OK, maybe the title should be “limerence in the time of covid-19”, but I couldn’t resist the literary allusion.
The current pandemic is making us all face how our lives can suddenly be thrown into uncertainty. I’ve opined before that sensitivity to uncertainty could be the limerent’s Achilles’ heel. Maybe it’s not too surprising, therefore, that many of us have felt a sudden upsurge of limerence during this period of disruption.
We’ve had a couple of conversations break out in the comment threads on this, but I thought it would be good to start a specific open forum for discussions.
Like many others, I am now working from home in semi-isolation from the outside world. Inevitably, this leaves more time for introspection and rumination than in the busy professional environment of working life. Although I spend a lot of my time these days thinking about limerence, it is a few years since I was actually limerent. Nevertheless, I have noticed my subconscious throwing up thoughts of LO again recently, as though it is seeking around for sources of comfort or stress relief, and suggesting that maybe a bit of romantic rumination might work well as a distraction.
I think there are a few reasons why limerence sensitivity would increase just now.
1) Enforced cold-turkey No Contact
If regular contact with LO was part of your daily routine, sudden enforced no contact is going to be distressing. Not only do you have the addict’s anxiety of losing access to your supply, you also have the bonus of an externally imposed barrier that heightens the romantic longing. Feeling deprived of contact is very different from weaning yourself off them in a deliberate way.
2) Anxiety spikes
These are frightening times. Even if you are fairly laissez-faire about your own vulnerability to the virus, we most of us have friends and relatives who cannot be so laid back. We are also facing big economic and health system shocks. For those that use limerent reverie for mood repair, an uptick in anxiety means an uptick in intrusive thoughts.
3) Social isolation
It’s one thing to be stuck at home with a healthy, happy family, it’s another to be stuck at home alone. Or with a partner who you are not sure you want to be with anymore. Or with a dependent you care for. I think one of the under-discussed aspects of this crisis is the mental health consequences for those who depend on external support networks.
When isolated, social media is a godsend and a curse. If LO is only a text away, and you are in urgent need of emotional support, the risk of unhealthy limerence deepening is significant.
One way to combat this is to use other outlets to discharge your anxieties, and find other tribes who can listen with empathy to your predicament. So that’s the point of this post. Let’s share our thoughts in the comments!
Finally, on a personal note, I had planned a big celebratory launch for the Living with limerence book. Given current circumstances, that seems wholly inappropriate. But, the book is out now, and available to buy on Kindle and paperback through Amazon.
For those at home struggling with limerence and seeking some solace, I do think it will help.
Off topic, but I read Love in the Time of Cholera as a university student and was really affected by it. Looking at it again decades later, it’s so obviously about limerence…
Dr L, years ago someone whom I was limerent for asked me to read it because he said it reminded him of “us”. I think he may have been limerent for me too, but certainly not to the extent I was. I read the book, found it disturbing and am still not sure of the “us” in it. I know the book is considered a masterwork, but I found it creepy and unsettling. And the asparagus pee thing stays in my mind to this day!
Yeah, I seem to remember a bit about peeing too – talk of the main character overhearing her husband’s “stallion stream” in the bathroom – but the memory is faint.
I agree that it is very much about love as a disease. Not a positive view at all. But it really stayed with me as a book for its weirdness and mood (I read it before one hundred years of solitude, so it was my first Marquez).
Oh thanks for the recommendation. I’ve just bought that and Tennov’s book.
I posted elsewhere what I’ve been thinking about my XLOs. I hope they’re doing ok but beyond that nothing’s changed with respect to being Post-Limerent.
I played one of my favorite games. It’s the one where I set the scenario, clear my mind, and see what fills the void. The scenario was the worst happened and I was now available after all this cleared. I saw myself starting over with someone else.
But, the woman that turned up wasn’t either of my XLOs.
My office is still churning full speed but with a now-relaxed dress code. Funny side note – I recall when my LE first began it was around the time I first saw LO away from our work and dressed more casual. That seems so stupid and insignificant but it had a huge effect on my perception of her and the attraction started then in earnest. We are back in that situation but now on an everyday basis because of the pandemic. No customers/clients means relaxed dress. Such a silly thing I know but it fuels the LE for me.
I’ve used the past week of boredom to check in, for the first time, on two past LO’s, going back as far as 26 years. Both have been NC. I sent nice not intense emails, setting a comfortable tone and inquiring what was going on for them back then. To my surprise, the LO from 2000 replied almost immediately and said she had been going through a very bad time back then at work and knew I could be comforting as a friend to visit her for a weekend. I was single and had been crazy about her for years, interpreted this as movie-rom-com reciprocity, and showed up with flowers and expectations. It was a complete trainwreck that weekend for both of us. I have wondered since 2000 why that weekend went awry. She just wasn’t into me romantically despite what I thought was a certainty. I got my answer, I thanked her, and I’ve stopped thinking about her. That chapter in my life is finally closed.
The LO from 1994 was married, with a young son, and we had incredibly romantic dinners and phone calls for five years every few months. I was single. We would talk for hours, she would constantly say she loved me, but we never made love, or did anything together beyond these dinners. One time, she reached over to take a roll from the basket, broke it open, slowly buttered it, and gave it to me. This doesn’t sound like much, but this was the most crazy sexual romantic thing I’d ever experienced, I swear there were violins. She hasn’t replied to my email, and I suspect she won’t, but that’s OK. I’ve learned from this blog that I was her pet, a strong caring smart emotionally available man to live out a romance without interrupting her marriage.
Triumph of the day:
I managed to use my laptop at home to wake up my computer in the office, and am now controlling it via remote desktop.
I feel like a wizard.
Day 6 of self isolation with Corona symptoms …. its tough!! Kids going crazy trying to organise get energy clean up cook put to bed rest haaaa
Ive been talking to my LO non stop but first day he is at home and we speak a lot less today… i guess hes been a distraction,. Lets see what happens this limerence may help me or destroy me!!
Meme of the Day: https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0535/6917/products/imagination.jpg?v=1540860301
http://www.despair.com has some great stuff up.
I feel I am number 2. Having always had anxiety, LO helps me escape and temporarily sooth my instability. My thoughts and need to LO reciprocation has returned. I know what needs to be done and I am not afraid of a full relapse. I see these thoughts for what they are, my brain seeking an escape. This are really tough times and my anxiety is through the roof with kids and work.. it feels so surreal! We take for granted for everything and now it’s slowly being taken away I feel so unsettled. Hopefully we will come out the other end with a new sense of appreciation and get back to enjoying real life… Not the LO trip.
Bingo! And it’s not too surprising at the moment. Definitely a period when the whole world is playing out the conflict between intellect (look at the stats, stick to the plan) and feelings (death stalking the landscape).
This is me too. Anxiety very heightened, thoughts of LO escalating slightly. It doesn’t help that I ran into her at a public event in February. I smiled and said hi and kept walking but it was a dagger to the heart. But I have managed NC for over a year and I am not going to fuck it up now.
Suddenly forced to work at home and juggle work and teaching and entertaining my kids has left no time to daydream about my LO. Maybe even negative time if that’s a thing. That’s not to say he never pops into my head, though. It happens way more often, Like 20 times a day, but it’s just a passing thought because my mind is so full! I really wonder how he is doing right now. I’m not an anxious person, but I’ve experienced a few tragedies, sudden goodbyes (without getting to say goodbye) and natural disasters. This makes me want to contact him and tell him that I haven’t forgotten him. But I am determined to resist the urge to do so. It is so over. It has always been over, there was never any hope for the relationship that I wanted with him.
Ha, yeah! Didn’t think of the “too busy to entertain limerence” scenario.
The UK government has just decided the time has come to close the schools, so I may be in your boat soon…
Same, they are dismissing the high school early tomorrow with a strong possibility to go online learning as of Monday. Not sure about the youngest , it’s watch and wait.
