One of the common symptoms of limerence, is an overwhelming sense of emotional connection with the limerent object. Many limerents report feeling an easy, natural intimacy with their LO that makes them relaxed and unguarded, and comfortable sharing their deepest thoughts and feelings.
That leads them to overshare: to talk about topics that are intensely private and personal that would normally only be shared with a partner. Indeed, sometimes they share things with LO that they haven’t even admitted to their partner.
These limerents are slowly strengthening a bond that can ultimately prove destructive for their lives. That desire for emotional intimacy can be every bit as intoxicating and destabilising as sexual desire. It is also harder to reverse than simple lusty thoughts, and is the most direct pathway into an emotional affair.
Once bonding mechanisms kick in, the complications multiply. It’s one thing to go no contact with someone who excites you and offers sexual adventure, it’s quite another to go no contact with someone who you really care about, and worry about, and can’t bear the thought of losing or hurting.
So where does this desire to overshare come from? Looked at objectively, it seems obvious that telling LO all your secret dreams and darkest thoughts is a bad idea if you are not in a position to form a relationship with them. Why does our rationality fail us in that moment of complacent indulgence?
It is hugely validating to feel heard. Having a friend who we can confide in, who we trust to not judge us, and with whom we feel safe to be ourselves, is a tremendous gift. It’s the Aristotelian definition of a good friend. So, it’s possible that some limerents just start by appreciating the blessing of having this new person in their lives, naive to the danger. But once you deepen a friendship with someone who sets off the glimmer in you, it is almost inevitable you’ll become infatuated.
Some may be sceptical about this, and think that no-one could really be that unworldly. Well, there is probably some truth to that, and the limerent no doubt felt at least some stirrings of romantic excitement, but it is surprising how easy it is to open up if you are feeling all chilled and content. I can remember episodes with my LO, even after I had identified the danger I was in, when we would be chatting away on neutral topics and then drift into emotional territory by accident. I would get a sudden jolt of anxiety to wake me up to the fact that I’d started skating on thin ice.
Even when you are aware of the risks, you can sometimes just “click” with people, and that relaxes the reserve that would normally keep your boundaries safe.
A need for emotional intimacy
Expanding on the previous point – there are some limerents who do not have meaningful emotional intimacy with anyone else in their lives. It could be that they are single, don’t have many friends, or are just naturally very private. Alternatively, they could be in a long-term relationship, have a wide circle of friends, but come to realise that they have never connected with anyone else at this deeper level. LO arrives like an emotional thunderbolt.
For limerents in this situation, the sense of intimacy with LO would seem extraordinary; like they’d found an oasis in the desert they didn’t realise their life had been.
How to respond to that revelation is a complex question. It could be a wake-up call that they need to understand why they haven’t sought or received that quality of intimacy before. It could be a stimulus to leave a poor relationship and seek a new one, or spend some time alone. It could be a trigger to do some psychological deep work into understanding why they were so powerfully affected.
Unfortunately, once they’ve overshared their way into an emotional dependence on LO, it will be very difficult to work through those complex issues objectively.
An enabling LO
Some people are naturally good at putting others at ease. Some personality types are good at cultivating intimacy. These people make good LOs for limerents who are seeking emotional nourishment.
There is a darker case here, too. Some LOs are predatory. They excel at identifying emotionally vulnerable people and manipulating them into becoming infatuated. There are degrees to this – some simply enjoy attention, like to flirt, and like to be admired. Others are personality disordered, and enjoy manipulation and control.
I’ve known a couple of men who use emotional intimacy to deliberately embroil naive women into their personal lives, leaving them struggling to escape. I seriously suspect one of them fits the profile of a psychopath (but am obviously not qualified to diagnose). Although one would hope it is rare, there are people out there who groom others into emotional dependency, and mutual oversharing is one of their tools.
Regardless of how sinister their motives, there are certainly LOs who will actively collaborate in the oversharing.
OK, so enough scrutiny of LO and their behaviour, time to look back in the mirror. Limerents are just as capable of self-serving and manipulative behaviour.
The limerence thrill is so electric, that most of us willfully ignore the pangs of conscience that follow oversharing. Giddy with the excitement of deeper intimacy, we double down. Using LO as a drug, we manipulate them, by strategically oversharing when we want more supply. In those moments when LO seems to be more distant, and we fear they are pulling away, we try to drag them back by telling them something really juicy or provocative, in the hope they will reconnect. Or even better, reciprocate in kind, and tell us all about their inner lives.
Limerents are capable of some pathetically flimsy rationalisations as to why they crossed obvious boundaries and overshared preposterously. Often it is a deliberate attempt to get LO to reveal their own feelings, and give us the reciprocation we crave.
Now I’m doling out the snark, as usual, but it’s worth noting that the neurochemical storm of limerence can scramble judgement spectacularly. Most of us have the experience of looking back at our behaviour in lucid moments and thinking, “what the hell was I thinking?” Something that seemed to make sense at the time is obviously crazy in hindsight. This isn’t just the usual rationalisation engine, this is actual problems with thinking clearly.
For example, a sober, rational judge would say that telling LO about your relationship problems is an obvious breach of trust. And yet, legions of limerents do it, without really processing how it might appear. The same judge would be clear that buying an expensive gift for someone who is not your significant other is obviously an emotionally-loaded gesture, or that being late for a family event in order to help an LO with a problem is an inflammatory slight. But limerents can get so caught up in their connection to LO that they seem blind to the significance of their actions.
Should you introduce your partner to LO so you can all be friends together? Many limerents do! Madness.
In all these cases there could, of course, be more going on beneath the surface than scrambled judgement. But, a sizeable number of limerents do seem to be genuinely baffled by their own behaviour – enough to make me suspect that the haywire neurochemistry of limerence really does mess with normal cognitive processing.
It’s not an excuse, as the consequences are just as damaging, but heed the warning that you cannot rely on your judgement in the heat of the moment.
Finally, another motivation to overshare is simple surprise at how LO responds to your conversation. It’s enlivening to share stories (that your long-term partner has tired of) with someone new and have them respond with laughter, interest or by sharing interesting stories of their own. Perhaps your spouse has never liked your tattoo, but your LO loves it. Maybe you can’t stand the way your boyfriend breathes through his mouth, and your LO totally relates and says his girlfriend does it too and he can’t bear it. Maybe you admit that you have always wanted to go to Las Vegas, but your wife thinks it’s tacky, and LO shares her story about the time she drove a Harley down the strip for a dare. Maybe you wish you could sometimes escape to a cottage in the middle of nowhere, and LO tells you all about the writing retreat they went on last year.
Sharing your life with someone new is fascinating and enriching, and can also kindle limerence.
Sharing intimacies, feeling understood, discovering shared passions and learning all about a new and fascinating person is intoxicating. Oversharing feels natural, but it’s another of the reinforcers that work in the background to cement your obsession. Bonding is tight. It lasts. It’s hard to unstick.
Be careful who you share yourself with.
Thanks DrL….that type of emotional connection is so very seductive and validating.
This post creates an interesting question for me. Oversharing like this, or sharing one’s innermost feelings with another being, is a normal, very healthy, and to me essential, aspect of close friend-friend behaviour for many women. My SO tells me that men aren’t usually like that with each other. This type of sharing is more often with my female friends. But I have worked in a male dominated industry for 24 years so have more platonic male friends than female. Can a woman treat their close platonic male friends the same as they do their close female friends? Does that put both at risk of an LE? I have always taken the gender equality view and decided yes, I like my platonic male friends so why not? But I do not usually feel the “glimmer” early on in my LEs, my attractions often occur much later when I know them, sometimes after we have already established some intimacy in the friendship. It is tricky to predict in advance the consequences of what starts off as an innocent, platonic friendship.
Ah, the perennial “can men and women by friends?” dilemma!
I think yes, but I do also think there is a material difference between friendship with people who could be potential romantic partners and those who couldn’t (i.e. those with a different sexual orientation). My wife has no problem with me discussing my emotional life with my best friend (some of us guys do do it), but would be uneasy about me doing the same with a female friend. The same goes for me with her – even if I believed she had no romantic interest in a guy, I wouldn’t like her sharing intimacies.
It’s one of those interesting cases where there is a very common psychological “threat sensor” in people (probably linked into deep drives like sexual jealousy and family security) that comes into conflict with social movements which promote equality.
Some people take the view that jealousy is wrong and toxic and that principle should override our unsophisticated fears. Others take the view that life is easier if we make some concessions to our deep drives and avoid unnecessary conflict.
It’s a balancing act 🙂
I was more thinking from the perspective of future LE avoidance for me, and avoiding me triggering an LE in a male friend.
I had not even considered the jealousy angle as not really an issue with my SO and I – we have good friends of both genders, and are comfortable with that in each other. He doesn’t even seem especially threatened by my LE, though he has put slightly more effort into our relationship since I disclosed!
Normally I’d say the glimmer is the best early-warning system, but if your experience is that it takes some time to build up, then you probably just need to be aware that it may come on later. When you start feeling those tingles, it’s time to cool off 🙂
In terms of avoiding triggering it in male friends: also very challenging. We never know what triggers other people will have, so probably best to just behave naturally and hope for the best. You could try and develop a radar for limerent behaviour in others, but how do you react then? Do you decide to withdraw to spare them pain? Do you sympathesise and try to help them cope? Do you confront them with a direct question? All of those responses could make the limerence worse for them, and would of course jeopardise the friendship.
