Oftentimes, limerence is unrequited. It may be that LO is not interested, it may be that one or other of you are unavailable. Regardless of the cause, with one sided limerence that isn’t resolved, a likely emotional assault that the limerent will face is seeing LO with a partner.
We could debate the niceties here – about whether the limerent “deserves” sympathy, whether the limerent should be seeking another partner of their own, or whether the limerent has themselves to blame for not taking more decisive action – but I’m not going to cover that. I’m going to take it for granted that the limerent understands the wider dynamics of the interaction, but is in serious emotional pain anyway. So, what can be done? How can anyone regulate the acute stab of despair when seeing their LO making kissy kissy with someone else?
As ever, analysing the background to the situation will probably help.
1) Limerence is life consuming
It’s a defining feature of limerence that it takes over your mind to such a large extent that it drives all other concerns into the background. It’s therefore kind of inevitable that seeing LO bonding with someone else, in the way that your subconscious limerent mind is desperate for you to, hurts like a bastard. Another aspect of limerence is the sense of special connection. It feels as though LO is just so much more important and impressive and desirable than anyone else, that there must be some sort of magic or chemistry behind it. The specialness of the connection seems to demand a pair-bond, a dyad, uniquely isolated from the rest of the world. To face abrupt and incontrovertible evidence that this is not the case – that LO has a different partner – is a shock. It can even cause symptoms like physiological shock, or a panic attack: rapid pulse, rapid breathing, dizziness, muscle weakness.
Again, the fact that this is a disproportionate reaction to seeing LO happy with someone else, doesn’t actually matter. You still have to sit down, slow your breathing and grin your rictus grin of politeness as you try to hide your unwarranted feelings of devastation.
2) The pain can be amplified by shame
Tied into this last point: most limerents understand, intellectually, that the severity of their emotional reaction is not proportionate to events. They know that LO is fully entitled to a happy and rich life without them in it, and with a partner that they desire. The embarrassment associated with this, of course, feeds the pain. Now, in addition to feeling like shit, you also feel ashamed of the fact that you feel like shit. A nice double-whammy. This is especially true if the limerent or LO are in a long-term relationship, and the limerent has been sort of mentally denying that and pretending that they are living in a bubble universe where reality doesn’t matter and consequences don’t happen. Being confronted by the evidence that the bubble is an illusion is going to trigger some psychological discomfort, for sure.
3) A source of pleasure has turned into a source of pain
Even if the limerent had no serious prospects for getting together with LO, while uncertainty could keep the fantasy alive there was still pleasure to be had from “what if”s. When interactions with LO felt like a thrill of connection, a secret bond, a promise that could be realised, then limerent fantasy and reverie could be a personal source of pleasure. That’s why limerence is like an addiction – daydreaming about LO is rewarding, gives a dopamine high and helps stabilise the limerent’s mood if they are feeling stressed or anxious. Your brain retreats to reverie when stressed, precisely because it’s learned an association with pleasure.
When confronted with the reality that the fantasy is unsustainable, your brain doesn’t suddenly stop trying to gain reward by the same route. And limerence, being what it is, means compulsive, intrusive thoughts about LO are going to push their way into your mind whether you want them or not. And now, there is a sting of pain to taint the previously giddy thoughts. The memory of seeing them happy with someone else. Now, the intrusive thoughts are toxic, rather than intoxicating.
4) What the psychologists say
While the intensity of feeling, and the inescapable nature of intrusive thoughts, add extra salt to the wound of unrequited limerence, the remedy is going to be much the same as all other forms of unrequited love. Any asymmetry of feeling causes pain. Anyone desperately hoping for reciprocation, but mugged by direct evidence that it isn’t coming, is going to go through the same emotional turmoil. So what can be done? Well, here’s a summary of some of the best suggestions I’ve found:
- Allow yourself to grieve – this pain is real, and the emotions are strong. You need to accept that, and not try to dismiss or deny it. Even if misdirected, feelings of love are not something to be ashamed of, and learning that your dreams are hopeless is a genuine loss.
- Remember that it is common – unrequited love is an almost inevitable part of being human. Everyone goes through it. It is part of growing into a fully rounded and emotionally-mature person to experience it.
- Accept and respect their choice – it is bad for you and disrespectful to them, to keep trying to kindle feelings that haven’t come naturally. You may hear stories of people worn down by a persistent suitor, but that is a really bad basis for a lasting relationship. Aspire to better.
- Get distance if you can – with LOs in particular, constant contact will make it harder to move on. Do not try and sustain the friendship. Try to cool the connection, while wishing LO well.
- Take a break from romance – don’t hurry into a rebound. It’s also good to ease up on films, books and music that exalt love and romance.
- Occupy yourself with positive things – it’s not just to distract your thoughts, it’s also a good way of giving yourself new, purposeful goals to pursue. A new source of reward to replace the (now broken, but always dubious) reward of LO fantasies. If you can channel your feelings into something creative, then you can even make some lasting value from the experience.
- See the experience as part of your personal development – the cliche is true, to an extent: it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. This bond didn’t work out, but you can learn from it, understand yourself better, and decide how you will act next time an LO appears. It may be worth taking some time to explore whether you consistently become limerent for people who are unavailable. It may be that you can come out of the latest limerent experience much wiser.
Collectively, these tactics all point towards a strategy of self-care. Focus on finding positive, substantial, goals to pursue. It’s easier to leave false promise of happiness behind, if you have the prospect of true happiness ahead. Unrequited love is one of those life experiences that you just have to weather. The only way past it is through it. Keep taking steps forward, purposefully.
Great stuff as usual Dr L. Do you think this “popping of the bubble” hastens the end of an LE? Like having a bucket of cold water poured over you, it wakes the Limerent up and allows them a quicker exit from the LE than they may have had otherwise?
I think it could help with the rumination – in that the daydreaming becomes unpleasant. Whether it hastens the LE overall is less obvious. It certainly could help if the limerent is already “on the turn”, but for people in the thick of limerence it may just add to the barrier/uncertainty fuel. And people who get limerent for unattainable LOs may be in even worse trouble…
I agree with Dr. L.
I think the effect of seeing the person you are limerent for with someone else depends on where you are in the experience and whether there has been disclosure or not. It happened to me, before disclosure, and was a big bucket of cold water indeed. Really – if someone shows me they are not interested in me, it is relatively easy to let go.
So, I *thought* my limerence had gone away, until an I’m-totally-over-this-let’s-go-for-beer led to mutual disclosure. This was over two months ago and as Dr. L has pointed out previously, only added fuel to the fire. I’d therefore draw a distinction between unrequited limerence (which I’d call a “disinterested LO”) and unconsummated limerence (in which there’s plenty of mutual interest, but barriers exist). The latter is the cause of much more suffering.
@catcity13 – I am completely on board with your differentiation between unrequited and unconsummated limerence. I won’t say which one is worse as an overall rule, but for me it too was the unconsummated version. Though there was a period of “unconsummated but uncertain of the future” limerence that was super-euphoric, unlike anything I’ve ever felt. Then came the crash into “unconsummated” limerence that was also unlike anything I’ve ever felt. If I’ve learned anything, it is to recognize limerence in the early stages and address it before it becomes unrequited let alone unconsummated. This is hopefully my first and last time. I am still limerent, though less so after a (VERY) difficult but necessary recent 3 month NC period that ended after LO told me she’s coming back to work part-time for a few months. I know that I am still vulnerable.
Sebastian Howard says
I don’t think it’s really fair to say that unconsummated is worse than unrequited limerance because the thing is with unrequited limerence, even if you disclose the person can still be ambiguous and not give you a response so you’re stuck not knowing for forever if they’re into you or not until you finally do. It’s the whole pet limerent thing Dr l talks about. I think you could argue that it’s actually easier to get over limerance where the persons interested because you probably don’t have as much self doubt about yourself or the situation.
Wonderful and therapeutic post Dr. L!
I remember when LO showed up at a public event with someone he had mentioned in passing as merely a slightly annoying friend….they sat together and were obviously ‘together’. How could I not know? It seemed we confided in each other about everything! I had to escape and ran to the restroom and I literally felt like my head was spinning, I might faint, my heart was racing and I felt feverish. It was so bizarre! I had to compose myself and act poised and calm and pleasant as I left the restroom, once again burying those intense feelings and thoughts which have and has become a way of life. I look forward to the book finally closing on this LE, like all previous ones have finally done. I think I am heading toward the final chapter, but when my thinking is clear, how I would love for it to hasten!
