It’s that time of year when people look to the future, look at themselves, and resolve to improve.
It’s a great impulse, but it’s also an unfortunate truth that most resolutions barely outlast January. Gyms actually build their business models around the certainty that the spike in membership at the start of the year will fund a much-reduced occupancy through the rest of the year. Indeed, if all the members actually regularly attended – as they had resolved to – then the gym would be so overcrowded it would collapse.
So, why? What is it about psychology that makes people super keen to do better, but unable to sustain the change needed? And how does this relate to limerence?
1) It’s habits again
It’s becoming a recurrent theme of the blog, but so much of our behaviour is governed by habit and so much of habitual behaviour is subconscious, that without a deliberate and strategic attempt to intervene, changing our ways is very difficult. Familiar patterns are comfortable, take no cognitive effort, and are a sort of mental autopilot. You need to switch that autopilot off and start driving yourself if you are going to reverse bad habits and establish good ones. It’s essential to recognise that wanting and hoping are not effective in themselves, and need to be coupled to a clever strategy to actually reverse the old bad habits.
2) Too much too soon
Another common pitfall is to resolve with great determination to turn yourself around, and then start on the self improvement project immediately, and all in. This is the classic for exercise. The enthusiasm and drive for getting fitter carries you to the gym, signs you up, and gets you doing a few workouts. But then you set yourself impossible goals – a full body workout three times a week. The irresistible force of your ambition and willpower soon meets the immovable object of reality. You can’t go from couch potato to crossfit pro in three months.
Willpower is for sprints. If you are trying to complete a self-contained project (like redecorating the spare room, or taking your dad on holiday) then it can be useful as a spur to action. But if you are aiming for a lasting change (like eating well or exercising regularly), willpower won’t get you across the finishing line, because there is no finishing line. Instead, the best strategy is to focus on attainable goals: attending the gym at least once a week. Going on an exercise bike for 10 min a day. Doing 5 press ups. Start small, start manageable, and then build. If you are clever about the process, you can even build in mini-peaks of achievement along the way, to help reinforce the new behaviour. Add one extra press up every week, until you get to 20 a day. Train for 30 min instead of 10 min. Build. Don’t try to go from zero to one hundred in one fell swoop.
3) Change the habit or change yourself?
Sometimes the habit is relatively trivial, and it’s easy to follow the Charles Duhigg method of replacing the middle part of the “cue → routine → reward” pattern with a new, healthier, routine that leads to the same reward. But sometimes it becomes clear that the issue is deeper.
To effect lasting change it is often necessary to address the root of the behavioral problem more directly. Let’s take an example of resolving to get more productive work done and waste less time.
There are (at least) two layers to this problem – a habit of wasting time (let’s say on social media) and a deeper issue of favouring pleasurable distractions over more purposeful activity (such as advancing a career, launching a side project, or learning a new skill). Without recognising the deeper problem, it will be hard to make the surface change stick. Fortunately, though, once you are aware of the deeper problem (the psychological urge to seek comfort), a two-layered response can be devised.
The lower layer is a broad resolution to treat the foundation (I will become a more industrious person) and the upper layer is to devise some specific, manageable resolutions that help that deeper goal (I will reduce my time on social media by an hour a day, and read a reference book instead). The specific resolution is easy to implement, and modest in ambition, but it creates a virtuous cycle where that relatively simple change leads to compounding benefits. Meeting that goal increases your sense of self-worth, is concrete evidence that you are becoming more industrious and therefore, helps you achieve the bigger ambition.
Making a limerence resolution stick:
So, taking these ideas and thinking about a new year’s resolution to take control over a destructive limerence episode. What could work? Well, there are two layers to this: first, you have a broad resolution:
I am going to stop being a person that gives in to limerence
That in itself is a Big Challenge, which is best beaten with several smaller challenges that move you in the right direction. So the second layer of resolutions could be:
I will not text LO after 8 pm.
I will change my lunch routine to avoid meeting LO in the cafeteria
I will turn down every second invitation for after-work drinks, if LO will be there
The resolution to master limerence is a good one, but without some specific and attainable goals it’s too big and too nebulous a goal to be realistic. Keep things simple, and build on small wins.
Good luck, and Happy New Year, all!
Nice post – totally agree with not being zero to hero and getting confidence in making small wins – always works for me.
But thats when its been controlling the mind.
With Limerence, its controlling the mind and the heart and the emotions attached to contacting the LO. As for me, I have decided no initiating contact as I work with my LO and just responding to cordially to any contacts made – and that too not straight away like i used too – like a stupid puppy.
I only have till end of Jan and then they leave the company and i know naturally contact will diminish slowly. Wishing everyone a more controlled 2019 and best wishes in managing their limerence.
Remember, there are some people whose mind plays them, but there are few who play the mind.
“Here’s to 2019 being better than 2018!” Quoted from Dr. Limerence
Thank you for this insightful, inspirational and compassionate website. 2017-2018 was rough. I’m in a much better place physically, psychologically and emotionally due to this blog. I feel like, “I’m here!” Living today with my real trials and tribulations. And it’s wonderful. Life is truly more vibrant alway from LO and the Limerence euphoria. Not everyday is Limerence free, but I’m getting more wins with each passing day.
I hope everyone has a truly amazing, and purposeful New Year!!!
Happy New Year Irene!
Really glad to hear the gains you’ve made, and that the blog has helped. That’s wonderful news.
I plan to fill 2019 with purpose, for sure!
Back to work today and to the enticement of LO, after two weeks of enforced no contact. The break wasn’t actually as hard as I thought it would be and proved that there is life without LO! I think it’s a good idea to break down the big challenge into smaller ones and so far I’ve gone all morning resisting the temptation to send an email. A very small win indeed but something to build on and maybe it’s time for some SMART New Year goals. I also think it’s a good idea to try and change some set behaviours/habits for the new year. I’m trying to switch away from listening to music during my commute to listen instead to audio books and speech based radio. Less time for that dreaded/wonderful reverie although my mind has a habit of wandering. I hope 2019 is a better year all and thanks DR L for opening my eyes last year. I’m not sure where I’d be now if I hadn’t found this blog.
