It’s a curious thing, obsession.
One day you meet an amazing, attractive person, maybe get to know them a little, and luxuriate in the warmth of their delightful company. You find yourself daydreaming about them, fantasising about getting to know them better – intimately, even.
Then, sometime later, without a clear understanding of the steps that have led you there, you find yourself mentally enslaved. Strung-out and sleep deprived, assailed by intrusive thoughts and a craving that won’t turn off. You can’t get them out of your head.
That mental state of romantic obsession is known as limerence, and one of the commonest causes of it is infatuation for someone you can’t have.
The might be lots of reasons. It may be as simple as they don’t like you back, it may be as complicated as your families have been feuding for generations and the vendetta has led to you accidentally killing her cousin in a brawl.
Whatever the cause, if there are barriers and uncertainty that mean you cannot be with them, the delirious rush of infatuation can transform into obsession. All that pent up energy and thwarted action turns inwards and traps you in apparently inescapable thought loops.
But there are ways out.
The ultimate solution is to do the patient work of understanding how your personal history has led you to this point, and then take decisive, purposeful action to undo the mental training you inadvertently undertook. But there are also some psychological techniques – mindset tweaks – that can help speed up recovery.
Here are some of the best:
1. Understand what’s happened
The usual seed for limerence is desire. You meet someone who excites you in just the right way. Their company is intoxicating. Just being with them is exhilarating. Daydreaming about them is so pleasurable you indulge in it whenever you get a chance.
The neuroscience of limerence can explain what is happening during this phase. The reason you can’t stop thinking about them is because they are sending your arousal and motivation systems into overdrive. They are a primary source of emotional reward in your world, and your brain will push you to seek more. But if that desire is not satisfied, it can transition. Instead of healthy attraction, you can essentially become addicted to them.
At that point – when you realise that you no can longer stop thinking about them even if you wanted to – new emotional challenges bubble up. Fear. Anxiety. Shame. You are craving someone you can’t have, and that realisation is pretty unsettling.
It’s time to fight back. But how?
2. Don’t view it as a fight
The easiest way to win a fight is to not take part. In reality, limerence is better understood as a personal wake-up call than an external force to be battled. It’s an internal state brought about by your own psychological vulnerabilities.
Limerence is going on in your head, and you won’t recover by fighting yourself. You need to calm your overexcited subconscious. You need to wean yourself off an inappropriate reward. Nothing needs to be slain. The resolution can be peaceful.
Another reason why framing limerence as a fight is counterproductive is that it keeps that other person central in your mind. They are still a primary source of motivation for you, but in a negative rather than positive way. There is a risk that you still define yourself by them, even if it is now in opposition.
Your goal is to leave them behind, not to vanquish them.
3. Use it to understand yourself
A psychological shock as profound as romantic obsession is a formative experience, not a minor inconvenience. One way to get some value from the crisis to use it to understand yourself better.
What was it about them that started the infatuation? What were they representing to you? What is missing in your life that they seemed to promise to supply? Emotional support? Romantic bliss? Adventure? Escape?
For most people, this isn’t a quick and easy process. It takes time, and focused thought, to start to unearth the events and experiences that shaped you. A professional could be valuable for this work.
4. Start retraining your brain
Many people with a tendency towards limerence develop a habit over the years of using daydreaming and fantasy for mood repair. It’s a “safe” way to get a nice endorphin rush, an escapist fantasy that temporarily soothes the stresses and suffering of life.
Unfortunately, that habit can rapidly get out of control, and escalate to the point where you can’t stop. With social media, the temptation to supplement those fantasies with hours of immersive browsing can be irresistible.
It’s obvious, but you need to stop feeding the obsession. Habits can be broken, and brains can be reprogrammed.
Self-discipline can be cultivated.
By changing the methods you use to cope with stress, and disrupting the old routines that led you into limerence, it is possible to reverse the training.
5. Look to the future
Ultimately, the best way to free yourself of the desire to think about someone you can’t have, is to find other, better, rewards to meet your needs.
There is some obvious advice here – so obvious that it’s a bit hackneyed. “Find someone else – plenty more fish in the sea”. “Try out a new hobby”. “Cut all contact with them.” This isn’t wrong, but it’s more helpful I think to look at the underlying reasons why such tactics are effective.
First, one cause of the problem is that you are thinking about someone you can’t have, which means you can’t take action. The energy that builds up doesn’t just disappear, it turns into frustration and obsession. It can turn into resentment. So, it is much better to spend that energy on something else, something worthwhile.
That’s why exercise and new hobbies and pursuits are useful – they don’t just distract you, they allow you to take action on something productive rather than being trapped by inaction.
The second, bigger, truth hidden in the platitudes is that you need to have something to look forward to. It’s a lot easier to walk away from a bad situation if you’re happy about where you are going. If you find new directions, new people, and new places to stimulate you, you can meet needs those that you’ve been neglecting.
This principle is why I believe that living with purpose is the best cure for limerence.
It’s better to look back on this time of obsession and think “that was when I finally sorted my life out,” than “I wonder what they are up to now…”
Limerent Emeritus says
Song of the Blog: It Was A Very Good Year” – Frank Sinatra (1965)
“It’s better to look back on this time of obsession and think “that was when I finally sorted my life out,” than “I wonder what they are up to now…”
I learned a ton about myself understanding my relationship with LO #2. But, it took my last LE with LO #4 to finally put it all together. There were some things I still needed to deal with and LO #4 was the catalyst for doing that.
I was lucky, not good. I got out of my LEs with few consequences and I hope I caused minimal collateral damage. I didn’t want to hurt my wife, my LOs, or myself. It took a long time and a lot of work but I’m in a better place as a result of those encounters.
