No contact is the soundest strategy for getting over an LO, but it’s also often logistically tricky, difficult to implement, and difficult to stick to.
Whenever you’re faced with a problem that thorny, it’s obvious that there’s going to be an embarrassment of psychological riches. Any time the need for self-discipline meets the desire for self-indulgence, you’re going to learn all kinds of interesting and important things about yourself. It’s also a great opportunity to stress test the claims of purposeful living – is a self-directed life pursuing worthwhile goals really a reliable way to beat the lure of limerence? Can knowledge and determination help you master the urge to break No Contact and get another LO hit?
So, what sort of knowledge can forearm you against the trials of no contact? Well, a detailed analysis of how the process tends to play out should help – cataloguing the common patterns of experience that limerents who opt for no contact go through. That can help you anticipate problems and predict what the psychological highs and lows will be.
You’ve got a goal at the end of this – emotional freedom – and that is what you are pursuing with focus. What prizes, punishments, milestones and pitfalls might you expect to lie along the road?
To organise this elegantly, let’s break it down into four phases…
1) The impetus
The reason we do limerence is because in the early stages it feels great. The reason we come to regret doing limerence is that in the later stages it feels awful. Once the realisation has dawned that we’ve become addicted to LO and need to escape, there tends to be a precipitating crisis of some sort that finally pushes us to declare “Enough! This has to stop!” Something snaps and makes us want to quit.
It could be something LO says or does that makes you feel ridiculous. It could be the realisation that you are jeopardising your friendships and relationships for an unhealthy fantasy. It could be something you’ve done that makes you ashamed of who you’ve become. It could be an ultimatum from an SO. Whatever it is – the impetus is enough to make you resolve to go no contact.
Depending on the strength of the impetus, and the strength of your resolve, this could be a hollow promise. You may just slide back into the old habits without taking action. Or, the impetus could be enough to push you into phase two.
Phase two is where you get serious. Social media blocks are activated. Withdrawal plans are implemented. Contact numbers deleted from SIMs. You start to take action and it feels good. You are taking control of the situation and starting to feel some clarity returning to your thoughts. Buoyed by the early success, you start to feel more emotionally and psychologically robust. No contact actually works!
This phase is psychologically powerful. You are gaining ground, getting closer to freedom. Small victories give psychological rewards, and you start to believe in hope. It’s a great wave to ride, and the longer you can the better, but eventually most limerents slip into phase three.
3) Laborious maintainence
The first flush of success wears off and you meet resistance. You are three quarters of the way through a marathon and the finishing line still looks far away. They are still in your thoughts every day, and you were hoping for some relief by now. Loneliness and craving test your resolve, and maintaining no contact seems a laborious effort. Life was more fun when they were in it.
The upsides to no contact are looking less obvious, and the temptation to re-establish contact grows. Maybe an accidental meeting really sets you back. This is a perilous time. The old habits of thought and behaviour are still laid down in your basal ganglia and midbrain, just waiting to fire up again with the right cues. Rationalisations start to seem more plausible. You’re feeling OK now, and so maybe it’s safe to dip a toe back in the water and see if you can cope?
When you find yourself in this phase, attack the resistance. This is the purposeful moment: what wins? Your determination to transform your life for the better, or your subconscious craving for the false comfort and emotional crutch of limerence? Those old feelings might be familiar and comfortable, but they are like the enabling friends of alcoholics.
Freedom is just beyond this last barrier. Get past it and you reach phase four.
The memories are still there, but fading. You still think about LO, but the craving has subsided and the time between thoughts lengthens. Critically, you no longer seek them as a habit.
If you consider the possibility of seeing them again, the emotional response is muted disquiet, rather than excitement. This is the phase in which you realise that LO is no longer the driving force in your life. They are no longer seen as a prize or goal, they are someone from your past. You are free. And what’s more, you have the deep satisfaction that comes from having completed a metaphorical marathon.
