Reader jaideux suggested a post on narcissistic LOs. It’s an important topic, and a real danger for limerents. Anyone who feeds the limerence cycle is a threat, but narcissists can combine the worst excesses of both early reciprocation and uncertainty due to mixed messages. However, there are, of course, degrees of narcissism. Almost everyone gets flattered by romantic attention, and responds with differing degrees of maturity. So the challenge is trying to assess whether someone is genuinely manipulating you to suck out every last precious drop of narcissistic supply, or whether they are just feeling enlivened by your interest and a bit hungry for emotional validation.
As I started to think about this as a topic, I realised it goes quite deep and needs a proper analysis. There really is a wide range of people who would welcome your limerent interest, and their openness also varies with mood, their current life circumstances, and a range of other factors (which can also fuel the uncertainty engine). Given that, it’s probably not great to make sweeping diagnoses of a personality disorder, so I’m going to do a bit more research into all this.
But in the meantime, I’m in a silly mood, so here’s a game of narcissist LO top trumps!
Dodgy LO types you might meet out there in the wild:
The “flattered by the attention” LO
Basically a good sort, but enjoying having someone be Into Them. It is top-notch ego validation, after all. Maybe they’re feeling lonely, or perhaps it’s rare that people show interest in them. Whatever the reason, they are grateful for your interest, and want you to keep coming back. Not malicious; just a bit selfish, really. Nevertheless, it doesn’t help you out of your limerence trap.
The “needs plausible deniability” LO
Loves the hinting, and game playing, and cheeky frisson of pushing boundaries, but once Something Is Said, they act all indignant and irritable. Now you’ve gone and spoiled things and they can’t carry on their flirty fun. They can’t believe you’ve made it difficult. People gossiping about you being besotted with them is fun, but people knowing that there’s actual, public drama is intolerable.
The “flirts with everyone” LO
Self explanatory, really. These guys are heedless, or vain. Watch them around other people and you’ll realise that they sparkle at all comers. Tough luck for you though, if you get caught in their dragnet.
The “I’ll keep you as backup” LO
You’re their limerent pet. They’ve got better options on the go, but will give you just enough reciprocation to check that you’re still snared. They’re not really interested, but your devotion is touching and could be useful if all else fails. Plus, it’s nice to exercise their pulling powers from time to time to keep them sharp.
The “Radio Save Me” LO
Transmits distress signals like a radio beacon on a sinking ship. Their life is a shambles. You understand them better than anyone else. Thank God you came into their lives. They feel so much healthier now. You, on the other hand, can look forward to a descent into chaos.
The “personality disordered” LO
I’ve saved the worst to last. The proper deal NPD. Misery awaits.
An early period of love bombing is often followed by a self-pitying phase once they start to relax their efforts to attract you in, and start to show their true character. If they sense you are losing interest, they will try anything and everything to keep the narcissistic supply coming. If you try to leave, they will exert all their powers to drawing you back in. And then punish you for doubting their excellence. You’re as bad as all the others – why can’t the world acknowledge their brilliance? Oh well, they’ll show you all when the time comes, and they ascend to their fated heights.
Hee hee. Boy, I’m glad I’ve never behaved like any of those fools…
Oh my goodness! I am so excited to have this topic explored and the fact that there cat pictures makes it all the better! Especially the cat with the curled lip….I am endeared to this blog more and more!
So my current LO, believe it or not, seems to exhibit traits from the entire list (the last one I am not certain of actually). ! Is it even possible to run the gamut? He is funny, kind to all (especially me), has had his share of super tragic heartache, is extremely generous and complementary (to all, especially me), claims I am his dearest friend, becomes annoyed then very sad if I don’t return calls and texts (in the past I’ve unsuccessfully tried to to go NC, once unwisely explained how I needed to save my energies for someone who appreciated more than my mind (he had said his dream woman would have a mind like mine). It’s so hard to stay angry with him when he repeatedly does grand gestures to help me in my darkest hours…he always comes through, so I suppose he is actually quite loyal, and I think he loves having a dear friend and confidante like me and just can’t understand why I am not happy in that role, as it is so handsomely rewarded in ever so many ways. I tell myself I am open to an honorable suitor, but prospects that interest me are inconsiderately not manifesting themselves, and sometimes I wonder if I actually just prefer being single with a faux paramour who brings no real risk. But I digress. Oh and I just remembered that having a faux paramour brings with it excruciating pain when they become interested in someone else….how could I forget?
The first person I sent my history of my relationship with LO #2 was to an old friend who’d gone on to get her LCSW credentials. She knew LO #2 when we were dating and had met her on more than one occasion. I asked her if she’d read it and let me know what she thought. I sent it to her and two days later, I had an email that said, “We need to talk.” We set up a time and I gave her a call.
The first question I got was, “Have you tried to contact her?” (No). The second was, “Do you know where she is?” (Yes). Keep in mind, I’ve known this woman for 20+ years and she and her husband are truly close friends. She said. “I never thought that relationship was good for you but I had no idea you were involved in anything like this.” I asked, “Like what?”
She said that what I’d described, in some places in “….chilling clinical detail…” was a trauma survivor showing symptoms of PTSD and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. She said she’d bet lunch that LO #2 had been abused or molested as a child. She said I was lucky LO #2 didn’t marry me.
As she put it, “You’re life could have been so much worse.”
The therapists I formally worked with pegged LO #2 as a Borderline. There’s some overlap and the label doesn’t really matter. However, it would explain how I never detected regret, remorse, malice or vindictiveness in her.
LO #2 wanted what she wanted and nothing else mattered.
Mrs A says
What a brilliant post. Yes, play with a narcissistic cat at your own risk! The dodgy LO I encountered fits perfectly all the descriptions. I remember after I ‘rejected’ him for the reason that I’m married, he kept trying to negotiate how frequently to talk to me on the phone. He acted as if he was entitled after all his help with my mother (of course he could argue I imagined it), and put me on a pedestal with love bombing, and said he wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t do as he suggested. I was so shocked by his manipulative words, but it still took me many months to gather the strength to go no contact and block him out of my life.
The “needs plausible deniability” LO… Checkmark!!! 🙁
My LO was more the “Radio Save Me” type. But this blog made me think about whether I had exhibited narcissist qualities of my own (“flattered by the attention”) before I was in full blown limerence. We had been good work/lunch friends for a while, and I really did feel a bond with her that I believed was very deep emotionally. Shortly after leaving my office, sending me spiraling into despair, my LO did confirm to me her own long-term feelings toward me. What to do now, as the feelings were mutual.
I’m trying to portray myself as a victim in order to make my survival easier under the current No Contact state. Subconsciously I want to slip up, but I need to have negative feelings towards her right now in order to keep things straight and get her out of my head (as much as possible). However, I was also at fault for us getting too close, as I did try to impress her. I don’t know what my intentions were, but it was obviously a dangerous game.
