What’s the best way to deal with the psychological disturbance of limerence? In the short term, there are ways to manage the symptoms, but a more lasting solution means looking at the deep roots of your life.
Limerence is not actually a disease, and so talk of a cure is perhaps a bit misleading. Limerence does seem to be a common feature of many people’s experience of love, but in the context of seeking cures, we are focussing on times when limerence is detrimental to someone’s health and happiness – when it has shifted from euphoric intoxication to exhausting obsession.
In the previous post I talked about ways to get rid of limerence, or at least ways to get rid of limerence for a specific LO. That’s great as a decisive response, but limerence doesn’t just spring from nowhere. It might be triggered by the sudden appearance of a new limerent object, but there must also be some deeper psychological vulnerability that primes us to succumb.
Many serial limerents come to a point in life where they wish to be able to control, or at least moderate, their core sensitivity to limerence. While not a cure as such, the best strategy I know for managing limerence – and a great deal else – is to live a purposeful life.
That needs some explanation.
There are several aspects to what I would call a purposeful life, and they are interconnected. Overall, the idea is that you do not act in an unthinking way. You prioritise long term goals over immediate thrills. You pursue activities because they give you satisfaction, rather than gratification. But the main thing is that you recognise the most powerful choice you can make in life is how you act.
Feelings are complex, mercurial things, stimulated by subconscious drives that are hard to untangle, and while they should be acknowledged and respected, it is our actions that define us. Judge others and yourself by your actions, not your feelings or motives.
All very high-falutin’, but what are the requirements for living more purposefully and how can it help with limerence?
The first element is self-awareness, and the key issue is honesty. Be absolutely honest with yourself about who you are and what you are doing, and why. Especially if it is something ignoble. You will never find peace until you understand yourself properly, and are able to transcend the little lies and rationalisations that we all tell ourselves to maintain our self-image.
Through adolescence and early adulthood we tend to try on different personas and see how they fit. This is normal and healthy self-exploration, but as adulthood progresses, we need to come to an acceptance of who we are at our core, if we are to live authentic lives. It is OK to not want to go on an overseas adventure to South America because you find it frightening, as long as you are honest with yourself about your reasons (and don’t pretend to yourself that you really are the sort of person who is fine with being in the middle of the Patagonian wilderness without shelter or support, but it’s just not possible at the moment because of job commitments).
I don’t subscribe to the “say yes to everything” school of thought. Don’t set yourself goals that are antithetical to your nature because you think you should aspire to them. Home in on your true self, and accept yourself completely, and then you can make informed decisions about when you should do something that is frightening because it is worth doing. There are times when your fears hold you back from self-fulfilment, and there are times when your fears are protecting you from danger. Without self-awareness it is hard to tell the difference.
In terms of limerence, this means being honest about your motives when making decisions about LO. Recognise when you are doing something because it might give you a fix, rather than because it is the right thing to do. Then forgive yourself for being human, but do the right thing, with purpose. The way to get good at this self-analysis is to…
2. Understand your drives
We are all of us a hugely complex milieu of influences. I am not sure we are ever able to fully understand the foundation of our own temperaments and psychological makeup, but there are lessons to be learned from examining our most powerful drives. Even if you never get to the heart of why you have a tendency to self-sabotage, for example, correctly recognising the pattern and then taking purposeful steps to counter the behaviour in future can be transformative.
Sometimes, the origin of these drives can be pretty grim. Disordered bonding in childhood through abuse, neglect or trauma is not going to be properly overcome with a good think. Therapy is a very good idea, but with the usual caveat that finding a good therapist is no small feat. Given the range of lived experiences out there, I’m not going to try and draw universal truths here. I’m going to illustrate the idea with a personal anecdote:
I have only ever become limerent for “damsels in distress”. Specifically, women who are bold and confident on the outside, but hiding an emotional wound within. I don’t fully understand why, but it is probably a combination of cultural conditioning, romantic notions of knights in shining armour, and a mother with abandonment anxieties. Regardless of the fractional contributions of each influence, I am now very aware of the fact that I am vulnerable to limerence with women that fit this model. Armed with that awareness, I can take positive steps to respond in a more sophisticated way in the future, recognising that my own triggers are being activated, and not that this person before me is a wondrous but broken soul, who doesn’t understand how wonderful she is and needs me to save her.
The same strategy of searching for triggers applies to many other aspects of life: when and why do you start procrastinating? Why can’t you seem to get some jobs finished? What sends you into a rage, and causes you to pick arguments for their own sake? Why does that thing that they do (you know, that thing, urgh) irritate you so much?
Getting a handle on your drives and triggers, even if you don’t fully understand their basis, can allow you to change your behaviour. To act differently. To act purposefully to overcome your vulnerabilities. Then you can choose…
3. What do you want to do?
“We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
This is one of my favourite quotes for two reasons: it highlights our tendency to self-aggrandisement, and it (less obviously) highlights the importance of doing over being.
There is a natural tendency to identify ourselves by what we do for a living. “I am a lumberjack”, for example. But linking self-esteem to identity can be destructive. “I am a writer”, is actually quite significantly different from “I write for a living”.
Understanding yourself and your drives can lead you through this distinction. If you want to express a new idea, or share your life experience with other people, then you sit down and write. If you want “to be a writer” then you are aspiring to the notion of an imagined identity, with associated cultural and personal expectations. You may shop for the perfect writing desk. You may strategise about the most promising genre for a bestseller. You may get defensive if people ask how the writing is going, because, as you see it, there is an implicit criticism of your identity as a writer by making you confront why you haven’t written anything.
We judge others by what they have done, because that is the only measure that really matters. You may be a wonderful, sensitive, romantic soul, full of ideas and potential (I hope so, because those people are great). However, other people do not have access to that interior world; they can only see what you have done. So, make sure you are doing something that you care about, and enjoy, and do it with purpose.
4. The pursuit of happiness
The final aspect of a purposeful life comes from this last notion: do something that you care about, because it will bring you happiness. Proper happiness. Lasting satisfaction of time well spent, a life lived with purpose, and an ambition fulfilled. Not the transient pleasure of spectacle, or the passive distraction of entertainment, or the thrill of an illicit high. Happiness comes from self-esteem and self-actualisation, and they come most reliably from concrete achievement.
Limerence is not a route to a purposeful life. If anything, limerence is a signal from your subconscious that something is not right, that you are craving something new, and seeking relief from an emotional ache that you feel someone else can fix. But, living a purposeful life can protect you from unwanted limerence, empower you to act when you become limerent for someone who actually could be a worthy SO, and enable you to direct the energy that limerence can give you towards worthwhile endeavours.
It might take a lifetime to solve the problem of why you are how you are, and why you fall so spectacularly for some people.
But you stand a much better chance, and will have a much better time of it, if you live purposefully.
Want to learn more? Download a free e-book on how to take control of your fate and master limerence (in ten steps): click here
Limerent Emeritus says
“I have only ever become limerent for “damsels in distress”. Specifically, women who are bold and confident on the outside, but hiding an emotional wound within.” (bonus points if she’s a redhead)
In my life, I have dealt with 3 of these women with 3 different outcomes.
#1 – I had 4 yr relationship to the level of a declined marriage proposal. There was a real relationship with a real person that didn’t pan out. (redhead #1)
#2 – The first woman I seriously pursued after breaking up was also a damsel in distress. However, she made it clear up front she wasn’t interested in me. We were able to craft a friendship for several years after we both got married. I didn’t feel any sense of loss.
#3 – At the time I met the third woman (redhead #2) on a hobby site, there were some problems in my marriage. Over time, our discussion branched into other areas and I got the damsel in distress vibe from her. I pushed the boundary a little. I expected to get push back from her but I didn’t. I think that was when the LE began. In our later exchanges, she validated the vibe. We ended up parting company. I felt like I’d been dumped by a woman I never actually met.
The question is have I always been susceptible to limerence but just never encountered the right conditions (i.e. dormant) or is tendency to limerence something that can develop over time?
I’ve wondered before if my affinity for damsels in distress is like finding out you’re allergic to bee stings. Bees are benign, beneficial to the ecosystem but can kill you if you’re allergic to them.
It’s an interesting question – can you become “sensitized” to limerence? Part of the difficulty I guess is that you have to go through a few episodes of limerence before you start to recognize it as a pattern, rather than the more obvious assumption that the first person you become limerent for must just be really special.
Like you I’ve only had a few LOs in my life (3 or 4), so it took the last episode for me to really recognize this was a behavioural feature of mine. Others have LOADS of limerent episodes, so I guess they know sooner.
Another complication is that the strength of limerence can wax and wane with stress or grief or other external factors. Some people report midlife as an especially vulnerable time too. I also wonder if it will dwindle with older age…
Old wife says
My husband is 63. We’ve been married 39 years. He just had his first limerence. I thought he was getting dementia. But omg he was 20 yearsvyounger overnight. Wish he could feel that good wothout the limerence.
No it doesn’t
I am that woman. LOL Having limerent feelings for someone I do not want anything more than a friendship with. Both single but not in either of our best interests. Maybe confident, wounded redheads are his weakness, too. LOL He snuck in some love songs to me in a couple of our messages, tons of cupid hearts and flirting and it threw me over the edge, changed the dynamics of this nice blossoming friendship. These feelings are not affection, not “love”. They are insane, confusing and uncomfortable. Maybe my feelings are just caution lights going off.
Limerent Emeritus says
Both of the “confident, wounded redheads” I tangled with turned out to be more trouble than they were worth. But, I can only tag one of them as a villain.
Stimulated by last week’s posts about nostalgia, I looked at my old college yearbooks while I was working out on the elliptical. I ran across a picture of who was probably the second redhead I was attracted to, the first one being in HS. We never even dated. She started out as an engineering major. I knew her from several classes and didn’t think much of her. She switched majors and we didn’t encounter each other for a time. A few semesters later, we had another class together. This time I was very attracted to her. But, it was like we were from two different planets and it didn’t go anywhere. I don’t remember ever seeing her after that class ended.
When I looked at the yearbook, it said she was an accounting major. I thought that I’d only made runs at two accountants that didn’t go anywhere but it turns out it was actually three. Accountants and I just don’t seem to get along.
Redhead or not, some deficiencies can’t be overcome.
I’ve struggled with Limerence since first starting dating as a young teenager.. saving the “damsel in distress”
Your write up is extremely helpful and has put into words what I have been struggling with for years.
Now the work starts….thanks.
Thank you for writing this! I have found This particular conversation the most beneficial and helpful of all the things I have read about this ” condition” . Thank you for your transparency, I hope you have been reward by the universe!
Thanks for all of the valuable comments. I am very deep inside my head and obsessing over this woman that I work with. I dream about her all the time. I am married and have not told anyone of my LO. She works in our office only a few hours a week, so I do not get to see much of her. I so want to tell her how I feel about her but am very afraid of hurting anyone, so I just live with the constant heartache and distraction. I have fallen hard for her…I don’t know what I am going to do.
“I am married and have not told anyone of my LO. ”
Mr. Lee told me about it (last year) and while that wasn’t a moment I care to repeat in our marriage, he told me before it had a chance to get physical, or before he started telling her more about our marriage then he told me, etc.
There was a recent fumble on our 25th wedding anniversary, but he has since realized how he had fumbled it and has gotten back on track.
Admittedly, his LO left earlier this year so now she isn’t a physical presence that couldn’t be ignored entirely, so that really helped a lot. Doesn’t mean there are days that are harder than others.
” I so want to tell her how I feel about her but am very afraid of hurting anyone”
If you tell your LO how you feel about her, exactly how will that improve your relationship with your wife? Before you set out to pursue your LO, be a mensch tell your wife first. Otherwise, you may find yourself using your wife. How?
Predicated on the idea that your marriage is a good marriage with ups, downs, in-laws and never quite enough money – but not perfect, of course.
“For the limerent, the spouse provides stability, a home life, children (if applicable), history, security, family, community, etc. Meanwhile, the LO offers excitement, emotional escape, sexual intensity (physical or mental flights of fancy and longing) and maybe even a newfound raison d’etre. As such, it is unsurprising that limerents would often prefer (in their dreams) to maintain the status quo, hoping their spouse will make continue to make sacrifices to keep happy while they enjoy the sizzle of the LO.”
Not telling your wife about this deprives her of free agency. This is a big secret to lug around and she may be laboring under completely different worries. She may have noticed you being a bit ‘distant’ and has chalked it up to work or health worries and is quietly, or not so quietly, picking up steam on other things to give you some down time.
Embrace the real. If that means separating from and possibly divorcing your wife, or her divorcing you, that is something you should seriously consider doing before disclosing to your LO. After all, your wife deserves the courtesy of being told what is going on. You may be surprised by her response. What if she is also limerent for someone else? Or has been?
I hope for the best for you and your situation. Don’t drift. Drive.
I am a happily married woman with children. A friend of mine passed away and I’ve tried to be there for her husband because they were married for many years. I’ve known them both for 17 years. Recently he told me that he has fallen in love with me and is limerence with me. I’ve told him that I will not be nothing more than a friend. He can’t seem to leave me alone and I don’t want to hurt him in any way. My husband is aware of the situation and suggest that I should stop all communication with him. What is the best way to handle my grieving friend.
I am sure you have a lot of compassion for your grieving friend, but you are actually not helping him by allowing any contact.
You can perhaps tell him you wish him the best, and you understand his pain, but you are focusing on your marriage and family now. You could also direct him to this site! There is a wonderful deprogramming course here that could help him ‘get over’ you.