No contact leads to freedom, but it can be a rocky road. To really cement the success, take some time to reflect on the limerence experience from the perspective of what it’s taught you about yourself, about your past, and about how you should plan for your future.
Rachel Williams says
Legend DR L this is come at the most perfect time for me. Thank you for all you do for this site. Respect.
i just wanted to ask if, after 4 weeks of NC, it still seems quite “normal” that i’m still thinking in a way that i try to find hope to get back to my LO? we “closed” everything in a good way, even though just before we had some escalated moments that were not ok at all (from my side especially but initiated by a text message from her part that kind of give me hope again). but still i have the impression that, since i got to know about limerence and this explains my behaviour so much towards her, that i want to explain this to her … and maybe there is my hope coming from ?
Yes it is “normal”. I missed LO so much during NC that I went through lots of scenarios, many involving excuses to get back in touch with LO. And hope. Now, in my case, we were both unavailable, and I was the one who was dying. She may have also been in pain, but I had to try to stop caring how things were affecting her.
Ask yourself: “What do you want to happen if you explain your limerence to her?”
“What do you honestly think will happen if you explain your limerence to her?”
Yep, totally normal. I went through the same thing, wondering about whether I should share my new knowledge, but realising that – of course – it was just another way to try and test the boundaries by starting an intimate conversation and hoping for some sweet, sweet reciprocation.
I asked similar questions to Thinker, and the answer was obvious: my ego wanted her to declare “that’s exactly how I feel about you!”, but in reality, I had no idea how she would react, and it would have been a very bad idea to try and find out…
Have to say I didn’t consider telling her about limerence. It’s not likely to be appealing to her is it? “Hey I have this involuntary reaction to you that manifests itself in obsessional thoughts combined with an acute need for any sign of reciprocity I can find. Fancy coffee?” I would really advise against THAT.
But disclosure even after 4 weeks NC? yeah totally normal. I spent hours, days thinking of ways I could do it. I asked her friend how she was doing, via text as I knew she’d screen shot and send it to LO for example, hoping it would illicit a response and let her know I was still thinking of her. It does get better, the desire will fade. Honestly.
I am in my 6th week of what was no contact, that has graduated to low contact. I took almost a month off work to get away from my LO. I felt really good about it for the time I was off, and even did well the first week back at work. I had so much to catch up on that he (in the office across the hall) was not actually in the forefront of my mind. A lot of my colleagues were visiting so it felt less lonely and he mostly stayed away and in his office. I had requested he stop texting and talking to me outside of business requests, before I left on vacation. We didn’t see one another or talk or anything for 4 weeks.
I did this because he is my boss. We were super close and he texted me every day for more than a year. Into the evenings, weekends, holidays (did I mention he works across the hall?) The constant contact led to a LE and EA, at least on my part. Once I realized what was going on I was mortified that I could not pull back the feelings or control them. I was crying almost daily because I was giving him so much of my time and energy while watching him spend a lot of his time and energy on others. Yes, he asked me to go for walks occasionally, walked to my car with me after work, and texted me every night. Yes, he confided about his terrible marriage and lack of sex. The thing is, when I needed to talk or needed support, he didn’t have the time.
I began to feel a bit like that woman in the book who pines for a married man who will never care for her. She is his doormat, his ego boost. He likes the attention. The reader feels terrible for her because she is pitiful and weak and stupid. The reader also feels like she is a homewrecker waiting to pounce. It’s a double whammy. It was driving me insane to feel like I was THAT woman.
I disclosed to my SO and he understood that this was not the position I wanted to be in, but that this is also my boss so I have to tread carefully to manage it. I love my SO and have never doubted my marriage. I knew I could not keep texting with my LO and allowing the behaviors no matter who he was. It was hurting me, my marriage, and my career in some respects.
