The average duration of a limerent episode is between 18 months and 3 years.
That estimate comes from Tennov’s book, and was based on interviews with hundreds of people struggling with romantic obsession. However, she also added a slightly demoralising qualification:
The extremes may be as brief as a few weeks or as long as a lifetime.
This is one of the commonest questions I get asked, and often in the manner of “when will this be over?” Somewhere between a few weeks and a lifetime is not a terribly helpful response, but it genuinely is true that limerence can vary that substantially.
Why? What determines the duration of an episode? Does the strength of the limerence affect how long it lasts? Is there a reserve of emotional fuel that either burns brightly and quickly, or slowly and steadily?
OK, no more teasing questions. Here are the factors that affect limerence duration:
1) How it starts
If you are single, and LO is single, and you establish fairly early on that there is some chemistry between you, then you are likely to be on the “hot and fast” track to limerence euphoria. If you are both limerents, then you get to enjoy the elusive “ecstatic union”. Limerence that leads to this outcome will also tend to burn out quickly, but not always at the same speed for both partners. That can lead to a tumultuous ending, as one limerent panics and overreacts because the other is emerging from the limerent fog and showing more independence. This is the rocky patch that limerent couples often hit at the 18 month to 3 year mark as they have to face the reality of how strong the relationship is after limerence has passed.
A second scenario is that there is a mismatch in attraction or relationship status, and LO does not reciprocate straightforwardly (while giving enough hints to keep the limerent hopeful). In this case, the limerent is at risk of getting trapped in some sort of confusing friendzone. Once in that trap, they may battle their true feelings in the hope that they might be able to just be friends, or they might sink ever deeper into reverie as they bide their time in the hope that they might one day win LO over. Both of those scenarios are likely to significantly prolong the limerence episode.
Another possible starting point is a single limerent who is open to dating, and maybe feels a glimmer with a few proto-LOs, but without fully crystallising into full blown limerence. In those cases, there may be several short-lived periods of excitement and euphoria, but the “limerence potential” sort of transfers between candidates. Until one stands out.
Finally, if the LO turns out on closer inspection to be highly unsuitable or disagreeable then limerence can be snuffed out early in the process, before the full transition to person addiction. Those limerents may also measure their mania in weeks or months.
2) How LO behaves
Some LOs are addiction engines. They act in a way that seems designed to provoke a limerent reaction. We’ve talked about these troublemakers before. Whether consciously, or unconsciously, they cultivate just the right combination of hope and uncertainty in the limerent to start the rollercoaster of elation and dejection that disorients and scrambles judgement. That can push the limerent into a cycle of endless rumination that makes LO the central focus of their inner world.
The very worst are the LOs that give a short burst of intimate attention that feels divine, but then fades to almost nothing. And just when the intrusive thoughts have worn you down to the point that you are finally starting to give up and believe you can move on, they briefly pop back up with a message from nowhere.
That kind of behaviour can keep the limerent fire burning indefinitely. Just when the embers were cooling, along they come like a pair of wheezy bellows to puff you up a bit – just so they can bask in the warmth of your admiration.
A subtle variant on this hook is the LO who needs you. OK, they are not actually willing to commit to anything as conventional as an actual relationship – because life is complicated and they don’t want to burden you with their shit – but when they need you, they really need you, because they don’t have anyone else in their life as stable and supportive as you.
Again, this might not be cynical on their part – they may genuinely be a hot mess – but the outcome is the same for you. Periodic rejuvenation of limerent feelings that are never allowed to fully subside.
3) The presence of barriers
Sometimes it isn’t the LO that’s the limerence amplifier. Sometimes it’s external barriers. Perhaps it’s marriage, perhaps it’s disapproving family, perhaps it’s some other source of secret shame.
Barriers act as an accelerant, because adversity makes you want the reward that is being kept from you with extra fervour. You nurture it within as a hidden desire, an unattainable utopian dream.
There’s romance to the idea that – but for the unfairness of fate – you could be with your heart’s desire. Unfortunately, that also prolongs the limerence, as you are likely to have bouts of emotional excitement as you gravitate closer… before crashing into the barrier and bouncing apart again. Bruised, but unsatisfied.
That inability to resolve the craving keeps the limerence hunger growling.
This is a double-edged sword. If you actually succeed in having sex with LO, it could go two ways.
First, the sex could be great, but then LO could flake out on you, leaving you desperate for more. Just at the moment of finally tasting your deepest desire, it’s taken from you. That is maddening, and of course prolongs the obsession as you try to make sense of what went wrong. Worst of all, the LO may be totally up for periodic hook ups in a friends-with-benefits way, reviving your limerent ardour each time.