With SO working from home, uncertainty of schools and running around looking for toilet paper my anxiety is through the roof. Ruminations and checking LOs profile pic a gazillion times a day here we come 🙄🙄
Anonymous Limerent says
With schools’ closure I am going to be away from LO for a bit. Yay. I feel like I’m going to miss her though, but NC can only be good.
Last week I was NC due to work experience and it made me see what life is like when no stress is involved. I hadn’t been stress-free since this started so it was nice. But I’m just three days into school again and I’m tearing myself up already. I dreamt about LO every night since Tuesday last week, except Monday, and I think that was because I was missing her. But in two days, I’ll (hopefully) be stress-free again.
Don’t tell me this pandemic isn’t all bad…
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Maybe you can focus on the next phase of your schooling? Perhaps get some kind of internships going, where you are out of the area, or doing more work experience, or apply for early entrance to college?
Anonymous Limerent says
Well, that may not be necessary. I just realised – the school could potentially be closed until September. That’s almost 6 months of NC. I mean, I’m not getting my hopes up or anything, but 6 months seems like enough time to overcome this limerence, so… I can only hope.
Sebastian Howard says
My le experience was like I became limerent for this girl I was getting weed from and hanging out with and I disclosed to her but she was ambiguous with her response and I was kind of pet limerent for a while until she ended up dating some other guy and admitting that she didn’t like me like that after not being straight up with me for forever. I’m not really hear to bitch but I just wanted to say I’m having trouble staying nc, I’ve know her for like a year and am kind of used to talking to her or hanging out or whatever and I’ll get a week into nc and then break it slightly like text her or whatever but then i block her again before there’s any actual conversation because I know I shouldn’t be talking to her. I haven’t probably had a convo with her in like two weeks but its still eating at me, does anyone here have advice on how to stay nc? It’s also kind of hard to totally get rid of her from my daily life as my friends, I was kind of acting as a contact to help her get weed deals before, will buy weed from her so I still like hear about her and shit.
😂 Get a weed from someone else then
Sebastian Howard says
I am getting weed from someone else, I was more talking about like I’ve been friends with her for like a year and she gave me like mixed signals but like I’m just saying it’s hard for me to keep her on no contact because I’m so used to talking to her I guess and I get like intrusive limerent thoughts. I’m still doing it I was just asking for advice on how to stay no contact.
I guess my comment came out badly, I didn’t mean I’m still buying weed from her, I meant that my friends are buying weed from her because I set her up with contacts that were my friends.
@Sebastian, my 2 cents:
This isn’t a situation that can be magically solved, any more than the coronavirus can be magically solved. All through our lives we fall for people who don’t fall for us. Next time, maybe a girl will fall for you, but you won’t be able to give her what she wants. Not only that, but in many other ways, we humans want things we can’t get, we get stuck in situations we can’t get out of, we’re confused about what to do or not do, we feel pulled in two directions…a lot of the time. “That’s life”, pretty much sums it up, in my opinion.
Also just my opinion, here’s what you do: you figure out what’s important to you, set some goals, and follow them, regardless of what your fickle emotions are telling you. If your relationship with this girl is messing you up badly, and preventing you from meeting someone else, then decide she’s history and go NC, or little contact. If you decide she’s a good person to keep in your life, then stay friends and keep your feelings about her to yourself. Yes, you’ll get intrusive thoughts, so plan for that by deciding what you’ll do instead, when those thoughts come up. Something that will do you good, like pushups. It doesn’t matter if you fail, just be determined to stick to your plan next time it happens.
The world is vast, if you just look up you’ll see it’s chock full of people and things and places and experiences for you to encounter, why focus your whole being on one person, unless you’re getting positive value from doing that.
Sebastian howard says
Satch I really do think the best thing to do is go nc, she or then intrusive thoughts are definitely causing me more pain than anything else and I feel like being a friends with her would be unauthentic and also drive me crazy. I def know that I should go nc but I just was looking for tips on staying nc. Just being friends with her would drive me absolutely batshit and there’s no way I could keep my feelings to myself I think.
Oh my this rings so true; I thought that I was doing better, but with the anxiety of this corona virus struck…..and hubby has had to have more surgery, so being in a hospital setting has become stressful, and seems to have awakened the ruminations that I thought were diminishing…not so now though…..it’s all back with full force, and adding to the anxiety, my LO has had to go to Australia to find work, now that Europe has virtually shut down….he’s even further away now…although social media was my only contact…..so yes, this whole virus thing seems to have re-awakened limerence full force…….now what to do, I have no idea…
Well I guess just try your best not to talk to lo and stay loyal to your husband. Ik it’s hard with like intrusive thoughts and such.
Hi Sebastian, there’s no chance that I would ever NOT be loyal to my husband….I did clarify on another post, but will do so here, my LO is on the other side of the world, in a relationship, and 45 years my junior……he’s 32 and I’m almost 76! so there’s no chance on this earth that I could or would ever not be loyal…………….to LO, I am just an old lady that was on one of his tours, but that 7 days is all it took for limerence to take hold……(although until I found this site, I had no idea what was happening)……..I have contact only through social media, and was doing really well…I had not contacted him, just to say hello, or with some other lame excuse, for two whole weeks, although I did check social media every day. But being under ‘stay at home’ orders, has totally disrupted everything…I succumbed, sent him a message….albeit very mundane, and of course was thrilled when I got a polite answer….now things have escalated on my part, and now I look for any and every little ‘like’ or ‘seen’ on my posts, and the only thing stopping me from messaging more and more often, is the fear of becoming a pest and getting deleted……….I try to reason with myself that this whole thing is totally ridiculous, I am embarrassed, sad, and confused……..he is younger than some of my grandsons, we have nothing in common, and I don’t even know what the attraction is, certainly not a love interest…(although he is beautiful), but he’s always there in my mind…it’s as if my mind has decided that I have to seek him out, but it won’t tell me why…….I was going to post this to another post, where someone asked me to share more of my story, but I can’t find the post….(I’ll blame that on old age, ha,ha,ha)……I have taken the emergency deprogramming course, and refer back to it often….but I fear that little will change until these troubled times are all over and done with….
There is a blog post: https://livingwithlimerence.com/2019/10/26/social-media-and-limerence/. Have you read it already?
I vaguely remember reading about organically letting the friendship with LO die instead of going nuclear NC. This is what I am trying to do but I am not sure whether I am doing it the right way. Is this a post on this with a tried and tested approach (Similar to NC)?
Also, my first comment here and I have to say this: Your site is the only reason I am still sane. Limerence is such a menace!
You’re supposed to try to peter off lo slowly if you can’t straight go no contact but the end result should be nc.
Just feeling terribly guilty to do it. sigh.
Hi Prof….same here. I would feel so guilty just cutting off all contact, but really, I have to wonder if he would even notice…….this whole limerence thing really is all in our heads isn’t it…I’m getting really good at finding excuses for going NC, thinking up how he would feel, what he would think…..seems as if I’m getting quite an expert at over thinking as well………and this staying at home, using social media far more than usual sure isn’t helping, will it ever end!
In the end it comes down to you or LO… what is more important?
I tried to stay friends with LO, I even gave LO love advice to chase his new LO. I cried in front of him multiple times telling him I want him out of my life and he begged me to stay in his life (as a friend), went on his knee begging me to stay, until the point I broke. One night, 7 messages from him, that his LO who rejected him then wanted him again, telling him that rejecting him was a mistake and him asking me what he should do… it really was breaking point for me where I could not put his needs above mine anymore and I told him that. I went to bed and I was done with it. I replied that I cannot take it anymore to be his friend and that I will remove myself from this equation and go NC. I never read the following 12 messages from him. It was the end (followed by a long period of time for me to recover and build myself up again to where I am now).
I follow this blog but I’m not the limerent one. My wife is in limerence and she had an affair and then left me for the LO. (I emailed Dr.L. before about this and was very happy to receive a response).
Long story short, she still says she loves me but she’s “in love with two men” and right now is not willing to come back, although she has started therapy and has agreed to be in couples therapy eventually..
