I’ve recently had a little flurry of correspondence from limerents who are cursed with indecisive limerent objects. These are LOs who give some definite reciprocation but then pull away, or who are unavailable for an honest, open relationship. Sometimes that’s because they are married, or the limerent’s boss, or in the closet about their sexuality. Sometimes they just blow hot and cold, unable or unwilling to commit. Whatever the cause, the limerent is left in limbo, mood swinging back and forth, wondering what their future holds. For example:
He has said on multiple times that he is going to leave his wife and that he loves only me, but then he says he cannot do that to his daughters and begs me to be patient. He has done this since three times now and I am feeling desperate.
Indecisive LOs are very hard to cope with. It’s one thing to know your LO is not interested, or that they have firmly stated that even if they are attracted to you, they are not going to act on it. It’s quite another to be tortured by “what ifs”.
So, why is an indecisive LO so tormenting? And what can be done?
1) It creates uncertainty
Uncertainty is a central driver of limerence. And indecision is obviously a major source of uncertainty. Indecisive LOs give solid reciprocation. You may have been intimate, but then had them express regret, or say that it was wonderful but must never happen again. You may have had a declaration of love, but then no follow through. You may have gotten deep into an affair, only to be discovered and have them publicly declare it over to their spouse and friends. While privately assuring you that they want it to continue.
All of these mixed messages will supercharge the limerence. Your intellect is receiving the message that you are not worth commitment, but your emotions are being excited by the rewards of love-bombing and sex. That puts you in conflict with yourself.
2) It makes us competitive
If LO is equivocating between you and someone else (a spouse, or just other dates if they are single), it will inevitably set off a competitive drive. You’re better than them! You deserve to get LO! No way are you giving up and letting that other bastard/hussy get the prize.
You’ve invested a lot in this, and you can’t bear the thought of losing because you gave up too soon.
3) It feels so close
When you have an indecisive LO who has given you clear reciprocation, you know that they are attracted to you. It might be a shallow connection on their part, but you’ve had some sugar, so you know you could get more. It tantalises. It’s like seeing the cake in the patisserie window. Or, more potently, the glimpse of cleavage, the scent of aftershave, the whispered proposition, the lingering look. The memory of past pleasures, the promise of future delights.
It’s so close! You can almost grasp it!
So what can be done? How best can you respond to the challenge of an indecisive LO. Well, the main thing is to try and look at the situation more objectively. Obviously when you’re besotted with limerence you think that LO is the most desirable thing that could possibly exist. But if you ask a few key questions, the lustre may start to tarnish…
How attractive is an indecisive person?
They may give you the glimmer, but really, how attractive is a ditherer? First, indecision is hardly an admirable trait, generally, as it suggests a lack of confidence in their own judgement, and a lack of commitment to you. Even if you do finally cajole them into choosing you, prepare yourself for backpedalling, hesitation, and flakiness. People who don’t know what they want are hard to please.
Second, if your LO is indecisive because they are married or barred in some other way from being with you, then they are even less desirable. This is someone who has lousy ethics, or is too much of a coward to accept the consequences of their choices, or thinks that a good way to deal with difficult decisions is to avoid them. I would add that if you are caught up with a married LO then it’s worth taking some time to review your own moral conduct, especially if you are married too, but either way, LO is showing you that they are untrustworthy person.
Finally, people who play with other people’s emotions are toxic. It may be deliberate – LO could be being manipulative because they want the sexual and/or emotional supply that you provide – or it may be accidental and they just don’t know what they want, but whatever the cause, you get hurt. Someone whose stated intentions directly contradict their behaviour is a guaranteed mindfuck, frankly.
Are you being decisive?
By waiting and hoping for them to make a decision, you are tacitly agreeing that it is their right to decide. You’ve conceded that you don’t get a choice, or that you have made your choice, which is to sacrifice whatever it takes to get them. You’re communicating that you are willing to subordinate your needs to theirs. They are in charge.
So, you’re not on the firmest of ground when it comes to complaining that they are stringing you along, as you unwound the string and handed it to them.
The answer to this problem is to make a different choice, like: “I’m not waiting any longer,” or “I’m going to look for someone who wants to be with me as much as I want to be with them.”
Why are you waiting?
The last point touches on the most sensitive aspect of this situation, psychologically. Why are you waiting? Obviously, because you want them with all the force of limerence can muster, but they are clearly telegraphing that you can’t have them on reasonable terms. You can sort of have them, but only when it suits them. They’ll take the praise and the love and the sexy fun times, but not actually give you any peace of mind.
Why is that good enough for you? Would you advise a close friend to carry on with that arrangement? Once you look at it objectively, it’s obviously toxic and awful. The problem is that limerence laughs at objectivity.
Your limerent brain is going to keep demanding them like a hysterically frantic gremlin. You have to try and quiet it and take charge of your own fate. Let go of the uncertainty, the competitiveness, and the illusion that you’ve almost caught the slippery fish that you crave. Instead, care for yourself, and walk away from the bad situation.
You’ll find peace in freedom.
I wish it was that simple, I have a reciprocating LO who pulls away every few months only to return to try and be friends but we can never take it further because we are both married and intend to stay married. So that’s my uncertainty orbit for two years.
Why am I waiting ? To be honest because I’d rather live on LO crumbs and have him in my life in some small capacity than not at all. I am currently working very hard on breaking that habit but it’s a slow process. We are currently N/C for 9 weeks (initiated by LO) with only two minimal crossings of paths.
Last night I fully disclosed (unvarnished, non sugar coated disclosure, God it was hard!) to my SO and I am still waiting for the dust to settle after that bombshell, but will let you know how it’s going once SO has recovered. He’s not angry (yet) and not overly surprised and been very supportive, but it’s early days so let’s see. I had to do it, it’s the only way I can be free from this LE.
The only good thing out of this mess is that I never had a PA.
Well it’s one of those things that is simple, but it’s definitely not easy. It is a slow and painful process, for sure, but it’s great that you are looking in the right direction and soldiering on. It is the only way out of it…
Hope things continue to improve post-disclosure to SO. Having a champion on your side can help a lot.
Wow. That took courage. I have not read other comments yet but as one who also disclosed also realizes that an attentive SO already knows! I wish you well.
Thanks Dr L and lowendj, it wasn’t easy but this website helped. I didn’t know where to start but after yet another bout of crying SO asked what was wrong and I let him read the definition of Limerence and the causes found on the first page of this blog. Afterwards I asked if he understood and he nodded and then I asked if he knew who my LO was and he said yes and named him. It was the catalyst I needed to tell SO the full story from the beginning till now.
The only thing that surprised SO was that I kept it inside for so long. I’ve since then let him read a few articles here, it’s really helped him understand because he could identify with so many “symptoms” and mannerisms that he’s witnessed over the past two years. He was particularly fond of Dr L’s sarcastic humour and managed to chuckle a few times, because hey we need to keep our sense of humour in all this or go mad.
We’ve got a long road ahead of us but at least I’ve rediscovered the main path and I am not blindly sprinting barefoot through thorn infested bushes.
Good for you Lee Anne. I wish I was that brave to disclose to SO. Alas I am not. You are well on your way to being rid of this nightmare. I don’t think I am yet.
You are very fortunate to have such an understanding SO. I can only have that conversation in my head, because IRL it would blow up with my SO. I wonder if men are typically more understanding in these situations than women. I know if the situation were reversed for me, i would react much like your SO.
ParadoxHighway – don’t get me wrong, it’s not been easy since disclosing to SO. He (rightly so) has a lot of questions and some he’s repeated and I’ve re-explained. But he’s been very supportive and my rock, even intimacy has slowly started to return between us.
Last week was a big test for me, first time I saw LO “properly” since N/C kicked in 12 weeks ago. We both were at an all day school function, one I couldn’t really avoid. The night before I woke at 3am with heart palpitations and had a full blown panic attack that I might see LO and what to say to him. My SO helped me go through various scenarios and possible scripts, this helped me calm down. LO arrived late, I almost relaxed thinking he wasn’t going to show so I was quite shocked to see him stroll past, he greeted me with a friendly wave and kept walking. For about 1 hr he talked to other parents, I could feel him hovering, circling and inching closer to where I was sitting, I was quite sure he wouldn’t approach me as up till now he’s given me a wide berth. Just as I relaxed he headed for my seating spot and sat next to me, I think I went into shock and started panicking on the inside. He asked how I’d been, my first reaction was anger and I could feel tears building up, I swear I stared at him without answering what must’ve felt like eons but luckily my manners kicked in and I managed a smile and answer. Can’t even remember what I said, I think I was sarcastic and said next question………That kind of broke the ice and we had a pleasant, general chat, nothing personal, no mention by either of us why he stopped coming to our friend catch ups, why he was being weird, nothing. I didn’t ask and he didn’t offer, the only personal thing I asked him was if he was ok, his face kind of contorted and he changed the subject, I didn’t pursue the question any further. All up we chatted about half an hour before he moved on, later before the event ended he returned to where the sat and we talked some more, again nothing personal.
When I got home I was exhausted, I promptly burst into tears, it took so much effort to behave normally around him. I told SO everything and slept better that night.
I haven’t seen him since, bizarre.
Song of the Day” “Guadacanal March” – Victory at Sea (1954)
Way to go!
To be honest I would too go very far waiting for LO to make up their mind. Maybe some people are not so discriminating in the people they become limerent for so they at least have the security that if they end this then someone else might come along eventually. Of course it would be appropriate to end it as in many cases the LO isn’t even respecting you by acting this way and to top it off you end up feeling like a fool. It’s always crushing to your self esteem when you show interest towards someone and they just half heartedly reciprocate, even in friendships, even in a job… It’s all the more crushing when someone you are head over heels does it. So even if they finally reciprocate you end up going into a relationship feeling insecure and at disadvantage.
What about staying single for a very long time waiting for LO to reciprocate? I don’t exactly mean doing this purposefully with that intention but how invested is anyone going to be in looking for other people and dating when there is someone they already want so badly? They could transfer their limerence to someone else but usually that is very hard when getting to meet others as potential romantic interests becomes like a chore that you must do so that you are not the “loser” waiting for LO.
Yeah, there are certainly scenarios where it’s more neutral – LO is not much interested, but you, the limerent, are single. You’re kind of spinning your wheels, but not losing much except time and the opportunity to find someone better. It’s not very purposeful, but it’s certainly better than being stuck pursuing an LO who is playing you for a fool.
How I wish I had read this years ago !!!
I would like to think I would have ended my LE much sooner than I did.
Actually, I would have moments of earnestly trying to cut off LO but would repeatedly get sucked back in but would justify my weakness by saying to myself “I am not a quitter! I won’t give up until there is absolutely no hope! “. My self esteem would be far less damaged now if I would have decisively walked away and stayed away, head held high. I just didn’t want to give up while there was till Hope! Of course there was no real hope. And even if somehow I did “win the prize” no truer words are were ever spoken:
“Finally, people who play with other people’s emotions are toxic”.
Why deliberately poison my life?
Yes, that’s quite a subtle psychological trap, because you can also persuade yourself that it’s a virtuous choice. Dedication is good. Persistence is good. So surely, refusing to quit is good!
But, stubborn refusal to accept the truth is not so good, nor is sticking with situation that is slowly undermining your self esteem…
Dr. L, if I could spin the globe backward like Superman did, yet be armed with my LwL knowledge I now have….I would have elegantly excused myself from the ill-fated acquaintance long before nucleation….recognizing that quitting was truly evidence of the strength of character and tenacity and mettle I have always valued in myself…vs. standing ignorantly immovable against the hurricane winds of limerence waiting for something wonderful to come of it when truthfully there is, and only ever could be damage and destruction and pain in its wake.
Yeah, one of those “benefit of hindsight” episodes that life occasionally gifts us with 🙂
It’s funny Dr. L, regarding how we view limerent pursuit. I definitely fall into that ‘this is a test of my fortitude…’ camp. But others often see it a bit differently.
I was recently confiding in a friend about my gnawing infatuation with my on-off (but for a good while much more ‘off’) LO. She observed ‘it must be painful to be pursuing something that’s clearly dead in the water.’