Great article. I’ve been dealing with limerence for 3 months now. She kept texting me after she broke up which perpetuated my limerence to the point that I found myself in a depression again. However, about a week ago I found out she had rebounded with a guy she didn’t even really like (it was short lived). In my case this news gave me a sense of relief, and it dampened my limerence quite a bit. I guess I was lucky because I don’t know how I would’ve reacted if I’d seen her make out with that guy. We haven’t texted for two weeks now, and I don’t think she’ll text me again. For the first time I have decided to truly go NC, and try to work on myself again.
Dr L – do you have an article about how long it takes for the neuro-chemical effects of limerence to recede? As you may recall, hubby and I are separated, and he left quite suddenly after an emotional affair… he has cut all contact with her a few mths back and says he doesn’t feel the pull towards her as much as he used to (not ‘not at all’ – just less it seems)… we are having counselling and spending time together as a family, even went out on a date, which was great and ended in kissing… but it seems that he still has this mental or emotional block towards me which I think is based on his feelings (fantasy) towards her… I think his brain chemistry is still being affected and, well, you can’t feel
that way about two people at the same time so I am running a poor second no matter how good the time we spend together is… I am trying to just ride it out to a time where it has subsided enough that he maybe sees our relationship and al of its positives clearly again- but we are 7 mths into separation… he hasn’t seen her since March, and has only written to her solidly til May (when we separated)… since then he has only really written to her (according to him) to say that we have separated, that he crossed boundaries and can’t have anymore contact…. how could the pull be still be there and when might it really die off?? And will it ever really die off without consummation- or will it always be a torch he holds for her and the fantasy of a life with her? Please point me in the right direction if there is something available on this…
What are you discussing in your counseling sessions. Often, what’s discussed only partially relates to what’s causing the problem.
If you can find it, I recommend, “EMOTION IN ROMANTIC PARTNERS:
INTIMACY FOUND, INTIMACY LOST, INTIMACY RECLAIMED” by Dr. Marion Solomon. Even if the specifics don’t relate, the process might. It’s really good.
Best of Luck!
Thanks – will check out that recommendation… on counselling we focus a lot on the positives of the relationship and moving forward… we reflect on things that we each individually added that weren’t helpful – ie defensiveness, criticism, stonewalling etc… we also talk a lot about new strategies to communicate and resolve conflict…
He’s treating you disrespectfully. I would suggest you see an attorney to discuss your legal responsibilities and rights as a separated spouse and disentangle yourself financially. If he wants to be with you, then he needs to make it clear. It sounds as though he’s using you as a source of ego-strokes (I crossed a boundary but she still wants me – so why should I change?).
Anecdotally, it took Mr. Lee a few months to mostly clear Miss LO out of his head after she left. She occasionally pops up, mostly indirectly. He didn’t let himself cross any big boundaries, but he did recognize that she was in his head more than she should be. 18 – 36 months is often mentioned.
If he isn’t living with you then odds are good he is dating others. I hope you have been tested for STI’s already and are scheduled to get retested. Trust, but verify.
You don’t write to someone to tell them you are done with them. You delete their contact info, block them and go about living your life.
“You don’t write to someone to tell them you are done with them. You delete their contact info, block them and go about living your life.”
So so true, Lee! I couldn’t agree more, even if this is hard to accomplish when one has a penchant for the dramatic (as I do). But what to do if LO requests that you NOT block them in case SO somehow finds the Blocked list on my phone (she does have a point there), and she PROMISES never to call or text you again? I know! Change her ring/text tone to one you don’t use for anyone else. Seriously, even seeing her name in your Blocked list will remind you, someday, right? Or worse, tip off your SO. And we don’t want that. No loose ends. That’s my motto.
I’m thinking Dr. L’s guide should include something on all the Little Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW to Forget Your LO Forever:
– Throw away ANYthing that reminds you of them (books, photos, etc.); if it was something you borrowed from them, return it (with no comment)
– Delete ALL old emails and text/voice messages
– Do NOT follow them on ANY social media and delete all the browser history that shows you ever did
– Delete any Spotify playlists
And there’s probably plenty more. Just making my own New Year’s resolution list here this morning… 🙂
Happy New Year to one and all! May I join the chorus of those expressing gratitude to Dr. L for this blog and for all the folks who contribute their comments. Thank you!
“But what to do if LO requests that you NOT block them in case SO somehow finds the Blocked list on my phone (she does have a point there), and she PROMISES never to call or text you again?”
Delete the name attached to the number. Don’t worry about whether or not your SO find the blocked list until it happens. Tell SO the truth. You don’t want to hear from this person again.
Why presume that LO’s motives are pure in nature, rather than seeking a way to triangulate your relationship with SO (and weaken it)?
“…he has only really written to her (according to him) to say that we have separated”
Why would he tell her that? It’s none of her business UNLESS one or both were looking to pursue a relationship. Is the therapist holding him accountable for his actions? Are the sessions traumatizing you? Do no harm includes not blaming you for anyone else lying, sneaking or cheating. Also they don’t dispense hearts, brains or courage. People enter therapy with it or they don’t. I hope you find it empowering and not more opportunities to be told how you fall short. Only idiots think marriage is going to be a totally satisfying experience at all times.
So if someone is expecting it and are placing blame for not having it, that person isn’t right for the other party. It may be immaturity, or something else, but no one can be perfect all the time.
Watch his walk. Also, model the behavior you want your kid to exhibit in the future.
I don’t have a specific post on that topic, I’m afraid. The general view is that limerence typically lasts for around 3 to 24 months – but that obscures a lot of detail. Probably that is the typical window for the “limerence euphoria” phase that would be characterised by the neurochemical processes driving reward-seeking, but every limerent will differ in how long and how intense the total span of limerent feeling is going to be. Some people report limerence lasting over decades – but almost always unrequited.
From what you’ve said about the situation there is a lot that doesn’t seem to make obvious sense. Why would your husband need to write to LO to announce no contact? Why would he choose to leave you and then choose to go no contact with LO? The sceptical part of me wonders how honest he is being – could LO have cut him off? Are you the back up if his overtures to LO fail?
Scepticism aside, the best approach I can think of for waiting out his emotional dithering is to focus on yourself. How long are you willing to hang around waiting and hoping he will “snap out of it” for? What do you want in a marriage? Are there any other options for your future life that are appealing to you?
It’s always good to be in a position in life where you have a goal of your own to work towards, rather than placing your fate in the precarious hands of a non-committal spouse. I know this probably sounds quite downbeat, but the main point is to recognise that you have just as much right to be deciding who you want to be with, and what you want your life to be like, as he does. It seems he is taking time over this, and taking your forbearance for granted. I hope the counselling sessions are also helping you make good decisions about whether the marriage is working for you.
It may be that he is going through a personal crisis and will come out of it recognising your value, and wanting to return to you and your daughter. Alternatively, he may not recover from this bout of apparently abnormal selfishness. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that there is a clear cut answer that can be gleaned from the neuroscience of limerence…
ps. I haven’t forgotten your good suggestion about a “how to reach your limerent spouse” post. I’m working on it with my wife.
Thanks Dr L… I know what you are saying is right, and especially at this time of the year one questions the last year and tries to decide what the next will look like!
He wrote to the LO to tell her no contact as he wanted to ‘draw a line under it’ and I think prove to me that he was not pursuing her… even tho he was meant to have blocked her (as part of counselling) – he was still responding when she wrote to him at that stage and I blew a fuse over it… I think in some ways he was also trying to show that breaking up the marriage was not because of her but more to do with how he felt about us (which he had never mentioned before he met her – as per your blog on re-writing history)… the other suspicion I have is that he hasn’t discontinued contact with her- altho he has stated several times in counselling that he has not had contact for several months… I really feel like he is in a state of vacillation – he likes spending time with me and knowing I am there for him as his friend (although I told him very clearly in our last counselling session that if he does not want to work on the relationship that friendship will end so I can move on)… but doesn’t feel like he wants to be with me either… doesn’t feel ‘in love’ with me… I am reading ‘surviving an affair’ by Willard Harley (viewing his as an emotional affair as he met her for only a week in person & then it was all writing to each other online)… it seems to hit home with this confusion the wayward spouse feels between wanting things to continue with affair partner as they seem like soulmates vs not wanting to lose everything built in the marriage… not sure how long I will hold out hope- hard to say… on days that I feel I need to, my daughter says something about wanting daddy to come home and I remember that it’s not al about me…
“even tho he was meant to have blocked her (as part of counselling) – he was still responding when she wrote to him at that stage and I blew a fuse over it…”
Oh dear. So he’s reacting rather than thinking for himself and making the choice to end it with her.