So I sort of disclosed to my LO (we were friends so sneaking away and ghosting him wasn’t a reasonable option.) I told him to stop anything but business contact. He disagreed that it was the right answer, and felt our friendship had too much good for me to “burn it all down” but he said he would stop contact, and he has… mostly. This week (week 6) he has been in and out of my office more, for random things he could email about. Yesterday he told me how much better he felt after coming in my office and venting about work challenges. Later he was in joking around and smiling. The result was that I caught myself saying things and feeling things that spark the limerent behaviors. (I was SO mad at myself for allowing it.) Then the worst: He actually walked out with me yesterday evening from work. The way it came about was that he asked me and a coworker if we were leaving and sort of left with us (just casually walking to our cars, joking around, like coworkers do right?) It sounds all innocent and simple. I cried all the way home.
That limerent crazy person inside me is feeling like I made some mistake by asking for low contact and trying to avoid him. I am having doubts that I can pull this off. All that contact was and is “feeding the limerent monster.” The limerence is sneaking back. Actually, who am I kidding? I am in a limerent hell right this moment, no quiet sneaking… it’s an attack.
I can’t be his pet limerent. I can’t completely avoid him. He literally can see into my office from his desk and vice versa. We have worked so closely for the last 4 years. I don’t know how to go LC with someone I literally can’t avoid without being obvious to my whole team. I also feel like he is sliding back in (even if he isn’t fully aware of the effect.) I have been keeping my door mostly closed and listening to loud music to avoid him but it is now starting not to work. What am I going to do? I see a therapist, but I wonder if anyone else in this group, who understand what limerence feels like, has successfully navigated a similar situation and made it to the “FREEDOM” step of NC, using LC. I need help.
Limerent Emeritus says
Have you read https://livingwithlimerence.com/limerence-for-a-co-worker/ ?
Thanks for the link. I read it. It is essentially what I am doing. It is just so difficult.
Today he told me he was going for a walk to get a coffee and asked if he could get me anything. We used to do coffee walks together. It triggered me. He never asked if he could bring something back for me before. He just brought me with him up until 6 weeks ago.
I wish this was not so hard. I actually had myself convinced that the 4 week complete NC prepared me to deal with this more gracefully. I have never felt so wrong.
Oh I feel you, I’m in the same exact situation you described! What happened since then? Any progress?
WOW….it’s Tuesday night and I’m feeling liberated!! Just tonight, I’m coming across the whole limerence thing. I didn’t know it was as thing till tonight.
I’ve been a Limerent and didn’t know it till tonight. I kept agonizing over why I’ve slipped over into all these emotions in an affair I am having? Now I have the answer. After reading all night, practically, I’m sitting here reading and saying THIS IS ME! I’m the older man to the much younger women in this affair. And there have been moments where I’ve felt like a total fool in my expression of needing reciprocation. WTF!! How embarrassing.
But now that I know what’s causing it, mmediately, I am looking forward to the road of recovery. Wow, again, this is very liberating to at least what has been producing this thing I’ve been going through.
I’m hoping the NC phase won’t be too bad. I’ve felt so low with some of my emotional reactions, I’m looking forward to the NC phase.
Anonymous Limerent says
I think I’ve been through phases 1-3 but multiple times.
A few times, LO has said something that made me feel ridiculous about liking her (such as mocking me). This has pushed me into phase two because I recognised the need for action. I went through a lot of phase 1s before I arrived at phase 2. I’ve tried NC (not looking at her and staying away from her, in my case) three times now, with the third ongoing. Each time I’ve failed has made me feel sick and I went right back into phase 0, or forward into phase 3*.
Since I’ve been through this a lot of times, does that mean that I’m just in a different type of limerence, or that my 14-year old subconscious just isn’t mature enough to persevere? I suspect that latter.
*Side note: How can you tell whether you are in phase 0 (not doing anything) or 3? They are very similar. My ‘phase 0s’ slip-backs have been caused mostly by phase 3, I.e. I think NC is too hard so I just stop trying and succumb to thoughts of stopping, coupled with occasional glances at LO, but still feel like I’m NC.
To be honest, in my opinion, I’m not convinced that NC is the optimal solution for someone in your situation.
