Limerence is an extraordinary desire. The intensity of our longing for LO falls well beyond the usual range of everyday experience, which is probably why we find it so easy to believe that our LOs themselves are extraordinary.
One of the reasons I like the person addiction model of limerence is that it fits with this truth: that the desire created by limerence is exceptional. Just as addicts report feeling powerless to resist their drug of choice, limerents report all their resolve and determination evaporating at the hint of an opportunity to make contact with LO.
Based as I am in the usual neuroscience-based perspective, I’ve been wondering lately what it is that makes the limerent desire so much stronger than all the other things in life that we want. Why is limerence categorically different from, say, the desire to watch a good film or eat a tasty meal? Again, the addiction analogy is a useful starting point, as there’s lots of research into how overwhelming, irrational craving can lead to compulsive behaviour.
What is addiction?
There is a range of opinion out there on why addicts appear to be incapable of controlling their urges. The two poles of opinion could be summarised as:
- Addicts lack self-control and have poor character. They face the same challenges as everyone else, but are too weak-willed and irresponsible to do the right thing. Their protestations that they cannot resist their urges are just an excuse to justify getting more of the thing that they desire.
- Addiction is a mental illness. Built in vulnerabilities in their brains, or emotional trauma earlier in life that has altered their psychology, means that addicts are simply not able to regulate their behaviour like healthy people.
So, entirely to blame, or entirely blameless, are the extreme scenarios here.
When applying this same analysis to limerence, we could claim that the limerent knows exactly what they are doing, and is merely justifying their LO-seeking to themselves as an excuse to get more supply. The counterargument would be that the disrupted neurochemistry of limerence renders the limerent helpless to resist, and incapable of sound judgement.
As usual with extremes, there is much to be learned from each perspective, but the truth probably lies somewhere in between. Yes, we limerents are fully aware of how much we crave reciprocation and know that we often self-justify in order to get it, but we also know that it can be really hard to stop the behaviour, even when we genuinely want to.
What is desire?
Our normal experience of desire is kind of multistep. A cue of some sort in our environment triggers an idea:
Oh! Wouldn’t it be nice to have a cookie/check my phone/go for a walk/daydream about a holiday?
We then deliberate on the idea, and weigh the pros and cons – kind of like a mental committee meeting to think through the implications:
Cookies taste great/but I’m trying to lose weight/they cost money/but not too much/maybe I should finish my emails first.
After that deliberation we ultimately decide whether or not to take action to satisfy our desire:
For me, the most compelling reason why the simple “addicts are just weak” model is wrong, lies in the urgency of the limerent drive. Here’s the equivalent decision-making process for limerent desire:
In limerence, it’s like there’s a direct link from a subconscious cue to an urgent drive to action. We can be acting before we even realise what we are doing. The craving for contact, the intrusive thoughts, the restless need to get some sort of LO-based relief, they bypass our deliberation committee entirely. Rather than weighing up the pros and cons and thinking through all the possibilities, limerent cravings lead straight to action unless something overrides them.
That last idea – of an override mechanism – is the reason why the “addicts are blameless” model is also wrong. We are not helpless automata, enslaved to our urges. We know we can make a decision to stop, even in the grip of limerent desire, even though it would take a mighty act of willpower. We have an executive brain that can intervene to stop us taking action when we know, intellectually, that it will be harmful.
It’s not impossible to resist compulsive craving, it’s just very difficult.
In our cartoon of the desire pathway, we have to add an additional step. The point at the end, where a higher authority steps in and vetos the decision of the committee:
This executive override is a powerful protection mechanism that buys us the time to reconsider, to cogitate and deliberate about a decision again. Crucially, it can be fast – faster even than the runaway locomotive of limerent desire. The emergency override can stop the momentum to take action and redirect the craving back to committee for proper review.
The key to resisting limerent urges is likely to lie in this executive override mechanism. It’s difficult to stop environmental cues from making you think about LO. It’s difficult to break the connection between LO and reward. It’s difficult to stop the craving once it’s started. All of these things are possible, but the starting point, the most immediate positive action that you can take, is to train your executive override to protect you from harm.
So the idea that addicts or limerents lack self-control is both right and wrong. When faced with a compulsive desire, any hope of careful deliberation is crushed by the urgent drive for action, but our executive override can kick in and save us. Self-control is like a final barrier that can deflect the limerence cannonball back into the “cogitation” stage. That gives you a chance to make a better decision.
The final challenge is to develop that skill of intervention, and make sure you don’t fall into a different trap: the temptation to let your limerent brain sweet talk your executive into joining its schemes. Then your override system is instead spending its cognitive power on concocting clever rationalisations as to why it’s fine to seek LO.
That’s when you really get in trouble…
I am really struggling with this at the moment. I’ve been LC/NC for more than 14 weeks now, hardly catching glimpses of LO due to this stupid virus and all the shit it has brung everyone.
I was doing fine when I had a choice in not seeing LO, I was in control, I chose not to seek him but now I am forced not to see him and it’s seriously pissing me off that it’s out of my control.
I spoke to LO about two weeks ago (he approached me) before all contact was abruptly cut off due to lockdown. It’s making me fret, the ruminations have doubled in intensity and I don’t have anything to occupy my mind. Yes I have plenty of hobbies to keep me busy, but I feel like a caged bear, a prisoner under house arrest being punished. I’ve started obsessively looking at his photos, yesterday I saw I had viewed a photo of him about 8 times, all in one hour.
Even at the height of my LE I didn’t view his photo that many times. Worst part is I can’t resist because there is no reward I can give myself for not looking.
I wish I could see him, even if he just drove past, so I know he’s ok. It’s driving me bananas.
Ooh poor Lee-Anne
I feel for you, I wish I could say anything to make it more easy for you, of course you know it will get better again.
