a professional. Go for yourself and see what he/she says. At some point, they may want to see your husband, too.
This is a great place but at some point, you need to call in the pros.
Correction – “absolving”.
If I may ask, what ideas and actions for dealing with his limerence has your husband initiated without prompting by you? If you are the source of all the ideas or actions then he isn’t nearly as invested in the outcome.
Sorry, I meant Sunrise.
“The big thing I hear him repeat is he “just wants to be happy and not cry all the time”.”
Of course, he does. That’s not an altruistic statement. If you were happy and not crying all the time, all this would be easier on him. If he were truly interested in your happiness, he’d do what’s necessary to make it happen, even if it meant NC with the LO. It’s called “doing the right thing” even if it isn’t what you’d prefer to do. That’s about as selfish statement as you can get without flat out coming out and saying it.
People think doing the right thing is easy but it often isn’t. Doing the right thing often calls for foregoing what you want in the best interest of the person you care about. Relationships often require sacrifice (queue Elton John) but they NEVER demand sacrifice.
He wants the problem (i.e., your crying all the time) to go away.
“He wants the problem (i.e., your crying all the time) to go away.”
But if you stop crying or bringing it up, he will regard it as you accepting the situation so he gets everything and it costs him nothing.
I really hope that he is taking the situation seriously and blocks her number. Without any prompting by you. True contrition takes action and responsibility and does it without whining about his sacrifice.
I’ll keep my fingers crossed but if you haven’t taken steps to protect your finances yet, I hope you do so now.
Guys, I thought Sunrise’s comment was that the SO is tired of being unhappy and crying all the time. Being in a limerent state while married is can be exhausting. I was going to say it also isn’t fun, but the euphoric highs are fun in the moment, though harmful. The SO obviously doesn’t want to give that up. But what is happening to Sunrise is not acceptable.
Yes, I agree – I think you’ve got the wrong end of the stick, Scharnhorst and Lee.
It’s Sunrise’s husband that wants to “be happy and stop crying all the time.” The issue is that he seems to not recognise that it is the emotional conflict that he is mismanaging that is causing the tears. Not something that Sunrise can fix by changing her behaviour…
I think you’re correct, Thinker.
In addition, I suspect he’s crying, or telling her that he is crying, in order to minimize her pain as a result of his actions.
So yeah, what is happening to Sunrise is unacceptable all around.
I’m “pacing” myself through this entire blog, so I haven’t made it this far. But I saw the recent comments and they struck a chord with me. Please know that I was the one in limerence, not my SO. And my experience did quickly evolve into mutual love with the LO, before other barriers were set up again (aside from the fact we each had families!) which sent me back into limerence.
From William: “Is this your SO’s first limerence experience? If so, he probably doesn’t realize how destructive the experience can be. In his mind, he probably thinks he’s in control of the situation. That’s only natural: the limerent brain is an expert at self-deception.”
This was my first limerence experience. I absolutely thought I could handle having a family and having a relationship with LO. I was wrong. I could not handle it, as some things are just a zero-sum game. More intimate attention to the LO meant less toward my family. But I rationalized it all in my mind. I even said to myself “this is not going to end well”.
From Sunrise: “Following this. I’m in a similar boat: wife of a man who refuses to go NC with his LO (he claims she’s his “best friend” and he would surely go crazy without her). It’s agonizing. I’m curious to see if you were able to get your SO to finally consent to go NC?”
I knew LO for a long time. We were good friends, and sometimes would dance into personal topics. And we would sometimes push the line, but overall I managed my attraction to her. I think in hindsight, I got my “fix” every week by talking to her or going to lunch (just the two of us) and being satisfied with that since we had separate lives and while something more might be nice, it was impossible. My SO knew of her as a good friend of mine, and I wanted the four of us as two couples to become friends or do things together, but my wife and I are 10-12 years older than them and other differences in interests plus kid stuff made it tough to set up.
When LO left my workplace last spring, I had a complete meltdown. I had no idea how I was going to get my “fix” going forward, as this was someone I had become very attached to. I revealed to my SO that LO was leaving the office but I wanted to stay in touch with her. My SO (VERY RELUCTANTLY) agreed that I could engage in an outside of work weekly activity (that my SO was not interested in) with LO for a period of time. My SO knew that I was “good friends” with LO, and my SO felt threatened (as she should have been, though I dismissed the seriousness of her concern, though inside I generally agreed with SO). I’d say “What do you mean, married men can’t be friends with women?” My SO would basically say “Yes, that’s not appropriate.” The LO did not have any issues the other way with her spouse, but humans are not all wired the same. In actuality, the uncertainty of the future with LO drove me mad. I was going to fight against NC tooth and nail. I felt there was no other way for me to survive. I felt so much relief that I would remain in contact, and was thankful to SO for her agreement. And I would have resented SO had I given in. Officially, I never disclosed to my SO, but my SO felt the impact of LO in the months that followed as LO and I became WAY TOO CLOSE.
More for a later time. Sunrise, I wish you strength. I am also summoning my own strength during my initial NC period. Coming to this blog is helping.
Thinker, thank you. I had been cheated on in prior relationships, and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out *why* this experience felt so much different. Reading this blog as well as other articles on limerence really made things click. My husband didn’t meet his LO until he had a complete emotional breakdown at his workplace (we were going on nearly 6 months of limited contact due to opposite work schedules, and he was already exhibiting signs of depression by this time)- she was the one who was there at work to “pick him up”. Within a two week period he went from not knowing her to “best friend”. I think, had she been someone he had known and been friends with PRIOR to our relationship, I wouldn’t have reacted so badly. But fact was he had no true friends here aside from me, and had only been “work friends” with 3 other people before she entered the picture- people I had encouraged him to go out to eat with, hang out with, etc.
We had multiple discussions about the situation after I found out how close he was becoming with her. At one point he asked me to trust in him to make the right choices even though he seemed to keep making the wrong turns. I trusted him with my life, my heart- but all the trust in the world doesn’t help that gut-wrenching feeling that sinks in when you see the way your spouse is reacting to texts from another woman. I asked him at one point to allow me to be part of their friendship, to ease my discomfort with this situation but his response was to cry and tell me that if he did, their friendship would no longer be “special”. After that I put the kibosh on him having the weekly dinners he was having with his LO after she quit the workplace (told him he would have to be out of the house within a month if he were to continue, as I consider having intimate dinners without your spouse to be dating. His idea of a “date” is, according to him: arriving & leaving together in the same vehicle, paying on one cheque, and having sex at the end of the evening”. I told him no, that’s what WE do, because we are married.). While on one hand I want him to be able to hang out with friends… well, there’s healthy friendships, and unhealthy friendships. SO’s LO is, to me, firmly in the “unhealthy friendship” category. I can’t wait for this roller coaster ride to be over- I don’t feel we can properly assess the extent of the damage done or the state of our marriage while he’s reacting on pure emotion.
