For compassionate people, it can be upsetting to discover that a friend has become infatuated with you. Everyone likes to be admired, but when you care for someone without having romantic feelings, the flattering ego-boost usually gives way to sympathy and concern pretty quickly. You don’t want to lose a friend, you don’t want to string them along, but you don’t want to hurt them either.
This naturally raises the question of how to tell someone you only want to be friends without causing them emotional pain. Is there a good form of words to use? Should you be blunt, or should you let them down gently? How will it change your relationship – should you spend less time with them, or more? Where can you learn these advanced diplomacy skills?
There are a number of factors that will determine the answers to these questions. The seriousness of their crush on you, their emotional resilience, your emotional resilience, and the closeness of your friendship (and patterns of intimacy) will all play a role. Navigating this is tricky, but there are some good rules of thumb.
1. Figure out how serious their crush is
For some people, having a crush on their friend is just a pleasant distraction – it adds some spice to their day, gives them a nice energy and ego boost, but doesn’t really go anywhere beyond flirting and occasional romantic overtures – or maybe the suggestion of a friends-with-benefits arrangement for mutual fun.
For other people, a crush can be, well, crushing. This site is all about limerence, a severe and special case of infatuation that involves wild mood swings, intrusive thoughts, ungovernable emotions and a sense that the connection between you is at a deep and profound level – the “soulmate” or “true love” match. If you have a friend who has become limerent for you, the dynamic will be much less fun.
Given that a standard-issue crush is easy enough to handle, I’m going to focus on how to respond, delicately but decisively, to limerence in a friend. Step one therefore, is to try and determine whether your friend is showing signs of limerence – click here for an article that outlines the classic indicators.
2. Assess how open they are being
Assuming that your friend is showing signs of limerence, the next important question is whether their infatuation is out in the open? Have they asked you on a date, or declared their undying love? Have they come out and said something unmistakable, or is it more like a vibe that you’re picking up on?
Limerence typically grows in the shadows of uncertainty. Many limerents – hell, many people – are fearful of rejection and so want to test the waters a bit first before they disclose their innermost secrets. Unfortunately, that instinct tends to make the limerence worse.
If they haven’t disclosed directly, then there is still some chance that you have misread the situation or that they are looking for some feedback from you before they take things further. The best way to resolve this uncertainty is to be clear in your own words and actions that you are not interested in a romantic connection.
3. Try not to laugh it off
If your friend is making clumsy hints about their feelings, or getting jealous of your other friendships, or in other ways making you feel awkward, a natural instinct is to try and use humour or banter to breeze past the embarrassment and re-establish the old friendly routine.
While this could be a way to avoid further embarrassment (if your friend is self-aware and sensitive to social cues), more commonly it is just likely to prolong the state of uncomfortable tension.
Failing to directly and openly address the situation is also likely to jeopardise the prospects of future friendship.
4. Be wary of giving false hope
Another important principle, especially if your friend is limerent, is to be absolutely clear about your feelings. Mixed signals amplify limerence, because they cause a mixture of anxiety and hope. So, avoid comments or actions that could be interpreted as oblique encouragement.
What I mean by this is statements that might seem to spare their ego and let them down gently, but actually could be misread by an infatuated limerent as a barrier to be overcome.
“I do like you, but I’m not ready for a relationship right now,” or, “you’re a beautiful woman, but not really my type,” or “I don’t want to spoil our friendship,” can seem like sensitive ways of saying no, but actually send a mixed message.
Infatuated limerents may instead hear “wait till I’m ready,” “you’re beautiful and just need to change your style,” or “you need to get out of the friendzone.”
The compassionate thing to do for a limerent is remove uncertainty.
5. Don’t involve others
Closely related to this principle of being direct, is to not blame other people for your situation. Be straight about your friendship as two individuals. Avoid presenting other people as barriers to be overcome.
So, excuses like “I do like you, but I have a boyfriend,” or “I’m dating someone new right now,” or “I’m married and don’t want to betray my spouse,” aren’t clarifying how you feel about them. It’s putting the issue off onto a third party.
Best to be crystal clear about your lack of romantic feelings, regardless of the status of anyone else in your lives.
6. Plan ahead
Overall, the goal for handling this difficult situation with compassion and sensitivity is to be open, honest, friendly and unambiguous. One way to deliver such a delicate message is to spend a bit of time thinking ahead, rather than improvising in the moment. Here are a few possible scripts for letting someone down gently, but clearly:
You’re a great friend, but I don’t feel we’re a romantic match.
I’m sorry that I can’t return your feelings. I want to stay friends, but I don’t want any more than that.
I do care for you, but only as a friend
I like hanging out, but I don’t want a romantic connection.
I get the feeling sometimes that you want to be more than friends. I want to be honest and let you know that I don’t feel like that. I’m sorry if I’m wrong about your thoughts or oversharing, but I just want to be open about what I’m feeling.
7. Let them react naturally.
The final stage is what happens next. I think a good guiding principle is to let them take the lead.
They might get angry or embarrassed, they might get weepy. They might laugh it off. They may want to get away from you for a while.
Let them react as they will, but once you’ve made a clear declaration, stick to it and try not to slip back into behaviours that seem natural to you but are likely to worsen the limerence in them.
A common urge is to demonstrate that you still care for them as a friend by being extra warm, considerate or attentive. While the impulse is coming from a good place, it can easily come across as a mixed message. Better to give them space to cool off, reflect and then re-establish the friendship on new terms.
Showing compassion, removing uncertainty and being honest about your true feelings is the best guiding principle when it comes to the “I just want to be friends” conversation.
Allie 1 says
Good article. Responding to this is challenging and tough to get right.
“removing uncertainty and being honest about your true feelings is the best guiding principle when it comes to the “I just want to be friends” conversation”
I have been in this position before. The difficulty I have found is where my feelings for them are a bit ambiguous. I like them, find them attractive but am not sure yet if it is enough to act. If I am honest in that situation I would only serve to feed their uncertainty. I don’t want to put them off you but I don’t feel ready to declare myself yet either.
Being the object of an intense infatuation can be a bit much if you have the (foolish) tendency to feel responsible for the feelings & happiness of others. It makes you doubt your feelings are strong enough to act on in case you hurt them. For me, as a demi-sexual, attraction is not usually instant and often takes time to grow. Someone else’s limerence can really get in the way of that if the timing is too soon.
I sometimes wonder if LO “let me down easy” some of the time because she was gracious enough not to want to hurt me, even if limerence wasn’t in her vocabulary. She quite obviously could see that I had some affection for her of some kind.
I tried to tell her that through writing. I am terrible at vocally expressing myself. In the card I wrote her for her “going away” present and then the same year her and her gentleman friend’s Christmas gift; “don’t be a stranger”. In my writing I was trying to tell I didn’t want to loose her. That I understood her need to take a new direction secularly and in life in general. But I didn’t want to loose her. My fear is she is NC for my sake because she doesn’t trust that I can’t compartmentalize our relationship. And she may be right. I might not be able to.
I looked up demisexual and that really hit me. I have never had such a immediate response in attraction to someone like I did with LO. It contrasts how I have developed feelings for anyone else, romantic or platonic. It takes me time to grow on people. But with LO is was almost instantly. It took time for the limerence to glimmer but the attraction or attachment (maybe both) was almost right away. She had a pull on me like gravity.
Lost in Space says
Great article, thanks! My only disagreement would be that I think “I’m married and don’t want to betray my spouse” is a perfectly good reason to squash someone’s interest, as long as you present it as a clear line in the sand, not as a concern that could be overcome or worked around. It should be enough to say “it doesn’t matter how you feel about me or I feel about you – I’m married so any sort of relationship with you or anyone else is 100% off the table”. I could have nipped my current LE in the bud if I’d actually been strong about that line, rather than what I actually said which was more along the lines of “I’m married, and normally I’d never do anything like this, but it’s different in this case because our connection is just so amazing that it must be meant to be, so we just need to make sure my spouse doesn’t know about any of this”. Yeah, not good.
I have a little issue I’m concerned about and would love advice from the community. I’ve mentioned before that one of my best friends is a female coworker for whom I’ve never felt the glimmer, and our relationship has always been a truly healthy platonic friendship. We started working at our organization within a week of each other, we have a lot of shared interests, our kids are the same ages, I get along with her husband, she gets along with my wife. She’s into distance sports like me, so we do some training runs/bikes/swims together sometimes, like maybe a couple times a month. She’s attractive but not really what I’d consider “my type”, and there’s never been any sort of flirting or romantic/sexual energy between us.
So anyway, over the past few weeks she’s been touching me a lot, in a way that she never used to. Nothing crazy – just stuff like touching my arm when we talk, giving my shoulder a little squeeze when walking by, resting her arm on my shoulder while talking to me. She’s overall a pretty friendly, huggy person with everyone, but this kind of touching is new and different, and it’s concerning to me because I really don’t want to risk getting limerent for her and screwing up the one healthy male/female friendship in my life.
A couple of other yellow flags:
– There’ve been a handful of times, like maybe 3 times ever, when she’s complained about her husband and said something about wishing he could be more like me. I always deflected that real quickly.
– My wife likes her and mostly is ok with me doing activities with her, but she has expressed jealousy a few times – always in the setting of her own insecurity, like “Sometimes you must wish you were with someone like (this friend) who’s in such great shape and likes doing all the active stuff you like doing”.
Anyway – I really don’t know how to handle this. I kind of want to ask her to not keep touching me unnecessarily, but I’m like 99% sure she doesn’t mean anything by it at all and would be pretty surprised if I said anything and it would introduce a new awkwardness into our friendship that never existed before. So for now, I’m just kind of ignoring it and hoping that it doesn’t continue, while making a point to not let my mind drift into wondering what it means or why she’s doing it. What do y’all think? I’d especially love to hear a female perspective or two on this.
“I’m married so any sort of relationship with you or anyone else is 100% off the table”.
Yeah, I agree that that does it with an explanation. I’ve used the reverse: You’re married, so it’s not a good idea. And he got the message because I barely saw him after that. We were co-workers. He avoided me.
Now, was that the complete truth? No. But why tell him that I wasn’t tempted? It seemed unncessary.
In terms of your other question, I don’t know why your friend is suddenly getting touchy-feely.
I’m not a touchy-feely person, but I used to be very flirtatious, and I was serious about it about 5% of the time.
What I don’t understand is why you’re worried about becoming limerent if your’e not attracted to her.
Lost in Space says
“What I don’t understand is why you’re worried about becoming limerent if your’e not attracted to her”
Because it’s happened to me before. My LO2 started similarly – a good friend without sexual/romantic overtones, generally attractive but not really my type, she got on well with my wife, I got on well with her husband. It was truly just a nice friendship for the first 2 years, and then we went through this period of time when we were just spending way too much time together, we started sharing a lot of deeply personal stuff, texting on days when we didn’t see each other, and them bam! All of a sudden I was completely limerent for her, thinking about her constantly, having intrusive thoughts, replaying our conversations, wondering what she thought about me, all that good stuff. It really caught me by surprise and was pretty distressing.
I don’t think I’m anywhere near that point with my friend now, but I also don’t want to say that it could never happen, and I really really don’t want it to happen, so I’m just thinking about prevention now and how to tactfully set boundaries without making anyone uncomfortable.
“Because it’s happened to me before. My LO2 started similarly – a good friend without sexual/romantic overtones, generally attractive”
Oh, ok. That’s never happened to me. I’ve never become limerent for someone I wasn’t attracted to pretty quickly after meeting them.
“I’m just thinking about prevention now and how to tactfully set boundaries without making anyone uncomfortable.”
I’m not sure how to do that. If you say something, it could be really awkward. Can you stand farther away from her? 🙂 Or maybe start including your wife in more of the plans with her?
LIS, do you think you might be able to send her subtle signals that her touching you is uncomfortable for you. Like pulling away ever so slightly or standing just a bit further away than you used to? Maybe she can pick up on those signals and start to back off a little.
I think you are right to be concerned about falling into LE, especially after your current LO leaves and there is a void you will feel. But it might seem a little premature to say something direct.
Hi Lost in Space,
I like Marcia’s idea of including your SO in activities with your friend whenever possible. I also like Speedwagon’s idea that you could try sending subtle signals to her that you aren’t comfortable with her touching you. I think it’s cool that you recognize your weakness and you are making efforts to establish healthy boundaries with your friend. Hopefully, the boundaries will allow you both to benefit from the relationship without causing damage to either marriage or distress to your limerent-prone brain. This is such a healthy thing for you to be pondering! Nice job, Lost in Space.
Here is something that I am stuck on. You two spend time alone while dressed in swimsuits. Hmmm, that is a problem for me, but I guess it’s working for you. I had to set a boundary with a male friend once. We wanted to go kayaking. I said, “I’m allowed to hang out with male friends, but I can’t be alone with a male friend if I’m wearing a swimsuit. It’s just a personal rule. So, are your kids available to join us or should I bring my kids?” He respected my boundary and ended up taking my whole family kayaking, even my SO. We had a great time. I can still be friends with that person because we have good boundaries. He doesn’t push my boundaries at all and he respects my husband whether my husband is present or not.
I think you are doing right by this woman already. It’s great that you don’t tolerate negative talk about her SO. Now, you just need to figure out how to subtly communicate that you don’t want to be touched and you’re set. Boundaries will make both of you feel safe.
I just realized that you might live in an area where beachwear is common. When I lived on an island, I spent a lot of time in a swimsuit. Perhaps it isn’t concerning that you and your friend wear swimsuits while alone together.
One more thing, I wouldn’t want your boundaries to be so restrictive that you miss out on healthy relationships. For example, my SO missed Sunday school today because he had two different conversations with two different, attractive women from our church who he ran into in the hall. Both conversations were good and helpful. It would be a shame if my SO had to avoid situations like that. I’m glad that everyone has high standards and respect for boundaries. I hope that makes sense.
Lost in Space says
Thanks everyone – I appreciate the feedback. I think for now, I’m just going to kind of monitor the situation, make sure not to reciprocate or escalate anything, and see if the touching continues. If it does, I can pretty easily cut back on how much time I spend with her without it seeming like a big deal.
Responding to a few specifics questions/thoughts:
– The swimsuit thing has never felt like a big deal to me. When we swim together, she’s always wearing a functional 1 piece racing suit – nothing revealing or sexy about it. I did see her in a skimpier 2 piece suit once, when our families were all vacationing together last year and we were all swimming in a hotel pool. I did notice that she looked nice in it, and I’m sure my SO did as well, although she didn’t say anything.
– I’d love to train with my SO more often. SO used to be my primary training partner. I loved running with her, and it sucked when she stopped wanting to run anymore. Nowadays, she’s kind of trying to get back into shape. We did a 3 miler together last week. She struggled with it and we had to stop a lot to walk. I was totally happy just being with her and couldn’t have cared less about our pace or the rest breaks, but she kept making all sorts of self-deprecating comments about how out of shape she is, how fat she is, how I must wish I was with someone else (she actually mentioned that friend by name). All I could do was keep telling her that I don’t want to be with anyone else, that I love running with her under any circumstances, and tried to encourage her to stick with it because it’ll get easier.
– Why did my friend suddenly start getting more touchy? – I was thinking about something Lovisa said earlier, about the likelihood that I was “leaking” emotions during the rise and fall of my LE. My friend is a pretty emotionally attuned person, and if was I was leaking emotions, she’d probably pick up on it at least subconsciously. So a very benign explanation for her increased touching could be that she could sense my sadness and grief, and was using touch as a way to heal. On the other hand, a less benign explanation could be that I’ve been leaking pent-up sexual energy, and something in her subconscious could have been responding to that. Who knows… regardless, the keys are paying attention and maintaining boundaries
Lost in Space,
My SO had some thoughts about your post, too. He said your wife feels insecure and that is why she compares herself to your friend. My SO thinks you should invite your wife to train with you whenever possible.
If she is not usually a touchy type, this is significant. I am not touchy so when I touch people it is intimate or I want to be more intimate. Nowadays, in this society though, everyone is hugging and touching the whole time, so even that has deniable plausibility!
I would do the “move away” that Speedwagon described so perfectly – even visibly flinch – if you want to give a clear indication that it is unwanted. This is very good from the perspective that you are guarding yourself against a potential future LE! This is what we all want to learn – how to avoid falling into the pit again. For me, I currently have a new flirtation that I am making sure doesn’t develop into a LE by keeping away from the banter/txting so much. The connection starts in the brain, so I try to keep a little less involved mentally.
