When limerent for someone unsuitable, you are faced with the challenge of using your judgement and wisdom to overcome the neurophysiological storm of addictive reward, and get away from the most desirable object in your world. How can this be done?
Age and experience helps, but that’s not exactly a quick fix. So is there anything that can be done in the short term to counterbalance the reward circuitry, and condition your traitor brain into behaving itself?
1) Negative feedback
As I mentioned in a previous post, the progression of limerence fits the pattern of intermittent reward schedules, making it a powerfully salient stimulus. But we can counter that! We can exploit negative reward (or punishment) as another potent mechanism for associative learning. The basic idea is to deliberately evoke negative experiences when around LO. Perhaps say something inappropriate that makes you feel ashamed. Perhaps deliberately derail conversations with LO to prevent them (and you) from relaxing and getting blissed. Perhaps disrupt interactions by leaving mid-conversation to go to the toilet. Perhaps retreat into your inner world and dwell intensely on a past source of fear or shame that is a major emotional trigger for you.
The goal is to make new associations between LO’s company and bad feelings. Break the cycle of reinforcement and retrain yourself to avoid rather than seek their company.
2) Dwell on their defects
Related to point 1, you can try and counter the idealisation inherent in limerence by exaggerating the LO’s negative points. Anytime you find yourself making excuses for their behaviour, remind yourself that people should be judged by their behaviour. If there is something that annoys or repulses you about LO, focus your attention on it. If you hate the way they eat with their mouth open, offer them snacks. If you disagree with their political views, talk about politics a lot. If they are married, ask lots of questions about their positive feelings for their spouse and children. Aversion conditioning again. You have to devalue LO to counterbalance the idealisation that your limerent brain is trying to force on you, if you stand any chance of seeing them objectively.
3) Remember that this is your life
Not LO’s life. Not your imagined ideal life as LO’s partner. Your life, now. Your guts turning somersaults and your future wellbeing at stake. This is one of the simplest concepts to explain, but one of the hardest things to really learn. You have to consider your self interest. Avoid selfishness, but tell yourself again and again that you deserve a stable, emotionally secure and fruitful future. The inappropriate LO is holding you back from that. You are being cast as the bit player in someone else’s story.
The key to success in living with limerence is this ability to be your own advocate, and take purposeful steps to change your situation. The gains will multiply well beyond the immediate benefits of getting over the current LO; they will shape your future. Recognise that the only real control anyone has over anything is control over how they respond to events. You can choose to be someone that gives their love and energy in a healthy, reciprocal and stable way, and the kind of person that requires that in return from the people you share your life with (though with FOO being the difficult case).
You can’t always control your emotional triggers, and you certainly can’t control your past, but you can control your behavioural response in the here and now to other people. Take control.
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Reblogged this on Site Title.
I am taking control by changing the visualization of LO-
Being in a car with him in the passenger seat, he takes my attention away from the road and we swerve and crash into the verge. Lo gets out shouting how stupid you are, I shut the car door on him and drive away, taking a quick peak out the review mirror we see him angry, I turn my attention back onto the road and drive away with a smile on my face.
Also go some place quiet, somewhere you are unlikely to spend any time again, like a particular spot on the beach or park. Allow yourself to dream of them for as long as you need. When ready get up and get on with your day with LO left in that spot. If you ever pass the spot again, remember he has been left there and that’s where he stays.
Or just simply visualise shutting a door in his face
I wonder if you are still checking out the site and if you are, how is your visualization therapy going? Are you limerence free? I would love to hear more from the commentariat on this topic…with our rich limerent imaginations it seems a very useful tool.
I think as Dr L. says the dwelling on the defects (although it’s truly out of character for me to do that with anyone) is a necessary evil as well. I have to keep reminding myself to do that as I hate negativity so much I default to dwelling on the positives in people (especially LO’s).
Anyone out there wanting to weigh in?
Jaideux, I have the same issues, and agree with you. I wrote this to Dr. L just the other day when providing feedback for the Emergency Deprogramming course:
I have not succeeded very well at the extinction reprogramming. The best I could do is whenever I absented mindedly start conjuring up an image of LO, I turn on a shredder, like the Banksy frame at the Sotheby auction sale of his famous painting Girl with Balloon (as soon as it sold it automatically shredded!) Or when meandering back to a memory of long hugs with LO, I would redirect to hugging a bundle of tangled barb wire. Ouch! I sometimes imagine the sound of the shredder and that is sufficient to snap me back. Rrrruh rrrruh rrrruh. Hey if a bell worked for Pavlov’s dogs…
Lots of negativity for aversion therapy but not devaluing anyone. Not sure if this is the best tactic, but it seems to be helping.
Bert that is brilliant! I’m going to try it! Shred those memories!! Hug that wire!
Excellent ideas, I should try too! I’m still a bit loving my sweet daydreams though… Life seems so tasteless without.
What works quite well for me is dwelling on LO’s defects, or to say it less negatively, to focus a who he really is without my idealizations. He has some character traits which I don’t like much, I try to keep them in mind. Or even just to see the situation with objectivity, you know, I’m married, he has an SO too, it’s all just in my head, if there was any reciprocation from his side I would know by now, etc.
In my case the negative associations come involuntarily. My LO had a new LO (first denied it and made me believe I am crazy, then when it didn’t work out cried his heart out to me) I have seen some very visual texts she sent him of what she wants to do with him (as in “look, I didn’t imagine it, she was interested in me at some point”). So everytime my LO is in my head now, she pops up and enters the scene and ruins it and ruins my mood. I guess even if that image is not wanted by me, I should build on that.
LO once said that he hates that “this girl cost him so much” aka losing me as a friend. Well, I hope she was worth it as the price was indeed high.
That’s good that works for you. It is so good to keep reminding ourselves all that. Unfortunately oftentimes, common sense, no matter how much we usually have, seems woefully useless with limerence. I read in The Emotional Brain, by Joseph LeDoux, that the connections from the limbic system to the cortex are much stronger than the other way around. So that’s the explanation why.