That was quite some clarity about my situation right there. Hit the nail on the head.
I’ve recently spoken to a couple of trusted friends about limerence. People who’ve known me for a long time, and been close enough to be privy to some of my inner life during some of my LEs. This site really helped me find courage to open up… because I know in the past I’ve seemed (been?!) crazy at times. But opening up really helped. So I’d totally recommend to anybody here disclosing to a trusted friend. Especially one who’ll be kind, but direct.
I smirked and scoffed all through your post, Dr L because it’s like you’ve been following me around for a fortnight.
I’ve been stung again by the LO who told me that I’ve misinterpreted a bunch of his comments. He’s sorry if he’s muddied the waters but he’s started seeing someone bla bla bla.
Oh please. Guess it’s been a busy week when he’s told me how he’s so attracted to me in many ways while he’s also started dating a different person. Busy lad.
I didn’t misinterpret anything. But I have learnt that he’s truly not for me. He’s untrustworthy and inconsistent and I deserve more. Ick. Onward, somehow. Thanks again for your post.
@Holly…so sorry….it really is ick. Super ick. Recovery is hard, but holding on to the ick feeling will help it along. Hope the pain fades quickly.
Thanks Jaideux for your kind words. I’m devastated but I’ve been busy adding to his “cons” list which is now getting quite long. The reality is, he isn’t this amazing man I’d built him up to be. I’m trying so hard to focus on that and aaaaaall of the cons on my list.
He’s certainly busy collecting his harem Holly, surprised he has the energy to keep you all in line. What a narcissistic ass he is.
Mine’s doing a fab job in ignoring me, and I in turn am pretending I am not noticing. The sandpit at school is looking like a really good resting place for his body right now 😡
I was asked about LO at work the other day and I recounted the story as I think there is a misunderstanding out there about what happened and it is useful to explain my side. Plus I’m in a place where I feel easy about talking about it. Not talking about the obsessive elements of the LE, but objectively as I could the nature of the relationship: how we were together, things that were said, the flashpoints, the texting, etc.
Having done so, the person that asked said “wow, it sounds like she was really conflicted about you. She acted like you were her boyfriend half the time and her dad the other half”.
Of course I had the same conflict in me, and it drove the uncertainty. Realistically I wasn’t going to blow everything up to be with her, and she didn’t want to blow things up either but the possibility was always there. She probably liked having me on the hook as well, and I liked being the powerful, knowledgeable mentor figure.
So sometimes the indecision is understandable, appropriate even because a decisive move in the wrong direction could cause trouble.
Yeah, that’s a good point, Vincent. When both limerent and LO are conflicted the mutual indecision can produce a weird (and probably unhealthy) stable state of tension.
This post was mostly triggered by hearing from limerents who want to be with their LO, but can’t because of the LO’s indecisive behaviour.
This is such a timely post for me… (but everyone has written that under one of DRL’s posts, right?)
In the last weeks, I’ve finally worked up the energy to say “no more” to an indecisive LO, and start (as much as possible in my situation) NC.
All of these preoccupations fight each other, seemingly on an hourly basis:
– The undeniable need to stop the uncertainty, look after myself and make life about something else
– The “fear of missing out” on something that felt, and sometimes still feels, so close…
– The knowledge deep down that you can’t please or “complete” someone who doesn’t know themselves, and won’t commit to a decision, that misery would follow
– The guilt of having to break an attachment that seems genuinely important to LO, even if it doesn’t carry the same strength of feeling
– The anxiety of how to cope when seeing LO, as complete NC isn’t possible for now
– The guilty, secret hope that saying “no” might provoke LO to think harder and say “actually, OK then…”
In my case, this all wrapped up with a feeling that the episode has been an awakening, then a lifeline, then a crutch – giving me energy and motivation to make necessary changes, but now delaying me from properly grieving the losses those changes implied.
Good luck everyone, and take care of yourselves…
You too, landmarker. It’s great that you’re analysing your motives and the underlying impulses that are driving them. Improves the odds of making good choices enormously.
Thank you Dr L and thank you for all your work on the blog and site. It really helped me a few weeks ago to find a better perspective on the situation I was facing and how to think through taking control and purposeful action.
5 months later I come across this and it’s just perfect. I’m starting NC today and your comment captures just where my mind is at.
Have much more to say, but for now will only say THANK YOU Dr. L for describing exactly where I’ve been for the past 8 months. The behaviour of my LO (and me!) is exactly as described. This is extraordinarily helpful. More later.
You’re welcome Fred 🙂
I felt that i was as indecisive as my LO.. we were in a status quo of semi friendship, and i just realised in this forced NC (2 weeks today) that i had enough and most importantly my kids have suffered indirectly from it 🙁 So its over , and i feel like im breaking up . cheers to purposeful living!!
After reading this I finally had to admit to myself that I am likely what my colleague would consider his “indecisive LO”. Ouch… I think I was so lost in my LE that I failed to see the signs that this guy likes me perhaps too much.
I’ve known him for a few years know and over time I would find myself talking to just him alone after meetings, sometimes even for an hour. Somehow I convinced myself that he was like an older brother or mentor figure because he’s 10 years older, I don’t find him all that physically attractive, and we are both obviously unavailable. When things were rough at work or in my personal life, I felt like I could always confide in him and I overshared at times, prompted by the point-on questions he asked. He reads me so well and knows just by looking at me how I’m feeling. In addition to that he has an uncanny memory when it comes to things I have told him in the past.
Because he’s a genuinely friendly guy, I had attributed his somewhat friendly behavior to that. For example, he has a nickname for me, he openly compliments me in front of others, and often contacts me when he is not at work or even on vacation for really trivial things, like with a photo of what he is doing, a joke, or a new article he thinks I should read.
Starting a few years ago, he was suddenly nice the one day, and then cold the next, which made me a bit insecure and not sure how to respond to him as a friend, so I think I became really unpredictable as well, suddenly not responding to his messages or canceling meetings for no reason.
Looking back, I’m pretty sure that he noticed the spark between me and my LO that happend at a conference where all three of us were at. He joked around afterwards that I must have enjoyed the conference because I made a new friend, but I didn’t think it was possible that he had noticed that I had fallen for someone else there (and I turned bright red when he said this), I did my best to brush his joke off. His erratic hot and cold behavior that started after that conference caused my reaction towards him to be somewhat indecisive as to whether I wanted to keep being friends at work, but now over a year later we have settled down in our work friendship again.
I’m going to be leaving my job soon, so I’ve got a good reason to slowly ease into NC. Now I’ve just got to figure out how to navigate the goodbyes. Although I’m really truly sad to be loosing him as someone I would call a good friend, this information on this sight and having gone through LE myself has helped me realize that line between friendship and something more is perhaps sometimes just too thin.
Your friend who possible likes you sounds like me lol.
I had nick name for my lo. I’m the friendly guy in the office thet is always friendly and talks to everyone and makes them laugh. People like me around I feel. Which is a nice place to be. I’m married.
But had limerence
For someone at work for couple of years. Dying down slowly as I’ve cut down contact to only responding to her not being proactive like I used to be.
I used to send messages from holidays too. Buy birthday gifts and coffees and when she was tired I could tell and cheer her up. I feel for this guy. It’s been painful once I realised she wasn’t really into me and That just saw me as a friend. For 2 years
She liked me but I realised she just saw me as a brother and safe
Person to talk too. She is introvert and finds it hard to make deep connections but she had thet with me so I felt extra special.
Just reduce contact with him and don’t make him feel special. That’s what’s helped me.
You didn’t do this in person but you must have liked the attention. We are human. We guys take thet as you may like us. We are
Wired that way.
Thanks, Josh, for the tip and wish me luck on slowly reducing contact with the guy who I’m afraid is limerent for me. I know how hard an LE is, so I want to spare him as much pain as possible if this is the case. Because I’m still struggling with LE myself and often reading stories on this site, I’m somehow afraid that I’m jumping too soon to conclusions and could be cutting off someone who is simply a good friend, but your reply helped to confirm my hypothesis.
One observation that I’ve made on this site is that LO are often described as manipulative people, who just want attention and are narcissistic. But I think there is another large stereotype. Those who are hurting and lonely and don’t have a clue as to what is going on until it’s too late. People who are so focused on helping others that they don’t take care of themselves well enough. Introverts who have trouble asking for the attention from the people who should give it to them from (e.g. SO, friends, parents, boss, colleagues, etc) and who are therefore susceptible to any type of persistent friendly attention.
I fit this profile, and I think my LO did too ( to be clear, a different guy). Instead of blaming him for flirting with me and saying that he was just playing with me to get some attention, it helps to see him as a human being, with needs and desires that I somehow (unconsciously or consciously) met at that time. It helps me better understand the situation and realize how important it is to keep doing my best to meet the needs of my SO. By putting more effort into meeting his needs, I find he is getting better at meeting mine as well.
If only I could shake this whole limerence thing!!! Still struggling to get my LO out of my mind…
Yeah hypothesis is exactly the same as mine. When I read your original message I thought my LO was writing it. We do all the things you mention cos we are thinking of you. I bought my girl earrings from holiday. What an idiot. She is a friend from work.
I think my lo knew as on my Xmas card she said she is grateful that she can call me a friend.
Across niave but I think she knew a bit what was going on. She hasn’t had a relationship for 9 years and when I asked her last year doesn’t she want to date she said she is finding her self.
I don’t think all people like you and my LO are bad. Your right just human and liking the care and attention and feel they are worthy.
To blame a
Lot too. I used to take her shopping with me as she has a good eye for clothes. And she came. If she said no it would have helped me. But she liked the shopping part and I thought she liked being a pseudo girlfriend.
But I’m getting better as I went limited contact. And she hasn’t made any effort to
Ask why I’ve gone quiet or reeling me in. So that’s a good thing really.
Sometimes, in my not so proud moments, I intentionally try to pull my LO into making her limerent for me. I know what hooked me so I try to do the same things to her that worked on me. We are very similar after all. I don’t believe she was ever limerent for me, although she admitted attraction and a crush. I tell myself it can’t be so difficult to get someone to move from a crush to limerence, so I try. I want her to suffer as I have suffered. I want her to know what I have gone through for her. This sounds very messed up I know. It’s not from a place of revenge but I think it’s more to do with wanting someone to understand what I’ve been going through.
Found this website a month or so ago, and have devoured it since then – what an amazing resource, and how timely for me (and I’m sure for many others). Thank you Dr. L! This is my short story.
I’m in my mid-30s in a long-term relationship. My SO is an amazing person, makes me a better person, and I very much love her and want to make my life with her by my side. Before this phase of my life, have never really been limerent for anyone apart from my SO many years ago. Of course, there are occasional people for whom I might feel fleeting physical or emotional attraction, but never really allowed anything to develop (not necessarily a conscious choice, just worked out that way). About a year ago, was assigned to an intense project with LO (who is also in a long-term relationship). Spent many, many hours working closely together, including overnight work trips almost every week. Became close friends, and would often talk about life outside of work – relationships, parents, shared struggles of being immigrants, etc. I fell for her hard. Couldn’t stop thinking of her. Wanted her more and more, in every way possible. Thing is, even during the worst of the limerence, always knew rationally that SO is a much better fit for me. Also knew rationally that there was no way this had a happy ending. Even if I got everything I wanted, and we each left our SOs and had a passionate love affair, we were not compatible long-term. Of course, that dastardly limerent brain would hear nothing of this, and kept doing things to get the fix. Never quite disclosed to her, though came very close multiple times in person or in text – just staying on the right side of plausible deniability. LO continued to be good friends with me, but never reciprocated in any way.
I realized two things. One was – I wanted something that was a complete fantasy. What I wanted was to have a secret affair with LO, have the time of my life, then both of us mutually fall out of love, and then go back to our SOs as if nothing had happened and our primary loves fully intact if not stronger! Talk about delusions! Second thing I realized – I was doing serious damage to my SO. I was distant. I was moody. I would cut our conversations short to spend time either talking to her or dreaming about her. SO asked me straight up if I was having an affair. I realized something had to give. I finished my project as best as I could, and took a long break of two months. Spent a lot of time with SO repairing our relationship. Didn’t go completely NC with LO, but greatly reduced contact and it helped.