Don’t beat yourself up over it, me too having a hard time NC ( only day 5! ) My body is in protest, in this Corona isolation. So know you are not alone. Do you have a SO?
Thanks Maria , yes we both have a SO. I was hoping my LE was coming to an end after 2.5 years of dragging on, obviously I am delusional 😕
Thank God for this blog!
I suspect that the loss of control is a big factor in this. I sometimes hear from students on the deprogramming course who are suddenly derailed from their recovery plan by their LO doing something totally unexpected. It’s one thing when we make an active choice to change, but having changed forced upon us from outside seems intolerable!
This is really hard to cope with. My best strategy is to try and refocus my effort on my own purpose. What do I want my life to be like? Where should my energy and effort be focussed? That tends to snap me out of it as “pointless and upsetting rumination” is never the answer 🙂
I’ve been free of limerence for years now, but the lockdown has had such a disruptive effect that I can feel the thoughts creeping back into my subconscious. For those of us who have learned (unwittingly) to use limerence for self-comfort, these are treacherous times…
Thank you for your response Dr L, yes loss of control is a big factor for me as I tend to be a control freak.
I’ve sat down this morning and made a list of things I’d like to achieve this week so I have some mini goals to aim for. I just need to keep busy in the short term so I can resume my bigger goals in the long term.
Venting here helps, it releases a lot of pent up pressure I am feeling.
Sebastian Howard says
Lee Ann I do think you should try to stop obsessively looking at pictures of him, I don’t think that’s going to help your situation at all. The nc is helped by not having stimulus or thinking about having future meetings which is what you’re doing.
I know Sebastian 🙁
I coped with N/C better knowing I’d randomly see LO (if only a glimpse) around the neighbourhood, but with this virus and isolation the chances of not seeing him at all for an indefinite timeframe is making me feel super anxious.
I don’t like the “indefinite” part of the equation.
Vicarious Limerent says
@ Lee-Anne: That is exactly how I feel about my LO. I am strictly NC, but the thought of maybe someday bumping into her keeps me going in some ways (although I am not trying to bump into her deliberately either). Right now I know there is little likelihood I will see her with the realities of the pandemic, but the thought of NEVER seeing her again seems so bleak. People gave me a hard time when I mentioned that before, but having some faint hope of seeing my LO is somehow comforting, even if actually seeing her might derail my recovery somewhat. I would, however, resist the urge to make a full-on declaration of my feelings (she would, however, likely interrogate me about my brother in-law’s intentions, and that would be a hard one to deal with since he is plainly not interested but it isn’t my place to tell her that).
It is a delicate balance, VL. If you are too strict on yourself: “I must never see her again!” then your subconscious will rebel against your unreasonable demand. But, if you leave yourself a back door: “I’ll keep up NC until I feel better, and then relax a bit and start texting again,” you’re setting yourself up to fail.
Firm but flexible is the idea.
Vicarious Limerent says
Thanks Dr. L. That confirms my thinking as well. I could bump into her at the mall, but, on the other hand, I might never see her again as long as I live. I shared a while back that I loved the pub where I met her (aside from anything to do with her). The atmosphere was exactly what I was looking for, and I found myself thinking, “I’ve found my place!” That was even before I met her on the night in question. My wife knows I love that place and she is fine if I go back, as long as I don’t cheat on her. However, I would never go there on my own, as I would look like a desperate loser or like I was stalking and/or checking up on my LO on my brother in-law’s behalf. The thing is that I have some new friends who are regulars there (one claims to know everyone there), and I could foresee a situation where I might meet up with my friends at that pub. I can’t make a trip anytime soon (even without COVID-19, I am not sure if I am quite ready yet), but I could one day return there for a night out, yet it absolutely cannot be with the sole and express purpose of seeing my LO.
I’ve been pondering why this is since I read it. My thoughts have really calmed down and become more reasonable and sane with regard to my LO, but I have found that with this change in day to day reality a kind of wistfulness arrived. it’s almost like a pre-thought or a sensation- like a nostalgia. I see it as my limerence being like an emotional smoke that is trying to come through the cracks in the door or window, and I’m trying to be diligent about not indulging and turning away as quickly as possible. I understand about myself that I really can’t afford any of it, and that as real as reality can be it is much much better and healthier than the fantasy world I can get stuck in in my head.
(Second posting as I seem to have lost the first one) Oh Lee-Anne, I feel for you. I could have written this exact post myself…..I never did get to the NC phase, and my only contact is Social Media as he’s on the other side of the world…..but I do spend almost all day on Social media, looking to see if he has posted, or by some miracle, ‘liked’ one of my posts….I drum up his photos that I have saved, many times a day…how pathetic I am…..I even logged out just in case he noticed that I wasn’t on there….like he would even notice!! I also have lots of hobbies that I could be working on, but just can’t muster the effort…..my life has been taken over by an unseen entity…….and my limerence for this boy just seems to be getting worse!
This guy’s tour guide, right? Did anything happen on that bus that set off the LE?
My wife and I did a tour of Europe on our honeymoon. The tour guide held dual Italian and English citizenship. Every single woman and maybe a few married ones launched themselves at the guy. He and I got to know each other pretty well and I commented on it. He said it would be great if he tilted in that direction but he didn’t. We saw him enter one of the Drag Clubs in Amsterdam alone.
Two of the young women on the tour were twins from Australia. I saw one of them rub her hand up his thigh and fondle his equipment under the table. He didn’t crack. Later, she was talking to her sister and was really devastated that she “couldn’t get a rise out of him.” She was really upset. I finally went over, told her I’d seen what happened and not to take it personally because she was playing for the wrong team. Later, she told me she felt better after that.
Ok, so that went sideways but the point was did anything happen on that tour? This guy likely has a ton of social media friends.