“he likes spending time with me and knowing I am there for him as his friend (although I told him very clearly in our last counselling session that if he does not want to work on the relationship that friendship will end so I can move on)… but doesn’t feel like he wants to be with me either… doesn’t feel ‘in love’ with me…”
Of course he likes it – you are there for him and putting YOUR needs and desires a distant second. Good Spouse Appliance! Of course he likes that you are effectively saying he is SO important that you give him plenty (time, attention, fidelity, whatever) without him reciprocating.
“on days that I feel I need to, my daughter says something about wanting daddy to come home and I remember that it’s not all about me…”
It’s your life and it’s not all about her either. She needs a sane parent, one with boundaries and self-respect. Permitting him to use you (yes, you are doing so) is a terrible example to her. Plus he says he “doesn’t know if he loves you”. Well, is that what you want her to agree to in the future? For someone to marry her, then waffle when things are hard?
I suggest you also go read http://www.chumplady.com
You deserve better than he is giving. He’s doing a lot of taking and counting on you to continue to play “The Giving Tree”. Take a closer look at that book. It’s sick.
Have you consulted an attorney and set up a separation agreement? One that addresses the needs of your daughter? His financial and legal obligations? You need to look out for your financial and legal health too. He may LOOK like the man you married, but if he were married to your best friend and treating her this shabbily – would you be infuriated? Protective? Desperately want her to recognize her value and stop selling herself short?
May 2019 be a brighter year for you and your daughter.
I’m not as pessimistic as Lee. It could be worth waiting, but it’s much healthier psychologically if that’s an informed, active decision on your part, rather than a passive “hoping he’ll come back” limbo.
I also empathise about your daughter. It’s very hard when they are at an age to not properly understand what’s going on, but also old enough to be absorbing all the role-modelling going on. That’s why you being thoughtful about your own needs, and purposeful in your actions, is also good for her.
If you’ll forgive one last jab at your husband – it’s good that one of her parents is focussed on her pain…
Here’s to 2019 being better than 2018!
Thanks Lee and Dr L… Lee , we are no longer intimate, so H is not using me in that way.., we have boundaries in that sense… wraps have a parenting arrangement where he has care of our daughter 5 nights each fortnight… he is very diligent with this and is a good dad- separation aside… I take your point about role modelling, but I am a strong independent woman and she sees that… I work and have a good career that allows me to afford our home and holidays etc, and both my daughter and I engage in healthy pursuits such as tennis coaching, swimming coaching and dance… I haven’t lawyered up as I do not want to push things down an acrimonious path that would make reconciling harder than it already is… my daughter’s heart is broken by the split and it it a major reason that I keep going- this isn’t at all how my hubby and I ever thought we would be raising our daughter- bounced between homes… so I still have hope that this limerence will wear off and he will remember the good in our marriage and relationship, but if not, we have become self sufficient and can manage ok on our own too… thanks again for the great articles Dr L- again would be good to have an article I could point hubby to to give him some insight into the limerent mind… the one on what to do if you are married and limerent for another is great I think, but with the content about marital issues (and I know there were some, no relationship is perfect), his limerent fog at the moment tells him that our relationship was all bad so I think sending him that is a risk… it may just cement that his decision is the best at the mo…
“I take your point about role modelling, but I am a strong independent woman and she sees that… I work and have a good career that allows me to afford our home and holidays etc, and both my daughter and I engage in healthy pursuits such as tennis coaching, swimming coaching and dance…
“I haven’t lawyered up as I do not want to push things down an acrimonious path that would make reconciling harder than it already is…”
Please consider seeking an attorney anyway because there are things you may not be aware of to protect your assets and your daughter. Even if you don’t set up a separation agreement, you will be aware of your rights and how to minimize the risk of anything blowing up your lives even further if he opts out.
I’m all of those things and I outearn Mr. Lee considerably, plus I had the good sense to actually fund my 401K – if we had divorced I might have handed over 60% of my money to him. Despite his complete lack of planning for his own retirement – he was convinced he would be dead long before reaching retirement age so why bother saving and planning – clearly he didn’t think that if he should die I may have needed some help in my old age. Ironically, he’s depending on my savings to take care of us both.
My point is that you don’t have to discuss anything you discuss with or learn from an attorney with him. But you may be surprised at what you should think about in the event that he files.
Being separated for one year is kind of the “magic number” for filing in many jurisdictions. His moving out and finding his own place may mean he’s going through the motions (image management) in therapy but has an agenda. Don’t be caught unprepared.
I do hope that none of that is necessary in 2019 – but it’s smart to think about it beforehand.
“have a parenting arrangement where he has care of our daughter 5 nights each fortnight… he is very diligent with this and is a good dad- separation aside”
That is what he is supposed to do. Don’t give him bonus points for doing what he is supposed to do in order to be a decent parent. Plus that doesn’t sound equitable. Unless he is paying you money towards her child support. 14-5 = 9
Does he also take her to her usually scheduled activities? Show up for events (recitals, for example)? If there are appointments does he take time off and get her there? Pay?
Don’t sell yourself short and that includes shouldering more of his load because he moved out. That isn’t how this works to put a marriage back together. He should be doing a great deal to make your life easier. You sound like a grass widow.
I’m glad you are living purposefully. Happy 2019.
Okay – so this came from another site with a different slant BUT I have taken the liberty of editing it slightly.
Does this sound about right?
The root of these comparisons is the the cycle characteristic of limerence relationships. They overvalue people (lovebombing, creating the illusion that this is the greatest ever).
They can’t continue to do this unless they convince themselves that you (SO) are no longer “special.” So the first two phases of the cycle are based in an illusion — creating a fake reality through lovebombing and overvaluation (LO), and then devaluing who had been overvalued or fake valued -– in the first place (SO) . Once the devaluation is underway, they feel justified in downgrading the SO and dumping the relationship duties on you. I think many stay in the devaluation phase for a long time -– finding fault, grinding the partner down, isolating that person and thus keeping the “spouse appliance” in place (and spinning in circles trying to figure out what is wrong, worried about the limerent, taking on more and more of the daily grind) while the limerent is otherwise occupied.
So relieved to find this website!! The insightful articles and raw comments are extremely helpful !!
I have felt so confused, upset at myself, and embarrassed over my extreme limerence behaviors for a man I hired to help me around the house. I have had workmen and relationships when I worked with many men before, but never have had feelings like this or been on such an emotional roller coaster ride. I am happily marred for the most part ( 30 years) and have never cheated or even kissed another man. I am attractive and men do flirt with me and I like to flirt as well, but always have kept it friendly and fun. I enjoy the bantering. In all my years of marriage when someone flirts with me, I take it as a compliment and am flattered, but those feelings of flattery and crushing end quickly. Then this married, younger man (10 years difference) came along and I am not sure what triggered all of this craziness, but it blind-sided me and now this person is on my brain 24/7. I have become obsessed with finding out more about him: (stalking social media; he has none- so his relatives pages and even taking screen shots and made a secret folder), ordering an online report about him that told me a ton, driving past his home once to see what it was like, and finding opportunities to ask him pretty personal questions that he often surprisingly answers.
All of this gives me a “high” and it is like getting a huge rush of some sorts; being a detective and putting pieces of a puzzle together as I try and learn more about him. I am not sure if all of this happened because “he” become a “challenge to me” or if I was drawn in to an “opposite attraction lure,” filled with curiosity about understanding his personality, complex upbringing, different background from mine, or his varied interest. Or was it his quiet manner and at times somewhat sarcastic, playful joking demeanor and times even a little rude ? Or just the opposite; and his willingness to be so helpful, or the way he slowly opened up that created these feelings. Maybe it was the way I could make him laugh through his tough guy exterior.
But along with the attraction, I also felt so annoyed that I was drawn to and now obsessed over this grown man that still acted like a teenager at times. He loves old punk rock and obscure bands, extreme snowboarding, vaping, playing soccer and watching it frequently, and taking off into the wilderness alone in his camper. His wife of 20 years is the successful bread winner and does well. In some ways we are similar in that neither of us has had an actual steady career for many years as we were the homemkers and our spouses made enough that we enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle .
He was the stay at home dad for many years and took great pride in that role and did not care about what others thought. But now that their daughter is in high school he is starting his own company for the first time and very motivated to build a business.
I actually started to “feel for his wife” and wondered what she was like and how it was like living with him. Then, I saw them out once and she looked so grumpy and exhausted. I wondered about how happy they really were together. I thought that might help diminish my feelings for him, but to no avail!! Then, before the holidays, he confided in me that they are now separated and getting a divorced. He even bought a house in a different suburb. I personally think he had an affair and can even guess who with, but can’t say for sure he actually did.
