The previous post linked two common limerence dilemmas to an analysis of romantic love. First, what can you do when the romance dies with the limerence, and second, what can you do when a long-term relationship loses its erotic dimension?
In part two, we’re going to try and apply what we learned about the overlap between limerence and the different forms of love and see if we can come up with some concrete ideas about solving those difficult problems.
First, a quick recap of definitions:
- Eros – erotic, sexual love.
- Philia – emotionally deep, life-enriching friendship.
- Pragma – practical, co-operative commitment, for mutual benefit.
- Storge – affectional bonding of a familial, unconditional nature.
- Agape – spiritual or altruistic love that transcends (e.g. love of God).
- Ludus – playful, but casual love, without deep commitment.
- Philaupia – self-love (in the self-esteem sense).
To figure out how to respond to the loss of some of these forms of love you have to ask a critical question:
What does love mean to you?
Being really honest with yourself when you answer that question is the key to understanding how to purposefully respond to most romantic dilemmas.
There is no right answer. We all have our own preferences, expectations and dreams. Our views change with time, experience and emotional mileage. But if you find yourself unhappy with your current situation – lamenting your inability to sustain romantic interest beyond limerence, or losing the erotic connection with your partner – the starting point for recovery is being very clear on what you really want.
Let’s look at some possible answers.
For some people the overload of sensations that limerence brings is their definition of romantic love. Naturally enough, when limerence fades (as it inevitably will), they conclude that they are no longer in love with their onetime LO. This is the classic “I love you, but I’m not in love with you,” conversation that precedes the end of so many relationships. Without the limerence high, there just isn’t enough to make the relationship satisfying. They’ll always be restless and seeking more.
One possible response to this is to have a series of relationships that last as long as your limerence, and for as long as you can continue to attract LOs (I hear from limerents in their eighties, so this shouldn’t be seen as hopelessly discouraging). This is perfectly legitimate. It might be challenging in a society that values long-term commitment, but as long as you are open and honest with your partners about what you are seeking, you can live a life of integrity and romantic fulfilment.
The downsides to this model, though, can be significant. First, you will probably have to reconcile yourself to periods of loneliness when you do not have a LO who reciprocates. Many people are fine with the single life, but others want the stability of a monogamous relationship (even if it is only destined to last for a few years). Second, the other forms of love do not disappear when you have an eros bias, they build in the background and form a deeper bond. Unless you are a sociopath, it is hard to break up with someone that you deeply care for, who may still be in love with you. It is going to cause a lot of pain, even if everyone was fully informed at the outset, and intellectually you can agree that it is time to move on. Emotions are not always convenient. Asymmetry in philia can be just as painful as asymmetry in eros.
One possible way forwards for limerents who want stability but also want limerence is to adopt another relationship model…
Pure pragma marriages are nowadays frowned upon in the west, but they remain common in other cultures and were standard practice throughout history. Affection, loyalty, commitment, shared goals and experiences – these can mature into philia and storge, and provide the stability of a lasting bond, even if they lack the spontaneity and excitement of an eros connection.
In the past, extra-marital affairs outside pragma marriage carried stigma, but social mores tended to demand discretion rather than abstinence – plausible deniability, if you will. Nowadays, many people who struggle to reconcile limerent craving and lasting commitment consider a modern version of a pragma bias: polyamory. They seek a pragmatic open relationship (with a fully informed and willing partner, of course) from which to seek eros and/or ludus connections with LOs. Polyamory, or even simple swinging, is much more accepted now, even if it is still seen as an “alternative” lifestyle.
This is not to say that there is no erotic component to the primary relationship, just that the partners have made a pragmatic agreement that they will stick together for mutual benefit, but also have the freedom to seek ludus or eros with others.
The downside to this model is the ever-present risk that jealousy, complications, and dishonesty will wreck the carefully laid plans. Many limerents only entertain the idea of opening their marriage after becoming limerent for someone new, which suggests a rather self-serving change in circumstances that the spouse was not informed about.
Most poly couples also have to negotiate quite detailed rules about how much time, energy and intimacy is permissible for secondary relationships. Also, those “secondaries” are real people with all their own hangups, emotional complications and hopes. Sustaining a poly arrangement that works for everyone, in which everyone is honest and enlightened, and no-one develops inconvenient philial feelings for someone they only intended to be ludus for, is a lot of work.