Off topic: This song was originally done by The Kingston Trio [hard to believe, I know] in 1961. Sinatra heard it in his car and wanted to remake it. It has a haunting orchestration.
I warm up to the oboe intro of this song. I can do the whole song but some of it goes outside the range of an oboe and doesn’t sound all that good in another key.
It needs an English Horn.
I know the feeling!
(you set ’em up…)
Timely post. Going through it at this moment.
Looking to the future hits hard. They have a future and I’m not part of it.
I am too. Mine was a very brief encounter that led to a great experience for me while I was traveling. The excitement was intoxicating and after getting back home, the communication was just as exciting between us.
Now it’s been a little time that has passed and I told him I would be willing to travel back to visit but I was told he wanted that too but the distance was too far between us to have a relationship. While 900 miles is a long distance it isn’t an obstacle that is impossible if you want to make it work.
Anyway, I am now going through this rumination and sick feeling of missing him and he is no longer communicating with me. It really sucks! I am really glad I found this information because it is exactly what I have done in the past with people that were not right for me! I will go forward with a new understanding of why I do this and get help.
Thankful for the information.
This post is going to my Bible for the next few weeks and months. So much great wisdom. I am just coming out of a very gruelling long distance ‘situationship’, so the first barrier is obvious. Not a typical LO situation – the feelings were mutual – but the secondary barrier was incompatibility. So not only could I not be with her physically, I knew I shouldn’t be with her anyway. Rough times ahead for a while, but this blog will be my companion throughout them.
It wasn’t my intention for this thread to become about theology, since that’s a rabbit hole all of its own! (A very interesting rabbit hole, and one I enjoy exploring, but somewhat controversial and not everyone’s cup of tea). 😉
It seems like the situation at my former school has been resolved for now. The disturbing student contracts have been revoked and the principal who issued them has stepped aside and taken extended leave to “reflect on matters”.
I don’t think any of this was/is about religious freedom. I think this was about a leader with narcissistic traits gaining too much power in an organisation and sort of losing the plot, turning on his own support base, etc.
The school’s reputation has been damaged both nationally and internationally as a result of the scandal, but I derive no sense of schadenfreude from the public downfall of former associates, or associates of former associates. Instead, I feel a mix of shock and sadness – the kind of shock and sadness you feel when you realise your beloved parents aren’t infallible, after all. There’s a “loss of innocence” quality to the whole debacle. Very film noir. I sort of feel like: “Well, that’s the last nail in the coffin of my childhood. Shame it wasn’t more edifying.”
I am happy, however, that parents affiliated with the college found the courage to stand up for what they believe to be right (i.e. a middle-of-the-road approach to relevant issues). I think the principal confused freedom of religion with right-wing political activism – very easy to do in a world where so many things are needlessly politicised and people are forgetting common human values. 😉
Wait, wut ?!
Apologies. I posted my comment on the wrong page. I clearly had a lot of things on my mind that day and got a wee bit confused!! 😲
Limerence is going on in your head, and you won’t recover by fighting yourself. You need to calm your overexcited subconscious. You need to wean yourself off an inappropriate reward. Nothing needs to be slain. The resolution can be peaceful.
Your goal is to leave them behind, not to vanquish them.
This is brilliant! And I think it’s so true and important. I think, sometimes, the fight keeps them so front and center that it’s the same obsession with a different label. To my mind, it’s neutrality that is the goal. It’s humbling how slow that comes sometimes.
You’ve said, often, Dr. L., how formative an experience limerence is. The way I hear it is BL (before limerence) and AL (after limerence). Obviously this site is an example of how formative it is, but sometime I would love to hear all the ways you personally find this to be one of the top life-formative experiences for you.
Thank you for everything!
LO addict says
I agree this is brilliant, but it is the hardest.
I feel like it is a constant fight with myself to overcome this obsession.
My LO is controlling my emotions and I feel helpless. I don’t want to feel this way but I don’t know what to do.
I have suffered Limerence all my life. The cure for past episodes have been changing to a different LO, so not really a solution.
I have a SO now and sadly, he is the one I have not been limerent for.
So I will keep fighting with myself about this because I don’t want to hurt my SO.
“I don’t want to feel this way but I don’t know what to do.”
The truth is, limerence will end when you want it to end. There are plenty of resources on this site for how to start the process. I’m not in any way implying it will be easy or happen quickly, but it is possible for limerence to end. I know I dragged my LE out way past the expiration date because, unbeknownst to me at the time, I was still getting something out of it. I think that’s what you have to ask yourself: What am I getting out of the LE that I don’t want to let go?
“The truth is, limerence will end when you want it to end.”
Absolute facts. The executive brain has to make that conscious decision before the lizard brain has any chance of changing and healing. Even then recovery will be hellish and slow but at least it will be possible.
Yes. You have to get to the point where you think: Enough is enough. I can’t do this to myself anymore.
“Even then recovery will be hellish and slow but at least it will be possible.”
Yes, and there will be setbacks, and starts and stops. But it will happen eventually. On a good day, I’m about 90 percent over my LO. On a bad day, maybe 80 percent. Two years NC … and counting. I was very angry at my LO for a while, and that’s transitioned to disbelief at myself for wasting all that time and emotional energy on him.
LO addict says
Thank you Marcia. I understand your point.
I can see you have two years NC and definitely I agree that’s the best solution. I had in the past a LE that ended after several years of NC and had the same path as you, first I was angry at my LO and then transitioned to feeling that I wasted my time and mental health on him, so I can see exactly what you mean.
This LE I have at present is different to my past ones. Before and after meeting LO I was having issues with my SO, so this contributed to the situation. Also, I work with LO in the same office, so total NC is not possible. I have reduced my interactions with him and there are good days where I can avoid him, but although I have not disclosed I think he knows what effect he causes on me, and when he looks for me the effect is devastating. I don’t want him to have that power over me, and that’s my fight every day, trying to avoid him. Hopefully one day, I will get over this.