You see, most of the other posters here are adults and as such have full autonomy over their lives. Even the ones who work with their LOs could, in theory, quit their jobs or get a transfer or do something to put them as far away from LO as humanly possible. I understand that in the world of adult responsibility things don’t always work that way. But in theory, they could do it.
In your case you’re still a minor. You’re still in the ‘do what the adults tell you to do’ phase of life. You might be able to avoid contact with LO socially, on breaks or outside of school. But, as you’ve found, there may be times when you’re forced to make contact with her, sit next to her, work with her, etc. There’s nothing you can really do about that.
I’d suggest, that if you don’t want to tell her how you feel and you don’t want to try transferring those feelings onto someone more suitable, that you consider aversion therapy. You’ve mentioned times she’s made you feel like a shithead for liking her. I’d concentrate on that. If it doesn’t work, well in two years minimum, four years maximum, life is going to force you two apart anyway and you’ll be in a better position to make sure that you stay apart, if that’s what you want.
I’ve got to say AL, I read your posts and I envy you. I really do. I’d give anything to be your age again.
Anonymous Limerent says
Yeah, I can’t go to therapy: It would involve telling my family.
That’s not happening.
You misunderstand me. It’s not a therapy that you go to. You do the therapy yourself. You condition yourself to devalue your LO. It’s described on this blog under ‘How to get rid of limerence’.
Instead of trying (and failing) to avoid her, instead think about the times she made you feel ridiculous for liking her. Think about the times she mocked you.
Anonymous Limerent says
I do remember that I’m supposed to be doing that now and again, but I always forget. I’ll try to remember from now on!
I will add one caveat, however. I feel that you would be a lot better served by embracing your feelings and working up the courage to tell your LO how you feel, rather than trying to bury or run away from them instead. Trust me on this. I’ve been where you are. I strongly empathise with your situation.
I was mad for my LO when we were kids together. I still am. Difference is that now I can’t do anything about it, and the pain is indescribable. It’s what I imagine hell feels like.
Anonymous Limerent says
Look, honestly, I can’t come up with a valid counter-argument for that to say why I shouldn’t. Because everything you said is true, and I agree with it all.
So I’m not going to.
I can only say that if I were to do something about it, it would be at the end of Year 11, if I still felt this way, and I would tell a friend. Word would get round pretty soon.
I’m far, FAR too insecure and introverted to do anything like that now, though.
At 13, do you seriously see a future with your LO? I remember a girl in my freshman English class crossed her legs and thinking, “I really want to get my hands on that.” At that age, I had no idea what I’d do if I did, but I thought it would be a whole lot of fun and I really wanted to try it. It took a few more years but I figured it out and it took years after that until it worked on a regular basis. I know of exactly one person who married his grade school sweetheart and is still married. One. I don’t know if ever dated another girl but it worked for them.
Your reasons for not disclosing are valid. The downside of disclosure to your LO or most other people seem to outweigh the potential upside. Realistically, what are you looking at if you do disclose and it works? Holding hands in the movie and a peck on the cheek? That’s not much considering what you’ve said might happen if it doesn’t.
If you were 23 vice 13, my opinion might be different. But, you need to figure out how to deal with it until it goes away or wait it out until you’re old enough to realistically do something about it.
When it comes do disclosure, James Thurber had some indirect insight into that.
“He who hesitates is sometimes saved.” -“The Glass in the Field”, The New Yorker (31 October 1939); Fables for Our Time & Famous Poems Illustrated (1940).
AL- Yeah, I made that mistake too. I made a lot of assumptions about my life that ended up being false. With regards to LO, I figured the 100% perfect, 100% optimal opportunity to tell her how I felt would arise and I would seize it. It didn’t. Failing that, I figured that I would at least be able to blurt it out on the last day ever of school. I couldn’t. Failing THAT, I figured that my feelings for LO would fade away with time and distance. They didn’t. I still think about her, I still dream about her, same as I did when we were kids. Only now, like I said, there’s nothing I can do about it.