Sounds like you and I on similar journey – Im back to work as well and although LO is online, have not made contact – but i do check if she has contacted me. I think i can get through the day without contact.
Good luck – its hard .
It is hard Kevin, but we can do it! If we manage today let’s see see if we can go for the rest of the week without making contact. There’s a mini challenge for you. Try to find something else to focus your mind on. Keeping busy definitely helps.
Ok cool – Like it Royce – the challenge! Whats your strategy for when she contacts you to say hello or ‘lets have a coffee’…. are you too friends at work already?
Before the holidays we had already planned to meet up next week so I’m stuck with that (if secretly happy about it). I think my strategy when we meet will be to keep the conversation strictly work related – it hasn’t been in the past. If she emails in the meantime I’m going to take my time to respond and again try to keep it work related. I’ve known her for a couple of years through work and full blown limerency, as I know it, only kicked in about 4 months ago. I’d say we class each other as friends although I know that’s just not sustainable for me and an LO.
I presume you are your LO are not both available so disclosure isn’t an option? If it isn’t then I’m sure you can ride it out until the end of Jan and then let no contact do its thing. Maybe just reducing the amount of interaction you have with her will be enough for this month.
Wow. Our stories are very similar. Known my LO for 4 years but only in last 6 months has full
Blown limerence kicked in. Although been creeping up in last 18 months.
We used to spend time alone at lunch and some dinners out which in hindsight didn’t help. She confides in me too in matters relating to work and also asks for advice.
She is single and I have SO but right now LO takes my headspace. What about you?
Your right only till end of jan. Shen is also working from home few days. But I’m dreading her leaving doo which I will have to go to.
Royce – Just checking in with you – Lets now hit 2 days without initiating contact! we can do this !! Also regarding you feel obliged to meet LO as you guys promised to in the NY… you dont have to. LO & Me were gonna go out for dinner on just before xmas but by then I had read this blog and I called it off making some excuse as I realised its gonna fuel my limerence…..so you can call it off. She did say to me ‘No worries, we can go in Jan’ But im not going to act on that. So im just saying – you can dodge it.
Yes pretty similar stories and I think my limerence was a gradual creep too. I’m married with kids and so is LO so we are both totally unavailable. We’ve both been with our partners long term and we are well into seven-year-itch territory.
Maybe you should consider not going to the leaving doo. An illness could easily be invented and it would be a valid excuse. That might save some pain and then you could see how no contact went.
What’s the situation with your SO – are you committed to a long term relationship and before LO was around were you in a good place with her?
Yes too similar. Im married (8 years), no kids – we cant have kids. LO is single – 5 yrs younger.
Before LO came around – the spark had gone and we were more functional so I enjoyed chatting/flirting/arranging things to do with my friend who I got a job in my current place. Never really liked her romantically and was just a friend where mutual respect existed. But like you, the limerence started soon after she joined – i think it was when she once suggested going to a dessert place one day and something started in me then and i remember thinking ‘SHIT, I actually find her hot’. After that we did a number of solo cafes/dinners and were messaging after work – But I must add IT WAS ME who always initiated it and she always responded as she is more of an introvert. It didnt help when a few times i wasnt in the office and she messaged me to see where i was as she noticed i wasnt in – all that fueled the romantic feelings and I though ‘maybe she likes me but would never do anything as she knows im married’….anyway all this continued and there was a lot of care for each other….this xmas i bought her some beauty products as a way of hinting i like her – she got me xmas present too – but not as personal. Anyway come early Dec I knew I had a massive problem as i couldnt focus and her company now made more sad as i knew what was going on (thanks to this blog) so started learning about whats been going on and how to stop. However, I still decided to try one more time and did suggest at xmas party that we leave to get some food – she said we shall see nearer the time – when the late time came, she decided to stay and i took that as ‘THATS IT NO MORE’ as if she had anything for me that was a chance to be alone before xmas (not to do anything but just enjoy the company). At the same time this blog was teaching me what to do – so after that I had No initiation of contact. On Xmas day i sent a message and she responded. THat was the last time I initiated contact. now just responding professionaly if she does – like she did on New years day – so I sent a note back. Cos we have a good friendship I just think she may ask why im a bit aloof (now that i wont be initiating contact) but as mentioned thats until end of Jan then by default it should go down.
Thats my story – bit long but I feel you have been on a similar journey and it feels that you are ready for NC too.
Do you have more to your story – are you guys close and message outside of work much?
Good to hear more of your story Kevin and sounds like you’re on the right track now. I’ve managed no contact again today so we’re both doing well! Let’s keep it up – 1 day to go before we get our bronze NC certificates!
To answer your questions, we’re pretty close and do sometimes message outside of work, but most of our interaction is done in the workplace. I think we both have boundaries that we are trying to stay within, for obvious reasons. We meet for lunch every other week and communicate electronically quite regularly. Conversations can sometimes be pretty long and nothing to do with work but they are generally light hearted. I think one of the major attractions of my LO is that she makes me laugh. I won’t bore people with my whole story but there’s a few more details and thoughts in my first comment attached to the post “Life as a limerent: autopilot mode”.
I have to interact a little with LO in my normal line of work so total NC isn’t really an option. I’m going to have to manage my feelings better and I do think that over the last month or so I can handle things a lot better. I laugh at myself sometimes and simply tell myself to stop being an idiot, which surprisingly does seem to work. Will think about calling off the meeting next week but I think that would just make things a bit awkward and seem very odd. I’m also quite interested to see how I feel and how I cope after a couple of weeks of NC – hopefully she grown an ugly wart or something over Christmas. I think reduced contact might be the way to go for now. Try to stop those unnecessary lunches and then take it from there.
One thing I’ve done today is sign up for an online course that I can focus on for the next few months. It could help with career opportunities and will be a useful outlet if I have any spare limerent energy going. A good step towards more purposeful living I think.
Congrats to both Kevin and Royce for starting the New Year on a good footing!
