This has to be one of the commonest limerence traps out there. It’s certainly the most common scenario that people email me about, and no wonder; all the elements of limerence are there: close proximity to a small community of people (including potential LOs), built in barriers to the free expression of feelings, and no prospect of going fully No Contact. Mix in mid-lifers, boredom, long periods of time spent together with the occasional shared triumphs and disasters, and you couldn’t have set up better conditions for limerence if you had designed it. Like some sort of limerence super villain.
So, what are the challenges that face the limerent who succumbs to a co-worker LO? And how can you overcome them?
1) No no contact
There’s no escaping it, you often have to work with your co-workers. If you become limerent for one of them, then the number one tactic for overcoming limerence is denied to you. That means working on other tactics, but first, you should establish how much contact is really necessary. If LO is someone you only interact with very occasionally, then No Contact is feasible. It’s also possible to limit contact to essential business, and avoid LO during more casual interactions (coffee breaks etc.). If you are able to, limit contact as much as you can.
Sometimes, it’s not possible, though. Maybe LO is your boss. Maybe LO works for you, or you are both in a small team. So, the best bet under these conditions is to reprogram your brain and disrupt established, comfortable patterns of behaviour. I’ve written before about the idea of a “staged withdrawal” strategy. This means slowly turning the tenor of your interactions with LO away from intimacy and back to cordial professionalism. The plan is to be less and less forthcoming with personal information, and steer conversations that have drifted from professional topics back on track. A sudden “cold turkey” end to friendliness is going to provoke questions and confusion from LO, so you need to decelerate deliberately and carefully. It takes discipline to pull this off, but a slow, planned, progressive cooling of relations is a good way of neutralising the limerence while maintaining professionalism.
2) Disclosure is a massively high risk strategy
I’ve written before about the complications of flirting at work. In [current year] flirting, or even discussing romance, with work colleagues is a very high risk activity. If you misjudge this – and let’s be honest, most of us are not masters of communication – the repercussions are potentially severe. Most companies are extremely risk averse about co-worker romances, and many have explicit policies around this. Quite apart from the social and professional consequences, there are also the personal implications of having to work with someone after you have admitted your feelings – whether or not they reciprocate.
Many of us have experienced the grimness of working in a team where a romance has Gone Wrong and the ex-partners still have to work together. Many will also have worked in a team where overt favouritism is shown to the boss’s romantic partner (or even if it isn’t, the perception that it is predominates). There is no denying that office romances disrupt the functioning of teams. Or maybe LO is limerent for you too, but in a long-term relationship, and so you drag each other down in a limerence-reinforcing push/pull dance of excitement and guilt. None of these scenarios make for a successful professional or romantic career.
And in the (probably much more likely) scenario that your feelings are not reciprocated by LO, you have no idea how they will react.
People are unpredictable. All kind of fascinating weirdness is out there. While that makes the world a stimulating and enriching place, in the immediate term it makes your working life harder. Maybe they will be very offended and report you. Maybe they will like the attention, and string you along. Maybe they will be freaked out, and avoid you at all costs, making it hard to get your work done (though it should help with lessening the limerence).
Unless you are very confident that LO reciprocates, and you are both free to act on your feelings, disclosure at work is high on risk and low on benefit.
3) Power hierarchies complicate everything
Linking uncomfortably into the previous point, the dangers of disclosure are magnified if there is a significant power differential between you and LO. The #metoo movement is exposing the long history of bosses making unwanted sexual advances towards their subordinates, but there’s a flip side too. In the past, a subordinate “flirting up” with an uninterested manager would have been taking little risk. Most likely it would have been taken with good humour or embarrassment, or at worst, the flirt would have become the butt of office gossip. Now, it is very likely that the manager will take steps to protect themselves. In fact, that is the standard advice where I work – any romantic overtures from junior colleagues should be documented and reported up the line. That formally records what once would have been possible to laugh off.
So wherever you and LO sit in the hierarchy, there is no easy or safe way to disclose. The current climate in professional circles seems to have settled on “no romance with co-workers permitted”, which, while simple enough, rather blithely dismisses human nature. That said, if you are limerent for a co-worker and don’t want to be, then this can be a very useful mantra. Treat it like an iron-cast rule.
4) Boundaries between work and home
The final big challenge is where to draw boundaries between work and home. Most people socialise with their work colleagues to some degree, even if only at company-organised “dos”. It goes without saying that these are perilous moments if LO is present; doubly so if alcohol is also present. A common experience during these event is hyperawareness of LO – always knowing where they are in the room, being distracted from the conversation you are having, because you have half an ear open for the conversation LO is having behind you. The best method I devised for dealing with this was to deliberately focus on the person in front of you, and listen to them actively. This helps create a mental bubble, helps you be a better colleague (and makes the event more enjoyable for the person you are chatting with), and also means you may get to learn something interesting.
Finally, the other big boundary – the final frontier – is social media and texting. Company cultures differ, but if you can possibly avoid e-communication with LO outside of work hours, do so. There are multiple reasons, but the big one is that nothing feeds limerence like an ambiguous text from LO read just before you go to bed.
No contact outside work is the goal to strive for. No texting or FB messaging or Whatsapping unless the correspondence is mission critical. Acceptable scenarios in this category would include if you are limerent for the CEO and they need your input to prevent a multimillion pound deal collapsing over the weekend. You can send a text then. But keep it brief. Otherwise, wean yourself off the habit of texting LO as quickly and decisively as you can.
Limerence for a co-worker is a minefield, with very little prospect for a good outcome. It is a scenario that lends itself well to the overall theme of this blog: recognise that the limerence is happening within your mind, carefully apply psychological tactics to counteract the limerence program, and decide to take responsibility and live with purpose. It’s the long term path to mastery.
Realistically of course the best remedy is for either the LO or the Limerent to leave the workplace. Then the best remedy, NC, is possible.
Thankfully that’s what has happened to me, LO is leaving in 5 days. We’ve fallen out too so I don’t think we’ll have the tearful goodbye I was dreading either, which makes it easier, albeit a sad end.
Yes, one or other of you leaving is the simplest ending. Well done for hanging on Vincent. Shame that you’ve fallen out with LO at the end, but as you say, that’s actually likely to help in the final analysis.
Keep your eyes on the post-LO future and all the new possibilities therein!
A week of NC now after I sent her a text saying we were done now. We’d fallen out over something, I gave it a few days but couldn’t get over what she had done (I don’t want to reveal details but she’s done similar a couple of times and we’d had words each time). Part of me wonders if my reaction was me subconsciously making this parting and path into NC easier for myself. Either way, she left without saying goodbye, which made me feel very sad, and she’s not replied to my text. I’ve deleted all trace of her now and am trying to look to the future, when not wondering why she hasn’t replied ;-( …
If it helps at all, Vincent, there is never much realistic prospect of a clean or happy ending to unfulfilled limerence. The only real hope is if you can manage a staged withdrawal beforehand, but often either limerent or LO gets offended, or upset, and the “friendship” deteriorates. Especially if there was mutual limerence.
Looking to the future is always a good perspective.
She left two weeks back for another state. Miss her so much, we parted well. Wish her well.
Reading my mind, eh?
Excellent advice, all of it. Pity that at this particular moment I am too far into the limerence fog to want to enforce it. And I was doing so well! Till last week, when there was –you guessed it– socializing and alcohol.
At least I’ve had the discipline to swap my home office days in order to limit contact to LO as inconspicuously as possible, and have updated my CV just in case. Wish me luck.
Very late to reply to this (apologies!) but… Good luck!
Also: you are spot on on the factors. Even though I am a serial limerent, I never had this issue before at work, so I’m blaming the midlife crisis.
And I thought with age came maturity and calm. Nonsense!
Thank you so much for this blog. I am thick in the fog for my boss who now says I am his firend and I can call him at night or on the weekends. He has a counseling degree and is working with me on setton on
Hi Kate, and welcome.
Yikes, limerence for boss is a tough one – no contact is not really an option!
If your boss is a counsellor, he should be well aware of professional boundaries, but I confess to being a little taken aback by the number of emails I get from therapy professionals who seem to think that they are immune to the problems that they counsel clients on. Until they get mugged by limerence. I’ve speculated to myself that it is an area of work that is by its very nature is very emotionally charged, and so limerence is a significant risk.
If you can, I would suggest putting fairly strict limits on your evening and weekend contact. It’s a very effective reinforcer of reverie.
“I confess to being a little taken aback by the number of emails I get from therapy professionals who seem to think that they are immune to the problems that they counsel clients on.”
Well, remember that part of the therapy process IS getting clients to trust you and transference is supposed to be something addressed in-depth while in school and in training. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of them and they are supposed to know how to extricate themselves from the dynamic when it’s no longer helpful to the client.
This is short and hardly all-encompassing, but it’s still worth the read.
In all honesty – if this guy has a license to risk, I would call the governing body and find out if there are any complaints on file.
“I am thick in the fog for my boss who now says I am his friend and I can call him at night or on the weekends. ”
Don’t call this guy at night or weekends. This is a veritable red flag factory. Can you find a new job? Is he THE boss or YOUR boss? Is there some sort of employee handbook? I would suggest HR but if he’s their boss you can put your career in jeopardy.
Yesterday I saw LO properly for first time in over 6 months. Went in with a box of chocolates for the team (as is customary for former colleagues to during the 2nd busiest week of the year!)
LO said Hello. What was said I can’t be 100% certain because my anxiety took over. It was basic pleasantries rather than a proper conversation. He then went out the back and I managed a proper chat with the other colleagues.
– The Glimmer has gone!! I was simultaneously delighted and sad at this. Also annoyed that if there’s no glimmer, how come I couldn’t string a sentence together!?!
– He was indifferent to me – nice enough but just as he had been to previous customer.
– The whole thing may have been in my head – I was being ridiculous.
– I’ve made an idiot of myself, and there’s 0 chance of reciprocation now.
– I may actually be making progress!!
Thanks again for all the support from this site. Hope everyone manages to have a Happy Christmas and New Year.
Happy Christmas to you too, Sophie.
Sounds like a bit of a mixed bag of emotions with your last contact – but mostly positive lessons. Not too surprising to find yourself tongue-tied, given how much Significance LO takes on in our limerent minds, but great that you bounced back quickly and recognised how much progress you’ve made (congrats!). Here’s to a purposeful 2019!
Hi – Thanks for this site. I needed something to go to and this has been perfect. I didnt even know there was a name for what I was going through!
I used to work with a colleague for 2 years, 6 years ago – we were good friends which at the end she became like a work wife – after I left we lost touch bar the odd message on linked in. Always thought she was nice but no way my type at all.
Then 2 years ago in my current job a vacancy arose and i recommended her to my manager – she got the job. We pretty much slotted back into work wife/hubby situation again and then I realised after 6 months the ‘glimmer’ and started to like her and do special things for like – bring her coffee when she was stressed, helped her find shoes online that she couldnt get her size in…..go to new eating joints after work with her – she did reciprociate messaging me outside of work and coming with me when i asked her for drinks – didnt initiate that much – she is an introvert so I found i did all the asking and she always was ok with it.
Anyway over the last 18 months I realised i thought about her a lot at home and even was messaging her when i was on holiday – and once even messaged her when she wasnt in the office and told her i missed her (in an indirect way)…our messages and closeness increased but there was no disclosure from either of us. Im not convinced she has anything for me except good feelings of care and friendship – she does message me on weekends with jokes and stuff.
Anyway in the last 2 months i have not been myself and i came across this site and decided to start to let it all go…its hard as we are in the same team but not working directlty on the same projects so that does help. On a positive note she is leaving end of Jan.
So all sounds good right?
BUT we have both applied for a new job which is one of the worlds best brands and they have several vacancies – my worry is should i still take it if she gets an offer too!!
As my therapist says to me, her texting in the evenings, weekends and holidays is very telling. She’s obviously thinking about you, and you don’t do that if you’re not interested.
You haven’t said what the problem is here. Do you and her have SOs?
Thanks – to clarify, 90% of the time I text on weekends and evenings and she does participate in conversation/banta with me. only 10% of the time would she initiate it. On holiday i have 100% always initiated it and she will talk when on holiday fo ra short while…not on going throughout the holiday. So not sure what to make of it.
I guess last week i thought id take advantage of our xmas party and the fact that people would be relaxed…..I said to her before the party that maybe we leave at 11 and get some food together and i can walk her to her station – we both said good idea but we would see how the evening would go and how we were feeling at the time……when it came to 11pm on the night she said she was not tired yet and would probably stay till midnight….so i then left at 11pm. I kinda took that as a cue that she has nothing for me expect friendship as that was a good opportunity to spend time together alone which she dismissed.
I have an SO but really like the LO. She has no SO
“…bring her coffee when she was stressed, helped her find shoes online that she couldnt get her size in…..go to new eating joints after work with her ”
In essence, you were dating her (LO). Did you put an equal amount of thought and effort into your relationship with your SO then? Do you now?
“I have an SO but really like the LO. She has no SO.”
Sounds like SO is a placemarker or security object.
Does SO know about the situation with your co-worker? If she did, would you do anything differently? I’m not talking about “guilt gifts”.
In the meantime, I hope 2019 is less uncertain for you.
Well didn’t feel like dating. Felt like I was doing these things to try and see if she will reciprocate in her own way. Don’t think there was anything. She did if I asked her for something. But she wasn’t proactive like I was.
And yes gave SO same attention. But limerence at work meant it’s like 2 lives and I can’t tell if she has limerence too
Helping a woman find shoes in her size online is something you do for someone you are courting. Do you do it for anyone else, unsolicited? Pop up and bring coffee for others? Do you know their preferred roast and whether or not they take it black or with sugar? Do you do it for men in your office?
I mean, turn it around. If your SO was researching and purchasing a tie for a co-worker, or tying a tie for a gentleman at work, wouldn’t you twig to the fact that she has romantic feelings for him?
It’s like…reaching out and straightening a man’s collar without pointing it out to him (he can do it himself). It’s an intimate gesture.
If you are no longer interested in your SO – let her go. Life is only so long and she may not be aware that you’re only half-interested in her. Cut your losses.
Your not wrong. Yes I do like LO and do all these things for her as I’m looking for reciprocal actions as I have learnt I have limerence and craving that. She doesn’t give as much as I do hence why I’m convinced that she has nothing for me.
What your saying I agree and know about. But I’m trying to stop now and focus on SO Hence on this site.
even though we work together we will have no contact as we are of work for 2 weeks. Then I have 4 weeks of vein in same building and then she leaves end of jan
Question is we may end up again st the same company if we both get a job we are going for.
Can you broaden your skill set to minimize holding very similar positions within a company? I don’t know your field and at the upper echelon it tends to get rather cosy. But the more you invest in yourself, the better.
Having said that when I mentioned the other day that I need a new blazer she sent me a link if one she was suggesting. Things like that keep me hanging on to her thinking she likes me and we can carry on living in this world where we like each other. But I don’t know if I’m correct or she is just being friendly.
Thanks for your comments, and for sharing your experiences. I think the most important question you have to answer is “do you really want a home wife and a work wife, and are your two wives OK with that too?”
You should take some time to reflect on what you want from your life, because it seems like you are seeking emotional connection with LO without really understanding why and why your life with SO is not meeting that need.
My ethos is “purposeful living” because it helps to stimulate me to think about why I do what I do, and how it fits in with my goals. I drifted into limerence for a co-worker because I was just responding to the happy feelings of a new (sort of) romantic connection, without looking ahead to the inevitable negative consequences. I then had to dig myself out of the mess, which was painful for everyone involved.
From what you’ve shared, it sounds like you are seeking deeper emotional bonding with your co-worker. While it feels good early on, once it tips into limerence, you become increasingly desperate for reciprocation, connection and intimacy. It kind of sounds like you are there – scrutinising every action for meaning, anchoring your hopes on small, ambiguous gestures, and worrying about how you are going to handle future interactions.
If you do want to get out of this limerence loop, I think a really valuable first step would be to accept that you are never going to know for sure how LO feels about you, and that’s OK. I wrote a post on that idea here, https://livingwithlimerence.com/2018/08/17/living-with-uncertainty/.
The main point is about “letting go” of LO and refocussing on SO. If LO has good character, they would not respond to your romantic overtures anyway, if they knew you were in a relationship. Alternatively, if your relationship with SO is over, you should end it with integrity, and then take your chances with LO (who may decline).
As for the future, it may play out that you and LO end up working together again. If so, I would start that new endeavour with a new perspective: she is not your work wife, she is a co-worker that you like and enjoy the company of. Multiple wives (or husbands) is rarely a good look…
Thanks for this and taking the time to
Yeah, like you it’s rhise new romantic feelings I’m enjoying. Well I was enjoying but now I try and avoid her in the workplace and am
Counting down the days to
Her last day. Cos
Of how i feel
After experiencing her presence – a mess.
Before limerence I felt
Energised but now
Party this week I feel I have to give her up. She basically chose the party over me and I was out just to spend time with her. I do feel like a fool doing nice things for her like a boyfriend would throughout the year.
So you had something similar and your fully over it
Twenty months ago, I was in full blown Limerence with a divorce male family friend. I’m happily married with two teenagers. Limerence derailed my life and peace of mind. I found this website and have slowly crawled out of the madness. It’s a condition that I’m trying to control. During the height of Limerence, I purchased a $350 first edition, signed copy of my LO’s favorite local author. It was his Christmas gift. Did I spend that much money or time gift hunting for my SO? …No, I did not. That’s how insane and crazy Limerence can make a person.
A full year later, where am I? My LO is with his young girlfriend. I’m dead weight to him. …Where am I? Thankfully, still married to a man that took me out last night for dinner. It was raining, my SO gently tucked me in a corner to stay warm and dry while he walked out to get the car. This is real life. Not the Limerence.
Think about where you want to be in your life, marriage and peace of mind. If you cannot be around LO without being a person of integrity, then don’t take the position. Start the process of staged withdrawal and No contact.
It’s hard, but you can’t be with your LO now. By her actions, she acts like someone that cares, but not enough to break a marriage.
BTW, “mother Lee” is a spouse of a Limerent. She’s the cold splash of water that we need to remind us that there’s a real spouse on the other end of this Limerence roller coaster ride.
I hope your evening together was delightful!
Happy holidays Irene. I hope 2019 is truly wonderful. Or at least a (mostly) fun ride.
Thanks for sharing
Did he reciprocate to you.
Thanks for sharing your story and words of wisdom with me. You are so right about what you say.
How did you get out of your Limerence.
Did he reciprocate to you.
My issue is sometimes im resiprocated (10%) of the time – so I hang onto that for more of the romantic feelings.
Im going for NC but as we work in same company on same floor we have to have contact. But atleast over the holiday period there will be none – unless she messages me. I kinda want her too deep down but I know it goes against all of this.
Every LO has reciprocated their Limerent feelings in one way or another. Often times that’s what initiated the start of Limerence. My LO was divorce, no kids and single for a very long time. He doesn’t want to have children or bother with other divorcée offsprings. My teenagers are young men and friends with LO. He’s not my type, we had known him for awhile. He recommended some things for us to go tour since we were new to the area. I enjoyed his recommendations and would thank him for his advice. This is a year into our acquaintance. We start a very appropriate friendship. We have an unbelievable amount of common interests in books, movies and hobbies. The glimmer starts. Four months of yearning and inappropriate “friendship” pattern is established. (Two inappropriate hugs initiated by LO was as far as it went) He gets tired of mooning after a married woman and moves on to a young single girl. Immediately, I’m avoided and ignored. It was a harmless flirtation on his part, ….almost two years for me to cope with the aftermath.
What lessons did I learn? It’s not my marriage, LO or anything external. What is the root of my problem? I have an avoidance personality, married to a incredibly strong willed husband that doesn’t share a lot of interests with me, siblings that are manipulative. I lost my beloved father in 2013, my only brother became paralyzed after a massive stroke in 2014 (age 51) and we make this major move to a new state. No family or friends and I’m not working in order to raise the boys. I meet LO in June 2015, the Limerence started in December of 2016. It’s the closing of 2018, I’m in a stronger position, but not completely over the Limerence. Wiser and armed with knowledge. This website, Dr.L and all the bloggers has helped.
Kevin, keep asking yourself this, …..What is the root of the problem? It’s not your LO or even your spouse. There’s a gap in your life and you are trying to fill it with LO and all the dopamine reliefs it comes with.
LO is not my type, but every time I see him, all the alarm buttons goes off, every hair in my body stands up and I’m in hyperarousal mode. You would absolutely laugh if I texted you a picture of him. He’s short, bald and slender to the point of being feminine. (I could list all of his appealing features, but it’s long and has to be in pdf) My husband refuses to find him a threat. I am so frightened of my response to LO that I avoid him like a recovering alcoholic avoids alcohol. This is Limerence. It has to be.
“…remind us that there’s a real spouse on the other end of this Limerence roller coaster ride.”
Well, from the number of times I’ve found myself unexpectedly smacked into walls (metaphorically speaking), I think it’s more like “crack the whip”.
He was seen by Miss LO at an event where he was underdressed and she was looking particularly attractive and was flirting with a single man (which made him jealous and angry) and I was later greeted with, “I’m so glad I’m good enough for you, Lee!” Oh gee, thanks. How noble of you, how self-sacrificing!
Thanks Lee. Good idea about skills set. They are similar and we both enjoy good companies to work for.
Anyway let see what happened. Best scenario is that I get the job and she doesn’t. Or she get it and I don’t.
Worst scenario is we both get it as they have multiple roles. Then I will
This reminds me of that scene in How I Met Your Mother – Barney’s “Mermaid Theory” – that if you spend long enough with someone, you end up finding them attractive in the end. I’ve often thought that about work place based relationships.
That is true. I remember that episode
And thought the same.
When I first my LO in 2012 I thought she is ok but not my type. Looks and personality wise.
Now it’s a different story
Thanks Irene for sharing your story. I feel for you. Sounds like yeah it was
Harmless flirting for him. It was for me at work too with my LO. Think I enjoyed the challenge of seeing if I can get her to reciprocate. As we work together it carried on and when she showed signs of reciprocity, I liked it and carried on. And then BANG about 3 months ago I realised that before she energised me and now she drains me as I feel more and more sad that I can’t have her.
We even gave each other Xmas presents. It was very sweet and I told her that. But I know it’s just her being friendly.
What do you classify as inappropriate hugs?
Glad your in a better place now. Can’t have been easy. You sound strong. There is a reason why Buddhism believes in celibate i guess. Limeremce this can mess with your head big time.
Any hugs made to someone you’re attracted to is inappropriate while married. Long hugs, with cheeks pressed together in deep yearning is inappropriate. He was saying “Thank you for the beautiful book I gave him”. I’m going to avoid touching him in the future. His short height is an incredible turn on to me. It’s very intimate.
It’s about My personal archetype and upbringing. My childhood boyfriend was also my best friend during high school and college. He and I were inseparable. We grew up together, developed a love of old movies and books. It was a beautiful relationship. Five years and never consummated the relationship, because we were going to wait until after we were married. After college graduation, I wanted different goals than what he had mapped out. We parted with bittersweet tears.
My LO brings back such strong childhood memories and smells from this beautiful childhood. It’s classic transference.
Sounds like you had it tough but are through the hardest part. Was this through NC?
I’ve shown lots of gestures to my LO when not knowing limerence was probably being fed. I loved finding places to take her to eat and coffee houses that I know she would like. She would come too and enjoyed it.
I kinda feel it would have been better she didn’t but because we were friends from a previous employment, then in his new job we had a more intimate friendship one can argue. Me or her didn’t go out for lunches with other colleagues on a 121.
Above the Xmas
Party was the painful tipping point where I realised I really am wasting my time if she doesn’t want to spend time with me as it was my ‘hope’ for reciprocal action that DR L talks about not being met that upset me.
I feel for you but also you give hope that things can get better.
Without knowing I was trying to transfer LO to someone else in the office. We message on internal chat but she hasn’t accepted any of my lunch or dinner outings. She is probably wiser.
No contact or very limited contact is very important. You need to find out what triggers sets off your Limerence. Avoid these types. Stop engaging with coworkers outside of work unless it’s related to business until you figure out what’s motivating you to respond this way to certain women. I actually have a new priest that is my age and is very fond of me. He openly teases me and compliments my questions in our bible class. He has a delightful sense of humor. That’s a trigger. I instantly stop joking with him. I love wit and good natured ribbing. My husband is all business and doesn’t have tolerance for nonsense. I’m instantly attracted to sociable males with certain traits. I dial it back now with all men.
I know my kryptonite.
You are being strong with the priest.
The issue with limerence is that initially makes you feel good about yourself and that’s why we come back for more I guess.
So the fact you’re being strong and not responding as much is good
I think my reason for going down this route and 14 for this trap is that I enjoy the challenge of getting girls to like me. I think I realise that today after talking to you All. It’s like a challenge. I know that as last year somebody was very much interested in Me From work as we were chatting a lot online. Looking back I think I subconsciously started talking to her to transfer my LO. But that didn’t work as I almost felt I was cheating on the LO I have with today. Anyway back to last year with this other girl , when we were in a taxi going home after a night out she did try to kiss me but I didn’t and felt it was not right.
So trying out this new contact stuff that’s been recommended
We usually contact every day on weekdays and sometimes weekends
However in the last week I don’t think I’ve done too bad as I just contacted on Christmas Day to wish a Merry Christmas and got the same greeting response back.
Now trying to go for a full week. However once we are back in the office on seventh of Jan and the real challenges will start
I mean NO CONTACT stuff
Good luck with it. If you wear glasses, it helps to remove them so she becomes another anonymous blur. Fewer conversations, more workplace emails (that can and ARE read by others) also dampen down enthusiasm. If it’s only about work, it’s probably not that interesting.
Changing her contact name to “No Contact” in your phone will make it easier to ignore any weekend or after work hours texts too.
Thanks Lee for your encouragement.
I actually deleted her number from my phone 6 months ago. Which tells me that I must have known this is becoming a problem for me before I even heard of limerence. But as we are on team what’s app groups from previous company I can always acccess her number. But I just made it more difficult for myself
Problem is she will ask me for coffee or lunch after I don’t say much to her. How to respond to that. If I’m not too careful I’m worried I may even tell her that I have a soft spot for her when she asks me why I’m being aloof.
Are you both single? Sorry, I don’t recall. I’m guessing one or both of you are not.
“Problem is she will ask me for coffee or lunch after I don’t say much to her. How to respond to that.”
“No, thank you.”
No explanations are necessary. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
She is single I’m not but like her a lot and can be tempted to flirt and enjoy her company, praise her etc etc.
Ok. So just keep it cold then. This will
Thanks. It’s cold but I know it’s for the best
You don’t have to keep it “cold,” you keep it professional. Don’t respond to her weekend emails, etc.
You can always tell her the truth, maybe not the real truth, but enough of the truth. If she asks why you’ve distanced yourself, tell her the line of professionalism is getting fuzzy and you want to get back on the right side of that line.