I’m not sure there is much that a LO can do to prevent limerence kindling, apart from implementing no contact themselves (assuming you could be certain that they are limerent for you).
No easy answers, unfortunately!
Why am I not getting new post notifications or notifications when someone replies?
I used to overshare with LO and have found myself doing it a little with the glimmery newbie in recent weeks, so timely as ever Dr L!
When I think back to LO I was trying to achieve a few things – to get her to open up to me, deepen the bond and get her to depend on me even more. Ideally leading to her disclosure of course.
It started though with an agreed quid-pro-quo: I told her things she shouldn’t know work wise, and she told me all the gossip that wouldn’t have otherwise made it to my ears. But of course, that then enabled the same for more personal matters.
As a guy though, with male friends that you are unable to be vulnerable with, and really lacking any female friends it is tough to find someone to open up to. My SO takes what I say personally, like it’s me complaining about her or our life together. So when LO comes along, asking all the right questions and appearing to listen, it’s a hard siren to resist…. (I guess that’s what therapy is for)
I always think that you’re only likely to truly open up to two types of people – someone objective who you trust completely or someone brand new who you have a few hours with but will never see again. Both tough to find.
Yep, and I think that is why it’s so compelling and hard to resist when you meet an LO that seems to offer it…
I find the oversharing with LO compelling and hard to resist. It’s all just so natural. The people with whom to share let alone overshare are few in life. And isn’t it so nice to know someone just gets you. Very rarely does conversation flow so naturally. It also leads to the type of information that Vincent alludes to, which to Vincent was interesting and to LO more crucial. There is a certain utility to it. Curious if people are aware oversharing is unusual and if oversharing itself a sign an LE is happening. I am stuck on wanting to carefully harness it all. Enjoy this special thing. Keep it in check (therein lies the struggle). And get back to regularly scheduled life.
I do wonder if oversharing can cause a slow-burn glimmer to develop, or if the glimmer makes you excited to share more.
Probably both are possible. And mutually reinforce.
Vicarious Limerent says
I have mentioned this before, but another type of oversharing I think about a lot is oversharing on this site. I know for a fact, my LO, wife, brother in-law, brother, father and perhaps even some other people would recognize me for sure based on some of my posts. It does worry me a lot, even though I try not to disclose where I am located, my name or what exactly I do for a living (although I did once partially disclose my LO’s first name based on a song title). What do others think of that? Are some of us who are oversharing subconsciously hoping to be found? Is it just a way to spill our guts anonymously in a safe environment?
I doubt any of us want to be found. It seems very safe here, like we have the cloak of invisibility from people we know. Or at least I hope so.
You’ve scared me now VL!
I’m still investigating options for a private community, Jaideux.
I’m guessing Facebook groups are out, as no-one wants any hint of spillover to their personal pages
A forum is possible, but costly to maintain and also open to anyone to discover.
A membership site (with fee) is possible, but a bit of a barrier to those of limited means.
Maybe a “donate what you can afford” private forum?
I for one would be more than happy to help facilitate a forum at a minimal fee. A support group for limerents would be something I’d go to, but does not exist. This website has been a lifeline for me and to be able to chat to others is very therapeutic because very few people understand this phenomenon, and I think inevitably negatively judge limerent types. Ive always felt like those with relatively neurotypical attachment styles just simply look down on people who get love obsessions and think they’re just creepy. It completely keeps one in the closet with no hope of ever escaping. This website has at least been like day release for me.
Yes!!! Please can we start a support forum. That would be so helpful for so many I think.
Reddit works too.
For those who are interested in reading, some of you may find The Covert Passive Aggressive Narcissist: Recognizing the Traits and Finding Healing After Hidden Emotional and Psychological Abuse useful.
I certainly have. Fingers crossed that the divorce will be final no later than August.
Yes, I think a “donate what you can afford” forum sounds like a great idea. Anytime costs of operations ever dwindles, you can make an announcement for all of us to chip in any spare change. I have an inkling that won’t happen very often seeing how many of us are in need of this.
Would love to be able to see who replied to comments easily, and then being able to follow up on commenter’s posts or previous thoughts/history. It’s quite hard to sift through and read people’s heartfelt stories in the comments section of many great posts on this site.
Looking forward to reading the future LwL’s own sub-forum topic akin to “Share Your Limerent Episode Story”. Those will definitely take some of my time away from making a misstep with my LO, while learning from other people’s experiences.
Pretty sure my friends and family would not even think to recognise me here. Have felt concern about LO being able to identify me via my posts though. How humiliating that would be! I once read another’s posts and wondered if that was him. But there is a small part of me that wants to be discovered…
Is being “found out” the way to passively disclose (if you haven’t already) and hope LO will understand ?
Yes absolutely. I have never disclosed as LO is my boss. I occasionally ruminate about him reading some of my innermost thoughts here and then validating and reciprocating them. It would also confirm my wishful suspicion that he is also limerent for me. Thus fulfilling my deepest limerent desire. Just a foolish unrealistic fantasy of mine.
If you want to get really meta, how about a limerent who starts a blog and community all about limerence, who then wonders not just whether his LO would discover it and recognise herself, but whether his LO would one day seek his advice about her own limerence not realising who she was corresponding with?
Rumination is a hard habit to break 🙂
Vicarious Limerent says
Wow! I can see where that might be possible — and something you might ruminate over. I sometimes wonder about my LO finding this site because I think she is limerent for my brother in-law. However, the truth is most people have never even heard of the term “limerence,” so chances of them finding it are quite low. As we have discussed, even many therapists aren’t aware of it!
Only in your dreams….
Ha, yeah, of course! I hadn’t really spotted that it’s the rescue fantasy rumination yet again. Just a new flavour.
This made me chuckle and its something that would go through my mind. I’ve often wondered if you have been helping two people who are limerent for each other, both none the wiser of each others time spent on this site. Or another one is that I have wondered if my LO has contacted DR L and Dr L has got his side of the story.. all completely irrational but nevertheless has crossed my limerent mind.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
For me, the idea of disclosure represents a deeper, more intimate relationship with LO. By definition, it’s both highly desired, and yet simultaneously deeply dangerous and wrong.
We’ve both semi-disclosed to each other. But since she was married (for the first few years) and I’m married, neither one of us was willing to cross the line.
Recent revelations indicate that LO formed romantic liasons with her now-live-in-boyfriend, prior to her divorce. Those have certainly lowered the pedestal that I put her on in my mind.
I actually had a dream about that the other day. Someone on this site (made up in my dream) has found me and posted pictures of me on here and revealed my name. Stuff that this person wrote seemed crazy and delusional and my mind was racing on how I can avoid having this person appear in my real live (figuring out where I live etc) I feared not just content that I wrote here being exposed, literally feared about the safety of my kids. In my dream I frantically reached out to DrL to find out what I could do. 🙈 Needless to say I woke up sweating like crazy. So yeah, I guess I do fear about being recognized on this site.
Another post that I can instantly relate to. I have been massively guilty of doing this and have not actually given this element much thought until now.
I have found in my recent LE that the sharing started to lapse from her side and I purposefully continued to do it specifically to illicit the same response from her.
Also, unrelated – but the contact form on this website seems to detect everything as spam – I have been unable to submit anything through it?
Thanks for flagging this Nick. I do still get contact form submissions regularly, but they have gone down recently. I assumed it was because of the pandemic, but could be overzealous spam detection.
I identify with a lot in this one, Dr. L. The way LO seems safe, the way we just “click,” the fact that I am a very private person with no real close friends (your posts on introvert limerents are also great), etc.
I will say I don’t think my marriage is lacking in emotional or physical intimacy. We have a great marriage. It’s not that LO provides me with some valve of closeness that I’m not getting with SO. I just clicked with her and the closer we get, the more in common we both see. I think I was just completely lacking in any self-awareness until it was already far too late. And this is my first LE so I didn’t have a clue what it was until I was trapped in it. I have often thought if we had met under different circumstances (both single) how great of friends we could have been. I’m sure it would have moved to something more than that inevitably though. So in way, our “friendship” was destined to fail. We would have either gotten involved romantically or had barriers to that and thus lived in perpetual frustration that it could never be more. That’s where I am now. I suspect she feels some of that too. But she just has more self control or self awareness than I. I envy that.
I sooo relate to this post!
We are 2 idiots oversharing we both know its silly we text days, nights, weekends .. i want to stop it and i cant . I crave contact i need to know what he thinks about stuff, how he is…
Oversharing has lead to a real connection. Its been 5 yrs since we met! We clicked we knew it instantly . Its nice except i was already married.
I love my husband and we Have a great Relationship so its not that i needed something else. I just fell in love with someone else.
When i stop reaching out, he will come and speak to me. Or vice versa. We are making sure that our relationship doesnt stop and its starting to last… where does it lead? Physical affair? Thats the obvious risk in oversharing
Oversharing can also be really easy to drift into and you may not start it. Like flirting, oversharing is great method for testing boundaries but sometimes, it just happens.
Maybe 10 years ago, I was assigned to a project that included two women. One was the co-worker I became attracted to that I posted about elsewhere. The other was a young woman not far over 30. She was attractive (but not a redhead), smart, charming, and very single. She’s young enough to be my daughter.