When LO announced her exit from my workplace, I desperately wanted to arrange plans to get together as couples; some kind of future contact that I could look forward to. Almost everything my SO and I did socially involved couples, so it wouldn’t seem that odd to try to meet LO as couples. But it was really the LO and I that had the common interests, as the things we each did as married couples weren’t that similar. I stopped fighting to meet as couples when my SO gave in to my NEED to keep in contact. Though my LO also wanted to keep in touch with me; I just did not know how much she meant it until we actually did connect way more than we did when we worked together. I was very surprised at how much closer (intimate) you can become with somebody you have known for a while even after placing physical distance between you (the power of text/phone). The obsessive habit of checking email and letting the other know what you are up to: “I have 15 minutes if you want to talk” kind of stuff. It felt good but was overwhelming, and it felt impossible to give it up.
Hello thinker, how did it go for you, your LO and SO?
Yeah, a meal with a person who is a sexual candidate but SO isn’t invited or welcome is a date.
I didn’t choose no contact; my LO did after a blow-up when it became clear the relationship was only hurting both of us. It was brutally hard, but I knew it was the right choice.
Several big turning points for me were realizing: 1) I need to identify what I’m missing in my life that he symbolizes, and make those things happen, 2) realizing that his opinion of me no longer mattered–and never should have–my opinion of me is all that counts. 3) whatever is going on in front of my nose is probably more pleasant than what is going on in my head; be present! And 4) was more a habit tweak, but had dramatically positive effects:
I’m a champion ruminator and will go over memories ad-friggin-nauseum, especially positive ones. I used to spend hours remembering every moment we’d spent together. One night I finally got so fed up with myself I started yelling at myself in my head, “He’s not there! It’s over! He’s gone! Wherever you remember him, right this second he is not there anymore!” and then I started thinking of every place I had a memory of him, and literally imagining it without him. The park–empty. The mountainside–deserted. The ski lift–no one there. His storage unit–cleaned out. His room–empty, abandoned, cleaned out, no furniture, repainted, nothing but dust bunnies and sunbeams. I could go there and hang out, but he wasn’t there anymore. There was nothing there for me.
It sounds silly even to me, but it worked amazingly well!! It literally started to extinguish the pleasure I was getting from ruminating on memories, which felt like a bloody miracle by that point. And it was easy to maintain after that, perhaps because it was such a relief.
Soooo going to try this.
Vicarious Limerent says
Thanks Whitney (and Mia for reviving this older comment). I kind of needed something like this. I had yelled at myself a few times about how bloody stupid and illogical my limerent ruminations are. I haven’t done it in a while, and I think it’s time to start doing it again because it definitely helped in the past (that and writing a paragraph to myself on the stupidity of my limerent ruminations seemed to help). I am getting pretty bad again about thinking about my LO, the night I met her, my interactions with her on Facebook and the times when I thought I might have seen her. She is gone and no longer in my life. While our paths may cross again some day, she was just a random stranger I met in a bar and I may never see her again as long as I live. She possibly hardly remembers me by now, and she very well could be dating someone at this point.
Most of all, I ruminate FAR TOO MUCH about what I would say to my LO if I ever ran into her. It needs to stop, and I have to be prepared to keep it relatively light if I ever do see her (declarations of my undying love (obviously an exaggeration) likely wouldn’t go down well at all since I’m a married man and she never really showed me any interest). Even if my marriage does end some day and we could theoretically be together, the chances of that ever happening are slim to none, so I simply have to stop wasting so much energy thinking of that. Better to focus on self-improvement and what I am going to do about my marriage. In many ways, thinking about my LO is a distraction from the hard work and unpleasantness I know is ahead of me as I finally try to figure out what to do about my marriage, family life, job and career. The problem is that a reunion with my LO could actually happen. My new friends want me to go to the pub where I met my LO sometime. I am really not ready for that, but it could happen, even elsewhere because most of them live in the next town where my LO lives and I am assuming my LO must go to other places sometimes as well. I have to stop obsessing over a possible future meeting while also developing a reasonable approach to determining what I would say if it does happen. As Scharnhorst once said, I don’t want her to lose respect for me. Saying too much would make her lose respect for me (if she still has any), but simply sticking to small talk just doesn’t seem appropriate either, given what transpired among her, my brother in-law and me this past winter. I at least want her to know that I think highly of her and was pulling for her with my brother in-law.
Same here VL…my ruminating has got a bit out of hand again. I used to practice a few meditations and re-programming techniques to keep it at a manageable level but I’ve just not felt like doing that of late. Thanks Mia and VL for the reminder that I must put much more effort into my mind mastery! Starting right now.
Vicarious Limerent says
@ Allie: Limerent rumination is a tricky one. It can be a source of pleasure, but it tends to dominate one’s life if you allow it to. I also think it becomes more pain than pleasure when the limerence is unrequited (as mine and yours is). I am again finding it is affecting my work performance and that really worries me. It also doesn’t help my attempts to transform my marriage and life. Therefore, I have to cut way back. All the best to you in your struggle to reclaim your thoughts. At least we are all here for one another!
Before or after you get rid of the canoe?
The canoe has to go?
Why? Isn’t it normal to have a huge canoe next to your bed, not intending to ever use ?
How big is the canoe? How big are you,Mia? Could you get rid of the bed and sleep in the canoe?
This canoe story is so funny Mia!! 😅 Though we all know it’s a serious challenge for you to get rid of it! How can we have such a contrast between our rational brain and our limerent one??
Maybe you should christen it, like a battleship. You could call it “Mia’s Folly” or even better, paint your LO’s name on it and pretend to whack him between the eyes with a bottle of champagne.
Messy but cathartic!
Vicarious Limerent says
@ Mia: I would love a canoe and would gladly take it off your hands (and have the space to store it), but transporting it all that distance would be a challenge!
‘I would love a canoe…’
Would that be an example of Limerent transference that Dr. L has mentioned in the past?