Hi Scharnhorst….actually no, not a thing happened….the tour guide was a perfect gentleman…was polite, and accommodating, but I felt something the very first time he walked down the aisle of that coach to ask if we were ok…(he asked everyone)…..by the 3rd day, I tried to stay away from him, because as soon as he came into sight, I was so shy, I couldn’t even eat breakfast!! I still had no idea why…He told us all that he was in a relationship, was a perfect gentleman…..he is Portuguese and very good looking, but he did pay attention to hubby and I often, as we were the eldest ones on the tour…by the 7th and last day, I thought I would die every time he spoke to us…then he set up a Social media page for the whole group to keep in touch, which we all did (most of us anyway). I still have no idea why this happened. But really he was a perfectly attentive, polite, and genuinely nice young guy….and got rave reviews on the tour site….sigh.
PS Scharnhorst, yes, he does have over 3,000 social media friends….he sets up media pages for every one of his tours…..and did mention one time, that it seemed overwhelming at times…so why I even expect him to reply to my messages is a mystery, although he does occasionally……
Ooh poor Lee-Anne
I feel for you, I wish I could say anything to make it more easy for you, of course you know it will get better again.
Don’t beat yourself up over it, me too having a hard time NC ( only day 5! ) My body is in protest, in this Corona isolation. So know you are not alone. Do you have a SO?
Something I would like to add is that one needs to choose their limerence confidantes wisely. In my last LE that lasted several ecstatic and excruciating years I took several out of town friends into confidence about my new “romance” and some of them saw huge red flags but three of them saw it as an exciting fairy tale and thrilled at each new episode of the drama, with all the twists and turns and glimmers and gifts and rivals that cycled in and out and hopes dashed and hopes ignited and re-ignited. One of them called it the “roller coaster” and suggested I hang on and enjoy the ride until it finally resolved one way or another. One of them said “he’s so much more attentive and thoughtful than my own husband!!!” One of them seemed to vicariously live the romance through me and would call me for updates. What I really needed was for them to unitedly say “get away! This is damaging you! No good can come from it!”
Truthfully, other friends that were not supportive I stopped confiding in. I did have one friend say “ it’s never going to happen”, and I found that comment rude and discouraging and stopped confiding in him immediately.
The ones that were supportive got to enjoy each new episode, photos of all our “dates” shared dutifully. I think they themselves were slightly addicted to the romantic drama!
That’s why this site is so helpful. People to confide in who don’t criticize, yet truly understand and will never encourage you to indulge In the dangerous Drug of Limerence. Thanks Dr L.
I very deeply value the non-judgemental supportive nature of this site.
Thanks, both. It’s great that we can all be here for each other.
And Jaideux – that’s a great example of the aphorism “you’re the average of the five people you spend most time with”. When we seek out the folks who enable the romantic fantasy, it’s inevitable we’ll just get deeper and deeper into it.
Yes Dr. L that is precisely what happened. Truth be told, I found LWL the last year or so of the LO and without it I might still find myself entangled in some fashion to this very day. Quelle horreur!
” I took several out of town friends into confidence about my new “romance” and some of them saw huge red flags but three of them saw it as an exciting fairy tale and thrilled at each new episode of the drama… ”
“Truthfully, other friends that were not supportive I stopped confiding in. I did have one friend say “ it’s never going to happen”, and I found that comment rude and discouraging and stopped confiding in him immediately.”
In the end, these sound like the better friends. They didn’t egg you on to take risks for their own amusement.
Yes, and therein lies the difference between a man who saw the LO for what he was, and the hopeless romantic girlfriends whom I adore, but who got caught up in the fantasy themselves.
“Addicts lack self-control and have poor character. They face the same challenges as everyone else, but are too weak-willed and irresponsible to do the right thing. Their protestations that they cannot resist their urges are just an excuse to justify getting more of the thing that they desire. ”
I was used to tell things like this to myself every single day. But, now I think it was a bad habit. First, I just felt worse every single time I atacked myself. Secondly, I’m strong-willed when it comes to my every other weakness (I quited smoking, I’m maintened healthy diet despite adoring cookies, french fries, bacon, etc, I stopped very bad habit of compulsive shopping…)
So, with that said, it’s pretty much obvious that I’m just prone to addiction, but I just can’t figure out why is so much harder to break a habit connected to LO.
To be precise, I totally can resist to reach out and contact him (I’ve never contacted him first, just never), but I’m completely helples when he is contacting me (mutual limerence, he just doesn’t give up). So, every single time I’m back in same contact – fueling LE – daydreaming – desperation spiral.
Nensi, I too never initiated contact all those years. He would get frustrated that I didn’t , but I was always responsive to his calls – it felt like a “sweet surrender”.
He eventually “found the one” (unbeknownst to me) and went quiet briefly but then came back and wanted to continue our relationship like nothing happened (and yet now he had a SO!). That’s when I finally went NC and have maintained it for a year. How I wish I would have gone NC years ago!!!
So even though he appeared to be limerent too (he insisted on constant contact) I think he had other things than limerence going on.
Yes, he may be narcissistic or something, but if it’s not silly of me to say, I think he is also very much limerent.
He told me couple of times that I’m love of his life, and when I sad that I can’t have that type of conversation any more, he begged me not to break contact, just to be in his life in any way that is comfortable for me. Guess what, any kind of communication with him can’t possibly be comfortable for me.
Tell me, please, where are you after year of NC? How do you feel, when did you start to get better?
Thanks a lot, distant anticorona hug for you 🙂
Nensi, I am happy to answer your questions!
Well, after a year, the pain has remarkably diminished to only flaring up when I think about how unfair it was for him to continue close association with me, insisting upon insinuating himself into every aspect of my life, when he knew “it was never going to happen”. I will fume for a while and then let it go. I try not to reminisce about the wonderful, incredible and happy times we had together (there were years of them) because I was always thinking these were stepping stones to a lifetime together and he must have been thinking what a wonderful close ‘friend’ I was. It’s not healthy to dwell on that imbalance.
