When limerence is a problem in life, and when an individual limerent decides to take charge of themselves and go no contact, they then face a trial of self-discipline.
If this scenario applies to you, in all likelihood, you will experience grief. Quite possibly, just to add to the turmoil, you may also experience guilt over the grief – especially if you have a partner who has had to tolerate your limerence for someone else. In practical terms, if the LO was a significant part of your life, you are going to have to adapt to a change of lifestyle. You may be losing a confidante. You may be losing a companion. Even if the LO or limerence experience was more toxic and damaging, you will still be losing a central orienting force in your life.
Coping with this is likely to be a challenge. The key to dealing with no contact, in my view, is accepting that your life is utterly changed, embracing that truth, and focusing on how to navigate to a new, better, life.
1) Acknowledging your sacrifice
Sacrifice is an essential part of life. Now, going no contact to avoid an LO is not a noble sacrifice – like an altruistic act – but actually, real bread-and-butter sacrifice means giving up things you want because you know you should. For example, I know that I should stop watching youtube videos and do something more useful with my time. If I want to achieve something substantial, I have to make that sacrifice, and it’s going to hurt because I really enjoy the passive entertainment. Almost a defining feature of maturity is realising that achieving anything requires sacrifice. Freeing yourself from negative compulsions is a very good sacrifice to make. Acknowledge it, and recognise that the discomfort is a necessary good.
2) Refocusing your life
You’ve made a purposeful decision, and that’s a hugely valuable first step. Bolster yourself against backward steps. Keep your focus on yourself and how you can be better, and not make the same mistakes and indulge the same self-sabotaging desires next time. Linked in to the previous idea: what worthwhile new things can you do to make yourself more interesting and fulfilled? The best sources of fulfilment in life are free. Concentrate on them for a while. In fact, concentrate on them for the rest of your life, if you really want to thrive. If you have an SO, then focus on them, and be grateful that they have stuck with you through this. Remember it the next time they put you through the wringer.
3) Mentally wishing LO bon voyage
When you catch your thoughts drifting back to LO, remember that you have said goodbye.
LO is living their new life, and you are living yours. They will go off and have adventures and disasters, and so will you, but your time together is done. You decided that. Wish them well, and stick to it.
4) Living honestly
The foregoing suggestion to say goodbye may sound like a bit of a trite platitude, but it’s surprisingly psychologically deep. At the heart of living a purposeful life is the notion that you will be honest with yourself. If you make a deal with another person – promise them that you would do something, or meet an obligation – but then go back on it, they would come to the conclusion that you are an unreliable or dishonest person. If you are generally conscientious, then not keeping your end of a deal will be upsetting to you, as it rightly conflicts with your sense of honour and responsibility. Well, if you promise yourself that you will go no contact with LO, and then break it in a moment of weakness, what you are doing is teaching yourself at a subconscious (but quite fundamental level) that you are dishonest. You cannot trust yourself. That’s not good.
So, a good strategy to avoid that sort of self-sabotage is to try one of two things: 1) commit to keeping a deal with yourself with the same degree of conscientiousness and seriousness as you would keep a deal with a valued friend or partner. 2) Be honest with yourself about what you are able to do. No contact may be too much all at once. Overreaching and missing is sometimes a noble failure, but when it becomes a pattern it trains you to believe you are the failure. Set yourself simpler targets that you can meet – no contact tomorrow. Then, no texts for three days. Then, no contact for a week. Depending on the nature of your LO, this may be easier or harder, but a series of small victories can sometimes be more successful than trying to win the battle in one grand offensive.
Overall, the best hope for managing the emotional fallout of no contact is to concentrate on your new life with laser focus. Relief comes from suffering in the short term to enjoy freedom in the long term.
When I look at the definition of sacrifice as you describe, for me, it’s not a precise fit.
Although I felt some sense of loss when LO #4 said goodbye, it didn’t last long and I never saw it as a sacrifice. I never felt that parting company really cost me anything tangible but that could have been a unique aspect of our virtual relationship. We weren’t real friends and we had little, if any direct impact on each other’s lives.
It was more an example of
the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.”
To me, the semantics are a small but important distinction.
“…especially if you have a partner who has had to tolerate your limerence for someone else.”
Have you read Chump Lady’s blog? Admittedly she is discussing cheaters – but it’s interesting how many cheaters use language that isn’t dissimilar to that used by people in limerence. Of course, they’ve already shat all over the relationship by cheating and hopefully no limerent individual here will let it go that far.
The UBT is pretty funny, but also sadly accurate.
Cheating spouse: “I also still love you and it’s important to me to be in your life.”
UBT: “As an aside, I still love you how you are of use to me!”
