Bit of a diversion from the usual programming today, and the sort of post that requires me to have a “random thoughts” category in the blog menu. And to manage expectations: they’re going to get pretty random (and may bore/baffle LGBT readers).
Men and women, eh? Can’t live with ’em can’t live without ’em! Can’t spend any time on Twitter without despairing about the prospect of us ever figuring out what gender actually is and why it matters.
When I was a youngster “the gender wars” were seen as a bit comic, to be honest. “Take my mother in law” jokes were emblematic of (rather pathetic) older male comedians who embodied a past era of casual sexism, which was being swept away by the new generation of more equality-minded folk. In the 80’s the New Man was the Woke Man of his era – a man in touch with his feelings, a man who was compassionate and considerate, a man who was unashamed of displays of what had always been considered stereotypically female behaviour. New Man got mocked in his turn in the 90’s, and supplanted by the Ladette – a woman who was in touch with her inner party animal, driven more by lust than love, and who looked on equality as an opportunity to indulge in what had always been considered stereotypically male behaviour.
Most people, of course, got on with their lives pretty much indifferent to these cultural figures, and they were mostly seen as figures of fun. It could be selective memory on my part, but it seemed in the general cultural conversation that gender stereotypes were seen not as immutable fate, just an old-fashioned way of viewing the world that was giving way to a more relaxed attitude. That society was progressing towards a more open model, where the individual was free to dress, act and think as they wished, and as long as it wasn’t hurting anyone else then nobody much cared. You do you.
Things seem to have got a lot darker recently.
For those not up on their internet subcultures, MGTOW stands for “Men going their own way”. It seems to have been formed from a curious blend of older guys who have emerged bruised and bloodied from acrimonious divorces, and younger incels (involuntary celibates) struggling to form relationships with women. These chaps talk a lot about red pills and men’s rights, and “the wall”. About how all women are biologically programmed to seek higher status mates, and that the legal system is powerfully rigged against men when it comes to issues of sexual consent, alimony and child custody. One of their favourite terms is “hypergamy”:
hy·per·ga·my | \ hī-ˈpər-gə-mē \
: marriage into an equal or higher caste or social group
In the context of MGTOW, hypergamy is used as a catch-all concept to explain why women are untrustworthy, inconstant and should be avoided at all costs; because even if they do form a relationship with you, they’ll just leave for a higher status guy at the first opportunity. After taking all your money. Their conceptualisation of the dynamic between men and women is one of power games. Women are out for everything they can get. They are shallow and vain and use their sexual power manipulatively. Men are their dupe prey, who must outmanoeuvre the predators to get the sex they want, while protecting their wealth and freedom.
So: obvious misogyny. Simple. Men who hate women.
But, there are some uncomfortable facts here. Statistically, women do tend to marry men of the same or higher socioeconomic class – even highly successful women who certainly don’t need economic rescue. Courts are surprisingly biased against men when it comes to sentencing. The feminist filmmaker Cassie Jaye set out to make a film exposing the “men’s rights activists” and ended up *gasp* recognising that some of their concerns were valid. Once she released her film “The Red Pill” she was of course publicly-shamed by her old allies. Which brings us to the mirror of MGTOW.
In the majority of industries, in politics, and in most other social institutions, men occupy most of the positions of seniority. They dominate the top of most enterprises. Accordingly, so the social theory goes, society and culture has been shaped in the interests of that male elite at the expense of all other genders, races, and minority groups. Thus, the radical feminists insist, we all stew in a soup of patriarchal tyranny. Men exist in a world of privilege so pervasive, they can’t even see the privilege they are privileged to enjoy. Like fish can’t see water. Where women are underrepresented on the boards of top companies, in politics, and in leadership positions generally, it’s because men are holding them back, and hoarding power for themselves. And if we can’t actually identify actual men who are doing this, then it’s unconscious bias and systemic sexism. Which is even more pernicious.
The fact that men also dominate the lowest strata of society – the homeless, the mentally-ill, the criminals and prisoners – is also evidence of patriarchy. The root of those men’s problems is toxic masculinity. They condemn themselves, with their aggression and competitiveness and lack of empathy. Their indulgence by a patriarchal society, and their toxic socialisation into bad beliefs and habits by other men, failed to suppress their inherent negative drives. And, of course, all sex is rape, and all men are potential rapists. If only men were more like women, everything would be fine; utopian, even.