I really started to get better when I unfollowed him on social media and I no longer talked to my friends about him, and with the ones still in contact with him I controlled myself from inquiring about him. No contact + no social media were the foundation stones for healing.
How do I feel? Well, at first very wounded and melancholy, now sort of peaceful and accepting and ruefully wiser, I feel like I am more ‘whole’ within myself and don’t feel the desperate longing for a companion (him or otherwise) that I have during limerence but not before or after it, I actually feel content with the social distancing situation and have returned to my pre-limerence personality which is very happy to be in my own little world, thinking and learning and appreciating all the wondrous things there is in life, welcoming the contact of the dear friends old and young that reach out to me, but not craving their contact. It’s almost like that wild ride of limerence happened to someone else, a character in a very interesting yet tragic novel. When I was at most miserable I used to think of the movie “Awakenings” where those poor people with catatonia were given L-dopa and came to life, only to return to their catatonic state. I felt L-dopa was the limerence. Now I realize my life shouldn’t be equated to catatonia, as it is rich and full and very interesting in its own quiet way. The L-dopa of limerence was just a false high, and damaging and dangerous.
I hope you heal quickly!
Big hugs back to you too….
That’s another really important point, Nensi. If we are telling ourselves the wrong story, it will only make things even worse.
When I read something like this, I know it is absolutely true. Yet my limerent brain whispers to me like a little devil over my shoulder: “that’s just what losers who weren’t good enough to win their LO tell themselves to feel better about themselves.”
I almost resent the truth, as a child would do when a parent tells them what is actually best for them. I feel destined to fail in spectacular fashion, which is only way I will embrace the truth for what it is. I feel I need to learn the hard way. Talk about loser, eh?
Please, whisper back to your limerent brain about my case: mutual limerence, both disclosed, my LO wanted to continue with our EA, even push things towards PA, so I could “win him”. Yet it is very hard for me to resist the urge to reply on his messages… 🙂
I’ve always thought that looking at your “limerent brain” as a child is a very useful approach, B. Especially when you realise that children tend to act up when they are scared or insecure, and that actually what they need is adult reassurance.
I mean, you’re obviously still strict about the fact that they aren’t allowed their LO ice-cream (boundaries are important), but calling them a loser won’t help them cope better.
I personally see the tendency toward any addictive behaviour, first and foremost, as a cue that one is experiencing deep distress. I’ve found it’s most effective to actually identify the desire as a mere thought, a cue that I need to stop everything I’m doing/thinking. Then, rather than try to stop or change it, I go directly to the reason for this thought, deep unconscious pain. Like tending to a crying child, before passing judgement, stop.. see that they are feeling pain, rather than scold him/her for crying or being a nuecence. I’m new to the term limerence but I’ve had experiences of my own, most of which I’ve generally tied to an abusive and complex past. What I’ve decided is that the problem is likely one leftover from childhood; unhealed wounds, often as a result of not having our feelings heard. So instead we learn to completely dismiss our feelings often without even realising and focus on something external that offers some relief from the pain.
What I’ve also learned from personal experience is that the reason I’ve become so intrinsically drawn to another is because I unconsciously see myself, the abandoned part I’ve neglected, in them and then follows the instinctive desire to be with them, to have them, to merge with them. The desire is to be seen, heard, but also to soothe and heal them too, to nurture them. This I’ve surmised is likely due to the projection of our neglected, abandoned and deeply pained selves out onto others. Dissociation. Usually I’ve found myself to be drawn to people who share similar wounds, but the draw is usually always an aspect of them that I desire to become due to a part of myself that’s been lost or stifled.
In conclusion, I see the people we are drawn to are like mirrors reflecting back all that we are. But it’s not them you need, it’s really just you.
This really resonates with me Lana. The interests of my LO are my own interests that I have neglected. The trauma that I see in him is my own grief and trauma. I’ve even projected pain onto him from my own childhood and parental issues that I really have just guessed at. I don’t actually believe in soul mates but if I did… I have to remind myself that I believe that we choose who we travel with and become entwined with them along the way and that is the path I want to and will be taking.
Having confessed my ‘weakness’ to LO to secure my NC just before all this craziness, I felt I’d really turned a corner. I felt maybe this really was all just in my head and that helped me get a handle on it. I’d even totally spoiled the ending of all my reveries. But then a text from LO breaking the NC to say he’d been holding back but wouldn’t it be nice to support each other through the Corona virus madness really threw me, and made me realise how my recovery is equally invented. I squashed this suggestion easily enough as my will power is strong, my reverie has suffered though… and having had a NC LO that lasted many years in reverie, I am sincerely worried about falling back into a mood regulating daydream time to escape family lockdown reality.
Limerent Lucy says
I totally agree with all of this Lana. Gabor Mate who’s an addiction expert says “don’t ask why the addiction, ask why the pain”. Addiction is a way of covering pain so I don’t have to face it.
And also what you said about it being you that you want really – part of my brain tells me that without LO I’ll lose all those wonderful parts of me that I discovered when I was spending so much time with him; as though they came from him. But really they were always mine, and they still are.
Great post as always Dr L! Those are somewhat harsh judgements of addicts though. Can’t anyone can become an addict? I think the main differentiation between addicts and healthy people is that the addicts were foolish, ignorant or unfortunate enough to indulge in the addictive activity in the first place. I was a nicotine addict for 25 odd years but never would have been if I hadn’t smoked that first cigarette. So for me, the secret to a limerence free future is to stop myself having sexual or romantic ruminations about anyone else, and if I catch myself at it, kill the fantasy quickly with your rumination mastery techniques and AVOID….I must have no mercy!
Yes, many people can become addicts, Allie. I’m increasingly seeing limerence as a kind of excessive feedback loop, where the (healthy) process of romantic attraction gets overheated through runaway reinforcement of the brain’s reward system. In the case of limerence it’s probably due to intermittent reward and uncertainty, but the same idea would work for any addiction – once the reward and arousal systems are pushed into a positive reinforcement cycle, we become compulsive about seeking reward.