The second possible outcome of consummation, though, can be the end of limerence. If you do form a more stable relationship with LO, with regular sex and affectionate intimacy, your greatest hope is fulfilled and the uncertainty fades. That removes two of the most powerful drivers of limerence. It’s not that you’ll suddenly fall out of love, but the altered mental state of person addiction will start to subside as the reward-seeking circuitry quiets.
Sexual consummation may not be the biggest factor in every case; emotional consummation may be more important. Either way, though, being tantalised by your heart’s desire can send you crazy, but securing it completely can end the madness.
5) Your mindset
All of the preceding factors are, for the most part, out of your control. The single biggest factor that determines the duration of limerence is how you interpret the experience.
We’ve talked before about how limerence is happening in your head, and so your mindset is the key to recovery. If you perceive limerence as a threat to an otherwise happy life, you will seek ways to avoid and reduce it. If you instead see limerence as a glorious blessing, you will obviously seek to prolong it.
Your reaction to the experience of limerence is central to its duration. Your mindset will determine the impact it has on your life. Developing that internal locus of control will put you in charge of managing the situation.
6) Your purposeful life
This brings us, with a sense of glorious inevitability, to purposeful living. All of the factors that influence the duration of limerence are dependent on where you are in your life, what your goals are, and whether you are emotionally resilient or vulnerable to psychological capture.
If you are romantically free and looking for love, then purposeful living will help you seek promising LOs who offer reciprocation, while avoiding players, narcissists, and flakes. If you sense that LO is not really into you enough, you’ll politely decline entry to the friendzone, and seek a more balanced connection elsewhere. If you are already in a committed relationship, you will recognise that the barriers between you and LO are a helpful fence that can keep you honest, not a tragic twist of fate that keeps you from fantasy love. Better yet, the onset of limerence could be a spur to start analysing why you are feeling drawn to another person and how your romantic connection with your partner may have deteriorated.
Purposeful living means paying attention to what’s happening to you, reflecting on the experience of limerence, and learning from it. That makes it highly likely that you can avoid getting deep into limerence in the first place, and dig yourself out faster if you do succumb.
Ultimately, the answer to the question “how long will my limerence last?” is: until you take decisive action to end it.
I guess the question is not: “how long will limerence last” but “how long will limerence last after taking action”. In my situation it was approximately around the ten months I felt relieved, but when LO texts me I still feel a little bit triggered. It’s now a year ago I started taking action and it’s a liveable situation now but LO is not completely out of my head (yet).
Good point, Valentine. The moment when you decide to take action is the start of the end of limerence.
More encouraging, though, is that it gets progressively easier from that moment, as you work to reduce limerence, rather than reinforce it.
Totally agree with this. Once you understand what is happening to you (either by reading up on limerence and/or by experiencing repeated LEs), the duration of the limerence is totally up to you (as irritating as that answer is : ) ). Obviously, recovery can be difficult if an LO is zombieing you … but the answer to that is to put up some impenetrable boundaries. Sigh … it’s a lot of work.
Vicarious Limerent says
Limerence for LO #1 really started trending downwards after about 10 months once transference set in with LO #2. For a few months, I was in this weird position where I think I was basically limerent for two people at once (from what I understand, most experts believe it is impossible to be limerent for more than one person at once, but for a while I believe I was). I am no longer limerent for LO #1, but I still think about her, like her a lot and maintain I would love a chance with her if my situation ever changed. She was a stranger who gave me no validation and I was completely no contact for the vast majority of time I was limerent for her. I believe those factors lessened the duration of limerence for me because I knew the situation was hopeless.
As mentioned, LO #2 is a friend who has given me some level of validation. I do believe she likes me (even physically and romantically to some extent), although I don’t think I am truly her type and I believe I would always be in the friendzone with her, even if my marriage ended. I am not sure if I was ever truly limerent for her, or if it was just a major crush. I haven’t seen her in a couple of months, but I actually think I can handle being a friend to her even if she is dating someone else (she was actively dating, at least before things were shut down). If I was limerent for her, I don’t think I am anymore. In her case, my limerence only lasted four or five months. I like her a lot as a friend, and the physical attraction is still there, but the romantic feelings I had have greatly diminished. Having said that, like LO #1, I would still love a chance with her if my situation ever changed. She is a fantastic, fun, exciting, beautiful and funny lady, and I could imagine having a nice life with her, but I don’t think her and I being together ever was or ever will be in the cards. Still, I have her as a friend, and I enjoy hanging out with her in that capacity. I am pretty sure that’s all she ever will be, and I am pretty much alright with that at this point.
