My last few posts have focussed on the issue of closure and how limerents can be bad at handling uncertainty. The principle cause of this difficulty is the deep, desperate ache to know whether or not your limerence is reciprocated. Ever since Tennov’s first articulation of the idea of limerence, she emphasised the central importance of craving reciprocation of feeling. The overwhelming need to have confirmation from LO that the connection that feels so special to you is also special to them. If only you could have confirmation that it feels special because of a mutual emotional bond that is extraordinary – then you would know your feelings were valid, had legitimacy, and potentially even excused your sometimes questionable behaviour and choices.
Once a limerent realises that they are in trouble and need to stop, this uncertainty becomes the big bit of unfinished business that vexes them – the loose thread that they can’t stop fiddling with. If only I knew, they think, then I could at least end this limerence experience satisfied. Wanting certainty becomes a major source of psychological resistance to taking positive action.
This situation is a kind flip from uncertainty about whether or not they are attracted to you, to uncertainty about whether or not you can get emotional closure as a theoretical “ending”. One of the beguiling things about uncertainty is that it is, to an extent, within your own control. You’ll never be able to control LO’s behaviour in such a way as to get them to solve the limerence problem for you, but you could in principle adopt a radical honesty approach, and end the uncertainty about reciprocation.
Under some circumstances, that is probably your best strategy. If you are single, and LO is single, and you could therefore embark on a romantic adventure in principle, ending the uncertainty through open disclosure is a good idea. It’s decisive, it’s purposeful, and although it comes with a bucketload of emotional risk, no one ever achieved anything worthwhile without being brave. You will be able to scratch the “If I only knew” itch directly. Of course, whether or not you get a straight answer will depend on your LO, but you will at least eliminate any ambiguity about the kind of relationship you want with them.
In other cases, disclosure is a bad idea. The limerent usually knows this, but is desperate to scratch the itch nonetheless. In fact, the inability to scratch the itch makes it even more insistent.
Under these conditions, the best plan is to accept the itch and see it as a trial you have brought upon yourself. Now that might seem like a rather masochistic or monkish answer. Deny yourself satisfaction. Embrace your suffering. Mortify the sins of the flesh. That’s not what I mean, though. I’m arguing this from an entirely pragmatic and self-serving perspective: you are trying to identify the optimal solution to the problem of limerence pain.
A major source of pain is the inability to scratch the itch of not knowing, and that feels like a barrier between you and freedom. You don’t want a future of “always wondering” or “what if”, and so you try to devise ways to get some certainty without risking too much. But there are massive risks in pushing for confirmation – to the other relationships in your life, to your professional reputation, and not least to your own integrity and moral compass. Bluntly, once you realise that something is wrong and harmful to you and your loved ones, you should stop doing it, and focus on fixing whatever damage has already been caused.
It’s tempting to try and get some last emotional closure by manoeuvering LO into admitting reciprocation, but the more purposeful solution is to get used to uncertainty.
The other purely pragmatic reason to resist the urge to force confirmation is that your techniques could go spectacularly wrong. Here are a few doomsday scenarios:
It may not work
You may do everything you can to get LO to admit that they had strong feelings for you. You could try disclosing your own feelings. You could ask them directly. You could even try an intricate and perfectly executed series of balletic manoeuvres that entrap them into revealing themselves.
Odds are, none of them will work. LOs can be just as adept at misdirection, manipulation and persuasion as you. They could even be much better. You could find yourself disclosing your own feelings and then realising you still don’t know for sure how they feel. There is a particular class of LOs out there who specialise in generating uncertainty – indeed if you follow the blog you’ll know that people who are very good at causing uncertainty are especially powerful LOs.
All that angling and desperation to get closure could just keep you more uncertain and addicted than ever.
LO may retaliate
An alternative scenario is that LO does not reciprocate, and even worse, does not want the drama of being forced into an open acknowledgment of your feelings for them. The consequence of your attempts to Know could therefore be a very negative reaction from LO. Maybe they make a complaint to your boss. Maybe they make a complaint to your spouse. Maybe they gossip to mutual friends or acquaintances and you become a laughingstock. Maybe they just make you feel ridiculous for thinking they might have reciprocated, or ridiculous for investing so much of your emotional energy into a relationship that had no equivalent meaning for them.
Whatever the outcome, it’s likely you will be left feeling it would have been so much more dignified to just walk away from the situation without attempting closure.
The timing may be wrong
A reality of limerence recovery is that regret, and the desire to escape, tends to come late in the process. You’ve worked your way through the phases of infatuation and euphoria and are now bogged down in the debilitating obsession phase. If you suspect that your LO was also limerent for you, and so the whole episode has been driven by mutual reinforcement, the blunt truth is that they will be going through the same phases themselves. That means your desire for confirmation (before quitting for good, of course) is going to come at a time when LO may themselves be exiting limerence. So, the point in time when they might have been inclined to disclose will have passed. They may be full of regret themselves. That means, that even if they did feel that special connection with you, it is now mostly a memory – and one which they will be motivated to rewrite or deny rather than confirm. That would be especially true if they are harbouring resentment towards you for leading them on with your own mixed signals.
Never forget in the case of mutual limerence that you are both limerent and LO and suffer the consequences of both.
There can be repercussions for your other relationships
Let’s say that the best-case scenario happens. You have a mature conversation with LO about The Situation, they confirm that you were right, that they feel the same for you as you do for them, and you both agree that you will go no contact to end the problem. What next?
Is there a risk that you will start to think about LO even more, now that you know they really like you too? Will knowing they are out there reachable by social media, text, or in person and knowing that you and they were mutually limerent make it more or less tempting to get in touch? Will your idle daydreams about running away with them become more or less powerful?
Are you likely to feel more strongly drawn to your spouse now that you know LO could offer a viable alternative relationship? Is your spouse likely to be happy that you and LO have disclosed mutual feeling and share that secret of your emotional connection?
I’ve talked before about the unintended consequences once you release your thoughts out into the world as words that cannot be taken back. It’s a level of intimacy with a third party that many would see as seriously threatening to a marriage.
It might work
OK, so obviously I have focussed on the negative. Let’s end by acknowledging the potential positives. It might work. Indeed, several commenters have previously discussed their own situations and admitted that they managed to confirm with their LO that there was something Real, and it was a source of relief to know it. They could look to the future feeling that they had relief from the niggle of always wondering. So, that can obviously be true for some people; it may be possible to settle things with LO in a way that also allows you to dodge all the negative or unintended consequences, at least in the short term.
As a last thought, though, I’m going to argue again for my alternative message. It’s better to learn to live with uncertainty. It’s better to build the resilience to cope with not knowing, to leave the limerence experience unspoken and internal, to walk away because it is the right thing for you and that LO does not need to be involved in that decision.
Ultimately, I suspect that it is better to be proud of yourself for showing discipline and letting go of the need for validation, than to be proud of yourself for succeeding in persuading LO into disclosure.
I think you absolutely nailed it again, DrL, with this very well written piece. I sign up to every single sentence you wrote. I hope this helps a few limerents to find a path towards their closure.
Dr. L: “LOs can be just as adept at misdirection, manipulation and persuasion as you. They could even be much better. You could find yourself disclosing your own feelings and then realising you still don’t know for sure how they feel. There is a particular class of LOs out there who specialise in generating uncertainty – indeed if you follow the blog you’ll know that people who are very good at causing uncertainty are especially powerful LOs.”
Don’t I know it.
LO one time told me about a previous job, several years ago, where she was the only girl working on a team with a bunch of guys, and she kept having co-workers disclose to her, and it was frustrating because all she wanted was to be friends with them.
When she told me this, I started, in pure limerence fashion, trying to figure out what she “really meant”. Was she trying to tell me that she detected hints of that situation in me? Should I back off? Was she trying to warn me not to embarass both of us? Or was she sharing that story with me because we have a special bond and we share emotional truths with one another? or was it just an amusing anecdote on topic for the conversation? or.. or.. or. etc.
You guys know what I’m talking about.
In retrospect, what I think LO was really telling me, indirectly and likely unintionally, is that she’s a serial LO. She is, intentionally or not, very good at igniting limerence in other people. I’m almost certain this is true now. Even in interactions with other people, she is very adept at creating uncertainty. Plain and simple, she’s a lot of fun to be around, and she’s flakey as hell. The combo is limerent cocaine.
I’ve come to believe that there IS a stronger-than-average bond between the two of us. The evidence is there in spades.
But it’s not the bond I thought it was. I’m pretty positive I should take her offhand comment about previous co-workers at face value. This is just what friendship looks like to her.
I think you’re right. I suspect there are a number of people like this – I assume non-limerents – who are a bit confused by the number of people that fall for them romantically. I guess there must be folks who seek and enjoy deep emotional connections to their friends, but don’t link this to becoming infatuated. Such people seem doomed to become LOs again and again.
They’re not doomed! They know what they’re doing.
That woman was humble-bragging. “Everyone fell in live with me. I couldn’t stop it!”
We all know when someone cares about us. We can encourage that feeling or we can shut it down.
There are men and women that dig that attention.
They enjoy having someone fawn all over them and have no intention of reciprocating. Or they enjoy having that person as a back-up.
It’s cruel. It’s wrong.
Exactly Beth. Peopler who know “it’s never going to happen” with a person and yet knowingly feed the attraction are horribly cruel.
When I get the feeling a guy is into me, and I know I am not interested, I tone things waaaaaay down. I am naturally friendly and affectionate and complimentary (sincerely) but I hold back so as not to encourage false hope.
I think this is what all decent people do.
Yes, I definitely think my LO is a serial LO as well. In other threads, I’ve described her as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She’s beautiful, smart, brazen and fun – even other women comment on how attractive she is. She has an older guy in every port (Paris, London, New York) who buys her things. Just casually, she said the other day: “Oh, I’m meeting my friend David tonight. He’s in love with me too.” (cruelly referencing my ill advised disclosure). She’s a serial LO for sure.
Sounds like it Fred. My LO also has the “manic pixie dream girl” vibe going on, with a good strong dash of “dork/nerd” (in all the right ways), and just the right mix of “strong, self-assured, opinionated woman” and “still needs/wants my help” as to be kryptonite to some of us limerents with “damsel” problems but who can’t abide cluelessness.
Come to think of it, so does my wife. LO and SO are actually a lot more similar than they are different. They’d probably be good friends if they knew each other and I wasn’t involved. As it is now, they have sort of an awkward friendly acquaintance thing when they’re in the same room together (which happens occasionally) where I’m positive that SO doesn’t 100% feel comfortable with LO (because we’ve discussed that) and I suspect the reverse is true about LO’s feelings toward SO given some comments she’s made in the past and watching body language, but I try not to speculate as to why because I try not to speculate anything about LO anymore if I can help it.
Anyway, off topic.
I reckon that some of my LO’s serial LO tendencies are unintentional, that the dork/nerd side of her includes social interaction dumbness where she is not understanding how some of her interactions, and the overall patterns, can be taken by guys. I accept her view that she honestly is surprised when guys are after her.
But, I also believe now that she very much wants that attention directed her way, and I do believe she seeks it out, both initially to get it, and to reinforce it if it starts to wane. It sounds to me like your LO (and as I’ve mentioned before, likely most people’s LOs) is doing the same thing. Perhaps even more intentionally than mine.
Based on your recountings elsewhere of interactions with your LO, I’m gonna tell you that even we’re only hearing your side of these stories I don’t believe for a second that you are imagining or misinterpreting her actions and your interactions. She is playing you like a fiddle, certainly to get attention from you, and hopefully not for more nefarious means, give your relative positions at work.
I’m not absolving you of your role in the interactions, but… given that she:
A. Knows how you feel
B. Claims not to feel the same (although this seems to vary)
C. Claims not to want a relationship
D. Is brazen about how many guys she has after her
I’m pretty sure she knows exactly what she’s doing. Whether or not she can help herself is another story, maybe she’s got some pretty serious compulsion/self-control issues, or self-esteem/attention issues, or what have you… but if so that is not your problem to solve man.
At any rate, and whatever her internal motivation is, your LO scares me. I’m glad I’m not in your place. Some of your stories are certainly of the “but for the grace of go I” variety.
“Sounds like it Fred. My LO also has the “manic pixie dream girl” vibe going on, with a good strong dash of “dork/nerd” (in all the right ways), and just the right mix of “strong, self-assured, opinionated woman” and “still needs/wants my help” as to be kryptonite to some of us limerents with “damsel” problems but who can’t abide cluelessness.”
“I have only ever become limerent for “damsels in distress”. Specifically, women who are bold and confident on the outside, but hiding an emotional wound within.” – DrL, https://livingwithlimerence.com/2017/03/15/the-best-cure-for-limerence/
We should create the “LOs-in-Distress Special Interest Group (LOIDSIG, I was going to call it the Damels-in-Distress SIG but that would be sexist). We can hold a Limerence Convention. Exhibitors/speakers would be therapists, divorce attorneys, financial planners, private investigators, self-help book authors, and tarot card readers/mediums.
For example, some session could be,
Session 1: “Limerent or Co-dependent? What’s the difference and why it matters!”
Session 2: “Considering Therapy? What you need to know about mental health and employment law.”
Session 3: “LOs in the workplace. What you need to know when the boss is a limerent.”
Session 4: “OPSEC (Operations Security) for Limerents – How to apply the 5 OPSEC steps to help manage your LE.”
Session 5: “Limerence , Metaphysics, & Psychology – Is your LO a Twin Flame or manifestation of your dysfunctional attachment style?”
Session 6: “LOs and Personality Disorders – This session touches on DSM-II/IV/V Personality Disorders and their potential relevance to limerence.”
Participants will be asked to complete a brief survey at the beginning of the conference. The survey will include such items as attachment style, MBTI profile, western and Chinese Zodiac sun signs and ascendants. Free online assessment tools will be available for participants. (Disclaimer: these assessments are not valid testing tools.) Results will be presented as part of the closing remarks.
DrL can chair it and buy the first round after. Heck, he should buy a keg.
😂 count me in!
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
You’re killing me Scharny!! 🤣🤣🤣
Jackson, I’m new on this site and I didn’t know the term “limerence” until this month, but I astonished how precise your description of my LO. You just nailed it:
> “strong, self-assured, opinionated woman” and “still needs/wants my help”
These qualities are so important for me. When I feel shy or lacking confidence, she takes control. But when I speak up she listens patiently. She can ask for help or can be vulnerable so I feel myself strong and important.
Another day I told her that she has a free spirit and people like she attract me. She said that free spirits attract everyone. And I see how true it is. I’m not the only one attracted to her.
I think serial LOs are people who true to themself. Who brave enough to live life fully as it unfolds. They are independent and real. They are closer to unconditional love. The love without attachment and dependency. This is so attractive. These qualities I want to feel in myself. And I enjoy this love, but have no capacity to accept it without trying to possess it. And as desire to possess grows the suffering comes. Because she is not mine, she is a free spirit. I still have hope that I can learn to love the same way. To be as close intimate friends.
Thanks, this was a great post Jackson. I have more updates about how she’s behaved lately with other C-level execs. Will post those separately.
So Fred, does your LO behave “overly friendly” with everyone or just with you? I was reading your posts and she sounds cray-cray. Mine at least is distant-friendly with other females but exceptionally chummy with me, I’d go so far as to say he has boundary issues with me. But then I wonder if I unconsciously encourage it because I am also naturally friendly. While I am touchy-sit-close to you friendly, my SO is verbally suggestive, often lacing conversations with heavy sexual innuendo, borderline inappropriate familiar. I tend to ignore him if he gets like that but wonder if he enjoys my discomfort.
Does your SO fall in that catagory or does she pull out all stops in being inappropriate? Just curious.
“people who are very good at causing uncertainty are especially powerful LOs”
I may have the male version of the serial LO described so well by Jackson and Fred! I remember talking about him with my friend and we were wondering, jokingly “how many girl’s hearts must he have broken, without him even noticing!!”. (She doesn’t know about me of course!). He’s the guy always surrounded by women, who are trying to impress him or just catch his attention, he’s very popular, constantly on his phone and running from one thing to another, he’s flirty, and then suddenly distant. I can’t even say I’m suffering from “if only I knew”… I know very well his usual targets are barely over 30, with nice curves and high heels. And I feel so old! I know very well that, even if maybe maybe he may have felt some attraction to me, I’m long time friend zoned since. It’s almost 4 years now and I’m still obsessed. It’s pathetic, but I’m still longing for the one smile, one hug, one compliment to make my day before falling back into despair.
Hi Emma, my LO is exactly like that too, except he is 60-ish and goes for married church ladies in their 50s and 60s. It’s astounding how they (OK, I admit it, we…) flock around him. Who knew that church could be such a hotbed of flirtation? Well, I guess my LO knew. Bring an unattached heterosexual male newcomer of a certain age into a church congregation and watch the feathers fly. The single women in their 50s and 60s are all over him as well, but he seems more interested in us married ladies. It would be humorous if it didn’t sting so sharply to recognize myself as only another hen in the flock.
At least the humiliation of writing it out this way has the healthy effect of diminishing LO’s magical aura in my eyes, because in this light it all appears so plainly ridiculous.
Check out this helpful essay on attractions of deprivation vs. attractions of inspiration:
….and this one on attractions of
“another hen in the flock” !!! Oh dear! You know what, it was my SO who said exactly that, when we returned from a work related party: “you girls behave like a flock of cackling hens around the rooster!”.
We aren’t all young women around him, but I notice his looks when there is a pretty young woman around! He can’t hide it, or at least, it’s obvious to me. That’s why I say I’m not in his target, I’m way too old for him. Anyway, it’s not even the question, I’m not for him because I’m married and I have a family life! Duh! 🤦
Emma, that’s hilarious that you and your SO also spotted the hens/rooster behavior — you’ve got me laughing through my tears!
Oh no, sounds an aging ‘babe magnet’. These guys have likely spent their entire lives attracting ‘chicks’ and believe they’re irresistible to women. It gives them their confidence, which makes them even more attractive.
Unfortunately, they won’t be faithful to anyone because they’re having so much fun juggling multiple women, and are always expecting the more perfect ’10’ to come along. These guys very often keep track of their ‘scores’, like baseball players their home runs. Mick Jagger’s score was apparently 4,000 a few years ago. A biographer alleged Warren Beatty scored 13,000 women. My advice is, do not degrade yourself by admiring a narcissist like this: firstly, he admires himself more than anyone else ever could; secondly, he’s only hanging around older women because he knows he can’t get the hot young chicks he’d much prefer, anymore. Thirdly, he’s hurt a lot of people, and is pathetic because he has no idea how to love or care for anyone, he’s too insecure.
Swatch, well-observed, and excellent advice. That helps! Thank you.
Excuse me, I mean Satch!
Darn auto-correct. 🙂
You had me @ lemerent cocaine
After re-reading, I wanted to elaborate on my personal attitude towards uncertainty regarding reciprocation.
Ive come to appreciate it as a shield from temptation. It’s a safety system. As much as I deeply want LO to reciprocate on an emotional level, I know on a logical level reciprocation would likely destabilize and destroy my life as I know it now. For all the reasons you list Dr. L.
As long as my emotional self admits that there is a decent chance that there aren’t reciprocal feelings (as my logical self is increasingly convinced of), it’s making it easier to slowly detach . The very uncertainty that inflamed limmerence also saves me from myself and any stupid decisions I might make.
Uncertainty, as much as it’s an itch I want so badly to scratch, saves me from causing and receiving heartbreak, either way.
Living with it, and moreover becoming accepting of it, is the right decision for me not just as personal growth, but also as personal preservation.
Or, to put it simply, I’d rather not test myself.
Uncertainty as safety or as a protective mechanism is interesting. That makes sense. It has saved me from ridiculous things too.
I can relate to that. The uncertainty means you still have that barrier in place, that proof that there is nothing more than hints and guesses between you and LO. You still own your own full truth within you.
