A guiding principle of this site is that limerence is a psychological trait that a certain fraction of humankind has, and not a pathology or defect to be exterminated. The best approach to limerence, therefore, is to work to successfully integrate it into your life in a way that helps you thrive. An important part of that process is to do some mental excavations into why certain people trigger limerence in you.
A really deep dig might consist of burrowing down to the roots of your life tree, to find out why you have grown into the adult that you are. But there are monsters down there in the deep places of the psyche, and traps for the unwary.
In less purple prose, therapy to understand why you are attracted to people that are bad for you can be very valuable, but also has risks. One is that it can lead to circular reasoning and the temptation to pigeonhole yourself into a pre-existing category (e.g. your relationship trials suggest you have difficulty forming stable bonds, which suggests that your parental attachment was problematic, which means you cannot bond healthily, which proves your relationship trials are due to disordered bonding).
From a more pragmatic perspective, the ultimate reasons why you may become limerent for someone unsuitable are interesting but secondary to the immediate problem: how to manage limerence for these people when they barge into your life.
I would argue that an essential element of a purposeful life is what might be called a “cautious stance” when considering romantic attachments. It is inevitable that we will meet people who trigger the glimmer in us at inconvenient or unexpected times. The best possible moment to intervene and prevent limerence developing is soon after that moment of recognition. That’s the point at which we can resist the temptation to deepen the emotional connection, the point at which we can direct our behaviour to neutralise the limerence cues, and stop the downward slide into infatuation before any romantic momentum has built up.
But romance is a very important element of a purposeful life. Most people seek it, most people grow as individuals because of it, and most new people owe their existence to it. So, you know, it’s kind of fab.
This then raises the question of when to unleash your limerence power. How do you decide when the glimmer is good? How do you identify limerent objects who could be healthy partners in the long run?
Well, some poor souls may be doomed to become limerent only for basket cases. That’s a rough hand to be dealt, but with wisdom and purpose you can decide that becoming a limerence teetotal is your best route to lasting happiness and healthy relationships. One way to determine whether this applies to you is to analyse the kind of people that provoke the glimmer, and compare them to the following helpful list of behavioural red flags. Spot these traits in your LOs and move from a cautious stance to a full-on shield wall.
Even for limerents who are not irresistibly drawn to dodgy LOs, the same principles apply. If your current LO exhibits more than a few of these danger signals, step carefully…
I’ve covered the perils of flirting before, but the real red flag is indiscriminate flirting. For limerents who are not used to being flirted with, this can be intoxicating, but pay close attention to whether they are flirting with you because they are especially attracted to you (as we all want to believe), or if they actually flirt with everyone. The top of the list for dodgy flirts are those who are so indiscriminate that they even flirt with people of a different sexual orientation. Apparently, this is a thing that gay men are especially attuned to – the straight flirt. If ever there was an indicator that someone is seeking narcissistic supply…
2) Phone etiquette
The prime addiction of the modern age. Also, a great tell-tale for people who value the rest of their network over your company in the here and now. People who interrupt your conversation to check their phone are telegraphing their priorities. People whose phone buzzes every thirty seconds are either very busy and important, or enmeshed deeply into a virtual spider’s web of connections. Either way, that little oblong is a portal into agonies of insecurity and uncertainty if you try to bond with these folks.
A linked (and major) red flag is excessive concern for privacy. No-one likes a snoop, but if your potential paramour considers someone else touching their phone tantamount to criminal violation, then watch out.
3) Love bombing
It feels pretty great to hear that someone is head over heels about you. Sometimes, though, this comes disconcertingly early into a budding relationship. This “love bombing” principle isn’t just for actual protestations of love – even expressions of how close they feel to you, or how easy it is to talk with you, or how no-one else has made them feel this safe or this special or this happy, would count.
Now it is possible that your LO is a limerent and is therefore – shall we say – predisposed to overwhelming feelings of connection. But most limerents learn after a couple of bad experiences that it is wise to hold the strength of their limerent feelings in for a while (because we know ourselves, deep down, that they are OTT).
Early love bombing can make your head spin, and some manipulative people know this and exploit it. Even if they aren’t being manipulative (and they genuinely are crazy for you), people who lack the self-awareness to moderate their overflowing emotions are prone to bursting forth exuberantly with the excitement of new relationship energy, but then losing it just as quickly. Before moving on to the next new person, who is the best match they have ever met… etc.
4) Lots of close friendships with potential romantic partners
Some people have lots of friends because they are extraverts and great company. Some people have lots of friends because they are great listeners and highly dependable. Some people have lots of friends – who curiously all match their sexual orientation – because they like to feed off the attention of potential romantic partners and so cultivate these “friendships” assiduously so as to satisfy their need for validation.
They are bad LOs to be around, unless you like joining clubs.
5) Inconsistent attitude
Another guaranteed trigger for limerence is uncertainty. Love bombing can be followed by the onset of negativity. Small comments that unsettle. Minor criticisms. Maybe just cancelling meetings at short notice.
