A question I very commonly receive by email (from both limerents, and the affected spouses of limerents) is: “how long is this going to last?”
I wish I could give an answer.
The reality, of course, is that it will be different for every limerent, and different for every circumstance, and different for every LO. Not terribly helpful. To judge from my inbox, it’s somewhere between a couple of weeks and five decades.
Leaving aside the poor soul who has checked in with his LO once a year for the entire duration of his adult life (so far), thereby keeping an annual flame alive, most cases are clustered more tightly.
Tennov set a typical range of 18 months to 3 years (likening this to the period needed for conceiving and giving birth to a child), and most other commentators follow that lead, but I think another interesting question is where the variance comes from. It seems obvious that there must be a difference between passively waiting for the madness to fade, and actively deciding to take action to resolve things. Similarly, an LO who is uninterested or hostile should surely be easier and quicker to get over than an enabling narcissist LO.
The slow decline
Probably the commonest experience for the resolution of limerence is a slow decline towards a more emotionally stable baseline. No grandiose change in emotion, just a gradual cooling until one day you suddenly realise “I don’t feel infatuated any more”. Which is an end of sorts.
If the limerent formed a relationship with LO, this is also the period in which the mind clears and the limerent learns whether a lasting, stable love remains; or if instead, the limerence has been papering over an incompatibility too big to ignore.
The slow decline is the slow way to get over limerence. The long defeat. Ageing your way out of the problem. Usually, limerents hope for quicker.
The Off switch
Some limerents do report an abrupt stop to their limerence. An off switch.
It could be caused by something that LO does that is so objectionable that it overwhelms even a determined limerent’s best efforts at idealisation. Or maybe it’s a flat out row with LO that is so explosive you can’t forgive them. Or, something changes that abruptly removes the uncertainty that fuels limerence reverie.
We recently had an interesting thread of comments on this phenomenon after this post, with a few examples. One surprising one for me was an off switch after disclosure by LO of mutual limerence. Normally, you would expect that to strengthen the connection – after all reciprocation is what the limerent craves more than anything. But instead, for commenter Vincent at least, once the uncertainty was finally over, the limerence was too.
The opposite phenomenon was reported by catcity. Their LO partnering up was the cause of the uncertainty dissipating, and that triggered the “off switch”. So, it certainly seems that some limerents can experience an abrupt change in emotional state as a consequence of the loss of uncertainty. That said, catcity’s LO later admitted to reciprocation, and the limerence came back with a vengeance. So, maybe it’s more of a toggle switch than an off switch.
How off is off?
That does lead to the next complication. Can limerence for an LO really be turned off for good? I’ve speculated before that probably the only surefire way of eliminating limerence is to have a fully consummated romantic and sexual relationship with LO. That way there is no uncertainty, and you get to know them fully and properly, and all that limerence energy can be properly discharged. But, you know, even that’s no guarantee.
If LO is an unreliable partner they can keep you guessing. If LO is a non-limerent, they are not going to respond to your cues in the same way as a mutual limerent would, so you’ll always be wondering a bit about the strength of connection. Uncertainty can persist even after a relationship starts, if you are unlucky in the partner you become limerent for. And, stories abound about people who hook up again with their exes years later, with just as much insane passion as first time around. Time is a great healer, so maybe it can heal what you thought was worn-out limerence too.
Are there ways to turn it off?
That leads us to the big question: are there ways that individuals can actively, decisively, turn off limerence? I’m going to offer a cautious “no”, but tempered by the slightly more optimistic “you can turn it down to manageable levels”. I think that the drives that underlie limerence are so deep, so woven into our psychology and personality and evolutionary inheritance, that they can’t be eliminated. But they can definitely be constrained.
While the general principle of purposeful living obviously rests upon this foundation, there are some specific steps that could be taken. First up is self-knowledge. In the case of those that experience the limerence “off switch”, I think the circumstances leading up to the precipitating event will tell the limerent something profound about what they were seeking. If reciprocation kills the limerence, it does suggest that it was the desire to be desired that was most important drive. Once that is confirmed, the craving dies. If LO becoming unavailable kills the limerence, then it’s more likely that the limerent actually wanted a relationship, was actually drawn to the potential of being with LO.
Doing the deep work of understanding what the limerence is telling you about your subconscious cravings, and where they might have arisen from, will be very useful for decreasing your psychological openness in the future.
Another strategy is to embark on a “deprogramming” campaign. I’ve touched on this before and am currently putting the finishing touches on an online course designed specifically to address this, as it’s the method that worked for me. The idea is to understand the quirks of neuroscience and psychology that lead to limerence, and use them against themselves to overwrite the old script (that LO = wonderful reward). Reprogram your subconscious, and you can dial down the mania.