“The truth is, limerence will end when you want it to end.”
I think my LE ended when I accepted that (a) LO does not care for me in the present, (b) LO did not care about me in the past and (c) LO will not care about me at any point in the future. In other words, no hope. One has to extinguish every last flicker of hope in one’s mind by a ruthless process of elimination.
Also found it helpful to remember Lucy’s advice from Neurosparkle that limerence is obsession and not love. If one loses one’s love, that’s a terrible thing. But if one loses one’s obsession, well, that’s not so bad, because obsession isn’t real in the way love is real. 😉
“Also, I work with LO in the same office, so total NC is not possible. I have reduced my interactions with him and there are good days where I can avoid him, but although I have not disclosed I think he knows what effect he causes on me, and when he looks for me the effect is devastating. ”
You describe my situation exactly. I even changed jobs at the company so that I wouldn’t have to run in to him every day (it was a huge work campus). I thought that would help. I was kidding myself. I wanted to run into him … but I didn’t. I wanted him to come looking for me … but the few times he did, I was irritated/hurt he had nothing of meaning to say. OMG: I am right in front of you! Why aren’t you professing your love?! 🙂 Instead, he’d make inane small talk and walk off, like he was changing his socks. I eventually had to leave the job. In my case, it was not a loss. It was a crappy job.
Blue Ivy says
‘Limerence is obsession, not love’
Well said (quoted). I’ll keep reminding myself of that.
Thanks, Blue Ivy.
I haven’t been in mutual limerence myself (to the best of my knowledge). I’m thinking mutual (i.e. requited) limerence and one-sided (completely unrequited) limerence are two quite different things, and it might be beneficial to discuss them as separate entities, since different concerns/challenges are likely to arise.
I’m thinking if two people find themselves in mutual limerence i.e. they’re both stuck in the maze together, then wow, that must be so hard to get out of. I mean, one’s super-intense feelings ARE being validated by one’s LO in the sense they’re being shared. One isn’t “crazy” like the solitary romantic daydreamer. Also, when limerent feelings are requited, it must be harder to distinguish between love and obsession, because of course sometimes obsession can turn into love, given enough time and the right circumstances…
I think in situations like mine, on the other hand, where only one person (yours truly) was ever limerent, then it’s easier to admit eventually that it’s not love. It’s just infatuation. And it’s probably not a particularly healthy or desirable form of infatuation either, since only one person was/is lost in the maze! Still, it takes a long time to get out of the maze regardless! 😉
I actually had a weird dream a few months ago that I think was related to limerence. In the dream, I found myself exploring a gold mine which I apparently owned. However, there wasn’t actually any gold in this mine. The mine contained no precious ore, only worthless rocks. Someone had sold me a dud mine.
Then, suddenly, in the dream, I discovered one or two shafts in the mine I hadn’t explored yet, and I felt a sense of euphoria. Like, “Whoa, there might still be treasure in this mine! I better keep looking!” I think the dodgy goldmine symbolised my brain in limerence – i.e. the belief that if I keep exploring this mine, (ruminating over LO, that is), I might hit the jackpot someday and secure a massive pay-out!
However, I think the thing with limerence is that it’s the quest that produces feelings of euphoria, and not any final destination/pay-out. Our brain might reward us with euphoria, though in increasingly small doses, so long as we don’t give up the quest. And maybe that’s how some people stayed hooked for longer-than-average periods? 🤔
“However, I think the thing with limerence is that it’s the quest that produces feelings of euphoria, and not any final destination/pay-out.”
Yes. I think that limerence is about the wanting and the longing, not about the getting. The one time I had an LO become a full-blown boyfriend (and not just a situation where nothing happened or something happened but it was casual and I wanted more), the limerence died very quickly. I’m baffled that it’s been reported limerence lasts 2 years if consummated. Of course, it didn’t help that he became a stage-five clinger overnight. He didn’t have a clue how to seduce a limerent. You have to dole it out in small quantities over time … not hand over your hole tuckus immediately. 🙂 There was nothing left to figure out, nothing left to learn. He read me the last page of the book before I’d even finished the first few chapters. It’s funny. He told me the reason his second marriage had faltered early on is that he told his wife all of his secrets too soon. And I felt like saying, “You’re doing the same thing with me!”
“Yes. I think that limerence is about the wanting and the longing, not about the getting. The one time I had an LO become a full-blown boyfriend (and not just a situation where nothing happened or something happened but it was casual and I wanted more), the limerence died very quickly. I’m baffled that it’s been reported limerence lasts 2 years if consummated.”
Yes, it’s a real conundrum, isn’t it?
If a would-be LO reciprocates fully and immediately, then all the glorious feelings fade. If a would-be LO doesn’t provide enough positive reinforcement or hangs back too much, the glorious feelings also fade. The balance of available/unavailable is a really tricky one to get just right. And if it’s not just right, limerence won’t happen. There must therefore be some kind of “limerence Goldilocks zone” i.e. some kind of ideal conditions under which limerence thrives. (I believe this idea has been mooted previously).
Maybe what some other online commentators have said is correct? Maybe “normal people”, as in people with fairly stable and predictable personalities, aren’t likely to inspire limerence in others? In other words, if you have a pretty consistent personality, you shouldn’t worry unduly about hurting potential romantic partners – you’re not going to trigger limerence in anyone in the first place! 😉
I’ve read that limerence is how people with cluster B personality disorders fall in love. I don’t know if that is true. However, I think people with cluster B personality disorders probably excel at inspiring limerence in others, simply because their hot-and-cold behaviour is just part of their personal make-up, and they’re not necessarily playing games on purpose. Their confusing behaviour simply provides the perfect amount of intermittent reinforcement. (How easy it is to play games with people when you’re not even trying! The game revolves around other people scrambling to make sense of your odd, erratic, unconventional, nonsensical behaviour).