People that tend to blow hot and cold, emotionally, can be very unsettling at the best of times, but for a nucleating limerent these guys are murder. It’s a big red flag if you find yourself wondering whether you’ll be warmly welcomed the next time you see them, or made to feel foolish and ridiculous.
6) Keenness to entangle your lives
Red flag number 6 is when potential LOs move quickly to establish intimacy or – even more worrisome – entangle you into their private lives. Things like asking you to keep secrets, asking you to do favours that draw you into their personal business, or giving you expensive or meaningful gifts. Introducing you to family or close friends in a showy way would be another concern. Making you feel obligated, or making you feel you need to reciprocate even when you are uncomfortable, is a classic manipulation technique.
The only thing that these LOs are good for is practice for enforcing your boundaries.
7) A history of troubled relationships
This kind of speaks for itself. There’s one common element to all those failed relationships and it isn’t the universal unreasonableness of their ex-partners.
8) Overt signs of narcissism
We’re dancing around the “narcissism” elephant in the room a bit, so let’s confront it directly. Many of the preceding red flags can be indicative of a narcissistic personality. It’s also worth recognising some of the other clues: a lack of empathy, delusions of grandeur, self-aggrandisement and/or self-pity (sometimes within the same conversation), excessive vanity, rudeness to “low ranking” people and sychophancy to “high ranking” people, and delight in cheating or manipulating others.
God these people are awful. Just run away.
9) Poor coping skills
Finally, and possibly less obviously than the earlier red flags, poor coping skills is another surefire hook for some limerents. People who seem lost, scared, or vulnerable. People who bear psychic wounds. People who look to others for support and seem to blossom under the influence of a stable saviour.
It won’t last. They’ll more than likely drag you down into the chaos of their lives too.
OK, quite a list. Obviously, we all of us have a few of these traits, or are guilty of a few of these weaknesses of character. Compassion and tolerance are good things, so don’t be too hasty to slam the door in a promising LO’s face. But too many of these red flags, or seen too frequently, and the blunt truth is that you are likely to suffer. These sorts of LOs seem to be crafted in such a way as to maximise limerence in others. So don’t succumb. You know better now.
Go forth, fore-armed, and prosper!
p.s. Thanks to MapMake for the topic prompt. Feel free to add more red flags to the comments…
Mrs A says
A great list of reminders to stay away from bad LOs. Adding to 6) the entangling stage and 8) signs of narcissism, is a grooming procedure which could be conscious or unconscious and very subtle. These are manipulative tactics difficult to spot, particularly for someone with vulnerabilities or poor coping skills – in general or even just at a weak moment – as stated in 9), who are ironically bad LOs themselves: inappropriate self-disclosure in early stage, excessive flattery, solicit sympathy, attempts at triangulation by hinting at their desirability (i.e. attentions they have received). It can be easy (for me) to give bad LOs excuses thinking they are probably just needy and insecure (and who isn’t, I thought, especially if they couple insecurity with flattery to lower your defences), but that would be a mistake as I have learned the hard way… Finally, don’t be a bad LO if you don’t want to attract a bad LO.
My LO got almost every of these. Well, what can I say, Im fucked……
hope to find my way out finally.
Fantastic post DrL! I’ve stayed away from the blog a bit (in an effort to dig my way out of the mental hole I’ve created) but your advice is pure gold, as always.
Let’s check my LO score: 1, especially 4, 6, and 9. Thanks for the post! With help from a trusted friend, I’ve been more successful with less contact the last couple of weeks, but I admit it’s not easy.
Interesting. How does your trusted friend support you here?
I had not disclosed to any friends while taking advice from the group here. But finally talked with a trusted friend. He was able to clearly see the quicksand I was in and recommended I cancel out of a commitment with LO and her ‘new’ interest (see some of my earlier posts). I’ve greatly reduced contact over the last 3 weeks, and been apart from LOs “stable”.
#7 was the prototype for a woman to be an LO. There was something about a redhead #7 that just resonated with me. LO #3 wasn’t a redhead but she was definitely a #7.
#3s hold no fascination for me. I think I’m ok but I’m not that ok so if a woman puts me outside the first standard deviation to the right of the mean, something’s fishy.
There’s a corollary to #6, a reluctance to integrate into each others’ lives or an attempt to isolate you. LO #2 was at best a reluctant participant in things that were important to me although when did participate, she was a professional asset to me. It was like I was living two separate lives.
On the other hand, my wife never declined an invitation extended to her and she invited me to events that were important to her. If it was important to me, it was important to her.
As unsuitable as they turned out to be, I have a lot of fond memories of LOs #1-#3.
LO #1: I lost my virginity to her. She taught me how to read auras. She also taught me probably as much as I could learn about recreational drugs without partaking.
LO #2: She was the first person I said, “I love you” to that said it back to me. I still have several of the things she gave me. I remember the summer evening I gave a tipsy LO #2 a tour of a dirty book store (her idea). I remember looking at the glow of her window as I walked off the ferry.