So: obvious misandry. Simple. Women who hate men.
But, there are uncomfortable facts here too. Men are, on average, more competitive than women, and competitive people tend to dominate any enterprise. I’ve joked with colleagues at work that if we tried restructuring our hierarchy around promoting people on the basis of the empathy and desire to help others, then the hypercompetitive folks would be in like a shot. “I’ll show you empathy like you’ve never seen!”, “Just look at the size of this self-sacrifice!” It is also inevitable that those with power are prone to corruption and nepotism, and in-group bias. Agreeable and compassionate people get exploited. It is unjust.
So what has this all got to do with limerence then, eh?
I do have a point. I’m not just politicking for shits and giggles.
Limerence, in my view, drives pair bonding. That desire to bond is not fundamentally manipulative or coercive or about power. It’s about a desire to connect, a desire to feel loved and express love, a desire for a partner; a mate. It can cause people to act selfishly, for sure, but it is not usually a selfish impulse. It’s a desire to be with someone not to dominate them. The fact that many of us make a mess of forming healthy, stable attachments is not an indictment of the whole loving-bond endeavour.
I think the conception that history is best described as a battle of wills between men and women is incorrect, and damaging. I think that the majority of men and women are driven by love, the desire to bond, and to mutually care for each other and support each other. I think most men and women seek status (whether through wealth or beauty) to improve their lives, increase their security, and increase the chance that they will be more attractive to potential partners, not because they thirst for power. More than anything, most men and women want to form a loving connection, and maybe a family, and help each other navigate a confusing and threatening world together. But somehow, in the rampant tribalism of [current year], we’ve talked ourselves into a nastier and more ruthless version of the gender wars than I can ever remember.
As a wishy-washy centrist, it genuinely alarms me. I’m depressed that “bothsides-ism” has become an insult, and evidence of capitulation to the enemy, rather than a worthwhile attempt to bridge the divide. MGTOW and Rad Fems are right about some things and wrong about some things. But the vitriol with which a seemingly obvious and neutral statement like that is routinely condemned on social media is demoralising. Attacking and vilifying the whole gender that you are trying to bond with seems to be the mother of all disordered bonding strategies – but it’s spreading through society like wildfire.
So, I guess this is just a middle aged man’s plea for more compassion and patience. Especially for the people you think are wrong. Life’s a lot better in a cooperative world.
Thank you for this DrL. Sometimes I wonder how badly my LE has affected my ability to think clearly. I’ll definitely ponder this essay a lot.
Back in the 1970s when I was dating LO #1, she said her mother …was poor white trash who married above her economic station…Poor white trash isn’t so much an economic condition as it is a state of mind.”
My grandmother adored LO #2 and blamed me for “letting her get away.” When I told her I had asked LO #2 to marry me, that she declined and moved across the country, my grandmother responded, “You must have done something terrible for her to do that.” (I wondered whose side Grandma was on.) An aunt later told me everyone in the family had expected us to get married.
LO #2 was a central figure in 2 of the best years of my life and 2 of the worst. For the first two years we were together, I was happier with her than I’d been in my life until I met her. She showed me what happiness could be. It didn’t work for us but maybe it would work the next time, and it did.
My wife is 9 years younger than I am. After she met my fiancee, my grandmother called to warn me, “You be careful of that little blonde gold digger!” My grandmother apparently couldn’t understand why a woman that much younger would be interested in me for anything other than money.
Anonymous Limerent says
I have to admit, I didn’t think this post would have anything to do with limerence until the end; ‘random thoughts’ really hits the nail on the head here.
I agree, though. Many people, too many, are nowadays woke beyond reason, quite literally; you say one thing about women and somehow, it’s sexist. You say one thing about men and somehow, it’s sexist. You say one thing about being neutral and somehow, it’s a betrayal of one side. Anything that’s not a complaint about society and its problems or inequalities is, in some way, sexist or racist or anti-semitic or supremacist.
I’m glad someone can put things into perspective and see things clearly, from an untainted, unbiased point of view. At least not all of society’s gone rogue!