It’s easy to fall into limerence when one has just lost a loved one, the brain is franticly looking for comfort and sometimes chooses limerence as a way to self-soothe and self-medicate.
It’s very unhealthy and it’s better to go through the grieving process without a limerent object in the picture.
He might benefit from grief counseling.
You are actually being kind to him by excusing yourself completely from his life.
Wishing you the best, and him too….
Allie 1 says
Hi Angel. That is a really tough spot! You don’t want to cause your friend any more hurt and you want to help him through this difficult time. But I have to agree with Jaideux above – you can’t do both any more. Ultimately no contact is the best way to help him. He is most likely using limerence like a drug to medicate the pain of his grief so is in essence is an unhealthy addiction. The longer this continues for him, the more pain it will cause when it ends. And end it must for his sake, so he has a chance to eventually start to live life purposefully again.
Personally I would be completely honest with him about your intention to cut communication and why. Make your boundaries extremely clear with no wiggle room whatsoever for his limerent mind to find even a tiny crumb of hope. No “if things were different….”. This will hurt him but it is a necessary hurt that will help him recover.
You may want to consider gradually weaning him off your company rather than an abrupt cut off? If you can, explain your intentions. As a limerent, having your LO execute NC or a phased withdrawal on you when you are not in the loop is very painful and serves only to ramp up your emotions, paranoia and rumination. I am talking from first hand experience here. Give him as much certainty as you can. And stick to your guns however much he tries to persuade you to stay.
Wishing you well.
Your situation sounds very similar to mine (and ironically you have the same first name as my LO!)
I have fully disclosed to my husband, which was tough – especially on him. He still doesn’t fully understand it. We agreed boundaries regarding contact with LO which I have stuck by. I’ve been seeing a counsellor too – she helped me view it objectively and to try and work out what needed work within myself and my marriage.
6 months in and with no sign of the limerence fading I’ve handed my notice in at work. I’m hoping no contact will help it fade.
Good luck to you. Hope things work out as well as possible.
If Mr. Lee’s experience is typical, not being around LO will help a great deal. They are not in touch via email, telephone, letter, carrier pigeon, etc. She does pop into his head and skew his responses occasionally (25th wedding anniversary!) but since her departure he has decided to face the anxieties that added fuel to his limerence fire. They are now banked rather than blazing.
I hope that you find a new job soon, limerence doesn’t pop up again, and that you and your husband are able to go forward with renewed energy.
Sophie, it would be helpful to know how that has gone for you.
I work with a lovely woman, we are both single but I’m 10 years older, and we have several lifestyle differences that would make us an unlikely couple on paper.
I’ve come to the conclusion that changing jobs is the only way to claim back my sanity (I personally feel I am going insane some days, unable to control the direction of my thoughts which ALWAYS come back to her – much harder sitting 4 feet away from her 5 days a week).
I am actively looking for another job,
Totally understand how tough that must be – especially 5 days a week (I only worked one day per week)
If I’m honest, when I have a good shift at my new job, its fine.
When things don’t go right (like this evening!!) I end up cross with myself for not managing my feelings better so I didn’t have to change jobs and simultaneously wishing LO was there to give me a hug (we got a little too close – if you want the details they are in the comments under “Emotional Affairs”)
Neither is a particularly helpful response, it is still work in progress nearly 3 months since no contact! It doesn’t help that I have to work at times when I can get childcare, so the new job isn’t something I ever saw myself doing, but it pays the (therapists) bills.
Good luck with your job search. Really hope things work out for you.
It’s all so overwhelming and involuntary. To begin to unravel the causes is difficult enough, but doing it while under the spell of limerence is far harder.
Please don’t tell you LO. I did this recently, and the consequences have been devastating all round. I feel so bad. Like others, I will seek other employment, and I bitterly regret the hurt I have caused my wife, the LO, and other people around me.
Keep your same sex friends close. They are the only people who can hear it all, and really forgive you.
This has been very helpful. I too fall into the ‘damsel in distress’ trap, and that bit about strong women with broken souls could have come directly from my own brain.
Thanks again for writing this
Hello. I feel I have suffered from this in some form since my adolescence. The first was a boy I had seen once and managed to drag out into 2 year long, elaborated fantasy based on anecdotal tit bits fed to me by school friends who knew us both. Most recently is a gentleman whom I met through friends whilst living in another country. We had a brief, romantic encounter and have seen each other twice in about 6 years. We sporadically keep in touch via Facebook largely initiated by me. He never leaves my thoughts for very long. I have a wonderful circle of friends, supportive family, am successful in my career and varied interests. How do I move past this to form meaningful romantic attachments that have a basis in reality. I have never been in a serious relationship although have been sexually active. My attachment style would probably be avoidant-ambivalent. Any advice you have would be much appreciated and thank you so much for creating this page. I didnt even know this existed!
It’s a slow process, because you have a lifetime of habits to overcome, but the best strategy I know of is to focus on what you want from life, and then try and plan a pathway from where you are now to where you want to be. Identify what barriers are holding you back, and think about how you could change your behaviour to get around them.
Opinions differ on the value of therapy, but any method that helps you to understand yourself better is good in my book. Beware pat explanations “Oh, you’re co-dependent that explains everything”, but try to recognise patterns of behaviour that are sabotaging your ability to live a fulfilling life. A very useful skill to cultivate is the ability to observe your behaviour in a slightly detached way. So, let’s say in your case you are getting involved with someone new and then you feel anxiety about how close you are getting, this could be looked at two ways: “I feel anxious, that’s a bad sign, there’s something wrong, start avoiding.” or “I feel anxious, that may well be my tendency to be avoidant kicking in, I should try and understand what’s triggering me.”
Whatever the underlying cause of limerence, whether or not someone needs professional support, or whether any specific relationship is healthy or damaging, the central truth for me is this: you will always benefit from understanding yourself better and striving to live a purposeful life.
Thank you so much! I have just discovered the existence of Limerence and it does fit my life to a T. I have spent decades working the CODA 12 steps, recycling the self-help program through the years as events required to regain some sanity but it never reached the depth and source of my pain. Now I have a realistic framework to begin to understand and hopefully learn to heal and recover from this LE that has quietly driven my life’s choices for the past forty plus years. Removing myself from contact with my LO decades ago, moving on with two marriages, (first ended in ugly divorce and two children that don’t talk to me, second ended a couple of years ago leaving me a lonely widow). My Limerence has resurfaced in a mighty way recently during the isolation of COVID and I long for a Hallmark resolution where these two star crossed lovers find each other in their senior years and overcome all obstacles and live happily ever after. This is a favorite fantasy of mine. How do I let go with love and open my heart to a healthy IRL relationship?
ugh. Same. Just heard this term and it fits me to a T. I could have written most of what you wrote above. I mean not exactly but the Hallmark idea and lifelong intense crushes, more intense and greater numbers than any of my friends.
Thank you. I think I am already trying to put this into practice but as you say there are a lifetime of habits to overcome. I am going to continue reading your blog because it’s been incredibly helpful. As hard as this can be, there is some reassurance in not being alone. I think any studies into the chemical occurrences in the brain of a limerent would be very interesting.
I’m glad I stumbled on this… I believe I have experienced this to an extent 3 times. I have had 2 actual relationships but the Limerence was not in those relationships… the Limerence is for people I perceive as strong and free willed but the romantic relationships have always been with men I felt would never leave me and love me in a way that the Limerence never even had an opportunity to because I am terrified of the overwhelming emotions. I avoid the Limerence with the exception of one who is a friend of 10yrs who is aware of the Limerence but we both have agreed we would not work as a couple and value our friendship more/are focused on ourselves at the moment. In my two actual relationships I became obsessed with making the men love me to the point I wasted all my time and money doing things to make myself admirable to them while not actually striving towards my goals. I broke if both these relationships when I realised what I was doing including a marriage. I was very unhappy in these relationships and am sad to admit they became like a game in the end to win the persons affections – which I did – in the hopes they would heal my own emotional scars and make me feel whole. I’m 26 and am in the process of seeking help for my ptsd and possible bipolar. I have just been accepted into uni and plan on becoming a travel nurse so I can put my energy to better use and carve out a life I am proud of. I am terrified of sex and dating now as I feel when my interest gets sparked I lose all rationality and have no control over my emotions. My thoughts become intrusively shaped around doing things to interest the person. I have taken a break from social media and dating to work on this. I actually found that during the unravelling of my relationship with my ex husband I was seeking out experiences and quotes I could post in social media to try and grab the attention of my fantasies rather than for the sake of actual enjoyment and this was extremely disturbing.
Three multi-year limerance experiences. One in adolescence, one in university, one in adulthood that is ongoing. All three were men are men who had the trappings of success (clothes, well spoken, educated) who only ever managed to achieve moderate success and plateaued early in their careers. Cool, smart, well-dressed types.
In contrast, all the men who were interested in me (who I avoided because I was too busy being preoccupied with LOs) turned out very successful and ended up happily married to other women. I grew up with an abusive, mentally ill mother and a workaholic father, and in turn have become an alcoholic and a workaholic with a paralyzingly fear of intimacy. One of these men just announced on Facebook that he and his wife are expecting their first child. And I realize that I’ve sabotaged any chance I ever had at actual love.
There is always hope. And the fact that you have now come to realise how you have ended up in your current circumstances is the critical first step in turning things around. It’s a bitter pill to look back on our choices and regret them, without doubt, but you do also get to learn from them, and start to make better choices in the future. It’ll take work to start to unlearn the habits of a lifetime, but it is possible. Professional help might be a bonus if you can find someone whose approach to therapy gels with you, but the key thing is to start on the deep work of getting to know yourself better, being utterly truthful with yourself, and caring for yourself. Then take a few, cautious steps towards trying out new things, purposeful things, projects you’ve always wanted to try, travel, meeting new people – whatever most inspires and moves you. Take it slow and steady, but plot a roadmap to where you want your life to be, and then take the first step in the right direction.
A purposeful life is well worth living.
All best wishes,
You only know what you’ve been shown. They may be successful, married and expecting a child but that doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling too.
If you had married anybody, you still would have brought yourself into the relationship and it was very recently that you realized that you have unhealthy habits. Which is good, in a sense. Imagine dismantling a joint life while still juggling alcoholism, overworking (are you really working or do you come in early and work late because you aren’t particularly productive and need to make up for lapses during normal work hours?) limerence, possessions, child custody, retirement accounts, etc.
You can work on that which undermines you, maybe acquire some balance in your life and come to be more of a “thank you” person than one who says “I’m sorry” more than is necessary.
Try keeping a journal. I prefer hardbound journals that can be written in rather than typing. It’s more difficult to undo what you’ve written in ink than that which you’ve typed so it is harder to hide from yourself.
It’s difficult not to dwell on some arbitrary timetable of what you should have done “by now”. If there are people who push it on you (you know the ones!) try to minimize their opportunities to do so. See them less, be prepared to change the topic or tell them you don’t wish to discuss it, etc.
Have you started looking for a therapist? It can be dangerous to stop drinking entirely (AWS with DTs is no joke. 30% of people who have DT also develop aspiration pneumonia) so you may need to consider medical assistance.
Best of luck to you.
I’m 32. There aren’t any men left. I don’t want children. I checked match.com and there are only 2 men between 30 and 44 within a 300 mile radius of me who say they don’t want kids and neither is at all attractive to me. All my friends are married and their lives are filled up with couple stuff and kids. I’m on my own as the odd woman out because I waited too long.
I agree with Lee that what is said on match.com is not the greatest barometer of the candidate pool. If I’m a guy on a dating site, I’m probably going to list some characteristics that give me the best chance for hits. Wanting to have children is a no-brainer, as men believe that’s what women want to hear.
I also agree with Lee that 32 is not too old for anything. Though when I was 32, I also felt 32 was old but that’s simply because it was the oldest I had ever been! And what I believed and thought at 32 (or any age for that matter) was subject to change one year later. And life is funny, you never know what tomorrow may bring.
I rather wonder if match.com is really the best way to meet men in your areas with whom you may mesh. I don’t know where you live, but in my area there are groups that are designed just for single people to go out and do things in the company of other single people. Not just meeting up at a bar and seeing what happens or speed dating or whatever. But doing things. Art classes, hiking, biking, wine tastings, kayaking, canoeing, scavenger hunts, checking out restaurants, etc. Then there is the sort of service where you meet up with someone for lunch. It’s less pressure than a dinner and it’s designed for working professionals who have very little time in the evenings.
Not everybody wants kids. Not everybody who has kids wanted them at all, or even enjoys being a parent at any point in the process. They’re expensive, noisy, messy and a huge drain of limited resources. Lousy effect on marriages.
Plus you are still coming to terms with limerence and alcoholism; is now the best time to be seeking a partner? I’d focus on figuring who I am without a drink and outside of work. Without trying to incorporate someone else. It might be tempting to just do/enjoy whatever he likes to do and not figure out what YOU enjoy.
32 isn’t old. Most people just start hitting their stride in their 30’s. You don’t want to get pregnant so that alleviates that pressure too.
So while you have a lot to deal with, you’re not 60 looking back on a lifetime of lost opportunities and a serious lifestyle-induced health issues. You got this, H, particularly if you seek and find the right people to help you address them. People who have a license on the line and are bound by confidentiality clauses can be useful.