Yes, I’ve read Chump lady from time to time! Given the potential overlap between limerence and infidelity, I guess it was inevitable 🙂
I definitely agree with the core message that cheating is about character. Hopefully I can help the limerents with good character understand themselves better and avert disaster…
Update after reading the linked post: Sheesh. That there is a world class narcissist. Urgh. This is why I can only take Chump lady in small doses.
You have to admit, there are some real gems churned out by the UBT when presented with hurtful justifications by someone who is cheating.
“My love is fuller. Riper! It swells like a fetid pustule on my ass and bursts only for YOU.”
That one made me laugh. Loudly.
I do hope that all the readers are doing well.
Drifting slight OT…when I look at the characteristics of my LOs, infidelity, in some way, is involved with at least 3 of the 4, maybe all 4.
Infidelity is big in my saga. Rumors of my mother’s alleged indiscretions were widespread among the family. An aunt told me there was a question of my paternity.
LO #1: She was cheating on her boyfriend with me.
LO #2: Cheating was a major part of her world view. Her father was allegedly in an open affair. 4 of 6 of her failed relationships I know of involved either having an affair with an attached man or being cheated on. Based on some rumors I heard after we broke up, it may be 5 of 6. To that point, I was the sole person who hadn’t cheated on her. We were discussing that once and I told her I hadn’t cheated on her, She came back with, “I know. I don’t think you’re capable of it.” I’d like to think that was a tribute to my integrity but it could have been her veiled way of saying I didn’t have the balls to cheat on her.
LO #3: Don’t remember for sure but I think she said she had and she was enough like LO#2 to make it possible.
LO #4: Was in a 7 yr relationship with a guy who told her he’d cheated on his wife while she was married. Given her age and what she’d said about previous relationships, my guess is it wasn’t the first time. She claimed her father was a narc and her schtick was she never met a narc she didn’t try to rehabilitate.
The thing is, a woman who’d been cheated on was in my wheelhouse. Back then, they were my preferred demographic. I could deal with one of those with my eyes closed. One of the warning signs with LO #4 was I found I’d reverted to an old mode of thinking. I knew how I’d approach her.
My wife is nothing like the LOs which lends a little weight that LOs are often unsuitable candidates for LTRs.
Nobody knows about my Limerence. My LO and his SO are a big part of my, (and my SO’s), life and have been for many years. Going NC would look very weird to everyone and raise many uncomfortable questions. We’re all close and unavoidable. I’m trying mentally to cut ties, but this is only getting me so far… any advice? Thanks for the blog, it has helped me so much.
Hi nightmodes, welcome to the blog!
My standard advice is “live purposefully”. Focussing on what you can control (your own behaviour) is the best bet. That said, this is a toughie. Limerence for one partner in a couple you are close to, has got to be one of the hardest scenarios to deal with. Have a look at some of the earlier posts about mental games you can play to try and deprogram your self-sabotaging, traitor brain – they may help. Stay strong. Take charge. Look to your own inner needs and try to understand what your triggers are. Although it doesn’t feel like it at the time, limerence does have the potential to teach you some important lessons about yourself.
I originally sent a very long reply to this: my whole story. I wrote it and posted it in one cathartic over-emotional gesture, then by night time I regretted it. But phew, it appears it vanished in the ether.
Yes, I am making a good effort to deprogram. I feel pretty sad that my LO is showing signs of being a prize narc, but there are so many good things about him too. The School of Life has a great article about unrequited love and how to be rid of of the pain… just get to know the person really, really well!
Hi nightmodes. Just had a look and found your longer post in the spam trap. I’ll leave it there 😉
No idea why WordPress didn’t like it, but looks like the angel of the internet was smiling on you.
“I’m trying mentally to cut ties, but this is only getting me so far… any advice?”
Discuss it with your SO. Tell your SO that you’re surprised by this, don’t welcome it (I’m guessing) and are struggling to make it stop. It may help put an end to the limerence because of the loss of the secrecy and as long as you haven’t compromised the relationship, you and SO may unite because of it. Not that the LO and other SO are your enemies! Simply the situation is a bit tricky.
It may be time to enlarge your social circle a bit. Take up a hobby that doesn’t include the other couple but does include your SO, if possible. Fortify your personal boundaries for a time. Rather than a rope on the ground indicating where the boundaries are, how about a mental picket fence? You don’t have to go as far as a castle with a murder hole, drawbridge, moat filled with hungry animals so to speak. Well, it doesn’t sound as though you do.
I hope you all come through this in good shape.
