A central premise of the “limerence as person addiction” concept is that limerence becomes addictive because of the dopamine high. Being with LO is rewarding. Thinking about LO is rewarding. You get a thrill of excitement when you’re with them, and live in an almost perpetual state of heightened arousal, punctuated with moments of even higher euphoric overload when things are going especially well.
After a while, of course, things go bad. Dependency sets in. You used to get a high in their company, but now you just feel like shit if you can’t get your fix. The euphoric bump is barely a molehill. You escalate your bonding behaviour (possibly making even more of a fool of yourself), but it no longer gives you the high it once did. Now it just makes you feel wrung out and desperate. You hate yourself for craving them.
It’s easy enough to grasp the fact that this is unhealthy but, as with other addictions, there is bound to be resistance to overcoming the limerence habit, because your subconscious keeps seeking the old high. To overcome that resistance and break the habit takes character and self-discipline.
One of the best ways of cultivating both of those traits is to live in a way that is generally more rewarding. Day to day life is full of hardships and demands, but there are some bedrock principles that can help to lighten the load, and some tricks you can try to set yourself up for a happier and healthier life.
The best way to resist the blandishments of limerence is not to deny yourself joy and chasitise yourself for your weakness, it’s to find healthy sources of reward instead. The neurocircuitry that drives limerence evolved to make us motivated, to make us seek rewarding things, to make us restless when we’re bored and prompt us to see if there’s something really exciting that could be discovered with a bit of exploration. So, use it for what it was built for.
1) Get to know yourself better
A great starting point, and valuable for all aspects of life. We most of us go through a period in adolescence and early adulthood where we try on various personae and see how they fit. We may strive to be cooler, stronger, prettier, more popular – whatever we feel is lacking in ourselves – and lose sight of who we used to be. Maturity brings the realisation that real fulfillment comes from getting to know who we really are, not who we imagine we ought to be, based on an adolescent ideal. For many people this ends up being much harder than expected. They may have spent many years suppressing their nature to please others, or imitate others, or have been ground down by dismissive or disdainful parents or friends, until they’ve forgotten who they really are, and what would give them peace. So, getting to know yourself, embracing who you really are, and being the best version of that true self is the goal that really pays off.
2) The philosophers’ remedy
Speculating about how to live a good life has kept philosophers in work for centuries. Millennia, in fact. There are many Schools, and many paths to wisdom. Studying philosophy in itself is a good goal – a rewarding and mind-expanding pastime. But that takes time and we now have the big advantage of being able to pick the fruits of those millennia of philosophising, and take a short cut to fulfillment. There are three key principles that seem to be universally esteemed by the philosophers: friendship, connection to nature, and meaningful work. Seek good friends. Spend time in nature. Find work that is meaningful to you. These are core principles for countering sadness and nihilism, and elevating your mood. They are also free, and there for the finding, if you can muster the will to seek them.
3) Develop a new skill
The satisfaction of mastering a new skill shouldn’t be underestimated. You could choose something to rival limerence in terms of exhilaration – skydiving, or scuba-diving, or drag car racing – or you could choose something more modest, but that you’ve always wanted to be able to do. Maybe it’s time to learn to play the piano, or juggle, or DJ, or sculpt? It doesn’t really matter. What matters most is that you identify something you would like to try for it’s intrinsic satisfaction and go for it. As a trivial example: I recently decided that I wanted to learn how to solve the Rubik’s cube. I have no idea why. Some vestigial nostalgia from my childhood, but I bought a Rubik’s cube, and spent a few hours with YouTube tutorials until I could solve it. As those last few blocks slid magically into place, I grinned like a child.
I’m not pretending that it compares to the sensational overload of limerence, but enough of these small hits of satisfaction in life makes it less likely that you will crave the Big One.