Once again, this post resonates so deeply. It is so helpful to have someone articulate these concepts so clearly.
I know I should be able to walk away but it feels as though I am on the brink of something so real and deep and can’t take the chance to let go. In moments it feels as though there is total reciprocation and sometimes it even feels more intense for LO. There can never be complete disclosure given SOs, families, other obligations but there is enough to know. And yet, the moments are never enough and the craving returns.
That there is ‘something’ special is known but the uncertainty is more in relation to just how deep is it? What does it all mean? Is there a point to all of this? What is happening in times of retreat? And the all encompassing, am I worthy enough? The closure has to come from accepting that uncertainty (because true NC is not possible) and feeling sufficiently whole and secure (and living purposefully) in a manner that does not ache for more.
While complete disclosure would be wonderful, the risks are too great and that would be a betrayal to SO. The need for validation has to come from other places because to receive it from LO comes at the expense of SO. So the answer has to be self love and purposeful living. Because getting anything from LO will never be enough. There will always be uncertainty.
The framing of accepting uncertainty as a path of resilience and integrity as opposed to seeking the certainty or validation as the path of false comfort and weakness helps. Thank you again Dr. L.
That was how I felt too. I ached to disclose to LO – it was a major feature in my reveries.
Now that the limerence has passed, I am really glad that I didn’t. Not only does it mean that my wife is the only other person that knows the full story, but also if I meet LO again in the future it can be simply as professional colleagues.
Completely agree with Jackson. For me, uncertainty + risk aversion = keeping all of these limerent feelings inside of myself for fear of confronting a lack of reciprocation. But there is a big risk here, at least for me. In those moments when I have the strongest urge to disclose to LO, I switch from saying to myself that I don’t know if he has feelings for me to saying, “You KNOW he doesn’t have feelings for you.” And to convince myself that this is true, I run through a litany of reasons why I wouldn’t be deserving of that reciprocation, and after a while I am less feverish in my desire to disclose…but also incredibly down on myself. My go-to mantra in this exercise is to say, repeatedly, “You aren’t important. Your feelings are not important.” If I had a friend who told me she said this to herself frequently, I would be so concerned, but when it comes to myself, it’s the only way I can restore order in my heart when I feel myself going off the rails.
“Ultimately, I suspect that it is better to be proud of yourself for showing discipline and letting go of the need for validation…” I do think that there is valor in discipline, but I have to be careful to create space between discipline and self-effacement.
It make me sad on your behalf to hear you say this Esperanza, You’re making your LO’s decisions your fault.
That is, you’re convincing yourself that any lack of reciprocation on you LO’s part is due to your perceived unworthiness. Trust me, I understand, my wife has been dealing with similar issues all her life. I won’t insult you by trying to guess the source of yours, but it may be worth seeking professional help if that is an option available to you.
Something I realized, and internalized, somewhere in early adulthood, is that everybody is fucked up. Everybody has their own issues. Some people carry their issues on their sleeve, for everyone to see, some carry them deeply hidden where nobody can see, but they’re there. You can never know why some people make the decisions they make, because you don’t truly know what’s going on in their head, what their own issues are doing to frame that decision making. But, because you can and do know yourself and your own actions, it’s tempting to use your own actions as the cause of the effects you see in your life, even if those actions are the result of other’s decisions.
Long story short, “Everybody’s got something”. More often than not, what you did do or didn’t do is probably a much smaller part of somebody else’s life than you think.
That can be either lonely or empowering, depending on how you view it. Perhaps both.
Definitely both. But I like the idea of focusing on the empowering side of that. Thank you!
This sounds very similar to my own negative self-talk, Esperanza! I have tried to reverse it by thinking that “He doesn’t deserve me!”. Sounds difficult to convince myself of that, but it helps to counter the uncertainty. He may well have feelings for me, or not, I’ll never know for sure. But in any case he won’t have me because I am not available for him. It’s sad too, and hard to let go, but at least I’m trying to convince myself it’s not because I’m not worth it.
What a great idea, Emma – thank you. I’ll certainly give it a try.
That you can see this is cause for encouragement, Esperanza. I wouldn’t disparage anyone’s coping mechanisms, but the fact you know you would care for a friend better than you currently care for yourself shows that some part of you recognises that it isn’t healthy. I’m all for using whatever tools work to stabilise the limerence, but maybe digging into that part of yourself is a good next step for the purposeful living campaign!
Aren’t all of our contradictions so interesting? I agree: I know that this coping mechanism reveals something really (as you said) effed up in here, and I’ve been thinking about giving myself the gift of figuring that part of me out in 2020.
Deeply resonating with me here. Especially the stuff around serial LO. I think sometimes you get these very attractive people who give you the time of day just once and that’s all it takes. It is very painful to even acknowledge that. Whilst I can convince myself that we are both unavailable, reciprocation would lead to more destruction to my life than I could ever imagine, the fact that there was no reciprocation will linger for longer than the LE. People have affairs everyday and even the logical side of me would put money on her having one some day. However the fact it would never be with me is a the main scar I’ll be left with years after the LE has ended. It doesn’t even have to be an affair, how about just choosing to have a coffee with me, asking how I am over some other people in a group. Why am I last on the list? Clearly self esteem or lack of is certainly why I am at risk of LE. Perhaps it is the same for others one here.
Lee Anne says
The problem with ” needing to know” is it could potentially be a fast slippery slope to sliding into an affair.
I recently became so obsessed with “knowing” if my feelings were reciprocated that I became more and more brazen with my tests on LO , each time he passed “the test” I’d toss out another test, it was addictive. I am ashamed to admit how euphoric that made me feel and realised what a manipulative, selfish cow I was being. It was like watching two planets on a collision course of self- destruction and while my practical self could see it happening from above my Limerent self was wallowing in the power I felt. Things came to a head and LO withdrew suddenly for weeks, no contact, not even a visual that he was still around, I knew he was avoiding me and why. I felt angry and betrayed, the amount of times I relayed in my mind what I was going to say to him when I saw him again is embarrassing. Luckily there was NC for almost a month and by then the anger I felt had vanished and I had resigned myself to the fact that I may never see him again. He recently reappeared, albeit cautiously, I suspect his SO read him the riot act and told him to pull his head in. I’ve pretended that I didn’t notice his disappearance and acted like nothing’s wrong, mind you I won’t begin to explain how gut wrenchingly difficult it was to pretend that everything is normal while all I wanted to do was vomit into the nearest bucket.
I am glad I didn’t disclose, I don’t think I ever will as I am petrified he will disappear from my life forever and I will be the laughing stock in our friendship group. I am disappointed in myself for pushing this so hard, I feel guilty for making his SO feel uncomfortable, I am pissed at myself for chewing on this “thing” for more than 2 years, it’s such a waste of time and energy.
Hey Lee Anne, you are absolutely right with it being a slippery slope into an affair. What you describe is so similar to how it started with my LE. I was also obsessed with knowing, I googled signs that someone likes someone and as you say tested LO. Every time I pushed it a little further. He let me get further and further. He once told me he doesn’t realize when someone likes him, like he’d never even assume someone would be into him even if it was so obvious. I was once laying in his arms on his sofa and I told him, I know this is wrong, I shouldn’t be doing this. His answer: you’re not doing anything wrong. My thought: who are we kidding of course I am! He still didn’t get that I liked him, which is hard to believe.
Sarah, ha ha, I too googled “signs someone likes you” but on YouTube , my LO ticked every box and I watched for every sign like studying a bug under a microscope.
I think in hindsight my testing the boundaries so to speak was to see how far he’d let me push it, what could I get away with and let’s just say his boundaries are very, very elastic. Maybe I was waiting for a “stop, enough, you’ve gone too far” or a “you make me uncomfortable and I am just not that into you”. I kinda wish he had, it would’ve put a stop to this limbo hell a long, long time ago. I wish he had showed no interest when we first met, that he didn’t seek me out or engage if I walked past, or stopped giving me lingering looks. Then when it gets too much for him or his SO gets upset he pulls away only to re-engage weeks later, it all just fuels my LE.
In my case, I noticed that I was more interested in him, and started to back off a little (really just a tiny bit, like a bit of a delayed response) and he went crazy on me. He confronted me about it a few days later, saying he didn’t sleep at all, going through all our past messages to see where he offended me but he couldn’t figure it out. I thought, oh-oh, this is it, we have the mutual disclosure talk, so I told him I developed feelings for him and I felt like I needed to stop this now by backing off a bit. To my surprise he didn’t disclose, he said he only saw me as a friend, I am married after all, he never and would never see me as anything else. I said so why did he go all crazy on me with his text analysis all night long? He said he feels that everyone in his life is abandoning him at some point and he was scared this was it now, that I would abandon him now. It should have been the end of the LE right there and then, right after the glimmer that I noticed. I disclosed, he said he doesn’t feel the same way. Case closed… but no, wait! He kept on doing things that you wouldn’t do if there wasn’t a little bit of feelings there. An accidental touch, all the friggin favors, driving me home, spending time with me, buying me presents, all the texts about personal stuff… why would he do that? I think that really kickstarted it for me. What should have been the end became this obsessive quest to figure out if there is something there after all. My LO didn’t tick all the boxes, it was so confusing. Does he like me more or does he not? Why does he let me get closer if he told me he didn’t see me that way… I pushed the boundaries more and more, AND HE LET ME. He KNEW EXACTLY how I felt about him. I fully disclosed that! At some point I was wrapped around him half naked (in water, bikini) yet still he did not kiss me. He said he still didn’t get that that’s what I wanted at that time. Like duh?
I know how pathetic this makes me. I can’t wrap my head around how I became so obsessed with him, esp given all his “issues” that you can imagine he clearly has, just from my message here… how did I not just let it go?
Lee Anne says
Sarah, you can’t let go because he won’t let you, like my LO he keeps re-engaging which fuels our doubts and uncertainty. Your LO has also triggered your “protective mummy” instincts because he said he feels everyone’s abondoning him so that binds you even more to him. Does he have feelings for you, hell yes !! From where I am sitting he does, blind Freddy can see it, he’s also not very subtle in showing you, I’d love to know what he wants from you. Does he want you to leave your SO, would you? I won’t, I’ve got too much to lose as we both are married with children and I won’t destroy two families for a “roll in the hay” with him. But boy he’s tempting!
Why am I Limerent for my LO, he makes me feel valued, he listens (and I mean truly listens) to me, he treats me like an individual human not just a commodity to be used and he makes me feel attractive.
Lee Anne, yeah his fear of abandonment was definitely one of the reasons I didn’t go NC on him for a long time.
I don’t know what he truly wanted, he never said anything about having a future together or leaving SO, but he said he didn’t because I told him preemptively I wouldn’t leave SO for him anyway, even though I think that’s what my limerent fogged up brain wanted (I have dreamed up a live together with him). To recap, we had a PA, I broke it up like 4 times out of guilt and out of lack of perspective for it to go anywhere with LO. I think if he said anything, I would have been stupid enough to actually do it, but I needed him to say it. He didn’t, I’m glad. He moved on chasing after a new LO of his (a co-worker of ours). What hurt me most was seeing him pursuing her (same tactic: emotional personal intimate texting, giving her gifts, driving her home etc.) but denying he was interested in her as more than a friend (I’ve heard that one before). He then confessed 1,5months later that he was trying to be with her but swore when I confronted him he wasn’t interested in her at all (she was in a 10 year relationship that she ended, but then chose someone else over him, left him heartbroken, he came crying to me, telling me his full story with her in all details (I’ve seen conversations between them that I cannot forget), then she turned around and realized she shouldn’t have chosen the other guy but wanted my LO back, he asking me (!) what he should do… it was just so painful, I’ve had enough. That killed everything.
It was so damn painful and all of it so wrong at the same time (as in I am not even allowed to feel that pain, as it shouldn’t even exist).
For the longest time I’ve tried to figure out what it was about him that drew me to him and why things happened the way they did. I think I have my answers with regards to him, but the real question is: what is wrong with me? Why did I let it get that far? How did I get so obsessed with him? What made me do what I thought I’d never be capable off? I think it went south right at the beginning where I noticed the glimmer and backed off (then I realized it and wanted to stop it). That should have been the end. With everything after that, I wasn’t able to put a halt to it, I was gone, my limerent brain took over and I wasn’t able to snap out of it.
I have to do the hard work now and figure out what drove me to ensure it will never ever happen again.
Article of the Day: https://thoughtcatalog.com/rania-naim/2019/12/if-its-real-you-wont-have-to-force-it/
If it’s real, the question, “What do you want from me?” will never come into your head. That question only arises when you’re not happy with things. It’s a loaded question and one not to be asked lightly. However, it can be a great one for forcing the issue.
I asked it of LO #2 twice and never got a straight answer. I thought about asking LO 4 but I decided I didn’t like either end of her potential answers. I didn’t want to hear that she wanted to advance things (unlikely) or have her tell me “Nothing” (more likely). Either way, asking that question would have likely ended the acquaintance.
As for the LO, what’s his incentive to change? He’s got a routine down. He plays the “everybody takes off on me card” and gets laid, by multiple women. It works for him. If he’s lucky, he finds one or two that are hell-bent on proving him wrong. It’s like Fred’s MPDG. He knows who she is and willingly chooses to stay in the game. Denial can be really powerful. But, at some point, it usually comes to an end and you have to wrestle with why you’re still hanging around. That’s bargaining. But, what are you bargaining for?
“What do you want from me?” can be a proposition of sorts. It’s a more subtle version of “What are you offering me?” “What’s in this for me?” “Why should I hang around?”
If you’re far enough down the pipeline, it can be an ultimatum, “Give me a reason to stay.”
Well, I know LO is unhappy with pretty much everything in his life thinking if he only found “the one” to make him happy. He feels empty and alone, and thinks everyone has a better life than him. But truth is if you can’t be happy with yourself, you won’t find happiness with someone else. It will always fail because you put too much pressure on someone else to make you happy.
As for me? I don’t want LO anymore and wondering why I did in the first place. There are so many hints and signs that it would not have been good or ended well (even if there weren’t any barriers). I am done. Officially and fully (for now 😂).
@Scharnhorst: I just read your comment again and something clicked in my brain: I still keep on defending LO and make him to be this poor guy that just wants to be happy and keeps on getting stuck with the wrong woman (incl. me).
“As for the LO, what’s his incentive to change? He’s got a routine down. He plays the “everybody takes off on me card” and gets laid, by multiple women. It works for him.”
Reading this again, I just realized something on my LE’s timeline: he urged me to have that one day of closure (we actually called it closure day) one last “get together” and I complied. It wasn’t closure for me, it was the beginning of a very painful time witnessing LO pursuing his new LO (while thinking I might even have a chance with LO). But you know what? At closure day he has already started pursuing his new LO (I realized today I have evidence of that). Now that realization really blows, and makes me even more of a moron, I am starting to realize that more and more.
Miss Anon says
“Is there a risk that you will start to think about LO even more, now that you know they really like you too? Will knowing they are out there reachable by social media, text, or in person and knowing that you and they were mutually limerent make it more or less tempting to get in touch?”
Yes, yes and yes. This is where it all really became painful, before that point was just mild discomfort in comparison. There is such a thing as pandora’s box (or jar as it would have been) that must be closed again to keep any hope at all. But the pain that comes afterwards of imagining a direction not taken, the temptation and longing in a lethal combination with guilt, that turns into real daily suffering.. there are so many posts on this site that have resonated, and yet most days I still wake up and it feels like ‘lost love’… I wholeheartedly agree that it would have been better to live with uncertainty, and that somehow this is punishment for ‘talking about things’ too far with LO, even if it wasn’t physical.
I think uncertainty is inevitable in love relationships. The limerent focusses solely on whether their feelings are reciprocated, whereas the LO may be deeply uncertain about whether the relationship will work out. They may question whether they should encourage someone who has already become deeply attached. “If they’re this crazy about me now, how would he/she possibly cope if we got involved and then at some point I wanted to break up?” Or, another question is, “if this person is so in love with an ideal version of me, he/she’s going to be deeply disappointed and probably reject me once they discover I don’t match their fantasy”.
Once people enter into a relationship, there’s loads of uncertainty: am I making the right choice? What kind of person is this, can I trust them with my heart? Should I try to discuss this issue now and maybe turn them off, or let it slide and not get what I want? Will the person decide they don’t want this after all? Will they fall for someone else, or are they actually seeing someone else? Will one or other of us have to move away? What if there’s an unplanned pregnancy? Whenever one or the other person are in a bad mood, or have a bad day, or say or do something unexpected, the whole relationship can be thrown into doubt.
Perhaps dwelling on the unpleasant realities that are likely to arise, even if you get reciprocation, could help get out of the limerent mindset.
I wish I had found this site around 2 years ago. Maybe I would have been more self aware about how much I’m destroying myself because of an LE.
And also I wanted to leave this video here that I found very interesting. I a erson he really dislikes so called self help stuff, but this one gave me more understanding about how to not get stuck in negative emotions. Also one thing was very significant how the person here describes how, People get addicted to negative emotions because it gives them a rush..
Learn How To Control Your Mind by Joe Dispenza
Disclaimer, I just liked the beginning of the video when its described How we get stuck. The rest of it, how we get unstuck, was not for me lol. I don’t believe much in “Fell happy and you will create happiness”. Lol sorry, I wish I could erase my previous comment and this comment but there is no erase function here :/
I like that video a lot, and agree that the ‘think happy thoughts’ is too hard when you’re stuck in a negative cycle.
I did eventually, finally, after years of thinking about it, start doing meditation, and yes indeed, that freed me a lot.
But before that I would practice ‘pressing the stop button’, which I may have invented myself. Whenever I noticed the same old, same old thoughts start up, I would mentally say stop and hit an imaginary ‘off’ button, actually visualize doing that. Sometimes, during a walk, or doing housework, etc, I would have to hit the stop button dozens of times. But it did start to break that mental habit of dwelling on things.
I also stopped reading all my self help stuff for quite a long time. It had been important in understanding what was going on, but eventually it just encouraged me to continue to dwell on the painful past.
I needed to know, so I invited LO out for a drink, started caressing her hands and when the moment was right, I leaned over the little table and kissed her right on the lips. She kissed me back and so began a wonderful week of reciprocation and constant butterflies (not a full-blown PA though). Then, the following Monday, she declined any further dates or alone time, let alone kisses.
After two months of uncertainty, postponed or cancelled dates, she told me she’d met someone else. After a few more weeks of anguish, we did have “the talk”. Here I broke all the rules and confessed my feelings for her. She confirmed she felt a special attraction: both emotional and physical, but that it couldn’t be since I was married and her senior at work. She said I wasn’t realistic. And now she’d met someone else anyway. She confirmed she still cared deeply for me. Did this validation help my limerence in any way? It did not.
We have tried LC (we still have to work together), we’ve tried lunches as friends, we’ve tried avoiding each other, not answering text messages or even nodding hello. But twice since when she’s had a few drinks at an office party, we inevitably end up in an Uber together, my arms around her, our fingers intertwined and her telling me she cares about me but that my being in love with her is my problem and something I have deal with on my own.
Needless to say, this has left me reeling and in constant doubt. Much as I thought closure or validation would end the uncertainty, it really didn’t. As someone who’s received more reciprocation and closure than most people on this site, I can still tell you Dr. L is right. It’s never enough. It’s never certain anyway. And it certainly doesn’t help.
I hope you get past this and will one day be grateful she had the good sense to put a stop to the adultery. I think you might spend some time thinking about whether you want or don’t want to stay married. If not, do the right thing and get a divorce, be single and then start dating. Maybe your LO will still be free and have been promoted to a more equal position. Meanwhile, I hope she has found someone who she genuinely cares for, and not someone she’s just using to get past you. Those Uber rides would not go over real well with most new boyfriends.