I think the LOs who really hooked me were actually the ones who genuinely didn’t care about what effect they were having on me. They weren’t thinking: “Ooh, someone might get hurt/burnt by this strange dance.” Is that a form of psychopathy? I don’t know. But I’d be uncomfortable intentionally playing that role myself I think…
I think now that The Glimmer requires much more than just gender (a representative of the biological sex one prefers) and good looks. A glimmer-giver I think has to do/say something that suggests he/she wants to enmesh with us, and that maybe we’re his/her favourite person. Then, with equal ease, he/she has to disengage from us, and this enmeshment-disengagement cycle leaves the poor limerent with a preponderance of unanswered questions, including the all-important unanswered question: “Is this person into me or not?”
Maybe limerence lasts 2 years if consummated because, in mutual limerence, both parties are sort of still presenting their best and most attractive selves to each other? Maybe what’s really going on is that idealisation continues for 2 years, and so the delicious romantic feelings continue to flow freely like champagne at a banquet? (“Yes, my husband is so handsome and charming.” “Yes, my wife is the sweetest and most beautiful woman ever to walk on the face of the earth.”) The ongoing idealisation during the honeymoon phase in relationships is perhaps what’s keeping the euphoria balloon pumped full and flying high? 🤔
Allie 1 says
To enrich your analsysis with a real example Sammy….
My limerence for SO took about 2 years of relationship before it dissipated entirely. We were not mutually limerent, that was just me. He just had the regular normal person “feelz”. We were friends first, I liked him immediately, fancied him after a couple of months, became limerent and I had decided I wanted to marry him long before we dated. But he was very slow to commit which gave me the intermittent reinforcement for limerence to flourish. My limerence did not stay at its original intensity throughout the 2 years – rather over time it was gradually replaced by a deep real love, something I was very excited and hopeful about, and thus I never felt like I had lost anything when the limerence died.
“I’m thinking mutual (i.e. requited) limerence and one-sided (completely unrequited) limerence are two quite different things” There are lots of shades in between these two extremes. Someone can have strong feelings for someone else without being limerent. Mutual limerence is rare, it being consummated is even rarer due to the nature of limerence. I get the impression from LwL that the most common scenario for a mutually limerent relationship is an extra-marital affair due to it being an ethical barrier rather than it ‘just not happening’.
“sometimes obsession can turn into love, given enough time and the right circumstances” That’s an interesting one… I have more often experienced falling in love first, followed by obsession when it does not work out.
Your commentary is very enriching, Allie, so thank you. 😜
“My limerence did not stay at its original intensity throughout the 2 years – rather over time it was gradually replaced by a deep real love, something I was very excited and hopeful about, and thus I never felt like I had lost anything when the limerence died.”
All up, that sounds pretty cool.
“There are lots of shades in between these two extremes.”
Yes, sometimes I forget all the shades of grey…
“I get the impression from LwL that the most common scenario for a mutually limerent relationship is an extra-marital affair due to it being an ethical barrier rather than it ‘just not happening’.”
Yes, I think you’re right about this. The anguish of people who find themselves in this situation must be intense. As a never-married person, I struggle to relate to the aforementioned scenario as I don’t have the personal experience to understand the specific dynamics that must be involved. 🤔
“That’s an interesting one… I have more often experienced falling in love first, followed by obsession when it does not work out.”
Ah, ok. I think my brain is stuck in some kind of “eternal adolescent mode” and has decided that infatuation is the appropriate starting point for any romance. I experience a huge high initially, and then everything – including my moods – go downhill rapidly.
I think my limerence isn’t a rollercoaster ride so much as one of those giant waterslides. Maybe the adrenalin rush for me is generated by fear – fear of knowing I’m going to hit the water soon at high speed. Also fear of not being able to have as much control over the experience as I’d like. I’m not big on letting go. I like to be in control and to stay in control. I hate giant waterslides. 😆
I’m actually afraid of limerence. Is that a weird thing to say? I’m afraid of the power limerence has to alter/affect my emotional state and to turn me into someone I don’t really recognise. But longing for someone who has the right combination of triggering qualities – ooh, there’s some strange beauty in the pain, right? Like the sadness hurts, but it hurts so good. How can pain be “beautiful”?
“My limerence for SO took about 2 years of relationship before it dissipated entirely.”
That wasn’t my experience at all. The limerence died overnight. It didn’t dissipate gradually. When I met my LO, he was married, so him being unavailable fueled the limerence. I eventually made a pass at him and he said no, which kept the limerence going. Months later, we had a brief affair. By the time I broke it off, I was still limerent, but it was starting to wane as I was seeing him more clearly. And then he reappeared about four months later, telling me his marriage was over and he wanted to be with me. When we met back up again, the limerence was totally over. It was like hanging out with a friend who I was having sex with. The “romantic feels” were completely gone. I don’t know if it was because he went from someone I couldn’t quite have to someone who was overly available (he wanted an instant relationship; we never really “dated”), or because I knew enough about him at that point that the rose-colored glasses were off or because I suspected he had only reappeared because his wife had dumped him. It was strong limerence, slightly less strong limerence … and then a baseline level of attachment.
“It was strong limerence, slightly less strong limerence … and then a baseline level of attachment.”