A question, though: With a feminist’s strong-willed viewpoint, is it actually possible for one to become limerent for a man, especially one high up, or with wealth? That could be an interesting scenario…
Oh, I think definitely. Since when has limerence given a damn about politics? Limerence laughs in the face of us thinking we would only fall in love with people who have the correct political views.
The psychoanalysts would have a field day with your question, too. They tend to think we are drawn to our shadows…
Anonymous Limerent says
Yes, that’s a good point…
It would be interesting to see whether or not anyone’s strong political views have been affected by limerence, though; imagine if Hitler had become limerent for a Jew! 12 million more people in the world…
My LO is a Tory voter whereas I’m much more left/centre. He even likes our MP who I cannot stand.
Not quite in the same league as Hitler, but that’s my experience of limerence and politics!!
A friend of mine said “I always thought … (LO) was unworthy of your limerence”, in that we were not on the same page intellectually, artistically, in our recreational interests, culturally, or most importantly, in the self aware department. I would tell myself he had a different type of intelligence than I did, etc, and he was very successful, attractive, charming and debonair and seemed somewhat intrigued with my cultural and literary interests, etc! He could learn! What it boiled down to was that I was just so deliriously happy with him, even going to the grocery store together was a Main Event. Our differences mattered not. Such is the immense power of limerence. What I will always wonder is this: if we had ended up together would the limerent spell soon after have broken and I would have then been saddled with a person who completely bored or even annoyed me?
In the 60s & 70s, Dr. Laurence J. Peter wrote a series of books on what got labeled “The Peter Principle.” The second book in the series was “The Peter Prescription: How to Make Things Go Right” which built on his first book. I read all three. The first two were really good, the last one was meh. I still have “The Peter Prescription: How to Make Things Go Right.”
One section in “The Peter Prescription” was his speculation of what happened to Cinderella and Prince Charming after they married. Did they live happily ever after? Peter’s conjecture was they didn’t for reasons similar to what you describe. Reality set in for them and it wasn’t pretty.
30+ years later, I still wonder if LO #2 and I could have made a go of it. The smart money said it was unlikely but I’ll never know.
Scharnhorst, that’s basically every love story movie ever made, other than ones where the old couple look back upon their lives. When somebody gets the girl (or guy) in a movie, they usually leave out the next 50 years! I appreciate the more ambiguous endings, such as The Graduate, as the couple have no idea what’s going to happen next.
Jaideux – me and my LO were similar to you and yours. We were so different – age, intellect, worldly knowledge, outside interests etc. She was totally concerned about her appearance, going out, having fun etc. But I think that was the point of the attraction – she brought things I didn’t have much of in my life: fun, laughter, excitement… something totally different. Sometimes you just want some strange I guess. The same thing can get monotonous and we crave some change.
But, to answer your question about whether it would last, I’d say no way. I always knew that too, if me and LO got together it would have burnt out quickly and we’d have been left with very little. That was always the great contradiction in this LE, it wasn’t logical, we weren’t natural partners in the way me and SO were. If it was just lust I’d understand it, but I didn’t even want her physically particularly. I just wanted her, for her to feel the same about me and perhaps we would then have existed together in some alternative / fantasy universe. That bit was always fuzzy.
To the extent I really got to know them, there weren’t a lot of obvious major differences between my LOs and me. They were all age-appropriate, of the same socioeconomic status, similar education status, and our social and political outlooks seemed to be within the same hemisphere, if not closer.
One of the major attractions of both LO #1 and LO #2 was that I felt that both of them had something to show or teach me. I could learn from them. They knew about facets of life that were beyond my experience. They offered to take me along on the trip and I was willing to let them. They showed me things I don’t know if I would have seen if I hadn’t encountered them.
Like Neil Diamond says in “Shiloh:”
“Young child with dreams
Something said she understood
I wanted to fly
She made me feel like I could”
Beautifully stated, Scharnhorst. There were lots of new things I learned about life and myself from LO. And vice versa. Maybe by now we (LO and I) have exhausted all of those “new” things, and a rational picture of the long-term compatibility with LO emerges.
Interesting the discussion about learning from LO.
I’ve recently read the book “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay. One of the ideas I found particularly interesting is that what we find annoying in other people is sometimes a mirror of what we dislike about ourselves. The things I found attractive in LO were generally things lacking in my marriage, but the things I didn’t like (but glossed over, because this is limerence we’re talking about after all) were actually my weaknesses too.