I wasn’t surprised, but now I am in limerence over what happened, and if it was her or him. Of cours, none of this should matter to me and it is not my business to know. I also have confused inner feelings about all the flirting and sharing we do now that he is an “available man.” You would think that would be the opposite for me- but it seemed safer when I thought he was married. Also, my husband thinks he is still a married man, as well. My husband has never asked me much about him and has only met him a few times over the last 5 months.
When I try to break it down as to why or how this state of limerence happened to me I am at a loss!! I guess part of me is actually attracted to his looks, although not my type completely. He is tall, dark haired, and sort of handsome, but often looks like he could do a cameo in a “Prison Break” movie when he lets his facial hair grow out and he shows up in a stocking cap, dark glasses… and yes, a few shoulder tattoos. Or, am I attracted to his extremely kind manner about helping me and others and the fact he never says “no” about doing things for me. He even remembers little things I have talked about or have wanted fixed. It is “emotionally bonding” to step back and see the transformations we have made around the house and yard and that feels “exciting” to me as well.
He came into my life at a time when I was really “stuck” and was lost with who I was and wanted to focus on going forward… the stay at home mom and now an empty nester.
It all started when I hired him to replace a few things and try and take control over how I had let the house go downward. The next things I knew he told me he could help me with so much more around the house and yard and would help me get rid of all the stuff and clutter! He challenged me to be a better person and showed interest and talked about all of that. Soon I was doing things that I couldn’t do before on my own…. but much of it was to “impress him,” so he would think bettter of me, which I know is so unhealthy. On the other hand I was so proud of myself for overcoming so many hurdles. Of course, all of that came with such torment and I felt drained after each time he had been here. I know he knows; “ I like him” and “really appreciate him”… but I have not shared anything else with him. If my husband knew any of this he would be so shocked, embarrassed, and hurt by my thoughts and goofy ways I behave when he is here at the house and when we work together fixing things. My husband is not aware of any of my feelings or the fact that sometimes when he is here we sit and have “lunch time ” or go in his truck to purchase items for projects, go on a dump runs, or even to a restaurant to enjoy a meal along the way.
But, my husband has noticed all the big changes and improvements around the house and yard. He has been encouraging to me about all of that. He notices that I am happier and taking more pride in the house and in my appearance and in working out. Also, whether it is from guilt, sexual tension, or something else — I have become a “better partner.” Now cooking more meals, doing nice things for him, really showing genuine appreciation, not nagging, happier, looking good all of the time, and we have better sex and flirting now just like we used to have. So our relationship has actually improved in part. Which I believe has kept me from not doing something stupid.
So, I am so lost, completely consumed, feeling guilty, and confused about all of this. I keep asking myself, are these intense feelings and attraction actually for this man, or the need for a companion that is not just a girlfriend, or from old scars of rejection and therefor a need from him to validated that he maybe likes me and finds me attractive? He doesn’t outright flirt in blatant or sexual way, but there is lots of fun teasing and sometimes awkward behaviors that come across as silly on both of are parts. Often, when we are having interactions that have some tension I start to feel overwhelmed and I literally can’t breathe. So I distract myself. Go run errands while he is here or walk the dog, etc…but get out of the house or make up excuses to leave.
Am I trapped in an almost OCD limerence over just this whole “situation itself” and using it as a distraction to avoid feelings and parts of my life that I don’t want to deal with?
I know I could easily let this relationship go and don’t have to keep hiring him. Give myself time to processes and heal from all of this. But a huge part of me wants more and wants to keep seeing where all this goes. Yet all the while I am hating and enjoying the highs and lows knowing this is so unhealthy for my overall well being, my marriage, and my life.
Another conflicted part of me likes the fact that he is really good at his job, he has helped me in so many ways, and there is so much more to do!! He keeps me feeling motivated, accomplished, and unstuck!! I worry I will go back to the old me if he is gone. My husband is gone a lot with work, does not really care about fixing up the house. has a lot of activities with his friends ( lots of golf, hunting, and drinking and watching sports). I do have a lot of friends and many activities as well, but I often feel emotionally void and our two sons are busy with their lives adult lives now.
And then there is the last and probably really important aspect for me emotionallly that doesn’t want to LET GO of this “new fun person” in my life and deal with another “loss” that feels painful and heartbreaking.
I have had many close friends and family die in my life and I carry a lot of baggage there.
Someone mentioned in one article about their therapist asking them to think about, “What if the LO reciprocated in a very direct way and wanted a real relationship ?”
“Would you want to change the life you have at home and with your family and kids?” My answer would be, NO. That thought is overwhelming!! But another answer would be, YES, to the thought of actually kissing him and seeing what would happen as far as feelings for him afterwards. Actually sleep with him… have sex? I don’t think he would ever initiate that and it would be up to me…. but I feel like we could go there? I would like to think I have some morals and self discipline! I keep hoping that chance has passed and that the relationship is changing now that he is divorcing his wife and does not live close by. Not sure I could live with a big secret and the guilt or take a chance of hurting my husband or embarrassing my kids, etc… and much much more !
And of course it would change the dynamics and relationship that we have now. Taking a risk would either end all this by his rejection to me or his willingness, but then dealing with a complicated and uncomfortable situation. Or, take the big leap and chance once and see what happens? Would it leave me wanting more? and if he actually was was willing as well to continue … then what?
That scares me the more sometimes than the fear of rejection or horrible shame, shock, and damage I would bring to my family and myself.
Sometimes I wish I had the chance to spend more time with him in “his world.” The fantasy seems so dreamy! Then suddenly, when I really think logically about it, I have a “wake up call moment” and “reality check” and know in my heart and honestly there probably would NOT be the same attraction and sexual and emotional connections that I feel for him now in the safety of my secret world with him if we were in the real outside world and day to day life. I know in my heart and head that there could never be a really “healthy” and lasting relationship for me in the end!
What has been so hard is not being able to talk to anyone about these feelings, overwhelming thoughts, and bizarre “stalking” types of behaviors…. that are not me at all! I don’t feel like I can even share any of this!! Even with my closest girlfriends, mom, or sister. Which also should be a wake up call to me, since usually I am a very open person.
Not sure if I will post this, but just writing this is helping knowing that other people have experienced the same thing and came to this site for help and shared their situation and feelings. Thank you for allowing me to confide!
Welcome to the blog! And thank you for deciding to hit “post” and share your story. There are lots of people here who will understand what you are going through. It’s a major cause of “cognitive dissonance” to find your feelings and desires at odds with your intelligent mind telling you it’s all mad and inappropriate. I thought this:
was a brilliant summary of what limerence is like. “I know this is unhealthy, so why do the highs make me feel more energetic and excited and motivated than I have in years?!” There’s lots on the site about this – from a neuroscience perspective mainly. Hopefully some of it is enlightening.
The hope I felt after reading your story is your desire to hang on to the positive changes in yourself that you’ve experienced – and try to direct them into a new source of excitement and motivation. I talk a lot about “purposeful living” as the best silver lining I’ve discovered from the limerence experience. It can make you much more aware of how your choices and behaviour affect your life, and make you resolve to choose carefully and in a way that leads you to a lasting, better, and more meaningful life.
Thank you so much for your time and for responding!! A huge sense of relief came over me when I saw that!
I have spent most of the day on this website reading, crying, and learning . Told my husband I was not feeling well and “went to rest”…. some truth in that little lie that I wish I could explain to him.
I have always believed knowledge is so empowering, especially when it comes with an “awakening” and sense of understanding yourself better. I also feel a little stronger (but a little sad as well) today and actually have thought less about my LO, scouring media, or daydreaming, and more time learning about the science behind all this and wondering how I can not let this happen again and how I will be more aware moving forward with my LO. Not sure yet of the direction I want to go with finding more purpose and fulfillment but know that will be huge moving forward !!
Not surprisely to you, I am guessing, but I struggle with female ADHD and anxiety. In my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, I was superwoman and loved the endless energy and the fact that most people found me funny, creatative, and the life of the party. Than 50 hit and loved ones died, and kids grew up, and suddenly my energy was more chaotic and depressing! I put a brave face on for the world (even my husband), but trying to act “normal” and be functional like it seemed everyone around me did effortlessly began to seem impossible and exhausting!!
Tonight though, I am definitely feeling less guilty, calmer, and proud and relieved that I did not act impulsively on actions I could not “undo!!”
Thank you again for this website that is a true gift to so many and offering a safe haven for us limerents to share, grow, and hopefully heal!!!