Great topic. But where to begin?
I never disclosed to my LO, the man who’s “haunted my imagination” for 27 years, so he never had to go through the embarrassment of saying he just wanted to be friends. Although, if we did have that talk, I’m sure he would say he “just wants to be acquaintances” rather than friends. I don’t think I was cool enough to hang with his crew, if he even has a crew. Don’t have the right interests, or whatever. 🙄
Limerence did affect my life so much, however, that it did start to seep into my other friendships. I.e. I acted “lovesick” literally all the time, around everybody, and that in itself started to create problems. Actually, it’s how I first discovered I suffer from limerence, without knowing there was a word for the condition.
For example, I had one young man, who I wasn’t limerent for, assume that I was interested in him romantically, because my energy was somehow “off”. (“Off” as in manic/overexcited). I was talking about my LO and must have had those crazy, dopamine-filled eyes. Either that, or I wasn’t able to be present in the moment with my friend, and listen to him. (He wanted to talk about kitty litter, of all subjects! What limerent wants to spend three hours talking about kitty litter?) 😲
Basically, this second young man told me later over the phone that when he was around me while I was acting infatuated, he felt “intimidated”, “uncomfortable”, and “embarrassed”. When he assumed that I liked him, and wanted to put an end to it, he said: “This is awkward” in a kind of half-joking way. He also used a lot of endearments for me that he had never used before such as “chum” and “matey” – I guess that was his clumsy way of saying he DID want to preserve the friendship. I, of course, had no idea what he was talking about. I now use the phrase “well, this is sooo awkward” as a playful greeting whenever I bump into my gay friends.
If you’re a gay male in your late teens/early 20s, most of the males your own age will be straight males, totally desperate to get with cute chicks, and they will mostly be able to pick up on unwanted limerent energy from other males. I don’t know how people can pick up on limerent vibes, but they do. Maybe people just don’t like anything that smacks of “emotional intensity” – unless the emotional intensity is reciprocated, of course. 😉
Many young straight men, when they get limerent vibes from another male, will assume the limerence-affected male is either crazy or potentially predatory. Paranoia is the predictable response. Many young straight men in this situation will either make an awkward joke (not a terrible way for defusing sexual tension IMO and letting it be known that such sexual tension is unwelcome) or run screaming for the hills (the less mature option, but effective nonetheless). 🙄🤣
The only young straight males who don’t react in a jocular and/or panicked manner to lovesick members of the same sex are the ones who end up becoming LOs, because they like the attention for some weird reason. Limerence-prone Gay Boy will become hooked on occasional hints of friendliness from not-totally-repelled Straight Boy and ample heartache will follow. Live and learn! 😉
Something that really helped me get over my LE for original LO was that I met a young straight man – my barista friend, in fact – who was/is my exact LO archetype. And, yes, he interacted with me in the exact same way my original LO did. We even had the same half-joking, half-flirtatious banter about facial hair. My bad.
What was different this time round was that I knew about limerence, and I did not give away my power to this Adonis. I maintained my composure and kept a lid on my fantasy life. I enjoyed his company. I appreciated our seemingly amazing rapport. (He does coffee art and even drew a love-heart in my mug several times). But I did not allow myself to fall for him. I’m older but wiser, you could say…
Dororthy Tennov observes that if the organ of love is the heart, then the “organ of limerence” is the eye. Both my original LO and my barista mate looked at me at times with something social scientists call the “copulatory gaze”. (A disgusting name for something that isn’t altogether disgusting, depending on one’s point of view).
Essentially, the copulatory gaze is when one human looks at another human with dilated pupils for longer than necessary. This gaze, or smouldering look, supposedly communicates strong interest/physical attraction. I’ve also had a young woman, a waitress, look at me with these eyes recently, despite the fact she is happily partnered. She also playfully threatened to pelt me with food, so I think she likes me more than average. But neither of us are about to uproot our lives.
However, the “copulatory gaze” is not evidence of limerence. The “copulatory gaze” merely indicates attraction/interest. I’m sure, though, if a naive limerent found himself/herself on the receiving end of a “copulatory gaze” from someone super-attractive, that could send one’s fantasy life/intrusive thoughts into overdrive. 🤔
But, yes, where was I? Mixed signals, I think. What I’ve learned from my original LO and my barista friend is that there are certain human beings out there who want to be desired. They may even want you, dear limerent, to desire them. However, that’s the extent of the interaction – successful stirring of desire in others. The person who wishes to be desired does not necessarily (a) want a relationship, (b) want sex, or (c) want friendship. I guess we could call these people narcissistic. If you’re limerent and you don’t want to suffer, I say give these superficial people all the validation they crave, but don’t invest in the connection emotionally.
Returning to the original topic of the blog post, letting someone down gently, I have three pieces of advice:
(1) Don’t tell someone you want to be friends unless you genuinely want to be friends. The limerent will likely take your friendship offer seriously.
(2) Don’t assume the other person is limerent for you if you’re not sure they’re limerent for you. I was so insulted by my friend assuming I was lovesick for him when I wasn’t that I ended our genuine platonic friendship in disgust. We were … unable to talk through the misunderstanding, perhaps because we both lacked the relevant vocabulary for such a complex emotional conversation at the time.
(3) If the entire connection between two people has been built on limerence and nothing but limerence i.e. one party has always been secretly infatuated with the other, then there’s actually no friendship to salvage, and very little point telling the limerent that one “just wants to be friends”. I think a rejection would only work well in this scenario if the connection is new and expectations are low. 😉
“or run screaming for the hills”
I don’t understand heterosexual men sometimes. I got hit on my older homosexual man back when I was in my mid-twenties and took it as it should be; a compliment. Here he takes a chance I am even homosexual, that I am not in a relationship or that I am some homophobic jerk. That’s a lot of chances for homosexual men to make to ascertain someone’s interest. I teased my wife about that for months after lol “Dang sugar even the men are after me.” Thankfully she took it with grace and smile. 🙂
Limerent Emeritus says
“How to tell someone you just want to be friends”
[Scene: The Clambake Restaurant, Port Orchard, WA, March 1983]
LO #2: “If I don’t sleep with you, is that the end of the friendship?”
Me: “Probably, but not for the reason you think”
LO #2 [visibly taken aback]: “Why?”
Me: “I’m looking for a physical relationship. I’m going to keep looking until I find one. When I do, that’s where I’ll spend my time.”
LO #2: “That has to be the most brutally callous answer I could get. But, it’s also the most honest answer.”
Me: “Maybe we can hang out together until one of us gets a better offer.”
LO #2 cut right to the chase. She asked a question and she got an answer. Likely, not the one she was expecting.
“I get the feeling sometimes that you want to be more than friends. I want to be honest and let you know that I don’t feel like that.”
I heard this from the woman who I made a run at before LO #2. She was so sweet about it. She took me to the swings in the back yard of her parent’s house and took my hand. That woman could charge for lessons in letting someone down nicely. 6 months later, I got a letter from her saying that she might have been wrong about that and asked if we could re-open the acquaintance. I’d just met LO #2 so I never responded to her letter.
Going tangential: Keep in mind, that environment matters in this context.
LO #2 and I had no professional nexus. We weren’t coworkers or had relationships that could affect our workplaces. We had a small social nexus. The guy that set us up was a professional acquaintance of LO #2’s parents. I shared the same tax accountant as LO #2’s family. What transpired between LO #2 and me posed little risk in those areas.
Honestly, I don’t remember ever meeting a woman that I just wanted to be friends with. I didn’t bring any women friends into my marriage and I’m pretty sure my wife wouldn’t like me having any drinking or gplf buddies who were women.
“Honestly, I don’t remember ever meeting a woman that I just wanted to be friends with.”
I’m the opposite. I’ve had male friends before (still have one good one right now) and I was perfectly happy never having the friendships become romantic. Didn’t want them to.
Of course, I thought about it, and there may have been some sexual tension/flirtation there, but it was too mild to act on. And I knew them too well. They divluged all their secrets about the women they dated (some even had wives or girlfriends). I had no interest in being their next victim. 🙂
“Honestly, I don’t remember ever meeting a woman that I just wanted to be friends with. I didn’t bring any women friends into my marriage and I’m pretty sure my wife wouldn’t like me having any drinking or gplf buddies who were women.”
I can understand the logic behind people not wanting their (heterosexual) spouse to be friends with a member of the opposite sex. However, I also think it’s a bit of a tragedy for everyone involved. I mean, this is the twenty-first century and all.
Men are human beings. Women are human beings. If one starts viewing “all men and/or all women as a threat to my marriage”, well, that’s a very fear-based view of the world. It provokes/justifies intense competitiveness with the same sex, too. And it communicates a lack of trust and a lack of self-confidence. It’s almost like saying one’s marriage isn’t built on anything solid, so one must forever engage in mate-guarding behaviour. One must be forever hypervigilant. I, the hypothetical super-protective spouse, am afraid that my hypothetical better half is going to leave me for the first hypothetical attractive candidate that comes along…
I think it’s healthy for married people to have friends of the opposite sex, if they can manage it, because such a married person sees the opposite sex as fellow humans, and not merely as sex objects/potential romantic partners.
If you’ve never met a woman you wanted to be just friends with, I would suggest that you’re not seeing the full humanity of human women. You may be seeing women as “vessels” who can perform certain roles in your life, but not as autonomous individuals with their own complex needs and emotional responses.
As a gay man, for the longest time, I wasn’t very keen on the idea of being friends with women. I thought women sort of “got in the way” of things. But I’ve enjoyed exchanging ideas with the women on LwL. I’ve come to realise that the perspective of the opposite sex is incredibly enriching, and kind of provides a nice contrast/comparison for one’s own views. However, I did grow up with two sisters, and both of those sisters were more assertive/outgoing than me! 😉
Yeah, I don’t think men and women should be locked in a perpetual power struggle with each other. I think men and women need to join forces for the common good. When it comes to solving problems that affect all humans, we need both male voices and female voices to chime in. It’s not about being right or wrong. It’s about enlarging one’s consciousness/expanding the data pool.
Actually, my whole life, women have told me that they disagree 100% with my ideas, but they admire the flair with which I present my ideas. I’m used to “being in the wrong”, in other words. I know my worldview is goofy. But as long we keep building a knowledge base that may be helpful to everyone, who cares? 😁
Limerent Emeritus says
“If you’ve never met a woman you wanted to be just friends with, I would suggest that you’re not seeing the full humanity of human women. You may be seeing women as “vessels” who can perform certain roles in your life, but not as autonomous individuals with their own complex needs and emotional responses.”
Sammy, I think you’re overthinking this.
I think the reason that I have no women friends was that I never cultivated any when I was looking for friends.
As a result of my father’s marginal taste in wives, I went to 4 different grade schools and 2 different jr. high schools. There was never any “girl next door” that I grew up with. I didn’t like most of the people I went to high school with. In college, I really wasn’t looking for friendship and there were precisely….zero women on any of the subs I was on. I was never in one place long enough to develop any women friends. Once I got into a relationship, none of the women I was with endorsed me spending time with another woman.
When I disclosed to LO she wrote me “I love my husband and kids and would do nothing to disrespect them”. My rational brain understood she was conveying non interest but emotionally it did leave the door open for feelings. And since she never showed signs of wanting distance from me in our actual interactions, it has been hard to feel like there aren’t some reciprocal feelings there.
She also told me that “because she is married, she never thought about having feelings”. It was interesting to me to see how her feelings were determine by her life situation and not independent of them. My feelings for her seem to be independent from any circumstance in my life. One thing is for certain, if she does feel anything for me slightly like romance, it certainly is no where in the ballpark of limerence.
But still, her letting me down, to my limerent mind, did not address her actual feelings about me and that has been hard to navigate. Rationally I know she does not want anything but mild friendship but emotionally I still hold on hope for her to want me like I want her and I’m trying to work through that.
“When I disclosed to LO she wrote me “I love my husband and kids and would do nothing to disrespect them”. My rational brain understood she was conveying non interest but emotionally it did leave the door open for feelings. And since she never showed signs of wanting distance from me in our actual interactions, it has been hard to feel like there aren’t some reciprocal feelings there.”
Yes, I agree, this is the problem with playing the “I’m married” card in rejections. I.e. The rejector hasn’t said they don’t have deep feelings. The rejector needs to say they don’t return the FEELINGS. The “I’m married” card doesn’t address feelings. It could almost be construed as an implicit acknowledgement of feelings. I.e. “I have feelings, but I can’t act on them because I’m taken currently…
But just wait three years until I get divorced and maybe we can be together then, etc.”
People need to address feelings and feelings alone in their rejections. Anything else just sidesteps the issue of feelings, and therefore feeds into uncertainty.
Saying “I’m married” might be code/shorthand for something very specific in Polite Married People Land. But, quite frankly, I’m unfamiliar with that code. What’s the deal with people not being able to talk about their feelings directly? Feelings aren’t moral or immoral. Feelings are neutral: the (hopefully) universal language of human beings. 😜
I am very wary/suspicious of people who can’t clearly state their emotions (or lack of emotions, as the case may be). Do they have something to hide? Why are they being evasive unnecessarily? It seems to me that everything would be clearer and a good deal less threatening if people talked about feelings in a natural way.
I believe that honest conversations about feelings could save a lot of friendships, if the friendship was indeed genuine to begin with, and also prevent feelings from getting hurt. I don’t think “beating around the bush” has ever made a situation less hurtful to me – it actually ADDS to the hurt. It makes my so-called friend come across as untruthful and untrustworthy. Does he look down on me or something?
I don’t mean to sound churlish, but how do heterosexual men and heterosexual women even communicate in relationships if all you guys ever do is dance around saying what you really mean? How do you folk connect on any level? How is anyone meant to grasp the other’s meaning? Do you all attend secret classes in mind-reading? 😲😉
“The “I’m married” card doesn’t address feelings.”
Sorry, but I’m going to have to disagree with you. I don’t think the person has to address feelings. The person is married. The door is closed, unless they have an open relationship.
It really doesn’t matter if the married person has feelings or not if they aren’t going to act on them.
In fact, if you want to get technical, the married person shouldn’t be put in the postion of having to say, “I’m married.” Probably not a good idea to disclose to a married person. You’ve already lost the game. The married person isn’t in the game.
“Sorry, but I’m going to have to disagree with you. I don’t think the person has to address feelings. The person is married. The door is closed, unless they have an open relationship.
It really doesn’t matter if the married person has feelings or not if they aren’t going to act on them.
In fact, if you want to get technical, the married person shouldn’t be put in the postion of having to say, “I’m married.” Probably not a good idea to disclose to a married person. You’ve already lost the game. The married person isn’t in the game.”
Okay. Yes. I see where you’re coming from. You’re aware of some implicit social rules/conventions that aren’t immediately obvious to me. Thank you for correcting me. “The married person isn’t in the game”. Love that. Classic one-liner. Brilliant.
You’re morally in the right here – married people, by virtue of being married, should always been seen as “off-limits”/”off-the-table”. Feelings are irrelevant under these conditions. I agree with you that nothing good can ever come out of pursuing a married person.
I was thinking about the situation mainly from the angle of rumination. I think that the LO addressing feelings explicitly may be very helpful in permanently shutting down any temptation to ruminate in the limerent. However, I can also see that it would be wildly inappropriate for a married person to have that conversation, even if they were only doing it to be nice and/or try and bring an end to another’s suffering… I think you’ve got the balance right. 😉
I really admire your recent contributions to LwL, btw. I feel that you’re really looking into building an array of mental strategies to tackle limerence, and that’s cool. I like your no-nonsense approach.
I have one tiny, teeny criticism to make, however, which I hope you won’t take personally. I know you want to overcome limerence. However, I don’t want you to think you have to become a different person in order to overcome limerence. I.e. you don’t have to stop being poetic or stop liking fashion, art, movies, literature, etc.
I guess what I’m thinking currently is: in order to combat limerence, don’t CHANGE oneself, but rather, EXPAND oneself (with new knowledge, etc).
I probably shouldn’t comment on married people at all, because I’ve never been married. Forgive me if I do. I’m clearly out of my depth.
But, honestly, after listening to my (now-divorced) parents quarrel for decades … it seems like people take “games” even into their marriages. I.e. even people who are ALLOWED to be together still play games with each other, and sabotage their own happiness.