When I’m ready, in 100 years I will burn it and dance around it…
Talking about the length we go in limerence, I’m still doing it.. I catch myself..
This week I want to launch a you tube channel on self care, so now there is not only a canoe in my bedroom but also a small studio with lights and background.
Guess who I want to ask to do the editing…
Not sure I mentioned the 26 plants I have in my livingroom because I started a plant orphanage.
Let’s call it ” inspired” by Los love of nature.
Vicarious Limerent says
@ Thomas: How is it transference for me (not being critical, just legitimately curious)? Are you saying the canoe is a big phallic symbol, did you think it was some way I could impress my LO, or is it a way of keeping myself busy to keep my mind off my LO? I have always liked canoeing and kayaking (although I never seriously got into either), but I don’t think my LO is into that type of thing at all. She likes some things I do (pubs, certain types of music, dogs), but I also know she’s into a sport I am not that keen on. I am not about to pretend to be a fan of that sport just to try to impress her, although if the local professional team is doing well, I will sometimes jump on the bandwagon (perhaps some people might be surprised by that). On the other hand, things would be completely different if I was in a position to date my LO and she wanted to catch a game with me!
Through my dark mood today it was a bit of silliness. Just the idea of one limerent transferring property to another. Like an LE swap shop. 🙂
Though tbf I’m not above distracting myself with the odd ‘canoe’ should a suitable one come floating along.
I’ve actually been online dating with some associated shenanigans and thought it going rather well till LO suddenly burst back into my thoughts. Mid-date in fact. I’m nothing if not a catch. It’s that irrational line of reasoning….
‘Now I’ve proven how over all this I am surely i should contact LO so we can just go back to being friends?’ Because that’s worked out every time we’ve tried. Clearly. I think that the fact that this thought occurred mid G&T with a charming, available, mature, date sat right in front of me indicates it’s probably not a rational opinion. I also think that being upset about stupid LO at a time like that is stupid and I’m stupid… and I’m annoyed.
I’m going for an annoyed walk. 😀
Had a day ruined by miserable remorseful rumination yesterday. It’s beginning of week 6 NC…
Lots of misplaced remorse and heartache. Painful.
I’m sorry Thomas, I also think sometimes that my limerence refuses to die.
It needs a lot of time,
More time than we want to give it, but that doesn’t mean there is no progress.
6 weeks !
Thank you Mia. I think it’s the first time I’ve really really felt like cracking. But so good to have a place to vent.
That’s why I’m not dating, I wish I was ready to speed up this LE getting over, but I m not ready I would compare everyone to LO and become more sad.
I’m bargaining all day to yes or no to be LO s friend. Sometimes I even think it’s a really good idea! 🤦🏼♀️
What if LO was a friend at work whose primary job at said place of work was to organize files, which involves handwriting on literally hundreds of file boxes the names of certain files, etc. ? When LO leaves this job, a reminder of her will be here for YEARS to come. Her handwriting is literally all over the office. I am scared to death of this. That day will come. I will never see her again, I will have NC finally, but that handwriting will be there as a constant and painful reminder of her. And her handwriting is one of the many things I love about her.
But your 1 through 3 sound doable. I’ll try those. I just don’t think 4 will work for me.
This is what happened to me B. LO reminders were everywhere at work after she left. I took a bin bag to her desk and threw away all her pens, books, files, food, shoes… you name it, anything I could find. I deleted any reference to her and got IT to disable her profile so it took away her picture on docs, posts etc. But her name still pops up every now and again on something. It’s actually a nice recovery barometer though. First few months made you feel sick, 6 months ok, 12 very little reaction, 18m a little smile. That’s how it’s gone for me.
I kept one thing. I’d bought her a birthday present and she left part of it on her desk when she left. I was really upset that she didn’t take it, but actually I think she hoped I’d see it. So I put it in my drawer and it’s stayed there ever since. I don’t know why I did that, but I did.
Funny you mention keeping a memento. I have a huge problem with this. And I mean huge. I have kept the most trivial things. The biggest storage cache is on my phone of course. Another poster on here, Fred, I think it was, once said something about habitually doing this. Creating sort of a “shrine” to LO. It’s so messed up. I don’t ever see myself getting rid of my shrine, especially after she leaves. I would need to feel anger toward LO in order to bring myself to do that, which reminds me of our recent discussion on here about giving LO an angry goodbye letter. Something to scorch the earth just before going NC. Only then maybe I could get rid of that stuff.
I put all images, archived chats etc. onto an external drive and hid them somewhere discreet at my parents’ house.
That way I know they exist, and I will deal with them at some point, but they are not on my phone. Last night I was thoroughly miserable and would have done anything to scroll through some pictures of me & LO…
But I couldn’t. Still feel rotten but I know I’ve got to ride through this.
Feeling teary today. :/
Yeah, I too keep my photos of LO in a remote folder in my hard drive. That way, I don’t have the feeling of loss that actually getting rid of them would cause, but I won’t fall in the temptation of looking them up either.
Sad to hear that you’re on a rough patch, man. Hope you get out of it soon.
Nice to have this space. Nice to be acknowledged, and wished well.
I deleted the library sized chat that I had on what’s app with my LO. It helped me massively. It stopped me rereading his every message 100 times looking for hidden meanings ( he’ s flirting with me clearly?, why that emoji? Why that song? What does he mean here? Is he talking about us here? This picture, really? I want to scream!). I wipe the message every time I have contact with him, which is less and less frequent. I have forced myself to not answer if there is no direct question and to not be an instigator ( well as little as possible anyway)…I m getting over the cold turkey and slowly having several days in a row without a thought for him. Social media often gets me again but I ve stopped obsessively checking his.
This is such a brilliant idea. My LO is such a sweet person it is hard to think of him doing negative things. But thinking of the fantasies and excluding him from them seems like such a rational way to extinguish. Thanks for the great idea. I will be incorporating this strategy immediately.
I can relate to the dog example. Every time my phone would ding, I would immediately think “LO!” . It reached the point I could sense which dings were texts from him and which weren’t ,even before I looked at my screen. Since I went NC,the sound of a text being delivered doesn’t excite me anymore and it’s as if I’m not interested in texting all together cause I know even when I get a reply it won’t be as rewarding as a text from LO.
I gave LO his own ringtone before NC , still when I hear that ringtone somewhere I freak.
To reverse the conditioning I made myself listen to it 50.0000 times.
Helped a little. 😀
I can completely relate to this! I felt like a text junky!