Welcome to the group. One of the most helpful tools to crawl out of the Limerence madness is fellowship. Not to encourage it, but harness the condition. The shame and isolation that Limerence brings is crippling. You can’t talk to anyone and don’t feel ready to discuss it with your spouse. Maybe never. Don’t hesitate to post feelings, thoughts and past mistakes on this site. It’s healing. Ask online if any future action is recommended with LO before engaging with him. Everyone is busy, but you will get a response. A very effective tool with my Limerence episode was buying a calendar and big, black sharpie. I would place a giant X over each day that I did not contact LO or cyber stalk him. LO would post things on Facebook and his young girlfriend blogs her every movement online. It’s too easy for a Limerent. Start with that and then work on NO Contact. I use to drive by LO’s work to track his schedule. He works four miles from my house. “Why not go to the grocery store by there, instead of the one two miles from home?” Crazy excuses like that dominated my actions. At this point in my life, I wouldn’t dream of wasting the gasoline to drive the extra two miles.
Thanks for sharing Katy. Many of your thoughts and feelings resonate with me. It sounds like you’ve hit a point in your life where you feel that something is missing and your LO is a hopeful shot at filling the gap, although I doubt he’s the answer. If you can find out what it is in your life that you’re missing and fill it with something purposeful I think things will improve. Definitely try working on no contact and as a starting point you could reduce the frequency of LO’s visits.
Don’t be embarrassed or afraid of sharing on here. We know that Limerancy is an all-consuming condition that can make you behave out of character and question your own sanity and morals. The good news is that you can get through it and I think most limerants can carry on as decent, fully functioning human beings.
Agree with Royce. Be free in sharing. I did that a couple of times and this group has saved me from contacting when I was so tempted.
And hearing people going through the same as you will help you too.
Im in a position where my LO is thankfully leaving work end of jan so things will get easier then but NC is the best way forward. I had that over Xmas but now back at work so just going for professional contact when required. All makes a difference over time. And we will start to get headspace back.
Look at his attention in a different manner: He has a new business and is looking to attract and keep customers. That is why he takes a keen interest in his clients. I bet he even takes notes so he can recall key points. Emotionally engaged customers tend to be repeat customers.
“Sometimes I wish I had the chance to spend more time with him in “his world.” The fantasy seems so dreamy!”
Actually, you already know what it looks like.
“Then, I saw them out once and she looked so grumpy and exhausted.”
Now, why would she look like that?
“His wife of 20 years is the successful bread winner and does well. In some ways we are similar in that neither of us has had an actual steady career for many years as we were the homemkers and our spouses made enough that we enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle .”
It’s a difficult situation. I hope you can channel some of the energy you have used checking out his life into your own. What about doing something that is particularly interesting to you?
Best wishes to you and yours.
Hi Katy – we all feel for you and know what your talking about so yes feel free to share your journey. This group is awesome and I myself have been supported to stop myself contacting when I wanted to as recently under NC unless I have to for work reasons.
Keep yourself busy and remember to connect with a higher purpose than what this is as that will pull you out for sure!
My LO works with me as do loads of others for other limerents so its often in your face although mine is leaving the company end of the month so hoping for an even faster recovery! – best of luck
I recently met this girl over new year during a trip with friends and felt a magnetic energy that drew me to her. It was mainly based on physical attraction. She had those charming eyes that drew me in and over the coming days got me overthinking about her.
The night after I met her, i asked a mutual friend to organise a dinner with her and a couple of friends. We went out and had a fun evening and throughout the evening our eyes locked a few times and the smiles were exchanged. That got me even more excited.
The next day I wanted to meet her for a drink/bite, she told me she was busy from the new year festivities and that she would be staying in, even though I told her am leaving the next day. I played it cool and said next time I am in town we’ll do it.
I left the next morning. Over the coming days I asked my friend, who is dating a close friend of hers, if there was any interest on her behalf. Apparently she asked my friend’s gf questions about me and showed curiosity. I also found out she was on a family holiday in the mountains. I told my friend I wanted to surprise her with flowers up in the mountains. My friend said he and his gf thought it was a great idea. So she found out where she was staying for me, and i went ahead and organized the flowers by phone. She received them the next day, sent me a message thanking with smiley faces, etc etc. She seemed respsonsive.
I waited another 3 days and asked her if I flew in for the weekend, if she wanted to have dinner on Friday. She smiled and was pleasantly surprised. She said she has a friend’s 30th b day but I am welcome to come with her and meet her closest friends. I took that as a sign that she is interested. I flew in on the Friday morning and sent her a message when I checked into my hotel. She said she was busy moving into her new apartment during the day. I said no problem, in case she wanted to meet me for a drink at the hotel bar before dinner, so that we can go to the dinner together. I thought it would have been a nice way to break the ice, before walking into a dinner with her closest friends none of which I knew. She said she would try but couldn’t promise because she might still be busy with her new apartment. Turns out she couldn’t make drinks, but we met straight at the restaurant with her friends. So I showed up there, met all her friends, who were all very nice to me and we all got along. However I felt a little coldness from her. Couldn’t put my finger on it. Like an energetic block. I should say that from the time I first met her, I was doing most of the chasing. So I asked my friend and he said it’s a cultural thing. So I thought with persistence, she might appreciate it and I will eventual get there.
So the evening went on, we had some drinks. I mingled with her friends, who I connected with very well and then went back to my hotel at the end of the night.
The next day I texted her early afternoon, with the hope that we can finally spend some one on one time with each other to get to know each other. We were supposed to go out on a double date that night with my friend and his girlfriend. Throughout this whole time though something In my gut was telling me something was off. I should mention that this girl was visiting her home county during this whole time but spends her time In Dubai where she has a modeling career. So I waited until that evening, and asked my friend what the dinner plans were. He said he booked a restaurant at 10, but that this girl would show up a bit later, because she is going back to Dubai in 2/3 days and wants to say goodbyes to her friends etc. I said fine. So I show up to the restaurant, and my friend causally tells me that the girl isn’t gonna make the dinner , and her friend told me that she thought the whole thing was too intense. I smiled and couldn’t understand why. Very importantly she also told me that as long as she has known her , she doesn’t remember ever seeing her with a boyfriend. That gave me a little relief knowing that I wasn’t the only one with the issue!!! She said she couldn’t underhand why she was like this with guys… It needs to be said though that eventhough she asked my friend’s gf about me, she didn’t ask me directly many questions about my life not showed much curiosity. I found that a a bit controversial and odd. But I also realized that I was potentially dealing with a narcissist who maybe was looking for a new source of supply. Regardless of that, I was already addicted to her…
The next day it was my last day, and she sent me a message at 2 in the afternoon asking me if I wanted to join her and her friend for coffeee. Again, I asked myself why this girl is avoiding seeing me alone to at least get to know me. I thought maybe she was feeling guilty that I flew out there to see her, and was friendzoning me. So I went and met her and two of her friends for coffee. She looked drop dead gorgeous, as expected. We hung out there for 2 good hours and the coneversation was flowing. She then told me we would be going to dinner with her best friend and her best friend’s mother and two of her friends! I thought to myself this girl must like me if she introducing me to her closets circle of friends and her friend’s mother. But maybe she was just being polite…
I went to the dinner, and again everything went super well. I was sitting next to her at dinner and I could feel myself trying to behave perfectly to get a sense of approval from her and everyone else. I was aware of that. But I still felt a coldness from her, couldn’t understand it. I forgot to mention that before everyone showed up to the restaurant it was just me and her for about 10 Minutes and that is the only one on one time we had with each other. She told me how she started her modeling career at a very young age, tough upbringing, est etc she probably explains her coldness in character, which is the type of women I keep getting drawn to. Very attractive, confident on the outside, superficial charm but emotionally unavailable.
We finished the dinner and said our good byes and I flew the out the next day. My gut was not well as I felt I was hooked to this girl , but didn’t get anything reciprocal form her side even though she initially showed interest, and didn’t refute me coming to see her. When I landed home, I sent her a friend request on Instagram which she answered 24 hours later which I found out, because the girl only had about 300 followers, and doesn’t have professionnel page for her modeling career. But I clearly knew she was active on it, because I saw her posting stories on new year’s eve etc.
Since then we got connected, I saw all her gorgeous pictures on Instagram, which perhaps isn’t helpful and the girl has taken distance from me. I am trying to figure out what went wrong as I was not pushy and played it very cool throughout. We now follow each , other but I haven’t started a single chat with her in over a week as I did my research on what could be happening. My question is do these narcissists ever find happiness? Or do they just jump from one supply to the next? I am destroyed and my ego crushed… i can’t stop thinking about her. I am questioning myself, asking myself I was too bold with her, had I not been this bold, would this whole thing be different.. am confused.