Thank you for this space to write. It’s a long story so I’ll try to keep it short. It all started when I was four, my first limerent experience, with my neighbor who was three at the time. Seriously, I know this sounds far-fetched but it’s truth I speak! In order that I don’t drag out the monologue to the point I’m no longer a captivating read, I will skip the details of my first L.O. (if that’s what I’m to call it) and just say I recall I grabbed and kissed him, then could never speak to him again. Some may ask, why? Why do I do this to myself? Like I know the answer hah! If I had the answer, would I have repeated it again and again and again? Between the ages of four and the time I married at the age of 25, I must have been limerent over 20 times, never longer than a few months, maybe a couple years, but never, ever with someone with whom I actually had a real in-the-flesh relationship. I married a strong man emotionally that did not give me much emotionally. He kept things to himself, and I was the complete opposite of that. We had children together and spent most of our time working and raising kids. I couldn’t convince him to go out to the movies or a restaurant or spend time relaxing with me in a romantic way, much less travel with me. He always had an excuse, too expensive, he was too tired after working all week, or a criticism about this or that. He would criticize people that traveled, saying it was a waste of time and more than likely if people were thinking they were eating gourmet food in France, for example, they were really being served a dish of dog food. It wore on me. Plus, I never had my own money since I stayed home with the kids and my ex gave me an allowance. Eventually I went back to school and became employable, which I will tell you about later. I had one limerent experience during my marriage, with a man in the church I was going to at the time. My ex wouldn’t attend church with me and it was always a chore to get the kids ready and drag them off to church every Sunday, where my two oldest boys would goof around on the pew while I played bells, me giving them dirty looks and so forth. Perhaps that might explain my mind wandering. It was short-lived, not the least reason being he was married to a friend of mine. Looking back on this, I chuckle to myself, because I have no idea what attracted me to him 🙂 Not at all my type, if I did have a type back then. And don’t ask me to describe my feelings about him. I can’t remember. Isn’t that strange? I have an excellent memory, but I just can’t remember enough about that L.O. now. Around my fourth decade of life, after my last child was nearing the toddler stage, and I had become immersed in my master’s program, I began to become more annoyed with my husband’s refusal to do anything I wanted to do. He was at his happiest puttering around the house on the weekends knocking things off his list, as he put it. When I asked him to go to marriage counseling with me several times, he would refuse and tell me I had an inferiority complex, that I was comparing our relationship and life to some standard that had no basis in reality. He would also quite frequently tell me I should be grateful someone would put up with me and be thankful that I was able to stay home with the kids. Often he would tell me that I was a burden to the family by going back to school. Imagine! He actually told me I should not study on the weekends because of the family responsibilities, but I should study only after all the kids were in bed. Eventually my heart left him, then my head, and finally I had the guts and finesse to leave him. During this particularly stressful period in my life and before I had left my ex, I encountered someone that set off my limerence. I had received some counseling for my personal growth and happiness and my therapist had me complete a personality portrait in order to get an idea of my aspirations and (possibly hidden) fears. Never did I mention limerence to her. The idea hadn’t been introduced to me yet and at that point, I didn’t feel it affected me the way it has over the course of my life. The test was a complete eye-opener! It struck me so hard and all I could do was read more about my personality and other ways of being. This led me to contacting a person who catalyzed one way of interpreting personality, that had listed a number in a book, sort of a coach in that regard. I set up a time to speak with him. The conversation was amazing and I thought he was the best listener and most kind person I had ever spoken with in my entire existence. This set in motion a round of limerence, not aware of what I was doing, not having read Tennov’s book or been introduced to the subject yet. Well over the course of the next year or two, to once again shorten my rather long story, I would transfer my L.O. to his colleague, after learning the first L.O. was actually gay. All of this occurred over the internet. Bad/evil internet (slap!) :-\ Well, not exactly everything was via internet. I attended two conferences with the L.O. entity because after engaging with them in this manner over the internet, my curiosity was piqued, and I was led by my heart to find out what in the world was leading me astray (AKA limerence). I realized neither the original L.O. nor the second L.O. did it for me, although I was unfortunately crystallized in my object de resistance (not a real phrase, just made it up now). The second L.O. was too young for me and was completely out of shape, like he spent all of his time at the computer. But the thing is I experienced many odd coincidences during that time and over a period of several years, one thing after another showed up, concrete things, like a poster of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs placed on my front porch step, which no-one I associated with claimed doing, and people I would never have had any reason to meet before began popping up in my life, many of these people were condescending or gave me the opinion they were working on me, to change me in some way. I felt like a puppet. Because of the interaction I had with the entities mentioned above, and their group, I believe my limerence became their problem and they were interested in solving it. For the grace of the internet and networking, certain people in the vicinity where I was living at the time, became involved. By that time I had learned a great deal about limerence, read Tennov’s book, which, in my humble opinion felt like a simple abstract in comparison to what actually happens in limerence, and maintained a busy ‘single’ lifestyle, sharing the responsibility of raising our troop of kids with my ex and working outside the home. My kids were growing up and I was missing out on most of what they were doing because of my obsession with the L.O. and also the mystery surrounding the synchronizations that were taking place. You may be asking yourself, wouldn’t these odd signs be a perfect example of what has been discussed regarding this condition and you might be asking a good question. However, even if I thought that these occurrences were in fact a product of my imagination, the reality was they were not! I could list many more that would make you all believers, but as I’ve stated before, I want to make this story succinct. The last chapter of this story has been written (in my mind) and the details should be written on paper because I think it would help me get it off my chest so I can move on. There’s another segment of the journey that involves again transferring my limerence to another person. After about five years following the first five years of my limerence with this entity, my feelings gradually began fading. Once I resolved to stop going online to the website and engaging in meaningless drunken banter with these folks, I started looking to move town and make a fresh start. My kids were old enough to live on their own and I needed to move away from my ex. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go, picked a few places and finally decided to apply for a job in the town where I grew up. I was very excited about my new prospect, flew into the city and stayed the night with an old friend, planning on renting a car and driving to the destination the next day. Well, here’s the kicker. Apparently an old beau of my friend calls to see if he can stay the night at her house because he’s serving as a shuttle service so to speak from the major airport to small towns in the state. He will be happy to drive me down to the town and be happy to drive me back after the interview so I could catch the flight back to my home state. Never in my wildest imagination did I think this could happen but it did. First thing out of his mouth is, after gesturing to his face, “came from my mom”. Then I immediately knew this was someone that knew me. Hmm…He was very blunt in his communication with me, never once giving me any hints about anything between us, let me say this up front. He simply spoke, I listened, asked a few questions. He told me his life story in five hours. Told me where he grew up, his relationships, children, travels, work, health, finances, everything. I on the other hand, did not say too much about myself, and reason to myself this is because I already told him via the internet. TMI! Always give too much information about myself. Big problem for me. Even in my old age, still doing it. But anyway, we parted after that weekend. Nothing fleshy happened unfortunately. He was very hands-off. Didn’t tell me he loved me or that I was his special one. Nope, nothin! Me on the other hand fell head over heels in love with him. And voila! limerent transport #3 as a fully grown, mature (that’s questionable, but still) woman hits herself over the head with a 2×4 once again. But wait, there’s still more to this story. Oh yes, indeed, there’s more. And I’m sure you all are sitting on the edge of your chair waiting to hear it. I’ve got to continue this sometime because it’s part of my therapy that I’ve outlined for myself in order to cure my limerence this time once and for all. I’ll hopefully be able to write more just not right now. Just a thought before I submit this. To anyone struggling with limerence, I get it. I’m not trying to make light of my situation so others feel bad, truly I’m not. This part of my personality sucks to be honest. I will say one of the best things I’ve found for relieving symptoms of limerence is 1) talk about it and 2) get busy with other things that have nothing to do with intimate or romantic type relationships. It takes a lot of effort and time to limerate (my term, not Tennov’s). In order to counteract the tendency, get busy. Dr Limerent is right about that piece of advice. If you made it to the end of my saga, thank you for reading. The best to everyone that suffers from the effects of limerence, may you find peace and happiness in your lives.
Your story was incredibly helpful to me. Thanks for sharing.
So relieved to know I’m not alone in this situation. I had a relationship with my LO for a little over a year. It was exciting and passionate but also toxic and abusive. It ended years ago and I’m now happily married in what I consider to be a fairly healthy relationship. Despite this and despite a total lack of contact I can’t help but find my thoughts still going back to the LO. I don’t want to be with him but there is something about him and the time we spent together that draws my idle thoughts to him more and more often. I tell myself I just want closure but I think the truth is I just want to make sure he still knows I exist.
Seems totally understandable to me. The fleeting thoughts about the “what ifs” may linger a lifetime, IMO.
I came to this by searching for “how to deal with your office crush” which revealed the word limerent to me for the first time. Definitely me. I have been in such a state for the last 19 years, four different LOs, plus another one earlier in life. Two were performers with whom I maintained a respectable aquaintance (emails, post performance conversations, dinners) until something happened, maybe they lost patience and decided to save me from myself… One is back in my life as a friend after a complete break enforced by her – we share a social hobby. One (the earliest) has passed away and I did eventually come to see her in a normal light. The latest was the reason for me searching for advice on the office crush. Each time, it seems if I lose the LO for whatever reason, I am left wide open to fall for the next. I avoid pursuing normal dating because it doesn’t seem fair on the date if I am in a limerent state, and in the rare occasions when I’m not, supposing it happens again? So it is a relief to discover the word for it. I think I have a purposeful life, I have a worthwhile career with opportunities for progression which I am pursuing, I volunteer, I have two older kids who love me, I have an involving social hobby which brings joy to others… maybe this is just my fate.
I am glad you mentioned having a purposeful life, as so do l but still struggl e with limerence !
Glad to know I’m not alone. Experienced limerence in high school and college. After 10+ years of marriage, am currently limerent with a friend from high school whom I began chatting with online (mutual crush) and admittedly had an emotional affair during difficulties in my own marriage. Agreed to stop talking to LO and am working on getting over him, but it’s tough when the connection is severed by a third party, rather than myself or LO wanting to stop talking. It’s been two months, and I’ve felt a little crazy thinking that I’m still almost constantly thinking of this person when they probably have moved on fairly quickly. I know it was still wrong, but it doesn’t make getting past it any easier, especially when some of the marriage difficulties are still there. Still, knowing it’s a thing that others are dealing with and that there is support does help.
This article was very thoughtful. The anecdote that you provided hit the nail on the head for me. I’ve suffered limerence since I was a small boy. Over thinking and obsessive behavior that drains me. I’m in the middle of a limerence now. I divorced my wife to pursue the LO and we had a brief affair before the LO got married (not to me). Now, a year since it ended, I still dream of her, think about her daily and crave her reciprocation. All this while progressing a new relationship with a wonderful woman. I want to stop these thoughts, but it’s tremendously difficult as I see the LO daily at work.
My actions are destructive. I leave her notes, I share stories with her and I secretly buy her gifts. I know this isn’t fair to her or myself, but I have a glimmer of hope that surfaces when she reciprocates with small gestures like bringing her home cooked baking for me on Monday or acknowledging a sweet note I have left for her. Yet it’s hot and cold. Sometimes she won’t reply at all to a message, and I can see now that she only responds, but never initiates. I believe she is simply trying to be nice but would rather not have to be.
I’m desperately trying to let go and be mentally healthy again.
Wow! I found this because I was trying to figure out if Limerence is what I’m dealing with. I think it is and I’m sad. I have been dealing with this since I was at least 4. I remember being limerant for several people in my kindergarten class all at once. Including the teacher. Growing up I would be limerant for many people, both peers and adults. Often several at the same time. I was told I was a daydreamer and I suppose it was true. I actually had an adult confidant as a teen who needed to pull the plug on me as my Limerence for him began to show. In college it felt like I was limerant for everyone. I actually married a man who I met there. We’ve been married for 16 years. Two kids. I find myself in this limerant state with no fewer than 5 LOs at present. My mind swirls at night and I don’t get a lot of sleep. Truthfully I don’t want a romantic relationship with them. Not at all. I just seem to crave their attention and affection. But I am too painfully shy with them to pursue it. I do find myself making decisions about where to go and what to do based on where I feel I’m most likely to see them. All of them (currently) are married men. Most are old enough to be my father. I have 0 desire to break up any marriages, my own included. I just want this swirling of obsessive thoughts and giddiness to stop. I want to be able to have a normal relationship with people and this gets in the way. Most of the advice I have read encourages one to cut off contact with the LO. In my case that would make me a hermit because there is always-ALWAYS- someone. Or even several someones. I’m afraid the way forward for me is to actually spend more time with my LOs. Eventually, I think, they will be “human” to me (get knocked off the pedestal I have them on) and I will be able to move forward with a more normal view of them and relationship with them. My only concern then is that each LO will simply be replaced by another LO. So I don’t know if there really is any way totally out for me.
Sorry to hear you’re having such a hard time. I struggle with just one LO so having 5 must be a nightmare!!
When I was having counselling, my therapist asked what I was seeking from LO. We explored whether I really saw a future with him, which I didn’t, but it became clear that he was providing me with attention, comfort and validation that was lacking in my marriage at that point in time.
From what you’ve said, you’re craving their attention and affection, and the armchair psychologist in me can’t help wondering if this is a childhood wound that hasn’t been resolved?(I have no qualifications in this field whatsoever, only speaking from personal experience and amateur reading!)