One day, we were having coffee after a meeting. I asked if she had plans for the weekend. She said she had plans with some friends but she thought she was being set up to meet someone. Then, she cut loose about her dating life and how much it sucked. I said I thought that wouldn’t be a problem for her and it seemed like where we worked had a lot of potential candidates. She said that all the guys where we worked who asked her out were either too young or were married guys looking for an affair. I took that as a hint.
Over the course of the project, I learned a lot about her and became a confidante with a small “c.” Except for an occasional lunch off site, often with the co-worker I was attracted to, we never talked outside of work. We had each other’s cell numbers but we never used them. I learned about her parents who’ve been separated for a decade but never divorced, the history of her 8 year relationship with one of our co-workers, how she didn’t like the way he mowed the lawn (true), how she wanted kids, and the rise and fall of another relationship during the course of the project.
She fit my LO profile in spades. She was an unhappy woman with a history of dissatisfying relationships, and a family to match. The woman was a fender-bender magnet. But, I never got the faintest hint of glimmer from her. None. We never bonded on any level on any subject. She was in our budget and finance group. I don’t know if she had an accounting degree but from my dating history, I never got anywhere with accountants. It’s like we’re on different planets.
However, I played our acquaintance for all I could. She dressed as close to the line as she could considering where we worked, lots of leg and tall heels. When we went to lunch, she drove because I use mass transit. We’d walk across the parking lot and people would look at her, look at me, look at her, etc. It was great. I loved it!
I work with a busybody. He’s fun to mess with. One day, she asked me to go with her to help negotiate a deal on an apartment closer to work. She said the landlords were real sexists and I could lend some muscle. She’d buy lunch. My coworker’s office overlooks the parking lot and when he saw us coming back from lunch, he’s always make some comment. We came back from lunch one day and he asked how it was. I told him we were looking at an apartment on Friday. It zeroed him out. It was great!
A few years ago, she got married to another co-worker who was significantly older than she was. She’s closing on 40 now and hasn’t had any kids. If we see each other in the cafeteria, we wave and that’s it.
Moral of the story: All that transpired after I asked the question, “Do you have any plans for the weekend?’
Funny. I have often wondered if my LE would have even occurred had I not made an innocuous comment to LO one Monday morning that I had a terrible hangover. I hardly knew her then. Our interactions were brief and professional. For whatever reason, I said it. She remembered it later that day with a funny and charming comment that was appropriate for that particular moment. The glimmer occurred a few weeks later, but sometimes I think the whole thing may have been avoided if I had just not said that.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
That’s another great story, Scharny.
While there are huge problems with holding limerence if one is in a committed monogamous relationship, it’s hard for me to be too hard on people who fall into limerence.
A lot of the time, it seems like it’s just an unavoidable consequence of working closely with other people.
It would actually be highly detrimental to have zero emotional engagement with the others around us.
Can you imagine not knowing their kids’ names, their marital statuses, or the struggles they’re going through? Many times, it’s REQUIRED to state those items, like qualifying for bereavement leave, or asking for flexible work arrangements, or transferring calls to them. Sometimes we even purchase things from their kids’ fundraisers, or buy them celebration gifts, or buy them cards.
It’s a short step to observing what makes them happy, or what they find attractive in other people.
AND if you find them attractive, and discern a possible matching overlap…boom.
Very very relatable post.
Oversharing has always been a problem of mine. It’s definitely the thing that tipped my LE from a slightly sparkly good working relationship to bordering on an EA and s clear threat to my marriage. I say bordering on as, surprisingly, I did manage to refrain from much contact outside of work.
I had been doing fairly well lately, almost 5 months complete NC and the rumination was dwindling.
However, with tomorrow being two years since my last shift working with him (any idea how it’s gone so quick??) I’ve been getting a bit wobbly. I’ve not contacted, largely because I’ve asked him to block me, and the only way to now is by visiting or phoning my former workplace.
I still feel pretty stupid about the whole thing though.
How do I get notifications for new blog posts from the Blog and comments on it? Thanks!!
This post is so perfectly describing the madness of the search for “The emotionel connection high” I lived for. And I lived for this for 2 years with my LO. 2 years of oversharing and trying to manipulate him or situations so we would “connect”.
I won’t go into details becuase its so overwhelming. And so embarrasing. In fact I used to get anxiety attacks during those 2 years connected to oversharing.
“I shared too much” or “He did not react the way I wanted him to react” etc.
After we ended our friendship, for around 7-8 months I instead when I finally could see things in the hindside, I started to get nightly panic attacks because of how stupid I acted while being limerent.
In the beginning he would be an oversharer too. Either he was limerent aswell (he really acted like it), or he just liked being liked. Also he is a very non-obtrusive charming guy. While I’m very intensive, our energies seemed to seemlessly complete each other. We really were in a limerent haze together. But he woke up much sooner then I did.
Limerent Bisexual Girl says
I’ve definitely overshared with my same-sex LO and she has also overshared with me, to a ridiculous level. I felt so much guilt as I read this article (as I have an SO) but these are some hard truths that I really needed to hear. My LO probably feels comfortable with oversharing because I’m also female, although she is aware that I’m bisexual. She and her long term SO have some issues in their relationship and I think she sees me as someone she can confide in and completely open up to since I offer her a listening ear and decent advice. I often wonder if she is limerent for me too (but unaware of it) because she seems to be emotionally dependent on me as well. She is seemingly heterosexual (but possibly bicurious), so am unsure of her feelings for me. Does platonic limerence exist?
I’ve certainly heard from people who are emotionally infatuated with someone they are not sexually attracted to (e.g. different orientation or big age gap), and from asexuals who have all the symptoms of limerence except sexual desire for LO (or anyone else).
So, I guess platonic limerence is feasible…
“Does platonic limerence exist?”
As long as LO #4 was 2500 miles away, in a relationship, and we kept things light, my limerence was simmering along just fine. When her relationship collapsed and she reached out and started to confide in me on a very personal level, everything unraveled.
Given the level you appear to be on, it’s possible but I wouldn’t put money on it.
“The truth is, they may never do anything physical in life. They may never cross the line. But a relationship can never be truly platonic if you have to set up boundaries. A relationship can never be truly platonic if you have to adjust your feelings. A relationship can never truly be platonic if you have to pretend that you are happy with the way things really are…when deep down—you want something more.” -https://thoughtcatalog.com/christopher-lai/2015/12/can-a-man-and-a-woman-really-have-a-platonic-relationship/ (Toss out the gender specifics)
Against those criteria, my relationship with LO #4 wasn’t platonic once she started opening up to me.
How would you answer those?
Well define platonic? Do you mean non-sexual limerence? Or friendship type of limerence? (whatever that is I’m not sure :p)
Non-sexual limerence is a thing yes. My first experiences with limerence begun when I was between the ages of 13-18 years. I went to a boarding school between those years and in 3 instances experienced limerence with 3 different female teachers that were in their 20thies (I’m female too). I’m as straight as an arrow and it was absolutely as non-sexual as it could be. It was not a shred of sexual feelings or anything.
It felt just like limerence I started to get towards male friends later on when I was 23 but without romantic or sexual feelings. And it was less obsessive,. Oh also
my first case of romantic limerence on the other hand begun before that, when I was 11 years old, towards a male classmate. That was real romatic feelings and I was obsessive and stalkerish with him and I did not feel or act like that with these teachers.
It was just so innocent. I just liked getting attention from these teachers. I liked their personalities and I oversaw their faults. Making them disappointed in me killed me! And if they expressed pride in my work etc I beamed like a light of happiness. The thing is also that at this boarding school there were hierarkies. So the age gap plus the hierarki where we had to have respect and distance to each other created that type of admirasion. Maybe it was because I did not get warm and expressive love from my parents? And I did not have older siblings either.
Now when I write this, maybe limerence is the wrong term?
Anyways. I have never had limerence type of feelings to female friends though neither when I was a teenager nor afterwards. Actually I’m very picky with friends and have really high expectations. I can cut off people from my life quite easily. I prefer quality before quantity. I give my all to my few friends and I see it also as an emotional and time investment. If the return is half hearted attempts and if I feel I’m not valued, its just bye just like that.
I share my innermost with few female friends, but I never felt limerence or that type of emotional attachment with females. Thank god! Most probably because I’m straight. And real romantic limerence for me is something romantic and sexual. I can never experience it with someone I’m not sexually attracted to and he has to feel attracted to me too and show attraction and admiration to me too. Otherwise I never develope limerence, thank god lol. So well, these are my experiences.
Limerence Writer says
I’ve always overshared. It’s part of my personality. Probably part of being a writer. I consider myself to be a bit of a Shock Jock. My friends never know if I’m pulling their leg, because I know blatant honesty is often the most shocking and often the most ludicrous. They also know I can be Two-Faced, in a jokester kind of way that gets me forgiven. My wife says that’s my mutant power, being forgiven to the point that even if I’m caught red-handed in a deception, they end up apologizing to me. See, there I go again — oversharing.
When I was most in the throes of my LE, my excited rambling speech was like a train wreck, while I listened to myself spew out everything. The one thing noticeably absent from my chats with my LO was something that had always been there with any other chat with women since I started dating my wife: the constant references to my wife to support the notion that I am happily married and someone who is trustworthy. I realized I had met my LO and removed any reference to my wife out of my conversation, even though I knew my LO could see it on my social media presence. I did not wish to maintain what now felt like a complete fabrication, that I was happily married. Why had I put that front up so long? In fact, the first reference to my wife was made by my LO after a particularly stupid joke of mine. Talk about a train wreck. Once that word was out in the open, I changed tactics with my LO, becoming this miserable, apologetic married man, including the word “Sorry” in every communication from then on.