You absolutely should recognise and take pride in every positive choice. Not making contact for a day is a positive gain. Add up enough of those and you’ve won. Every change in habit that distances the temptations of LO is another win. They all count.
Here’s to a contact-free week!
Thanks Dr L – This blog has been a life saver.
A tip that im trying out at work is if I feel like saying something, doing something, or responding to LO…then I have picked a few other female colleagues and I run through a vetting process in my head and ask myself ‘would I say this, do this, respond to this with any of these girls’…if the answer is NO then I dont to LO…. if answer is Yes then I do to LO – so in that way treating her as any other colleague. I feel sorry for the people who have to continue to work with LO but above may help them – mine leaves end of the month so feels like its just getting through the month – which will hopefully make me stronger anyway
“‘would I say this, do this, respond to this with any of these girls’…if the answer is NO then I dont to LO”
Oh thank goodness.
“this xmas i bought her some beauty products as a way of hinting i like her”
Oh my word. If your wife finds the receipt for this gift, or LO ever lets that slip, you’re toast. Back away carefully and quietly. If you drop a big rock in her life, this is exactly the sort of thing that can lead to some very ugly conversations with HR.
You’re heading down a better path in 2019. Good luck staying the course. I’m confident you and Royce (and Irene too!) are all going to be fine.
And good luck with the new opportunities at your job!
@Lee – Thanks – yes im focused now to get this sorted – I was looking for reciprocation when giving beauty gifts – although I did get a ‘hit’ when she messaged me on the weekend following me giving it to her that she enjoyed the bath. Things like that didnt help feed the limerence (didnt know back then that it was limerence)!…. WHY would she do that..wish she never accepted it or asked me ‘does your wife know’…anyway -we are on our own journey.
Receipt is in the bin – wont be doing this again.
“WHY would she do that…”
Red flag flying!
I’m relieved for your sake that she’s moving on. If she didn’t enjoy the inappropriate gift (and it was), she could have given it to someone else or better still – returned it to you and said, “I can’t accept this. It’s too personal.” Telling you how much she enjoyed using it is calculated to make you imagine her using it.
Anyway, receipt is in the bin, lesson is learned, life is moving on. Whew!
Gifts to LOs are always for our benefit not theirs. I sent LO #4 a few over the years. They were always related to her profession. However, they were very unique.
She may have purged them when she said goodbye but if she bothered to keep them, she’ll always remember who they came from.
Since LO #4 and I were geographically separated, I had to mail them. She had me send them via her mother’s address in a different state. She was living with her BF at the time and I kind of wondered if she did that to avoid her BF asking questions if he got the mail. She could also leave them out without arousing suspicion.
And the thing was, I knew when I was doing it that it was an act of emotional betrayal. But, I did it anyway. You can do some really stupid things in limerence.
Kevin – that’s a great mindset to have to help you be more professional with LO. I tried similar tactics, such as not texting outside of work hours etc, but typically I didn’t last long with them. Being so young (20), my LO would overstep boundaries like that and draw me back in. It was so hard to stay on track, particularly due to proximity: we sat right next to each other. A smile, slightly too long eye to eye contact, joke, funny or thoughtful text etc would melt my professional exterior and I’d be back in. So I would recommend staying out of each other’s paths as much as possible too.
Like you I bought her a present (for her birthday) and our relationship really got way too deep and unprofessional. Just before she left in December we were texting each other 100s of times a week. Never sexual or even that suggestive but certainly co-dependent.
I’m 3 weeks NC now and back to work. There are still a few reminders of her but I’ve been systematically removing them. I’ve deleted all traces of contact – email, phone, WhatsApp, social media etc. We parted on bad terms so she hasn’t contacted me and I haven’t contacted her. I can say that each day is an improvement on the last. Xmas with my SO was great, we reconnected well, and thoughts of LO are becoming slightly less each day. I’m probably only about 6 weeks or so ahead of you but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel…
@Lee. Never thought of it like that as she hardly physically flirts and is a bit naive like that that. But you never know.
@Vincent. Thanks for sharing your story. Really gives me hope as yes your slightly ahead of me so I believe I can come through too. How comes it ended in bad terms. Did you disclose? I’m still on NC unless she messages me and I’m keeping it brief and not personal. She only has once yesterday. But she will more when she is back in office on Monday. Then I’m just going to dodge her as much as possible until she leaves end of month. Must have been hard for you if you say next to each other. I’m on same floor just opposite ends. Hope you keep progressing with your recovery. I hope to be there soon. Lol. Thank you again
I didn’t disclose but we fell out. She had a tendency to avoid difficult conversations and this was a problem a few times in a professional setting (I was her boss so she had a duty to tell me these things). This last incident was more personal and the info came out at her leaving do (alcohol, LOs, emotions are a bad combo FYI). She didn’t have a duty to tell me this time of course but in the nature of our relationship I felt she should have (other random people knew).
I had long resolved to go NC when she left and I suspect my (over)reaction was on some level about making that move into NC easier. I’m currently wrestling with that one in my mind as now I’ve calmed down, I can see it was about her immaturity and me projecting qualities onto her that she evidently didn’t have. So less about her and more about me. But regardless, it has made the move into NC a cleaner one.
@Vincent – Wow Vincent I feel for you – but yeah if it helps with NC then great. So I have leaving doo in 3 weeks of my LO…what I will probably do is go for a few hours but be ‘double booked’ so I can leave early and not drink. The xmas party finished me before xmas as i didnt do anything but the alcohol didnt help as made me feel more miserable. She has just messaged me now funny enough – with a pic of dog as she knows i love dogs….this is where i have to be strong and not respond – i feel rude not acknowledging but i know its for the best.
Keep going Vincent – your doing well. Sounds like your very mature and she may not be as mature. The other thing thats similar is that my LO reports into me too – just recently…very similar situation just 6 weeks behind as you say.
What made you guys maintain contact – did you sense she liked you too and had feelings?