Now, have you done or said anything that could be professionally damaging? What happens if your wife sees those texts/emails? Is she aware that you’re contacting her on the weekends? If not, you’re on some pretty shaky turf. If she does, you can always throw your wife under the bus and tell your co-worker your wife is uncomfortable with that and asked you to stop. Out of deference, you will. Actually, you may be able to use that regardless. If the woman has any integrity, she’ll accept it and respect you for it. If she ramps up or threatens you, you know the kind of person you’re dealing with.
The question isn’t if you can get out of this, the question is do you want to?
Your co-worker may find it a relief to return to treating you as a colleague rather than a friend or buddy. She may have realized that after-hours and weekend texts to a married man isn’t healthy for her. If not immediately, then eventually. If she wants to start a serious relationship with someone, the best way is for both parties to be unmarried.
This idea is gold, Kevin.
Even if Lee’s speculation isn’t actually how LO is feeling, acting as though it is would be really effective at breaking the limerence cycle. It’s a good way of framing the situation in a way that no contact (or limited, professional contact) is good for you and good for LO, and so everyone benefits.
Thanks for this. Your so right it’s not cold it’s professional. I hope I don’t have to tell her. She leaves end of jan so I just need to see one month through and on top of that I work from hom once a week so 17 working days I have to see her. Lol
So hopefully in that time she doesn’t notice me being aloof from fun and social interactions. Although she has to give me part of my Xmas present that didn’t arrive pre Xmas so that will get the heart racing again when she gives it.
Your question about wanting to get out of it is a good one as Most of me does so as to bring back my focus in life and be under this spell but part of me wants her as I am attracted to her and how she makes me feel.
@lee and @drl
This is an awesome way to look at it. And I have wondered if She realises that going on lunches and dinners one-to-one with me makes her realise that the man she is with has a wife or whether she just sees us as good friends as we have been for years and doesn’t think anything of it. But yeah this point is an excellent one and one I haven’t considered. Maybe she too will use the Xmas period to self reflect and cool things off from jan.
But come first week of jan we will both know if we got th job offer in a new company or not.
“And I have wondered if She realises that going on lunches and dinners one-to-one with me makes her realise that the man she is with has a wife or whether she just sees us as good friends as we have been for years and doesn’t think anything of it.”
In the end, it doesn’t matter what she thinks about it. What matters is how you behave within the boundaries to which YOU knowingly committed yourself. If your marriage isn’t satisfying your every need, it’s a darn good chance that it isn’t 100% satisfying to your wife either. NO marriage is 100% satisfying to both parties. That doesn’t give either person carte blanche to ignore it entirely. (Aside: I’m not suggesting you are doing this, but I am pointing out some popular stations used by people justifying poor decisions to themselves and getting angry when they are trusted by those they are betraying – don’t go there!)
Don’t gum it with Esther Perel’s b.s. EVER or you may find yourself being discussed in very disparaging terms over at chumplady.com Ditto for LO. Also consider http://www.mustbethistalltoride.com and Matt’s 14-part letter to sh*tty husbands (it applies to wives too, but he wrote it reflecting on his part in the demise of his marriage – so it had husbands mostly in mind).
In the meantime, you are colleagues. You are giving her more personal and professional space within which you can both grow.
I hope 2019 is a good year for you. Do you think you have a good chance of landing this new job? Does it come with more money too? Fingers crossed!
Have a good chance. 4 Candidates it went to the final round and there are two roles.
So a scenario is that we both get the roles. Then I will have to decide whether to take it or not as I deal with this limerence. Best scenario is that I get it and she loses out on this occasion. Selfish I know but I don’t think I can concentrate on that if she is there as well.
Well it’s now end of the holidays and work starts again tomorrow. I found this site 1.5 weeks ago and do find a positive difference already as not feel like just sinking my head in a pillow like I did early dec. I’m still on a journey but find that I am now more aware of what’s going on and that’s because of ALL OF YOU. So thank you to all of you for your time in helping me.
Having NC for 12 days and not seeing LO has helped. She did message me today to wish HNY. I know I’ve improved My awareness as I didn’t get so excited and respond straight away. Instead i withheld and responded 6 hours later with no question. But just a gesture of good will for 2019. Was hard but I did it.
So thank you all
You’re doing great. Keep it up. Professional detachment and distance. Colleagues, not buddies.
Thanks Lee. You’ve been helpful.
So 14 days I have to go in the office where we will be in same floor together. Then she leaves at end of jan. Other days either I’m working from home or she is. Sad that I’m counting down. But also not sad as I am letting go of what has been dragging me down.
She did contact me today to tell me she got the job that we both went for. There are two vacancies. I haven’t heard and if I don’t get it then that’s cool as I can’t be dealing with starting a new job and LO in my team!
Platinum lining to those dark clouds, right? Right!
Lee – absolutely.
My slight worry is that if I don’t get it and at the same time I’m practicing NIC ( not initiating contact) then she will think it’s because of the new job thing. As she isn’t aware of my limerence. I was even thinking of disclosing But not worth it now that She is going end of jan.
Well as some of you have taken the time to support me – I wanted to share that I didnt get the role and my LO did – as they had 2 roles i was worried i would end up in a new workplace again with LO – well luckily that wont happen now – so its goodbye to LO to a different country too! Im slightly gutted i didnt get the role too because it was good job but Im trying to remember that my wellbeing and emotional state is a priority at the moment and that being with LO in a new country/new job and SO there soo would mean that there would be lots of interactions as we would all be new there settling into new country so that could have played with my mental state a lot – so its a blessing really. LO just called me too 🙁 as wanted advice on whether to take the role or not as we have always helped each other in conversations. Anyway I supported her as a friend and actually didnt feel sad speaking to her – felt a little sad afterwards but am ok. I just hope she doesnt stay too much in touch with me when she is alone in a new country / new job asking for advice etc…. Must admit I felt good being an honest friend to her. But need to carry on with NC (i havnt broken it as she rang me and i discussed matters at hand nothing more !)
” Im slightly gutted i didnt get the role too because it was good job”
I’m sorry that didn’t work out differently. Then again, you can now focus on your current job and pick up new skills or improve in areas that will lead to a better job in 2019. Maybe you won’t have to pack up the family and move to a new country in order to get a better job.
I mean – it would be a grand adventure but it may be difficult for you and your wife to both land jobs in a new country, so there is that to keep in mind. Plus kids (do you have any?) are another layer of complexity.
” I just hope she doesnt stay too much in touch with me when she is alone in a new country / new job asking for advice etc…”
I suspect she will be asking for advice from people who are already there and can recommend places they know well, etc.
You got this, Kevin.
Shame about the job, Kevin, but as you say there are a lot of positives to be taken from this outcome. Most importantly, no contact can now happen naturally, and you are free from the day to day interactions with LO. If she does “reach out” in the future, you can just take progressively longer to respond, and keep it neutral. She’ll surely find new sources of support (which is better for everyone).
You should also take a lot of pride in how well you’ve handled this episode. It’s no small thing to face an emotional challenge like this, maintain your integrity through it, and learn deep lessons about yourself. Congrats!
I’m sorry you didn’t get the position.
Blessings are often delivered in the form of a closed door. I am glad you handled the situation with dignity. I would think it was doubly difficult to handle Limerence, temptation and proximity to LO without children involved. You really dodged a bullet. Have a great weekend with your SO.
Thank You Irene, Lee & Dr L
Yes it possibly is dodging a bullet as the thought of me and SO in a new country, and LO in the new country (its a small country) all settling in together and meeting up socially as we wouldnt know anyone else initially terrifies me on how I would feel emotionally PLUS trying to make a mark in the new job. LO would be living on her own and i know she would be dependent on me to help with things so all works out for the best in the end.
DR L – thanks for your comments but your posts have been my source of wealth in handling this episode so your a true selfless Gentleman. Praying that you get the best of everything in life.
Hope all are well and feeling lighter…infact my aim is to make the weight of my LO feel like a mere blade of grass on my forehead as opposed to the elephant weight at the moment (which is getting smaller 🙂 )
Enjoy the weekend folks
Hi all. Need some advice please.
So still maintaining NC over the weekend but finding it hard because when LO called me about advice on whether or not to take the new job (she is worried about living on her own in the new country and managing all the domestic stuff herself as she currently lives at home ), im sure she was close to tears as I could hear it in her voice the fear that was there. She did admit to me that she had a good cry when she heard she got the job as reality kicked in for her to live alone.
Because of our close friendship I feel compelled to stay in touch with her under the circumstance and check in with her to support her but obviously I’m trying a lot harder to just be a normal colleague and maintain NC. So part of me feels I’m not being a good friend . She has not said that to me as I did give over an hour of my time on the phone call on Friday which she thanked me for but I am just feeling that I am not doing enough. I picked up the phone a number of times to message her today but I thought I would come to you guys 1st to help defuse the thoughts in my head and maintain NC. But feeling slightly guilty too for not being there for her.
Any thoughts or words of wisdom would be much appreciated.
She is frightened about living on her own? She is an adult and if this is a real fear, she needs a good counselor.
Don’t be the yo-yo to her string, Kevin.
Also, this is exactly the time and situation when a woman should reach out to her girlfriends and family. Not a clearly smitten, married male co-worker.
She knows you have more than collegial thoughts. That Christmas present to her said it all. I hope she doesn’t decide to tell your wife about it. You didn’t tell your wife you got her a bath basket and you both had a laugh about how awkward it is – right?
Plus an hour on the phone is at least 45 minutes too long.
Tread lightly and retreat.
thanks – yeah she has been pampered a lot at home so for a 36 yr old, yet to hit the real world.
Agree about not being the YO YO – having said that she wasnt the one reaching out this weekend it was me feeling I should check in with her – but after your posts i decided not too – so thanks. I do believe she is talking to a variety of people to get opinions too.
Wife not aware of bath gifts and LO doesnt know SO so that wont happen – thats all buried now and receipts probably recycled into something else by now.
“when LO called me about advice on whether or not to take the new job (she is worried about living on her own in the new country and managing all the domestic stuff herself as she currently lives at home ), ”
Kevin – something else to consider is that her calling you, when you were both competing for the job, is not unlike rubbing it in your face. She didn’t call you to say she thought she might not be qualified for the JOB, she called to make you think about playing house with her.
Seriously. The woman is competent enough to land this job but she can’t manage paying rent? Shipping her furniture or buying stuff there? Cooking for herself? What can she not handle? Laundry?
It makes my Spidey-senses tingle. If she should pull this again, tell her you really can’t talk right now and perhaps she should discuss it with a girlfriend who knows her better. I don’t suppose your company has some sort of employee assistance for big promotions/transfers to a new area.
This is a big promotion within your company – correct? I don’t know why I have that idea in my head. She may be leaving your current employer entirely. No matter, if it’s a whole new company they are likely to have resources available to her in order to make the transition less fraught.
Even if it was totally innocent of her (which I doubt), it is another opportunity for you to stick to your boundaries regarding work life/family and home life. I’m friends with colleagues too but you have to work out for you and your family what and when it is approaching the boundaries.
I think you envision a nice picket fence between you and this woman. Maybe someday. For now, you need a moat with a hungry moat monster, a nice tall solid stone wall with only small narrow gate and a FABULOUS tree house for you and your wife. So to speak.
You can do it.
yeah she has been spoilt at home so doing basic things will feel new to her when living out – she will manage but it will be a journey!
Even though it was same jobs we were not really competing as for me the pay was a drop, for her it would have been more. IT would have been nice to be offered but I did tell her that other interviews I have got a more suited to my seniority. So had told her that I probably wont go for it so we were open.
And yes the new company does have a relocation team which will help so in theory i shouldnt get a lot of the questions. Plus she has 3 sisters who she is close too and talks to about these type of things.
To be fair a lot of the problem is with me as I feel like a ‘bas*ard’ not checking in with her in this once in a life time move – last year I would have but now that I am encouraged by this blog I am limiting contact to Must have only until she leaves the company end of month.
I think an hour on the phone is enough support to be honest. I’m sure she’ll appreciate that you’ve helped, and it’s now time to give her space to make the right decision for her and her life. Her leaving the country is a blessing for you, so don’t risk that by giving her reasons not to stay, especially as you know they’re not real reasons.
I had a similar situation with my LO before she left. I helped her plan the next move, set her up with numerous interviews and recommended her to someone at the firm she eventually moved to. It was an intense period of interaction for us and certainly didn’t help my limerence at all. I did feel it was the right thing to do for her, and that I could then enter NC feeling I’d looked after her as best I could. She’s very young in professional terms and needed my direction. But now it’s time she figures it all out for herself.
You have to look after no.1 here and her presence is torturing you. You need to go into proper NC as soon as you can. Realistically that’s not until she leaves, but in the meantime you need to keep contact to an absolute minimum. That’s not 1hr phone calls!
Ok – valid point. Funny thing was after speaking on the phone i felt good that I could be a friend like any other friend. But yeah – dont plan on any long conversations. Its because she told me she had been crying – that hit the soft side in me. Hopefully that should be it now – atleast im not initiating contact. You guys saved me today!
Oh it’s not easy at all. It will feel just as wrong as it feels right, but that’s the limerence vs the logical side of your brain fighting it out. You want to help, but ultimately you have to remember you’re helping her at the expense of yourself. You go deeper into the mire each time you share an intimate moment like her being vulnerable to you. I know it very well.
My LO was in tears whilst talking with me about her career options as it was so daunting for her. I put my arms out to hug her and she just grabbed me and hugged me so tightly. I had to walk away at that point because I could feel myself getting emotional too. It was a rare, real, genuine moment of affection. On the flip side I knew as a married man I just couldn’t be having those with another woman, and in a way it helped my resolve to end it when she moved on.
A little late to this, but delighted to see the LwL community jumping in with great advice 🙂
This is a critical moment, Kevin, as once a limerent resolves to distance themselves, LO can often have some sort of emotional crisis that starts to draw them back. A good way to look at it is that in the bigger picture the most supportive thing you can do for LO is to continue to detach. There’s no need to be cold about it – and you clearly aren’t as a 1 hr phone call is very supportive! – but to make it clear from your actions that you are no longer as available for emotional support is ultimately better for both of you. She needs to find independent help, and you being less responsive will facilitate that.
Both of you will be better off, because of your resolve. Well done for not making that call!
Your story is too similar to mine – but if you dont mind I will learn from you and not get too involved in her job move too as that will slow my recovery. Sounds like you are in a better place though. I like what you say about brain vs Limerence and putting myself first – will remember that.
Did you find that now that she has gone out of the office Limerence is going down at a good rate and you can see the light…?
It’s a little bit better each day. So long as I’m busy it’s OK, but then someone will mention her name and I’ll be back thinking about her again for a bit. I have noticed that I have a range of triggers still, such as when I get off the train in the mornings i usually get a few WhatsApp messages delivered at the same time, which buzzes my watch. It used to invariably be from LO with something funny, gossip or telling me she was running late. I had the buzz as I got off the train this morning and my heart raced for a brief second only for it to be a message from my mother…
Since I went NC I’ve found myself thinking about when she might get in contact – Xmas, NYE, starting her new job. They’ve all passed now and she’s not contacted me. So now there’s no real reason to contact, no event on the horizon. We might bump into each other I suppose, or she gets drunk and texts, but otherwise that’s it now. That should help get her out of my mind.
Thanks all for your help – yes Dr L is right that this community just helps each other out – you all helped me and stopped me from messaging LO yesterday so this thing is working!!
@Dr L yes this is critical phase now as I am not more educated now on Limerence and what I need to do and have resolved to remove LO out of my head and the way I feel about it all.
Im back in the office today – I did get a message this morning to say “thanks for all the support in helping me decide to go for the job or not, your a really good friend and im lucky i can call you a friend”….to which i just said no problem as usually i may have gone all sweet LOL….
anyway she is taking the job so thats good.
Until then NC initiated by me and all professional.
Have a good week all – your all awesome
@vincent – looks like your in the clear as those are milestones when LO’s and limerants can interact – the only other one is Birthdays!.
So you could be clear. If she has drunk texted before then yeah then may do – hopefully you too can avoid drunk text as that yeah is a dangerous one.
This is such a great site, thank you DrL for creating this. I’m deeply ashamed to confess I’m a serial Limerent and suffering terribly from my latest bout with this demon. It’s my darkest secret, and has poisoned my life repeatedly over the last 30 years. Now it’s the worst of the worst, I’m “in limerence” with my client…again! I do not want to be thinking about her constantly, she is not available to me for numerous reasons, not the least of which is she’s my client, we’re both married, she’s ten years younger and waaay hotter than me. How can a grown man and accomplished professional possibly fall into such an absurd situation…again?!?!
Worst of all is the guilt I feel toward my sweet, loving wife, who has no idea this is going on. She certainly does not deserve to be (emotionally & sexually) abandoned because of a ridiculous fantasy. To wit, she just popped into my office with an affogato, as I was writing this comment. What’s the emoji for feeling deep shame?
I’m really not sure what to do (other than drain this site in its entirety to learn everything I can about this psychosis). NC is not an option as I work with her daily and my livelihood depends on this. Disclosure would be torture, suicide, and deep shame all wrapped up with a bow.
This has happened to me repeatedly over the years, and has cost me more than one job and a marriage. It’s enough to make one wonder what’s the point…
Not so pathetic that I’m looking for sympathy, just looking for ideas!
Welcome Misery (as it were…)
Ha! Lots of people here have asked themselves that question. There’s a short answer and a long answer. The short one is that LO has got just the right combination of appearance and personality to connect with something deep within your subconscious, and trigger all the neurochemical storms needed for a limerence episode. The long answer is that some complicated combination of inherent traits and life experiences have set you up with just the right vulnerability for this type of person, and the only way to get to the bottom of it is to do the deep work of understanding yourself at a fundamental level. Simple!
There are some techniques for dealing with a limerence emergency in the here and now (try downloading the “Take Control” book as a good starting point if you haven’t already), and there is a lot on the site to peruse. If nothing else, it is a good diversion from ruminating about LO.
Good luck and best wishes.
First time poster deep in limerence looking for help! I am married and am limerant for a co worker who is married too. This will be my 2nd LE the first over 10 years ago now was reciprocated became an emotional affair but she was unavailable and eventually chose not to leave her SO. Cue heartbreak!
Current LO had me at first sight. Elegant, attractive and confident. A move to a new office put us on the same floor with little more than a dozen other people though there is a physical distance between us.
Our departments interact and I used that as an excuse to get to know LO better.
An afternoon work bonding event was the trigger point for me as we ended up on the same team and i got to spend time to bask in her company.
We exchanged e mails in the following months mostly initiated by me but unlike my 1st LO never crossing any line and in general my gut feeling is that LO likes me but not in the way I would want.
For the past few months we have e mail contact most days often started with a necessary work issue that I will generally turn into general coversation. We will also talk a couple of times a day in our small office as I make a point of going over to her desk once a day.
My colleagues tease me that she is my work wife although I think I am restrained in my contact.
The buzz generated by what I consider a good day with LO is amazing, a personal e mail unprompted ( rare but has happened! ) or a day where I look back and we have an e mail trail of 20 plus e mails. Or perhaps a longer physical conversation than normal.
LO has confided some personal issues to me ( uh Oh!) and I need little exuse to divulge a few personal things too. I personally dread the though of a works evening do with alcohol and everything that brings and we have spoken about standing together at such events giving each other moral support. I know however from experience that we would spend some time together but she will migrate towards more like minded party people as the evening progresses whereas I would just like everyone else in the building to leave!
I have decided to minimize contact as I cannot cope with the highs and lows and can see my relationship with SO suffering and I don’t want that. I only really want LO to feel the same about me I wouldn’t dream of being a home wrecker. No contact is impossible due to work and similar to advice on here for a week now I have not initiated e mail contact and kept any contact polite friendly but business like. I have reduced the physical visits to her but cannot cut out completely as it would just look weird. I have tried this once before recently and didn’t visit her for a day or so and got a ” are u ok? ” e mail. Of course I fell off my white charger and right back to square one , happily so as she had e mailed me !
I am more determined this time but it’s hard. She has done nothing wrong and it feels like I am sulking with her and she us sure to ask again soon what is up. Part of me wants her too of course and part of me wants that to lead to disclosure but that is definitely not a good idea. It’s a small office I know she does not mirror my feelings for her and the aftermath would be awkward . I am senior to her too which adds to the reasons not to disclose.
Writing this itself is cathartic almost and I feel this week is going to be tough even more so if she challenges me. I hope my slow staged withdrawal process is enough not to alert her too much but let’s see.
I may not be available to respond too quickly to any advice but it would be appreciated.
It sounds like you are doing everything right now, to fade out the limerence. Staged withdrawal definitely sounds like the right strategy. The other thing I would suggest is that you start focusing more time and effort on improving your relationship with SO. Having a positive goal in that sense is going to help shift your mindset from “I’m losing LO” to “I’m regaining my marriage, which I’d been risking”.
If you need some good fodder for “deprogramming” you could try imagining that your co-workers are joking about your “work wife” to your face, but behind your back that are mocking you for your lack of self control and your pathetic lovestruck behaviour. I’m not suggesting this is true! But it’s an effective way of linking negative emotions to day dreams about LO.
Finally, you could consider disclosing to your wife. It’s a hell of a motivator to stick to the honest path, cut contact, and let’s her know what’s going on in her life. It also helps remind you that this is a mess that you have created, and re-commits you to the idea that you and your wife are a couple who work together to solve problems. More thoughts on this here.
Speaking as the spouse, disclosure is a good idea but it’s significantly better to have a plan in mind to handle the situation at work. When you disclose make certain to tell her that you have a plan and what you have done to break the cycle. Ask for her ideas. Listen to her.
Sounds as though it’s time to plan activities to do with your wife too.
At this point, I don’t agree with Jamie disclosing to his SO. If he knows where he is and is committed to getting out of the LE and improving his marriage, disclosing to his SO may not help that. Disclosing to his SO may reframe his entire marriage and maybe not positively. If she trusted him before, she may not after he discloses. You can’t automatically assume that your SO is loving, trusting, stable, and can handle surprises well.
Once you throw that switch, you can’t undo it and you may radically alter the arc of a lot of lives. You really can’t predict how your SO will react disclosure with 100% certainty. You may think you know how he/she will respond but hit the right trigger and all hell can break loose.
I remember Sophie’s husband. He didn’t think what she was doing was a big deal. Take that to the extreme and disclosure to your SO can come across as self-serving and punitive, e.g., “Why are you telling me this?” Disclosure to his SO comes with as much risk as it does benefit. And, disclosure is a risk you don’t automatically have to assume.
At this point, I’d be more concerned about his image in the office. He’s providing a source of entertainment to them. Who needs NetFlix when you can watch it and get paid for it? Toss in there’s an implied imbalance in power and someone may be able to leverage that against him.
But Scharnhorst – his colleagues are already calling her his “work wife” and if one of them makes that sort of remark around his family, or in front of Jamie’s wife at a function, before he has made changes and the snickers have died away, it could become much worse.
What’s faster than the speed of light? Gossip.
So he may not want to use the words “limerence” or “office wife” but he *may* want to tell his wife he has had flights of fancy for another woman at the office but he’s not interested in them continuing and here’s how he is ensuring he doesn’t cause any harm to the marital unit. She may smile and tell him she’s dealt with the odd office crush herself, but she chalked it up to a passing fancy. That he is the Real Deal and he is still #1 to her.
Or not. But if word gets to her through back channels, that is more likely to hurt (it’s humiliating to be the last to know) and potentially cause fallout. So at the very least, commit to your plan to backpedal and limit your emails. If anyone in the IT department read them, would you be embarrassed? Your wife?
Sticking solely to work topics is best.
“I need little exuse to divulge a few personal things too.”
Uh-oh. You need to shore up your boundaries. If you wouldn’t share the same information with LO if your wife was at your side, then don’t share them at all. Think of it as safeguarding your marriage. Plus that is courting behavior. “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you!” Nice in songs and movies, not so great when you’re already in a committed relationship.
“I personally dread the though of a works evening do with alcohol and everything that brings”
Stay away from alcohol at those work functions at all costs. It won’t help your situation.
You can pump the limbic brakes. That’s why we have big wrinkly brains – to override our impulses.
I agree with you about inadvertent disclosure at a work function. He’s in a minefield and he’ll have to actively manage getting out of it. Disclosure is not the only way out of it.
Risk = Threat x Vulnerability x Consequence
If his co-workers pose a threat of disclosure, he can reduce his risk by disclosing to his SO or he can keep the threat (i.e. coworkers) away from the vulnerability (i.e., SO) until the snickers die down. But, disclosure to his SO comes at a different risk. He should also prepare for the possibility of inadvertent disclosure. One thing that made my LE easier to deal with was there were no professional implications for me to have to consider.
As Sophie pointed out, Jamie knows his situation better than we do and DrL covers a lot of it in the blog she linked.
Only you know your situation well enough to know whether disclosing to SO would be helpful, and your motives for disclosing.
The LE made me realise that my marriage hadn’t been working – long before LO arrived on the scene.
Disclosing to SO, once I finally got through to him that it was a big problem, eventually lead to us having marriage counselling which really has helped a lot.
My other reason for disclosing was that thanks to the honesty of one of my closest friends, I knew I needed therapy. I needed SO on board with me having therapy as spending £50/week on that when I was earning £70/week at the time, meant I definitely needed his support!
The accountability aspect has helped too.
Just because it was the right thing for me, doesn’t mean it’s the right route for everyone. Dr L has a brilliant post on that https://livingwithlimerence.com/2018/05/15/should-you-disclose-to-your-significant-other
Thank you everyone for their advice. I do not currently plan to disclose to either SO or LO. Both are entries into the unknown where currently I feel i can put the brakes on and withdraw tactfully from LO without arousing suspicion. Remaining business like and friendly but no more personal disclosures and definitely no work events with alcohol.
There is one function a year with families and I want to be in a position that I am comfortable at that event not worried by any potential meeting
I hope I am not too late to move away from the work wife tag though I realise this may stick a little.
I am committed to my plan of subtle withdrawal and focusing more attention on my SO and am actively looking forward to that. I just hope I can lessen the contact without offending SO or raising suspicion but I will have to deal with that if and when it arises.
For now I just take one day at a time..
Sounds like a good plan.
Since you two talk, is she aware of any of your hobbies, interests, etc.?
If she is, you frame your reduced contact in that context. Do you play golf? Tell her your new goal is to break 80 and you’re spending time online reading golf tips. Go out for lunch and buy some tees. Come up with a viable reason for not hanging around her office. Got kids? Tell her you’ve been researching college funding options. Look at a few to have some browser history. Tell her your thinking of remodeling the bathroom and you’re looking at tile samples. (That’s a really good one since most men would rather die than look at tile samples but stay away from fabric stores. No woman will believe that). Stay away from common interests.
The point is don’t make reduced contact about her.
Sounds like a solid plan and I hope it works in the near and long-term. Best wishes to you and yours.
Some of you will remember that I posted about LE for a co worker and that she was gonna leave the company end of Jan 2019 . So she did and I had limited contact which helped.
She got a job in a great company abroad… But… I also did too and started a month after her in the same place.