It’s a slow day at work so I’ll tell you this story.
I’ve only encountered one “love bomber (LB)” in my life and I only spent one week with her. The whole episode lasted about 2 months but direct contact was only a week. You can’t make this stuff up.
I’ll fast forward through the setup. About 6 months after we officially broke up, LO #2 was back in town for her cousin’s wedding. At that point, we were still friends and I thought reconciliation was a possibility. I was wrong but I’ll save that story for another time. She managed to torque me off sufficiently that I sent her a letter breaking off all future contact.
3 months later, I got a phone call from her telling me she was going to be in town and asked if I’d meet her for a drink. Curiosity 1/ Judgment 0 and I agreed. On to the love bomber….
At this point fate intervened, a co-worker said his sister-in-law was coming to town and his wife thought we might get along. He asked if I’d be willing to meet for pizza. If it worked, it worked, if not, no problem. We met and it worked so I asked if she wanted to have dinner and go dancing the next day.
The date started on Friday evening and ended Sunday night when her sister called and told her to get back home before their mother called in an hour. She said she’d run out of excuses and telling their mother she was shacked up with one of her husband’s co-workers wasn’t probably going to go over well. Long story short, we spent most of the next week together and my hormones had never been that continuously carbonated (damned Oxytocin).
A few days after LB went home, I got a call from her sister. Her sister asked what I thought about her. I told her I really liked her and we got along really well. She said her sister told her all about that. I asked her why she was asking me. She said her sister had told her she was in love with me and was considering abandoning her grad school plans and moving up here to be with me. I told her that her sister had never said anything like that to me. I told her I liked LB and if she was around we’d probably spend time together but nowhere near being in love with her and we never talked about her moving up here.
Her sister said she was relieved. Then, she asked, “But, what do you really think of her?” I asked if she wanted me to be honest. She said, yes. I told her that her sister was one of the most intense people I ever met. When LB was in the moment, she was really in the moment but I wasn’t sure how long that moment might last. Between, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” and “Out of sight, out of mind,” there was no doubt she was the second type. I told I thought she could be fickle and turn on a dime. My co-worker’s wife said, “You figured all that out in a week.”
LB knew about LO #2 from her brother-in-law. She said LO #2 was an idiot for not marrying me. I had her record my answering machine message so if LO #2 called, another woman would answer the phone. It worked in spades and LO #2 rose to the bait when she eventually called. LO #2 was easy to bait. The downside was I didn’t tell my grandmother and I got an earful for moving some “bimbo” in with me. Grandma really liked LO #2 and blamed me for “letting her get away.” (another story in itself)
It turned out LB was fickle, but lucky for me, she wasn’t malicious or I could have been a father a decade before I did. We stayed in touch awhile. I sent her some non-refundable plane tickets so she could come up for a visit. A week before the trip, I called her. She said she’d met someone and wouldn’t be coming up. Her sister was so angry, she refunded the money for the tickets and said she’d get out of LB.
Thanks for the story.
“Fickle” is a useful word, one that I never use but does describe my LO at times. Moreso after the seriousness of our supercharged EA had ended, as I was in awful limerence. The scenario of “giving up each of our families to be with each other” was in play with LO at one point. When we would see each other in person, we kept the affection we had for one another muted. Things would have exploded. But via email, messages would get quite powerful and personal as if we knew we were meant to be together. The game was certainly on via electronic means. I don’t know what either she or I ultimately wanted or was willing to do. We both were afraid to ask each other.
It has been a rough 2 days for me limerence-wise. I am missing her more than I have at any time in the 7 weeks of No Contact. Birthday and Halloween significance is killing me. Why can’t I say happy birthday to her? Because I want her to 1) know that I care and 2) give me some sort of response. And have the LE go on…which will fix me up nicely in the short term, but send me back into the long-term spiral.
Thinker be strong! Don’t let yourself be played. Force yourself to think of other things and do other things when the craving gets bad. And what could be more important than being strong for your family?
You’re bang on with both points 1 and 2, Thinker.
It’s such an important step to be able to see this clearly and not allow yourself the excuse of willful blindness. It’s the urge to let her know you still feel a special connection that is the danger point – especially as it sort of feels like a good impulse. “I care about this person and just want to express that”. But there is a limerent-fuelled motive beneath it, and significant emotional risk.
Stay strong. Look to the future.
Thank you for the support. I am trying not to post about myself simply when I feel bad; I’m saving it for when I feel very down. I simply reached a new relative low. And this is my only outlet. But the paradox is that while writing about my feelings is cathartic, it also obviously reminds me of LO at the same time.
I likely will never disclose to my SO, but I did talk yesterday about how I am more down than usual, how my motivation at work is off lately. She did suggest that I think about talking to someone (professionally), which I will think about. I have never suggested to her before that I need help, so this opens the door if necessary. And talking to my SO about my state of mind was helpful, so today feels like a new day and I’m going to keep myself busy with relevant meetings and productive work.
A part of me thinks that if I survived through absolutely terrible limerence for months w/o outside help then I should be able to manage this hopefully temporary phase. How does one decide when to seek mental help? That seems very tricky. Though I will say that I knew I needed help during that awful stretch of limerence, but never sought it out.
Thinker, WOW, I’m going through that now. I see you posted this almost 4 yrs ago. You might not even be around LwL now and fully Limerent healed. I’m in the middle of Limerent “games” with my LO. We have not seen other a month next week. But we have been communicating electronically. My LO game is uncertainty, unpredictability, and a dash of Out-Of-Site, Out-Of-Mind. So it has me on a yoyo at times.
Coming to LwL helps me tremendously to get this shyt off my chest and out of my head. Reading the stories of my fellow LEs does wonders for keeping my LO in the view of a real person who pisses me off more than makes me blissful.
Thanks for sharing, it helped me immensely!!! But I gotta graduate to FULL NC!!
“Because I want her to 1) know that I care and 2) give me some sort of response. And have the LE go on…which will fix me up nicely in the short term, but send me back into the long-term spiral.”
Maybe not a spiral, probably more like a long term funk. Think of it like a hangover.
Since I did the same thing and am back to 2 weeks NC, the biggest things I noticed were.
– I did spend more time thinking about her than I expected. I did some social media stalking. The most concerning effect was thinking about how I could pull this off again. There’s an anniversary coming up that would provide me excellent cover. It took a few days and the following consideration to get past that.
– After the initial rush of reciprocation wore off, I was hoping she wouldn’t try to re-engage me. There were two reasons for this. First, I’d be right back in the same minefield it took me 9 months to get out of. Second, since’s nothing’s changed, if she did come back, I’d have to disengage, again. That would likely hurt her feelings or make her angry and preclude me from ever coming back should my circumstances change. She might give me a second chance, I doubt I’d get a third.