She reported into me right up until she left so we had to be in contact. Although I was so angry I didn’t speak to her on her last day, which I’m now sad about. But yes, I always felt she liked me. There was a massive age gap (19 years), but it felt to me like there was something between us, and it had built up over nearly 2 years. Of course that’s the nature of limerence, we can see something that’s not there, but I always sensed something more, and one of her friends confirmed it to me at her leaving do. She told me if I wasn’t married LO would have done something about it, which was a nice validation. But the the lingering looks, texting in the evenings, weekends and on holiday (initiated by her), her getting jealous about another girl in the office – there was enough evidence there anyway when I look back. Although at the time I was desperate for more concrete reciprocation.
It moved way beyond appropriate and became an obsession for me. It distracted from all the important things in my life – my wife, my kids, my career. I was putting her before all of them on a regular basis, and for what? Dopamine hits basically. I was never going to run off with her. For all our attraction and connection we are way too different to form an actual relationship. We’d have lasted weeks! But I was risking everything. Thankfully I was given the opportunity of NC with her leaving, and because I’ve read everything I’ve been able to on limerence I knew I had to take it, and try not to look back.
@Vincent – Sounds like you had loads of reciprocation. In my case its the opposite – I am the one who WAS messaging (90%) and she was responding.
She initiated 10% of the time. Although since I have gone NC she has done 100% of initiation.
19 years is huge – your right that would never have worked even if things were not great with SO. Good she left really. But you must be having withdrawl symptoms. My LO hasnt been in the office all week and it does feel nice walking around not worrying about seeing her – but also feels a bit lonely – but i know that will pass once she leaves end of Jan
Yeah big withdrawal symptoms, she was my drug after all. Lonely too. She was the fun part of my day, we’d make each laugh, make fun of each other. We were good friends on one level.
But once it reached obsessive levels (for me), that fun came with pain too. Watching her with another guy in the office, checking her diary to see where she was, manipulating situations to work together more closely and keep her away from potential threats. All very stressful and time consuming.
I went from cancelling my weekly work from home day just to spend one extra day with her per week, to by the end being relieved when she wasn’t in so I didn’t need to torture myself with what she was doing. That part of my life now having gone is an enormous relief.
OMG – the way you have worded that is exactly my story – regarding WFH days, the joking around etc…. but now its all about avoidance strategy – LOL… You, Royce, Me we have similar challenges – but will get through this.
Its a drug as you say – need to replace the drug with something positive!
Thanks for sharing. Yes here is to day 3 of NC! We can do this.
By the way what do you count as NC. Because if she contacts you which requires an answer that is the contact but not initiated by you.
In this case I’m counting NC as any contact intiated by me or responding to anything that is not work related. If she gets in touch with a valid question about work it’s by job to give her some advice. Good luck today!
Ok. Cool. Same as me.
Thanks for clarifying.
@Royce – how you getting on? Have you done a week now of NC?
Yes still NC since last week and I’ve put our proposed meeting this week on hold saying that we can reschedule for another time. Will keep trying to reduce contact time. I see from your other posts that you are also doing well – hard when she is getting in touch with you. Keep it up!
@Royce nice one Royce – good move to delay the meeting.
Yes bit harder to have NC on non work stuff at the moment as she is asking for some help re: new job but she is accepting the job so that should die down hopefully. I expect some messages when she starts (as its in a new country and is terrified about the experience) but that I will manage with delayed responses and short replies and im sure that will die down as she meets new people there.
Keep going….good progress on both counts!
How is it going for you – still on NC?
Ive been on NC all year. Responding when required too – sometimes responded to personal stuff (about LO’s new job/help for that) but feel im doing that so as not to get questions on why im being ‘weird’…..
Dont know how your getting on, but i do check my phone and know I would feel happy if she does message me. Its a process i suppose.
Anyway as we are on similar journey/timeline just checking in.
Thanks for asking Kevin. Nearly four weeks now with very limited contact – just a couple of emails about rearranging a meeting but nothing personal. Was feeling good about things over the weekend and more like my old self, with very few thoughts about LO. However, now I’m back at work and have an unavoidable meeting with LO this week I’m not feeling so great. Rather than looking forward to seeing her I’m quite anxious about meeting. Will all those thoughts and feelings come flooding back in anger? I’m feeling a bit down and unmotivated at work generally. I suppose the loss of fun and dopamine is bound to affect me and it seems like now there is just boring work to do. I’ve definitely lost some of my energy.
I’m also bit worried about the possibility of transference. There’s another female colleague who I’ve been meeting regularly for coffee and there’s always been a bit of a glimmer with her. I really do not want to go down the same route with her, but also, I don’t want my limerency controlling who I can and who I can’t see. In my job building relationships is important and it’s quite normal to network and to catch up with people. I also meet regularly with a couple of male colleagues but there’s no problem there. Is my limerency going to stop me from having authentic friendships/working relationships with females?
I generally focus on the “immediate crisis” aspects of coping with limerence, but I think you would benefit from reflecting deeply on what you are seeking, Royce. Transference to another LO in the short term does raise the issue of what limerence means to you at a subconscious level. If you want to get to the point where you are able to interact with female colleagues without fear of limerence messing things up, you probably need to think about what need you are trying to fulfill and whether there is a way you can re-establish a stronger romantic connection with your SO.
A good strategy is probably to be cautious with anyone who causes the glimmer for the time being, while you do the deep work of trying to unpick your drives. A professional could help with that.
“There’s another female colleague who I’ve been meeting regularly for coffee and there’s always been a bit of a glimmer with her. ”
Oh dear. You probably should dial that back significantly. Don’t meet regularly, for example. If you had a friend who was an alcoholic and had JUST stopped drinking, would you suggest meeting in a bar for a bite and grab a drink for yourself? Or would you go somewhere else that is less likely to have strong associations with drinking?
Give yourself some time and space.
“Is my limerency going to stop me from having authentic friendships/working relationships with females?”