Thank you Lee – perhaps a mental muderhole and drawbridge could be very helpful! Yes, they’re all people I care about very much. I did actually mention the ‘problem’ to my SO a couple of years ago – in fact I sort of confessed my feelings to LO, who felt he can to tell his wife (my friend) and so of course I told my SO. It was traumatic but I hoped having it out in the open would help kill it – I hurt my SO, which was was unbearable and LO’s wife was so good (almost too good) about it. We had an awkward patch, naturally, and I felt much stronger. But recently it’s insidiously got me again. Hard when LO’s been a confidante in the past and he’s also been a big part of some of the happiest times in my life. I know you’re right though – and recently me and my SO have been much closer because I’m just not so flipping distracted by LO all the time – so I can see it working 🙂
Mrs A says
I’ve been struggling since this LO declared his feelings for me half a year ago (I’m married and husband is so understanding). The inappropriateness of this LO is beyond obvious. I fell into this trap due to a traumatic event and this LO offered his help like a hero. Little did I know it was all a trap towards an emotional entanglement. No Contact is on. But I’m not sure if I can avoid and ignore him indefinitely, as my mother still relies on him in a professional context (even though my mother is fully aware of the situation!). Part of me is tempted to just be ‘friendly’ when I do have to deal with him. Good thing I live in different country but the conflict will be on when I will be in the same place as this LO soon. Wish me luck.
One strategy could be to aim for “civil” rather than friendly 🙂 An LO that makes an open play for a married woman is, as you have rightly surmised, setting a trap. Keep reminding yourself that you are clear-sighted and wise and don’t walk into traps!
Mrs A says
I really appreciate this. A friend recently told me maybe I should report this person as it involved him taking advantage of his position in power and my vulnerability (even though my friend said if a situation makes even someone like me so vulnerable, then imagine those who are less fortunate in life would more readily fall into these traps) – even though he might also have been limerent. In a way, I’m interested in seeing things from the perspective of those in power (men in this case). Perhaps you might have some insights into dealing with ethical and personal issues of this kind of inappropriate limerence on the part of ones who hold power? From what I gather they may find it too tempting to pass up on an opportunity, and/or may not be self-aware enough to realise it. So while they think they are merely having a limerent episode, they are really just behaving badly and irresponsibly. I appreciate that your blog is non-judgemental, though it may help those who are in positions of power to not imagine that they are somehow victims of limerence, when they are the ones who pursue it in the first place.
“A friend recently told me maybe I should report this person as it involved him taking advantage of his position in power and my vulnerability…”
Yes. Yes you should, no ‘maybe’ about it. Even if he is limerent, he is still responsible for his actions and if he has abused his position and authority there is no reason not to believe he isn’t doing so now, hasn’t in the past and may not in the future if there are no consequences.
Limerence can also be used as an excuse by those who are NOT limerents but who are simply abusive. It’s not like there is a blood test, or a commonly used checklist.
He has agency and he is responsible for his actions. Hold him accountable.
“I’ve been struggling since this LO declared his feelings for me half a year ago (I’m married and husband is so understanding). The inappropriateness of this LO is beyond obvious.”
I’m confused. Are you limerent for him (he’s the LO), or is he limerent for you (making YOU the LO)?
Either way, no contact with him and lots of living purposefully for you seems to be in order here.
“Part of me is tempted to just be ‘friendly’ when I do have to deal with him.”
No, don’t be friendly. Be civil but no discussions that aren’t strictly related to the business at hand. If you don’t have to hire him directly – don’t. If your mother uses his professional services that still doesn’t mean you have to have a relationship with him of any sort. Very, very dry emails if necessary. Only if necessary.
He doesn’t need you to rescue him. He has to extricate himself (or is it vice versa?).
Good luck. When you see you LO think of it as a test, you feel anxious about the situation, and your behaviour and outcome is a result of the positive preparation you put into it. Imagine how it should go (not the LO dream of how you desire it to go). And when you active your goal you’ll feel proud of yourself.
Mrs A says
I hope I can continue this thread here and a belated thank you for all your responses. To answer Lee, yes it might have been a mutually limerent situation. But to be honest I don’t know how I fell into the trap. Well I guess that’s why it’s called a trap! But it’s clear that he is manuipulative and abusive of his position of power. I have gone NC since April when I did not response to his last text message. I even successfully resisted contacting him in May when I travelled to the city where he lives. I told him after he said he is in love with me last August that I cannot continue this way of intimate communication (what he called ‘more than friend’). But because of my mother’s need of his service, we remained in contact sporadically for a few more months. As I continued to suffer from obsessive thoughts and feelings, I decided to cut off contact completely in April. Now he sent me 2 messages in a day with photos, out of the blue, and nonchalantly pretends he is just continuing where we left off. I feel a little disturbed, a sense of regret but also anger that someone can be so aggressive and manipulative. I feel a tiny bit cruel to have deleted the messages and to not respond. But I guess this ex-LO doesn’t deserve my sympathy…
I think that instead of feeling a tiny bit cruel, you should feel a large bit proud for your decisiveness.