Which brings me to now. I’m doing a lot better, and so is SO … but can’t quite get to 100% recovery. Problem is, LO considers me a good friend, probably her best friend at work. She calls me several times a week, asks when I’m in the office to have lunch with, invites me to go work out together, etc. I don’t think she is a selfish person and knows that she is stringing me along. Maybe she has never experienced the agony of limerence. Maybe she just isn’t very thoughtful or introspective. Maybe she enjoys having a good friend at work – after all, I listen well to her, pay her a lot of attention and compliments, support her with all her work, etc. I also don’t think she realizes the mixed signals she sends that my limerent brain easily misinterprets – phone calls or texts late at night, touching my arm when I make a joke, etc.
Any tips on how to quit her fully? We’ll be working together for a while. Every time I vow to end our friendship, she contacts me in some way or wants to do something together that reels me back in. Thank you!
She may not consciously know what she’s doing to you, but I am certain she does unconsciously…and she loves it. She may not be malicious but knowing that someone is smitten with you…someone really great…is a huge ego boost and addictive in its own way.
So….you are going to have to choose…and I think you have already, you have chosen your SO. Bravo! So that means all that is left is for you to be singularly cordial and professional with your coworker. You can’t have a healthy friendship with her. You cannot be chummy chummy. Don’t give her mixed signals! You have to ignore late night texts and calls, (they are after business hours!) and pull away when she touches you. You have to act slightly annoyed by her attentions and rightly so! You are protecting your relationship with SO. Don’t worry about her being hurt…she will figure it out and get over it. You get to make that choice. She will have to find another friend. She is your colleague and you have a job to do and if you can’t handle being her colleague and she can’t handle not having you as more than than a colleague…perhaps it’s time to find anther job!
Hi Josh, and welcome!
It sounds like you are in a Good Place. You’re able to look back on the LE rationally and recognise the delusional bits, and are doing good work to rejuvenate your relationship with SO. In terms of the last stage of letting go, I’d agree with Jaideux – maintaining a close friendship is going to be almost impossible.
A better plan is to work on a “staged withdrawal” where you decrease the closeness bit by bit, until you get to the cordial professional relationship stage (i.e. as for your other co-workers). I also agree with Jaideux that the place to start is the late night texts and messages. She is reaching out with them when she wants a little bit of emotional gratification, enjoying the “specialness” of your friendship (within her boundaries). You could look at that as a friendly gesture, but really she’s just looking for an emotional hit from you too, even if it isn’t romantic on her side. However, you know the impact that those little “outreach moments” have on your psychology, so you need them to stop. Best way is to stop engaging.
You can go for a very slow withdrawal (e.g. wait ten minutes before replying, then twenty, then an hour, etc.) but given how self-aware you are it’s probably better to just go for a simple strict rule (e.g. no texting her after 8 pm).
This is the last stage of the recovery marathon! Just got to keep going to the finishing line…
Josh, I agree with the others but please do it staged withdrawal not cold turkey like my LO did.
I am heart broken he severed our friendship so suddenly and struggling with the emotional fall out. Just remember you can be firm and resolute but be kind.
Thank you so much everyone for the responses. This is an amazing community 🙂
Finding this step of turning our “friendship” into a cordial work relationship sooo difficult. We’re still working and traveling for work together. I know she does not feel about me the way I do … I would have no problem showing her texts to my SO. She regularly talks about her boyfriend, how she wants to get married, asks for advice on how to make up after a fight, etc. She never hints at any feelings for me, like I sometimes do over text (telling her I’m missing her, for example).
She isn’t stupid or with low EQ. Surely by now she has sensed how I feel. And at this point, any rational person, especially one in a relationship or someone who claims to be my friend, would start to act differently. Would try to distance herself from me. Would cool things off. And yet … it seems to be the opposite. When I cool off, she gets friendlier. She calls me constantly. She’s almost pushy about spending time with me at work … when I go work somewhere else, she usually will text me within 30 minutes asking where I am, and why I left. When we’re on the road, she will order wine to her room and ask me to come finish my work there – even though absolutely nothing romantic/sexual has ever happened, and neither of us have made a move. But all these actions just make it hard for me to let go, and keep me wondering … why is she doing this? What does she actually feel? Is there any chance she feels the same way? My head tells me the right answer, but limerence tells me otherwise …
Am I royally screwed, or is there a way out? Thank you, strangers!
Coming from the other side (see post above) I agree with Dr. L that a staged withdrawal is probably your best bet. My colleague who I also consider a friend, suddenly went cold on me, this made me question our work-friendship. I didn’t want to loose that as I was a bit lonely, and especially at work and talking with him always cheered me up in a pure friendly way, so when he would withdraw, I found myself initiating the contact, which probably made it hard on him. You really want to avoid a back and forth and her trying to get you back (even if it is only as a friend).
If she questions why you are withdrawing or being distant, you could use the excuse that you want to have a more “purposeful life” and be fully present where you are, which means keeping work life at work and not discussing too much personal stuff at work. I think if my colleague had let something like that drop in a conversation where there were other colleagues around, I would have gotten the message and respected that and not taken things at all personally. You could also put her number on mute so that you are not tempted to respond as quickly.
Sorry what do you mean by staged withdrawal!? Im curious because i dont see how it can work
It’s the idea of withdrawing from the relationship with LO in small stages, rather than suddenly going No Contact. It’s best used when you need to interact with LO and so will always have to have some limited contact. The goal is to get from the status quo (intimate friendship) to the preferred, realistic endpoint (cordial but minimal contact).
Rather than a sudden ghosting, or a grand declaration that you have to end the relationship because of your feelings for them (both of which would be perfectly sensible strategies under different circumstances), you gradually cool off the friendship little by little.
Yeah thats what my Stupid jerk of a LO tried to do to me. That slow fade away and always going on about life and friends being a temporary thing etc. Yeah thanks for letting me know I’m not worth having as a friend and you are gonna turn your back to me as soon as you don’t have the need of a “friend” anymore or get bored etc and blame it on “circumstances” and life.
Well I’m not gonna sit passively while someone slowly packs their bags getting ready to “fade away” on me. What em I? Trash? A trashy toy you can throw away when bored?
Also fade away? Thats just because they are such cowards and can never speak up or stand up for themselves. Instead they have to use subtle manipulation methods.. In oderder to feel like they are kind and good people and its was just “life” that came inbetween. Such bs.
So when my Lo started this shit but still would keep me around just so he could have his ego boosts, I walked away just like that our last day at school, because I could not take anymore fakeness and him playing stupid.
He suckes at confrontations. He prefers being passive and letting the other person to get worked out so he can sit passively and act like he is all balanced and objective. He prefers to be in a dreamland and if it gets shattered he will be all unbalanced and up n down, trigger you in all types of ways and never address any issues.
So I walked , And guess what, he gladely took it. He got an easy way out and he took it. And he has now for more then one year never even contacted me to ask, how I am, what I’m doing, whats up with my life etc. Its like I DIED.
Fade away? Just be upfront damn it! Fading away is so cowardly and makes the other person feel like trash!
Now I will never ever know anything about his stupid thoughts about anything that happened and his actions etc, but fine. He treated me like an animal he “by mistake” hit on with his car, and he sees the animal is still alive, in bad shape but alive but he is too cowardly to put it down so he just drives away.. Thats how I feel. Like a wounded animal left on the side of the road just bc he was a coward…
But yeah let us call it “fade away”…
ps. I don’t understand how I still get all worked out bc of this shitty ex-lo… but I do..
LO #2 was very Passive-Aggressive and I got some whiffs of it with LO #4. Passive-Aggressive behavior is a kind of guerilla war waged by people who can’t or won’t directly confront something or someone. I saw my grandfather wage that war against my grandmother for over a decade. I don’t know how she didn’t kill him. I also saw a lot of Passive-Aggressiveness in my wife’s family. It’s rampant in the military.
Depending on how it’s handled, a staged withdrawal could easily be perceived as Passive-Aggressive for the reasons you cited.
A really passive-aggressive LO is a nightmare. If you don’t recognize it, it can drive you nuts. You can pin them down but the only way to do that is to go straight at them and back them into a corner. To do that, you have to disclose. If you can’t or won’t do that, you’re pretty much screwed. You take it and learn to live with it or you cut them off. https://sharischreiber.com/whos-doing-your-dirty-work/
It’s been over 30 years, and thinking about LO #2 can still piss me off. But, it’s not debilitating.
Yes, I see your point, but usually passive-aggressive behaviour is an attempt to make the other party feel guilty/upset, with the goal of trying to manipulate them into changing their behaviour. For staged withdrawal, you’re not trying to make LO do something as such, you’re just becoming less available to them. i.e. you’re setting new boundaries for yourself, not trying to control their behaviour.
” For staged withdrawal, you’re not trying to make LO do something as such, you’re just becoming less available to them. i.e. you’re setting new boundaries for yourself, not trying to control their behaviour.”
That’s true if we’re the ones implementing the staged withdrawal. I may be off but I think B’s point is that if you’re on the receiving end, it’s a whole different story. I don’t remember the blog but you talked about mutual limerents being at different phases of the LE and one coming out of it. If you’re still limerent and they’re not, how they handle that goodbye is huge. I accused LO #4 of having a dismissive style and I didn’t like it coming from her any more than I did from LO #2. But, I’d disclosed by then and the gloves were off.
“The loss of connection with someone we’ve valued/cherished is hard enough to manage–but feeling underestimated by them adds insult to injury! If we’ve acquired the capacity to handle confrontation and resolve conflicts, and someone exits the relationship emotionally and/or physically instead of discussing their concerns, it’s a betrayal of the trust and affection we’ve shared. When this happens, it leaves us feeling diminished and angry, because here’s what they’re passively expressing: “I don’t regard you as capable of resolving this issue with me,” or “I’m uncomfortable sharing my real feelings with you,” or “You and your feelings don’t matter here,” and “It’s easier (on me) to forfeit this connection and disappear, than to muster the courage I need to repair it.” – Shari Schreiber
It doesn’t matter if it’s real or not. If you’re limerent that sense of trust and connection may be entirely in your head but it’s still real enough to you. They may not be aware that you’re limerent for them. Your LO could genuinely like you and have no idea you’re limerent for them. They don’t know why the relationship changed, all they see is that you’re checking out on them without an explanation. It’s hard not feel diminished when someone does that to you.
The staged withdrawal fade away thing never worked for me either. My LO would pick up on my attempts and double down to suck me back in. And he would eventually be successful, every time. Unless of course it was him suddenly going radio silent after calling me for YEARS several times a week and spending a great deal of time with me in person as well. I was in shock, but I also thought maybe I was now finally going to be free at last since I didn’t have the strength to cut it off on my own. So in a painful way, he did me a favor.
It turns out he had found the ‘one’ and I was no longer of any use to him during his hunt and capture of the ‘one’. When he did contact me he wanted me to hang out with them, I wasn’t even sure of the role she played in his life (is she a friend, or more?), and I could only stay a few minutes with them as I had an appointment but later I put the pieces together with the help of friends…they were actually married! I don’t know if he had been secretly dating her for a long time or not…it doesn’t matter anyway.
He wanted us to all be best pals from then on but shortly after that I went NC. He called and left messages for a while, but he’s given up now.
I am finally able to heal…but I felt guilty for a time for going NC so fast and furious, but at the end of the day I wasn’t going to be played any longer, even under the guise of being ‘friends’. To paraphrase Dr L.: “friends don’t toy with their friends emotions”. LO knew I was in love with him and just brushed that inconvenient truth under the rug so he could enjoy my sweet, sweet friendship. (I don’t mean to brag, but I am an excellent friend).
I wish I would have, could have ended the faux ‘friendship’ as soon as I realized it wasn’t going anywhere. I would have healed sooner and with less long term damage. So B, even though it was messy, for you at least its now over and you can reclaim yourself. You feel miserable now but you will come out of this wiser, more mature, and will feel good again in the future. And know how to spot a potential LO and run away! There is light at the end of the tunnel!