No, but maybe not this year. You’re still shaking off the limerence with your colleague so you’re “primed” for limerence. You will have to have some way to bring yourself out of the glimmer-zone. Bite your tongue or the inside of your cheek? Snap a rubber band on your wrist (under the table where no one can see it)? Look down at your papers, writing something down like, “Oh no. I’m not going through THAT mess again!”
Rub Vicks under your nose? Neutrolene as your cologne? Kidding…kidding!
Seriously though, I hope it gets easier to manage.
I wanted to share with you the great news that SO and I have made a massive breakthrough in our marriage. The last two years have been consumed with my Limerence for another man. It’s been so destructive to my peace of mind and well-being. I am finally closing the chapter to this Limerence episode and refocused on my real life.
Friday night, SO comes home and invites me out to go dancing. An associate had recommended this bar with dancing and live music for a slightly older crowd. It sounded great! SO starts to touch me in a certain way, hinting that he wants to be intimate tonight. I take my husband into the bedroom and share an amazing hour with him. We then leave afterwards to this bar. It’s heavily filled with cigarette smoke and music that SO absolutely loves. It is not my cup of tea. I leave him at the table to get something to drink.
Upon returning, I see my husband staring with deep yearning and lust at this gorgeous blond woman in the corner by the bar. She’s alone and singing to one of his favorite songs. She’s breathing-taking in a natural way and he can’t keep his eyes off her. I am two feet behind him and wait for him to notice that his wife is breathing down his neck. He’s so enchanted, he simply cannot notice me.
I have been so wrapped up in my own obsession that it had never occurred to me that he was struggling with lust and sin too. We leave after an hour. He tells me that he will be returning regularly without me. (since I don’t like the smoke or music) He said that he had a great time. Before going to bed, I told him to be careful when he went back to that bar, since I caught him leering at another women. Of course, he denied it.
3AM that same night, he wakes up and sees that I’m still awake. I tell him everything about Limerence, LO and why I’m becoming a flirtatious housewife. I have a very strong urge to hurt him by having an affair. He has always had a wondering eye. It use to be an internet problem and now it’s with women that we see around town.
I told him how devastating this particular incident was because we had just made love, he had promised me a night out dancing and instead I had to watch him Lust for another woman. Younger, far prettier and who had far more in common with him. Now, he wants to return regularly? I wasn’t going to be home waiting for him.
Limerence and my flirtatious behavior is an act of rebellion against him. It’s also a destructive stress reliever. His “visual infidelity” and my behavior was going to doom our marriage. We have been talking about it for three days. Boundaries and promises were made to each other. A beautiful woman is like a piece of framed artwork. You look, you admire, you appreciate and then you must move on. SO understands that now. He used to deny that he had a wandering eye. I feel vindicated now.
I need to stop lighting up like a Christmas tree whenever a man admires or flirts with me. I promised him that I would tell him immediately if my Limerence starts locating a new man to fixate on. That I would stop behaving inappropriately. We both are hurt and recovering from so much honesty, but I can feel the strength in this new way of communicating. I think it’s going to be a blessing in disguise.
I hope everyone else takes the time to evaluate their marriage. Consider discussing the Limerence with your SO. I don’t want set off a string of divorces, but hopefully set into motion a chance at true happiness.
Good Luck and many New Year Blessings to All!
That is a huge breakthrough of self-realization and regardless of how it plays out, I hope you’re proud of the insight.
Naturally, I want this to lead to a stronger, better relationship.
Congratulations for being strong enough to bring it up and discuss not only what you saw in him, but in yourself. If you can’t trust your SO to at least consider your words within a reasonable time frame (and depending on what you’re saying and to whom I think up to a fortnight to process things, maybe consult with a professional, isn’t unrealistic) and having a conversation about the dynamics, then why bother sticking with that person. Without a measure of trust and goodwill on both sides, what is the point?
“I need to stop lighting up like a Christmas tree whenever a man admires or flirts with me.”
Yeah, it’s one thing to twinkle like a candle. It’s quite another to blow up the utility bill!
“He has always had a wondering eye. It use to be an internet problem and now it’s with women that we see around town.”
I hope this resonated with him. Wanting to try out the fantasy for real isn’t helpful.
I have my fingers crossed that this will ultimately lead to a better union. Congratulations again!
Thanks for sharing that, Irene. It’s inspiring. Let’s hope this is a lasting breakthrough for you both. “Breaking the dam” about things that had always been unspoken can be very freeing, and move a marriage into a more truthful place, which can be great. It can also be like taking a cold shower, but life’s often like that, eh?
Wow Irene. Very brave of you to be open with everything. I think your right it can be a blessing in disguise. But feel that decision on confessing has to be taken carefully. My wife has spotted that I’m not as chirpy. There is no way I could tell her. I know she wouldn’t understand. But because I’m getting better I’m just going to see it through and not out myself in this position again.
Hope as a result your marriage strengthens.
“There is no way I could tell her. I know she wouldn’t understand.”
Kevin – consider that you may be projecting your worries and concerns onto her. She may be a much stronger and more resilient person than you give her credit for being.
What’s the saying in AA? “When you point the finger at someone else, there are four fingers pointing back at you.” Or something like that.
“I’m just going to see it through and not out myself in this position again.”
I hope you’re able to do it without her active support and involvement. At the very least, if she notes you not being chirpy – don’t undermine her perceptions. It’s not fair to do that while also admitting to yourself that she is right. It’s crazy-making and not fair.
I still hope your plan of action works for you.
Your wife might surprise you, Kevin – but you do know her best. There’s also wisdom in tackling one major life challenge at a time!
Once LO has moved on and you have more freedom to process the whole limerence experience, it might be worth putting a tentative feeler out to see how your wife responds to more openness. “Can we talk about something I’ve been thinking about for the last few months?” is a lot easier to deal with than “I’m currently infatuated with my co-worker”.
Thanks all. Very true she may understand. But for now as I’ve started NC I want to see what difference that makes to me.
Today having withdrawal symptoms of NC. It is like a drug it’s so true. Wanting another hit. I had to email LO for work and even her response gave a small hit. Anyway didn’t entertain anything personal. But just goes to show this is akin to cocaine.