4) Revisit old comforts
This idea is linked to both the last example and point 1: remember what you loved to do as a child. Climbing trees? Drawing? Dressing up? Riding your bike? Reading in a sunny nook? Revisit those old comforts and see if they are still rewarding. Maybe not literally in all cases (it may perhaps be more dignified for an adult to visit the climbing wall in the gym than the old oak tree in the local park), but recapturing some of the things that gave you pleasure when you didn’t have the weight and cynicism of adulthood on your shoulders can be a source of comfort in hard times.
5) Imagine your ideal future
Imagination can be a mixed blessing when limerent. The early fantasies (usually centred around consummating your passion for LO) feel great, but once the limerence becomes obsessive, the relentless, intrusive thoughts are exhausting. One possible counterattack is to redirect your rumination – to give your imagination a new focus by fantasising about your ideal future.
What could your life be like? At first, most people’s imaginations jump to obvious indulgences – hedonistic weekends in Vegas, Italianate villas in the lake country, the freedom to binge watch films in your pajamas – and nothing wrong with that. But go deeper. All indulgent pleasures lose their appeal once they’ve been sated – you need to look for more lasting sources of fulfillment. What would your ideal day be like? If you were free of limerence, what could you achieve? Where are you now in your life, and where would you like to be? Could you find a path from here to there? What would the first step be?
Shifting your daydreams away from the false promise of your LO, towards the possibility of a new and healthier life means filing your subconscious with ideas about you crafting a better future.
Most of these tactics will not give you the emotional rush of limerence, but they may give you something more lasting – the satisfaction of contentment. No mania, just properly regulated mood. If I was to speculate about the neuroscience, I would say that these sorts of pursuits steadily raise serotonin and lift your baseline mood, but with small hits of dopamine reward along the way too. Limerence is more like a storm of dopamine and noradrenaline, leading to highs and lows and overarousal. There’s even some evidence that serotonin drops during the early stages of romantic love, which matches with the anxiety and uncertainty that drives the progression of limerence. Regardless of the physiology, the basic concept is clear: replace pleasure-seeking with happiness-seeking, and you’ll be much better equipped for coping with emotional challenges.
So, if you are trying to quit the limerence habit, spend some time pursuing new rewards. It can only do good.
Thank you, Dr L, for this post and the several recent posts that I think of as oriented around building a post-LE life. So profoundly useful. It helps a lot that this material is offered by a fellow-sufferer. The first two paragraphs are an inch-perfect description of what I went through. So seeing that you have had a similar experience, and have emerged from it healthy and strong, encourages me. Your hard-won experiential knowledge lends credibility to this map that I hope to follow out of the wilderness too.
Thanks Midlifer. As you say, it’s the route I found out of the woods – hopefully it will lead others to freedom too.
I took up the oboe at 58.
I’m contemplating singing lessons. I never got on with instruments.
I do a mean intro to Sinatra’s “It Was A Very Good Year.”
Ha,ha,ha, we could all start up a theatrical troop….First thank you for this Dr. L….I needed to read this right about now, after relapsing once again, and beginning to feel resigned that Limerence will be with me forever. I have a guitar that I need to learn to play, a keyboard that I need to find on line lessons for, not to mention assorted and sundry crafts to get back to….I must resolve to try harder to shake this ‘auto pilot fog’ and get busy doing something, anything……instead of wasting my all time on Social media, waiting for LO to come on line, I must do better, sigh.
I think this LE woke me up. I was sleep walking into my 40s paying little attention to my marriage, my physical or mental health. Whether it was purely down to LO or I would have got there anyway, we won’t know, but she was a catalyst to self-reflection and self-improvement. Initially it was to me working on my fitness (so I was more attractive to her I now realise), and then as the LE wore on and it became a burden and a risk to everything, I turned to focusing on my mental state and my marriage.
Now, 6m into NC I’m able to see all of the above objectively and in many ways I’m grateful for having things shaken up. The legacy appears to be a continued focus on all three aspects. I make time for lots of exercise each week. It’s valuable alone-time, much needed for an introvert like myself and I always feel better afterwards. It’s no longer done for LO, it’s for me. I’m eating more healthily too, and am taking much satisfaction from my body fat % dropping a little each week. It’s my new obsession! I continue to read self-improvement books, have engaged a couple of different professionals to help me professionally and personally too.