Another possible answer to the question posed above is “I mostly want the deep bond of affection, and am not that bothered if the eros fades.” This is the classic sexless marriage that is comfortable, familiar, safe and fulfilling in many ways. You may want a best friend – meaning a proper intimate, affectionate friend – more than a lover. Again, there is nothing wrong with this, as long as everyone involved is open and agrees. Many couples rub along together quite nicely with this arrangement, even if they’ve stopped rubbing certain parts of their anatom-
The big downside here, of course, is the risk of becoming limerent for someone else. With minimal erotic connection, the relationship can drift into companionable friendship, and then *boom* along comes an LO who reignites passion in one of them and upends everything.
A medium blend
My sense is that the mainstream hope for a long-term loving partnership is for a combination of eros, philia and storge, underpinned by a dose of pragma. Most people want security and sex. They want hot erotic connection but also the warm familiarity of a best friend – a stable, loving, deep commitment, spiced up by a satisfying sex life. Is that too much to ask?
There are many commentators who say it is. That the different forms of love are incompatible. That eros needs novelty, spontaneity, and the sexy frisson of the unknown to thrive. Philia and pragma lead to a cooling of ardour and inevitable staleness. Familiarity breeds romantic contempt, if you will.
It’s certainly tough to sustain eros in the long term if your libido is generally low except during limerence. It’s also difficult if your libido is linked to novelty or ludus-style games, and possibly most difficult of all if you find sex shameful or degrading and incompatible with “purer” forms of love (e.g. the Madonna and whore syndrome).
The solution to this is probably, ironically, to lean on pragma.
I suspect that one of the reasons limerents link limerence and love so closely is because of the eros-amplification that happens during limerence. Erotic excitement comes spontaneously and LO is inherently desirable, while there is the promise of sexy fun times ahead. Because eros comes so readily during limerence, there is a sense that it has to come spontaneously, or it doesn’t count. That if there’s a dip in libido or erotic desire that means that the relationship is failing, rather than the erotic energy is failing. In other words, if eros has to be cultivated then it isn’t real. There’s something a bit off if it has to be worked on.
In some ways, this mirrors the classic limerent error of thinking that eros emerges from LO because of their inherent specialness, rather than coming from the mind of the limerent themselves. That libido is about them rather than you. I mean, obviously they are a factor, but your own mind is where the majority of your erotic power lies.
Erotic connection can be cultivated. Looked at another way, it’s a bit naive and sentimental to think that eroticism has to be effortless and spontaneous. Marriage and sex therapists are in near universal agreement that the relationships that succeed are those in which both partners are willing to make some effort to fan the embers of eros and reignite lust. That can take some work if your libidos are mismatched or your sexual desire for them has faded, but the basic idea is to make sure that your partner is the focus of your erotic energy. There are a few things that can help:
- Play some ludus games with your partner – try new things, seduce and tease.
- Lay off the porn, unless it’s something you enjoy together.
- Get in the mood. Pay attention to how the environment, time of day, atmosphere etc. affect your libidos and then cultivate the conditions that promote sexy vibes.
- Schedule erotic time. Eros tends to be something that increases with reinforcement, so lean on pragma a bit to make sure you are committing to that positive reinforcement.
- Most importantly: talk to your partner about their preferences and your preferences. Cultivating eros can work well if you are pushing each other’s buttons effectively, but if one of you loves dirty talk but the other squirms, you need to know that before whispering in their ear over dinner.
Having worked through all these possibilities, the problems that started the whole love versus limerence discussion can now be pretty neatly summarised: there is a mismatch between the blend of love forms you want and the blend you have.
If eros fades as limerence fades, you have three options: embrace the serial limerence lifestyle, seek a pragmatic open relationship, or delve deep into your psychology to figure out why limerence and eros are so tightly linked for you. Then experiment with cultivating eros in the absence of limerence. Limerence does distort our judgement. It isn’t the baseline mental state for most of us.
If you feel trapped in a marriage with mismatched eros, there is one major goal: try and understand what blend you want, what blend your partner wants, and decide whether these are compatible. Eros can be cultivated if both are open and willing. Coercion, nagging or demanding will not help, but letting the low libido partner set the terms of eroticism unilaterally is just as unhealthy. There should be some pragma in the blend, not just settling for the lowest common denominator.