That said, I think the sensitivity of this process varies from person to person. Some people do seemed to become addicted to many things, quite easily, whereas others are much more resilient and able to regulate their urges.
Today I’m seeking advise. I’ve been to the very depths of this crazy limerence for far to many years. My LO is the wife of my best friend who passed away Christmas Day 2013. I vowed to look after her and try to help her with the grief and business issues. In the process I became emotionally intimate with her. I failed to grieve myself and was trying to carry her grief and mine but the load got to heavy for me. From there I fell into full blown Limerence and became very sick. It was never about romance just a very special friendship or so I thought. I had to seek professional help and went through treatment for two years. I got well enough I thought I could come off med’s and stop counseling. The first step in counseling was to go NC but I did not go 100% NC to include Social Media. ” Big Mistake”. About three months ago I suffered a big relapse when I found out LO was engaged to be married. While this news should make me happy for her and it does but at the same time it’s killing me. (Why) Thank God I found this wonderful community and have taken the Emergency deprogramming course and read DrL’s new book I came to realize the reason I may have never completely moved on is because I’d never 100% gone NC. I started total NC about two months ago. I seem to get along pretty good during the day but some nights are Hell. Is this painful Anxiety jealousy or just sorrow for losing my special friend ? Any advice
Hi Mike. It does rather sound like you’re likely jealous, and understandably so, even if it would seem irrational. Theres nothing logical about limerence. It springs up and does what it does best: traps people within their own minds. But, you are not alone, and have to remember you are still (probably- I don’t know you) a good person worthy of peace (and love from another if not this person). If there really is no chance of you ever being with this person, you have to forget her and leave her in your past as best you can. You have to try to resist looking her up, this will only ever cause you pain. Sometimes you will relapse and curiosity will win and you will look her up, but you have to forgive yourself, accept that you caused yourself that bit of extra pain (that you otherwise wouldn’t have felt by finding out she’s happily engaged), and try again to keep the no contact more consistent in future. All we are left with is the motivation gained though realising that we feel happier when not tormenting ourselves with ‘hoping for’ or ‘ruminating over’ a life you will never have with this person. Let her go, for good, and you will find peace. I, for one, am rooting for you.
“I seem to get along pretty good during the day but some nights are Hell. ”
My first days and nights were hell. Well, every damn second was pure pain and agony. Then, very slowly, days started to get easier. One night, I was able to have three or four hours of sleep. I was so proud of myself, it was like true victory.
If “only” some of your nights are hell (I’m not minimising your pain, just accentuating your progress!), you’re actually on a really good road. Just hold for a little while, your bad movie is having the last few minutes.
Hi Mike, I don’t really have advice because you seem to do the right thing already. Going totally NC is probably the best way. And it will get better.
Maybe it’s a little comforting to know that you are not alone in this, we are all in our own hormonal prison, God knows I am. Day 8 of NC and the one and only reason I’m not contacting is because I promised him I would not. Because he is in pain too. But boy is it hard.
But arent you super proud of yourself that you kept her life and your life ( assuming you have a SO) in a normal state? That you kept your longing to yourself not to disturb ? That’s integrity my friend.
I don’t know you but I’m even proud of you, and yes jealousy is the most awful feeling, but that will also fade.
Hang in there and keep posting here !
Winst ,Noelle and Maria
You will never know how uplifting it was to read your encouraging replies this morning. This community has been the best help I could have found. And DrL is a trooper in this war. He is my last best hope. His new book is great as well.
Well a little up date. My LO is now married and as far as I know happy. I have accepted it and working very hard to make all of this history. I have three good nights sleep in the bag and it sure feels good to find some piece. Last night a good feeling just came over me as I was happy LO found a man she could share he life with.
Since I am a man of faith I am praying daily for this all to pass and my peace returns. I believe I’m on my way.
Thank you guys for caring. I hope I can help someone else like you have helped me. Thanks all.
You sure are on your way! 3 nights of sleep, wooho!
The good and bad moments will still alternate but the good moments will be more and more.
Today I saw that LO unfriended me on insta (no we are not 16, we are 45)
Instead of total panic that all our contact is now cut of I found some bitter sweetness in that, he still thinks of me and at the same time he wants to get better also.
I’m happy you are feeling better Mike and yes this site is a blessing.
This is probably the best, recent post to add this video to as a comment:
Anybody up for a little humor to lighten things up a little these days?
What I noticed in myself lately and I’m not sure I read it in one of the post ( although there has been written about character change and junky like behaviour).is that a LE can make a normally warm and caring person almost into a cold almost psychopath -like person. ( I’m not calling myself a psychopath that doesn’t help but I’m shocked about the lack of empathy I have at the moment )
I notice that my brain wants one thing, and just one thing only, to be with my LO. And it will almost go any length, It manipulates me, it puts aside my family, my parents, my kids. It makes me calculated and manipulative .
I’m going through a divorce (my marriage was in trouble before LE) , but LE is for sure a reason to speed things up, to stir it in a direction that is convenient for me, despite my kids, despite my SO (who is the sweetest person ever) , and yes despite myself.
I’m shocked by the force by it. Even when I think it’s my rational brain, it’s not, it turns out it’s my limerent brain.
Today the divorce was filed, even though my mother was crying I could feel nothing, I did not even feel truly sorry for her pain, all I could feel was secret euphorically. It’s one step closer to my fix. It’s like a force of nature so strong I feel like a puppet with its strings pulled. I hope the personality changes are temporarily.
I’ve relapsed really bad.
He sent me again friend request on Facebook and I rejected it (O deleted him on Facebook and Instagram), than, day after that he sent me a message and asked me how do I feel in quarantine (knowing my anxiety history). I didn’t answer.