Finally, a few limerents have been in touch with me to say that medications they have been prescribed to deal with anxiety or depression or other mood disorders have also been effective at blunting their limerence symptoms. I’m not advocating this as a first line response, just to be clear. There is no quality data on pharmacological treatment of limerence, simply because it is not recognised as a condition to be treated. There have definitely not been any controlled trials. But, it’s also not too surprising that drugs designed to regulate the neurobiological mechanisms underlying mood, motivation and arousal would also have an impact on limerence. But, you know, don’t experiment with that stuff without proper medical supervision.
So, to return to the original question: how long does limerence last? It lasts as long as the conditions that sustain it last, and that depends on the combustible confluence of LO’s behaviour and your behaviour. The only certain thing that you can control in that scenario is your behaviour. If you act with purpose, you can turn the volume down.
Very interesting. I’ve been thinking about what it is I really want, what comes out eventually in all the lurid fantasy, and it’s to feel known and to feel safe. Not that my LO, or any of my other (not) coping strategies could ever offer that. All the usual reasons, abuse by the one person who should be your rock and champion. Etc. I’ve never had that and have to accept I never will, and certainly not from howling after unavailable/uninterested people. So head meds it is, for now, but this blog is a lifeline. Thanks again.
To elaborate a little more with my off-switch example, this was a long running LE that had died down a lot before being reignited by her getting back in contact. We’d been back in contact for about 6 months or so, lots of texting, meeting up a few times and all the old feelings had come rushing back. I won’t go into details but there was clear reciprocation, an admittance she should have been with me all this time, that she chose the wrong guy. It was what I’d been waiting so, so many years to hear and it was just like the limerence floated away.
I stopped contacting her, explaining I wanted to concentrate on my SO. The truth was also that with her now gone, my mind was entirely filled with the new, current LO. She took over the space the old one left I guess. To this day these are the only two LOs I’ve ever had.
Out of interest, Vincent, was LO2 on the scene around the time that LO1 disclosed? I just wonder if the loss of limerence for LO1 was speeded on its way more readily by the first stirrings for LO2?
Yes, LO2 was around and was competing for my thoughts. It wasn’t long after it dawned on me that LO2 reminded me a lot of LO1 when she (we) was young that LO1 suddenly came back into my life. I don’t believe in divine things or the universe having a plan but that was a hell of a coincidence after all those years. The real thing was an option once again and took over everything. When LO1 reciprocated though it was like my brain fully moved onto LO2. By that time LO2 and I had got to know each other really well, were spending 5 days a week together (plus texting at weekends, holidays), and that proximity, plus her being younger and hotter if I’m being honest, propelled her to the top. I remember being with LO1, getting texts from LO2 and just wanting to answer them. All the time feeling guilty for mentally not being with SO. I knew then something was up, and found limerence and this site.
I’ve not seen LO2 for 3 1/2 months now and it’s fading slowly. I’ve had news that has snuffed out any hope in the last week or so and I’m hoping that kills it off now.
Oh yeah, I feel ya. I swap out older lo’s for younger, hotter more fit male lo’s every few years.
“[U]nderstanding what the limerence is telling you about your subconscious cravings, and where they might have arisen from, will be very useful for decreasing your psychological openness in the future.”
Also, if you have an SO, such understanding can help you sort out what is missing in your relationship and maybe how to get it. I believe it’s usually the case that SOMEthing is missing. At least it has been for me. Which makes me think…
“[T]he limerence has been papering over an incompatibility too big to ignore.”
How often, I wonder, do limerents find themselves in unhappy long-term relationships because of major incompatibilities that limerence masked in the early stages? How can you avoid this as you search for a mate? In my own situation, as I’m working on my 20-year marriage now after dealing with an incredibly intense LE for last 18 months (finally getting better, thank you), my wife and I are discovering some fundamental incompatibilities. It’s been a serious struggle working through them. (Note: these incompatibilities are related to differences in emotional attachment styles, and readers should definitely check out Dr L’s excellent post on this topic.) I had been totally limerent for my [non-limerent and not-at-all-interested] wife when we first met 35 years ago; we lost touch after college; and then it totally reignited for me 15 years later when we reconnected. The second time around, we ended up getting married. But at this point, I’m not sure we’ll make it. And even if we do, it’s hard not to be deeply sad thinking of all those years together (minus the first two blind limerent ones) where we both missed out on the genuine emotional connection of real, lasting, stable love. It’s heartbreaking, really.
“How often, I wonder, do limerents find themselves in unhappy long-term relationships because of major incompatibilities that limerence masked in the early stages?”
I can only speak from my personal experience. I spent 4 years with LO #2 plus another year for the body to quit twitching. LO #4 said she spent 7 years with her Narc Ex and he wasn’t her first. It depends on your baggage. You often come out of unhappy long term relationships with more baggage than you came in with but you never come out with any less.
“How can you avoid this as you search for a mate?”
Again, it depends on your baggage. It’s one thing to be attracted to unsuitable candidates. But, there’s an equally important question that needs to be asked.
Are you capable of responding to suitable candidates?