If you do it, you may get away with it with minimal effects. You may even learn something from it. But, unless you have a real good idea of what you want out of it and decide it’s worth the risk, taking into account there may be unforeseen unintended consequences, you’re better off not doing it.
This one’s for you, Thinker,
It could be coming from a guy who’s resigned himself to giving up on his comlicit LO. I could see myself having this conversation with LO #2.
It’s really powerful. He doesn’t dismiss or diminish the experience. To him, it was all too real, But, he knows the right answer and he reluctantly accepts it. What’s getting harder is trying to maintain what can’t be. He knows it’s over but, he accepts it. He’s not out of the woods but he knows where he is and is moving in the right direction.
You asked about when to seek professional help. Great question. I think if you are thinking about it, you probably should do it. It has been a lifesaver for me (along with anti-depressants). You really need to find the right therapist, tho—someone who understands limerence (or is willing to learn about it). Namely, that limerence is an addiction. My therapist at first was convinced that my depression around the thwarted romance with LO was about some kind of unprocessed grief. (My reciprocating LO and I had become emotionally enmeshed, but we managed to pull back after some brief physical encounters, thank heavens. LO works for my wife and this would truly derail her career if it came out and so I could not really open up to my wife, as I would have liked.) I had established No Contact and my therapist didn’t quite understand why until I got her to realize that limerence is about addiction and that quitting cold turkey, avoiding the temptation, etc. was essential to my recovery. It’s been 3 months and I’m better now, but still not over it. I have hopes that I someday will be over my LO, but…we’ll see.
I’ve read that behaviorial addictions usually come from the need to soothe some psychic pain from one’s past, and I think it’s helpful to figure out what that is. I wholeheartedly agree with DrL’s notion of purposeful living. But I wonder sometimes if that just masks the symptoms. In which case, the moment your life isn’t feeling purposeful for whatever reason, the your limerence will return. Truly treating the cause, finding out where the limerence impulse comes from, I think requires serious introspection. And work with a good therapist.
Another answer is to seek professional help when you simply cannot function normally in your personal or professional life (you’ll know when that is!) and talking it over with close friends isn’t possible or isn’t helping.
Good luck and hang in there!
Thanks Landry. We have many parallels with our LE, and now I’ll add to them that you did/could not disclose to your wife. I feel I could not also, and I did not see how I could dump my situation on any close friends.
After the end of the EA, there was a solid 6 months where most of the time I was not functioning well personally or professionally, and I KNEW that I needed help. Bad times. I seriously don’t know how I kept things together just enough to where my entire world didn’t crumble apart. LO eventually came back part time at work for a few hours each week, which was good and bad, but I felt it would be impossible to get past my feelings as long as I interacted with her regularly. We had still been in touch in the interim, but forced physical interaction was different. So I worked on pulling my LO back closer to me, which worked, and I fell out of total despair but only to what I’d call less severe sadness. This wasn’t necessarily fair to her, as she had to deal with her own strong conflicting feelings for me. Once it was announced that her part-time employment was ending, I felt that was my chance at a way out. So many more details, but I’m leaving them out.
I hope that the few recent sadder days for me are infrequent. But deep down I believe that my specific LE was so life altering that feelings around it will last a long time. For that reason, I may look for help. To my wife, the reasons may be to boost my motivation and help with my mid-life crisis (which are true!)
And Scharnhorst, I’m always up for appropriate tunes. Wicked Game by Chris Isaak is my latest relevant song. I’ve known it forever, but I understand it now.
“I interacted with her regularly. We had still been in touch in the interim, but forced physical interaction was different. So I worked on pulling my LO back closer to me, which worked, and I fell out of total despair but only to what I’d call less severe sadness.”
“But deep down I believe that my specific LE was so life altering that feelings around it will last a long time. For that reason, I may look for help. To my wife, the reasons may be to boost my motivation and help with my mid-life crisis (which are true!)”
What is your goal? To have a girlfriend and a wife? You need to choose and act accordingly. That would be living purposefully. If your wife discovers how much time and energy you’ve devoted to this relationship, she’s going to make decisions on your behalf and in her own best interest.
Lee, I appreciate your posts very much. “What is your goal? To have a girlfriend and a wife?”
I had no real goal in mind. The daydreams of the past had come a reality. And neither my LO or I knew what to do. There were many times I rationalized my behavior, but that was a part of the addiction.
My SO could feel some separation by me last summer and she knew I was “off”. We spoke about how her identity had changed after having children and the decreased adult quality time we engaged in after kids. And SOs current feelings of neglect brought out the past feelings. This lead to SO and I having some good, tough conversation, but it did not break me free from LO. I told myself I was going to do “better”, which meant committing more time with SO but still with much of my mind on LO. I was in damage control mode with SO and LO at the same time. I knew things were not going to end well, but that knowledge wasn’t strong enough to overpower my emotions.
“I really don’t understand how I was able to find enough band-aids to keep my life in place for so long when I was in full-blown limerence.”
Don’t kid yourself any longer. Your wife has noticed your behavior, so those band-aids weren’t doing the job. Have you asked her to tell you what she’s noticed over the past (period of time since LO appeared) regarding your behavior? You don’t have to mention the LO, but ask your wife to be completely honest regarding your behavior since (date). Emotional leakage is real and it has affected your life in other areas. You may not know just how deeply because you haven’t asked for her input.
You really need to think long and hard and make a choice. Riding a rail will only cut you in half.
I’m working on a post on this. Sometimes, using the band-aids to keep life going is the best strategy for getting through the worst of the limerence – and far better than blowing things up.
If the spouse is not willing or able to accept any emotional leakage from a limerent who is nevertheless struggling to keep life going, then it’s not just the limerent that is going to have to do some personal work to keep the partnership together.
“If the spouse is not willing or able to accept any emotional leakage from a limerent who is nevertheless struggling to keep life going…”
If the limerent has had an affair of some sort, one that the SO would view as a deal breaker and may yet be, then the limerent would be very wise to put that to one side. Asking your SO to comfort you while you mourn your affair partner is a terrible idea.
Last post on this theme for at least today, I promise!
The comments about limerence being akin to addiction leads me to post these links:
https://www.narcononnewliferetreat.org/blog/why-we-lie.html ** particularly this one – I really doubt anyone here who experiences limerence WANTS to become a habitual liar but it’s a real risk **
Lee, I haven’t read your links yet, but I likely will. Landry mentioned “don’t ask, don’t tell.” That was the case for me too. There were times when my SO suspected something, but I proved my whereabouts, and once I even turned the tables to tell her how this lack of trust hurt me. I don’t feel too good about that one. But at the time, nothing was gonna get in the way of my addiction. Everything would have blown up eventually if the EA with LO continued much longer. I’m not very good at lying, but I’m sure I would have become good at it if necessary. I had become decent at hiding some things.