I had to weigh up the opportunity Vs my Limerence and the opportunity won.. but now I dont have LC like I did when we were not in the same work place.
Plus we are in new country so have been helping each other out although I have been a bit reserved in that. My SO coming soon in a month too. Im being careful but keep finding myself getting down when I should be excited and happy about new career and new country….. we are not exactly in same team but our teams work hand in hand.
Luckilyh its a big campus with no fixed seating so not always in the same space as LO 8 hours a day which is good. But still, she does message me about having lunch and getting train together and spending spare time now and then (she is not becoming needy or anything actually)….
Im going to reign it in and hope she doesnt notice as much as she too will make new friends as well and less reliance on me….but like i said she is not all reliant on me as she has been here a month anyway – but in my first week she was ever so caring about me settlign in etc… which was nice and made me down as Limerence came back and I knew i cant have her.
Any tips on what to do and rules / boundaries i shoudl have for myself. One rule I did since 1 Jan is not inititiaing contact unless work related – that I have done till now and broken twice since then before coming to new country – so i can stick to my rules.
I have signed up for the course too.
any advice thoughts workds of encouragement – welcome
“Ever since his admission, he would refer to (co-worker) in present tense, all the while claiming he wasn’t in touch. Perhaps he wasn’t, but she was still very much in his mind. I finally realized I don’t want to be in a relationship with somebody who is constantly thinking about another woman. It took me a while, after having my soul broken and stomped on, to realize that I am strong.
I believed myself strong to stay, but I was strong enough to leave.”
For those who are preoccupied with another person, to the detriment of their primary intimate relationship – this may eventually apply to you. Is it worth it?
So as some of you know from my other comments, I’m lime rent for a co-worker 20 years my junior (I’m her boss’s boss). We’ve gone out on dates and made out for a week but then after a period of hot and cold (mostly cold), she’s told me she’s met someone else but she still wants to be “BFFs in the office”. During the long downside tail of our relationship, I became increasingly depressed and anxious, texting with little to no answers. I eventually sought therapy and also found this wonderful site.
We’ve now had 2 weeks of NC (only because she was on holiday) with no texts either way. I had made an action plan in advance of her coming back today (moving desks, booking external lunches, etc.) but she ended up being home sick! It feels very anti-climactic. Of course, I know I partly wanted to see her and that’s why I’m disappointed. The impulse to text her, scroll through old pictures or slip into a daydream is stronger than ever. I’ve resisted so far.
My therapist also made a few observations that may be relevant to others limerent for co-workers: by implicitly disclosing, I’ve handed her a hand grenade with which she can blow up my family, my career and the rest of my life at any time of her choosing. My therapist is convinced this is an enabling LO, needing validation and keeping a coterie of interested men like me in orbit around her. My therapist therefore also cautioned that full NC or LC could make LO feel rejected and she could lash out. So she advised, for example, keeping my plan of moving desks but still asking LO how her holiday was. This balancing act is going to be more difficult than I thought…
Ask your therapist if she recommends the Grey Rock Method. Unfortunately, your LO has leverage and may decide to use it. At this point, your goal may be to drift as far down on her list as you can get and live with it.
But, listen to your therapist.
Fred, very few people understand limerence and that includes therapists unfortunately. She’s almost certainly right in her diagnosis, that she’s an enabling LO who wants validation from lots of men. But you have to do what’s best for you. Be civil sure, but follow your plan. Move desks, draw the boundaries that should have been there, and make it clear with your actions that the relationship is now strictly professional. She’s met someone else anyway, she’ll move on to a new office BFF sure enough, and she’ll eventually get bored and leave and then you’ll be free. Keep your eyes of the limerence-free prize.
Thanks Scharnhorst and Vincent. I googled “Grey Rock Method” and it may be an option although it’s very out of character for me as I take the stage every Friday and present to my extended team, usually lead every meeting I’m in, regale my colleagues with colourful anecdotes etc.
And Vincent, thanks for bolstering my strategy. I know seeing her with a new office BFF will be hard but that is my way out. I too believe she’ll be bored and leave – that seems consistent with her personality and her statements. However, she’s only been here four months so it may be a while… In the meantime, I’ll draw the boundaries and try to choose the correct course of action in all my moments of choice.
Wow she doesn’t waste time! Only just arrived in the office and already made out with her boss’ boss!! There’s a chance she’s cynically planned all of this of course, gone straight to the top to curry favour. No wonder she wants to stay BFFs, suits her career plans I’m sure.
I say all of that having been in the same position. My LO, 20 years younger, effectively hooked me in over the course of about 6m and I eventually brought her into my team. It wasn’t ever physical but I think there were daddy issues at play, and a colleague referenced it the other day saying that “she clearly loved having you looking after her”. Which I thought was an interesting observation. If I could go back I’d draw the boundaries and not get intimate and co-dependent in the way we did.
You’ve got a chance to correct things now before it all blows up. In fact, you should read this comment to me when I was at your stage from a poster called Mark:
Thanks Vincent – that was very helpful and thanks for linking to Mark’s comment as well.
Yeah, she didn’t waste any time: I think our summer party was 3 weeks after she joined: she made sure to sit next to me and after a few drinks tell me that her last “boyfriend” was my age (20 years older than her) and her boss too… We were only mildly inappropriate at that party and still I felt a pit in my stomach come Monday morning. Now we’ve had multiple dates outside work, escalating to some passionate kissing and touching – so I’m literally at her mercy at this stage.
I hear she’s well enough to come back to work tomorrow so that’s when my deep work, reading this site, going to therapy and following Dr. L’s course all comes to a head. Balancing a staged withdrawal to limited contact while not pissing her off will be a tough act. But then again, she hasn’t texted me these last 2 weeks and our last conversation was about her saying she’s moved on and all this angst is just in my head… (Then a wonderful warm hug and a revealing, super cute picture of her walking down the street on WhatsApp)
Sorry to use this as my daily journal but writing about my struggles and hearing from y’all really helps me.
So LO was supposed to come back to the office today after two weeks holiday (NC) and two days off sick. I got to the office early (she’s always late) and went to my new desk on another floor. Has an early external meeting so I press the down button on the elevator and when the doors slide open, guess who’s the only one in there, ready to get off? That’s right. LO. To quote Depeche Mode, “I don’t want to start any blasphemous rumors but I think that God’s got a sick sense of humor…”
I’m pretty proud of myself though. No hug, just a friendly “How was your holiday?” and then excusing myself as I had to run to my meeting. So a “step up” in moment of choice! Seeing her brought everything back though. I admit I stammered, my heart is racing, the elevator still had her scent and how my presentation at this external meeting will go is anybody’s guess.
As I walked to the tube I repeated my mantra: “I’m not special to her. She’s bad for me. She’s like a drug. She’s heroin. She can destroy my family and my career.” But damn if she isn’t all glimmery and sparkly too… :/
Mantra’s are good. When I first went NC, my mantra was “Stay away from that woman!” It worked ok. But, she’s in the mantra.
Since I had some mini-relapses recently, I needed a new mantra. My new mantra when I start thinking of her is, “You have better things to do.” No focus on her.
Fred, it certainly is a struggle. Many of us used (and still use) this site as a way to release feelings. And I used (and still use) this site to hear from others on their own situations. I can relate so much to how you are feeling, and I reflect upon how I would have done anything to “fix” my mind. ANYTHING. I feel that I owe it to others to “pay it forward” by acknowledging that I’m listening and I will try to share whatever relevant info that I can. Coming to this site also allows me to focus on whatever remains of my LE, and what I need to/should be doing.
It is unfortunate that managing this condition is similar to having an extra full-time job (with overtime) when you don’t really have the time. I hope your meeting went well.
Thanks Scharnhorst. Mantras are good and can both break reverie and help you “behave” in moments of choice. I sometimes say them out loud.
I ran into LO again as I was going out to lunch. I was chatting to another attractive female colleague so I was in a “position of strength”. LO kinda grimaced at me as I side stepped to let her pass (showing off her bare mid-riff ‘natch).
One interesting observation: She wore sunglasses in both our interactions so I haven’t seen her eyes today which of course would tell me a lot (and as we know the glimmer is often tied to the eyes). Don’t know if she’s hiding her feelings or trying to disconnect (or just trying to look cool). I do know my most vivid memories of kissing her were her eyes, wet with abandon with dilated pupils. And now they’ve been hidden from me. Good, I guess. :/
Thanks Thinker. Your support really means more than you know – I certainly appreciate it, especially as my situation seem quite similar to yours. The meeting actually went ok. Next week, we’re welcoming a group of students doing a 6w internship which I’m sponsoring but LO is project managing. And they will sit on my new floor so she’ll have a reason to come up there… Oh well, more opportunity to practice my tactics and moments of choice.
So final update for the day. LO reached out via our company chat re the project she is managing and where she wanted me to present our company strategy. Entirely reasonable. I answered professionally and after half an hour delay (according to plan) but had to swing by to go thru the slides. Once her boss left we chatted a little about her holiday and then we walked out of the office together. Luckily two other colleagues called me back so I left her on the landing where she patiently waited for me until I texted her that I was stuck (aw!). She sent me a cute picture of her and a cat and despite promising otherwise I responded immediately, again being the last to text. Damnit. But it could’ve gone a lot worse and those two colleagues saved me from another “down step” on the road to recovery I suppose, but I am a little disappointed in myself.
” I texted her that I was stuck (aw!). She sent me a cute picture of her and a cat…”
Yeah, don’t beat yourself up for slipping a little. She wanted that reply from you or she would have let it go without comment, or a generic reply. Sending a CUTE photo of HERSELF and a cat is a blinking neon sign to get your attention and to make it very difficult for you to ignore her.
Practice, Grasshopper. Lots of practice. Don’t cross that t! Don’t dot that i!
Does your phone have a timer? Next time you get a non-work related text from her, set the timer for 10 minutes. When it goes off, see if you still want to respond. If you do, set it for another 10 minutes. Keep doing it until the urge goes away. If she asks you in person why you didn’t respond, lie to her and say you were in the middle of something or tell her you wanted to wait until you saw her in person.
Excellent technique, Scharnhorst, I’ll try that one too.
Thanks for the support Lee. Yeah, I think I can let that one slide. And that’s a good idea Scharnhorst. I even have a timer in my Apple Watch.
Having survived my first LO day after NC, I think I may survive this. I also finally got practical experience of what Dr L and y’all have been advising. It’s only now the penny has dropped. I don’t have to think or feel right, I just have to ACT right. If in every interaction, I don’t take or allow the conversation in the wrong (intimate) direction and if I don’t text or seek meetings outside work the. It doesn’t matter that my heart is breaking, that my mind is racing and I feel like shit. Actually doing the right thing will in time lessen those feelings. It’s a tough struggle but like the AA says “it works if you work it”!
We can do this
After many starts and stops I’ve got the following boundaries which i learnt from Dr L’s course. May help you and not make you feel so bad and give the impression of going cold turkey
– no initiating non work messages
– if she initiates non work message I cap to 7 responses only so be brief, informative and friendly
– only group lunches and coffee breaks so the conversations are more diluted
I’m on day 17. Yes I’m tracking it. Reinforces to me that I can do this and build my confidence.
It’s hard yes. Very. But what’s harder is seeing the vision of where I could be in six months time if I don’t take no action and how my life will deteriorate.
Thanks Kevin! It helps to know others are “working it” at the same time. I’m on Day 21 of deciding to do something but the first 18 were NC “gifted me” by LO being away. I agree it helps to have easy to remember rules of thumb. Mine are similar to yours except I only have a 10 min delay on answering if she initiates text messages and I have also added the obvious “no social media”.
So yesterday at a team dinner (no LO), when my direct reports got tipsy enough to work up the courage, they asked me what was going on with LO. One of the most junior even called her “your fling” but quickly backtracked when I asked what he meant. I was mortified (and obviously not as discrete as I thought). Turns out they were referencing the summer party and how she’d been all over me there (where nothing actually happened) so I could honestly deny it. One of my female direct reports was particularly direct and said it was obvious LO liked me the best of all the interested men in the office, much to the dismay of the “young stallions” and that lots of people thought she was a “gold digger” for going after a C-level exec so publicly and obviously.
So with this knowledge, I guess all of our (less innocent) lunches, coffee breaks, chats by her desks etc are seen by others in the office as confirmation / continuation of what they thought they saw at the summer party. And while they’re wrong about that particular event (I behaved responsibly and got her home safe when she was a bit too drunk) they’d be right about the rest as we then flirted and dated our way to second base (outside the office) and then had a slow motion car crash of our relationship as LO went cold and started to withdraw.
Good thing she was so adamant we’d never make out surreptitiously in the office…
My female colleague also said LO was “drop dead gorgeous” which made me feel oddly proud…
Fred, This is a good wake up call for you to really work on getting over LO. She already holds the grenade in her hands to blow up your life, that’s bad. But you don’t want to lose the respect of your peers and stakeholders at work and be defined through that.
“(I behaved responsibly and got her home safe when she was a bit too drunk)”
Oh stars and stones – this is what cabs, uber and lyft are for! To keep people from being in compromising situations that could lead to police reports and ugly expensive public washing of dirty laundry. No one looks good under a microscope.
Yeah, she has the grenade and is probably playing with the idea of pulling the pin.
“She can destroy my family and my career.”
Don’t think she doesn’t know it too. In fact, you’ve gone to second base with her, your subordinates and colleagues have twigged to your fascination with her, there are jealous younger men – you never know when or who will tell your SO (it sounds like you have one and I can’t remember if you do or not).
The event gives you a potential way out. The next time you and your LO chat, you tell her that people have seen what’s going on and have started talking. That doesn’t look good for either of you and from now on your behavior becomes beyond reproach and mean it.
The upside is it’s not a direct attack on her. If she insists on pursuing the LE, you may want to talk to HR. I’d also be looking at ways to get rid of her. Can you ship her far away and make it look like it’s to her advantage?
You need to drive the bus before she does.
Or, scharnhorst, she might actually see him saying it looks bad as a thrill, a leverage. It could show that Fred is scared word gets out and uses that against him.
If co-workers ask her what’s been going on, it is likely she spills the beans and tells one of the others about it. If one person knows, everyone knows. People talk, unfortunately.
Ok now you’re freaking me out people, which is probably a good thing. Last week my therapist said I should be afraid every time I look at her and act accordingly.
My story is scattered across different blog posts and comments but yeah I have an SO. My LO blew hot and cold after a week of reciprocation then mostly cold then after weeks of agony and unanswered texts told me she’d met someone else but not to worry as we could still be BFFs in the office. So she’s ended the LE (her part at least) and I’m left trying to pick up the pieces of myself that aren’t beyond repair.
We work together so NC doesn’t work but I’m working on withdrawal to LC and have had no social media or other contact for 18 days. She seems to mostly be avoiding me too, wearing sunglasses indoors, dodging eye contact etc so I just have to keep up LC and make the right choices in moments of choice. Like I said in another comment, I guess it doesn’t matter what I think or feel or how much I hurt as long as I do and act and say the right things that will put my on the path to recovery and towards the end of this LE.
Today was tough though as I cried at my therapy session and then bumped into her as I came back to the office and she stood there, glibly unaware of all the turmoil, midlife worries, unrequited yearning she’s unleashed in me.
Anonymous Limerent says
“I should be afraid every time I look at her”
I think you have it lucky; I AM afraid every time I look at my LO, and I spend most of the year in school with her. It’s hell. I would love to be not terrified when I saw or heard her.
What did you therapist have to say about your SO?
What has your SO said since this set in? If she used to bring up that you seemed “off” but she hasn’t said anything in awhile and/or she seems a bit flat, you may be in the eye of the hurricane. Seriously, word may have gotten back to her and she may be running a relationship calculus program.
Neither of these are questions you are obligated to answer, obviously, but you may want to consider them to some degree.
“My female colleague also said LO was “drop dead gorgeous” which made me feel oddly proud…”
If your SO gets wind of that statement and your response…
“wearing sunglasses indoors”
That isn’t subtle. It invites questions from others and then *sniff*, *a little sob that catches in her throat*, *rapid blinking*, your goose could be cooked.
Treat her like a bomb – not a bombshell.
I love the fact that Lee always has the SO in focus. This is what it comes down to, think about SO. Think about SO and what this means to her, how much you hurt her with this (Lee, I needed this reminder too, thank you)
Thanks Lee. We haven’t really talked much about SO yet in therapy. Focus has been on surviving the here and now but we started doing deep work yesterday so no doubt it will come up. No I don’t think SO knows or suspects. I’ve been with the firm less than a year and she hasn’t even met anyone there. Regardless, of course I’m trying to rekindle our relationship and focus more on her. My therapist says she usually works with minimizing shame but in my case she wants me to feel more shame for what I’ve done to SO.
You’re welcome Sarah. I know Mr. Lee has a history of treating me and our kids like toys he can put on a shelf and expect us to be in stasis or something until he is ready to play with us. He often was angry that he was cut out of our lives when he was busy immersed in his world. You can only ask, invite, beg and cajole so often before you stop extending a hand, accept that the answer is always “no – I don’t want to, you deal with it!” before you believe it. Don’t phone it in! He still complains sometimes but subsides when I point out that I was the one logging the hours of time, money, conversations, P/T conferences, dentists, doctors, I kept up with my interests, family, friends and career, etc. while he was huddled in the den (feeling sorry for himself or angry that we weren’t sitting around gazing at him adoringly).
“My therapist says she usually works with minimizing shame but in my case she wants me to feel more shame for what I’ve done to SO.”
Well, that’s a relief. After all, feeling up another woman behind your wife’s back is a violation of the marital contract of exclusivity. At least she isn’t blaming your wife for her part in making you sneak around.
So…have you read up the HR manual? She has texts on her phone – will any of them get you fired, divorced or both? Is there any way to get yourself as far away from her within your job as possible? If shr gets transferred she could claim it is retaliatory for ending the “coziness”. If she gets promoted it will demoralize others on your team and possibly make them very angry because she would have effectively have “slept her way” up the career ladder. Anything you do re: HER career or position can blow up. Specta ularly. What can you control within YOUR position description?
Gah – what a frightening situation.
“…wearing sunglasses indoors…” sounds like she is a little drama queen. Like that’s not going to draw attention to her having peers ask her. If her colleagues start to suspect something, they will ask her about it. People are noisy.
Try your hardest to LC as much as you can, avoid being alone with her at all cost, and ALWAYS stay professional. Treat her like you would anyone else.
Yep she’s a little drama queen alright. And one hell of an enabling LO.
Thanks for the advice and the support. My problem is although I know what the right thing to do is, I secretly just want to get back in her good graces and carry on where we left off. So I just need to act right, even if I feel wrong. My therapist says to try to distance myself from her not ensnare her again. Wise woman.
I’m in the same boat, Fred. Not over LO yet. And in dangerous waters tomorrow. Head’s spinning. Must stay strong myself. Look… Mind over matter, you can do it!
Thanks Sarah. Hope it went well today.
Hey guys! I’ve been quiet for a week. Guess which of these things I’ve been doing: 1) Living purposefully; 2) Diving headfirst back into LE with LO. Yeah, sorry Dr. L but it’s the latter.
So in my therapy session last week, she suggested that all this obsessing about NOT obsessing about LO was actually keeping me engaged in the LE. That the mantras, forcing away thoughts or reveries and even posting here on LWL.com was a way of staying in the LE instead of focusing on the root problem of my marriage not being satisfying. Instead I should normalise things with LO, keep withdrawing and not fret so much about it all.
I’m not saying my therapist was wrong but in trying to normalise things with LO, I started noticing all the glimmery things that made me go crazy for her to begin with. We met up in the office, she texted me to say how happy she was to have me to talk to and confide in, how she could be herself with me. We planned and met up for lunch.
I know people, I know. It went from “Oh, this is nice. We’re friends.” to “Wonder how I can spice things up again” to “OMG you’re perfect in every way, why don’t you want me?!”. She even sent me a selfie from the shower (expert angles though so no naughty bits showing).
At lunch yesterday, she was finally open to talking about why things with us ended so soon and why she went cold. (Lee, you’ll like this). She said she actually tried to see things from my perspective, being married with kids, and realised I was in over my head and backed off and tried to cool things down as I was going full speed ahead (limerent that I am). Which actually was kinda sweet. She said I shouldn’t beat myself up about anything I said or did but rather that my situation didn’t allow us to go further. She grasped my hand and said we clicked mentally, emotionally and that our physical attraction was both powerful and electric but that it couldn’t be. And now she was in love with someone else. I don’t think you get more (or better) closure than that folks.
I got to experience my devastation all over again. I’m not OK but it was important for me to know what I’d experienced and thought I saw in her eyes those nights was real and not just a figment of my imagination. And that she was being the more adult of the two of us (despite being 20 years younger). I’m not sure how to end this rambling post but that’s where we are. She’ll be in the office Monday. I’ll be in hell.
I’m not either, but her advice did put you right back in harm’s way! Good that the outcome was OK, and I hope the closure means you’re able to manage your limerence come Monday. Lucky that LO didn’t suggest one last fling, though, eh…?
You might also want to delete the shower selfie 🙂
He should archive somewhere in case he needs evidence she was not an innocent party.
Good point. I need to up my cynicism quota.
Following up on the therapist advice:
I get the sentiment here. It’s not dissimilar to “focus on your own purposeful goals”, but the suggestion to normalise things with LO suggests that the therapist is a non-limerent.
“Just drink socially and don’t worry about it so much”.
Thanks guys. I guess there was also a difference in how the advice was given and how I implemented it. My therapist did not want me to go to lunch or start texting LO. She wanted me to stop fretting about not doing so. I just failed to draw the line and choose wisely in several moments of choice.
Yep, it’s definitely wise to work on making LO less central, and that is where the purposeful living pillar of recovery comes in. You have to have positive pursuits of your own to act as an attractive goal, as well as doing the work of making rumination and interactions with LO more negative.
You better do something with that shower selfie to underscore it was unsolicited because your SO will rightly throw you out for it.
Oh wait, you charged a flight for LO to/from Paris for her too. You might as well tell your wife, “I’d like you better if you weren’t so old and used up. Here is your competition. Now dance!”
I have no words for you.
For your wife though – http://www.chumplady.com and to seek an attorney.
“She said I shouldn’t beat myself up about anything I said or did but rather that my situation didn’t allow us to go further. She grasped my hand and said we clicked mentally, emotionally and that our physical attraction was both powerful and electric but that it couldn’t be. And now she was in love with someone else. I don’t think you get more (or better) closure than that folks.”
You MPDG put you on notice. She “closed the books.” You’ve been warned. If you say or do anything and it blows up on you, she’ll say it was your fault. It won’t matter if she starts it, she warned you. You choose to ignore the warning and it’s your problem, not hers.
Your LO is good. She tells you she loves someone else, yet continues to send you shower selfies. “Stop trying to get close to me, but continue to dream about me”. I’m amazed she got you to think she’s the adult and you’re the messed up one. She’s in control, you’re still her puppy. She managed to tell you to stay away, yet hooked, so she can still ensure you’ll do anything to advance her career and do favors for her whenever she needs it.
It would not surprise me if she keeps on sending you “cute pics” of herself to just keep the Fire burning.
Yup. So just to be totally transparent about what a limerent sucker I am, LO had been planning to fly to Paris to visit her new boyfriend all week. She’s broke so he was buying her tickets. She told me all about getting her hair done, curing her cold, shaving her legs to get ready for him. Then the tickets fell through on Friday – her day of travel – and her wallet was at home and her PayPal account was empty. Guess who slid his AmEx across the table? (“Nooooooo!”) Yes, yours truly. So now I’m paying (a loan) for LO to go see her new boyfriend instead of me. Only LO fucked up and booked the return leg instead so she now can’t go. Boohoo.
All Friday night she’s texting me how she’s so alone and was so looking forward to this weekend. Saturday I shoot her a WhatsApp text saying I hope you’re feeling better today. No answer all day. In the evening, she’s running an open Instagram live chat with some rapper in Atlanta, sipping white wine and laughing. Oh, weird. She didn’t respond to my WhatsApp… maybe she hasn’t logged on there. Oh, she’s updated her profile picture to a new cute selfie but she hasn’t read my messages or responded to me…
Grrrrr. More fuel for deprogramming but damn if it doesn’t hurt.
Fred, what has helped me more than anything is seeing a therapist who specializes in OCD, to treat the obsessive-compulsive component of my limerent condition with cognitive-behavioral therapy. My regular (non-specialist) therapist was wise and kind and helped me a lot with my efforts to repair my marriage, but I’ve also needed this OCD/CBT specialist to help me tackle my residual intense obsession with LO. She gets it about the nature of limerence, and her approach is working well for me. What a relief.
Is that a possibility for you?
Oh, it definitely hurts, but as you know that’s the cornerstone to reprogramming. Mentally linking LO to pain not reward.
Another useful thought: I’m sure in the moment you felt like you were doing a kind thing to help LO and just enjoyed the warm fuzzies of making her happy. Now, though, you have written down in plain text what actually happened. You paid for your LO to go and visit her boyfriend. How would an impartial stranger (or partial spouse) react to reading that?
Take a moment to step outside yourself and really process how that would look to an outside observer. Is that the kind of man you want to be?
I have no words, Fred. I second DrL’s question, think about how this would look from an outsider’s perspective. Do you want to be that person that they see?
And also think from your SO’s perspective… what would your SO or kids think?
When this is revealed to your spouse and kids (make no mistake about it, she will do so the instant she sees an advantageous to do so) how will they view your motivations?
How about your employer? Employees? Friends?
My Limerent Brain is An Idiot says
I think she has a whole stable of rich older guys who she can tap for plane tix and vacations and money anytime she wants.
I bet that she sent her shower selfie to all of them. Over/under is five, any takers?
I have counted at least 5: the long-time admirer/friend; the minor prince in London; the latest Persian businessman in Paris; her former boss who owns a chain of Asian hospitals and me (I’m not that rich though).
Yeah, I get how bad it was everyone. Really, I do. That’s why I hesitated and posted this particular failure in a separate post. And yes, Dr L, even writing it in plain text here made me cringe at myself. We live in Europe Lee so this is a $160 plane ticket and LO will pay me back. Not that that ameliorates the situation. But in particular her treatment of me after this act of idiotic generosity has raised my hackles and helped me see her more for what she is. My long-time friend who knows all about the situation was just shaking his head today, saying I got what I deserved and that he never understood what I saw in her. Consider me duly chastised.
It isn’t the amount Fred, it is the principle.
Fred you’re taking some stick here, and that’s because when you look at your decisions and her manipulative behaviour objectively it all seems so obvious to the detached observer.
I will offer you some empathy though. I was where you are last year – I knew the relationship was wrong, I knew I was making bad decisions and other aspects of my life were suffering, such as family and career. But I couldn’t stop myself. That’s addiction for you. Hard to be sympathetic if you haven’t experienced it.
I think you have some way to go here unfortunately. It’s all happened pretty quickly for you and you’re not thinking straight. You haven’t reached that point where you truly resolve to sort yourself out. It will come, probably after LO makes you feel like an old fool a few more times. You’ll snap in the end, feel utterly pathetic and hit rock bottom. But then you’ll bounce off the floor, and start the long road back.