Before I learned the term Limerence a couple weeks ago, the term that most applied and yet also made me cringe was “connection.” Whenever I read about lousy husbands who cheated on their wives, they’d always use that word with how they felt about the new person. It made them sound ridiculous and awful. But OMG, once I had LE, it was the perfect word! I felt a connection like nothing I’d ever experienced. It made me re-evaluate terms I had shrugged off before, like soulmate and reincarnation. Some sort of magic had to be involved with a feeling this intense!
Anyway, thanks for letting me overshare! It puts me in a state that’s like being high, I would imagine, like a writer’s high. There’s nothing like it.
I have omitted mentions of my SO during conversations with current LO too, which I find most excruciating when trying to break that pattern. Still searching for a way to change that. Usually it’s not so difficult if there’s a third person in the conversation.
I wonder if it is fear of my LO being jealous or worried of the conversation getting awkward? Perhaps it’s self preservation as well, when deep down I don’t want to lose him in my life. My LO has expressed that he doesn’t want me to initiate No Contact. He’s aware of me being in a relationship but he has also been avoiding bringing my SO up or thinking about it when we chat.
Guess I should try harder anyway because it would be ideal if my LO ever decide to not want to talk to me from displeasure. That might make plans for No Contact easier. I’m one of those limerents in denial, wishing to be friends with LO whom we can both talk about almost anything and everything, including our respective SO. Unfortunately, I am the only one currently in a relationship and feels like I’m stringing him along in a hopeless journey.
Currently minimizing our conversations to mostly our geeky hobbies and avoiding late night calls. Not sure if I am taking small steps to diminish my limerence or just prolonging the pain.
I just need to tell it to somebody- today after very LC (we work together) I contacted LO for a semi- professional reason which turned into a chit chat. Super disappointed with myself. For a strange reason I have had increased rumination over the past few days. We had an EA which one time turned physical and then decided to go NC 8 months ago. We have been doing pretty well (have not met one on one, unfollowed each other on Instagram, no texting or calling). But there is some professional instances that gave us plenty of ‘legitimate excuses’ to have contact which was always professional but lately has been becoming professional with 10% flirtatious. I am so scared because I don’t want to go down that slide. He is either mutually limerent or narcissistic because is either very enabling or very cold. I have tried to keep my distance and reconnect with SO but every time I feel like my SO is rejecting me (we have mismatched emotional and physical needs) I have an almost overpowering craving for LO and my brain is looking for legitimate excuses to have contact with him. I have been looking for another job in my field but currently as you know the situation is not easy with that. I am working fully from home so I am not seeing him- the contact has been over text. It’s been a little over 1.5 year from the moment of glimmer (almost instant when he started working) and I am wondering- Is it possible that with little to no contact the limerence will naturally resolve? Because over the past 8 months it has been going up and down, basically every time I feel like I’m better a couple of days I’m back to square one.
Thank you for this blog!
Louie Jeffries says
I feel like my post hijacked the thread and I wanted to respond to your comment. I really hope that NC and purposeful living will abate the glimmer and allow “limerence to naturally resolve.” Perhaps its guilt due to my feelings for LO, but I find that I am more concentrated and fully engaged when I am with SO. I find myself praising her and trying to produce that glimmer in our relationship and most times I see the glint in her eye from our earliest days and I feel rejuvenated. I am sorry to hear that you and SO have mismatched needs, but you must have matched on some level at some point, right? Maybe if you focus on matching up again, you could get through those down moments.
I know what it feels like to be “up” and then suddenly feeling like you are back to square one. I wish you much luck in staying “up” and getting through this!
Louie Jeffries says
Dear Dr. Limerence,
You finally got me. I have been coming to the site for several months, but this is the one that got me across the hump and compelled me to post. Thank you everyone, firstly, for all of your sharing and for helping each other (and me) through this situation.
I have gone the route of self therapy, due to the shame and guilt involved in figuring out how to get help outside of my happily married life. Lots of emergency Living with Limerence check-ins to bring me back down to reality and to try to get through the tough days.
If you will permit me to share, I will spill my own story. My LO came into my life as a newly minted professional, referred to me based on her career dreams and my being somewhat further along in this particular area of our specialty. 12 years my junior and wide-eyed and full of dreams.
We have worked together for over two years in relatively close quarters and have become extremely close, often joking that we have lost all boundaries between us, though we have never crossed the line in any physical way. I accept that many of our conversations would upset my wife, as they have been of an intimate nature, mostly about our families, backgrounds, and tales of prior partners, without being explicitly about any relationship between us.
In essence, I have become the confidant and the shoulder to cry on. During the majority of the two years, it was all fine. I am happily married, with kids. She was in a long distant relationship and would share the ups and ups of her relationship and the stress of being away from him. He eventually cheated on her and things started to fall apart. I felt the glimmer and realized that I could see myself having feelings for her, but managed to keep things in check. She started dating and I still managed to keep things in check.
Then the twist…I receive a call from the wife of one of our colleagues that her husband, my coworker, has walked out on her and their kids. I was shocked and really pissed at him. Then my LO suddenly and unexpectedly mentions that this co-worker has been speaking to her more than he ever had in the past two years. My antenna is suddenly up all the time and I start noticing any passing glance, or conversation that seems to go on for a minute too long with them. I eventually lose my patience and ask her if there is anything going on with him and she tells me, last summer, that they have gone out on a series of dates. There was a kiss goodnight on each and nothing more, but that they were really good times. Well, I was destroyed. The idea of them together has cause me to lose more sleep than I have ever experienced. I have woken up in the middle of the night trying to work through whether or not a relationship would be feasible between them, I have spent hours working through whether he would have more kids and decide to marry her, I have spent countless nights tossing and turning wondering whether that random comment I overheard meant that they were sneaking off. I stalk around the office to check on whether he is in his office, or whether he has wondered over to her office. It has literally taken over my mind every day for a year and has cost me an enormous effort to focus and work.
She had another boyfriend for a while and I found myself rooting for that guy, because it wasn’t our co-worker. LO recently broke up with her boyfriend and now the path is clear for asshole co-worker and I have been miserable. I somehow seem to know that he is not right for her, and I have told her as much. We have had several talks where after prodding “what’s wrong” I have finally fessed up to say that their flirting in the office is killing me and that I hate him and I think it would be a terrible idea for them to be together. Did I mention he is next in line to run our organization? So, her SO would be my boss.
We have joked that if things were different, we might have had a chance, which clearly put me into LE.
This isn’t my first LE. In reading the blogs, I have soul-searched and realized that this has been happening pretty consistently since I was in grade school. I am 42 now. I have had an amazing relationship with my SO and I consider myself a good partner, and I have never had an LE since we have been married, so I have been a little shocked that this would happen now.
I am trying all sorts of processes out to simply let go and accept that she might end up with this narcissist asshole, and that might just be what happens. I suppose I have also thought that it might actually make her happy, and while this is even harder to accept, it is the reality. I get the insecurity in me has driven this issue as much as my limerent feelings for her.
So, I am on day 5 of not asking about “how’s it going with co-worker?” and trying not to react when her phone dings and I assume he is sending her a cutesy text while we are working on a project. I am refocusing my energies on my SO and my kids.
NC won’t work here. We have plans to work together into the future and possible branch out on our own – which clearly leads to complications if she is dating our current boss. I believe if she was in a different relationship, I might be able to detach and let all of this go, but I know I have to accept whatever comes. All of my LOs in the past ended up with someone else, and I survived. Though, anytime I spotted an asshole for any of my prior LOs, I was usually right…just saying. For some reason, if I could evaluate the guy my LO has been with and realize – he really is a nice guy and they deserve each other, then I can let go.
Disclosing seems unnecessarily painful to my SO and LO and I have had a form of it and it doesn’t seem like either of us is interested in venturing into destroying my marriage to “check” on whether this would work.
It feels like such a strange variant of my LE from the past, since I was usually alone and desperately wanted to be with my LO. Here, I am happy with my SO and feel fulfilled, but am drawn to LO and feel like an exposed nerve even thinking about her with this one particular person.
Anyway, thank you for your post, Dr. and thank you all for your contributions, it has helped me get this far and I am hoping to get all the way past this LE and continue my otherwise happy life.
“Then the twist…I receive a call from the wife of one of our colleagues that her husband, my coworker, has walked out on her and their kids.”
Why would she involve you? Was she expecting you to do something about it?
Workplace LEs tend to be more fraught with danger because of the potential legal and professional consequences. But, aside from managing your feelings, it doesn’t sound like you want to drive this to a particular outcome.
So, what’s in this for you? What’s the “fairy-tale-ending” here?
OT: I think DrL should do a blog on “worthiness.” Is your LO worthy of you? Are you worthy of your LO? Is your LO’s current crush worthy of him or her? What is it about some limerents (I’m not one of them) that says, “If I can’t have her, I want to make sure the other guy is worthy of her.”? I told LO #4 that I’d envy any man who could earn her trust and affection. If she liked it, I wanted to have it. But, I never felt any responsibility toward my LOs. If it’s not me, I don’t care where they are, who they’re with, or what they’re doing. It doesn’t matter how they are with anybody else, it only matters how they are with me. If they think they can do better, go for it; they just can’t come back if they don’t.