Also your comment “Most of them are old enough to be my father” would suggest that you’re looking for almost parental attention, affection or validation that may have been lacking or inconsistent during childhood?
When I was younger my Dad was often physically present, but his depression, and very reserved upbringing, meant that he often wasn’t there emotionally. He’s done a lot of work and has resolved some issues from his childhood, and subsequently my relationship with him, which I never thought was bad in the first place, has improved considerably. I’ve also had to unlearn some of what I was taught as a child about hiding/not having feelings and being more open emotionally. I’m not blaming my parents at all, but it’s been interesting to explore this.
What I’m trying to suggest is that if it’s a possibility for you, it may be good to explore this with a proper counsellor who can help you unravel what’s going on? They may also help you to learn new behaviours and ways of thinking that may help you to get out of your repeating pattern that results in so many LOs.
The other thing that I’ve noticed is when Ive not been taking time to look after myself, to have that space to deal with emotions properly, then I’m more inclined to lapse back into limerent fantasy. With two kids myself I know how hard it can be, but have also learned lately how important it is.
Thanks for your thought-provoking comment, KS. Your situation is unusual! The vast majority of limerents tend to be “one LO at a time” folks. Occasionally, when single, some limerents who have contacted me have talked about being “receptive” to multiple possible LOs, but once one gets the upper hand, they become the sole object of obsession. So – you seem to have a very active limerence gland!
It’s a challenge to think how to manage this, as it seems that limerence is a feature of many of your interactions. Usually the practical advice would be about tackling a particular case by working on your response to a specific LO. Hard to do if it’s distributed over five people…
I guess the best plan is to go straight to what I sometimes called the “deep work”. Trying to understand the origin of your subconsious drives. What is it that you respond to in your LOs? What in your past my shed light on the emotional sensitivity you have? Many talking therapy proponents say that problems with adult romance are usually about childhood bonding. I’m more sceptical, but understanding yourself and your past better is certainly worthwhile work. Sometimes challenging, but always enlightening.
Ann O'Donnell says
Is it common to be limerent towards someone 30 years younger – my LO is 33.
I wouldn’t say common but there are several posters here that have significantly younger LOs. The topic pops up in different threads now and then.
My last LO was about 15 years younger than me. Limerence notwithstanding, it’s hard for me to grasp a 45yr old woman may be outside my range.
My LO is 26 and I’m 49. It’s a completely odd situation for me. I know the age gap is too much. I ignored her until I started picking up signals that she appeared attracted to me, and then the limerence started. I don’t know if she actually was attracted to me, but as I’ve said before, you start learning to spot the body language of attraction long before you reach my age. Plus, women that age often develop crushes on older men, especially women in her particular situation of having been adopted and never having even an adoptive father. I think my LE stems from my trying to somehow make up for what I felt I never had earlier in life.
Lightbulb. I am now utterly convinced I am a limerant. I was looking for some kind of relief online that could tame some of the physiological effects of going through a pretty tough phase of pining after an LO. I was really hoping someone would say ‘peppermint tea will really settle your stomach and allow you to get on with the day’. Now I’m realising I have had past LOs and tea probably won’t sort this out. I’m married with kids so having an LO is quite impractical, but it’s clear now it stems from way back, so thanks to all other posters as each of you have made me see things in a different light.
🙂 I think you may be right, Anon.
As chance would have it, I actually drink a lot of peppermint tea. It didn’t save me.
I have struggled with being limerent for men who are unavailable. Not emotionally unavailable but married is a new one…Although I didn’t know he is still married bc he is going through a divorce. Before that I was attracted to a guy I didn’t know had a g.f bc he was flirting with me. Before that I was attracted to guys who just weren’t interested in me. One guy I liked was attracted to me but not genuinely interested in me. I just so happen to not be physically attracted to men who are attracted to me.
I’m so pleased that I’ve came across this page as I’ve felt like I’ve been going insane for the last year or so. I’m a mature student at university and I felt a very strong connection with my personal tutor. He wasn’t what I would normally go for physically but I felt a strong pull towards him and found myself being very attracted to him. There were some issues going on within the university with other students (I ended up transferring to a different uni) so I had to contact him quite a bit and meet up with him to discuss issues further. However, I got so used to emailing him that I began finding reasons to email him, and if I had emailed on a Friday the weekends felt like forever as I desperately wanted him to reply. I convinced myself that we must be soul mates/twin flames etc and that our paths crossed for a reason. I was in a relationship when I started my course but meeting my tutor highlighted how unhappy I was in it and I ended the relationship a few months later. That is itself wasn’t so bad but I have since found myself unable to even consider dating anyone else and it’s now been a year. I have been on tinder etc (not great at the best of times) and I found myself getting depressed and aching for my tutor even more as no one was like him. Like I said, I ended up switching Uni’s as things became unbearable there and he looked genuinely upset when I told him I was definitely leaving. He said he had hoped he could have sorted something out so I’d stay but understood why I wanted to leave. As my last few months approached and I eagerly awaited my exam results, I decided we must definitely be right for each other and wrote him an email telling him how I felt (against my friends advice). The email was met with a painful silence, not even a quick sentence saying he didn’t feel the same. Unfortunately, I hadn’t thought it through properly and forgot that I still had things to discuss with him re my course, so I’d still need to contact him. When I (I was dying of embarrassment at this point) emailed him again I expected no response however, he sent a very happy email and said he was more than happy to help. I felt very confused. He also said if I wanted to come in and discuss anything he’d be happy to meet (I declined that offer). Again, I was very confused. He ignored my gushing email but didn’t seem uncomfortable at all. However, things changed as I continued to need help with other things and he seemed to become more and more impatient with me. The last straw was when I said I was going to put in a complaint against some other staff members (it really was a horrid place) and he simply replied ‘I hope you feel more supported at your new uni. I no longer feel comfortable being your reference, this is for your benefit more than anything as I can’t guarantee the quality of it’ 😮 I felt flawed! BUT I was still consumed by these feelings for him and the belief that we were soul mates so a month later I sent him a message on Facebook apologising for how things turned out and that I appreciated all of his help etc. He ignored it (surprise, surprise). Then I actually did have to email him the month after that asking him if he’d reconsider being my referee as I was struggling to find another. He ignored it again! Another lecturer who I barely knew agreed to be my referee instead. I then sent him a message 3 days ago wishing him a great Xmas etc and, yip, he ignored it! I couldn’t understand how I could feel so strongly for someone who I knew so little. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just get him out of my head and move on. (It didn’t help that 3 different fortune tellers told me I’d marry someone with his name) It was driving me crazy, and most of my waking thoughts were about him. It had became unhealthy and I just wanted it to stop. So I googled obsessing over someone you aren’t in a relationship with and that’s when I came across this article and all the pieces started coming together. Thank you for sharing your knowledge on this as I feel I can now make sense of it and move on. I hope it gets better in time. 🙄
What a great site this is to share the anguish and elation of limerence. I have just turned 60 and have had three. Not to go into too much detail, first, I was married with two v young kids, a woman at work became close with me. After work drinks, in her car, no sex. Second, when I was in my early 40’s, client single mum 3 young girls, left my wife for her. Damn was that dumb, sex was amazing. She left me for a better prospect, which failed. Wife took me back, shouldn’t have. Third, present day, have read of limerence over the years, care for a co worker leaving next week for interstate which hurts. The key difference with her, is I care for her, future and welfare. You bet I will be in tears, sad, etc. but it all about her wellbeing. Is the way to beat it, is about her, not you.
PS met crush one at a funeral recently after all those years, took 10 years to remotely get over her, I was a mess, embraced, sent her an email, good to see her, no reply.
this page may have saved my life, so thank you, not that I feel I am going any less crazy at the moment but has saved me from doing something stupid all the same, it has taken me an age to find out what the hell is wrong with me, im married 18 years, with my other half 25 and never even had this infatuation with him, in fact ive never experienced it in my lifetime. Im 45, 3 children, I suppose this has opened a can of worms for me, the control my other half has had over me. Ive only started going out in the past couple of years with girlfriends as it was never worth the grief, I have three simple rules at home, don’t antagonise him, don’t answer back and don’t refuse sex unwarranted. Hes a good man, loves me dearly and has made changes for me but has his funny ways, I never paid too much heed to them before this, now I realise while he was changing, for the better, so was I and became stronger. Anyway, I can wrap it up in all the shiny paper and put a bow on top I know it doesn’t justify these feelings, which I couldn’t understand because they were so involuntary. I met the LO about 3 years ago, we socialise in the same circle, hes a private relatively private person, I was physically attracted to him the first time I seen him smile but kept it to myself and just looked from afar, at Christmas we had our first conversation on a one to one basis, and I laughed so much, that’s when things took on a life of their own in my brain. I did get very drunk and we sat and talked and I told him how I felt (don’t mix brandy and antibiotics), he started at me for five minutes without talking, told me how truly truly flattered he was and that it wasn’t going to happen because of my husband… we have been out on any occasions since and we are good, no more mention of that night, but now I think ive wanted so much for him to like me/find me physically attractive I got slightly out of control trying to make conversation with him on a one to one basis, and may have ruined any chance of just being able to sit and talk in a group without me acting like a bunny boiler, im usually very very strong, dont have mental breakdowns in public, im non-offensive and not in your face… sorry for babbling, good to get it off my chest. This time last week I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up because I didn’t know what I was going to do .
Breda I wondering what you are doing as the next step. And let not read a statement like go to sleep and not wake up any more.
Hi Breda, and welcome. Really glad the site has helped you. The first step in recovery is figuring out what’s going on, so that’s a good place to be!
It sounds like limerence has hit you at midlife. That’s not uncommon. There are a few posts on the site about midlife limerence that may help. It does seem to be the time when many of us ask some very serious questions about our lives…
Welcome Breda, for a second I had a heart attack because your post is almost identical to my situation, I thought my LO was writing it!! Please know you are not crazy and not alone, I highly recommend reading the various posts here along with all the replies. You will be surprised how many of us are carbon copies of you.
Please keep us posted as to how you are going, we all here are very supportive and I consider myself lucky to have found this group.
Hang in there Breda. I too have experienced the depths of emotional exhaustion that leads you to feeling like just giving up and not existing. But know this: no LO is ever worth that. You will get through this.
thank you so much everyone. I actually managed to sit in my LO’s company last night and not blabber on like a fool, partly because I know by doing that im actually pushing him away. after my last neurotic episode I thought that’s it, he’s never going to speak to me again and it was crushing, like a teenager with a broken heart. I feel an amazing sense of calm around him, thought ok, ill be fine now. He made his farewell last night by shaking hands rather than the usual hug, which was the right thing to do. now knowing it could be a week or more before I see him again, im back to having heart flutters and knots in my stomach…ive a crazy week in work and a big party to organise for the weekend so I really need my head to stay focused.. as for the not waking up, yep, I thought it several times, that it would just be easier than this constant irrational mindset… but at the same time, I know it would achieve nothing and that the constant battle going on in my own head just needs to be dealt with. So I will keep reading the comments and the blogs and knowing that this is really a thing, helps on so many levels…and that I don’t need to be locked up and medicated.
Jonas Nielsen says
I had a relationship for 1 yr. My ex turned into damsel in distress when we had ended the relationship. 3 weeks prior when asked why the relationship didn’t work and what we could do, I spoke the words that I heard in my head “tell her you’re not in love with her”. So it ended. First amicable, then me panicking, and her jumping into a new relationship.
I’m 33 she’s 23. I’ve never been so sad, hurt or obsessed in my entire life. It’s been 8 months. No contact for 6 months. I’ve tried everything but still my health is bad. It feels like I’m fighting for my life everyday. I feel guilt and despair. Its the worst thing I’ve ever experienced in my life.
I think the trigger was me responding to a nonsense text after I had said goodbye already and gathered what self-respect I had. After that I didn’t sleep for 2 months.
I’m otherwise a healthy individual (or I was). Though this was my first commitmed relationship.
I relate completely to becoming limerent for “damsels in distress” and as you said “specifically, women who are bold and confident on the outside, but hiding an emotional wound within.” This has happened to me a few times, but perhaps never so completely as having become limerent for my best friend’s wife during covid lockdown. I am in the very start of the process of NC, and have looped in my SO – my wife of 30 years – into my struggle. It didn’t take much to explain the situation – she “gets” my struggle and it was been 20 years or so since my last big limerent challenge. Of course, my LO and my SO are also very good friends, and they are mature women so they will be able to continue their relationship despite me going NC with the LO. But it is excruciating.
I recently discovered the term of limerence and found this page. I became limerent with a co worker about two years ago. We were both married but my marriage was bad and needed to end. I do believe she helped me have the courage to end my marriage. She remains married with young children. We both experience limerence with one another. We see one another daily and I am most happy when we are together. She feels the same about me but doesn’t have a bad marriage and doesn’t want to hurt her kids. It’s wonderful and awful all at the same time because we both fantasize about being together and thoughts are definitely obsessive for both of us. I know I should move on and find someone available but I can’t. I feel like she’s my soulmate. This is the only time in my life I’ve experience LE in my life. I don’t know if learning about this phenomenon will help me. Anyways, I just felt like sharing.
Lim Student says
First time posting. Thanks so much for your blog.