If you’re more technically inclined, you can think of it as incrementally controlling the rate of change to reduce shock to the system.
Clip of the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdEq6O-xtuU
Early in our marriage, my wife put a Pyrex bread baking dish on the stove. She wanted to boil some water and turned on the wrong burner. The resulting explosion sounded like a gunshot. When I looked in the kitchen, there were red hot pieces of glass melting their way into the kitchen floor.
Thank you very much Scharnhorst! Damn, 30 years! thats harsh 🙁
What makes it so insanely more hurtful and makes me feel so much guilt is because in the end, as always, I blame it all on myself.
I knew he would do this to me like 1,5 years before he did it!
Because I always knew for SURE he has abondonment issues. When I asked about his childhood when we just had become close, he revealed how his father had walked away from them when he was 8-9 years old. He was absolutely ”emotionless” telling me this. He simply did not care at all, for real. He was not upset, he was not sad, he felt nada.
And when I asked him why his dad walked he said ”I know my mothers side of the story. But he surely has his side of the story and that one I don’t know, until then I can’t blame him for anything because that would be unfair.”
I mean he was totally accepting and Objective about it. I asked him if he wouldn’t wanna confront him. And he said that he did not have the urge or need. Again, he was totally objective. It was not like he was surpressing anger or sadness, he sounded totally accepting.
Which is good I guess BUT, I knew from there on, ”this is a guy who will act passive when he wants to push that person away and be all objective and shrugg it of and never wanna confront bc he does not have the ”need” for it”.
I also knew on that second that thanks to how his mother and father handled this shit, he now as an adult believes its just ”normal” when someone walks away and to never disclose or confront etc. When you had enough of someone or something, you just shrugg it off and walk away or let the other one walk away.
Thats so sad. And also so stupid I did stay. I’m a very intense and posessive person. I would never be ok with this bs. And yet I slso walked away from him didn’t I? Did I confront him? Fid I let him ”explain himself?” no.
Damn, I’m such a hypocrite.. I feel sickened of myself… I too have abondonment issues and emotionally unavailable parents. And a dad who is physically here but has always been working and away for my whole life, never fully present and so emotionally closed down. And both parents are depression prone and seems bordeline sometimes… theire legacy they passed on me in very young age…
So end note, I feel super ashamed for many things. And also because I made him go through all this ”abondonment” scenario all over again …. I’m such a horrible person..
I don’t know whom I should direct my anger towards anymore…
thanks for reading…
“I don’t know whom I should direct my anger towards anymore…”
That’s why God invented therapists. They get paid for it.
You didn’t make him do anything. If you read through Schreiber’s stuff, one of the general themes is that if you have a pattern of dissatisfying relationships, there’s a reason. Based on what she told me, LO #2 had an affinity for cheaters because it reinforced the message she got mother that all men cheat. LO #4 had an affinity for Narcs. From what I got from her, I don’t she ever met one she didn’t try to rehabilitate. She claimed to have a Narc father and could have been the poster child for an emotionally corrective experience.
One of the other things you pick up from Schreiber is the insidious characteristic is that we unconsciously seek out those people who will eventually disappoint us. It’s familiar. We know how things will eventually play out. We like to think this time will be different but it never is.
We’re drifting away from limerence. Schreiber says fixers/codependents and personality disordered predators develop from the same experience but track differently. Personally, given the overlap between codependence and limerence, the fixer track splits into codependents and limerents. Given my experience, my guess is I became limerent by default. I was going to go down one track or the other. I don’t remember any fixers in my family. My acoholic mother might have had PD traits but my father pulled me out before my mother could indoctrinate me. My grandmother was pretty cold, intolerant of perceived moral short comings, and judgmental . Those traits did get passed on to me.
I totally get where your LO is coming from with respect to emotional flatness. When you’ve taken hit after hit and you believe that the only person in the world that you can rely on is yourself, that’s what it takes to get up in the morning. I felt the same way. It wasn’t personal, it was just the way it was. When everyone you ever really cared about, starting with your mother, leaves or takes off on you, it’s not if someone will leave, it’s when they’ll leave. Caring about someone is an exercise in futility and not worth the effort.
The thing was, I got so lonely that I didn’t want to live that way and I needed to take a chance. I thought it might be LO #2. It wasn’t but LO #2 showed me enough of the good side of things to make me want to try it again. It took my wife to convince me that not everyone you care about takes off on you.
@Sara, Good question. Let me preface this by saying that I think staged withdrawal is a good idea when the person withdrawing is limerent but the other person just sees the relationship as purely-platonic friendship and there has been no or very little disclosure. Basically, I think it is good to treat the relationship like what it is from the other person’s perspective: a good friendship.
With some friends, at some point I realize that I don’t want to be all that close with them or that they are just there for a phase in my life. So I slowly back off, or my friend backs off. Of course this can hurt, but it’s easier to accept a fading friendship than someone falling off the face of the earth. For me, staged withdrawal, means to slowly back off in a way so as not to hurt their feelings and so as not to end things in such a way that you could never be friends again. For example, not responding to their texts immediately or postponing hanging out with them and definitely being more guarded in sharing what is happening in my life.
If you distance yourself slowly, the other person may notice, but if you do it right, they won’t hopefully confront you on it. They will hopefully start finding other friends in the meantime who will meet their needs. But if a good friend – out of the blue – said that they didn’t want to see me anymore, I would have a really hard time emotionally with that and would probably push and pry and try to figure out what I had done wrong or check on them to see if they were ok. If they were limerent for me, this would maybe push them to disclose, which would really make things even more awkward. Friends don’t (usually) suddenly disappear, so doing so could blow one’s cover.
Not to sound too harsh, but thats exactly what makes me go “whats the hell is wrong with you people!”. Everywrd you write about “fading away and ” do it right and hopefully they wont confront you”. What the?! Is this how my LO thought?!
I can’t believe my eyes reading all this in your text!
My reaction to all the advice about fading away you can find in a comment I did above…
In short, “Fading away” is such a coward move. As if the other person is trash and not worth even one little sentence of explanation?! How can someone treat the other person like this?! I would not even treat a person I HATE in this manner let alone a “friend”.
I think what you are missing b is that you wanted more from your LO than he wanted to give. So his withdrawing was something you didn’t want.
Staged withdrawal is a strategy for people who want to get away from their LO. If you think it is better to sever a friendship by “one little sentence of explanation” like: “I have a massive crush on you and need to get away” that’s fine. Do that.
I personally would find that more upsetting than someone choosing to spend less time with me bit by bit, if I was an LO.
I’m not sure I understand how you mean?
Its not about LO or LE, can we step away from that for a sec, and evaluate it as being humans?
I never wanted him to be anything more then an LO. I never wanted nor want a relationship with him. I just became obsessed, but still he was my ”friend”.
Is it normal to ”fade away” or ”walk away” or whatever we call it, from a Friend you have been seing every weekday for several years? A friend you were in teams with so you did everything together for years?
And he is an introvert and dislikes other people other then those he choose to be in teams with (me) and same for me. We had just One other person with us, one mutual friend. Rest of the class did not even exist for us… We did everything together. Even if we deep down knew it was not ”real”, we sure acted like real friends for those years
I mean I understand it was all fake and that he used me for ego boost and I just was ok with it etc, But we were still on paper and on display, friends.
F*ck I know I lied to myself and he was just passing time with me and that he would turn his back soon enough, he told me how friends comes and goes and its not important etc,
but I did not know be would be such a coward…
So in short I don’t see it as a lover leaving you. I see it as a friend turning his back, and call it ”life”
I know we both have abondonment issues but I’m so hurt anyway.. can I not be hurt just because I had ocd feelings at the same time? 🙁
Yes, I agree it’s good to take a step back.
The basic scenario behind staged withdrawal is: someone is limerent, the friendship with LO is painful to sustain because of those feelings, and so they are seeking relief from that pain while also not being willing or able to just go No Contact.
The way I look on this is that it is fundamentally a sad situation. Without intending to hurt anyone, the limerent finds themselves unable to be friends with their LO in an authentic way – their feelings keep getting in the way. Something is going to have to change, and so the limerent has to choose from several unappealing options.
1) Disclose and thereby move the limerence from a personal struggle to an open fact. This is in many ways admirable, but also has significant consequences for everyone involved.
2) Try and change the dynamics of the friendship, so that they are not at so much emotional risk. This is the staged withdrawal approach.
3) Try and start a romantic relationship with LO. If the limerent and LO are free and single this is obviously the best option. If not, then it comes with serious “collateral damage” to other relationships.
For me, option 2 is the best of a bad set of choices.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I get the feeling that your objection to it is because one person (the limerent in my example, LO in your case) is taking unilateral action to change the dynamics of the relationship without being open about their reasons. Unfortunately, it seems like it’s also unavoidable if only one of you is unhappy with the status quo.
Then, the issue becomes one of trying to minimise hurt. And if either of the friends have partners, then the partner’s feelings also have to be considered. It is a very delicate and difficult situation to disentangle. My instinct is to do it cautiously and slowly, but I agree that some people could find that approach more upsetting than a quick, honest break.
The pain may be a form of disenfranchised grief but it’s genuine and therefore legitimate.
A staged withdrawal may be the lesser evil. There may be compelling reasons for doing it. But, it’s self-serving and always done for the perceived best interest of the person withdrawing. It just is.
Back to limerence… The withdrawing limerent can be lauded for their integrity in protecting their marriage and trying to show compassion for the other person. You’re not withdrawing from that person for their benefit, you’re withdrawing for your benefit. If somebody needs to be sacrificed here, who’s expendable? Oh, yeah, the often, but not always, innocent LO. Sometimes, you don’t pay for your mistakes, someone else does. One of the most sobering things I had to deal with in my LE #4 was the realization was that what I hadn’t been taking too seriously was being taken seriously. All of sudden, there was a real person on the other end and what I was saying mattered to her.
When it comes to uncertainty, checking out with no explanation is like throwing gasoline on a barbeque. If the person checking out had a real place in your life, you almost have to be a sociopath to not take it personally. It’s not their fault you attached to them. They warned you ahead of time and you attached to them anyway. You just don’t feel hurt, you feel stupid. I don’t like being hurt, but I hate feeling stupid on top of it.
I’m not so sure this is such a simple cost/benefit situation. That if the limerent withdraws the LO has been deprived. Or that the LO benefits more from having a limerent friend than not.
Oftentimes, the reason why the status quo becomes intolerable is that the dynamic of the friendship is unhealthy to start with – e.g. mutual limerence, or an LO that likes the narcissistic supply, or a limerent that is pretending they just want to be friends so they can keep getting LO hits, or a level of intimacy that borders on an emotional affair and threatens other relationships.
Certainly the limerent can bear responsibility for causing that unhealthy dynamic, but that doesn’t mean that continuing on the same terms is to the benefit of the LO. Objectively, it’s probably better for both parties in the long term that the “friendship” cools.
Now, I’m aware that “it’s best for both of us” sounds like a rationalisation for selfishness, but “it’s selfish to end this friendship for my own benefit” could also be a rationalisation for why you should continue to seek LO contact.
My statement stands.
“I’m not so sure this is such a simple cost/benefit situation. That if the limerent withdraws the LO has been deprived. Or that the LO benefits more from having a limerent friend than not.” Yeah, it is that simple. However you arrived there, you need to get out and someone may get hurt in the process. It wasn’t how you’d prefer things go but you can’t always get what you want. It’s still about you.
You said it yourself, actions have consequences. Your self-preservation may come at someone else’s expense. What makes it worse is they may not have signed up for it. They just have to live with it. Checking out may make no difference to some people, but to some people it does. If you care about someone and they check out without explanation, you don’t know whether it’s because you offended them, they don’t care at all, or they care so much that if they continue all kinds of bad things will happen. All you know is someone you care about different.
Detaching from LO #4 was the right thing to do. It was self-serving but I wanted her to know it wasn’t because I didn’t like her, it was because I was beginning to like her too much and that was a problem for me. I don’t regret it. I don’t know what LO #4 thinks of me. I probably never will and it’s to the point that it doesn’t matter. But, whatever she thinks of me, it’s based on something solid. I think she trusted me enough to believe I was being honest with her and what I told her was true.
