Double meaning here – both the end to a work-induced blog hiatus, and another post on limerence as person addiction…
Using the framework of “person addiction” as a way of understanding limerence, another feature that it can have in common with other addictions is relapse. Despite successfully avoiding the company of LO for a long period – even a period long enough to lead to a fading of the limerence symptoms – it is surprisingly easy to be triggered to fall back into reverie and reignite the craving. Some limerents even report a sudden relapsing back into a deep, continuous, and intrusive obsession years after breaking contact with an LO. As though the intervening time had never passed.
In my experience, such relapses are often triggered by stress. It is as though my subconscious brain has learned to associate thoughts about LO with dopamine reward and resorted to reworking the old mental patterns as a stress-relief mechanism. Of course, other triggers abound. People that remind you of LO. Places or objects you associate with LO. Social media.
Urgh, social media! If ever there was a curse of the modern age for limerents, it’s that. Nothing like their happy smiling face in your timeline (or notification of a change in their relationship status) to set you back to square one.
In the spirit of purposeful living, during my last episode of relapse I decided to analyse my thoughts to see what I could learn. Here’s what I learned:
1) It really is all about you
I’d had no further contact with LO. They hadn’t re-entered my life, interacted with me at all, or popped up on social media. It was entirely within my head, and also the version of LO that only exists in my head, not the actual person that I used to interact with. Slowly morphing into my idealised version of them, to meet my emotional needs. Stress-induced fantasy. Not real.
2) It is not healthy
Kind of implicit with addiction, but it was noticeable that the more I gave in to the reverie, the more my day-to-day contentedness decreased. I treated it as an experiment – deliberately fixating on LO, and then monitoring my mood. It was basically emotional self-harm, as everyday life became a distraction (rather than a purpose) and I became more irritable. When I stopped deliberately doing this, I felt happier and calmer and better able to focus on the important people and projects in my life.
3) You can resist
Relapse is a feature of any addiction, but when that addiction is to a person you don’t have to interact with, your main challenge is to avoid thinking about them. And that is possible. If they pop into your mind, remind yourself of their negative features and that you are better off without them in your life. You need to cancel out the reward-associations that your brain has established, by replacing them with negative associations. If you suffer from white-knight syndrome this can be uncomfortable. It can feel like you are unfairly demonising an innocent LO, when they are actually a vulnerable and good person. But remember point 1 – this is all in your head. Objectively you know that LO is an independent person with a complex mix of good and bad traits, and should be treated with respect as an individual. Emotionally, however, you need to switch the narrative about the fantasy LO in your head from idealisation to vilification. It’s perfectly reasonable to replace the exaggeratedly-positive imagined LO with an exaggeratedly-negative one.
Plus, they’ll never know.
So, whenever the hint of relapse strikes, change the script. “Remember LO… *sigh*” becomes “Remember LO… and all the pain I caused myself.”
This one fits in a lot of places.
I’ve never heard this song until now.
That’s too close to home for me……..you owe me a box of tissues.
Carly Simon’s work had quite a dark side. This is from “Spoiled Girls” (1985). It reminded me of a woman (non-LO) that I knew then. More recently, it reminds me of LO #4 (not a blonde).
I am really really struggling. I’ve just discovered what being limerent is and it resonates so deeply with me. I am having an absolutely what seems like manic episode with my ‘LO’ of the past 9 years..? Well I think I used to be his ‘LO’.. at least he made it seem like it and still does! But he accidently got a girl pregnant (we’ve been on and off, I always end things with him cause he does something stupid, or we get really toxic, or I just get sick of him, but I always knew we would come back to each other) and now he has had a baby, and I can’t have him at the drop of a hat anymore and it’s making me crazyyyyyyyy. He has always dropped everything for me to be with me, but now he just says he loves me and wants to be with me but he doesn’t want to hurt his baby mama just yet. I know I should leave him alone but I just feel like I can’t. I can’t stop thinking about him. Everything bloody reminds me of him. I think we have broken up and gotten back together over 10 times. We’ve been caught this time. I just don’t know what to do. I want to be a part of his life and his baby’s life. I see him at the expense of my family and at the expense of everyone’s feelings. I painted a bloody mural on his wall for God’s sake. He told me he loved it. God he’s such a butt! But I love him so much!!!!! Help
Thanks for your comment (and message via the contact form). I think I agree with your assessment that this has become toxic. You are showing all the symptoms of addiction for your LO – like you love and hate him and go back and forth and are mad with frustration at his behaviour but also mad with jealousy when he hooks up elsewhere. I feel bad for the new baby, because it seems that he and the mother are now also trapped in the unhealthy world that your LO has formed around himself.
I do feel bad for you too, but also – I think you know deep down what you need to do. You need to get away from this. You need to get yourself clean and try to get your head straight so you can start to build a healthier life. I know you have a lot of challenges to face, but there is no way to win this contest. The best outcome you can hope for is to be forever trapped in a cycle of telling yourself that you are LO’s favourite, that you and he have a special connection, but other women come and go. That somehow, being the primary partner of a deadbeat is the best you can aspire to – or that there’s romance in dragging each other down into your own personal hell (because at least you are there together).
If you can access it, I would also recommend professional help. There’s a lot more tangled up in your situation than just limerence, and it’s going to take time and deep work to unpick it all. That will be a lot easier if you are away from LO. From what you’ve said, I think it’s incredibly unlikely that LO and baby mama will make a go of it. Maybe you will and LO will meet again in a decade when you are both clean and things can be different, but for now – let him go and save yourself.
Best wishes and good luck.
Rachel Williams says
Oh my god. How the hell have I relapsed almost back to square one… Fell for the we can be friends trick? Lost all my vigulance for my thoughts… Completely got lost in fantasies! Now I feel like I’ve got to completely climb out of the pit and up that mountain again. This is so embarrassing and a mental slog…. I just don’t know how you can over come something that is constantly in front of you. It’s hard and seems impossible. Back on the plan for me.. so do I have to come to terms with the fact I CAN NOT be friends with this guy……
I’m definitely in the “we can’t be friends with LOs” camp. It’s just too much temptation. Every moment of intimacy reawakens the limerence.
More positively – recovery after a relapse can often be faster than first time around. You don’t have to do the labour of getting your ideas straight again, you know what you need to do. Deep breath. Discipline. Go again.
You can do it!
Rachel Williams says
Thanks so much. I agree. Holy smokes! What a place to go back to.. it’s taken a while but yes your so right. I guess we have to learn things the hard way or for ourselves. Although I view previous LOs with no emotion now but maybe this one is different. It’s deffo much stronger.
I’m sure I’ve got a this!
Hi Rachel…this sounds just like me…I can’t remember how many times I have fallen right back to square one…….I also tried to stay ‘just friends’ on social media, (not in person) and it just isn’t working……I manage to go for about9-10 days without reaching out, then manage to come up with some stupid unimportant question, just to get that fix…..and then it begins all over again…I also am so embarrassed and frustrated that I just can’t get over that hurdle….especially since this boy has shown no encouragement what so ever, he is polite when he returns my message, and that’s it…..(he must think I’m some kind of silly old lady), so it’s back to the beginning once again…..I’m almost at the point of simply succumbing to limerence and trying to learn to live with it….at my age 76, I may not have time left to get over this thing….oh boy….
@Maureen. Your remarks highlight something I find fascinating about LEs. What to us (limerents) feels really significant (i.e. getting a “fix”) is probably indistinguishable from routine friendship for the LO who is presumably not getting any “fix” and just being themselves in all social exchanges.
Hi Sammy, I completely agree….to my LO, I’m just another one of his contacts from one of his tours…just another old lady and hubby, that was lucky enough to get him for a tour leader…he hasn’t a clue what happened to me on that tour. (neither does anyone else for that matter, except the good folks on this site). So he politely answeres my insignificant messages, just as he would anyone else’s….if he only knew….of course he never will….how the heck can there be such a disparity of feelings, such is the nature of limerence, I guess…
I think a problem with the friends thing is that often LO doesn’t understand how ‘being friends’ worked in the past. They probably liked a lot of the limerent aspects without recognising the impact on the limerent.
For example. When I’m limerent for someone this is what’s on offer:
1) assuming no actual barrier I’m available almost immediately, all the time.
2) I regulate my behaviour and responses to support them- even if they’re being an idiot. I.e. my ex LO was very bad with money and hated honest advice (I.e. don’t buy useless tat, think about budgeting etc.) So I quickly adapted to simply sympathising with whatever debt he was moaning about on a given day, and basically paying for drinks whenever we went out. Even though I knew fundamentally he didn’t need me to buy the drinks, he just needed to own fewer playstation games and clothes.