Unsurprisingly, a purposeful approach to these problems works best: understanding yourself, understanding your drives, being totally honest with yourself and your partner, and communicating sensitively but openly are the key skills needed. Self-awareness, openness to new experiences, and balance in give and take are at the root of most successful relationships.
LLL (Life Long Limerent) says
I wonder about another possibility…what about learning something more directly from the limerent feelings? Can they be telling us about some part of ourselves that is crying out to be realized? Is there a way to think through the feelings instead of pushing them away, asking something like “in my imaginary life where I could be with X, what are the other details of what I am doing, saying, wearing etc? What aspects of X do I wish I could embody?” For those who are (perhaps chronically) single, “what aspects of our interactions do I cherish, and where might I find more people who interact in a similar manner?” For those who are coupled, “What aspects of our interactions might I be able to spark If I make a change in how I relate to my partner, what aspects of our interactions with LO might I be able to spark?”
Oh, definitely. Limerence is teaching something important about what blend works for you – both at the level of what it is about LO that is so appealing, but also at the level of how it makes you feel about any existing relationship. Have you lost touch with SO, or is it time to move on? What really matters – the thrill of adventure, or the philia and storge of a deep bond?
Limerence certainly forces you to confront some big questions about love 🙂
Vicarious Limerent says
This is another great post and some great comments. I am in the situation where my SO and I are essentially living like roommates. This is mostly my fault, but she is also partially to blame, and some of it is just circumstances. We also fight constantly, she is bossy and controlling and our lives are completely boring (other than some travel now and then). Even our friends aren’t doing it for us anymore, and my SO and daughter are at each others’ throats on a daily basis. My SO works nights and so I end up by myself every Friday and Saturday night (even though my daughter is now old enough to be left alone for a few hours). I love bars, parties, nightlife and live music, but my SO hates them and feels drinking and partying is something you do only in your twenties. The older I get the more extroverted I become, but she is becoming the opposite; in fact she regularly tells me she hates people. She won’t even let me invite people over to the house anymore.
I met my LO in a bar. She seems very fun-loving and confident. I just love the way she carries herself and her mannerisms. Frankly, I think she is one of the most exciting and adorable women I have ever met (even though she might not turn that many heads walking down the street). I suppose I latched on to her because she is everything my SO isn’t at this point: exciting, fun and extroverted, although there is something that I can’t put my finger on that reminds me of my SO when she was younger.
My SO and I are trying to establish date nights and I have tried joining some Meetup groups (we know very few people in our local area even after living there 14 years, and the people we do know have multiple hangups and never want to do anything). Even though I am married, I am so incredibly lonely (no, I don’t mean that in an Ashley Madison sort of way). I think some new friends and activities (with my SO and alone) will help.
I fell into the latest LE about 3 years ago. At the time I suppose I was feeling similarly to you about the relationship with SO. We don’t have a lot of interests in common and along comes LO at work and LO seemed magical! Eventually I disclosed to SO and months later to LO. That whole thing didn’t go very well but So and I are in a better place now, although there’s still a LOT of work to do. In 2 short years we will be empty nesters and if we don’t find some serious hobbies or interests in common…..
Anyway keep working on your LTR and if you think it’s not salvageable then end it and live YOUR life. We all only have so much time left on this planet and it would be a shame to live in an unfulfilling state.
Vicarious Limerent says
Thanks Avalanche. I appreciate your support a great deal, as well as the fact you went through something similar.
My wife and I have some serious issues to sort through in our marriage. I love her, but I am not sure we will be able to overcome those problems. Still, it isn’t entirely bad 100% of the time. There is love, tenderness and companionship there, as well as over 18 years of history together. My biggest fear is we will be able to improve our marriage and our lives just enough to no longer be completely miserable, but not enough to truly be happy (it isn’t just me; she isn’t happy either). That would be the worst possible outcome because at least the status quo is unacceptable and unsustainable and must change.