My only issue with this is that my brain seems to develop new reverie scenarios, even after cataloging and rewriting the old ones.
I’m surprised how so many people have shared their limerence issue with their SOs. For me, it’s this shameful secret I keep from my wife. I couldn’t imagine the stress in my marriage were I to divulge that I have obsessive, intrusive thoughts about a 25-year old coworker I almost never spoke with and haven’t seen in a year, and that I follow her on social media to the point where I have pictures of her hidden on my computer. I’m ashamed of this and this site is the only place I have ever mentioned my secret.
All SO’s are different, and all have different expectations of marriage e.g. we both expected that one or both of us would be attracted to, or even become infatuated with, another person at some point during the rest of our lives.
I was very nervous about telling my SO but he was great – he just accepted it and has been very supportive. I framed it very carefully when I told him – the addiction angle worked well with my SO…he has experienced addiction so understands that the addiction drives the intrusive thoughts which in turn fuels the addiction. It helps that my SO trusts me to always be honest and my telling him only enhanced his trust. I was apologetic, I gave him lots of affection and reassurance, I don’t ever give him more detail than he needs and I don’t talk about it often. I certainly never say anything especially nice about LO to my SO or compare them. Sometimes, my SO even asks me how my day at work was with a cheeky grin and a wink! (LO is my boss)
It must be said, LEs are far easier to manage when you have your SO in your corner. I do not feel any shame…I may have unintentionally fallen for another man, but I have been honest, respectful and loving with my SO throughout.
Agree. It’ s way better to tell your SO if they can take it and you value the relationship. It’ s an addiction. Pure and simple. It is beyond your control and you have to work at it like you would treat an addiction. Slowly , carefully reducing, stopping ‘ risk situations’ accepting the occasional slip up, working at it like a drug addiction. I have felt like a crackhead throughout this. The rush I feel is very physical, and I feel high on drugs just by contact or texting with this person.
Vicarious Limerent says
I had no choice but to tell my wife. I wasn’t myself at all for an entire month and she knew something was up. She also knew I REALLY liked my LO (although she had no idea just how much I liked her). As mentioned before, my brother in-law and I met my LO one night at a pub. She really liked him, although the three of us got along very well and had a nice evening chatting. The problem was when my BIL started becoming quite lukewarm towards my LO after the fact. He is the type of person who asks for advice all the time and is somewhat lacking in confidence deep down (although you wouldn’t know it to meet him). I gave him some unsolicited advice and basically told him he would be a fool to let my LO slip through his fingers. I told him how awesome I thought she was and confided that if I wasn’t married to his sister that I would be totally into my LO myself. He just grinned when I said that. I also told my wife and mother in-law just how highly I thought of my LO.
So, my wife kind of had an idea, but my insomnia, restlessness, lack of focus and attention, lack of appetite, pacing, irritability and enhanced focus on working out, going for long walks and hanging out at the mall told her something was really up. She demanded to know exactly what was bothering me, so I told her. It has been a mixed bag in terms of her reaction. Knowing what I know now, would I tell her again? Probably, because the weight being lifted off my shoulders really helped, even though it caused my wife some hurt and upset, and we have fought about it many times. However, every person and every relationship is different. Results may vary.
I only learned about Limerence yesterday and my god it floored me! I’ve been struggling with this for years, and the guy I have feelings for does NOT make it easy for me. To begin with he was contacting me all the time, making excuses to meet etc. Then I started getting these feelings for him and was manipulated by him into confessing how I feel. At which point he said he doesn’t reciprocate. So I’ve been distancing myself as much as possible. But he doesn’t like that. If he thinks I might be starting a relationship with someone he gets horrible, I catch him staring at me, and he keeps trying to draw me back in. I can’t stand it. I don’t want to have these feelings for him and if he doesn’t want me I don’t get why he won’t just let me move on and get past it. It’s so cruel.
I hate that I’m using Google searches of limerence to fuel my ruminations about my LO. Literally, the negative thoughts are making my obsession worse.
That’s probably because he is my on again off again boyfriend.
For the years he has kept me in a pattern of extremely affectionate loving but then dumping me in some horrible way every six months or so. Then we continue sleeping together “as friends” until we’re back together.
But even at the best of times, he has let me know that he does not see a future with me, does not want to be a step father to my 9yo, since his kids are nearly grown; and even now he will rarely let me come over more than every other weekend and holidays.
He’s not even seeing anyone else and he treats me like a queen on birthdays and anniversaries. He just doesn’t want me to get too comfortable.
Is he worth your self-respect?
Hint: Nobody is worth your self-respect.
Article of the Day: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/199911/self-esteem-vs-self-respect
“The person with self-respect simply likes her- or himself.”
A long time ago, my father told me the most important thing we have is our self-respect. He told me not to let anyone attack or erode it. Lose your self-respect to someone else and you’re screwed.
As screwed up as my childhood was, to my parents’ credit, they never made their problems about me. I never was made to feel like I caused them and, with the exception of trying to comfort my sobbing mother, they didn’t expect me to fix them. For the record, she didn’t ask me to try, I did that on my own. My self-respect was allowed to develop positively. An aunt later told me that it really cramped my mother’s style when I came along.
The article explains the difference between self-respect and self-esteem. With respect to limerence, self-respect forms the basis of what we’ll accept from our LO but self-esteem is rooted in what they provide us.
Stories of Self-Respect:
I had a thing for women with low self-esteem. They’re easy to deal with. You don’t have to be good, you just have to be better than the last guy. They usually don’t expect much.
When I met her, LO #2 was a people-pleasing pushover. I don’t think she could say “No” to anybody especially her mother. After my successor allegedly cheated on her, she came looking for a shoulder to cry on. I thought she might have pulled her head out of her ass so I gave her a chance. I was naïve.
One day, she dropped hints that she was going out of town. We were no longer together so where she was going and what she was doing was none of my business. I told her that but she insisted on telling me anyway. It turns out that she was flying 1000 miles to spend the weekend with the guy.
I asked, “The guy that’s cheating on you? She said it was. I told her, “I thought you had more self-respect. You really don’t like yourself, do you? Either way, I’m not going to try to talk you out of it and I’m not giving you a ride to the airport.”
Later, she told me she didn’t make the trip.
About a month after LO #4 moved out on her ex and had settled in, she started thinking about it. She was starting a new life after 7 years with the guy. I started getting a lot of emails from her about a lot of things. She was kind of a mess.