I am pretty much over limerence (at least for the time being). I don’t even visit this site (including the discussion forum) that frequently anymore. The other day, I was lamenting the fact that because my limerence had subsided I was feeling a void because I had nothing to replace it with, but things are looking up just a bit. I am trying to work things out with my wife for now (although I am sure the bossy and controlling behaviour will return). My work performance has greatly improved and my focus has shifted back to my job and career, as well as home improvement. I just wish I could maintain the same focus on diet, weight loss and exercise that I had at the height of my LE. However, I am determined not to let that fall by the wayside.
Am really happy to hear things are looking better for you VL.
“I am not sure if I was ever truly limerent for her, or if it was just a major crush.”
I had his experience, too. As my last LE began to wind down, I developed a big crush on someone else. But the feelings were not as intense and I could much more easily see the situation for what it was (and spent far less time lying to myself about its potential). When I finally admitted to myself that the crush was a dead end and went NC, I got over it in a couple of weeks. I wasted a few months on the crush; the limerence went on for a lot longer, was much more painful and much, much harder to go NC, which required several attempts to finally stick.
Vicarious Limerent says
Thanks Allie and Marcia. Once you’ve experienced limerence, I think there is a tendency to label any kind of crush or infatuation as limerence. I believe it was Vincent who said that limerents can start to see limerence everywhere, even if it doesn’t cross the threshold into true limerence. I personally believe that even limerents can have simple crushes, but I also believe that a very strong crush can begin to feel like and resemble limerence. It is a continuum and very much a question of degrees. My feelings for LO #2 may or may not have been true limerence, but they certainly ended up displacing my limerence for LO #1. Transference worked as a harm reduction strategy for me because the situation with LO #2 wasn’t nearly as hopeless as it was with LO #1. LO #2 is a friend and someone who is in my life, and she has shown me at least some degree of validation/reciprocation. I believe she likes me on some level, even if she doesn’t think I’m the man of her dreams (and there is an obvious barrier – namely that I am married). The ruminations weren’t as all-consuming as they were with LO #1, and I never quite had the feeling I was thinking of her 24/7. At one point, Allie suggested that perhaps the “quality” of this LE was better and that was what was different. I don’t know, but it certainly felt much easier to take and far less bleak than limerence for a stranger was last year. I don’t have to worry about whether or not I’ll see LO #2 again because I am in regular contact with her and we do hang out (as platonic friends). I haven’t seen her in nearly three months though (because of the pandemic), so I don’t know if that helped or hindered my recovery. We have been in contact through other channels though.
“My feelings for LO #2 may or may not have been true limerence, but they certainly ended up displacing my limerence for LO #1.”
Mine didn’t do that. My feelings for the crush distracted me but did not totally displace my feelings for the LO. I recently heard from my crush after about a year. It was great, but I would have paid money to hear from my LO (it will never happen).
Out of curiosity, how much money? I guess it would depend on what you hear from him? I’m asking myself the same question and I’m a little ashamed of the answer…
“Out of curiosity, how much money? ”
Actually, none. I have changed my mind. 🙂 Crush reappeared, only to disappear, which I should have seen coming a mile away. I did see it coming; I’m always hoping things will be different. But how people are in the beginning is pretty much how they are going to be thereafter. Actually, crush, LO and I all worked together, so crush reappearing has made me think more about LO lately. All of this was completely unnecessary.
“I did see it coming; I’m always hoping things will be different. But how people are in the beginning is pretty much how they are going to be thereafter.”
As Shari Schreiber put it, “How we do anything, is how we do everything.” (https://sharischreiber.com/whos-doing-your-dirty-work/)
[The article is probably outside the scope of this blog but it’s a great article on Passive-Aggressive behavior. Passive-Aggressive behavior pops up in several of the older blog comments.]
The scary thing about Schreiber’s comment is that it applies as much to us as it does to them.
As one therapist put it to me, “It’s not that these people can’t change, it’s that they usually don’t.” She went on to say how much evidence of that do you need before you quit banging your head against the wall?
I appreciate the article. I guess I just don’t get it. I moved several states away after it ended (the move had nothing to do with him). We ended on decent terms (or so I thought), it was very casual, anyway, and I’m fairly certain he already had a jump off. He didn’t have my new phone number, address, or even my email, and I’m not on social media. He really did have to hunt me down to find me. After more than a year of no contact, to reappear, tell he misses me, blah, blah, blah … only to disappear. It seems unnecessarily cruel.
Probably a “line check” on you just to see if you’ll respond. It sucks but it happens.
Any response, even if you blast them, is a win for them.