I am also worried my SO simply cannot compete with the power of my LO. I worry that I will subconsciously sabotage my efforts to improve my marriage with some damn fool idea of chasing my LO. How can the old and familiar compete with this shiny new object? Still, my rational brain tells me I am not going to leave my wife and the mother of my child for some woman I have spent maybe two hours of my life with in a bar and a taxi ride home — who is also keen on my brother in-law, not me. I would have a faint hope (maybe a 1% chance of landing her) at best. But I have promised myself that if my marriage ends, if my LO doesn’t end up with my brother in-law (which she won’t because he really isn’t into her), if I am able to continue my exercise and weight loss journey and gain more confidence, and if she isn’t with someone else by then, I would try to find my LO in six months or a year and see if she would go on a date with me (I know where to find her). I realize the odds are totally against me and that’s a lot of “ifs.” I know relationships with LOs often end up in disappointment, and my feelings for her are largely built on a false image I have built up in my mind. I also know I would likely get shot down in flames by her. Still, I can’t help but feel that life is too short and since the prize is so wonderful and incredible, why wouldn’t I at least try?
I realize that I cannot live my life in hope of hooking up with my LO. That is a stupid way of thinking and is totally illogical. If it happens, great, but I probably have more chance of winning the lottery. If my marriage ends it has to be because it doesn’t work for me (or for my SO, for that matter). Such a decision has to be independent of anything to do with my LO. I just worry that my SO can’t compete with my LO and my lizard/limerent brain will try to subconsciously sabotage any efforts to reconcile with my wife. My SO and I have talked about divorce a couple of times in the last few weeks, and I was strangely calm and at peace at the thought of it. That also worries me, but I need to at least try to turn things around. I have suggested counselling but my SO won’t do it.
Cultivating Eros without limerence sounds awful and very transactional. It feels like when you’ve hooked up with someone out of pity or because you wanted something from them or to manipulate them. I 100% get that relationships have cycles, I know people in arranged marriages who have Eros for one another simply because they have no other practical options and ultimately their entire lives are pragmatic. Some are happier than others, but their lives are quite good. But that takes tremendous resolve, the sort that I would argue very few in modern time have. I have to hope that we’re moving past monogamy, past polyamory, past all of this to something better. Yup, I’m self centered, sometimes lonely (everyone is sometimes) plenty could be said about my attachment style or any of the rest of it. But I believe we are supposed to focus on the cultivation of ourselves first and foremost, not to be beholden to others. I’ve cared for plenty of people, felt very beholden and been quite dutiful I think it’s a waste and I know that the most important thing that anyone can do is to care for and focus on themselves first. I sincerely don’t believe that limerance is anything other than a gift. Those who want to claim anything else are kidding themselves. Trying to hold on to relationships that have out lasted their expiration dates is unfortunate, I’ll resist going so far as to say tragic though I suspect much tragedy comes from the desperation of it. We can be more, we are more. It isn’t just lust that calls someone to a LO or triggers a LE, this is about way more than just Eros. The fear of being alone is most people’s real problem.
Really? You don’t think others reach a different conclusion to you because they value different things? The theme of the post was finding the blend that works for you. If it’s limerence all the way for you, great.
It doesn’t negate your experience for others to do things differently. Many people are sad at the loss of eros for their philial partners (who may once have been their LO) and only realise how bad things have got because they become limerent for someone else. Someone they don’t want to form a relationship with.
It is a waste to be beholden and dutiful, but it’s also pretty sad to look at other people as vehicles for self-cultivation. It’s all about the blend.
Many many of us here will tell you that after much soul searching and self inspection, our monogamous relationship has not run its course, is completely worthwhile, and that being an equal partner of a larger whole is rewarding and fulfilling (even if it takes effort to maintain)… yet we’re limerent for another anyway.
I do not consider that a gift. I don’t consider any of my LE in my lifetime a gift. All of them were an intrusion on my life that seemed welcome in the moment but turned out to be far more damaging to my life and sense of self than helpful.
Human beings are animals just like any other, with emotions that we don’t always have full control over. We’re going to be attracted to others. It happens. It’s not a big deal. It doesn’t mean we have to act on that attraction.
Limerence is our own mind fighting us in that regard. It says “You damn well do have to do something about this.” And uses every weapon in his arsenal to do so.
That, to me, is no gift. I’m the one in control. Not my lizard brain or caveman instincts.