Than, he wrote I MISS YOU. And I said I MISS YOU TOO.
What is wrong with me, guys? Am I lost case, hopeless idiot?
No. You have a manipulative LO who is not respecting your boundaries. If you have made it clear to him that you don’t want to communicate and he is not respecting that, he is a selfish person.
He is playing with your emotions. You are vulnerable. That’s pretty unpleasant behaviour on his part. Try and remember that when you crave him – he is manipulative and inconsiderate. He is not on your side.
First time commenting here.. I’ve suffered with limerence twice in my life. Problem with my current situation is I think I am falling back on my past experience. My first LO was a brutally painful situation but I didn’t have the tools or vocabulary to know what was going on so I really did think this was something unique to me. It was because of this that I did not back down and persisted in my pursuit of first LO until I won her over. It has to be said only when I had successfully won her over did I find peace in my life.
Fast forward to last year and I once again got that high with my current LO. I knew what was happening and it terrified me. Most people unlike those in this forum cannot relate to how life consuming these obsessions can be. I knew this wasn’t simply a “crush” I could get over in a few weeks/months and I was absolutely correct because 18 months later I am writing this post.
Current LO is someone I developed a deep friendship with very quickly over a matter of days and she ended up confiding in me with things she said she hadn’t told anyone else before etc but the friendship itself then felt like it was became a one sided effort (she puts this down to personal bereavements) anyway fast forward to summer last year I confessed my feelings in a letter because I wasn’t content to move country without that “certainty” and fully burning the bridge.
The letter dropped the crush bombshell but it mainly focused on my grievances with how she treated me as a friend. The response was fair. But to move on I did remove her from most social media and have not attempted to make contact since. She has occupied my mind every single day despite 9 months passing. And now my problem is, her birthday is coming up at the end of this month and my mind has gone back to obsessing and thinking over ways to wish her happy birthday. I just want her to know that I did remember.
I fear because of my past experience of not being able to cope until the first LO reciprocated (this took YEARS) that I will never find peace with current LO situation. It’s not even the thought of LO being in a relationship with someone else that kills me, it’s the reality that I will never ever speak to her again.
I really need help with this because my mind is telling me to have a gift delivered to her house (more of an inside joke type of gift than anything romantic) but if there are any other suggestions please do share. I am scared if everyone just tells me to do nothing that I will go to the extreme of going through with the delivery.. is there a middle path..?
Maintaining No Contact, is not doing nothing, but it is the foundation for recovery from limerence. There are several posts here with lists of the things you can do while maintaining NC. It’s important to have goals, a plan that you stick to, some positive activities and things to look forward to. Resolving to recover (see the post with that title) is more than resisting the urges.
Instead of thinking you will never communicate with her again because forever seems so impossibly long a time, just set small goals – I’ll let this birthday slip by and see how I am in a year…. Mark off time on a calendar – reward yourself for your successes.
Reviewing over and over that limerence is all about you, it’s all about how the brain functions (or misfunctions!), is really helpful – it makes sense and it provides perspective.
The middle path is working on you. Making choices that move your forward, not backwards, and not feeling too bad if you slip back every once in a while.
But don’t send the present!
I’d echo Bert’s comments, Aimee. It’s really important for recovery that you are taking positive, purposeful action towards a goal of your own. Something you care about that doesn’t involve LO. You are currently stuck on the idea that because your pursuit eventually worked last time round, it must be the only strategy. It isn’t. You can decide that you will move on yourself, and take responsibility for managing your feelings – it’s not something that you need LO to do for you.
I’d also agree that not sending the present is a really good first step towards your independent life.
Try this: imagine you do send the gift, and LO responds badly. She either ignores you, or berates you for sending a gift after your nasty letter outlining all her flaws as a friend, and now says she never wants to hear from you again. Think about how upsetting that would be. Think about how foolish you would feel for breaking your own plan to go no contact.
When you’re feeling really sick about it, realise that it’s great that you can save yourself from that pain by not sending the gift…
Thank you Bert and Dr L for your insights I’ve found them to be very helpful… i will definitely not be sending any present as it doesn’t seem at all appropriate! I should probably clarify the letter I sent was balanced and the response was too, and far more empathetic than I ever expected.
In the time of no contact I did set myself some new goals. I opened myself up to more opportunities and networked in ways I didn’t know I was capable of. Im amazed by the drive created within from the powerful hormones associated with limerence and have been trying to channel that energy into something productive because we know deep down we are capable of it.
It seemed manageable but with the birthday coming up I can see this being a recurring problem. Dr L you’re absolutely right that to be ignored or even just to receive a simple “thank you” would leave me all the more unsatisfied. I am trying to figure out what exactly I expect to gain from such a thing and I realise I will receive nothing at all satisfying. But one of the main reasons why I feel the need to acknowledge this birthday is so I do not relapse as it were in the coming years.. I feel like it’s much better to get all of the shame out of the way now than in three years time when she won’t even remember me. Behaving in that way further down the line is something I could never forgive myself for. I’m pleasantly surprised I’ve gone 9 months without saying anything so I do think a message as opposed to a present wouldn’t necessarily reek of desperation..
Like others here, I’ve been struggling with limerent urges while in quarantine. You’d think forced NC from LO would be a good thing but like others have remarked, it’s a forced barrier and there’s something wistful about the whole situation.
My LO of course disparaged the whole corona thing at first and even did a negative and foolish reply all to our CEO’s heartfelt email to staff about moving to an distributed operating model. Classic LO “hold my beer” / attention grab.
Then she got sick because she – yeah – didn’t respect the quarantine or social distancing. And I felt bad for her. And of course she got well quickly and now I wonder if she even had corona. And during this a locally famous author offers to send 150 signed copies along with a letter from him to the first people who responded. The letter starts: “Hi! I’m so-and-so and someone who really cares about you wanted me to send you this book…” Who’s name and address do you think I submitted? Yeah. LO’s.