Try to keep your distance, keep talking to people, posting on here so you get some reality and perspective and start digging deep and figuring out your priorities. You’ve got a fight on here. With yourself.
I am in agreement with Vincent here. Although I never went quite to the extreme as Fred, all my morals went out the window, I was making really risking decisions and disrespecting a lot of people in the meantime. All for a hit of LO. Yes it’s pathetic and selfish but like Vincent said it is an addiction and something you feel you have no control of. At the time I had no care for anyone elses feelings. I was totally and utterly deluded. In my crazy mind I would have given up my right arm for LO. You really do need to sit down and have a really stern word with yourself. She is making a fool out of you and really if you carry on in this way you will be left with nothing and the regret will run deep.
Thanks Vincent and Rachel for the empathy. No, I’m not proud of my recent choices. I’m limerent. Everyone’s comments and LO’s total lack of gratitude or respect over this weekend has indeed been a wake-up call. Now that I have whatever “closure” I will ever get and sordid proof of what a lack of LC and control can lead to, I will dust off my worksheets from Dr L’s emergency deprogramming course and chalk these last two weeks as one giant step back down into LE and restart my ascent anew. Thanks everyone for being appropriately harsh with me.
We’re here for the social accountability whenever you need it, Fred.
Might be worth reviewing the course session on “relapses and resistance” too 🙂
“15 levels of static correction levels plus instant +2 Boost button, tone-only mode gets your dog’s attention with a beep.”
You just have to look good in turtlenecks.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Nobody likes being ‘chumped’ which is why Lee always directs limerents to the CL website to get a strong dose of what the SO experience is like.
Fred just got chumped by his LO. Ironically, that experience powerfully counteracts limerence.
It helps me with my LE, for sure. I hate getting played for an idiot, so when I sense my LO taking advantage of my idiot limerent brain, the fog of stupidity rapidly clears.
Being able to feel anger towards the LO is a sign of recovery!
“It helps me with my LE, for sure. I hate getting played for an idiot, so when I sense my LO taking advantage of my idiot limerent brain, the fog of stupidity rapidly clears.”
Being played for an idiot is bad enough. When they go after your self-respect, it’s even worse.
My father told me that the single most important thing we have is self-respect. Boundaries protect it, you don’t let anybody take it, and you don’t put up with anybody who tries.
I was willing to take LO #2 back right up to the point where I realized that doing that would come at the cost of my self-respect. Nobody is worth that so she had to go. If I ever found myself back on the market, it’s the single most important reason I don’t think I’d ever re-engage LO #2. Returning to her would be a humiliating personal defeat.
Plus what if you sought her out and she sent you packing. Or didn’t recollect you at all.
Some doors are much better screwed shut.
“Plus what if you sought her out and she sent you packing. Or didn’t recollect you at all.
Some doors are much better screwed shut.”
To re-engage LO #2, my life would have to go in the tank so badly that I was so desperate as to think she had something to offer me and I would turn to her. I hope to God I never find myself in that position.
With respect to the former, if I did it, it wouldn’t surprise me if she sent me packing or ignored me entirely. She’s married now. Even if she weren’t, she declined every other offer I ever made her that mattered. With respect to the latter, I don’t think so. If she spends any time back in the 80s, she can’t escape me. I own that decade.
Screws? That door is welded shut.
I hope you used armor plating too!
You better do something with that shower selfie to underscore it was unsolicited because your SO will rightly throw you out for it.
Oh wait, you charged a flight for LO to/from Paris for her too. You might as well tell your wife, “I’d like you better if you weren’t so old and used up. Here is your competition. Now dance!”
I have no words for you.
For your wife though – http://www.chumplady.com and to seek an attorney.
Today’s letter may hit home for some.
“She said, “Mom, what do you do if you are married and you find yourself falling in love with someone else? What if you did marry the wrong person?”
I tried to tell her that you end one relationship before beginning another. And then she said, “But what if you’re not sure?”
“Tell your daughter to quit untangling the Schmoopie skein. “Cheating is wrong.”
That’s your answer.
“Cheating is wrong.”
Period. Full stop. Cheating is wrong if you’re married, it’s wrong if you’re stealing petty cash from company funds, it’s wrong if you’re trying to buy your way into an Ivy League.”
“Your indecision does not give you a pass to abuse people. Cheating is wrong. You’re not sure? Then you have some hard decisions to make — and you have to give some things up — like security and the services of the Wrong Person you are married to.”
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Lee, this is where CL sometimes goes wwaaayy overboard. From that same post, here’s a sample:
“Also, 17-year-old daughter — adults don’t fall in love unless they’ve f****d. That’s what adults do — they have sex. So, the fucking happens before the “falling in love.” That’s cheating. Again, refer to “Cheating Is Wrong.”
Many or most of the limerents on this site haven’t had sex at all with their LO. Yet they’re struggling with strong feelings for the LO, and realize the inappropriateness of those feelings–which are identical to being in love. They’re desperately looking for a way out! They’re not the enemy, limerence itself is.
For me, the feelings of limerence crept up on me during ordinary day-to-day interactions with a co-worker. But I felt like I was falling in love, and PRIOR to it becoming an EA, I realized that I had to do something. I googled “how to fall out of love” and found this site.
LWL is great because DrL treats a painful situation with humor and a certain amount of judgment-free detachment.
CL is good because it slaps us in the face with the pain we’ve either caused, or are about to cause. But it goes over the top with the hate and vengefulness, and sometimes it’s plain wrong.
Yes, but remember the goal is to get “Meh”. It is a journey to look at someone who screwed you over and no longer care. I very deliberately didn’t include those phrases because I realize not every limerent has committed adultery. Some have and this is how it can play out. People whose lives were trashed by liars are angry and rightfully so.
It is also interesting to see how those who have been “chumped” embrace enforcing boundaries. Particularly after their trust was used to chase a third party behind their backs.
Limerents often refer to limerence as addiction. One thing that addicts who have quit do is call those still in the throes of addiction out on it. Ever sat in on a NA or AA meeting? Any group therapy session of any sort? It’s rough to witness. I wouldn’t want to be the one getting raked over the coals for minimizing, justifying, blame-shifting and excusing my hurtful actions.
So I am blunt. Don’t give yourself the inch because you may very well go the mile and worse – pretend it was Manifest Destiny to boot. Which led to a very ugly 500 years of history in the Americas (and counting).
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Since my vows are much more important to me than some transient emotional experience, even if it was genuine, I knew I had to get those emotions back under control of my rational mind.
I draw a distinction between my normal, rational thought process, which controls 95% of my behavior, and my idiot limerent brain.
Plus you overlooked this portion, “People don’t “fall in love” unless they’ve made a considerable investment in the other person. That’s a series of decisions. Love does’t hit people like thunderbolts across the copier machine. (Hallmark movies notwithstanding.)”
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
I didn’t overlook that portion, even though I put that in the “Unsure” category in my mind. Many of the limerents on this site speculate about how there can be a person who hits them like a stone shatters a windshield, pretty much instantaneous.
I haven’t had that experience, but I can easily imagine somebody fantasizing about a perfect person to such a degree that they form pathways in their brain. Once they encounter a person who checks enough boxes of the fantasy, limerence activates, and they’re off.
Maybe that’s not ‘love’ but it probably feels like it to the limerent.
It certainly does feel nice – but it’s what you do when you don’t feel all tingly that defines love. Because if all you base your relationship upon is feeling tingly, then it’s not going to last when life gets hard. Life always gets hard.
I stole this reply from CL.
“Commitment and respect is a choice, shows character, and is seen in all areas of one’s life. This has to be important to you in yourself as it is to expect others to honor these values as well. When we ‘fall in love’, it’s infatuation and hormones after we’ve gotten close to someone we’re attracted to. It’s natural and nothing to be ashamed of, is part of the human experience. It’s how we act on those feelings.
For someone in a committed relationship, you don’t act on those feelings to ever get yourself into a compromising position and hurt not only yourself, but everyone you love that would be affected by those actions.”
Been a while since i posted. Made good progress at work where I havnt initiated contact and keep contact to a minimum when she does contact me – which is not all the time anyway.
I have also got rid of the uncertainity and know she has nothing for me and is just friendly and sometimes a bit needy too when stressed but overall just a normal human. And i thought it may have been reciprocation so I get limerence…
Anyway is it normal to feel guilty and bad that I am not as proactive with her now and just reacting and being normal so that it doesnt get akward?
I just dont want things to get akward thats all.
Amazing! Keep up that attitude and you’ll be fine.
Kevin, that sounds like “normal” living. Life has gotten in the way of me being proactive with PEOPLE THAT I REALLY LIKE (including some work friends) but just haven’t reached out to in a while. Maybe try to feel guilty about these other people in your life that you haven’t reached out to in a long time for one reason or another. After writing this, I might reach out to someone tonight (not LO)!
From outside I look normal. Inside I’m different. So just trying to fake it till I make it.
I’ve stopped all the sweet messages and the nicknames and just being reactive to her messages instead of proactive and checking on how she is etc.
Just wonder if she will notice the withdrawal and ask me. That’s a separate discussion on how I handle that. If she does notice it.
Does anyone ever feel as if their LO is implementing “staged withdrawal?” I have convinced myself on multiple occasions that LO is or was also limerent for me, even though I doubt that now. But sometimes it seems she is obviously trying to gradually move things back toward a strictly professional relationship. Or it could be an example of an “indecisive LO,” which I think has also been written about here. Regardless, what drives me crazy about it and the LE in general is the constant pretending and inability to just be real and talk about it. I would almost rather LO come out and tell me she is uncomfortable and wants to withdraw in order to prevent herself developing deeper feelings for me, and that for me not to take offence or read into it, but that it is purely self preservation on her part. I could respect that, even though it would likely spell the end of the LE. I would actually welcome it.
Does anyone honestly think that by the end of the staged withdrawal, the other person would just forget What Was Said or that there was a terribly palpable mutual crush? I see the point of it, but as someone who is on the other side (I suspect), it seems so silly.
I will never forget. And I don’t think she will either.
B, am in very similar situation with boss LO and I hate it so much! I
feel the same – I so wish we could just have a mature conversation about it rather than this whole never-ending pretense of everything being normal and our feelings towards each other being professional only when clearly they run deeper. It feels so uncomfortable and false. But I must respect that he has set this new boundary because he needs it for his mental well being. Isn’t it so much harder to have LC forced on you when you don’t feel ready for it? As much as I desperately crave this explicit mutual disclosure, I also know deep down that such a conversation might only serve to deepen my limerence rather than help me recover from it. And I agree B, we will never forget how we feel/felt but fingers crossed, we may get past the obessession eventually.
I recall DrL talking about his experience of staged withdrawal and saying that while it did eventually end his limerence, his LO will always have “emotional significance” for him.
I recognise that impulse, Allie, but (as I think you sense) it’s a trap. First, you can’t control the consequences of your “mature” conversation, because you can rehearse the calm, wise words as often as you like, but when you are there in front of LO in the middle of disclosing, your heart will be hammering like mad and your emotions will be all over the place. Second, they may not respond in an equally calm and mature way. They may freak out, or point out that you have crossed a line, or report you to HR. Third, the underlying impulse is the desire to get reciprocation, and if you do, you may get temporary relief, but then, just as you say, the limerence is likely to deepen.
It does, at first. But the funny thing is, after a while, it becomes the new normal. That was my experience at least – as you say, my old LO will always have emotional significance for me, but by the end of our time together, the civil, professional tone of our interactions felt natural.
I can offer one bit of advice from personal experience. I previously disclosed to LO, in a respectful and mature way. She admitted what I already knew: that it was a mutual crush and she shared similar feelings for me. So even though we had “the conversation,” something about it wore off over time, and I began to feel myself craving another disclosure. It’s so similar to any other addiction. I had the ultimate hit – reciprocation in the form of LO telling me there were mutual feelings. But it never lasts. I slowly pushed the relationship deeper because I thought maybe it was mutual limerence, not just a mutual crush. That’s when I went too far I think. I realized she was not limerent and that for the first time things were uncomfortable for her. More time passed and here we are. Sometimes flirty and friendly, others it seems she is withdrawing. At times I just want to whisper to LO: “you know my feelings haven’t changed, have yours?”
What I’m saying is this: don’t disclose. Even if it doesn’t go horribly wrong, the high you get won’t last. You will want another. And another.
Think of it this way. one of 3 things will happen: 1) an affair, 2) LO freaks out and reports you, or 3) something in between, which in essence is more uncertainty, and of course deepens the LE. That is exactly what happened to me. I thought I could be satisfied with the secret knowledge that she likes me too and we could just go about our business. Nope. It won’t last.
Thanks for the wise advise both.
The idea that the disclosing itself would become addictive is incredibly useful to me, thank you B! I can now see that it would be like quadrupling my dose of drug thus worsening the severity of my addiction. This understanding will really help me work on my craving for that “one-off” disclosure conversation as it has now been rendered utterly pointless.
Allie- “”But I must respect that he has set this new boundary because he needs it for his mental well being. “” Same with my LO, I won’t bore you with how many times I’ve been tempted to disclose but I never did. I got a golden opportunity just before virus lockdown and it took every fibre of my being to resist. My LO asked me outright how I’ve been, this after his constant hot-cold behaviour which he even alluded to a few weeks prior. I felt he was pushing my buttons hoping for a reaction , I never gave him one.
Some days I kick myself as I wish I just told him, other days I am proud I held it all in.
In a perfect Limerent world we both disclose and we live happily ever after, but I so know that’s not going to happen.
Wow….well done for resisting such a temptation Lee-Anne! That’s impressive self control, you should be proud. Not sure I would have been quite so good 🙂
Reading this is switching on so many lightbulbs for me after a lifetime of LE. I had an EA with boss/friend a while ago but we ended things quickly. It was then very hot and cold between us for a long time. I think it confused us both and I tried to talk to him about how we could manage it but he wasn’t really willing to talk.
Things changed a month or so ago and I am now reading this and wondering if he read it too because it really feels like he has done a staged withdrawal on me -slowly stopping messages out of work and going very work focused during work hours. I haven’t asked why because I think it is really helping me. Sad to not be friends after many years but I realise it’s the best thing for my mental health right now.
Thanks so much for this website. I will read everything here.
Hi Cheryl, I think your comment summs up my scenario. My LO reports to me, we very professional at work, but do social out of work and this is where my Limerence started, I suspect. Our friendship development outside of work, text msg etc. I thought, I could control this. She would text so much, send photos (nothing bad at all) but, I started to crave the high volume messages but then she would just withdraw for a week, maybe 2 and it all starts again. How did you manage ?
I need some guidance, I really thought I had far more self control, but here, I am. Not exactly sure how I got into this position but now. My LO, is a coworker reporting to me. I suspected all this started with some social events outside of work and spending time together, which then resulted in the coworker sending me daily instant messages, some work related, some not, some topics crossed the sexual nature and she has opened up so much about her private life. To such an extend that, I started to like the amount of messages and actually get excited when there is a message. There is a pattern, huge volume of messages, then a quite week or two, as if she is withdrawing then it all starts again. The professional part of the relationship is still there and we continue to be professional, but, I do know for a fact my ability to manage the professional part is being impacted. Both of us are married and we have not done anything yet, other then the chatting. I know this is wrong on every level but my head is spinning. I’m not sure what to do. I do know, I need to stop this and ensure that it does not escalate, also, I’m not really sure how she feels.
Hi Charlie. I have been buried in an LE for my boss at work for a year now so understand the complication and constant challenge of a workplace LE. The sooner you deal with this, the easier it will be.
If you want this to end, you need to enact a gradual, staged withdrawal from her – put strong boundaries in place. Make a plan of how, what and when. And do not explain to her what you are doing and why, E.g. Gradually adjust your communications to be professional/work related only. Stop messaging her outside of work. Maybe start with no messaging her after a certain time in the evening and gradually move it to never when outside of work. Gradually move to being friendly but not warm, and shift conversations to being work related. Avoid being alone with her – if you take lunch together, make an excuse not to. This is not easy and you may feel guilty about gradually unfriending her. If you do feel bad about her, just consider that in doing this, you are being kind to yourself and your SO, and you are putting your SO above your LO which is exactly as it should be.
There are blogs on this site about staged withdrawals – DrL used it himself when he withdrew from his subordinate LO. If rumination is a big issue, there are some great techniques in the Emergency Reprogramming course for dealing with that.
“I’m not really sure how she feels.” Try to accept that you will never know this and that that is OK, you don’t need to.
Wishing you well.
Thanks Allie, some gold in your response! But as you know it’s not easy. I have already started the stage withdrawal (not knowing what it’s called, but I do need to have a clear plan and strategy in place, or it will fail. About putting my SO above LO is hard but spot on, as I do feel I have withdrawn from my SO because of my obsession with my LO, and any SO deserves better. I sure will check out the blog and thanks for the advice so far.
Hi Charlie – firstly commiserations, I know exactly how you feel. That was almost my exact situation, except my workplace subordinate LO was single, but otherwise, the texting etc, is very familiar.
Secondly, Allie has nailed it with the advice in her post, that is spot on for what you should do. It didn’t quite work out like that for me in terms of the staged withdrawl, but I’m now 2 years NC and can tell you that it will get better from here, you won’t always feel this way. But maintaining as little contact as possible is key. I got lucky as my LO was forced to leave the company, and my chance of NC was presented to me. I don’t know where I’d be if that hadn’t happened frankly but my plan was to use the approach Allie describes. We fell out, so once she left it was relatively easy to stop the contact, and whilst I want through an absolute rollercoaster of emotions, the recovery was slow but steady. Good luck, read everything on this site and keep posting.
Thanks Vincent. Indeed the rollercoaster of emotions are just mind boggling. On some level, I do question why she is sending me so many text, the gossip, the over sharing and then just massive radio silence and withdrawal. That just gets me. Now, the holiday period we in now has forced some NC as we all on leave and other than well wished here and there, nothing has happened (text wise) and somehow that’s a relief. That has not stopped me from thinking about the LO but suppose that’s the issue and by definition limerence.
Jobs won’t be changed anytime soon for either of us, so no movement in that, and I do need to think further then the LO and at my and her professional future and the risk at hand.
“On some level, I do question why she is sending me so many text, the gossip, the over sharing and then just massive radio silence and withdrawal. That just gets me.”
She is doing it on purpose, more than likely. My LO –also a co-worker — did the hot/cold thing, too. He’d disappear and reappear. I think for the validation and attention that I was still interested. At one point I took a different job at the same company, one that put me in a different part of the work campus, which was very large, and meant seeing him not every day as I had previously but once every couple of months. It didn’t help. Part of me was still hoping he’d come and find me (which he would do every so often, but it was torture because it meant the sadness of realizing he was making so little effort). I finally left the company entirely almost a year ago (haven’t seen or heard from him since) and it’s the only thing that helped me start to get over him.
As others have said, trying to understand the LO’s motivations will drive you crazy. As it did me. In the end I settled on a narrative that was felt likely and focused on myself and my SO. My LO was much younger, and so I felt like she enjoyed the attention, relied on me in certain areas of her life, and whilst she probably had an inappropriate crush, she was never going to act on it with all the repercussions that would have lead to. Not being a limerent, she could dip in and out fairly easily, which is why things felt hot then cold from my point of view.
With your LO, she might think you and her are friends and no more. Lots of people think men and women can be friends (I personally take the Harry view from the When Harry met Sally). Maybe she enjoys a little flirt, which she may see as harmless. Maybe she is laying the ground work for an affair. The range of options is very wide, and you’ll only find out by disclosing which risks blowing everything you’ve built with your SO wide open. Even then she might not tell you the truth and you’ll be left with nothing.
All routes from here have sacrifice. Either ruining the friendship with LO by putting in the distance needed or your marriage with SO if you carry on the current course. As you say this holiday period has presented a nice opportunity for lower contact. Try to maintain it in January and see what happens.
Let me tell you my own limerent story. It all begun one year ago at work. I’m about 40 and married for many years. Never had experienced limerence until then.
She was sitting right next to me in the office. At first I was not interested in her. Then the pandemic begun and our working shift hours coincided. She was flirting with me, and with many others as well. I returned the flirt back. For about two months it was getting deeper, and we came close. No limerence yet. I decided to disclose. She rejected me, but noted that this was mostly due to my married status. She explicitly stated that she wanted us to stay friends. I respected it. It hurt me a bit, but in the meantime, I started accepting it. I kept slightly distant for a while and everything seemed good.
About one month after my disclosure she started approaching me again in a mixed manner both friendly but also emotionally. We went on a platonic date. Summer vocations came so it was a good chance for me to try keeping a little distance for my own protection. During vocations she texted me almost every day. Sending pictures of places asking how I am etc.
September came and we became very close at work. Suddenly our working shift changes, LO starts to make emotional statements such as, I will miss you, I don’t have a good time without you etc. She starts phoning me. I return the calls. We start talking at nights, and every conversation is long and emotional. When we meet at the changing of shifts our hands touch romantically, frequent hugs etc. During November and December It starts feeling as if I have a parallel platonic relationship with my LO. Before Christmas, at the same time this event reaches its peak, she tells me that she has found a boyfriend. I feel awful but I don’t show it to her. From that point until now the whole situation has been steadily declining, initially from her side, and lately from my side too.
But now I have fallen deeply into limerence, while she seems to have found her purpose. So, what was all this about? I have no direct answer.
I feel like she divorced me after a relationship, even though nothing physical happened. It is all in my head. Currently I’m implementing staged withdrawal, and see what happens. But I can’t get her out of my mind. I thought of making a second disclosure, but I did not, as it seemed as a suicide mission.
Thank you for your time, this blog helped me very much!
Hello, I am late to this article, but thank you because it is eye-opening. My husband has a sales rep that has been texting him for work reasons and it is definitely a little more for her. She knows he is married, but has mentioned he is her teddy bear and kind of baiting him into saying stuff back. I have brought it to his attention that her actions are very unprofessional, but I am kind of at a loss on what else to do. I do not want to harp on it with him and I do not want it to be uncomfortable for him at work or seem crazy, but If she continues, I feel like something will need to be said.
“If she continues, I feel like something will need to be said.”
Yes, but he has to be the one to say it and not get baited by her comments. I am not saying he is; just that he has to be the one to put up the boundary.
He can shut that down pretty quickly. It’s positive that he told you about it.
And, also, this woman could be someone who flirts with a lot of people. Most flirtation is a meaningless and limerence is rare.
Thank you for this site – its great to know i am not the only one that feels like this.
I have worked with LO for over 3 years and she reports to me. I never had limerence for her until the last couple of months. My SO doesnt know and i have been a mess.
Some further context: LO has no idea how i feel (and after reading much on the site i have no plan to disclose). She has done nothing and has always been professional. I am pretty sure that the feelings are not recipricated (but my brain wont let go of them!)
Recently my feelings have escalated to a point where i struggle to focus on anything else. I have reduced our in person meetings to about once a week. I dont ask personal questions anymore (not even how was your weekend) as i know it becomes a trigger. But everything reminds me of her and makes me think of her. My SO and marriage has been great for over 10 years but this is the first time i am under strain.
My SO knows i am depressed and i talk to her about the depression, but sharing the root cause would be disastrous and she would not understand. I have tried to focus on my own marriage but my thoughts struggle to move away from LO.
Its been about 2 months of feeling like this. We also need to travel together for work every now and then (which is not avoidable) and which I hate because afterwards i regress into a worse limerent state afterwards(even though nothing unprofessional happens).
I hope that time makes things better – right now i am a bit lost but know that i hate feeling this way. I also hate having this burden that i know i cannot share with SO or LO. Each day is a real struggle. Any advise would be much appreciated.
Vee…you are me. After 3+ years I developed limerence for my employee. She is 14 years younger but my LE started because I thought I was catching attraction vibes from her. She starting doing a few little things…like texting me personal, non work, talk. This set me off and I fell for her deeply even though I have a happy marriage if 22 years. I leaned into building a personal relationship with this woman for about a month but it never really developed and then I found myself in distress over her and I found this site. I was fully dealing with limerence.
I too went into a depression for a bit and told my SO of my depression and framed it as work stress. She does not know of my LO. I did start seeing a therapist which has been good.
I am one year into LE now but it is manageable. I have to work closely with my LO but the coexistence gets better. If you go to the recent blog on pain, I share my current strategy there.
And, I ended up disclosing to LO about 5 weeks ago due to some circumstances. I did not intend to do it and I do not recommend it generally. I had to because she was pursuing a personal friendship with me that was causing me a lot of distress. Even today she claims she only feels friendship, but her actions are very suspect a lot of the time.
Let me know if you have any specific questions. This site got me through a lot of the confusion of it all which is more than half the battle. Limerence us manageable and potentially beatable. You’ll get there.
Limerent Emeritus says
Does your company have an Employee Assistance Program? If it does, I recommend using it.
At times like this, the right pro can be a godsend. They can help with the clinical depression and they can provide an unbiased ear you can open up to.
You can also bounce ideas off them before you do anything you’ll regret. Don’t underestimate how valuable that can be. Plus, they’re usually free and are done on company time which reduces the risk of your SO finding out before you’re ready to disclose, if you do decide to eventually disclose. Depression is leakage. Leakage can kill you.
If you don’t have an EAP, you might have to resort to subterfuge with your SO. It’s not the preferred method but it can work.
Is there any possible reason you can pin the depression on? If there is, you use that as the excuse for professional help. Where those sessions go when you’re there is wide open.
I eventually disclosed to my SO. Three years after my EA/LE ended. Timing is everything.
From your post, it sounds like you’re trying to avoid trouble vice having performing active damage control. That’s fantastic!
LwL can help but sometimes you need to call in the pros.
Welcome to our club, Vee! You have come to the right place. You are a classic limerent.
1. I recommend that you watch a short video on YouTube
“How to Deal with Intrusive Thoughts”
2. I also recommend that you replace daydreams about LO with something else. Let’s brainstorm, what are your hobbies or interests? I pour myself into running because I get a runner’s high, I love physically demanding activities, and the math fascinates me (I always have a problem to solve like, how does slope effect my heart rate?) It’s interesting enough that I can push thoughts of my LO aside by watching a running video on YouTube. I think Speedwagon plays guitar. What do you like?
3. Rufio and Speedwagon have similar stories to yours. Adam’s story might be a good one too. You might benefit from reading the comments on the New Years post where their stories are laid out nicely.
When this is over, you might be grateful for the experience. Many limerents experience personal growth because of their LE. Good luck!
My LO is a former co-worker who has left to find different employment. It’s been 8 months since she left and the limerence feels not much better now than it did day one.
I too did not feel the limerence for LO right out the gate. I known her about 2 years all together and about a year into working with her did I get the glimmer for her. She is a very wonderful, kind and sweet lady. Not sure how anyone can NOT fall for her.
I did disclose to my wife but that was because of other circumstances that were worse to let hang than to try and explain to her about limerence. But had those circumstances not been present I would not have told her either.