In one of them, she said she felt like a fraud, that she’d betrayed herself, her friends, and, worst, her clients. She said as a mental health professional, she had done everything opposite of what she’d tell her clients to do in a similar situation.
I told her that she wrong. I told her that whatever her ex tried to get from her, he didn’t get her self-respect. If he’d gotten that and she’d betrayed herself, she’d still be with him. And, she wasn’t.
My wife had long-standing self-esteem issues but she hid them beautifully. Not long into our marriage, I tripped them. It almost destroyed our marriage less than 2 years in. A marriage counselor was able to keep us together but we never addressed our individual issues. I think our marriage was less than it could have been because of it. We were married over 25 years before she told me things about her childhood that helped me understand her. She’s working on them but so much of her self-esteem is tied to others’ perception of her. I’ve been telling her that she doesn’t have to prove herself to me or anyone. Some days I think she believes me and some days I know she doesn’t.
Have you ever really thought about your self-respect?
Good article, thanks for that.
Provides an interesting and different definition of “Self Respect” – very much aligned with “Self Compassion”.
I see this post is from 3 years ago , but as I’m now in the middle of a limerent episode, I’ve just recently found this blog, that has been helping me a lot as I understand a bit better what I’m going through.
Well, turns out that I’m gay and my LO is not, so there’s absolutely no chance to achieve a reciprocation, or at least not a romantic one, which is what I desire the most. We are kind of friends even though we only know each other for just a couple of months, but he seems to like me as he treats me well. Like a friend really. And well, obviously I like him too and I appreciate spending time with him and all that. Thing is, I just want to see him as a regular friend, but my limerent brain wouldn’t allow me to, and that in spite of me not wanting to think about him (atleast not like that). Guess that’s expained by the involuntary nature of limerence. So, in short, I just want to keep being his friend, but not while he’s my LO. My ultimate goal would be not to have any LOs anymore, because that’s too painful. But at the moment I’m trying to eliminate his role as my LO. And spite of everything it’s HARD. I’m going the route of trying to deprogram my limerent brain. It’s the first time I’m attempting to do something like this, and I’m on the early stages still, but I want to share what I’m doing with you, in case it could be of any help. So, what I’m doing is: every time he/his image/his name comes into my limerent brain – which is often, as you can guess – I say out loud (if I’m home, that’s it lol) “X – his name -, I’m in charge now. You shall not pass “ (yes, I’m a longtime Tolkien fan 😁). And guess what? It works, call me crazy but I kind of feel the thoughts of him going away. It truly gives a feeling of power and control…so that’s my contribution. I’ll be glad if it helps anyone else too 🙂
Very clever! Thanks for sharing your brilliant idea.
Thanks for your kind words, Jaideux. I was so excited when I wrote this, as I saw it was working, but unfortunately it´s really hard work, and also tiring, so I´m afraid I haven´t been able to keep it up…at this point the only solution I see is to “sacrifice” LO, which was my last option, as I´ve been trying hard to eliminate him as my LO. But it simply does not work.
Clip of the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xYXUeSmb-Y
You’re not the only Tolkien fan here.
Haha glad I´m not the only Tolkien fan here, Scharnhorst. Sadly, the Balrog (the limerence) is winning this battle so far…
Love this…have been using it recently with some success. But when I say it in my mind I end up seeing Jason Segal saying this line in the movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” which just makes me giggle! 🙂
Hi, Allie, glad it has helped you. But have you been able to use it successfully CONSTANTLY? Because my lazy and limerent brain hasn´t allowed me to, in spite of how glad I was when I started to do it, as I saw some results…
Me too. I don’t think anything can stop all thoughts of LO other than a lengthy period of NC or mind re-programming. Far too mentally exhausting.
I also find after successfully avoiding thoughts of LO for a few days, when my mind inevitably slips up and lets a brief limerent reverie in, it feels so much more intense than before. And then my mind keeps being drawn back to it as it felt so damn good. I am such an addict! But I shall keep on working at it nonetheless.
Minds are idiots sometimes.
Yes, Allie, I agree with you: NC and mind re-programming are our only choices. But, frankly, I´m giving up on doing the re-programming on my own, it´s clear enough it´s not working lol. I also tried as you said feeding my limerent brain with some negative data about my LO (there are things about him that I don´t like, I´m not entirely blind!). To no avail, of course. My stupid brain keep thinking he´s the most desirable thing on Earth. So I´m gonna disclose next time I see my LO, get rejected and go NC. I have no other choice.
I should add Maedhros that the technique that has worked better for me in the past is to take an LO reverie, let it run for a bit and then change it into something unpleasant. Rejection, bad consequences of some sort, pain, discomfort, smelly breath & fat tongued overly wet icky kisses, crap disconnecting sex, him turning out to be very disappointing in some way, you hurting them, them hurting you… let your imagination go to town! Not as easy to construct as the nice reveries and takes practice to get good at this, but it will help stop your mind constantly suggesting thoughts of LO.
@Maedhros. Welcome mate! Your post really moved me as I was in the exact same position – gay man agonising over a straight male LO who was also a “good friend”, the best friend I’d ever had up to that point, and a very nice man to boot. And yes, what started out as a beautiful and innocent and “cute” friendship eventually became a source of unbearable pain – but only for one of us. (Me!)
I can’t tell you how to live your life or what choices to make. But if I could counsel my younger self regarding limerence, I would tell him to walk away. No, don’t just walk away – run. Run for the hills and never look back. Nothing good can come from this horribly unequal situation. Sexual activity is of course unlikely. But even more to the point – straight male LO will never, ever, EVER be able to provide you with the emotional reciprocation that is at the core of limerence. Even if he can please you sexually, he can’t please you emotionally. He can’t love you back in a limerent way. Grab your running shoes and get the heck out of there. 😛
Hey, I get it. The “friendship” you guys share feels good. Maybe you’re calling it a bromance? (I pretended my straight male LO was my brother). The ecstasy is addictive, like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. Full disclosure: maybe you’ll never experience anything like this again either. But your brain is playing a nasty little trick on you. LO is not the source of the good feelings (or the bad feelings). Your own brain is the source of everything you’re feeling. Don’t be seduced by LO’s offer of friendship. It’s sincere and genuine and authentic, but only for him. Don’t drink from the poisoned chalice. Save yourself. Walk away.