Whether the LO feels deprived or benefits from having a limerent friend is in the eyes of the LO. It’s equally valid if someone is limerent for you, you’re not available, and you decide to detach.
You may wish they weren’t limerent for you or you weren’t limerent for them, that none of this should have have happened and that staged withdrawal is the “best option.” It may be the right thing to do and the pain may be unavoidable but it’s still a lousy way to to business.
“Now, I’m aware that “it’s best for both of us” sounds like a rationalisation for selfishness, but “it’s selfish to end this friendship for my own benefit” could also be a rationalisation for why you should continue to seek LO contact.” My point is just like you don’t know how your LO might respond to disclosure, you don’t know how they’ll respond to your leaving, either. It could have a lot more effect on them than you think based on the assumptions you made. Reducing their profile in your life might not be a great loss to you but reducing your profile in their life might be a great loss to them. You don’t know what roles you may be playing in their lives. The therapist said LO #4 wasn’t aware of the role she was playing in mine.
This is the sticking point for me. Two people are stuck in an unhealthy friendship that is harming at least one of them. What is the non-lousy way to do business?
There may be no “non-lousy way to do business.” But, sometimes there is. Again, every situation is different.
When I accused LO #4 of having a dismissive style and stonewalling me, I used the term “lousy way to do business” with her. She came back with that she didn’t intend to be dismissive and “Based on what you said, I thought it best not to respond to certain things.”
Read that again, “…I thought it best….” In reality, she was dismissing me. Her reasons were her reasons and she’s entitled to them. What I hear is silence. What I said didn’t merit a response from her. I told her that “Back off!” was an entirely acceptable response. A simple, “I don’t want to discuss that” at least acknowledges what I said. I got the impression she was afraid to confront me directly. I can speculate a few possible reasons. I flat out asked her, “What were you afraid would happen if you had responded?” She didn’t respond directly to that question. She came back with that in the future she’d try to be more direct when something was bothering her.
I told her I didn’t know which was worse, thinking she was ignoring me or knowing that she didn’t feel she could be honest with me. Actually, that was lie. I knew. The latter was way worse.
In the end, I got the second best goodbye from LO #4 of any goodbye I got from a woman. I think the only reason it wasn’t the best was it was done via email instead of in person.
What I got from b’s posts is that on LwL, we take a cold, dispassionate, almost clinical view of the “Staged Withdrawal.” Like it’s some medical procedure used to get rid of an abscess. The pus is gone but the hole remains. This is what you have, this is what you do. It’s almost trivial. I think one of the points b was making is that whatever it is, it’s not trivial.
b, I apologize if I missed your point.
B, how would you have liked it to end?
My LO ended things abruptly, one minute we were BFFs (I saw him almost every day) the next he disappeared. No explanation, nothing, he just walked away without a single backward glance. Now if I see him around he behaves like I have a contagious disease, he greets me but scuttles off in case he catches my germs. It’s humiliating and crushing, I feel rejected, discarded , betrayed and very hurt by his actions. It’s taking every ounce of will power not to tackle him to the ground and strangle him when he behaves like a juvenile, cowardly ass, or throw a coffee cup at his head.
I don’t have an issue WHY he’s doing it, I don’t want nor need to discuss anything because I already know why but I am having massive issues with his method. It makes me feel explosive.
The worst part in all this is that everyone around me is also noticing and asking uncomfortable questions I don’t want to answer, questions like is there something going on between us or did we have a fight. I know it’s for his SOs benefit but shit I wish he could’ve just told me verbally, 5 min of pain is much more preferable than the last 10 weeks of torture I’ve endured. I am worried that one day I’ll snap and rip his head off in front of everyone, I am trying really, really hard not to react but it’s driving me nuts.
“I know it’s for his SOs benefit”
Full stop. It may be for his SO’s direct benefit (and directly or indirectly his own) but he clearly has made a decision and is sticking with it.
Aren’t you married? If so, are you more angry that he is the one who took action by ceasing contact rather than yourself? It definitely demonstrates his priorities to his family and not to you. That may rankle because you recognize that you owe more to your SO/family than you’re giving them.
Gah its so hard to find the right “Reply” buttons on this site! And how do we Quote?
I have read your every comment to me several times and appreciate all of it so much!
English is not my language, so it’s a bit hard for me to express me well especially when its about these types of deep feelings, emotions etc. I feel it can come of as flat sometimes buts its usually due to my English. But also I don’t seem to be “well spoken”.
I mean, that link to Sharis site? Amazing read! I have read about these matters, attachment styles etc etc for years now. Books, articles etc, but Sharis way of setting together the sentences… every word she writes hits things to the core for me!
Its really hard to read it. I so wish I had this guidance beforehand. But well, I did have these insights. But I was too emotionally burned out to be able to implement it. How I wish I had atleast said “You saying friends does not matter and life comes inbetween, its no big deal”, it triggers me big time and I see all this as a threat. And that I will be hurt.” But I never could dare saying something like that to him. Because he seemed to be the type who would not know how to handle it and would just shrugg it off. He was not good with emotions at all and used to play dumb and stupid and nthen never talk about it afterwards. That was his style. The ostrich style.
And yes Scharnhorst, you have understood what I’m trying to express really perfectly as well. Its how ones friend betrayes you and won’t trust you enough to tell to your face and well I could well enough quote your every sentence but one of the parts is this you said: “ When it comes to uncertainty, checking out with no explanation is like throwing gasoline on a barbeque. If the person checking out had a real place in your life, you almost have to be a sociopath to not take it personally. It’s not their fault you attached to them. They warned you ahead of time and you attached to them anyway. You just don’t feel hurt, you feel stupid. I don’t like being hurt, but I hate feeling stupid on top of it.”
So that actually is the worse feeling for me, I feel so STUPID! Like a complete IDIOT! How the hell could I not detach when he so openly was trying this fade away shit on me?
Of course he told me he would “fade away”, and of course he believed I was ok with it because, I NEVER did say “Hey, so what? You are gonna turn your back on me after school is over, and call it life? Excuse me? Do I look like someone who would appreciate being tossed away like trash?”
I should have had atleast one emotional outburst. I never did openly. I mean I acted weird and moody like a crazy bipolar person (but I’m not bipolar at all). I was having insomnia, low apatite, anxiety attacks, and these stuff he knew about. I would turn silent and just walk away and leave and be generally super weird. But he was weird too!
Also He would sometimes ask about my weirdness, in the end when he had started his detachment and was determined to act just friendly I would tell him yeah I dunno why, I can’t sleep well these days” etc. He did not care much. I lived all my emotions inside and it imploded so many times, I’m surprised I did not go totally insane!
At one point he even asked me why I wouldn’t “date” and if I was not interested meeting someone sooner or later. I was mortified! He just connected my moods and maybe even our earlier flirtationship (that we had slowly turned into something very much more subtle) to me being single? Like “she flirted with me just bc she is single”….
I could written down our weird dynamics here but…. Whats the point and also, who would care?
The dynamic was all messed up..
I now understand I got more and more unstable because I was bracing myself for the impact, the detachment. Everyday was one day closer to the end and I feel huge anxiety everyday and it was super high the closer the ending day approached. Its insane I even was able to act like a normal human at all those days come to think of it…
Clip of the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fC976fuQm4E – “Top Gun” – 1986
You’re in the F-14, your LO is in the A-4 you’re chasing. Maverick knew better, he did it anyway, and he died because of it. The classic line comes at the very end.
“The Defense Department regrets…”
@Lee-Ann and Dr Limerent
@Lee-Ann Thats horrible! Your LO is acting worse then a child!
I feel your pain, or rather, I can only imagine it! I would be so angry and feel such resenment…
I don’t know how I wanted it to end. I don’t think there is a good ending for this type of “friendships”.
My LO was not as unempathic. He seemed to thread real lightly, but also I know both he and I were real selfish people, meaning, it was real hard to focus on the other persons emotions etc.
So the withdrawle or fade away thing, I believe he did only for his own sake. Only to feel like he is a good guy. And how he mentioned how friends does not matter, they come and go and its no big deal, I think it was his way of telling me wha was to come. Or letting himsef ease into it all in best case scenario, but I can’t know bc I don’t have insight to his mind so..
But I don’t agree D Limerent that one has to “disclose” that openly.
Can one not just state ” I feel very unwell lately. I don’t think I can keep in touch” or “this friendzone thing is to complicated for me, I can’t do this friendship zone thing”.
I mean, its not that weird. I as a girl don’t believe in friendship between males ad females, not anymore. Its just not that possible and the exceptions does not count. Atleast for me. Anyways wo why not state that to one LO “I don’t believe in friendzones and friendship between opposite sex”. ? Is it too weird? Depends personality maybe?
I’m an all or nothing person. Yes our dynamic changed a lot during the years. We had atleast 5-6 different phases that I have written down in good detail bc journaling is ma thing. (Oh yeah I can read things I have written year 2017 on specific day and time etc and feel completely transformed back to that day. As soon as I read my entries I remember Exactly what I was feeling right then and thinking etc. My LE journals are horrid to read now in hindside but really good having everything documented. Even a few videos and sounds).
There is no perfect ending of course. I can say that for a very intense and posessive person who sees everything as “All or nothing”, if you start to act “casual” and initiate fade away, I will start panicking, then I will shut down, and then I will feel huge anger and resentment and I will end everything just like that, bc there is no way I will let someone valse out acting all unbothered and leaving me behind like a piece of trash, was my feelings back then… I mean, it would not be possible to win with someone like me. One way would be to let ME fade away a leave if I wanna. If you are gonna initiate it, it will explode like a handgranade in your hand killing both you and me.
Now, I wish I could have talked it through, actually I WAS gonna tell my LO that ” I don’t think I can keep in touch now when school is over. Its too hard for me”. I was gonna meet up with him, only to tell him that and then go NC. But see, we never met again after some stuff that happened. Even though he said ” yes we can meet up in a few months when I’m back”.
He never called me about the meet up even though I knew he was back in town.
So he did not let me have an ending. I was not even worth an ending I guess… Its not like him though, letting someone “hang in air” like this as he is a “reliable” person so god know what he was thinking. Tired? burned out? Liked the idea of letting thing hang in the air? punishment that dragged on for too long so now he can’t turn back? Who knows..
Oh crap! I’m sorry for dragging on my texts! Will hold back from now on!
b wrote, “He will be so absorbed with his “child” and new life. No way in hell will he ever have any thoughts and feelings left for someone like me anymore.”
It won’t be a baby/”child”, or not his? He should leave her?
“This whole autumn I have got this images of him getting an, offspring…”
? This is a confusing comment.
“Now, I wish I could have talked it through, actually I WAS gonna tell my LO that ” I don’t think I can keep in touch now when school is over. Its too hard for me”. I was gonna meet up with him, only to tell him that and then go NC. But see, we never met again after some stuff that happened. Even though he said ” yes we can meet up in a few months when I’m back”.
He never called me about the meet up even though I knew he was back in town.”
Did you have his number or email? You could have arranged to meet, make your statement and walk away. You knew he had returned.
I don’t think it is for SO’s benefit so much as it is for our own. I agree with you @b fading away is a cowardice move. I prefer to be open, honest and direct in my communication. When I was struggling with limerence, I confronted LO, who surprisingly didn’t bat an eye since they had struggled with it at some point in their life too, and after a great deal of reflection and introspection, discovered that I was the one with the answers to all my questions. So in short, whether LO is decisive or not, is irrelevant since they are not the holders of our truth. It really doesn’t matter what they do, only what we do.
Thank you for the reply!
Oh thats so great you were able to be open! What did you say to LO? And did yu say “its over, I can’t anymore”? Or something like that? If your LO had struggled with it before, did tey ot notice you were limerent?
I should be honest with myself. My LO would have shut down and would have put on a poker face if I was to confront him. He really reaally liked things being “subtle” and easy to deny (I beliee). But he liked it when I brought things up in a diplomatic manner, he always seemed relieved in those instances and would thank me for bringing it up etc. He was the type who never could say “sorry”. He just would get extra warm and caring attentively the day after if he had acted dismissevely. That was his way of saying sorry… We both had really hard time being open with emotions.