One bad part of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is the obvious lying by omission.
There’s a third zone, paltering. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2016/12/29/when-telling-the-truth-is-actually-dishonest/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.7695580d0124
It’s deception by honesty. You aren’t lying, you aren’t omitting the truth, you using truth about a different subject and hope they buy it.
“I even turned the tables to tell her how this lack of trust hurt me.”
That’s really sad because you gaslighted her and it’s a common tactic used by someone who is cheating. So very common.
Anyone here tripped over http://www.mustbethistalltoride.com? Interesting reading.
“That’s really sad because you gaslighted her and it’s a common tactic used by someone who is cheating. So very common.”
LO #4 told me that her BF’s paramour lived out of town. When she was in town, one of his favorite tactics was to pick a fight with her so he had an excuse to leave because LO #4 was being such a B—h.
Interestingly enough, he’s now married to said paramour.
Two thoughts on these recent comments:
1) It’s impossible to really know what someone else is thinking. My SO knows me well and had all my (and our relationship’s) best interests at heart and still did not come close to guessing the truth about my wild mood swings, sleeplessness, and weight loss over this past year. I was exhibiting all the signs of what I now recognize as terrible limerence and my wife suspected…believe it or not…a pituitary tumor. While I was pulling away from my wife, as the EA was heating up, she knew something was wrong. We tried talking about it but that never really helped. SO was a block to my being with LO and I resented her and that caused endless friction. The truly ironic thing was that, once I’d actually disclosed to LO and got reciprocation (and yes, an eventual hook up), I was so much “happier” and what my wife perceived was that I seemed to love her again. (Which I never stopped doing, of course, but…it was all very surreal.) Then when I ended the affair—I guess, let’s be honest, that’s what it was—I was so emotionally volatile again that my wife insisted I go on anti-depressants. (Can’t say I blame her.) Which I agreed to do and which have definitely helped.
I’d been in therapy already for a couple of months, which had been great for sorting out issues of mid-life crisis, wasted opportunities, lost youth, blah blah. But the drugs helped stabilize my moods and contain the rumination, which made me able to function at work and interact like a sane person with my wife. All good.
2) The other thought I have had very recently is that the nature of my last contact with LO makes a difference as to how well I am able to move forward. It hasn’t been possible to have ZERO contact, but I’ve limited it as best I can. In one interaction, LO sent me an email in which I thought I detected some interest in seeing me (disguised as an invite to a group dinner which she thought I might want to attend), which naturally buoyed my sad heart, salved my wounded ego, whatever. But made me “happy” nonetheless ‘cause… a hit of the limerence drug, right? But upon subsequent exchanges, it became clear that she didn’t really care at all. And I was left feeling ridiculous and embarrassed and just full of nasty self-talk that never serves anyone any purpose whatsoever. On the next exchange a couple of weeks later (again, necessary), I played it much cooler and that left me feeling much more in control and without the negative head space that I had been in.
So my personal conclusion is that final contact with LO is kind of like dealing with a broken bone: It has to be set properly, or else it will not heal well and you might end up having to re-break it to get it right.
” We tried talking about it but that never really helped. SO was a block to my being with LO and I resented her and that caused endless friction.”
If I may ask, why didn’t you fully disclose? Or separate/divorce your wife so you could honestly pursue your outside interests?
My wife is a respected research scientist at a major university and LO is her graduate student. She also happens to be someone whom we both like personally very much and whom we both viewed as sort of the daughter we might have liked to have.
LO house-sat for us frequently when we traveled and I tend to be the one who manages that sort of interaction. At some point, I learned that LO had an interest in horses—she’d been captain of her equestrian team in college, etc—and was looking for a way to get her equid fix. As it happens, I had just recently pursued a life-long dream of owning my own horse and was able to introduce her to a barn friend who had a horse that needed to be ridden. Soon LO and I began riding together. That was what started the whole dern thing. We were spending a lot of super quality time together, sharing something we are both passionate about (horses) and just…talking a lot. What I learned was that I needed that in my marriage and wasn’t getting it. (And how I’m working now to address that with my wife is a whole other story. But one that so far seems to be working.)
Disclosing to my wife would have not only ruined her relationship with this very promising grad student (and thus derailed LO’s career), but also damaged the coherency of the lab where she does her research. (And SO truly loves her work.) This didn’t seem fair to either of them–not to mention it would likely destroy a marriage. And for what? Just to salve my conscience?? There was no way I was going to run off with this girl. (She’s half my age, Lee.) But I really felt a powerful connection and…yes, midlife crisis and all of that…I couldn’t bear the thought that I would never again experience the thrill of exploring that sort of new relationship euphoria again. (Which is why I did begin to question my whole notion of monogamy, but…I have come down on the side of “great in theory, but I can’t handle this myself”.)
Finally, I have also read closely Mira Kirshenbaum’s “When Good People Have Affairs”–which I would highly recommend–and she makes a very compelling case for NOT disclosing an affair in many circumstances. Ever. I feel like my situation is one of those circumstances.
I didn’t disclose to my SO, either. Leakage happens. At one point, my wife asked me if LO #4 was after me. I was honestly able to say, “I don’t think so.” It apparently hadn’t occurred to my wife that I might be after the LO. Had she asked a slightly different question, it would have gotten very uncomfortable very quickly.
Not disclosing to your SO is analogous to getting out of the minefield but leaving the mines there. Disclosing to your SO essentially clears the mines. However, your SO may respond negatively which means you set one off trying to clear it.
The point is, the minefield is still there. You may avoid it and, if you’re lucky, never return to it but the affair happened and you may always sweat when the discussion strays into that territory. Also, keep in mind it’s to your LO’s advantage not to rock the boat. The time may come when that constraint no longer applies and she choose to leverage the incident.
Lucky for you she doesn’t appear to be a sociopath. If she is, you’re toast.
The minefield analogy is spot on!
Agreed. It’s inspired!
Sometimes, the (sea) mines come loose from their moorings….
When (undisclosed) LOs return, Part II:
Part III: https://assets.amuniversal.com/f27a47e0be920136633b005056a9545d
And Lee, I would also say that, there’s likely a bit of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell at work in these situations. Despite what I just wrote about never knowing really what another person thinks, I sincerely believe that my wife actually did suspect that something was happening between LO and me. She’s no fool. She might even have been practically certain about it. But she was never 100% sure—and she doesn’t want to be. Like when a parent suspects a child is gay: they wonder, but they don’t ask. (I grew up seeing this denial phenomenon close up, believe me.) Why don’t they ask? Because the margin between practically sure and truly certain is as wide as the Grand Canyon. And when some truth is that threatening, a wide margin creates psychological safety. My wife has never directly confronted me with “the evidence”–and she most certainly could have–which tells me she really prefers the uncertainty. She doesn’t ask and I don’t tell.