Does less game-playing in relationships equal greater happiness for everybody overall? I hope it does. That’s my philosophy now. 😉
Lost in Space says
“The married person isn’t in the game.”
One of the things that’s really confused me a lot about my current LE is trying to figure out why my LO did so much to fuel our relationship in the beginning – knowing full well that I was married – only to later express so much discomfort about being in a relationship with a married man and using that as her primary reason to end things with me.
She drove the relationship forward in the beginning. She’s the one who started finding excuses to come see me in private all the time. She’s the one who started texting me every day. She’s the one who started dropping little affectionate phrases and emojis into our texts. She knew I was married. She’d seen photos of my wife (there are several on the desk in my office where LO would come talk and flirt with me every day). She knew that texting from sunup to sundown with a married man wasn’t appropriate. But despite that, she did a lot of things that brought us closer and closer together, until I ended up disclosing my feelings to her and she disclosed mutual feelings and then any shred of plausible deniability, however thin it was to begin with, was stripped away completely.
Later on, when she and I were trying to figure things out, I asked her a few variations of the question “what were your intentions when you started this thing?” For the most part, she stuck with answers about how she just really liked me and it felt good talking with me and she never dreamed that I’d catch feelings for her so she thought it was safe to just talk a lot and that there was no way it would ever go farther (because, you know, married middle aged guys never fall for sexy younger women who show them lots of attention and affection…)
But then once, she told me that she’d been talking with her cousin early on, and asked what her cousin thought of the situation, and the cousin said something like “hey, there’s no harm in talking with him, you never know what’s going on in someone else’s marriage and maybe it’s all about to fall apart and you could be there for him”.
So anyway, married SHOULD mean out of the game, but in real life it doesn’t necessarily mean 100% all the way out of the game, especially if the married person fails to enforce boundaries and decides there’s no harm in enjoying a little side relationship as long as “I don’t let it go to far”. I think in our case, the blame can be equally distributed – she knew it was wrong to get close to a married man, I knew it was wrong to get close to a woman other than my wife, but we both decided for awhile that the rules didn’t apply to us.
“However, I don’t want you to think you have to become a different person in order to overcome limerence.”
I’m not sure what you mean, but I’m just recognizging the social construct (marriage) that most people believe in. And most people believe it has a hard boundary. So if the limerent comes on to or dicsloses to a married person, they are kind of setting themselves up. “I’m married” is about all you can expect as a reason for a “no.”
I’m just following the social order. If most people believe in something, you may not share the belief, but you at least have to recognize it. You can’t fight the system.
I’m just trying to avoid going down the “married, unvavailable” rabbit hole again. There are a good number of people who learn someone they are interested in is married and then stay clear of them. Isn’t that the best course of action?
Lost in Space,
“you know, married middle aged guys never fall for sexy younger women who show them lots of attention and affection…)”
Idk. I’m middle aged myself, and if a hot young guy was all up in my business, I’d wonder why.
In fact, if you want to get technical, the married person shouldn’t be put in the postion of having to say, “I’m married.” Probably not a good idea to disclose to a married person. You’ve already lost the game. The married person isn’t in the game.
–Except, there have been tens of millions of situations through the years when the someone has been “married” or in a LTR and then left that relationship for another.
I know I was in a “committed” relationship only to have my SO leave and take up with another. Everyone’s SO is basically their “current” SO who replaced their “previous” SO and so on.
Lost in Space says
Speedwagon – My impression of your LO, based on everything you’ve written, is that she probably does feel some attraction to you, likely feels a sense of connection and chemistry with you, and may in fact have some romantic feelings toward you, but she simply doesn’t let herself entertain those feelings at all because you’re both married. It also sounds like she’s a non-limerent who really has no way of understanding just how strong and pervasive your feelings toward her are.
Do you think that perhaps she assumes that you no longer have feelings for her, and that’s why she feels safe continuing to spend time with you? I wonder if in her mind, since she feels that she can turn her feelings on or off depending on life situation, does she think that perhaps you just turned off your feelings for her once you disclosed and she told you it was a non-starter? Maybe non-limerent people actually function like that – they develop interest in someone, realize it ain’t happening, and that’s the end of the interest and feelings. Dang, I wish I could do that!
I think your assessment of her feelings is fair and similar to what I believe. I also think she is non-limerent. She is hard to figure out, our vibe and chemistry has always been really strong, and she has done things to initiate relationship with me, but she is not an affectionate person and never does anything too overt to actually suggest attraction.
Even immediately after I disclosed she never backed off. In fact I would say our in person interactions are warmer than ever. I have worked hard at just being a normal friend and regaining trust, and I do think she trusts I am not pursuing her romantically, which I’m not. But I think she is also still suspicious of my feelings. Not enough time has passed yet.
Lost in Space,
“Maybe non-limerent people actually function like that – they develop interest in someone, realize it ain’t happening, and that’s the end of the interest and feelings. Dang, I wish I could do that!”
I think that’s most people do. I dont think they get fixated.
Or they still may remain interested but know it can’t go anywhere. They see it for what it is. A co-worker at work who is hot, who they flirt with. No more or no less. They aren’t trying to make it into a big thing. They recognize its limitations and enjoy for what it is. Which is actually a much healthier response than limerence.
Annoyed and Married says
I take a pretty hard line on this. I actually think married people have no business talking about their feelings with anyone outside of their intimate relationship (unless therapy or something like that), and certainly not someone they are attracted to. Most people nowadays do not have this boundary. It is playing with fire and opening the way for intimacy with someone outside the marriage. If a married person started oversharing about their marriage – they are testing the boundaries of their marriage. And lets be honest here – a person limerent for them is alert to this, and wants them to step over that boundary.
Someone who is not telling you their feelings is clearly telling you, this is not a place I am willing to take you into. They don’t owe anyone – apart from their SO, family, and very trusted inner circle – any explanation of their feelings. Definitely not any old person who forms limerence for them – although limerents may long to be taken into that circle of intimacy.
So I’m Married = Keep Out
How hard can this be??? It is not a secret code. If limerents somehow find that unequivocal statement “uncertain” – then it is the limerence feeding that uncertainty, NOT the LO. Take responsibility please.
“I take a pretty hard line on this. I actually think married people have no business talking about their feelings with anyone outside of their intimate relationship (unless therapy or something like that), and certainly not someone they are attracted to. Most people nowadays do not have this boundary. It is playing with fire and opening the way for intimacy with someone outside the marriage.”
@Annoyed and Married.
This is a very interesting idea – that “talking about feelings” should be a boundary that is universally recognised and observed across society, at least for people who are married.
Society has certainly gotten more touchy-feely since the 90s, so I’m not surprised if people are sometimes confused about what constitutes acceptable behaviour in relationships. I think you raise a really good point. Thank you. I’ve never really thought of emotional intimacy being a gateway to other forms of intimacy, but of course you’re right…
In my comments, I am only thinking about feelings from the point of view of being the gracious LO and saying to the limerent, who is a dear friend: “I have absolutely no feelings for you.” I am only thinking about feelings in the context of a single, firm, and crystal-clear rejection. Purely pragmatic problem-solving to a situation that has already unfortunately transpired. That’s all. The only reason feelings are brought into the conversation at all is for the purpose of absolute clarity.
If people are going to talk about their feelings through hints anyway, they might as well drop the whole charade and laid out all their cards on the table. 😆
However, I can understand the anger of a spouse whose partner is not observing healthy boundaries regarding sharing/oversharing emotions with others in general, because sharing and/or oversharing emotions do lead to strong bonds forming between people. As I’ve said before, it’s such a great point to raise.
Nobody owes anyone an explanation of their feelings – I agree. However, if a misunderstanding has already occurred between two people who care about each other, and wish to preserve the relationship without any lingering ill will -assuming that there is some pre-existing relationship worth preserving such as a friendship – then talking about one’s feelings is entirely appropriate IMHO.
People do have the right to “provide clarity” to a troubled friend if they want to do this of their own free will. I consider providing clarity to a troubled friend a moral duty I am only too happy to undertake. Transparency doesn’t bother me – I have nothing to hide, at least in terms of what I feel. Either I feel something or I don’t feel something, and if the answer is a “no” then it’s a “no”. Happy to share that information with anyone who wants it!
In my commentary, I’m talking primarily about situations where two people in good faith wish to clear up a misunderstanding and preserve a valued non-romantic bond. People don’t plan to have these misunderstandings. These misunderstandings are an unhappy fact of life, and crop up unexpectedly.
Unmarried people also need to have these little conversations from time to time, too. It’s not just married people who wish to resolve misunderstandings peaceably. It’s called conflict resolution, and it’s a valuable skill to have. It’s unrealistic to think innocent misunderstanding don’t and/or will not arise between people in life. I’m not adverse to playing the mediator occasionally – even if it’s my own mess that needs to be mediated. 🤣
There is no shame in emotional openness if one feel comfortable with said emotional openness. Life is about effective communication. In my thinking, I’m not approaching the situation from the position of a lovesick limerent; I’m approaching the situation from the position a conscientious LO who loves his friend and wishes to prioritise the happiness and well-being of his friend. The last thing I’d want in life is to be the source of someone else’s unbearable anguish.
If my approach is too unorthodox for some and excessively compassionate, then so be it. I am happy to sacrifice my dignity for the common good. I reserve the right to help out people who may have unintentionally formed an agonisingly painful crush on me. My poor boundaries caused the situation in the first place, in theory, so my heightened powers of empathy and excellent communication skills may as well fix it too. Poor communication leads to needless resentment and widespread relationship breakdown in society. Let’s resolve stuff if we can.
Nobody should be shamed for trying to do the right thing. I still love my friend who tried to “let me down gently”, even though I wasn’t even attracted to him. His well-intentioned attempt didn’t work, but I appreciate the attempt nonetheless. He was a true friend. We both did our best to sort matters out, and reboot a successful platonic friendship. Actually, I apologised to him years later.
There are to this day no hard feelings – only mutual admiration. He is one of the few people in my life I can say I respect. And it’s his character that I respect. 😉
Annoyed and Married says
What if you are married, have some feeling for your limerent friend but should not disclose (as everyone advises)? Is it better to be perfectly honest “I love you too and would love to get in your pants!” or completely dishonest “I don’t and could never love you! And you are ugly as a toad and actually your limerence is super creepy!” or would a “I’m married” be a kinder soft let down? Without actually lying?
You have to balance the value of honest communication vs. keeping your marriage inviolable. I agree with you that communication is valuable. But so is a marriage. It depends what you value more.
I would argue that when you got married, that vow meant you promise to prioritize your spouse above all others. That includes any poor limerent. Sorry limerent. You and your super intense feeling for me cannot take priority over my spouse. Even if I am more than a little flattered by your adoration and attention and my spouse is taking me for granted at home. If you treat any other person as more important than your SO then you have not been true to the spirit of your vow. Very few people “reserved the right” as you put it when they promised to forsake all others. Sorry limerent, I forsake (forsook?) you. This decision was made long ago. This is a decision one has to make over and over again in a marriage, and not just in a romantic context – in all contexts – and the only ones that thrive are where both partners consistently prioritize each other. The consistent practice of this vow takes remarkable discipline. So many people don’t do this when it comes to the crunch.
The only thing I have to grant is the point you make that if it is the married person’s poor boundaries that contributed to the problem then maybe something is owed. The phrase ‘throwing good money after bad’ does come to mind though.
“The only thing I have to grant is the point you make that if it is the married person’s poor boundaries that contributed to the problem then maybe something is owed. The phrase ‘throwing good money after bad’ does come to mind though.”
This was sort of my situation. I coexisted for 3+ years with not so much as a crush on LO, and then she started paying me more attention in our interactions, and started texting me a bit in off work hours. It hooked me and bam…full LE. I pursued mildly, she reciprocated mildly until I hit a breaking point and disclosed, only because I craved her reciprocal feelings so much. I take full responsibility for pursuing her knowing she was married. In a non limerent state it’s so clear to me not to do such a thing as disclose, but my limerence altered my better judgement.
I have had crushes on other married women and never have dreamed of acting in such a way as I did with LO.
Annoyed and Married says
My kid once asked me if I, a married person, had ever been pursued by someone. I asked her the following question: “Don’t you think it is on the married person to say no because they are the married one? Not the person who is chasing?” My kid said, “Both are at fault. The married person should say no. The other person should not chase a married person.”
So there, you have it, from the mouth of babes. If only life were so clear when you grow up.
But your story is interesting in the context of flirting (at work). Obviously, flirting can change a benign situation to a volatile one. Yet people do it for the thrills. Was it worth it?
“Was it worth it?”
Nothing about limerence worth it!
Lost in Space says
“Both are at fault. The married person should say no. The other person should not chase a married person.”
That’s what I keep reminding myself when I’m feeling distraught about all the pain and heartbreak my emotional affair has caused for both me and my LO. We’re both guilty of crossing a lot of lines we shouldn’t have crossed, we both set ourselves up for all the pain we’re experiencing now, and neither of us has a right to complain about the consequences of our choices. I’m just so grateful that the innocent people involved (my wife and kids) never got hurt as a result of my bad choices.
I was thinking about this exchange towards the end of Road to Perdition between Paul Newman and Tom Hanks’ characters:
John Rooney : There are only murderers in this room! Michael! Open your eyes! This is the life we chose, the life we lead. And there is only one guarantee: none of us will see heaven.
Michael Sullivan : Michael (his son) could.
John Rooney : Then do everything that you can to see that that happens.
That’s how I have to look at this situation – LO and I are both guilty and have to face the consequences (hopefully not eternal damnation but just a lot of emotional pain right now) and do whatever is necessary to protect the innocent people in our lives from any harm.
I think the problem is we limerents feel entitled to more. You could say we “hope” for more, but it often crosses the line to how can LO not … (fill in the blanks). And we feel outraged. And blame the LO for leading us on, playing hot and cold, ghosting us, etc. We think they “should have known” or “how could they not have known” etc. Think about this a minute. Like really, objectively. Who the hell are we to require this of someone that is not in a relationship with us that they consented to be in?
The heart of all our pain is the expectation we have, and the subsequent disappointment. Compare it to an ordinary friend or colleague. When they don’t do X,Y,or Z, we might be briefly annoyed or not think anything about it at all. That is because we do not expect it of them. Limerence which is about pair bonding tricks us into thinking we have that bond, and therefore have a right to LO’s real estate of the mind and heart. When we are nothing to them. Nothing that truly matters anyway. That is just so painful to accept, such a bitter pill to swallow, that many of us spend months, years trying to get over it.
“I think the problem is we limerents feel entitled to more. You could say we “hope” for more, but it often crosses the line to how can LO not … (fill in the blanks). And we feel outraged. And blame the LO for leading us on, playing hot and cold, ghosting us, etc. We think they “should have known” or “how could they not have known” etc. Think about this a minute. Like really, objectively. Who the hell are we to require this of someone that is not in a relationship with us that they consented to be in?”
Hm. Yes and no. Yes and no. “Hope” is probably a better word than “entitlement”. “Entitlement” doesn’t have quite the right range of emotional resonances to it. “Hope” then becomes “addicted to thinking about said individual” and this compulsive thinking is very, very painful.
LImerents are good people, generally. I don’t think limerents want to be addicts. And I don’t think limerents choose to be addicts in the way other addicts choose to be addicts, so elaborate moral arguments against limerence don’t really ring true. If limerence is an addiction, it’s also a unique form of addiction. Any talk of “responsibility” has to be very, very nuanced, and I haven’t seen anyone have that nuanced conversation yet. Nor am I volunteering to start that conversation. 🤣
“Limerence which is about pair bonding tricks us into thinking we have that bond, and therefore have a right to LO’s real estate of the mind and heart.”
Yes, full marks, A+. This is correct, according to the inspired writings of neuroscientist Lucy Bain. The human brain can’t tell the difference between LO (imaginary partner) and an actual partner. The limerent is unconsciously relating to their LO as if their LO is already their partner, when this is not the case.
“When we are nothing to them. Nothing that truly matters anyway. That is just so painful to accept, such a bitter pill to swallow, that many of us spend months, years trying to get over it.”
It IS a bitter pill to swallow indeed. Sending kind thoughts your way. Please be gentle with yourself.