3) I will limit what I share with LO to things I know they’re interested in. Any incompatibility is unmentioned. I overshare- but only on selected topics. I don’t really demand that I’m accepted warts and all I am adjusting my own appearance. I think that’s part of all socialising, but with an LO it’s even more strategised.
4) I flatter like crazy. I don’t conceal my admiration for their positive aspects at all and I surely overstate them.
So to my LOs being my ‘friend’ is a very different experience from my established friendships. It is also likely one of the more positive affirming friendships they have going on, because that’s basically my goal. To make them happy around me. So when LO wants to remain a friends it’s always worth considering- were they actually one of your friends in the first place(genuinely, properly, without the infatuation?)
Which isn’t to say I haven’t had some amazingly exciting relationships of some sort with my LOs. Haven’t done lovely things with (or often if we’re honest, for) them. But in retrospect they weren’t friendships like those I have built up naturally with non-LO folks.
I’ve been missing LO again a lot recently. I had a couple of dud dates and I’ve spiralled a bit into ‘if only me and LO could work…’ territory. But it’s in those moments that I ‘attack the resistance to NC’ (I think that’s dr. L’s term)… and one of my strongest attacks is recognising that tbh, I want LO in a very limited, narrow sense, I honestly don’t need them as a friend.
(Ps. I’m not saying LOs are jerks for wanting to remain friends with oovestruck limerents because clearly we are amazing.)
Also me, me and more me. I do all of that! I contort myself into the ‘perfect being’ for the LO and in some ways I think they get addicted to that being. But of course something blocks them from wanting to be With Me Forever in a more than friendship way. I know that the true me would not be nearly as flattering, supportive, patient, amused and attentive… so how authentic of a
‘friendship’ is it? I can’t help myself when limerent…all of that positivity and adoration just comes naturally. But there is no way it is sustainable….if the real deal finally happened, everyone would end up disappointed.
Don’t you think all that adoration kills any potential glimmer for the LO? There is no uncertainty to fuel it. They’ve won the chase, so the limerent is not a prize to be sought after.
Every relationship has a natural ebb and flow, and that piques interest and keeps some balance. With limerence all it’s all a flash flood, there is no receding ebb tide. Aside from the flush of flattery, it drowns out any potential spark of glimmer for the LO.
@bert – in my experience there is ebb when there are barriers and you realise there’s a problem and start to tackle it. When I made a deliberate attempt to pull away from LO she always seemed to step it back it up again.
Whatever it was for her, she liked it and didn’t want to lose it. I also remember her getting really jealous once when she thought I took another girl’s side over her’s. Things like that kept it going for both of us I guess.
Yep, if I had a dime for every time I tried to make LO limerent for me, I’d have a shitload of dimes. And I tend to employ the same strategies LO (seemingly) did to hook me. As if those things will also work on her and make her limerent for me? This is the best my limerent brain can come up with? Pathetic.
Tbh that’s certainly been a problem I believe – the limerent devaluing themselves. My recent LO ended up seriously taking me for granted. Which was based on my actions. So he picked me up and put me down as and when… and in between times I just ruminated or tried to maintain superficial contact (Reciprocate!!! Please!!!) until he felt like getting close again. In the end it was too much. But I had set myself up for that.
Sad Mouse says
This is such a thoughtful observation, and one that might really help my SO *and* his LO (who was a close friend of ours). At various points this is basically the phenomenon he described: looking for ways to compliment and please her, even when he was being less than genuine. And I think his LO did perceive him to be wonderfully supportive and managed to somehow overlook or ignore any alarm bells. She just thought he was unusually good at expressing his friendship feelings. 😉 At some point when I was talking to her afterward she said “I will remember what this felt like and not trust that feeling again.”
SO and I have stopped talking about the LE for a while because it didn’t seem to be helping him move past it, but I know that he has some unfinished business around the friendship–he misses it, or her, or having a friend who feels like an emotional support, or having a close female friend, or the way he felt when he saw himself reflected in her eyes, or…something. It’s messy. Hard to discern the wheat (friendship) from the chaff (limerence). And now–after putting years of effort into what he was telling himself was a totally normal platonic friendship–having to acknowledge the fup-duckness of it all and abruptly pull the plug? Super painful and confusing.
I’ve managed to salvage friendships with guys who I think were limerent for me…but only after we’d all moved on into other relationships and given each other some space. Seems better not to hope for that.
“…looking for ways to compliment and please her, even when he was being less than genuine.”
At some point when I was talking to her afterward she said “I will remember what this felt like and not trust that feeling again.”
Good for her because that is also known as “love bombing” and it is not healthy.
I think describing it as not genuine feels painful, but it is true.
At the same time affirming somebody and watching them feel good about themselves (even when you might normally think differently) is part of the buzz I get. Of course it also stimulates contact – the friend who’ll always try to ‘get into your shoes’ when tackling a problem must certainly be attractive, of course it is.
For my part as the limerent its also really lovely. Because you feel that closeness. You and LO are on the same side. In my case I don’t think my LOs are limerent for me, so lets face it, it means me and LO are always on THEIR side. But it feels good, so good. Of course then not so much…
Because deep down I think it becomes quickly clear to myself and my LOs that this is a weird dead end dynamic. I’m usually single, they are usually single, we often end up dating/FWB but there’s this growing sense that there isn’t a future. Then they begin to drift, then my LE goes bloody loopy.
Cycles. Many cycles of this. I’m tired of it.
‘Good for her because that is also known as “love bombing” and it is not healthy.’
There is a difficult distinction.
I know narcissists love bomb.
So do limerents.
It’s not healthy for anybody involved, but the dynamics of the bomber are different.
However, if ‘love bombing’ can be defined as a pre-planned attempt to seduce somebody to control/toy with them (i.e narc behaviour) then the limerent version is different I think. Before finding this site I couldn’t have explained my behaviour in such terms as LO, LE, SO etc. My adoration was just that, feverous, focused and committed. I know friends of mine have thought it odd, but I didn’t know there was a framework for analysing my behaviour.
But irrespective of the aims/motives/awareness of the limerent or the receiver – the attentions of a limerent certainly could resemble love bombing. But the intention is misguided though not malicious.
You are exactly right. My limerent “love bombing” has always been with the most honorable of intentions. I was available, they were available. If they had wanted to have a true, official relationship I was ready and willing! The narcissist love bombing is about pure selfishness, and control, and in no way is it the same as my intense, sincere and almost childlike adoration. My limerent ‘love’ is unselfish to the extreme, to my detriment, and no doubt as Bert says my adoration may have been so complete it could have suffocated the glimmer I know the LO had at the beginning. I am not absolving the LO, they should have let me distance myself when I tried to, to save my sanity, but instead they pursued ‘the friendship’ with such a vigor that I concluded there must be real potential of this relationship becoming clearly romantic and official if I just hang in there. Year after year after year. (Heavy sigh and eye roll).
“It’s not healthy for anybody involved, but the dynamics of the bomber are different.”
Full stop. It isn’t healthy and burdening LO’s with arm-chair psychoanalysis to parse out the intentions of a limerent (particularly one who is already in a relationship) isn’t their burden to bear.
Most of this site involves exploring the less healthy expressions of limerence, which sometimes causes pain to SOs and LOs as well as the limerent. At the same time, there are plenty of SOs and LOs who aren’t exactly covered in glory when you get to brass tacks and there are also a good many limerents on this site who are wrestling privately within their marriages and relationships and battling not to upset anybody else’s apple cart.
So for many folks who’ve got so far as seeking out this site; if we’re really going to follow ‘That’s not healthy, just stop it…’ then we’re probably closing the barn door after the horse is already glue.
1) I’ve been on this site off and on for almost 3 years
2) Just because something is hard doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing
3) The time and energy put into wooing or mooning over an LO is time and energy (and words) that can often be put into discussing problems with an SO (for those with one)
All of what you say is correct. I wasn’t ever suggesting that communicating with your SO isn’t the way forward for attached limerents. I didn’t say that anywhere.
In fact, it was Sad Mouse responding to my account of limerence (sans SO) and speculating that it might have bearing on her limerent SO.
…and Sad Mouse is talking to her SO it seems. Is putting the energy in. I just hope her SO is also sorting themselves out.
I really don’t see the point of disagreement. So I think we are agreed.
Ideally, extricate yourself from limerent reverie and work on yourself, which includes any necessary reckonings in your primary relationship.
Ideally being the operative word.
I’ve been thinking about this thread for days- and I have so many thoughts I won’t be able to communicate them well, I’m sure.