Long story short, she has described the LO as “controlling” and with a lot of “testosterone”. He got angry at her and forbade her from contacting me. A month ago he left the country and was supposed to be gone for a long time, and in this time my wife reestablished contact with me again. She explained to me that with LO she gets “extremely scared” and so she was scared of contacting me.
We were starting to get back the contact we had but now suddenly the LO comes back to the country much earlier than expected, probably because of the covid-19 epidemic. My wife was very upset, she said it was healthy for her that he was away while she was trying to find herself again, and that she has many red flags about him coming back. She told me she will stop contacting me again, because she is scared…
This week my wife has had very limited contact with me, mostly just writing “Good night” at the end of the day. The whole country is shutting down because of covid-19, and I think she is trapped with the LO. I’m thinking about what this would mean, whether this will make the limerence stronger (adversity and uncertainty) or will make it burn out quicker (being isolated with LO for longer time will cause conflict and lead her to see more faults)…
Anyway I thought this point was not raised in the blog post. What if the epidemic causes you to be stuck closer to the LO than you would like?
“What if the epidemic causes you to be stuck closer to the LO than you would like?”
Sounds like just desserts for lying and cheating.
Hard to avoid that feeling of schadenfreude, eh? Most affairs do tend to end badly, which seems like some sort of cosmic justice, but is more likely due to the fact that people who lack self-awareness make bad life choices.
Nad – as a general point, be careful with your boundaries. The temptation to save her is probably very powerful right now, but you need to protect yourself. She made her choice when she left, and you have had to deal with the consequences. She might feel she is in love with two men, but that doesn’t mean she is entitled to support and commitment from two men. Or even worse – support and commitment from you, and sex from him.
It may feel like vindication for you that she has now realised she made the wrong choice, but that doesn’t mean you should put yourself back in harm’s way emotionally.
Stick to your purpose.
Another point on this, Nad. One of the consequences of infidelity is that your ex has proven herself to be a duplicitous person. She may not come across as a bad person, or a liar – she may “just” have been emotionally overwhelmed – but the problem is that it is now hard to trust that she is being truthful about her LO.
It may be that he is a testosterone-fuelled bully, or it may be that he is getting a taste of the insecurity and jealousy involved in being in a relationship with someone who seeks other men for support when she is feeling bad.
I might be wrong, but I’d apply a degree of scepticism and caution about what she says.
DrL, you’re right. I think he’s both. He knew from the start she’s married and therefore she is prone to cheating and no wonder he gets controlling.
It has been very hard for me to detach myself, especially given her traumatic childhood. But since now she is in therapy I feel I’ve done enough and I’m focusing on myself. I’m in therapy myself and I’m concentrating on rebuilding my own life.
Ahh, the drama triangle. A common and often compelling geometry you want to get yourself as far away from as possible. See https://lindagraham-mft.net/triangle-victim-rescuer-persecutor-get/
She can call the police if she is truly afraid of him. Let them sort it out. That is what they are paid for. What are you supposed to do? Duel for her? She left you long before she moved out. Affairs do not “just happen”. She put a lot of time and energy into the relationship.
Best thing to do for now is to block her number, change the locks and consult an attorney regarding your rights now that she has left. Get tested for STIs. Including a blood test for herpes, syphilis and HIV. I doubt he has been any more truthful or faithful to her than she has been to you.
You need to hear this – YOU MATTER. YOUR feelings have value. You did not force her to cheat on you. She chose to do so.
May everyone reading here today be hale, hearty and taking every precaution possible to prevent getting ill or spreading it about.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Yay! A Lee post.
@Nad, I am an even-tempered, non-confrontational guy with extreme patience. I pride myself on not losing my temper. I also own and run a company with ~50 employees.
Once in a very long time, I will get totally fed up with poor behavior from an employee, or a vendor, or a customer. I will lose my temper, state black-and-white conditions, and draw a firm line. In a loud, no-nonsense voice.
I worried in the past that it would cause me to lose status in my employees’ eyes.
But it actually causes them to respect me more.
You are being treated very disrespectfully by your wife, shut that down immediately. Cut her off. If she comes back, she comes back on YOUR terms.
She will come back faster. If she doesn’t, she wasn’t coming back anyway.
As I mentioned in the “resolving to recover” post, I shared a comforting song with LO, a link to a post. Something that may help with anxiety, and sleep.
Know she saw it, and am sad that she didn’t respond or like.
So foolish of me! After a whole day of NC, after a good therapy session. I weakened, and I am disappointed in myself that I ramped up the bad feelings again.
DJ – virtual SLAP!!! Now stop it!
I needed that. Almost as much as I need LO to like my latest post! (This is a sick disease.)
In the effort to bring comfort and hope to others, here is my current corona situation. My SO is off work for an undetermined amount of time. I am working. My LO is working. We all work for the same company but with different roles. This LE has been going on for about 2 years. I knew early on this was a coping mechanism and not real so I was somewhat mentally ahead of things but I still played out all of the typical limerent behaviors of wanting LO’s attention and bouncing back and forth between seeking him out and avoiding him. Basically, we have no relationship. We encounter each other regularly, have mostly meaningless chit chat, and occassionally deal with each other for work related subjects. I feel like this LE is coming to an end because I was very diligent about keeping my thoughts in check as far as my motivations and triggers. I value my marriage and do not want to cause damage over something that has more to do with how I perceive myself and my circumstances than it has to do with having what seems like genuine feelings for a virtual stranger.
Anyway, yesterday I had to ask for LO’s help. Him helping me is a trigger for limerence. The hero thing. A while back, we had a brief conversation about him helping me (he offers and I say no). After one particular incident, I felt that I had offended him and apologized and he said he did not mean to offend me (I guess he thought I was perceiving him as sexist, which I was not). I said I had to be independent. We seemed to understand each other but then I was unsure if I had made the situation worse. He seemed to become more distant. Time passed and then yesterday I asked for help. He laughed (oh the irony) but helped me. He asked about a co-worker and I over-shared some information (realizing this keeps the conversation/ attention going). I said something that I later realized was kind of stupid because it was so obvious. At the time of our conversation, I caught a few glimpses of facial expressions that seemed to reveal how he felt about what I was saying. In the state of limerence I would have been elated at first that we had this conversation at all, that it was more than a 4 second exchange, and thought that it meant something until I started to over-analyze it and put myself in a state of despair over how stupid I sounded or how nervous I was or on and on and on…. all negative self-talk.
But… yesterday, after practicing the mental method of saying, “who gives a shit” for several months now. For example: Who gives a shit what he thinks? Who gives a shit if he was genuine or fake? Who gives a shit if he made a face? Who gives a shit if he laughed at something that wasn’t meant to be funny? ETC. I finally got to a point where I DON’T GIVE A SHIT!!!
My situation is much “simpler” than some/ most LE’s because I made a significant effort to keep it under control early on. Maybe that can be the take-away point for my ramblings for those who are in the early stages to keep the situation in check and recover sooner. Good luck, Limmies!
Love the ‘who gives a shit” mantra, will be giving that one a go. Thanks Peg.
Limerent Lucy says
Oh, wow – I hadn’t connected my resurgence of limerence with the coronavirus but it’s true! It’s gotten worse just as things in my country have started ramping up. I even reached out to him to check in, knowing his situation at work.
Well, now I feel stupid, but also enlightened… it also explains my struggle to be satisfied with my husband – as soon as the limerence comes back he goes out the window, otherwise I think he’s great. Poor guy. Well, I have a purpose to make my marriage stable and some career goals, so it’s time to focus on that.
Thanks Dr L!
Oh also, I tried to review your book on Amazon but it wouldn’t let me! I haven’t spent enough money apparently, but on Amazon in my country I definitely have. Does anyone know a way around this barrier??
It’s so unfair, isn’t it? One of those times where you can really tell that the limerence is literally deranging your faculties.