If you’re really struggling with negative emotions, may I recommend the Self-compassion Channel on YouTube, hosted by a lady called Fenna van den Berg? She doesn’t address the neuroscience side of limerence per se. However, she does do an excellent job of helping people comes to terms with lingering feelings of shame, self-doubt, unworthiness, etc. 😛
““Limerence which is about pair bonding tricks us into thinking we have that bond, and therefore have a right to LO’s real estate of the mind and heart.”
Yes, full marks, A+. This is correct, according to the inspired writings of neuroscientist Lucy Bain. The human brain can’t tell the difference between LO (imaginary partner) and an actual partner. The limerent is unconsciously relating to their LO as if their LO is already their partner, when this is not the case.”
I have come to the conclusion that THIS is the crucial difference between limerence and run-of-the-mill crushes – the pair bonding. A crush is external – we see someone, we like them a lot, but we see them (correctly) as separate from us. We are not attached to them, not at the start. With LO, we immediately BOND with them, against all logic, against all reason, and they feel like they “belong” to us/with us somehow, and that is why every time they behave as a separate person (who is NOT bonded to us, therefore sometimes seemingly thoughtless, uncaring, “cold”, indifferent) it hurts so much. We feel deeply disappointed, outraged, full of despair. A person bonded with us would never behave like that if they cared. Our head knows they are not bonded to us, but a part of us believes they are. So we become absolutely obsessed with trying to find some kind of reciprocation – evidence that there IS a bond – to stop the pain of an attachment that is not reciprocated (and now you are in attachment theory territory).
Do you have a link to that article by Lucy Bain you referred to?
My experience is this exactly. Thanks for verbalizing it, Emily!
Speedwagon, this is the only explanation of why my pain is so acute in this one case with my LO and not so with any other crushes I’ve ever had. It means a lot that it speaks to you too.
frederico (on another thread) mentioned the following LwL article, and what can I say, the brilliant Dr L said it already (on entitlement): https://livingwithlimerence.com/when-things-go-sour/
“Limerents frequently feel entitled to more from their LO than they do from their other friends. They take it as more of a personal insult if LO is inconsiderate, and get angrier and more resentful than they would if a friend that they weren’t infatuated with behaved in the same way.
The strength of your feelings for them does not determine the strength of the commitment you can expect from them. “
Limerent Emeritus says
Lucy’s site is Neurosparkle.com
“I have come to the conclusion that THIS is the crucial difference between limerence and run-of-the-mill crushes – the pair bonding. A crush is external – we see someone, we like them a lot, but we see them (correctly) as separate from us. We are not attached to them, not at the start. With LO, we immediately BOND with them, against all logic, against all reason, and they feel like they “belong” to us/with us somehow, and that is why every time they behave as a separate person (who is NOT bonded to us, therefore sometimes seemingly thoughtless, uncaring, “cold”, indifferent) it hurts so much. We feel deeply disappointed, outraged, full of despair. A person bonded with us would never behave like that if they cared. Our head knows they are not bonded to us, but a part of us believes they are. So we become absolutely obsessed with trying to find some kind of reciprocation – evidence that there IS a bond – to stop the pain of an attachment that is not reciprocated (and now you are in attachment theory territory).”
This analysis of yours is just fabulous, fabulous, fabulous! I think you’re onto something.
In limerence, there’s an INSTANT feeling of deep bonding from the side of the limerent, you say? Yes, yes, yes…
Do you think we limerents become “enraged” when our LO expresses separateness i.e. acts as if they are not already our partner when we are treating them emotionally as an already-established partner? That past LO I still sometimes feel angry at – maybe I’m in denial of my rage toward him and in denial of my entitlement? (I don’t think I ever felt consciously entitled to his time/attention, but was I? My irrational anger is a sign that something’s not right within my own soul. I’m a very tranquil, chilled-out person by default).
Actually, I think I felt entitled to him acting consistently. I felt entitled to his actions and words matching. I probably expected him to always keep his word and be some kind of saint. My silly brain needed him to be a saint. He wasn’t a saint and didn’t volunteer for the “saint job”. Why did I need him to be the “one good man alive”? 🤣
Even years later, after over a decade of no contact, I want to contront him (not in real life, only in imagination) and say, “Why were you two-faced? I thought you were a good little Christian bunny wabbit who was meant to do X,Y,Z (or whatever other fantasy projection). That’s what you were pretending to be when you knew me. Was it all a game? Was it all pretend? Do you play pretend with everyone? What on earth is wrong with you, dude?” Really, it’s none of my business why he acts inconsistently because he’s not my partner and his flaky behaviour isn’t my problem at the end of the day! 😜
I can’t find the exact article of Lucy’s I wanted. She has so many great ideas, but these ideas tend to be buried like gold nuggets in so many different articles. (Do all limerents have a hard time with organisation?) This is my all-time favourite article of Lucy’s, though, and contains some of her best thinking: “5 Reasons to Never Befriend Someone You Love: The Golden Rule of Infatuation”.
Reasons One and Two are especially poignant for limerents I feel. Reason One says we’ll act like we’re dating them even if we aren’t. (Big, big ouch! Who wants to admit to “fantasy-dating” someone?)
Reason Two touches on those sometimes-mystifying feelings of anger and resentment. Also talks about how our own “energy” will eventually betray us/leak out when we’re around LO. E.g. we’ll start to seem like some pathetic lovesick puppy to them, and they’re probably get bored of our adoration for them.
I think it’s the “euphoria” or the drug high that initially blinds us to the separateness of our LO. We want to keep floating on that euphoria cloud or swimming in that euphoria pool. We don’t want to admit we (usually) don’t make LO euphoric and hence our company is less exciting to them than their company is to us. I think if we ever got the right “dose” of our LO, i.e., if LOs weren’t incredibly elusive people by nature, they wouldn’t seem exciting at all. In other words, our curiosity about the person would be sated, and obsession would end rapidly, or never develop. 🤔
“A person bonded with us would never behave like that if they cared.” Yup, that’s the general feeling a limerent would have. And that feeling unfortunately is a resentment-category feeling. 🙄
I guess no, Nature doesn’t care. And marriage (which is a human construct) does not preclude a pair bond. Because they are not the same thing. In the ideal world they would be combined into one. But I think, even if it did, the pair bond can fade leaving just the marriage; or the marriage can end even if someone is pair bonded (think death or an unexpected divorce). The grief there is extreme. What a lot of us are suffering when we try to let go of our LOs is grief. We talk a lot about disenfranchised grief when trying to let go of LO. If we look up the stages of grief doesn’t it look mighty familiar? Anger is there. And Bargaining. Oh, so much bargaining.
Humans are one of the few creatures that use their executive function to override their instincts. There is a lot of talk about the love you feel vs. the love you choose. Many of us here know what we prefer to choose: our SOs. The love we choose.
But then we also experience the love we spontaneously feel for our our LOs, which dismays us as it is unfortunately not for the person we have chosen to love. And we get confused, because we have been taught to conceptually conflate the two and all our societal norms and conventions say that something is wrong, immoral even, if you separate the two. If you have self-awareness you would, as you say, find the two really can “co-exist”. They can because they are different.
I am not trying to say marriage is inferior to pair bonding. In fact, as an executive function choice, it is the type of decision that propels our human species towards greatness: bridges and highways and just about any technological wonder achieved are built by humans exercising executive function. Laws make our society function, and they too are a human construct. I’m saying legal marriage and even religious marriage is in this class of decision. It is for the greater good and your own good. It is interesting that marriage has evolved so much through time. It does have a biological base though: procreation. So marriage used to be all about property and inheritance; so one’s property goes to the correct heirs. Even today children born within wedlock get the greatest protections our legal systems can devise – look at inheritance law, child protection laws, family law. And then it evolved to this thing where it needs to fulfil your romantic as well as legal needs. (Thank you Hollywood.) So now we all “marry for love”. And the kind of love in marriage can be either the visceral pair bond love/lust you feel at the start of a relationship (Nature really wants to make sure those babies are made), and it can be compassionate love to start with or it could develop into that. Which many of us recognize as supremely valuable and have with our SOs and want to keep (and many of us recognize might never even develop with our LOs even if we ever went with them.)
I guess the main point I am gravitating towards is that this conceptual division between the love you choose and the love you spontaneously feel may help us with guilt, which I feel is not a useful emotion and results in a lack of clarity in thought. I think if we can see both types of love as having value and we remove the pathology and shame surrounding limerence (which is after all just a symptom and simply a particular form of grief), I think it will help us progress in our recovery from this pain.
Ah, since mentioning “laws” and marriage as “concept”, this oldie but goodie from Dr L might add some more thoughts to the mix: https://livingwithlimerence.com/why-is-monogamy-so-hard/
“I have come to the conclusion that THIS is the crucial difference between limerence and run-of-the-mill crushes – the pair bonding. A crush is external – we see someone, we like them a lot, but we see them (correctly) as separate from us. We are not attached to them, not at the start. With LO, we immediately BOND with them, against all logic, against all reason, and they feel like they “belong” to us/with us somehow, and that is why every time they behave as a separate person (who is NOT bonded to us, therefore sometimes seemingly thoughtless, uncaring, “cold”, indifferent) it hurts so much. We feel deeply disappointed, outraged, full of despair. A person bonded with us would never behave like that if they cared”
I agree with Sammy. This is dead-on. I remember being angry with my LO. Quite angry, after I went NC. I felt like he lead me on, and he did, but my anger was out of proportion for our actual relationship/interaction. It’s as if I felt he was mine. I felt very possessive. I was jealous of every woman he talked to. It wasn’t rational.
“I agree with Sammy. This is dead-on. I remember being angry with my LO. Quite angry, after I went NC. I felt like he lead me on, and he did, but my anger was out of proportion for our actual relationship/interaction. It’s as if I felt he was mine. I felt very possessive. I was jealous of every woman he talked to. It wasn’t rational.”
I didn’t feel jealous of every woman my LO talked to. I wasn’t even jealous of the woman he eventually picked, or who eventually picked him. I repeatedly signalled my approval of the match, as rationally it was a good match. (Overcompensation on my part much?) But there was a degree of possessiveness, I think, information-wise. That is to say, to me, he was free to date whomever he pleased, but with one caveat – he share all the juicy details/gossip with me! 😲
In some weird way, I think I wanted to live vicariously through my LO…
In reality, he didn’t share much personal info with me. He wasn’t the kind of person to brag about who he was/wasn’t seeing. He kept his dating life so private that I mostly assumed he didn’t have one. Came as a shock when he said he was getting married in less-than-six months-time, and I had to drag that admission out of him too! 🤣
Sammy (trying to sound casual): “So, are you and so-and-so an item now? You mentioned you guys went to the movies together the other day…”
LO (very reluctantly, no joy or real enthusiasm in his voice): “Yeah, so-and-so are an item. I had to buy a ring.”
Sammy (trying not to sound resentful): “Awesome! So what are some of the things you like about your soon-to-be SO?” (Holds breath, expects to hear an avalanche of hyperbolic praise characteristic of all young men deep in the throes of infatuation).
LO: “She’s … um … very hard-working? She works hard.”
Sammy (both impressed and confused, possibly even a little exasperated): “Cool! Anything else?”
LO: “Um, no, not really. Not off the top of my head. She’s just a hard worker.”
In hindsight, my weird brand of possessiveness was ridiculous. It’s like, in my mind, I didn’t want to allow him to have any privacy. But, of course, he was/is a separate individual and entitled to all the privacy in the world. He didn’t need to tell me anything.
So maybe I was fine with him seeing other people to his heart’s content, but I didn’t want him to be emotionally separate from me? I wanted to preserve the illusion of emotional enmeshment? It’s almost like I was maternal-possessive rather than girlfriend-possessive. I.e. don’t date anyone Substitute Mummy (aka Sammy) doesn’t approve of! All romantic decisions have to go through Substitute Mummy! I bet his girlfriend was thrilled to pieces by my (apparent-but-never-openly-expressed attitude. “Back off, Sammy.
I don’t need two mothers-in-law. I’m already inheriting one.” 😉
I wonder if I was treating him the exact same way my own mother treated me at times i.e. as an extension of self? Was I unconsciously reenacting some wholly inappropriate power dynamic from my own family of origin – only this time I was the “villain” (narcissistic parent) and not the “hero/victim” (idealised son/golden child)?
Regarding the two guys I like in high school. One of them, in my mind, personified “darkness/pure evil” while the other personified “light/pure goodness”. I wonder what those twin projections say about me? I.e. am I a morally conflicted human who can’t decide whether I want to be a “good man” or a “bad man”? And, if so, is this an identity crisis that all human adolescents go through? 🤔
Limerent Emeritus says
I told LO #4, “Heaven help the man that you ever really trust.”
It was my first boundary tester and I later apologized for it. She said that I had nothing to apologize for.
During my disclosure, I told LO #4 that I would envy the man who could earn her trust and affection.
The only time I ever was jealous was with LO #1. There was someone between me and her; her boyfriend. The thought of another man’s hands on her drove me nuts. It’s the only time of my life that I’ve been jealous.
With all the other LOs, jealousy was never an issue. There was no other man between us.
When I started dating LO #2, she was seeing a Navy doctor she’d met in nursing school. On paper, he was probably a more impressive candidate. But, he was 1000 miles away and I 6 miles away. I had more access to her.
When I met my wife, she’d been dating a couple of guys. I met one of them. I could run circles around him. He didn’t stand a chance.
One thing about some LEs is you can push boundaries because you think your LO won’t call your bluff and you might have to deliver.
I was attracted to LO #4, genuinely wanted to be there for her, support and encourage her, and thought that, “under different circumstances [her words]” we could have a lot of fun together.
But, as a married man, that was not “appropriate [her word].” I knew that but I couldn’t just walk away. She finally realized it and walked.
“I told LO #4, “Heaven help the man that you ever really trust.”
It was my first boundary tester and I later apologized for it. She said that I had nothing to apologize for.”
Do you have any insight into the appeal of wanting to rescue someone e.g. a damsel-in-distress LO? Is it purely an ego trip for the saviour character or is it a lot more complicated than that? What’s the psychological pay-off from saving someone? Or does the rescuer limerent save themselves somehow when they save an LO?
Limerence is at a low point for me, but I’m having nightmares at the moment – nightmares I haven’t had since I was a little boy. The nightmares aren’t related to LOs past or present. The nightmares just seem to be general in nature, lots of generalised anxiety.
The reappearance of nightmares after the end of limerence makes me think my limerence was more about mood repair than pair-bonding, though pair-bonding certainly entered the mix during adolescence. I feel like my main source of reward in life has been taken away from me (vivid fantasies of being loved and cared for).
I’m beginning to think that human beings of all ages are very fragile, and human beings need to believe in magic, regardless of whether that magic is romantic love or some form of religion. I’m beginning to think that supposedly enlightened humans shouldn’t sneer at either romance or religion, no matter how silly those two things may be or seem at times, because magic keeps the nightmares away.
I’ve also realised I have no reliable way of propping up my ego without fantasies. I’m probably a softer, kinder, more approachable person overall. But it’s stressful feeling vulnerable all the time, too. I think limerence might be an escape from feeling vulnerable? I guess, for people with rescuer fantasies, a rescuer role feels strong rather than vulnerable? Could rescue fantasies be a way of telling oneself: “I am strong and competent”?
Limerent Emeritus says
“Do you have any insight into the appeal of wanting to rescue someone e.g. a damsel-in-distress LO? Is it purely an ego trip for the saviour character or is it a lot more complicated than that? What’s the psychological pay-off from saving someone? Or does the rescuer limerent save themselves somehow when they save an LO?”
Everybody’s different. I have my story. It’s mine and other people have theirs.
With respect to LO #4, I got the vibe that there was a real prize in that Cracker Jack box just waiting for the right man to find it. From what she said and picking up on her affinity for Narcs, I thought it had to do with trust and control. She reminded me of someone, right down to the auburn hair. I’d seen this before. I wanted to be the man who turned LO #4 loose. I thought I’d turned LO #2 loose. Maybe I did but it was for another man. There’s a story about that, too.
Limerence being what it is, I couldn’t resist testing things to see if I was right. LO #4 and I were 2500 miles apart, had no professional or social nexus and we were both in relationships. What could go wrong?
I really wanted to ask LO #4, “Have you ever been with a man who wasn’t afraid of you; someone you saw as your true equal?”
[OT: I’ve encountered a few posters on LwL over the years that I’d like to ask that question of. I could see that blowing up spectacularly.]