The flattery!! I was in a mutually limerent LE, and the flattery flowed like a river. I read a quote recently that said “the starved heart will willingly eat lies”. But I also don’t think, as Jaideux said, that all were lies. I saw so many good things in my LO, and I think he saw some good things in me. I thought, at the time, that I was being very authentic, open and honest. Now, looking back with a clearer head, I can see all the thorny, contentious, non-common ground things that I avoided. I thought that those things weren’t as real as the FEELINGS that I felt, the mutual admiration that we shared, and the vague, amazing, make-believe future that I imagined us in. But that’s not the way it works. Our actual lives are made of something so much different than a litany of admiration and romantic feeling. It’s completely unsustainable. Which is why I think that the lies I was eating were the lies of total relational ease and comfort- of endless ego stroking and a smooth, uninterrupted comfort. It’s nonsense when I type it, but so alluring when I imagine it. But, ironically, it also isn’t actually what I want. What I actually want is to be loved and accepted whole cloth- with all the thorny, contentious, unlovely things about me. And I want to love that way too- not idealizing and glossing over the difficulties but loving amid the difficulties. I’m learning that now. That’s why I think that limerence depends on non-consummation for its survival. Reality and truth pop that bubble eventually every single time. In so many ways limerence is a fragile thing- even though it feels like the most tenacious thing on earth.
Totally agree. The hard thing for me has been actually embarking on the start of relationship with LO on a couple of occasions at which point it’s almost distressing -no, I’ve found it actually very distressing- that the LE ends really terribly awfully quickly… and I go the other way, panicking that I’m with the wrong person, guilty, confused, not sure how they’ve suddenly stopped lighting up my days and I’m left ruminating on our incompatibility. Then, if we ‘cool it off’ I’m capable of becoming a completely nutty limerent for them again almost immediately.
It’s really pissed a couple of ex LOs off and I honestly can’t blame them. A big part of my decision to go NC this time was my own frustration at being aware of the incompatibility but somehow still infatuated with my recent LO. Which isn’t fair once you understand the dynamic. I know, just know that I can’t keep chasing, dropping, chasing again because nobody comes out of that happy. Also, as I said elsewhere – this LO has spotted what’s going on and is (I’m sure) happily NCing me himself.
You said it beautifully.
Agree with Scharnhorst, very well said!
@Janesays. I agree with Scharn’s comment – your thoughts here are very beautifully expressed.
The line that stood out for me is as follows. “That’s why I think that limerence depends on non-consummation for its survival.” Both poignant and sobering! For the dream to survive, it can never be anything more than a dream. You’re not allowed to wake up. The dream is the well of euphoria.
Brilliant comment. It resonated with me so much because I used to do exactly all those things with my LO. It also makes me think about why no contact is so powerful, especially when the LO wants to maintain some form of contact but in a really selfish way to fulfill their emotional needs, without giving you any peace of mind:
1. I am no longer available to my LO – at all. Ever. Even though they would like me to be.
2. I no longer regulate my behavior to suit their needs. I pursue mine (no contact) even when it makes them distressed. Their wishes are no longer my priority.
3. I don’t cater the conversation to what they they want, some type of emotional validation. When they reach out I am short and do not engage in the conversation.
4. I no longer flatter. Even when I must communicate with them, I stop myself from being anything other than neutral in my expressions. They are not the center of the universe.
It’s really so powerful and empowering.
Clip of the Day: “Homey the clown best hits” – “In Living Color”
Homey D. Clown: “For when a ‘Gibbs slap’ just won’t cut it.”
The comments on friendship definitely resonate with me. The line between friendship and “something more” becomes extremely blurred. An LO to me is like chocolate ice-cream – I want more and more. To an LO, even as a great friend, I’m probably potato – one serve is enough, especially if there’s other food on offer (usually the company of other, possibly more interesting peers and colleagues).
This “trying to be friends with LO” is such a dodgy business and it’s entertaining to hear how people (limerents) rationalise it to themselves. I know – I’ve been there myself. How many times did I tell myself I was just being a really nice person? I haven’t consciously enabled LOs, though I have flattered them. Still, being an admiring and attentive audience – that’s not going to work out long-term (too exhausting). Thomas and Jaideux, you both raise really good points.
Sammy you are no doubt a very flavorful and gourmet potato, and potatoes are so much healthier than chocolate ice cream! Bravo for the potato! I no doubt am one too and I am going to embrace that and never be swayed by chocolate ice cream again. Spuds for the win! 🙂
@Jaideux. Thank you for sticking up for the humble potato! 😛
I’m amazed that Jaideux managed to make calling someone a potato so very flattering! 😉
Limerents aye? 😄
Haha! That’s right. We fashion exquisite silk purses out of sow’s ears all the time! 😛
Guys, I really do think potatoes are fabulous in ever so many ways, so my sincerity and authenticity speaks NOT TO FLATTERY, nay, but true and honest appreciation of The Great Potato! 🙂
@Thomas. I’m thinking “flattery” is the wrong word for what we do to our LOs. Flattery implies insincere praise to gain an advantage e.g. “the greedy duke flattered the vain king in order to get more influence at court.” Limerents, if they are in a truly limerent state, sincerely believe in the magical wonderfulness of LO (idealisation). So I’m thinking we need another word besides “flatter”. Maybe “compliments that seem extravagant to other people but are heartfelt to us”. What’s a shorter way of saying something like this?
Personally, I reject the idea that limerent behaviour is “love bombing”. To me, love bombing is intentionally manipulative, whereas I think what limerents offer is “honest but excessive admiration”. I think limerents are more foolish than anything. However, limerent “adoration” could definitely be misconstrued by LO and other onlookers as love bombing. (It’s out of proportion to LO’s real charms).
The only time limerents are really insincere is when we say to ourselves “yes, I’m satisfied just being friends with so-and-so” or “Friendship is enough for me” when it isn’t the case. Maybe self-deception is the crux of the problem?
I completely agree, and regret using the phrase love bombing earlier. The point I was making was that to an LO it could appear that way, but the phrase itself has a lot of negative connotations.
Your point about flattery is also good. In the moment those positive affirmations really are heartfelt. The attention, care, all of these behaviours come naturally, there isn’t a campaign to mislead or deceive.
It’s those moments as I leave an LE that I look back, and maybe attach negative feelings to my behaviour which is all part and parcel of the end phase… maybe?
But you’re right Sammy, the words we use do matter.
I hate the word “flattered.” LO once used it in a very awkward conversation we had about my previous disclosure to her. I was actually trying to tell her I was over it and had moved on (lol yeah right). She said something like: “I’m flattered you felt that way and think I’m so great” etc etc. I was in such a fugue state of my limerence at the moment (after all, I WAS ACTUALLY TALKING WITH LO ABOUT MY FEELINGS FOR HER), I hardly noticed she had said it. Reflecting back on that exchange days later, I was horrified. It would seem that a person tells another person they are “flattered” only when the feelings are NOT mutual. A classic way to let someone down easy or put them in the dreaded friendzone. What a dolt I was.
As LO #4 so eloquently put it when I disclosed:
“Wow! I had no idea. I’m flattered and, under different circumstances, might even be curious. But, circumstances are what they are.”
Interestingly, after 6-8 weeks of NC, she contacted me. The game was back on. My anxiety level went through the roof. I had a dream about LO #4 in which I almost drove my car off a cliff. Another half rotation of the tire and I’d have gone over. The EAP counselor said I didn’t need a gypsy to figure that one out. I asked the EAP counselor why my anxiety was so high when I knew the goal was to get out. She said I knew what I was doing was wrong and to make it worse, LO #4 had put me into a completely reactive mode.
My wife picked up on something. My wife asked, “Is she after you?” I could honestly say that I didn’t think so. Had my wife asked the question the other way around, things would have gotten unpleasant very quickly.
“It would seem that a person tells another person they are “flattered” only when the feelings are NOT mutual. A classic way to let someone down easy or put them in the dreaded friendzone.”
Thanks, B! I’m going to have to remember this one. Will make all my future social interactions so much easier! Haha!
Flattered = not interested.
Limerence aside, what higher compliment can you pay someone than to genuinely want them? They may not appreciate it and we may express ourselves poorly, but it’s still a compliment.
Want and need are often confused.
If someone wants you, it’s because of who you are. If someone needs you, it’s because of something they lack.
LO #2 never understood that. I needed someone. I wanted her.
Twice, I asked LO #2 what she wanted from me. LO #2 didn’t understand that, either. The answer to the question, “What do you want from me?” will always be in the form of a verb. “I want to give me $20.” “I want you to drive me to the airport.” “I want you to trust me.” “I want you to love me.”
Later, I met someone who wanted me as much as I wanted her. I had had to teach my wife how to answer the question, “What do you want from me?” But, she learned it.