Hi Louie, feels oddly familiar to me. I’ve witnessed my LO chasing after a co-worker of ours. First he denied it, then confessed, and then my paranoia started. Every time his phone vibrated, I thought that it could be a sweet text from her…
I also thought, I wanted him to find someone, someone that could make him happy. Anyone but that woman. I thought it would be ok if he dated someone outside of work, someone I didn’t have to deal with. But I am not sure if that is true.
To Scharnhorst’s question: what’s in it for you? What’s the fairy tale ending? Deep down I think I thought that I would be the best match… or so I thought. Many months of NC now and I can see more clearly now.
It sucks to suspect something at work or witness LO with someone else at work. It kills you. I suggest as little contact as possible. And do not talk to LO about anything but work. The less you know the better. It’s ok to not know! Anything else is not good for you.
Louie Jeffries says
Sarah, I suppose NC can be just about personal info. I am trying to go day-to-day not asking whether anything has “changed” with the co-worker. I am trying to come to terms with the fact that she is free to date who she wants and I really have no say in it whatsoever. It has been physically and mentally exhausting at times to keep this all in, so I really thank you for listening.
It’s hard, Louie. You’ll feel ok on the days she doesn’t talk about him, you’ll feel like you’re ok with that new normal, maybe less intimate oversharing. You’ll tell yourself you’re ok with being friends. And every once in a while, you’ll see then chat, and you wonder what they talk, or you hear her phone vibrate and she smiles, and immediately, your emotions boil over (and that lingers for days). It’s not easy, and I genuinely wish you luck to be able to handle your emotions and being her friend. I couldn’t do it. This article (it’s been shared a few times on this page) rang very true to me: https://pairedlife.com/dating/friendshiporinfatuation
Especially reason 4 and 5.
Limerence jealousy is jealousy like no other. I know the feeling. Have you read the post on Jealousy?
I had a really similar experience with my workplace LO. We still work together and I am still very much limerent, but the co-worker has since left. But I remember anytime I saw them getting overly friendly (probably oversharing), I would be reminded that I likely misinterpreted everything: she is probably just sparkly with all guys, not just me. And the fact that I previously disclosed to her made it even more humiliating. But she kept me swimming in a sea of uncertainty just enough to keep my LE going. What was very strange is that I never felt any jealousy toward LO’s husband. It was reserved only for the co-worker. And it burned white hot.
Louie Jeffries says
Scharnhorst, I don’t really know. The fairly tale is that we remain friends, she overshares about her good relationship with someone outside of the office and maybe I can keep her as a friend and even have her as a part of my life with my SO. I love my SO and I have been limerant several times in my life, though I never knew it had a name (thanks again for the site Dr. L), so I knew I could get through these feelings. It just took me by surprise in the way they manifested themselves as jealousy about this other co-worker’s possible affection for my friend/LO.
The jealous, limerant feelings really only boil over in reference to this one coworker. She still tells me about pining over her long distance SO who broke her heart and I can listen with an open mind and heart and I don’t feel those overwrought jealous emotions.
She even mentions the one co-workers name and I am in turmoil for days.
As for why his wife laid that information on me, I am still really unsure what her goal was, but possessing that inside information about the co-worker made all of this so much harder because I see him as potentially hurting LO someday and it drives me nuts.
It’s so hard, I really feel for you. Ultimately, you’re thinking why him and not me? If you were going to be with anyone at work I thought it would be me…
This feels like she’s rejecting you in favour of someone else (and at the moment that’s only really in your head), but the difference is here you know the guy so you make the comparison between you and him.
If she starts seeing some guy from her gym, somehow it’s easier to take as you don’t know him and can imagine that he’s some bronzed beefcake with amazing chat.
I remember with my workplace LO, who was young and single I used to do the same – see who she was chatting to, who was hitting on her. After about 6m of NC the office lothario who had bedded at least 5 girls in the office was being quizzed in my earshot about who he’d slept with in a bar after a few. “How about LO? You must have tried her…”. Time just stopped for me, and I felt sick. Please, not him!!! “Nah, I tried but she wouldn’t have me. Suspect Vincent did though…” he said. I was so relieved 😅
Limerence Writer says
(Years ago) Upon meeting my LO, I talked her up to all my single friends, desperate to find her a boyfriend so I could stop thinking about her. Unfortunately, the one she happened to become attracted to was a disaster. I knew he wouldn’t be interested in her at all, as he had a specific “type,” and LO was not in the right age or ethnic group. She was older than he was, which made her almost invisible to him. I cursed the bad luck, and I worried that this would just be more heartache for her. They agreed to meet for drinks after work, and I saw her post something in Italian on social media. I (tried to) casually ask her what it meant, and she said it came from a song, basically meaning, “Maybe what I’m searching for isn’t really here.” I was terrified he would say something awful, but who knows? I left them alone, a year or so later he met the girl of his dreams (who fit right into his type) and he’s been married ever since. But almost any time he posts something on social media, I notice my LO “likes” it. Sigh.
Hi Louie, and welcome.
I think this is the way into understanding what’s at the root of your limerence. On first reading, it sounds like a familiar rescue fantasy – here is a younger woman who enjoys your company, but has romantic problems in the background and comes to you for moral support (and mutual oversharing). You get to enjoy the role of mentor, and the dopamine buzz of knowing you have a “special connection”. The fact that you are happily married is kind of a protective screen, in that it’s a way you can set the terms of the connection – you get the emotional euphoria but without the damage of a physical affair.
Her getting together with a generic younger guy is no threat to that fantasy. You can wish her well and let the special relationship fade naturally; you might have wanted it to last longer, but it ends with mostly happy memories.
However, your co-worker is a very different scenario. He’s like your shadow. He has the same status as mentor/boss figure, but has run roughshod over any moral or behavioural constraints. He’s pursuing her sexually, casting aside wife and family with unabashed self-interest. Even worse, she’s responding to him!
And worst of all, he’s shattered the illusion of your special connection, now she’s revealed that she was dating him and didn’t tell you at the time. While you thought you were controlling the terms of your emotional connection with LO like a pro, he was actually getting intimate with her.
It’s understandable that this would be eating you up. You’ve got a big old mix of sexual jealousy, embarrassment, shame (at the fact that this reaction proves you weren’t being a selfless mentor but wanted something from her), loss of control, competitiveness, and actual, genuine concern for her wellbeing. Add in a dash of midlife madness and anxiety about the future, and you’ve got quite a cocktail.
Try this: reframe your emotional reaction into a warning. Your subconscious is screaming at you that this is not a healthy relationship. You are not being a benevolent mentor, there is a selfish impulse at the heart of your desire for closeness and that greedy part of you is getting angry.
The way to avoid these awful feelings is to purposefully detach yourself from her – emotionally at least, even if it’s not possible to do so literally. Step back from the oversharing and let her go. You’re not responsible for her choices or her wellbeing, but you are responsible for your wife’s wellbeing. You’ll mourn the loss of the closeness, but believe me, that quiet sadness is preferable to the deranging storm of jealousy.
Try and think of it as though you’ve witnessed a car crash. It’s shocking and emotionally overwhelming to be confronted with the carnage – it might even disturb your sleep for a few nights – but the healthy response is to take more care about your own driving in the future, and hold your loved ones close.
Louie Jeffries says
Dr. L and all,
I can’t thank you enough for replying and for your comments. It all had the feeling of that movie moment when someone seems to be slipping into deliriousness during a critical moment and someone steps in to slap them in the face…and they become calm. I have reread the comments and replies over and over again since last night and they have given me a sense of resolve.
I struggled yesterday at the office and at the end of the day I passed by her office to say goodbye and she was alone in the kitchen with him, just talking. It almost ruined me for the night. I woke at 3 am thinking about what comes next. I have been stressing about whether they have been having secret quarantine-breaking rendezvous before or after work and I have been dying to ask her. As much as she has over-shared in the past, my proclamation that I hate him, and think he is terrible for her, has, I think given her pause to share about any contact with him for fear of upsetting me. So I have created a nice little hellish catch-22.
Anyway, this morning, I saw your post, Dr. L, and it really put things in perspective. She and I met in the office this morning for a conference call we had to join and it took all of my effort not to inquire about last night, and I somehow survived. We chatted about family a little bit, but I avoided asking about him. It will be a challenge, but your car wreck analogy was brilliant and your reply will be something I return to over and over again in those moments of weakness.
If it helps anyone out there, I really enjoyed listening to this book this past year in trying to “let go” of the persistent LO thoughts. The Untethered Soul, by Michael Singer. It gave me a lot to think about – pun intended – regarding how our minds and thoughts sometimes work against us and how to avoid the downward spiral that can come from letting our inside voice run the show.
Thank you again.
Ugh. I was doing relatively well, taking the emergency deprogramming course, keeping my distance as much as possible, and then I slipped up, badly.
When LO dropped hints about past relationships, I couldn’t help but dig in and ask more about her history. It led to me sharing my own thoughts about my life and history with women, how I’ve been married for years happily but sometimes suspect I got married too early. It really feels like I was inappropriate, and took steps to solidify my limerence. A real step down. What’s more, in a very nice way, I increased my friendship with this special person, a person I don’t want to lose, which only makes NC/stepping away harder! Damnit!
Don’t be too hard on yourself, DJ. Remember that setbacks and relapses are inevitable.