If someone disrespects your request for no contact so blatantly, they deserve no sympathy at all.
“Now he sent me 2 messages in a day with photos, out of the blue, and nonchalantly pretends he is just continuing where we left off. I feel a little disturbed, a sense of regret but also anger that someone can be so aggressive and manipulative.”
That’s really ugly of him to do. It’s also ARROGANT – that you would find him irresistible, that you would drop everything and respond to his whistle. No, you’re not being mean when you don’t reply. You’re being clear. Even responding to say, “Stop contacting me” is still contact and it resets the shot clock.
I’m glad you’re able to see more clearly now and I hope other things in your life are going well. What a rough thing to go through.
Mrs A says
Thank you for the supportive words. It’s good to know I’m not alone. The decisiveness merely stems from my unwillness to give in to my addiction and to start from square one all over again. So I can’t say I feel proud in any way! It is indeed blissful to regain your sense of self when your first thought of the day is not LO, as Aggie said elsewhere that she has just reached that milestone. Since last September I made myself commit to a routine of going to the gym first thing in the morning: get out of the house and get LO out of my mind. It seemed like punishment at first, but now it’s become a new way of life. I must say ex-LO’s sudden contact has been so cunningly calculated – the timing for my mother to need him again soon etc. Lee is right that it is quite an ugly thing for him to do.
I’m going through NC at the moment, defiantly had grief, I keep telling myself it’s for the best and like giving up an addiction. It’s been a month the first 2 weeks were bad grief, sadness and temptation to contact dreaming up what to say. Then it got a bit easier until last 3 days where I’ve had time off work and had time to ruminate. Last night a couldn’t sleep, was in a lucid dream state about LO could not get my mind to stop no matter how hard I tried. It was easier and more pleasurable to let the LO fantasy happen. I then had a dream of injecting heroine into my leg behind my SO back, but the injection site was bleeding! Horrible dream but kind of represents the addiction and cover up and hurt it causes. I’m determined to keep going with NC. I know it’s for the best.
Ps I’ve never taken heroin!
That sounds really hellish and I hope you don’t have to endure more dreams like that one!
Glad that the imagery wasn’t based on first-hand experience. Life is tough enough.
DrL should write a blog about dreaming about your LO.
Hmm. Good thought. I had some classics (living with LO in a claustrophobic flat that had no door out).
Yes, definite potential in that. Watch this space!
Your blog is so helpful. Thank you so much. Please don’t stop.
I think I’m an experienced limerent. Not in terms of the number of my LOs (there was/is just one) but in terms of various approaches, therapies and drugs I took to feel better. I read really a lot about my condition so I know the drill: NC is supposedly the best available option we got. But it’s indeed painful.
I’m on NC now for 2 months. It’s not long but that was preceeded by similar periods of NC. 2-3 months is all I was able to achieve. Sometimes the craving to contact her is unbearable. It literally hurts. I know there’s no answer to the question: how long will it take until I feel better? There are so many factors and variables involved. Anyway, funny at it may sound, I’m disappointed with myself for still being so vulnerable and hopeless after 18 months since the LE started.
It’s an addiction and obsessive thinking combined. There wasn’t a single day in the past year and a half that my LO wasn’t on my mind several times a day. That’s so annoying, tiring and… sad. I don’t know many addicts but I would imagine that giving up booze or smoking doesn’t necessarily lead to such an obsession.
I’m sort of resigned. I tried so many things. I know exactly that I cannot trust my mind and this drives me crazy.
So, yes – sometimes NC is a road through hell. Why on earth should I not call her on her birthday in June? I know the answer but it doesn’t make me feel ANY better.
My full story is here in case you wish to know it:
Thanks again, drlimerence. Reading your blog brings some relief. It’s true that NC is about grief. We all heard about five stages of grief but one thing I noticed is that I go back and forth with them… These stages are not linear… When I think I’m at acceptance, I find myself suddenly at the “anger” staga again. Maybe it would be interesting to explore if and how the “five stages” fit to LE?
It sounds miserable and for that, I do feel badly for you.
I’m the non-limerent spouse of a man who disclosed before he did more than the slightest bobble – and happily he may be struggling with issues of age, being a “failure” (in his mind alone!), mourning what might have been if only he had, etc. but who didn’t cheat on our relationship. So I’m looking at your situation from a different angle.
However, these were not the actions of a person trying to avoid an affair. You have had an affair. You may not have had sex, but you two were mind-f’ing one another.