But, it is kind of flattering knowing he actually had to work to find you. Whatever the reason, take what little pleasure that you can in knowing he spent at least a minute or two hunting you down and he blinked first. F–k him!
I wondered if LO #2 ever thought of me in all those years. When I got the FB friend request from her, I knew she had, at least once. I was flattered that LO #2 could still spell my name after 25 years. I win!
“Probably a “line check” on you just to see if you’ll respond. It sucks but it happens.”
I thought of that, but can’t he get a ding in the drawers from some local women? I live 14 hours away and will never visit. Why bother?
“But, it is kind of flattering knowing he actually had to work to find you. ”
No. Little driblets of attention do nothing for me. I don’t have that strong of a need for flim flam validation. 🙂 Hearing from him was a sliver of sunshine in an otherwise very bleak 13 months. I think it was selfish and cruel to contact me.
I agree, Marcia. Exes who randomly appear out of the aether, only to want a microsecond of validation, are extremely thoughtless and selfish.
Song of the Day (redux): “Positively 4th Street” – Bob Dylan (1965)
I love this song.
You can’t control if they try to cycle through your life. You block their number, email, social media, and whatever other access points they have. If you’re lucky, they lose interest and leave you alone.
I like to leave mines so if they come back, they’ll wish they hadn’t. If they don’t poke around where they’re not welcome, they won’t trip them.
That’s an interesting tactic, Scharnhorst.
If anyone ever told me that they no longer wanted contact with me, and blocked my number, I would delete their contact details and not contact them again. Why would I do otherwise? Their wishes are clear.
If I felt I had done something wrong, and I thought it would help that person, I may write one time, with a very sincere apology, making it clear that I expected nothing in return. (Whether this is appropriate is going to depend on the circumstances.)
But sadly some people don’t behave like this. They still contact you, even when you’ve made it very clear you don’t want them to.
I don’t think you need to go through all of the trouble of blocking them unless seeing their messages is hurtful or you think it may cause you to respond. I would tell the person not to contact you again and, if they do, ignore them.
Blocking them is largely symbolic. Once they have your information, they have it, unless you want to routinely change your addresses and phone number. They can always create another account and keep coming at you. If you take the step and they keep coming at you, it may be time to get a little worried. You pretty much know they’re screwing with you.
It’s always better to avoid problems than to fix them. If I don’t see anything from my LOs, I don’t have to decide what to do about it.
“They can always create another account and keep coming at you.”
In my experience, anyway, most people go away. If they circle back around at some point, I think you can just ignore them. I made the mistake of not ignoring my Zombie when he reappeared, but that’s on me.
Now, some people like to keep low-level orbiters around for ego purposes. I’m not saying you are doing that, but some people aren’t blatantly clear when they tell the other person to go away and give them mixed signals.
I think I’m with Scharnhorst on this. If you don’t ever see anything, you don’t have to deal with it.
I was mainly thinking about an ex of mine. I was very young (19/20), she was a few years older, and she repeatedly led me on, only to dump me again. It happened multiple times. I finally got some self respect and told her to fuck off and leave me alone. She did… for a few years. Then she got back in touch when her marriage was in trouble, and tried to drag me into that. I was well over her by then (telling her to fuck off was a massive turning point), but couldn’t believe she would think of contacting me in such circumstances, trying to flirt with me and start an affair. I was happily with my SO by then. Thoughtless and selfish.
“Then she got back in touch when her marriage was in trouble”
She may have been lining up a jump off. And was recycling. I hate to be that cynical, but sometimes you have to be. I was thrown when the crush recently contacted me because we live so far apart and it’s been so long since we were in contact. And, frankly, the situation was SOOO casual. It’s like contacting an ex-sex partner a year later who you won’t ever see again. But I shouldn’t have taken the bait.
“Once you’ve experienced limerence, I think there is a tendency to label any kind of crush or infatuation as limerence. I believe it was Vincent who said that limerents can start to see limerence everywhere, even if it doesn’t cross the threshold into true limerence. I personally believe that even limerents can have simple crushes, but I also believe that a very strong crush can begin to feel like and resemble limerence. It is a continuum and very much a question of degrees.”
These are all good points, Vicarious Limerent. It’s all about degrees. Yes, I’ve certainly started to see limerence everywhere as a result of limerence. (Can limerence make us obsessed with limerence?) However, I think genuine limerence has an intensity that is not matched by a mere crush, and maybe also a dark underside?