You’ve learned from this one that trying to reignite the friendship is just going to give a short-term high, at the expense of long-term pain and regret. Learn, adapt, recommit…
Vicarious Limerent says
There seems to be a lot of relapsing going on at the moment! Yesterday was a tough day for me, and I don’t even know why. At one point in the afternoon, I was all by myself in the house (a rarity these days). I got to thinking about my LO. I am a bit ashamed to say that after a solid month of more or less continuous improvement, for some reason I started bawling my eyes out over her — not just a few tears, but full-on crying unbecoming of a man. Alcohol wasn’t even involved. I have no idea what brought this on, but at least it was a bit cathartic. A few hours later, my wife held me and told me she loved me (I didn’t tell her about my earlier episode). For the first time in a long time, I held her back genuinely and felt and expressed genuine and complete love for her too. I don’t know what prompted her to do and say that, but it might have been because we had a fight earlier (it was nothing to do with my LO, and once again my wife was being unreasonable at the time). I felt the most disturbing feeling of cognitive dissonance about having my affections split between two women. I am so confused! Once again, I know my LO is a fantasy and I love my wife, but I know things aren’t good in our marriage and my LE was telling me something for sure. I wish this stupid pandemic would lift so we could really try some things that might help us determine if our marriage is worth saving or not. Maybe my episode yesterday was part of the death throes of my LE?
Hi VL. Sorry to hear you are feeling sad but glad of of your moment of loving connection with your wife. It sounds confusing.
Similarly, I have also been feeling sad this week – almost like I am sliding towards depression. For me I think it is the combination of feeling very isolated right now, especially on working days, on top of lack of my usual distractions and lack of LO contact. I now find that I no longer believe my ruminations so struggle find a way to lift my mood. This new lucidity is a good thing I think and the sadness is a necessary part of my recovery – mourning an amazing dream that could never have been and maybe suffering physical withdrawal from the LO “drug”.
Maybe the same for you?
Allie, excellent description. I really feel that I am “mourning an amazing dream.” The good thing is that the very reason that dream isn’t possible is because my reality (two great kids, loving wife who I’ve had a way above-average marriage with) the one I seem to be avoiding for reasons of middle aged ennui is so much better than some possible chance at a person I partially know.
Vicarious Limerent says
Thanks Allie. I believe the sadness may be part of the realization of just how illogical and silly I was being all of this time with my LE. Fantasizing about my LO was an escape from the hard work of trying to improve my marriage or even just trying to figure out if it is worth saving.
Someone recommended the book Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay to me. I am not currently in a position to buy the book without my wife finding out (she would go ballistic if she found I had bought such a book), but I have answered the main questions in the book after finding them online. I am just as confused as ever after going through that exercise several times, but I do believe my marriage is worth trying to save nevertheless. On the other hand, I am not willing to settle for only an incremental improvement. I probably need to have a very difficult conversation with my wife at some point and let her know we aren’t out of the woods yet and really need to work together to try to improve our marriage and lives. I just don’t see there being much opportunity for improvement right now with everything on lock-down. Very frustrating!
Hi VL. From what I have understood about your marital situation, I think a chat is a great idea – the sooner the better. It might cause some fireworks which will be tough but that will settle if you stick to your guns – firmly but kindly. You are obviously a good man and love her…..I might be barking up the wrong tree entirely here but do you find it hard to stand up to her when she is unkind and disrespectful? I wonder if you being more assertive with her would help her respect you more. Sometimes when good people (i.e. your wife) are are allowed to behave badly (as we all do sometimes) the boundary in the relationship shifts without them fully comprehending how hurtful they are. This leaves you feeling belittled and unloved, and possibly her feeling bad about herself. Mutual blame for the resulting unhappy dynamic can then set in making it all worse.
Apologies for the armchair psychology…..the romantic in me is keen for you two to work things out 🙂
Vicarious Limerent says
@ Allie: My wife is a good person, and I agree with you, but I feel like she is really hard on the people closest to her. She and my daughter were at each other’s throats the entire weekend with screaming fits of rage, and things even got physical for a while. While there was fault on both sides, as an adult, my wife should be held to a higher standard. It is quite ridiculous how she treats my daughter and me. Someone on this site said it sounds like my wife has a personality disorder, and I am inclined to agree (I have thought that for several years now). The problems between the two of them are causing me genuine grief. This is yet another reason why our marriage and family life are so deeply unsatisfying for me. I do need to have a talk with her, but she is NOT going to see there is any fault on her part. She always blames everyone else, no matter how calmly and rationally I try to point things out.
Meanwhile, I saw my LO’s profile picture again on Facebook (after avoiding looking at it for about five weeks) because she liked something my brother in-law posted. That kind of set me off a bit too. It annoys me that we can’t even be friends, but she basically hangs on his every word, yet he thinks she is a bit of a nuisance and not good enough for him. I think she may be limerent for him. Again, I know this limerence is a fantasy and I have built up a certain image of my LO in my mind that isn’t based entirely on reality, but it upsets me how I think the world of her and she basically doesn’t know I exist, yet she still follows him even though he isn’t interested. There is the obvious issue that I am married, and that’s a big one, but life just seems so unfair sometimes.
Sorry VL, your home life sounds awful, must be especially tough at the moment when stuck at home most of the time. Roll-on end of lockdown and re-opening of therapy services.
Is it normal to still be heavily limerent for someone after 3 months of no contact? After seeing all the negative aspects of that person and believing them? I feel like no amount of logic or anything is getting rid of this affliction and I really need to move on with my life and it has become exhausting
If it helps I’ll relay my experience of NC. After 3m I actually had a relapse. The momentum behind going NC had faded, I’d heard snippets of info that she was upset with what happened and I sent her a text. I shouldn’t have because I lost face after my big exit, but then again her response proved to me i was right in the first place so it helped with propelling me into the next phase of NC.
Logic doesn’t come into it with Limerence. I knew all her faults, I knew we’d be disastrous together as a couple but that didn’t stop me thinking of her 24/7. I would have done absolutely anything for that girl if she’d asked, and I did a lot, putting my own career and marriage in danger too. Not that she appreciated it. It’s crazy to think about that 18m later, but it’s true.
I’d say it wasn’t until 6m that NC really noticeably started to work, by 12m I was feeling pretty good, but it’s not a linear recovery. Now 18m into NC she doesn’t feature much, although I did get triggered by a song last night and ended up doing a social media drive by for the first time in months. So you have to constantly be on your guard.
Sadly there’s no quick fix to NC. It’s a long road, varies for all of us, but it gets you there, and that’s the main thing. Keep going 💪
” I would have done absolutely anything for that girl if she’d asked, and I did a lot, putting my own career and marriage in danger too.”
I never felt that way about any of my LO’s but there was this Australian waitress in Ocean Beach, CA, in 1981 that if she had asked me to jump ship and rob liquor stores with her, I’d have thought about it for a few seconds.
Think Olivia Newton John…
Ha! She sounded great Scharnhorst…
I was watching this the other day and it got me thinking about limerence vs love:
Full quote: “Actually, there is a word for that. It’s love. I’m in love with her, okay? If you’re looking for the word that means caring about someone beyond all rationality and wanting them to have everything they want no matter how much it destroys you, it’s love. And when you love someone you just, you…you don’t stop, ever. Even when people roll their eyes, and call you crazy. Even then. Especially then. You just– you don’t give up. Because if I could just give up…if I could just, you know, take the whole world’s advice and– and move on and find someone else, that wouldn’t be love. That would be… that would be some other disposable thing that is not worth fighting for. But I– that is not what this is.”
Because that was me at the height of the LE. It wasn’t rational, I put her first to the detriment of myself and people called me crazy and advised me to let her go. So maybe it WAS love in some form. 🤷♂️
I love “How I Met Your Mother!” I agree with the part where if you truly love someone, you’ll always love them.
But, if the person you love doesn’t love you, trust you, or want to be with you, all the love in you won’t change that, no matter how much you wish it could.
It’s certainly not abnormal to still be limerent after 3 months. It takes a while to reverse the mental programming of habitually thinking about LO and seeking them, and basically making them the centre of your world.
And you’re right that logic alone is not enough to fix the problem. You have to retrain your brain into seeking other sources of reward, other goals to aim for, other sources of purposeful fulfilment.
There’s lots here on the site to immerse yourself in. And over a million words of wisdom from the commenters too!
Good luck and best wishes.
Thanks Dr L. Yep I’m reading from the beginning and have reached page 20 of the blog. This whole limerence business has been a revelation
I think it’s normal to be limerent for someone after 3 months of NC. If it’s not for my recent LO, I would still ruminate about my first LO whom I have NC for about 13 years. He used to appear occasionally in my dreams too.
It’s embarassing to talk about how I feel about my first LO to my close friends when I have several LE after an intrusive dream. And of course, I can’t talk about it with my SO without hurting his feelings. Places like this website really helps with finding an outlet, while being able to relate with many people going through similar experiences.
Thank you, Vincent. I’ll keep going. I don’t have a choice. I have no way of relapsing – he’s not on social media or traceable online, no mutual contacts, nothing. It’s the worst thing ever to think all the time about someone who’s literally like a figment of my imagination. Sometimes I think he is
Wow this is a blessing in disguise! Keep going the future is so bright!
🙂 nice way to put it. I can’t wait for the future
In a way he is a figment of your imagination – the LO character in the scenes of our minds tends to be far superior to the real life person they are based on.
It will seem scant consolation, but not being able to find anything out about him will allow you to keep up NC. The temptation to relapse not being there is a massive bonus. I know it won’t feel like it now but that’s ideal.