LO #3: After we broke up, LO #2 asked if it was ok to give one of her gypsy nurse buddies my number and tell her to call me when she was in town. The woman called and we agreed to meet for beer and burgers, She asked if it was ok to bring her roommate along, the future LO #3. We met at a tavern near the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. I didn’t much care for LO #2’s buddy but I really liked her roommate. LO #3 asked if it was possible to walk out on the bridge. You’re not allowed to stop on it but there was a little parking lot next to it. At 2:30 AM, the 3 of us walked out to the NW pylon. LO #3 thought it would be cool to lean over the rail. That’s not a good idea sober, let alone drunk. So, with me holding her by her belt, she climbed up and leaned over the rail. People in cars started stopping and asking if they should call the police (pre-cell phone days). They thought she was jumping. I had enough presence of mind to realize that the ensuing encounter with any/all of the Washington State Patrol, Pierce County Sheriff, or Tacoma Police would likely not end well. We convinced her to get down and we got out before anybody showed. Later, LO #2 told me, “You liked the wrong one.”
LOs can be a lot of fun.
LO #4: Even though we never actually met each other, we corresponded quite a bit. She published 3 of my articles on her site (two are still there, one is gone). She used one of my blogs as the basis for a chapter in her first book. The therapist asked if using my stuff was a theft of intellectual property, but I told her she could use it. That she found it interesting means a lot to me.
Not quite up there with the first three but still not a bad memory.
Phone etiquette hit a nerve here. On a few occasions I was on lunch break at same time as LO. We were in the staff room and being alone together was chance rather than choice (or a result of a shortage of staff!!)
I always noticed that he never looked at his phone (unless researching something random that we were discussing, or showing me photos of his kids) and I was aware it kept ringing but he kept ignoring it. I mentioned I didn’t mind if he answered but he said it was his wife, so didn’t want to talk to her. That felt awkward!! Especially as I know how I’d have felt in her position.
Thanks again for this blog.
NC was going well but then this week my son has had some medical stuff going on. A family member who still works at the same place as LO (but different team) passed me a card and box of chocolates from two of my ex-colleagues. One being LO. I’m fairly certain in my rational mind that my female colleague had got the card and chocolates and put it in LOs work queue to sign. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. It’s ridiculous how much it’s sent me off on another ride on the limerent rollercoaster. My slightly emotional state probably hasn’t helped me cope as well as I’d have liked. But I haven’t contacted him directly – messaged my female ex-colleague and thanked her and asked her to pass my thanks on. Is that still NC?!?
I hope your son is on the mend.
“But I haven’t contacted him directly – messaged my female ex-colleague and thanked her and asked her to pass my thanks on. Is that still NC?!?”
Yes. You’re doing fine.
“But I haven’t contacted him directly – messaged my female ex-colleague and thanked her and asked her to pass my thanks on. Is that still NC?!?”
You’re fine. It was handy that you had a female co-worker that allowed you to be socially gracious without compromising NC.
I hope your son gets well soon!
Thank you both.
My son will be fine – he was having some more detailed scans done and we now know he’s got to have an operation at some point – find out about timescales at the next appointment. He’s OK in himself though.
I am also fairly sure LO wouldnt have done card if it was just him. Keep telling myself that. Although I’ve not broken NC I still feel like it’s a massive step back. I thought I’d made more progress than this!!
Thank you both
Sophie I think you have done great! I would have felt so emotional and overwhelmed that I would have caved in and thanked him personally and maybe secretly hoped for a hug. And that would sent me waaaaayyy down the rabbit hole. So you are doing fantastically! Keep up the good work and healing thoughts for your son.
My LO is #3 and #6…
I’m still going NC, but it’s tough. My bday passed and he respected that I don’t want to hear from him, he didn’t reach out. And it was his bday shortly after. I have heard from a common friend that he is focusing on working on his personal issues, focusing on himself and is doing ok. I will keep NC, but it is hard. I really miss him as a friend to talk to. I know it will be ok one day, but really wonder when I reach my freedom and just think of this as something in the past.
1, 3, 4, 5, 7. Perhaps a little bit of 9, but definitely not the others.
For anyone interested in my twisted LE, MY SO is currently having dinner with the SO of the new interest of my LO. They hit it off when we were at a musical event a night ago. I forgot the pseudonyms I previously used. As I posted, I’ve been successful with LC. However, the new interest of my (now former )LO is neck deep in his LE with ! I can’t make this up. Cringing at what my SO will disclose to me from the dinner. … (Lee, I’ve really tried to distance myself from all of this)
Oh boy. This sounds like such a toxic situation you’re entangled in…
Sounds like a very small social world for everyone to be in each other’s pockets.
Ugh. Is it time to take up a new hobby with your SO that the others have NO interest in doing?
I hope you were able to hold your SO off with something like, “No, please don’t share any confidences with me. I need a little mystery in my (professional) life. I spend more than enough time with these people. Let’s go out, just you and I, and go spelunking.” Or something.