I think a crush is mostly pleasant feelings and the crusher can usually explain quite easily why the other person is attractive e.g. good looks, great personality. Limerence, on the other hand, can defy ready explanation e.g. this person isn’t one’s usual type/has a lot of bad habits. Also, limerence seems to strengthen both our positive and our negative emotions. At some point, the negative emotions seem to take over whereas straightforward crushes don’t lead to overt, inescapable suffering.
I’ve read somewhere that a symptom of limerence is “intensification of limerent feelings when rejected by LO”. This seems like a really irrational, or at least a paradoxical response, to rejection. I think most people let go of (and/or devalue) their crush if their crush isn’t being that nice to them.
There’s definitely some overlap between limerence and crushes, especially for us limerents. But maybe a crush for me is just a glimmer that never really develops beyond the glimmer stage? Maybe it’s about how far down the road toward obsession I travel. If I stop in the early stages, it’s a crush. If I keep going, it’s unhealthy ruminating over somebody I can’t have.
I think it’s also easier to stay friends with someone who was “just a crush”. They can be safely integrated into your social circle (though usually after they’ve found a romantic partner). You don’t need to distance yourself from them just to stay sane, etc. A crush is much more manageable overall. It doesn’t really spiral out of control. It’s sexual in a direct way.
“If I stop in the early stages, it’s a crush. If I keep going, it’s unhealthy ruminating over somebody I can’t have.”
I would argue with that slightly in that for me, personally, I think there is something about the LO that sets me off or pushes my buttons in a way that the crush doesn’t. With my last LO, the LE ignited with the uncertainty, the barriers and his hold/cold behavior, but I have had the same factors with a crush, and it hasn’t gone into limerence.
For me, the key difference between a crush and limerence is the mind space it takes up. A crush can exist alongside my life without impacting it much. Limerence stands front and centre in my mind all the time, regardless of what else I am doing, making it hard to live life fully.
Vicarious Limerent says
Great points Sammy! I agree with everything you wrote.
I always used disclosure or consummation to end my LEs. Until my current LE… for the first time barriers exist that prevent this, or at least make it risky.
I also agree that mindset and taking action are the starting point for ending the LE for many of us. As much as I would like my mind back, I don’t see my LE as either a threat or a blessing so sustaining the will required to take the continuous action required to end it is a huge and repeated stumbling block. Especially when it feels like life is perpetually on hold pending the end of the current Covid situation. Maybe without that I would be over this already.
I’d say mine was the full 3 years. 18m sinking into the pit and 18m climbing back out again. To put some dates on it should anyone find it helpful:
– early 2017 LO enters my life (at work)
– mid 2017 I realise that I’ve become obsessed with her (this is bad because I’m married and she’s much younger)
– mid 2018 I discover the term limerence and this site
– end 2018 I go NC
– early 2019 painful withdrawal symptoms, regret etc
– late 2019 recovery progresses
– mid 2020 LE over
I think the 18 month – 3 year timespan is customary if having a sexual relationship with LO. The excitement doesn’t last forever. Nor does the anxiety or the mystery. I was in a situation like this once, and my feelings of romantic attraction faded at the three-year mark, as if our interaction had some kind of predetermined use-by date that had nothing to do with how we related to each other. I guess, in Mother Nature’s eyes, the “passion” did have a use-by date.
This LO was never limerent for me, and couldn’t answer my probing questions regarding limerence. (I was trying to find out if he felt the same way. He always found a way to avoid answering. In hindsight, I doubt he understood the actual question). We were both single, no obstacles to consummation. The first three months of this fling were great, as LO paid me a lot of attention. After that, his interest waned. Life was supposed to return to normal, no questions asked.
Ironically, and contrary to popular opinion, sex with this LO was nice but never amazing. I liked the attention, not the sex part. Being free to have sex with your LO is no guarantee that the sex will be earth-shatteringly wonderful. LOs are not automatically gifted lovers just because they’re LOs. In fact, the anxiety that always suffused this bond meant that I never felt truly relaxed or at ease in LO’s presence. I was always trying to figure out why he held me at arm’s length.
On the other hand, in cases where limerence worsens or sets in after loss/break-up, I think limerence has the potential to go on for years and years. And the LE will probably last until the limerent resolves whatever emotional issue drew them to that particular LO, in the first place. E.g. is LO a father substitute? Alternatively, wounded pride might make a person slow to relinquish hope – unrequited love must be a uniquely painful emotional experience for us humans.
“Alternatively, wounded pride might make a person slow to relinquish hope”
Maybe pride. I believe it’s mostly hope. You found this person who lights a fire within you. It’s something that you feel you need on a cellular level. And, even if it’s not the person you expect it to be, you don’t want that to end. You want the poem. You want the love song.