And on my marriage, we’re in a better place. More conscious of each other’s needs, we talk more and are more open with each other. I stopped short of full disclosure because frankly I thought I would scare, even scar my SO with the depth of my obsession, but we talked about LO a lot, agreed she took up too much time, explored why I felt the need to help her, and eventually agreed together on me going NC. We’re in a better place, the healthy living is something we’re now both doing, and I’d say we’re enjoying each other’s company more as well.
I’m not out of the woods, I still think of LO too much, ruminating on our last words, imagining me rejecting her if she came back, but the frequency is much less than it was, and it’s almost all negative thoughts. The distractions of positive things are there now to use as well which is enormously helpful. I think when these thoughts finally go, I’ll look back and be glad this all happened to me in many ways.
Good luck vincent … its nice to have updates! after 2.5 years of NC my LO recontacted me 10months ago and we see each other every week for our quick fix like drug addicts…its literally a drug addiction things are not physical and wont be physical because we are both in relationship… its true that these limerent relations show us what we are missing in our lives for example taking care of our look, discussing something else than nappies and birthday parties… so yes working on my relation with so is definitely the grown up and sensible thing to do… yet a part of me wonders if im making a mistake and should rather listen to my heart . Its selfish and it sucks morally though
We were living parallel lives!
Vincent, I think you are my twin! That’s exactly my life in a nutshell for the past 12 months.
For me my obsessive behaviour towards LO has finally slowed down a lot, I took steps this week to have a chat (not disclose) to my LO, it was about the big fallout I had with his SO a year ago. That fallout was my catalyst for limerence but also deep reflection and analysis to what was missing in my life. I finally was able to say what I needed to say and what’s been bottled up for the past 12 months. It was cathartic, a big purge of hurt and boy it felt great, I finally felt free. I am usually super nervous around LO and can’t string two cohesive sentences together, but that day I was clear, calm, and looked him straight in the eye. My heart didn’t even flutter for a second.
The next day his SO called and we had a long talk, resolved a lot of issues and reconciled.
It was the 1st night I fell asleep without thinking about LO, and the 1st night I slept without waking at 4:30am stressing over thoughts. Even this morning when I saw his car on the road (first time in two weeks) my heart didn’t speed up.
I am hoping this is the catalyst for a Limerence free future.
And I just got a free piano! Lifelong dream and reward for NC.
I also am pursuing singing lessons!
By the way, I mentioned earlier that “the fog was clearing” in my LE. Lately I’ve been talking with several people who’ve known my LO much longer than I, INCUDING HER SO. All of them confirmed a pattern of LO knowingly bringing guys in as close friends, adding a little fuel to maintain attention, but does the “who me?” when called out. Now I question if she is a genuine friend (Yes, I know the LE causes one to lie about the friendship motivation) . I haven’t felt this manipulated since my college days 30+ years ago! Ugh!
It’s good that you heard about your LO’s pattern of “adding a little fuel to maintain attention.” Some people are simply addicted to CREATING that feeling of sexual tension and they will do whatever is necessary to spark or maintain it–especially if they spot a responsive recipient. It’s a power trip. Focus on that feeling of being manipulated if you can. It might help.
Your post got me to google an amateur soccer team. I love playing soccer, despite being terrible at it. It doesn’t help though that LO was drafted as a professional soccer player (and his new LO plays soccer too, just way better than I do)… so I figured, I may just go for something else I wanted to do: kickboxing lessons!
Problem though is, with the kids, SO, work snd a PhD I started (just for myself), I feel like there isn’t much room for anything else, but I keep kickboxing in the back of my head. At least all that stuff keeps me busy and distracted from all the rumination.
I am still hooked on LO though… will I ever be able to get over him?