You have done well 4 weeks – with just minimum contact thats required. Well done.
Ive done the same but when LO got a bit emotional as she is leaving end of month and started saying that im the highlight of the working office and she is happy that im her friend etc etc. I too said a few things which were similar – I was trying to hold back but feelings and happiness took over. Especially as she never talks about how herself i wanted to milk it so to speak….
Sounds like your doing well if you felt better over the weekend – I must admit I have had a slight positive feeling too but still think about LO….check my phone incase she says anything…. infact just now I went over to walk pass her – not to interact but just to walk pass and say hello to the people in her area – it worked… and i felt better (that was my hit)…no stopping and chatting though so I have become stronger.
Gonna get hard though as she leaves soon and she wants to do lunch and a dinner before she goes…i will just be strong.
My question to you is has she said anything to you if you have been less vocal and proactive with her? Has she not noticed?
When you meet her you will feel a bit of a high (as i have done in our team catch ups) and actually for a while feel better – then feel back to normal again. This will get better over time as your dependency on LO decreases for happiness.
Re: Transference…funny as there is another girl who im chatting to and i kind of feel its helping me as she likes to chat to me too…its a distraction from LO pain – but like you i need to ensure i dont make another LO in the process !! I guess this time im more aware as last time never heard of limerence. I know what i was doing now that i understand limerenece – i was trying to become the LO for my LO…looking back thats what i was subconscisouly doing – not good i am aware.
You will make relationships with other Females – its the glimmer that is the issue – and not all give off the glimmer that your brain clicks with – so dont worry. Maybe talk to this coffee girl you have mentioned for a while as it could be a distraction.
Well done to you too. I think you need to survive the next couple of weeks how ever you can and then get serious with no contact. Maybe plan a big project to start in February that will keep you busy.
“My question to you is has she said anything to you if you have been less vocal and proactive with her? Has she not noticed”
I’ve been quite lucky with this. Christmas provided a natural long break and since then I know she has been under pressure with her workload, so hasn’t had much time for contact. I’ve gone with this and said that I won’t disturb her so she can get on with her work. It’s a valid reason and I can hopefully, although reluctantly, use it to move forward into longer term reduced contact.
We’ll have to keep a watchful eye out for possible transference. At least we are more in the know now.
Yes good project for Feb is a good idea….im seeing her today for a quick drink after work – we used to do it often but im kinda doign staged withdrawel. Looking forward to it but also I am feeling better too so feel I can get through it and not raise the question in these final weeks of ‘Hey, why you so aloof and not seeing me, im only here for a few more weeks’.
Yes transference is a tight rope situation – but yes after reading this site i feel so much more knowledgeable.
do you have SO – is that relationship improving?
Yes, I’m married and we’ve been a couple for nearly 20 years. To be honest our relationship is really good at the moment and throughout this LE it’s been pretty solid. I’ve never stopped loving SO, appreciate her many qualities and still find her very attractive. That’s one of the odd things and I don’t think this LE has been about her. It’s something to do with me.
I actually met with LO today and it was a nice, pleasant meeting in which we had a laugh and enjoyed each other’s company. I think 4 weeks of NC has done me the world of good and has helped me to view LO in a new light. Sitting there today I noticed a few negative things about her, which previously I would have glossed over, and I asked myself would you really leave your family to be with this woman? The answer was a definite no, but if I’d asked myself this question a couple of months ago I’m pretty sure I’d have given the opposite answer, which now seems crazy! I’m hoping this is a sign that I’m entering the Deterioration phase of my episode but I know I still need to tread carefully.
Hope the drink went OK tonight.
Good to hear your happy with SO. I have been happyish….but not totally…think we have just become routine and I lost some attraction and getting some attention from good looking women gave me distraction. But need to sort that out. Glad you speak so highly of SO. My SO is loving for sure too.
Sounds like we both met SO yesterday and glad your catch up went well. Mine was nice – we had a great time and time just flew by. BUT i didnt feel more pain and more upset after than I thought I would – felt ok and actually felt better. Its weird as I thought I would feel miserable. Like you I also noticed things that I thought were not for me and as we were friends for 5 years remembered why I just always saw her as a friend and nothing more. I feel like you too that Im starting to get over all of this…..fingers crossed.
Really pleased your in a better place.
Great that we both seem to be coming to our senses. It’s been a very long 18 months for me but I’m definitely feeling different now. I think seeing LO after 4 weeks of NC really helped and shattered the illusion of perfection that had built up in my head over that period. My mind is still wandering to LO but the aching and longing pains seem to have subsided and I’m not getting that hit when I do think about her. I know she is out there without me, but that now seems perfectly fine. So weird how my brain seems to have suddenly changed, although I’m not counting on being totally cured yet.
I think your relationship with SO becoming routine is perfectly normal and I’ve been there too. There’s always peaks and troughs but if you stick with things then hopefully it will improve. If it doesn’t get better then maybe there’s a point when you really need to think about whether your relationship can work long term. Best to do this though when you’re not in the midst of limerence.
I can’t stress enough how much this blog has been a life (mind) saver for me. Total respect to DR L, you and the rest of the community!
How much disclosure did you give to your SO if I may ask? I’m still muddling through this mess that I’ve created due to Limerence. I confessed to my SO this morning that I had gifted LO a $300 book for Christmas after SO had done something particularly hurtful to me. Limerence is clearly an act of rebellion for me. But, two wrongs do not make a right. SO said that with time, he would forgive me but he was still very disappointed. I’m heartbroken and regret disclosing too much.
I do want to send a heartfelt Thank you to Dr. L and this website community for saving me from almost destroying my marriage, family and peace of mind.
I know there are a range of views on SO disclosure on here. In my opinion it’s about knowing SO and their likely reaction. With mine I knew she wouldn’t take it well. I actually disclosed a reasonable amount in the end – she knew who LO was, her background, what she looked like etc. I talked about her a little at home, and she knew we texted each other outside work. When things got intense a few months ago with LO’s career stuff I was advising her on, I was telling SO most of it (even showed her some texts).