“And then she wanted to meet me briefly during my office hours. I was hardly available those days and I offered her a meeting and a nice dinner. She agreed. This was so good. Hundreds of texts, calls and e-mails. It has never developed into a sexual relationship. But it was erotic and passionate. And these walks, dinners, holding hands, kissing and touching was something extremely pleasant, rewarding and stimulating.”
By not being forthcoming with your wife, you are running a very real risk of your marriage coming to an end if this is disclosed in the future. The longer you hold out on her, the worse the betrayal. She is operating with a measure in trust in you that she may no longer feel you are worthy of having. Which hurts.
” I was looking for fresh air and a sense of being appreciated by a woman. I got what I wanted. And then it was taken from me.”
“I’m a 38 years old married male with three kids”
I wonder if your WIFE sometimes feels underappreciated and wants fresh air. Three kids to raise isn’t easy and if you have all this time to go out to dinners, walks and paw at a younger woman then someone is probably dealing with the kids, the home, the bills, the in-laws, the dentist, doctors, teachers, etc. Is it you? Or were you busy being “appreciated” and you left the day-to-day scut work to your wife?
“I keep myself busy. I got plenty of duties. I travel abroad a lot. I drink probably more than I should and it’s kind of dangerous. But it’s not the drinking problem I’m struggling with. It’s this deeply wounded man’s pride.”
“In December 2016 I contacted her saying that I want us to be friends even if she moved to another town. She didn’t reject this offer. But later she was extremely unaccessible and very busy with her new life, work, friends, places, etc.”
“In June 2017 gave her a ride to her town in June which was probably a huge mistake. It reinforced the limerence and I was texting her like crazy. She just responed that I must have misinterpreted her consent to go on a ride with her. And that she cannot show my any warm feelings as she respects my family (whom she never met).”
“I contacted her again, suggesting a start-over and coming to terms with what is (or not) between us. She was evasive and just few days ago texted me that she has started to see someone and she didn’t want to meet me for dinner. But “we are OK”.
“She even enrolled for a PhD programme but not under my supervision. And she recently quit it after first year which made me furious. I sent her a nasty e-mail about quitting without letting me know.”
No, it’s your sense of ENTITLEMENT to those ego-strokes and stability and status and being flattered by the attentions of a much younger woman.
Also, speaking as a woman – this is exactly the sort of shit that can be reported to your department and lead to a sexual harassment lawsuit. She hasn’t yet learned how to tell someone who is in a position of power over her (you don’t really think the only reason she left the Ph.D program was because she couldn’t hack it, do you? You are now the creepy older guy who won’t leave her alone!) to go away and leave her alone. You and your behavior may have chased her out of that programme. Think about that one. To me, you FRIGHTENED her. You may have stomped on her dreams and chased her out of the field because you felt entitled to her attention – even when she was politely (rather than firmly) telling you to back off. You are really lucky she hasn’t filed a police report.
If you feel underappreciated and a bit bored with the stability afforded to you by a long-term marriage, presumably with someone who isn’t sneaking around on you – then use your words. Talk to her. Or go get a divorce BEFORE you make your wife twist herself into a pretzel to be honored to raise your children and be there when you need her to be there for you. Then talk to her via attorneys.
If she has cheated on you, then you have still more to talk about. With and without therapists and/or attorneys.
Consider this – 23 goes into 38 more than 38 goes into 23. How would you feel if your wife were being chatted up by a younger man? Being taken out to dinner, hundreds of passionate texts, kissing and holding hands?
I really hope that NC works for you. I also very much hope the young woman came to realize she was an affair partner and doesn’t engage in this behavior with other married men. I bet she has now that her future has been derailed, at least for the moment, by your behavior.
Personally, I hope someone gives her Gavin de Becker’s book, “The Gift of Fear” and she blocks your number and cuts you off forever.
“My condition is only partly due to LO’s rejection as a friend/colleague or more. It’s also (mostly) because she rejected my mentorship. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t consider myself a world guru and I am rarely professorial. But I was so much ready to share my life experience with her also after she graduates. And it didn’t work out. This adds to my LE considerably.”
Stars and stones man, that is incredibly arrogant. Why would she want the mentorship of someone who was looking to cheat on his wife physically, had already squandered family money on a student, invested hundreds of hours of time on an inappropriate relationship (with a student), and who wouldn’t leave her alone when she was trying to POLITELY brush you off? That is something that too many young women are raised to do. Be polite. Smile when you don’t want to smile. You know why so many do it? Because men are bigger and stronger overall and have significantly greater upper-body strength. Because it is more dangerous for women to tell men to leave us alone when we know we can get hurt or killed by the people that we know than it is for men. That most women are hurt by significant others (and you were one).