Friendship doesn’t make people euphoric. Friendship doesn’t make people depressed or give them mood swings. Friendship doesn’t lead to suicidal thoughts. Realise this guy can never give you what you want (mutuality of feeling) and minimise contact with him. You will never be special to him. Don’t analyse his behaviour. Don’t allow yourself to be spellbound by a gorgeous, glittering illusion.
Sorry if I sound intense, but I obviously have a strong emotional response to the topic based on my own unhappy experiences. Warm wishes, buddy. 😛
Hello Sammy! Thanks for your warm welcome, but above all I really appreciate your honesty. I was moved as well reading your words.
Yeah, of course you are absolutely right, I will never be special (in that kind of way at least) to him. My limerent brain is indeed trying really hard to fucking me up, because I can assure you that I´m forcing myself to see him as a friend, a regular one, and nothing else. But God knows why is not working. I´m gonna tell you something: back in the day I fell again for a straight guy. I never learn, do I? lol. He was my best friend and that time, I was physically/sexually attracted to him, and on top of that he treated me really well, cared about me, gave me attention, affection…but he couldn´t love me in a romantic way, of course. I always fell for that: guys that I´m attracted to and who give me some attention/affection/whatever. But I never choose the right ones, must be my brain again screwing me over and over again. That time, though, I was really in love, and not limerent/obssesed. I know it because I´ve been thinking a lot about it and, well, when I was in love I never experienced the ambivalence I´m experiencing currently with my LO: if he does something nice to me (as he has done) I´ll be glad, but not really glad, because deep down NOW I know it only reinforces the limerence, the reward circuit and all that. So it´s really not good but in fact bad Not long ago when I wasn´t still learning as much of limerence as I do now, I was fooling myself thinking that I could handle it. After all I had experienced the pain of being rejected before and still, even though it took a while, I managed to see my best friend just as a friend. A dear one, but without the romantic input. However, I must give you that limerence is something else. Much more destructive than “normal” love. Still (call me a fool if you want), I want to believe that once it goes away, I would be able to see that guy as a friend and nothing else, right? Though, for what you wrote, it´s clear enough you don’t share this view at all, may I ask why? Because if you had any personal experience in that regard I would love to hear it, as long as it doesn´t evoke you painful memories and past pain, of course 😊
@Carlos. Thank you for your response, mate. I’m glad you’re learning about limerence. I don’t want to force my views on anyone, as we’ve all got different personalities and strengths and weaknesses and may handle life’s challenges in different ways. I can only speak from my own life experiences. I would much rather offer you some empathy than preach at you, if that’s okay? 😛
“I can assure you that I’m forcing myself to see him as a friend, a regular one, and nothing else.”
It’s hard, isn’t it, buddy? 😛
“He treated me really well, cared about me, gave me attention, affection…”
Oh gosh, tell me about it. It feels so wonderful when someone attractive acts as if they really care about you. For me, it felt like I’d won the jackpot – at least temporarily. The beautiful, beautiful feelings involved – there are no words to describe the beautiful feelings, as you must know already from your own experiences.
It’s like someone comes into your life and they’re going to make everything right/kiss it better. It’s like all the disappointments you’ve faced so far no longer matter or get you down. Pain melts away; anxiety vanishes. For me, my LO was a bit like chocolate biscuits filled with gooey caramel. Can’t stop at one biscuit. Have to have the whole packet. I think my desire for more and more of LO may have alienated him in the end. I became needy and greedy.
“I want to believe that once it goes away, I would be able to see that guy as a friend and nothing else, right?”
I agree this is a very attractive proposition. And many (non-limerent) people are capable of remaining friends with former flames. In fact, it’s kind of expected in some circles. I think it’s a little harder for us limerent folk, though, due to addiction issues.
“Though, for what you wrote, it´s clear enough you don’t share this view at all, may I ask why? Because if you had any personal experience in that regard I would love to hear it, as long as it doesn’t evoke [in] you painful memories and past pain, of course 😊”
Always happy to share. To cut a long story short, my LO got married and I suffered a mental breakdown/attempted suicide. For about five years, my limerence for Straight Boy had me seesawing between bliss and despair, with not much in-between. Then, when LO exited my life, the negative feelings intensified dramatically.
I haven’t shared this last piece of information with anyone yet, but I will now. After my suicide attempt, LO basically ghosted me. All letters came back unanswered. He completely shut me out of his life, possibly at his wife’s urging. I was too confused to really know what was going on by that stage, as severe mood swings had taken over and I was using alcohol to numb myself to my environment.
For a long time, I couldn’t see things from LO’s point of view. I couldn’t empathise with him. Now, in hindsight, I think he must have found my so-called “love” for him horribly oppressive/suffocating. The friendship had ceased to be fun for either of us. The person he befriended had disappeared and turned into a vampire! Do I blame LO for pushing me away? Not at all. I would have done the same thing under the same circumstances.
I guess those oh-so-delicious caramel-filled chocolate biscuits had poison inside – metaphorically speaking, of course. 😛
Carlos, for your sake, I hope nothing bad comes from your LE, and you handle yourself a lot more gracefully. I don’t want to offend or frighten anyone. But the way I fell apart emotionally five years into limerence was truly terrifying – even to me. And I’m normally a cool, calm, collected person who’s very good in crisis situations.
Big hugs, mate. Take care of yourself. 🙂
@Sammy: Hey Sammy. I actually wanted to reply on Wednesday, but I didn´t have a good day lol. Yesterday was good but today it´s also the same crap. Can´t stop thinking about him no matter what. In fact, today is exactly the “anniversary” of our last meeting, two months ago.
But back to you: wow, your story was such a tough pill to swallow. Thanks for your openness and for sharing those bits that you hadn´t shared before. I sincerely hope you are well past this LE. And hopefully you haven´t had another LO since that one, though something tells me you had enough of LOs in your life. But, wow, I admit your story did touch me. May be because I´m now hypersensible to almost anything, but it really was something. And that end…I´ve been ghosted before and I know how that feels. It´s really awful, and if on top of that it´s HE who does it…wow, what a bitter experience it must have been. So, again, I REALLY hope that awful LE is a thing of a long past.