Re. review – many thanks for trying. I have had some country-specific reviews (especially in UK – thanks, compatriots!), so if you search for Living with Limerence in your own country’s Amazon store you should be able to leave a review on that site.
Before publishing a book myself I had assumed all reviews would be available across all territories in which the book was published. Apparently not!
Am really struggling with rumination again. After doing the deprogramming, I had felt like I was making progress reducing this before lock-down but I seem to have regressed. I feel like I have two choices right now 1) Master my rumination but feel depressed by current situation i.e. loss of purpose, goals, usual pastimes, social connections and not seeing boss LO 2) Ruminate obsessively about LO to balance my low mood but suffer occasional bouts of unhappy realism. There are no good options! No. 2 seems to be winning at the moment but I know I am making this so much harder for myself further down the road.
Not seeing LO makes by ruminations so much worse – I think it disconnects me from the cooling reality of work contact with an LO that is now scrupulously professional and a bit distant with me.
I know I really need to work on the rumination but am struggling to find the will to. Limerence is such a trap!
I hear you Allie! I too am opting for option 2, it’s the only way I can stop from sliding into depression.
I agree, not seeing LO at all is like putting on my rose coloured glasses again. I don’t have the constant reminder that he’s avoiding me, being cool and distant instead I am replaying all the fun cosy chats we had, neatly picking apart all the scenes where we’ve been “close”. I am starting to glorify him again and it’s really hard to stop.
So back on the pedestal LO goes……sigh
I feel the same when Lee-Anne. That is so true, LO is back on the pedestal again, thanks to civic 19……Will it ever end, sigh…
Don’t be too hard on yourself! As I cover in the course, relapses and setbacks are inevitable on the road to recovery. Given that all our lives have been totally upended by the pandemic, lots of limerents are suddenly finding themselves vulnerable again. As you say there are two big factors: first, we have had no contact enforced, making us feel a bit powerless, and second, our plans for a purposeful new life have also been derailed. As disruptions to action plans go, this is a pretty spectacular one!
So, I would say that for now accept that it’s going to take some time to find a new emotional equilibrium and that this isn’t evidence that you’ve completely failed and gone back to square one. You’ve banked a lot of gains already (the evidence for this is that you are well aware of what you are doing and the implications for your recovery – i.e. you are self aware now of your triggers and risks). I think the best hope for relief is to try and find purposeful projects that you can do in isolation. Yes, your action plan is messed up because you can’t work on your normal goals and pastimes, but can you think of new goals in the here and now?
One possibility (depending on other demands) is to take some time for deep work on yourself. I’m currently reading a book called “Built to Serve” which is an enjoyable but occasionally sobering read, based on understanding the events that have most shaped your core identity. It’s a business-focused book, but I rarely get the time to actually sit down and get to grips with some of the most important and formative aspects of my past. It feels right for me to be taking time on this when my daily life and progress has been paused by world events.
I had a relapse with a small “r.”
LO #2 was a Critical Nurse when were dating. All the stuff on the news gets me thinking a lot about her. I did a quick FB driveby. There was nothing new. I don’t have any inclination to re-engage. Maybe it’s an indicator things are where they should be.
On top of that…A friend of mine lives a few miles from LO #4. He posted a picture of his and him out on a walk. The location is some place there’s a good likelihood LO #4 has frequented. I could see her standing in their place. It was something I didn’t need to see but it wasn’t too bad.
It’s getting to all of us, isn’t it?
I guess one positive way of looking at it is if a disruption this huge is only causing lower case relapses, then we’re in pretty good shape.
They live in a relatively remote area. I asked my friend if he’d ever run into LO #4.
Luckily, he hasn’t.
Vicarious Limerent says
There are several problems for me right now. The shutdown is worsening my depression and the cabin fever is really getting to me. I am also thinking more about my LO, and it is obvious that I won’t be running into her anytime soon. I can’t go to the gym (although I am trying to do at home workouts and lots of walks with my dog), and things like pubs, restaurants, concerts, movies, bowling and most shopping are out of the question. That is naturally causing me to have fewer distractions from my LO, and I therefore ruminate about her much more. My wife and I are spending too much time together (I have to work from home now and she mainly works nights) and it is only a matter of time before we really get on each other’s nerves. I am also a little worried about my LO because she works frontline in an essential sector where there have been COVID-19 outbreaks.
However, the biggest problem for me right now is that most outlets and mechanisms for self-improvement and marital counselling, recovery and growth are unavailable. It feels like much of my life is on hold, and I won’t be able to continue to do too much to improve my situation until this is all over. I am even having a hard time concentrating on work.
I also half accidentally found my LO’s new profile picture on Facebook. It is gorgeous – really sexy and classy looking. I believe it was the same picture she had on there the day after I met her – until she changed it to the one she had displayed for most of the last four months. That caused me real pain last night, but I noticed one very interesting thing afterwards based not only on last night, but also on previous limerent episodes that were heightened: That absolute height of limerence, which was characterized by extreme sadness and pining away for her, quickly gave way to a much calmer, less limerent feeling. It was as if the extreme high was immediately followed by a much lower period of limerence. I wonder if that is something that can be used as therapy? Is this almost (but not quite) an example of what the lady in this video refers to as “flooding” at 2:16: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNVPl_YO3aU)?
I am having many of the same concerns now, but you can consciously make a choice to prevent you and your wife from getting on each other’s nerves. That little project is anti-limerence – you are engaged, purposefully, in your wife’s happiness, as you should be. When I do things like that it really helps me understand what reality is vs my limerent fantasy.
Meditation also helps. It lets you separate from your head, from your emotions. It reminds you that these limerent feelings are your neurotransmitters going off, not something that is actually urgent.
Vicarious Limerent says
Thanks for the tips, DJ. My wife and I are getting along pretty well, but some of it is phony. She knows things are a little fragile, so she is acting all syrupy-sweet with me. It isn’t the norm, but I guess I have to take it at face value. If I am serious about giving my marriage a genuine chance, I need to work with her to get through this difficult time. We can start having date nights and think about counselling — and I can continue my personal journey of self-improvement and making new friends — once this is all over, but I am concerned that will take months rather than weeks. According to some reports, spring and maybe summer will be a write-off this year, and I am finding that difficult to handle because my winter was already ruined by limerence (although there were some positives such as a renewed focus on exercise and weight loss, as well as the fact that my LE alerted me to the existence of so many problems in my life that I could no longer ignore). I have never been one for meditation, but perhaps I should give something like that a try. I personally find long walks and listening to music to be relaxing (and having a few beers, although that can be overdone quite easily).
Song of the Day: “You’re So Sweet, Horseflies Keep Hangin’ Round Your Face” – Neil Diamond (1969)
A little quarantine humor! Imagine serenading your LO with this!
My UH is limerent, and chose to leave our family a couple of months ago. He is currently living with his LO.Does limerence fade faster in this situation? Where feelings are reciprocated and they are (since covid) essentially with each other 24 hours a day?
Hi Kate, and welcome.
The good news is that, yes, I think it is likely that limerence would fade faster under these conditions. The idealisation becomes less sustainable, and the certainty of reciprocation tends to discharge the limerence (unless LO is really flaky and still keeps him feeling insecure).
The less good news is that when someone makes a leap like this (leaving their family and moving in with LO) it is very hard for them to “row back” from it. They’ve made a very public decision and reversing that is going to make them look even more ridiculous.
If you don’t want him back, then you can allow yourself a little cold comfort that he is probably coming off his high and regretting his decision. If you do want him back, then you may still have disappointments ahead.
Generally, the philosophy of this site is that purposeful living is the answer to most problems. Hopefully you can find positive goals to focus on and are managing to look after yourself through this trial (and through covid).
Best wishes to you and your family.
Article of the Day: https://thoughtcatalog.com/holly-riordan/2020/04/when-someone-toxic-reaches-out-again/
Just in case you’re inclined to relapse with your NC LO.
Unrelated song of the day..