Today the book arrived. She put it and the letter up on Instagram story with a “thank you whoever you are” heart emoji. I didn’t see it because I’ve muted her in my flow but during the day: “Hey are you the one who sent me that book?” I did get a big THANK YOU and “that’s so typical you” but I didn’t get much kick out of it, if any. Maybe it was not seeing her or not hearing her voice or, heaven forbid/hope against hope, her touch and scent in an embrace. But I just feel foolish and like I slipped again and that there are definite diminishing returns to this limerence thing.
I'm Taken says
Feeling awful again as experienced limerence for the first time for three intense weeks recently, then it went away – did the FTTF course + read DR L’s book and the feelings I had for my LO, a therapist, disappeared completely. Well, they’re back and wondering why I am suddenly in the midst of this maelstrom of emotions again. The only contact has been a few emails, though the last one probably triggered this off. So NC & now I realise better if NE (no emails) either. Why did I relapse when feeling cured? Although I view myself as a strong person, feel very weak about this LE returning.
Song of the Day: “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – The Beatles (1968)
“I look at the world and I notice it’s turning…
With every mistake we must surely be learning…”
It happens. Progress is how it effects you less. The feelings come less often, are less intense, and don’t last as long. It takes awhile.
Unfortunately relapses are almost inevitable, I’m Taken. I think there are a couple of reasons: limerence is very sensitive to stress, and we limerents train ourselves to seek LO very effectively. That training can be very stubborn to reverse.
So, when we first embark on recovery, we often feel very positive about the progress we’re making and how much of a relief it is to be feeling more in control. But, if a setback or disappointment strikes (or if circumstances change outside of our control) it’s unsettling, and we end up craving LO as a desperate attempt to get some false comfort.
Slow and steady is the way to beat limerence. It takes time for your executive brain to convince your subconscious that LO is best avoided.
I'm Taken says
Thank you so much for your kind and helpful comments – made me feel better just reading them.
A question for my fellow limerents: What is the minimum threshold for satisifying your limerent urges? I am curious because I’ve been reading a lot of different perspectives about the level of interaction you have with your LOs and it’s made me think about the limerent urges of mine (current and past).
Now, in my case, mine have shifted from simply noticing my LO of the day out the window to having a minimum amount of basic interaction – smiling at one another in a friendly way or a wave as I or they were passing in a vehicle. These urges may not sound that much, but they’re enough to satisfy my limerent need to either see or have a reciprocal interaction with my LO, which depending on whether or not how it went, can also fundamentally affect my mood for the rest of the day, and the week too – both positively and negatively.
I have had, more recently, with LOs 3 and 4, by interacting with them more than I did with my preceding LOs, if the opportunity presented itself, prioritizing a conversation with them as my settling my limerent urges (without it being stalkerish or creepy I hasten to add!), but the common one remains for LO and I to interact and basically acknowledge one another in some capacity. Overall, despite it being 8 years since I first developed limerence, it is fairly simple to satisfy my limerent urges, even with how I thought about and viewed my LOs.
I did full no contact 3 years ago, and I don’t have urges to take actual action. But how do you stop the emotions themselves?
@Uh, for me, the emotions only die down when I force myself to stop thinking about them sentimentally, and stop talking about them melancholically. I have found when I have those urges I come here and it’s truly therapeutic…instead of my emotions being activated, reading and analyzing and viewing the LE in a philosophical way neutralizes the emotions and the strengthens my self control to stop activating the emotions. I realize all these emotions are activated by my brain, my thoughts, and I also have the power to deactivate them. I hope that helps!
Hi Jaideux, thanks for your answer:). (Also, clarification: I’m logged in now as I registered, not sure if this is still going to have me as “Uh” for the nick)
So… yeah, the thing is I made myself not think of them for nearly 3 years, I actually repressed it all deep in my brain. Any sentimentality etc, let alone fantasies.
I agree it feels therapeutic to come here and get informed and make sense of things more, analyse the emotions instead of too intensely feeling, and yet be able to pour all of it out:) I have never been able to share with anyone. I’ve tried last week with my therapist who I’ve been seeing for years and I thought I can trust her so I dared to go ahead… and I received one of the most invalidating comments ever in my life lol. Basically she knows about the guy but we never really analysed him in therapy. (Like I said I’ve avoided the whole topic completely for years.) I trieds to start to describe how I started having an intrusive intense emotion about the guy suddenly while working hard for a deadline … and she said, ok, let’s name/label the emotion … fine, I was trying to think of a name for it … But she suddenly cuts in, “Kata, I think you have to take medication for this”. For these intense emotions. Oh my god??!?!!…. I could not stop myself from crying, after fighting the tears for a full minute. And it was such a bad and toxic feeling being forced to cry in front of her whereas I trusted her before (was fine with crying before in front of her). So yeah, just an example of how hard it is for me to share about all this. Was impossibly hard to think about this guy until these emotions forced me to face it. And still very hard to share. But I hope this is okay on this site. … I hope my “venting” isn’t out of place. I’m not sure if there is a rule on this, I didn’t see one though.
So what I was trying to say is that I think there is such a thing as overdone self-control or discipline. I feel like my control burned out over 3 years… so I’m forced to process through all this:). Maybe eventually what you do is what will work for me too but maybe I first have to actually face the emotions fully. It’s weird enough for sure….
So what you say makes sense, with how fully understanding and analysing the emotions in this framework of this LE phenomenon should eventually help. I’m not sure how long before I’ll see lasting results but I have to keep working on it.
PS: I don’t believe medication exists for this (getting over the invalidating comment), but if I’m wrong sure let me know lol
To be completely factual, I forgot I also tried to share with a girl I know online (I know them online only, so it’s pretty anonymous – but I know they know how to keep boundaries well and they are good at validating and being constructive). But even with her I found myself unable to share emotionally, I just analysed it a bit with her but could not really go into talking about my experiences in detail. That is what I have not been able to do anywhere else. So yes, that’s therapeutic too. But she was the one who suggested it may be limerence and is how I found this site:).