But, I didn’t ask. I knew that one was way over the line and likely to alter the nature of the acquaintance, one way or another. I didn’t see how it couldn’t. I ran through a list of possible responses and nothing good would have come from any of them.
For me, the psychological payoff of having a Henry Higgins Complex is that you get to help them without investing in them. Actually change them and either you lose interest in them or they lose interest in you. I figured that out in high school.
However, like the Pygmalion of Greek Mythology, I fell in love with two of the “creations” that let me work on them. Only, there wasn’t a goddess intervening to a happy ending. It was more like your typical Greek tragedy. Nobody’s happy in the end.
It was arrogant and narcissistic. Again, like Greek tragedy.
Toss in they reminded me of my mother and triggered the attempt at an emotionally corrective experience of related to my mother’s unhappiness. If I couldn’t help my mother, I could help some other woman. Add on that every person I ever really cared about either left or was taken from me, starting with my mother. Why attach to people if they’re not going to stick around?
In that respect, LO #2, LO #4 and I were similar. We’re all avoidants. I think LO #4 was a Dismissive-Avoidant. All she said was that she was an “avoidant INTJ.” She didn’t strike me as fearful-avoidant but I never got to know here well enough to make a guess.
Shari Schreiber says, “When a Borderline encounters a successful, charismatic Narcissist, she sees power in him, and security/comfort for herself. Since she has never felt safe or protected in her world, this male is perceived as her Ticket to Safety.” – https://sharischreiber.com/course/havent-we-met-before-the-borderline-narcissist-couple/ That describes LO #4’s relationship with her ex in spades. LO #4 said that she was the recovering codependent child of a Narc father and a borderline mother. Her words, not mine. She knows Narcs. She’s a PsyD.
See where I was going with the trust and equal thing?
I don’t know if LO #1 reminded me of my mother, with the exception of substance abuse. But. LOs #2-#4 definitely reminded me of my mother. LO #2 taught me what to look for with respect to that.
I had to peel a lot of layers off that onion. But, I figured it out over time with a lot of help.
“For me, the psychological payoff of having a Henry Higgins Complex is that you get to help them without investing in them. Actually change them and either you lose interest in them or they lose interest in you. I figured that out in high school.
However, like the Pygmalion of Greek Mythology, I fell in love with two of the “creations” that let me work on them. Only, there wasn’t a goddess intervening to a happy ending. It was more like your typical Greek tragedy. Nobody’s happy in the end.
It was arrogant and narcissistic. Again, like Greek tragedy.”
That sounds really fascinating. I haven’t really heard many people say they have a Henry Higgins Complex before…
“See where I was going with the trust and equal thing?”
Indeed, I did! 😆
One last question for you – I hope you don’t mind? You’ve been great at answering questions so far. It seems like a shame not to benefit from your potential insight. Based on your vast experience, what is the main appeal of limerence would you say?
Do people, despite their better judgement, want the relationship that makes them feel unhappy but alive over the relationship that delivers certainty? Is that a fair summary of the classic limerence dilemma? Do human beings just crave “aliveness”? Are our brains preprogrammed to chase “aliveness” and not “happiness”?
“LO: “She’s … um … very hard-working? She works hard.”
Sammy (both impressed and confused, possibly even a little exasperated): “Cool! Anything else?”
LO: “Um, no, not really. Not off the top of my head. She’s just a hard worker.””
Goodness. Reminds me of a male acquaintance who told me he married his wife because she helped him get his finances in order. OMG
“He didn’t need to tell me anything.”
He didn’t need to, but I certainly understand wanting to know all the details. 🙂 If I have a close friend, I like DETAILS. 😉 And don’t leave anything out …. 🙂 But I can’t imagine wanting to hear details about an LO’s SO or wife. My LO’s wife almost didn’t exsit for me. She was just this bland, boring woman I was convinced he needed to get away from (though of course I had no idea what she was really like). It was the narrative I told myself.
“It’s almost like I was maternal-possessive rather than girlfriend-possessive.”
Do you really think it was maternal possessiveness? Mine most definitely was not. It was sexual possessiveness. I had no interest in being his mother.
“I wonder if I was treating him the exact same way my own mother treated me at times i.e. as an extension of self?”
To be fair, a lot of parents do that. I have a friend who’s a parent and she used those exact words. Her kids were an entension of her. I don’t think she was especially narcissisitc.
“Was I unconsciously reenacting some wholly inappropriate power dynamic from my own family of origin – only this time I was the “villain” (narcissistic parent) and not the “hero/victim” (idealised son/golden child)?”
That’s a good question.
“Regarding the two guys I like in high school. One of them, in my mind, personified “darkness/pure evil” while the other personified “light/pure goodness”. I wonder what those twin projections say about me? I.e. am I a morally conflicted human who can’t decide whether I want to be a “good man” or a “bad man”? And, if so, is this an identity crisis that all human adolescents go through? 🤔”
Idk. Could mean something. Could mean nothing. I think sometimes we limerents may overanalyze things.
I was usually (though not always) attracted to the slightly edgy, “bad” boy types … I think it reflected I was bored with my nerdy friend group.
Limerent Emeritus says
“Based on your vast experience, what is the main appeal of limerence would you say?”
I don’t know that limerence has an appeal, per se. It’s an explanation of behavior.
DrL addressed some of it in:
Check out the linked videos in the comments https://livingwithlimerence.com/why-is-limerence-so-powerful/#comment-1664
“Do people, despite their better judgement, want the relationship that makes them feel unhappy but alive over the relationship that delivers certainty?” – My bet is that’s true for some people but certainly not all of them. That seems to be LO #2’s M.O. She was one of the most self-sabotaging people I’ve ever met. WRT LO #4, I certainly assumed risk that I didn’t have to for a woman who offered me absolutely nothing. I never asked her for anything and she didn’t offer me anything. Go figure.
Is that a fair summary of the classic limerence dilemma? – I don’t think so.
Do human beings just crave “aliveness”? – I’d say probably. If you substitute “self-actualization” for “aliveness.” “Self-actualization” is near the apex of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It is the apex in the simplified Maslow pyramid.
Are our brains preprogrammed to chase “aliveness” and not “happiness”? – DrL should probably weigh in on that. This is where things get interesting. How do you marry neuroscience to Attachment Theory? Something is coding the brain. Attachment theory says that early childhood bonding sets the relationship template for life unless something happens to change it. What neuroscience takes place that codes the brain? To me, it’s like “doping” semi-conductors. You put certain elements in when you make the chip so it does things a certain way. An infant’s brain is set up to be encoded and a crappy bonding experiencing writes a bad template that you carry with you.
Whereas before, the literature said that attachment styles were fixed and couldn’t be changed, more recent literature says it can but it takes a lot of time and work to rewire the brain.
But, this is all just my opinion and it works for me.
Allie 1 says
“Whereas before, the literature said that attachment styles were fixed and couldn’t be changed, more recent literature says it can but it takes a lot of time and work to rewire the brain.”
Yup older psychology theory was wedded to the idea of the brain forming in childhood and then remaining unchanged throughout life.
But as you say, science now understands that neuroplasticity is a lifelong phenomena. Every thought or emotion we have, everything we read, every interpersonal interaction we experience – they all change our minds a teeny bit. We are never the same person, we always evolve. So if you want to change your wiring, you need to actively change what you feed your mind. As you have said before I think LE, a quality relationship has the potential to heal attachment issues.
“As you have said before I think LE, a quality relationship has the potential to heal attachment issues.”
It may heal attachment issues but it doesn’t solve the other issue which is the need for novelty and NRE (new relationship energy) and feeling alive. Of course, the amount of need for that is indiviudal. I have a friend who’s been married for years and never crushes or gets infatuated with other guys. She notices an attractive guy but that’s about it, and — heck — if you want to have an LTR, that’s the type of personality to pick. A low need for novelty. And then on the other end of the spectrum is the people with a high need for it. I’m not sure where limerents fit into the spectrum, but they’re probably at least at the mid-range, and if they’ve had repreated LEs, probably higher than mid-range.
Wow, there is so much going on at LwL that I missed seeing this thread. It must be Spring. Lots of interesting stuff, especially LE’s very complex background information.
“This analysis of yours is just fabulous, fabulous, fabulous! I think you’re onto something. In limerence, there’s an INSTANT feeling of deep bonding from the side of the limerent, you say? Yes, yes, yes…”
“This is dead-on.”
So, this is putting a lot of the pieces that make sense to me from LwL, but in a slightly different sequence. I remember a point being made that limerence is the first step towards pair bonding. I believe that is Tennov’s take on it too. But rather than the whole deal of limerence happening first, I think the pair bonding happens FIRST. Somewhere between glimmer and crystalization. Which for me took a week between the two. So it can be fast. And then, when it becomes clear there are barriers, etc. THEN limerence begins. (So those who pair bond and have no barriers do not get “limerence” – this is consistent.)
This timing order is a subtle but crucial difference I think. Mainly because it explains a lot of the OTHER reactions: the possessiveness, the jealousy, the anger, resentment, despair, deep distress, etc. And most importantly, the intrusive thoughts and rumination. ONLY when there exists a pair bond can there be a REASON for such extreme responses. I think also, this also deals with the “pathologizing” issue of limerence (which is something that never felt right to me, mainly because it seemed so involuntary). There exists some view of limerence as a bad or wrong thing (it causes such suffering, has a taint of the immoral, no wonder it gets a bad rep). But here I am saying it is not the CAUSE, but a SYMPTOM. Limerence doesn’t cause our suffering; it IS our suffering. IT is the suffering caused by an unfortunate PAIR BONDING that formed with the wrong person at the wrong time. And I would argue that pair bonding is one of the most natural things there is. It is hardwired into us as humans. You can’t pathologize it. And limerence – us going absolutely bat-shit crazy when the person we pair bonded with is not acting like they “should” as our pair-bondee – and us being absolutely obsessed – this suddenly looks to me like the most NATURAL think in the world. Anyone pair bonded would behave like that, if you accept that pair bonding is one of the most fundamental human impulses. An anthropologist looking at the human race would say, yeah, that’s what happens when a pair bonded human loses it’s pair-bondee. This is no different from birds that mate for life, or some mammal that does or doesn’t. I am saying it is a fundamental as that, as primal, as basic.
So, how does that help us limerents? If you see limerence as the symptom, and pair bonding as the cause, then you disregard dealing with the symptom. You go straight to the cause, which is: why does this person glimmer for me, why am I pair bonding with them? So, there are two strong contenders to this: The first is deep in each of our psyches. We are talking what makes each of us tick, our first bonds, our traumas, etc. The second is external, and I would hone it down to the fact that we do NOT have a pair bond in our lives. Not even if we are married. We are married, we are in a committed relationship, but sorry, it is not a pair bond, not in that fundamental human sense. This is deeply scary to contemplate, but I posit that it is the truth of the matter. Tennov says one cannot have limerence for two people at once; I would more say that one cannot have a pair bond for more than one person at once. So, to deal with the first cause, you need to do a lot of deep work. To deal with the second cause, you either can see that there is something “wrong” with your primary relationship, or (and I support this view more) accept that your primary relationship is one thing, and your pair bond is another thing. That when you swore commitment, you chose one kind of relationship (an executive function decision), and when your body (I think pair bonding is somatic) pair bonded with another, your body chose what it felt was its best match.
Emily, this is very very very interesting insight. I don’t know a whole lot about pair bonding but what you write makes sense to my experience. I had 13 days between my first glimmer and crystalization. Here is my question though, if pair bonding is a natural biological occurance, why does it happen with people when the barrier is there in the first place. I am married, my LO is married, and yet here I am limerent for her. Does nature not care? Is marriage a human convention that steps in the way of pair bonding?
What you said about connection to separate people feels true to me. I have long thought that I now love two woman, the nature of the love is just different. One, my wife in a long term companionship way, and my LO in a passion filled romantic way. Both my desires for these woman can coexist at once.
“Does nature not care?”
No. Nature only cares about us procreating … and making sure the father sticks around roughly until the child is born (thus the short shelf life of the honeymoon/infatuation phase).
“What you said about connection to separate people feels true to me. I have long thought that I now love two woman, the nature of the love is just different. One, my wife in a long term companionship way, and my LO in a passion filled romantic way. Both my desires for these woman can coexist at once.”
Don’t you think that’s true of a lot of people at some point in a long marriage? That each partner falls “in love” with someone else? I think the caveat is that you can’t really know if the feelings you have for your LO would deepen and turn into companionate love because you can’t date her and get to know her in the traditional sense. I don’t think you can really get to know someone during limerence. You have to move through it to really see who the person is. Limerence is essentially romantic projection. So what one has with a long-term partner one really knows is so much deeper.
I’m not entirely sure what you mean by pair-bonding. I don’t fully understand the concept.
But, no, I don’t think limerence is a normal response. “Bonding” implies to me two people. You can’t really bond if the other person isn’t on board or isn’t on board as completely. The “bonding” is usually in the limerent’s head. It’s a non-existent relationship.
Limerence has a strong emotional component, which makes it much more powerful than a crush, but it is an unhealthy (and frankly over-the-top) response to someone being unvailable and/or uninterested. Limerence isn’t a unverisal response. Most people don’t become limerent if who they want isn’t availalbe; they move on.
I do agree that the limerent needs to dig deep into thier psyche to find out a.) why they are becoming so obsessive and b.) why they are becoming so obsessive for the wrong people.
It sounds like you are putting a lot of pieces together. At first, I thought one statement was incorrect because I was limerent for my SO.
“…those who pair bond and have no barriers do not get limerence”
We were both single and ready for marriage therefore it seems there were no barriers. But then I realized there was a barrier: religion. We were religious so we didn’t have sex until we married. Perhaps “waiting” for marriage is a barrier that causes limerence.
I agree completely that limerence is a natural part of the human condition. In my religion we call it “the natural man.” We are supposed to “put off the natural man” when our impulses don’t line up with our purpose. For example, my purpose is motherhood and being a wife. I feel intense attraction for another man which my religion recognizes will happen, but I choose not to act on those feelings. Having the feelings isn’t the problem, acting on the feelings would be a big problem.
I believe God put these impulses in me and then gave me rules about how to manage them. The impulses are there for the purpose of continuing the human species, the rules are there to help me create future generations that can thrive.
Speedwagon, I believe marriage is a higher law. I don’t think it was invented by humans. I think our ancestors figured out what works and passed that information down to subsequent generations.
That is my understanding of it. I could say more, but I’d have to bring in more religion and I suspect it is off putting to many.
I use pair bond in the way it is here, in one of Dr L’s very early articles.
I think the idea I am playing with is that limerence does not lead TO pair bonding as suggested, but precedes it.
Lovisa, we cross-posted!
“In my religion we call it “the natural man.” We are supposed to “put off the natural man” when our impulses don’t line up with our purpose.”
This is so interesting to me. And it is another way of saying that leading a purposeful life helps stave off the natural (wo)man in us.
“I think the idea I am playing with is that limerence does not lead TO pair bonding as suggested, but precedes it.”
I guess that depends on how you define limerence. I define it a bit differently than some people do. To me, limerence only happens if there are barriers. So there’s the glimmer, the infatuation/ the really strong attraction (however you want to define it) … but it can’t go anywhere. And the uncertainty and barriers turn those euphoric feelings into obsessional limerence. (And not everyone experiences limerence. An awful lot of peole find out the person isn’t availabe and say, “Next!”)
So the euphoric/infatuated stage, yes, can preceed pair bonding in some instances (if the relationship is mutual and moves to a deeper, bonding phase). Those feelings can also lead to pair bonding. Those feelings are the drive that make people want to pair bond.
But as I define limerence, no, it does not preceed pair bonding because there’s usually not much hope of anything substantial happening between the two people once someone is limerent.
Limerent Emeritus says
From what I’ve gathered reading literature on achieving an “earned secure attachment,” it appears to require 3 things.
1. A competent therapist to guide the process. Not all therapists understand the nature of core damage and attachment to do this well. The function of the therapist is to determine what encoded the brain and essentially remove the old encoding so new encoding may be introduced.
2. A participant who’s willing to change. For the therapist to remove the old, dysfunctional encoding, the patient will have to be willing to confront some potentially very difficult things. Not everyone is capable or willing to do this. As Schreiber puts it:
“Standard modalities of treatment (i.e. psychotherapy, analysis, cognitive-behavioral work, etc.) may not dismantle core trauma, for resolution requires healing the Heart that’s been damaged in infancy and throughout childhood~ not the head.” -https://sharischreiber.com/do-you-love-to-be-needed/
3. A conducive environment. i.e., a partner who has a secure attachment to whom you can anchor to while developing your own. In many cases, this becomes the therapist.