“Maybe pride. I believe it’s mostly hope. You found this person who lights a fire within you. It’s something that you feel you need on a cellular level. And, even if it’s not the person you expect it to be, you don’t want that to end. You want the poem. You want the love song.”
@Beth. Oh absolutely. I totally get what you’re saying here, particularly the lines: “You found this person who lights a fire within you. It’s something that you feel you need on a cellular level.”
“Ironically, and contrary to popular opinion, sex with this LO was nice but never amazing. I liked the attention, not the sex part. Being free to have sex with your LO is no guarantee that the sex will be earth-shatteringly wonderful.”
I agree with you, but I’ve never had 10-level sex with someone I wasn’t limerent for.
I have had fantastic sex with someone I was not in limerence with. We had great physical chemistry but nothing else. Afterward though, I missed LO severely.
Only once since have I felt the sex and spiritual connection with someone other than LO. That relationship didn’t go anywhere.
“Only once since have I felt the sex and spiritual connection with someone other than LO. That relationship didn’t go anywhere.”
I ain’t talking spiritual connection! 🙂 But is the room spinning ? Which is GREAT start. And then, do I like what the guy is doing? If so … a very rare level 10! 🙂
If limerence lasts only a few weeks, it’s infatuation. True, painful limerence lasts months and includes unstoppable, destructive rumination.
That’s how I separate them in my mind.
We’ve had crushes that cause our hearts to palpitate. My crush type was always dark, handsome. I worked with one and, after months of flirting, we dated. The infatuation ended with a kiss. No heat and it was over.
My LE was fueled by nearly everything listed in this post. Uncertainty. Barriers (distance). Emotional vulnerability (mine). Manipulation (him). Consummation.
My mindset changed as soon as I found this site. However, instinctively, I knew NC was the way to go. I knew for more than a year that the situation was unhealthy. I did not understand why I couldn’t be friends with him. It would make me feel worse. I didn’t have the strength to keep NC going.
I’m doing it now though and mentally rewriting the history. Adding the truth of the person that he is.
Article of the Day: https://thoughtcatalog.com/becky-curl/2021/03/youre-allowed-to-miss-someone-you-never-actually-dated/
Sometimes, you have to let the grief run its course.
Limerent Lady says
The biggest problem I have with my limerence is the disconnect between what I know consciously and intellectually vs. what I FEEL. It’s similar to my addictions and OCD— I am consciously aware that the conditions are caused by certain hormonal imbalances, CPTSD, traumas that are triggered, etc. but that doesn’t actually help me find a “cure” for either. Yes, I want to end my limerence (and I think I need to sign up for the emergency deprogramming course!) but I also want to solve the problem of why I get limerent in the first place. Just like I wanted to quit drinking and doing drugs (which I accomplished in August of 2018) but that was not enough- I wanted to know WHY I was drinking and doing drugs in the first place, because -low and behold- as soon as I kicked those addictions, two more addictions took over: gambling and my current limerent phase, which is now in its 3rd year. I had to “self-ban” at my area casinos to keep myself from gambling away money that I don’t have. Additionally, I would say my control issues and my internet addiction got worse, too. So I know it’s all connected, and I know that I’m just playing whack-a-mole with all of it, i.e. if I don’t figure out what drives my addictions/need to escape/fears/unmet needs/OCD, it will just keep happening even if (dear God, I hope it’s more like WHEN) I get through my current LE. I found out about limerence about 2 years ago and it was definitely helpful to put a label on it and to know that it was about something else. I wasn’t completely out of my mind, I was just having hormonal imbalances and life circumstances/past traumas added to it. It helps to label someone as “a limerent object” and to frame it in terms of a pathology, but it doesn’t get to the core of why I have that pathology. I started therapy a few weeks ago, largely driven by this particular LE, after an attempt at going on a dating app- you know, to “get over” my LO which didn’t work and only sent me further over the edge. It’s frustrating to feel like I’ve made so much progress, and to WANT to change, and to KNOW I can change, and more importantly to know that none of this is about my LO in the first place!! Yet, I feel stuck. There have been euphoric moments in the past 3 years where I finally thought I had settled into an acquaintance/quasi-friendship situation with my LO, only to be thrown into a tailspin when I found out he had a new girlfriend. That’s also what’s so unsettling about it- being completely unaware of my OWN feelings. I thought I was doing great. Not so much. The roller coaster is unbearable. The good news is, I know I’m on a roller coaster. And I know I can get off of said roller coaster. But I have to choose to. It’s also helpful to remember that I’ve had several other LOs in the past and I never think about any of them anymore (I can’t even remember the first one’s NAME haha). So this too shall pass. Someday. Anyway… thanks for listening. I relate to so much of what all of you have said here! Thank you all for your vulnerability.