I want so badly LO to tell me what she feels even to the point of wanting bad news: e.g. her telling me I’m the worst thing to ever happen to her, she regrets ever meeting me, she feels guilt for feeling something for me, etc.
mostly because I feel all those things about her and the LE in general. I want her to share my misery. Not because I hate her and want her to suffer; but because I want someone to UNDERSTAND what I’m going through. Apart from this great online community of strangers of course.
But the thought that she feels nothing. Or doesn’t think about me at all. Destroys me.
“But the thought that she feels nothing. Or doesn’t think about me at all. Destroys me.” Very strong words, B. They make me burst into tears.. That’s exactly what limerents like me with unrequited LO’s feel. All the time.
Before the lockdown, I still had a random kind word, a smile, sudden locking eyes, which reignited the hope again. Now with the isolation and forced NC, those are gone. Reality is right there in front of my nose. Escape in fantasy is not “working” anymore. I now have to face it. I’m going through the grieving stage now. Disenfranchised grief exactly. It hurts. I hope it means I’m making progress.
Song of the Day: “You Don’t Know Me” – Jerry Vale (1956)
My step-mother loved Jerry Vale. If it wasn’t him playing, it was Al Martino, Perry Como, Tony Bennett or some other crooner of the era.
B – “”But the thought that she feels nothing. Or doesn’t think about me at all. Destroys me.””
I’ll write it slightly differently but along similar lines.
The knowledge that he feels something but can discart it and walk away without a backward glance destroys my confidence and trust in my own feelings. I always thought I was very intuitive and sensitive to people around me, but limerence has made me doubt everything.
I clearly don’t cross his mind at all, or at least not enough to warrant even a hello, not even a sneaky hello. I am undecided what to feel about that, desolation or just sheer rage.
Currently my emotions are sitting on the fence, indecisive and confused.
What would you do with the knowledge if you had it?
Scharnhorst, I have NFI!
I generally don’t doubt my instincts and I am at a loss as to why I even need concrete proof, it’s never bothered me before 🤷🏼♀️
I’d like to think I’ll finally have peace from ruminations….or maybe I’ll bask in the glory and wear the knowledge like a secret badge.
As always Lee-Anne, so similar to my experience. I once had 2 weeks of intense reciprocating behaviour from my boss LO that I really believed matched my feelings. Then…nada. Scrupulous professionalism. Cool distance. When he does call me (about work), it has me floating on clouds and rainbows for a day or two. But he is totally focused on work, he no longer betrays even a flicker of interest in me and he can happily go days without calling me (about work), thus leaving my emotions crashing to the ground. How can he get over his feelings so easily? Did my limerent mind completely exaggerate his reciprocation? But then I ponder….I hide my feelings too – is he just masking his (as afraid of HR type consequences) but is actually thinking some of the same thoughts I am? And so my cycle of obsession continues….
So the early reciprocation, while lovely, has ultimately made my LE so much harder to recover from as I re-live it daily and bounce between the wishful belief that he feels the same, and the miserable belief that his feelings were only fleeting.
@ Lee-Anne and Scharnhorst,
I’ll add this from personal experience (I have posted about it before so I apologize if it’s redundant):
The knowledge of reciprocal feelings, while great for a little while, is never enough. It doesn’t last. My LO told me she shared secret feelings for me when I disclosed. Things were fine for a while after that. Then uncertainty crept back in. Ups and downs. I started wondering: did I imagine all that? Does she STILL hold feelings for me even though she acts normal and even aloof sometimes? It drives me nuts wanting to disclose again, to get an “update,” which sounds so stupid. And even if I did and she acknowledged it again, what makes me think I won’t be right back in the same spot a few months from now? So the knowledge you speak of is never enough. I now feel like I need knowledge of her struggling and being miserable due to her feelings. That’s what I crave.
Allie – “I once had 2 weeks of intense reciprocating behaviour from my boss LO that I really believed matched my feelings. ” Same, I’ve had reciprocating behaviour for 3 years from my LO, the last few months before Christmas was the best. We both knew we liked each other , we enjoyed each others company often without feeling a need to verbally declare, then one day “boom”, he disappeared and when he came back he avoided me for weeks. I was devastated, it really threw my feelings into a tailspin and made me reassess everything. I refused to confront him though, although I got the the distinct impression he was rattling my cage hoping for a reaction. I think his SO was also gunning for a reaction so she could let it rip, instead I pretended to both of them I didn’t notice. I did give LO an opportunity to speak a few weeks ago but instead he changed the subject, twice, I didn’t push.
B – thank you for your post, it confirms what I was already thinking. Confirmation of reciprocation from LO is a bad idea for everyone concerned.
Guys, B, Emma,
I read words like ” it will destroy me” . Have you ever tried to fill in some CBT ( cognitive behavioural therapy) practice? It’s easy do do yourself, it will not take away your limerence but it can give some relief every now and than.
There are tons of examples online, I use the concept:
What’s the situation:
What are my thoughts about the situation:
How do the thoughts make me feel:
Are these thoughts really true ( Like a fact , and not prediction, emotional based, black and white , etc)
What thoughts are more realistic and help me ?
Of course you will not be destroyd, you are probably stronger than you think you will feel very very bad, but not destroyed. Because you will go on, and it will get better.
Anyway, just a tip, it can help me sometimes when I get really bad.
Good idea Mia, I’ll look into that. I used to do this long ago but I’m not anymore very familiar with it. I found great resources online. Perhaps CBT could actually be a good tool against limerence… 🤔
It can at least help to keep your thoughts a little more realistic, so your feelings can stay a little more realistic too.
Limerence is Dumb says
One of my triggers is feeling trapped, so this Covid has to be the absolutely biggest trigger for me that could ever possibly be. The first few weeks of lockdown I held strong, but as time at home with kids has gone on my anxiety has continued to increase. Part of managing that previously has been reaching out to LO to get a quick hit to lesson the anxiety, although at times it made things worse if I didn’t get a response or the response I wanted.
Anyway, after week 3 I caved. I texted LO. We have been in contact since, although limited. I’m not in full blown relapse with him, but definitely this is set back. It’s the same old song and dance from him, hot and cold, and that just keeps me hooked. Ugh. Why do I do this to myself?? I need my executive brain to kick things up a notch. I KNOW the end result will always be the same, the emotional roller coaster that our relationship has been for 2.5 years, and yet these Covid triggers have been winning out big time recently.
I have an amazing life with a husband many women would give anything for, and yet when things are hard I want to reach for LO as an escape. I don’t understand it. I think the more self work I do, the more I see I don’t have and am fearful of complete vulnerability and emotional transparency with my husband; therefore, when I’m faced with making that choice in order to feel better I don’t pick it, but go outside of my marriage for an escape. In a way it’s almost as I feel LO sees who I really am (a married woman breaking boundaries) but is still interested, this makes me feel validated and seen in a weird way. Almost like an ego thing too, that even though I am flawed by being so dishonest, LO still can’t stay away.
Anyway, yes Covid is making very hard for me to make progress.
@limerence is dumb
“I have an amazing life with a husband many women would give anything for, and yet when things are hard I want to reach for LO as an escape. I don’t understand it. I think the more self work I do, the more I see I don’t have and am fearful of complete vulnerability and emotional transparency with my husband; therefore, when I’m faced with making that choice in order to feel better I don’t pick it, but go outside of my marriage for an escape“
I could have written this exact comment! I understand this so perfectly. I’ve always wanted to be able to be emotionally transparent and vulnerable, and I’ve always craved intimacy…. but when it came down to it, I was too afraid (and also clueless as to how to actually do it). It was like I wanted it and didn’t want it, and I felt the absence of it so acutely. It was such a lonely feeling. When my LO came along it was an experience of finally feeling like I could be and have all the things I wanted and craved (we had an EA) and I was really honest and vulnerable with him. Or, I thought I was. What I realize now- after having been discovered by my SO and almost a year into NC- is that it was like a controlled experiment. I could feel the benefit of feeling seen and heard and understood, while simultaneously being able (having to) shut it down at certain times in order to see to my “real life”. And I was, because of that, able to edit and control things (which isn’t transparent at all). I have also begun to realize that my emotional infidelity was equivalent to living on credit- the bill ALWAYS comes due and with interest on top of it. And I mean that in all ways: interest due in my relationship with SO, inside of myself as I work to repair the cuts that I made in my own heart, in my integrity and with my beliefs, and in my feelings of remorse over having used LO.