I keep telling myself that but it’s the real parts of him that I love best.
You’re right. I can’t stay hung up on him forever, right?
That’s part of the romance. That you can see the specialness within him. If it is his inherent goodness that you love, then it validates the strength of your feelings.
But, it’s the idea of him that your limerent brain is really infatuated with.
Sorry I know I said I would be off this blog, but I couldn’t resist commenting under this post! It resonated with me so much because of the amount of oversharing I did with my LO’s. Funny thing is.. neither of my LO’s ever signalled they were particularly interested in what I had to say..
Like you Dr L, I am a sucker for the damsel in distress. I mean the LE really kicked off when she said “you’re the first person I’ve said all of this to…” about something deeply personal so it was her oversharing *oh her part* that set off everything. And the damsel in distress isn’t usually too keen to really listen to your side and your problems. Does this make them narcissistic to some extent… I don’t know.
As someone who is extremely private and finds it hard to talk to anyone about my life and problems including close friends the LE is addictive because suddenly I have the urge to talk about myself!! For someone with my disposition it is an amazing feeling.
Point is, oversharing isn’t always about the reaction we get from LO. It’s something we WANT to do and feeds the idea that the LE is mostly what our head makes it to be.
But to do so with someone who doesn’t feel the same.. Limerents need to realise that they would be settling in such a situation. It does give me hope though that there is something better out there, that there is love that is possible with someone who genuinely cares about what I would over share. Would it be as exciting as with LO? Probably not, but such is life.
“a sober, rational judge would say that telling LO about your relationship problems is an obvious breach of trust. And yet, legions of limerents do it, without really processing how it might appear. [..] But limerents can get so caught up in their connection to LO that they seem blind to the significance of their actions. Should you introduce your partner to LO so you can all be friends together? Many limerents do! Madness.”
That was interesting to read. I’ve been trying to work out why on earth my LO (who initially flirted with me a lot in return) would then start constantly talking about his wife, acting like I’m his marriage therapist, suggesting I go for drinks with her, that she and I would be great friends, etc. It completely threw me. And seriously hurt. Last year he suggested he felt guilty and wanted to at least try to fix his broken marriage, which I respected. But instead of giving me space and letting me get over him, he hasn’t stopped commenting on her. Literally every other conversation we have he will find a reason to get her in there somehow. It comes across as completely obsessive, as if he doesn’t know anyone else or do anything else except whatever she is saying/thinking/doing that day.
Initially I assumed he was trying to make me jealous, as we were both in love but neither wanted an affair. I couldn’t understand why else a normally kind man would be so cold and callous towards someone he seemed to at least tolerate the rest of the time. Having read the above, I’m now thinking perhaps he is just completely oblivious as to how oversharing about his marriage and trying to shove her in my face would break my heart. But I’ve also been on the LE end (we are both LOs for each other I think), and I’ve never wanted my LO to hang out with my SO. That would potentially be a disaster!
Has anyone been in this situation and wanted your LO and SO to meet? If so, why? I’m trying to understand the thinking behind it. It’s like getting stabbed in the chest every time he tries it, so why would you want to hurt your LO like that?
I am trying to let go of an attachment to a manipulative LO. When he was speaking to me and pretending to be my friend, he repeatedly pried about a problem I had vaguely alluded to, trying to get me to tell him all the details. I finally did; it was a family problem I had only shared with my 2 closest friends. I though he was someone I could trust, but I learned he was not when he suddenly stopped interacting with me a few weeks later. I went into more detail about it in the comments of “Case study: Ghosted by LO.” I now have to see him at work, and he pretends like we never had a connection at all.
I believe that the reason I am having so much trouble getting over the person is that I gave myself away emotionally. I shared something very personal with him.
(I don’t think I would have told him if he hadn’t kept asking over and over.) He acted like he cared but then just tossed me aside within a month when he became bored with me and distracted by someone else. I feel so embarrassed that I misjudged the situation and the person so badly. Limerence and general vulnerability clouded my judgment. And I am left feeling indebted to him because he knows my deepest hurt. What was I thinking, and how do I get past this.
This entry ends with, “Be careful who you share yourself with.” Truer words were never said.
“These limerents are slowly strengthening a bond that can ultimately prove destructive for their lives. That desire for emotional intimacy can be every bit as intoxicating and destabilising as sexual desire.”
This is a very interesting idea. That limerence can be primarily about emotional stuff and not about sexual stuff. What is the limerent unconsciously seeking from oversharing, I wonder? Is it to enmesh with the LO psychologically through all the deep and meaningful chats?
Also, how does one know one’s crossed the line from genuine friendship territory into dangerous limerent territory? Is it when feelings of jealousy and possessiveness kick in? Or is it just the excessively personal nature of the material being shared between parties?
While it’s fairly easy to set boundaries when it comes to sexual intimacy, it can be very difficult to set boundaries when it comes to emotional intimacy. And yet dodgy boundaries in both areas can lead to problems down the line…
“It can be very difficult to set boundaries when it comes to emotional intimacy. ”
I think it is very easy to set emotional intimacy boundaries. You never let down the curtain. You never let down your guard and show the real you. You talk about surface topics and share nothing personal. You keep it on the level. 🙂
“You never let down the curtain. You never let down your guard and show the real you. You talk about surface topics and share nothing personal. You keep it on the level. 🙂”
Yes, that is true…
But I love talking about nitty-gritty, too-personal, and super-philosophical stuff. And not just with LOs either. I like getting deep with everybody! I want to know what makes people tick, and this tendency in me is magnified one hundred-fold in relation to LOs. I even told one I wanted to know what made him tick. He wasn’t terribly impressed. He just frowned and looked bored. Yes, I think I probably bored him…
The irony is that my two LOs, (the two men I’ve decided genuinely had LO status) were two of the shallowest people I’ve ever met. I mean, they didn’t lose sleep at night, worrying about the problems of the world. They didn’t read many books. I hope this means that I’m attracted to my intellectual opposite! Either that or I find hidden depths in people where none exist. 😛
I’m learning to focus a lot more on my own emotions, though, and less on other people’s. I realised I loved feeling strong, stirring emotions and I don’t have to be in a fantasy relationship in order to access those feelings. Those feelings are part of my neural make-up, so they’re present in me all the time. I can just listen to great music, chuck on a few good movies, etc.
“I even told one I wanted to know what made him tick.”
I would pay money for someone to say that to me! My last LO was really shallow, too. But if I had said that to him, I don’t think it would have landed. He didn’t long for someone to really know him. It wasn’t on his radar screen. To quote Prince from the song “Automatic,” “Talk to me. Tell me who you are!” 🙂 Your hopes, your dreams, what you long for, your fantasies. 🙂
Limerent Emeritus says
A lot depends on whose asking.
I got the impression from women that asked too many questions too soon that I was being assessed. Some interest is great, too much is a reason for concern.
They weren’t genuinely interested, they were looking for exploitable vulnerabilities.
Nobody is trying to exploit you.
Some people like to stay at the surface level, and they’re a bit like the partner in a couple who wants less sex. They dictate the terms of the relationship.
I wasn’t trying to exploit my LO in wanting to know what makes him tick. Although I do definitely understand the logic behind that…
I think it’s more a case of limerence fools us into believing: “Ooh, literally every trivial thing about this person is fascinating” when it actually isn’t. Does he eat a banana sandwich for lunch or does he hate the smell of bananas? Wow! Amazing! 😛
Here’s an interesting music-related anecdote. At the time of one of my limerent episodes, ABBA had just released their 20-year gold anniversary record or something, and I really loved it. I asked LO if he liked ABBA and he said no. He liked a different style of music. (American rock rather than Swedish pop). For a long time afterwards, I felt ashamed of liking ABBA because he didn’t. (I wrongly assumed he had better taste than me).
Now I don’t have feelings for him anymore, I can go back to liking ABBA unashamedly. And who cares if it’s a bit cheesy or “less cool” than whatever music he preferred. Temporarily, I wanted to replace my authentic preference in music with his. That wasn’t so great, self-esteem-wise. I was suppressing my own personality around him…
“I wasn’t trying to exploit my LO in wanting to know what makes him tick. Although I do definitely understand the logic behind that…”
Never said you were. Sounds a little paranoid . 🙂 I guess maybe a narcissist would try to glean information to manipulate a person, but I don’t know how many there are in the population. I’m assuming you wanted to connect with him, understand him. And maybe he fascinated you. (I had one LO who fascinated the s**t out of me. 🙂 )My point is that it is possible to spend a lot of time with someone and really not know them (thus disputing your original comment on how it is hard to keep up emotional intimacy boundaries). When a close friend died, I read a piece I wrote about her at her memorial service. People said I captured her, but that’s because I really knew her. She showed me who she was. I talked to my LO five days a week for yearS, and I couldn’t begin to write about him. And he certainly made no effort really get to know me.
I’m not that big on ABBA, but I LOVE disco! Chic’s “I Want Your Love.” A limerent’s song! 🙂
“Never said you were. Sounds a little paranoid . 🙂”
I know you didn’t say that. I was thinking more about something Lucy Baines writes over at Neurosparkle – about how limerents shouldn’t think of themselves as calculating people, and yet I suppose there is something unconsciously calculating about wanting so badly to learn more about a person? Lucy’s theory is our limerent brains want to learn more about LO because it’s like one step closer to pair-bonding, securing that person’s love and attention forever, etc.