@Thomas. I absolutely get what you mean in both your posts. No criticism was intended at all. I understand what you’re driving at. It’s really hard to render limerence accurately in words. And from the POV of a confused LO, I guess “flattery” and “love bombing” might be the very words they reach for, much to the embarrassment of the limerent concerned! Alas! Also, the SO of someone’s LO might be understandably upset by limerent’s “emotionally incontinent” behaviour and cast it in the worst light possible.
How awful to have one’s sincere emotion mistaken for some cheap narcissistic ploy! But, of course, multiple points of view are involved!
It’s funny Sammy,
I’ve sometimes in the past equated myself to a romantic toddler. Blundering around, sometimes knocking things over… just clumsy! Also occasionally tearful and tantrummy (in private now I’m older and wiser… but in younger days I certainly caused a mess or two.)
But you are right. Actions have consequences and I have at times been a source of unnecessary drama in other people’s lives. Which again, now I understand myself more I manage to avoid (mostly). But being on the receiving end of an LE I can see is confusing.
My last LO offered me a relationship which totally (unexpectedly) switched me right off. The moment we decided it wasn’t working suddenly I was back into LE territory.
Let’s face it – to an outside observer that could easily be seen as manipulative, narcissistic behaviour… I can only offer my assurance it was well meaning. But confusing, and in the end for LO no doubt completely bizarre.
Hence my NC is going well. Its painful, but LO isn’t chasing after me because actually they’re probably aware that they are best off away from it.
Speaking of the friendzone…
I have relapsed in a monumental way. After 10 days of NC, the longest period of NC yet, I came down with an illness, was home from work, and disclosed. For anyone new, disclosure is NOT recommended. And my red hot shame and pounding head is proof. What a mess I feel like. In an otherwise stable albeit insanely busy daily life comes this monstrous malignant emotional/mental growth. Exposed and glaring. Bearing this alone has been utterly painful and one of the hardest things I’ve ever, ever gone through. Where to go after a relapse but here?
We’ve all had bad relapses.
But hey, you did 10 days NC, next it will be 12, then 14…
On a lighter note, one of my favorite scenes from sex and the city: “when real people fall down in life, they get right back up, and keep walking…”
Disclosing was very brave. It was also very honest.
I’m guessing from your post that the outcome was not at all what you wanted and has hurt you deeply. I wonder if part of it is the shock to yourself when you suddenly bring everything crashing into reality – saying things out loud has a lot of power.
Where does it go from here? Does LO know that you intend NC? Do you think disclosing will actually help NC going forward?
It may be that through your honesty you’ve laid the groundwork to build a more successful recovery. I’m sure many of us here can certainly sympathise with the painful psychodrama you’re going through.
Wishing you well.
Agree with the others. Disclosing may look now like a very shameful action but it will help you a lot in your long term recovery.
And don’t worry for “only” lasting 10 days of NC. It’s actually a very good mark, and you’ll go better next time, that’s sure.
Thank you all so much. Sarah! A SATC reference is just what the doctor ordered. That is one of my favorite episodes! Suddenly I feel like walking a runway.
Benjamin and Thomas, it did feel somewhat cleansing to share my heart. At the end of the day, honesty is freeing, and I know the next 10..12, 14 days will not be as hard as the first. I’m not embarrassed of how I feel, thanks to Mia and the encouragement to accept it. The struggle is with acting on how I feel. And of all people to witness it—LO. Thank you for the grace everyone. I imagine I’ve just left the mic at a meeting, and we are standing at the coffee and donut table for a warm hug. Now Jaideux, where did I put that key….
Chicster – You are not alone. I’m glad you and the rest of us have this site. Going NC for 10 days is a big deal. And the next time will likely be a longer period of time. Please try not being hard on yourself…take it one day at a time, or even one hour at a time. One hour at a time leads to one day at a time leads to one week leads to one month…
I’m currently in recovery and back to NC mode from a recent relapse myself. The initial days after a relapse are particularly difficult, especially after disclosure. I disclosed early in my LE. That led to almost two years of a messy, semi-reciprocated situation. Needless to say that sent me into a spiral. What I have learned: our limerent brains love the uncertainty that comes from disclosing to our LO. Getting back on the ‘NC wagon’ (whether we make the decision or the decision is made for us) is difficult…but it ultimately leads to healing. Take care.
Most of us have had horrific relapses. I sure have! Eventually though NC will stick, and you will be able to lock the gate, throw away the key and stride forward purposefully.
Have also relapsed. Managed to get through a couple of days then I was invited by a mutual friend to a thing I knew LO would be attending. And I accepted. It was the first time I had seen LO in the flesh for over a year. And you know what? It was awful. When I walked in with my friend, he saw me and completely pretended he hadn’t. I felt lower than the worms ( to borrow my daughter’s phrase). I was so excited to see him and he didn’t look pleased to see me as I’d hoped but just looked calm and slightly bored. I had the definite impression that he was very carefully managing his facial expression, body language, etc to deliberately discourage me. But worse! When he couldn’t reasonably ignore me anymore he said hello and I hugged him and said how good it was to see him again. It was a politely restrained hug but he obviously didn’t know how to respond. I am desperately ashamed of myself.
I must have looked so excited and happy to see him and I feel I’ve made a monumental arse of myself. I was more than ready to leave when it was time to go. Yet when I got home he sent me an email saying how lovely it was to have me there. Well this sent me into a spiral of fantasising, justifying, and feeling that I could keep in touch with him. So I have emailed and he has ignored my emails. OK I think. Time to stop this for good. Then he emails again and asks if he can be any help with a particular problem he knows I have going on. So again, encouraged, I start writing back. Again he ignores me.
I am struggling with a couple of issues right now and I’ve decided I don’t need this guy making me feel like a pathetic human being and making me constantly question my reality. I am going NC from today. I have been invited (not by LO) to another thing he will be at this weekend. Yesterday when I was asked, I said yes. This morning after a sleepless night I decided no, I’m not going. I can’t put myself through that again. It’s exhausting and it makes me hate myself. I’m not going anywhere I know he will be. I’m not writing to him again. I actually feel sick and humiliated and angry with myself.
Sorry for the essay, friends, it feels good to write it all down.
Thank you for sharing this, randomfemale. I can completely relate to feeling this way. I know that by ignoring me, LO is sending a message. But I get a completely different message at times. I believe he doesn’t really care, and there are people in my life that truly do. It feels like a cruel joke to want someone, or for limerence to want some “thing,” that absolutely could not care less. Avoidant LOs who send mixed messages are their own brand of crazy-making for limerents.
Thank you for sharing that you didn’t hide who you are with LO. While we shouldn’t be ashamed of who we are or how we feel, I would have felt that way anyway as well as hurt by his response, as I’m hurting now from my LO’s response, or lack of, rather.
I am going back to NC today. Wishing you well.
Hi Chicster, it’s so bloody painful isn’t it? And crazy-making is exactly the right description. I was so wound up today I forgot to take some medication (which is keeping me sane) Luckily I remembered later on.
Yes, it’s horrible to feel LO is sending a message by ignoring us. It makes me feel like I’m a pathetic, needy idiot and I keep picturing him telling his wife about this idiot woman who has a crush on him, and them smiling at each other and going ‘awwww.’
Of course this all me speculating and constructing things in my head. And it doesn’t really matter anyway. But still…
Hi group. I can relate so we’ll to all these latest comments…..feeling ignored by LO is devastating, and the worst feeling, and it’s what I’m going through now (again)……I messaged him on a lame excuse for something, he read my message, but of course I had no reply………as some of you know, my only contact with LO is social media, and up to yet I’ve managed to get through each day, mostly by spending time, watching to see when he comes on line…pathetic, I know. But now he has started deleting that little green dot that says when he’s on line….I feel as if my only lifeline has been ripped from my grasp……I was down before, but now I am really down, and sinking fast…of course his actions may have nothing to do with me, he does have almost 4,000 friends, but my limerent mind says it’s because of my following him too much….which makes me wonder, are most limerents overthinkers like me, or is it the limerence that makes us think up all these scenarios? For my part, I have always been a severe overthinker, even before this LE…….thoughts?
Hi Maureen, just wanted to say I feel your pain and offer solidarity. I know that feeling so well. I have been through that with LO. Watching my phone constantly to see if he’s replied to my emails. The sheer joy when he has, and the doom when he hasn’t.
Could you try to tell yourself it’s your limerent brain craving its next hit and it’s a kind of sickness that you can recover from? In this state we don’t see things clearly. I am just beginning to come out of that ‘fog’ and I’m starting to see LO as he really is, not my idealised version of him.
Is there someone you can talk to about this? If not, keep posting. I have found letting things out on here vital for my keeping my mood more even.