“ In a way it’s almost as I feel LO sees who I really am (a married woman breaking boundaries) but is still interested, this makes me feel validated and seen in a weird way. Almost like an ego thing too, that even though I am flawed by being so dishonest, LO still can’t stay away”
Yes!!! I thought that LO saw the worst in me and also the best in me- and because the worst didn’t scare him off it meant he accepted me. We were mutually Limerent, so the whole thing was fog and dopamine saturated. I can see now how incompatible we would actually be in actual lucid life. I had no plans to ever disclose to my SO; I would have tried to go to my grave with it. I thought it would kill him and that we’d never recover. By grace he discovered it. It has been difficult, but it’s the first time in my life that I know what authentic vulnerability feels like. And he sees the worst I have to offer and loves me including it. We’re still recovering and it’s not easy, but now I have my integrity back, and I’ve learned so much. In a crazy way the time after D-day has been the best I’ve had. Everyday I have to deal with various things, but I would NEVER go back to the sneaking and dishonesty and fear that I was living under during that time.
Hang in there. Be brave. There’s so much to be learned in this- and the end result of doing right by yourself and your life can be truly amazing.
I’m new to the site, and I’m so grateful I found it now. I simply could not understand what was happening to me, why is it so intense, but at least I can now name it, and start going through the book, steps to take back control, and read posts to get a better understanding of this.
A short story, as it helps when it is not only in my head, might be a bit over-sharing, let’s see:
I can clearly see that I’m part of “limerence in the time of covid-19” wave, as this LE is new to me. Single, midlife, suddenly locked in when normally travelling for work, now too much time to “think about life” and not much work to do, convinced that it is the end of world as we know it, and simply feeling lonely. And all it took was me sending a message to Her, person I only had a brief chat on-line months ago, “Are You doing OK? Do you need any help?”.
It started a chain of events: hours of conversations over the phone, hundreds of massages back and forth, from “Have a good day” in the morning to chats well into the night, meetings. And I thought I was not capable to fall for someone so fast, so soon. Now convinced that it is a last chance for a new start. Now I know “it’s Me not Her”, and she was smart to notice the problem after several weeks (said it was not healthy), but I was already addicted, and could not dial it down. High was really high after the contact, and low is really low when we do not have this connection. No off switch.
Now in a second attempt at No Contact, 4th day. Let’s see if I take back control of the mess I created.
Hi M, and welcome.
That does sound like a classic recipe for becoming limerent – the sudden change in your life’s equilibrium, the “ideal other” who turns up just when you need connection, and the escalating, addictive feedback loop of emotional arousal.
The climb back out is slow, steady work, but it is possible to take back control. It sounds like you are already on the right track – establishing a recovery mindset, and recognising that this is your battle to fight internally, not some sort of external fate that has been visited upon you. That’s a great place to start from.
Good luck, and best wishes!
Thank You for the feedback. I’m now focusing on two aspects from Your book and blog.
First the acknowledgement of addiction. If I can try to switch from analyzing 100 ‘what if’ scenarios with LO in my head, into mindset of admitting that it is addiction, and it needs to be dealt with or better fought with, I might be in a better place mentally. At least to keep NC for now.
Second is admitting to myself that I cannot be friends with “active” LO. This is one is hard to process, but now I understand it is necessary. Let’s see if I can put it into practice.
Today I made the step to contact a therapist, this LE in combination with lockdown is getting out of control, after sobbing uncontrollably for like 40 minutes in my car and even biting my steering wheel before arriving at work I know I have to do something. This is getting crazy.
I feel even rejected when LO would propose. ( I’m almost divorced, not because of LO ) but we decided to go NC till at least my divorce comes through and till we can fly again, which is like never when I think of it pessimisticly). That would be NC nr 3 in a month. I’m always to one to break and I got super upset to hear that LO was doing well during our NC! ( The selfishness of LE ) I wanted him to be miserable too I must admit.
But it’s such a pitty most therapist don’t know limerence so I explained by Dr L s definition, I’m addicted to a person and it makes me either euphoric or very very depressed, and I must say, more depressed than euphoric.
I’m so so happy to talk to someone, does anybody have (good) experience with therapy?
I can’t speak to therapy but I am curious how one goes about finding the right therapist, when one knows exactly that the problem is limerence and nothing else. I don’t need help identifying it. I need help become free from it. But I too have read that so many therapists don’t really understand limerence or treat it.
I totally understand your comment about wanting LO to be miserable as well. I have had this same thought throughout my LE, even before lockdown. It’s as if I can’t stand to see her laugh with others or be happy. I want her to be my partner in misery, mainly because I have no one else (SO knows I am depressed but does not know the source). It feels so alone, but something about knowing LO is also miserable gives me comfort. I know how you feel.
Thank you B , I get the loneliness, I morally crossed a line this week to cry in my soon to be ex SO arms ( over LO ) while SO probably thought it was because of the divorce. Yes that’s not very ethical but I so much wanted to feel someone, somebody to put his arms around me and let me cry my heart out. I want to know with therapy what was first, an underlying depression and than LE or the other way around, because I use LE def as mood regulation. ( Not a very effective one).
And sometimes I wonder if hanging around on this site all day helps me or not, I love reading about Limerence but it’s also like I can’t stop anymore.
Does anyone have the same ?
Vicarious Limerent says
@ Maria: This site and community are a godsend in many ways. Dr. L is great and the level of support from fellow sufferers has helped me tremendously (even if the support sometimes consists of a virtual kick in the arse — something I often need!). But I agree with you that coming on here too often can be counterproductive. Checking for new posts and replies becomes an obsession in itself. I think it is helpful to set limits on the frequency of visits (once or twice per day, taking weekends off, etc.). I think it is a good idea to remind onself not to overshare (obviously I don’t always practice what I preach). I also believe trying to be helpful and supportive to others can be a useful strategy rather than always looking for advice (not saying you do that, but I am trying to be like that wherever possible; even if I vent about my own situation, I am hoping it can help others).
I have had a couple of therapy sessions with my employer’s EAP service. Interestingly enough, the intake counselor I talked to first was highly familiar with limerence, but the more senior (I am assuming) in-person counselor didn’t seem to be aware of it. It was useful for validation to show that my feelings were completely “normal,” but I didn’t think it helped much beyond that. I thought the second counselor was nudging me in the direction of couple’s counseling (which the EAP also offers). I remember your situation being somewhat similar to mine (with respect to your marriage anyway). Are you sure you really want a divorce? Limerence can really cloud our judgement. I also believe the current pandemic makes it much harder to make a proper decision or improve our situations with so many outlets for marital and self-improvement being put on hold. I think it is possible my wife and I end up going our separate ways, but since there is still love there, I am at least willing to try to turn things around. All the best to you, your LO and your SO as you navigate through this difficult time!
Sorry to hear what you are going through, Maria.
As with limerence, too much of anything can become a problem. So, taking a break from thinking about limerence and what it all means may be a good idea. You can perhaps focus on what you want to get out of therapy, as Scharnhorst suggests. And the general comment I always make is that you should look for rapport with the counsellor as the most important thing. I remember a study that showed the rapport was a much better predictor for a successful therapeutic benefit than the particular school of psychotherapy practiced. So don’t be afraid to “shop around” if you can.
I’ve worked with 4 therapists officially and talked to a few more in the 12 years since I started actually trying to solve my issues. Therapy wasn’t continuous. I’d seek out a therapist when there was a particular issue I thought they could help with.