However, since many people with insecure attachment (of whatever variety) attach to others with insecure attachment styles. this can be difficult. Years ago, my social secure included a “High-drama” couple. There always seemed to be some kind of crisis in their relationship and they seemed to feed off each other. Neither appeared to be secure in the other because neither never appeared to be in the same place twice. They were constantly chasing each other’s tails.
It’s a Catch 22. If you’re in an insecure relationship, it’s harder to remove the old encoding. If you can’t remove the old encoding, insecure, unsatisfying relations can become your destiny and you never break out.
I found all three. It took me over two decades. I asked the therapist why I felt the need to do this after so long. The therapist said that I finally felt safe enough to do it. The people that I would have to confront were either long dead (i.e., my family) or I had sufficient time and distance from them so as to render them as non-threatening (i.e., my LOs). I could do it with a minimum of disruption and it would only make things better. I’d also convinced myself that my wife wasn’t going to take off on me.
The therapist said that’s just how long it took for me to become willing to deal with things.
DrL’s probably wincing at my crude analogy but that’s how I see it.
Again, more speculation.
So many posters and so many good points and conversation since the last time I checked in on this blog post … so I probably sound like a rant or ramble.
I do believe with taking responsibility as a limerent when we get attached to an LO. Even if they bear some “responsibility” by their percieved manipulative words or actions, we still are responsible for our words and actions. “Thank you Adam” with a smile, is just that. An adult thanking another adult for something they did. It’s no different than my wife coming up from behind me and kissing my neck and putting her arms around me thinking she’s suggesting sex. Just because that does arouse me doesn’t mean that I am still not responsible for what goes through my mind. Because in a healthy adult relationship we communicate. If LO meant it as more than a “thank you” she would be sure I would catch that. If my wife was suggesting sex she would grab my hand and walk me to the bedroom. Because she knows that I am always in the mood so she has to be direct.
In hindsight it’s easier to be harder on myself than in the depths of limerence. Just like it’s easier to scold yourself for your drunken behavior when you are sober. But than do it again when intoxicated. I agree with JZ about the limerence tricking you into feeling a bond that is not there. For limerence to “work” it has to be mutual. And I don’t think any limerent really believes something will happen where there are barriers. I am married, LO wasn’t. Heart don’t get attached just pump blood because that is your damn job. Imagination don’t go running away into alternate universes where you can manufacture an entire lifetime with LO.
You know these things aren’t healthy for you. But they are so damn intoxicating. I remember when I had my cardio version, at my first checkup, the doc asked me if I smoked, did recreational drugs, or drank. I said “I drink” he asked “how much?” to which I replied “too much” and then he looks at me and says “no don’t do that it’s not good for you”. Like no $hit doc. Who the heck in the 21st century doesn’t know excessive drinking is unhealthy? But people still do it. It’s just the same with limerence. It feels good. And when you are in the midst of it, like being drunk, it’s amazing. So when you sober up, you are thinking about that next drink. Believe me I am right now typing this just waiting for 5pm. Just like I looked forward to 8am when I’d get to see LO.
I put two women through something I never should of and it was all for my own selfish feelings. I broke my vows to one woman to try and drag another woman into my heart against her will. Limerence is the reason but not the excuse. I’ve always thought that there are plenty of reasons EAs and PAs happen but no actual excuse. If you are unhappy in a relationship leave that relationship before starting another one. And here look what I did. Can’t even follow my own damned advice.
I noticed that LO pulled back some after she started seeing someone. Perhaps when she was single she did enjoy the attention I gave her. Because apparently to the rest of the office it was obvious as they pointed it out to me in different ways. But her enjoying unsolicited attention and affection for someone still isn’t on her for my limerence. It is 100% on me. (In my own case not speaking for anyone else’s.) Think about your behavior around LO. Whether you have disclosed (if you are married/in a LTR) or not about your limerence would you be comfortable to act the way you do with LO if your spouse/partner were there? Would going out of your way to get LO’s favorite coffee be something your spouse/partner would be fine with when you don’t make a pot of coffee in the morning for them before you leave the house?
June 3 it will be one year to the day since I last saw LO. No matter to what extent I overcome this limerence June 3, 2022 will be a date in my mind for the rest of my life just like Oct. 22, 1999 no matter what the outcome of my marriage is. Those two dates will never be forgotten. Meaning that LO has permanent free real estate in my head while I lay in bed with same woman that I have for going on 24 years. And then I want to feel sorry for myself and make excuses? She even kisses me in the morning if she is awake when I leave.
I have had many successful male/female co-worker relationship and also opposite sex friendships. It’s not impossible when we accept that is what that relationship is about and not trying to drag someone unwilling into our hearts in manner that they are most clear about. If LO wanted more than co-worker she could have easily made that clear. She was a very direct woman. In the context of our work she was always clear what she needed me to do and how to do it if I didn’t already know how. She wasn’t vague or inconsistent so I doubt she would be that way in other parts of our relationship. Damn you limerence.
In our first few years married I in hindsight made another mistake with a female co-worker. That was to some level infatuated with me. So I know what at least being on the other side of the equation and/or being the LO is like. It is nice to get attention from someone. A much younger someone in my case. But I still feel like that infatuation should be kept to oneself especially when you know there is a barrier like marriage. Did the attention she gave me go right to my head? Absolutely. But I am not responsible for the flirtatious advances she made. She is. So whether LO “likes” the attention or not or seems indifferent the limerent is still the responsible ones for what they do. Whether LO is hot or cold is irrelevant to the fact that for whatever barrier there is; the limerent should not be indulging in the glimmer of LO. But I do think that a lot of limerents would like to (if they don’t really believe it) assigns some “blame” to LO for their actions or words. And I don’t think that is fair to LO. How are we going to drag them along, and then when it doesn’t pan out the way our limerent mind hopes, do we throw it back in their face?
Sorry for the rant. Miss Lovisa I am trying to see any positive and/or learning experience I can from this LE. I really am. I am just mad at myself for dragging two relationships through the limerent mud and loosing one of those relationships permanently. My loss I guess. I just hope that she has a wonderful new life whether she gives me a second thought or not. She deserves that after what I put her through.
Lol, unless you haven’t told me something, you didn’t drag two relationships through the mud. It’s true that you and Momma had a rough patch, but it’s also true that marriages have rough patches. Momma is motivated to work on your marriage and that is awesome!
There is nothing wrong with your relationship with your LO. She is fine and she has positive feelings towards you. I’m sure of it. Stop beating yourself up and go running instead. Seriously Adam, it’s time to go running. Ask your doctor before you start running if you need to. I don’t know how serious your heart condition is. But find out if you can run because it’s time.
-this message was brought to you by a very sore Lovisa who just did a challenging trail run.
I knew when I hit “post” on that comment I was going to have to hear from a very cross Miss Lovisa about it. Someday I will get it all out of my system and you won’t be reading comments from me like this anymore.
If it’s not raining when I get home I will at least go for a walk and try that. Not sure about running without asking the doc.
I’m not cross, just sore. I got a lot of elevation gain today.
I’ll settle for a walk, but will you ask your doctor if you can run? It’s good for mood regulation.
“June 3 it will be one year to the day since I last saw LO. No matter to what extent I overcome this limerence June 3, 2022 will be a date in my mind for the rest of my life just like Oct. 22, 1999 no matter what the outcome of my marriage is. Those two dates will never be forgotten. ”
I don’t know if you’ve had previous LEs, but it took me about two years to get over my LO after going NC. And dates/times/things that he said and did that once seemed so important, that were etched in my brain … there are a good number I can’t remember anymore or can’t remeber as vividly. The details are fuzzy. I’m not blocking them out. I just let him go. I got enough perspective, over time, to realize there was no reason to remember. He wasn’t a significant part of my life. Wasn’t a boyfriend or even a close friend. He was a guy I worked with, and giving him a big chunk of real esate in my head … seemed disporportionate to how much he deserved. What does LE write? He’s a footnote or part of a chapter. But he can’t be a main character.
I felt a compulsion to respond to this post because, probably as will Adam, I found it very helpful. It’s positive and concise. It took you about two years after starting NC to get over your LO. That sounds like a long time because I have been champing at the bit to feel better after five months. Sometimes waking up in the night and feeling as if I have been thumped with a mallet is disconcerting.
“The details are fuzzy. I’m not blocking them out. I just let him go.” That’s worth remembering.
I was once limerent before, about ten years ago, but despite the intensity there was no reciprocation and the feelings faded within weeks.
This time there was strong mutual affection, reinforced by WhatsApp messages, and that has made it harder to let go despite my knowing that it has to stop.
Like many other people, I read some of the blogs and thought “that’s me, that’s exactly what I did”. I put my LO on a pedestal, of course, I spent money on thoughtful gifts and I defended him on a WhatsApp group to the detriment of my own reputation etc. etc.
The shock to the system of being completely ghosted is tricky. The more I read, almost between the lines of some posts, I have realised that it’s quite common. The “When Things Go Sour” blog is a good one as is the being ghosted case study.
I’ve read the introductory guide to the “emergency deprogramming” course and am tempted to take the plunge.
“It took you about two years after starting NC to get over your LO. That sounds like a long time because I have been champing at the bit to feel better after five months.”
When I say two years, I don’t mean two years of absoulte misery. There were times I thought about him a lot, times I was sad, times I was very angry at him and also times it bothered me just a little bit. It vacillated and came in waves. But two years to honestly say I was over it.
“The shock to the system of being completely ghosted is tricky.”
I’m sorry you had to go through that. That would be rough. Very rough. Ghosting someone is cruel.
“He wasn’t a significant part of my life.”
Marcia, why is that so hard to realize and accept? A whole year and no phone call? You wouldn’t even call someone a friend if they did that to you. But I keep making excuses in my head for her and still defending her actions. Or lack thereof.
“Like many other people, I read some of the blogs and thought “that’s me, that’s exactly what I did”. I put my LO on a pedestal, of course, I spent money on thoughtful gifts and I defended him on a WhatsApp group to the detriment of my own reputation etc. etc.”
I was so guilty of all that. But especially defending her. To the point people in the office would say something like “Adam better not hear you say that about LO” even if it was actually a constructive criticism. She could do no wrong.
I don’t know if my NC is close to the ghosting you are feeling. I think if I called her she’d answer. But at the same time she knows how to contact me, and if she ever thought of me as more than a co-worker, a friend, then picking up the phone goes both ways. I just haven’t done it because it would be detrimental to healing. But I know the feeling of the strong attachment to someone you are limerent for and their complete indifference to you and your suffering.
“Marcia, why is that so hard to realize and accept? A whole year and no phone call? ”
I hesitate to tell you what to focus on because different approaches workfor different people, but I started to really hone in on what he was actually doing (instead of all the flirting) … and he was doing nothing. He let me walk out the door knowing I may never come back … and he did nothing. I don’t know if it would have been possible for him to be any more obvious.
Like how she walked out the door her last day on the job with barely a “goodbye Adam” and hasn’t reached out to me since? That’s pretty obvious too. It’s like all the smiles, and “thank you”s and laughs all shine so bright you can’t see reality. Time to face reality.
“Time to face reality.”
Unfortunately, it’s not fun. I didn’t want to determine he was making no effort to keep in contact with me. It’d be so nice to one day learn a “life lesson” that isn’t painful. That is joyous and fun and has a positive outcome instead of the “limerence lesson” that was rather tortorous.
Marcia. Thank you for the clarification about the two years. Yes I understand, especially about the waves and vacillation. Being ghosted by an LO honestly feels like the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with but writing my earlier comment has made me remember exactly how culpable I am.
After first meeting my LO at the end of 2019, as a new neighbour, I was bowled over by his candour, friendliness and sense of humour. I googled him and found that he was a part-time musician. That was a bit stalkerish of me, if I’m honest, although he seemed quite happy about it. After lots of conversations as a neighbour, the casual WhatsApp exchanges were initiated by me during lockdown and he became increasingly affectionate. I derived huge pleasure from that, initially, and I think I became too besotted to realise that not all his messages were ones that one friend would just send to another. I remember him saying that we were mutual confidantes, which we were. His kindness was also amazing.
LO, his SO and their baby daughter, moved to another town at the end of 2021 and there were extravagant promises of barbecues, visits and staying in touch.
Contact faded gradually during the second half of 2022, however, and then he abruptly stopped looking at, or replying to, my messages after a brief Christmas greeting.
The crucial thing for me to remember is that he now has a new life with his SO and daughter, living next door to his parents….. I am retired, gay and single. He is young and straight.
I wish that there had been a better closure (yes, I know!) but there was no argument or rancour. My typing finger sometimes itches to explain what being ghosted feels like but he may be feeling embarrassed. Breaking the No Contact would not really be a good idea. Goodness knows how I allowed all this to happen.
Adam, it’s good to read more of your wise comments. I think that ghosting and no contact can be very much intertwined.
In the end, I did send the little daughter a birthday card, against the sage advice of several friends on here. Just doing that set me back a bit, of course, but I thought (not very wisely) that it might be a reasonable low-key way of staying in touch so that one day we can be friends when this silly business is over. Also, I felt so invested in her coming into the world. The temptation to do that was great although I have now read the lwl blog about “The Psychological Appeal of Giving In”.
” I googled him and found that he was a part-time musician. That was a bit stalkerish of me, if I’m honest, although he seemed quite happy about it.”
I don’t necessarily think that is stalkerish. You found him appealing and looked him up. It’s very common.
“LO, his SO and their baby daughter, moved to another town at the end of 2021 and there were extravagant promises of barbecues, visits and staying in touch. … Contact faded gradually during the second half of 2022, however, and then he abruptly stopped looking at, or replying to, my messages after a brief Christmas greeting.”
Unfortunately, that’s been the trajectory of my friendships when I moved around. I think I’ve had two or three friends who’ve stayed with me through multipes moves over the years. It sucks because it hurts. It sounds like you had a genuine connection and you developed feelings for him. And now you’re trying to take the steps to get over it. Read the posts on here. You are by no means the only commenter who’s fallen for someone who’s taken.
Marcia, you took time to help me. Your final paragraph, particularly, has made me stop and think. Thank you so much.
“Marcia, you took time to help me. Your final paragraph, particularly, has made me stop and think. Thank you so much.”
You’re welcome. I wish you luck in your recovery over your LO.
This is to both Frederico and Adam. I have moved many times in my life. And there is always a huge possibility of being “left behind” by the one who is leaving – they will suddenly find themselves in a new place, a new life, new rules … and old friends or colleagues or neighbors will suddenly not make any sense at all in their new lives. Usually, a small effort might be made out of obligation or politeness. But the more natural and usual thing is the fade. They are busy and engrossed with life, their own families, distracted by new people or new situations, etc. Remember they might not realize how much they meant to you, so they probably think you forgot about them too (after all, you are doing NC). And you … are left in your old life, where they played such a central part, and now there is this hole in your life.
Again, if they were a normal friend, oh well. Life happens. If they are an LO … it is a whole new level of pain because … didn’t it mean anything to them at all? Peace.
Emily, your beautiful message made me shed a tear. That hasn’t happened for a very long time. Thank you for your wisdom. You are right, of course.
Aw frederico, compassion to you!
“Remember they might not realize how much they meant to you, so they probably think you forgot about them too (after all, you are doing NC).”
This is one of the hardest pills to swallow. How can I rationally and honestly be glad that her new life is for the better for her. That she is making a new family and a new career for herself. But then that damn limerence is like “why hasn’t she at least called you once? maybe you should call her. she might be thinking about you”.
Just holding on to that last bit of hope that they have not completely forgotten you. Are they doing this for your benefit because they saw something in you? I respect their new life but couldn’t I have been in it just a little bit? You’d take scrapes if you could get them. It’s humiliating and embarrassing. And no one would believe you if you told them. So until you find a community like this it just eats away at you like a poison until you think you are completely broken.
“I was good for you, you were bad for me
So why do I wish you’d still call me, call me?
And why do I still pray you care?
I was blind of what I didn’t want to see
And I knew all along that you were gonna leave
So why do I still wish you’d miss me?”