Well, I didnt ask for details. My SO is aware of my “corrective” actions, and is also aware of what is developing with the two aforementioned . All she would say is it’s getting worse. I perform with those two, but if the second project I’m involved with moves forward, I’ll step out.
Lee, (and Dr. L)
Sorry this is long, but I need to reply to you since my situation just ratcheted up, as we say. Since disclosure, SO and I are in counseling and working. Understandably, she’s not happy with me. From her point of view, an EA is worse than a PA. I learned from my SOs dinner with ‘Susan’, who we previously labeled as the SO of new target (call him “Tom”) of my former LO “Michelle”, threw out the D word if he doesn’t alter his behavior. My SO wanted me to directly talk with Tom.
I did this last night. Tom was willing to discuss some difficulties about his marriage with SO, but he did not admit to an LE with Michelle. Even after I essentially disclosed my LE, and what I, my SO, and his SO observed. I tried to do the right thing. I dont want to be the rescuer here, and definitely not in the middle. This is not going to end well for them. My payoff? I get a chance to repair the damage with my SO, but rebuilding trust will take time. And to pile on, Michelle, the center of attention in all of this, shows up at the venue. I did not stay long after.
I guess I wanted to share to demonstrate to others how ridiculous life can become as a result of an LE.
Although your comment wasn’t addressed to me. I just wanted to share an observation as a friendly bystander and fellow-sufferer. Seems like your talking with Tom has the effect of intensifying Michelle’s unwanted presence in your life. Ouch. So painful. My sympathies to you.
Desire As says
Well..but how prevent limerence from happening?
I had my first limerence episode episode when I was 6, and I’m a serial limerent. I had may LE, I’ve matured and learned a lot….but I’m in a limerent state once again. I realised this and it was too late, It all happened so fast and I didn’t have time to protect myself. I was helpless, was and probably alway will.
I know my patterns, I know who my LO’s are, there are narc, borderline, emotionally disturbed women. All that knowledge goes out the window when another LO’s grips my heart…it’s like a drug. What to do then?
Unfortunately everything just went nuclear. Tom told Michelle about our conversation. Susan went to the ER with a panic attack. Michelle accuses me, (her supposed best friend), how could I do this to her? Do WHAT?!? Having a conversation with a friend because I was concerned!? I in no way accused her of Doing anything. I’m now the bad guy. My SO believes I did the right thing. This sucks.
Upside: I think my LE is officially done.
Michelle likes to stir things up. She gets SOME sort of payoff from it.
If nothing else, not wanting to be part of a swarm of hornets stinging anyone in the vicinity is a good thing.
I hope you can put most of them on ice, socially.
Thank you Lee. I will move on. Its painful. I do have empathy and I dont tend to lose friends. However, real friends dont turn on you for doing the right thing.
“However, real friends dont turn on you for doing the right thing.”
I agree. I know it’s disheartening but there is something not quite right with Michelle’s wiring, so to speak.
I hope you and your SO reconnect in a good way more frequently now and in the future. No matter what form it takes.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Question for you, Lee. How are things with your SO? Have you felt like he has overcome limerence?
Do you think it’s possible to have some of the beneficial aspects of limerence within a more typical long-term relationship?
He is far more self-aware. He was truly taken aback at what happened; what happened on the job wasn’t as bad as what has occurred for other people who have posted on this site – but his behavior still had the potential to lead to a sexual harassment lawsuit and losing his job.
I will say that his limerent episode hasn’t enhanced our marriage. YMMV and hopefully you can make something good come out of your struggles.
I think (I hope) my feelings are finally downgrading from limerence to crush and my brain is upgrading from idiot to fool. It’s a lot more roomy in there, and it feels great to get it back.
4.5 months into NC, (or at least nothing more than bare minimum email exchange). LO postponed last meeting – great for me, can buy some more time to keep climbing out of the pit. I’ve tried to follow every bit of advice on this blog, but of course, NC is the best. I have read almost every word throughout this whole blog, but the ones I have come to love the most are: “The best approach to limerence, therefore, is to work to successfully to integrate it into your life in a way that helps you thrive.” It’s such a relieve to take a positive view!
An interesting thing happened last week. I was sitting in a movie theatre watching a foreign film with a friend. Part way through the movie I felt a weird physiological change come over me and after a while, I realized it was “the glimmer.” Just really acute, heightened awareness with lots of warmth, more than anything else at first. I was feeling it for one of the characters in the film. I have never had that happen before in a movie, or for someone I didn’t know, and before this LE, (#6!), it had been 20 years. After I got home I looked up the actor (I was unfamiliar with the cast except for the main star). Watched every promotional interview the actor was in, watched other film trailers, checked the Instagram page. I felt nothing. Didn’t really even like the actor. Then I checked on the filmmaker, the writer of the really smart dialogue, again nothing. I went back and saw the movie again a few days later, and this time the glimmer was more intense. It was the portrayal of the character that got me. So odd! This was a great opportunity to analyse what were these character traits that were so enchanting? And were they common in all 6 LOs? To some extent, more or less, yes, I concluded. I finally figured out it was an easy, understated self-confidence with a gracious politeness, an effortless and engaging warmth, and lots of smarts. So irresistably charming! And I remember years ago admiring some of those qualities in LO #3 and how really, I had wanted those qualities for myself, truthfully. I remember unconsciously, or maybe consciously, trying to emulate LO#3. (Not sure how successful I was, but a small fraction of it may have rubbed off).