I can see how that experience left you dazed and confused! To be honest, it sounds more as though your model LO is an avoidant personality than a narcissist. Narcissists like one on one time so they can talk about themselves 🙂
Whatever the background, and the reasons for her hot/cold friendship, the uncertainty of trying to guess if she is interested romantically is likely to amplify your limerence. It can drive the sanest people to mania trying to guess exactly how to play it right – not too keen, not too cool – if they are getting mixed signals back. Sometimes the best way to win the game is to stop playing – either by walking away, or by being more straightforward and asking directly. Limerence thrives on uncertainty, so if you don’t want it to worsen, then you could consider taking a risk…
Whatever you decide, I wish you luck!
That sounds like dating and she’s not as interested in you as you are in her or she doesn’t want to rush the process. She’s a model. She gets a lot of inquiries and she may find you a bit intense and she endures a lot of that. You met her less than a month ago, she’s moving, but you follow each other.
I’d say for 3 weeks in it sounds WNL. Doesn’t mean it will go anywhere but she hasn’t shut you down entirely either.
May I just opine that especially for someone suffering unrequited limerence, if not in general for everyone, Valentine’s Day really sucks!
I had an unrequited LO EA event derail the last 5 years of my life. It’s taken this long (plus meds and therapy and enneagram work and time and much grieving) to get over—well, past—the situation. It was unbidden but present nonetheless: a “divot” on my otherwise fairly smooth timeline-of-life. Understanding the term(s) and reading stories herein are so (so) helpful. I feel solidarity and hope. I caused much pain to the LO (we are both married, and were friends prior) that I never intended, in fact, I kept the LE/EA as hidden as I could for a long time until a big mess happened. No contact (NC) was one of the hardest relational things I’ve ever done. I still feel like a monster because I’m viewed as one, misunderstood by LO and LO fam and rightly so. I long to gain closure by telling my side of the story but am convinced it’ll make it worse, and open metaphorical scabs, and continue fixation. Sigh.
So I am BeYOND relieved that I found this site. It’s very cathartic to be so open and honest on here and not feel silly or afraid to post.
I can live with unrequited LO. I am married and quite frankly would not choose LO over my husband. He’s so incredible and amazing and I enjoy being with him. He’s the love of my life. Although I was knocked off my feet with this whole limberance situation.
Basically it started out of no where. I have come to realize I am attracted to women and while experiencing sexual fluidity -coming to terms with this, LO showed up. We knew each other from work. She no longer works there. It’s actually been a year since I’ve seen her and I would guess I never will. We both no longer work there for different reasons. I stay at home now and she moved out of state with her family. I know she has relatives in the area though. Anyways. I found myself relapsing this week. I haven’t looked at anything social media wise in months about her, but this week I broke down and sorta peeked. It hit my hard I think because I realized a year ago this week was the last time we ever made contact. It hit me hard to know I’ll never see her again and yet at times I long to. In a twisted way I miss that thrill of the look she gave me. The non verbal cues that something was there yet of course I’ll never truly know.
Dr. L you made a good post when you said limberance thrives on “uncertainity”. Thank you for all your knowledge and help. I went months over analyzing things in my head because I could never concretely figure out *if there truly was some requisition yet I knew it was wrong but somehow I kept thinking it would maybe offer closure or something about how I feel with my sexual fluidity. I’m not sure.
I miss her stare. It was evident there was something, at least my pyschologist agreed based on her behavior when we encountered each other. I do agree from an article posted on here it IS harder to get over a “what if” LO if it wasn’t all unrequited.
Anyways I was doing good with my goals of not cyber searching and though I caved in this week, I quickly picked up again and stopped looking. I know it’s not healthy and nothing good comes from this. I must admit she has plagued my dreams more often than I would like but I told myself they’re not real and I am usually good about keeping it at that and redirecting elsewhere. Also, I plan to keep busy and channel this energy into something good/productive, a study to further my education and get into grad school which has been an interest of mine for sometime now. Thank you everyone who shares their story. They have /are helping me and I’m sure they have/are helping others find the peace and answers they’re looking for.
Thanks for writing this, Dr. L. I always look for your articles when limerence starts taking the best out of me, and there’s always comfort and validation in this website on what we are going through.
This time I was getting ready to ask LO out, to disclose my feelings and to check if she felt the same way towards me, but maybe because I took so long to make a move I’m now faced with some disturbing evidence that she might be starting a relationship with a mutual acquaintance of ours.
This guy first started texting me how much he was interested in this girl, but I never gave him any info about my own interest in her, so he might have found out by the way I can’t help to behave when she’s around. So I regarded his texts as probably a way for him to try to measure up his adversary’s (me) level of commitment to her, so that he could better prepare his own move for his advantage.
My uncertainty started to worry me by this last Sunday morning, when I saw both of them talking alone with each other, and my gut “told me” he was probably asking her out then. As usually I just pretended I didn’t see anything, but internally my brain new my LE was in danger. I couldn’t avoid this anyway because I was feeling too much tiredness for not getting enough sleep at night, so I wasn’t even in a mood to interact with LO in any meaningful way that morning. It’s as if everything was contributing for failure.
But the worse, really worst thing happened the day after this, at Monday night. I had even made an effort to get more sleep to be able to better interact with LO, and it worked fine. I was so energized, at ease and positive about life that I took the initiative and walked to where LO was and started talking to her about some little we had texted during the morning. The conversation looked like to be going very well, it felt like a connection, but THEN the other guy went to where we were talking and called her, for what she answered him: “Just a minute.” So I understood they had made a commitment to be talking / dating each other, and that the time for the “meeting” had arrived. We kept talking for some more minutes before we disengaged our conversation, and then we ended it and I went to a group of friends which were around on the event and started talking to them. Meanwhile, I saw LO going to a more private place to talk with the guy in a one to one basis.
Now I’m trying to find out if they have really started dating each other or if their meeting was arranged for her to him her answer to his probably question of if she wants to be his girlfriend.
I am living and breathing this article and came across your site hoping to find some help and relief. I find comfort in the fact that clearly what I am going through isn’t exclusive to me.
What has started off as feelings of euphoria for a man, has, after a few months, turned into absolute pain and anguish. We live in close proximity, have become friends and I see him quite often due to the nature of how we live our lives. I want him so desperately that it’s ripping me apart emotionally. I can’t concentrate on anything for any extended period of time, things that were priorities seem unimportant or neglected and I’ve lost my sense of self. I’m constantly fantasizing about him in every way, from waking in each others arms to grocery shopping together. I cry myself to sleep. He does not know how I feel about him (there are many variables, must mostly because he sees me as a friend and I do not want to frighten him away). I wish there was a way to turn these feelings off so that I can function but I don’t want to give up either, I haven’t had a real relationship my entire life (where deep love was a two way street).
Hi Dakota – welcome to LwL! Your description sure sounds like limerence, so you’re in the right place.
One question to fill us in a little more: what obstacles are there to the two of you being together?
You have my sympathy, Dakota. This stage of limerence – where you’re crying because you want the other person so bad – absolutely sucks. It’s the worst. Remember it has little to do with the objective merits of your beloved, and everything to do with Mother Nature almost pressing you into mating (and not always with a worthy choice).
The intense emotions you feel don’t honestly reflect your external environment (doesn’t mean LO is the one, doesn’t mean LO is wonderful). Instead, they’re created by chemicals in your brain. But yes, I think everyone on the board can relate to your fantasies, which must be the only thing now that make you feel a bit better. Clearly, you’re picturing you and this man together in a relationship.
I am torn between relief and embarrassment on finding this site. I am currently in the process of making a monumental arse of myself over someone I can’t ever have. I know how I ended up here. He was kind and caring when I was lonely, scared and vulnerable. As I began to recover we have stayed friends via email (we live in different towns) I didn’t realise I had become fully limerent for this guy until Googling ‘unrequited crush’ brought me here!
It’s all kinds of wrong. He’s married, his faith is important to him and while I have respected both of those things, I have dreams and longing that give me actual pain.
Our email exchanges have always been perfectly respectable and could be read by anyone else. We have a few things in common and I’m aware I’m justifying writing to him far too often. He hasn’t answered the last couple of emails and I’m feeling utterly ashamed of myself and gloomy. It ought to be easy to stop this. We never actually see each other; we don’t text or phone, nothing but email. But my life is pretty empty right now, my health is not good, I’m very isolated. So I know why I’m clinging to him. I don’t want to anymore. I know the reason he’s not replying is that he wants me to back off a bit. And I will. I know I have no right whatsoever to force my life and myself on him. But I have actually got a pain, and I feel ashamed and guilty and humiliated and lonely. Please don’t judge me. It took a lot of courage to post on here!