Furthermore, I know my wife. She doesn’t really care about words; she cares about actions and results. So…I could disclose all I wanted and try to explain my past behavior, promise to be better, beg forgiveness, all of that. (And if she ever confronts me, that is what I will do.) But I know what she truly wants is concrete evidence that I love her, that I’m working to make our relationship better, and that I’m not hanging out with LO anymore. And I am working super hard to do all these things. Which is just another piece of purposeful living, right? I think so.
“…LO is her graduate student.”
Oh my word. That’s like drinking nitroglycerin and jumping up and down while pumping gas.
“But I know what she truly wants is concrete evidence that I love her, that I’m working to make our relationship better, and that I’m not hanging out with LO anymore. And I am working super hard to do all these things. Which is just another piece of purposeful living, right? I think so.”
I have my fingers crossed for you.
Also that LO doesn’t let the cat out of the bag in the future. It doesn’t have to happen due to malice after all.
Yes it certainly is a highly explosive scenario. I have to say, I’d question the sanity of the grad student too – “yes, as a poly I think I’ll dabble in an affair with my supervisor’s spouse. What could possibly go wrong?!”
But then I suppose an inescapable conclusion of this blog is that limerence makes loons of us all.
I have to admit I have a grudging respect for his LO. To be able to look his wife in the eye as her grad student after sleeping with her husband without smirking takes a lot of balls.
I can imagine her talking to his wife while thinking, “You may be a respected scientist but I’m sleeping with your husband. I know as much about him as you do. Horses were’t the only things he was riding.” She’s probably getting a ton of mileage from this. LO’s looking down her throat. Maybe his wife is only keeping up the facade for the sake of the lab.
If LO had any respect for his wife, she probably doesn’t anymore.
I don’t know how she pulls it off.
“I have to admit I have a grudging respect for his LO. To be able to look his wife in the eye as her grad student after sleeping with her husband without smirking takes a lot of balls.”
Really Scharnhorst? Respect? I see that same behavior and think that takes an amazing lack of empathy, arrogance and entitlement. I wouldn’t use the word respect. Chutzpah, sure.
“Chutzpah amounts to a total denial of personal responsibility, that renders others speechless and incredulous, one cannot quite believe that another person totally lacks common human traits like remorse, regret, guilt, sympathy and insight.”
“If LO had any respect for his wife, she probably doesn’t anymore.”
Well, that’s certainly true. You don’t start or at least continue an affair with the spouse of someone you respect. I bet that attitude is contagious and has spread too.
I’m going to jump in here and remind everyone about the “be constructive” rule for commenting.
There’s a lot of projecting going on about people’s motives and character, when we don’t know the full story. It’s just as plausible that Landry’s poly LO is just a non-limerent “free love” type, as a nefarious underminer of bosses and workplaces.
Either way, this site is designed to help people like Landry manage their situation, not pile on the speculation.
“It’s just as plausible that Landry’s poly LO is just a non-limerent “free love” type, as a nefarious underminer of bosses and workplaces.”
Point: Sleeping with your advisor’s husband, behind her back, isn’t poly and it’s not going to enhance the atmosphere in the workplace. Polyamory is supposed to be practiced openly and with a great deal of discussion between all parties. A true poly wouldn’t be in this position because secrecy and lies flies in the face of the spirit and makes it tawdry.
“The state of having multiple sexually or romantically committed relationships at the same time, with the consent of all partners involved.”
Free love may fit LO better. It’s still unkind and unwise of her to have done so.
“Free love is a term that today means sexual freedom as in the right and ability to sleep with whomever you want whenever they might let you.”
Upon further reflection, the LO knew she was taking a huge risk getting herself involved with her advisor’s husband. I really wonder if she won’t disclose sometime in the future, after she’s left.
“…which tells me she really prefers the uncertainty.”
It may be that she’s biding her time to see if/when you tell her what she knows or suspects. She may have already taken steps to protect herself.
That sounds like a very perilous personal situation.
Mine was a combination of the “Flirts with Everyone” narcissist with a dash of the personality disordered narc for extra misery. Truly a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Over and out!
Hi all, I just wanted to say how helpful reading all your comments on this post has been for me. I would like to tell you my story, and ask for any feedback / advice / help you may be able to offer me. My EA with my LO started a long time ago, the first glimmer was probably 2 years ago- but ramped up in earnest about 6 months ago. I’m married to my SO for 13 years and we have 2 kids. My LO is also married with 2 kids. About 6 months ago it became clear that the LO fully reciprocated my own feelings, and a game of brinkmanship ensued. Texting, emails, things got really explicit. We swore we wouldn’t let it get physical, as neither of us wanted to break up our families; and getting busted would have been career suicide as we both work together in the same office in a field which has a strong church / faith / moral framework as it’s backbone.
Leaving our families and being together was eventually discussed, and we both ended up sort of leaving, temporarily- and as soon as we did, it got physical. One time. Now I’m crushed with guilt and shame and realise that we were both in the grip of limerence and determined that it’s over and that we are both committing to working on our marriages.
I still have to keep showing up at the office with this person, quitting at this point is not an option for either of us. I’m really struggling, and determined that my SO should never find out about this because it would devastate him, and there is no reason to devastate him when he has done nothing wrong in all of this. My LO has sworn that his SO should never find out either. I trust him to keep it a secret. We both have much to lose if it comes out. I just don’t know how to carry on with the guilt and the shame I am carrying. We are just starting NC and I am in full blown withdrawal. Shaking, anxious, feeling dizzy and nauseous.
We travel together for work, I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the upcoming work trips on NC.
This post is old but ill post anyway.. im wondering if I am his pet he keeps me on the side meeting me every week to make sure im still under his spell… but I am definitely the “needs plausible deniability” LO.. i am playing and very worried that he will disclose once he does i will probably run away.. i know its shocking im not proud of that side of my personality but hey ive always been like this cant explain. Im pretty sure he suffers from that because he wants to know whether i like him or not, he wants to make sure im still his pet but he also knows that if he finds out i run away!! Its complicated and weve been going for over 4 years.. we kind of became “friend” now i know him quite well and there is a lot of untold issues around
How limerance is different from true love?
My LO is my old friend and we are both limerant. We are also both married.
It’s extremely hard. We are trying to establish NC right now.
Sometimes I’m missing him so much that I’m feeling something like panic attack…
Hi Serbia, I think that “is limerence love?” is a very common misconception among any number of authors, playwrights, songwriters, etc. “Love at first sight”, “passionate romantic love”, etc, I am more and more convinced it’s all limerence-by-another-name.