I’m a 23 year old female. Single. I have been limerent for my 50+ year old, male, married professor/advisor/mentor for over three years. It took a long time but I am finally maybe sort of feeling like limerence is fading. A bit. I have started to distance myself from my him and keep my contact with him to a minimum. I read a lot about transference, and student crushes on teachers/professors/mentors, especially English professors, and accepted my feelings as pretty common and non-exceptional, cliche even. Everyone thing makes sense and really isn’t that big of a deal if I can just move on. At first, it felt extraordinarily embarrassing to see myself in these stories, not to mention invalidating, but eventually led me stop taking myself so seriously and romanticizing the “relationship.”
Part of the embarrassment came from the stepping outside of the romanticized story I had been telling myself, and imagining/realizing how I actually looked to others. I had to confront my own narcissistic defenses and delusions. It was pretty painful to see how much I romanticized not only LO but also myself during this whole thing. This is really embarrassing to admit but in my head, in the story I told myself, I was this attractive, “brilliant,” imaginative young woman, mature, different from her peers, troubled, but kind. A potential genius even! *cringe* I imagined myself as an unwitting seductress, whose innocence and energy enlivened the monotonous life of a depressed middle aged scholar. It was an almost spiritual meeting of minds, complicated by worldly reality.
What I’ve been realizing lately, the more I read similar stories, or talk to people, or see other similar situations play out in real life, is that my view of myself is so far from reality. It’s really embarrassing (sorry to keep using that word) to think about and accept sometimes but it’s the single biggest thing that has helped me get over it. I re-think the whole thing and no longer see myself as the sad, beautiful, irresistible, spontaneous, imaginative heroine, whose flaws are endearing. Instead I see a very lonely, socially awkward, slightly chubby, sexually inexperienced, painfully shy, self-loathing young woman with absolutely no confidence, who tries too hard to impress, cares too much, and really needs to make some friends her own age. Whose cliche crush on her professor is borderline creepy and extremely obvious to everyone around her. I see someone whose life is rather sad, a bit pathetic even, though not in a way that inspires sympathy and compassion in others, but in a way that makes them so uncomfortable it is hard to be around her for long periods of time. I see someone who others pity and feel embarrassed for. I see a nice, professor who tries to raise her self-esteem a bit, encourage her as a student and a writer, only to become the object of her obsession.
I might be a bit dramatic and black and white with my thinking. It’s something I struggle with. Either I’m completely pathetic or completely amazing. Obviously that’s not true. I tried to be somewhat realistic with my reality check. Still, I’m struggling to manage the painful feelings that arise during these “reality checks” because the embarrassment of seeing myself as I truly am (no rose colored glasses) can sometimes tip me into despair and shame which often leads right me back in my delusional limerence bliss because I can’t cope with the feelings, my other methods of soothing aren’t strong enough.
I sometimes feel like limerence is my only defense against a reality I’m struggling to accept or change (though I know I can change myself, it’s a slow process).
This is me exactly 😢 have you found any helpful resources?
Cat, hang in there. You can do this. Be strong.
You write well and I would be entertained by either version of your story if it were a novel. Of course it’s deadly serious as it’s your life and energy you are trying to understand and use well. Maybe both versions of yourself are true. Hope you have forgiven yourself and found a real partner for mutual emotional intimacy.
Lim Student says
Also, I’m making myself sound way too innocent. I realized that I’m NOT innocent. That I was manipulative and immoral. And that I was not empathetic AT ALL to the feelings of his lovely wife and two children as I was pining away after him. Even though I didn’t want anything to happen, I DID genuinely want him to have feelings for me, even though I knew very early on that he was married, and he talked about his wife! Even though I genuinely mistook his politeness and kindness for romantic interest, it doesn’t excuse my attempts, however indirect, to get his emotion support, attention and affection, which was due solely to his wife and children. Not to mention the position I might have been putting him in if he DID have any real feelings for me (highly doubtful) . He was at a vulnerable time in his life and I did encourage his attention. Whatever pain I was going through, however unloved I felt, however traumatized I was by my parents, the sexual abuse, it doesn’t excuse it
Hi Lim Student, and welcome!
You are certainly in good company here. There is nothing to be ashamed of in having an LE, as you will see from reading everyone’s stories. There is so much great material on this site, and the support of the other limerents is invaluable.
Your story certainly elicits feelings of tender hearted compassion in me! It sounds like you are really struggling with your self identity. What really struck me about your story is that what you are calling your “reality check” seems to me to be very self critical rather than realistic. In truth, I suspect the real you is actually mix of the romanticised version and the negative (a.k.a reality check) versions of yourself that you describe. How does a highly imaginative, intelligent, kind, humorous, independent minded, voluptuous, shy, sensitive, innocent and amazing young woman sound? I would certainly want to know her. Repeat this in your head until you believe it!! 50% of all humans are introverts and therefore by definition socially awkward to some degree – and I include myself in that – most people hide it so you may not realise. You can learn to embrace who you are as without the introversion, you would not have the rich imagination. Have you ever tried doing anything to develop your self compassion and self acceptance? I highly recommend books, tapes and Ted talks by Brene Brown – she is great at this sort of thing.
I have an LE for my boss at work, so similar in some ways to your LE dynamic. There is no shame in it, especially since you are single (I am not…eeek!). We all fancy people and those of us with good imaginations really go to town when we do. I must admit that I really love your fantasy, I might even have to borrow it sometime! Sounds like English is the perfect subject for you.
Wishing you well!
Lim Student says
Wow! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and reply. Your reply made me smile and feel better. Even if only momentarily. I will read it when I’m feeling down. Everyone on this site is so nice and kind. I’m feeling very bad right now, about everything, and I feel bad about feeling bad because nothing should matter this much but it really helps, these little replies and reminders. I hope you are right about me. Thank you!
I have been reading this site about how blissful it can be when the LO expresses mutual interest. But in my experience, when the LO is interested, it is nowhere near the intensity the limerent is feeling, and that can be devastating to learn. Not everyone is a limerent and experiences attraction/infatuation intensely. For the limerent, the LO has shaken them to their very core. For the LO, the limerent may just be reasonably appealing and available, and he/she thinks: Why not?
That is spot-on, Marcia. And the mismatch in desire can become very painful to limerents, even if the LO is agreeable to the idea of a relationship blossoming.
So what do you do about that? It is difficult enough to get two people together who are mutually interested and available at the same time (particularly for people over the age of 30 as the number of people available diminishes). But that it be two people who are both limerents and wildly into each other at the same time and both available? Seems like that is asking for the sun, the moon and the stars to align in a way that never happens.
@Marcia. I have no idea what can be done about this, although it is a valid and fascinating question. Here are two speculative responses (just for fun). First, as a society, we could find a way of pairing off limerents with other limerents and non-limerents with other non-limerents. Haha! Then at least it’s a “level playing field” and some communication difficulties would be avoided.
Alternatively, we could teach limerents how to feel satisfied in relationships with non-limerent partners, since non-limerent people are apparently very much in the majority. I agree – the odds of two people feeling exactly the same way at the same time about each other is very small. And yes, dating pools contract with age.
“Alternatively, we could teach limerents how to feel satisfied in relationships with non-limerent partners, since non-limerent people are apparently very much in the majority.”
This is probably the better solution. Numbers-wise, there are just so many more people who aren’t limerents. And a lot of people who are limerents don’t even know they are. I have just found out about limerence in the last few years but have been experiencing LEs for years. I assumed everyone else also experienced LEs and that I was just unfortunate in not ever permanently landing one of my LOs (with one exception, who I discovered I didn’t even really like after the LE was over). But boy was I wrong! When I have posted on other sites about my intense feelings for an LO, I have been told I need psychological help.
You don’t need to meet a fellow limerent. Normal people can fall head-over-heels in love with someone and experience intense feelings, its just they can manage it without the obsession, the rumination, the acute need for reciprocation, the inability to think about anything else etc, etc.
Remember Limerence is a specific mental state, and not one that I would personally wish upon someone else. I wished for all the world that my LO loved me, but I would have wanted that to be a normal, healthy, genuine love – not an involuntary reaction, borderline disorder.
Once you learn about Limerence, and self-diagnose yourself with it, I think we all wonder if LO feels the same. There will be a post on here somewhere from a couple of years ago with me speculating whether my LO was mutually limerent for me. But its highly unlikely, as c.5% of the population suffer from Limerence. So the chances of you knowing someone else who suffers from it is slim enough, but for them to be mutually limerent for you at the same time? Nah.
Limerence goes with consummation and regular reciprocation. A limerent and non-limerent could meet, have a highly intense relationship that settles into long-term love, absolutely no problem. Early on, one will be more obsessive than the other, but if that’s managed then it will be ok.
Agree with Vincent here. In my experience, being a limerent does not mean all relationships start with an LE. And a limerent and non-limerent can love each other equally deeply and passionately at the same time…..
I have only ever had long term relationships with non-limerents. I was not limerent in 3/4 of those relationships because I was the one being chased, so the mismatch was absent. If anything, they liked me more to begin with. But I did fall deeply in love all three times. I was limerent for my husband so my feelings were far more intense than his in the early stages and as a result I resisted expressing my feelings verbally to begin with. I could express them physically though..and did….joyously 🙂 I could tell he really liked me and he eventually fell deeply in love with me too, it just took him a bit more time. I think us limerent’s need to set our expectations carefully….not all love is “wildly in love” right from the get go, and being “wildly in love” early on is not a predictor for long term relationship success. I guess it depends on what you actually want more – to be “wildly in love”, or to experience a mutually caring and loving, deeply committed, long term relationship?
“A limerent and non-limerent could meet, have a highly intense relationship that settles into long-term love, absolutely no problem. ”
Really? It’s never happened to me. I wound up in a relationship with my LO, but he could have been happy with any number of women he was dating. I don’t know that he ever picked me out specifically (which is every limerent’s dream). I just happened to say yes and hang around the longest, which is how a lot of people date.
@Marcia. Looks like you’ve found the right forum, so welcome!
I’m thinking we should probably make a distinction between lifelong limerents/serial limerents and people who have only experienced limerence once as a sort of anomaly in their lives. Presumably, these two groups of people have different relationship needs/expectations.
“@Marcia. Looks like you’ve found the right forum, so welcome!”
Thank you. I am very impressed with this site.
Another issue I’ve read about several times on this site is that a limerent gets at least a half-applause if he/she is married and hasn’t physically cheated with the LO. I’ve had LEs and I know you become hyper-focused on the LO. They dominate your thoughts. To me, if my husband tells me he’s having an LE for another woman, I feel no comfort in the fact that he hasn’t had a physical affair. His mind is totally preoccupied with someone else and he’s checked out of the marriage, anyway. (In fact, I’d rather he had a physical affair with someone he doesn’t care about than experience an LE.)
Lim Student says
Thank you for this article. I realized my previous comment was not really I. Direct response to this article and more just a jumble of thought. But I just reread this and found it quite useful. And yet — I wonder why it made me feel so ashamed? I can’t really pinpoint anything extraordinarily bad I did during my limerence. I think it’s what you wrote about emotions. I think I used to (secretly) pride myself on being emotional (a stupid as that sounds) because I wasn’t really good at anything else, in terms of practical living. I’ve always just felt light years behind everyone at everything. But I also seemed to be so much more sensitive than them. I don’t even know if that is true, but I felt so bad about myself that I found it as a consolation. But really it’s nothing to be proud of. It’s embarrassing to realize that I’m not a good person, or a very good person, or a practical admirable one.
As for the emotions bit, I do get not listening to them, or rather not acting on them, as a concept, and I can see why that is often the best course in the long wrong but in everyday life (and maybe this is true for everyone, or maybe it is because I’m only 23) but I feel quite overwhelmed by them. I feel like no one ever really addresses that problem, but maybe it’s because there isn’t a solution? everyone is always talking about not acting on your feelings and not identifying with them, but there is still the problem of their existence. I don’t get it when people say “feelings aren’t right or wrong, don’t judge them, don’t identify with them,” etc. as if that were the main issue. The issue is the emotional pain itself. Just because it eventually passes and is mercurial, as you say, doesn’t make it any less painful. And though it passes, it also returns, again and again and again. I feel so desperate and worthless and ashamed and embarrassed and pathetic and ugly and on an on. I hate myself often and feel incredibly nervous and sad for no reason at all sometimes. The one thing that reliably helped in the past was contact with LO. As though he was the one person that made me feel safe and worthwhile. It’s ridiculous but I didn’t feel like that around my friends even. Of course I don’t give in anymore and just sit there with all the negativity and desperation instead of reaching out to LO, and I do what you say, I do not act on the feeling. I feel helpless until it subsides sometimes hours later. Or days. But is one really supposed to live like that? With just a bit of relief in between the negative feelings?
I suppose part of growing up is simply being expected to ignore/manage powerful feelings, accept that reality is not easy, that most of life is painful and hard and make the best of it.
I’m not sure what I’m asking. I’m sorry to be so confusing. This blog is honestly amazing! Thank you!
Lim Student says
Ugh! I’m writing on my phone! So embarrassing. Sorry for the awful spelling and grammar. Careless mistakes!!
@Lim Student. I don’t think emotion is in and of itself much of a problem. I think the problem, during a LE, is we invest all our emotional energies in one person and hope they reciprocate. We don’t spread our emotional energy around enough (on friends, hobbies, pets, work, family, etc) if that makes sense. We become hyper-focused on one person and that’s probably not healthy, not even in a committed relationship. We need whole networks of people in our lives.