These limerence experiences are great opportunities for growth and increased awareness about ourselves, that’s for sure. It’s just at such a hefty price!
Whatfilm is that?
I have discovered on tuesday that I am number 4 this LO is a collector 🙈
It might be my way out ofthe limerence which has lasted on and off for 4years ! 🙈
What did i expect he tried to seduce me a married obviously not many men go down that road.. unless they dont care and are experienced in having lots of girlfriends… so i bumped into him with this other friend of his wife this week.. felt awkward. Not the first time i see them i just clicked that he must do the same type of game with several women / hot-cold things texting-not texting meeting-not meeting etc
I will try NC now lets see
I might miss his company but i feel i discovered who he is and it gives a big aftertaste …
I’m reading a lot about narcissistic LOs. I have another LO, a very very HSP one. And it can be as toxic.
So my LO Is not damaging or a bad person, he is the sweetest, but in my eyes very complex and ‘unreachable’. He needs a lot of space and time to proces, he is okay if we don’t contact for a week ( I’m up the wall after 2 days) he Withdraws, gets stresses ( and than withdraws) when I get sad ( which I do a lot since I’m in limerence ) cause he can not deal with my emotions, he gets sad too.
I seek for contact, closeness and do not understand when he withdraws for a week, I try not to take it personal but being limerent it’s a hard job, as I look for rejection all the time. And I find it al the time. He does not understand my moodswings ( one moment depressed next moment euphoric as we limerents are) and trys to cope and adjust and follow which he can not.
It’s an exhausting combination, a limerent and a HSP.
Ps We are both single, I’ve always been limerent the first year of even secure relationships weirdly enough.
“… I look for rejection all the time. And I find it al the time.”
Why? Of all the things to seek in life, why pick rejection? Where’s the payoff in that?
Haha true, but I meant in my contact with LO, not in general life.
It’s part of my LE, to be alert of rejection, even when it’s not there I can interpretate things as rejection. I’m aware of this being part of my LE so I deal with it without LO, but it takes a lot of work. We humans tend to believe what we feel, when I feel rejected ( my body reacts strongly ) I need to sit down and do my cognitive exercises, to keep things realistic in my head. And why this happens in my LE, is a big mystery to me, since rejection is not a major issue in my life outside LE.
“And why this happens in my LE, is a big mystery to me, since rejection is not a major issue in my life outside LE.”
In a way, it kind of does make sense. Rejection as a management tool for uncertainty.
Limerents can come up with some pretty sophisticated mental constructs to manage limerence. For example, the therapist said my Henry Higgins complex to tinker with women with low self-esteem was “narcissism disguised as altruism.” In my mind, I wasn’t “fixing” them, I was “helping” them. It helped with the cognitive dissonance. Narcissists are bad, Altruists are good.
In one of his blogs, DrL says reciprocation and uncertainty are the fuel and oxygen that feed limerent flames. Between reciprocation and uncertainty, which one of those to you control? Your LO controls reciprocation although what you perceive reciprocation is up to you. Your LO controls when they respond to texts, etc. But, you own uncertainty. You can invent it all by yourself. You look for it and if you want to find it, you will, somehow.
Toss in that we tend to go with what works for us and maybe you use rejection as your method of managing limerence, especially if rejection doesn’t impact other areas of your life. A possible added benefit to using rejection is it doesn’t tilt toward consummation of the LE. If consummation of the LEs was your goal, you’d be looking for reciprocation. How do you define the end of an LE? Do you see a future with your current LO? If you could write the “fairy-tale-ending” to this, what would it be?
If you post it, we’ll take a shot at it! 🙂
Thank you Sharnhorst, I
see rejection when there is none sometimes and sometimes I see and feel the reciprocation very clearly, which is there. ( The hormonal ups and downs ).My LO is very clear about his feelings and has never in any way rejected me.
I’ve had the same with my ex husband the first year of our dating, he heavily invested in me but was a little hard to read ( as is LO now) I went into full blown LE even though we knew we wanted to stay together and make a future.
After around 1 year my insecurities disappeared. Looking back at it I think ” why the hell did I feel so insecure why on earth did I cry every day? Why didn’t I see that this man loved me ? ” . My LO and me now are also going to try to make this work.( No I’m not certain it will last forever, we are very different and it’s long distance) but we want to try. I’m puzzled why I’m so scared of rejection , so scared of loosing this precious thing , as I know I will survive. Maybe because my heart got broken when I was 21 and it was hell, never had so much pain in my life for months, I couldn’t function I even got suicidal thoughts, I might unconsciously protect myself from that pain to be alert and “prepared”. or maybe there is a deeper ” problem”. But I don’t think so.