If you are, even though you’re attracted to unsuitable candidates, if you can respond to a suitable candidate, your shot at happiness is pretty good. If you’re aware of the attraction, you can avoid the unsuitable ones until a suitable candidate comes along. If you’re not aware, it comes down to luck. Do you find a suitable candidate before another unsuitable candidate comes along.
If you’re attracted to unsuitable candidates but can’t respond to suitable candidates, you’re pretty much screwed until you figure it out.
I think limerence can certainly mask problems, but I’m not sure that there is any other way of finding out if long-term stable love is possible than just trying it. Plus, of course, compatibility is a moving target to hit, as people change with time. So, yes, limerence may cause misjudgments early on, but it may also be totally incidental – the likelihood of stable love emerging is probably unrelated to limerence (unless you become serially limerent for disordered LOs).
I suppose another potential “wrinkle” is that becoming limerent for a non-limerent could prolong the LE, as the reciprocation would not be reciprocated limerence and so may seem (to the limerent) asymmetric in magnitude. Once a commitment is made, you then have all the usual complications of figuring out how much of the work needed is worthwhile labour to keep a good thing going, versus how much is labour to try and make something work that actually just doesn’t work. Again, I don’t think there’s any way of knowing this ahead of time. You just have to try until it becomes clear, one way or another.
Wishing you all the best in figuring this tangle out.
So interesting, Landry. I think I knew I was a limerent without knowing what limerence was, but just knowing that it was often unpleasant and not always to be trusted. So in the infinite wisdom of my twenties I chose someone about whom I did not feel that way, on the skewed logic that it had to work out better than what had gone before. Hasn’t panned out that way, sadly. But from what Landry says, limerence isn’t necessarily the better indicator of long-term success I thought it was. Are some people just lucky? Better judges of character? Better people? Or does it just end up becoming clear as Dr L says, somewhere down the line? These are rhetorical questions by the way. I am supposed to be working 🙂
If you don’t want to be with your partner, if you have to tell yourself why you “should” stay, then seriously consider ending it. SO’s deserve someone who love and respect them for themselves rather than being regarded as the equivalent of plain oatmeal. Good for you, but hardly a delight.
I have a game I play with myself from time to time. I let my mind drift ahead and see who’s in my life with me down the road.
35 years ago, it LO #2. I would look 1 yr, 5 yrs, 10 yrs down the road and she was in it. As things went on, that vision faded. I posted about the night it died.
When I look into the future now, I see my wife in it. I don’t know exactly where we’ll be but we’re together. When I was in the LE with LO #4, I tried to put her in that vision and I couldn’t maintain it. I can’t conceive my life with another woman.
My wife and I aren’t together because we have to be, we’re together because we want to be. She’s the best thing that ever happened to me and limerence notwithstanding, we’re in it for the long haul. One of the reasons I worked so hard to correct my vulnerability was I don’t want to risk another LE. I might not get as lucky the next time.
“The second time around, we ended up getting married.”
Landry – Do you use a passive voice or tone in other aspects of your life? Did you choose to marry you (and vice versa)? “Ending up” married sounds like you were ordered to marry her, like a Moonie, and had no say in the matter. Is that a true reflection of how you view your marriage?
Lee – do you think Landry will benefit from this sort of interrogation? “Ended up getting married” is a perfectly normal way of expressing the idea. You are coming across as though you have an axe to grind.
Actually yes, it does help clear the cobwebs from one’s mind. If someone has a habit of drifting along, then things “just happen” to them and they absolve themselves. Maybe feel guilty but are less inclined to take responsibility for their decisions and actions. Passive voice is a ‘tell’ and Landry may want to ask his wife if she has noticed it as well. It’s the opposite of purposeful living.
If he uses passive voice in a therapy session his wife may interpret it as disinterest. A good therapist is going to notice and bring it up. Best to be prepared.
Many thanks to DrL for including my experience in this post.
I am doing vastly better than I was in the fall and winter, and it has a lot to do with an “off switch” moment.
I think my LO has some fairly strong narcissistic impulses, and as such, obtained a good amount of fuel from me in the knowledge of my attraction to him.
For an excellent description of fuel, see H.G. Tudor’s blog entry below:
I experienced the “off switch” with my LO twice. In both cases, it was due to him getting together with another woman. In the first instance, he simply pulled away from me and started dating someone. In the second instance, which was post-mutual-disclosure and I was trying No Contact (the wrong way), he announced (with much fanfare) his reconciliation with his ex-wife. This was on February 28th, and it totally killed my desire for him. I think there is something inside me which refuses to take an interest in a man who’s already spoken for.
I now realize he was already planning on getting back with his ex-wife the last time I saw him, which was at our company Christmas party. What really angers me is that despite his plans to reconcile with his ex, (which were unknown to me at the time), he STILL crossed physical boundaries with me and “hoovered” me for fuel. I’d been thinking we were staying away from each other for reasons of integrity and I’d been very confused by his behavior at the company Christmas party.
When I see it through the lens of him hoovering me for narcissistic fuel, it all makes sense.