@Limerent Lady. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I too have wondered why I was vulnerable in the first place to LEs or to a particular LE/LO.
I don’t have any pat answers to that question, and I think everyone is different. I think the human brain has evolved, however, to seek pleasure. I also think some brains are maybe not so good at switching off the reward-seeking instincts once reaching a certain level of stimulation, like a tap that can’t be turned off without some outside assistance. Maybe us limerents simply get overstimulated by certain cues, as another article suggests?
“It helps to label someone as “a limerent object” and to frame it in terms of a pathology, but it doesn’t get to the core of why I have that pathology.”
There’s a bit of debate about whether limerence is a pathology or just the way some people experience the early stages of pair-bonding/romantic love. It can certainly cause us grave discomfort and self-doubt when it goes wrong. I think it helps to label someone as “a limerent object” as it helps us reflect on our own hidden feelings and motivations and how we might be treating that person. Also, it might help us see that they don’t really reciprocate our “grand passion”.
Human beings DO become less sensitive to rewards that are familiar and easily obtained. Maybe this is why limerent feelings eventually fade even when people find themselves in committed, stable relationships with their LOs? You’re right – this (your current LE) too shall pass. Someday.
“That’s also what’s so unsettling about it- being completely unaware of my OWN feelings.”
From what you’ve written, it sounds like your brain wants to jump from one addiction to another. I know the feeling. Sugar seems strangely attractive to me at the moment. I can’t walk past the ice-cream shop without going inside. I think the key to overcoming addiction in the long term is what you say here, though – getting in touch with your own emotions/understanding your unconscious drives. I guess none of us can ever have too much self-awareness, and therapy can help with that.
Limerent Lady says
Thank you Sammy! I suppose the label of “pathology” might be going overboard, as it’s really not a disease per se. I guess it’s just my way of framing it in terms that articulate just how maddening and debilitating the whole thing is. Ugh. I really hate it.
Hi Limerent lady. I think you’ve captured one of the big issues with limerence recovery – there are two levels that need to be worked at. The first is breaking the immediate hyperactive reward-seeking program that’s running in your head (which is what the emergency deprogramming course is aimed at), but the second is understanding why you were psychologically vulnerable to getting trapped in that mind loop in the first place.
That second stage is where the understanding of how your life history has led you to seek addictive stimuli. That’s where therapy or counselling can be helpful in making you more wise and resilient when confronted by temptation again in the future.
But yes, the problem of how to turn down the volume on the craving is… non-trivial.
Limerent Lady says
Thank you, doc. I’m relieved to have finally gone back to therapy after years of talking about doing just that. I’m hoping it will help. My biggest hesitation with purchasing the emergency deprogramming course is that I already know that at this point in time, I’m incapable of going no contact. Maybe “capable” is the wrong wording…”unwilling” is more like it. If I know I’m not going to take the necessary steps, perhaps I should wait until I’m ready? Will I ever be ready? And by the time I’m “ready” won’t it be after the limerence has subsided anyway? All excuses to hang onto it I guess. I had a similar experience with drugs and alcohol. I knew I had to quit for at least 10 years prior to pulling the plug. I’m hoping this won’t take as long. Fingers crossed.
New to this blog & community. So intrigued & will be reading and re-reading for days!
I wanted to bring up the wrinkle of polyamory for those of us who are married/in committed relationships who have a LO who is not our spouse. I’m responding in particular to this:
“Better yet, the onset of limerence could be a spur to start analysing why you are feeling drawn to another person and how your romantic connection with your partner may have deteriorated.”
My experience with my LO actually deepened my romantic and sexual feelings for my spouse. The stronger I felt for LO, the stronger I felt for Spouse, too. Like, a high tide (of dopamine release in the ventral striatum, etc.) raises all boats?
The experience made me realize my mind works in a kind of polyamorous way. I want Spouse, and I want LO too.
I actually had several honest and meaningful conversations with Spouse about polyamory, eventually revealing my interest was in our mutual friend the LO (which doesn’t bother Spouse, interestingly enough), but Spouse really does not want to do polyamory. He’s a strictly monogamous person, has no interest in dating or screwing other people, and the thought of me doing so sends him into despair and panic I now realize (and he agreed) is attachment system panic.
So. My polyamorous dream is a no-go. Not to mention I don’t even know if LO and his (very cute, would 100% threesome with) long term partner would ever be open to poly. I never broached the topic with them or flirted enough to send a strong signal since Spouse nixed it.