I talk about it in https://livingwithlimerence.com/2017/04/07/therapy-for-limerence/
Each time I worked with a therapist, I had a defined agenda. It helped.
When I started trying to understand my relationship with LO #2 years ago, the therapist asked what I wanted to accomplish. I told her I wanted it to stop hurting and I wanted to be able to remember LO #2 fondly. The therapist said those were reasonable and achievable goals.
The better you can frame your goals, the better results you’re likely to achieve. But, a lot of this presumes you have a good therapist who’s willing to work with you and not try to force you into a box he/she can use to bill the insurance company.
Thank you all so much, that helped.
And yes I want the divorce, LE sure clouds and manipulates my mind but the problems where there way before, so if anything good comes out of LE, it’s at least that I took the step to leave my marriage, something I wanted but didn’t dare to for very long.
And thank you Dr L , you’ve thaught me, and all of us, so much about Limerence, everything you write is spot on, that’s why it’s so tempting to keep reading.
I’m going to set boundaries for myself cause reading about Limerence all days is kind of another way to numb myself.
Thank you all!
I feel the same when Lee-Anne. That is so true, LO is back on the pedestal again, thanks to civic 19……Will it ever end, sigh…
Whoops, please omit the “when”.
I am really struggling with anxiety at work. My LO is my boss – he is the main person I interact with at work as my role is mostly to support his, and he does my annual appraisals. While we were co-located in the office together a few days per week, I had no issues with work. I got my LO fix – a slightly distant and scrupulously professional fix maybe but that was sufficient. Our working relationship was professional and effective, as was my work focus. Now that we are working from home, I have not spoken to my boss via phone for over 2 weeks now (apart from a brief question). He is managing me via email which is really not like him. I find conversations with him very calming and help me focus on work so find it hard without them. On top of that, work is a struggle for me as am homeschooling 2 kids at the same time and feel like I am doing a sub-standard job of both (I set high standards for myself making me my own worst enemy!). Without any proper contact with him, I have no measure if whether he is happy with my work and my need for reassurance is sky-high currently. And I miss him so much it is painful. The lockdown has really intensified my feelings and ruminating. This is all sending me into a cycle of worry which does not help my productivity…. Is he avoiding me? Or is he just busy and has no care for me? Is he OK? Is he limerent too and struggling as I am? Is this his attempt at LC? Maybe he will want to move me off the team as it is too hard working together or because he is not happy with my work? These negative feelings are starting to colour everything at work. I hate it so much.
I just wish I could discuss this with him to have some clarity… he is nice and we are friends of sorts – if I have got it wrong (he did show clear reciprocating behaviour at one point), I am sure he would be kind. If I have guessed right about him then we can confirm to each other where we stand, and both decide how best to manage our working relationship. But I know there is risk attached to this and the whole idea of starting up this conversation scares me.
HI Allie- I’m so sorry for your discomfort:(Reading what you wrote reminded me of a book that I read recently and got a tremendous amount of help from. Here’s a link to a summary of it: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/use-your-mind-change-your-brain/201106/you-are-not-your-brain It seems to me to fit perfectly with so many of the things that DrL. talks about in this blog- the physiologial processes that contribute to limerence, as well as the things that most help us move away from the painful urges, impulses and cravings into a more purposeful life. This is such a weird time, and we are filling so many different roles right now in a kind of nebulous isolation…. I don’t know you, but I’m almost positive you’re doing better than you think (and that all of us are struggling too).
I feel for you, Allie. This is a beautifully rendered account of how anxiety can drive limerent rumination. The stages jump out:
It’s such a clear distillation of how uncertainty can be rocket fuel for limerence, and how lockdown has turned up the uncertainty dial for us all.
Deep down, I suspect you know that the desperate desire to eliminate the uncertainty (and get some reciprocation) by Having An Adult Talk about your respective feelings is likely to backfire. You probably won’t end the uncertainty. You will probably create more, as he will be caught unprepared and not know how to handle it on the spot. That means, whatever his feelings for you, he will probably not give a clear and simple answer. And, of course, it could also blow up spectacularly.
And try imagine the agony you’ll be in when you’re waiting for the next phonecall from him, when the last one ended abruptly after your clumsy disclosure…
Here’s the objective truth: none of us know why your boss has switched to email, but chances are it is just due to something going on in his life, and nothing to do with your behaviour, quality of work, or his feelings for you. Everyone is going a bit loopy at the moment. Half my colleagues seem to be turning into hermits, and the other half are frazzled beyond reason trying to do everything online.
This is an inner battle for you. That’s where you have to confront the uncertainty and try to accept it. He can’t solve it for you by admitting that he had feelings for you once, because you’ll just start on the next cycle of rumination: “maybe he was only saying that to be kind”, “I’d better just call and reassure him that I don’t want to act on my feelings,” or “Oh god, what if he talks to his boss and I get moved off the team.”
You need to try and calm your limerent brain, and reassure yourself that you are fine not knowing how he is, and fine not knowing how he feels about you. You have homeschooling to help with, kids to love and care for, and a job to do to the best of your abilities. All of that is true, regardless of what is going on with your LO.
I am sorry to hear you are struggling so bad. Your comment was painful to read and brought back some absolutely awful memories and feelings about my situation. I can wholeheartedly empathise with you and all the rumination is a killer. It’s exhausting debilitating and consuming.
Please follow DR Ls advice. I decided to add fuel to the fire but asking LO about his feelings and I got this response. ‘there are sometimes feelings and I really like you I think your beautiful’. But that was it (among others), and as result I’ve ended up in a 2 year LE. That’s when as Dr L said ‘rocket fueled’ the situation. I get it’s bad now but it will become a whole lot worse if your try to talk to him about it.
Remember limerence is fulfilling an unmet need of yours from somewhere. Try explore your self or your past. Therapy can help but like DR L said it doesn’t always as limerence is not well known.
You will be supported on here as much as possible.
I am coming to the end of my LE, I can feel it but I remember being exactly where your are. There is hope if you are able to reprogramme your subconscious brain to no longer seek or see your LO for stimulation.
Thanks so much for the support – it really helps. As does your much needed lucidity. LE’s (and addictions in general) are so contradictory…..a part of my mind knows exactly what is best for me, but the other part absolutely refuses to accept the reality that he isn’t all that special, and that I need him to be as distant from me as possible. It desperately wants to believe the fantasy that he really can make me happy, that the ruminations could come true and that another little LO fix won’t do me any harm. I can feel my resolve strengthening a little.
Kelso Everett says
“On top of that, work is a struggle for me as am homeschooling 2 kids at the same time”
Far more likely that you don’t like doing it, recognize you’re not nearly as good at it as you always imagined yourself to be (so it was super-easy to criticize teachers who deal with classrooms of kids – not just two kids – before and less so now) and desperately want validation from your fantasy-mate.
Why do you think that’s far more likely?
I’m finding it very hard to work from home and homeschool two kids at the same time, and that’s with my wife and I sharing the load.
Are you a disgruntled teacher, Kelso?
Kelso Everett says
Disgruntled? Not at all. I’m enjoying the schadenfreude of millions of parents who endlessly bitched about how teachers are incompetent, their little darlings were so WONDERFUL and surely the reason for their appalling ignorance was the fault of the teachers, the educational system and how they could do a better job of it IF ONLY they had the time!… suddenly discovering that it is hard and they aren’t nearly as good at it as they thought they would be.
It’s wonderful to watch the Karens (and Kens) get their comeuppance.
And to have to stay home with only their second-rate spouse and children instead of spending time with their secret crush makes it even better.
OK, well, I guess we all get our kicks in different ways. Not sure I’ve seen many of those teeming millions posting here, but you do seem to be highly attuned to spotting it.
Personally, I just find it hard to do two jobs at once – or three, actually, what with the extra housework when we’re all home all day too.
Maybe I should have trained as a teacher so I could take it all in my stride.