Maybe the example you share here highlights just how important barriers, real and/or perceived, are in sustaining limerence? And then, when those barriers drop away, one might realise that there’s no real substance to the attraction? It was all about the unavailable status of the desired partner and never about the desired partner? 🤔
“It was all about the unavailable status of the desired partner and never about the desired partner? 🤔”
Hmmm…. good question. I don’t know. I didn’t know him that well when I became limerent for him. I develop limerence with very little knowledge of the person. I know other posters have written about knowing someone for a while and there being a close emotional bond and then limerence developing from that, but it’s never happened that way for me. I thought I had feelings for him. I mean, this was years ago, long before I knew what limerence was. But it’s in a way like dating anybody unless it’s somebody you’ve known for a long time. You meet, you have limited knowledge and you decide to go forward or not based on that limited knowledge. I think the barriers intensified my feelings, but I also think I learned things about him during the affair that turned me off. And then once the limerence faded, I realized I didn’t really like him that much.
“I develop limerence with very little knowledge of the person. I know other posters have written about knowing someone for a while and there being a close emotional bond and then limerence developing from that, but it’s never happened that way for me.”
Well, if nothing else, at least I have access to a different roadmap now for how relationships might potentially unfold. For example, in my 20s, I operated completely from a limerent mindset. In other words, dating was all about urgency and anxiety and fear of loss. Now I’m older, I see urgency and anxiety and fear of loss aren’t strictly necessary ingredients, and there’s nothing wrong with a mellow start to a relationship that remains mellow throughout.
I mean, there is something ridiculous about a 20-year-old saying: “I have to spend as much time as possible with my boyfriend/girlfriend because life is precious and time is running out…” If an 80-year-old expressed the same sentiments, well, maybe that 80-year-old has a valid point – time IS indeed running out for the human being past retirement age. But octogenarians rarely stress out about being with their one true love. Twenty-somethings, on the other hand, stress out the most about their relationships I think and yet have all the time in the world to be with their one true love. 😉
The only problem with my mellow-is-the-way-to-go approach is this: what if I attract a limerent partner? And what if this limerent partner is like: “You’re not intense enough, Sammy. Romantic love is supposed to be drama, high conflict, Sturm and Drang. I’m dumping you because you’re not bringing enough intensity aka passion to the table. I’m not convinced you actually care about me.”
The LO who caused me the most heartache – I actually knew him for years before he become my LO and during those years he barely made a blip on my radar. He was just “meh, whatever”. Then, one day, clearly because of some post-puberty hormonal alchemy taking within myself, he mysteriously transformed into “Mr Perfect”.
I remember once he was at my house and he saw I had an Agatha Christie novel (from the public library) on my bookshelf. And he wanted to know the title of that Agatha Christie. And the next Christmas he bought me a brand-new Agatha Christie and amazingly it was a title I haven’t read yet… It’s little gestures like that which often trip one up and stoke the fires of romantic imagination…
I think I was sucked in by his unexpected thoughtfulness. He seemed to be paying real close attention to me. But was he really? Maybe he was just a thoughtful gift-giver in general, and all his loved ones received lovely gifts. Why did I crave this man’s love? Was it him? Was it my fantasy of him? Was it my fantasy of being in the perfect relationship with the perfect guy? He wasn’t bad in the “Prince Charming” role. I just don’t know whether it was his persona or whether it was my imagination running away with me…
He didn’t understand the meaning of the word “chivalrous” when I mentioned it to him. I think my imagination in this specific instance got the better of me. 😉
” I’m dumping you because you’re not bringing enough intensity aka passion to the table. I’m not convinced you actually care about me.””
Well, you are kind of cerebral. 🙂 I’m teasing. I actually think you can be both cerebral and passionate. I remember reading playwright Arthur Millers’ autobiography, and how he wrote about first meeting Marilyn Monroe … dayum! She knocked him over. 🙂 I had previously thought of him as being very erudite. I fantasized I’d done the same to my LO. That was what he’d done to me, but it was a fantasy. 🙂
“Then, one day, clearly because of some post-puberty hormonal alchemy taking within myself, he mysteriously transformed into “Mr Perfect”.”
Do you think it’s just hormones? I know some posters on here have written about having happy childhoods, but for those of us who didn’t, I think it’s also some kind of psychological imprint from our parents we are subconsciously looking for. And when we find it, it dings a bell.
“Maybe he was just a thoughtful gift-giver in general,.”
Or his love language in terms of giving love is gifts ?
“Well, you are kind of cerebral. 🙂 I’m teasing. I actually think you can be both cerebral and passionate.”
Oh, Marica. You are naughty. No. Just kidding. Actually, thank you. Very funny line – made me laugh. 😉
“I think it’s also some kind of psychological imprint from our parents we are subconsciously looking for. And when we find it, it dings a bell.”
Yes, I agree.
“Or his love language in terms of giving love is gifts ?”
Honestly? Quite possibly. I never even thought of that! 😆
“Or his love language in terms of giving love is gifts ?”
“Honestly? Quite possibly. I never even thought of that! 😆”
I think most people give love in the way they’d like to receive it and give it the same way to everyone in their lives, unilaterally. Your LO was young, but for people who are middle-aged and older, that behavior starts to reek of narcissism and an inability or desire to see people as individuals and what they themselves might need.
LO addict says
It is amazing how we had exactly the same experience. I know it must be a quite common situation but until now I haven’t met anyone who had been in the same situation and in fact I have never told anyone that have been suffering limerence.
You described exactly also what I suffer everyday:
“I wanted to run into him … but I didn’t. I wanted him to come looking for me … but the few times he did, I was irritated/hurt he had nothing of meaning to say.”
In my case, my office is not too big, but we work at different teams. He will only reach me when he wants, as he knows my routine at common places like lunch time. I hate when he comes and just open his mouth to ask something trivial trying to initiate a conversation and then leaves me. Initially I wanted more of him and keep talking. Now that I know he is playing with me, I just give him a polite short response and cut it. But deep inside I love when he comes and that’s the limerence battle.