About me, I was happy yesterday because I felt my limerent brain was detaching a bit emotionally from him. It´s like my limerent brain realised that he only sees me as a tennis partner and nothing else, and that I´ll never be special to him. That I already know from a rational point of view. But tell that to my limerent brain…In fact I doubt he wants to keep playing as he said, because he hasn´t told me anything about it. And well, I´m determined not to break the NC, but at the same time I´m dying to know what´s up with him. So yeah, I´m having those abrupt mood swings. Also, yesterday I was glad because I was meeting a guy from Grindr. He looked like a manly hunk in his pics and I was secretly hoping to turn him into my new LO (Not that I want to have another LO, you know, but atleast with this one I share the same sexual orientation lol). But I ended up disappointed, for he wasn´t as attractive in person, and in fact he was even a bit feminine in his gestures and such. And today I can´t get fucking LO out of my fucking limerent brain, because I´m still stupidly waiting a message from him telling me to go playing soon – as he said he would do -, and I believe that uncertainty is what´s making limerence growing. In spite of not seeing him for two months already, as I said. So what a mess. I´m more down than up today, sorry. And I guess I needed to get this all out of my system.
@Maedhros. Nice to hear from you again. 😛
“Today is exactly the “anniversary” of our last meeting, two months ago.”
Wait. You’re counting anniversaries after just two months? Dude, is that a red flag right there? Haha. I’m teasing you, but I’m familiar with “anniversary mania” and wanting to celebrate ridiculously small milestones. Been there, done that.
“Hopefully you haven´t had another LO since that one, though something tells me you [have] had enough of LOs in your life.”
My life is a work is progress, and I’m trying very hard to sort out where I want to go in the future. However, my limerent tendencies have lessened significantly with age, which is a blessing. (I’m close to 40 now). I don’t think I could have successfully fought limerence in my early 20s as I had no desire to.
Fun fact: I think back to the guys I knew in high school who I thought were really hot and exciting and mysterious. They are still reasonably good-looking today. But they no longer seem exciting and mysterious to me. In fact, they seem quite boring (in terms of job, attitude, conversational habits) and I wonder why I thought their friendship would be so desirable? For example, if I were friends with one of those guys today, I’d probably have to sit around and listen to him talk about how much money he makes. And money is nice. But anyone can talk about money, right? I can listen to some elderly neighbour talk about money, etc.
“I´ve been ghosted before and I know how that feels. It´s really awful, and if on top of that it´s HE who does it…wow, what a bitter experience it must have been.”
Yup, rejection is very painful. No words for the level of hurt. Worse if you feel you’ve been conned into limerence in the first place i.e. through mixed signals.
“At the same time I´m dying to know what´s up with him.”
Limerence makes everything about our LOs seem fascinating. They become the most fascinating people on earth while we’re intoxicated by them.
“But I ended up disappointed, for he wasn´t as attractive in person.”
Not the first time I’ve heard that sentiment expressed by a hopeful user of dating apps. 😛
“He was even a bit feminine in his gestures and such.”
It’s weird and probably not a very politically correct thing to say. But I think gay boys are subconsciously attracted to the masculine look/energy of straight males. Unfortunately, that very masculinity is what prevents them (straight males) from caring about us (gay boys) in the way we care about them. It’s one of Mother Nature’s little jokes. Although many straight women also complain about “emotional distance” in relationships with straight males. If straight males were emotionally accessible, they’d be less interesting and wouldn’t become LOs.
“I´m more down than up today, sorry. And I guess I needed to get this all out of my system.”
Hope you’re feeling better again soon, buddy. Thanks for sharing. At least you’re somewhat aware of limerence and can reflect on what’s taking place in your brain. Limerence is so much harder to cope with when you don’t know what’s up with you, and blame yourself for all the bad feelings/mood swings involved.
Hello, Sammy. It´s always nice to talk to you. However, I don´t enter here everyday, either that or I´m just not on the mood to write, so I might take a while in replying you back. Sorry about that.
“Wait. You’re counting anniversaries after just two months? Dude, is that a red flag right there? Haha” Haha actually I said it because I didn´t it would take so much time to see him again. I know that´s actually a good thing, because now I´m much more aware of everything. In fact, looking back and knowing what I know now, I wouldn´t act the same way in regards to him. Constantly seeking him and such, I mean.
“However, my limerent tendencies have lessened significantly with age, which is a blessing”. Oh yes, I can imagine. And it makes sense. The more you have lived the more experience you have. And thus you are able to see things differently. Or to avoid some traps, like this one. You said your life is a work in progress but I´m tempted to say that as long as you are limerence free everything´s fine lol.
I also think back of guys I fancied in high school…and well, some of them haven´t aged well lol. Time definitely changes everything ourselves included. I guess I´m a bit philosophic tonight lol.
“Yup, rejection is very painful. No words for the level of hurt. Worse if you feel you’ve been conned into limerence in the first place i.e. through mixed signals”. Sorry you had to learn the hard way that all that is gold does not glitter. Because you said back in the day he did treat you well. My limerent brain better take some notes on that regarding my LO.
“Not the first time I’ve heard that sentiment expressed by a hopeful user of dating apps”. Haha well I know I shouldn´t but I´m definitely on my way of a transference quest. Transference to a gay boy, of course. But so far nothing new. It´s gonna be hard.
“But I think gay boys are subconsciously attracted to the masculine look/energy of straight males”. Yeah, definitely. I even think straight guys on average are hotter and more handsome. But who knows, maybe it´s my stupid brain toying with me yet again.
“Hope you’re feeling better again soon, buddy”. I don´t know what to say. I know I won´t resist much longer the urge to contact my LO and ask him to play our tennis. It´s been two weeks of NC already, and I was determined in the beginning but, even though the limerent brain is stupid is also very powerful, so I´m afraid I´m gonna fall and contact him probably quite soon…and well, knowing what I know now, I´m worried about that. Thanks for reading and your replies, which tend to be rather fast as well, because I do feel understood 😊
Thank you so much for highlighting how rumination gives us pleasure! I am a repeatedly relapsing limerent, and have found the resources here tremendously helpful. Rethinking the positive ruminations with negative scenarios, living purposefully by asking whether the LO really meant anything by the words he uttered, and thinking of the cost to my SO made me come out of two limerent attachments. Both were brief; they lasted in my head for a month each.
The fact that I can recognize limerence is thanks to this website. I am someone who needs science to be convinced of things, so the references to research appeals well to me. I have successfully managed to convert both my LOs into sporadic friends, the fact remains that they are both worthy friends to have. Thank you so much for this site and the resources you have put up!
Hi Dr L and everyone on this site, this resource and shared experience has been an eye opener and provided some much needed answers.
Forgetting, Extinction – I now understand that my wife of 17 years was doing the exact same things to me over the past couple of years.
I was not aware of her LO until about 3 weeks ago.