Miss Lovisa is right on the money about occupying your mind if the thoughts of LO get intrusive or you find yourself daydreaming about LO. I have recently been pouring some time into online gaming with my son after work. It helps me stay focused on playing with him and not on LO. But some days it is very difficult to focus on what I should and not think about her.
There is a lot of help on this blog and also a lot of people with some great advice, life experience and information that can help with your limerence. I have only found out about limerence a month or so ago and these people have been an incredible help to me.
Vee. I’m going to share a little bit more about my situation and what I have discovered in hopes it helps. I remember those early days of my LE, so I feel for you.
I discovered that my limerence was not going to shut off magically. At best it might be a slow fade over years. So I had to learn how to cope and manage a coexistence with my LO and that is really about understanding my emotions and what triggers reward and what triggers depression. Depression always followed reward.
For me, LO displayed many cues of attraction and would text me enough if off work ours to keep me wholly uncertain of her feelings. I took them to be romantic but in reality she saw me as more of a mentor role model type and because she is in a disappointing marriage, she wanted some level of relationship with me, but not a romantic one. It was this uncertainty that was the most difficult to deal with and led to my disclosure. The disclosure has lifted the “secret” I was living with so to speak but has not calmed the limerence.
What I learned is to coexist in predictable routine with LO. I am ok with a certain level of in office interaction with her. I am not OK with outside the office texting which we did a lot of. It just caused me too much uncertainty and expectation with her.
I have also learned to accept that the fantasy I have for her and me is just that, fantasy. So I take some pleasure now in just being an excellent boss to her and filling a role in her life of a man that sees her, appreciates her, and encourages her and I can tell she values that. In a way it gives me some purpose with her.
Last, some days are still tough. She is gorgeous in my eyes and the desire to pursue her can be strong. I have found that a light, warm office relationship with her seems to provide me the best relief. It is not in my nature to be cold so this never works for me. If I need a warm interaction with her I don’t shy away from it and because we need to collaborate every day, I get one most every day. But it all ends at the office door.
I hope you take in this site and learn as much as you can from the blogs and people here. Limerence us here to stay for a while so start working through how to understand it, manage it, and eventually beat it.
BTW…was there any particular thing that triggered your romantic desire for her or was it a slow build?
“ The disclosure has lifted the secret I was living with so to speak but has not calmed the limerence.”
Oh Speedwagon, I’m sorry. I thought you were on the fast track to recovery since disclosure.
You are learning to live with limerence. That is progress. You have come far since we met. Go Speedy!
Thanks for all the comments.
Speedwagon – i can relate. I also framed it as work stress with my SO. I am looking into therapy as i think it is the right next step. Its great to know that the limerence is manageable after a year – i really would like my working relationship to go back to how it was before i went crazy 😉 I am interested to hear that you disclosed – did you feel better afterwards? And have you disclosed what happened to your SO?
Your comments on depression following a high is so true. The highs are clearly linked to closer work collaboration. I am really trying to keep interactions to a minimum but i already know the next month has many work meetings where LO will be in close proximity. Thanks for all your advise and sharing youe experience. On your question of what trigerred it – there were a few things: 1) she broke off a bad relationship 2) she suddenly spoke to me about some personal issues (doesnt happen anymore) 3) we navigated some tough times at work that forced us to know each other better. The day that everything changed was at our year end party where i saw her chatting (pretty innocently) to other guys and suddenly felt crazy jealousy and this kicked the limerence into overdrive. Before this it was just a glimmer. Then it became much more.
LimerentEmeritus – we dont have a program like this at work but i agree that professional help is a great next step. How did the disclosure to your SO work out and how did you feel afterwards? I agree timing is crucial as right now i feel like disclosure to her when nothing is in her control to change would not be helpful.
@Lovisa – thank you for the youtube link. Anything to shift my thoughts is helpful. I am a football fan (not the american kind) so am trying to use that to distract me where possible. I am also considering starting meditation lessons to help. Thabks for suggesting the new years thread – i missed this and am working my way through the comments but this has been very helpful.
Adam – i am surprised that NC for 8 months did not help. I keep thinking that my seeing her often is causing this situation to continue. Hope it gets better soon. “How can anyone not fall for her” – i know what you mean!! Feels the same.
I will see how the coming weeks go but i really appreciate all the thoughts and advise. It feels good to share some of this.
Thanks for sharing, Vee.
Sorry this happened, you did not ask for it and boom, there it is…limerence. Work dynamics are such tricky things but it sounds like you are doing the right thing. I have to be imagine her being single is tough because you might have to watch her start to date someone. My LO is married, and I even get jealous of him. I have to meet him in a couple weeks, ugh!
I found that after a while the in office collaboration interactions become routine and less of a reward. I did not feel as euphoric after them and thus did not feel low after them either. It’s all part of the predictable routine I manage for myself, I know that during my work day I may collaborate with LO 2-3X and I am used to it. But I stay away from other things with her like office outings and texting (she used to text me some during work as well as after) and deep personal talk.
As for my disclosure…you can read it in real time in the New Years blog. Actually, if you go to the Rescue Fantasy blog first you can read the escalation of our relationship that led to the disclosure. It’s all immortalized here on LwL…lol.
Disclosure did lift the weight I was carrying of the secret of my attraction. I am not going to lie, that weight was heavy and the uncertainty of her feelings were driving me crazy and disclosure has been a big relief of that. But I am still as limerent for her and still feel the pain of limerence, just in a more dull stable manner now. And disclosure was hard on her for a good couple weeks, she felt guilt over her behavior towards me, and for a bit I was scared she was going to quit. She is stable and cheery now and past that but it was tense and I put in a lot of effort to make her feel comfortable.
As for my SO…limerence has been great in rekindling romance with her. My wife is great, and we did not have issues, but we were going through motions a bit. Limerence increased my libido, and gave me renewed interest in affection towards her. We have never been closer. Seems like such a paradox, feeling madly in love for another woman and at the same time wanting to be closer to my wife. Weird but true. This is why I have not disclosed to her, because it has been positive and I don’t want to disrupt that.
Hang in there! You are on the right path.
I have bad news, Vee. My first LE lasted 17 years. It was dormant at times, but any contact or reminder of LO1 triggered my limerence. Unfortunate for me, LO1 got famous and I couldn’t escape him. We even moved to a different country to get away (my SO didn’t know I was running from someone when we moved. He just thought I was adventurous.). When we lived in a different country, somehow my LO1 knew when I was back in town for visits. He would contact me out of the blue when I happened to be in town. I just couldn’t run from him. I finally disclosed to my SO and I regret it. Before disclosure, the pain was my problem, now my SO experiences pain when LO1’s name comes up. It is at least monthly and it really stinks!
You may need to take Speedy’s approach and learn to live with limerence. It can last for a while.
Limerent Emeritus says
You can read about it here. It’s under my old screen name: https://livingwithlimerence.com/should-you-disclose-to-your-significant-other/#comment-6445
There’s another post somewhere that talks about another conversation my wife and I had about my EA/LE.
When we were talking about LO #4, my wife flat out asked, “Did you love her?” I waffled. I told her that I didn’t think I could fall in love with someone that I never actually met. My wife has lived with me long enough to know the difference between a response and an answer and she wanted an answer. She asked again, “Did you love her?”
At the time, I might have loved LO #4 but I wasn’t about to admit it so I copped out and replied, “I don’t think so.” It didn’t start that way but once LO #4 began to open herself up to me, different story.
7+ years out, LO #4 was a pothole on the road to happiness and a footnote in my life. LO #4 was never more than a sideshow and it’s unlikely she ever will be more than a sideshow.
I spent 5 years with LO #2 and asked her to marry me. She was the most important person in the world to me from age 27-32. She has her own chapter in my Book of Life.
See the difference? One woman had a real place in my life and the other didn’t.
Does your LO have a real place in your life?
Speedwagon – i finally made it through reading about your story. It is amazing how similar our situations are and i feel like you have lived through exactly what would happen to me if i disclosed to LO. Its a hard reality to not have your feelings reciprocated. The only difference i see is that LO hasnt done anything that i can even remotely consider as showing interest to me. Knowing that she is probably 99% not interested is painful and helpful at the same time. I also know that it shouldnt matter and i shouldnt care what she thinks. I have tried to get into a working routine that reduces the highs (and hopefully also the lows). I cancelled an in person meeting this week which i feel like is big progress (although i have one next week that is going to be tough to deal with afterwards especially since its a one on one meeting). I am both dreading and looking forward to it – such strange emotions. I feel like i am starting to have longer time periods between thinking of LO (still quite frequent but reducing). Yes – seeing her date someone would be tough (but thinking positively it may also help reduce my limerence). Thanks for sharing your story in such detail – it has really helped me. I am so interested i what happens next for you.
I see the impact of discosing to LO and how it has relieved some of the burden – i want to feel that weight of holding onto such a secret lifted but the likely rejection is stopping me along with my rational brain that keeps telling me what a bad idea it is.
Lovisa – i am sold on not disclosing to SO. She sees i am doing a bit better. It has also been fascinating to read your experience. Thank you!
Limerent Emeritus – your question on what place LO will have in my life – my limerent brain wants her to have a big place but my rational brain knows that is a mistake and as amazing as she is, i need to make peace with being her boss and at best a friend.
The next few weeks are going to have numerous interactions and i hope i can make the right decisions and get through it (with not too many depressing lows).
Thanks for the update, Vee.
Here is something I tell myself when I am struggling. Do the right thing no matter how you feel.
You got this!
Vee, I’m glad you took the time to read my roller coaster ride with LO. It has been such a learning experience navigating this. I still have to be very diligent with LO because it is easy for me to over do it and spend too much one on one time with her, which for some reason she is very receptive to right now. Last week I over did it a little too much and felt myself slipping into more high/low emotions. I need to back off a bit next week. It all feels like balancing on a seesaw with her.
I never intended to disclose to her, but in our small office things got messy and I needed to control the narrative. I don’t view my LO as innocent in all this, but I never ever cast blame on her. I’m glad she seems to be past it…I think!?!
Check in and let us know how it’s going. I think it will take some time for you to figure out what works with her…what level of interaction keeps you most stable.
And one last thought. One thing that helps me when interacting with my LO is knowing that as her boss/employer I provide her a feeling of encouragement and appreciation with leads to better sense of purpose and value. I try to set my issues aside and focus on her betterment. I am guessing your LO views you as a mentor as well and you have the ability to shape her self value as well. This is why I can never act cold to her.
Speedwagon – you are spot on. She views me as a mentor and has huge respect for me. She is a great employee and i definitely have (and will continue to) played a major part in her career. Acting cold is not an option and would not be authentic (i would be living a lie). I enjoy telling her how amazing an employee she is and she appreciates hearing it.
I have been working on a few guidelines for myself 1) stay away from asking about personal issues or emotional issues 2) treat and talk to her the same as i would other employees (ask myself would i say those same words to another employee) 3) reduce unnecessary in person contact and 4) no checking work mails on the weekend or afterhours
Lets see how this goes.
Lost in Space says
Wow I’m glad I found this site and in particular this discussion – it explains so well what I’ve been feeling the past few months. I’m a happily married 40 something year old guy with a great wife and 3 kids, a rewarding and interesting career and several hobbies/activities I enjoy a lot. LO is a coworker. She does not directly report to me, but I’m in a significantly more powerful position within our workplace. The nature of our work together includes frequent email communication and rarely requires in-person contact. We work in different offices on the same building. She’s a couple years younger than me and also has 3 kids.
We’ve worked together for 5 years now. She was always someone I noticed – she’s the kind of person who just makes you feel good when she’s around. Physically attractive for sure, but more than that she just exudes a kind of energy that always left me feeling good for hours after any 5 minute interaction with her. I was definitely attracted to her from the start, and I always kind of wondered if she was a bit attracted to me as well. But for years that was all there was to it – I was married, she was married, we saw each other like once a week, and she remained a pleasant but minor part of my life.
About 6 months ago, I started wondering if she was trying to get closer to me – she started coming around to see me in person more often, always with some work-related thing that could have been handled by email, but she’d come to my office with it and then we’d sit and chat for a few minutes – nothing too deep or personal, just friendly banter. Then one day she disclosed to me that she recently gotten divorced because of her husband’s infidelity. We talked for a long time, she cried and shared a lot, I listened and showed support. She started coming to see me more often and our talks lengthened and deepened.
Then in November she started texting me – just little things like “I saw this funny thing online and thought you’d like it”. But it showed that she was thinking about me and that felt
good. I’d text back. Then we started texting outside of work hours. Things escalated quickly then -within a few weeks, we were texting from the time we woke up until we went to bed at night. Nothing sexual or overtly romantic, just wanting to know each other better, mixed with innocent displays of affection. She also continued to come by my office frequently for chats. I was thinking about her constantly. I hid all this from my wife.
Then a few days before Christmas I disclosed. If I’d found this site earlier I wouldn’t have, but at that time I just felt compelled to tell her how I felt. I disclosed during a phone call – she told me that she had the same feelings for me, that she’d had a crush on me for 5 years, described in detail the first time we met. It felt wonderful! And then moments letter we both realized “oh f@&$ what have we done”? Because of course I’m married, so now that we’d disclosed we couldn’t keep pretending it was just a friendship, and neither one of us had any desire to be involved in an actual affair. So we agreed to stop texting and limit our contact. I went from elation to crushing despair in the span of minutes.
Within a week, we’d blown past all our self-imposed limits and were in a full blown EA. Texting constantly, expressing feelings openly, meeting daily alone in my office, sexual tension so incredibly high that things came so close to turning physical many times, but we always restrained ourselves. We “broke up”, felt crushed, resumed contact. Repeated this cycle several times. Had crazy phone conversations about if I’d be willing to leave my wife for her (I was not) or if she’d be willing to be “the other woman” for me (she was not, largely due to having been cheated on herself and knowing how crushing that felt).
She stopped coming to see me in person – said she couldn’t be sure she could control herself. For the past month, we’ve been having a weird long-distance relationship where we text (only during work hours so my wife won’t see a text) and talk on the phone but never see each other even though we work in the same building. Our hope is that eventually the “new relationship energy” will fade. So far it hasn’t – every time we talk, the energy and connection is still crazy good. We both feel like we could talk for days on end and never get tired of each other. I still think about her constantly, and feel elation when we talk and especially if she expresses feelings for me, and feel anxiety and despair when we’re out of contact for any period of time. I have still not disclosed to my wife, but we did start couples counseling on the pretext of working on some other legitimate issues in our marriage, and I’m also arranging to start seeing a therapist on my own.
Anyway, thanks to anyone who made it this far, I know this was a long post. I’ll likely start posting more on here in the weeks to come, and I’ll definitely be reading and learning from all of you.
Oh that is a tough situation, Lost in Space. It will be interesting to see how your story unfolds. I feel sympathy for all three of you: you, SO and LO. Zoinks, that is a tough one. I bet you feel alive and awakened. Have you experienced limerence benefits like weight loss yet?
Let me introduce myself. I play with fire. I am currently limerent for my LO3 who I transferred to from my LO2 almost a year ago. I maintain contact with both of them. Sometimes I think limerence is a dark art. There are so many benefits, but the risks are huge! I haven’t cheated on my SO and I am confident that I won’t. I use the sexual energy to keep my libido high, which my SO enjoys. Ironically, my marriage has never been better. But I’m warning you that it’s a juggling act. Proceed with caution.
Do me a favor and tell me what boundaries you won’t cross. It will increase your awareness and, if you get close to crossing one of them, you will hit the brakes faster if you’ve already made up your mind.
Good luck and welcome to the club!
Lost in Space says
Hi Lovisa, good to meet you!
To answer your questions:
1) I feel alive and awakened when I’m in contact with LO. I feel anxious to the point of mild panic attacks when we haven’t had contact in a couple of days (we agreed to only be in contact during work hours/days to avoid being discovered). I’ve felt incredibly depressed the handful of times we tried cutting contact completely (I know she feels the same – we made eye contact in passing during a no contact period and the sadness in her eyes was so deep I’ll never forget it)
2) Benefits – I was already really physically fit so no weight loss benefit. I’ve actually seen significant improvements in my marriage, including better sex life with SO and us being more affectionate and communicating better
3) Boundaries – I won’t hurt my wife and I won’t blow up my kids’ lives. This means being really discrete and cautious with the EA even if it means not having nearly as much contact as I’d like, and avoiding sex completely – partly because I believe letting it become a PA would eventually lead to a high chance of getting found out, and partly because my feelings for LO are already so strong, I suspect that if we started having sex, my feelings would intensify so much that
I might actually do something crazy like leave SO for her
I recently proposed to LO that we agree to continue indefinitely in a discreet emotional affair that could partially satisfy our longing for each other and provide some of those other benefits for both of us. She wants to, but is also bothered by the general wrongness of it, and also feels that she could never really be satisfied with anything less than all of me, and she knows that can’t happen – so part of her wants to continue as we are, and part of her wants to make the relationship fade because it’s too painful at times. So it’s still kind of up in the air, although we just had an amazing long conversation on Friday afternoon that’s left me energized all weekend and frankly I’m hoping for more of the same this coming week
Hi LIS, thanks for sharing your story. You are is a very tough position and quite honestly it feels like a powder keg ready to explode. I am rather amazed the PA has not happened yet, and good for you both on setting boundaries but how long do you think you can actually coexist like this? I know for myself, I am so attracted to my LO I don’t know if I could stop myself from sexual contact with her, I like to think I could, but I honestly don’t think I could if she pursued me at all.
It feels like you have to make a purposeful choice for your marriage and that requires removing LO from your life completely. Full no contact. Is that possible in your company? Can she transfer to another department that does not require your contact with her? Can you?
Your story is a good lesson for me for what it would be like if my work LO actually reciprocated strong romantic desire and attraction for me. I disclosed to her also after a lot of uncertain feelings and her cues of attraction but she maintains she only feels friendship. But she still behaves very warm and receptive in my interactions with her. We are also both married. Does not sound like reciprocal attraction is the relief I would hope it to be.
Hang in there and let us know how this proceeds. This site and all the blogs and peoples limerent stories are filled with amazing wisdom.
Lost in Space says
Hi Speedwagon! Thanks for the thoughts – I was hoping to hear from you since your story sounded similar to mine in a lot of ways.
Reciprocity definitely did not provide relief! It certainly did provide some moments of euphoria, but also has lead to extreme frustration and further intensification of the LE.
The one surprising benefit of LO reciprocating was that it has drastically improved my sex life with SO. My wife has a relatively low libido (due in part to depression and meds) and for a long time she had been rejecting most of my sexual advances. This lead to me feeling sexually unattractive and I had largely stopped even trying to initiate sex with SO. Having this extremely attractive woman at work tell me that she could barely keep her hands off me was certainly a much needed boost for my self image, and apparently I took that confidence and energy home in a way that SO noticed – our sex life has done a complete 180 in the past few months.
I can think of 3 main reasons why it hasn’t progressed to a PA:
1) I really do love my wife deeply, and the thought of losing her and causing that sort of emotional devastation to her really does put a brake on my actions. Of course, she’d also be devastated if she knew about the EA, but it’s a lot more practical to keep that hidden
2) LO really is a good person with a good moral compass, and she’s also experienced firsthand the pain of being betrayed by her husband, and she absolutely doesn’t want to do that to my wife. She actually feels really bad about her role in this whole thing – she says (and I believe her) that she never wanted it to go this far and was just hoping to get closer to me in a friendly way (despite knowing that she was attracted to me) and that she never thought I’d return her feelings
3) As much as I am sexually attracted to LO, my primary attraction is emotional. I love talking with her more that anything in this life. We can talk for hours and never feel like it’s enough time. She has told me multiple times that if we ever did have sex, she thinks she would feel so terrible about herself that she could never bring herself to speak to me again. I don’t know if that would actually be true, but I haven’t wanted to risk it. If you gave me a choice between making love to her once but then never talking to her again, vs never touching her or even seeing her face but getting to talk on the phone for a couple hours a week for the next year, I’d choose the latter in a heartbeat.
Finally, NC is not an option. There’s nowhere for either of us to transfer to. She MIGHT be leaving in a few months to go back to school. The thought of that breaks my heart into pieces but I also know it would be the best thing that could happen. We could certainly limit our contact more than we are now, but honestly I’m not ready for that. We’ve tried a couple of times, and the depression was so profound I couldn’t function at work or at home.
So for now, we’re doing this weird relationship where we work 200 yards from each other but haven’t actually seen each other except passing in the hall for over a month, but we text and talk on the phone a couple hours a week. In the meantime, I’m working on strengthening my relationship with my SO, working with a psychologist on my own issues, and trying to get more into some of my other hobbies so that eventually if/when we do end contact, I’ll have a good base of other things to replace her with, so that I don’t end up transferring all of that energy to something more destructive (like a new LO with less of a moral compass, or a loss of my 15 year sobriety from alcohol)
That’s the plan anyway – does it sound reasonable or am I totally deluding myself?
“ She has told me multiple times that if we ever did have sex, she thinks she would feel so terrible about herself that she could never bring herself to speak to me again. I don’t know if that would actually be true, but I haven’t wanted to risk it.”
It’s true! I promise it’s true! If you cross the line, she will drop you! The guilt would be unbearable. The alternative is that she becomes the type of woman who crosses that line. Which is worse?
I like your plan for now. AND Don’t touch her. You can’t handle physical contact and neither can she. Don’t cross the line, you will hurt her. Let that motivate you to keep this thing under control.
Awesome that this is helping your sex life with SO! Cheers to that! Btw, I don’t drink alcohol either. I have chocolate milk in my pretend cup.
Also, how did you revive sex at home? I have two male friends who need help with reviving a wife’s low libido. We have some commenters with this problem, too.
Wow LIS, your story is how I imagined mine would turn out with my LO, minus the turmoil of mutual attraction. What a reality check for me! There was a time when LO and I were texting pretty heavy and I remember thinking this is it, this is the start of something and being so excited. But then she went cold and I had never felt so down. That was the start of my disclosure progression.
I do understand the emotional connection, I am the same way to an extent. I crave my LOs attention and affection emotionally. But, my LO is not a great conversationalist, it takes effort on my part to get her talking, and many times her lack of personal initiation with me in conversation really frustrates me. Texting with her was maddening because she texted in thought fragments like a teenage girl might. It all made me come to realize that my limerence for her is as sexual as it is emotional. Right now she is acting very warm and receptive to my interactions with her. It’s starting to cause me some distress again, and even though she claims her feelings for me are only friendship I still feel an affection for me that she exudes. But I am also pretty sure she is a non limerent, she told me during disclosure that she didn’t have feelings because ‘it wasn’t reality’. I think the reality of the situation of us both being married played into her non attraction where as I fell into attraction fantasy land over her, reality be damned.
As for my SO, I too gained greater libido and general affection for my wife over this. The sexual energy had to go somewhere and we have had regular routine ‘date night’s’. I also have found a greater affection for her, just doing things like hugging and kissing her more often and we cuddle in bed more now. She has said on a few occasions she wants to know what got into me this last year. I intend for her never to know.
I also lost nearly 40 lbs working out. More energy needing to be displaced and a general need to counteract depression got me exercising and living healthier. The lump positive of LE has been great, other than the turmoil of the crazy emotions. I am now practicing stability which requires controlled interactions with LO and absolutely no off work hour interactions. We do not text anymore, one of the fallouts of my disclosure and a good one I suppose. My hardest days are weekends when I know I can’t see or talk with her.
The New Years Purpose blog is a crazy and fascinating comments section where we all seem to check in with each other. You should read through it.
Looking forward to hearing more from you!!!
To echo Speedy about the New Year’s blog, you should join us there, too. I refer to it as “my support group” when talking to my SO, LO2 and his friend.
Speedwagon, I am concerned that you would cheat if the right girl tempted you. I suspect you’d like to live your whole life as a faithful husband when you are thinking straight, but your shadow tells you to cheat. Let’s work on that. How can I help pull you to the light? I love your honesty, by the way. I know I wouldn’t give into that temptation and I recognize that the pull might not be as intense for me, though I doubt it. I’ve had opportunities. Tempting opportunities and I wouldn’t give in. But, I have the benefit of having lost a parent at the age of 4 because a woman seduced my dad on purpose. I lived through the aftermath and I will never repeat that tragedy. How can we sharpen your commitment to your vows?
Lovisa…you bring up a topic I have thought about a lot lately…what am I actually seeking or capable of. Would I follow through on a PA if given the chance. I did not ever think about this prior to my LE. I always saw myself as a faithful husband but my LE has caused me a lot of turmoil in this area.
First, in my 22 years of marriage I have never had the opportunity to cheat. But I have always had crushes on other women while married that truth be told, I fantasized about having sex with them often. But they always stayed fantasies, and I always believed this to be normal male desire.
LO is the first woman I have ever pursued relationally outside my marriage. In my heart of hearts I wanted to have a PA with her. She captivates me that much. Would I follow through on it if she had reciprocated…I’m not sure. I’m not sure I could have handled the outright disrespect and breach of trust to my wife and marriage. I think I would have been more like LIS on this. Maybe if LO and I were completely on the same page with things I would.
What I do suffer from to a certain extent is a desire of attention and affection from other women. I have always had close female relationships and I like female affection beyond that which my wife provides. Maybe this is tied to a sexual longing as well. I have thought about whether I am a monogamous person at my core. I’m not sure. I think I am out of marital respect but not out of personal sexual desire.
I don’t know, this is a whole new area of my being that I feel like I am just discovering. I will admit though, I do struggle a bit with sex with my wife. She is very modest and though we have sex with regular frequency I have always felt like it is something she tolerates more than desires. Sex with her is very routine and any effort to try something new is always awkward and met with mostly displeasure. It has taken a toll on me over the years. In my 20s I had sex with 2 other girlfriends where it was very passion filled and free. I tend to miss that with my wife as it was and is never quite that way with her. But it’s not horrible either. I do find my wife attractive and I do enjoy having sex with her.
But LO…she just seems to have a sexual hold over me right now that my wife cannot compete with.
“She was always someone I noticed – she’s the kind of person who just makes you feel good when she’s around. Physically attractive for sure, but more than that she just exudes a kind of energy that always left me feeling good for hours after any 5 minute interaction with her.”
This statement reminds me exactly of why LO is so addictive. As I said in another post “I don’t know how God packed so much sunshine into one woman that could make her shine so much”
She was always a pleasure to be around. Genuinely kind and caring as well as nice and sweet. Quite easy to get addicted to the company of a person like that, man or woman.
She also was a co-worker. Similar to you she worked in another office completely so most of my interactions with her were either email or phone. I never had personal correspondences with her as I only could reach by the office line. Which was probably the saving grace that it only got as far as it did. She was also much younger than me, and when we first worked together in person for four months she was single. She’s since met a young man that she has been with that’s good to her and her two daughters after a really bad divorce.
I am very thankful if there were any feelings on her side she did much better hiding them than I did as apparently the rest of the people in the office could tell I favored her. June 3 of last year was her last day at the office. I have only heard from her one time since, and that was her picking up the phone at the office when I was on hold, when she was visiting her former co-workers. And that put me on a high for about a month. Otherwise I have had no contact with her.