Clip of the Day #2: “Damaged Women Stage Drunken 2 a.m. March On Washington”
This one is pretty sexist but if you’ve ever been involved with one of these women, it’s pretty accurate. LO #2 and LO #3 both claimed to have had abortions.
Guy’s can be equally flaky. The clinical literature says we end up with someone who matches our level of emotional development.
Let that sink in awhile….
Ha ha ha! Love it!
What about people who are not indiscriminately flirty, but who are indiscriminately NICE to everybody? These potentially troublesome LOs are especially common in environments like churches I’ve found, where such “niceness” is encouraged.
Oh, lord yes, Sammy. Churches. My first LO was a church girl. I knew her from high school but we went to the same church. She affected this air of “goodness” around her, but wow, she was a spoiled brat. One of her friends told me once, “We don’t like Beth as much as we tolerate her.” But limerence blinded me to even that statement.
Yeah, those kind of people are dangerous for limerents. Not only is easy for a limerent to see their general niceness as interest, but also they tend to be the most oblivious at your own attempts of flirting, which can fuel uncertainty. On the plus side, unless their niceness is a façade like in Matt’s case, they are also prone to become “good LOs” and try to keep things clean once you’ve disclosed.
@Benjamin. And of course it’s easier to idealise people who have some genuinely positive qualities such as altruism, compassion, chastity, etc.
In retrospect I think my 2nd LO was a narcissist, or at least had a narcissistic streak. My other youthful LE wasn’t a very nice person, but that had much more to do with her age than anything fundamentally wrong with her personality. I started thinking more about LO2’s attitude when LO3 gave me a nasty look for holding the door for her (which I chalk up to her being very shy and introverted and living out fantasies in her head about being desired… if that’s not my limerence making excuses… again).
In retrospect I seem to become limerent for people based more on idealization than actually knowing them. It’s almost like my LEs must be based in idealization and not reality, and this is why I can’t catch the narcissism.
So anyway, LO2 and narcissism. I caught some flack a month ago when I suggested that LO2 was in her 40s and still never married because she was a nasty person. I think some people took it as my belief that women in their 40s must be unmarried because they were just nasty people. The truth is, I can think of at least 4 women I know personally who are very kind and who hit their 40s unmarried for various reasons. LO1 turned into a nice woman but didn’t find her match until she was 40.
But LO2… after 21 years, I now lean towards thinking she’s still unmarried because she’s not a nice person. My limerence made me not recognize this. The humiliation she handed me because I dared asked her if she wanted to meet for coffee… I never encountered a response like that from anybody who was her age.
Even now, at 49, I’m surprised that any 23 year old woman (her age at that time) would ever turn down a guy as nastily as she did with me.
But on the positive side, it broke my LE for her almost immediately. So thanks for that, LO2!
@Matt. If your LO#2 turned you down so nastily it broke the limerent spell, maybe in the long run she did you a favour, as you suggest. From what I’ve read, being involved with a narcissist is no picnic (assuming this LO was a narcissist). I suppose the best-case scenario for involvement with a narcissist is she adds you to her “harem of male admirers” and hits you up for attention whenever she’s lacking supply from elsewhere. It’s not much fun being someone’s unpaid personal assistant! (I know – I have a narcissistic mother, unfortunately).
On the other hand, the fact you’re still brooding about her here suggests to me you never quite figured out her personality or what makes her tick. You didn’t get any definite answers or closure. Maybe your LO didn’t marry because she’s averse to commitment? But I don’t think you can read too much into marital status alone because plenty of very nasty people are married and plenty of nice people remain single. Nasty people even get married to other nasty people!
I agree, though – idealisation sets in before we know someone. Once set in, it’s impossible to get to know the other person except in her predetermined role as limerent object. (Is she a rewarding LO? Is she a frustrating LO?) We start to suffer from confirmation bias – we only see what we want to see in The Other.
I didn’t really start thinking about LO2 again until current LO3 came around. It had been almost a 19-year gap between 2 and 3. Once maybe every 9 months she’d pop into my mind and I would go to her Facebook profile.
But the thing is, I had a random, crazy “incident” with LO3, and I’m trying to figure out if I’m actually some kind of weirdo pervert. The only other LE I had was LO2 almost 2 decades ago, so I’ve been using LO2 as a barometer for if I was actually “pushing myself” on LO3 and didn’t know it because of my limerence.
The basic story is that, as an older man, I have learned that it is best to have personal rules for working around female coworkers, and ESPECIALLY young, single female coworkers like LO3. Rules like no flirting, extended eye contact, physical contact, or language that could be considered suggestive or inappropriate. Also, do not try to make friends with them, just say good morning as you pass by. LO3 worked in my company, but wasn’t on my project. She didn’t talk to me, so I did not say anything to her. We rarely said anything to each other and despite the temptation, I kept my distance.