I feel better just to know that I’m not alone, that there are other people living with this and trying to overcome this situation.
Limerent Emeritus says
Song of the Thread: “Long Dark Road” – The Hollies (1971)
“It’s over, well over
And we can’t revive what’s past
It’s gone now, moved on now
But then again it didn’t have a chance to last
No, no, no, a chance to last”
No, it’s “No More Tears (Enough is Enough), ” a disco duet by the fabulous divas Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer.
Limerent Emeritus says
If you like it…link it! 🙂
I dare not to chair dance to this. 🙂
Limerent Emeritus says
My partial song having discovered I am in limerence for almost two months! Trying to extricate since 2 weeks…
If you are going to a State of Limerence,
You’ll have to go there by yourself
I can’t go there with you
I will never escape.
Recently discovered this website and first time poster. Limerence as a concept is a revelation to me as it describes at least two episodes of my teenage years of unrequited infatuation. I then spent 20+ years emotionally asleep and met and married my SO without feeling any slight Limerence. Subconsciously, maybe consciously, a one sided relationship felt safer. I was finally capable of being loved by another person. Did it matter I didn’t feel the same back?!? (How selfish I now feel)
Fast forward to the now, and I have spent the past 5 months in Limerence, most of it plagued by frequent anxiety attacks, with an underlying dose of depression. However the realisation of what this really is starts to give clarity to everything that came before and I can begin to rationalise it.
I like to do things to the extreme. My LO is not only at work but my line report. We work v closely together. This closeness during lockdown has contributed to what I thought was an emotional affair, but the “does she” / “doesn’t she” nature and blowing hot and cold fast tracked me to limerence. She can be v vulnerable and often appeared to need my help, unlike my self sufficient SO, which fired up the hero instinct. After an extended period where I became convinced it was mutual, I decided to tackle the subject headings and ask whether I had overstepped boundaries and if we both needed to step back for the sake of work and our marriages. She completely lost it and claimed there was never anything from her side. Maybe this is true – she’s definitely way hotter than me, but I suspect there was a growing emotional connection I’ve confronted of which she’s still in denial.
I feared losing my job, marriage, family and reputation and spiralled out of control into a deep dark place. After it calmed down she was incredibly kind and supportive to me and checked in regularly. We have found a way to talk about it constructively, but are now slipping back into the old habits where she complains about her life at home and seeks me out regularly at work again.
We can’t go NC, and I can’t even reduce contact. We sit next to each other everyday and have non-stop dialogue. I have removed social media and don’t contact her or respond to her out of hours. I try to minimise talk of anything non-work related. But I can’t afford to resent her nor should I ever treat her any worse than the rest of the team. I have to balance minimising her impact on me with being the best manager I can be to her.
Two weeks ago I wrote a plan and some guidance to myself as to how I would cope in different situations involving my LO, and thought I was regaining control, but I’m now falling backwards again. I have a therapist who is little help and who I don’t trust after she actually encouraged me to confront my LO about the Emotional Affair in the first place.
I’m still stuck in her and situations where she needs my help or support make it difficult to detach. The anxiety has faded but is returning.
As for my SO, I now have the headspace to concentrate on us and try to restore things, but huge guilt as she has been supportive of the depression without knowing the true cause. Is a one sided relationship the best thing for me? Is it fair on her? If i leave I strongly feel I’ll never find what I’m looking for elsewhere. If I am prone to Limerence am I incapable of healthy love and best off avoiding it altogether.
Why can’t I have what others have? Why is it off limits to me?
Ask for a different seat, or at the very least try get a divider. If you are the manager you should almost certainly be allowed to sit next to someone else and assist them, because like you said you are part of a team, and she is not the only one.
She is off-limits because she is married and you are married. Love is not off-limits to you. Love is a choice. Choose wisely. You are not incapable of loving someone. If you want to stop feeling guilt, tell your SO what you did, what you are feeling and what you are going to do about it and then stop feeling the guilt. She may not want to stay with you, or she might, but it seems fair that she have access to the information about what is happening to you and what she has been dealing with. Obviously you should be tactful when telling your SO what is going on.
Allie 1 says
I am sorry for your suffering.
It sounds to me like you are confusing real love and limerence. Hardly surprising given the diet of exaggerated romanticism films, music, books and the media feed us all. It sure sounds like you love your SO in a real way to me, whereas what you feel for LO is temporary neurochemical “in love” not real love.
I was lucky enough to experience limerence for my SO of 17 years before we got together. Trust me when I say that it wears off quickly when you have a shared domestic life together! But if you are lucky it is replaced by friendship, trust, mutual compassion and a deeply felt investment in each others happiness. For example, if your SO fell seriously ill would you be driven to make personal sacrifices in order to care for her? If you were the ill one, would she? This is what real love looks like. The neurochemical high of limerence, while far more sparkly and tempting is something else entirely.
wow, thank you ❤️
I don’t really know how to get out of my LE that I seem to be neck deep in atm. I keep telling myself that its not real, that he doesn’t feel the same way. He is my neighbor, we are all married, well I’m not but we have been together for 20 years. He gets on with my SO and I with his wife. But there is this thing, everything seems to be in symbols now and I am finding hidden messages in everything. EVERYTHING is symbolic. I am completely obsessed, I have worn out his name in my head, it feels like it has dug a channel into the surfaces of my brain. He comes over every night, he comes over when my partner is at work, he touches me lightly, he rubs my back or my arm, he messages me late at night with banal things. Our fingers touch when he passes the joint. I know I’m reading too much but I also think how does he expect me to feel? I am only human. He gives just enough to keep me hanging on and never enough that I can name it. I am exhausted. I can’t ban him coming over without my SO wondering what the heck is going on (and nothing is going on).