I feel we can learn a lot from everyone and everything that we have strong feelings about. If something/someone upsets me, I now look inside to work out why it bothers me so much. This in turn helps me identify what I need to work on more.
May not work for everyone, but has been helpful for me.
I listened to the song yesterday. I mixed up the lyrics:
“Young girl with fire
Something said she understood
I wanted to fly
She made me feel like I could
Held my hand out, and I let her take me
Blind as a child
All I saw was the way that she made me smile
She made me smile”
“ we weren’t natural partners in the way me and SO were”
So when I read this it made me immediately think about genetics. When you say natural partners you mean personalities and the way nurture has shaped you and your partner.
It makes me quite curious as to whether or not some of the Limerence is also part of DNA genetic bonding.
I was think about that study they did where they had 100 men wear the same shirt, no shower, no chemicals – like deodorant. They wore the same shirt, I think it was for five days or something. They then had 100 women smell the shirts and decide which one they liked the smell of. A portion of these women were on oral contraception‘s and a portion not (which I think was the main Pinot of the study) and it seems that the portion who were not on the contraception would pick a shirt that would make a stronger DNA match, than those who were in contraception.
It makes me wonder whether or not those who we are limerent for, on some level it’s telling us that if we joined our DNA then our offspring would have stronger DNA.
“… and younger incels (involuntary celibates) struggling to form relationships with women.”
Funnily enough, the person who came up with the term was a woman.
Yeah, I’d read that, and it was very interesting as she then had to watch incel morph into an insult levelled at men. Another case of a subculture developing an identity label that was hijacked by others (with bad intent).
Scharnhorst- I’ve read the Peter Principle! My mother had it in the bookcase when I was a child. I – even as a kid – thought it was fascinating!
Vincent- yes! It was his lightness and effervescence- like champagne – that was so attractive. I can be serious, analytical, lost in thought and a bit melancholy- but not with him! I felt like a child on an adventure. But yes- the reality of a day to day existence together would have been unsatisfying- I just know it.
I have my own controversial theory about the relationship between limerence and gender. This theory is based purely on my own informal observation of people (i.e. all evidence is anecdotal at best), so please free feel to correct or contradict anything I say that doesn’t ring true.
I have a tiny, teeny, sneaking suspicion that limerence is a mating strategy that evolved in and for the female brain, assuming there are such things as “male brains” and “female brains”. In other words, limerence is overwhelmingly a feminine mating strategy. Of course, some males inherit the genes for limerence too. (And some women display no limerent tendencies whatsoever).
I say limerence is a feminine mating strategy because more women seem to experience it than men. (Or, at least more women are willing to talk about it). Gay men seem to experience limerence at a higher incidence than straight men. (Where is Thomas when you need him?) And the straight men who experience limerence seem to be social outliers (men who are either very gifted and intelligent, like artists, or men who get themselves in trouble with the law, such as stalkers). Limerence seems at odds with traditional notions of masculinity.
To borrow a metaphor from the field of music, I think the average human “emotional range” is two to four octaves. Conventional males have an emotional range between one and two octaves. Conventional women have an emotional range between three and four octaves (twice that of males). Limerents, regardless of sex, have an emotional range in excess of four octaves. Hm. Do limerent-prone individuals constitute a different species altogether?
I think the bulk of heterosexual males never experience limerence at all while the bulk of heterosexual females DO experience limerence, but only in a very mild form that doesn’t prevent affectionate bonding from quickly taking place. Could limerence just be a super-charged form of female-friendly erotic love?
If my theory is correct, it would make sense for limerence to “go wrong” for males, because males aren’t meant to be limerent in the first place. Limerence is the outcome of female “mating machinery”. (In other words, male limerents are born with the wrong “mating software” already installed in the hardware of their brains). However, limerence also goes wrong for women. This upsets my little theory, or exposes its sexist basis. If limerent women have the correct mating machinery, (i.e. female mating machinery), they shouldn’t suffer as males do.
I have enormous respect and affection for limerent women on this site. (So easy to talk to!) And one of the reasons is I feel you gals are the “missing evolutionary link” in the whole limerence puzzle. You have the right “equipment” in terms of basic emotional drives but it doesn’t always “work as advertised”.