I don’t think being emotional has anything to do with being a good or bad person. Having said that, limerence can make people MORE emotional than usual. “Labile” is the word I like to use. If a person is labile, they’re experiencing strong and rapidly changing emotion. Limerence can make people very intense and also make people appear very intense to others. This intensity is probably an outward manifestation of the emotional storm taking place within (heightened mental activity). Your brain is acting as if LO is the only meaningful reward in the world.
Interesting, I was 23 when I experienced my absolute worst limerent symptoms. So go easy on yourself. You’re in a particularly difficult stretch of life, limerent or no, and things will definitely get easier for you as you mature. Hang in there. Nobody has their stuff together at 23! (No truthful 23-year-old I’ve met anyway).
You seem to have a gift for writing. Honestly, if you turned your limerent fantasy into a novel, I’d buy the book. The “heroine” is sweet enough for audiences to like while flawed enough to be interesting. Do you have any interest in fiction writing? Creative work might be a good outlet for your strong emotions and powerful imagination. You already seem to have above-average English skills.
I understand how painful it is to feel intense “love” for someone who doesn’t love you back, or someone who is a completely inappropriate choice of mate. That’s the “compulsory longing” part of limerence. (Painful memories of my late teens and early twenties flooding back here. Yikes!).
Try not to blame yourself for what is happening. Instead, if you can, try to sit back and let the emotion wash over you like a wave. See if you can find the calm and objective “eye of the storm” and stay in that spot, coolly observing your own mental processes. This may help you eventually gain the upper hand on your feelings. Also, remember you’re got a lot of life ahead of you! You’re only 23!
@lim student- welcome!!!
Reading your comments broke my heart a little. We’re all of us a mixture of all the things you wrote. I agree with Allie that you are, most likely, both awkward and amazing- and that’s a wonderful combination. And it’s totally human to be attracted to people who make us feel safe and seen- not selfish and horrible. And, frankly, there’s nothing quite like a good English professor to fit that bill exactly! From what you posted, it sounds like it’s your inner turmoil that’s the biggest problem, which means that you’ve found exactly the right group of people to talk to. That’s the biggest struggle for all of us. I would like to add, though, that it also sounds like you’ve had some additional trauma in your life, and that you might benefit from finding someone safe to work through those things with. You’re not alone in that either, and it can be profoundly freeing to let those things go and begin to heal. It can make it possible to find balance, and to bring your self-image more toward the middle where it belongs.
I can’t remember who suggested it, but I agree that you seem to have a gift with words; maybe you should consider writing, even privately, as a way of getting some fresh air around some of your thoughts and feelings.
Best of luck to you!
It was Sammy- and I love the word Labile!! Perfect.
“Labile” is the word I suggested. But credit where credit is due – Allie was the first person to point out Lim Student’s flair with language.
I agree with you provided we become limerent for suitable candidates which many of our LOs aren’t. Toss in that limerents seem to be creatures of habit. We each have our glimmer and it doesn’t seem to change on its own.
It never occurred to me that my LOs could have more problems than I did.
Oh yes, 100% – it should ideally be a suitable candidate. I Just don’t think the answer is to try to find another limerent. It’s hard enough anyway without limiting your options.
I told my wife about LO and my “crush” on her as I described it.
I am not convinced it was a good idea, ultimately. I don’t think my therapist thinks so either. Sure, I got points for honesty, for claiming that this situation was not making me happy but rather burdened. I want to get better, to be more completely here for my wife.
But if we are judged by what we do, not what we think, then I could have just doubled down on my good husband actions, and kept this burden to myself. It wouldn’t have planted seeds of doubt in her head, wouldn’t have sullied the air between us. In the end, getting it off my chest benefited me more than her.
But I’ve always been an open book. I don’t like hiding much at all from my spouse.
Can I add a fire opinion? Part of me does NOT want to part with my going on 3 years LE. As much torture, mental anguish, despair, depression, melancholy, physical pain it has brought me. It’s now part of my identity.
“Part of me does NOT want to part with my going on 3 years LE. As much torture, mental anguish, despair, depression, melancholy, physical pain it has brought me. It’s now part of my identity.”
They certainly can be part of your identity, maybe to the point of defining it. One of my LEs sent me on my current arc in life.
If you did part with your LE, what would you replace it with? LEs can leave pretty big holes.
@anxious soul- I wonder if maybe a part of it is like mourning a death? Knowing that you no longer have the person, but being terrified of relinquishing the past or the ruminations or the pain even- scared of looking into the void. Crippling yet familiar and dubiously comfortable. I can certainly understand that. Letting go completely is so difficult, and yet I think that rather than it being a part of you, it is more like a siphon that has attached to you. Or like an ailment that you’ve accommodated for so long that the memory of health has faded…
I can understand these feelings. I’ve been thinking about this lately too. I have gotten so much better and freer, but there’s still a part of me that doesn’t know how to FULLY let go of the beautiful (false) dream that was created in my LE. I know that on the other side of this there’s good, but I’m not quite sure how to take those last couple steps. I suppose we just keep moving forward and let time and distance and intentional living do their work.
Once you get enough time and distance, you can look back and actually see something. If look hard enough, you can identify specific “nodes” that had the potential to really affect your life and ask “what if?” Questions you asked or didn’t ask. Offers you made. Offers someone made to you that you accepted or declined. Most decisions we make are mundane. But, some of them aren’t.
For example, when LO #2 stood in my living room and said, “If I sleep with you now, you’ll own me again.” Where would I be today if I’d slept with her instead of asking her to leave? I suspect I wouldn’t be married to the woman I’m married to now but that’s pure speculation. It might not have altered the outcome but it would have definitely altered the route.
When I started working with a therapist, I asked why I felt like I had to deal with this stuff, 25 or 50 years after it happened. The therapist said because I finally felt safe enough to do it. The people that I might have to confront were either dead and the ones who weren’t may as well have been and they were far away. Enough time and distance had occurred that those people had no ability to affect my life, anymore.
It also helped explain part of my anxiety over LO #4. She was in the here and now and she did have the ability to affect my life.
You might be surprised how you view things a few years down the road.
Slow day at work.
Sadly, I view things the same as I did 4 years ago. I fell hard for someone whom I could never fully have (we were both single and casually dated but he decided he was still on the quest to find “the one”)… years later, I’m still pining after and he’s still looking for the one… fn Greek tragedy!
If you play your cards right, AS, you can create a shrine to him that you can take to the grave. You can immortalize him as the “Phantom-Ex,” the one you compare all comers to and fail them against. The one against all comers will come up short by comparison. You can spend decades looking under rocks and turning over leaves in your head on that quest to figure out what you could have done or said differently.
It gets old but it works nicely with the Greek Tragedy motif.
One thing that helped me was realising that it was the dream, not the LO, that was the emotional root of the pain. LO represents some sort of latent promise or possibility that affects you at a deep level.
The real trick is to try to find new, healthier goals that sate the emotional hunger.
I couldn’t agree more. It’s progress, I think, to realize that.
“One thing that helped me was realising that it was the dream, not the LO, that was the emotional root of the pain. LO represents some sort of latent promise or possibility that affects you at a deep level.”
If you’re saying what I think you’re saying, DRL, that’s really profound. So it’s not the person that causes us pain, but our dreams and fantasies regarding the person? I’ve never thought about the fantasy causing me pain before – this is a new way of looking at things.
continuing with this idea of the fantasy being the real crux of the problem, I’ve been asking myself just what exactly the fantasy is. There were a handful of things about my LO that checked my boxes of attraction perfectly- things that are just completely appealing to me. But, strangely, those aren’t the things that I go back to if I’m ruminating. Those are real, tangible things that I can imagine becoming ordinary over time. Rather it’s this overarching feeling of loss of a dream that gets me. And then it occured to me this morning that it’s almost a balance of loss of a fantasy about him and loss of a fantasy about me. For him, it’s maybe as basic as the archetype of being rescued by a knight in shining armor. And for me, it’s losing the sense of myself as the beautiful powerful heroine (obviously conflicting archetypes, but my head is obviously FULL of these kinds of contradictions.) So basically he rescues me and I rescue him….and then things are romantic and uncomplicated and passionate and easy and beautiful for ever after. It’s no wonder, then, that having an actual ongoing and normal relationship with LO would kill the limerence- it’s all fluff and smoke to begin with. I basically want to write myself into a cliche book. HA!!!
Song of the Day (redux): “Chasing Cars” – Snow Patrol (2006)
@Janesays, this one’s for you.
“If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?”
Yeah, sometimes we don’t want to save them as much as we want them to save us. We search the Cracker Jack box for the prize in them when what we really want is for them to find the prize in us.
Ha! Yes, that’s very true!
I found that using thought control, not allowing myself to ruminate on the beautiful parts of the LE (I told myself that now LO was married, I would honor that marriage by not allowing myself to soak in the sweet waters of sentimental and nostalgic longing), and even though memories would pop up I would refuse to give them audience….and in time the novelistic splendor of the LE died a natural death, and I didn’t have to deliberately try to kill it. It was perhaps the best way for the LE to die….rather than experience it’s writhing death throes right at the outset. I think my brain and heart healed enough to let the LE quietly die.
But at first NC I must say I felt the most excruciating emotional agony of my life.
Now I feel fine…and am continuing to welcome back cherished old friends that have reappeared in my life…almost like the void LO left when dismissed created a vacuum that drew in these wondrous folks that truly, deeply love me, with no agenda or selfish motive.
Ending a LE is a wonderful thing! (Eventually).
I am in therapy at the moment. Just started it in fact, triggered by my mid-life crises and professional curveball. This also triggered my pining for my LO.
My therapist made me realize that I had never “mourned” death until now as I had never experienced it. The breakup was death of the relationship and I was living in denial. I even realized that “letting go” was unknown to me, making me fantasize about the passion that once was.
My LO, despite us having left on cordial terms, didn’t invite me to her wedding. This was because I cut ties when I left as it was painful for me. I didn’t begrudge her as we had not spoken in 3 years, though there was a twang of sadness that we had grown so far apart, led by me.
But this LE has taught me that I never mourned the relationship ending. I tried desperately to find other women and never accepted that she had moved on to happiness. (It’s another matter that she said she would marry the guy she left me for and then dumped him as soon as she graduated and married another guy within 4 months ). I was too busy suppressing my feelings and chasing other women.
Nonetheless this LE recurrence makes me realize that I need to move on. This LE should be a mourning and I am beginning to feel good for her. I have wished she has had happiness of kids even though I really don’t need to.
I should even be happy that the relationship is over and I have other things to do. Volcanic ash is supposed to create very fertile environments
Limerent Emeritus says
Your next assignment: https://livingwithlimerence.com/the-loneliness-of-no-contact/
I like your therapist.
When I first discussed my relationship with a trusted friend who had gone on to be an LCSW and knew LO #2 when we were dating told me that I’d never mourned the loss of that relationship. She said I’d rolled from that one right into marriage. My friend said it was ok to mourn and time to let it out.
I would take the dog on long walks into the woods, make sure no one was around and cry. Sometimes, I’d sit in the car when I got home and cry before I went it. Luckily, we live in a place with a lot of pollen and my “allergies” were horrible for awhile.
If you’re not familiar with The 5 Stages of Grief,” I recommend that you check it out.
Things do get better. It may just take awhile.
Just my two cents, but the only problem with the idea of “mourning the relationship” is that I think it can invite more rumination. I’m using a generic example, but if you are with someone and they end it, you are mourning something that doesn’t exist anymore. You’re mourning what you wanted to happen and are probably looking at the relationship through rose-colored glasses because no great love affair happens if one party is willing to walk out the door. I find — and this may not work for other people — that one of the things that helps is to look at the cold, hard reality of what is actually happening. If one person wants to be with someone and the other party is is unavailable, for example, it’s so easy for the excuse to be: They can’t be with me because of circumstance. But that’s not really the truth. Plenty of people get out of what they’re in to be with someone else. And if the other party isn’t willing to do that, it’s not a love opportunity that is missed. It’s a door that was never open. For me, when my mind take an LO rumination drive, which it still does from time to time, I try to be as brutally honest with myself as possible. It’s not fun in any way, but it ends more quickly the “what could have been” fantasizing and the dwelling on someone who is long gone and doesn’t deserve that much mental/emotional bandwidth.
@Limerent Emeritus: I went through the post. My issue is that I had 10 years of no-contact. I was used to it.
Slipping back into it very hard at the moment.
I too feel I got married even as I was recovering. Perhaps I felt I was too old, and perhaps I felt that pressured by my wife as she didnt just want casually dating. I felt it was unfair of me to string her along, especially since I cared for her and I knew what stringing a person along does to the person. My LE did it as she used me as an emotional crutch.
You are right. So I listed down today why we didn’t work out. I realized that many of the reasons were hers and not mine. I am no saint. I did yell at her as she wanted us to be friends (without benefits) and she using me as an emotional crutch.
She really couldn’t commit and it explains why she left the guy she had left me for. When we were friends, she told me within 2 weeks of dating that she had fallen in love with him. (She had told me within a month of our dating as well and then she started wanting to break up and then later asking me to marry her while we were 21).
I am not a cribber or a person who finds fault with others. Its just not my nature. Having to do this to find closure makes me retch but I think I have to do it.
I suppressed my limerent feelings the whole day yesterday. I then had a dream of us meeting and even my wife being present. We were meeting up on a retreat. Nothing happened amongst us in the dream and we were distant with each other.