Thinking of you
Ok… this might sound harsh, but please hear me out on this because I’ve certainly been in your position, and this way of thinking helped me:
Imagine, that actually LO is trying to conceal when he’s online because of your situation. There might be other reasons. There may even be another limerent or two out of his harvest of 4000 ‘friends’. Because deep down, and painful as it is I think you know how lopsided this situation is. You have given LO a lot of power over your day-day life. We’ve all been there – I reached a point where I could even concentrate on urgent uni stuff because the lack of a text message or a WhatsApp made me so anxious and periodically depressed.
What I didn’t act upon was the evidence. The evidence was that LO was not giving back what I was putting in. In fact, I think (as Bert said elsewhere) I was putting too much in. I to would send silly messages about mundane stuff. Just pushing that button hoping for a treat. Was LO fighting for MY attention? Sending me silly messages? No. At the beginning when things were more mutual yes, but during the long drawn-out end of it he didn’t initiate or show spontaneous interest in me or my life. So I kept injecting little anecdotes, and gradually even the responses dwindled. Became sporadic or absent. It hurt like hell.
So I had to face up to it, as I think you do/have. There’s only really a future of smaller, more guilty ‘highs’ (because I know that in the end I felt a bit stupid hanging off even the most lazy, grunty WhatsApp for a day just to feel seen by LO). There’s also a longer tail of sadness and anxiety ahead, as the responses dwindle further.
But remember that power you gave away? You can take that back. You honestly can and should. LO doesn’t show you the respect you deserve. You’re putting a lot of energy and thought and worry into this and LO doesn’t really respect that. Because just like many LOs in these situations they’re just getting on with stuff, and they don’t see it the way we do. We can’t change how they act, or feel. But we can change how we act, and after a lot of grit, and determination and some grief… you’ll also feel differently. Then find somebody who actually wants that big heart you’ve got. It’s a precious thing.
That’s why I’m NC on my younger, flakey, playful, immature LO. Not because he’s a villain, but because he simply doesn’t respect my feelings and I deserve better. Especially now (through this site) I understand myself a bit better.
Article of the Day: https://thoughtcatalog.com/rania-naim/2020/09/some-people-arent-meant-to-stay-in-your-life-beyond-the-lessons-they-teach-you/
“Their place is not in your heart or your life and maybe that’s not what you want to hear right now but the good news is, when they leave they make room for the ones who do, the ones who want to stay in your life. The ones who teach you how to be fearless in love again, how to feel safe knowing they’ll always stick around or how to truly be vulnerable and share your soul without feeling exposed or naive. The ones who come to teach you what real love is unlike the faint ideas of love you had before.”
It took me a long time to learn this but it’s true.
Thank you Scharnhorst, that made me cry a bit, in a good way.
I really like this poem along the same lines:
People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.
When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.
When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.
LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person/people (anyway); and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant. – Author Unknown
“Sometimes they act up… and you need to take a stand”.
Exactly what happened with my LO, but she’d inadvertently taught me so much at that point, and even in her absence I learnt so much about myself as a result of our relationship. Now whether that was pre-destined or not is another matter, but it is what transpired.
Thanks Vincent…I love that and it really resonates with me. My LE/LO has definitely me helped me in some ways. My professional confidence and work satisfaction have returned, and my feelings have prompted me to re-discovered my younger, more fun loving self after having been completely buried in motherhood for the last 11 years. Your post really helps put my LE into a positive and purposeful, yet time limited context.
Yeah it helps to find the positive. Like a sports coach searching for the positives after a defeat, you learn more about yourself than when you’re “winning” and everything comes easy.
I understand myself better, I’m physically fitter, my marriage now has two people putting effort into it. I didn’t blow everything up! Even LO benefitted from the LE in terms of her career. So there are plenty of positives.
On the other side of the ledger we have the shame over what I put my wife and family through, and shame over some of my behaviour with LO. I’ve left myself with a bit of a reputation at work given how inappropriate it all was. Plus you have a young girl probably utterly confused about what happened to this guy who previously was her rock.
Don’t think I’d choose to go through it, but it’s certainly been a journey!
Song of the Day: “Triuckin'” – Grateful Dead (1970)
I’m not a big Grateful Dead fan but I really like this song.
“Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me
Other times, I can barely see
Lately, it occurs to me
What a long, strange trip it’s been”
But, my favorite line in the song in,
“But if you got a warrant, I guess you’re gonna come in.”
That’s lovely, Vincent, and it makes so much sense. LO has definitely been in my life for a reason. That need has been met. Now I need to be brave and leave him where he belongs. I wish it wasn’t so difficult.
randomfemale, I can’t believe what you said about forgetting medication—I did too! I’m in such relapse that I can’t even tell what I missed! Trying to get up the energy to take them. And a shower.
Cheers, everyone, to the support flowing here today.
Lots of support to you, Chicster. I know how it feels. Sometimes I wish I could just switch my brain off for a bit. Have resolved to stay NC but as I well know, my resolution can melt like sugar in water!
Thomas, I wanted to say I absolutely loved your most recent post about LO not showing respect etc. I’m really taking that on board. HOWEVER…
I’m feeling really sad and angry and humiliated tonight. I can’t stop thinking about the way LO acted with me the other night. I have no one to talk to about this. I’m NC with my incredibly toxic family and I feel so ALONE with these stupid and pointless feelings. I hate LO for ‘making’ me feel this way even though I know this is all me and my stupid brain. It’s been over 24 hours since I received his last email and I haven’t answered it. I need to not answer it, I need to not let LO take up so much space in my head. I feel so low today 🙁
Sorry you’re feeling that way at the moment. I’ve certainly had a few nights like that, and weirdly I’m here now because I saw a friend of my LO online and nearly NEARLY broke NC. Right up to unblocking him and opening the chat box… Literally just now after 8 weeks or whatever…
But I really remember how awful and humiliated I felt toward the end. I’m staying strong. He’s really not a twat but contact with him always ends up hurting me terribly. I re-blocked LO, and my heart is sore again.
You are ALONE with those feelings. Us limerents always are aren’t we? Then again, I couldn’t believe it when I found this site and read other people’s experiences. Then I felt less alone/misunderstood.
So tonight I came here instead of messaging LO… and you came here with your upset to let off steam… so we’re less alone than we have been.
Good luck random, I hope it feels better in the morning.
Thank you for that lovely reply Thomas. Well done for not breaking NC. I find myself thinking ‘I’ll just send this to LO, he’ll love it!’ I’ve managed to resist so far, 3 days!
Randomfemale, I know exactly how you are feeling, I have those very same feelings, I’m sure everyone on here has had them at some time, so we are all definitely with you….switching off our brains would feel sooo great…mine goes on and on, day and night…LO, LO, LO…there never seems to be a break….everything else seems to be happening on auto-pilot……….how did you do with the email, did you end up answering it….Hang in there….we have a great support group on here……
Thomas….there was nowhere to ‘reply’ to your comment, so I will write this here…..you are so right, my whole LE is totally one sided….I certainly am putting way too much in, and I’m sure there must be at least a few ‘other limerents for my LO’ amongst his 4,000 ‘friends’…..I am always the one that sends the messages, initiates a conversation etc….I really have given him power over my whole existence…and he hasn’t a clue that I have…he does reply politely to my messages though…..I’m not sure if you know my story, and how this whole LE came about, but I did post on one of the other pages, not sure which one….I am completely aware of the ridiculousness of this whole situation, especially in my case with me being 76 years old, and this beautiful boy being only 32!! What am I thinking indeed, but here it is, it overwhelmed me before I knew what was happening….and now I have to try to claw my way out of it…I do have a significant other, he’s 80, but totally aware of my limerence……if only I had been able to get to know him better on that 7 day tour (he was the tour leader) I may have seen that he was more like a grandson to me, but I was so shy around him, I kept my distance…now of course he’s on the other side of the world anyway……social media is my only contact, and even that seems to be slipping away, so I sit here panicking….sigh.
Sorry, should be “my SO is totally ‘UNAWARE’ of my limerence”…..
Apologies because I have read about your situation elsewhere here and forgot the exact details. There are obviously big differences in our situations (i.e. my LO is somebody I have been intimate with in the past and just couldn’t see the situation rationally -it was casual for him- or stop obsessing about it). Nonetheless I think this site has shown me that because limerence is in our heads of then the actual external details don’t matter as much.
Oddly recently I’ve thought about my father (who is 85). My mother passed away about 10 years ago, and my dad has been very brave – ‘getting out there’ and meeting people (he was a bit of a homebody most of his life – I think he was just content to be a family man). But in the process he’s met a couple of younger women (one in her 20s one in her early 30s). They met at the local church (which he joined though he’s not actually a Christian!)