Of course, Dr. L could be right in his article too. Maybe limerence is a gender-neutral phenomenon and in practice negates gender differences. It doesn’t divide men and women, but brings them closer together – in cases of mutual limerence. (The social ramifications of this view are interesting too. If limerence is intrinsically gender-neutral, indeed, even a “shared trait”, then limerence would pose a genuine threat to any society strongly invested in preserving rigid gender norms).
“I say limerence is a feminine mating strategy because more women seem to experience it than men.”
I don’t have stats to back what I am writing, but I don’t agree with you. I have known plenty of women who are into whatever guy is into them. It is completely against their nature to hyper focus on one guy and then torture themselves while he breadcrumbs interest. They go with the guy who shows up and wants them. To not do so and hold out for some wild, erotic obsession is not part of their vocabulary.
@Marcia. Thank you for your response. You know, the older I get, the more I realise I’m terrible at understanding other people. Obviously, I have a really bad case of “confirmation basis”. I see my own behaviour reflected in the behaviour of other people. No wonder I’m so confused all the time!
A psychologist would call my behaviour “projection” and I’m afraid that this projection might be an integral part of limerence, which is why we can’t get “an accurate read” on our LOs. I must concede the truth of what you write regarding women. Thank you for “bringing me back to reality”. 🙂
“assuming there are such things as “male brains” and “female brains”
I don’t think there is Sammy. I have read the modern research on this (ref: “The Gendered Brain”). Newborn baby boys and girls have identical brains. The research shows it is mostly gender stereotyping by society that results in the vast majority of male/female differences. And even then those differences are very slight. i.e. measured abilities and proclivities in a M vs F population overlap by over 90% on the even most pronounced differences. Humans brains are highly socially driven so infants respond to how they are treated and to what is expected off them. Brains are very plastic, so this differing treatment and expectation affects brain development and how we choose to behave.
But brains can , and have been, retrained. As can our behaviour.
Sorry to go on…the is a pet topic if mine 🙂
Hello Sammy I really like your theory.
My anecdotal observations seems to go toward your direction.
For the record I am male, Infj, and somewhat gifted.
From this perspective I do not project my behavior, and preference into other guy and realize that I am at the unorthodox configuration of physiology, sensibility, and overall makeup.
As far as I can tell limerence in men is mostly seen in artistic, deeply articulated, soul-deep, kind of men, and anytime I talk about my love preference with non limerent it seems like they can never fully get it. But they are themselves congruent with their physiology. The words we use, the dreams and longing we have are the articulation of our makeup
Concerning women I would offer some variation:
I think women are more obsessive in general but not necessarily for deeper reason or greater emotional octaves, in the sense that the source of this limerence is not higher emotional octave, but octave mishearing! It seems to happen more often, seems more “replaceable”, and may be mixed by other anxious, need for security and other emotional need that gives a greater emotional intensity to the process.
I often thought too that overall this is a female strategy, it’s high quality focused, esoteric, destiny driven, which is a response for the need for a more secure, “eternally bound” very much like female need security from the male for childbearing.
For those men, the childbearing equivalent is the encapsulation of an absolute ideal of life which is a reflexion of how they view life in general. They wanna build the ultimate ideal and their love reflect this tendency.
Other reference point could be found in enneagram like the sexual variant of the 5 for example, what they seek is the ultimate trust, as such their love is riddled with test to make sure your are absolutely irréprochable and the absolute embodiment of their ideal.
The limerence is then build as the potential stored up energy awaiting for its corresponding matching element.
Fortunately for me I never thought any of this was “unhealthy” it just required a very high level of self awareness that usually highly emotionally articulate people tend to have.
Even as we define limerence I am pretty sure we still have to distinguish LE that comes from a lacking place of messy emotion vs higher density thought process(maybe)(ex: a low hierarchical male, with no experience, no self awareness, no emotional know-how that project his fantasy into someone vs a relatively conscious male that have limerence born from the fabrics of highly crafted longing)
As such we also found the same in women, both profoundly delusional people and highly self awareness “existentially rich” experience the limerence but the fabrics are made of different quality of materials.