I now know how dangerous he is, and I won’t be serving him fuel any more. Going No Contact the PROPER way has been easy this time around.
“Once you know, you go.” – H.G. Tudor
I’m so glad you’ve escaped his clutches. He sounds like a nightmare.
“…his reconciliation with his ex-wife.”
Are you positive they were divorced? Narcissistic people lie, a LOT. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were never apart and she was completely unaware of their divorce.
Either way, I feel sorry for her. Narcissistic people are lousy partners.
Thank you – I am also very thankful that I seemed to have tiptoed my way out of this minefield without losing a limb. LO was very public about the demise of his marriage, so I’m confident that part of the story is true.
Can he change and will things work out for him and his wife? Time will tell.
catcity13, thank you so much for that link. I’ve only scratched the surface of HG Tudor this morning, but I can see my LO as a Lesser or Midrange Narcissist. Previously, I thought of her as a Borderline. There is some very compelling, relevant info there for my own situation. I can definitely see the ways in which I was fueling LO.
However, this journey of self discovery also brings to light my own possible narcissistic behaviors that I never saw before. How much of my past actions were spontaneous vs. planned out by me? What is my own culpability in this or other relationships? I’m still not ready to label myself a narcissist, but it’s good food for thought.
“Previously, I thought of her as a Borderline.”
There is a lot of overlap between the two.
“I’m still not ready to label myself a narcissist, but it’s good food for thought.”
People with NPD don’t wonder about their own culpability, or worry that they may tick off all the boxes. Everyone is narcissistic to some degree, but to get diagnosed as such means you are at a whole other level.
My friend, the LCSW, who actually met LO #2 on multiple occasions said this after reading my history of the relationship,
“What you’ve described, in some places with almost clinical detail, is a trauma survivor exhibiting symptoms of PTSD and NPD. I’d bet lunch she was either abused or molested as a child and from the way you describe her family, her mother knew about it. You were lucky she didn’t marry you. Your life could have been so much worse.”
My friend had a lot to say about LO #2.
Later, I was working with a psychologist whose job was to figure out how to catch spies. He said I looked puzzled. I told him the characteristics he was describing sounded a lot like LO #2. I told him the story at lunch. His comment,
“It sounds like you tangled with a borderline.”
Thinker – I am so glad you found HG Tudor’s writing helpful. It’s clarified a lot of my LO’s behavior as well as my reactions to it too.
During the winter, I was fully engaged in what Tudor calls “The Post Discard Emotional Battle” – one we limerents will lose before it’s even begun. I would liken the “off switch” to the arrival in the promised land of the Third Battle. It’s a splendid land indeed!
Everyone has some narcissistic tendencies – but do people wind up getting hurt because of them? That’s when you (or they) have a problem.
My goodness this HLTudor stuff is trippy! Some nuggets here and there, honestly don’t think I’m dealing with a Narc-type LO, but still some things ring true with what I believe to be unintentional and innocent “methods/results” on both sides (would diagnose us both more like irresponsible sappy idiots), but it also rings true for a couple other non-LO people in my life and their behaviors. Great food for thought at the very least.
I stumbled over this article and will read it later. Thought it may be of interest to others. If it’s already been mentioned, I missed it.
Just started reading and the co-author was head of Psychology when I studied A levels at a local sixth form college! If only Limerence was on the curriculum then!! .
Will finish reading later
That’s so neat!
Anonymous Limerent says
I read this article when it piqued my interest that some scientific research has actually been done regarding limerence, and it basically just proved everything said on this site. I would agree with the trajectory, though; I have gone through the first four stages with relapse in places and am now (I hope) in the ‘reintegration of the self’ phase. For anyone looking to understand limerence and with quite a lot of spare time on their hands, I would recommend this as a read!
Thanks so much for this Lee, it looks very interesting.
Lee, I read that entire research paper. I feel as if they had interviewed me for it. Uncanny. FWIW, I just reached the 2 year anniversary of my onset of limerence. My ruminations are different now…more annoying than debilitating. It feels like an improvement, but it also feels like it won’t get settled until a long period of No Contact, which is not in the cards at the moment.
Anonymous Limerent says
Same here, Thinker. I most agree with no. 5 & 2.
BTW, this is day #299 for me.
I have my fingers crossed for you.
I reread this.
After doing the work, I consider myself no longer limerent. It’s not just that I can avoid glimmer when I see it, I think the glimmer is gone.
My preferred demographic for LOs was a woman with low self-esteem and a history of bad relationships that was a victim of bad luck vice bad judgment. The bad luck vs bad judgment was really important (score one for therapy!). Dealing with them was easy. I could play the “Not All Men Are Like That” role. I didn’t have be very good, I only didn’t have to be like the others. I also knew that at some point, I’d either lose interest in them or they’d lose interest in me. It was an avoidance technique that allowed me to think I had the capacity for intimacy (gotta love therapists). That capacity took several years to develop and only came about from an overwhelming sense of loneliness. It also came out skewed. Correcting that was the biggest benefit of my LE with LO #4 . The LE got me in front of the EAP counselor who helped me finally address things.