Wish You’d Miss Me — Chase Wright
“holding on to that last bit of hope that they have not completely forgotten you.”
I know. That is so hard. To be forgotten. By someone who, for some reason ticks all our psychological needs boxes, which means to be forgotten by them is … significant in deeper ways.
But … perhaps in your case it might help a smidgen that there is a person, your wife, who has not forgotten you. That you are not alone. That someone cares a lot, and cares so much they are still hanging around, waiting for you to come out of this madness. For them, you are the one they fear will be forgetting them as you look yonder to LO. You matter to this woman.
Limerent Emeritus says
I wondered if LO #2 ever thought about me in all the years since we’d said goodbye.
One night, I found she’d sent me a FB friend request almost 25 years later. I wondered which was worse, wondering if she had thought about me or knowing that she had, at least once.
The latter is way better. Even if it was an accident, she was likely looking for me. I was flattered that she could still spell my name. My wife asked if I was going to accept it. I told her No. She asked if I was curious. I told her that I was very curious. I wanted to know if LO #2 meant to send it or it was an accident. But, there was only one way to find out. I asked my wife if she was willing to accept that risk. My wife looked at me for a few seconds and said “No.” So, I deleted it.
I posted a few things that if LO #2 was watching me, she’d know my status and what I thought of her. If she wasn’t, no harm done.
My LO#2 (3 year college girlfriend) never sent me a FB friend request even though we are connected to about 60 of the same people and even get tagged in common old pics and have commented on common friends postings. I always took that as a sign she did at least give a thought that being connected to me might be problematic for her. Me the same.
I stalk her FB account maybe once a year just out of curiosity.
Limerent Emeritus says
I used to do periodic social media drive-bys but it’s been over a year since the last one. It took me to a place that I no longer want to go.
And, it brings up the question:
What would you do with the knowledge if you had it?
LO#1 sent me a social media request! 20 years later. I accepted, chatted with him, and it was great! Cos I realized it was such a good decision to have left him behind and out of my life. Very rarely do we limerents get such definitive closure! Now I just need to figure out why I have such bad taste in LOs. My LO#2 is actually also pretty selfish and self-absorbed, I’ve decided. I get the feeling sometime in the future, I will be able to look back on him and think, thank goodness I did not go there!!!
Social media requests can be truly weird. There was a guy I had a serious crush on in college (not limerence, but a good solid crush for months) but he was so flighty that I eventually moved on to a surer thing, assuming we were just friends. The strange part was when he met my new boyfriend, he acted really upset and possessive, you know that thing where two guys meet and its like they are spewing out testosterone at each other while they stand and stare each other down? It surprised me. Afterwards my boyfriend was, are you sure you didn’t have something going on with this guy? So this guy never connected with me on social media. But he did with my boyfriend?! Even a few years down the track, I never reached out to him or him to me, even though we have quite a few mutual friends, which suggests there was something problematic there, even though we never spoke of it. I even thought he was gay at one point, but then, why would he be possessive? Maybe I should look him up today and stir up a hornet’s nest?? (joking. I don’t need more complications in my life!)
Oh, and very recently my LO asked to connect on social media. This was after a year of us knowing each other! And we are of the generation where social media is almost automatic. I strangely felt like I didn’t want to, and delayed and made excuses for ages till he called me out on it and I really couldn’t not without it looking super awkward (cos we are friends yea?) But totally strange to suddenly be seen (and also to see) what LO’s life looks like outside of the txts we shared and being at work. He’s a lot more boring than I thought! I was interested to see the girls he used to date though. And when I think of what he knows of me, I think he might find me not quite what he expected either from my social media profile (a lot less glamorous and mysterious!) But it is really strange that we only chose to do the social media thing so late in the game. It is almost like we did not want to know the reality of each other, and preferred the fantasy? Were we complicit in maintaining a mutual fantasy? (makes you wonder what is going on with each of us to do something so warped! lol) I wonder about the timing – ideas? Speculations?
Limerent Emeritus says
Actually, it’s not so surprising that your LO wanted to become FB friends late in the game.
Knowing the real people could be a reason. As you say, social media requests are funny.
LO #4 sent me an FB friend request less than a week after I told her friend I was disengaging from LO #4’s site and quitting as a moderator. We’d known each other online for 5 years by then.
I knew the appearance of a redhead that I’d known for 5 years who sends me a request 6 months after breaking up with her partner would get my wife’s attention and it did.
Less than a week after we became FB friends, I had a dream about LO #4 in which I almost drove my car off a washed out bridge on a pitch black night. The EAP counselor said it didn’t take a gypsy to figure that one out. I felt like I’d let the Trojan Horse behind the wall. I asked LO #4 if it was ok if we weren’t FB friends. I got a response in less than 5 minutes, “No problem.” When I checked, not only were we not friends anymore, she blocked me. I thought that was bitchy.
So, why did she send the friend request? Here’s where we go into Presumption and Speculation, which are two things that kill limerents.
On a basic level, social media establishes and maintains a connection. Influence is proportional to access. Social Media allows access. Unless you really take it seriously and do information management, it can provide a lot of intelligence. Somebody can see who’s possibly influencing you and what possibly influences you. When LO #4 sent the request, she was ensuring access after I told her friend that I was leaving. Blocking me was telling me that my access was now a whole lot less. It was also a basic “F— You!” From the time she blocked me until the time that she said goodbye was about 6 weeks. The EAP counselor said that I’d thrown a bucket of cold water on her.
You can waste a ton of time on this one if you want to. My bet is you’ll never get a real answer to as to why. This is where we play the “Fairy-Tale-Ending Game.”
– If you can craft any outcome you choose (FTE,) what would it be?
– How are you going to make that happen?
– Are you willing to accept the risk and consequences?
If you answer the last question first, you can save yourself a lot of time.
You are right Emily I owe my wife that much. She has been so understanding through this whole mess, and has given me more time than I could hope for. You know Emily as much as I was scared of what she would read when she found this place, when she commented here, she posted that she didn’t hate LO like I thought she did (and posted such comments here). She has only posted once and I don’t know if she still comes here, but when she posted that I thought it was quite a statement about the caliber woman she is. In the face of her husband obsessing about another woman she still has a level head. You are right Emily, if I matter to her she has to matter to me.
We should never take love for granted, Adam. Whatever form or shape it takes. It is a precious gift from the heart. And I speak of this thinking of your wife and her love for you. But also the love you bear for your wife, and even the feelings you have for LO. The latter are not wanted, I know. But they arise out of a human person, and it is problematic, but then, life is. We can bear all this, as still do the right thing. I wish you well!
I just cried my eyes out reading this post and the comments. I’ve been struggling with this LE for 5 years! There was a disclosure on my part, a rejection and now almost 4 years of my struggling to break free from this mess.
We are both married and like others I don’t want PA. I feel horrible that I got emotionally attached and disclosed. He was my boss for a part time job at the kids school. He took over for another boss and my gut told me to quit because he’s flirty and friendly. But I didn’t.
What ensued was one of the most hurtful and unstable things I have ever gone through. He is a life coach on the side and for some reason offered me free coaching as well as the opportunity to sit in on the high school class he taught under a different identity. It was all so much. He told me we made a great team, had a special bond, and it was synchronicity and meant to be that we met. He even gave it a song. God Bless the Broken Road but told me to take the romantic part out. Yeah right. My limerance convinced me he did and said all if that because he was limerant too and he was going to fix everything. I started calling him way too often but once he said call or text any time. My good friends do. Eventually it all became too much for him and he said he couldn’t be my emotional support. It was dangerous for both of us. We cut down how much we talked but eventually it ramped up again. When he saw me in person, he hugged me, put his hand on my upper back etc.
Eventually I told him I was infatuated with him and he explained to me about dopamine etc. We continued to talk and the class ended. I was upset at the daily contact ending.
We had coaching chats in the summer and I felt more and limerant but it was awful. I messaged him at 10:00 asking if we could talk. We talked two days later and I said I was still struggling. He talked about pair bonding and dopamine and transference. He said we couldn’t talk anymore except for professional and that’s all it ever was to him. He said I had no boundaries and compared me to a teenager who goes crazy when you stop giving her attention. I was very humiliated and cried.
I continued to work with him and things were awkward. The grief and pain were unbearable. After a while things felt kind of normal again. If I shared anything personal he would cut me off but often would vent to me.
This went on for 2 more years and I woke up in the middle of the night knowing I needed to quit the job. But I still emailed and called occasionally and he did too. Now he’s very close with my replacement and it’s hard to watch. I’m wondering how to completely let go. I did tell my spouse about it and that was hard. I know no contact is best. Contact has greatly reduced and I am more stable but the pain is still there. Will it ever go away?
Oh my gosh, Beth. That is so hard. I can only imagine what you are going through. (Side note: I really need to get this out of my system, sorry that I am going to act like a “teenage girl” for a moment… that jerk! That man is a monster! Thanks, I feel better now.)
What happened to you is not your fault and your reaction makes sense. It sounds like he knew what he was doing. Holy cow, what a terrible thing to do to another person. And it sounds like he is doing it to your replacement, too. Oh Beth, you must be hurting so much. But you will get through this and you will be okay. We are here for you. You are not alone. For now, what is your most troubling symptom? Maybe we can tackle this one symptom at a time. My heart goes out to you.
Hang in there.
Thank you Lovisa. I need to remember how bad he treated me to get over this. Yes I am concerned about my replacement but I can’t warn her. I feel like I am brainwashed because even after the harsh treatment my brain still feels like I need him in my life. Yes it does hurt and he’s making a huge deal over her. The hard part is their are many mutual connections because of school.
I’ve been struggling with fear of not being in contact with him. I do well for a while and then I give in or he contacts me. I’m going to try to gradually fade but odds are high I will have to face him at certain functions. I’ve been having dreams where he reciprocated or apologizes and those are tough. I wake up very anxious. I’m partly repulsed by him and drawn to him. Not sure if this makes sense? I have to convince myself my worth is not dependent on him. Thanks for your reply. It really helps being with people who get it
That sounds very painful and I am sorry that you had to go through all that. I am always appreciative that if LO did know anything was amiss with me (I worked with her too) that she kept it 100% professional. Anything I perceived as more than courteous and friendly behavior I knew was just my imagination, even before I knew what limerence was. I can’t imagine if LO had been “more than friendly” or flirty how I would have reacted. Hopefully the correct way a married man should.
Just from your words it seems counter productive the things that your LO would say about keeping it professional and that you were both married and the actions that he actually took with you. This is just my opinion, I mean no offense at it because I have a very high opinion of LO and couldn’t imagine her being manipulative, but that seems to be just what he was doing. He would draw you in and then when he was just about tempted to cross the line, he would push you away. Which is extremely selfish and unfair to you with the pain that it caused you when he would do that.
” He said I had no boundaries and compared me to a teenager who goes crazy when you stop giving her attention. I was very humiliated and cried.”
This here really gets my ire up. He insults you and humiliates you but accepts no responsibility in what he did to you. He’s throwing the whole messy deal in your face and walking away as if he had no role in the relationship going the way it did. I mean …. I’d better stop ….
My opinion of him aside, I am terribly sorry for your pain. I know it all to well. Maybe not the degree you do. LO left almost a year ago for another job and I have not had any contact with her since. I didn’t even know what limerence was till I found this place in January. Since June of last year till January I had no idea why I was crying, why I was sad, why I had such an intense need to see/talk to her. You can’t exactly broach it with my wife like “sugar I am crying over another woman and want to see her so bad I just can’t stand it” when you have no idea why. So I kept it to myself until I found this community and then I was finally able to disclose to my wife what was going on in my head.
I am glad that you were also able to talk to your spouse about limerence. It is a great relief that when you disclose something as dark as limerence and your spouse still stands by you, you know when you said “I do” that you made the best decision of your life. Post as much as you’d like Beth and I wish the best for you and your marriage to get past this pain.
Thanks Adam. It helps to have someone else’s perspective. Yes it does feel like he hasn’t accepted any responsibility and there was also a power imbalance. He said other things and I have to fight to not dwell on them.
Yes this place is very helpful. I have been reading here for a long time. It was this LE that I discovered what limerence is. I have had episodes in the past but just thought they were bad crushes. I didn’t disclose in those episodes.
It is a great thing you haven’t disclosed. Once it out there you can’t take it back. Have you found no contact helpful?
My contact with LO is the lowest it has ever been but he’s still everywhere. I think that has been triggering and also having to watch someone replace me. I think the summer will help. Thanks again.
“My contact with LO is the lowest it has ever been but he’s still everywhere.”
My wife often comments when she hears me around the house or out on the porch singing, “I don’t know why you torture yourself listening to that.” And often my response is “Sugar I’d have to stop listening to music altogether for that not to happen.”
It is difficult to see/hear LO all over the place. I remember when I took our oldest boy to college the weekend before classes last year so he could get settled in his dorm. It was in August and LO left in June. I was getting stuff out of the trunk and I heard LO’s name. I raised my head out from in the trunk so fast to look in hopes to see her I banged my head. But of course it wasn’t LO she lives 180 miles away what would she being doing at a college on Saturday?! No one other woman on the planet has that same name?! I felt so damn foolish.
“Have you found no contact helpful?”
I remember when I quite snuff. The beginning is hard. The cravings were difficult to ignore. The intensity of routine, when I often used it was the hardest one to overcome. But I got through it and its been over 10 years since I quit.
No contact is much like that. I couldn’t fully break away right away. I did fine not contacting her by phone call or text. But I was guilty of looking on her FB page multiple times. Never commenting or liking her posts just reading them and viewing her pictures. It was a way to calm the addiction without any real consequences so to speak. I haven’t went to her FB page in probably six months. I think the last time I looked was around Christmas time last year to see how her holiday went.
At this point, you asking me that, I would say yes it has been helpful. Had you asked me in the same month she left, I would have said it makes it worse. The cruelty of feeling affection for someone but not being able to see or talk to them was killing me. My biggest problem with this LE is that, unlike many other married limerents, there was no desire for a romantic relationship for me. It’s like I can’t be friends with this really nice and sweet lady, because I can’t trust my own head because of stupid limerence? But no I can’t trust my own head.
I also have the confidence that she has moved on for the better of herself and her daughters. This man she is with takes care of her and her daughters; provides, presides and protects. Things I can’t/couldn’t do as a friend, if that were even possible. SO I have to fade away as much as that is killing me. I only want the best for her and for her to be happy. Being confident that she is helps me maintain the no contact.
And lastly, but certainly not in the least, I have another perspective of my own actions and words. And that’s my wife. Seeing myself through her eyes helps me realize how far gone I was even when I thought I was just being friendly with LO. We have talked several times since I disclosed about some of the things I did and how in the depths of limerence I didn’t see anything wrong with what I said and did. But on the better side of this LE I can see how altered my behavior was. Which is another factor in helping me maintain no contact.
A song that discovered very early in my LE has really spoken to me over the last two years. A line in the chorus of the song that I remind myself daily of really speaks to why I need to remain no contact with her no matter how much it hurts some days.
“You only know you love her when you let her go.”
Let Her Go — Passenger
Thanks Adam. I have quite a ways to go. Contact has been decreasing but I odds are high I will be forced to see him. But I don’t need to reach out which I am guilty of. Letting go is so painful. I’m trying to fade away too.
It sounds like you are doing all you can and glad it’s getting better. Music is a big thing for me. I can also relate to hearing their name. It’s really awful isn’t it
Beth, I am with Adam on this 100%. I think your LO is the one without boundaries and scruples. He parrots what he should do, but does what he wants anyway. Knowingly. He can’t even “pretend” he doesn’t know. And the things he said (that were mean, humiliating and hurtful) – it has nothing to do with you, I hope you know! He’s an a**hole. Sorry, but I had to say it, my stomach actually bubbled with anger when I read what he said to you. I want to leap up in front of you and whack this guy in the face (and I’m not even one of the males here with a savior complex!)
So, the reason why you are probably taking so long to get over this is that he behaved in such an atrocious and disrespectful way. There’s another poster here, TP, whose story might be of interest to you. She was treated badly too. It is hard when someone ill-treats you, it makes you question your worth. If it happens to be an LO who means so much to you who treats you that way … again, it takes on more of a significance than it should, because we value them, and their opinion so much. But the truth is … they cannot pass judgment on us. They cannot.