Totally cringe-worthy that I was doing that to this young man! Especially since I’m not that keen on him anymore. 😛
“And maybe he fascinated you.”
Definitely fascinated me. It was very, very weird, in hindsight. There wasn’t that much to be fascinated by. Somewhat impressive looks (tall, athletic). Mild talent for music. Air of confidence. Really, a million other guys could have brought those things to the table.
While I was in limerence, he had this “smouldering sexiness” thing going on – or so I thought. But I think that was purely my drugged-up brain, swimming in feel-good chemicals. I’ve seen old photos of him as well as more recent photos and videos, and there’s actually no smoulder at all. The “smouldering quality” was produced by my brain in limerence. Scary! He’s chubby and has a receding hairline.
“People said I captured her, but that’s because I really knew her. She showed me who she was.”
Intimacy is an interesting concept, isn’t it? I mean, real intimacy. I would argue we can’t ever be truly intimate with an LO because we see them through rose-coloured glasses. Real intimacy (of an emotional nature I mean) with an LO would only start when limerence for them wears off maybe?
One definitely couldn’t deliver a fair eulogy for a current LO…
“Chic’s “I Want Your Love.” A limerent’s song.”
I’ll give it a listen … ooh, very nice! Good call, Marcia! 🙂
” about how limerents shouldn’t think of themselves as calculating people, and yet I suppose there is something unconsciously calculating about wanting so badly to learn more about a person? ”
Calculating, yes. Trying various methods and tricks to land the one person you’ve honed in on is calculating. I suppose everyone is calculating when they are interested in someone. A limerent maybe more so. I definitely had lines planned to trigger him or dreamed up ways to get under his skin. In hindsight, it was a waste of time.
“Really, a million other guys could have brought those things to the table.”
Mine was the same way. Nothing unique or spectacular.
“He’s chubby and has a receding hairline.”
I laughed at this. Mine was very short, very skinny. But unlike yours, he had great hair. He looked like an aging boy bander! 🙂
“Real intimacy (of an emotional nature I mean) with an LO would only start when limerence for them wears off maybe?”
Exactly. You can’t know someone when you can’t see them clearly. Did you ever get to a point where you could see an LO clearly? I had one where we were still together when I did (versus having the situation break up while the limerence is still ongoing). Man, oh man, was that a shock! And all the delicious, soul-churning sexual tension … died. I was ridiculously naive in thinking he was a unicorn and those feelings would go on forever.
Limerent Emeritus says
“Nobody is trying to exploit you.”
Speak for yourself. I’m pretty sure at least one woman was. It was the first woman I dated after breaking up with LO #2.
We met at a community event. At our first date, we closed the restaurant talking. I remember her name and that she was studying to be a licensed massage therapist, she lived at home and her father was fairly high up in one of the tenant commands where I worked.
On our second date, she took me into a sex shop. She seemed to know exactly where it was. We walked around and she’d ask if I liked a particular item. We made out furiously when we got back.
But, we never had sex. Not once. But, whenever we got together, she’d do pretty much all she could to spin me up.
The kicker was we double dated with her friend and my friend. She spent the entire night flirting with other men in the club up to sitting on one guy’s lap. Her friend was mortified and apologized. It was an icy ride home. When we got back, they offered to drive her home so I wouldn’t have to. That woman said she wanted me to drive her home.
So, I asked her what that was all about. Honest to God, she said, “I was trying to make you angry.” I told her she succeeded but to what purpose. She started spewing “word salad,” the verbal equivalent of the old Microsoft “Blue screen of death.” As near as I could make out, she was trying to manipulate me into ending the relationship but I’m not sure. It was that obtuse.
Anyway, I dumped her. The only downside of getting rid of her was I was getting free massages and those went away.
I seemed to be attracted to Cluster Bs. One article I read suggested that if you’re attracted to them, you were likely raised by one, which fits in my case.
Didn’t you write about putting a hair on your shirt to make one of your LO’s jealous? All of this falls under the same umbrella — messing with people. I’ve only actively tried to make someone jealous one time, and I will never do it again. I initiated a sexual relationship with the guy who worked closely with my last LO. I wanted him to talk about it with my LO. But when I broke it off, I tried to be pleasant and thought we could at least be cordial, but it became clear he wasn’t going to take no for an answer. He kept trying to force me to interact with him for bulls**t work reasons. He got off on it. He knew it pissed me off. He was punishing me. What I mean is … be careful. You can mess with Crazy Town. And I never went to HR to get him to leave me alone because I didn’t want people to know I had messed with Crazy Town. I was embarrassed.
Limerent Emeritus says
Guilty as charged.
But, I wasn’t trying to make LO #2 jealous. She claimed to be really observant and I ran a ‘sh-t test” to see for myself. I wondered if she was paying any attention to me and she was.
I told her what I did. She called me an “a–hole.”. It may have been the first time.
It definitely wasn’t the last.
C’mon. You put another woman’s hair on your shirt? You were trying to push her buttons. And when someone does that with me … I INTENTIONALY don’t respond. I might be seething inside, but you won’t know it. And that’s if I’m invested. And if it’s someone I’m only somewhat interested in, I remove myself from situation. I’m not going to be manipulated so obviously by someone I’m not all that into. 🙂
Limerent Emeritus says
I’ll admit I wanted to see if she noticed and how she responded.
This was the same woman who asked me, “If I don’t sleep with you is that the end of the friendship.” My response was “probably” but we could hang out to together until one of us got a better offer. She could be a passive-aggressive petulant. At that point, I wasn’t attached to her, let alone invested in her.
But, I was better at playing those kind of games than she was. Way better. On the submarine, we screwed with peoples’ heads for sport. I can teach Advanced Gaslighting.
For someone who didn’t seem to care about me, she always paid a lot of attention to what I was doing. After we broke up, she made sure to stay in contact and always fished to see if I was seeing anyone although when I asked her, she never wanted to get back together. It got old.
But, the best one was when I had the SIL of a coworker record my answering machine message after LO #2 warned me she’d be back in town. My coworker had told his SIL about my breakup and his SIL thought LO #2 was “an idiot.” I figured it was even money that LO #2 would actually follow through and call me but she did. It was great! I thought I’d get something like “Ha Ha!,” “Very funny,” or “Cute.”
One night LO #2 called. The first thing out of her mouth was, “WHO’S THAT WOMAN ON YOUR ANSWERING MACHINE?!!!” Obviously, it wasn’t the first time she called and she hadn’t left any messages. BAM!
LE shoots! He scores!!!
“But, the best one was when I had the SIL of a coworker record my answering machine message after LO #2 warned me she’d be back in town. ””
I don’t know. I think the game is already lost when stuff like this is done.
Limerent Emeritus says
When I did the answering machine thing, we’d been broken up for 10 months and I’d sent her a letter saying I’d had enough.
She was warned and she chose to ignore the warning. Based on things she said to me, I could only conclude that she was screwing with me. She was fair game.
I didn’t take shots at her, I laid mines. If she didn’t poke around, she wouldn’t trip them.
You should have seen the expression on her face when she saw the 300ZX Turbo I bought. She asked, “What’s that?!”
“The down payment on what would have been our house.”
That’s why I think the FB friend request I got from her after 25 years had to be a mistake.
“we’d been broken up for 10 months and I’d sent her a letter saying I’d had enough.”
But you hadn’t had enough. You were still messing with her. I don’t know. I’ve been thinking a lot about how people show up in our lives. In terms of limerence, yes, but also in general. There really isn’t any uncertainty (as much as we discuss it here). Someone who wants to be with you is with you. No games, no machinations, no reappearing/disappearing, no heavy flirtation/no delivery, no keeping you guessing. If you have all of that going on, you have already lost. Eventually, the whole thing will implode, if it gets off the ground at all. Yeah, maybe when my LO found out about his friend, there was a bit of a sting. But who cares? He and I aren’t together. I didn’t win. And I highly doubt he’s tortured over me after all this time. He’s long gone. So all those games I played were a colossal waste of time.
Limerent Emeritus says
The therapist asked why I agreed to see here when she called after I’d sent the letter.
I told the therapist I thought maybe she’d changed and you don’t know if they did or didn’t until you let them show you. I said I’d gotten glimpses she might have turned.
The therapist said that’s what LO #2 wanted me to think. The therapist also said that for a smart guy, I was a really slow learner.
A lot of this crap could have been avoided if when she said she wasn’t coming back, she’d have stayed gone.
But, she didn’t.
You can also keep someone gone by not letting them back in your life. LOS are good at zombeing but it is our decision
Limerent Emeritus says
I did say I was a slow learner. But, I learned.
In December 1987, I suggested to LO #2 that we see a marriage counselor even though we weren’t married. She declined.
In December 1988, I married another woman.
Point, set, match.
I guess, but I’m only going to consider myself “winning” when I no longer need to post on an anonymous blog to figure out what happened years later with someone who has clearly moved on. My absence ain’t keeping him up nights.
Limerent Emeritus says
One of the therapists said I had PTSD. Mild but definitely there.
LwL is one way I deal with it.
It’s free, it’s anonymous, and it works.
I’ll only know that when I’m not on here anymore … or when I find a blog on which he’s posted (or any of my past LOs) about me, trying to piece about my every behavior. … HA! I’m going to be waiting a while. I ain’t Marilyn Monroe. Arthur Miller isn’t writing about me in an autobiography 30 years later to expunge my ghost.