I didn’t tell her the extent of my feelings, the obsessive nature of them, and I didn’t tell her certain details like I bought LO a birthday present or that we’d had lunch that day etc, etc. I think that was more than enough for my SO however as she got upset just at that level of interaction. She said LO being in our lives made her feel old and ugly and that I was less present with her and my kids. That was when I knew I had to cut LO out and go NC.
Thank you Vincent. I understand how your wife feels about LO making her feel old and ugly. SO was eyeing a younger woman while we were lunching with our son. I gently asked him to stop staring. It was hurtful and embarrassing. He has always been very respectful in the past but is turning fifty this year and obviously needing validation in the wrong area. I bought the book shortly afterwards. I’m in the same boat, past behavior of obsessively thinking of LO will NOT be disclosed. It’s not necessary to hurt SO. I’ve been foolish enough for everyone! SO and I are making a ton of progress with our marriage and I wanted that burden of guilt off my chest. I want forgiveness too. Minus $300 to our checking account needs to be confessed.
He will forgive me. He’s that type of person. I want to move forward and be someone that lives with integrity. Being honest without unnecessary hurtful details will be hopefully a step towards that direction.
Hi Irene, I haven’t disclosed anything at all to SO and she wouldn’t even know that LO exists. If I had told SO I think it would have really upset her and dented her confidence. I didn’t want that and I’ve never been tempted to tell her anything. I’ve just tried to deal with everything myself, although I did consider counselling at one point, but this blog allowed me to learn more and not go down that route. I think disclosure really is down to individual circumstances but the feelings of your SO should be the most important. I don’t feel bad that I’m keeping this all secret from her. I’ve just tried to deal with a difficult situation in the best way I can, without anyone else getting hurt.
You are the only person that knows what’s best for SO and your relationship. Not every thought has to be shared and shouldn’t be. But, my actions was a direct hit to our family. I think that’s Dr. L was right that our thoughts are our domain. But, Our actions that impact others must be made accountable. I can only apologize, repent and hope for genuine forgiveness from SO. I’m sharing because I’ve learned so much from other people’s post and mistakes. Hopefully, other Limerents will pull the brakes before they start emotionally and financially hurting their family. I can honestly say that LO is no longer on my mind. I’m consumed with SO and repairing our marriage. The rest of my mental space is trying to come to terms with walking away with some positive feedback from this horrible experience.
“I think that’s Dr. L was right that our thoughts are our domain.”
Oh, they are but it’s easy to see how thoughts lead to actions so I hope you’re keeping a journal of some sort so you can identify when your mind drifts to topics or people you would rather it didn’t. Mr. Lee let his thoughts drift and then his actions started to follow. He did lie to me. He lied to a supervisor too. Why? Because lying was easier than taking responsibility and facing up to his actions. Fortunately, his supervisor didn’t fire him (and he deserved to be fired for what happened). Also fortunately, it was a small lie regarding SO and I pointed out how it was the start of a very steep and slippery slope. To his credit, he didn’t protest and deny. He sat back and let that wash over and through him and owned it.
“I’m consumed with SO and repairing our marriage.”
Irene – That sounds like trauma bonding and I don’t think that is what you meant to imply. I really hope you two are successful in repairing your marriage. You will have to practice scrupulous honesty though. Particularly when it’s uncomfortable for you to do so. He may be on the alert for lies of omission as well as commission.
“The rest of my mental space is trying to come to terms with walking away with some positive feedback from this horrible experience.”
*crosses fingers for Irene and Mr. I.*
“You are the only person that knows what’s best for SO and your relationship.”
I disagree that Royce “knows what’s best” for his SO. Truly. That is so incredibly patronizing. SO’s are adults and I doubt any of us actually thought that our relationships were going to be ‘perfect’ or ‘fulfilling’ at all times. Life isn’t some creepy romance novel. We’re not made of spun glass. If someone had you up on a pedestal, or vice versa, it’s best to get off of it. No one is perfect and plinths are high, narrow, slippery, cold and lonely places.
Now, if may be very true that if he discloses the relationship comes to an end which may not be to Royce’s liking, but it may not be the worst thing to happen to his SO or Royce.
“it may be very true that if he discloses the relationship comes to an end which may not be to Royce’s liking, but it may not be the worst thing to happen to his SO or Royce.”
If it was just me and SO then I might be more inclined to disclose and I’d be prepared to deal with the consequences however unfavourable they were to me. There are children involved though and I don’t think it would be fair to risk their stability because of their father’s temporary insanity. Better for me to deal with it, learn and move on. I’ve got over episodes in past without them having too great an impact on normal life and can do the same again.
I have my fingers crossed for you and your SO, Royce.
Thanks – You have been a good support too – everyone has. I find that yourself, Vincent & I have had similar experiences and decided to go NC at similar times.
I dont feel Im NC as I still respond to LO as Im just worried she will get all funny with me and i dont want that when im so close to her leaving the company end of Jan then going for a month holiday and then starting new job in new country.
But I am not initiating and controlling the urge to start banta with her which is good i suppose.
Main thing now is to focus on not thinking of her and the fantasy thoughts. Its a journey but looks like everyone is moving forward which is great and a testament to this site and Dr L
Yes, very much a journey Kevin. I tried Limited Contact (LC), which is what you’re really doing. Of course it’s so hard to do proper NC when you work together. You still interact and therefore give yourself moments with which to prepare, analyse and ruminate over. You also still have the potential to be dragged back into the full LE should LO tug at the heart strings. So whilst it’s a step forward of course, in my view it would take a long time to exit a LE with LC.
After 5 weeks of complete NC, I would really recommend it. I haven’t seen or heard from her at all, and bar a colleague telling me something about her, crucially have had no new data points to pour over. As such, I moved through anger, worry and guilt over her quite quickly, and have now turned my thoughts inward to figure out why it hit me and what I’ve learned.
Some days are better than others for sure, it’s not a linear recovery and I’m still thinking about her A LOT but it all feels clearer in my mind and I’m able to think more logically about her and the whole LE.