Jackson. What you’ve said above for the record is exactly how I am treating my LE. However I do also find conflict here. Hunger for example is your lizard brain that you really need to listen to. What about grief? We wouldn’t go around recommending that we should consider grief in a similar way. Even though it’s just as crippling. In fact don’t we advise to face these things head on? Cry it all out, get closure etc etc. Sometimes I feel the way we try and advise to rid ourselves of limerence can lead to some unresolved issues.
Maybe it’s because how rare or unsympathetic people would be to our situation. Is it like being gay or depressed 100 years ago. Are we saying you’re probably better off burying it or face the consequences? I think that’s what I’m doing at least. Yet a deep sense of unfulfillment will remain having never had the opportunity to exercise this lizard. Maybe that’s also what hurts the most, as I’ve never had the reciprocation in my case. Especially as we age and settle down. It’s quite simply too late now. That’s what I have the most issue with trying to rationalise, deal with, get closure from.
Lifeistricky – Jackson – Aboutagirl
You’ve all made some very valid points, I guess it’s how you read and interpret the messages in the posts here.
“” I sincerely don’t believe that limerance is anything other than a gift””
I get what Lifeistricky means and up to a point he’s correct, Limerence can be a gift depending how you view it ……..
…… and since I am a glass is always half full kinda gall, the positive side what I’ve gained from Limerence is –
– a wake up call that my marriage to SO was up shit creek without a paddle. If it wasn’t for the LE I would never have delved into my feelings and start asking questions and start working on my marriage more. It’s made me appreciate my SO and made me realise I love him and want my relationship to work.
– it’s made me appreciate my family more, I realise how lucky I am to have what I have which makes me grateful.
– I am more vocal with what I want and need whereas in the past I’d just suck it up if I didn’t like something.
– I’ve lost over 20 kgs and taken up Yoga, not only do I look fit but I also feel better mentally. It’s probably the fittest I’ve ever been in my life. It’s also now a routine and I’ve been able to keep the weight off for more than a year.
– I’ve revamped my wardrobe and wear things that look better on me (aka no more frumpy bag lady look), I also wear makeup which I never used to wear. Granted I initially did this for LO but now I do it for myself, it’s given me more confidence and I feel comfortable in my own skin.
– I am super productive, my LE was a catalyst to find a new job, complete some home renovations, finish some artistic pursuits that I’ve been procrastinating over.
It’s also obviously been a curse, I’ve never felt so anxious, stressed, depressed, conflicted, out of control, guilty or questioned my integrity and moral compass more than I have in the past two years. Limerence was an insidious, cancerous worm eating at my self worth as a human, it also infiltrated and possessed my every waking thought taking me away from my family. I obviously have a long way to go before this LE is at its end, but I am now very self aware and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s only thanks to this site, it’s really helped me claw back control over my life.
Wow this is the first time I have left a comment on anything in a long time. Lee Anne I feel like you entered my brain and put it in a comment tho I feel like I still have a very long way to go, it’s only been 6 months since I disclosed my emotional affair (which for one day became physical) to my SO and started looking for answers and discovered that I have been limerent. Thank you so much for letting me know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Fighting every day to see it!
Your welcome Carolinelina, it’s a daily battle for me too. Two years of struggle, but I certainly feel much better today and have a lot of 2020 goals to beat this limerence.
I take each day one step at a time or I feel overwhelmed.
Goodluck in your journey.
I think I know what you mean about a gift.
I remember talking to a friend of mine about how she dates, going out and seeing if a new person is compatible, if they get on well, can hold a conversation, and so on. Falling in love was then a conscious choice. Honestly, I can’t relate at all to this scenario and I’m not sure I would want to. It sounds terribly cold. I don’t want to disparage anyone who operates like that, but for me it can’t compare with the overwhelming intoxication of an LE. I’ve never had any choice about who I’ve really fallen for… it’s just been ‘wham’ limerence (although i’ve worked out more or less now what causes the ‘glimmer’). I’ve also had relationships where I wasn’t limerent for my partner, and they felt dull by comparison. So while limerence has created some of the worst times, made me cry over the stupidest things and feel truly terrible and pathetic at times, it’s also created times that made me feel properly alive. I guess i know that this is probably an unhealthy addictive high. Still, with my current LO, I feel like I was on autopilot before this LE woke me up – and once I realised the effect it was having on me it made me re-evaluate my life, just like you say. Maybe we need something to kick us in the ass from time to time?