Seriously. Think about that. Men often don’t but they should. Women can hurt, abuse and kill men – but they don’t tend to do it with fists.
You may have felt used by her, but you were the one who had the power to shut that **** down but you chose not to do so. You liked the attention. You invested in it. You’re angry that you have lost a dead-end, inappropriate relationship. That’s not good and you should explore that with someone with a license and who offers complete confidentiality.
Best of luck to you and your family. Don’t continue to make your wife an unwitting participant to the demise of her marriage. At least entertain the idea that she may not feel fulfilled as a human being with life as she knows it. She may surprise you. You don’t know what’s going on in your own mind, how can you possibly believe you know exactly how she feels? Give it a go.
Welcome, and thanks for your support. Glad you have found the site helpful.
As you may just detect from Lee’s comments (!), feelings run high on these issues. I tend to allow all voices to be heard, assuming they are constructive and well-meant. Hopefully you can get some value from all feedback.
The main theme here is that the route to freedom is through self-reflection and taking personal responsibility. I hope you find useful insights on how to cope – and good luck!
I’ll have a think about the 5-stages idea. Could be a useful parallel to the stages of limerence.
From Alex’s link: ” I wanted to be friends with her so much in a way where we keep the boundaries but at the same time we have this pleasant tension in the air. Wishful thinking, I know.”
This was my way of life for months after having feelings reciprocated, then barriers put up. It was unhealthy, but I “liked” it. One month ago, things reached the point where LO communicated her unhealthiness (and fear) of our relationship. So I thought (a lot) about it, and I could either live with the status quo or No Contact. Anything in between is suffering without my “fix”. With the status quo no longer an option, it has to be No Contact. I saw LO in a natural setting Saturday and we spoke about non-intimate matters. I know No Contact is the right answer, because I simply can’t deal with knowing about her life anymore. The urge to “fix” things and to be close is too great. We will see each other again over the next few weeks, so Absolute No Contact is not yet in play.
Yeah, that’s the sweet spot.
It was working pretty well, too, until LO #4’s relationship collapsed, the boundaries disappeared, and there was this real person I was dealing with that had feelings, emotions, and the potential to derail my marriage.
I must add that before the “pleasant tension” period and after the mutual-love period (when LO put up some barriers), was a horrifying roller coaster ride of conflicting messages from LO and inconsistent deep sharing that had me in and out (mostly in) a depressed and low-functioning state. I know it is possible to fall into that state again with LO, so I’m trying to keep my guard up. It is important to me that I get my feelings out somewhere.
I referred to the “pleasant tension” as the “exquisite twinge.”
I remember that when the uncertainty was high, I would physically ache for LO #2. I’d lie on my bed, staring at the ceiling, with the stereo playing in the other room. There were a few times it lasted hours.
As Elton John put it, “It feels so good to hurt so bad.”
Luckily, I never got to that point with LO #4. That would have been a tough one to explain.
“You’re also right about the professor-student relations and ethics. I don’t think I breached any formal rules here. It’s also taken very seriously where I teach.”
Don’t kid yourself by continuing to “think” you haven’t breached any “formal” rules. Clear up any confusion or doubts you may have regarding this situation. Presumably there is an ethics officer. Set up an appointment and disclose everything. It’s not just your personal life on the line.
Bit of an odd question, but do people generally tell their LO that they are cutting contact and why, or just stop contact without saying anything?
I’m handing my notice in at work shortly, and work with my LO once a week, 3 weeks out of 4. So we have 3 days left to work together (which I am distraught about, because professionally we do make a great team.) Because we have been emotionally intimate, although not physically, I kind of feel I owe him an explanation. On the other hand I’ve no idea what I would say!
Sorry this was trapped in spam trap for days (no idea why), so the reply is too late to help with your dilemma. Hope the last day went well.
I’d say you certainly don’t “owe” an explanation, but some people do choose to disclose at the point of no contact. It depends on your circumstances to an extent (e.g. if either of you are partnered), but there isn’t a right or wrong choice. A possible downside of disclosing is that LO’s reaction can leave you in a state of confusion and cause you to ruminate about “what they meant” for days afterwards. Which obviously reinforces the limerence…
When I tried to disengage the last time, I disclosed. I wanted her to know how I felt and close the books honestly. It’s chronicled in different posts here. She gave me the option of returning after I got my feelings under control. I thought I had (check out “Relapse” & “I’m totally over this. Let’s go for coffee!”) and we re-established the acquaintance. It didn’t work out and she ended it.
Disclosure, even at the end, has a way of forcing the issue. However, you may not get the response you were hoping for, assuming you know what it is you’re hoping for.