The people here are very helpful as you can see. I have only been here about a month and the amount of help I have gotten is immeasurable. And I see you have already met Miss Lovisa. I brag on her every chance I get because she is always here for everyone and always has a listening ear. She has helped talk me out of a lot of bad feelings and I thank her for that.
Limerent Emeritus says
Every once in awhile, you can find yourself in a situation where you can look a woman in the eye, smile, and say, “You have more going for you than any one woman should be allowed to have.”
You’re not in that position.
Lost in Space says
“It’s true! I promise it’s true! If you cross the line, she will drop you! The guilt would be unbearable. The alternative is that she becomes the type of woman who crosses that line. Which is worse?”
Thank you so much – this is exactly what I need to hear and to focus on. To my shame, I am more motivated at this time by feelings for my LO than for my SO, but I suppose that’s what unites all of us in these situations – so why not use my feelings for LO in a positive manner? She has told me that she’s suffered from severe depression in the past, to the point of contemplating suicide a few years back. While she’s doing much better now, I fear that if she did something so contrary to the core of who she actually believes herself to be, it could send her back into that state. I couldn’t stand to be responsible for that!
“Also, how did you revive sex at home? I have two male friends who need help with reviving a wife’s low libido. We have some commenters with this problem, too.”
I didn’t really do anything different – the same looks, the same touches, the same kisses that used to work in the past and had mostly stopped working in the last few years… well, they started working again. I think it was about confidence – there’s a big difference between initiating sex while expecting to be rejected, and initiating while feeling full of confidence and expecting success. LO’s feelings for me, which include both love and lust, definitely raised my confidence level a lot, and I can only imagine that SO sensed the difference and responded accordingly!
Lost in Space says
Speedwagon – Disclosing and learning of mutual feelings has led to a entirely different kind of hell than the limerent experiences I’ve had in the past. Like you, I’ve always craved affection and multiple connection with women more than my wife can/will provide, and I’ve had at least 3 other LEs over the years, although none nearly so intense as this one and none that involved disclosure or reciprocity. So I’ve been accustomed to the torment of unrequited feelings, “does she or doesn’t she”, overanalyzing every text message… and that’s definitely a torment of it’s own. But this time has definitely been the hardest for me. First, because now I know there’s basically nothing standing between me and her except our own consciences and fear of hurting others – that’s a really challenging place to be. Second, I’ve let myself get so very close to her and develop such a strong bond with her. While my previous LEs were based mostly on a mix of attraction and lust, this one is based on actually getting to know her pretty deeply and feeling what really feels like true love. Our emotional connection is like nothing I’ve ever experienced with anyone, and it’s the same for her – we’re actually both introverts who normally don’t open up to other people much at all, and suddenly we’re both spending hours on end talking, seemingly desperate to learn everything about the other and tell each other everything about ourselves. We have not yet had a conversation end because we ran out of things to say – our talks only end because we run out of time due to the constraints on when we can communicate. It really has me feeling things like that she could be my true soulmate or twin flame or whatever, even though I know it’s probably just tricks of the brain and NRE that would eventually die out if we were really together and stuck in the mundane realities of raising kids, paying bills, cleaning the house and all that. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway, along with a constant commitment to not hurting my wife who I really do love and have always looked forward to spending my lifetime with.
I want to get into this more in depth with both of you, but I am pressed for time. I need to get ready for church and we’re hiking to a frozen waterfall afterwards so I need to pack my gear. I couldn’t resist addressing the twin flame issue… that isn’t real. It can’t be be because I would have too many soulmates. My LEs are always mutual. I can’t be a twin flame to 4 men ( including my SO who was also an LO). I don’t know why they always reciprocate. I have been pondering the 1 to 10 scale. Maybe I am an 8 and am attracted to 7s. Maybe they are married to 6s. I don’t know. I can’t figure out why this happens, but it isn’t supernatural. It isn’t destiny. It is just a chemical reaction.
Also, fantasies seem to be a theme for all three of us. Much to my surprise, my SO doesn’t fantasize about other women. I always assumed he did. I thought everyone did. Nope, some people don’t.
LIS, thanks for sharing. It’s sounds like a very difficult place to be in with you and LO. It still blows my mind because what happened with you is what I wanted, full reciprocation and EA, and now you have brought to light the struggle and crushing blow of that reality.
I did a lot of thinking about my LO this weekend and why I am limerent for her and it really seems more sexual in nature than anything else. There are other things I like about her, we have a lot of ordinary things in common, we bantor well, but at a deeper relational level she is difficult to get to know. She can be quite aloof and other people in our office have said she is hard to read and figure out. I think I agree.
Every now and again I like to make a list of how to keep moving forward in my actions with LO to tamper limerence. I did that again today and one of the items on my list is to lean into a couple other female friendships in the office a bit more because I find them more satisfying on a friendship level than my LO. These woman are just more mature in their relational sensibilities than my LO and tend to reciprocate better.
Lost in Space says
Speedwagon – based on everything I’ve read about limerance and everything I’ve experienced personally, I’d say one of the main things to keep in mind is that “it’s never going to be enough”. If you get reciprocity, you’ll want a full EA. If you have an EA, you’ll want a PA. If you have a PA, you’ll get frustrated because you still only get to be with LO part time and then you might end up doing something crazy like actually leaving SO to set up house with LO. Maybe it’s different for different people, but that’s how I’ve seen myself going anyway.
The other problem is the ongoing insecurity and anxiety about “will it last?” My EA has been filled with anxious thoughts about her coming to her senses and cutting it off, which I think she will do at some point – in part because she feels morally conflicted, and in part because she wants so much more with me that it’s painful to settle for what we actually have. Every Monday when we get back in contact I’m filled with fear that she will have had a change of heart over the weekend.
My limerant brain wants to be with LO completely and forever, and anything less than that (ie anything compatible with reality) is never going to satisfy. It’s like an addict thinking they could do “just enough heroin”.
So I guess the choices are either cut it off completely or find some balance between what you want and what you can actually have and then resign yourself to living in a perpetual state of discomfort.
Man, you are hitting me with some great perspective. I have felt the never enough feeling. When LO and I started texting frequently, one day of not texting sent me into a tail spin. I was also frustrated she would not match my affection level in her texts. Also, at the office in dread the ho hum days of interaction, I want our interactions to always be deep and meaningful, but reality is they all are not.
I have for the most part got to the place now where I am resigned and OK with the warm in office interactions we have and being just an awesome boss to her. I do actually have a couple great roles in her life, she sees me as a mentor and male role model. She respects me (I think still after disclosure) and appreciates me. She is married to a difficult guy and I am the next important man in her life ( her father died a few years back). These are roles I want to respect and take seriously with her and not let my limerence get in the way like it did over Christmas time when it all escalated and I disclosed.
Btw…I would consider myself a 7 in the looks department but a 9 in the successful and interesting man department. My wife is a 8, maybe 9 for her age, and is loved by everyone.
Speedwagon, I had a feeling that you couldn’t handle mutual limerence like the situation with Lost in Space. I really want to address this until you are confident that you wouldn’t cheat on your wife. I think this LE is just the beginning and you will have other opportunities. I want you to be prepared. It’s important to me for some reason. Maybe I am too invested in your story, I don’t know. I care. I don’t want to see you blow up your life. But, if you do, I’ll still care and want want to help if I can.
How do we get you on our side? It sounds like Lost in Space isn’t willing to blow up any marriages either.
Thanks for pondering your commitment to your marriage out loud on this site. I appreciate the effort you are making. I read it this morning, but didn’t have time to respond. I will read it again.
Lovisa, I appreciate your concern and interest in my story. It means a lot knowing you care. I have no interest in hurting my wife or blowing up my marriage. I will commit to you that I will not cross a physical boundary with with any woman that is not my wife. I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t have any pattern of physical contact with LO and I intend to keep it that way.
Thank you for your directness with me in this.
Lost in Space says
Lovisa – thanks again for telling me what I need to hear. My rational brain knows it’s not destiny or fate or something, it’s my brain being flooded with oxytocin and dopamine every time I have contact with LO. And it feels incredible during those moments, but obviously it’s nothing to go making life-altering decisions over.
My SO also does not have fantasies about other people. She told me that once we got married, she just completely stopped thinking that way. I find that incredibly strange but it seems to be true for her. She certainly notices an attractive man and might feel attraction in that moment, but there’s no ongoing fantasy life in her mind.
I think about the 1-10 scale as well. When we met, I’d say SO was an 8 and I was a 7. Twenty years later, I’m probably an 8.5 (for my age) thanks to hobbies like weightlifting, MMA and triathlons, and she’s probably a 5 or 6 due to years of a sedentary lifestyle and 50lbs of weight gain. All of my LOs have probably been equally or slightly more attractive than me, so physical/sexual attractiveness certainly plays a big role even if my primary attachments end up being emotional rather than sexual. I’ve never had an emotional affair with a physically unattractive woman.
I’m really curious about how you maintain contact with 2 LOs in addition to your SO. How does it work? Ie frequency of contact, method of contact, etc? Does your SO know/care? Does it satisfy your needs or leave you in a state of perpetual frustration from wanting more closeness than you can have with them?
Wow, Lost in Space, I don’t know where to begin…
If I am being honest, I am a 10. That’s uncomfortable to admit. I am not a 10 among 10s, probably a 5. My SO gained more than 100 lbs since we married and I am 3-7 pounds heavier than my wedding day weight (I was anorexic back then). I am thin and curvy in all the right places. I am very fit and still feminine. Running is my dope. I love endurance runs! Trail running is my favorite! My SO and I look like a mismatch, but we’re not. He is incredible and I couldn’t be more in love with him. My limerence isn’t about him. I think it stems from my absent dad. I was very close to my grandfather and I think my SO plays that part now. I think my LOs represent my unavailable dad. Idk. I’m still trying to figure this out. They might be my brothers or male friends. I have always preferred male companionship and I have a lot of brothers: 5-ish. I really haven’t figured this out. Oh, but I have other male friends who I have never felt a glimmer for. That might be relevant.
My SO puts up with less-than-perfection from me because I think he genuinely loves me and wants me to be happy. I feel the same way towards him. I really struggle to make friends with women, but I am working on it. We have an agreement that I can have male friends and we have specific boundaries surrounding those friendships. For example, I wanted to go kayaking with one of my male friends last summer. I told my friend that I’m not allowed to be alone with a male friend if I am wearing a swimsuit so either my kids had to join us or his kids had to tag along. His were with their mom for the weekend so my whole family came, including my SO. I made a yummy picnic. We had a lot of fun. My friend said that he admires my husband and that I married well.
How do I maintain contact with my LOs? Mostly text. (Sorry Speedy). I go to lunch with LO2 and his friend sometimes. I talk to LO2, his friend or LO3 on the phone occasionally. Also, I am on a social media site where I have one contact: LO3. It’s a place to post your training. I’d rather not say which site, sorry. Anyway, I hear from LO3 multiple times almost every day on that site. I text with LO2 and his friend in a group text usually, but I text both of them alone sometimes, too. Initiation comes from any of us. My SO knows and even asks how they are doing. For example, LO3 shares a name with my brother, so when I say, “LO3 blah blah blah.” My husband asks, “Your friend or your brother?” My husband respects my male friends and they seem to respect him, too. Sometimes my husband feels insecure or jealous and we talk about it. I am always willing to walk away from any relationship that makes my husband uncomfortable, but he insists that he trusts me and doesn’t want me to cut any of my friends loose.
Pretty crazy huh?
Cool that you do triathlons. My knee is recovering from a marathon and I am almost desperate enough to switch from running to cycling or swimming to let my knee heal. Which part is your favorite? I don’t want to give my identity away, but I live near a world-class triathlon champion. Please don’t ask me to identify him because that will reveal too much about myself. I recently learned that he hates running, lol! That’s hilarious! He loves the competition, loves the swimming and cycling, but hates running. So funny! It makes me laugh when I hear about endurance runners who hate running. I did a 50k with a friend who hates running and it was his idea to do that run. The irony is so funny.
And another thing, the fact that you and LO are “good people” who wouldn’t wreck any homes, can actually make the situation harder. Both of you might feel safer letting your guard down. If you both have your guard down at the same time, you might make a big mistake. I hope that doesn’t happen because I believe both of you try to do better than that.
Good luck, Lost in Space! It’s so nice getting to know you.
Lost in Space says
Lovisa – I’m a lifelong runner who recently started doing triathlons because of bad knees as well – it’s nice because you can still spend the same total amount of time doing the event, but the running part is much shorter. I’ve spent most of the last 20 years bike commuting to work so the bike part was pretty easy, but swimming is freaking hard, especially in open water which is completely different than pool swimming. Probably because of the challenge it’s also my favorite part though.
Interestingly I went for a swim this afternoon with a close female friend that I train with a lot. She’s not unattractive by any means, but there’s never been a hint of a glimmer and our friendship truly is just friendship. I should probably spend more time thinking about what’s different between her and my current and past LOs.
That’s cool that your SO is so tolerant and understanding. Mine definitely could not be – she only knows about one prior LO (an inappropriately close friendship with a very attractive woman, essentially a one-side EA without disclosure or reciprocity) and even that almost ended our marriage.
One thing I couldn’t figure out from your reply – do you feel satisfied in your current relationships with your LOs? Or are you always left yearning for more, more, more?
Sorry, my head is spinning so it’s hard to focus on your question. I just disclosed to SO. I posted it on the New Years thread.
I want closeness from the current LO. I can be quite content too, though. I feel secure in my connection with LO3 because he is so responsive. We aren’t engaged in any hot and cold behavior. I never have to question his feelings for me because I already know the answer. He has big feelings for me and he doesn’t want to hurt anyone so he won’t act on his feelings.
I hope that answers the question. I did the limerence dance with LO1 for 17 years. It’s exhausting. Your story has a similar feel.
I would love to talk more about your training. I am just so overwhelmed right now that it’s hard to think. Here’s my thing, cycling for more than 20 miles hurts my butt and I never feel like I get as good of a workout as when I run. Also, I am a bad swimmer.
Your training friend has good boundaries. That’s my guess anyway.
Oh, and yes I want more. I have that feeling of never enough, yes. I decided to accept that feeling because I won’t pursue more and if anyone pursued it with me, I would decline.
It is a sad and sobering realization that more is never enough. My own situation is so much behind yours, Speedwagon and Lovisa.
I havent disclosed and currently dont have reciprication or even an EA. I crave getting to know LO better, but i keep questioning to what end as if i fast forward the “best” outcome would end up where you or Speedwagon are now. I also keep thinking even if things did pan out, when the limerence ends what happens then? It would mean making life changing decisions that i think i would regret.
Do you find the pain you are in now worse than when you didnt know how she felt? I keep thinking that putting more boundries in the way is helpful, but in may ways i also need LOs support and want to be there for her (not just as my employee but as a friend).
Vee…for me the burden of the secret and uncertainty I felt lifted after disclosure. I’m not going to lie, it is a relief, especially since LO is still very warm in her interactions with me. If she distanced herself from me or got creeped out I would not feel the same. I would regret the disclosure and probably feel worse.
The pain of desire and intrusive thoughts for a woman I cannot realize a full romantic relationship with remains and I think that will stay for a good long while. That is the pain I manage every day and just hope that at some point it starts to fade.
Speedwagon I really hope the pain reduces for you. At least you have clarity and knowledge that it is not going to happen – whilst that is painful you can start moving forward. Like you, i have to constantly interact with LO. This week interactions were high and they are only going to increase for me over the next few weeks due to work deadlines. While i know that these are not healthy and they are keeping the limerence going instead of fading, i genuinely look forward to the interactions and feel guilty about that – i dont want to crave these interactions. I like how you have got into a certain routine on interactions to reduce the highs and lows. Right now i am i the thick of the highs and lows.
Hey Vee! The pain has been better this week. Same amount of interactions at the office but my evenings have been a little better. But tomorrow evening I meet her SO for the first time and that is making me anxious a bit. I think she is anxious about it too. Should be OK though, it is in a group setting and I can keep a distance.
I would say it took a good 6 months or so before my in office interactions with LO stopped being such a trigger. In the early days, when LO and I were starting to connect more personally at the office, I would feel so good, then the crash would come early evening and stay with me until went to sleep. I remember so many nights getting in bed feeling so deflated and down. But then I would wake up next morning feeling OK just to do it all over again.
Now, our interactions are still the same but I am used to them and they don’t trigger depressive emotions in me later. In those first six months I broke down and cried in the evenings about every other week, now I have not cried for a good few months. That’s progress.
The key is just to keep things in routine. If I were you I would not shy away from these meetings, because then when you do have meetings, the meetings become more of a reward. Maybe try to normalize them so they become more of a common event in your day. Just stay away from heavy personal talk which can be a bonding mechanism. My LO and I still have superficial personal chit chat quite a bit but I do not talk about heavy subjects with her. It helps that she is poor at conversation though.
I would say that since I disclosed she has become warmer to me in our interactions. I think she does have a good bit of affection for me and likes my attention but she is not limerent like I am. She seems quite in control of herself.
Lost in Space says
Hi Vee! Nice to meet you!
I like what you said about fast forwarding- in substance use recovery we talk a lot about “playing the tape forward” by pausing to think about the long term outcomes of choices we make today. Let’s say I let myself drift from my EA to a full PA. Then eventually we get found out or the feelings grow so strong that we blow everything up and start an actual life together. What then? Eventually the limerence fades, LO becomes SO2, and it’s just a matter of time before the next LO comes around. So you end up right back where you started, except maybe now with alimony, child support, a trail of broken hearts and a mountain of guilt.
During a phone conversation last month, LO told me something like “I need to stop pretending we have a future together. You’re not going to leave your wife for me. And if you did, you wouldn’t be the kind of man I’d actually want to be with. And if we did end up together, I’d always be worried about you leaving me for someone else, because I’d know you were the type of man who could do that.”
Is the pain worse after disclosure and EA? Yes! Far worse than anything I’d ever experienced in my prior undisclosed LEs. Imagine a 40 year old man, with 15 years of relatively happy marriage, 3 beautiful kids, a rewarding career, good friends, fulfilling hobbies. A respected professional, successful, head of a major department. Imagine that man sitting in his office alone, literally sobbing, whole body shaking, because the woman in the office down the hall said we needed to take a 2 week break because the feelings had gotten too strong. Imagine him spending the next week having horrible muscle aches, heart palpitations, nausea, shortness of breath hitting him in waves every time he thought about her. Until we both broke down and re-established contact a week later (although we still haven’t been alone in person)
The emotions just got so intense. We spent hours talking about such personal and deep topics, got to know each other so well – she was no longer a fantasy object but a real woman with whom I’d fallen madly in love. And so the thought of losing her just absolutely destroyed me, even though I knew that being with her was so wrong and so dangerous to everything and everyone else in my life.
I heard a rap song the other day that had this spoken word outro that went something like this: “You shouldn’t do drugs harder than you are. If you’re a soft ass mothaf@&$er, don’t do hard drugs, because they’ll kick your ass.” I learned through this experience that when it comes to experiences like this, I’m a soft-ass MF and I need to stay away from the hard stuff because it’s just too much for me.
That said, it’ll be interesting to see how I feel about this 6 months or 6 years from now, assuming I do make it through unscathed. Will it still be a source of pain? Or will it be something I look back at and remember fondly once some time has passed? I asked LO once (while we were both feeling heartbroken) if she wished she could go back in time and prevent this all from happening. She immediately said “absolutely not!” That the heartache would eventually fade but she’ll always cherish getting to know me so well and that she wants us to always be friends. So I hope that’s how it ends up feeling in the long run, and I probably wouldn’t say I’d go back and erase this incident if I could, but I certainly will do everything possible to prevent myself from having a similar experience anytime in the future because I have no desire to go through this ever again. And hopefully my story can serve as a warning to other married people who are thinking about disclosing. I can’t tell anyone else what’s right for them, but I would definitely advise them to think long and hard first.
Lost in Space says
Vee – another thing about disclosure is that it can be incredibly dangerous if you’re married and don’t actually want to end up in a PA and/or end your marriage. Because now the situation is firmly out of the realm of individual fantasy and there’s another person fully involved. People are unpredictable, so really anything could happen. They could report you to HR for harassment. They could tell your SO. They could reciprocate and come after you so strongly you don’t say no and end up getting physical. You just can’t know until it’s possibly too late.
In my case… it got so freaking dangerous. I have a private office at work with no windows and a door that locks, in a pretty hidden-away area of the building. It would pretty much be the perfect place to have sex with a coworker and get away with it. Prior to disclosure, she’d find reasons to visit me in my office sometimes and we’d chat, but there was never any threat of anything happening, because as far as we both knew, the other one didn’t have any feelings beyond friendship. After disclosure, that totally changed.
We decided to cut contact right after disclosure, but that only lasted a few days and then we were back at it, texting all the time and her coming to my office daily. But now the energy and dynamic was totally different, because I knew she wanted me and she knew I wanted her. The sexual tension was crazy. Our hugs got longer and tighter, our looks got hungrier, she’d find reasons to touch my leg or my chest while talking. We’d have these hypothetical “what if?” discussions that always ended with us saying how important it was not to cross the line. She’d say things like “it’s good you have so much self control because it would be horrible if something happened, but I know I couldn’t stop myself if you made a move”. Basically, we both wanted it so freaking badly, but we also both knew it was so, so wrong, and we ended up doing this crazy dance to see just how close we could get to the flame without getting burned. It was exhilarating, intoxicating, and ridiculously dangerous. Somehow we both held strong, and after a couple weeks of that we had a long phone call and texting session and agreed to stop seeing each other in person – that was a month ago and since then we’ve only had contact by phone and text.
So I seem to have survived so far (although I know I’m not totally out of danger), but if LO had been a little more aggressive and/or less concerned about hurting my wife, it likely would have turned out totally different, and right now I’d be caught up in a complicated PA that ended up destroying a lot of people’s lives (my SO, my kids, and ultimately LO and I as well). In the headspace I was in last month, I really don’t think I could have stopped anything if she’d kissed me or something, so it was just so dangerous to let myself get into that position in the first place where my entire future and life was dependent on another person
Limerent Emeritus says
Well done on dodging that bullet! You both know the turf you’re on.
The question becomes, can you maintain your boundaries?
I have $5 that one of you will cave and test them. If for no other reason than to see if the connection is still alive.
I can’t quite tell how attached you are to your LO. There’s definitely a relationship and from what she said about leaving your wife and being the kind of man she’d want to be with, it sounds like she’s pretty attached. She’s thinking ahead, looking at a potential future. And, she doesn’t see one, at least that’s what she said. However…
That’s flattering. But it’s really scary.
On the other hand, I know 3 people who left long term marriages to be with someone else and did quite well. My wife’s grandfather allegedly “walked out” on his wife and kids and married another woman. They were married 40 years until that woman died.
When the EAP counselor asked what I wanted from my “relationship” with LO #4, I told her that I didn’t want to attach to LO #4 and I sure as hell didn’t want LO #4 attaching to me.
The EAP counselor chuckled and said, “That ship has already sailed.”
When LO #4 said goodbye, it was like Moses had parted the Red Sea. I had a way out and I took it. That was 7 years ago.
Lost in Space says
LE – thanks for reading and for your thoughts. To answer your question, I feel extremely attached to her. Emotionally I don’t feel like I dodged a bullet or like the Red Sea is parting if our relationship ends. I feel like I miss her so bad it hurts and I’m grieving the loss of our relationship. Now the rational part of my brain, separate from my emotions, can see that I was really fortunate it didn’t go further and that she seems to be pulling away now. But my heart sure doesn’t believe it right now and all I want to do is see her and talk to her right now and I’m sitting here all distraught because I texted her 3 hours ago and she hasn’t responded, which never would have happened anytime in the past 3 months, but has been increasingly common in the past 2 weeks. I can just sense her heart has changed toward me and she’s determined to pull away.
If I was single, I would 100% want to dive into a serious relationship with her. The ONLY thing stopping me is my commitment to my SO. If I was somehow allowed to have 2 wives (now we’re getting into crazy fantasy land) I feel like I’d want to marry her too (me and LO actually joked last month about joining a polygamist cult being the solution for our problem). If LO was willing to continue a long term discrete EA indefinitely, I would definitely want that.
But even though she hasn’t come out and said it, I feel increasingly certain that our relationship is going to end, because I’m just not willing to leave my marriage for her, and she’s not willing to hang around forever as second place in my life (and I respect her a ton for that). So at this point I’m trying to resign myself to it being over and not act too desperate trying to hold onto someone who has made the decision to pull away for her own mental self- preservation.
I think she is trying to do the right thing, Lost in Space. I’m sorry this will be very hard on you.
LiS – well done on your restraint. I admire how you have not crossed the PA line and that you are doing the right thing for your SO. It must be so hard for you to be in this position.
I keeping thinking reciprication must be amazing but this has changed my perspective.
Reducing contact with LO is not an option right now for me which makes keeping these feelings to myself both difficult and frustrating. I also feel that i want no contact to improve my mental state but have no way of doing that. Each interaction (with this wonderful person who has no idea how i feel and probably has no similar feelings other than professional admiration for me as her mentor\boss) just pushes me back a few steps and makes me crave more out of our relationship.
Being able to share my ups and downs here has definitely helped and hearing from the people on here has been great. Its a tough battle to fight alone.
Limerent Emeritus says
“But even though she hasn’t come out and said it, I feel increasingly certain that our relationship is going to end, because I’m just not willing to leave my marriage for her, and she’s not willing to hang around forever as second place in my life (and I respect her a ton for that). ”
You should probably start thinking about how it’s going to end. It’s not something you want to leave entirely to chance.
“When trust has been breached, so has respect–and second chances can be very few and far between. Whether you’ve chosen to step away from a new relationship or a long-established one, how you orchestrate that ending is crucial, because it’s typically what someone remembers most about you.” – Shari Schreiber https://sharischreiber.com/whos-doing-your-dirty-work/
You also don’t want to hurt or piss off your LO to the point they lash out at you and take your head. Most don’t but it’s not entirely unheard of.
Hey Lost in Space, I am worried about my knee. The x-ray looks good. The doctor thinks it’s inflammation. I guess I keep reinjuring it. It is so hard not to run. I know you understand that feeling, but it’s crazy talk to most people. I can last a day or two, but then I get antsy. I want to bounce an idea off of you. Maybe this week I can focus on strength training and cycling and I might be able to hold myself back from running, hiking or walking. I can’t commit because I know myself and I will probably give in to the temptation. The other day my SO said it would be wise if I stopped running when my knee hurts. He wanted me to commit right before a run. I said, “It’s easy for me to make that promise while I’m standing in our kitchen, but I know myself and I just don’t trust that I’ll follow through.” I am a boundary pusher. My inner coach says, “Are you going to let that hold you back?” Ugh! This drive serves me well when I am in-tact, but it drives me nuts when I’m injured. What do you think about my cycling plan? Here is the strength training that I am experimenting with.
I also have a full body routine that I will do in addition to these extra exercises.