Hi randomfemale – welcome to LwL! No judging here, we’ve all gone through, or have someone very close to us that has gone through, much of what you have wrote there.
A few things jumped out at me in your story, as I think I might have inadvertently got myself into the same position as your friend. I was approached by a much younger girl (she’s 25, I’m 40+) in my office who wanted help with a few career things about 18m ago (post LO leaving), and over the last 6m that’s morphed more into helping with the COVID lockdown, mental health, ways to cope etc. She’s lonely and struggling with it all, and whilst we do have things in common, she’ll find fairly tenuous reasons to get in contact during the day, evenings, weekends, while I’m on holiday etc (both via social media and work chat). She’s suggested meeting up for drinks a few times (which I’ve avoided so far) for example, and recently appeared at the same restaurant as I was at for a lunch meeting, which was very, very coincidental…
She knows I’m married with kids, which I think drives her confusing behavior – she’ll be in constant contact, then backs off for a while, then if I’ve not been in touch comes back again…. rinse, repeat. I like her, there is some Glimmer there, but I’ve been down this road before, and simply refuse to have another LE. So I am probably confusing to her… helpful, thoughtful and then I vanish while I manage my own triggers.
I’m not sure how helpful that is, other than to say he may be attracted to you too, but he’s married and he can’t act on it. That is just one of the agonies we have to endure, and realistically the only way out is to not to throw fuel on something that could spark into life given the right (or wrong) circumstances. His not replying to your emails is probably his way of managing this.
Hi Vincent, thank you for your thoughtful reply. LO and I are both in our fifties, I’m divorced. Things you said resonated with me, and I know that I find reasons (excuses) to email him, just so I have the thrill of his reply. I also know that if I was still living in the same town as LO that I wouldn’t be able to stop myself turning up where I knew he would be…
I don’t know if he is possibly attracted to me. I really can’t tell because my brain feels completely scrambled by all this! I guess I just have to respect his backing-off, and try to go NC. I know we can’t be ‘friends’ if I want to keep my sanity. I’d always be wanting more than that and I’m so tired of all the space he takes up in my head. I’m not living an authentic life because he’s there, in my head, all the time. I feel like I need a detox!
Yes a mental detox would be perfect. Try Dr L’s deprogramming course if you haven’t already, it’s a great framework for taking back control.
Ultimately you want freedom from all of this, and you get that by letting go. Letting go of LO and all the associated thoughts. As you say, that is incompatible with a friendship. It sounds like you know what the next steps are. Going NC is hard, and it takes a long time, but it’s the road to freedom. Good luck!
Hi Random Female, and welcome.
A nice man being kind and caring towards you….that was the trigger for my LE also….so very hard to resist, especially in your case, when you are feeling so vulnerable and in need of companionship. I am so sorry that you are finding life a bit challenging currently – loneliness is the worst. You have definitely found the right place to get some support and find your way out of this. I have to say that it doesn’t sound like you have done anything to be ashamed of, or embarrassed about. Some respectable emails, nothing more. You are doing nothing wrong by liking and wanting someone that you can’t have, and your desire to stop says it all for me. Wishing you well.
Hi Allie, thank you for your kind words. I think being alone with this is really the worst thing. Being able to write about my LE on here is a great relief. Knowing I’m not the only one and that it is possible to get out of this makes me feel a lot better.
I try to distract myself as much as I can, applying for jobs, now my health is better, so I hope that will help.
I’m trying to tell myself I’m learning a lot from this experience. I know now the kind of man I want to have a relationship with (if I ever have another!) and I’m quite proud of myself that I haven’t tried to push things further with LO. I probably wouldn’t have been able to find that restraint a few years ago!
I think it’s great that you are so self aware that you haven’t pushed things further with LO. Maybe putting yourself in his wife and kids shoes and how terrifying it would be to them to think he had developed interest in someone who could destroy their family unit could be helpful.
When I have had LO’s that develop serious relationships I am able to let go. It was very helpful to me to focus on how I would feel if I was in a ‘real’ relationship with LO and some girl developed a massive crush on him. I would feel concerned and insecure. I don’t ever want to make someone feel that way! So far that’s worked for me and I am then able to completely back away.
Hope you can git rid of limerence soon and write your feelings here all you want…it’s a very nice group of supportive limerents !
“I’m quite proud of myself that I haven’t tried to push things further with LO. I probably wouldn’t have been able to find that restraint a few years ago!”
Don’t underestimate the power of doing the right thing. Whatever happens, nobody can ever take that away from you.
Well said, Scharny, well said.
Actually, DrL said something like it in an early post. I didn’t have time to go looking for it.
Definitely! It also builds esteem knowing you’ve done the decent thing in a sticky situation.
Found the article where DrL says, “First, you can live with the knowledge that you are a decent human being, and you should not underestimate the impact that has on your wellbeing.” – https://livingwithlimerence.com/integrity/
Thank you all for your kind comments.
I resolved last night to not email LO again and I’m going to take it in small steps. First, I am getting through the weekend. Then I’ll take it to Wednesday. Then the rest of the week. LO actually emailed me this morning but I haven’t replied and I find I don’t even WANT to! I know that this LE is all me, and in my head, but I suddenly thought ‘Oh, looking for your daily ego boost? Guess what, it ain’t coming.’ I have realised some things about LO that make me think he’s secretly quite pleased with himself and enjoys having me tell him how fabulous he is. And even if that is all my speculation it helps me see him as flawed which is helpful.
I really think the other night at the event with LO has been the trigger for this. I cringe so much I can hardly stand upright when I remember how excited and happy I was to see him. He behaved exactly as if he didn’t care, didn’t want to have anything to do with me really. Then he emails me and I get sucked back in. I’m so tired of this crazy-making, push/pull crap. Mentally and emotionally exhausted. 🙁
Congrats, randomfemale – although you are mentally and emotionally exhausted, you sound like you’ve made a big step forward on mindset. Just take it a day at a time, setting small targets and meeting them. Before you know it, your mind will start to clear as you’ll realise you’ve freed yourself of the unhealthy entanglement.
Stay strong. Good luck!
Thank you Dr L! It’s not easy, even though I know how unhealthy it all is. I want to write to him tonight, just for a response but I know how it all ends and I’ll feel terrible again.
Song of the Day: “Last Christmas” – Wham (1984)
Wiki goes into a surprisingly detailed discussion of the video. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Christmas
Vicarious Limerent says
So, I have experienced completely unrequited limerence for a stranger, and now I have also experienced somewhat validated quasi-limerence for someone else (some would argue there’s nothing “quasi” about it, but I still maintain my feelings for my “glimmery friend” aren’t quite limerence). I will take feelings for someone who is still in your life and you know has at least some interest (or at least a “spark) any day over completely unrequited limerence for a stranger you’ll possibly never see again in your lifetime. This current experience hurts and it is causing me incredible cognitive dissonance in my marriage, but I am not experiencing anywhere near the bleakness, heartache, pining away and sadness I experienced a year ago with someone I only met once who wasn’t even into me. Unrequited limerence is awful, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, although there is a different kind of heartache associated with knowing there theoretically is a possibility of being with the person you like because the feelings are at least somewhat mutual.
Hi Dr. L,
I have a name now for what I have experienced (participated in) since I was a kid in grade school! Fast forward past to the second to latest limerence – worked w/someone 21 years younger than me and thought nothing of him. Then, I lost 40 pounds over the summer, returned to work, and whammo! instant love and chemistry between us! That night, I dreamt of him and I locking arms with his thunderbolt tattoo on his wrist in full display! This is meant to be, I believed, someone to distract me from my unhappy marriage!
Truth be told, he was attracted to me, but more jealous and competitive than in love w/me. He strung me along and I had it bad. He flirted and acted like he really was into me. I knew it was wrong, but I flirted back. Then one morning, I had a dream and knew that it was over. It was over that day! I was sick inside for compromising my values and getting all worked up by this puppet master for nothing, except to feel very frustrated AND angry!
Fast forward – who is the new office manager? His wife!!!! Every day, they went out to lunch and were together. It killed me daily so bad. I thought, this can’t get any worse, but it got so much worse! I freaked out on him for inappropriate behavior he had displayed numerous times that would get a person working with children fired. He threw me out of the room in front of kids that watched the whole thing.