Thank you both for your replies.
Still have 3 weeks/days (1 day per week) left to go. I’ve drafted a letter, but whether I will actually give it to him I still don’t know. We are both married with young children, so that’s leaning me towards not disclosing.
I have fully disclosed to my husband, who is understandably keen for me to leave (even though this is ending a good career after 15 years with the company) so I’m hoping once NC is established I will be able to put more emotional energy into my marriage.
Thank you both for your support.
Re-read your letter. If it was seen by your colleagues (new or old), or your family, would you change it at all?
Remember, he may share it with his wife, or it may be seen in the future.
Best of luck to you.
I said goodbye to LO on Saturday without disclosing in person and blocked on Facebook so 48hrs of no contact… have managed 2 weeks before but I was still checking his social media regularly.
I did give him a card explaining why I have left and why I need to cut contact. My best friend read it over (and made some adjustments) so if it did get back to colleagues or if his wife read it it should be OK.
Currently trying to distract myself from ruminating about his message in my leaving card from the team though!
Thank you all for your support!
I hope better days are ahead for you.
Sounds like you did a great job of managing it, Sophie. Congrats!
Here’s to a positive future.
Thank you all.
Just needed to vent this somewhere (and it is another 10 days until I see my therapist!)
12 days NC and rereading this article like mad as I am so tempted to contact LO – but know in my rational mind it’s a stupid thing to do.
Currently on family holiday and it’s a time that always seems to bring out our worst sides. SO is driving me mad (and no doubt I’m irritating him too – I know these things work both ways).
No contact is for the best. I just need to remember that.
The family holiday thing strikes a nerve for me. That was when I felt most guilty – trying to exorcise LO from my mind and be properly present for my family. I know that sometimes I just ended up moody, which was hardly the vibe any of us wanted.
Definitely stick with the no contact. LO is your past now. An experience to learn from when forging your better future.
And if you need a distraction, see if you can find us all a bag of frog lips in a souvenir shop…
Is there a possibility of you & SO doing something different together this holiday? To shake up the routine (whatever it may be)?
Also, when you’re suffering from withdrawals from anything or anyone you are going to be more irritable than usual. SO is going to have all the appeal of a Ziploc bag of frog lips, no matter how grand a person s/he may be.
Be mindful of that tendency.
I hope things settle down & you all have some fun.
Don’t contact LO, no matter how tempted. That is like jumping back into a tar pit.
Keep an eye on your LO/SO ratio. As long as LO/SO <1, you're OK.
Contact the LO and the numerator goes up. Dwell on your irritation with your SO and the denominator goes down and the LO/SO ratio can get really big, really quick. But remember, it only takes a fractional change in the denominator to have a large effect in the ratio.
Spend more effort on making things better with the SO and everything moves in the right direction.
Good morning All,
I woke up this morning and LO was not my first waking thought. First time in twenty months. Today is the anniversary of 10 months No Contact. ( Social media included) I found this website only a week ago. Many of DrL advice and comments were already in motion. So, I not only enjoy reading the website, I wholeheartedly agree with it. It only works if you put it into action.
Good Luck to you all today!
Hurray! I hope this is the page officially turning for you.
That’s great news, Aggie! Really glad you’re making such good progress. Here’s to purposeful living!
Great news! Hope things continue to improve for you!
Perhaps a future blog post Dr L, but I wonder how much of Limerence is habit? I’m reading a really interesting book at the moment called “the power of habit” and I think it relates a lot. The “cue —> routine —> reward” cycle certainly applies to me in terms of thinking about LO. Something triggers a thought (cue), I drift off into thought about her (routine) and a little scenario is imagined that I enjoy (reward).
The book says that habits can’t be eridicated, they need to be replaced, which is possible of course. BUT, when times get tough the old habits can return. What stops that happening is belief, maybe in a higher power (such as in AA style 12 step programs), but it could just be in something, some better way, life etc.
So to me it feels like to get through Limerence, you need to believe it is possible. Maybe you’ve done it before, maybe you come on here to read stories of others who could shake it off, or maybe a therapist that gets it. Without the belief though, it’s going to be tough, maybe impossible.
I can partly agree with what you’re saying here.
One example is I’ve substituted checking LOs Facebook with checking the comments on this blog.
However my limerence is at it’s worst either
a) When I’m working and my round isn’t going well and I am resentful of having had to change jobs and missing my old job
b) When things get challenging with my husband.
At this point old habits are more likely to slip in, I daydream about past encounters with LO and how they could have played out differently. This is when I have to make a very conscious decision to stop myself, and refocus on something more positive. I keep reminding myself that it’s not about LO, it’s about me and I’m the only person that can overcome it. But not if I keep up counter-productive limerence-driven habits.