Hope this make sense
I don’t understand what you wrote, but it’s just pure biology that is the reason more women are probably limerent. Women, as a general rule, aren’t attracted to anywhere near the number of men as compared to the number of women men are attracted to . A woman does not meet that many guys who light her up. If she does, and he shows interest, she’s in. It’s that simple, and she knows she’s hit the motherlode in this scenario.
You’re absolutely correct.
When I’ve come across someone who does it for me and he’s in, I don’t hesitate.
I was shocked when two male friends, independent of the other, told me they find FIFTY PERCENT of the women they encounter during their day-to-day maneuverings (this is before CO-VID) appealing. I have to admit, it kind of grossed me out. It feels indiscriminate and if, they find you as woman appealing , it doesn’t mean all that much.
My LO evaluates women for f-ability all day long, I believe. I don’t think it’s uncommon.
I am aware that I continually, instinctively categorize people of both genders as attractive/unattractive.
Maybe it’s biological. I don’t know the science
I didn’t ask them a ton of qualifying questions, so I don’t know what they meant by “appealing,” but I’m not talking about a guy I think is cute and enjoy talking to. There are a good number of guys who fit into that category. I’m talking about a guy who I interact with and think, “Name the time and place.” 🙂 That doesn’t happen very often.
Oh my no!
It’s a rare thing indeed.
“The limerence is then build as the potential stored up energy awaiting for its corresponding matching element.
Fortunately for me I never thought any of this was “unhealthy” it just required a very high level of self awareness that usually highly emotionally articulate people tend to have.”
I can only speak of my own experience but…limerence strikes when even “highly emotionally articulate” people are at their worst. That’s the premise and why it’s frighteningly unhealthy.
Never in my life have I been so close to ending it all. The grief over the loss (during NC the first time), I was certain that I was losing my mind over the obsessive, intrusive thoughts, plus the mental and physical pain.
The only other time in my life that I was close to this amount of pain was when I was 14, my family had become recently impoverished, and I’d been sexually abused. That anguish lasted for months. But I was young and didn’t have the coping skills. I had no counseling.
This one bout of limerence…even with three therapists, medication and much more self-awareness…I barely made it. The loss of control was almost crippling.
Okay. I’ve had time to sleep on it, and I’ve decided this theory of mine is too wacky for words. However, it does provide a convenient introduction to what I really wanted to say…
I haven’t been completely honest with you guys. I’m not a straight man. I’m a gay man and my LOs have all been, without exception, what might be called “masculine men”. My intention wasn’t to deceive anyone, or even to protect the privacy of the people involved. Nor was internalised homophobia at fault. Rather, I discovered by accident that if I “heterosexualised” the LE and changed the sex/pronouns of LO, I could gain enough “emotional distance” from the subject matter to write about it. I was trying to gain psychological clarity.
The girls’ stories on this site really resonate with me, and the boys not so much. (Maybe that’s why I associate limerence with femininity? My sexual orientation colours my interpretation of events or makes me more interested in hearing about things from the female perspective). I think there is some overlap in the brains of gay men and heterosexual women in the area of emotional experience. (Do we fall in love in the same way? Do we fall for similar LOs?)
No doubt one of the reasons my original LE was so traumatic was because it was for a person of the same sex. In my family, that wasn’t okay. My mother behaved as if we were still living in Old Testament Israel and not twenty-first century Australia. Religious guilt certainly made an awkward situation a million times worse. My LO was straight. Of course he didn’t reciprocate. But I digress.
Mainly, I want to express gratitude to the women on this site. Honestly, you gals are the nicest group of women I’ve ever met. I haven’t received a lot of empathy from women in my life, but I’ve received empathy from you, and it’s just healed something inside of me. Most of my life, I’ve felt “frozen” on the inside and the outside. Now, at last, the ice is starting to thaw and I can FEEL my FEELINGS. I have you girls partially to thank for that. I think I just needed validation.
In addition to being a religious tyrant, my mother was a narcissist. She couldn’t listen to her children and she couldn’t nurture anyone. She was too busy extracting admiration from people, including her own children, which led to some very weird parent-child dynamics in my family. Most of my life, I’ve felt hostile towards both women and men (if I may again link my comments back to gender).