I don’t think you need to worry about forgiving your LO (who does not deserve it), but you do need to work on forgiving yourself. You were vulnerable. You let this person’s opinion matter to you more than it should. You crossed some lines for someone who did not deserve it. My LO was a bit of a player, and I wish I had been more immune to his charms as well, and not compromised myself with all the txting I did … I did not need him to point out to me it was inappropriate. I can point that out to myself. The shame is real.
You mention your husband knows … what’s he’s take on it? I hope he was supportive?
Thank you Emily. I really appreciate your perspective. Reading what you and Adam said gives me some relief. He said even more. The ones I shared were the worst ones. It is interesting what you said that it was taking so long to get over this because of how he behaved. I think there is so much truth in that! I have this intense need for more closure. To talk to him and say I am not like a teenage girl and you crossed lines and really hurt me. But I know it probably won’t happen. He will probably get more angry.
Yes I crossed lines and yes there is so much shame. I wish I could erase it all. Sounds like you had a difficult situation as well. I did a lot of texting too.
My husband knows I had feelings, disclosed and texted and called him a lot. I didn’t explain all about limerence just they I did wrong and had feelings I shouldn’t have. He is a very mellow guy and did say he didn’t like LO. Thought he hung around women too much. Yes he was supportive but I can tell he doesn’t want to hear about him. Which I totally get. That’s why this place is great. I feel like others get this. I have been lurking here a long time and finally decided to post. Thanks again!
Beth, if you need to get something out of your system, consider saying it here with us. I understand why you feel tempted to talk to your LO and defend yourself, but I suspect it might make the situation worse. I just don’t trust that he will give you the reaction you need. Maybe you could say it here. Or maybe you could write a letter and shred it instead of giving it to him. Just a thought.
Thank you Lovisa. I agree it would probably not turn out well. Plus it just brings everything up. I need to work on lowering contact as much as possible and I like the idea of saying it here or writing it out.
Lovisa is right, you need an outlet, and everyone here understands.
A whooping 77 comments in under a week? Is that some kind of record, or what?
Way to go, Dr. L! It seems to me that this very innocuous article with its very innocuous title has hit a raw nerve with readers. I was worried relatively few people would comment on the article when I first read it because the topic seemed quite bland compared to other topics that could be explored…
Sometimes, the simplest themes are the ones closest to people’s hearts! 😉
Limerent Emeritus says
I think the increase in the number of comments in general has a lot to do with DrL shutting down the Forum. From what I’m reading, a lot of comments would be on the Forum, if LwL still had one.
Someone posted a link to someplace that could have replaced it.
If someone can find it, maybe they can put it on the Limerence Links page.
“I think the increase in the number of comments in general has a lot to do with DrL shutting down the Forum. From what I’m reading, a lot of comments would be on the Forum, if LwL still had one.”
Yup, I see what you mean. However, I think the responses to this post was more emotional than I was expecting too. I didn’t predict that this topic would engage people’s emotions to the extent that it has… 😉
When I had the painful conversation with LO and he said the horrible things to me, I remember him saying he would be nice to me but there would be no more personal conversations. Then he said it was going to feel like a breakup to me but we could still be friends. At that he chuckled a bit probably at the absurdity of it all realizing that I really wasn’t even that to him yet he had to “break up” with me. And he was right it was one of the most painful ones ever. As I write this, I feel angry. He seemed to know everything that was going on, allowed it and even encouraged it until he didn’t. I have to come to terms with the fact that I will never know why. I also have to own it that I crossed boundaries and acted against my values and vows. The strange thing is that since then he had often calls me a great friend. I’m really seeing a need here to go NC. Probably not someone I can be friends with.
Thinking about the post, I think of something Lucy from Neorosparkle blog said. She said something on the order of emotionally healthy people want to repel unwanted romantic attention and that often our LOs have some issues where they do encourage us. It reminds me of a time in my 20s when an older coworker, probably 20 years older, made a bet with me where the loser of our bet had to buy the other one lunch. I was thinking fast food carry out eaten at our desks. He told everyone he was going to lose the bet and take me out for a fancy dinner and sweep me off my feet. He was married and I remember feeling repulsed and angry. I asked him if what I heard was true and he said yes. I told him that there was no way I could do that as he was married and I didn’t think of him like that and we had to call off the bet. I think I was kind but I truly had no idea what happened. After that it was just awkward and we didn’t talk. I had no desire to. So I think a lot of LOs send mixed signals and that is hard. We also read way too much into things.
Hi Beth, it’s common for limerents to ponder the thoughts and intentions of their LOs. I am very suspicious of your LO. He appears to use other people for his own benefit regardless of how it hurts the other person. I prefer that you don’t try to be his friend. Something just isn’t right. There are people who play cat and mouse games with other people. I know it is hard to comprehend. It’s downright unbelievable to someone who wouldn’t do it, but I’ve experienced it with some of my adopted kids. I obviously won’t give up and go NC with my own kids, but I think you should go NC with your LO if you can. He was playing with fire for his own entertainment and he doesn’t care that you got burned. If you can go NC, I think you’ll be better off.
Have a great day!
Limerent Emeritus says
What your LO said was dismissive and demeaning.
When LO #4 was confiding in me, she said that her ex was dismissive and demeaning. He was intentionally cruel.
Your LO is a schmuck.
One of the best pieces of advice that my twice-divorced father ever gave me was, “If a woman doesn’t respect and treat you well, get rid of her and find one who does.”
That’s universal advice and I’ve told my daughter that. It applies to her just as much as it applies to my son.
I don’t take being dismissed or demeaned well. That’s why when LO #2 admitted that she wanted to look around some more and if she didn’t find anything that she liked better, she might come back and settle for me.
I almost backhanded LO #2 with my fist. If I wouldn’t have gone to jail and lost my job, I just might have. I had to get out of the car to make sure that I didn’t. When she got of the car and started coming toward me, I told her not to come near me. For once, she listened to me.
You shouldn’t have to take that crap from anyone.
“I don’t take being dismissed or demeaned well. That’s why when LO #2 admitted that she wanted to look around some more and if she didn’t find anything that she liked better, she might come back and settle for me.”
I agree with what your LO #2 said here from an emotional perspective was very insensitive. I can understand why you were very upset…
However, just as a social experiment, let’s take all emotion out of the conversation, and view it as a purely logical exchange. From a purely rational point of view, there’s nothing wrong with what your LO #2 said. What could be more reasonable than a man or woman wanting to marry the best candidate?
Your LO #2 was tactless to imply that you weren’t the best person for the job if you really liked her. (Perhaps she didn’t realise how much you liked her?) And perhaps she shouldn’t have said that to your face. But the insensitivity of your LO probably had more to do with her blunt personality than with your worthiness as a suitor. So your feelings of aggrievement are arguably misguided.
Take it from an INTJ, who can sometimes be tactless: you WERE actually in the running, dude. This woman thought highly of you. Not every compliment we receive in life necessarily sounds like a compliment. On the whole, I think this woman held a certain positive regard for you, although she probably expressed that positive regard in a horribly clumsy way. 😉
Limerent Emeritus says
To completely respond, you’d have to read my 12+ page history of that relationship.
We’d been together 3 years. I asked this woman to marry me. She declined and moved across the country to get away from me. But, she didn’t want to break up. I had to drag that out of her a year later. She was like a feral cat.
We were having a drink after her cousin’s wedding [Lesson learned: NEVER go to a wedding with your ex], June 13, 1987. Out of nowhere, out came:
“I can’t control you. You don’t need me. You were only with me because you wanted to be. There was nothing to bind you to me. I was afraid that one day you’d wake up and not want to be with me. If I gave myself to you and you left, I’d be devastated…You did everything I ever asked of you. The harder you tried, the more I resented you for it. I made things so hard for you.”
One therapist I worked with said that was a confession and called her fearful-avoidant. The therapist said that nothing I could ever do or say would have ever changed that and said, “You’ve convinced me that she’s a borderline, quit trying to convince yourself that she’s not.”
I asked LO #2 if this relationship would ever be what I wanted it to be. She came back with, “No, you should find some sweet young thing who adores you and not waste your time with a crusty old broad like me.”
I asked LO #2 twice if she wanted to reconcile. She said, “No” both times.
That wasn’t an isolated data point, the comment was the cherry on one big sh-t cake.
Right before LO #2 came out with her settling admission, she ran off a list of all the nice things I did for her. I should have been in the “Boyfriend Hall of Fame.” I didn’t remember some them until she brought them up.
“I’m still a nurse today because of you.”
“You taught me how to stand up for myself. I’m grateful to you for that.
The therapist said that it wasn’t that I wasn’t good enough for LO #2, it was that I was too good for LO #2. She didn’t feel she deserved someone like me.
LO #2 thought there was someone out there who would love her more, care about her more, and cherish her more than I did.
I cut her loose to go find him. I made it clear that she could never come back if she didn’t.
“To completely respond, you’d have to read my 12+ page history of that relationship.”
Ah, that extra info makes your story make a lot more sense. My word, that game of cat and mouse did drag on for a quite a while, didn’t it? I get a headache just trying to follow all the twists and turns in the short version you provided! 😉
I’m not gonna say anything about your LO cause if I do ….. well it won’t be as well worded as Miss Lovisa.
“I also have to own it that I crossed boundaries and acted against my values and vows. ”
This I get. I stewed in guilt for a very long time about how I interacted with LO. Longer than even my wife thought I should after I disclosed to her about my limerence. However you deal with that Beth, owning your actions, remember that he did more to manipulate you than your actual limerence did. Limerence in of itself is a bitch. But throw in someone that is possibly a narcissist and very manipulative and you find yourself where you are. Even swearing by my life LO didn’t do anything to garner the attention I gave her, it’s still quite possible she did. Even if it was “innocently”. Who doesn’t like getting attention? And the amount of special attention that a lot limerents bestow upon their LO, it’s no wonder a lot pick up on it. I’ll throw myself under the bus on this.
Back two to three years into our marriage I had a secondary job working at a grocery store in my mid to late 20’s. There was a young lady that worked there that I assume had a crush of some kind on me. And by young I mean like still in high school. I was friendly but professional with her. But the attention she gave me was flattering. Our marriage was going great so there was no need for my attention to be diverted. But she was rather generous with the compliments. Soon we were texting each other. Before I knew it, it was my wife that called me out on our conversations when she found them on my phone. And in the light of that did I realize I let it get out of hand. Call me naive, egotistical or just stupid or all three but I can see where LO’s can get caught up in what the limerent is dishing out. Maybe not to the inexcusable point he did to you. But in a more innocent and human way.
Do you as so many people told me to do here when I first found this community, be kind to yourself. I beat myself up relentlessly and it didn’t help. You are a good person Beth. Going through this and doing the right things by yourself, your spouse and your marriage speaks greatly of the kind of woman that you are.
“As I write this, I feel angry. ”
So you should. Rage. I think you need to really feel it before you can let it go.
“Then he said it was going to feel like a breakup to me but we could still be friends. At that he chuckled a bit probably at the absurdity of it all realizing that I really wasn’t even that to him yet he had to “break up” with me. And he was right it was one of the most painful ones ever.”
I think it’s very common for limerents to feel a profound sense of humiliation when we discover a given LO doesn’t feel the same way, yet has seemingly encouraged attraction/romantic interest to grow on the part of the limerent.
It’s almost like the limerent has to walk away with all the guilt from the interaction… The limerent always has “to be the baddie”, especially if SOs are involved. I’m not surprised you feel angry. What a terrible blow!
“Thinking about the post, I think of something Lucy from Neorosparkle blog said. She said something on the order of emotionally healthy people want to repel unwanted romantic attention and that often our LOs have some issues where they do encourage us.”
I think what Lucy said was that mature, emotionally healthy people detest intensity in others when that intensity is unrequited. Many LOs, conversely, have an immature style of relating to people, so aren’t immediately put off by the intensity. They bond with us intensely at the beginning, dismantle all our normal defences, and then withdraw/disappear when it’s convenient for them to do so.
Now I’m getting over limerence, I’m also getting over my feelings of anger. But the feelings of anger are real, and they’ll probably hang around for quite a bit. I grew up a Christian, so for a while I derived satisfaction from thinking about where my LO might end up in the afterlife. (Hint: it wasn’t Heaven!). But, with enough time, and compassion, and self-compassion, the angry feelings will subside and make way for softer emotions. I know it’s very hard sometimes for kind, gentle, idealistic people to own their anger. Anger feels like such a destructive emotion, doesn’t it? It feels like an emotion that nice people don’t have, or shouldn’t have.
When anger passes, you might feel the sweet rain of forgiveness. For example, apart from being immature, I think one of my LOs was shy and probably hadn’t received a lot of validation in his life. In hindsight, it was the most natural thing in the world for him to choose to bask in the warm glow of my validation for a time. I didn’t tell him that my validation came with strings attached – that’s for sure.
I’ve always been a very shy person, and this has blinded me to the fact that other people can also struggle with shyness, including shyness with sexual matters. (I think my LO never spoke of his burgeoning relationship with his girlfriend due to this shyness/sexual shyness which is actually quite common in Australian men).
I’m not saying shyness was/is the issue with your LO. No, not at all. What I’m saying is, when we’re deep in the throes of limerence, we’re probably misjudging our LO’s level of emotional maturity and where they actually are in their lives relative to us. We want them to be on the same level, and sometimes they just aren’t. It sounds like you’ve been through a lot mentally. Kind thoughts. 😜
“I think it’s very common for limerents to feel a profound sense of humiliation when we discover a given LO doesn’t feel the same way, yet has seemingly encouraged attraction/romantic interest to grow on the part of the limerent.”
This is where I am at now. I kick myself a number of times throughout any given day, on all the time I have wasted on this person. Because it all seemed so positive at one time. I thought for sure I could at least be in LOs circle. Even if it was minimal. Now I just don’t want to believe it was all for nothing. And that is a very hard concept for me to grasp.
“Many LOs, conversely, have an immature style of relating to people, so aren’t immediately put off by the intensity. They bond with us intensely at the beginning, dismantle all our normal defences, and then withdraw/disappear when it’s convenient for them to do so.”
This statement rings dead-true for me. I often believe LO knows she is attractive. But that she uses it as her defense mechanism also. Because she picked up from my vibe, very early on. I could just tell. But she never seemed irritated. Her reactions seemed innocent, almost intrigued, but never needing to fully reciprocate. I just thought maybe she was shy. I’ll probably never know. What I do know was that in the presence of her, I was a deer in headlights. I rehearsed way too often what I would have liked to say, only to deliver straight silence, when I could have opened up. She totally and completely knocked the wind out of me, every time.
Now she works in another building, separated from me.
Tell me that wasn’t a great disappearing act.
Limerent Emeritus says
The self-loathing of limerence. I keep pinging DrL to do a blog on it.
It seems inevitable when coming out of an LE.
This song is an LwL standard: “I Hate Myself For Loving You” – Joan Jett (1988)
Great song choice LE.
I remember that one. Turning it up in the car now..
“Here is my question though, if pair bonding is a natural biological occurance, why does it happen with people when the barrier is there in the first place.’
I hate this. Why wasn’t I limerent for my wife? Why did this woman do this to me? I didnt ask for this. I dont want this. Limerence is leprosery. It’s parts of you falling off your body. You want to keep them. But she keeps steeling them.
” I hate this. Why wasn’t I limerent for my wife? Why did this woman do this to me? I didnt ask for this. I dont want this. Limerence is leprosery. It’s parts of you falling off your body. You want to keep them. But she keeps steeling them.
Think we’re in the same place today Adam.
I wasn’t limerent for my Wife either. Think its because LO is new. She is a mystery, she’s beautiful, she awakens something in you, you knew you always wanted in a person, but never had.. And she glimmers. Like a new car rolling off the assembly line. (Yes as an Auto guy, in an assembly plant, I totally see LO like that)
Like that hot new car I’d like to have, LO is one, most likely out of my price range. But one I know, would be so fun to drive.
Mj, I love that you live in Michigan and work in auto manufacturing. That makes my day! I hope I understood correctly.
Some of my immigrant ancestors lived in Dearborn and worked in brick manufacturing until they immigrated west to become farmers on their homestead. My alias, “Lovisa,” comes from one of my Michigan ancestors.
Thats cool Lovisa. Actually, it’s not Michigan. But I used to live in Michigan and now live close to Lake Michigan.
I live in Indiana and cross the border to work in Chicago.
Sorry for the misunderstanding..
Oh, my bad. Thanks for clarifying.