One thing I noticed with LO #2 was once I got to a certain point, I’d decided not to keep trying to rescue her from herself. When she told me that my successor was cheating on her, I didn’t feel sorry for her. My response was that she picked him and hopefully she’d make a better choice the next time. She tried to confide in me but I didn’t want to hear it.
LO #4 is a lot like LO #2. She’s late 40s, never been married, with a history of bad relationships. The EAP counselor said I’d been trying to rescue LO #4. When I run the fantasy conversation with LO #4 based on the unlikely event that I’m back on the market and we reconnect, instead of trying to advance things, I see myself telling LO #4 the same thing I told LO #2 at the end. Hopefully, she’d make a better choice the next time. Now, I don’t see LO #4 attempting to reconnect. If she did, the above might go out the window but I don’t think so.
Time and distance don’t always obscure things, time and distance can allow you to see the forest from the trees. For me, there seems to be a distinct crossover but I’m not sure how or when I made it. I think it relates to the bad luck vs bad judgment thing. Once they convince me that they really are victims of their own bad judgment, I can dismiss them.
Dr. L said, “There is nothing so alluring as a damaged soul you’re sure you can fix.” (https://livingwithlimerence.com/2017/02/24/the-glimmer-givers/). That used to be true but I don’t think it is anymore. I haven’t been on LO #4’s professional site for a week. It seems much longer than that. The whole LE seems like forever ago.
I guess that’s a testimony to No Contact. I have that luxury.
I’ve been limerent for months and months
My Lo has been so off and cold with me the last few weeks. Haven’t heard anything. Which is good as I’m trying NC. I see him all the time and hes my neighbour and he snubs me at any given opportunity. Usually this sends me into an awful state of depression and over analysing everything. But yesterday he snubbed and I was like omg F YOU. Then this absolute massive ball of hate started to form inside me and I’ve been hating on him all day… I cant believe this new emotion towards him. Clearly I’m still gutted and still limerent but could this be a turning point? I wish this was over soon so I can begin to enjoy my life again. I dont want to hold onto hate but I feel like hate is better than depression. Thoughts please.
Are you familiar with the 5 Stages of Grief? Anger and depression are two of them. It sounds like you’re working through the process.
Anonymous Limerent says
I looked them up and it occurs to me that I may have gone through all of them – the NC I’m trying now may be the start of acceptance.
It is really hard, though; only day #3 and still I’m really struggling not to glance at her as it’s become a kind of ingrained reflex. Of course, it doesn’t help that I have to spend 6 hours a day in the same room as her…
I appreciate that some people go NC for months, even years, but I had no idea how hard it actually was until now.
Dr L – your medicine for limerence is purposeful living, but elsewhere there is point of view that the way out of limerence is to look deep within oneself and do some “heavy lifting” on one’s own past (such as childhood wounds) and personality make-up. I’m sure you’re aware of this school of thought and looked into it, but presumably you’re not a believer? Perhaps a future blog post, but would be very interested in your thoughts.
I’ve blogged a couple of times about therapy and attachment theory. I am sceptical of the “childhood wounds” theory for explaining limerence in the sense that there are many limerents who had perfectly happy childhoods and yet experience the phenomenon. So, my argument has been that attachment issues would be a double whammy when limerent for an inappropriate LO, but cannot be the universal explanation for limerence itself.
But, this could be looked at another way. There are several eminent limerence commentators (primarily Albert Wakin) who define limerence as a bonding disorder – i.e. they reserve the term for those cases where the infatuation has had a seriously detrimental effect on the sufferer’s life. So in that sense, yes it is a “disorder” that has its root in attachment problems.
Finally, as a general principle, deep work into your psychological drives is a Good Thing. It can throw up some really upsetting stuff, but for most people (and with a competent guide), it can be enormously beneficial. I suppose my take on the situation is pragmatic. The deep work is valuable and can be transformative, but we are ultimately all so complicated that we may never fully “understand” our drives. In the meantime, taking positive steps to live in a purposeful way gives you the best chance of ingraining healthy habits that allow you to thrive. Laying that foundation should also protect you against the emotional volatility of limerence.
It kind of depends on how you view things. I don’t see “heavy lifting” and purposeful living as mutually exclusive?
Do you view purposeful living as the answer to limerence or is limerence an impediment to purposeful living?
For me, limerence was getting in the way of purposeful living and I had to do the “heavy lifting” to understand limerence and determine what was compelling me to act against my own best interest.
LO #4 was merely a catalyst. She fit my profile (i.e., she had the “glimmer”) and afforded me an opportunity. The rest, I did to myself.
I don’t see the two as mutually exclusive either, but I do see the “heavy lifting” as a great undertaking and one that will have an impact on an SO and family as it will take up a lot of mental energy and potentially time away. In that sense it’s quite selfish, and if it’s unnecessary to fight and conquer limerence then maybe best left alone. I’ve explored it, but like Dr L suggests I’m in a category of people with no meaningful childhood traumas who got limerent for someone. I’d be worried that I’d come up with an answer, but not necessarily the right one. Now if someone qualified tells me that my pet cat dying counts as trauma or having my bike stolen at age 6, then fine, I’ll dig.