Hello Satch and Fred and all,
Satch, you make a good point. My LE has gone on unresolved, with no EA or PA, for 18 months. I told my SO about it just over a year ago. I have never talked about it with LO. Meanwhile, it seems that the message my subconscious has been desperately sending to me through this LE — partly also as a consequence of losing the second of both parents this year, so the whole landscape of my life has shifted both consciously and unconsciously— is that my SO and I have grown apart and changed in different ways and we want different things. It isn’t only about romance and sexuality, though that’s part of it; it’s that I want to live a whole different lifestyle incompatible with being married. It isn’t a matter of devaluing or finding fault with SO: he’s a lovely person. He deserves a happy, fully committed, fully present partner, and I question whether I’m able to be that for him anymore.
The main point is, I feel like I’m doomed to live some sort of double life for as long as I stay married and I feel afraid that I can’t bear that.
I feel that my attraction to LO is only a placeholder, however maddening. If I get over LO, that place will soon be taken by somebody or something else. I cannot go on like this. So, yeah, I’m seriously contemplating divorce. Not to be with LO — I must assume that’ll never happen, because LO has his own life and his own reasons for being emotionally and sexually unavailable, regardless of my marital status — but to be truly with myself, know who I am, and love myself for who I am, perhaps for the first time.
The crazy thing about divorce is it is all about money. I think I don’t ever again want my emotional and sexual life to be bound up in merging my finances with those of another person.
So those are my thoughts. Another day of trying to live with integrity while being human.
Sending my love to all of you co-suffering limerents. Let’s keep taking care of each other.
Whatever transpires, I hope it eventually leads to happiness for everyone involved.
Thank you, Scharnhorst. That’s a good way to think of it.
Oh midlifer I’m so sorry to hear of your struggle I can tell your in emotional turmoil. I hope you figure out what it is. For me it’s a void that always needs filling. I’m curious as to what and why? First I needed a bf then a baby then another baby and then another and then there’s this huge void still which gets filled by an LO. I can’t carry on in life trying to fill a void. So some deep work is to be done. I can kind of relate to you midlifer. Stay strong like you said it’s LO there’s some soul searching that needs to be done.
Hey, thank you so much for your kindness and solidarity, Rachel. I’m sorry to hear of your pain and struggles too. I’ve been reading a good book, ‘Crazy Time’ by Abigail Trafford. It is mainly about the emotional turmoil of contemplating divorce and then actually going through separation and divorce and coming out the other side to recovery. So much of it is about ways that things can go off track in a marriage or other committed relationship that it’s also worth reading for people who are in a relationship even if they intend to stay in it. The intensity and range of the emotional experiences that people described in interviews for this book have some resonance with the emotional profile of limerence. We are not alone! Loving well and living well, including loving oneself well, just are hard things to do over time. Hang in.
Hey, Midlifer. I feel the same about my LE. It’s like a symptom of a deeper problem. Something wrong in my marriage. And during this year of LE I was thinking a lot about my relationships with my wife. It’s very hard to accept (and I still cannot) the idea that I do not love her and never loved and the whole marriage was a mistake and I deceived myself and her for 10 years. And yes, divorce is a financial project. But I can manage it if I have no doubts. Doubts is the hardest part. What if I’ll ruin our lives? I’m desperately looking for confidence. Whatever the answer is: stay together or separate. I’ll accept it. I just want to be certain.
Hello Dr L,
I have suffered for more than three years and only a few days ago I found your blog.
After always thinking that I was stuck in unrequited love, thanks to your blog
I now know what my issue is. My LO a friend and colleague who I helped and
supported for years as an older colleague, but recognizing
how attracted I was to her from the beginning I always tried to stealthily avoid her i.e.
by never visiting her office, never calling or texting even unsuccessfully tried to
initiate NC, which was almost always broken due to her initiating contact (whenever
she felt like it or needed help). This was a vicious cycle which I had no idea how to
break. This LO is a popular figure and has many friends, other men also seem
infatuated with her including her boss I think. After 3 years I again implemented NC, and kept making
excuses whenever she wanted to meet up. She ran into me one day
and asked for a meeting but I made an excuse and I think that kind of hit her that
something was wrong, anyway this was about 3 months ago, since than I have only
seen her once in a lift and we both said hi and I walked away as she was with a friend.
I am holding NC pretty well, and my resolve has strengthened after reading your articles.
But the thoughts of her are with me even more than before, I have no intention of contacting
her because whatever friendship I had with her is now over.
I am obviously at the ‘loneliness in limerence’ stage and feel really bad, although to
get better I have accepted that I will have to sacrifice the same work social group,
I am happy to do this as seeing her still sends my mind into complete meltdown and a
cyclone of thoughts, I am married by the way and the LO is single and
not interested. I feel guilty that despite trying to let her go smoothly for years I was
never able to until I had to sour the milk a little which is totally against my nature.
Dr L my question is why are the thoughts not leaving me and my life is still completely
affected despite her being out of it now.
FellowLim, I’m touched by your story and recognise so much of your experience. Six months into my limerence, I’m horrified to hear you’re still suffering three years later. My LO is at work so NC is out. Today, I offered to help her get a qualified job in New York as I know the founder/owner and she’s always talked about wanting to move there but her only response was “Are you trying to get rid of me?”
Like you, I’m also at the “loneliness in limerence” stage. I actually logged on to write how damn sad I feel all the time when I saw your post which really resonated with me. Seeing my LO also sends my mind into a meltdown and a cyclone of thoughts and – try as I might – I see her every (work) day. It’s excruciating. I don’t know how I’ll cope.
Another one feeling sad here Fred, for me today is the last day I will see LO before involuntary NC for 6 weeks kicks in (we are both going on our respective family holidays).
My stomach has been churning for the past 48 hrs as I don’t know what I will do with all this “free” time with NC, not sure how I will survive.
I am 2 years into my LE with three failed NC attempts and haven’t been able to de-tangled my thoughts from LO for more than 1 hr.
Thanks Fred, I appreciate the difficulty you’re going through. My LO still works in the same institution but we work on different floors, which makes maintaining NC very hard as I often feel on edge and try extra hard to avoid her. So just one brief running into in three months, but I’m afraid having worked in the company for much longer than her it is not possible for me to change jobs. NC has replaced the euphoric highs and depressing lows to loneliness, and crippling rumination. I think I need to plan something in order to make my life more purposeful but I feel I don’t have any energy and I am still day dreaming most of the day, I really hope this gets better soon, as this is taking me towards full blown depression.
Thanks for your kind replies, guys. Yeah, I was headed into a full-blown depression as well which is why I sought professional help. I see my therapist every two weeks (started off once a week). I’ve lost 25-30lbs of weight. People complement me on it and I say it’s “stress and depression”. That always get a laugh (and a cry a little inside).
Hi FellowLim, and welcome. Glad you found us!
It sounds like you are handling this really well. You’ve spotted the danger, spotted your vulnerability and are doing your best to limit contact as far as you can. Those are all excellent steps. In terms of the intrusive thoughts – they take time to fade, unfortunately. Your brain has come to associate your co-worker with limerent reward, and so is repeatedly prompting you to seek more of it. Contact is the best fix, but reverie is a close second, and so the thoughts intrude to try and spur you on. Unfortunately, our brains are very resistant to breaking this habit. It takes time to deprogram yourself, but there are tactics that can help accelerate it. There are some articles on the site on deprogramming, and more resources on the “resources” page (naturally, enough!), including an online emergency deprogramming course. Hopefully these can all help!
Best wishes and good luck,
Thank you DrL, this is a great site and I will definitely check all the resources while going through this excruciating nightmare. For 3 years I reluctantly tried LC, despite wanting to, never called or visited, txted her but I continued to suffer, 3 months ago I couldn’t take it anymore, after crying uncontrollably, I forcefully applied NC despite now believing LO probably thinks I’m a pretty lousy person and terrible friend to cut her off like this, but she does not know about my limerence and the pain and suffering I have gone through to end this connection, she will probably never know.
DrL I ask myself everyday, why am I like this. For years I saw her other guy friends hang out with her and that made me feel horrible as to why couldn’t I be like those guys, it makes me feel so frustrated, I am unable to come to terms with this, like a couple of days ago the entire work group was out for Xmas lunch, yet I couldn’t go because I didn’t want to break NC. Good thing is I never want to see or meet with her again as I can’t even imagine the aftermath feelings of such an event.
FellowLim, I can relate to the “crying uncontrollably”, that was me a few weeks ago after my LO decided to disappear for a month after 8 months of almost daily mutual “love bombing”.
I swear I lay on the couch in the foetal position for about two weeks straight and my poor SO thought someone had died or I was sick. Luckily I had other events going in my life so I blamed it on stress. So I too am in the “loneliness in limerence” stage, although it feels more like I am in “withdrawal stage”, I am mopping around, have a constant headache, no appetite, constantly rumination (although I’ve tried saying “block” or “get out” if I start thinking about him and it seems to help). The only time I get sweet reprieve is when I am asleep, it’s bliss.
I miss our talks the most, we have very similar likes and dislikes, hobbies/life style and sense of humour. I unofficially met him 3 years ago while parking my car, for a whole year all we did was make eye contact, smile and greet each other daily. He’s the SO of one of my social group friends but I didn’t know it at the time. We were formally introduced 2 years ago and when I shook his hand I felt an instant spark and connection with him.
We didn’t have a PA but borderline EA which reached its crescendo recently.
Like you I wonder why every female in my social group around him can behave normally while I stare at him with besotted calf like eyes, it makes me angry.
I wish I was immune to him and there are plenty of days I wish we never met.
Mrs A says
I never imagined the path to limerent closure is so thorny. After many months of hindsight, I am sure I had a mutual limerence situation. I am in need of moral support in a very difficult closure that currently involves a formal complaint. But it’s so hard that my thoughts are constantly turning back to former LO. To give my story some context, here is what I posted in April under ‘Loneliness of No Contact’:
‘‘It’s an unfortunate consequence of the circumstances that led to the limerence episode.’ I debated with myself whether it was a monstrous imposition, a personal vulnerability, an unfortunate consequence, or all of the above that led to mine. After 8 months of no contact, I had to be in touch with this person again because he was my mother’s doctor, and my mother had a medical emergency. What followed after breaking the no contact was so painful and confusing, I ended up filing a formal complaint about this doctor and also taking legal action. I believed he was entirely in the wrong in crossing professional boundary but I must admit I was vulnerable and had encouraged him. The situation worsened when it became clear he was grossly negligent in treating my mother. So I decided to stop but he wanted to continue this emotional entanglement. Long story short, I think I have done the right thing for my mother and myself by changing her doctor and taking the right protective measures, but I still suffer from the occasional feelings of loss, guilt, betrayal.’
This doctor has now denied any intention to pursue a romantic relationship with me, and denied ever having any interest in me beyond friendship and admiration. The truth is that he told me he was in love with me and persisted in his efforts. The painful thing now is that I have to respond to these denials and I am flooded with details and evidence from the whole past limerence episode. The fact that he denies everything – perhaps it is to be expected – brings additional new heartache. What’s more he put the responsibility on me and suggested I was pursuing him. I am torn between opening up my old feelings and let my limerent brain take over or standing up for myself, fight, and restate the truth. The right thing to do is to restate the truth but don’t know if it will indeed give me final peace that I am longing for…
Never underestimate the power of doing the right thing.
Mrs A says
Thank you Scharnhost for the moral support.
Well, just from reading your story I think if I was in his shoes I would deny everything too… if he admitted to it, wouldn’t it hurt his defence with regards to the formal complaint?
From what you are writing it seems that you are hurt by the fact that he denies pursuing you and that is hurtful to you (obviously). Do you think it was right of you to file the complaint? (Like is there grounds for it?) and does it matter to the complaint to prove that you were in a romantic entanglement? If you say no to both, I would rather focus on trying to heal from the LE and put it behind you.
Mrs A says
Yes Sarah, there is grounds for the complaint. It’s hurtful mainly because I trusted the doctor. I did not think he would reveal his amorous feelings to me and then insisted on them (even after I made it clear to him it’s inappropriate), knowing from the beginning I am married and that my mother was under his treatment. Not to mention he is decades older than me. I will never know if his medical negligence was indirectly linked to my refusal to talk to him for months when I went no contact. I am my mother’s (who is gravely ill) carer and I had been emotionally dependent on him to a great extent. It felt very much like an addiction and obsession. However the whole episode did somewhat distract me from the pain in accepting my mother’s terminal illness.
I am sorry this happened to you and it sounds like you have every reason to be mad at him. Are you afraid it will bring up any limerence in you again, like trigger that whole limerent addiction/obsession up in you again?
As said, if it helps/supports the complaint, go for it. Otherwise it might be better to put it to rest as insisting on setting the truth right will most likely not give you the hoped for closure.
Hi Mrs A
So sorry this is dragging on for you. I agree with other posters – your LO is just denying everything to try and save his professional skin. And also now trying to deny your reality (which has put you into a tailspin of doubt and uncertainty). It’s another example of his atrocious character. Decent people do not pursue the daughters of their patients (no matter how attractive they are). Decent people do not neglect their vulnerable patients FOR ANY REASON, let alone as spite because their daughters resist their “charms”. Decent people do not then deny, deny, deny and cause harm to others by lying repeatedly to protect themselves.
Restate the truth. Use your integrity to reveal his utter lack of it. It may not give you final peace, but a little more justice in the world is a good thing.
Mrs A says
Thank you DrL for your strong supportive words. As Sarah pointed out, I am wary of my lurking limerent brain, which is wreaking havoc by replaying every detail, like a movie, at this sensitive time. Even now I oscillate between feeling anger and affection for him. Maybe this is what they call trauma bonding. I have a couple of weeks to give my response and evidence to his dozen page-long denials and falsehoods. Fingers crossed I will at least find some peace knowing I have done the right thing by correcting lies. My regret is that I did fall for an atrocious character.
The inappropriate relationship with you is a difficult thing to prove unless you have written documentation from him. However, bringing it up before the board is a good thing. If he has a pattern of this sort of behavior being reported, he may eventually have to answer for it.
I hope you have your mother’s medical records so they can be reviewed. Carefully. If he is using methods or medications in a manner that are being phased out – he is probably not going to get censured. If he is using procedures that are now clearly counter-indicated from Best Practices, then he may have many questions to answer.
Too often, medical boards rally round their own. This is not an uncommon problem in many professions.
This is not my way of dissuading you, simply advising that you temper your hopes. YOU may not be able to get resolution for your situation. You MAY put things into motion that will make it harder for him to get away with this behavior in the future.
What he did was at the very least, morally wrong. Proving it legally or to the medical board is a very tough thing to do. Only you can decide if it is worth your time and effort. None of this should splash back on you as long as you don’t perjure yourself or commit libel/slander.
I am so sorry for your mother’s prognosis. I hope she is under the care of a much better physician now.
Try not to beat yourself up for falling for someone with poor character. You were in a VERY vulnerable position emotionally and he should know better than to start, encourage or continue any sort of relationship with someone in that circumstance. Whether the board recognizes it or not, what he did was scummy.
Mrs A says
Thank you Lee. I think the worst thing was for him to deny my reality and twist the facts in my complaints. I do have written documentation from him, and I am determined to tell the truth. To be honest, my main conflict is that I’m reluctant to reveal my role in encouraging him and unwittingly nurturing the mutual limerence for some time, only to end up blaming his behaviour and my vulnerability, even though these are also true.
My mother is under much better care. Thanks for asking.
I’ve re-read this post about 10 times now as I am having a pretty shitty day today.
Yesterday was my last contact with LO before the involuntary enforced 6 week NC due to mutual family holidays. LO is avoiding me, has been cool and distant this week since coming back from NC for 4 weeks (initiated by him not me). It’s like he’s a different person and I can’t say I am liking it very much. I oscillate between wanting to scream and strangle him to being relieved that this LE is finally in its last death throws.
This quote stuck out for me…….
“” It’s better to learn to live with uncertainty. It’s better to build the resilience to cope with not knowing, to leave the limerence experience unspoken and internal, to walk away because it is the right thing for you and that LO does not need to be involved in that decision.””
OMG it’s so hard, my practical side agrees with the above but my Limerent brain is twisting and turning this completely out of proportion. I won’t bore you with the amount of times I’ve replayed our last conversation in my head, I keep thinking I’ve said or done something wrong when I know I haven’t. I guess it’s his way of saying back off and re-establishing boundaries.
So if this is the right thing to do why the hell does it feel like utter shit? I’ve never felt so gutted in my life before 🙁
Lee-Anne, use his backing off and re-establishement of boundaries as fuel combined with your own determination and will power to take charge and implement NC, it’s very hard but I promise you it gets better with time and patience.
Argh I can really relate to how you’re feeling, Lee-Anne. I don’t enjoy thinking about how he might view me as silly, obsessive or whatever else, and it actually makes me feel sick, resentful and then annoyed at him. I guess I’m trying to use this to keep my dignity with NC and move on. It’s not easy but day by day.
Agree Holly, I’ve come to realise NC is the way to go, I just wish LO would stop taking my thoughts hostage. This constant obsessing over him is doing my head in. Not sure how NC would work once holidays are over as we move in the same social circles. I also find (and found in the past) the more I try to avoid him the more I tend to trip over him, and not “accidentally on purpose” but genuine “oh shit, we are at the same shops/restaurant etc at the same time” . This has happened so often now I wonder if the Cosmos has a cruel sense of humour, if she does, I am not laughing!
Wanted to drop a quick update.
I’m backsliding, hard. It’s all I can do to stay above water.
Last week LO asked me to sit with her at lunch. I’d turned her down three or four times before this, and already decided that while I certainly wouldn’t ask her, if she asked me again, I’d go, in the spirit of phased withdrawal LC.
Man she was sparkly as ever. I hadn’t spent any real time with her alone(aloneish, we were still at work) in over a month, but we fell immediately into our old cadence. One of the worst things about this LE is that I’m certain we’d be good friends if I wasn’t limerent obsessed with her. Hell, that’s (probably) all she thinks we are.
Anyway, lunch ends, we go back to work, and that’s that. But. Company Holiday party was this past weekend, and she starts texting me (I’d deleted her contact from my phone, but I knew it was her) telling me she was having trouble getting there, asking how things were going, asked me to grab a table before they were all taken, etc. she contacted me. Not any of the other dozens of people she knows who were there, me. Anyway, She finally shows up and my wife takes the first opportunity to drag me away, in search of other people we know. I don’t think there was much subtlety there.
I don’t see LO for the next hour and change, then I text her (ARGH, I broke a month and a half of not initiating contact) to ask we’re she was at. She answered almost immediately that she was in the dance floor. I told her that SO and I were going outside to get away from the noise. Then I put my phone away.
SO and I did indeed try to leave, but we met some friends as we were leaving, stopped for a moment to chat, and while we’re there, I spot LO at the edge of the dance floor on her phone (yes, texting me back to say she’d meet us, although I didn’t read it until later) I didn’t say a thing, but my wife spotted her a moment later, and dragged me over, told LO what we were doing, and dragged her with us outside.
I told you these two have an odd relationship.
We hung out a bit with mutual friends, and that was that.
Come Monday, LO stops right at my desk in her way in, and tells me and my team an anecdote from her weekend. She talks to everyone, but she’s standing in front of my desk. I swear every day this week she’s come into my room, sometimes multiple times, and sometimes without any actual reason. She makes a beeline for me. Every time.
My “why is she doing this” thought process is going apeshit, and it’s taking everything I’ve got to keep it quiet.
I’ve twice walked into her room, obstensibly to talk to not just her but other friends in that room, but I’m not fooling any of you, nor myself. That’s another longstanding no-initiation streak I just broke. Sigh.
I’ve almost proactively texted her several times. It’s taking all the willpower I have.