What’s interested me recently is his relationship with these women. One of them he texts once a week – it’s ‘his thing’. Let’s her know what he’s been getting up to. She always replies very politelyand fondly within 24-48 hours. He’s fine with that. However, the other woman (the 30 year old) he acts very differently about. I think from her perspective she’s formed a friendship with an older person – she even has joked ‘you’re like my extra grandad!’
For my dad however things seem very different with this woman. He texts her – then if he doesn’t hear very soon he gets a bit upset. Not angry (outwardly), and he says he feels a bit foolish. But when I phone him it’ll be one of the first things he’ll say ‘Lisa (not her real name) hasn’t texted me back yet, and I texted her this morning!’ Then the next day ‘Lisa still hasn’t texted me back. I hope I haven’t upset her.’ Then again the next day ‘I texted Lisa two days ago, and she still hasn’t replied, I guess maybe she’s busy. I hope she hasn’t decided not to be my friend anymore…’ I try to calm him, I go through all the excuses (‘she’s busy, some people just don’t text much, maybe she’s been ill…). Then she’ll text and he’s happy again for a very short while – and he texts back. Then the cycle repeats. The awkward thing is his texts are a bit pointless a lot of the time and I can understand why Lisa would not feel the need to respond immediately. On a couple of occasions he has -unprompted- said ‘I hope she doesn’t think I’m in love with her! I’m 85! Maybe 30 years ago… but I’m 85!’ The moment he mentioned that I began to suspect that he too is experiencing limerence.
It’s been tough for me to know how to help – if at all. I don’t think he would ever want to a) admit that he’s fallen for a woman after my mum – especially not to me, and b) I think he knows logically that she really doesn’t see him that way (I’ve met her – she clearly is fond of him, but not in that way, she also has a boyfriend).
I think as a society we’re conditioned to think that passion and romantic interest just… you know… ‘goes away’ as we get older. But clearly it doesn’t.
But Maureen, I’m curious – many of us have had LOs who we felt so much for, and it really was lovely etc. Is it possible to do a ‘staged withdrawal’ as Dr. L suggests. To wean yourself away and take the positive from it that you met this lovely young man and you felt what you felt and that actually – as no harm has been done- those feelings are really lovely things to have had? In this case age is irrelevant, I went on a hiking tour in the Atlas Mountains some years ago with a guide for our group. Who lives in Morocco! If I’d fallen for him the situation would still be completely impractical.
I reckon pulling away for your own sanity is the way forward, but that doesn’t mean you need to ignore what you felt. Because actually feeling that strongly for somebody isn’t a crime, and there is no real rejection here; because of the situation.
Sorry, should be “my SO is totally ‘UNAWARE’ of my limerence”…..
Hi everyone, well my resolve crumbled just as I knew it would. I emailed him last night and got two rather frigidly written lines in return. I feel so sad and ashamed of myself. So now I have to start all over again. Last night was a perfect example of DR L’s explanation of how the brain works in limerence. I felt this overpowering urge to write to him; it really felt as though my brain was going ‘Go on! He’s made you feel so good before! Go on, he’s waiting to hear from you! He’ll want to know how you are!’ I felt a tiny squeak of rationality that said ‘but you don’t even really like LO that much anymore. He’s shown you his true feelings.’
But I went ahead and did it anyway and now I hate myself (and I even hate him) and the whole situation. I am going to have to say goodbye to attending an event that I enjoyed but I guess I can find another one. I didn’t get the job that I applied for because they were wary of my health issues, but I’m fixing up some voluntary work that I CAN do. I feel so lonely sometimes. And I feel ashamed of admitting that, it’s like the last taboo…
It’s painful, isn’t it? We can be in such a vulnerable place when we reach out to our LO. And when the response is terse and chilly it can send our limerent brains reeling. Been there, done that! Over and over. I’m sorry you are going through this. Even though I’d been given the brush off from my LO for months my brain continued to think there was the possibility they might want to keep a line of communication open. But now there is radio silence. I’m definitely better off in the long run with NC. But it’s still quite painful. Each day I remind myself, “Do you really want to send yet another text to someone who does not want to talk to you? Be good to yourself and put your energy towards something or someone else.” This is often easier said than done, of course. These days I’m making an effort to find ways of (re)connecting with others (friends, volunteer work, etc.) and doing nice things for myself.
Song of the Day: “Easier Said Than Done” – The Essex (1963)
Not the kind of friends a limerent really needs but it’s a catchy tune.
Haha brilliant! 😀 Yes a good tune, I was singing along.
Here I go again. Resolving to be NC. I’m going to have to take this one day at a time, I think.
@randomfemale. Sorry to hear about your recent relapse. I wonder if we spend so much time ruminating about LO, we more or less convince ourselves they feel the same way, and then feel a bit taken aback when we get a less-than-enthusiastic response from them. It sounds like your lovesick brain is craving another dopamine hit and this time your LO didn’t deliver the goods. He wasn’t thinking about you as you for thinking about him, which must be painful to realise.
I used to feel upset when I said goodbye to my own LO because after a visit, the smile on her face would vanish too fast (in my opinion). It’s like I could gauge her feelings for me from her smile alone. Hers was so often a polite smile when I was looking for an overjoyed smile. Her coolness broke my heart – I always felt overjoyed to be in her presence. Occasionally, though, she would act overjoyed to see me – keeping me hooked on the possibility of reciprocation. (If only I could learn the magic formula to making her happy always she would love me too!)
Nothing wrong with admitting you’re lonely. Heaps of people are lonely. Let’s all talk about our loneliness and break that last taboo!
Hi everyone….Randomfemale…I’m so sorry to hear of your LO’s response to your email, sending hugs (((((HUGS)))))) because we all need hugs once in a while, even if they’re virtual….yes loneliness is a big thing isn’t it…even when a person is surrounded by family and friends, as I am, there’s always that sense of loneliness with limerence, and there’s no one physically close to talk about it to. Thank goodness we have this site, and people here that are dealing with the same situations. ………………I guess, as Thomas suggested, staged withdrawal, trying to get through NC one day at a time is where I am going back to as well……we’ll be starting over again, both of us.
Thomas, I feel so badly for your dad, he seems to be going through exactly the same experiences as I am….I hope you will be able to help him get through this, even with your own LE looming large, if he is experiencing limerence. I’m hoping one day to be able to take just the good parts of this episode away from all this, (staged withdrawal) but it does seem like a long way away at the moment. I’m still watching social media hour by hour, waiting for him to log on….strange thing is, when he does log on, I quickly log out….I just need to know that he’s ‘out there’, and hope he has read/looked at one of my posts, but I’m sure most of the time he hasn’t……….but of course it’s never enough, I can go for a few days, but then need to send a message, no matter how silly and mundane….then I wait for the high if I get a reply, or the devastating sadness if i don’t…..but yes, there is no actual rejection…he does, for the most part, politely answer my message, if I’ve asked a question….I do recognize that this must end, but oh the relapses….sigh.
@Maureen & Sammy,
Yeah. I get lonely. It’s normal sometimes, but there’s evidence that more people feel more lonely that they used to.
Lonliness certainly fuels my limerence sometimes. I mean, you’ve got not much else to think about at those times.
Song of the Day #2: “Losing My Religion” – R.E.M. (1991)
This is too good not to post.
Oh that says it all, doesn’t it? Flailing…feel like I’ve been doing a lot of that!
@Maureen and Thomas re dad. This might sound incredibly ageist, but I think some “young people” like myself (under 40s) act pretty unguarded around “older people” (i.e. men and women over 70) because we just make the baseless assumption that “old people don’t get crushes anymore”. Old people have got all those feelings out of their system. Obviously, this isn’t necessarily the case!
Maureen, your feelings for this young man are both sweet and funny from an outsider’s perspective e.g. the fact you feel shy around him. The stereotype is normally quite different. I.e. old lady is cranky at irresponsible young man who overcharges her for odd jobs and/or fails to mow the lawn correctly, etc. Old lady isn’t shy around young man. Old lady tells young man off for his lack of respect. Haha! (And, of course, I apologise in advance for implying you’re old. Who says 70 is old nowadays? 70 is the new 50 and 50 is the new 30. Hope springs eternal!)
Thomas, maybe your dad is experiencing some kind of abandonment-related anxiety that isn’t limerence? Just a fear of being forgotten due to old age? My mother seems to be getting more anxious with age too. She’s only 63, though.
Hi Sammy, well I’m sure that LO sees me as an ‘old lady’ but I’ve never been cranky with him….I’m actually very young in my mood (well usually), and disposition. If it weren’t for this darned limerence, he would make a wonderful grandson….not that I don’t have lots of those already, ha, ha, ha, some older than LO. My situation is strange to say the least, and probably not that common..but there it is, this poor old gal has all the same highs and lows, and feelings and thoughts as the rest of the hopelessly limerent folk on here……but at 76, I just don’t have quite as long to get it all straightened out…..I did mention on one post though, that at least if I got dementia, I would be able to forgot about LO,ha, ha, ha……..