The nice thing about just concentrating on purposeful living is that it can be inclusive of SO and family and strikes me as something worthy anyway.
I had a couple of reasons to do the heavy lifting.
First, I was carrying baggage that not only related to limerence but was affecting my marriage. The stuff I took into my relationship with LO #2 didn’t end when we did, it followed me right into my marriage.
Second, if I could have a LE 25 years into my marriage, I could have another one. I got lucky with LO #4. I might not get lucky the next time. So, to prevent recurrence, I needed to identify and close that vulnerability. In my case, that required heavy lifting. I got lucky a second time since a lot of the work my wife and I had done in marriage counseling and the associated individual counseling gave me a pretty good idea of where to look.
My company has an excellent EAP program which allowed me to work on the problem with no impact outside work. I could see the EAP counselor at work at no cost. Since I already knew the problem was me and had a starting point, it didn’t take all that long.
It ended up taking 3 phases. Phase I was getting out of the LE with LO #4. Phase II was actually doing the heavy lifting to correct the vulnerability. The EAP counselor tagged me as co-dependent but that didn’t fit the experience. I kept digging and discovered limerence. That did fit my experience. Phase III was validating limerence with the EAP counselor.
If you don’t need to do the heavy lifting, you don’t need it. I think identifying “the glimmer” is really important in long-term understanding limerence and preventing recurrence, but you don’t have to understand it to live purposefully.
Depending on your individual baggage, there can be huge risks to that kind of heavy lifting. Another break I caught was all the people I’d have to confront have been dead for decades. The only relationships that would change were within my immediate family and the problem wasn’t with them.
Did you know you were carrying baggage or did someone have to point that out to you?
I’ve spent some time in therapy now and there doesn’t seem to be a lot wrong! Some slight self-esteem issues, a bit of introversion and so a few things to work on at the margin but nothing big. I don’t *think* there’s baggage to unload.
I just want to finally snuff out this LE, I’d be pretty confident of my ability to recognise it next time, albeit my two LEs have been 20 years apart so i could forget…
I knew I had some baggage. For years, I couldn’t get LO #2 out of my head. I could remember things like they were yesterday. One of the therapists I worked with said it was mild PTSD. I also knew I resented my mother since I was a kid. That was really the heavy lifting I needed to address.
I was today years old when I learned the word limerence. Mind. Blown. Reading this blog and some of the comments is like looking in a mirror. How long does it last? For me it’s been 21 years. 16 of those not in an actual relationship with LO-#1, 13 of those married to someone else. The last 5 years it has reached a torturous level of ups and downs. My husband may have been a LO in the very beginning that I clung to in an attempt to get over LO-#1. I’m not entirely sure. But I am positive I want to stay married to him. I believe I am also LO-#1’s LO considering all that has transpired between us these many years. In the 16 years since physically being together LO-#1 has been married, divorced, engaged a second time and is now single again. The longest we have gone without any contact (not sure if this was intentional NC on my part or if I was waiting for him to contact me) is two separate periods lasting 3 years each and it didn’t alter my feelings at all. LO-#1 and I have had only one in-person contact in the 13 years since I’ve been married and it was recently in 2018. The only thing physical was a hug. Has it been an EA? It has gotten close I won’t lie, but I can’t go there in reality even though in my mind I go there all the time. Really struggling with all this and know I need to take more action than my half-hearted attempts. At least I can put a name to this experience and will continue working through it. I may even have to accept the fact that it will never fully go away and that is a heavy burden to carry. Last contact was 2 days ago when he wished me a Happy Mother’s Day and I said thanks. Where I’m at currently is knowing I need to go NC for my sanity and marriage, but not wanting to because I’ve been in this for over two decades and the reward addiction is heavily ingrained. So I am very envious of those with shorter LEs. Hopefully I’ll overcome!
Anonymous Limerent says
Today, it has been exactly 52 weeks since the onset of my LE, and tomorrow will have been a year.
Earlier this week, it dawned one me that this feeling is the strongest, most persistent emotion I have ever had. I know that sounds silly, that I just realised, but I only just thought about the fact I have been feeling the same way for a whole year (as of tomorrow) and it has shown no signs of letting me out of its grip.
It’s like having to feel angry for a year, non-stop. That must be just as exhausting as feeling limerent for a year, and just as daunting. I feel kind of sad after today, having to listen to people talk about relationships and asking people out in Music.
On the bright(ish) side, I managed to switch seats in Spanish. Tomorrow will not only be the anniversary of my becoming dead inside, it will also be the day LO finds out I’ve switched seats and deduces that I asked to. Hopefully, this won’t lead to any questions prompting a reason, but at least I won’t have to sit next to her anymore.