I started chatting to him again (bad, I know), just small talk, but it sucked me right back in again and LO is on my mind again…
@Lowendj …… oh yes how well I know this personality type! They just have to have a harem to be happy. They will ascertain the fuel each Harem member craves (it’s their evil super power) and stoke the fire as long as possible. When the smart ones (or burned ones) finally run away they will frantically find new harem members. We are all replaceable. Run for your life!!!
Right. It seems my LO recently turned her focus to one of the others in our group, and his SO I think has noticed. Fascinating. At first I was …jealous? That’s the LE. I later realized what was happening and was angry at myself. I guess this is LO’s narcissistic behavior camouflaged by the nice girl routine. Is this unconscious or intentional ? Not fun to hear I’m replaceable. I’m still in a ‘working’ relationship with LO, but will definitely push LC. Thanks for the advice!
Yes, great point, it seems that my LO is developing a Harem of married women! An ingenious tactic for LO to secure a supply of ego strokes and enjoy varied sources of female attention while averting the emotional risks of a real relationship. To add a twist, I’m wondering whether I have a subconscious attachment to being the ‘favorite’ in the group, perhaps replaying the deep structure of sibling rivalry in my family system. Be that as it may, the notion of acquiescing to membership in anyone’s Harem repels me — Ugh!! — and is another excellent motivator to avoid LO and reorganize my life around my own goals and real, healthy relationships.
That’s the narcissist’s most powerful weapon – even when you can see that they are flirting with everyone for their own gratification, they manage to hint that your connection is extra special. They like you best.
Me? Yes, and yes.
We’re the LO’s protectors.
I have more work to do.
Thanks for the insight, Dr L. I’m putting your wisdom here to good use.
And thanks for your solidarity, lowendj.
In a reciprocated limerence with someone in my group of friends, and have been for half our lives. We kept it civil and bland for years. Now, however, I work across the street from him… and he is a fireman. It’s hard to distract oneself with healthy, low adrenaline, rewarding activities when LO is literally using lights and a siren to be the noisiest thing for miles. I get cold sweats all day. Help.
The things LOs do to draw attention to themselves 🙂
Mutual limerence is tough. The only answer is unilateral action by you to limit contact. In the spirit of this post, seeking other rewards is a very good strategy. Seek other things that give you joy and fulfilment that do not involve LO, and try to move your attention away from him and on to other things. There are a few posts here about “deprogramming” – have a look around and see if they help…
Help. Just found out through reading my LOs phone messages that i’m not the go to guy that I thought I was when she needs emotional support, there is somebody else who she has known for longer and has even stronger connection with.
The Good thing is it might help me stop the uncertainty. She does mention me and meeting up with me and us doing things together to him but there are no signs of any romance between them or any mention of romance between me and LO. She does mention me and meeting up with me and us doing things together to him but there are no signs of any romance between them or any romance between me and LO
Part of me is really upset in hearing about this other emotional friend that she has and part of me is pleased to see it as it may help me move on.
See it as the opportunity it is, Keven. She clearly collects emotional helpers – and probably enjoys knowing that she has that hold over each of you (either consciously or unconsciously). Definitely time to move on!
Kevin, I get it, I totally wanted exclusivity with LO. I agree with Dr. L that this is the perfect opportunity to distance yourself. Try (it can be difficult) to use this negative association with LO for the long-term good.
Yeah I know I’m acting as if I’m
Her boyfriend and just
Caught her cheating on me. Lol.
But of course i’m not her boyfriend and she isn’t cheating on me she just has somebody else to share personal stuff with what she does with me, When I thought it was just me.
I think I would’ve found it harder if there was clues in the message about them having Romance.
But you’re both right this is the opportunity to just practice stage with drawl which is what I’m doing from the course. What’s your story thinker!
My story is scattered on various blog entries here. I basically have been limerent at some level for 2 years for the same LO — going through 1 month of crushing pain, 3 months of the euphoria of an EA, 9 months of crushing pain that eased up a little, 3 months No Contact, then 5 months of forced contact at work, and now I don’t know. Time during NC was quite painful, and was similar to a mourning period. My life after the NC period has been better than prior, but I’m still not all clear. Finding this site 10 months ago was a life-changer.