I have some questions, too. Does the heart rate monitor matter as much during cycling as it does during a run? My chest strap gives me owies, but I like that it is more accurate than my watch.
Please let me know what you think. Thanks in advance!
Lost in Space says
Lovisa – I’d say absolutely yes to cross training and yes to strength training in particular.
I think I probably have a torn meniscus in my right knee. Xrays were normal and I never got an MRI, but for like 2 years anytime I’d run more than 2-3 miles my knee would swell up and fill with fluid for a couple of days. I was super frustrated being unable to run nearly as much as I wanted.
So, counter-intuitive as it sounds, I started doing barbell squats 3 times per week to strengthen my leg muscles in general and my quads in particular. I also switched to cycling, swimming and martial arts training to keep up my cardio conditioning in place of running. I started super light with just the bar, and increased the weight little by little to where now I’m doing 5×5 with 225lbs – not super heavy by weight lifting standards, but more than most endurance runners are used to doing.
And the result was awesome! The knee pain disappeared, I found I could run more and more without any adverse consequences later, and I just hit a half marathon PR a couple months ago! So yes, in my experience strength training can do wonders for a bad knee and get you back to the type of running you want to do.
Regarding the heart rate monitor, I’m the wrong guy to ask – I’m a pretty unsophisticated trainer. I use my garmin to tell me speed/pace and cadence when running, but that’s about it.
Thanks Lost in Space and congratulations on the PR! 225 lbs sounds like a big deal to me, but I understand why it feels a little humble to you. If I talk to a normal person about my running, I look like a superhero. But to an experienced runner, I am a beginner. It’s such a strange feeling.
Thanks for sharing your experience. That knee problem would drive me nuts! I’m so glad you are on the other side of it. I love martial arts, too, but I am cheap and don’t like paying for it, lol. Right now, I can’t even do 1 mile without knee pain. The pain was intense yesterday while we climbed a steep, icy slope. My seven-year-old daughter was scared and I acted confident, but I was thinking, “How will we get through this safely when I can’t even use my leg properly?” We got through it. I am so hopeful that cross training will fill my need for physical exertion without re-injuring myself. I did 11 miles on the bike today and it felt great! I feel like I still need a workout, but I’ll get used to that feeling I guess. Thank you for your encouragement!
Btw, I am obsessed with the run data. It’s part of the excitement for me. I love love love math, so the data feels like playtime. I know, what a dork. Feel free to roll your eyes, I deserve it.
Lost in Space says
Lovisa – weight lifting numbers are all about the ratio to the lifter’s own weight. For squats, most people would say that 1.5 times your body weight is a pretty good achievement. So for me at 190lbs to squat 225 is alright but not great, whereas that same squat for, say, a 120 lb person would be pretty darn impressive. But ultimately, unless you’re a competitive power lifter or need the numbers to stroke your ego, the numbers don’t really matter – it’s all about achieving your goals, like rehabbing an injury and helping to injury-proof yourself for the future (and maybe as a side effect, improving your physique for both your LO and SO 😉
If you’re interested in triathlons, look for a sprint distance tri to start with. It’s a 1/2 mile swim, 13 mile ride and 3 mile run. In terms of time and effort level, it comes out about the same as a half marathon, but with a lot less running on bad knees. If that gets to be too easy, you can move up to the Olympic distance which is double everything. I enjoy the sprint distance, and the training requirements fit into my life with a full time job and 3 kids
Awesome, thanks for the tip! I hadn’t heard of the sprint distance. Oh it’s killing me. I used to do at least a half marathon a week. I think my longest run last week was… oh never mind it was 13.1. I forgot I did a half marathon distance, I was going to complain about my short runs, but I checked my journal. Silly me, I need to be more grateful. I really like the 40-mile run week. I appreciate your encouragement and advice very much. It will help me adjust my attitude towards cross training. I keep telling myself that if I don’t run, I’ll get my knee back then I can run all I want.
I usually weigh around 124 so 225 sounds like a big deal to me. I guess I didn’t consider that your male body can lift so much more than mine. Silly me.
Lost in Space says
Lovisa – I suspect your biggest challenge if you get into strength training will be to keep your obsessive/competitive side in check and make yourself go slow. I’ve hurt myself a few times in the past lifting weights because I’d get too excited about challenging myself and too impatient to reach some arbitrary goal, and then I’d try something I shouldn’t and feel something tear and then have a 3 month setback.
As I mentioned, this time around I literally started just squatting the bar and adding 5 lbs each time. At first it felt way too easy and like a waste of time, but I forced myself to go slow and stick to the schedule and I’ve ended up gradually making good progress without injuring myself. I suspect, based on what you’ve shared with me so far, that you’re going to struggle with that same issue of wanting to push your limits faster than your tendons and ligaments can handle.
You think all of us here are just limit pushers in general who get restless with the status quo and feel like we just have to find out what more is possible?
Yes! I suspect we are limit pushers here at LwL. I know I am! Thanks for the words of caution. My struggles with training are in fact recovery and not overdoing it.
“I have $5 that one of you will cave and test them. If for no other reason than to see if the connection is still alive.”
If LO came back after 9 months even if it were for a visit I wouldn’t trust myself to be on my best behavior around her. Its why even when she was around, when she was my co-worker I maintained no outside working hours communication because I know where it would have lead. I know myself enough to know my limits and not test those limits.
If she could easily make me putty in her hand within the confounds of work, outside of work would just be asking for disaster. And she didn’t even intentionally try to do it. She just could without any effort.
Limerent Emeritus says
Song of the Day: “Reason to Believe” – Rod Stewart (1971)
LO #4 came out of the woodwork after 3 months NC. When I told my fellow moderator and real life friend that I was leaving, LO #4 sent me a FB request. We’d known each other for several years and that had never come up.
After I accepted her friend request, I had a dream about LO #4 in which I almost drove my car over a cliff. The EAP counselor said that it didn’t take a gypsy to figure that one out. When I asked LO #4 if it was ok if we weren’t FB friends, LO #4 said, “No problem.” When I checked a few minutes later, not only were we no longer friends, she blocked me.
That was the beginning of the end. Things changed between us. They were never the same after that. The EAP counselor said that I’d hit LO #4 with a bucket of cold water. She was looking for a reason to believe and I didn’t give her one. She got too close and I threw her out.
If you want the LE to end and your LO to go away, don’t give them a reason to believe.
I thankfully do not really worry about LO coming back around either in person, on the phone or online. I think she is 100% occupied with her new life, gentleman friend and job with not much thought of me I would imagine.
And yes I was this LE to be over. Now I just need the limerent part of my brain to cooperate.
Adam i know how you feel. I cannot go NC and see LO every week. It is so painful as it means my limerence doesnt reduce and just stays the same or gets worse (even when i think i am getting somewhere). The interactions are great but the aftermath is horrific.
Count your blessings – NC is a real blessing.
Vee somedays I feel the limerence is worse in her absence compared to when she was present. And the fact that she knows how to contact me but hasn’t. It’s been almost 9 months since she left.
I think why the limerence remains is that outside of initially meeting her (I didn’t develop limerence until over a year of knowing her) I didn’t pair bond with her as a potential mate but in a platonic manner. As I got to know her more I more and more enjoyed her company and talking to her. Listening to her when she needed someone, helping her with problems or tasks at work to help reduce her stress. I liked the feeling that I was helping her and she was thankful for it.
And now she is gone. I take solace in the fact that she is in a happy place in life even in my absence. I hope that fact will someday help me completely detach from her and move on. But at the moment I am not very hopeful.
Miss Jaded says
I wish I read this earlier, I know this article is 5 years old, but it is just as relevant as ever.
I was limerent for a coworker for a good 3 years (it was actually pretty hellish in retrospect)
If you’re reading this, just know this is a cautionary tale, SO YOU DON’T END UP LIKE ME. Nip it at the bud. Go no contact or just at an arms length so things remain professional and less limerent.
Early on, he was a lovebomber and kept making me feel like I was the best thing that came into his life. Would choose me during shoot shag marry games because “I always offered something new to the table”. Kissed my hand and had the occasional physical touch because oh well we were friends. This creates the perfect ground for god-fucking-awful limerence.
He was manipulative, so after reading a few articles on this site I realise, he was the one of the worst people to make an LO. Easily flirting, all about himself, manipulative, always wanted someone to do something for him, easily dropped people at the drop of a finger. He also spent time with me when he was supposed to reassure his ex-gf that he was at home and sleeping. BIG MAJOR RED ASS FLAGS.
And of course, me being the limerent one, kept telling myself stories that he was greater and better than anyone I have ever encountered. Kept telling myself he was still a nice person, and that it was only just that one time.
I got carried away too, I always bought him expensive gifts and did him favours that frustrated him. He was like how this website describes, a basketcase, did not know how to reject me succinctly and politely. He would tell and ask me about resistance bands for instance, and I’d buy him a few the next day. Instead of politely rejecting or telling me he didn’t want it, he kept silent and told all my mutual friends he did not want to remain in contact with me ever again.
It left me with a difficult situation where I’d have to deal with him at work (clue: many life or death situations) where communication is vital, impertinent. I would get frustrated because I would want a response, and his default would to just keep mum. He was always this kind, helpful upstanding coworker in my mind, and to see him just blatantly ignoring me, it honestly hurt so much.
He kept this diva and less than professional attitude towards the end of last year and would be hot and cold. He would ignore me at work, and then when my manager asks him if he would want to take part in a musical I curated, he readily said yes.
It was horrendous, I wanted his cooperation in the musical, the recording, the choreography but he would just grey-rock. He started making me feel like I was the problem. Maybe I was, but I really didn’t deserve all the attitude.
I would point out his mistakes at work, i.e leaving a spoilt medication cart for a whole shift and only making ONE phone call to fix it (my colleague and I had to constantly request for medications to be sent to us one-by one), and not wanting to do his changes for his shift.
By now, I realized my LO was a narc because he got blown up after I called him out and he proceeds to shout at me in my manager’s office. When I apologized and tried to rectify with him, he kept giving me less than savoury responses, long story short, he became super difficult to work with. I was crying in locker rooms/break rooms after almost every encounter I had with him.
I confided in my manager again about his lackadaisical attitude with his work, and for some weird and unprofessional reason, he got to know about it. It became another shouting match, already going into verbal abuse. He started calling me names, like “dog”, started shaming for seeking therapy to deal with feelings for him. Started blaming me for giving all those gifts to him. It was horrendous. I couldn’t just stand there and watch him rip my soul apart with his taunts, so I fought back. My manager kept telling me that she did not know what to do with my situation. I was at a loss. I was already so heartbroken because my love wasn’t reciprocated and to deal with something like that at a workplace was the nail on the coffin.
I confided in HR about this horrendous situation and they decided to send the both of us away from our original wards. Funny thing, he is still under my former manager, (lol they kept him), I finally realized my loyalty never meant anything to them.
I was sad, even crying to the directors and management, but now that I am in a new environment I’m kinda glad. I got to start afresh, and I don’t have mutual colleagues breaking me apart telling me that I should have never confessed to him or bought him gifts. My ex-colleagues were never good at being compassionate and understanding towards my situation and kept siding him.
I learnt so many things from this experience, and it is honestly to better to keep your personal life private especially in a professional setting. I was carried away, obsessed with the dude and telling a lot of people about him but it came biting me in the butt.
Here’s to living a purposeful life away from ex-narc LO and even if I’m limerent, I hope to fall for someone who’s worth it, not this asshole.
Thanks for this site Dr L!! I am usually someone who needs a lot of reassurance, reading this site, makes me feel tons better, and keeps me grounded.
Limerent Emeritus says
Welcome to LwL!
It sounds like you came to the right place.
The way the site’s set up, only the last 12 posts show on the main page. At the rate people are commenting on things ATM, it’s easy for comments to just drop off and get lost.
There are ways to track your comments. Maybe DrL can add one of those.
Sorry to hear about your experience. If you haven’t yet, check out
Those might help you validate your experience. That can be huge in getting past it.
I’ve been lurking for a while and reading several articles here which I think have been quite enlightening. I’ve suspected for some months now that I am prone to limerence and always have been. It is heartening to know that others can and do manage life with similar difficulties as I have. I am a middle-aged man but never married, no current SO, and close to giving up on the idea of ever having one.
In hindsight, my history with limerence goes back several decades to my first real crush. The kind that can both cripple your emotional state as well as set a clear idea of the kind of woman you seek out for the rest of your life. I was young and stupid so never plucked up the courage to disclose to LO#1 even when I knew she was single and suspected that she might have felt the same for me. My self-doubt got in the way. Eventually our paths diverged and we grew apart but it took me the better part of about 10 years to fully accept what never was. I may or may not have had a chance with her, either way I missed it and will regret it for the rest of my life.
Fast forward to today and after several attempts at online dating I’ve binned that whole concept as a waste of time and effort. My introverted personality type is not suited to that method of meeting potential romantic interests. In fact, I believe my personality type combined with my personal circumstances leaves me particularly prone to develop limerence. I live alone and have no family left in the country, and my social circle consists of a handful of very close friends, all of whom are married with kids. The introverted trait of an analytical mind combined with plenty of comfortable alone time means my mind has no barriers or distractions to prevent downward spirals into ruminations and fantasies. When not limerent I have used these times to delve deeply into the philosophy of Stoicism.
My philosophical journeys came to an abrupt halt recently (can’t concentrate anymore) when a new girl started work in my division. She is qualified in the exact same discipline as I am except she has very little experience where I am in some ways one of the office boffins and unofficially expected to pass down skills and knowledge to the younger team members. She seems eager to learn but instead of youthful exuberance she has a kind of tranquil confidence and soft-spoken manner that instantly reminded me of the last person I knew like this: my mother (who passed away some years ago). I barely know a thing about her other than her age and qualifications, and yet my fall into limerence has been very sudden and very strong. I am now aware of my limerence, however, unlike previously times and have been cautious about it so far. I don’t even know if she has an SO or not, although I think it likely given her looks.
There’s a few problems I can foresee for me in the near future. Avoidance or limiting contact is going to be difficult in our professional setting. So far she has also shown particular interest in me about a few things outside of work that we happened to chat about. Nothing overly personal but things that any reasonable person might consider noteworthy. Other colleagues might ask about them occasionally, whereas she will almost certainly ask about them. In hindsight it was my mistake for mentioning these things in the first place. Countering my limerence by focussing on her flaws is impossible because she has none. At least none that my bewitched senses can identify yet.
I think my only option for now is to constantly remind myself that she is young enough to be my daughter, probably already has an SO, and unlikely to be romantically interested in a mild-mannered, average-looking, middle-aged bookworm.
Hi StoicMustard, I love your alias. Clue is one of my favorite games and your name reminds me of Colonel Mustard. Welcome to our club!
“ Countering my limerence by focussing on her flaws is impossible because she has none.”
That is funny. My LO is perfect, too. Limerents are good at overlooking red flags.
I was eager to say, “What are you waiting for? Pursue her!” Until you mentioned that she is young enough to be your daughter. Oh nuts. This is going to be hard on you. Let’s see…
Speedwagon is experimenting with leaning into his relationships with other female friends to take the edge off of his limerence. Can you try that? Please remember that this girl did not cause the problem. Please don’t take it out in her.
Hi StoicMustard, welcome. Thanks for sharing your story.
As a long term romantic partner, her being 20+ years younger is probably a tough hurdle to overcome. You may have different goals in life and she may be uncomfortable with that age difference. But, don’t count her out as a possible good friend if you think you can handle a close friendship with this woman and if that is appropriate in your work atmosphere and roles.
My LO is 14 years younger than me and is my employee in a small office who I need to collaborate with almost daily. We are both married so insurmountable barrier. I have learned how to interact with her at the office and not have it be crushing on me because our interactions stay fairly routine, and I don’t dive into heavy personal matters with her. This has kept my LE somewhat stable. But I’m not past it by any means. I just manage it so I can function in life.
You might have the luxury of no barriers (other than age which may or may not be a barrier) so if you find a chemistry with this woman relationally you may want to explore it. It may not be romantic, but maybe it provides some closeness you seek. On the other hand, if the limerence consumes you by getting to know this person more personally and you can’t handle ‘just friendship’ maybe you need to practice keeping her at arms distance and only having a strict professional relationship with her.
There are a ton of blog articles here at LwL that cover a ton of situations so read up and keep checking in. Let us know how it goes.
“ Countering my limerence by focussing on her flaws is impossible because she has none.”
I know that feeling exactly. My LO was a co-worker (she since moved on) and quite younger than me as well. And she was (I swear she still is no matter what people say) a perfect angel. She was also single when I first met her, and I am married.
As Miss Lovisa warns that don’t take your frustrations with your limerence out on her. In hindsight, since she left, I can see that the issues in my marriage and drifting through mid-life had a lot to do with getting a glimmer for LO and getting attached the way that I did to her.
LO was a very friendly and sweet lady and was always understanding when we worked together. By how you describe your colleague she seems to have the disposition LO did and its easy to forget she just has a pleasant personality and see more than there is, making the limerence even worse or the start of the glimmer.
And as you mentioned with your colleague, LO is a very attractive woman. The kind that’s out of any man’s league if you ask me. And don’t we all like pretty gals?
Best of luck to you. And don’t be afraid to post more. I’ve been here about a month and the community here has been so helpful. And seems Miss Lovisa is here 24/7 lol She is always ready to help.
Sun Monster says
Hello everyone, I finally decided to delurk. Came here to discuss my work LO. We were good work friends, working in close proximity, for about nine months. She lives across the country, so no physical contact until early February, when we finally met in person. The chemistry was real, and we kept gravitating to each others’ presence during the three day seminar. I realized I was in deep trouble when she went back home and I started missing her. I didn’t say or do anything with my LO that I wouldn’t do in front of my wife; only contact was a hug, no flirting, no innuendo.
In fact, that weekend was hell. Couldn’t get her off my mind, no matter what I tried. Couldn’t wait for Monday, and I made up excuses to call her, IM her (at work), the whole rest of it. This pattern repeated for another weekend, and then I made an appointment with a CBT counselor. Counselor’s given me good advice, and then I found this website.
Both the LO and I are married. Don’t know much about her marriage (she doesn’t mention him a lot), but I know that I cherish my marriage (and I mention this a lot to the LO, who says she wants to meet my wife). The day I married my wife was easily the happiest day of my life, and eight years later, I love her even more than I did on our wedding day. Wife knows LO is a good work friend, not sure she knows I have a crush on her. She definitely knew something’s been bothering me, and I only describe it in vague terms. My wife is supportive of anything that helps me feel better.
The attraction seems to be mutual, LO told me she respected me, said I was brilliant, even said she admired me for keeping to a work/life balance. She remembers little details about my life – even remembered the name of my ex-wife, something I only mentioned once. A couple days ago, she asked me detailed questions about my weekend – did I go to that conditioning class I mentioned? How brutal was it? I think she truly cares about me. I tried to extricate myself from this conversation – I’m sure you have a meeting in 10 minutes, so I’ll let you go. No meeting, let’s keep chatting (and like a fool, I went along). I spoke to a female friend about the LO, who shared her version her own work crush, and this friend is telling me that my LO is really into me, which is good for my ego, and reassuring at a certain level, but also troubling at another level.
My resolve is that we only talk about work stuff, nothing personal. The first day I tried it (last week), she called me to talk about work, noticed I was in a bad mood (only two hours sleep the night before – guess what I was obsessing about), and asked about me. I snapped at her “it’s personal and I don’t want to talk about it”), and then immediately apologized for being a jerk. Sigh, small steps I guess. I’m doing OK keeping to this resolve, but it’s extremely difficult.
I want to go full NC, but that’s only doable at a very high price. My two options to go full NC seem to be either a) leave the company or b) request to be transferred to another project. My manager is very good to me, and just gave me the best performance review of my career, so leaving the company is not palatable. Option B has potential, but the boss just gave me this high profile project (with the LO) in early January, is expecting good things from me, and if I were to tell him I have to leave it for personal reasons, it would screw him over, and start God knows what sort of rumors, which neither the boss nor I need. Project will last until at least second quarter 2024. Yay.
In the past couple of days, some of the polish is coming off the LO, I’m starting to focus on her traits that I don’t like. (For example, her ambition exceeds her abilities, which in my mind makes her dangerous.) This is slow work, and I’m not expecting a solution anytime soon. But, I’m supposed to be at a work conference with her at the end of March (I might be able to get out of that one), they’re talking about an in-person team meeting in April, and finally another work meeting in mid-June.
Fellow limerencers with a work LO, how did you deal with this? What strategies work best?
Thanks for your advice and support.
Your story is quite familiar to me. I too was assigned to a project with LO at work. Previously we both worked in two different locations within the same company. I was assigned to help LO on a project for 4 months. I had no choice as I was the only other one in the company that could do what LO did to finish this project.
I fell hard and fast. LO was just a kind and sweet lady. She did nothing that I could tell to solicit the attention I gave her. I was just seeing more than what was there in her words and actions. Then the special treatment. I would bring coffee or breakfast to the office most mornings but it was always something LO expressed that she liked in conversation. So yeah I was doing it for her I was just smart enough to bring enough for everyone. I bought her a Christmas gift in 2021, the year that we worked together that 4 months.
Unlike your situation LO left the company in June of 2022. She decided to move on to another job. She was single when she first moved to that location from another department in the company. Around fall of 2021 she met the young man that she is wife now. She decided to take a new path in life and so she choose NC herself. I had no say in it.
Since June I have been successful in maintaining NC. I leave that to LO if she wants to contact me she knows how. In that time since she has only called me one time on the phone, when she was visiting the location she use to work at. It put me on a high for weeks after getting to talk to her for that 10-15 minutes. Though if I could have found the words I would have tried to make it last forever.
The one thing that helps me maintain NC with LO is that I know that she is happy with this man she is with. He seems to genuinely care about her and her daughters. LO had recently been divorced when I first met her in 2020. I have to put LO’s happiness first even if it causes me the pain that it is. There is a line in a song that has great perspective ….
“You’ll only know you love her when you let her go.”
Let Her Go — Passenger
But I totally understand where you are at now. I was there. The high of LO and your logic being mitigated by the limerence. It’s a difficult battle. All the rationalization of your words and actions. Pushing your logic to the back of your head saying that you can handle this balance. All the while completely oblivious to the fact that most people around you can see it. Possibly even your spouse as you said yours notice a change in you. As someone here says “your limerence bleeds out of you” and that’s why other people can observe a change in you all the while you think you are handling it fine because your limerent brain tells you that you are and you believe it.
You have a road to travel that I have not had to in the last 9 months. LO saw to that whether it was intentional or not. I have no idea what she saw in my words and actions. She never voiced any which way. But if the rest of the staff at that office could tell I had a crush on LO than I am sure she could too.
I am wishing you the best. And echo what Speedwagon said; feel free to post as much as you want. There are people here in all kinds of circumstances with their LO. And there are people that are willing to listen and help. This is a great place to find a listening ear.
Hi, and welcome, SunMonster. I see my LO (a consultant to my firm) only about once a month or two months at meetings. So that limited exposure helps. A few other strategies: NC (or LC to work issues only) outside meetings; choose a seat out of his sight-line or put my back to him in meetings; avoid eye contact – I even leave my glasses on sometimes, even though I am short sighted so only need them for reading – this makes people far from me blurry so I can’t even see him clearly; No initiating or prolonging conversation; keep conversation strictly to polite greetings and work matters if I can (we are both married so we need to be careful not to arouse suspicion by being rude); make sure others are seated next to me so he can’t; sometimes saying my mantras in my head during contact with him; ask others for help unless he is literally the only one who can help; changing the subject if conversation gets too personal. These are just some of the suggestions I have learned through this site and the Emergency Deprogramming Course (highly recommended!). Good luck! You’ll find a wealth of resources and a very supportive community here.
I’ve come independently to the same advice as you gave.
I got out of the end of the month in-person meeting, so that’s good. LO called on Friday looking for advice on how she can be more tactful with a problem co-worker. I gave her the advice and think I kept things professional, not personal.
She turns her camera on during work meetings, which I need to find a way to block. Unfortunately, her MS Teams picture shows up in all her emails, and that picture is so beautiful.
Trying to focus on her negatives, and it is helping a little.
Been going to other people for answers first instead of LO, and when we talk, I frequently say things like “I’m sure you have other things to do”; might be time to assert that I have other things to do. Found a mantra, sits on a post-it on my monitor: I have better things to do.
Hi Sun Monster, welcome! Sorry to hear of the turmoil a work LO has caused. If you have read my story at all in the Rescue Fantasy or New Years Purpose blog you will know that just a little over a year ago I became limerent for one of my employees. It struck very suddenly after working with this woman for over 3 years and it sent my life in a tailspin.
My situation was/is very tough because I could not escape this woman. I was not going to fire her because of my LE so I had to learn to coexist with her in the midst of limerence. For a great while I though the attraction was mutual, and things led eventually to me disclosing a couple months back. Turns out she was not attracted to me and had only felt close friendship.
Oddly, I am now in a bit of a limerent fade with her which is a relief.
Here is what I did to manage my LE in the midst of coexisting with LO.
First, I set a LC strategy. This basically included no personal interactions with LO other than required face to face work interactions at the office. I did not want to text, I did do any lunch outings alone, or take her on our if office work business alone. Over time our in office collaborations started to become routine and the reward of them felt less and less. I was able to handle the daily in office routine with her fairly well.
But, the pitfall for me was off hours texting. My LO had the tendency to text me personally from time to time, in the evening, on the weekend. This sent my limerent mind on overdrive. If I indulged in the texting, which became heavy in December with LO, the I would find myself in a euphoric/depressive rollercoaster. So now, after disclosure, I do not text with her. Basically texting is a bad LE trigger for me, I don’t handle it well so I eliminated it.
I also am in a very good marriage, and during LE I have increased my love and attention for my SO. It’s a weird thing to love and cherish your SO and yet be totally infatuated and have desire and love for another person at the same time. But improving my relationship with SO has been helpful too.
Last, I have developed a nice friendship with another woman at my office that is truly friendship and not limerence. This woman is more relationally compatible with me than LO and I have leaned into this friendship more in last couple months. This has helped a bit too…finding other people to invest in emotionally than LO.
As of now, I still try to keep to my LC routine with LO. My limerence is not gone, I still desire LO a great deal, but it is also not distressing to me much any more. For me, I try to control the narrative and not do anything where I expect any certain behavior out of LO. Limerence is really about the expectation of reciprocation to feed the hit of reward from LO. If I don’t set up any expectation then I can’t be let down. My office routine with LO is such that I don’t have expectation from her any longer and I can coexist with her without feeling high and then dropping to a low later. It’s fairly stable.
Hope this helps, it sounds like you are in a good position to make your normal day to day fairly mundane and routine with LO. You will just have to get through these face to face moments with her that pop up a couple times a year. And as always, it will take cooperation on LOs part not to pursue you. If you read the blog on NC you will see Dr L recommends a staged withdrawal and you sound like you are already taking that tactic. Good on you, keep it up.
Grammer correction…no lunch outings alone or out of office outings alone.