P.S. Yes, I realize it’s ironic that I became somewhat co-dependent on Independence Day, but that’s life for you. 😅 *sigh*
@AL, good for you switching seats. A brave step toward breaking the addiction. You are soon going to be free at last, free at last.
And don’t feel bad about the long LE, I had one that lasted on and off for 15 years and the last one which is now writhing in it’s death throes lasted almost 7 years. But it’s my last one. Forever. 🙂
Anonymous Limerent says
Well, today it’s been a year.
Terrible day today with a lot of being pushed together. I had to sit behind her in assembly and right in front of her for a few minutes in DT (although she chose to sit there, so I moved the next time).
So far, she hasn’t noticed my seat change in Spanish because we got to work in groups today, and sit wherever we wanted. Dreading the next Spanish lesson that may prompt questioning and suspicion.
Almost can’t bear this anymore and am sort of looking forward to the holidays (6 weeks natural NC!) in 3 weeks time.
I can only hope nothing drastic happens.
Hey Anon Lim. A year is a big milestone. If you hold out 3 weeks you get some relief, but it could also be time to reflect on what you’ve learned about yourself over this year. You mentioned before not wanting to disclose because you are insecure about your prospects. Maybe it’s time to focus on the insecurity, where it’s coming from and what you might be able to do to turn it around?
Hope you manage well these next few weeks, and have a great summer.
My Limerent Brain is an Idiot says
AL – I think you’re an amazing writer, and it makes me question whether you are actually 13YO or not, because your command of English is nothing short of spectacular.
Since I don’t think there’s any upside to prevaricating about your age, I’d like to encourage you to be braver. One of the things my SO told me was that she found my intelligence attractive, when we were first starting to date. I think there’s a whole host of women who feel that way.
As I’ve gotten older, I realize that a fear of rejection kept me from a whole host of women who found me attractive but I was too reticent to approach. In fact, my SO told me that there was one woman I worked with who considered me “her property” and told my SO to back off when it came out that I was pursuing my SO.
You may have more attraction power than you recognize. There’s nothing wrong with offering your LO some help with Spanish; you could establish a study group and invite her to participate, for example.
If I were you, I’d definitely invest my time on gaining assertiveness and self-confidence rather than fighting limerence. The bang for the buck will be far, far greater in your situation.
Take this advice as humbly offered. I already know that my limerent brain is an idiot.
Anonymous Limerent says
Thanks for the compliment MLBiaI: I can’t remember the last time I welcomed a compliment without first doubting its validity. That feels soooo good and very liberating.
I had a whole reply written out but my phone screwed it up! #Distraught
However, I didn’t lie about my age. But I am not 13 anymore; I turned 14 just over a month ago.
Long reply short (annoyingly) I will try to work on my insecurities, but limerence seems like my priority right now. I can’t invite LO to a study group as 1. No one would turn up 2. Ut would make her more awkward around me than she is now, as I’m sure she knows I gave *some* feelings for her.
I can’t ‘approach’ her as I have to see her for the next two years of my life, so rejection would lead to humiliation throughout those years. Intelligence isn’t really a factor of attraction in my school and my ‘attraction power’ is just as good as my self-confidence…:)
So thanks, but I really can’t do much to help myself right now.
AL – Don’t let fear of humiliation prevent you from making choices that will make you happier. When I was at school I was humiliated hundreds of times, and aside from occasional cringing now and then whenever I remember some of those times, it really has no bearing on anything.
In fact, I’ve talked about the one time I disclosed to LO but there was another ‘sort of’ time when I was much younger than that. A classmate managed to convince me to tell him who I fancied, promised not to tell anyone, then promptly told EVERYONE within a five metre radius. A friend of LO’s started to tell, and eventually told, LO while I was practically standing next to her. And I just RAN. Which I now regret doing. But I was about nine years old at the time.
Anyway, as you can imagine, I was totally humiliated. I believe I even cried. It was this whole thing for the rest of that day and, I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure things were very awkward between me and LO for a couple of weeks. And then that was it. By the end of two weeks everything was back to normal.
My advice is, if you can find the courage, you’ve got a six week summer holiday coming up. Try and tell her how you feel before that. If she feels the same way, great! That’s six weeks of no school that you can spend together. If she doesn’t feel the same way, then that’s six weeks to recover.
I have only ever experienced the Off Switch effect at the end of an LE. It happens virtually overnight, or over a few days. One day I wake up and I can barely muster any attraction at all for the person. Rarely is there a clear event or reason why.
Odd because my experience otherwise seems every bit as painful as what others are describing here. My most recent episode was more intense than I’ve had in a very long time. It lasted longer, too (about 11 months), but it still ended the same way. It just fizzled out with no apparent cause. I have no greater certainty now about reciprocation than I did before, the person is still in my life, still charming as ever. Nobody has taken their place. Yet the feeling of attraction has dissipated.
I’m reading here about episodes that drag on for years. Makes we wonder if I have a different condition entirely.