Besotted, is probably not strong enough of a word for her level of Limerence. She was recently diagnosed with Cancer, wanted me to divorce her Immediately so that she (and my daughter) could move in with this individual.
She has no job, no source of income, will be undergoing a multitude of tests and possibly major surgery and to top that all she was also willing to use her savings to contribute to the living expenses once they move in.
Ofcourse, her LO is also married to his wife for 27 years, has grandchildren and will not be divorcing his wife.
No rational argument, fact or logic will change her mind.
I’ve just got a few days with her before she leaves, we both are exhausted with the arguments, crying, pleading, etc. All im trying to do now is make these last few days with her as pleasant as possible.
She’s willing to destroy not just her future but everyone else who’s involved and on so many levels it’s simply amazing and stunning.
What can one really do when its this bad.. just wish her good luck, I guess.
Try show some photos of the times you had. Might help rejig her memory.
I did and do… her response “I don’t remember OR I was a different person then”
The real issue at hand is that she’s built this narrative in her mind about me being the most horrible monster that was in her life, has convinced close friends and family about the same, all to get support for their acceptance of her LO as her saviour.
Its now very uncomfortable for her to think otherwise. No matter what she sees in front of her.
We are both undergoing therapy (separately) to deal with whatever it is we are going through and how we got to where we are today.
For me the LO is a non-issue, today it could be this person, tomorrow another LO. My concern is how do I get her to trust me again. I’m taking it one day, nay, one minute at a time. Small gestures help – I hope.
Limerent Emeritus says
Have you read: https://livingwithlimerence.com/whats-happened-to-my-spouse/?
“For me the LO is a non-issue, today it could be this person, tomorrow another LO. My concern is how do I get her to trust me again. I’m taking it one day, nay, one minute at a time. Small gestures help – I hope.”
It may work or it may not. You make the gesture and she does what she will with it. You’re fighting a guerilla war and you don’t dictate the victory conditions.
I fought two wars like this. I “lost” one and I “won” one. “Losing” is more or less defined as giving up. And, if you’re married with kids and assets, you could give up a lot. “Winning” is they change their behavior. You can choose to lose, but they decide if you win.
A lot of it depends on the amount of leverage you have and how they respond to influence. With my ex-girlfriend, I didn’t have a lot of direct leverage I could wield to influence her. It was strictly what my past performance was and what I had to offer. With my wife, I had a lot of leverage and I used it.
I had a $600 receipt from the best divorce lawyer in town and a letter saying the County Crisis Center would sign an affidavit recommending I get sole custody of the kids and she get supervised visitation. She knew me well enough to know I’d carry it out. And I gave her a deadline. It was enough for her to get help and turn things around. She’s been sober for 10 years.
You may or may not be that lucky. If she doesn’t turn, what’s your plan?
Hi Dr. L. I can’t express how Grateful I’m that I found your website right in the middle of a strong Limerance Episode. It has literally saved me from so much heartache and tragedy. As a super passionate romantic person and a strong day dreamer, I have struggled with Limerance for 20 years since I was 15. You have saved me from so much heartache and shame as I also struggle with depression and anxiety and other issues, and this Limerance Episode would have wrecked me completely. I’m so so Grateful. Thank you.🙏🏽🙏🏽
Feeling desperate and broken. Just ended relationship with my LO and it’s only day 2 of NC. He is not emotionally available and is fighting a custody battle for his son. We have had a FWB situation for a year and it’s breaking me so I ended it Friday night. He seemed fine with it and understood it wasn’t good for me since I’m married with children. But I can’t shake this feeling that I’m supposed to be with him. I have always had limerence with crushes even with my husband when we first met. I want to be strong but I feel so empty without him😞
Cat, you can do this. Be strong. Keep reaching out for helpful resources. That sounds like a very unhealthy situation, please don’t go back. I hope you are able to strengthen your family and leave this unhealthy side relationship behind you. You might try some YouTube videos from
Marriage Helper or
Hang in there. You can break free, but it will be hard. Be strong!
The more articles I read here, the more I realise my brain is totally messed up with the LO! I didn’t even know something like this was possible, but I see myself in many of the stuff described here.
And same goes with the rewards. Incredible.
I am trying to reprogra my brain but so far no success.
I did have bad experiences even in real life with her, as she blatantly ignored me (full story is here:https://livingwithlimerence.com/why-cant-i-get-over-my-crush) and it hurt like hell. I am trying to use that as a negative experience but it doesn’t help. My brain seems to like the challenge to try to make things good again between us, so I always drift to those problem-solving thoughts.
I also tried it with listing everything I do not like about her, the list isn’t short and there are even core values and animal rights views like: I am vegetarian, she isn’t; I would never ever buy a dog or a cat but adopt one; she breeds dogs to sell them; she went to a lion petting “sanctuary” in South Africa, I would never do that as I know what is usually behind these organisations; she purchases things and make up from China/other non-EU countries for her hobby, I usually look at origin, sustainability, animal testing…
But not even this helps. I keep thinking if I could talk with her…and that we are on the same page with a few things. Which is insane because I know I cannot be with someone who sees animals as objects. Ever.
Also because I do not want to cheat (omg!!), or hurt or leave my SO and probably deep inside I don’t want anything serious with the LO.
It is driving me crazy and I am angry at myself that I let me put myself in this situation. After some thinking I think me grieving for my dad who passed away some months before it all started has something to do with this…
thanks for reading😊
Robyn wren says
Strategy to dissipate the intensity of Limerence. .. to FIND YOUR LO A TURN OFF. I used this on a teacher I was crushing on and in adulthood when suffering in my head in fantasy and distraction 10 hrs/ day.
My imagination was obviously off the Richter scale vivid and effective to feed the Limerence, so I used it to get repulsed. I was so nervous with my teacher I couldn’t even sit in a lecture without nausea and fear of throwing up. So I imagined my teacher be gross, daggy, awkward, a dud lover, etc. I practiced my imaginary interactions and soon IT WORKED !.
What wolf do you feed? I understand that it is soooo addictive to fantasise LO will suddenly reciprocate it all, but know you are giving yourself a needle of dopamine to make life, sleep, real connections,etc, difficult every time you do. So use WILL POWER to create a new reality where they are just realistic, ordinary, annoying , boring, grotty, OCD, grumpy, whatever …make them have Erectile dysfunction or terrible kisser, let’s you down and is emotionally cold and hates dogs. Your brain will lessen the attraction.