My favorite quote on that subject is “Love is not a feeling, it’s a choice.”
That quote may mean different things to different people. To me, it means that “Love endures”. Feelings come and go. Love doesn’t… love endures the highs, and the lows, because you make the choice to re-invest in it during the lows. Love takes work. Love takes effort. You invest the work and the effort because you feel it’s worth it.
To me, “real love” isn’t the new-relationship-euphoria of two teenagers (or two people acting like teenagers) making out in an alley. It’s the old couple who recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, sitting on the porch doing different activities, but still holding each other’s hand.
Limerence can lead to love, but it isn’t love. It’s “love-adjacent”, as my wife might say. Limerence is a feeling, a very, very, strong feeling… but it’s just that, a feeling, which can come and go. And it will eventually go. Even between two mutually limerent people, it will go… maybe to be replaced by love if everything works out perfectly, but it isn’t love itself.
When it comes down to it, limerence is about ourselves. It’s internal. It’s fed by someone else for sure, but it lives inside our head. Love is something two people build together. Limerence ultimately is something we do mostly to/with ourselves.
All that said, it doesn’t mean limerence isn’t a sonofabitch while it sticks around.
Love is a verb.
In how many other ways does your SO show love? Why your SO is stuck on not showing it via sexual intimacy is beyond me and sad. Preumably he is wrestling his own issues and depression kills desire. He sounds like he has a lot of reasons to be depressed too. But if it isn’t acceptable then divorce him. If you don’t want to risk the costs you can get an Ose vibrator. It’s about $300 but it is worth it.
Thanks for the opinion.
I’m fighting for my marriage the best way I know and I’m capable for.
I decided to establish full NC. Things have never get physical between LO and me. I told him that I can’t tačk with him about “situation”. Also, it’s the very first time that I feel this way (afwul, to be precise). I do not enjoy in this situation. I’m just hoping and praying this terrible feeling to be over forever.
The Ose will take the edge off.
May be fun for SO too.
Great advice, Lee!
For me, overbearing guilt is most difficult part. For like 10 years of our relationship and marriage, my husband was my best friend. I feel like a big fat betrayer every day, all the time.
This article must have seeped into my subconscious months ago when I discovered this blog because I have been pondering (read: ruminating) lately about LO and why she acts the way she acts sometimes. I actually googled “limerence plausible deniability” and the first result? This post. Haha. That is her exactly. She loves the games, the flirting, the “we just happened to run into each other in the break room or car park again” routine, and the pretending. God the pretending. The pretending that there’s nothing deeper there. She knows it. I know it. We both knew it before i disclosed but we damn well both knew it after I disclosed. But even still, months after disclosure, the pretending kills me. I suck at pretending. If midlife teaches you anything , it’s that you don’t have time to pretend and play games.
Which brings me to this question: is there such a thing as a second disclosure? I want to so badly. Just to let her know I still feel this way. Terrible decision I know. But still…..
You could disclose a second time.
But, if you do, the next time you meet in the car park, those things hanging from the rear view mirror won’t be fuzzy dice.
Those things hanging from the rear view mirror will be your balls.
Well she didn’t exactly run away after the first disclosure. Scared the hell out of her for sure but still. She still plays the same games after all these months. And I have thought about your comment a few weeks ago about intent and how it can change on a dime. Do you remember that?
I realize this sort of rambling is not healthy for those on here but I will say this to those who haven’t: don’t disclose. It will never be enough. It will either go terribly wrong or it will leave you wanting another disclosure soon after. It is never enough. No addict ever gets enough.
B – I get where you’re coming from, I am in the same boat, just different brand and similar journey. Lots of pretending here, oscar winning performance from his side, he knows, I know, his SO knows and even my SO partially knows. Fuck, almost everyone knows but yet here we are pretending that life is just peachy keen and we are all “just” friends. Ha!
I’ve been super tempted to disclose on several occasions when we’ve been alone, but bit down on the temptation, so glad I haven’t . Even a box full of freaking tarantulas won’t tempt me to confess, he can go to hell.
I am currently at week 9 of very LC to almost NC, 2 nd instigated NC by him and ready to kill him. I wonder is I can make death by strangulation look like an accident…..? 🤔
So my advice, don’t do it B, she’s yanking your chain hard and clearly enjoying your discomfort. She knows how you feel, you don’t need to engrave it in blood on a hanky to hand to her. She’s just going to stomp all over your heart again and will enjoy it squishing under her heels.
Thanks. But I just can’t accept that she is as terrible as you describe. After all, she is perfect to me. She seems to be such a legitimately GOOD person. Nothing like some of the LOs described on here. But I know this is a lie I have told myself and believed. But I can’t stop believing it. She probably is the most narcissistic, self-absorbed one of the lot; I just can’t see it.
I go through periods of anger toward LO, which is actually helpful. But I’m still swinging back and forth and to the extreme. Just last night I was online shopping for yet another thoughtful gift. I was imagining a scenario where LO leaves for another job and I never see her again. I would secretly give her a VERY expensive and personal gift as a farewell (like the scene in Notting Hill where Julia Roberts’ character gives him that painting). That way she would know exactly how much she meant to me and how much she occupied my thoughts. But today, she seems annoyed with me. I am determined to give her the cold shoulder and it’s actually pretty easy. If she asks what’s wrong, I’ll act aloof and busy. I think I could keep that up until the LE is past.
But the saddest part of all is the knowing we will never be together; not physically, not emotionally, nothing. That saddens me as much as the loss of a very close loved one. So sad.
“I would secretly give her a VERY expensive and personal gift as a farewell (like the scene in Notting Hill where Julia Roberts’ character gives him that painting). That way she would know exactly how much she meant to me and how much she occupied my thoughts. ”
Imagine her laughing at you later while pawning it.
I wrote this in 2014.
This is a transcription of my favorite Dr. Seuss, with apologies.
One Narc, Two Narc, Red Narc, Blue Narc,
Black Narc, Blue Narc, Old Narc, New Narc.
This one wants to be a star.
This one wants to steal your car.
Say! What a lot of Narcs there are.
Yes. Some are red, and some are blue.
Some are old and some are new.
Some are sad, and seldom glad,
And some are very, very bad.
Why are they sad and glad and bad?
I do not know, go ask your dad.
Some are thin, and some are fat.
The fat one wears an ugly hat.
From there to here,
From here to there,
You’ll find narcs are everywhere.
Here are some who like to shun.
They ruin things for everyone.
Oh me! Oh my! Oh me! oh my!
What a lot of funny things go by.
Some have two guys and some have four.
Some have six guys and some have more.
Where do they come from? I can’t say.
But I really wish they’d go away.
We see them come, we see them go.
Some are crafty. Some are slow.
Some are high. Some are low.
The often hate one another.
Don’t ask us why, go ask your mother.