Hang in there, Maureen. Your situation does sound a bit unusual. One possible explanation: our bodies do get older, but not our imaginations.
So true Sammy, so true….and as I pondered before, I am an overthinker, so I wonder if that makes rumination worse….
“I did mention on one post though, that at least if I got dementia, I would be able to forgot about LO,ha, ha, ha……..”
Are you sure about that? You could have an LE beyond your wildest dreams.
And, the odds are nobody would ever know.
I read a moving account of dementia recently, written from the point of view of the sufferer. To all intents and purposes, they were a time traveller whose mind wandered haphazardly through the history of their life, periodically “waking up” in a chair in a hospice not knowing why or how they had got there.
Like, moments earlier they had been at their child’s birthday party, but now they were suddenly sitting in a room with an adult who claimed to be that daughter.
From that perspective, it’s not so hard to understand why patients get so angry or frightened.
Well that’s true Scharnhorst….as far as I know, we are still not able to read a person’s thoughts…..
I’ve definitely seen my dad become anxious. It happened almost overnight when my mum died… they were together many decades and he really crumbled. Like a new personality in some respects… but he has (on my advice) met these new people.
The reason the Lisa thing stands out is she’s the only person he (I realise now!) Seems to ruminate on, and worry about WHY she might not be contacting him. He’ll bitch about my aunt not phoning enough, or me being a lazy selfish awful son… (love you, dad) but with this woman he certainly feels something akin to… I guess… worry that HE’s upset HER.
That’s it. Other people get the blame for not calling him. Like if I don’t call one night I’ll get an annoyed text demanding why. Then when I call he’ll moan about my aunt or somebody else… (he’s pretty demanding). But his tone when talking about Lisa is different. Its also true that saying you don’t fancy someone because you’re 85 probably isn’t rational (as we’ve discussed)… and when you then say ‘If I was 30 years younger…’
But… having said that it could easily be unrequited attraction… simple as. Because I don’t think (thinking about it) that Lisa’s been giving my dad any potential uncertainty about anything…
Down with Love I say. Bloody thing.
@Thomas. Well, it sounds like your old dad has a new “favourite person” anyway. Do you ever feel jealous? Hahaha! Perhaps it is just attraction. Or maybe he thinks she’s the only person who can do stuff the right way. Attachment is a funny thing, that’s for sure.
That’s an interesting “tell”, eh? Even demanding people feel insecure around limerent objects…
@Maureen. I think when I originally responded to your post, I expressed myself poorly. I was trying to contrast your situation to the situation of someone your age who is non-limerent e.g. a non-limerent person wouldn’t feel self-conscious around a younger friend. They might even speak their mind quite freely (having earned the privilege due to age).
Shyness around LO is definitely a big part of limerence. Maybe it’s one of the main giveaways? I certainly think awareness of a strange “shyness” is the closest some people ever come to recognising they have limerent feelings. Sometimes this shyness is so pronounced it prevents any kind of relationship forming.
When the person feeling shy is older or has more social status than the other, the situation does seem a bit comic (at least to onlookers) because it’s unexpected. Limerence almost reverses the conventional power dynamic. Can you imagine a queen being limerent for a servant, for instance?
Ha, ha, ha, I can certainly see your perspective, and understand what you are saying Sammy….I am not normally a shy person, especially around young people…..but with LO during that tour, it was crippling, which was too bad because if I had managed to get to know him better during that 7 days, I’m sure I would have recognized all our glaring ‘age related’ differences, and maybe the limerence may never hatve happened, but no, the tour ended, nothing was resolved for me, and limerence, my imagination, and over thinking took over…..at least I think that’s what may have happened…..strange beings, we humans are, aren’t we…..
Dr. L….that is a very moving account of dementia from a potential sufferers perspective…….I wonder if dementia sufferers have many rational thoughts, if the thoughts are that clear cut…maybe at times, they could be, depending on the progression of the dementia..I worked in psychogeriatrics for over 35 years, night shift for many years, and often late at night I would sit with one of my clients, talking to them, trying to see into their world……..once in a great while, I would see a moment of lucidity, of course every person was different, maybe one day we will find a way to halt the progression…..not in my lifetime, but maybe one day, and what a wonderful thing that would be……what stories they could tell……
I’ve mentioned elsewhere, but even in my LE(s) with people I’ve known its interesting how selective I can be about what I share of myself or take note of in them. Its not devious (I’d like to add!) but its I believe essential to the use of that person as a fantasy, limerent object. When an actual relationship looks possible (well, when its embarked upon) my LE tends to wane really fast.
The reason I tell you that is maybe NOT getting to close to your LO was a similar thing. You felt it as shyness, but somewhere your brain was saying ‘I don’t want to come into contact with our incompatibility, or a non-limerent perspective, so lets just keep our distance.’ Fantasy is a big part of LEs, and I’m sure there are as many strategies for keeping ‘the magic alive’as there are limerents!
Nice to hear how everyone is doing. I’m popping in here because tonight I’m once again faced with the truth and feel like hope of a happy life is lost forever. I know it sounds so dramatic! But the pain is so acute I wonder how I will go on.
After disclosure, LO finally responded with “You are a wonderful person.” In other words, hey you’re a nice lady, but I’m no longer interested. I feel humiliated and pitied. Not sure which is worse. I am shifting between blocking and unblocking and feel absolutely sick. I re-read Dr. L’s How long does limerence last, and really must pick the course back up. I am in utter survival mode, and as Thomas said, my studies and work are suffering. Oh how I wish I had someone to cry with. Thank you all.
PS—Not sure where Steve is in his journey right now but if you read this, Steve, I sure hope you aren’t in relapse recovery as hardcore as I. Best wishes.
Miss Anon says
Chicster, please do take it easy on yourself. I really understand this pain.
I have had a major relapse the last two days, including crying on the phone to LO, and all sorts of embarrassing displays of out of control emotion.
I too feel sick. I feel ashamed of myself and am now trying to find my sense of self worth again.
I am embarrassed to say how many relapses I have had over the last few years. I am so calm and sensible in every other aspect of life, apart from this never ending LE. I think this is the only LE of my life (I think I have had 3, maybe 4 in total) that hasn’t been under healthy circumstances. And the barriers and uncertainty have created a perfect storm of obsession.
Chicster, even acute pain passes. I have been so much better in the past, and need to get back there.
I hope you will feel some relief soon.
When my LO leaves early from work, I always relapse. I think my limerent brain has grown accustomed to getting micro-doses of LO every day, but the routine makes it bearable so that I don’t go through significant withdrawal when we’re apart. Weekends used to be very tough, but even now, I’m managing. Also, I used to dread the end of the workday so much, it gave me intense anxiety looking at the time as it approached 5 p.m., and I recall times driving home (especially on Fridays), literally crying alone in my car. I don’t really struggle like that anymore. But for whatever reason, any time the routine schedule gets interrupted, such as LO leaving early or taking a personal day off, I am plunged back into despair. I can’t concentrate on anything. All I can think about is she’s gone.
Wow, B. That sounds really tough.
Limerent Emeritus says
This is an existential ramble.
A week or so ago, I posted that I had a small relapse and did a drive-by of LO #4’s social media. I think it was likely brought on by boredom as a result of working from home, things being really slow at work and my retirement is in sight so everyday has me caring less and less about work.
One of the things I did see was I think LO #4 went back to her allegedly abusive ex. They’re showing a common address and her previous address shows her as a past resident. It threw me for a bigger loop than I expected.
Bear with me…
LO #4 and this guy were together 7 years. He allegedly cheated on her and allegedly assaulted her. She moved 1000 miles away. He married the woman he allegedly was cheating on LO #4 with. LO #4 had nothing good to say about either of them. She’s a PsyD and wrote a series of blogs about living with a narcissist and recovery. She used the term limerence once. He filed for divorce a few years ago. She hasn’t published anything on her site for 6 months. That makes sense since if anybody found out she’d moved back in with the guy, her credibility would be shot. If it’s true, she put herself in a professional hard spot.
Another funny aside is that I told the mod who tipped me off as to what was happening with LO #4 back then before LO #4 told me that I’d know she really had changed. The mod asked how. I told her that LO #4 would shut down her professional site and find another line of work. Maybe she has.
When LO #2 was confiding in me, she said she’d felt like she’d betrayed her clients, her readers, and herself. I told her that if she’d betrayed herself, she’d no longer be with him. Well, if she did return to him, that’s pretty much what she did.
You go with what you know.