I have so much respect for people who have kicked alcohol and drug addiction. This is so hard. The worst part is it gets you when you aren’t even expecting it.
Jackson, I swear our respective LO’s feel us withdraw and then quickly scramble to reel us back in. I’ve done this dance so many times and each time I think “ha, and now the end is near, and so I face the final curtain” (isn’t that a song?) only to have LO go back to showing lots of interest which starts the whole downward spiral yet again.
I once went NC for 6-7 weeks, was patting myself on the back on how well I’d done when the little shit of an LO drove past while I was walking on my daily walk. He stopped, reversed, wound down the window and struck up a jovial conversation, and bang I was hooked again. We were back to seeing each other almost daily, sigh……..
I guess in your case you are going to have to be rude to be rid of your LO, she’s clearly not getting the message you want to be left alone, it sucks.
Just like Jackson I was stuck in the same limerence limbo. After 3 years of constant suffering, reanalysing every chat and having imaginary conversations, all I did was refused to meet up a couple of times. In the past 3 months of NC I saw her once coming into the lift with a friend, we said “hi” and than I didn’t even look at her, on the way out of the lift I said “see you guys” and that was it, apparently great news for me she took an offence to this and stopped everything with me, have not seen her since despite working in the same building. I just found out she also did something petty and asked her boss who shares office with me and organises events, not to invite me to the Xmas lunch, which I was really happy about as now I can safely say no to any event involving her in the future.
Although I feel sad about losing a friend and colleague and I still ruminate a lot, and if I follow the thoughts, they still spiral out of control, I also feel like a huge burden has been lifted from my shoulders, so yes a slightly rude or negative event can help to reverse things, despite that being against your nature. It’s either your LO leaves you thinking you are being rude and obnoxious or you save your sanity and mental well being, which would you chose.
Song of the Day: “My Way” – Frank Sinatra (1969)
The last real date I had with LO #2 was seeing Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Dean Martin at the Seattle Coliseum on March 16, 1988. I don’t think Frank did “My Way.”
Scharnhorst, that’s so cool.
It was a phenomenal concert. Sammy Davis, Jr. stole the show.
That concert came up a few years later. I had met my wife 2-3 weeks earlier. She knew I was taking LO #2 to the concert. After we were married, she told me that it really bothered her that I didn’t take her instead. I told my wife that I’d asked LO #2 to go before I met her and my wife had broken one date in those 2 weeks and would go on to break one more. I told my wife I didn’t have any confidence she would go through with it. At that point, I wasn’t going to un-invite LO #2 for her.
It would be the last time I chose LO #2 over my wife.
I found the ticket a few years ago. I had this vision of my wife going through my stuff after I’m gone and finding it. If she didn’t know the history, I’d have kept it but she does. I might have gotten a few bucks on eBay but it was easier to just shred it.
Thank you , that made my day Scharnhorst 🙂
Lee-Anne: “I guess in your case you are going to have to be rude to be rid of your LO, she’s clearly not getting the message you want to be left alone, it sucks.”
What if my problem is I don’t want to be left alone?
I mean I do… But also I don’t. It’s a mindfuck when your brain is at war with itself.
I know, intellectually, logically, that I would be much better off if I never saw her again, If she quit or moved. I know I would be better off if she didn’t ask me to lunch, if she didn’t drop by my desk to gab about inconsequential stuff, if she didn’t text me to answer technical questions or help her out… But I desperately want them. For example, I’ll sit there watching the clock from about 11am as we approach lunchtime, wondering “is she going to ask? is she going to ask? is she going to ask?” knowing the whole while that I’m better off if she doesn’t, but desperately wanting her to. I can’t help wanting the attention.
When she doesn’t do those things, I have to invest a ton of my emotional energy into keeping myself from spiraling into “why not? what happened? is it over? did I ruin it?” whirlpools. Those day, It’s exhausting just keeping up the appearance of a normal human being.
For context: I’m a fairly average-looking-dude I suppose, not bad for middle age really. I often get told I don’t look my age, or get asked if I color my beard, etc. As big an introvert as I am, I’m generally pretty gregarious, friendly, and fun, at least in short doses. I like to please people. For whatever reason though, I’ve never been particularly good at garnering romantic attention from women. Or perhaps I’m oblivious and didn’t realize women were interested in me and then they gave up because I was oblivious. Either way, doesn’t matter, because I’ve been married for the better part of my adult life to my best friend, who made it abundantly clear she was interested in me, no games or mixed signals, and I didn’t need (nor want) to attract anybody else.
I can’t figure out what’s changed in my marriage or my life. Nothing has changed really, nothing I can put my finger on. I don’t get it. Honestly, no bullshit, thanks to this LE I appreciate my wife even more than ever and now try to show her affection more often. But over the past year, LO showing me more-than-a-normal-coworker attention (as inconsistent, uncertain, and mixed-signals as it has been) has kicked off an internal micro-ego-boost thirst that I didn’t even realize I had until it got fed. When she doesn’t deliver that attention, my emotions go nuts. When I pull back and she reaches out, emotions go nuts again.
I really sometimes wonder why I can’t just be friends with her like a “normal person”. LO and I really could/would be good friends, given time. If I’m honest, I could do with more good friends. The fact that I’ve botched this one, one of the most promising ones I’ve had in years, is just one more notch on Limerence’s “fuck you Jackson” tally.
Jackson, there is probably nothing more wrong with you than with anyone. We are all a little to a lot messed up. What changed in your life was that you became prey to a glimmering limerent object, and interestingly you fit the general profile….introvert, not a game-player, people pleaser, middle aged and reasonably attractive, and a decent person.
So, these serial LO’s come waltzing along and they can smell such folk as you (and most of the rest of us here) and they get us in their cross-hairs (even if its subconscious) and they GO FOR IT. It’s a very fun game for them, a bit of a turn on, and a giant ego boost, to see if such a nice and decent and reasonably attractive person and become besotted with them. REALLY besotted. And one limerent is not enough! They collect them wherever they go…and they become addicted to our besottedness and are not decent enough to let us go and heal our hearts (and in the case of marrieds, heal their marriage). Those kind of folk and our kind of folk CANNOT BE FRIENDS. It’s truly impossible for our mental health.
Whilst LO’s can have lovely qualities, (we are all complex, aren’t we?), it’s best not to think of those lovely qualities, instead think how we are used by them, in their employ if you will, to satisfy a selfish desire of theirs. They don’t really care that much about us, or they would let us go.
It’s not our job to feed their ego, in fact it’s a toxic symbiotic arrangement we have allowed ourselves to get into. And it’s our job to get out of it. If you cut off the blood supply the tumor will die. And it needs to, not matter how sentimental we may be about it. Again, don’t be too hard on yourself, but also don’t fool yourself either. You’re being used and it’s unhealthy and unfair.
Jackson, I think we might be related, twins even because I am the female version of you after reading your post! I swear I just said yep/tick about 5 times (I stopped counting after you )
“”What if my problem is I don’t want to be left alone?”” Well welcome to the club buddy, that’s my issue too. Like you I like the attention, fuck that, I crave it and it’s driving me mental. I’Ve never so much as looked sideways at another man until LO came into my life. The only difference is I do know what’s changed, for me personally it’s creeping closer to 50 year by year. It’s seeking validation I am still attractive like I used to be. My sex life is shit, well non existent is probably more honest as SO is 10 yrs older and things don’t function quite like they used to. It’s sets off uncertainty in me as a wife, does he not get turned on by me anymore? Am I not pretty/young/interesting enough anymore? What if he finds someone else who’s better? I’ve talked to SO ad-nauseam about this, even partially disclosed so he’s well aware of my LO but I don’t think he’s realised the gravity of our marital problems. I in turn feel disconnected from SO and I don’t give affection anymore (SO does) I don’t initiate sex because what’s the use it’s not going anywhere and it’s like a merry-go-round and we are currently at an impasse.
LO however showers me with attention, he’s 10 years younger than SO, handsome (so is my SO) and generally a fun/light hearted person to be around. I like how LO makes me feel but I don’t like how I make myself feel when the limerence kicks in. I have a very analytical, OCD mind, I can extrapolate information right down to its molecules, a scientist would be proud, but I am also an empath/co-dependant/people pleaser by nature which sucks.
I think Jadeux summoned it up pretty well, our LO’s can see us coming and thrive on our attention. I know mine does, I can almost see him stretch and purr when I stroke his ego (and I am a champion ego stroker) but it has to stop, I know it does. Just having a hard time letting go of my glimmery toy.
Jaideux, I do not disagree with you. I’m pretty sure that my LO is, consciously or subconsciously, seeking out the attention. I just don’t know how I can, in all fairness, judge LO negatively for that when I want the attention too? I mean, I guess I sorta can, considering I judge myself negatively for it. And that’s the crux really, this is about judging myself now. I accept that humans are messy, myself definitely included, I just thought I was made of stronger stuff than this. Whatever anybody else did, I can and would plot my own course. While I try to remain open-minded and open to future possibilities, I have always thought that when it came to my own personal moral code, honor, and lines-I-will-not-cross… I was stronger than temptation. So far I have been, no major lines have been crossed, but that may because I haven’t truly been tempted yet. Honestly that thought scares me.
Lee-Anne, I feel you sister. “I like how LO makes me feel but I don’t like how I make myself feel when the limerence kicks in.” 110%. I’ve never not been fully in control before, and even though I know, from reading this site, chemically and psychologically what’s going on, it still feels wrong. Like I’m failing. I know that a year ago I would have (And did) judge others harshly for behavior and emotions I’m now going through myself. It’s opened my eyes, but I still feel like I myself should be stronger than that. I expect better from myself.
on a side note, If you feel your marriage still has a future, re-invest in date nights and time together. Remember why you fell in love originally, and moreover why you choose to stay in love. “Love isn’t a feeling, it’s a choice” has never rung truer to me than it has in the depths of this current LE. I choose SO, every day, and have been doing so for years. And I don’t regret it one bit. We’re going through some very tough times right now, to be sure, but it’s not our relationship that’s causing the toughness. I hope you can find a similar thread to tug on in your own relationship. LOs, as sparkly as they may be, are virtually always a hologram. a trick of the light. I recognize how silly it sounds for me to say this while complaining a few posts up about how sparkly my own is, but thus is life, no?
Also, bluntly, if your SO hasn’t looked into it yet, modern pharmaceuticals work wonders for ED, and you can get generic versions now.
Jackson, I definitely want my marriage to work, I still love my SO very much and find him attractive. That’s why this LE with LO makes me feel doubly shitty, I am betraying my best friend, the person I made vows to. I too haven’t crossed physical boundaries with my LO, but the fact that I am even slightly tempted by him is pissing me off big time. I never thought I’d be “that person” and could never understand why people would cheat. What a condescending, judgmental cow I am, maybe this is my punishment.
SO has had medical treatment in July and does use medication to help with ED, the problem is he feels no need or desire for sex. To put it basically, he’s not in the mood, so while medication helps him perform he just can’t get into it which means we both don’t enjoy it. This from a partner who could never get enough. I did notice a slow decline after he turned 50 and it’s just gotten worse over the past two years. He also told me the more I want to do it the less he’s able as he feels under pressure to perform. Quite a vicious cycle really and his Dr says it’s more psychological rather than physical. The problem is men don’t talk about it, actually nobody does so I can’t compare. My regular social group have the same aged SO’s or older but I can’t exactly say over an iced Cinnamon almond milk Macchiato “Oi, quick question ladies , anyone else notice a decline in their sex life? What gives peeps?”, that would probably cause a spontaneous coughing fit in my group.
I do agree with you, I need to re-invest in date nights and time together, you’ve clearly mentioned the obvious but it didn’t really hit my radar till I saw it typed up by you above. Well duh Lee-Anne. That’s why I really like this website, it’s a great support network and I feel a little less batshit crazy.
Jackson, When I first met my latest LO, I had heard about the good work she does on a professional level prior to actually shaking her hand . I thought she was cute and she seemed to have this friendly charm which made EVERYONE feel at ease around her, including me(surprise). After a few weeks of working together one day she just spurted out; “they really like you around here!”. That was it I was validated like never before ( at least in a very long time) and that’s when I think it crystallized. This cute, vivacious, smart, well respected gal just gave moi the ego boost of my life; I don’t think that had happened before. I do know that since my earliest memories I only ever received the exact opposite of that.
Jackson- Exactly the same LE here. And I mean exactly: middle aged, introvert, oblivious to other girls’ attraction to me (until now), happily married for most (actually all) of my adult life, appreciating/showing affection to SO even more now (honestly our sex life is the best it has ever been), the micro-ego boost thing and the totally shattered self esteem when things don’t go right with LO etc etc.
Have you disclosed to LO?
From experience, I can tell you I did and it did not help things. She admitted attraction to me and even a crush. But it will eventually go back to the torture it is now. Trust me.
And I also analyze why LO does some of the things she does. Especially after disclosure. I think: “why would she continue to put herself in situations around me and ask me things that she could ask a dozen other people if she isn’t interested in me or want something more, and knowing full well how I feel about her?” Someone on this blog, Sarah, commented recently on this issue and it made so much sense to me. Although it may be helpful to some to just label LO as selfish and narcissistic (and I know some of them are), the answer (for my LO anyway, I think) is she is human. She may struggle with self esteem, and the attention she gets from you helps her in that regard. If she doesn’t understand limerence, then she naturally won’t understand the agony it causes you. She is an imperfect person, just like you are. You are not just a notch on her belt. I wish I had grasped this before I disclosed. We may could still have been friends. But after that, it will never be the same. We are still friendly with each other, but that is always there in the background and I’m afraid it has permanently affected our friendship.
Article of the Day (reprint): https://thoughtcatalog.com/christopher-lai/2015/12/can-a-man-and-a-woman-really-have-a-platonic-relationship/
“The truth is, they may never do anything physical in life. They may never cross the line. But a relationship can never be truly platonic if you have to set up boundaries. A relationship can never be truly platonic if you have to adjust your feelings. A relationship can never truly be platonic if you have to pretend that you are happy with the way things really are…when deep down—you want something more… If there is absolutely no physical attraction between a male and female, then, I would say, it is possible that they can truly share a platonic relationship. But once a man is attracted to a woman; or the woman is attracted to the man; or both are attracted to each other—the relationship cannot and will never be platonic.
You can, however, pretend that it is platonic. And for some people, this is good enough.”
But, some of us can’t pull off pretending.
Jackson – you could be describing me, my life and my current challenge. I’ll write more later as SO is in bed next to me as I type this, but your post really struck a chord and I’ve been thinking about it since I read it. “What if my problem is I don’t want to be left alone? I mean I do… But also I don’t.”
Scharnhorst, I like that article, as it’s a topic that I’ve considered personally many times, but it’s missing something. It doesn’t seem to have a clear opinion on whether it thinks that a “non-platonic, but pretending as such” relationship is a good idea or not. I suppose that will depend on the individual, but I’m pretty sure I personally stand on the side of “it’s not only fine, it’s the default”.
I’ve been “pretending-it’s-platonic” with more female friends and acquaintances throughout my life than not. In fact, I’d say probably the majority of them, because my lizard brain is wired to say “ooh, I’d bang that” when considering somebody I find physically and/or intellectually attractive, regardless of what the social ramifications are. I don’t think that’s unnatural, nor do I think it’s uncommon.
In fact, while I only have a direct sample size of one, myself, I’d be willing to bet that almost everybody has a number of people in their life that, if they’re honest, they’re attracted to and would seriously consider some flavor of intimacy with, if all potential consequences (including guilt) were somehow magically off the table. I think it’s just part of the human condition. We play any number of games with each other all the time on this subject. rate that man/woman on a scale of 1-10, Marry/Fuck/Kill, WhoWouldYouDo, who is your celebrity crush, etc.
The key point is that that lizard brain isn’t in charge. My executive brain calls the shots, and lizard brain is relegated to ignored noise. If it’s lucky, maybe it grabs control enough for the occasional safe glance at cleavage or ass.
We all wear some sort of mask. People who have no filter and are completely honest about their feelings in interactions with others get locked up in mental hospitals. Society dictates that we both control our actions, and respect one another as fellow humans. Moreover that’s the moral, honorable, decent way to act. But stuff behind the mask is still there… and I don’t believe that any unresolved physical or emotional attraction between two people will necessarily prevent true friendships, or is even inherently bad.
Women and Men do think differently, for whatever reason. Be it societal, hormonal, experiential, differences in brain matter connections, or some combination of all of these, I would never want to deny myself potentially rewarding friendships and relationships with members of the opposite sex just because I might also theoretically want to spend a steamy night with them, and will never be able to.
That’s a reality I came to terms with back in middle school. It just took me another 5 or 10 years to figure out how to actually talk to women like people.
All that said, I feel like a limerent episode may be a special case, needing to be handled differently than normal, simply because it is so hard to control.
Just brilliant. Unfortunately, all easier said than done. But there is something to be said for keeping a pragmatic mindset when struggling with the need for closure and handling uncertainty in a LE.
On another note, I was watching the film the Holiday recently and although I’d seen it a dozen times before, I saw limerence in the story of Iris for the first time, probably because I had never known or experienced limerence until about 9 months ago. This quote from her:
“I understand feeling as small and as insignificant as humanly possible. And how it can actually ache in places you didn’t know you had inside you. And it doesn’t matter how many new haircuts you get, or gyms you join, or how many glasses of chardonnay you drink with your girlfriends… you still go to bed every night going over every detail and wonder what you did wrong or how you could have misunderstood. And how in the hell for that brief moment you could think that you were that happy. And sometimes you can even convince yourself that he’ll see the light and show up at your door. And after all that, however long all that may be, you’ll go somewhere new. And you’ll meet people who make you feel worthwhile again. And little pieces of your soul will finally come back. And all that fuzzy stuff, those years of your life that you wasted, that will eventually begin to fade.”
Iris could be a regular contributor to this blog!
B, I recognised limerence in the movies “Four weddings and a funeral” and “Love actually”, the latter movie in particular was riddled with LE’s and also very sad.
An interesting quote by Dr L caught my eye via a link Scharnhorst posted recently about celebrity LO vs real life LO…….
“””There obviously is a gap between an obsessive crush on a stranger, and full-blown addiction to a LO. Maybe proto-limerence is an indicator that we have the kind of brains that are prone to limerence, but it’s a sort of “searching” stage, as though we are scanning for suitable LOs in the environment? Once we finally meet a potential LO, then the glimmer-reciprocation-uncertainty cycle kicks in and moves us from crush to limerence. So, crushes are a sign that we are primed for limerence…?”””
In my case my LE with a celebrity LO started with a song I heard at a time when I was feeling emotionally vulnerable and quite depressed. The song sparked a glimmer and soon I was listening and watching every song/movie/interview on YouTube my celeb LO was in. There was no push/pull uncertainty involved in my LE, just vivid rumination/day dreams consisting of rescue or sexually explicit fantasies which made me happy. The LE did not impact me negatively other than spending a shit load of my free time on YouTube.
My LE with my current real life LO is quite different, my rumination mainly consists of replaying past conversations/meet ups over and over again kind of like a film reel that has gotten stuck, rewind-play-rewind-play……….. intermittently I’d vary the dialogue with what I could’ve said and what the response from LO might’ve been. Two or three times I’ve been “lucky” enough to have a past conversation revisited in real life with LO and I’ve added my revised dialogue and the response from LO was better than what I had anticipated on all occasions. I was euphoric, it sent me on a Limerent high for days. Of course I’ve also fantasised about LO sexually but usually my brain is occupied with “what is he doing”, “I wonder where he is” or “I wonder if he likes me”. The last one probably occupies my mind about 80% of the time and is the most exhausting, I spend a lot of time dissecting conversations for clues that he finds me attractive. On the days I get attention I walk on air and have a permanent smile on my face, but on the odd occasion where he’s been a bit cold or seemingly disinterested I am an emotional mess. I don’t quite know what I’d do if one day he puts his hand on my knee and said, I like you, I find you attractive, I wonder if that would end my LE as it’s now no longer a challenge?