Say! Look at children!
One, two, three…
How many kiddies do I see?
One, two, three, four,
five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.
She has eleven!
Eleven! This is something new.
She should have quit at number two!
Hark! Hark! Hark!
Did you ever bed a Narc?
We know a Narc with just one mark.
But we know a man called Mr. Stark.
Mr. Stark married a real shark Narc So…
If you like to go Bark! Bark!
Just jump on the shark of the Nark of Stark
Who am I? My name is Ned
I do not like my little bed.
This is no good. This is not right.
She keeps me awake all night.
And when I ask, Please stop my Dear!
She gets mad and slaps me on the ear!
I like my bike. It sets me free.
I just might not come back, you see.
I like my bike, and this is why:
I can escape when she get high.
Oh dear, oh dear! I cannot hear.
Will you please come over near?
Will you please look in my ear?
There must be something there, I fear.
Say look! That was blood that was in your ear.
But it is out. So have no fear.
Again your ear can hear, my dear.
We took a look. We saw a Narc.
On her head he had a hook.
On her hook he had a book.
On her book was “How to Cook”
We saw her sit and try to cook
But a Nook won’t read, and a Narc won’t Cook.
What good to a Narc is a hook cook book?
the moon was out and I was counting sheep.
She talked of sheep as I tried to sleep.
By the light of the moon, by the light of a star;
She talked all night from near to far.
I had enough and slept in the car.
I do not like this one so well.
all she does is yell, yell, yell.
I will not have this one about.
When she comes in, I slip out.
This one is quiet as a mouse.
I ‘m scared to have her in the house.
At our house I open cans.
I have to open many cans.
‘cause she don’t cook, she only tans.
She thinks that leather skin is good.
An empty pantry she scans for cans. No food.
My LO is a “flirts-with-evereyone” type. Even in the final stages of NC/recovery (I hope), my silly brain still insists on believing that there was some special connection between us. I wonder how many limerents he has walking around out there thinking they have a special connection with him. It makes me sad to think about.
If I’m anybody’s LO, I’m probably considered the “flirts-with-everyone” type. In reality, I’m just so introverted that I do this thing where I babble so it looks like I’m flirting.
I feel like LO pulled the ultimate confidence scam on me. Almost like a pool shark or a golf hustler. I was gradually made to think a certain way about her, until it was too late. I was caught in her dragnet. Only then did I realize that she had the power all along and had masterminded the whole thing. To an outside observer, you would never think that I was the limerent and she the LO. Quite the reverse actually. But she knew. All along she knew. It was just a game to see if she could catch me and add to her countless other conquests no doubt. What makes a person want attention so badly to be like that? I wish I had never given her the time of day.
Also, I wish there was an entire post on the Needs Plausible Deniability LO. I want to understand it so badly.
My LO fits into two categories. The personality disorder and the I’ll keep you as the backup option. My LE started after my wife wanted a divorce and we chose seperation. It was a “smack” to my face,and my life turned upside down. Then immediately my aquaintence /co-worker of many years steps into my life. Oh! She played the savior well. The best friend I never had,yet we had nothing in common. She really liked me and wanted to help. I am the introvert/loner so I needed this person, a bandaid for a giant wound,pure co-despondency. I didn’t want a relationship or love but she love bombed me,and it became physical. Next thing I know 7 months later I’m in full Limerence, trauma bonded, gaslighted to believe I ruined the relationship,and crying for a text. Research has it I’m with a Covert Narcassist. I was prey. Misery loves company. I been trying NC but she plays the loyal friend well and the occasionally FWB. I try to fight the snares of this one and it’s chaos in my life,so transference might be my only escape.
After some thought, I have come to the grudging conclusion that my LO fits the narcissist ticket. Unfortunately, while I was under his spell, I just couldn’t see it. Or I didn’t want to see it.
Narcissists crave supply. I was LO’s supply (one of many no doubt) and LO kept me around as a good source of supply – until he didn’t. Sources of supply can be discarded at will and replaced with better, more easily-managed sources of supply. Makes sense. I became unmanageable as a source of supply. LO couldn’t control me anymore. I asked too many embarrassing questions.
There wasn’t really any give-and-take in the friendship. The interaction wasn’t healthy or balanced. In any kind of solid emotional bond, one party shouldn’t worship the other and one party shouldn’t encourage or expect worship. LO love-bombed me at different stages in the friendship and I always fell for it.
I was susceptible to falling for a narcissistic LO due to being raised by a narcissistic parent (mother). The dynamic felt familiar and comforting to me, even “the role I was born to play”. I was too quick to forgive LO his self-centred ways. I wanted to believe the best about him. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.
It’s amazing the gap that exists between behaviours one will tolerate from someone while in limerence and behaviours one will tolerate from someone when no longer in limerence.
I think narcissism explains the excessively negative character of my limerent episode. On the other hand, I can understand why a narcissist would love a “limerent pet” – what a wonderful source of validation! We are a narcissist’s dream come true.
I feel less bad about this particular LE coming to an end now – there was nothing really worth salvaging in the friendship. Even the most subtle manipulation is still manipulation. Time for a new chapter in my life I think! 😛
“Even the most subtle manipulation is still manipulation”….so true! But when in limerence almost impossible to recognize…. but now that we have our LwL skills maybe our antennae will quickly spot a manipulator!
So glad I discovered this as I’m attempting to go NC after my LO came back after what I think was what they call a discard in the middle of last year.
Reading the categories it’s definitely “I’ll keep you as a back up” situation. I was really caught off guard by the whole situation because I’ve known her for close to twenty years and a few years ago she told me she was divorcing her husband. We did start to get a bit closer but about two years ago I made the “mistake” of inviting her to join a writing group I was involved with. Initially things were like they always had been but after I showed her a bit of extra support we were off to the races.
All of the sudden she was texting, and calling, almost daily. I was seeing her at our group meet-ups and we were getting coffee at least once a week. She started to get upset if I didn’t return calls, or texts, fast enough and we started to bond over my troubled marriage too. By the time my wife figured out what was up I was in full limerance.
My wife asked me to cut off communication and, of course, I agreed but the texting, calls and meet-ups continued but nothing physical ever happened. It was constant push-pull/hot-cold and which I kept chalking it up to her being confused. She always walked the “line” so I think there was a bit of “plausible deniability” in there too. But then she completely cut me off for no apparent reason and tried to pretend we never had gotten close at all – it was gaslighting 101. I think she started focusing on another supply.
After six months of low contact she came back with a vengeance a few months ago, loved bombed the heck out of me for a few weeks, and then went all neutral again.
The irony is that I thought her coming back would make me feel better but it has actually been worse because her game is so clear now. I’m just one member of a “harem” of male friends she circulates through because of her marital situation. I am quite sure she is the LO for multiple guys and I know she loves the attention and validation. I also know I will eventually get the call, or the text, to try to suck me back in again.