LO always instigates everything, I am so powerless in this arrangement, I wish I wish there could be more, just once an outward honest acknowledgment of what he brings into my house every night but am also fearful if I tell him there will be rejection. Do I have to just live in this space? I have to box this up. I have to have some boundaries and self respect. I need to reclaim myself, get my neurochemicals in check and not just live for the hours, hour or 10 mins every night when he is here.
This website has helped. And I do realize that this is a classic case of Limerance.
I have had this problem albeit only over 2-3 months.
I am coming out of the other side now, helped through a range of reasons and techniques hut following a failed meet on after a few promising months of chat on a site and via text.
Was it love or lust? Idk! What I do know, is that she was pretty glamorous or attractive anyway AND she had a certain aura to her. Posted it elsewhere on here.
Posting on here helped, posting on another platform helped! Oh I have long since accepted nothing will happen between us but couldn’t help my views.
Ironically when I thought something was not stacking up, I did a bit of due diligence after the event, which in fact I should have done in the 1st place…only added to it as she seemed a fairly unique and fascinating individual with a relationship to someone who is famous in a certain field!
This compounded my sense of loss and the fact I didn’t do my best on the night…but with that knowledge even being on friendly terms with her and especially had I acted differently would have been pretty cool.
I have only just discovered this described as limerence and so to understand the psychology of it is helpful. This has happened to me several times, once in my 20s, then 30s and more recently my 40s. I’m also male but not sure if this is more prominent with women as such.
Fair to say the episode in my 30s was the hardest. Really crushing and came right after the break up of a long term relationship. I’d be interested to hear others thoughts on this, but several themes are apparent with my LO experiences. Yes, there’s the romantic infatuation, the wanting of someone you can’t have, but for me it didn’t feel that sexual – it was as if they were so high up on that pedestal that thinking about the physical side was somehow taboo. On average they have all been younger by at least 10 years as well.
The more recent experience is much less intense which is a relief. I’ve recently reduced contact to be almost no contact, which to some degree feels like I’m losing a friend which can seem like the hard part. However, it’s been some time since we’ve spoken and to a degree there’s another similarity: it’s largely one-sided. The hot and cold nature of your LO can seem infuriating and ultimately you have to realise that you really deserve better. Really!
I wrote down this thought recently and I reread it often.
If one doesn’t reject certain things or situations you eventually stand for nothing. You’re in no mans land, a shell of a person wondering where it all came unglued. Conversely, their life doesn’t alter at all. You are – have made yourself – the casualty.
Is it limerence or something else if there is someone that you wished to meet but didnt. Then there is thoughts of trying to remember what they looked like, what it would be like to meet them , and then some longing over that. It is not always about a single person
Sorry, but I don’t understand your question. Dr L has a quiz you can take to determine if you have Limerence.
Final update: Today was the last day
It has been a while guys. I’ve been sorting through everything and trying to enjoy the last weeks with my LO. It all ended an hour ago.
I found that neither one of us had a lot to say in our last moments alone together. She didn’t want to cry and was slightly shut off. I couldn’t think of much to say that we had not already talked about. I could never disclose so it was very anti-climatic chit chat.
I gave her a couple of silly gifts she thought were great and my letter I wrote that basically summarized how awesome it was to work with her. She didn’t read my letter while I was there which I understand. That leaves it in the ether unless she decides to text me about it which I don’t think she is the type to do.
So here I sit, a bit crushed it is over and a bit sad I’ll probably never know what she thought of my letter. Either way it is over and I have to let this all go. I doubt that happens this weekend though.
Thank you guys for the support and reading my story. I have no clue if I’ll be back or not but I hope everything you dream of comes true. I hope you all find the peace you so desperately seek. Pray for a brother who is feeling the pain and doesn’t understand how he even got to this point.
Rufio, good to hear from you. I have been wondering how you were doing? Sounds so butter sweet! On one hand, there is some finality and you may find yourself moving past this quite quickly. Maybe she does text to say thank-you, but if she does I hope it has a finality to it also. Complete NC now seems the best medicine so I hope she does not start up an open ended texting relationship with you. That will be torture.
But, I can understand the sadness of seeing this person, who has meant so much, step out of your life. Had to sting hard so hang in there. It will be temporary.
Right now I am sitting about 30′ from my LO and I am envious of you. My LE just seems open ended and though it has been better if late I still desire LO a great deal. I hope we can both find peace.
Maybe check in in a few weeks, let us know how it’s going. I am very curious how this affects your LE?
Thanks for the kind words. I hope your situation improves buddy.
Im only two days out but I definitely feel really bad. She has some of her own problems and is going to counseling as we have talked about. She said she disassociates from strong emotions sometimes and kind of walls off. Doesn’t make it hurt less how she just let me walk out and hasn’t texted about the letter or gifts.
I realize these are her problems and not mine. I can’t change someone. The hardest part Speed, is following your no texting rule. I desperately want to try and coax a response out of her. It will solve nothing and might even lead to more hurt. I’m staying strong.
Also, I’m starting to feel a growing ball of anxiety for going into work tomorrow knowing she’ll never be there again. Even after the fantasy has been shattered I still feel a great loss for something that never was.
Thanks for the update, I am very interested to see where you head and heart are at after a couple weeks of complete NC. I can’t help but think you are going to get past this quicker than you think and be left with just good memories of her.
The urge to text can be so strong, but I caution you not to do it. Maybe this was all very tough on her as well and she just wants a clean break also and has not texted. To me that is the most likely scenario, I am sure whatever you wrote made her feel good, but at some point you decide to leave things on that good feeling and just move on. I am guessing that is what she is doing.