Which is why I was a little shaken up when I once held the door for her and she gave me the nastiest look that said I was holding the door to flirt with her.
Now, I know I wore out my welcome with LO1 and LO2 when I was in my 20s. My limerence blinded me to that. But I consciously tried to avoid that with LO3, I’d barely look at her, and I still get treated like I’m a perverted lech. I have no idea what I may have been doing due to my limerence, so I’m trying to use LO2 as a benchmark.
My LO exhibited a lot of these signals. She entangled me in her personal life pretty quickly. She also had a lot of “guy friends,” whom she said she preferred to (most) women. (Hmm. A very beautiful woman who prefers the company of multiple “guy friends.”) Additionally, she suffered from depression; she told me she was on “multiple medications” for it and had been in therapy for “years and years.” And she showed me cutting scars on her arms that she had tried to cover with tattoos. She also used to take a lot of psychedelic drugs (LSD, ecstasy, etc.) when she was younger, but she said she didn’t anymore.
At the time, I thought she was someone who been through a lot and emerged on the other side stronger. Now, I’m thinking that she might have been more troubled than she let on.
(Hmm. A very beautiful woman who prefers the company of multiple “guy friends.”)
She is keeping her options open. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. 🙂
She was married, and we got emotionally entangled by sharing our problems with our spouses. She eventually divorced her husband and is now dating someone, which was crushing because I had wanted to be that “someone” for about a decade. I think I was just part of an “amen chorus” for a covert narcissist.
Ah. She may collect orbiters for ego validation. I don’t think that’s a nice thing to do. But ten years? I have done something similar with my last LO. I won’t do it again. I ain’t waiting around for someone to show up who clearly can’t. They say, once the pandemic is over, it’ll be like the Roaring 20s again because people have been so restricted …. and I intend to partake. 🙂
I think you asked why a woman would pick one man over another. Have you even seen the American sitcom “Parks and Recreation”? There’s a scene in which a very attractive woman is having lunch with two male characters. The first is played by actor Rob Lowe, a total hunakzoid. His character is perky, chipper, positive and compliments her in a non-sexual, politically correct way. He asks her out on a date. She says no. The second character is played by actor Nick Offerman, who is nowhere near as traditionally attractive as Rob Lowe. He and the woman have not spoken one word to each other the entire lunch. After the Rob Lowe character leaves, the Nick Offerman character looks at the woman and says, “Do you want to get out of here?” So it’s a sexual pass. Not a date. She says yes, and they get up and leave together immediately. It’s a great scene. The no-nonsense, no b.s.-approach appealed to her. It signals he can get the job done. 🙂
Yeah, she was very subtle about it, I think. Until you get to know her, she’s an outwardly shy, quiet person who goes around with what she termed “resting bitch face,” yet she drew men like moths to a flame. Her beauty was a huge part of it, obviously, but she also seemed damaged/hurt/vulnerable. Inspired a fair amount of rescue fantasies on my part (and probably many others).
Limerent Emeritus says
Been there, done that, more than once.
Poke around here long enough and there’s a great string about how we’re going to be the one to set them free and cut them loose. We’re going to be the one to find the prize in the bottom of the Cracker Jack box. We’re going to go where no man has gone before and they’re gonna love the living sh-t out of us for doing it.
Eh, probably not.
Ever read “Cat’s Cradle” by Kurt Vonnegut? It’s a truly great book. Vonnegut says,
“No wonder kids grow up crazy. A cat’s cradle is nothing but a bunch of X’s between somebody’s hands, and little kids look and look and look at all those X’s . . .”
“No damn cat, and no damn cradle.”
LOs are like a cat’s cradle. We keep digging for something that often just isn’t there. There is no prize.
Idk. The older I get, the more I see that only two things matter for any relationship, be it friendship, romantic or family. Can the person show up and can they show up in a meaningful way? I am losing interest in anything that doesn’t meet those two basic requirements. So a tortured, half-requited, maybe-he-will limerence … I just don’t want to waste my time with that anymore. Hopefully it won’t happen again.
Me either! That’s why I’m here. Found this site last week and have been reading as much as I can. Have been NC with my LO since July 2020. Quietly unfriended her on Facebook and Instagram. I still have feelings that I’m fighting through. So very glad I found this site and community.
I just try to focus on this one fact: My LO isn’t all torn up about me. And then I start to get mad at myself that I was all torn up about him.
That is what I’m doing, too!
Limerent Emeritus says
Song of the Day (redux): “Don’t Answer Me” – The Alan Parsons Project (1983)
“If you believe in the power of magic
I can change your mind…
So if you need to believe in someone
Just pretend it’s me…”
I haven’t shared this story. It’s a hard story. It’s embarrassing. So a couple months ago I reached out to LO. I had not been in touch with him for six months. I heard he was facing some difficult circumstances, and I touched base with him.
We texted briefly and although it caused me a lot of anxiety, I felt good about it. I felt I had done the right thing. I didn’t feel any pleasure. I didn’t feel any joy.