Work is starting up and I am looking forward to it
Just deleted all mails and chats from my Gmail. My effort at mourning death
I wish you luck. I found out somewhat recently that a former LO had passed away. He had contacted me through LinkedIn about a year before he died after more than a decade of no contact. And for a few hours, I mourned the “what if?” scenario. But then I realized he’d only sent me a message asking to join my network. He never sent me a personal message. And then I remembered why I broke things off with him … He’d only wanted a f*** buddy. I’m sure he thought he was giving more, but he really wasn’t. And he’d hardly come after me after the break up, asking for an actual relationship. So what, exactly, was I mourning?
@Anxious_Soul. I can almost understand what you mean. I assume you’re getting some positive emotions e.g. joy, excitement, hope as well as the despair and melancholy out of the LE? Or are you only experiencing anguish at the moment, but still don’t want to let go?
That there is a pithy summary of the limerence trap, Sammy.
I’ve let go of the fantasy a while ago but I’m addicted to the pain. The pain behind knowing I will never meet someone like “that” again. I understand fully two parties may perceive the experience differently.but to me he’ll always be the one who yes, broke my heart but whom I still admire greatly. Just a great man who is most likely a dissmissive avoidant in his approach to interpersonal relationships. My loss. His indifference wins.
I’ve let go of the fantasy a while ago but I’m addicted to the pain. .
Another chord just went off in my head.
so much this.
my life feels empty without a LO to focus my everything on. and it’s ridiculous bc I have a VERY full, happy, privileged AF life and good, trusted friends. who are wonderful, interesting people.
but limerence is like a damn siren song. maybe now that I have a name for it I can stop trying to hear it wherever I go.
I am 57 and can’t believe I have gone my whole life without ever hearing the word limerence. It is incredibly comforting to know that this is an actual condition. I have had inexplicable emotional over-attachments since childhood, and am struggling with managing one now. It feels like a light just got turned on for me. Really quite stunned. Thank you for this page.
Kaye, welcome and like you I have suffered ’emotional over-attachments’ since childhood and finally now, it all makes sense and I can see things far more objectively. I don’t think I am being over dramatic in saying it’s been life changing!
Glad to have you here and be prepared to learn a lot, heal a lot, and sometimes even laugh a lot!
I’m right there with you, Kaye. At 47 with a parade of LOs over the years. And I only found out about limerence a month ago. You’re not alone (as you can see from this site). I’m learning a lot more about myself as well. And things that hadn’t made sense to me are beginning to make a lot of sense.
Seems totally understandable to me. The fleeting thoughts about the “what ifs” may linger a lifetime, IMO.
Restless Heart says
This has been extremely helpful to me. I’m just discovering Limerence and am happy to put a name to this particular condition. I may jump from Limerence to Limerence throughout most of my life, but at this point in time I am starting to recognize it. My LO is my ex and Im desperately trying to move on from the obsessive thoughts. The relationship ended over a year ago but we have continued to be physical occasionally throughout. And by just occasionally I mean that it was very consistent in the beginning (like every two weeks) for about 7 months but since I have moved away, has been only once in 8 months. I moved to try to move on. What I can’t get over is the constant obsessive thoughts daily over my LO and hope for future encounters or messages or likes on social media. I’m confused and annoyed at myself for this constant hope. I convince myself that any interaction from him is confirmation that he still loves me, but his actions should speak louder than words. Or his lack of action. I’m constantly comparing others to him and desperately wish to find someone else to consume my thoughts. However, I would like to get over him first to be fare to the next person. At this point I don’t even know what I want. The only thing I am sure about is that this has to stop. I cannot keep holding onto something that may just be in my head. The abrupt ending of the relationship didn’t help with things either. I can’t wrap my brain around it. Especially with the constant physical contact right after the relationship ended. The circumstances of the relationship don’t help either. There is a huge age gap and a lot of pressure from both sides. I cannot decide if he is fighting his feelings for me as well because of the family and friend pressure, or if it’s just in my head. Im so over it…
However, I would like to get over him first to be fare to the next person.
I think you could revisit this stance. I did this. You feel that men are interested only in long term relationships.
Discovery is a wonderful thing. I had a girl who was infatuated with me for over 7 years and she was thrilled that I broke up with my girlfriend and LO. We were friends through the process and went out a couple of times as well.
She asked me if I wished to take it further and understood when I told her that I was still a mess and didn’t want to burden her. She was being pushed into an arranged marriage and wanted me to refuse first.
We are great friends and shared notes on our children. I treasure her friendship and her frank opinions.
I had no idea this *thing* I feel had a name… I didn’t know so many other people felt this way, and I certainly did not know there were steps to cure it…
My mind is blown, but I feel I’ve woken up somehow, to myself, to the truth about my feelings, and to a way to think around it.
Man, I feel it’s incredibly overwhelming (As I’m sure everybody here does).
It’s like constantly being at a 10 when everyone else as at about a 3.
Curious Lim says
Oh wow. Thank you for sharing all of these beautiful, soul-awakening experiences.
What do you think are some cues that indicate you might be someone’s LO?
I fit the bold-intrepid-and-confident-although-broken-inside phenotype, and the person I came here to understand (because I was curious about him) was a sensitive empath who seemed to feel like he was missing something in his life when he met me. I felt a jolt and an out-of-this-world recognition when I looked in his eyes. It was insane and scary the first few times.
We won’t meet again, and I haven’t seen him since before the pandemic. Nothing could ever happen between us, and we are not similar in age (the other party being more than a few years older) but I wonder if he sensed that I felt something I didn’t realize I could feel when we talked that day. I remember sitting in perfect silence (for a few seconds, minutes, a quarter of an hour- I don’t know, I stopped sensing the passing of time). I just felt completely at ease sitting with him in silence in the summer on the grass. I had never felt that way before or since.
I keep wondering, what was the other side of that comfortable silence like? Does he ever think about me?
Things did not end well, with a spectacularly gruesome, world-news-making, tragic end for one person, leaving some of us traumatized, and me feeling a little shunned and ostracized on top of everything, being blamed for something I had nothing to do with. I work hard to focus and stay motivated, and I try to actively un-think about this time in my life. I wish I had some answers and am sad we won’t meet again to resolve any of this. Sad and odd though it is, two years since we last met, I wish he knew I miss him still.
This one applies but you have to sort of reverse some of it:
Curious Lim says
He never stalked me. I doubt we will meet again.
I came to this website because I’m curious about what he felt, and what he thought I felt. He always looked so intense. Was it even limerence?
Sad and odd though it is, two years since we last met, I wish he knew I miss him still.
The chord just went off in my brain.
Cute potato says
Hello! So, I have a cousin of mine that I had a crush on since childhood. We are from a conservative household so I couldn’t really confess. Anyways he always gave me signs that he liked me, e.g. brushing my hair behind my ear (I was around 15, he was 20) , complementing me, and then gradually he stopped. But then he started it again and it began to bother me a lot because I was constantly in a mental anguish as to whether he like me or not? I did fall for other guys, dated one as well, even developed HOCD for a while, but now my feelings are back full fledge. I cannot implement the distance thing because he is a relative and cannot straight up ask him if he will go out with me or not 🙁 I’m 19 now and he is 24, we just met like two days ago and he was back with the flirting thing though it was a bit different (I was fixing my hair in front of the window and he got annoyed saying everyone must have been looking at me, also we went outside and he wouldn’t let me talk a walk outside because there were ALOT of men). Anyways my obsession is back and I have been replaying these two events non stop from the past two days and feel really wrecked. Also, I think there’s a fear beneath that if he marries someone else how will I cope and I get really frustrated with myself when I think these thoughts. I do NOT want to be that women who goes crazy for one fricking guy. At the same time I can’t help liking him because he seems sweet. UGH! What do I do? My therapist told me to treat him like a brother which I cannot, PLEASE help me and give me some tips. Is Limerence?
The juxtaposition of ecstasy & agony that marks limerence is a special kind of Hell.
Paul Franklin says
My primary cure was simple – get busy doing something else.
I am 40 now. Happily married with kids, but yet every now and then I have a powerful dream about a girl I haven’t physically seen in almost 20 years.
My main case with “Limerence” happened when I was 21, a senior in college. A girl in my class and I had semi-flirted for a year or so, but suddenly were thrust into constant contact and she seemed to really enjoy my company and me hers. Eventually the signals were so strong I told her how I felt and she gave me the “don’t want to ruin our friendship, etc” line. Fine, right? Over, right? So I thought…
But then her signals only increased. I started dating someone else and it was like she wanted to be with me all the time. Mixed signals galore and confusing as all hell.
We were both in the military and went our separate ways (duty stations), but I didn’t date for 2 YEARS. Those were miserable years where Limerence consumed me. Especially when a friend mentioned she had moved in with her new boyfriend.
3 YEARS later when I was stationed overseas and incredibly busy with my work… I finally realized maybe it had started to die. A good thing to, because when I got back to the states 2 years after that I found that she just got engaged to another classmate of mine (a better catch to be honest). Would have devastated me, but thankfully the vicious part of Limerence had ended thanks to my years of overseas duty and busyness.
That being said, every now and again I have a powerful dream about her and it bothers me the whole next day or two. I wish I could just erase her from memory, but still haven’t figured out how.
If anyone has any thoughts, I’m all ears.
Dr L says
Hi Paul, and welcome. It sounds like your limerence lasted for a while because of the frustration of not getting closure. This post,/a> might be a good place to start in getting beyond it.
Limerent Emeritus says
If you haven’t, take a look at https://livingwithlimerence.com/limerence-dreams/
Dreams can tell you a lot. Some are more obvious than others. Some dreams can just slap you upside the head with the message.
But, if you analyze them, you can learn things like what may have triggered the dream which can lead to other areas of investigation.
Some dreams are more helpful than others but you can probably learn at least something from all of them.
Thanks. A lot to explore here. I am a 39F and am at the tail end of divorce from my 54M spouse of 17 years. He was abusive and ordered out of the house 1.5 years ago. I have full custody of the children and am focusing well but I think I am a limerent. I know it was limerence that drew me towards my not great husband and now I have had two episodes of it with other men in the last 6 months. I’m not afraid of acting on it now as I feel I can control my behavior where I’m not going to actively pursue these men, it’s the constant distraction that I hate. I’m trying to focus on the children or my career goals, home maintenance, hobbies and then, bam, the fantasies just take over. I realize I am trying to escape my life with this. This is what I did with my first husband. I sought to escape responsibility, but I acted on that one! For me the fantasies are of them adoring me, doing anything for me, they just want and need me badly. Probably related to my insecurities that I’m not enough as I am.
Allie 1 says
Hi Michelle, welcome to LwL.
The above really resonates with me. I start off enjoying the pleasurable escapism of it, until eventually it consumes me but by then it is too late.
“the fantasies are of them adoring me, doing anything for me, they just want and need me badly”
I am not especially insecure but oh yes… 100% this for me too! But mutual.
Instead of redheads, I am one who is a sucker for the good-looking intelligent woman with a never-say-die attitude. Perhaps it stems from my mother who embodies this.
My first experience with limerence was when I was 14. Fell for a girl who strung me along and was pretty. She clearly enjoyed my company but couldn’t commit.
I even remember when I was attracted to her. She gave me “a look” as she was talking to my dad (we all lived close to each other)
The second one was a girl I dated and fell in love with. I wasn’t the ugliest or dumbest bloke in college and she definitely was amongst the prettiest. My ex was a brilliant woman and really pushed me intellectually. I worshipped the ground she walked on but within a few weeks of dating she couldn’t decide if she wanted to be with me. Thanks to my perseverance it prolonged for 2 years when she finally left me for a good guy. Broke me up.
I did well academically and professionally and married a beautiful woman. Our sex life though sucked because my wife doesn’t consider intimacy essential. My ex and I necked like pigeons. We have a beautiful child and I do love my wife for who she is.
I read in the post that mid-life crises triggers limerance. I concur. A bad professional decision made me lonely and I checked my ex out 15 years since we last corresponded and discovered she is killing it in her professional career and still looks like she did then. I search inside and I don’t love her but miss that feeling and this causes me to obsess over her. I even wrote to her just wishing that all is well and congratulating her, though she didnt reply.
What annoys me today is why are these thoughts coming back. I really want to let go and here I am trying to figure out my feelings for someone who is married (with kids?) and who probably hasn’t thought of me in over a decade
Forgot to mention that she dumped the guy she left me for after a few years and even having met his parents. I honestly didn’t care she did, though a part of me did feel that he deserved it for breaking the bro-code.
When I heard she got married, it didnt affect me. I dont know why it does now of all times
Limerent Emeritus says
Have you read: https://livingwithlimerence.com/case-study-limerent-for-an-ex/ ?
Just read your post. Is exactly my case.
I just hope I will be strong.
Can’t imagine that others are going through exactly what I am going through.
This blog is a life saver.
I know I have to soldier through. I have picked up your book as well.
I know this is a a tough period I have to get through and I have come to terms that there were unresolved feelings from earlier.
I do wish my LO the best but I need to wish myself the best and forgive myself for my feelings and be grateful that I have a wonderful life even without my LO.
The uncertainty is a great point. It is the bliss of knowing that there may be a path, even if in reality there doesn’t exist one.
Since I read it, every time I remember, I tell myself that it is the cocaine of uncertainty that is bringing me back.
Limerent Emeritus says
Song of the Thread: “Jam Up and Jelly Tight” – Tommy Roe (1970)
“You won’t say you will but
There’s a chance that you might”
One of the great bubblegum classics of the era.