Yes, similar journeys and let’s hope we can have similar positive outcomes. As Vincent has found, even just a few weeks of total NC can be incredibly effective. It gives your brain a rest and allows some rational thinking to set in. I realised that life was actually ok without SO – now there’s was a revelation!
“I confessed to my SO this morning that I had gifted LO a $300 book for Christmas after SO had done something particularly hurtful to me. ”
Dirty little secret: Disclosure can be very self-serving.
The gift was an act of rebellion. What was the purpose of the disclosure? Were you using it as justification or just taking a shot at him? Or, was it something else? His hurtful behavior is a legitimate thing to be considered.
There’s an explanation for your limerence but getting that specific and linking it to his behavior is rubbing salt into the wound. If nothing else, you made sure SO knows the degree of detail you were putting into the LE. What purpose does that serve? If he didn’t consider that before, he may now. It also informs him as to how you may do business in the future. If you’ll do that in response to his behavior, what else might you do? That’s not an idea you want to plant in your SO’s head.
Now, how he handles it will tell you a lot. You handed him a weapon. Don’t be surprised if he uses it against you. If it does, you’ve gained some useful information. If he doesn’t maybe he’s a bigger person than you think.
Limerence is a mine field. Disclosure to your SO clears the mines. In the process, you set one off. It may take awhile to realize the effects, if there are any.
“It also informs him as to how you may do business in the future.”
” Minus $300 to our checking account needs to be confessed.”
It should. Irene did something that she knew wouldn’t help her marriage. It was financial in nature too and whether he knew it or not, he also paid for a $300 book to LO.
“Now, how he handles it will tell you a lot. You handed him a weapon.”
That is blame-shifting to her husband. It’s not a weapon. It may, however, set him back and make him upset. Let’s be honest – it is upsetting because it was a way of saying to herself, “Well, if you upset me or things aren’t going the way I like, I have OPTIONS. Behind your back too!”
To her credit, she backed away from the cliff (adultery). She has also told him about it. He may get angry later because it was a hurtful action and she knew it would hurt him. If it wouldn’t hurt him, why did she do it on the sly?
Irene – I’m glad you disclosed. I truly hope that you two proceed to have a good marriage. If one or both of you decide that no, too much damage has been done along the way (in the whole), I hope you part as reasonably as possible.
I prefer to hope that you two decide to carry on with one another and only one another.
That’s exactly how I feel now. Let’s stop hurting each other. Take responsibility for our actions and truly forgive each other. Limerence makes a person do insane things . But, I want to be able to look in the mirror again and be proud of the person looking back. I had to come clean and hopefully hit the reset button with SO.
I have a shot at being truly happy with honesty and integrity, I’m taking it!!!
“Limerence makes a person do insane things .”
Be careful Irene, don’t minimize or excuse that you do have control over your ACTIONS if not your feelings.
“He will forgive me. He’s that type of person. I want to move forward and be someone that lives with integrity. ”
He sounds like a good guy, even if he (snores? rearranges the dishwasher? insists on personally chasing down every single dust bunny?). You take my meaning.
“I have a shot at being truly happy with honesty and integrity, I’m taking it!!!”
With that in mind, I have confidence that you will succeed. Onward and upward.
“Now, how he handles it will tell you a lot. You handed him a weapon.
That is blame-shifting to her husband. It’s not a weapon.”
If he’s vindictive, it’s a weapon.
Depends on your definition of vindictive. Is it vindictive to say, “That’s too much and I don’t want to be married to you anymore”?
Is it vindictive to feel that trust has been violated and therefore it may or may not be earned again?
I’m not saying Irene’s SO is perfect, but if he isn’t the one who gave someone in whom he had a romantic interest a $300 gift behind Irene’s back, then he has every right to be angry. Very angry. It can be viewed as a betrayal. He may even bring it up in the future because anger and hurt doesn’t magically dissipate. It takes time and it may be a case of three steps forward, one step back and then slide to the side.
Ironically enough, today’s post at chump lady addresses it rather nicely. Irene, if you feel so inclined to read it, stick to the post. You may not like the comments but if you do read them, remember the people posting had their marriages blown up due to adultery. You were on that road, but didn’t quite reach that point.
It sounds as though they’re working on it and through it. I hope that you both benefit from it, regardless.
This is regarding the term ‘pain shopping’. I copied and pasted two posts that I thought might be relevant. There is a big caveat – the two posters had a spouse who committed adultery/physically cheated. Nevertheless, someone reading here recognize it when they see it, or when they are prompting it from their SO, and perhaps understand the ‘why’ behind it.
January 17, 2019 at 7:30 am
I think there are two different issues getting conflated here. Asking a partner for honest information that will help you make decisions about how to respond to infidelity (or any other kind of betrayal) is not pain shopping, it is information gathering–and it is a healthy, if painful, response. Seeking information after a decision has been reached is likely to be pain shopping, whether you ask your spouse for more details or go peeking at FB to see what the EX is up to these days.
I almost understand the RIC point here–if I’ve decided to stay with my husband no matter what, then why do I want or need to hear about his misbehaviors any further? If I am asking to hear about them it is probably because on some level I am still evaluating my choices, checking to make sure his behavior was not so egregious that I backtrack and choose divorce after all. I am not just shopping for “pain,” I’m price checking to make sure I really got the best deal possible when I agreed to reconcile.
It is hard for a lot of us to figure out when to stop investigating and start acting on our knowledge, but once we know what we must do and are simply delaying because it is painful to move forward, we risk slipping into pain shopping mode. We at least understand the kind of misery we suffer when we pain shop, but we fear the new kinds of pain that might occur when we end the marriage. What CL does so well is highlight the fact that leaving a painful relationship eventually means ENDING the pain–if you leave the (redacted), you don’t need to shop in that lousy, over-priced mall ever again.”
January 17, 2019 at 9:20 am
I completely agree Eilonwy! Information gathering to figure out what is the truth of your own life whether that is done pre or post divorce is very different from pain shopping which serves no useful purpose.”