Later, a mutual acquainted reached out and told me that he had talked about me in a social media setting we had both used to frequent. I left because his presence made it too difficult.
He had bragged about how I got in touch with him, and how I cared about him in the past.
I was disappointed that he had talked about me when he knew that I would not see it. I didn’t care what other people thought, but I felt the disrespect of what he did. The betrayal of trust.
I texted him. He initially denied it. I told him that he, more than anyone, knew what a tough time that had been for me. I didn’t lash out or accuse.
Ever the narcissist, he blew up at me, told me that we “never happened.” That he would never mention my name again.
He tried his best to wound me and a year or so ago, he would have been successful.
“It’s embarrassing. So a couple months ago I reached out to LO. I had not been in touch with him for six months. ”
Nothing to be embarrassed about. There isn’t a limerent on the planet who hasn’t had a relapse. Or two or three. 🙂
Your LO is a mean-spirited person, as I’m sure you know.
I have a friend who is involved in this very toxic relationship — she breaks up with the guy, he begs forgiveness, she thinks it will be better this time so she gives him another chance. Rinse and repeat. And I told her the other day, “I think you will get to a point where you are just done.” I feel I am 80ish percent of the way there with my LO. It sounds like you are well on your way there, too (or maybe there already). It’s a beautiful place to be because you just don’t care anymore. You don’t wish the person any harm. But you are indifferent.
He’d never lashed out at me that way before. My initial thought was that I’d wished he’d done it sooner. Then I’d have worked past limerence much faster.
I’m embarrassed that I trusted him at all.
Your friend and her guy sound as if they have attachment issues. One day, she will be done. And she’ll look back and wonder why she cared.
I thought of letting his online comments go. He was boosting his ego, and bragging about his sexuality and conquests. He’s a lonely man who doesn’t have much, except for a presence on that site.
However…he wasn’t going to do it at my expense.
” He was boosting his ego, and bragging about his sexuality and conquests.”
I got the impression this guy was a middle-aged man. Not to be offensive, but he sounds immature.
Yes, exactly. He has abilities and intelligence. He chooses to not use them. He struggles with many issues and self-medicates.
Maybe he’ll choose a better life for himself on down the line.
Brazil Woman says
After I found this blog, I want to hug you guys. “Thank you” would not be enough, but I’ll do it anyway: thank you!
I have a question. My LO does not seem to have any of those red flags (except maybe being shy-friendly to many people). He is kind, a good listener, low-profile, relaxed. He seems really shy and loving, but he does not always finds his way to me. When we can talk, he is very soft, cute, touchy and large smiles. I only see him smile like that to me, but I can’t see really clear without my glasses to know when he is talking to another woman lol. I have been with narcisistics before and he is not one of them. I do think, tough, he could be avoidant or at least not confident about himself (he is handsome).
I do have a long term relationship now that has a major issue: sex. I love my boyfriend and he is one of the most amazing ppl on earth, but after so many years, I’m not hoping for a cure for that. I long (with so much guilt) for a healthy, stable, loving and well… a bit erotic relationship. That’s the difference between friendship and love, right?
I am limerent about this LO. I know this obsession all my life, and had a few different LOs. It feels so wrong being limerent, and yet, the hope is all there.
I’m going to therapy too.
THE QUESTION 😀 Could you guys tell more about when to seek for LOs validation (ask if they like us, godammit! – but not when we’re on another relationship) and when to go NC?
Welcome Brazil Woman,
That’s too bad your current relationship is struggling in such a difficult way. I hope you find a solution and that you can reconnect with your SO. I will try to answer your questions.
You are not currently available to pursue LO, so, unless you are willing to cheat on your SO, never tell LO that you are attracted to him and never seek validation from him.
NC is for deprogramming. Do NC if you need to get LO out of your mind.
I am starting to think that there is something very much off with my LO.
My story is here: https://livingwithlimerence.com/why-cant-i-get-over-my-crush/#comment-37017
After one comment mentioning that maybe she also had some feelings for me, I thought of some of her questions and also words to me… which I now think that maybe she was flirting and also being extra nice to me.
And she seemed to have the need to show off her pilates abilities, she is well trained and showed me a couple of times difficult movements/positions that showed off her muscles.
Once I showed her pictures of my inspirations, I am training to gain more muscles and showed her some pics of what I’d like to achieve with my arms… She dismissed them and said it was all about the studio lights (erh no, those girls I showed her ARE muscular), and then she showed me hers. It was a bit weird, now that I think of it.
She likes to talk about herself, a lot. Both about how great she is or what she achieved, and also playing victim because at the spa she doesn’t get the recognition she thinks she should.
She would also get quite annoyed if she gave an opinion or stated a (to her) fact and I didn’t agree or I tried to add to it.
Of course, it still remains a mystery why she gave me her IG and then she avoided and ignored me big time when we met outside of the spa (story in link above)
So I am starting to think she is either narcissist or has some major emotional maturity issues.
And still, I keep longing to talk to her. It’s desperating to feel like this 🙁