Sun Monster says
One very good thing is that my LO and I don’t contact each other off- hours. We have each other’s personal cell numbers, but we’ve never used them, and I’ve never been seriously tempted.
Like you, I’m struck by how weird it is that I love my wife so much, but am still limerent for someone else. Intellectually, the limerence would make sense if I were unhappy with my wife, but that’s just not the case.
Your story gives me hope, thanks for sharing.
For me texting was the devil. I would not enter that arena with LO if you can help it.
My LO would text me about once every couple weeks off work hours random things. A meme she liked, or a follow up to a personal conversation. I had never texted personally with another woman before, and it sent my mind in all kinds of directions about what it meant. Problem was, my LO is fairly poor at conversation, so texting with her was like texting with a teenager. I wanted to be conversational, she would text in short thoughts fragments. This pattern lasted for 6 months until December she upped her frequency and started getting more conversational in texts. In a 2 week period we texted everyday, sometimes lasting for hours. I was sure she was attracted to me and it felt like we were starting an EA and quite honestly it gave me a huge mood boost at the time. I wanted it.
Then she went hot/cold after xmas and I crashed big time. Some circumstances at the office led me to disclose and that is when she claimed it was all just friendship, no feelings of attraction.
Now 2 months later she is still very warm and attentive to me at the office. We have a good chemistry together, but I know not to go down that road of texting with her. I leave our relationship, which is mild friendship at best, at the office only. This works for me and my limerence seems to be fading some. I have not had a depressive low for a few good weeks now.
Hello everybody, in my case is not a coworker but my gym instructor. I am happily married although I have always had crushes but nothing serious, quite fleeting and with limits, without risks.
I came to know that I was experiencing limerence because I am absolutely obsessed with him, there is no moment of the day that I am not thinking about him. It was something unexpected, not that I liked him a little bit but this kind of obsession, in fact the first time I saw him I didn’t like him physically at all and now I find him super attractive.
The question here is that I think that several things are coming together on a chemical level, because my LO is my gym instructor, and it all started because I loved his classes (group activities), how he encouraged and how immediately he learned my name and told me things in class. I enjoy every moment I spend with him in class, expecting my reward in the form of ‘well done’ or ‘keep it up’, but now I’m nervous about class too. Every time I’m getting into more of his classes, and all I want is to know that he’s attracted to me, it’s not that I’m thinking of breaking up my marriage, because I don’t see him as a life partner either, but I want to be with him and I would spend my entire day in his classes sweating next to him, and since he is a gym instructor I can easily find him online without having to follow him, I spend the day looking at his gym photos on the Internet. I know the solution would be to stop going to his classes, but in my case it’s a double effort because I’m not only attracted to him, but I love his classes, and I’m very motivated with physical activity, which I love. It is not the first time that I feel a certain crush with a gym monitor, the previous case was because he showed interest in me but the thing stayed there, nothing happened, and for me were only a couple of fantasies, nothing to do with this obsession that It haunts me all day, it’s causing me stomach and even sleep problems… but at the same time I’m suffering from it I enjoy it, looking forward to Monday so I can see him and be in his class. Is anyone else that have had his LE with a gym monitor or something similar? I am convinced that there is something very chemical that is happening to me because when we exercise we release endorphins….
I feel that if this obsession decreased and became something more voluntary, it would be perfect, as a fun spark in my life, a healthy crush without further complications. Thank you if you read this and forgive my English, I’m Spanish…
And by the way my LO and my SO they Know eah other, they worked together, so yes, my husband is also a gym instructor but never felt attraction for that part of him. Any thoughts?
Save yourself the worst emotional pain you can experience. Change classes. Stop looking at the photos. No Contact.
Thank you for your response. I know that is the solution but honestly right now I am completely unable to not have contact with him, I can’t and I don’t want to. This started a week ago, I hope something will happen and I will get over this obsession.
Maria, I have just read your original post again. Several points leap out at me.
“I came to know that I was experiencing limerence because I am absolutely obsessed with him, there is no moment of the day that I am not thinking about him”
“….with this obsession that It haunts me all day, it’s causing me stomach and even sleep problems…”
“ I spend the day looking at his gym photos on the Internet“
In my opinion, these are “danger” signs. All of us limerents, in one way or another, start off with feelings of excitement and elation. That’s how limerence works. That’s how I started, three years ago. The pleasure was sublime at times but I was kidding myself and it has wrecked my emotional life. I am now picking up the pieces. We all have different stories and complications.
I know that all sounds rather severe. Others may have a gentler view. This site has some brilliant and insightful blogs written by Dr.L. Please spend time reading the ones which you feel are relevant to you.
Lovisa’s advice is sound. Whatever you decide to do, I wish you all the very best.
Hi Maria, bienvenidos! Forgive my Spanish, I lived in the Caribbean for a few years and didn’t learn as much Spanish as I should have. To quote what my 4-year-old daughter told her new class when we moved back to our home country, “El Espaniol de mi Mama es muy malo.” I will communicate with English since your English is so much better than my Spanish. You have come to the right place. You have limerence and it seems to be a big problem for you.
Frederico’s advice is spot on. If you can go no contact and stop looking at him online, you will probably recover sooner.
Here are some other things to think about.
When you think about your LO, you are training yourself to think about LO. The more you do it, the stronger the habit becomes. It’s important that you replace daydreams with something else. Can you visit this website instead of thinking about your LO?
I’m sorry, but if you can talk yourself into avoiding his classes, that is also important for you. It sounds like contact with LO is more than you can handle. Please consider taking classes from someone else.
Recovery will be challenging, but you are not alone. You will find a community of people on this website who want to support you and help you get through your struggles. You can offer support to us, too. We all need it.
And yes, we have had other people in our community who experience limerence for personal trainers. My current LO is somewhat of a running coach for me. I agree that pheromones could play a role because when LO3 and I hiked together, he smelled sooooooo good, but I didn’t recognize a specific scent, I just knew that his smell drew me closer to him.
Best of luck!
Thank you very much Lovisa for your reply and advice.
Right now I don’t have the strength to stop attending his classes, I feel it makes me happy. I am going to start trying what you tell me to avoid thinking about him 24/7 and focus on other aspects of my life that I was enjoying before.
I also feel that if I somehow knew he was attracted to me my limerence would decrease because I just want to like him nothing more, but that also leads me to look for encounters and situations to force that feeling. The other day I asked him for advice to strengthen my back and to build for me a routine with exercises, we were talking for a while, I remember starting awkwardly and feeling more comfortable as the conversation progressed which also leads me to think that maybe the more I deal with him the less will be the obsession…
Maria, it will be much worse if you discover that he has “feelings” for you, too. I understand that desire for reciprocation, it is a symptom of limerence. You are better off if you don’t know how he feels about you.
When you asked for advice, you were being alluring to him. Here is how that works. Men love to solve problems. Men love to be accepted. Men love to be appreciated. If you let him solve your problem and you express gratitude, you will meet some of his needs. He will associate you with positive feelings. I think this is one of the reasons Adam is so addicted to his LO. He felt significant in her life, which he was. Her kindness and gratitude felt amazing to him. It would be a good thing if Adam wasn’t stuck. I recommend that you read the comments on the New Year’s blog when you get a chance.
Please don’t dig yourself deeper into this hole. Just enjoy the contact you have. Be grateful for it. Don’t think about it when you aren’t with him. That is where the intrusive thoughts come from.
Please don’t seek reciprocation from him. It is a terrible idea! Also, don’t disclose your feelings to LO.
I understand why you aren’t ready to let go. It makes sense because you are getting some benefits from LO. I think you need to list your boundaries if you plan to continue seeing LO.
What standards do you and SO have for male/female friendships? Are you allowed to have male friends?
Do you know what an emotional affair is? Is that something your marriage can survive?
Are you okay with physical contact? How much?
Do you want to stay married to your SO? Are you willing to hurt all the people that would be devastated if you cheated on your husband?
You need to think about these things in advance because it’s too late to make decisions in a moment of passion. Your cognitive reasoning will be compromised.
Good luck! I’m cheering for you, Maria!
Lost in Space says
Thanks for sharing your story and reaching out here. I want to add my voice to the people advising you not to disclose your feelings to your LO. I did, and I learned that my LO had the same feelings for me. It felt wonderful for all of about 30 seconds, and then led to the crushing realization that nothing could ever come from these feelings because I’m committed to my SO, just like you seem to be. Ten minutes after mutual disclosure, I was heartbroken and crying. That was in December, and the last few months have been a roller coaster of emotions with some definite highs but many more bad feelings than good – constant anxiety when she hasn’t texted me back for a couple hours, deep depression during times when we’ve decided to go NC (including now), and lots of challenges to my morality and commitment to my marriage and my image of what kind of person I actually am.
If you were single, then absolutely tell him how you feel and maybe something great would come from it. But if you’re in a committed relationship, only 2 things can come from disclosing your feelings to him – either he rejects you and you feel terrible about the rejection, or he reciprocates and you end up in super dangerous and painful territory where the BEST case scenario is that only you and him get your hearts broken.
It’s also not fair to an LO to encourage them to develop feelings for someone who is ultimately unavailable. I feel absolutely terrible for the pain and heartache I’ve caused for my LO – I’ve basically done a lot of stuff to try and keep her feelings for me as strong as mine are for her, even though there’s no chance of us ever actually being together, and I know I’ve caused her a ton of heartbreak as well as myself, and since I really do care about her so much, I just hate the fact that I’ve caused all this hurt for her. Right now, your distressing feelings are yours alone – if you make your feelings clear to your LO, you might be inviting him into the distress zone as well, and if things go badly, your SO gets to share in the distress as well.
In my opinion, personal trainers or gym instructors are an especial danger because we are allowed to stare at them endlessly. Their job is also to look fit and good. Then, when everyone breaks a sweat – pheromones galore, and we get a natural high from exercise that we associate with them.
Thank you all for your replies and support.
Lovisa regarding the questions you asked me, there is no problem in my marriage in having friends of another sex, and I talk to him openly about my LO as he knows him and gives classes that he also gives, in another gym of the same chain, but of course my SO doesn’t know anything about my limerence.
I don’t want to break up my marriage, in fact we are looking to have a child, I don’t see myself in a couple with my LO at all, in fact I think I’m only attracted to him in the gym environment, I haven’t seen him outside the gym yet but I have the feeling that I’m not going to see him in the same way. I think I like the activity I do with him so much that I have associated this high with him.
Yesterday I attended one of his classes and a new feeling appeared towards him which was anger. Last thursday I had asked him for an exercise routine to strengthen my back which so far he doesn’t seem to have done which has annoyed me a bit, and yesterday I could see him as someone a bit more cocky…
What I liked the most about him is that he does everything with great grace, with a lot of style. I still feel that if I somehow knew that he was attracted to me even a little bit my obsession would decrease, I don’t know if he has a partner, I know he had one some time ago (since I’ve been ‘studying’ him a lot on social media).
What bothers me most about this situation is that I can’t get rid of these nerves in my stomach. I’m already looking for it much less on the Internet, paying more attention to what I don’t like and telling myself how absurd this situation is, but at the same time I’m afraid that everything will turn around and I’ll end up disliking him because I like the feeling of sparkle. I don’t want this desire to go to his classes and these previous nerves to disappear and being attracted to him, in fact, that’s how I started and it was great because that’s all it was, not intrusive thoughts all day or these nerves in my stomach, going back to that previous state is what I’m trying to do.
Today I had signed up for two of his classes but I had a dental appointment, for a moment I almost changed my appointment to continue attending his classes but I didn’t, it’s a good sign isn’t it?
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer me and to Dr L for these great resources that are helping me a lot!
“… I still feel that if I somehow knew that he was attracted to me even a little bit my obsession would decrease…”
Maria, this is a common symptom of limerence. You desire reciprocation from your LO. It doesn’t get better if you discover that your LO has feelings for you, it gets worse. I caution you against disclosing to your LO. Please read the articles about disclosure.
“ I don’t want this desire to go to his classes and these previous nerves to disappear and being attracted to him, in fact, that’s how I started and it was great because that’s all it was, not intrusive thoughts all day or these nerves in my stomach, going back to that previous state is what I’m trying to do.”
I see that you are trying to get back to a pleasant phase of limerence. It’s like a drug addict chasing the euphoria of the first high. I don’t think it’s possible. I understand why you want to do it, that desire makes sense, but I don’t think it will work.
Yes, it is a good sign that you chose to visit the dentist instead of seeing your LO. That was a step in the right direction.
Maria, Dr. L encourages us limerents to go no contact and live with purpose. I want you to keep those ideas in your thoughts. It sounds like you want to keep your marriage strong. I hope you remember your commitment to marriage as you navigate your LE. This is so hard, but you are strong. You can get through this.
Maria, I echo Lovisa.
When my LE became distressing to me I kept thinking that I just needed to know my LO felt the same then it would all be OK. In fact, even now, I still get caught up in feeling that way. It’s a limerent lie in your mind. Read enough stories here and you will see that mutual limerence seems almost more distressing than one sided limerence when barriers are present.
I would do what you can to lessen your contact with this trainer and start to live with purpose towards your SO whom you seem to value and cherish a life with.
Maria, I listened to a podcast today about a woman who had an affair with her trainer. I think it could be a good wake up call for you. I hope the link works. I am not tech-savvy.
Thanks Lovisa, I listened the podcast but I feel it is not the same situation but I found it very useful.
I am here again to tell you a little bit about how my LE is evolving and just in case my experience could help anybody.
I’m still quite obsessed, but a little more focused on myself, my work, my personal life…. My relationship with LO has been growing, but it all comes down to sports issues. The thing is, sometimes I feel like I get attention from him and sometimes I don’t, like he didn’t remember that I told him I had scoliosis, but then in another class he wasn’t teaching, he came in I don’t know what for and when he came out, we were at the time doing a plank, he tickled my leg.
Yesterday he told me that I had been doing great for days and that I should be proud. But there is no indication that he might be physically attracted to me, not that I gave him any clues that I am attracted to him either. Many of you advised me about not disclose my “feelings” towards him, I see very difficult that this could happen and I don’t even think about it, our relationship is merely sporty and scarce, we do not train alone, the activities are in group, there may be some comments at the exit of the class, I have asked him several times but about the activity or my health. It is strange at this point when we have talked more that I have not told him who my husband is, since they know each other, I feel that I should tell him as soon as possible and at the same time I do not want to close that door completely, I do not want him to treat me differently…although there is no special treatment actually, I think that maybe he can be more aware of me than of other participants or I feel that I get along with him more than others but that is also because I go to many of his classes and I usually stand in the front row right next to him. I really enjoy his classes and with the training, I have also managed to get into another class with a different instructor and I have also enjoyed it. Already just going to the gym even if I don’t go to my LO’s classes I like it because I feel like I can meet him, on friday I went to the gym, not to his class, but I happened to meet him there, and he said “look who we have over here”, and then I was still able to ask him some questions because I had doubts with an exercise (he was the one who did the exercise routine for me). I feel that I have a little more control over my thoughts, intrusive thoughts have been reduced and my stomach is getting better, but I still get nervous every time I go to see him, in fact the other day when I asked him to create my exercise routine for strenghing my back, I told him that I had many back problems not only because of my scoliosis but also because I was very nervous and he told me that I did not seem so, that I transmitted a calm aura but then when talking you could see that I was nervous, what he doesn’t know (I guess and hope) is that what makes me nervous is talking to him.
Yesterday we also met when I was leaving the club and he told me that I always seemed to be in a hurry, I see that he makes some appreciations about me which leads me to think that he is paying attention to me, I don’t know. I keep feeling that I only like him in that gym environment, I admire him a lot and sometimes I am able to see his unattractive part (which if I be honest this part is pretty big since he is not an objective attractive person). Well I don’t know if I’m fooling myself but I think I’m staying in control. Sometimes I find myself thinking about our talks and I interrupt the thoughts, I do not know if already by tiredness or what… but I think it could be a good sign.
If it helps anyone to have a lot of work and a busy social life it helps to keep your thoughts away from your LO, although I guess that’s pretty bad advice. I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful, as you can see I have very little experience in this LE thing and I feel also like a 15 years old girl…
“I think this is one of the reasons Adam is so addicted to his LO. He felt significant in her life, which he was. Her kindness and gratitude felt amazing to him.”
I wish I could feel that again. Ladies Miss Lovisa is right. If you have a man please tell him you appreciate him. Thank him. We do it all for you. And as this LE is proving to me personally if its not at home it will be elsewhere. Im not condoning my behavior. Theres no excuse. But there are reasons.
And yes it goes both ways. We need to show appreciate for what you do for us as well. Its not a one way street.
Every man has a hook. Mine; come home from work one day and see momma in a dress and high heels cooking dinner for the night. Just ask him what gets his goat. I think a lot of times things like limerence come around because of the absence in something in our existing relationships.
Also shorts, tank top and a sun hat are a good combo too. 🙂
Thanks for the tips, Adam! I am not a high-heal girl, but I think I can do the dinner and dress thing for my SO… you have me thinking.
By the way, us ladies need to feel like the work is done and we can relax. Women are always aware of unfinished chores. It’s so nice when they’re finished because then we can do fun stuff.
Lost in Space says
Today was supposed to be day 5 of NC but I didn’t make it – I had to see LO briefly to sign some papers and we ended up chatting at her desk for half an hour. In a public area at least (although I sort of wondered if any of her office mates noticed our chemistry or how much we obviously know about each others’ lives). But at least when she had messaged me about signing the papers, I successfully fought the urge to invite her to bring them to my private office like she used to. I definitely thought about it for a minute before thinking better and telling her I’d come to her in her shared office. I still don’t trust either of us to be alone together in my office.
And seeing her and talking with her felt really good of course, but then the second I walked out I felt the crushing emptiness of wanting her more and not knowing when I’ll get to see her and talk with her again. And a few minutes later I broke down and texted her “nice to see you today 😊”, hoping for a “nice to see you too” or better yet “I missed you”, but got nothing… nothing… finally half hour later she replied with a 😊 emoji with no words – well, that’s better than nothing… does she want to see me more? Does she want me to keep my distance? Does she still care about me? Does she love me as much as I love her? Damn these intrusive thoughts!
It’s never enough. Nothing I’m willing to actually do will ever be enough. I know this. As much as I enjoy every moment of contact with her, it always leaves me wanting so much more, with loads of anxiety and depression to follow. Why do I keep doing this?
Back to no contact tomorrow. Goal tomorrow will be to just make it through the day without contacting her. Next day, same goal. Next day, same goal…
But then I think to myself, she’s leaving in like a month and I’ll probably never get to see her again. Why not spend as much time with her as possible now, stockpile as many memories as I can? Oh yeah, because it’s morally wrong and it’s wrecking me emotionally.
Tomorrow, back to NC… and a much needed appointment with my therapist as well… and hopefully lots of quality time with SO…
I’m sorry you are struggling, Lost in Space. It must be so hard. I’m taking the tough love approach here because I think you need it. You are an endurance athlete, I know you can do hard things. You can endure this LE suffering without blowing up your life.
“ Does she want me to keep my distance?”
Yes, when she is thinking clearly, she wants to have distance from you.
“ Does she love me as much as I love her?”
Love is unselfish. What you two are doing is selfish. It feels like love, but I don’t think it is. I’m so sorry, I know that’s painful to hear.
“ Why do I keep doing this?”
Addiction. The good news is that you already have the skills to overcome addiction.
“ Why not spend as much time with her as possible now, stockpile as many memories as I can? Oh yeah, because it’s morally wrong and it’s wrecking me emotionally.”
One more reason is that you two are too tempted and might give in. I don’t want to see this escalate. When you are thinking clearly, you don’t want it to escalate either.
It’s not helpful to answer the other questions so I won’t. I can only imagine how hard this is for you, Lost in Space.
Here’s a song for you
“Never Enough” from the Greatest Showman.
I love your plan: no contact, visit the therapist and dive into your connection with SO. Yes! You got this!
“Damn these intrusive thoughts!”
Not only being physically ill the last six days the intrusive thoughts have been killing my ability to get any sleep. And just in general. And it’s taking it toll on my ability to do my job and function in general on so little sleep.
For the first time in a long time I had a real vivid dream of LO Monday morning before I woke up. We were all back at work together. I was working in her location and it felt really nice. We were talking and laughing together. It felt so real. Like this was actually happening. And then it was the end of the day and we were all getting ready to say our goodbyes until the next day and then LO turns to me to tell that she is moving away and her and her gentleman friend are going to start a life together somewhere else. And turned and left with him.
I woke up having a panic attack. I really wanted to call LO just to hear her voice. But even though I was home sick I found an excuse to call another co-worker asking her a work related question and nonchalantly asking if she had heard from LO, who was still where she is at and not moving. Shew!
Lost in Space says
Thank you Lovisa. I definitely need tough love rather than enabling right now. I appreciate you.
A couple of things you said stood out to me:
“Yes, when she is thinking clearly, she wants to have distance from you.”
I believe this is true. And when I’m thinking clearly, I want to distance myself from her (I’m just not thinking clearly very much of the time). It’s important for me to keep reminding myself that her desire to distance herself from me is NOT the same as her rejecting me. She is rejecting the situation, not rejecting me as a person. She’s made it explicitly clear that she has strong feelings for me (both emotional and sexual) but that she does not want to risk compromising her morals further, does not want to be complicit in hurting my wife and kids, and does not want to be stuck perpetually loving someone who is ultimately unavailable to give her what she needs and deserves. And I respect her for all of that! And reminding myself of that does make it somewhat less painful.
“Love is unselfish. What you two are doing is selfish. It feels like love, but I don’t think it is. I’m so sorry, I know that’s painful to hear.”
That’s something I’ve been struggling with a lot. I know for sure that my actions and feelings are selfish when it comes to my SO – this is all totally unfair to her. I struggle to decide for myself if I’m behaving selfishly toward LO or not. I think it’s a mix. I care about her immensely and want to make her happy so badly. When she says stuff like “when you smile at me, it’s like all the bad stuff in my life is lifted off me and it just makes me feel really good” or “I get teary eyed from how good you are to me”, that kind of stuff, especially knowing what a hard life she’s had and how little love she’s been given by the other people in her life, really really makes me want to keep trying to do stuff to make her happy and feel loved. I want to show her that she’s loved and convince her that she’s lovable and valuable (two things that she struggles to believe about herself). From this perspective, it doesn’t feel selfish. But I also know that I’m getting a lot out of all these interactions with her. Making her happy, and having her express that to me, is my drug. So maybe at the end of the day, even though my behavior toward her might seem selfless, it actually is selfish at the heart of it
I do think that in an alternate universe where we were both available to each other, we really could have a genuinely loving relationship that was not selfish at the core. But of course, we live in the real world, so everything has to be interpreted in the context of the fact that I’m married, so I just can’t legitimately be her source of romantic love and emotional support, nor can she by mine.
Thanks as always for pushing me to think harder about my motivations and feelings
Lost in Space, you are very welcome. I love that you are so open. I learn new things from you. You did a great job of processing your thoughts. Your thinking brain has this situation figured out and recognizes the best path forward. Unfortunately, your limerent brain is strong and often takes over. I think you have a tough road ahead. I am glad that you don’t have to make this journey alone. You have your therapist and the LwL community to encourage you forward.
Sun Monster says
I’ve spent a week enforcing LC with my LO co-worker. Discussed this with my counselor, and she offered this piece of advice for others who may be trying the same thing. Telling your LO that you don’t want to talk about yourself is intimate – you’re admitting the relationship is inappropriate and suggesting you have feelings for them. (My counselor is very concerned about potential fallout from the LO – is she going to complain to human resources when I withdraw? Could this damage my reputation and job trajectory?)
Worked on the LC and new boundaries. It worked OK, mostly because LO was caught into another crisis, which is keeping her very busy. She tried to engage on something personal – snarky comment about life in general in a Teams IM, but I didn’t reply. Gotta admit, when I saw that comment, the dopamine hit happened. “She’s thinking of me!” But I held firm and didn’t reply. Still bothersome that I could feel that emotional surge happening, and was thinking “Maybe I need to drop these boundaries and then everything will feel good again!” I know, I know, it’s like an alcoholic thinking one more beer won’t hurt.
As I struggle with LC, I’m busy looking at LO’s flaws, and one that’s come out is that her ambitions exceed her ability. I see two versions of her – the introverted, snarky one who’s decent and kind, and the ambitious one. The second one disturbs me; she wants to make it to the highest levels so “she can make all the decisions.” Personally, I find the overly ambitious troubling. They typically have no trouble stepping on others to ascend to their “rightful” place in the hierarchy. I’ve been one of those trod upon, and seen plenty of others get stepped on by they overly-ambitious. I’m not saying she’s one of these people, and I think there’s a genuine human being in there, but I worry that her ambitions will override that. She’s only 36, and I hope she can grow out of this, but ultimately that’s not my problem.
I say her ambitions exceed her ability because she’s just not very good dealing with people that she doesn’t like. She frequently cuts them off, even though they’re at her level. If they’re not useful to her at the moment, she’s not very interested in them as human beings at all. One of the things that’s been bugging me the whole time is what is she getting out of this? I’ve asked her this point blank, and I get that she respects and admires me, and feels like she can really talk honestly to me. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m just a convenient ego boost for her. When she feels down, just give me an IM or a call and I’ll lift her spirits. She’s married and has other friends. Why am I the ego booster? Shouldn’t they be doing that for her?
I’ve been discussing the LO with my wife. I haven’t disclosed the attraction. Wife already knew that LO was a close friend, and at one point I described her as a “work wife.” Been discussing LO’s negative aspects instead now, and how they’re driving me crazy. Fridays, I work from home, and had a call with the LO. Home office is down the hall from our bedroom. After call with LO, I went to chat with wife because I was frustrated and annoyed. Wife said “You were talking with [LO], weren’t you.” “Yes, how did you know?” “You had that exasperated, I just want to get this over with, tone in your voice”. I didn’t think I was that bad, but if my wife could hear the caution in my voice down the hall, I must have been blatant. On the other hand, the wife knows me and my moods better than anyone else.
Also spoke extensively to my supervisor about the LO. Not the attraction, of course, but that I’m concerned that she’s a little, well, sociopathic. Boss is the type to let people learn things on their own, rather than tell them, so he said he noticed the same behavior. If I ask him to take me off the project with LO only a couple months after joining, especially for personal reasons, it’ll blow back on all three of us (LO, me, and boss). To head off any upset LO repercussions, I explained to boss that I was close friends with LO, but I’m trying to put some distance between us, keeping things professional and not being personal with her. The boss’ advice was to “stay on the periphery” with the LO, others have noticed some of this behavior.
So the LO’s luster is fading, yet I can’t find it in me to hate her, and I still want to be her friend. Crazy, right? I know our host is saying it’s impossible, and his wisdom is slowly sinking in, but I still find myself missing the friendship. Oddly enough, this whole experience has brought me closer to my wife, so I’m opening up more to her, especially about my inner feelings. There was no EA; I never told the LO anything I hadn’t told the wife, but I’m being freer telling my wife what I’m thinking, which has been good for our marriage.