This site is amazing though; thank you so much for all the work you do on it. Before I found it, I just thought I was just singularly ill-equipped to handle emotions… and that everyone else in the world experienced falling in love the same way but was much better at controlling themselves. Reading everything here has been so illuminating. It’s much better knowing I’m not alone.
Cate – you are not alone.
I know what you mean, I too can’t conciously fall in love, there’s no choice who I fall for and to what degree. I’ve never been this obsessed with another human before, it’s quite frightening.
I am better at controlling my response around my LO now, my heart still skips a beat when I see him and I have to catch my breath before I speak. A year ago I could barely speak to him, my larynx would freeze, I would get massive butterflies, heart palpitations and my hands would shake. I had to forcefully control my breathing before speaking to him, he must’ve thought I was such a freak, yikes what an idiot I was. But I must admit I quite liked the adrenaline rush, it was such a heady feeling.
Today I can maintain eye contact with LO and hold an intelligent conversation, even my heart remains quite calm, so I’ve progressed in leaps and bounds. The last time I felt this intense about someone was 20 years ago, but minus the spiralling obsession.
Sounds like she’s a non-limerent. I have badgered some of my friends (who are non-limerents) over what love is like for them, and they say similar things. They are able to maintain perspective during dating and assess compatibility more accurately, and they are also able to date in the more traditional way – i.e. multiple dates with multiple people and then spending more and more time with the ones they like best.
Once I’m got by an LO, the thought of dating someone else is ridiculous.
I think you’re right. I couldn’t understand how this was possible, and she couldn’t understand how I could be affected so badly by one guy, especially one we could agree was bad for me for a lot of reasons. (we didn’t know the term ‘limerence’ at the time). For non-limerents, it sounds like they can look for red flags and if the see any, guard themselves and move on… whereas when a limerent sees a red flag they justify or even romanticise it . At the height of LE, I remember seeing my LOs flaws as part of what made them lovable. Looking back, I think I saw all the red flags, I just didn’t care – or I felt like they didn’t matter because I had no choice in how I felt anyway.
Honestly though, I’m still naively fascinated that people can date like that and build a relationship that fulfills them… can deliberately create love, really. Amazing how our minds work in such different ways.
I don’t think I agree about her friend being non-limerent. She might be but I don’t think she has to be. Based solely on my experience, I don’t believe in “limerence at first sight.” For me, limerence takes time to develop and only after I’ve attached to someone or really want to attach to someone (i.e. LO #3).
I think some of it can be accounted for by simple pre-screening the candidates. What’s your candidate pool look like? You said yourself, “I have only ever become limerent for “damsels in distress”. Specifically, women who are bold and confident on the outside, but hiding an emotional wound within.” ( https://livingwithlimerence.com/2017/03/15/the-best-cure-for-limerence) That can apply to a lot of candidates. But, where were you pulling those candidates from? Were you rescuing them from their bad relationships or trying to pull them out of poverty? It makes a difference.
When I was dating, I pretty much stayed in my socioeconomic middle class. I don’t remember ever dating anyone really far outside of it. Some of the women I dated had significantly more education than I had but none had significantly less. When I married her, I made 3 times the money my wife made as a second year teacher. Before her, I probably dated some women who made 3 times more. Dr. Laurence Peter has a short discussion of it in his book “The Peter Prescription” where he talks about what life was like for Cinderella and the Prince after they married.
LO #1 said her parents were loaded but you couldn’t tell that from being around her.
You’d have guessed she grew up in a trailer park, not on a golf course. LO #1 once described her mother as “white trash who married above her station.” LO #1 also said, “White trash isn’t so much an economic condition as it is a state of mind.” I have no idea what LO #1’s relationship with her mother was like but it was clear which of her parents she most identified with. As cool as it was to be around her, as I’ve posted elsewhere, she was an unsuitable LTR candidate.
My problem wasn’t dating multiple women at the same time, my problem was sleeping with multiple women at the same time. That only happened one time in my life and it lasted a month, maybe 6 weeks max. I couldn’t handle it. I had to pick one. As it turned out, it wasn’t a good pick but there is no guarantee that the relationship with the other would have turned out any better. Some choices can be equally good, some choices can be equally bad, and some choices can be better than others. The other woman was outside my normal pool. It wasn’t the primary reason I didn’t choose her but it may have contributed to it.