I keep coming back to the blog as my limerence is like the tide. Keeps coming and going.
Anyway, as I read this blog, I ask myself what the role of passions have in mitigating limerence.
Is limerence confined to those without strong hobbies or passions. This seems true with me. Its probably why I have days when it doesn’t affect me. The days are inevitably those with a lot of work.
I guess it is kind of. Purposeful living and all that init. When you’ve been hit with the limerence bomb, they become a passion of sorts. Now that is sweet and sexy if you are actually together and you are both interested in that. But when your just ruminating you are thinking that you are doing something which you are not doing. Cause all your doing is thinking. When you have something else to focus your passions on, some reason to for lack of a better phrase, to live, then you don’t have to engage with your passion by thinking, but can follow it through and do something that you are passionate about, like maybe gardening or dancing or football or maybe even your work etc. . At the end of the day aren’t we all passionate about our LO’s and want to do them :). You have to realise that you can’t (LO is unavailable to you in some way) or actually don’t want to be with your LO (i.e. you value your pre-existing relationship with SO, or your LO is a dodgy person or just a bad match). If your both single and your LO is open to a relationship and not dodgy, then you can feel free to fall head over heels for each other (still have to watch your landing). When your in your limerent reverie you can pursue your passion with no real risk, because its just thoughts in your head. That can make it quite attractive, that you can bliss out by just going to your thoughts. But you know its empty, and thats what makes you sad. Empty passion. Its what encourages you to act. What discourages you from acting is the fear of losing out on that supply. Losing out on the comfort and of losing out on what you have with them.
But and this is a time tested phrase: You gotta risk it for the biscuit. The risk is losing what you have with them. The reward is getting closer. Its the game that people plays. Its just higher stakes with limerence, the risk and reward is higher. Why is the risk higher you may ask? Because you built it up didn’t ya, and the risk is you don’t get the reward ever, because you blunder. The funny thing is if you don’t risk you are almost guaranteed to get the same outcome anyways.
Limerence is you brain crying for you to take a risk on someone and give yourself up to them and try to get them to do the same for you. Its unfortunate that it can do that at the most inappropriate times (when you or LO is not available) and sometimes for inappropriate people. But well not everyone can be fortunate all the time.
Limerence is falling in love with uncertainty, people fall in love all the time. But you only ruminate on it if you let yourself do it. If you put things in perspective at the start after you’ve been glimmered and you focus on other aspects of your life like the strong hobbies and stuff, then you can stop it in its tracks. You can still fall in love of course. But on your terms. When your just drifting along, then you can get pulled in by the current of falling in love and trapped in the holding pattern of limerence if there is uncertainty. When you have something a purpose in your life, then you have an oar and you can steer yourself away from falling in love if that is not part of your plans and not what you want to do. It can be harder for some people but with the oar it is definitely possible, although it can be tiring work. The good thing if you’ve got a nice SO, is they can help you too.
This is completely unrelated to your comment. Have you ever heard of the drug + set + setting model for drug experiences. Our drug of choice is falling in love. LO is the trigger for this. The Set is what you bring to the table. It is your life experiences and stuff and your mindset. Not everyone experiences limerence. Also this is where the purposeful living part can come in. The setting is the thing that helps give us limerence. The setting is uncertainty, due to a variety of barriers.
This is a long comment and this is also not related to your comment. This might be how you feel during limerence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RHBAd5YUR8
Wow, what a revelation! I have been researching twin flames for the last twelve years and thought I had met mine who is twenty two years younger than myself. We where together for two years. After reading all the information support and guidance on this page I have realised that I am limerence rather than a twin flame. I am at an all time low, depressed and have felt recently like I just can’t get myself to move forward. After reading these posts I wonder where do I turn to for help? I was seeing a therapist recently who to be quite honest couldn’t make head nor tale of my life, real or the fantasy one! I have been this way since my early adolescence. My first LO lasted for twenty years, I was with him for five years but the fantasy continued rent free in my mind for 15 years, in the hope that one day we would reunite. After much research into twin flames I and because of all the brainwashing around twin flame unions I believed until tonight that my first LO was my false twin flame and my last LO was my real twin flame. All of this has been driving me absolutely crazy. I almost wrote a letter to my second LO last week after not speaking to him for almost 10 years, what have I been doing with my life? I now live alone and believe my limerence has got worse since my son left home twelve months ago and find myself immersed in fantasy land again, in the hopes that one day soon I will reunite with my second LO. Please could someone shine a light at the end of this dark tunnel? Any books I could read? Websites I could look into? I just cannot carry on like this it’s absolutely wrecking my life, I have totally isolated myself because of all of my thoughts, my actions recently have concerned family members as they believe I am mentally unwell, now at long last I have some answers but I don’t know what to do with all this new information, any further support and guidance would be gratefully received. Many blessings
Dr L says
Welcome, Tracy! Glad you found us 🙂
There is a lot on the site about limerence, and even a couple of articles on Twin Flames (and why limerents often relate to the concept). The complete blog archive is here. And there is a Resources page too, with lots more on limerence and how to recover from an unwanted episode.
Something remarkable happened and I thought I’d share in case it would be of any help.
My limerence for LO is suddenly gone. As in, suddenly. What happened? Well, I hadn’t seen my extended family for awhile (damn pandemic). Recently, I finally saw them all again. The first few days, things were much the same: compelled to reach out to LO, ruminating, etc. But after about a week, I woke up one morning and I realized that I suddenly felt whole again. I had had this pain that was this yawning hole inside of me, and suddenly settling back to being with my birth family again meant that pain was gone. And with it, my yearning for LO! Has anyone EVER had a similar experience to this?? I can hardly believe it, this obsession has been disrupting my life for so long and I was contemplating some drastic measures to stop the torture.
The more I think of it, the more it makes some sort of sense to me. If limerence is a bonding mechanism, it goes to follow that it arises out of a situation where our current bonds are unsatisfactory in some way. So, if we had bonding issues in our family of origin, or growing distance in our bond with our partner, or in my case not seeing family members who I have a bond with for too long a time. I don’t know how we can scale this to other situations that could be of use to others, but its worth knowing about I think.
I am now turning LO in my mind, and it is so strange to see them without limerence. I still see all the positives, as objectively LO is a very nice and attractive person, but the captivation and lovesickness and longing are gone! LO is just a nice, pleasant, attractive person I like, like any other person in my life I appreciate and like (and there are many of those, I have tons of friends).
I am 51 and wish I had read this article years ago as it would have been incredibly helpful. I am recovering from a recent LO who I met through work. I and the LO were both single however there was big age gap and I was a lot older. I ended up leaving my job of 13 years which I was unhappy in anyway, I made the mistake of telling my LO my feelings ha ha. People at work were noticing and they lacked understanding. LO was nice about it but I could tell I needed to get over it as it wouldn’t work. I have a long history of limerence but thought it was just crushes. One good thing out of this it has made me look within deeply this time and put me on a transformative path with me actively taking the reins to steer my life, pursuing my own interests aggressively, taking a few risks rather than settling for a safe but discontented life. This has annoyed a few people that thought they could control me – they thought that I would stay in an unrewarding job forever because I couldn’t do anything else. I’m working less and figuring out ways to lead an interesting life that has meaning and purpose. I have many interests and hobbies and are now meeting new people regularly and do well paid contract work which has made me realise how badly I was being bullied at my previous place of work.
Thank you for those steps. It is true that when you have a purpose, attraction to LO wanes. Whenever I pursue and work hard on my writing goals, my thoughts for LO are less and less important. He’s not the centre of my universe (mind), I am, my writing is.
Why do we chose some people to be our LO? That’s an amazing question. Why them? Why him, why the artist who’s sensitive and an introvert like me? Why the person who cannot be easily reached, who’s complex, morose and unavailable?
Maybe because I’m just like him and I wanna overcome all these awful traits that made me suffer so much in relationships and life, in general? I’m definitely someone who’s unavailable in relationships (distant and numb) and LO is like a reminder to overcome this in me because..life is painful when you’re not reaching your full potential-in all areas, not only in romantic relationships.
Allie 1 says
Is it really a choice? Or is it just that certain small (and often actually un-important) details about them fit our subconsciously defined template for love?
Unavailable people are more likely to be LOs for everyone purely by being unavailable. If they (and we) were fully available, we would never become full-on limerent for them. They and us would just really like each other mutually in a normal and healthy way.
Super thorough article. I enjoyed it thank you.
Thanks for the article. I am celebrating over 20 years with my partner but suffered from Limerence when younger just thinking it was an intense crush – or valid because I had been in a relationship (if idealized) with the person but then took years to get over them and stop fantasizing.
I’ve done a lot of personal growth recently and learned about this concept and negative patterns I’ve had so when a guy said some flattering but slightly off things to me whom I barely knew it gave me a chance to pause and watch myself starting the process.
My first reaction was flattery and confusion. Then embarrassment as I wonder if he thought I needed to be rescued. I no longer feel that way but it is a hard fantasy to shake. I didn’t want to need or be needed falsely by someone. I knew he didn’t know who I was. I stewed for a week before responding to him excited but regretful that he was taking up head space. Upon reflection I realized I had misinterpreted at least one confusing comment.
I didn’t want to withdraw (a typical defense) in case I was jumping to conclusions and I didn’t want to let the tiny fantasy fester. So, I communicated with him and set up a time to talk. I figured that at the least this would dispel any illusions about me he had once he learned more about who I am – like I was doing both of us a favor.
And I hoped I could be open and curious about him knowing I have stronger boundaries in case my worst suspicions about his feelings were true. I wondered if we could even be friends since we had a unique experience in common.
I’m proud of myself! We had a nice conversation and he hasn’t responded to my text from over a week ago so I take it he’s not romantically interested if he ever was. He’s still LO material but now I have so much data against the fantasy that I could have built. I’d like to know him more but won’t pursue a friendship unless he does. Perhaps I got lucky that he’s not more “awesome” or isn’t pursuing me? I’m trying to work on friendships with women from the same experience but I’ve rarely had luck with maintaining friends of either gender.
I think my response from now on about people I dislike, have transference about, think might become a LO will be to test and dispel my fears quickly. I assumed this guy would be poorly suited to me if I got to know him (even though he is very handsome and such an ego boost). I was searching online for whether or not people talk about this as a way to get over some LO like when you don’t know enough about them to see them as a full person. It’s helped me break the spell I felt he started and see that I can be curious without running away.
Still, It sucks to be so guarded because I don’t want to fall into Limerence around men. It feels like all it takes sometimes is for them to be kind and not look like a troll. I guess I have more work to do. Ah hah! This could be an excuse for holding on to the weight I’ve gained – fear of encouraging more LO opportunities? Fear my boundaries are too weak.
I just came across this page and didn’t even know what limerence was before… it has been very helpful to see that this is “real thing” as it has been causing suffering and sabotaged all my relationships. I haven’t seen my LO in 16 years and yet he has been the one against whom I have compared every SO and love interest since with disastrous effects, so now I am alone. I realise that I have created neural super highways in my brain and I am at a loss about what to do. No contact isn’t an option is there hasn’t been any contact for over a decade, it has been all in my head. stopping a behaviour seems manageable but a thought? It seems impossible.
I should add that this was in high school and he *may* have had crush on me too. I was too insecure to at on anything and so I never got closure. Rationally I am well aware that I would probably even like him that much if I met him today, but emotionally everyone that isn’t him feels lacking, boring, depressing.
Oh Mia, that would be frustrating. I recommend you check out the
Crappy Childhood Fairy
on YouTube and see if her stuff rings true to you.
Steven Pruett says
I am 54. And TIL that I have a limerant mind. It started when I was 14. A girl. A huge crush. It happened for every girlfriend after that. Divorced now after 23 years of marriage. Thank God I married a wonderful person. The wisdom on these pages is like finding the meaning of life. THANK YOU. I finally understand what is behind this powerful, amazing, imprisoning feeling. By all other accounts I am a successful professional with many accomplishments, but upon activation of this trigger, which happened three weeks ago for the first time in 24 years, and I am an irrational fixated weirdo- tempered by experience, respect, and good nature. I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to sort this out and help figure what the hell is going on.
I am hoping that posting here will somewhat help me. I dated someone 24 years younger than me on and off for the last year. I am 49. This is the third time I have suffered from this The first two years it took me about 2 years to get over the rumination and constant thoughts. Now that I have recognised the pattern I have been able to establish that I have a tendency to chase immature, damaged women that I want to rescue. I now know that this comes from trauma in my childhood and adolescent years. I am hoping that by working on those issues that I can learn not to idolise women who are emotionally unavailable and that I can gain some sense or worth and love for myself and avoid these situations.
If it’s any consolation to anyone. For the first few weeks after we broke up I acted like a complete child. Sent her long emails which I’m sure she didn’t care about, I stalked her social media and messaged her mother and brother that she was back with her abusive ex (though I suspect that was I lie she told me anyway)
Now I have ensured I have no way to contact her and I never will again. I focus on sleeping well which ensures I have less anxiety.
I focus on filling my life with the things that make me happy. I am on a journey of self discovery and trying to work through the insecurities I have from having two emotionally immature partners one of who is a severely damaged narcissist. I work with my father on a daily basis and accept he did the best job he could.
The point being that when I sleep well I feel great and don’t think of her that much. I focus on why I felt I needed to have someone who would solve my childhood issues. And more importantly what I need to repair the wounds that created this situation.
Hope this helps someone