So here we are, all 4 of us are still close friends. Not the best, but I keep my shit to myself, control it, adamantly make sure I’m being a good friend to LO & partner instead of letting my feelings make me do weird shit.
But at least it isn’t deteriorating my relationship with my spouse. On the contrary, we have gotten closer talking about all this, our sex life is amazing, and I love him more than ever.
Allie 1 says
Hi NeuroNerd and welcome!
I feel similarly to you about polyamory. I would have no issue with my SO having a relationship with another women, so long as our marriage is primary, and I have plenty of room in my heart to deeply love a second partner (ideally LO of course!). Like you, my SO is not interested in a anyone else and is thus not prepared to take what he sees as a risky foray into the unknown with our marriage. A real shame.
I see lifelong monogamy as a system that fails for at least half the population and I fervently wish for the alternatives to become normalised in the future so my daughters have more relationship options open to them than we did.
Am glad to hear your LE is so stimulating for your marriage. Being transparent and honest about my LE with my SO, and his complete acceptance of it, has mutually strengthened my marriage also.
Wishing you well.
Thanks Allie! Nice to hear from someone in the same boat.
I want to take the decisive action to end my LE, can somebody help me on how to disclose when I expect a NO from her?, I’m so insecure on how to react and what to say, I don’t think she’ll reciprocate, and I’m afraid our friendship might be affected.
Just say you know you are friends but your feelings have changed and you’d like to take her on a date. And use the word date to be clear. And throw a day in there. “I’d like to take on a date. Are your free for dinner on Friday?” Picking a day makes it look like you are serious. A man with a plan. I wouldn’t throw in “It’s ok if you don’t feel the same and I’ll understand and we can still be friends ….” right away. Give her a chance to respond. Throwing all that in makes it sound like you are backing out of the room. You very well may surprise her so she may not answer immediately. But I’d only bring it up once. The ball is in her court after that.
Limerent Emeritus says
It might affect the friendship and it might not. Are you willing to assume the risk?
Clip of the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpoyshqB8-o – ” Casablanca”
Take the risk. Friends come and go.
“Recent research by Dutch sociologist Gerald Mollenhorst at Utrecht University confirms that the large majority of friendships tend to be fleeting. He found that both the friends we make and the ones we keep are more likely to be determined by opportunity rather than personal preferences. Many relationships fall apart because people no longer have the opportunity to be together in the same context, e.g. a school, an office or a neighborhood.
The sociologist surveyed 1007 men and women between the ages of 18 and 65 years and was able to re-interview 604 of them seven years later. Over that time, the size of an individual’s social network remained strikingly stable (in terms of numbers) but there was a lot of turnover: New friends replaced old ones and only thirty percent of the original friendships remained.”
Limerent Emeritus says
“Many relationships fall apart because people no longer have the opportunity to be together in the same context, e.g. a school, an office or a neighborhood.”
“He found that both the friends we make and the ones we keep are more likely to be determined by opportunity rather than personal preferences…New friends replaced old ones and only thirty percent of the original friendships remained.”
I totally believe this.
An interesting tangent:
I read an article in the 80s that said that one of the major factors in assessing the early viability of a relationship is convenience. The article said it was also a difficult criterion to overcome. If you had to choose between two suitors, the less convenient one had to be very compelling to win out. But, that’s not surprising, either. Influence is proportional to access and convenience, of anything, is ease of access. The more convenient they are, the easier it is for you to have the opportunity to influence them.
I know convenience was a factor in at least two of my relationships. LO #2 said she didn’t like me at first. But, she was convenient to access so I pursued it. Given her initial lukewarm reception, had she been harder to access, I likely would have given up. Her convenience made the Aggravation in the “Compensation to Aggravation ratio (C/A)” close enough to 1 that is was worth putting some effort into. In other words, convenience kept her from being more trouble than she was worth at that point.
The concepts of access and influence are really interesting. Toss power in the mix and things get even more interesting.
Idk. LOs for me had nothing to do with convenience. In fact, they were vey often inconvenient. Painfully inconvenient. My interest was solely based on .. interest. Or desire. Or attraction, which felt much more pure than other dating relationships. Almost holy in the intensity of interest. Whereas with non-LOs, well, sometimes a woman will say yes if the guy does all the work. Keeps calling, etc. That can keep it going a couple of months past its expiration date.
Limerent Emeritus says
“Whereas with non-LOs, well, sometimes a woman will say yes if the guy does all the work. Keeps calling, etc. That can keep it going a couple of months past its expiration date.”
Or, a couple of years if the guy is a slow learner…
Thank you for your comments, I will gather the courage to disclose my feelings to her, your replies and comments make me feel better.