Hello, limerent friends and friends of limerents. Here is a nice essay by Kris Gage:
It’s called « The Ways in Which We Warp Attraction: And how we use one another in our perceptions of ‘want’ ». Reflecting on this essay is helping me to snap out of my limerent stupor and stop objectifying the person whom I was (I must admit) using as my LO. The essay also refers to a book called ‘So Sad Today’ by Melissa Broder, and quotes from it the following right-on passage about limerence:
« You take a living, breathing human being and try to stuff them into the insatiable holes inside you. These holes are in no way shaped like that person (or any person). But you believe that this fantasy person will fill you, because he or she possesses all the imaginary qualities you seek in a lover. And how do you know that he or she possesses all of these qualities? You put them there. »
Wow, thanks for sharing, Midlifer. So very true about projecting ideal values onto a person and then associate it with positive feelings. Eye opener!
Again thanks for sharing this amazing article. Reality is starting to seep back in for me. Although there is no denying limerent feeling are there (not getting ahead of myself this time). But by forcing myself to see LO for himself rather than with my drugged up eyes. He ain’t all that… It’s interesting how ultimately we are using are LO’s when all is said and done (unintentionally) as our drug. However we spend weeks/months in pain, feeling we have been wronged.
Hello Sarah and Rachel, you are welcome, glad it’s so helpful. And thanks for your comments: so true. Keep up the good work, we can do this! We are only human, so let’s continue being kind and compassionate to ourselves as we come to see more clearly the addiction for what it is. Never thought I’d learn so much more about life in middle age! It really is like a second adolescence for me. The agony is part & parcel of real growth.
Thank you for sharing that Midlifer.
Initially on reading it I became very defensive. Then wondered why and realised – because it’s so true!
To keep myself occupied/distracted from LO I have got more involved in a group I volunteer with, and we had a weekend away. During that time (and subsequently) I’ve found myself increasingly attracted to one of the other women. She’s also married with children, but a bit older than me. It’s bizarre as I’ve never been attracted to a woman in this way before. As it was with LO, the attraction isn’t sexual as such (with LO that developed later on) and I wouldn’t say this is the same as limerence (not as obsessive or intense). However, it really did highlight to me how we’re attracted to qualities that we lack, or hope others will fulfill in ourselves. At least I can enjoy this friendship without it threatening my marriage in any way!
Ha! I became defensive reading it too, Sophie. I think it was the tone for me – a bit self-centred and lacking in compassion for my taste – but there are a lot of good insights.
Realising this is such an important first step towards cultivating those qualities in ourselves.
“”I think it was the tone for me – a bit self-centred and lacking in compassion for my taste””
Ha, you are being too kind Dr L, I was thinking more along the lines of condescending and arrogant.
It was an interesting article from the LO’s perspective and if you have a non-reciprocal LO.
But what if your LO is the one staring and tracking YOUR progress across a room and his SO notices etc etc?
This is the type of doggy-doo behaviour that started my LE in the 1st place, granted one of many catalysts but a major contributor for me.
As a side note, I now find myself on the receiving end of an obsession that a female acquaintance is acting out — not romantic but about a wildly idealized and excessive notion of friendship. She is objectifying me like I’ve never been objectified before (so far as I know). It feels like an attack, an invasion of my privacy, and an attempt to manipulate and control me. And i’m a pretty easy-going person: it takes a lot for me to say things like that. This is not an experience I’d wish on anyone. I think the moral of the story is, if you really love someone, the very last thing you should allow yourself ever to do is to objectify them.
Plus there is a prior moral principle: respecting everyone means not speaking or acting toward anyone in ways that objectify them.
1) You don’t climb off a pedestal, you fall or jump off a pedestal
2) You don’t often voluntarily jump off a pedestal, most often, the person that put you there knocks you off
3) The higher the pedestal, the harder the fall from grace
I especially like this part, “It’s “flattering,” sure, but being on the receiving end of admiration as a static object of desire is borrrrrrring. This guy isn’t on my radar because I’m “flattered” — that’s dumb and boring as hell.”