Anyway back to Dr L’s quote above, I actually caught myself scanning for potential LO’s the other day. I was on my walk and saw a man who was washing his car, I’ve seen him a few times before and we always smile at eachother if we catch each other’s eye. This time I stopped and initiated verbal contact, he responded with a cheeky comment and friendly smile. Well I felt a glimmer, needless to say I bade a hasty goodbye and almost ran down the street like the devil was on my heels. I recognised instantly I had to watch this one, might even change my walking route!
So I am wondering if I am walking around like a basset hound sniffing out tasty steaks and inadvertently sending out “available” signals to all and sundry………….that’s a worry!!
Thank you for all your insightful posts. I will share with you something I’ve talked about with my therapist. My husband has been uninterested in sex and romance for several years, whereas my interest has been higher than ever (it has always been high, but — middle age! Surprise! It’s like being a teenager X 10). My 18-month unconsummated LE has been a huge sign and symptom that something’s got to give. My therapist has helped me to see that, at a profound emotional level, I’m experiencing my husband’s lack of interest as rejection and an assertion that I’m existentially ‘not good enough’, even though he doesn’t intend that. It’s my responsibility to counter that message and do the hard work of showing myself that I am ‘good enough’, independently of external validation even from my husband. But, at some point I’ll need to decide whether I want to stay in a relationship that burdens me continually with the work of combating the negative message expressed (however unintentionally) by my nearest and dearest, day in, day out. I think my LE is my subconscious mind’s valiant effort to get my attention and show me how badly I’m hurting. Maybe I can make any given LE or similar obsession go away, but essentially nothing will change until i address the primary source of the pain that drove me to limerence in the first place. Grim. But true and real. That’s my story; yours may be different. I just wonder if therapy could help you work out what your own story is.
Midlifer, yup same issue here except we had a better than fantastic sex life. Our libidos were in sinc for most of our married lives until SO turned 50, it’s been a steady decline from there and the last two years he’s had to seek medical treatment. This past year has been the worst, I am almost a born again virgin. I know why I am Limerent but I just don’t know how to fix it 🙁
This is what I wrote on a previous post:
SO is 10 yrs older and things don’t function quite like they used to. It’s sets off uncertainty in me as a wife, does he not get turned on by me anymore? Am I not pretty/young/interesting enough anymore? What if he finds someone else who’s better? I’ve talked to SO ad-nauseam about this, even partially disclosed so he’s well aware of my LO but I don’t think he’s realised the gravity of our marital problems. I in turn feel disconnected from SO and I don’t give affection anymore (SO does) I don’t initiate sex because what’s the use it’s not going anywhere and it’s like a merry-go-round and we are currently at an impasse.
It’s sucks because I love my SO very much, adore my family and I dont want to trawl for LO’s validation.
Oh , and forgot to add Midlifer, like your SO my SO has become disinterested in sex. Even though he can use medication to help him function he’s told me his biggest issue is “he’s not in the mood” . So while we can do it technically, him not really wanting to kinda ruins the whole process.
Urge, what a painful situation, Lee-Anne, I’m so sorry you’re going through this!
Lee-Anne, I meant Urgh!
As in Ouch, Ugh, Aargh…Darn auto-correct.
And limerence is like a floodlight putting that into stark relief, eh? I think we none of us realise how even benign neglect of intimacy can undermine a relationship, until the shock of limerence forces us to see it. That comfortable affection is not sufficient for most people, wonderful as it is, but can be good enough to keep a status quo going that feels OK. Right up until you realise how powerful romantic craving is and how long it is since you felt it yourself, or were the object of it from someone else.
Yes, Dr L, yes, that’s it *exactly*.
But the romantic craving is an illusion, isn’t it? A short term drug.
Does anybody still feel crazy romance for their partner years down the line? Maybe I’m off base, but I was under the impression that the “comfortable affection” is what all long-term relationships stabilize on eventually.
It isn’t that I (nor, I guess, other women in my situation) want to retain the crazy short-term limerent thrills in our marriage. What I need and will need til my dying day is a real erotic life and real erotic connection. Being companionable roommates with shared finances does not a marriage make (unless both partners are positively delighted to have a sexless marriage). For me, the sexless roommate thing is a living death, whereas my husband seems fine with it. Erotic passion *can* go on for decades if both partners stay interested. But when one partner loses interest and the other retains it, that’s big trouble for the partner left stranded. We grasp at limerence as a consoling substitute, however shallow, for the deep erotic connection our partner has withdrawn from us. I simply want my sexual interest and desire reciprocated by my husband (which is part of the understanding of traditional marriage: if you’re asking someone to be monogamous for life, it’s mission-critical to make love and keep the fires burning because they have no other outlet). When that’s not happening and seems unlikely to ever happen again, the grief is unbearable and it will eventually come out in limerence for others (or affairs, which i won’t do). BTW I’ve thought about opening the relationship, but it’s not the deal we made to start with, and I understand why my husband doesn’t want that, nor do I: if I can’t have a real sexual life within marriage, I’m starting to realize, I’d rather divorce and be single and be free to have lovers and romantic friendships to my heart’s content.
I share all this because I appreciate the support on this site, and hearing about my experience might be of help to others. Husbands, love your wife! Don’t do a sexual disappearing act. If ED is a problem, use your mind, other parts of your body, and toys. As Forster wrote, ‘Only connect.’ Try to care. Read ‘Becoming Cliterate’, it is a great resource on female sexuality. The possibilities are limitless if only you really care and want to share passion with your partner.
Well snap Midlifer, I think you articulated exactly what I was thinking. I too don’t want a platonic roommate and that’s the way SO and I are heading. It makes me sad, because I love talking and sharing with SO, I find him attractive and want to sleep with him (not necessarily full intercourse), we have a beautiful family and beautiful home but he needs to make an effort in the bedroom or this will kill our marriage. I am trying to work on this by talking to him and showing what I want, but it takes two to make this work.
Jackson, no I don’t think anyone would still feel crazy romance for their partner years down the line, I certainly don’t. But I also didn’t expect intimacy to become almost non existent in my marriage, it’s really come as a shock. I also think it depends on what you’d define as “comfortable affection”, for me it means holding hands, getting a kiss when SO comes home from work or him just touching me and that’s not enough for me. I know the days of tearing each others clothes off and having wild sex on the dining table moments are over, I am realistic. Right now I’d be happy if he’d initiate any type of intimacy and just follow through, in the meantime I am having “wild sex” in my head.
He’s turning into a sloth and it’s frustrating, while I’ve turned into a LO magnet.
Oh and BTW, this is not an attack on you Jackson, I love reading your posts and feedback and find it comforting that I can come in here and share my experiences with everyone.
So hopefully I am not coming across snarky 😉
I’m sad to read about your struggles with your SO, it touches me very much as I believe I’m at the same stage now in my marriage. Our struggles are different though. I’m the one not being in the mood for sex most of the time and I feel very guilty about it, I know my SO is suffering. Thing is, my unanswered needs are all about emotional connection. I need to feel valued, appreciated, trusted. I need intimacy and affection outside the bedroom. We spend so much time arguing that I don’t feel close enough anymore.
“The way we left it at the end of that was, our therapist said it was possible my husband would never change and it would be up to me decide whether I am OK with that or want to end the marriage.” Does this mean your SO is not unhappy about the situation?
“it’s that I want to live a whole different lifestyle incompatible with being married. It isn’t a matter of devaluing or finding fault with SO: he’s a lovely person.”
My SO is lovely too and again, I’m feeling so guilty of not being able to love him like he deserves. I don’t think the life I want is incompatible with being married, but perhaps with his idea of our marriage. I’m in the middle of a big midlife crisis, I see us getting old and I don’t want us to become like our parents! Not that there’s anything wrong with them, but their lifestyle is not what I want.
All this to say that limerence is not a surprise in my life either! It’s a mental escape from an uncomfortable situation.
Sorry, I meant to post this comment lower in the thread. Apologies for double posting.
Sorry I meant to post this comment lower in the thread. Apologies for double posting.
It’s interesting, in a way heartening even, to see how many of you guys pinpoint unfulfilling sex lives in ltrs as a key factor in sparking limerence. My last major LE came largely as a result of that and when I felt the current one brewing (7 years later with little improved in the bedroom despite couples sex counselling) I ended my 18 year relationship promptly before I did anything that could be interpreted as cheating. And interestingly I even spent a good chunk of time discussing my sex life relationship woes with LO, which was one of the things we seemed to bon over, and which she seemed fascinated by.
I still regret ending my relationship over what turned out to be a weekend-long romance, but equally I have to remind myself that 13 years is a long time to go without a regular intimacy while in a relationship.
@Jasper Thanks for your comment, that’s eye-opening. I hope the LO didn’t encourage you to divorce by being emotionally intimate, that would be deeply treacherous of her. I guess you maybe have to see that the LO was not, herself, the better life you were looking for, but simply a wake up call to go out and try to find it.
Speaking as a never-married person, I always knew that what I was hungering for wouldn’t come in the form of a man (I didn’t want children), even when I was in the grip of LE. During LE, what I actually wanted was to possess inside myself whatever I saw or felt with the LO. I found a lot about this by reading Jung and Jungian authors, especially the concepts of anima/animus.
But my biggest experience of LE, when I got caught in a cycle of being lured in and then held at a distance, broke my heart so deeply that I discovered my real problem, which was that neither of my (divorced) parents had actually loved me. It was shattering to finally face it, even though I always somehow knew. They were unable to love each other, or their children, or themselves. They were too selfish and offered only conditional’ love: “if you appear to be perfect and allow me to maintain my illusion of perfection to the rest of the world, then I will love you, but you aren’t perfect enough, so I won’t”.
It’s a cliche, but I think it’s absolutely true that you cannot be truly happy, or love others, until you love yourself. But that doesn’t mean thinking you’re hot stuff, that’s just narcissism. The natural place to start is by feeling your own pain, and having compassion for yourself. “This really hurts, I’m really suffering”. It doesn’t matter if the pain is from the past, or over a LO, or over a failed marriage, or over guilt that you left your SO, the important thing is to allow yourself to feel the pain, and yet stand a little aside and watch it, and understand how deep it really is. Not to run away or distract yourself, but fully experience it in your whole body and have compassion for yourself. People are afraid they’ll never recover, but you can release it only by feeling it.
I feel for you, Lee-Anne, thank you for sharing. It’s a challenging situation to say the least.
And, yes, Jackson, no attack intended from me either — just continuing the dialogue trying to explain my point of view; I highly value your posts and views as well. 🙂
Thanks for the appreciation guys, I too very much value coming here for brainstorming, reassurance, commiseration, and so on.
I think I may have explained poorly? By “Comfortable Affection” I didn’t mean sexless/loveless/passionless cohabitation. I meant simply that the days of obsessive thoughts of SO (pleasant or not), urges to slip out of sight at parties or gatherings to make out/more, huge oblivious-to-surrounding PDA, etc are all gone. The point where you’re comfortable with somebody.
The point where you no longer say “hey, let’s get busy in the backseat of the car because we can’t wait until we get home” and replace it with “look, the bed is just more comfortable. we’ll be home soon”.
I understand that we as humans crave that crazy fire and spark of fresh desire (myself included, I’m certainly here with you guys) in a relationship, but that it’s not a realistic expectation for a marriage/relationship that’s decade(s) old. At least not most of them. You settle into a long term co-habitation with some, but fewer, sexy-time encounters, but also some, but fewer, arguements. etc.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe people do still have those relationships 10, 15, 20, 30 years on… but I’ve never met anybody like that. Only ever seen it in the movies.
I think Midlifer nailed it for me – it’s the erotic component to the relationship that’s important. No, it’s not possible to keep a crazy fire going for decades (unless you both dedicate your life to that goal, I guess), but there has to be a sexual centre to the marriage. It’s like a way to know your libidos can be satisfied within the partnership, and I also strongly suspect that it’s a kind of inoculation against having otherwise frustrated desire burst out as limerence for someone else.
I also agree that I wouldn’t want an open marriage if my wife suddenly went off sex. I want affectional bonding and sexual connection with one other person.
I get you Jackson. I was 9/10 years into marriage and 39/40 years old when this hit me. I have thought a lot about the conditions that allowed for the LE, and this relationship comfort you talk about it is certainly a key part of it. That comes a couple of years into marriage typically, so I think there are a few more elements, at least in my case. The big FOUR ZERO played a part, also I think comfort in other areas; career, house, cars, kids at school and no longer babies.
All those things that are big markers on the journey of life ticked off, and maybe it was a case of now what? After striving for all of those things, I had the mental capacity for the first time in years to allow something else in (unwittingly). All the while combined with the possibility that as you get older, you get wiser, more powerful in your profession and therefore more attractive to the opposite sex and so opportunity begins to present itself in the form of younger LOs that you interact with. Possibly for the first time in your life if you’re an introvert like many of us are.
A heady cocktail of factors…
Yeah, ditto Vincent and Jackson. “…as you get older, you get wiser, more powerful in your profession and therefore more attractive to the opposite sex and so opportunity begins to present itself in the form of younger LOs that you interact with.” Exactly.
And Midlifer and Lee-Anne, I’m right there with you too. The situation you describe with your husbands is where I’m at with my wife (who’s 2 years older). She’s never been particularly interested in sex but now she could definitely go without for the rest of her life. I can still get her going but, increasingly, I’m finding it demeaning to be the one who initiates every single time. I’m 43, tall and (now) thin, broad shouldered, I do martial arts and am not a bad looking guy. The attention (and initial reciprocation) I got from LO (and get in a non-adulterous way from other female friends and colleagues) mean I don’t think I’m not attractive enough for my wife anymore.
What Dr. L wrote above really resonates: “none of us realise how even benign neglect of intimacy can undermine a relationship”. With the attention I got from LO, I now know (again) the thrills and highs of romantic craving and what it feels like to be wanted. That’s what’s keeping the limerence alive.
Fred, Vincent, my favorite quote on that subject is summed up as: “Youth is wasted on the young”. It’s true in so many ways.
If 16 year old me, or hell even 26 year old me, had even half the personal confidence I have now, and knew what I knew now about relationships, interpersonal interactions, other people’s internal motivations, body language and nonverbal communication, and just plain recognizing when somebody does or does not like you, I really wonder where I’d be in life and what experiences I’d have had when it comes to things like business, social networks, and romance.
Not that I’m unhappy or complaining with where I am now, really I’ve done pretty well for myself, all things considered, but you know. The “what if” game.
Fred, I’m so sorry that you are in a similar situation, with your spouse, to the situation that Lee-Anne and I are in with our respective spouses. It can be so debilitating.
My husband and I did couples counseling about this issue. The way we left it at the end of that was, our therapist said it was possible my husband would never change and it would be up to me decide whether I am OK with that or want to end the marriage. At least it is out in the open, and my husband and I can consider what we want for each of ourselves and for our life together and which losses in staying together may be harder to bear than the losses inherent in divorce. Once in a while, sex happens and it’s good, but, yeah, it wearies me always to be the initiator and to know that if I didn’t do so, there might never be action at all, and he’d be fine with that. So, do I want to be single and start over at age 54? Maybe. At least I could go do what I want.
Interestingly, my single, recently divorced LO is emotionally and sexually unavailable for his own reasons and doesn’t want to be in a real relationship, which is why he came after me, an obviously unavailable (though, it seems, giving off an unconscious signal of being deprived and needy) married person. I’m ‘safe’ for my LO, but my LO sure as hell is not safe for me. So I suspect that, were I to become single, he’d lose interest in me! So my aspirational vision of single life cannot include getting together with LO. But what my limerence experience shows me is that I carry within me the potential to find tremendous fulfillment with *someone* who can match my passion for life in general and, specifically, is alive and flourishing below the waist. The road of divorce and recovery from divorce is a long one to follow before I can get there. But it is an option. At least I feel more clear about that, and it gives me hope.
Ok, Midlifer, it’s time to play a game.
Kick back and clear your mind. Where do you see yourself in a year? 3 years, 5 years? What vision comes into your head? Do you see yourself with your SO? Your LO? A vague figure you can’t identify? Nobody? Are you making Xmas dinner for family and friends or are you spending Xmas on a beach drinking Pina Colladas? Does the vision fill you with excitement? Regret? Nothing at all? Nature abhors a vacuum. Empty your mind and sooner or later, something will come along to fill it.
If you assume you’ll live to 90 and the last decade can be kind of Meh… that gives you 26 years to 80. That’s over a quarter of a century. You can cram a lot of living into that amount of time.
Thank you, Scharnhorst, I will make time to play that game on my Christmas break!
@midlifer Sorry, but I have to say the prospects for an exciting ‘sex and flings’ life at age 54 aren’t good for women. It’s a very different situation for men, who can and will pursue much younger women. An age 54 woman on the prowl like a man is labelled a cougar’ and that’s not a compliment, it’s a term of ridicule. And whether or not you’re looking for another marriage, the single men you meet will assume you are, and often be cagey, wary, and sometimes deceitful, to avoid what they assume is the ‘trap’ you’re setting. The lack of real, true connection with strange men, the games, the assumptions, will often wear down a woman’s self-esteem, not boost it. I speak as a 60 year old who does attract men, and with many, many fabulous single women friends.
If you want to get divorced and are over 40 (unless you’re Jennifer Aniston or something) , IMO it must be because you want and are prepared to be single for the rest of your life, and not because you expect to find a better, funner relationship/sex life.
Hey, Satch, thank you for the reality check. I had suspected as much. It’s a shame, isn’t it.
I’m sad to read about your struggles with your SO, it touches me very much as I believe I’m at the same stage now in my marriage. Our struggles are different though. I’m the one not being in the mood for sex most of the time and I feel very guilty about it, I know my SO is suffering. Thing is, my unanswered needs are all about emotional connection. I need to feel valued, appreciated, trusted. I need intimacy and affection outside the bedroom. We spend so much time arguing that I don’t feel close enough anymore.
“The way we left it at the end of that was, our therapist said it was possible my husband would never change and it would be up to me decide whether I am OK with that or want to end the marriage.” Does this mean your SO is not unhappy about the situation?
“it’s that I want to live a whole different lifestyle incompatible with being married. It isn’t a matter of devaluing or finding fault with SO: he’s a lovely person.”
My SO is lovely too and again, I’m feeling so guilty of not being able to love him like he deserves. I don’t think the life I want is incompatible with being married, but perhaps with his idea of our marriage. I’m in the middle of a big midlife crisis, I see us getting old and I don’t want us to become like our parents! Not that there’s anything wrong with them, but their lifestyle is not what I want.
All this to say that limerence is not a surprise in my life either! It’s a mental escape from an uncomfortable situation.
Many thanks, Emma.
So sorry about your struggles as well!
Being able to share our stories in a supportive community helps a bit.
Oh, and Emma, to answer your question, my SO isn’t happy with our situation either, but generally still finds it tolerable, whereas I find it very difficult to tolerate. I feel a sense of urgency about it that he does not feel. I think it is in the nature of the asymmetry of feeling.
Midlifer, “”I feel a sense of urgency about it that he does not feel.””
Same here and that’s what I find the most frustrating, but in my case I still have something to salvage with SO and I intend to do so before it’s too late. I’ve become very vocal lately and SO seems to be waking up, but it’s taken almost a cattle prod to do so.
Emma, I am also in the middle of a midlife crises, or Pre-menopause, or some weird voo-doo shit.
As for my LO, I read this but can’t remember who posted it “”I just seem to crave their attention and affection.”” Yes and hell yes.