“Just found out through reading my LOs phone messages that i’m not the go to guy that I thought I was when she needs emotional support, there is somebody else who she has known for longer and has even stronger connection with.”
“But of course i’m not her boyfriend and she isn’t cheating on me she just has somebody else to share personal stuff with what she does with me, When I thought it was just me.”
So – you snooped through her phone despite not being her boyfriend, lover or husband? If so, that’s not a good thing. I hope you do go NC. For your sake and for hers.
I know @Lee – but couldnt resist – ofcourse I was looking for reciprocation via her talking about me to other people….but that wasnt the case. My bad. But im treating it as an opportunity to see reality in its face and go through Staged Withdrawel. Its hard though when you work in the same company and in the same team.
NC is the best – but cant do when in same team. and just started the job (we used to worth together for 2 years before)
@At Lowedji and Dr. L….it’s so true about the intoxication of being the favorite. “Nobody understands me like you do” etc. etc. What euphoria to hear those words!
I used to tell my former LO “I will never be one of your concubines!”. (I was angling to be the queen!). In retrospect…that’s all I was…just one of the harem members…the harem of figurative concubines I pitied. The line up of the harem was ever changing but I held out the longest…and likely am suffering the deepest wound now that I am replaced.
If my soul crushing experience could avert someone from falling down the rabbit hole of total limerence I would be so pleased… and if they have just started down the descent try to crawl out as fast as you can while you still can! It’s all an illusion…and excruciating illusion. The pleasure is not worth the pain.
Stings, doesn’t it. Plus the realization of a one-sided EA. I still work with my LO and her new favorite, but recently have been doing related work independent of her. I had another conversation with my SO. Her telling comment was, “So, you lost your girlfriend “. Ouch.
Ouch indeed. So much damage for a fraudulent reward.
I’m glad your SO gets it but sticks with you. I’m sure in time you’ll be able to help heal the wound limerence has caused her. Fortunately I don’t have a SO and neither did my LO but I am not above such things I’m sure. I am determined to never be limerent again for an attached or unattached person.
“Her telling comment was, “So, you lost your girlfriend “. Ouch.”
That may be a warning bell regarding your relationship with her. Please pay heed. SO’s – even supportive ones – have limits too.
After seeing my LO flirting with yet another attractive, eligible, age-appropriate woman last night, and letting that sink in all day today — and with stuff concurrently getting as real as can be with my SO — I feel a strong repulsion from LO rapidly overwriting my former attraction, to the point where I am even re-writing my remembered history with LO in a very sour light. So much the better to accelerate my exit from a toxic fantasy relationship. What a dramatic reversal of emotional valence!
Good way to use it as ammunition Midlifer.
My LO and I have worked for 3 different companies – cant seem to escape.
Was only LO in company 2 and not aware of limerence term…now im at company 3 and fully aware and more knowledgable so trying to go for LC. Anyone else got tips for LC when NC not possible . I have stopped 121 meetings but its the team meetings and team drinks that are difficult
I’m confused. “My LO and I have worked for 3 different companies – cant seem to escape.”
How is it that you and LO worked together in 3 different companies?
If I do have that right, there were missed opportunities for NC.
Thanks, Keven! Here is a good resource that contains (along with much else) some suggestions on trying to limit contact with someone you work with.
Thanks, and yes, I still hear the ringing. I have been modifying my behavior to demonstrate progress out of this LE to her and to myself. However, I am aware LC is not preferred nor easy.