When I disclosed to her, LO #4 said, “….I’m flattered…” I see that term as they’re throwing you a bone. It’s an acknowledgment tinged with, “I could live forever with knowing this.” But…
What she said was, “Wow! I’m flattered and, under different circumstances, might even be curious. But, circumstances are what they are.”
I think limerents are more prone to idealization than non-limerents. We have these nice little visions in our heads. I remember dating a woman before I met LO #2. It was an LDR and I liked her more than she liked me. I was in the Navy and we’d write letters to each other. I remember her grammar and spelling were atrocious. How did she make it through college with spelling and grammar like that? It didn’t fit the way I wanted to think of her.
I still think of LO #4 periodically. The difference now is I see her in scenarios that I had with my wife 30 years ago. It’s like we’re the ages we are now but I’ve never been married, I have no kids, I never moved from where she moved to. We never had much of a past, there’s no real present, and I don’t see a future. She’s back where she belongs on the “what if?” list.
I meant, ““I could live forever without knowing this.”
That makes more sense! Glad you liked the essay.
Is it possible/likely/common for the limerent who is deep in a LE to also experience Eros for someone else? For example the limerent is having an affair and in deep with LO, can they also experience Eros for their spouse?
I think so. For me, the LE heightened my libido generally, and I was still experiencing eros for my wife.
Thanks Dr L. My W was like that too until reciprocation from LO happened and it’s like she completely shut off all feelings for me.
McTavish – I’ve wondered about what happens when limerence becomes physical. My LE was only in my head, so I was able to still experience Eros for my spouse, increased in fact by heightened libido. But I do wonder what would have happened if my limerence crossed into a PA, or even a reciprocated EA…would it be possible then to still maintain Eros for my spouse at the same time?? Somehow I don’t think so, which is rather frightening. I consider myself fortunate that none of my LO’s have ever reciprocated (at least overtly). If ever a LO were to initiate something, would I be able to stay in control? Scary…
Serial Sufferer says
I’ve struggled to understand these two posts. I’m feeling confused by the Greeks’ 7 types of love.
I’m getting a huge red-flag feeling with this 2nd post. It seems to present options. Three options that are biased toward 3 of the 7 types of love, then three options that are combinations of those 3, or something like that. When the options include serial limerence and polyamory, I want to scream “IF YOU ARE IN LIMERENCE YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS CHOICE RIGHT NOW”. That point cannot be made too often.
This post really concerns me because I know that at times in my limerence, I would have read this post and taken away completely the wrong point, to my detriment. I would have seen this and thought I was supposed to decide which option is right for me – and being in limerence the only option that is right is the one where I seek the limerence high.
I re-read both posts a few times and eventually got that the point is figuring out what balance of the Greek loves you want vs. you have. I guess that could be helpful, or it could be just as easy to dispense with the Greek loves and just ask, Is there something I want that I’m not getting? In my case, it was attention. Not sure where that maps onto the Greek loves.
Unfortunately, limerence also hit me when life was peachy and I was getting all the attention I love. Purposeful living, knowing thyself, radical honesty, figuring out what I want that I’m not getting… well, I hope these activities offer protection from limerence but I don’t trust that I can ever be limerence-proof.
I’m ok with the actual point of the post, I just have concerns about how people who are trying to overcome limerence could so easily be misled. I’m really glad I did NOT read this post when I was in limerence.
I think I get what you mean, SS – that limerence messes with your judgement so much that you would inevitably decide “the correct blend of love for me is… total immersion with LO” Is that right?
The posts were stimulated by specific questions, both from people who were struggling because they were unhappy with the kind of love they were experiencing, compared to the kind they want (i.e. they weren’t in the euphoria phase of limerence).
Overall, the message is straightforward: become more self-aware of the love blend that you need. I just used a lot of words to get there 🙂
‘Well… okay. But you have to clear up the mess afterwards.’
Reminds me of the end of my civil partnership I’d either think ‘the bedding is a bit old and I don’t feel sexy…’ followed by… ‘we’ve just changed the sheets, I don’t want to mess them up with shenanigans!’
Obviously earlier in the relationship I’d been less bothered about a) the state of the bedding or b) the suddenly pivotal importance of a bed!
What a world, aye?