@Satch, thank you for responding. I wasn’t married, but engaged, and so as good as. No, LO didn’t encourage me to end my relationship. The emotional intimacy from her came later after I got to know her better. But occasionally she liked to do slightly dubious things like initiate fairly heavy flirting, then shame me when I responded in kind. Sex was her fave conversation topic, but then again I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one of mine, and especially with her.
Anyway I don’t want to demonise her. She’s basically a good person, with some baggage and issues, like most of the best people. We all like to be liked after all, and flirting’s mostly a harmless way of making someone of the opposite gender feel good about themselves.
I like the idea of a wake up call. It’s difficult because I have my ex in my life a lot, 6 months on, by choice. We message each other most days and so far we’ve managed to maintain a fairly good friendship. She is such a thoroughly kind and lovely person that when my brief romance with LO broke down and I was in a real state, she let me call her in the middle of the night and comforted me.
She told me it was a very brave and vulnerable thing to do, to travel to a foreign country to meet someone for the first time… for a date. (Yep, I actually did that. Crazy right?) That’s how lovely she is, and that’s the person I have discarded. Who stood by me after my last LE, which I shamefully did act out on. 🙁
I have probably already lost LO from my life forever. I am struggling enough with that. I cannot possibly countenance cutting the ties with my ex. One void is enough for now.
I must get around to reading some Jung. The Anima things seems to come up a lot re limerence. Still yet to read the Tennov book all the way thru.
Parental upbringing. Yes I realised in recent years that I had a fairly abusive / traumatic childhood. Still not sure how much digging into that I want to do yet. Can relate to much of what you said there. I also think it’s no coincidence that I fell limerent a few months after my dad died and I was forced to spend more time than I’d like with my distant mother and volatile brother.
I am very far indeed from self love, well at least the kind you mean… ;). The best I can do, on a good day, is a bit of self acceptance, which counselling is helping me with, although it feels like a band aid. I feel better on the day of my session and then it just evaporates…
I suppose the only way out is thru, as they say…
Thank you again for such a nice, considered comment. I read all the posts on this thoroughly excellent blog which has helped me a tonne this year, though I rarely comment. I’m immensely grateful for the wonderful community of sensitive, like-minded people here who do comment.
Fingers crossed we all make great progress in the year ahead.
“”With the attention I got from LO, I now know (again) the thrills and highs of romantic craving and what it feels like to be wanted. That’s what’s keeping the limerence alive”””
Same for me Fred, that and the seemingly “lack of interest” I get from SO. It’s not a lack of trying, like you I lost a lot of weight, dress well and look fit (I am 4 years older than you) heck I even own about half of the Victoria secret store. I am just tired of prodding SO to life, I want him to notice ME, I want him to want ME.
Jackson, I spat my tea on my iPad when I read your post “”my lizard brain is wired to say “ooh, I’d bang that””” ha ha ha snort, still laughing at that line. It’s true, even for women if I am totally honest, so you can add me to your sample size. I am friends with men who I find physically/intellectually attractive but my lizard brain output has only ever been white noise, I acknowledge the thought impulse then ignore it and continue my platonic/pretend platonic friendship. That was till LO came along, lizard brain took control and it took me by surprise what a monumental effort it took to resist temptation. I’ve never had trouble resisting temptations before so why now, but then I guess I’ve never been vulnerable before till now.
Lee-Anne: “I’ve never had trouble resisting temptations before so why now, but then I guess I’ve never been vulnerable before till now.”
Working on this one myself. Something’s changed. I don’t think it’s just me. Seems like more than a few of us at/around the middle age area are in a similar situation. Some of us seem to have a good handle on why, others are still looking.
I think it may be a combination of factors. Lots of good brainstorming in here. I am intrigued by Vincent’s suggestion that “After striving for all of those things, I had the mental capacity for the first time in years to allow something else in (unwittingly). All the while combined with the possibility that as you get older, you get wiser, more powerful in your profession and therefore more attractive to the opposite sex and so opportunity begins to present itself”. I hadn’t really considered either of those before. I’ll think on it. I can’t help it really. Thinking’s what I do.
I get what you mean Jackson, I too am chewing over Vincent’s post.
With maturity comes confidence and possibly we are more approachable to people. I guess we also know what we want in life, have travelled a fair bit, possibly own our own business/high ranking position in a company and probably don’t give a toss what others think. I know I’ve been told on several occasions that I come across as interesting, easy to talk to and confident and that it’s very attractive. Blows my mind, I’ve never been known as interesting or confident. In stark contrast my 18 year old even 25 year old self barely could speak before blushing beet red, I was good at sculking around the parameter of parties before blending into the background 🙂
My LO once told me I had balls, not sure if that’s a compliment or insult 😮
I am in the same boat. It was never ever the question if I could resist temptation, I’ve had enough opportunities but never wanted or felt the need to do anything (for 2,5 years my husband and I lived on different continents – pre kids, unmarried) what changed? Why now? How was I not strong enough and did what I thought I would never even be capable of doing? How did I throw away my own moral views?
I haven’t found my answers yet, but I do think LO had his role in that (not because he pushed me or anything, but because his lack of boundaries and his own mental issues that enabled me). But what is it about me that is different now than how I used to be? How was I not strong enough to resist temptation?
“”But what is it about me that is different now than how I used to be? How was I not strong enough to resist temptation?””
When you know the answer Sarah let me know, have been pondering this one for more than two years 🤷🏼♀️
That is *the* question. For me I think it’s the piling on of circumstances in midlife, worsened by secular conditions and compounded by neglect of self-care: taken together, it all made me shockingly vulnerable. Yesterday I made the following list.
And mind you, I’m a temperamentally exuberant person.
Prior sources of debilitation
2. Bereavement (lost 2nd of two parents this year, dedicated much of the last 4 years to assisting the parent who died this year, coped with decade-long estrangement overlapping with that.
3. Career pressure
4. Increasing responsibility for two disabled siblings
5. Climate/earth grief
6. Democracy grief
That’s a very comprehensive list Midlifer, I’ve done the same as I am a prolific list writer. I dare say no 2 would’ve sucked the very life out of you. I am sorry it’s been so rough for you.
For me it’s :
1) Marriage – lack of physical contact in the bedroom as discussed previously and being treated like a commodity, or to be rude, like I am some blow-up doll with no wants and feelings. Not being listened to and taken for granted.
2) Eldest child who has chronic anxiety finishing school and spreading wings (caused a massive upheaval in our life). This nearly split us up as a couple due to different parenting styles.
3) Low self esteem – feeling fat, old and unattractive to put it plainly, feeling invisible and unworthy.
4) Re-entering workforce which took a lot longer than expected and being told I didn’t get the job(s) due to my skills being out of date/not current. It made me feel devalued, useless and old.
Yikes, it’s different when written down!
I think marriage was a big one for me as well. I felt invisible for SO, to the point he wouldn’t even say hi when I came home, or go to bed without saying goodnight, leaving without saying bye. Lack of participation with kids, did not want to hear any of my “little” insignificant problems, like a child being sick or repeatedly crying when dropping him off at playgroup. I adjusted and tried to live my own life. He didn’t care where I was, why I came home late etc. never even asked where I was. I started a phd program for myself and complete disinterest from his side, even some dislike about it, telling me I can only work on it when the kids are sleeping. I told him other husbands would be proud of their wives. He kept on saying he only wants to hear things “8 or higher”, anything else he doesn’t care. I don’t know what happened to him then, what made him so frustrated and unhappy. The job? Maybe he even had an affair? Who knows… I adjusted to his behavior, met LO and LO filled that position perfectly. He followed up about the kids, how they are, went through strategies for dropping them off with me, what I could do, asked if it worked, was interested in my courses, gave me presents, showed me affection and care. I can see how I was lured in. Yet, I still should have been stronger.
Dear Lee-Anne and Sarah,
Thank you for sympathizing and for sharing your stories. As ever, my heart goes out to you. Taking written inventory of the heavy loads we are each carrying may help each of us to open our hearts to ourselves, as if we were comforting a best friend. One thing I’ve learned from my Limerence experience is the importance of self-compassion.
New poster here. Quick question: if you knew you were about to embark upon another LO situation, how would change the course?
I’m slowly drifting towards someone I feel is already triggering me to repeat limerent behaviors, i.e. obsessive thoughts, oversharing – except- I haven’t fallen, yet.
Do I quickly reverse course and go NC? Fortunately we do not work together or would ever really run into each other. I’m trying to be much more mindful this time and most definitely wanting to fall back down the limerence home again.
I say this as a lifelong limerent hoping I could actually ‘cure’ myself of this condition.
* limerent hole
If you can without much trouble, yeah, go NC! Out of sight, out of mind. Better change course now than later!
It’s awesome you realize it and are able to take counter-measures!
Agree with Sarah! I recently met someone very attractive in a professional setting that seemed to be glimmering at me, then somehow at next meeting was confiding in me about a very personal issue, and it really tugged at my heartstrings (the male version of damsel in distress that I can’t resist) but then also mentioned that he had a girlfriend, but hinted at the lack of future with said girlfriend….anyway thanks to what I have learned about limerence I quickly made arrangements to take care of my professional responsibilities without running into him. It took quite a bit of arranging but I am determined to never fall into limerence again, and he displayed all the warning signs of being a potential LO, and worse, I had started to feel that special little feeling….
I am so proud of myself for taking decisive action and so relieved I didn’t fall down another limerent rabbit hole. This site has helped change my life!
Way to go, Jaideux, and the influence of this site in the formation of your wise decision is another win for Dr. L as well!
Virtuoso purposeful living, Jaideux! Nicely done.
James Afourkeeff says
This post could have been titled “My Final Summary and Conclusions”. This post summarizes it all, perfectly! Congratulations, you’re done! Just kidding, of course — we want you to keep writing.
I am the one that was permanently fired from my last job (I had been there for 14+ years), for DISCLOSING to my LO in a text, because she reported me to management. I never saw or talked to her again (with one exception – see below). I was not given even the opportunity to apologize, and I was left with no way to ever redeem myself, or to recover any of the self respect I instantly lost that day.
I am pretty certain that she was limerent for me too, but I hid my limerence, and maybe did it too well. I have suspected that she did it as retaliation for my pretending that I didn’t like her, and putting her through a LE – how dare I do that to her!
About six months after I was fired, I texted her one morning just to see what would happen. I simply said “How’s it going?”. She shot back almost instantly with “As if you hadn’t been disrespectful enough! Have some decency in yourself!” She instantly knew who I was and it seemed as if she had been anticipating the opportunity to throw this stone. I replied with a thumbs up, and that was it.
I see, from snooping through her posts on Facebook (I know I shouldn’t do this), that she has left her husband, that she must have been dumped by her last boyfriend, and she is now suffering. I’ve thought about liking one of her posts; but given what has happened, I know I shouldn’t, and I probably won’t.
Limerent Limerick says
I’ve been in an LE for the past year-ish, and this week I finally quit my job and am moving to another state, which means I will never see LO again. For the past 6 months at least he has been withdrawing his friendship/affection from me, which was initially very strong and is what triggered limerent feelings in me. Then he suddenly began withdrawing, I scrambled to stop him/figure out what was going wrong, but the more I tried the more he drifted away from me. Throughout this I never really “disclosed” that I had limerent feelings but i’m sure from what I did share that he may have had an inkling, at least at the end.
But during this withdrawl period, i realized he wasn’t the guy I thought he was. Not kind, mature and sincere, but actually quite messed up. Right before Christmas break I let him know that his behavior of ditching me, ignoring texts, etc. really hurt me and that I didn’t understand what I had done to deserve such treatment. He alluded (not for the first time) that he was going through a difficult time with something else (I assume a woman) but that he couldn’t talk about it (even though he told me he wanted to tell me about it months ago, but never did). He said he was struggling to function and eventually broke into tears. I said that I wished he could share the situation with me so that I could help, but in the absence of that all I could do was keep him in my thoughts and hope for him that things would get better.
The next day in a followup to this conversation, he admitted that his mysterious “toxic” situation had spilled over into our relationship and that I deserved better. After that I heard nothing for a month. Came back from the break and gave my notice at work, which I hoped would lead him to finally pay some attention to me, I guess. He responded to my email saying he hoped I wouldn’t do this but that he wished me well, maybe we could grab a drink before I left. Well he never followed up on that. I messaged him to see if he wanted to have a coffee (thinking alcohol was prob a bad idea) – he said sure, tomorrow. Tomorrow came, I waited, nothing (the very crap sort of thing that I hoped he would stop doing once I gave notice). Finally a few days later he sent me a calendar invite (!?) for coffee the following week. Gee, thanks for penciling me in…
Finally we had this coffee, i kept everything very light and did not enter into any deep discussions of our friendship (we were in open are with coworkers around). He then said he’d see me to say goodbye before I left in a few days. Well ultimately he left his “goodbye” to a hurried 10 minutes on his way to somewhere else. He took me aside and said he didn’t want to focus on more recent sad times, but to just say that the earlier days of our relationship really meant a lot to him. He gave me an expensive-looking card in which he had basically written the same thing. I was holding back tears, and all i could say was that i was sorry we hadn’t had more of the good times together. He agreed and gave me a hug. My last view of him as he headed out the door was him blowing me a kiss.
Later I texted him as i was on my way out of the building, and got no response whatsoever. I wish he knew that this totally cancelled out buying me a card, as does shoving his goodbye into a hasty few minutes, deprioritizing me until the very end. I guess my uncertainty and need for closure revolves not around wanting to know if he ever reciprocated my limerence (I’ve abandoned that long ago) but to make him give a damn about how his later actions made me feel – like i’m just nothing, disposable and discardable after he said he cared about me.
It’s tempting to text him again to tell him that, to be like “take this card and shove it,” but 1) i’ve already been very clear about how his behavior makes me feel and he never changed it despite admitting he was wrong, and 2) I know this will only open the door to being further hurt, at a time when I need to close the door on this relationship forever. I was just lying in bed trying to get comfortable with the idea of never having the justice I crave in this situation, but it’s tough for me and I know it will take some time to recover from the hurt I sustained here.
In his hasty goodbye he said he didn’t want to think that he would never see me again because that would be too sad, but that just thinking about me being happy somewhere else would be enough for him. It really feels like by shoving our goodbye into those few minutes, he was trying to control the dialogue, saying what made him feel better and less guilty, and robbing me of the time/chance to express how I felt. Proably he did this subconsciously, but it makes me very angry now that even when he knew I was leaving forever, he still behaved in this cowardly and selfish way.
So here I am trying to get comfortable with never getting an apology that actually means something out of this guy, and trying not to feel like it was my fault for not being “enough” to hold his interest or to make him care.
LL, his behaviour has been very disrespectful towards you whereas you showed a lot of patience, and kindness. This was a toxic situation and you should be grateful that you got out of it, if you had stayed it probably would have caused you a lot more damage emotionally. You deserve someone who cares for you and loves you just as much as you care for them. Do not ever contact this man again, start afresh, make new friends and you will forget about this whole episode in no time, good luck.
LL, from what you have written, I think your LO has some big issues to work through on his own.
You can’t help him, you can’t save him, and I think it is best for you to move on and leave this behind, without getting the closure or explanation that you wanted and deserve.
However, it does seem to me he cared greatly for you (still does to be honest) and not giving you time for a proper goodbye was probably a defense mechanism for not getting into deep into whatever is going on.
Bottom line however is that you must move on, and I think he has to work through his issues and move on. Maybe in a few years when you ever see each other again, you’ll get your answers, or you won’t. Either way, leave it behind and start a new purposeful you in the new state. Good luck.
What is maddening to me about this story is the lack of being able to speak freely about it. You mentioned there wasn’t really a “disclosure.” That maddening urge to just get it out in the open is what led me to disclose to my LO. It did not go poorly for me but it also did not give me the satisfaction I thought it would bring. I think there is something about some LOs that makes them simply okay with pretending and keeping up the charade (flirting, etc). I cannot do that. I suck at pretending. I don’t want an affair. I just want to be able to have my LO as my own personal confessional – someone who I can tell anytime how I feel or how I’m struggling with thoughts/feelings about her. However I know that is a slippery slope to an EA, and eventually a full fledged PA, probably.
Is there something about these kinds of people that make them particular limerent-fodder? I’m sorry he treated you like that. I know how it feels do start to question your own worth based on someone else’s bad behaviour. Just remember it says more about him than you.
I experienced similar things with my LO. Suddenly he was ignoring me, leaving my messages unanswered for days. I also told him how much this upset me, but he had no explanation for it and though he said he’d try to do it less, it seemed like suddenly it was an awful lot of effort for him, which made it kind of pointless.
I wish I knew what this kind of behaviour meant, if it’s trying to send a message of some kind, maybe if its even conscious or not. Is it really possible to genuinely forget to reply to someone you were recently in love with (in my case, we reached the point where we were both open about this)? Or is it deliberately sending a message? I don’t know what kind of personality factors are at play here, but I eventually had to accept that I probably won’t ever fully understand what happened. Interestingly, when I try to pull away and go NC, he starts to claim that everything we used to have is still there, just hidden.
To me, it seems too deliberate to be just that they are too busy or forget… almost like an extreme version of waiting at least half an hour to reply to a text so the other person doesn’t think you’re desperate (haha). I guess I’ve come to see it as the behaviour of someone who is very insecure themselves and needs to know that they are getting to you.
On the positive side, if I’m right. that means they’re still thinking of you. So you’re getting to them too 😉
Focus on facts.
What they do, what comes out of their mouth or they put in writing are facts. You can record them and reproduce them. Why they say or do anything is presumption and/or speculation. If they don’t respond to your or their response doesn’t address anything you said, you can prove it. Even if they tell you, it may or may not be true. LO #4 had a habit of doing that. I went to war over it. She came back with, “Based on what you said, I thought it best not to respond to certain things.” I called her on that, too, but I didn’t get any further explanation.
With limerence, facts don’t kill you. Presumption and speculation kill you.
PS: Also, there are some people that you’re better off if they’re not thinking of you. Have you ever watched “Fatal Attraction?”
“With limerence, facts don’t kill you. Presumption and speculation kill you.”
Ain’t that the truth. I spent the best part of a year agonising over the why of it all. Worst are the deliberately vague messages where you get a reply after a couple of days and it says literally… nothing. I’m the kind of person who likes to get everything out in the open, but I never managed to get a real explanation, despite some very fraught conversations.
It’s a hard road learning to accept not knowing, that’s for sure.
One more thing that’s interesting is that when I brought all this up with him, he accused me of doing almost the same thing (not the ignoring messages, but stopping initiating conversations and being colder with him as well). I don’t know if this is some advanced gaslighting or really how he sees things.
“Is there something about these kinds of people that make them particular limerent-fodder?”
This is a question I’ve often asked myself. Is there a certain personality type more prone than others to become LOs?
Definitely people who give mixed signals, blow hot and cold. People who are either naive or irresponsible in how their careless, wishy-washy, evasive behaviour impacts others. People who want love/sex without commitment. People who are basically lazy and take the easy path in life. All in all, LOs don’t come off as paragons of virtue! It’s remarkable we fall for these people who may not offer us anything in return apart from the chemical rush, and even that comes from our own brains!
This is an interesting idea. I’m sure not all LOs are these;
‘People who are either naive or irresponsible in how their careless, wishy-washy, evasive behaviour impacts others. People who want love/sex without commitment.’
But equally, those are the sorts of people who may be masking insecurities of their own… until a limerent comes along and starts paying them all that attention.
I’ve seen other commenters say this, and its certainly true of me, I FLATTER like a madman.
I’m only limerent when I’m sexually available and because of the scene I move on casual sex with an LO is usually fairly straightforward. It’s then that I basically go full LE. I’m available at instant notice, I’m available for chats. I’m available for advice. I’m interested in everything they have to say.
So what to them might have been a one or two night stand… suddenly I’m captivated. Then some confusion ensues. They think they might even be into me (because I’m aggressively involving myself with them). But they’re not really up for commitment or, rather they can’t meet my limerent need for intense reciprocation.