I see thanks for the response.
Im at that stage again where i want to be NC im struggling to phase it out because limerence always start violently once we meet. Ive been in forced LC for nearly 3 weeks, only texts was to offer a lunch which i declined. I m scared to see him again because the limerence will become strong and violent again and i cannot cope anymore. So i dont see how i could do It in stages although in his eyes we just became good friends so it will certainly hurt him.
Still i feel the need to protect myself and my family stronger than being scared to hurt his feelings 🙁
“Still i feel the need to protect myself and my family stronger than being scared to hurt his feelings 🙁
I agree with you! That is noble I think!
I am too prone to limerence to play with fire….the only thing that has ever worked for me was cold turkey No Contact.
I have spent my life worrying about hurting peoples feelings, but when it comes to a toxic relationship, someone has to “euthanize” it, no matter how painful. I finally did it… and I have no regrets. It does help that I had disclosed long ago, and he knew that I had tried to escape in the past and why. So even though he played dumb (he asked a mutual friend ‘did I do something wrong?) he knows EXACTLY why I made the power move of no contact. Enough is enough. And I am self-aware to know that I can’t risk a relationship with him of any kind, limerence could come roaring back like an untreatable, systemic, destructive infection. I know myself!
I don’t fully agree on the options you mention, somehow they feel to flat to me, BUT I have no better ideas and options to coe with so I should not air my opinions on the other hand.
Somedays I’m super accepting and truthful to myself. Because as I heard from a therapist on youtube “One should first and foremost stop lying to themselves. STop duping themselves”. Its a general quote.
In the begining when we went NC out of the blue it seems, I was so compassionate o myself. I was like ” I did my best under the circumstances. I was not able to do better then this when being so burned out” etc.
But que in time, and one stops to have several different opinions about oneself and the happenings…
Your seond option is what my LO tried. I don’t know if it was to make it easier on himsself. Or to seem like a good guy or whatever. Maybe a mix of both.
And the truth is, I had so many oppurtunties to walk away when the dynamic went this way. I just sucked it up, and accepted it. Parly because my LO finally stopped being moody. And also because I had to milk every moment to see him. I knew we would part ways (but not NC) soon so I had to see him everytime I could until then.
And then I get angry and disappointed? Like those indecisive women who says “I’m ok with this and that. And later blows up “No Im not ok, I changed my mind!”. Thats so dumb and yet thats me. I guess thats “Conflicting emotions” in a nut shell.
Serial Sufferer says
“Once you look at it objectively, it’s obviously toxic and awful. The problem is that limerence laughs at objectivity… Your limerent brain is going to keep demanding them like a hysterically frantic gremlin.”
I’d like to see an article about how you can’t really trust your own logic when you’re in limerence. (If you’re immediate thought is- I’ll ask Limerent Object for advice! – then you might be limerent.) I think this is hard for limerents to internalize. It’s astonishing to me afterwards, what passed for logic during limerence. Yet it all made SO MUCH SENSE at the time.
I just want to see some huge warning signs for limerents, that we can’t trust any rationale or logic that leads to us spending more time with the limerent object, or sharing something more intimate and personal with the limerent object. I don’t know if it would help people to see that and later, when they’re experiencing it, maybe they’d remember and slow down or wake up for a moment.
What was odd for me though was that I was in a state of semi-consciousness… I knew that I was possibly making the wrong decisions but I did them anyway. I’d confess things to LO, I’d engineer situations for us to be together, I’d send her cheeky texts, bought her a birthday present, heck I even gave her a job she wasn’t qualified for!
Each time I knew it was naughty or that perhaps my judgement was compromised but I did it anyway. Why? Because she had elevated to such importance in my life that everything else came second. Who cares what people thought if it meant I could be closer to her…
I look back now, some 14m into NC, and I can see how foolish and reckless I was. But I don’t beat myself up about it because I understand why now. I was limerent for her, maybe it was love, and objectivity always goes out the window then, Thankfully now I’m back to being myself again, and the torment is largely over.
That awareness was always there for me too, in the background. As an extra layer of limerent judgement-distortion, I also got a bit of a thrill from knowing that I was discarding sensible decision making, as though it was extra evidence of how special LO must be. That I overvalued her so much that I was willing to suspend my good judgement.
Me too! I thought the rule bending was evidence of my new found confidence, bravado and extreme adventurousness! I was such an exciting person, living a life right out of a movie with my LO being the ultimate dashing male protagonist! He was like a prince, introducing me to a life I had only dreamed of. My friends were divided, some had premonitions of disaster and pain but others were positively envious and cheering me on excitedly with each new twist and turn. One enthusiastically called it the “rollercoaster”. And that it was. Ending quite nauseatingly.
All, I have been away from this site for a little while because I feel that continuing to follow everyone’s stories kept me a little bit attached to my LE, because I get reminded of how I felt in the depth of limerence.
I feel like I am finally over LO, I feel good again. The last bit of emotions have faded, in the end mostly the anger towards my LO and his LO. It’s in the past now, mt thoughts are free(-ish) again. I feel neutral when thinking about LO. I don’t know how it will be if I bump into him again, but I think I will be ok.
I mostly ask myself now how I was so delusional and so much into the limerence fog to do what I did. I almost shattered my whole life for LO. I feel that I have dodged not just a bullet but a massive canon ball. How did this happen that I so completely went against my own moral code. I never even thought I was capable of doing something like that. Crazy….
I have started to redirect my “obsessive” attention from checking this side towards starting a new fitness program with excellent support from people doing the same. Like here, people support each other and help each other to follow through with their commitments. 😊
Again I’d like to say a massive thank you to DrL for creating this site and provide such valuable and thoughtful advice and also thank you to everyone that helped me get through this dark period of time. It has helped me so much.
@Rachel: You keep going girl, limerence freedom is just in front of you. You can do it!
And to everyone who is still struggling, you can get through this. It’s your brain messing with you, there is a life, a good life, after leaving your LO behind. You are worth something, a whole lot, don’t let a stupid LO fool you and get you to think otherwise.
NC is the single most helpful thing, I’ve tried many other ways and pushed NC away as no option, until I had nothing left to try but NC at my breaking point. All the best to everyone, the sun will shine again. I promise!
I’ll continue to check in every once in a while, until then, take care of yourself.
Yayyyy I’m actually so happy to read this! This is amazing news.
I to am in a very good place 😊 I have finally been able to separate reality for the illusion. It’s horrifying how my brain was fixated on LO absolutely shocking. I too am confused how it happened but all I know is that I’m on the way up. I think what has changed for me is that I see the fantasy for what it is. Its not real and it’s delusional. But we all know that but to see it clear as day is so important. Also to stop thinking about LO and start thinking about myself has helped. I see so perfectly clear now that it is absolutely nothing to do with LO and absolutely every to do with us limerents.
Thank you Sarah for your help and support, you have been a friend though this episode of insanity.
Glad to hear that, Rachel! Keep it up😊
Congratulations Sarah. Good for you. I know you’re right about NC and about it just being my brain messing with me. I feel I am nearly out of this fog and other times I know I’m still deep in it. When I’m thinking clearly, I can see it for what it is and I’m plagued with embarrassment for being so foolish (and for disclosing – I can’t believe I said those things). But when I struggle, I think about the “why wasn’t I good enough” that Dr. L wrote about recently. I wonder how could I, a fairly good looking and successful guy with a lot of things in common with LO, not be able to get her to go for at least an EA? That’s all I think I wanted anyway. I am still infatuated with her and think about her at least 75% of the time but I am growing to accept that we will never be more than work friends. But I sort of resent that. And it makes me try harder to pull her. So pathetic.
Hey B, oh the feeling of being pathetic, yes, I know how that feels.
And saying things you cringe later when you think about them, yup, check. And yes, the “why am I not good enough feeling”… Not being able to get what You want makes you want it so much more. And that made me so angry and frustrated. But realizing that that is a factor of me wanting LO also took specialness of LO… i.e. I want LO because I can’t have him, not because of him. Once you realize that, work on it. You are good enough, even better, but LO doesn’t see that. His loss, you’re the price he’s not having.
B, I feel the same, wouldn’t it be fun if we could swap our limerence with our LOs. Imagine for one whole week THEY felt the shit we were feeling and we didn’t , oh my, now there’s a fantasy I am happy to have.
I am so happy I never disclosed to LO, mind you I was super tempted to chuck a mental today but then I let it rest for 30 min and my emotions settled.
Sarah, well done. I can’t wait to be where you are at. Hoping and praying it’s sooner rather than later.
Have decided to go full N/C today, I’ve been very L/C the last few weeks but I feel it’s not enough. The 10 second interactions twice a week is still screwing with my mind. I want him out of my head, extinguished, exterminated, forgotten forever. Will now put the full throttle on making sure I will avoid each place I know LO will be. Time to go MIA, it’s taken me 2 years to reach this point.
Yes I would love to swap with her. I can’t imagine the freedom she feels to be flirty all the time and know someone likes you but not actually be limerent. And that’s what ultimately led me to disclose: I had convinced myself in the limerent fog that she was also limerent for me. Nope. Just a crush she said. I just wanted someone to be able to talk to about it more than anything. Someone who knew what I was feeling and could relate. Not to act on anything necessarily or have an affair (although I do fantasize about that). As I think I’ve written here before, I just wanted a partner in my misery. Too bad I didn’t find this site sooner or I may have avoided all that.
Song of the Day: “You Always Hurt The One You Love” – The Mills Brothers (1944)
I suspect this is a later cover of their 1944 version. My parents loved The Mills Brothers.
Also all the things you explained about regarding how you were closed of bc everyone leaves in the end? I can understand that. Its a good survival tactic I mean and something I implement aswell. I for ex was without friends for a decade (between the ages 18-28) bc I did not wanna get close to a friend only for her to fade away, also I’m very picky.
I rather be alone then being potentially hurt. After a decade I met a girl who is perfect in all ways. Until she 2 years after we met, married and moved away and now she is all absorbed with that life. So yeah I just can’t do this anymore..
But as you said it gets lonely, and well cue in my LE with my LO. We met at school so we would see each other everyday at weekdays… I knew it would end badly but… Yes reliving “abondonment” scenarios seems to be a thing, no matter how well educated we are about psychology etc.
Now I do my best to avoid becoming close to other people. If I feel any closeness I detach quickly… its for the best.
But one question Scharnhorst: You are able to feel pain when things end with someone right? I mean do you feel pain when detaching from your LO,s? Or have you ever detached from an LO by yourself and that way did it ease things for you? How does that work?
“But one question Scharnhorst: You are able to feel pain when things end with someone right? I mean do you feel pain when detaching from your LO,s? Or have you ever detached from an LO by yourself and that way did it ease things for you? How does that work?”
I’ll give you a response but I don’t if it will answer your question. I don’t know because I’ve never ended things with someone right. I’ve attached to 3 women in my life. I would have attached to LO #3 but she let me know early on that she had her sights on another guy. Of the 3 women I attached to, I invested in 2 of them. LO #2 and my wife. Against Schreiber, all my LOs were unsuitable candidates for a LTR because at some level, they all remind me of my mother or had characteristics such has heavy recreational drug use. LO #3 was almost a clone of LO #2, down to a claimed abortion after getting pregnant from a married guy. From what she revealed, they would have let LO #4 in the club. I’d bet lunch LO #4 had at least one affair with a married man under her belt. But, that’s pure speculation. It’s like to be an LO, they have to meet certain criteria. I dated several women who I think had problems that far exceeded those any LO had but they never were LOs. I was lucky that I never got any of them pregnant. You may not want them in your life, but they’re the kid’s mother forever.
I consider that the only “failed relationship” I’ve had is with LO #2. I define “failure” as I didn’t get the outcome I wanted from LO #2. I thought I’d be at this point in my life with LO #2 and it didn’t work out that way. I cried buckets over her.
With LO #4, the sadness comes from thinking that getting to know her might have been really cool but I’ll probably never have the chance to find out. With LO #4, once I became attracted to her, getting to know her came with a lot of risk. I was never really concerned that she’d cut me off. I expected that at some point. My anxiety went up when it looked like she might be willing to advance things. That wasn’t supposed to happen.