But shaking these feelings is just so damn hard and I feel like an addict at times. It so pathetic but any “crumb” of attention can uplift me for a whole day but then the “crash” comes and I start wondering when the next “hit” will come.
Limerent Emeritus says
Article of the Day: https://thoughtcatalog.com/saba-may/2021/04/an-empath-can-never-make-a-narcissist-love-them/
I don’t think DrL has ever explored limerents and empaths. Maybe it’s another one of those “Not all empaths are limerents but many limerents appear to be empaths.”
Empaths are a topic on their own. https://www.psychalive.org/empaths/#:~:text=Empaths%20are%20highly%20sensitive%20individuals,others%20at%20their%20own%20expense.
Anyone I’ve ever met who claimed to be an empath seemed to be using the title as a justification for being a perpetual relationship doormat. Empaths do come across as exceptionally perceptive. But, if you think of perception as a combination of hypervigilance and intelligence, it’s not really all that special.
Hypervigilance gives you the ability to see things coming at you. Intelligence gives you the ability to recognize what’s coming at you. Combine them, and you look like a metaphysical rocket scientist.
I don’t think I’ve ever met a happy empath. They’re too busy looking for pain. A Narcissist can provide plenty.
Allie 1 says
Have you ever met a Buddhist empath? I know a few. Deep, happy, empathic and compassionate.
I think some people call themselves an “empath” when actually they are either extra sensitive or needy, rather than especially empathic.
Limerent Emeritus says
Actually, maybe I have but I didn’t know it at the time. She never claimed to be an empath when I knew her.
I met the roommate of one of my NROTC classmates. I was attracted to her and made a long-distance run at her. We crossed paths for maybe 2 years. It never took off. I was looking for a serious relationship and she was looking for grad schools. There wasn’t much chemistry between us.
She seemed to be three things you listed but I never really got to know her that well. I have no idea of how happy she was. The best “goodbye” I’ve ever received from a woman came from her. She could charge other women for lessons in how to dump someone. I think her telling me “goodbye” was harder for her to say than it was for me to hear.
She went on to marry, have a child, and divorce. She later became an ordained Zen priest and runs her own spiritual healing business. I never saw any of that when we were dating. Of all the women I’ve dated, she was the only one to make it onto one of the subs I was on. I find that oddly ironic.
Allie 1 says
I agree with your analysis. I would consider myself to be empathic, sensitive and instinctively perceptive about people. Whenever I meet people that have that charming narcissistic quality about them, they set my teeth on edge and make me feel mistrustful and vigilant. I can’t imagine ever falling for someone like that. I guess when people are vulnerable, they let their guard down which allows the wolves to sneak in.
Maybe I’m a bit unusual, but I don’t think I’ve ever met a narcissist I didn’t take a shine to. They don’t really set my teeth on edge. Even when they’re cringe-y, they’re also kind of fun. 😜
I had at least one narcissistic parent, so maybe that means my tolerance for people with personality issues is unusually high?
On the other hand, there might be something intrinsically captivating about narcissists on a biological level. I think, if a narcissist wants to make a person feel loved, the narcissist will do a much better job than a regular person of showing that love – at least initially. The problem is the narcissist can’t keep the loving charade up and often “needs” the target more than the target needs them. The love-bombing comes with strings attached.
I had at least one narcissistic LO and not once during the interaction did I ever suspect he was a narcissist. The reason I never suspected he was a narcissist was that he was mirroring me, and mirroring me perfectly. Being with him was like looking in a mirror at my own beautiful, airbrushed reflection. He shared my values. He shared my taste. He adopted my hobbies. It was like being with a more likeable version of myself!! 😆
The downside of this narcissistic interaction was that I never felt like I got to know the real him. And I really wanted to get to know him and his true preferences/interests, etc. I think, at the end of the day, he wasn’t capable of showing me his true colours. He had no colours to call his own. He could only mirror me (or mirror other people he wished to impress/befriend). 😲
I felt loved. But I felt like I was being loved by a phantom. I felt like I was being loved by someone who was hollow. There was no “I” and “Thou”, “you” and “me”. Losing him was traumatic because I guess I was losing that mirroring gaze. No one has ever looked at me in quite the way he looked at me – with the same total admiration, real or feigned. 😉
This is why people feel like they’ve been “expelled from the garden” when limerence ends perhaps. Because they have been literally kicked out of Paradise. No more divine communing with divine Mommy substitute! 😜
Interesting discussion about empaths. I haven’t ever written on the topic. I’m not that familiar with it, but would assume some overlap with HSPs.
An interesting new avenue…
Was there ever a follow up article to this one? Have slowly concluded that my LO is a narcissist, but still find it hard to believe even in the face of all the evidence. Would love to read more on LO narcissists.
Here’s an interesting video I came across. It’s called “Narcissism: Why you Can’t Get Over Them w/Sam Vaknin”.
The video is a discussion between Richard Grannon, who is a life coach with a background in psychology I think, and Sam Vaknin, who is quite a famous online commentator on narcissism, pioneering much of the jargon used today.
If one doesn’t want to watch the video in full, a summary might go something like this:
The reason we can’t get over a narcissist is the narcissist makes us feel as if no one will ever again love us as the narcissist loved us. The narcissist’s (real or feigned) love came to us as an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. When we lose the narcissist’s love, because the narcissist devalues us or discards us, that loss triggers a grief reaction. This grief reaction is approximate to the grief reaction experienced by a child who had the perfect loving mother and suddenly became an orphan. The orphaned child can never get its mother back, and other loves of course simply can’t compare to the love that was lost.
Some insightful person in the comment section accompanying this video also points out we don’t just mourn the narcissist at the end of a relationship with a narcissist – we also mourn the idealised image the narcissist had of us and we mourn the fantasy of the perfect relationship we seemingly shared with the narcissist.
We’re really mourning ourselves, in other words, or an incredibly compelling version of ourselves. Narcissists make us fall in love with ourselves by mirroring us so skilfully. Maybe we’re even mourning some version of ourselves loved unconditionally through the eyes of a mother, because according to these two experts this is what the narcissist is offering us – the promise of unconditional (and mutual) maternal love. It must feel like a heady spiritual connection.
People here have talked about a connection between limerence and grief before. I wonder if this video links these two concepts in a potentially helpful way?
I guess my “player” LO would be a “flirts with everyone” LO? And I’m just kept as a “backup” limerent pet? (ouch)
I am suffering that horrible moment when I thought the sweetest, loveliest person is maybe at worst a narcissist, at best a selfish “flattered by interest” LO. Or maybe “hungry for emotional validation”.
Sammy’s comments about limerence and grief are really hitting me rather hard.