But if work is problematic for them, I get a call. Or they’ve argued with someone and are upset, maybe a coffee. We might fall into bed occasionally.
But of course depending on their mood; my own texts get late responses, my own needs get met rarely, or more often ignored, or flaked out on at the last minute… but my own availability to them is constant. I continue to pursue, and be helpful and flattering. I’m in denial about the fact that this is another FWB on LO terms.
…I’m usually in denial about deep incompatibilities too. I don’t think I ever develop LEs without these issues.
But if LO is insecure/unattached etc. Then an LE from me certainly provides a low-cost alternative to the work that an equal, intimate relationship would require. It’s a win for them, and for me until interest wanes and I’m sat at home staring at a WhatsApp chat that’s been dormant for days wondering if they’d really love yet another ‘Hey, how are you?’ message to engage with or ignore…
“You do it to yourself, you do, and that’s what really hurts!”(Radiohead: ‘Just’)
Sammy, My LO is someone who wanted sex without commitment, love-bombed then went cold.
Thomas, what shall we do with ourselves?? Die another day….
@Thomas: Wow! You seem to be very insightful about your triggers and weaknesses. Doesn’t mean it’s easy to avoid things going wrong next time. But keep this comment to read when you are in a similar situation. Its like you wrote a manual for your future self!
Song of the Day: “Talk to Me” – Stevie Nicks (1985)
This is my favorite Stevie Nicks song.
Clip of the Day: “Do I Feel Lucky…?” – “Dirty Harry” (1971)
“Well, do you…?”
Vicarious Limerent says
This post really speaks to me. I am pretty certain I would never have a chance at a relationship with my LO (and I am really trying to fix my marriage and my life, particularly in the aftermath of this LE), but I still wish I had more fully disclosed my feelings to her (we are now totally NC, but I did tell her I would be interested if I wasn’t married, and she actually didn’t seem totally disgusted with that – flattered maybe, but probably not interested, even in an “alternate universe” sort of way).
I just have this nagging “need” to tell her how incredible I think she is – how she’s the most awesome woman I’ve met in the last 18 years, and that I was drawn to her on so many levels. This woman is beautiful, sexy, fun, exciting, funny, smart, decent, kind, caring, confident and assertive. I absolutely loved the way she approached us the night we met her and the way she so confidently held court in the bar like she owned the place. Even though she is off limits to me, I desperately wanted her in my life in some capacity (as a friend, and maybe even as a family member some day). Even though we’ve only spent two hours in each others’ company, I know quite a bit about this lady. It might shock her to realize how much I know, but none of this information was gathered unethically or inappropriately, through stalking her or by anyone we know mutually (other than my brother in-law, who met her the same time I did).
I want to console her and tell her my brother in-law was an idiot for not pursuing a relationship with her (without saying it in so many words). It really feels like a slap in the face to me how I can think this woman is so incredible, yet he treats her as a fool and a nuisance (at least he does when he talks to the family, but he doesn’t have the guts to tell her outright he’s not interested). “Oh, I’m sorry she likes you. That must be such an awful burden for you to bear,” is what I would like to say to him. All he wants to do right now is have his ego stroked by having as many women come on to him as possible (the younger the better, in his mind). Let’s just say he is quite immature and not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer.
I am not going to contact her or try to find her. I am also not going to try to run into her at the pub where I met her (although I did go there for an early evening meal for a special occasion; I knew she wasn’t going to be there and she may not have even been in the country that day). What sucks is I loved that place (it was my first time there when I met her). The atmosphere was exactly what I was looking for, and I loved the live music, the wide range of age groups and the friendliness of some of the people there; I would have felt this way even if I hadn’t met her that night.
I feel like the local mall is my best bet, but I am not sure what I would say to her if I met her there. I am thinking maybe just the following might suffice (provided I am alone and she is as well): “There is one thing I don’t think I ever made clear when we were messaging each other a month ago. I think you are totally awesome, and I was really hoping you and [My Brother In-Law] would get together. You made a great impression on me and I’m sorry things didn’t work out between the two of you. I was even hoping we could hang out and be friends, but it doesn’t look like that will ever happen now. I hope you find someone really nice who sees how amazing you really are.” Is that too much (considering I am a married man)?
I don’t actually need to know whether she would ever be interested in me because I am pretty sure the answer would be “No.” For me, it’s just about wanting her to know how truly special I think she is, and wanting her to know that at least one man out there thinks she is absolutely wonderful and adorable (even if I am fat (although less so now than I was when I met her), married and a few years older than her). She hinted at having bad luck in the men she meets, so maybe this might make her feel worse, or might it help her to keep her chin up and realizes she has a lot going for her? Any thoughts?
Hold this thought:
If she has any respect for you at all, she won’t after your explanation.
For some reason, it was important for me to try to retain LO #4’s trust and respect, even if that meant never talking to her again.
Vicarious Limerent says
Fair enough Scharnhorst, and thanks for your honest reply. I am wondering if I just left out the last two sentences if it would work (“I was even hoping…how amazing you really are.”)? On the other hand, I suppose I could just keep it very light, provided she doesn’t totally ignore me. Chances are we wouldn’t both be alone, so that would also really change the dynamic. But somehow commenting on the weather doesn’t seem appropriate either, does it? I suppose I could ask her about her dog or how things are at the pub (she is definitely a regular there).
Hello VL, I sympathize with how you are feeling. I have a strong desire to tell my LO similar things. But, on reflection, neither the presence nor the strength of that desire would automatically deliver the practical conclusion that I should tell him. And they’re consistent with the conclusion that I should not. I think it is a burden to have someone tell you things like that unless there is a real relationship there in the context of which such gushing compliments would be appropriate (e.g. because you already know the feelings are reciprocated). I had someone to this to me recently in a non-romantic context where I did not want such a close or intense friendship and I felt kind of creeped out by it. The person just presumed that this would be welcome news to me. In the throes of limerence it is extra-hard, but so essential, to realize this desire to tell your LO your feelings is all about you, and the desire, however strong, is not a good reason to do it. Just my opinion. I am very glad I have never succumbed to the temptation to tell my LO.
Vicarious Limerent says
Thanks Midlifer. So, I guess keeping it light is the right approach – IF I ever see her again! The only exception is if she has any direct questions for me about my brother in-law or our exchange on Messenger a few weeks back (I wouldn’t lie, but I also wouldn’t tell her all of the details). But, as I have already mentioned before, there is a strong likelihood I will never see her again. I really cannot visit the pub where I met her – at least not for a good long time anyway, and only when I am with a crowd of other people and have a good reason to be there. We both live off the same main road only a few kilometres from each other, and I do have reason to be in her neighbourhood at times, but it is funny how there are people I have known for years in our local area and I have NEVER bumped into them once over the years. I am going to have to come to terms with that, but bumping into her is a very real possibility as well.
I am actually glad I partially disclosed to her a few weeks back because that seemed to set her mind at ease. Until that point, it seemed like she thought I was talking shit about her – when NOTHING could be further from the truth! She told me it was “fine” and “all good” at that point. Maybe she was flattered?
One thing I worry about is if she ever read some of my comments, she would be able to identify me for sure. Does anyone else worry about that? What if she is also limerent and follows this site? I also worry about other people I know who are familiar with the situation recognizing my story.
1. What you don’t want to do is give her a reason to write you off. You don’t want to sever the connection even if you never intend to use it again.
I hadn’t talked to LO #4 in 2.5 years but when I got the robo email from her site, I asked her to delete the account and she did. I thanked her and wished her Happy birthday. She replied to the email. A few months later, I wished her Happy anniversary. She didn’t reply but acknowledged me on her FB site.
I never want her to stop “taking my calls.”
2. One LO might possibly find this place but I don’t see the other one doing it. If they did, no doubt they’d know who I was and who I was talking about. With one, I could care less. With the other, it would sever the connection forever. I’d be less than dead to her.
I have thought about that many times (whether my LO may find this site and recognize my comments). I chuckled just now at how similar we limerents are. We obsess over the same little things the same ways. It is so very interesting.
I assume most of the folks on this blog are in the U.K., correct? (Not that I’m admitting or denying that I’m also in the U.K. Lol).
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Most of the commentariat are UK but lots are from North America and a portion are from the EU. One can guess via spellings, posting times, anecdotal evidence, etc.
Disclosure has another pitfall which I experienced. I was in an intense work relationship with my much-younger LO, who was ripe for an EA (unhappy marriage, vulnerable, easily impressed.) I was extraordinarily complimentary and attentive to her. I developed limerence for her, and she for me. She disclosed to me that she would never leave our firm, because “…I love this company, and I love YOU, MLBIAI.”
Well, I was stuck. Being married and all, I couldn’t give her the response she desired to hear. I responded, “I love this company, too, and ALL it’s employees.”
She wordlessly walked away. She left the company a few weeks later, and she was a critical part of it. She went NC to preserve her own space, and she also got a 50% raise. I was left devastated.
A few months later, she returned, I granted her equity, and she developed a boyfriend at work and left her husband. Now I’m the one with the limerent feelings, and she’s preoccupied with her new BF. But her previous disclosure precipitated lots of potentially explosive activity.
Unless you’re single, disclosure is like rolling a dice where all the outcomes are worse than status quo.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
I never want her to stop “taking my calls.”
Yup. There are multiple potential LOs where I am just glad they are in my life in some kind of way. Not to be weird, but just knowing that they ‘like’ my comments on FB, or think I am cool/witty/interesting—it means something to me.
Wow, I’m pathetic. 🤣🤣🤣
I have recently been thinking about reaching out to LO to just sort of explain that I am not abandoning him because of him but because I needed the distance to him. But that’s a bad idea. First of all it assumes that LO feels bad without me and misses me. He may do that, he may have met someone and has the time of his life and I’m not even popping up in his mind. Who knows? I am going to not contact him and assume the latter.
I think my desire to reach out comes from a work related event, something good happened and a year ago I would have been thrilled to celebrate it with LO. Instead, I celebrate with my SO now, that is good too!
LO could technically find this site as I have sent him a link to an article and from comments he would realize it’s me. Some of it would hurt him for sure.
And I’m from western Europe.
I agree, reaching out to your LO will result is nothing good. What if he has forgotten you so to speak. You will feel silly.. or what if he does miss you and then all the hard work you’ve done could be ruined. I guess it’s natural to want to reach out, but I truly believe only harm will come of it.
I also sometime want to reach out to LO he only said the other he misses. My mind did start to spin but I just ignored the comment. He is quite predictable as he has said stuff like that before to me and it usually always get to me. I just see it as a very unablanced person now and quite cruel to play these games.
Yeah, I won’t reach out, Rachel. But I wonder if LO will congratulate me on my professional achievement, I know he will see it. If he does, is it a “we’re ok now, I can and will treat you as a colleague”? Or if he doesn’t write, does that mean he’s not happy for me or thinks I didn’t deserve it? He knows it means a lot to me but I could imagine even some resentment on his side… I am not sure if I even want him to reach out. Does any of this even matter? Why do I want this validation from LO?
Vicarious Limerent says
Wow! Lots of comments here. Thanks everyone for your input. Just to be clear, I was never planning on declaring my undying love for my LO if I saw her, just a little bit more of an explanation of how great I think she is. I don’t want to creep her out, and I do want to keep the possibility of a connection (however remote) in the future alive should my circumstances change (I love my wife and I am pretty sure things will improve with her, but who knows what the future will bring). I also think people can end up back in our lives in very easily in random, strange ways. My LO could easily end up being a friend of a friend, at a party I attend or maybe we might even end up working together in the same company some day. Therefore, I will keep it as light as I can.
Unlike others, I am completely NC, and that physically pains me sometimes – especially when she accepted my friend request so quickly and easily a few weeks back. It broke my heart to unfriend her, even though it really was the “right” thing to do. So, I really don’t have that to keep me going. I am starting to wonder if NC is the right approach. Does it even make me think about her more than I would otherwise? Who knows. This way just makes her feel like forbidden fruit. Still, I won’t be making any grand declarations if I ever do run into her. What I did tell her about why I was unfriending her was probably sufficient, and I hope she got a little bit of an ego boost by it. Repeating my mantra about her not being the solution to my problems and working on my marriage and life are helping, but nothing is a complete solution.
As far as where I am located, I do have UK connections, but I may or may not be located in the UK at this point. I thought it was a real mixture in terms of where followers of this site are located. I wrote about worrying my LO would find this; in actual fact, I am more worried my SO will find this site because she would recognize my comments for sure.
Exactly. Neither outcome will be good. But it’s a good indicator that LO still holds some importance in your life. What the hell to your LO. In reality it doesn’t matter what he thinks does it. Didn’t you message at Christmas and he didn’t seem interested. I’m sure there any lots of lovely people who are pleased for you. As am I…. Congratulations ☺️
Stay strong, Sarah and Rachel, and congratulations to you Sarah on your professional success!
Thank you, both! 😊 appreciated.
It may just be a reminder that LO was important in my life. I think it is more the memory attached to it, highlighting that LO is now gone and I an walking this path without him. But as you say, I am not walking it alone just because LO is gone, there are others filling that void.
I think I found the trigger why I my mind is occupied with LO again: my close colleague at work changed his perfume to the one my LO has. I was walking behind him today when I noticed it and asked him about it. He said he changed to this one 2 weeks ago! Duh, limerent brain…
Pesky lim brain. At least you know that this particular scent is a trigger and shoes just how laid down limerence is in our brain. Great that you saw it for what is was.. your brain playing tricks again. You don’t need LO he has no place in your life.
@V.L. I met someone at a coffee shop- years and years ago- and we had a really nice conversation. We probably talked for a half hour or so. We were both young and single. In the conversation I told him where I worked- and soon after he showed up there, which was fine. But it soon became clear to me that he was 150 steps ahead of what was appropriate- which was a warning bell for me (as it is to most women). It told me that he’d made me up in his head- and I let him know, very clearly, that I wasn’t interested. The truth is that you don’t know this woman at all- you’re making her up in your head. She’s 98% imaginary, and anything that you say to her that signals that that’s true would be a warning for her. There’s no good end to this out in the world. Not that it doesn’t feel so real in your mind- we can all sympathize with that. No one can know another human being by watching them- especially for such a brief time- they’re just a pencil sketch that we color in with our own crayons.
Try to tell yourself that offering her something you can’t actually give her- love, commitment, time, is unkind to her and to you.
I trust that we can all learn so much from these LE’s- stick with us and we can all try to help each other do that….
Vicarious Limerent says
Very true, Janesays. I do not want to scare this woman or make her feel uncomfortable. I am not some creepy stalker guy, and I would NEVER cheat on my wife (I am not a cheater and my LO isn’t a homewrecker). I understand that much of what I “know” about this woman was built up in my own head (yet I know a lot about this woman just from our brief interactions, things I have found online, being her Facebook friend for a short period and conversations with my brother in-law). The truth is we could actually really dislike each other if we got to know one another in the real world, and the image she portrays to the outside world on a night out at the pub might not reflect who she is in real life. I understand all of that – at least the rational, logical part of my brain does anyway.
Someone close to me (not me or my brother in-law) was recently convicted of criminal harassment for a few texts, one phone call and some flowers sent to his ex-girlfriend, so I know it doesn’t take much. I really don’t want that to happen to me because it would ruin my marriage, my professional reputation and frankly my life. It also might make this poor woman feel even more conflicted than she probably already does with the mixed messages my brother in-law sent out to her. Better to let sleeping dogs lie – unless she insists on knowing more (if we ever do meet again, which may not happen). I guess I will keep it light to begin with if I ever do meet her, but I will try not to stress about it and just play it by ear. She could even completely ignore me if I do ever run into her. There is a strong likelihood she completely regrets ever approaching the two of us that night.
Do not tell your LO how great they are! Or why we walked away! We must have some self-respect! There is already a horrible imbalance of power and to disclose feelings and appreciation for them etc. tips it even further. They don’t need our confirmation of their greatness! Let them get that from people who they have legitimate romantic relationships with. Frankly, looking on as an outsider…it’s a actually a little pathetic sounding to gush over them. Once a married friend told me that if he was single he would be really interested in me, and let me tell you….I still feel uneasy about that comment. So, leave those thoughts unsaid, let your LO’s go live their lives without us, and let’s focus on our own lives and make them lovely. If one is married, focus on all the good things about the SO and they sweet children you have with them and don’t compare SO to LO! Let’s not waste any more of our lives on limerence!!! (I know, I know, easier said than done). But let’s TRY!
I second that!
Fuck limerence and everything that comes with it. It has ruined my life. I hate myself for it and for being too weak to do anything about it. Sort of a low point right now…
Vicarious Limerent says
I completely empathize. In my case, my marriage, career, job, finances, family life, friendships and social life were all in a shambles when my LO came into my life a couple of months ago. I have also been suffering from a major midlife crisis (and probably depression), where I realized my life is just shit in almost every respect and NEEDS to change. I realize my LO was just an escape, but it isn’t like I can just go back to my blissfully happy life like nothing is/was wrong. I want to repair things, but it is going to take some sustained very hard work over a long period of time to put things right (the limerence was just a symptom, not the disease, in my case). On the other hand, there is love, tenderness, companionship and long history with my SO and me, so there is hope. I have a lot of other issues to work through as well as problems in my marriage, but I needed this limerence like I needed a hole in my head! It sucks!
I’m sorry to hear you are feeling bad, B. I hope you feel better soon.
And I empathize with you, VL. It sucks but please have faith and take heart; you can get to a better place in time.
Yes, Jaideux, well said!
Another good moment for the “I have no idea how they will react” mantra when considering disclosure. You, the limerent, may think they’ll be delighted (after all, you would be if the situation was reversed), but LO may feel very differently…
My LO said, “I’m sorry you feel
like that.” He loved me once very much and declared his love for me; but now, fifty years have passed by… he also said he had good memories of me, and that if I were patient and have waited a little longer, “our lives would have been different now for the two of us, and added , “it was not meant to be, was it fate, or maybe God. I kept silent (I’m an introspect person) and still pondering after five months. I know it’s a lost cause as we’re both old and married with grandchildren. We were in an exclusive relationship for three years when young, but I broke away because of fear of abandonment ; we worked at the same place and when he moved to another job I felt very sad. I also changed jobs, but things were not the same anymore. I felt the distancing and went NC, not giving him an opportunity to talk though he searched for me and declared in our last phone call: “ this is : name and last name, and I had never before loved another woman more than I have loved you.” And I answered: Now is too late. He said: I just wanted you to know that. And I replied, I have to hang up because I’m getting late for work. And I hanged up. I just wanted to tell him that I loved him with all my heart, but my ego took over me and said those fateful words: “NOW ITS TOO LATE” , which will haunt my mind and soul forever. That was our last conversation fifty years ago….the “ what if”, what if I have given him the answer my heart wanted to say but didn’t? I had a resentment because the relationship was not going anywhere and I was bored and felt he was wasting my time. I moved on, didn’t grief properly, but a deep sorrow was in my heart, at the same time I felt free. I married four years later and never thought of him again. UNTIL I had a dream with him coming to my rescue. That’s fifty years later! When I woke up my mind had been hijacked by this monster that won’t let me free, I can’t shake him off my mind. The first three days was pure euphoria, but I wasn’t sleeping or eating, got very scare of these intrusive thoughts. Was I glad that thoughts are not physically seen! It’s been hell trying to control my thoughts but to no avail. This has never happened to me before. I knew something was very wrong and that I needed help. I cannot tell my husband, he would not understand. By the fourth day I was afraid I will get a nervous breakdown, I started taking anti anxiety pills and sleeping pills. Could sleep a little bit but I woke up often at night with thoughts of him. Day and night those thoughts won’t leave me in peace. The movie repeating itself non stop every day and night. I would go to my room and let the thoughts run their course, go for long walks but the ghost is always with me… I have cried intensely, I get some relief at least. At the beginning I thought it may be hormones, or medicine effects, but I have not had any new medications, neither have changed my diet. So I hit the web searching different topics but none came close to what I was experiencing. Internet kept sending new sites which I tried, but no help so I decided to read people s comments, and bingo! Someone had a comment on how difficult it was to forget etc. and someone answered , “ that sounds like Limerence.” I got curious and searched the word Limerence, there it was! LwL!!! Oh this site has been a blessing for me, I binged on it and recognized immediately that which was haunting me! Finally, some understanding of those intrusive thoughts, that feeling of helplessness because your mind is taken hostage by this monster of Limerence. If I believed in magic it would be a” mind spell “ , or religion would say you’re demon possessed. Thanks Dr L for all you do for us, you can’t imagine how helpful you have been. You’re a kind person who cares for people. Not many people like you and your blog. Keep the good work. ( After ten month of this hell, things are getting a little better, thanks to the this blog and the commenters.) Thank you, thank you.