Yes, I really enjoyed “the power of habit” too. It could be a good topic for a future post…
I definitely think that it is an essential part of understanding limerence. I think much of what I covered in the “rationalisation” post is linked to this too. The motivating impulse to seek LO is a learned habit, and has been laid down at a largely subcortical level. The executive makes up a nice story about why that impulse is justifiable, and everyone is happy.
Another good one for understanding this weird sort of split-brain functioning is “Thinking, fast and slow”. Not really relevant to limerence in any direct way, but good for understanding how much of our behaviour is driven by the desire to spare ourselves the cognitive strain of analysing events properly.
Ultimately, the big challenge for limerents is un-learning the pleasurable associations, and the link between LO and reward. Otherwise, as Sophie mentions too, we simply fall back into the old familiar thoughts and habits.
I think that last bit is the most interesting for me. If Limerent thinking is a habit then the book suggests it can’t be unlearned, it needs to be replaced. After the cue you need to change up the routine to something else. Maybe this is why it’s only possible to have one LO at a time, the routine changes.
Have you read DrL’s blogs:
– “Is limerence a mental illness?”
– “Person addiction”
– “Deprogramming the limerent brain”
In the last one DrL says:
“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.”
Yes I’ve read the whole blog. I don’t think my point is covered there already. Habits are different from addiction or mental illness, and my angle is on the belief aspect needed for adequately replacing a bad habit with a good one.
I am 5 weeks into enforced NC and really struggling. Short version of my LE was that we chatted (mostly online) intensely for months, became close friends, dated briefly, things ended badly, some cross words were exchanged and we fell out.
We’re still connected via Facebook though never interact. I still feel that I am in limerent limbo hell, as she has not defriended me or said never contact me again.
I think what I want is some sort of ‘no hard feelings’ exchange, a type of reconciliation in which I feel heard, am able to express genuine regret for my part in things getting ugly, my feelings of hurt acknowledged, and an exchange of some warmth, albeit of a platonic kind. I want her to not hate me, write me off.
If that’s not going to happen, why can’t I accept it? And how do I reprogram myself so that I don’t need it? She still occupies much of my thoughts, esp at night, and everything seems to conspire to remind me of her.
I lack the courage to be the one who defriends or blocks, and also I don’t want to look churlish anyway.
Hope you can help.
Jasper, I know what it feels like to want the closure, and to think that this conversation would wrap things up. But you will not be able to control such a conversation, and your exchange will not go as planned. I briefly responded to an LO email during my current NC period, and I know that I was misunderstood. But to go further into any detailed conversation about my feelings was going to derail me and would still not be understood by LO the way I would want. So I never sent anything further and simply allowed LO to view things without me correcting her. It was not worth it for me. I cannot allow myself to care about how LO feels toward me anymore.
Somehow, the things that remind me of LO (including ALL kinds of music) are no longer killing me. I went NC for 3 months last year, and I missed LO every day but knew I had to try to stay the course. It felt horrible. Getting past her birthday was extremely painful, but I did it. This year, I think LOs birthday will pass without me noticing (much), and I will feel good about it and only a little sad about what is lost. The difference this year has much to do with seeing the parallels of the new wave of limerents on this site that have removed the “specialness” label from my no-longer-unique toxic limerent relationship. Which is sad but true. Also, my clear but non-professional diagnosis of my LO as a Borderline took me down another road of self-discovery that has shown me I cannot be (healthy) friends with LO.
I would still be in the game if I had limited contact. Be glad that NC is an option. Keep up the good fight, and allow yourself to grieve your loss.
I want to share a small victory that only fellow limerents will understand. Last night a friend was in town for business and wanted to spend some time with me. I haven’t seen or spoken to this friend for five years. This friend and her husband were introduced to me by LO, and we all had a merry time together five years ago.
LO is now but a fading memory (on a good day). I have been fully NC for 8 months and the LE lasted 7 years.
I was in dread that his name would come up (why wouldn’t it, he is our mutual friend!) or even worse, I would be the one to bring him up….getting that little hit about talking about him, reminiscing about our past fun times together, or even hashing out the anatomy of the demise of the ‘friendship’.
BUT NO! NOT ONE WORD! His name never came up and I didn’t bring it up! How providential! Do you limerent compatriots even know the happy dance I am doing right now? I may be crawling on bloodied knees toward the finish line but hey hey hey..I have it in sight.
Hahaha, love your post, jaideux! Well done. I can so imagine the victory dance and how it feels.
Way to go, Jaideux! You rock!
Thanks Sarah and Midlifer! XoXo