LO #2 had an affinity for cheaters and my successor allegedly cheated on her which is what I think brought her out of the woodwork with me. The first woman I was interested in after I broke up with LO #2 was LO #3. She was almost a clone of LO #2. LO #3 had a history of bad relationships, she was a nurse, and, like LO #2, claimed to have had an abortion after getting pregnant by a married guy.
I’ve said before that I knew my wife was different by the way she didn’t make me feel. I turned over a woman to get back with LO #2 once. I swore I’d never do it again. Upon learning I was dating my wife. LO #2 stood in my living room and said, “If I sleep with you now, you’ll own me again.” I turned her down. It was one of the best decisions I ever made but I still wonder how things would have turned out if I had. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be married to my wife.
One of the therapists I worked with asked if I’d ever consider re-engaging LO #2. I told her not while I was married. She asked why. I told her to see if she’d changed. This was the therapist that said, “You’ve convinced me she’s [LO #2] is a borderline, quit trying to convince yourself she’s not.” and went on to say that why would I return to a woman who caused me so much grief and pain when I’d spent decades with a woman who didn’t. The therapist said I couldn’t use the excuse that LO #2 and her ilk were the only game in town.
When I was telling a Navy buddy about LO #4. He knew LO #2 when we were dating. He looked at my wedding ring and said that ignoring the obvious elephant in the room, why would I pursue a woman who reminds me of LO #2? I didn’t have a good answer.
Aside from knowing, nothing’s changed. But, I did notice one other odd feeling. When LO #2 told me that her new BF was cheating on her, I got angry with her. We’d spent 4 years together and she knew what a decent relationship could be. Her previous relationships involved cheating and she found another cheater. She went with what she knew. I was angry with her. She didn’t learn a damn thing from the time we spent together.
Happy people don’t go back to violent abusive exes. Unhappy, lonely people go back to violent abusive exes. People who are willing to give their exes another chance even after they’re out of denial. If LO #4 did go back to him, either she was lying about what she said him or she sold herself out. I was momentarily angry with her. The prospect of being with her ex was more compelling that all the things we talked about in all those late night emails.
I went down the rabbit hole over this woman. I took a year and a half working with my EAP counselor to figure out why and correct the vulnerability.
So, what am I supposed to learn from all this? Aside from don’t do social media drive-bys on LOs. One of the EAP counselor’s favorite questions was, “What would you do with that knowledge if you had it?” She asked it frequently.
What will I do with this knowledge? Why does any of this matter? I can’t see doing anything with it. It’s pretty useless aside from possibly validating some assumptions about behavior that don’t have any real bearing on my life. It’s weird.
Maybe it’s as simple as I need to find more to do. But, that’s going to be hard until I can slip my electronic leash and retire.
“We’d spent 4 years together and she knew what a decent relationship could be.”
The only thing I get from your musings here is that we’re not responsible for other people’s choices.
From the sound of things, you’re essentially a good man who treats the woman in your life with the right amount of respect and consideration. And if the woman in question didn’t want what you had to offer, even though you were clearly the “best man for the job”, that’s on her and not on you. It reflects her taste and/or judgement, her needs, her unconscious preferences in the opposite sex, etc.
It is a genuine tragedy that someone might choose to be with a partner who treats them shabbily over a partner who treats them well… But I guess people’s relationships choices are often driven by emotion and not by logic.
I think you can take pride in being a good person who does the right thing. But, unfortunately, that ultimately has no impact on someone else’s romantic choices. (Unless it’s a person who shares your values and logic and sense of fair play).
It’s a funny old world, isn’t it?
Romantic rejection = doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the person being rejected. It’s just most people make choices based on unconscious emotional factors. The only comfort is … knowing you’ve consistently been a good person and “played fair” in all your relationships.
Sometimes, first prize doesn’t go to the most deserving candidate. I learnt that when I was about seven or eight in school, and it shocked me. The world really doesn’t operate on merit. It operates on unbelievably complicated social rules that I’m not sure even I understand as an adult. Merit is a secondary concern.
It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but I think moral and talented people still need to keep doing their best, even if there’s little or no external reward in it. The reward is … knowing one is a person with integrity.
“What will I do with this knowledge? Why does any of this matter? I can’t see doing anything with it. It’s pretty useless aside from possibly validating some assumptions about behavior that don’t have any real bearing on my life. It’s weird.”
It’s weird, isn’t it, how knowing how an LO’s life turned out, (or knowing who they chose to be with) doesn’t bring us, the limerent, any peace? This is why I don’t believe in revenge. I think revenge would be satisfying for all of three seconds – and, then, just emptiness. Can you really hurt someone who’s already so intent on hurting himself/herself by making dodgy choices?
In a lot of relationships between grown-ups, I think there’s only one party willing to behave like a grown-up. Sometimes the “grown-up role” is a thankless one…
“Can you really hurt someone who’s already so intent on hurting himself/herself by making dodgy choices?”
I think the bigger question is: Can you really hurt someone who isn’t anywhere near as invested in you as you are in them? It’s like planning a fight when you are the only one in the ring. I had a college LO who treated me very badly. Years later, I heard from a mutual friend that he was getting a divorce. His wife had cheated on him almost immediately after they got married. She asked me if I felt better now, implying that he’d gotten his comeuppance. And I remember saying, “No, I wanted to hurt him. Why do I care if someone else did?”
“Can you really hurt someone who isn’t anywhere near as invested in you as you are in them?”
I don’t think it’s possible to hurt someone who is basically indifferent to us. Our inability to impact our LOs on an emotional level should probably be taken as an excellent sign that the entire “relationship” was/is fantasy-based and one-sided.
Still, the desire for revenge is there sometimes… Completely irrational, of course. Maybe it’s just another head of the hydra beast that is limerence showing itself?
Maybe revenge fantasies are just another way for our brains to trick us into focusing on LOs some more and not on our lives?
“She asked me if I felt better now, implying that he’d gotten his comeuppance.”
I suppose an LE is a bit like a novel and an LO is a bit like a fictional character. An author wants the best bits for their own story?? 😛
I am having some memories of my LO at the moment, but they are very human memories. I’m remembering him as a human, and not as a demigod or even as a super-villain. I can kind of rewind my brain to that period of my life, but without all the dramatic mood music playing in the background, and bright lights and wind machines.
I guess I can kind of separate the man from the limerent emotions he inspired now, and realise that I’m the one who fused those two things together and not him. I’m the irresponsible wizard. I’m the naughty boy playing with magic. I’m the one who “disobeyed the gods”. 😛
I almost feel like my LO was a victim too. He was a victim of my unrealistic expectations. How could he live up to the fantasy? He probably had a nice ride and enjoyed the attention. But the man I loved wasn’t actually him – it was a fantasy I super-imposed on him. Oh, how embarrassing. Talk about a case of mistaken identity! 😛
But I think during the “brutal mood swings” phase of limerence, people can’t think or see straight. Clarity goes out the window.
“I don’t think it’s possible to hurt someone who is basically indifferent to us. ”
I didn’t mean someone who is indifferent. Just someone who has moved on from the end of the relationship faster. Maybe they were never as invested as we were or the relationship didn’t have the same impact on them.
” An author wants the best bits for their own story?? 😛”
Well, I was trying to do a scene with him but he wouldn’t show up on stage. It was a one-woman show!
“But the man I loved wasn’t actually him – it was a fantasy I super-imposed on him. Oh, how embarrassing. Talk about a case of mistaken identity! 😛”
Ah, yes, I have done that as well. Projected a personality, humor and depth where there wasn’t one. Or much of one. And I recreate what they look like, too. In my mind, they are always much better looking than they really are. A good friend of mine who met two of my LOs used to call me “fantasy b***h.” 🙂
“Just someone who has moved on from the end of the relationship faster.”
I have apparently only had fantasy relationships. I can’t imagine the pain of people who have been rejected after being in a real relationship with someone. Being rejected by my fantasy partners was bad enough!! 😛
“It was a one-woman show!”
That’s potentially a very funny line, taken literally, and conjures up all sorts of funny pictures in my head. But this is probably not the right forum to go into that. I understand the point you’re trying to make figuratively, though.
“Projected a personality, humor and depth where there wasn’t one.”
Apparently, this is a problem that crops up a lot in relationships with narcissists. The non-narcissist keeps trying to find depth where none exists, and remains hooked on the narcissist and hooked on listening to the narcissist’s incredible stories.
A narcissist, however, is a puddle that pretends to be a river. The puddle won’t admit that it’s a puddle. Not that there’s anything wrong with puddles. Unless the puddle is lying about being a puddle, in which case the puddle is a deceitful puddle. 😛
Limerent Emeritus says
“When LO #4 was confiding in me, she said she’d felt like she’d betrayed her clients, her readers, and herself. “