The off switch does seem to be rare. Especially if there isn’t a triggering event.
Limerence that lasts for years normally has a big component of uncertainty/barriers, which keeps fanning the embers up any time the fire begins to fade. Maybe if you are good at handling uncertainty, you have a quicker route out…?
Possibly. I am generally okay with uncertainty, but I definitely would have liked to know one way or another. I often felt like I really needed to know, but it was a situation where we were both in relationships and just could never even get close to discussing it. At this point, I’m just very glad that I got through it without doing anything embarrassing or hurtful to anyone involved.
Esther Lopez says
I just lost my LO. I put him off by being consumed with family affairs and being indecisive about my marriage. Not to mention being 358 miles away. He finally said he’s ending it. I know it was my fault. I put him in this horrible position. Almost costing him his own marriage. I just ruin lives. I miss him so much.
Three years for me to stop feeling limerant towards someone I work with, hence I am forced to see. It helped that my LO is a shitty person with “look at me attitude” (very unattractive feature). Overall, it has been absolutly agonising experience, full of despair, shame and regret but now I’m learning to love myself like never before.
Well done and good for you Alice!
I wholeheartedly believe that loving yourself, self-acceptance and being kind and generous to yourself are so important…and the more you practice these qualities, the better you become at being truly accepting and compassionate towards others.
Wishing you well.
Thank you Allie ❤
Once i was separated from my limerence subject, I went through a series of crying,anxiety and depression episodes…almost like I have lost a loved one. But it started fading every week. Overall, it took me about a month to feel like i can carry out day to day tasks with a concious mind.
LO1 was a nice and interesting man and I thought I’d rather be his friend than not see him. Mistake! I knew he was married and there was no chance straight away. Thought I could handle it. After 2 years managed to gently gradually get away from him. LO2 was someone I met earlier this year. Once I realised it was happening again I made a clean break. Only it wasn’t a clean break as I can’t stop thinking about him and wondering if there was any hope of a relationship. I don’t think there was, but I feel like I need it confirmed before I can move on. I only know his work contact details. His secretary might read anything I write. For all I know she might be his wife! At least If she emailed back saying she was I would know he was off limits! Thought doing things differently would be good, but at least I knew where I was with LO1 and didn’t have to wonder what he was really like or be in the dark about his status.
After I stopped seeing LO1 it took about a year to stop obsessing about him and then kept thinking about him after that, but it gradually faded.
I’ve been off and on with a 10 year younger woman in an affair for the past 2.5 years. I never thought she was my ideal partner because of multiple episodes of deceit, narcissistic traits, and inconsistency. But I have stayed with her and even though I still idealize my wife in her personality and character and believe she is a “better fit” for long term happiness, but my LO is still so sexually attractive to me. We also have a 6 year old daughter that I love but I only get to see every other weekend, because my LO has obsessed over me being with her every weekend.
I am racked with guilt about the affair and what I am doing to my wife and daughter, but I can’t seem to leave my LO as I feel I will never have the sexual fulfillment and physical attraction I have towards her.
She love bombed me in the beginning and now that we live together, she is still loving, but her once crazy libido seems to have waned for me so we fight about our mismatched sexual desires.
Please help- is this limerance, and should I stay or try to reconcile with my wife of 10 years?
Allie 1 says
Hi Desperate4help, and welcome to LwL.
Yes I’m afraid this does sound like limerence. The intense sexual attraction limerence generates wanes and dies over time. I married my LO 17 years ago so I have direct experience of this happening. We had a good attraction to begin with and it took 2 years for that limerent attraction to wane for me, another year before sex became “meh”, and another year or two until we mostly stopped bothering.
A good relationship needs much more than just sexual attraction to remain fulfilling over the long term. Do you have a common life vision with her? Can you see yourself and LO being good friends without the sexual attraction? Is she a good companion beyond sex and flirtation, someone you like talking to about anything, someone you trust to have your back, someone that would care for you if you became incapacitated long term? That is what real love is about.
Wishing you well.
Allie 1 says
I must also add that it would be unfair to reconcile with your wife while you are still limerent for your LO. You will hurt everyone if you bounce indecisively between the two women.
If you decide that you do want your wife back, I would strongly advise that you need to leave LO and be on your own for while, with no LO contact. You need to prove to yourself and your wife that you are free of your LO emotionally before you can fully commit to your marriage.
Sorry you’re having a hard time at the moment, mate. I agree with all the advice Allie offers.
Also, referring to DR.L’s article above, here’s a question you might like to ask yourself: do you feel your limerent episode is already starting to decline?
Thanks for all your comments and advice. While I do feel that my emotional attachment to her is waning, my sexual attraction is stronger than ever. I used to watch pornography regularly but after meeting her, I have not watched it since and actually watch videos of her when I do still have the urge. We have broken up more than 10x and gotten back together each time. We are currently broken up and she is packing up boxes, but I find myself feeling scared and wanting to work things out now that I see her actually leaving, even though I was the one who ended things again.