How awful to try to medicate you out of limerence! Other than some things I have read about OCD connections I can’t imagine how meds would help…
You make some interesting points about repressing it all. Repressing can’t be healthy. I honestly think that posting here (as well as analyzing the LE with a few trusted girlfriends) did sort of finally deaden the pain and allow me to be objective while still working through the reality of it all vs. repressing things. It was a process for sure.
One guy friend told me about limerence (which is how I eventually ended up here) and although I thought I had shared my painful ordeal with him very little he once said “we have talked about this ad nauseum”. I was so offended! Either he had a low tolerance to the topic or I talked about way more than I realized….
Anyway, a friend from overseas zoomed me last night and one of the first things she asked me was how I was doing with LE situation. I found it very hard to talk about which I think is a GOOD THING now….the chapter is closed, limerence itself is a fascinating phenomenon that I would like to continue to education myself on and help others with, and I don’t want to reactivate the emotions that now, mercifully, are dead. (Or at least dormant).
I think Kata you will find relief here far more than you could even imagine. So post away! Share everything that you feel like sharing! It’s all part of healing! 🙂
Puzzled Ex-Limerent says
“I have found when I have those urges I come here and it’s truly therapeutic…”
Cheaper than therapy, too.
If only there was a medication we could take to immediately stop unwanted limerence! Haha! I could definitely have used that at one point in my life!
Sorry to hear about the invalidation. People who haven’t personally experienced limerence probably struggle to understand our point of view, and just think it’s a mental health problem or emotional immaturity. Limerents kind of get “stuck” on topic of LO/LE, like a broken record. We can’t move on. This is very frustrating, I’m afraid, to “regular people” who just want the conversation to move forward. Jaideux, your “ad nauseam friend” story rings a bell for me.
Kata, it’s sounds like your repressed emotions bubbled to the surface. I’m not sure if that’s a limerent thing or just a personality thing? Sounds intriguing anyway. As for your therapist – what a rude lady! (Haha! Just kidding. But, seriously, she made you cry? Your intense emotion is legitimate and I think you should be able to express that in a therapeutic setting. It’s part of the grieving process, for one thing).
The GOOD THING about this site is hopefully you will find some validation for your experiences. You are among friends. Please feel free to vent. 🙂
Thanks to both of you for the welcoming and validating words. 🙂 It really does help.
Jaideux, yeah this repressing thing is weird… It’s like I repressed my initial romantic feelings for a full decade while meeting him from time to time, here and there definitely more frequent meeting too… he never completely let go of me. You can imagine how much that must’ve fucked up inside my brain. Maybe it’s like I had the addiction without being aware of it for 10 years, and so I would make these mistakes of staying around with justifications (mostly the FWB for the justification, I enjoyed hanging out with them and the sex too). But I would not have stayed at all if he hadn’t kept chasing me. I never initiated, it was always he who did. After finding this site, I even had thoughts that maybe he consciously had limerence Lol.
Never mind, not going down that line of thinking… Since anyway the way he behaved in the end when I tried to make things clear he gave very much mixed signals and was manipulative. (Only the cold from the “hot and cold”… suddenly being “just a friend”. But also manipulative in a bad way.) Would that be like, a narcissistic person wanting some emotional supply from me. Or can it be both limerence and narcissism? Does this make any sense??
So aside from his stuff, yeah, do any of you have experience (I didn’t find info on here yet on this) about how hard it usually is to fully get past it if you played with the addiction for a whole decade? (Even if not consciously and not willfully, like in my case. I know I’m unique eh?)
Interesting how you find it very hard to talk about the LE stuff now with that friend. In my experience this doesn’t necessarily mean the chapter is fully closed, but that’s just my experience. I mean, I had a lot of periods in these 3 years where it seemed hard to think of or talk of this guy. But then it reopened anyway at a new chapter… I imagine full recovery to be like… not hard to talk about it, just plainly no particular interest. I hope that in your case it’s full recovery though 🙂 I mean this only for my own case.
Sammy, yeah I’d take that medication now. : P Hell yeah.
As for the repressed emotions, yeah, I don’t think I’d call it “bubbling to the surface”, it was more intense an experience than that lol. Oh well. Yeah I’m pretty sure it’s got heavily to do with how my brain works. But the emotions themselves seem pretty “limerent”. (Sorry, still quotes.) Just that raw form without much imagination though. If that made sense. Let me know if not.
Yeah the therapist… I don’t know if I’ll regain my trust in her, but we’ll see. And thanks again 🙂
Oh just to clarify… It wasn’t FWB for a full decade, when I was in a long-term relationship, then we were just friends. Though he clearly did want sex sometimes. But yeah he mostly didn’t bother me too much with that if I shut down his interest there. And again, if he hadn’t sought me out, I’d never have sought him out myself when I had that long-term relationship. It was just nice to talk with him, he made it entertaining and interesting enough Iguess. OK, that’s all. Oh…and when I wanted to talk it out with him 3 years ago, he tried to blame me in the end that I “disappeared” JUST BECAUSE I had a boyfriend?!?!
Yeah, all this pretty much adds/has added up to the fuck-up in my mind.
I have exhibited all of these behaviors. I poured everything onto my LO. Time, affection, gifts… he was always so confused as to why I would do such nice things for him. I wasn’t shy about my feelings though, he knew exactly why I was doing what I was doing.
We haven’t talked in 6 months. We live 1,800 miles away from each other and we don’t follow each other on social media any longer. I have sent him 2 cards in the mail since we stopped talking. I almost contacted him yesterday and I had an opportunity to have an exchange with him today and I haven’t. I don’t know what to do.
Six effing months…