I read in an excellent book called “Non-Violent Communication” that behind every judgement is a person in pain due to an unmet need. I am sincerely sorry if you are suffering right now. Clearly something I have said seems to trigger you but please don’t project your experiences on to me – you don’t know me at all.
Kelso – are you on the site due to a limerent spouse, or from a difficult LE/LO?
A lot of incorrect assumptions there Kelso, but I will concur that I don’t relish homeschooling!
Yea both husband and I working and home schooling. Very bizarre reply and missing the point I believe. I’m sure her limerence is a bit deeper than homeschooling her children. Although that could be exacerbating the limerence.
I’m a teacher and have found homeschooling challenging. It is a unique scenario for all of us. In 24 hours the whole model shifted, and we’ve had to adjust to a number of changes all at once… I think it’s always a sign of inner pain and crisis to lash out at others, especially others who are sincerely trying to communicate and accept advice and help. I am sorry for your pain, Kelso, but I think you’ll find that this group favors support over slash and burn in our communication style.
My wife’s a 1st grade teacher. Once she got the hang of the tech, she likes online teaching. She says she only has to teach. Fewer interruptions, nobody wetting their pants, forgetting their lunch, or “Ms…So and So pushed me!” She’s only had to put on her social worker hat once in the last 6 weeks.
The Type A parents are still Type A. Except now they’re asking how their statistically average performing child will get the recognition he/she so richly deserve when there’s no graded work or asking if the carefully crafted schedule can be modified because her child has trouble getting up a half-hour early.
I teach little children too, and that’s actually what’s been difficult for me. I feel so far from them- and it’s the little, connected things that are what make me love teaching. I am just pretty much reading to them and sending them activities, but I don’t get to hug them or laugh at the ridiculous things they come up with….
And I must have been napping when they handed out the type A, unfortunately.
Relapse. I have felt completely free of my LE for about 2 to 3 weeks now. Still seeing LO every day but have had no problems. I simply didn’t care about her or how she felt about me. But now she has suddenly self-quarantined due to some potential exposure and I won’t see her for a while. Just like that, I’m back in. The sudden NC is now killing me. How could I have been functioning so perfectly with regular contact (which formerly was agonizing for me) and now NC has stirred up the LE once again? I thought NC was actually supposed to help? I guess my recent recovery was all a facade. I am not over her. And I think this is giving me a taste of what it will feel like when she eventually leaves for another job. Permanent NC. There will be no occasion for me to see her or talk with her ever again. Any message I could send her is problematic for the reason that I don’t know where she is or who she is with, meaning her SO could see it. Thus, it is back to social media stalking, which is what got me into this LE in the first place. Back to square one.
Perhaps you were still getting a few hits of dopamine being around her without realising? I felt this way too around LO, until NC became no option and I was relapsing. NC is the best way possible to get over an LO in my opinion. So of you truly want to get over LO – embrace it.
Perhaps. But for months and months I really struggled while seeing her every day. I was miserable on nights and weekends away from her and had anxiety as the end of the workday approached (especially on Fridays). I was free from all of that starting about 3 weeks ago. Sure it was still good to see her but I had gotten to where I truly didn’t care when it came time to part ways. I was finally living my life again and thinking about her less and less when we were apart. But now this forced and sudden NC has brought all of those prior feelings back to the surface. Ugh.
you were getting just enough of a hit that the addiction was being fed. Microdoses were working to maintain your false sense of recovery. I have been there.
Now that you are NC (cold turkey) the withdrawal pains start….but then so does the real healing.
You will be okay eventually but it sure will hurt for a while.
You are detoxing in the most excruciating way.
It’s a good pain and I am happy for you…because now there is hope that, in time, you will be free.
Hello, everyone. *socially distant wave* I am a lifelong limerent, but new to LwL. In fact, I only recently discovered that I am limerent since I was unfamiliar with the term. So glad to have found this site. Thank you, Dr. L. COVID has taught me a number of things so far and one of them was the following: I can became over-confident in thinking I’ve gotten over a recent LO. In other words, “Hey, I’d even gone through several months of pandemic and I still haven’t felt the need to break NC.” But about a month ago the stress and anxiety of work starting back up again (with all the uncertainty that changes from COVID brought to it) had me reaching out to her. It was a relapse that sent me spiring back into the painful rumination pattern. Not only did I not receive a response, but I’m pretty sure she has ‘unfriended’ me after getting my “hey, how’s it going” message. So…I haven’t been in a good place the past few weeks. But this site has helped a lot. By the way, I am an alcoholic who knows what it is like to combine limerence with booze. I’ve made some really sh*tty decisions when under the influence of both. Just putting that out there for anyone else who happens to read this to let you know you are not alone.
Hi Jo and welcome!
Yes most of us have embarrassing stories that were triggered by an ‘adult’ beverage or two.
It’s awesome that you are so self-aware and you will be okay….this is a safe place to heal and strengthen yourself so you will be able to take control of limerence instead of it controlling you!
I have an embarrassing story triggered by morphine while I was in the hospital. Eh, oh well…
come on Matt…spill…. 😉
Thank you so much for the warm welcome, Jaideux.
I ripped off the bandage before I was on the other side of this LE. As soon as I logged back into the app I felt a *rush* and knew it was a mistake. What it has done, though, is brought me to a place where I’ve actually taken the time to research what is happening to me psychologically and physiologically. It’s a start and the healing has already begun. A solid commitment to my sobriety is key too.
I can definitely testament to limerence during COVID times. The week before lockdown I met with old university friends and it turned out that me and one of the girls had feelings for each other that we never acted on for 27 years.
We began messaging and both found ourselves isolated away from our families for reasons of safety for a period; she developed COVID and had to isolate away from her family for two weeks and I had to isolate away from my wife for fourteen weeks. Over this time we began to message and chat a lot as friends until it came to an abrupt end in July.
Unwittingly I (we) developed feelings for each other that we couldn’t act upon and didn’t want to act upon but the brain chemicals had different ideas! This caused me to question everything I had ever believed, including the love for my wife and led to me being sectioned and spending three weeks in a mental hospital. I was diagnosed as bipolar but believe a lot of it was the guilt and shame.
However since then I have read a lot about limerence and realise that is what I am suffering from. We have been largely NC for five months now but the limerence is still strong. I have done the course, read the books, tried hypnotherapy and all have worked to a degree but NC remains a daily struggle despite the damage it has caused.
I look forward to the day when I am free from the limerence and my life is slowly getting back on track.
Looking back I was maybe limerent for her 27 years ago, and by meeting up all those years later this resurfaced with a vengeance. I doubt I will be free of this anytime soon, especially as COVID and lockdown intensified the time we could spend together and being isolated from normal life definitely played a part in that.
I do find it useful to read on others stories on forums and reading about the chemistry behind it certainly helps me rationalise it a lot.
Here’s to a limerent free life at some point.
Ha! Just bought your book! Thank you Dr. L
Thank you too, Beth 🙂 Hope you enjoy it.
My limerence spiked in 2020 at the start of the pandemic and proceeded through to late last year. Things in 2021 are much quieter and I’m relieved to have NC with LO – long may that last.
It makes absolute sense that the addict brain would suggest LO as a way to soothe and distract/create some diverting drama as a way to cope with lockdown boredom and/or anxiety. I imagine non-limerents all over the world have turned to drugs, alcohol, eating disorders and any other number of coping behaviours during lockdown(s).
I also bought your book 🙂
Thanks Mehg! Hope you enjoy it.
Interesting to revisit this thread a year on. I agree about the impact of lockdown on addiction in general, and self-medication with LO fantasies. I fear there are going to be some long term effects on what might be called “population psychology” as a result of the pandemic. I’m noticing that my friends and family seem more short-tempered than they used to be (me too), and have read that this anecdotal finding holds up statistically. Not too surprising I guess, when we’ve been trained to treat other people as a biohazard for a year.
Little choice, I know, but now we’ll learn what the consequences have been…