I distrusted men because males bullied me in school. I distrusted women because I was secretly envious of females. I thought “life must be so easy for a woman!” I.e. if a girl’s pretty, she can have any man she wants. Having read the stories of female limerents, I see this is not the case necessarily, and a man may never commit to a fine woman, which must be troubling. (And feel humiliating).
In my (relative) old age, I find my attitude softening towards women. Also, I find it softening towards men too. This new softness (for the latter) is based on empathy and not sexual desire. I see how hard it is for a straight man to be a good partner, a good husband, a good father, etc. It’s especially touching to see a young man in his 20s take on family responsibilities when his friends are still out partying. Of course, women (young and old) make huge sacrifices for their families too and I’m not trying to downplay that.
If I may exercise my limerent gift for emphasising the good in people, I’d like to paid a few well-deserved compliments. Jaideux, your posts radiate compassion. I can certainly understand how any man would enjoy your company, even if he is not prepared to be an “honourable suitor”. You are definitely a catch. 🙂
Marcia, your emotional honesty has helped me be more honest too. Whatever happens in life, don’t give up that passionate side of yourself.
Faye, you’re sweet and smart at the same time. Thank you for your kind words.
Jane, compassion shines through in your writing, just as it does in Jaideux’s. Allie, you’re a breath of fresh air. Scharn, your tangents should be “required reading” (even though you’re not a woman and I’m mainly thanking the women).
Dr.L, (again, not a woman) your writing speaks to readers of all persuasions. As a LGBT person, I never felt excluded or alienated by any of the material. I’ve found all the articles I’ve read helpful and relevant, even the literary ones, since I studied literature at uni.
A big thank you to anyone else I haven’t mentioned (including Thomas and Mia!). This forum has helped me so much. The generosity (and goodwill) of all posters is moving.
You are a sweet guy, Sammy. Your posts are intelligent and intuitive. I enjoy reading them. This is a supportive forum to help people understand themselves. So be yourself completely on here. We support you.
Aaaaw! That is such a lovely heartfelt post Sammy….am getting all teary! Echoing Marcia, you come across as intelligent, self aware and thoughtful, and it a pleasure to read your posts. Am sorry to hear your parenting left a lot to be desired and has compounded the challenge of learning to be comfortable with your sexuality. You certainly have my support. Virtual hug winging its way to you.
This is a lovely site isn’t it. DrL sets a certain tone and that seems to filter through to the public commentary and who chooses to dwell here. Not easy to achieve so well done and thank you DrL!
Sammy, your comment touched my heart and broke my heart a the same time.
You are a so gifted with your nuanced written self expression, I don’t know if you are a writer by profession, but you surely could be if you wanted to be.
I do think our childhood pain informs much of our adult experience, but I also believe it is possible to heal and forgive and shore up the weaker areas of our psyche and minimize their manifestations (limerence!) and I think we can find mental peace and contentment in unconventional and unexpected ways, and this is what I wish for you, gentle soul.
Sammy, I know a few homo men who experienced limerance. The explosive obsessive kind. I never thought of it as a male female thing but rather our individual brain wiring. I find being a highly sensitive person coupled with having obsessive tendencies (aka pure O), anxious attachment style, sprinkle some anxiety and depression on it = limerance!
@Anxious_Soul. Thank you for your kind and reassuring words. So you’re telling me I’m a human being (with a few issues that need to be sorted out)? Oh, thank goodness! I’ve felt like an alien from outer space for so long! 🙂
I have a lot of gay friends and then all seem to be ridiculously happy and well-adjusted. I don’t know if any have experienced limerence. They haven’t mentioned it to me. However, there’s certainly evidence of gay men in history experiencing limerence of a wild and explosive kind, as you say. (The American playwright Tennessee Williams maybe?)
Dirty Little Secret: Nobody’s life is clean.
Even when you’re not looking for trouble, you can still find it or it finds you.
Thanks for all the kind comments, everyone. I have difficulty allowing myself to be vulnerable, but I finally did it! The LE started at 17 and is just fading for good now. Maybe, after 20 years, my brain just isn’t making the limerent chemicals anymore – the obsession for this particular guy has burnt itself out. Amazing to be able to look back on the experience relatively objectively and think “Ouch!”
Guilt and shame were definitely obstacles to me getting over LE/LO as I didn’t want to admit I was gay in the first place. And as long as I remained in denial about that, well, there was “no progress” in the area of processing emotions and getting better.