When I look back, I only see one possible missed opportunity in my life. There was a girl in HS that really liked me. This is going to sound corny but it’s how I see it. Being the seething cauldron of insecurity I was then, I couldn’t let her anywhere near me. God forbid she would see what I really am. That insecurity was like a compound that explodes on contact with air (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrophoricity). And, it was being held in by a weak container. I wasn’t fragile, I was brittle, like a cheap pan. Most of the time it works ok but put it under stress, hit it in the right spot, and it shatters like a frozen windshield. That girl was dangerous. I don’t think she would intentionally had done anything to hurt me but if she hit the wrong spot, it would have been a disaster. And, she would have had no idea of why. But, that didn’t happen. I did a good enough job keeping her at a distance that she gave up. I didn’t figure this out until years later when the therapist and I worked through my relationship patterns.
It can be hard to detach if it’s something I’d prefer not to have to do but once I’ve convinced myself it’s the right thing to do, I can do it. If I’m detaching because someone’s pissed me off beyond redemption, I’ll take their head on my way out the door. I don’t remember the circumstances but something happened in the dining hall at college. When it was over, one of my friends at the table said, “I knew you were a bastard but you can turn into a real son-a-bitch.” I’ve only had to detach from someone once in the last 30 years and that was LO #4. When LO #4 decided to pull the plug, she was very gracious about it. All the points she lost for being dismissive, she got back at the end.
In life, you play the hand you’re dealt. You can play good cards poorly and you can play bad cards as well as possible. When you’re young, the hand is pretty much given to you and you don’t know how to play them. If you’re lucky, as you get older, you figure out that you may not be stuck with those cards, you may be able to get some new cards and you can definitely learn how to play the ones you have better.
I don’t know if that helps any.
Thank you Scharnhorst
It pains so much reading your experiences.. 4 -5 LO,s is no picnic so to say. I have only had one LO, can’t bear even the thought of more then one. I don’t really know how to reply other then , I can only imagine how harsh it must have felt for you. I’m glad I know of your past and experiences better now! You most be a really resillient person by now, cyber hugs!
I have silly questions like that even though I on one hand know we all are individuals, but I can’t help wondering things like “are men as feelings as women are?” or “Does men need “closure” as much as we usually do” etc. Stupid to wonder as we all are different and circumstances are different etc..
I wish we humans were not able to feel this much emotions. And well, yes its good non of them got pregnant!
On an other note. I just found out my LO and his SO is expecting. When I found out few days ago, I got a huge anxiety attack. And I got physically ill. Like, I was near barfing ill. Got so upset and lost my breath and all… Cryed so hard… he is really reaaally gone now. And I could never feel anything towards a man who is married or have a kid, its like instant repellent for me.
He will be so absorbed with his “child” and new life. No way in hell will he ever have any thoughts and feelings left for someone like me anymore. I’m like, dead to him while he is all alive and joyful. It was my only tiny consolation, that he would atleast think of me and feel bad etc. But now even that is gone.
Its horrible to find out how well ones lo or ex-lo is doing in life, moving on and having joy. While you are stuck with obsessive thoughts and feelings and with no joy.
Its so bad that I wish he was dead. For real. Everyday I wake up and wish he would just die. Its horrible but thats just shows how insane limerence is, how one turns from one extreme to the other extreme, from love obsession to hate obsession.
Grieving a dead person and moving on is logical for the brain. But grieving someone who is still living and having a great time on top of it, messes one up. This really shows how Limerence is not real “love”. Its so selfish and unhealthy.
I even have had fantasies of like, killing my Lo, I know its sounds real bad, but its more like killing him with images of killing him in my mind and then maybe trick myself into just letting him go for real.
I can sympathize wiith people going “if I can’t have you, no one can have you”. I know actually its “normal” to fantasize like this, but its upsetting how obsessive ones mind is.
Now I try to trick my brain into believing he is dead for real. Like I imagine he died by some accident, and him in a grave with a gravestone etc, just so I can stop thinking of him. So far it has not worked. Maybe I should go out to a graveyard and pretend I’m at his grave etc. Should be therapeutic I believe.
I sound like a really insane person right now. Sorry and thanks for reading..if you managed to
“When I found out few days ago, I got a huge anxiety attack. And I got physically ill. Like, I was near barfing ill. Got so upset and lost my breath and all… Cryed so hard… he is really reaaally gone now.”
That was a trauma response.
Just out of curiosity, was it followed by an almost zen-like wave of calmness?
No no calmness… just eventually exhausted and waves of pain. Images of him happy with his fam while I feel I’m in a bottomless dark nothingness…
This whole autumn I have got this images of him getting an, offspring… And everytime I saw a father with his toddler or cild when I have been taking the bus or subway, or walking in the supermarket, I got anxiety attacks and teared up, for the whole autumn. I had to avert my case from fathers with their children I even have left the bus or subway train because I got so upset. I even have teared up during several presentations I have hold before my whole class, just so obsessive is my mind! Its out of control! This week we had a presentation, same thing, I had to excuse my self asking the teacher if I could leave because I felt “unwell”.
I don’t even want him! He is so not my type in every possible way. Its just f**cking OCD! Stuck in my brain
So yes, I knew it would happen, I was preperad for it sooner or later but it hit me harder then I imagined anyway… I just want to go back in time and to never have even seen him. I cursed be the day I met him and my stupidness
Since a lot of LOs seem to be indecisive (because the uncertainty drives limerence), is there something instilled in limerents that causes us to become limerent? Is it limited to age, sex, etc.? I feel like I should not be experiencing this yet here i am.
I’ve heard from limerents from 14 to 80+, male, female, gay, straight and bi. If there’s a limit to limerence, we haven’t found it yet!
Miss Anon says
This reply is for b, I couldn’t see a reply link under the comment but it is about the LO becoming a father..
Hopefully this comment will be seen, not sure my previous comments on the site have been posted, never had any reply..
I simply wanted to say I went through the same thing, anxiety attacks, emotional pain.. I thought many of the things you wrote. I just want you to know that you are not alone, and that it does get better. Focus on how this change of situation changes your feelings towards him.. and try every day to take the focus of your thoughts off him.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Your post went through. Nice post for @b.
Your online friend,
Miss Anon says
Thanks MLBIAI. I think you are one of the stronger ones and often give good advice on here (although I know the ability to give good advice usually comes after lots of hard internal work..) 🙂
Hi Miss Anon!
It means so much you taking your time to write, that in itself is really so super kind and it goes for everyone here who are so supportive to each other <3
I'm sorry I missed out on replying to former comments. I got ovewhelmed by all the angry emotions that welled out from me! I thought I was over that crap. Its a process but dear lord can it not be over soon?!
It sucks you had to go through that types of anxiety aswell.
It does not bring me comfort knowing others going through the same thing, the pain will not get less, I don't feel less alone. BUT I fe so understood. No one else would understand the type of anxiety a limerent goes through. The obsession, the emotions etc. It makes no sense to outsiders I believe. So it feels really comforting expressing myself here and everyone can relate and understand, no one will judge, thats a great comfort.
Are your anxiety healed now miss Anon? And if so how long did it take for you? Also, how did you manage? Is there anything that ca help in this process to supress it?
I’m coming in late to this thread, but it feels like sometimes people’s LOs are spoken of as though the only reason for their existence is to solve the limerent’s problem with limerence. But I think they’re just as much victims.
Limerents know quite well that their state of mind is unreasonable, that’s why even if they ‘disclose’ feelings, they don’t disclose the limerence and all its obsessiveness, self-centredness and terror of rejection. So who is being honest or dishonest here, which person is really creating the uncertainty. I would suggest provocatively, if you want to end the uncertainty, disclose the reality of your limerence, and that will drive any LO – even another limerent – away.
I have read at reddit group for limerence about someone who did something like that.
If I remember it right, in short: She was tired of her LE and decided to explain in detail to her LO so he would, I guess stop egging her on or whatever. She had at first explained to her LO that she was limerent, her LO was ok with it and remained with her.
Frustrated it didn’t work she then a bit later had in detail explained the science part of it, details about how its just OCD brain, that she was not in love love, her brain was just obsessed etc. Her LO had seemed uneasy about it and had backed away after that without explanations. Because who would like hearing that right. And well its not an ego boost any longer for an LO right?
I mean I one went like: “My mind and neurons are obsessed thinking about you etc, but I don’t love you and I don’t necesserily even like you! Its a neurons, low seretonin etc thing” Yeah thats a nice cold shower for those LOs who gets an ego boost out of the attention lol.
Hi b, thanks very much for your reply, that sounds about right. But I also want to point out how, just there, you talked about an LO as though they only wanted an ego boost. I’m wondering why that is so frequently stated, I mean it’s not just you who make that assumption. What if this LO is seeking true love, and recognizes that’s not what the limerent is offering? Is it part of the limerence to expect the LO to love us in spite of our limerence, and to cure us of something we can’t cure ourselves, and blame them when they don’t? I’m just curious.
Wanting an ego boost and validation is not a bad thing, its a normal thing.
I myself were just after validation and getting dopamin kicks. A LO is an object for all that. In the beginning we read each other as clear as reading a book. We were open and warm. No anxiety yet, only eagerness to be pleasent and warm to each other.
I knew we were just escaping the mundane life from start and I knew my LO was using me for the same reasons. He was just bored with his everyday life and I became a pleasent light to look forward to and he became the same for me. I saw this clearly in the start of it all and I thought I could keep it on a pleasant level, but fell into a voretex of addiction….
With time I became more “resentful” with my LO seing it as him using me etc, one could write books about that subject so I can’t get into that now. But by then we had gone from “butterflies in my stomach when I see you” to real weird stuff. We had gone through atleast 4-5 different phases and the dynamics had evolved and changed into something that gave us only pain and anxiety in the end.
In the end I just know what my intentions were. His intentions were not cleare anymore. we were not open books anymore. We “withheld” affection, openness etc. Both were just sick and tired of the power games etc. It was all about keeping ones emotions at bay and to not be exposing oneself etc..
Its a huge storm of feeelings involved, trying to untangle all that is hard. But yes, its easier to see it as my LO in the end just detached, without being brave enough to tell me. And it really creates resentment.
Also people here just wanna get over their “ex-LOs”. Seing them in positive warm light would not be helpful. I myself have started imagining my LO being, dead. I can’t take thinking about him anymore…
No, it’s not such an ego boost put that way. But it definitely made me laugh!
Dear b, thanks for reminding me of your pain and that when people have negative behaviour and words, it is because they are in pain. Please embrace yourself with love and compassion for the pain you are experiencing and know that it will end. Know also, that someday you’ll find someone who will love you for your beautiful self, the way you need to be loved. It just isn’t this man. One little thing to try, as an experiment, if you feel up to it, is to also send thoughts of wishing him well and then perhaps you will feel up to saying goodbye and letting him go his own way in life.
Thank you Satch for your so kind words! You seem so wise and very empathic<3
going through all this post LE, I have a new found empathy towards people and their struggles. I really "feel" for people. If someone for ex acts snappy or unkind to me or others, I feel empathy, bc I know a happy person would not act out unless they feel unwell etc. I can sit on the subway and look around at the strangers wonder to myself about their struggles and pain.
I also em better at taking time off from school or friend obligations when I feel more unwell then usual bc I know I will send negative vibes and be withdrawn etc and I'm better at telling those few friends (just one friend actually, I don't have any other real friends.) that I'm unwell and need space…
I can't ever feel positive towards my LO. What I need to feel is indifference and thats what I'm working for. I have too much resentment that both build up during our years together as "friends" and post friendship when he and I went NC on each other at the same time.
He was suppose to meet up with me one last time (or in my mind I had decided it was gonna be last good bye and I would have disclosed to him a few things). He was gonna be away for some months but we would meet up when he was back. But he never contacted me an avoided me. As if I was just, dead. But he was in contact with our mutual friend that I did meet up a last time, he told me about my ex-LOs whereabouts so I knew he was well. And my LO was always telling me during casual conversations about how friends are not important, they come and go and thats life etc. I always felt heart broken when he told that shit but never spooke up about it bc I did not wanna feel like I was "needy".