I had a tougher week and weekend. After a good few weeks of feeling pretty good with LO this week I seem to desire her more which is leading to more down thoughts and emotions. Nothing drastic, but certainly a step back. I know from reading other people’s stories here, that is how it goes. Recovery is not linear, it’s a series of advances and setbacks.
Im hoping this next week is better, going to make a more dedicated effort on being a little more LC with her.
Follow up thought…
LO also did something a bit curious this week in it’s timing but not surprising in what she did. I think it affected me a little as well.
Middle of last year in the height of my LE, I muted LO on IG. I don’t want reminders of her. I finally in the Fall stopped following her on IG. I also think she knew because in the past she would IM me things on IG from time to time. After I stopped following her she could no longer IM but then still would send me IG links thru text.
She never stopped following me and would continue to view my stories, up until this last week. Then this week she finally stopped following me. Nothing of significance happened between us this week though there was a day she seemed more mellow towards me than normal. I remember thinking that day was a bit out of character for her. It’s just odd…why did she hang on this long if she knew I stopped following her months ago?
My limerent brain wants to think she took a page from my playbook, and is struggling with me now. The more likely scenario is she just finally got around to doing it? Or maybe she did just finally notice I didn’t follow her? I don’t know, probably never will.
Anyway, it was an occurrence that was out of normality so it makes me think on things. Friday at the office she seemed normal, actually quite warm towards me so she’s not stewing on anything.
Thanks for the update, Rufio! It sounds like you have a positive attitude, which will serve you well. Good luck! I hope this isn’t the last time you visit us. That doesn’t sound right. I mean I want to hear from you again, but I don’t want your limerent symptoms to get bad enough that you need support. Wait, that’s not right either. I’m happy to give you support. Oh brother, I’m tripping over my words. Sorry. I hope you got my meaning out of that mess.
Best wishes, Buddy!
Lol, I understand what you meant Lovisa! I have never had an LE before and I for some reason doubt I ever will again. I may check in from time to time though.
I can tell you I’ve had a couple break downs this morning already trying to do simple daily things. If she has read my letter she didn’t think to say thank you if she liked it so my brain is simply assuming she was annoyed or thought it was weird. Perhaps she just hasn’t read it yet as she was going out of town yesterday after she left. I have resisted the urge to text her. I just have to let go.
Rufio, I can see why you feel hung up on what she thinks of your letter. I can’t speak for her, but I know that I was narrowly focused on my wedding when I was in her shoes. She is probably preoccupied. And when I quit working to be a full-time mom, the office threw me a very nice going away party that included sentimental letters. I still cherish all of those letters 18 years later. As long as you kept the note at a friendship level, she will just treasure it. She might use it to boost her mood when life gets hard. Your relationship with your LO reminds me of my relationship with one of the men from my old office. Anytime I think of him, I smile. I love reunions when he and I get to catch up. Of course I can’t know how your LO feels, but based on what you shared, I suspect she sees you in a similar way.
It’s okay to have breakdowns. You will get through this.
Sending lots of love to you, Rufio. Sounds like you have a good opportunity for NC here, even though I imagine you hurt badly right now. Do check in if you can and feel up to it; I’m sure I am not the only one who wants to see how things turn out for you, and could learn from your journey. Big hugs and hang in there.
Prayers for you Rufio. Godspeed!
We will all be here if you need to check in.
I do because you all know this Limerence thing isn’t linear.
Up and Down Back and Forth but with you, Rufio at least it’s final and that might just be the catalyst that you need to move forward.
Perhaps she unfollowed you because she finally realized it would be the right thing to do? Or maybe she is just trying to help you? Not knowing is what kills us. The lack of finality. I’m trying to loosen my grip on the feeling of “needing to know”. I know you are right and time will make this all go away. I’ve lost friends and loved ones in my life way to early so I know all about real pain and while this is it’s own flavor it isn’t on the same level. I recovered from those and kept living, it will be the same here.
Update: One week out and unexpected(sorta) happy ending
Hi guys, as some of you know my co-worker LO’s last day was the 17th and at the time it was a lack luster departure from the office. Myself and one other friend had mentioned we would gladly help her load her uhaul as she was basically alone before moving 4 hours away in the middle of the week. Well, she texted Tuesday and after work we went over.
It was just her and two very old relatives. We helped her load her furniture etc and had a nice time laughing and joking. She was so thankful much less closed off than her last day at work. When it was time for everyone to leave and for her to drive away she gave us hugs and started crying. I was last and she looked up at me with tears in her eyes as I told her I would be thinking about her on her wedding day.
Later we exchanged very sweet text messages thanking each other for being friends and saying how much we would be missed. I got incredibly sad again that night but in a different way. I think I understand her better now. I understand why we could never be as close as I wanted. It just doesn’t jive with her traditional views and how she hasn’t even lived with her fiancé yet. She cared about me in her own way. I loved her in mine.
As far as work goes it was a bit depressing day one but the Tuesday surprise and sweet ending helped a lot. I feel really good and have no problems without her at work now(besides an occasional reminder). I still think of her daily but not in a way of longing so much as “I hope she is ok”. Who knows if I’ll ever see her again but in some sense it has been a sigh of relief mixed with wishing we had been better friends sooner.
Rufio…so great to hear it all got to end on an up note. I think that’s huge for preserving a great memory of her and it sounds like it helped your state of mind quite a bit.
Check back in in a couple weeks. I want to hear how the limerent feelings are. I want to know in real time how LO being out of your life changes the limerence. I have daydreamed of this thing happening to me and right now I am in a phase where I wish LO was out of my life. Been a rougher 2 weeks for me.
Best of luck, I hope recovery moves in a steady positive direction. Stay strong.