My limerence has decreased massively over the last couple of months and I think a lot of this is because I’ve really focused and put effort into my work. I’ve taken on every project that I can and generated work for myself. I’m definitely getting a buzz when things go right and it feels similar to the highs of limerence, but it’s a much healthier reward. Yes, I’ve been stressed over work at times, but figuring out work related problems is certainly more productive and less damaging than the constant obsessive thoughts. I still see and communicate regularly with LO but I’ve gradually been reducing my contact and I currently feel OK with how we are – a lot more like when first met and she was just a friend. She does still pop into my head at times during the day but the thoughts are not lingering and are not consuming my mind. Anyway, some good progress and evidence that healthy rewards can work although I’m not counting my chickens yet.
Way to go, Royce! That is really encouraging. Good for you!
Nice to hear Royce. Thanks for sharing your journey of a successful outcome. Im sure you will get right to the end soon.
Did you do staged with drawl at work ?
I wouldn’t say it’s a successful outcome yet Kevin, but it’s definite progress. I know the limerence is still there and am wary about it returning, but it’s much more under control now and normal(ish) life has resumed. There was a natural period of NC, of around a month, which I used as a catalyst for reducing my contact. Since then I’ve been quite disciplined and have not instigated contact with her so frequently. My busy work schedule has helped with this. She has a secondment of 6 months coming up soon that will present an opportunity for reducing contact some more. That should help too. How are things with you?
Still sounds like a great place to be Royce. Well done. I still remember you and I started similar journey st beginning of year. You have advanced well and the 6 month secondment will really help you.
As for me.
– I went LC Jan
– she left company end of jan
– feb was great. Was getting a bit better
– Mar and April was LC but I took a job in the same company as LO As was great opportunity. She started April I started May
– May we are spending a lot of time as nEw company in new country. SO coming mid June. Limerence is really effecting me this month
– June I find out she is close to another colleague from a job before we met. They are very close. She doesn’t know I know. So felt very down and jealous but will help me go back to LC again.
So as you can see a tough ride. We working in same company so hard. But trying. SO Comes next week so that will help.
Nothing has happend whilst me and Lo have been here. No reciprocation. And I have said no to some meet ups too. Learning about her being really close to somebody else really hit me hard
Does sound tough @Kevin and I wonder if taking that job was the right thing to do? NC was going to be a lot easier when you were in different countries. Think you should really focus on your SO when she comes over and try to reduce contact with LO again. There must be lots of interesting and new things you can do with your SO in a new country. Try doing something exciting and fresh with her and see how it goes.
Yes it was a tough decision to take the job or not but it’s a fantastic opportunity once in a lifetime. Plus I got the offer after she had left and was starting to feel a little bit better so thought I could cope.
But it’s hard when you see them every day and they invite you round for lunch and coffee is etc. My SO He’s here now as well and LO wants to meet up all of us together And do things together.
Which all makes it very hard . So NC is certainly not possible and LC is hard.
Do you all feel like you tick the boxes of love addiction? I do, I found all my non limerent relationship incredibly boring and the ones who started with limerence I ended them after 2 years when the rush faded.
It’s depressing to be honest but I hope therapy helps.
Definitely! While my current LE is rooted in genuine feelings for someone whom I would have had a relationship with were we both free, our circumstances and barriers have morphed those feelings into an addiction for sure. LO contact and rumination is my favourite drug right now…nothing feels better!
My previous LEs have been similar, though not as powerful. I am amazed I managed the first 13 years of my marriage without an LE…..I guess I was preoccupied with young children. I also started practising mindfulness 8 years ago which increased my ability to find happiness and contentment from the small and inconsequential moments in life, rather than depending on an LE.
Mia, it sounds like you could do with using your therapy to work out what you really want from life, and possibly also use it re-frame your expectations of relationships into something that will better support the life you decide you want. A re-programming of sorts. It may be that a good non-limerent relationship will work better for you? I have had both LE and non-LE long relationships and in the end, once the LE wears off, they are the same – the differences are due to the person not the presence or absence of an LE.
Thank you Allie. I know I have a lot of work to do.
It’s like a have no frame no ground / bottom anymore everything is loose. At 46. 🙁
But than again I believe you all saying it will get better and we will come out stronger.
46….still plenty of time to build a new life and live it.
🙂 Amen to that