Beautifully put, Jaideux. Thank you for saying that. All my LOs got way more compliments from me than they (or any human) could deserve. And yes, the imbalance of power is real and very serious and the main reason why these relationships rarely work out, even when both parties are single.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
That craving to disclose is overwhelming.
Lots of reasons; gain clarity, get reciprocity, present a heartfelt gift to the LO idol.
None of which work.
Vicarious Limerent – to answer your first post, no, no, no NO, big fat freaking NO!!
Sorry, but I want to make it clear it’s a no from me.
Look I know exactly how you feel and I empathise because believe me I’ve had that scenario play out in my head several times. In some scenarios I tell my LO how I feel, he looks at me lovingly while harps play in the background, he sweeps me off my feet and declares his undying love and devotion to me and we live happily ever after, ehhhhhh NOT! In other scenarios he looks at me in shock and betrayal while quickly uttering he’s married while running off like the wolves are after him. I know he’s attracted to me but we are both married and this kind of discussion is over stepping major boundaries, we are not free to admit we like each other and neither are you Vicarious Limerent. So don’t even THINK about saying the above, it’s not appropriate and you’ll hate yourself afterwards. What is said cannot be unsaid or unheard, keep it in your head or if you must, write it down then burn the paper.
My Limerent Brain is an idiot – I am also glad my LO is in my life in whatever shape or form, I am very good at living on Limerent crumbs.
I too worried someone would find me on this blog, but I’ve not given enough details to be “discovered” and my LO wouldn’t know what Limerence was if it bit him on the nose so I know I am “safe”. I am also located nowhere near the EU or States.
I’ve disclosed feelings to LO after he confronted me about distancing myself from him (I only slightly did). I thought ok this is the mutual disclosure moment, so I confessed my feelings for him. Surprisingly he said he doesn’t feel that way at all, he sees me as a friend only and never as anything else. That was the start of some crazy uncertainty limerence fuel for me. I believe he consciously believed that, sub-consciously that was utter BS (as we now know).
If I had to pinpoint a moment of last return, that talk would have been it. I should have walked away. But it went horribly wrong.
Tell me about it! I unfortunately couldn’t resist the temptation to disclose. My excuse was that I thought that I would likely never see him again (we met at a conference), so it couldn’t do any real harm, but only good. I hoped that disclosure would get him out of my brain because I assumed he would reply that I was being ridiculous. We are both happily married with kids and I thought so highly of him that couldn’t imagine any other type of response. Somehow I hoped that my disclosure would make me feel utterly stupid and shock me back into reality. I also thought it could help him because he seemed like he could use a complement, and that it certainly wouldn’t harm him (of course unless his wife saw the text, but even so, it was definitely not a text that would incriminate him of even flirting) . So I sent him a short text saying that I was glad that I had met him and that he had really cheered me up (which was true, I genuinely laughed in months until I met him). I also said that I thought the people in his life were pretty lucky to have him, but I also stressed to take it just as a complement.
Looking back, I never should have disclosed. In his initial text back, he just joked around and seemed not to take my message seriously, but a few days later he disclosed as well and this ended up snowballing into more intimate texts and more feelings developing. Fortunately we were wise enough to go NC before things escalated to calling or meeting up in person. Looking back, if I hadn’t disclosed, I think my LE would have only lasted for a couple of months, but since I did, I’m still stuck in it more than 1.5 years later. Part of that is because I still wonder what things would have been like if we had had more time together, if we had disclosed in person. And it drives me crazy to think what would happen if I accidentally ran into him somewhere. It feels more unfinished than had I not disclosed.
Point is, disclosure didn’t kill my feelings for him as I had hoped. Because it was mutual , which I really didn’t at all expect (and certainly didn’t expect that he would admit to it), it only made it easier for me to wander off in my daydreams into this other impossible universe in where we could be together. The upside of disclosure, though, was that I learned that I need to be more more true to my feelings. The experience of being vulnerable with someone and them not making me feel stupid for being so, was somehow beautiful and it really opened me up. I had had a difficult year and was having a really hard time trusting the people in my life. This experience made me braver to disclose feelings and emotions to the people that I should be disclosing them. This new freeness has made the relationships that I have richer and I have also helped me to transfer quite some of the LE onto my SO.
So, would I recommend disclosure, definitely NO (unless you are both available, of course)! But do I get how you feel? Definitely!
Article of the Day: https://www.pendletonpsych.com/whats-new/the-imp-of-the-perverse
It’s an interesting concept and is easily applied to limerence. It comes down to the harder we try avoid something, the more we seem likely to do it. Several of the blogs talk about but I don’t think Dr. L actually used the term.
The term comes from an Edgar Allen Poe short story, “The Imp of the Perverse.” If Poe wasn’t a card-carrying limerent, he could definitely be a limerent sympathizer. His mother died when he was 1 or 2. He returned from college to find his sweetheart had married another man. His wife, 13 years his junior, died after 11 years of marriage. A later attempt at a relationship failed, possibly because of Poe’s erratic behavior and drinking. (see Wiki)
In “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses,” Mark Twain cites Cooper’s use of it as literary device, “Another stage-property that he pulled out of his box pretty frequently was the broken twig… It is a restful chapter in any book of his when somebody doesn’t step on a dry twig and alarm all the reds and whites for two hundred yards around. Every time a Cooper person is in peril, and absolute silence is worth four dollars a minute, he is sure to step on a dry twig.”
I believe in the concept. I remember as a midshipman, I had to climb down the side of submarine while we were underway. As the sub listed to port, I looked down and all I saw was water. I just wanted let go. Had I done that, I would have probably gone through the propeller. Plus, there were sharks following us.
I told LO #4 that I never wanted to be on the list of people that hurt her or let her down. I think she kept book on people and there were a number of people on that list. The last thing I ever wanted was to hurt her feelings, make her angry, or make things harder for her. In the end, I may have done them all. Blocking someone on Facebook isn’t a sign of indifference. That’s why her response last year was important to me. She hasn’t written me off entirely because of it.
I forgot the best example!
The night before my wedding, I was having a drink with my best man and his wife. My friend’s wife had said, “[Wife] is nothing like [LO #2].” She wasn’t particularly impressed with LO #2 when we were dating.
We were sitting there and I said, “It’s hard to believe that by this time tomorrow, I’ll be married to [LO #2.]”
My best man looked at me and said, “I hope to God that name doesn’t cross your lips tomorrow.”
Luckily, it didn’t.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Yikes! Scharny, when you said that, it’s a good thing that it was the best man you were drinking with and not the maid of honor!
Love your writing style, BTW, Mr. Scharnhorst. heavy on the ‘Mister’
Dr. L is the man, of course, but the commentariat adds a lot to this site, and you’re a huge part of that.
I see it like this:
https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0535/6917/products/mistakesdemotivator.jpeg?v=1554328460 (I love Despair.com!)
When I found LO #4’s site and started posting, I did the same kind of thing as I did here, posting a lot. Different subject, same pattern of behavior. I read everything on her site. My posts began to get her attention. At first, her responses were on the site. Then, they moved to the site PM and eventually to emails. That’s when things started fermenting.
When things were at their height, she said something in one of the emails. I don’t remember what. My reply was my cell phone number. It was a defining moment. She never called it but shortly after, I got the FB friend request from her.
Vicarious Limerent says
Scharnhorst might appreciate this because he posts “song of the day” sometimes. Here are two songs: One that makes me think of my LO and one about my SO:
Check out the video to this one as well as the lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIzDsGyxsQM
This one is a classic love song thinking about how much the woman in the song means to the singer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2cRj9Z96PQ
One is about an illusion or a mirage, and the other is real. Both are emotional for me.
Vicarious Limerent says
I had a relatively good day, followed by another bad day. Every time I think I am turning the corner on my limerence, it gets worse again. I was actually making some plans to try to meet some new people and go on a night out and was feeling pretty happy at the prospect of improving some things in my life. I was also looking forward to a date night with my wife at some point over the weekend.
So, why did I do a stupid thing like check out my LO’s Facebook profile picture to see if she had changed it again? Sure enough, she did, to a bikini shot taken from above on her recent vacation. And I thought seeing her in a pair of shorts was too much to bear! I actually said, “Oh God, please help me,” at that point (I am not particularly religious and I was at work at the time). I had to stop on my way home from work and walk around a mall to pull myself together (not in the town where she lives). It took me quite a while to give myself a pep talk and say, “So what if she looks good in a bathing suit? And so what if she is looking to attract a guy?” I also repeated my mantra about her not being the solution to my problems a few times to myself. It helped a bit, but I couldn’t get that image out of my mind (needless to say, I liked it). I wondered if that new picture was for my brother in-law’s benefit or if she has moved on from him (I suspect she has, but I could be mistaken; she may even be limerent for him). I am scared to ask him about her at this point because my wife told my mother in-law about my “crush.”
Then my wife nagged me, patronized me, insulted me, barked orders at me and tried to limit my freedom to go out, spend money, have a good time, have a few drinks and all kinds of other things. For more than an hour, it was an onslaught against me, and I actually asked myself, “Why am I married to her?” I joined a Meetup group to go out tomorrow night with some new people because I need to let off steam, and my last proper night out was the night when I met my LO (10 weeks ago). Naturally, I got a lecture about drinking, spending money, staying out too late, going anywhere else afterwards and meeting women. I had to explain to her that I meet literally thousands of women in my line of work, and my LO was the first and only crush I ever had since before I met my wife. I have been limerent before, but not since I was single and not for 20 years, so I really don’t think I am going to meet some woman and develop a crush on her too. Besides, the allure of my current LO is just too strong for anyone else to replace her right now.
I know disclosure is an absolute no-no, but I really had a desire to show up at the pub where my LO hangs out after dropping my wife off at work tonight. I am so glad I didn’t, but it would be so easy just to stop in by there (I am NOT going to do it, but I must admit I have had fantasies of doing it, which were never stronger than they were tonight). As everyone tells me, that would be unlikely to go well, so I will definitely not do that, but one thing I can tell about my LO’s personality is she doesn’t tolerate bullshit and she can be persistent when she wants an answer to something. If I ever saw her, I think she would interrogate me about my brother in-law and our previous exchange on Facebook (unless she feels it is all water under the bridge by now).
The good news is I discovered I have actually went down two pant sizes in the last couple of months. I bought a new pair of jeans tonight, and I think they look great on me. I am at a size I haven’t been since about 1994. People are complimenting me on my weight loss, and I can see much more size and definition in my arms and legs. I suppose I can actually think my limerence for that. I guess every cloud has a silver lining, but I think my focus on my health and appearance is worrying my wife.
Song of the Day: “Do I Wanna Know?” – Arctic Monkeys (2013)
This is one for the times you just want to sink through the floor in limerent despair.
Pardon my self-indulgence here, but I am deeply hurting again tonight. I have had a broken heart before in my life from which (I think) I recovered although it was not from limerence. My first SO who was also a former LO had a LE with a coworker, and I was absolutely gutted. Be it selective amnesia or blocking the trauma, I do not recall it hurting as much as the grief over losing the delusion of LO#2 in my life in any real or healthy way. I am just so, so sad.
I must…MUST internalize the points Dr. L has made here about worst case scenarios, likely outcomes, and preserving what shred I have left of any dignity. I just miss LO so much.
Have you ever wondered if you could get relief from something/someone else? I have tried SO hard to foster romantic energy with my SO to try to either feel better or cover my multitude of sins, or actually improve/deepen our relationship, but it is so very slow. I know I could easily turn to food, but that isn’t even my real weakness. It’s the demon limerence. I wonder—will there be another LO? Anything to take away this pain though I know that is a desperate, ridiculous and impossible wish.
I have a history of anxiety and depression, and I have not gone to a dark place in more than 9 months. But tonight I had a very, very brief flash of an old thought pattern. And that is my signal something is wrong.
Thank you for listening. Everything will be fresh in the morning.
Oh chicster, I relate. My marriage started with a big LE, recently divorced my husband because the spark was gone for years from my side. During this LE I had a big depression, and sometimes I worry that this might come back ( if it isnt aleady)
I notice that my limerence refuses to let go of hope, and instead of pushing it away, I for now Iet it excist. I dont reach out, I dont start to ruminate or try not to but if there is a hopefull part of me, I let it be. Not that I want that but thats the way it is, no point in repressing.
In my early days I have transfered limerence once, it was not the smartest move ive made but I did not know about limerence. Now i find relief in working on myself, maybe thats a new addiction or a soothing coping, I dont care .
I do imagininaire rescripting therapy and this is absolute amazing I also start with a psychotherapeut next week. I think my LE stands for something bigger that has to be adressed. Meanwhile I journal like crazy, everyday I end the day with writing:
* What did I do for selfcare?
* what did I do for others?
* Did I numb myself in any way?:
* What did I feel today:
* what is my limerence saying to me today:
*What does my healthy part say to me:
Unfortunally missing LO and sadness is part of the process.
Do you talk to anyone about this?
I don’t talk to anyone at all about this. I’m very ashamed of my open new positive response in light of my marital status, although it did not progress to a PA. My mental health is currently treated, but the burden of heartbreak I bear alone.
I have found so much comfort in this blog and the community that participates here. You’re set up sounds very different to mine, we all seem to have our own journeys, but this agonising, irrational and crushing experience is something we all will have had a taste of.
So don’t apologise for the self indulgence.
Recently I’ve had really poor sleep, which I think is connected to missing LO. Last night I caught myself desperately trying to focus on remembering LO, their appearance, their smile, their voice. I’ve purged all record of them, but alone in bed my brain was trying to claw it all back. I bet loads of us have dark nights like that.
So, yeah. We get it… and between us (lots of us commenters…) we’re here, with lots of our own stuff to offer by way of insight or comfort.
I hope this morning was fresh for you. Mine was…
Mia and Thomas, thank you so much for the gracious support. Mia, I think letting my hope be is better than trying to repress it. And yes, I am very busy working on myself in my higher education and career, so I am also hoping that has been and will be positive for recovery.
I am dealing with a fair amount of stress though, and in the past an LE was how I self-medicated. I am so extremely tired at the end of the day, so evenings and nights are very hard, and the silence from LO is so brutal. But, things were better when I woke up this morning.
I wax and wane from blocking LO’s cell to unblocking, and the weekends are the hardest if I don’t block him. If he is blocked I imagine that I am actually receiving messages from him and bravely not replying. He still has me blocked on social media though, so I know the truth. It’s a real bitch.
I thought maybe getting my SO to love bomb me might be as much fun, but dammit it’s simply a different, less intoxicating animal.
Maybe I’m naive but why do some of you write in multiples when writing about lo?
I miss them etc.
Is that a way to disconnect mentally or better for privacy Google ish reason ?
I have a question. I didn’t know where to ask it so I’ll ask it here.
Not long before I graduated college, I walked LO #1 back to her dorm after her roommate called and said that LO #1’s BF, the guy she was cheating on with me, had called several times looking for LO #1. Her roommate said he was going to call back soon and if LO #1 wasn’t there, she’d tell him where LO #1 was. We left.
At the entrance, I said, “I love you, too. Doesn’t that count for something?” LO #1 said:
“I can’t let it.”
In light of our relationship, I thought that was a perfectly fine response. I told that story to LO #2 after we’d been dating awhile. LO #2 said it was a really sh–ty response and used the word “cruel.” I didn’t see it that way and I still don’t. I asked the therapist about it and her response was that if I was ok with it, what difference did it make what LO #2 thought? I told the therapist that it didn’t make any difference but I was trying to understand where LO #2 was coming from. The therapist recommended we change the subject and get back on track.
So, anybody have any ideas where LO #2 might have been coming from.
Well I think the expected response there would have been something like “of course it does, but it’s complicated” or “but you know I’m with X and can’t leave him”. LO2 probably felt you needed more explanation, more appreciation.
But all these things are contextual. It makes more sense if you know the characters. Reading that exchange made me think of Han Solo in Empire Strikes Back when Leia tells him she loves him and he says “I know”. Everyone would have expected “I love you too” but if you know the character, you know what he’s saying and it makes sense.
I like it!
Clip of the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seETa9OFBvY
“Almost Live” was a great show! I’ve only said, “I love you” to 3 women. The two others said it back. No woman ever said it to me first. I think the shortest time was 3 months.
Your love of her didn’t carry any weight. It was useful for keeping you around and at doing her bidding. You were an also-ran but she wasn’t going to come out and say it and risk losing the time and attentions of at least two men.
From that perspective, it does come across as dismissive. But, I didn’t see it that way. The answer was “No” and it was unambiguous. I took it as under different circumstances, she might. I’d hear something like similar from another woman 35 years later.
She was adhering to the arrangement we’d made and we were with a few weeks of the end. I pushed it. Just like I did 35 years later.
I would argue that uncertainty is at the very heart of limerence. Much of the forward motion we feel when limerent is really a drive to answer this question, not even necessarily because we want the other person or think it’s a good idea. I’ve realized how little discernment I have in telling these things about. I wonder what it would be like to be with my LO. I wonder what kind of person I’d be. I wonder what it would be like to live in their world. But that is a different feeling than knowing objectively that I want these things. It’s like buying a piece of clothing because you’re curious how it would look on you, not because you actually like it.
A big problem with chasing limerent fantasies, then, is that we MUST find out where the fantasy leads, and follow it to its bitter end, whether that bitter end is desirable to us or not. This is a recipe for regret.
On a side note, I have definitely sacrificed my dignity for closure.
“I would argue that uncertainty is at the very heart of limerence. Much of the forward motion we feel when limerent is really a drive to answer this question, not even necessarily because we want the other person or think it’s a good idea.”
I sometimes feel it’s like living in a detective novel. I.e. if only my poor brain could figure out what makes a particular LO tick, then I’d be free of the obsession, case closed, etc. Now I realise it’s limerence itself that makes another person seem mysterious and elusive and they’ve probably been transparent with me all along!
I took the radical honesty route and asked LO directly, which was intensely uncomfortable, but also brought about a great deal of relief when they confirmed it was a one-sided thing (though they tried to go about it in a way that implied that it might change… what a prize). Having read through this article I consider myself lucky that my situation was so simple (hah) in that there was no risk to other relationships, or professionally.
Funny enough, reading the paragraph “The timing may be wrong” gave me a little “reciprocation spike” thinking: Oh, so maybe that’s what’s happening and he likes me after all.
“ Let’s say that the best-case scenario happens. You have a mature conversation with LO about The Situation, they confirm that you were right, that they feel the same for you as you do for them, and you both agree that you will go no contact to end the problem. ”
I had to let out a wry smile when I saw this. This was my situation exactly, and I have a hard time seeing how this is a “best-case scenario,” especially if your LO is much better at going NC than you. Right now, it just feels like heartbreak. I’m constantly ruminating on how amazing it would have been had circumstances been different.