The whole community sided with him and for the past 7 years, I have been a pariah and screw up that they finally got rid of after never giving me any hours so that I would leave. They circled the wagons to protect him.
I don’t have limerence on this person any longer – good thing, bc he lives a few blocks away from me, ha! I feel it slightly for someone else though. I always knew it had to do with feel good chemicals because when u are in limerence, you are high. When it gets taken away from you, it is like getting slapped in the face with an ice cold towel.
Thanks for your blog. It is helping me to finally understand what is going on in my brain.
I am writing this here to get this off my chest because I am indeed ashamed of how I am feeling. I started talking to a guy ~2 years ago and it bloomed into a friendship for him, limerence for me. Probably because of the fact that I was unfulfilled in my long term relationship having found out my SO cheated on me and he gave me the attention I needed. I never had to call him or initiate the talking sessions like I had to do in the past few years with my partner.
We used to talk everyday for hours and then my relationship ended and in my fantasies he was the man who was supposed to be the NEXT/the ONE and so on. Fast forward to a few days ago when I had to watch him with another girl and my whole world came crashing down on me. I feel I will always pine after him and yet he sees me as nothing more than a friend. It’s very hard because I feel he was always flirty with me (to the point where he once said that he gets along with me the best but I am already in a relationship)and we shared really intimate details about our lives. I am aware this is about me, however, I am wondering whether everything was just a game or a joke to him. I am not sure how to go NC or LC with him because as I said, I rarely take the initiative to message or call him in the first place and we’re part of the same group of friends. I am sure that if people found out I’d lose my friends since the woman I saw him with is more popular than me. I am very unsure what to do. I signed up for a gym and I am trying to keep myself active, yet my mind often wanders towards him. I don’t understand why he started talking to me in the first place, I barely paid attention to him in the beginning. Maybe someone in a similar situation can advise me or share their experience. Thanks!
It ok to feel shame. But I’d like to tell you that what you have done is not shameful.
I’m just wondering is he in a relationship with the other girl, or is he just being friends like he was with you. Cause if its the friends thing and you like him and since your single, then you might want to try and ask him out. That way you can kill two birds with one stone. You’ll get him to if he’s reasonable make a decision about whether he’s interested in you romantically or not and accept your date offer or reject it. If he’s rejected it then it will massively reduce your uncertainty, and will tell you that he is not interested in a relationship with you. This should help massively dull your limerence. If he accepts it, well you’ll be happy 🙂
It’ll be really hard to do this, but if you can it really is worth it. Also if you offer of a date is rejected it makes no-contact a lot easier too, and the other person will probably be less blindsided too.
Also people probably won’t judge you for not talking to him. If you do want to go no contact explain that you appreciate your prior friendship but that you would like to cease contact with him and that it is for your mental health and that there is nothing that you (LO) can do to help except not contacting me please.
Then if he does contact you he is a jerk for disrespecting your clear boundary. It would be accurate as well, because obviously the limerence is causing you a lot of emotional and mental pain.
As to why he talked to you. He could just have been friendly. Or maybe because he said that he liked you quite a bit but that you were in a relationship, he could’ve had feeling for you then, but they died down, and he now trying to talk to someone else and trying a relationship there. Perhaps he is scared of a relationship, and perhaps cottoned on that you were interested in more than friendship and so distanced himself from you. These are all just guesses and they aren’t really helpful to think about. He talked to you because he wanted to talk to you. He wasn’t forced to talk to you. You’ll not be able to know more unless you ask him why he talked to you, and even then you might not know exactly why.
Mary and Polosk,
I agree with everything Polosk wrote here.
The only thing I would add is that I wouldn’t ask him out by staring with “I have really strong feelings for you …” That can be too much. Just something like, “I’m single now and I really like you and I’d like to ask you on a date.” Use the word “date” so it’s clear. And then mention a day, time and place to meet up. It shows you’re serious versus “we’ll go to a movie sometime.”
He may need a little time to process this. But I’d bring it up once and I wouldn’t bring it up again. And then I would take anything less than a “Yes, I want to go” as a no.
And in terms of the friends, I agree there’s no reason they would think less of you because you need to go NC (if that is what needs to happen). And if they do, well… not to sound flippant .. but with very few exceptions, I’ve never had a friendship that wasn’t replaceable. Friends come and go.
Thanks for the advice, the feelings subsided in the meantime as I am trying to be rational about this.
He’s not yet in a relationship with this other girl, however things are going there. I am not conventionally attractive while both him and her are so I am pretty sure I would get rejected and on top of that I don’t think we would work as a couple since he says he likes this other girl yet he spends a lot of time talking to me. I am trying to put myself in her shoes and wondering if I’d be ok with a partner doing this and I most definitely wouldn’t: friendship is one thing but calling another person and talking to them for hours daily on the phone is unhealthy.
I think I was so taken with the attention I wasn’t getting from my partner that I somehow transferred my feelings upon him and after my breakup they reached a bubbling point. And now I am doing some distancing and focusing on myself and on my professional and health goals. I am sure I will have them surface back every once in a while just as missing my partner is surfacing every now and again even though the relationship turned toxic and I wasn’t sure I even loved him anymore. The brain has this weird habit of turning to familiar, comfortable places and I think I need time to let myself familiarize with this new pattern. I am single after a relationship that lasted more than a decade and it’s fine if I’m not perfectly adjusted to the situation yet.
So I’ve been researching limerence for awhile now because I think maybe that’s what’s wrong with me. See, ever since my last real relationship ended with my sons father in 2018, all I’ve done is fall hard for the wrong guys. Twice now I’ve fallen for first, a man who upfront told me he wasn’t looking for anything serious then proceeded to move into my house, and now for the last 1.5 years I’ve been living off and on with a guy I think I may be in limerence with. We met online, then in person, oddly enough at first I wasn’t that into him but over the course of about a month everyone else dropped out of my life and I got kicked out of where I was staying, in part due to him, and he invited me to move in with him at his mom’s where he has a separate access basement apartment. So, we used to be sort of dating. I thought we were dating at the time but he had a lot of weird quirks like us not sleeping in the same bed, he’d jerk when I touched him… things he attributed to PTSD from a very traumatic childhood and abusive ex. But he also didn’t put me on his FB as his girlfriend, nor change his status to just in a relationship, had to leave it single… Didn’t introduce me to friends in person as such either. He said I was upset over petty things, was like look, who has me every night? Until I didn’t. Until one day he brought a girl home and told me how he’s into cuckolding and 3somes. All of which I didn’t really mind I’m into kinky sex stuff but I have to feel secure first and I didn’t. So fast forward to Jan 16th 2021 he dumps me for another girl. Now here’s the thing- he knows that I have no one. My parents are both dead, most of my friends are back in my home town and none of them can really help me out. I had a child with my ex in 2016 but even he’s moved on to narry another woman so I’m only here for my son who I can’t get back full custody of because I can’t find stable housing. I live in his mom’s basement and she will let my son visit maybe once a month. So after we broke up he said he didn’t want to kick me out so he didn’t. But he’d being girls over and I had to hide. But we were still close friends told each other everything and none of those girls last long not even 2 months then he was right back sleeping with me so I figured I was always going to win.
Couple months ago he gets a message from a co worker he used to have a crush on from 10 yrs ago saying she’s lonely and single. He wants to bring her here to screw but I put my foot said no. Leave for work n I’m sure he picked her up and they screwed. And within a few days she’s been promoted to new gf ..and SHE gets the fb announcement, gets introduced as his gf, she gets my spot in the front seat and he’s going to give her his old car he was fixing up for me! But thru this whole thing he never lied. He told me he cared for me, that I turned him on, and that he loves me in a very deep way just not romantic.
But he’s all I can think about all I want. I get physically ill it I do dont get to see him. I know intellectually that I need to move on which for me means move out but I have no where to go and it’s winter. I passed up 3 job oops last summer because he didn’t want me to leave to travel for them. He wants me when he wants me till he finds someone he does actually love. But moving now will only hurt me. My health isn’t good I’m not able to work full time like I used to be so I can’t afford a place by myself plus I have evictions on my record as well as background issues. But he’s to the point of bringing this new girl over, they’re making out a few feet from my bed like I’m not supposed to care. How do I stop having these feelings for him so we really can all be friends WITHOUT having to move out cause that’s not possible right now??
Just had a question if a lo can be someone you didnt even meet. most of the time i get regret and limerence occurs when I was too nervous to talk to someone, they were walking away or in a place that was not appropriate to talk, or a brief interaction occured. can this be limerence without even knowing or meeting the person but trying to imagine exactly how they looked because something made them glimmer and be remembered ?