When I analyse this guy’s actions now, you know, I think he was just being kind to me and that got me hooked somehow. There was nothing sinister going on. But maybe, if he truly wanted to be kind, he should have picked a different friend, accepted a smaller social circle, invited other people into his social group, etc. I have felt so, so bad about myself for 20 years for “allowing” this LE to happen in the first place. I thought I was responsible for the involuntary thoughts and the dreams and the nightmares. However, now the pain is a good pain – I feel healing is just around the corner. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
So, so, so, so unbelievably EMBARRASSED about my limerence! It was pleasurable for about six months and then – boom – agony! I just hope mutual friends never gossip about me! I agree with what others have said – limerence can be a very isolating experience. The depths of loneliness involved are extraordinary.
Regarding gender, I think I can relate to the cultural stereotype of “The Other Woman” weirdly enough. I feel like a woman who fell in love with her best friend’s husband and then has no one to talk to about it because she fears social ostracism. No wonder I relate to the movies of Joan Crawford, etc.
I’ve been arrogant too. I’ve overestimated my intelligence and said to myself, “No, I’m fine. I don’t need anyone’s help with this. I can deal with it on my own.” I had no idea this site was going to be so helpful. I didn’t know I needed help – and really, really badly. Both the articles and the comments section have been great. Gay guys feel pressure to be ultra-masculine too e.g. “Real men don’t talk about feelings.”
Thanks for all the nice comments on my writing skills! 🙂
I feel I am past the “anger” and the “bargaining” stages of grief and am now in some sort of “pure grief” stage (sadness but not depression, sadness that is hopefully a precursor to full acceptance). So I will be heading over to YouTube at some point to listen to some beautiful and “therapeutic” music. Hahaha!
Two amusing things I’ve just remembered about LO/LE.
(1) He was really stingy with the physical affection.
I think, during the entire course of our 5-year friendship, LO only hugged me once and that was the night of the school formal. Occasionally, he’d drape an arm around my shoulder, but it was awkward – the gesture didn’t come naturally to him. It’s weird. The one thing I really wanted from him (love expressed through touch) was pretty much the one thing he could never give me.
He COULD express affection for his pets, however. (Two puppies). I was so jealous of his pets. He could be affectionate toward them and he couldn’t be affectionate toward me. (Do I sound like a sick and terrible person yet?)
I used to think it was a gender/sexuality thing. I.e. straight men can’t hug. But I’ve since met straight men who will hug trees, telegraph poles and parking metres given half the chance and gay men who freeze like frightened rabbits if you so much as breathe in their direction. So nope. It’s plainly an individual thing. Though I think the ideal of Australian masculinity still leans toward the “no touching” end of the scale. (Unless beer or a football is involved!)
The second last time I saw LO, I wanted him to hug me and asked him directly. He point-blank refused and said he’d give me a handshake instead. I didn’t say anything (and declined the handshake because i felt hurt). However, I was probably thinking something along the lines of: “I’ve worshipped the ground you’ve walked on for five years and all you can offer me now is some piddling little handshake. Gosh, how pathetic!”
I don’t know why I wanted the one guy who couldn’t hug me when I’ve got loads of straight (and gay) friends who will happily give me five hugs in an hour. I guess it boils down to the fact human beings are wired to want what they can’t have…
(2) He was a brilliant gift-giver except when he wasn’t.
One year, for Christmas, LO gave me a Calvin and Hobbes comic book because he said I have a “vivid imagination”. I guess that speaks volumes about how immature I was for my age back then (I was about 20/21) and how my peer group perceived me. What I felt like saying in response to this gift was: “Nah, mate. I don’t want comic books. Next time, if it’s not too much trouble, I’d really prefer diamonds.” Hahaha!
I eventually became convinced LO didn’t love me. But now I can reflect on it, I see maybe he DID love me, but not in a romantic or an erotic way. He loved me the best way he knew how – as some crazy overgrown kid in his life, even though we were the same age. My peers were right: I was incredibly immature for my age.
I’m so glad I can laugh about LE now, even if all the jokes are at my own expense. I’m not a celebrity, but someday I’d love to attend a celebrity-roast type of event, with myself as the victim. Foolish behaviour seems to be my specialty. Egad!