So yeah I guess that was his way to tell me I was not worth anything and it was just, life..
Obviously there is many other things to it and just a bad dynamic in the end but…
I dont have any positive feels to send him sadly.
I just hope this indifference thing will build on stronger and stronger soon…
I wish you the best Satch and I send you positive vibes and cyber hugs! <3
b thanks for your comments. I am undoubtedly a lot older than you…you have so much time ahead of you and your life will take you to places and people you can’t begin to imagine. Lost friends are sweet to remember, but dwelling too long on disappointment and resentment are poisons that can cause medical depression, because you lose all hope. Even though you feel bad I encourage you to keep going to classes and hang onto your friend, even one is hard to find. And following the other advice on this site to improve yourself in spite of pain, you’ll forget him without realizing it. But you’ll be a better person, and will know better how to take care of yourself, next time you meet someone.
Thank you very much Satchi
You are very wise and I agree with everything you say
I have been depressed (situational depression) for almost two years now and it got super down hill 1 year ago. It is as you say, if one dwells too much.. Its so frustrating how it comes in “waves”. I’m fine one day and angry and upset the other and… well thats depression speaking.
Yes, I do know how to take care better of myself now. And how to avoid LE and how to avoid situations that can lead to an LE. I’m not interested in dulling my sorrow and pain with an other human being. (I have had only one LE so far but won’t wanna have any one more, no thanks).
As last words, the person I was a couple of years ago and during my LE, is dead. I’m not that person anymore. My exterior is the same, but my innerlife, my mindset is something brand new.
My LO is dead and the person I was,.. dead. I feel I’m finally freeing myself from these shackles. Those years I had with my LO is now as a distant very distant weird dream or mirage… And I”m done thinking back and reliving that weird dream… I will keep away from this site now aswell as I wanna move on from everything limerence
Hugs to everyone and thank you so so much for being the best supportive community ever <3/ b
I’m just in shock here at how this site has resonated….. I didn’t even know limerence existed but now I realise I’m not alone in what’s happening to me. I’m happily married, my LO (older work colleague) is married, but he chased me via texts last year claiming he had always felt close to me, and that his wife didn’t take care of his needs, and that he felt we needed each other. I really wanted to help fix his life. I still do. He’s an angry depressive alcoholic who’s abusively messaged me countless times in the night, followed by apologies and declarations of how we must always, stay friends as nobody “gets us” like we do. It’s such a high when he messages me nice things and tells me how close we are, then sometimes he’ll disappear for days. I find myself planning what to say to bring him back to me. Or persuade myself to play it cool when he comes back to scare him into seeing what he could lose. But the weird thing is I don’t want my marriage to end. I just want the highs he gives me. I feel like I’d be lost without them.
Have you looked up BPD? He fits the definition.
I know nothing about BPD but I’ll take a look online now. I appreciate your comment, thank you. Anything to get me free of this is appreciated.
Hi ClaireE. Limerence is such a massively mind altering state isn’t it. This man really does sound like pretty bad news though from your description – married, chasing, alcoholic, abusive – I am worried for you. I would say it doesn’t matter if he is BPD or has any other issue as it is not your job to fix him – that is up to him, his wife and any professional he may or may not choose to consult. You really need to protect yourself from him….although I am guessing you don’t really want to at the moment as it sounds like you are in the early euphoric stages of limerence? Judging by the experiences of many on this site including myself, there is a price to pay for those amazing early highs – at some point the limerence will turn….the highs diminish and the sadness, intrusive thoughts and desperation escalates. I hope you can immerse yourself in the wealth of information on this site and when you are ready, commit to your recovery. There is plenty of support here if you need it. Wishing you well.
“LO could be being manipulative because they want the sexual and/or emotional supply that you provide”
Exactly. I had this happen to me. I forced full no contact eventually. Result – 3 years of extreme suffering so far. I fucking want it to go away already. lol
My most recent LO, someone I call Airport Man, was like this. He was a super shy guy, perpetually single, and seemed super sweet. I chalked his dithering up to shyness and maybe a bit of fear of women. I set out to win his heart and would regularly have dinner with him and a group of friends. He always said yes when I asked him along. But then when we’d get there, he’d literally run away from me in anxiety. I wasn’t quite sure about the guy to begin with, but he’d alternate between running away from me and having these long, deep conversations. It sent my limerence through the roof. When we got to know each other well enough, I called him out on it, and said it was fine if he was shy around me, but I wanted to at least talk about it. He turned into an emotionally abusive monster, claiming that I was mentally ill and the whole thing was in my head. (Trust me, it wasn’t.) My limerence disappeared within 15 minutes. I don’t need any of that in my life!
On the other hand, the guy I chased for a good year, The Chief, never gave me a solid answer on anything and ultimately avoided speaking to me when I finally got the courage to try. His girlfriend was around so I never quite knew what to make of that. (His girlfriend had broken up his marriage for selfish purposes so I honestly didn’t feel too bad talking to him in spite of her.) One of my friends got drunk and sent him a friend request on FB and he accepted it while driving through the town where I live. That spooked me out and has always made me wonder what really happened, but I will probably never know.
Then there was my really **EVIL** LO, my ex-boyfriend, who would claim he didn’t want anything to do with me, then show up at dinner parties when he knew I was coming, only to engage me maliciously later by sending me threatening letters. My limerence for him died really quickly after one round of that.
About a year ago I chased an indecisive LO for about six months. I asked him out and he turned me because he *might* move away soon. Then he kept showing interest in me and dithering on the moving thing. He would have these deep conversations with me and then cold shoulder me the next time. Then he introduced me to his dad. Then he cold shouldered me some more.
When Valentine’s Day rolled around and he made a point of going out with a “female friend” even though I wanted to go to a group party with him, I knew I was getting frozen out. I ended up spending the evening sitting on my mom’s grave in a snowstorm, crying. Limerence sucks.
I finally decided that things couldn’t go on like this and confronted him. I was met with gaslighting and projection. He denied being hot and cold. The guy was a narcissist. I’m glad I was decisive. He finally moved away, and not soon enough.
Atya Bahul says
I’m so sorry you went through this😣, that just sounds horrendous.
I wonder if narcissists experience limerence and if they do how?
I am always so focused on the needs of others- my limited understanding of narcissism is that they prioritise their own needs above all else. That seems either counter to limerence or a very dangerous combination i.e. pursue LO at expense of all others….
Hello! I have read this post just now. I wish I had sooner. As you say, I have not been able to tell whether my LO has been indecisive or intentionally stringing me along. I get the vibe that he likes me, but not just enough to truly get to know me. It’s been a year, and I found out from other people that he got a girlfriend a while ago. Even if I’ve felt some crazy feelings for him, I could never fully trust him. So I’ve been a bit confusing for him also, but only a little in comparison.
However, I have noticed that when I’ve been stuck in limbo like this most of my “obsessive thoughts” started to concern a friend we have in common. Because I think he might be interested in her. The way he looks at her, gets a bit shy around her, she’s just his type (and beautiful), they make friends with the same special people, and so on. They seem super compatible to me and I suspect that they would be limerent for each other. My limerent brain disregards that he is in a relationship (and that she is too, even if it seems unstable). I ruminate and worry about “the day of doom” in the future when I find out that they have fallen madly in love and will live happily ever after. It’s ridiculous when I write it, but it is honestly where my brain goes, and a constantly ongoing thought, which can wake me up in the middle of the night and give me crippling angst.
Funny, though, that I think more about this (her), than my LO specifically. Has anyone else had this experience? I find it really hard to overcome. It was was easier to accept that he has a girlfriend, to stop writing to him and distance myself from him, than to accept that they might fall in love (they might not, but that doesn’t help regulate thoughts). This is a hard nut for me to crack, so if anyone has any idea or similar experience I would be interested to hear about it!
Thank you 🙂
“When you have an indecisive LO who has given you clear reciprocation, you know that they are attracted to you. It might be a shallow connection on their part, but you’ve had some sugar, so you know you could get more. It tantalises. It’s like seeing the cake in the patisserie window. Or, more potently, the glimpse of cleavage, the scent of aftershave, the whispered proposition, the lingering look. The memory of past pleasures, the promise of future delights.
It’s so close! You can almost grasp it!”
The stuff of poetry. Such good writing, Dr. L! 😛
I think I will be coming back to this article frequently during my NC, just to remind myself of why I started it in the first place. It’s only been about a week and a half since I initiated it and sometimes I feel the need to reach out to LO even though I know the NC is making things better for me. Thank you so much for this site and your articles, they have been invaluable to me during my very brief (hopefully) LE which has been ongoing for a few months.
I thought I would share the perspective of someone who is autistic because it seems that limerence is quite common for us. Also have childhood trauma from abusive family which adds to my susceptibility. My (already married, plus child) LO was actually limerent for me years before I became limerent for him, according to what he has said to me. Sometimes I wonder if I was actually manipulated into limerence (my SO believes I was manipulated at least) because being neurodiverse is very lonely most of the time and I am very much susceptible to becoming very attached to people that I feel “get” me. And this LO seemed to understand me more than anyone else (but he knew I was neurodiverse… I do wonder if he was saying the right things on purpose to get me limerent for him?). The things we had in common were almost supernatural – at least that is what it felt like at the time. He told me he was neurodiverse too. I remember that he was oversharing a lot of personal things with me before I began oversharing things with him as typically I have my guard up with everyone… perhaps that is what triggered all of this.
Once I became limerent for him it was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I was thinking about him 100% of the time. It was like when I develop a special interest in a topic except it was in overdrive. I couldn’t sleep properly, I was struggling to do my work. I was still engaging in my hobbies but LO was invading my thoughts and distracting me from them too. I couldn’t enjoy my holiday because anything that seemed to take me away from him was something I wanted to avoid at all costs. My SO began to notice the change in my behaviour and suspected something was up, but I didn’t know how to explain what was going on with me as limerence was a completely new concept. I eventually learned of it through the aspergirls subreddit – a community for autistic women – when I searched around for person obsession to try and understand what was happening. Me and LO were messaging eachother constantly every day at this point and I definitely became addicted to him. I was feeling conflicted because neither of us were available but my dumb limerent brain at the time ended up overriding that.
We had mostly an EA since we couldn’t see each other often, majority of our interactions were via text. He came to see me secretly a couple of times during the LE and the beginnings of a PA had started (hugging/kissing).
It all ended up with him coming to my house with his wedding ring removed, declaring that he loves me and that he was going to leave his wife for me. What actually happened was after he got home and told his wife his interactions with me became very mixed and confusing. One minute saying we should remain close friends, the next minute writing me very intimate things and telling me that he loves me. Then telling me he can’t message me every day anymore and he changed to e-mailing me sporadically instead (of course all the while reassuring me that he loves me). This pretty much drove me insane because it was so incredibly confusing and painful.
This was what ultimately caused me to initiate no contact with him because I was no longer getting that limerent high from our interactions and the anxiety of not knowing what he actually wanted was really just too much. I think what he actually wanted was to stay with his wife but keep me in a strange limbo and continue some sort of affair… which is really not what I would want at all. I sent him one final message explaining that I was going to block him and go no contact, along with why. I’ve not heard from him since so he seems to be honouring it at least.
Since I initiated no contact I have finally been able to sleep properly (though I’m not sure how many proper sleeps I’m going to need to catch up on a few months worth of poor sleeping lol)… I am feeling better and I have a lot more mental clarity now. However I do occassionally second guess my NC decision since it is difficult for me to make friends being neurodiverse and I am enduring a period of a kind of grief of sorts. Having someone that I was talking to every day and felt like I could say anything to… to suddenly being alone every day (working from home) has been very hard. My SO has been great and understands how I ended up in this situation and helped me arrange to join a women’s autism group so I can hopefully make some like-minded friends there and feel less lonely which will help me avoid falling into this limerence trap again in future. 🙂
Please if you are in this situation go no contact. Even if you are in that euphoria stage, it really doesn’t last forever. 🙁 Especially if you are neurodiverse – you never know if your LO is actually taking advantage of you!