I actually disagree with Scharnhorst here. I think you’re making too much of the potential downside. You’re scared of being humiliated and that everyone will laugh at you and school will be unbearable. I’m not saying that your fear is unfounded because it happened to me. But it’s not the worst thing in the world. Kids tend to forget after a while, and all these people are going to be irrelevant in two years anyway.
What you’re describing is part of life. Sometimes to get the things we want, or the things we think will make us happy, you’ve got to let yourself be vulnerable. Yeah, you might get rejected, you might get humiliated. But look at the alternative. What you want isn’t going to just fall in your lap and you’ll likely end up equally miserable anyway.
As for your ultimate goal, yeah you probably won’t get married or have children. But that’s okay. That’s the beauty of adolescent relationships. You’re figuring yourself out. You’re figuring out how you work in a relationship. It doesn’t matter if your relationship only amounts to holding hands at the movies or a peck on the cheek, what matters is that you can get to that stage and then take it further once you become more mature.
You say you’re introverted and insecure? Well, these are things that can be worked on. Do you talk to this girl? At all? I’d start from there and then build on that.
Anonymous Limerent says
Sorry, Mike, but when it comes to this debate, I have to agree with Scharnhorst.
A couple of months ago, when I started trying to persuade myself that I shouldn’t like LO, I started to consider what I would actually do if we began a relationship. And I came to the conclusion that it wouldn’t be very long-lived and there would be a break-up which I couldn’t cope with.
As both of you seem to agree, adolescent relationships tend not to last, and aside from the hurtful end, I don’t think I want my first failed relationship to be with someone I feel this strongly for. It’s for that reason that I believe, that if she were to come up to me and tell me she liked me and ask me out, I would probably say no. It’s slightly sad, but I think things all the way through.
And no, I don’t talk to her. The very notion terrifies me. But just imagine:
I go to talk to her. She thinks ‘oh, here’s the boy who likes me…’. So I begin to talk to her and she knows it’s only because I like her that I’m even talking to her. She tells me to go away but then asks why I came up to her. I’m paralysed, sans-answer. My hesitation indicates all she needs to know. She says “you like me, don’t you?” And I deny it. Because I have to. She goes over to her friends and tells them what happened and I get teased about the rumour that it secretly true. It’s very hurtful as I see LO mocking me for liking her and I’m put through hell because despite this, my stupid limerent feelings just won’t go away. I get depressed. I try to distance myself. The teasing follows me. Rumour gets round to my sister, who tells my mum. I’m teased at home.
So, yeah… Maybe not.
And, by the way, I’m 14 now.
Here’s the crux, AL. You don’t have to. It just seems like you have to, because right now the prospect of being teased seems terrifying. Mike’s perspective is that yeah, the mockery of peers definitely hurts, but we have all of us been through it at one time or another and survived. After a while, all the times you limited yourself to try and stay safe become a source of mounting regret. Much more of a regret than the times when you took a risk that turned out bad.
I’m not saying you should go ahead and declare yourself. No one can pivot from insecure to confident just by reading a pep talk. But do start to ask yourself why it is so outrageous that you should be attracted to someone, and then talk to them? It seems self-evident to you, I’m sure, but written down plainly like that it’s less obvious to others.
The route to more confidence is to chip away at the limiting beliefs that trap you, and take small risks to build experience. After a while it comes more naturally.
” I don’t think I want my first failed relationship to be with someone I feel this strongly for.”
How do you define failure? It’s only a failure it doesn’t achieve your desired outcome. Do you have a desired outcome. A lot of relations don’t necessarily fail, they run their course. I’ve had one failed relationship, LO #2. That’s because I invested in her, asked her to marry me and she declined. I didn’t get the outcome I wanted. I have no idea if LO #2 considers it a failed relationship. I’d like to think she felt some regret or remorse but I wouldn’t put money on it.
Now, I’ll tell you a long story about when I was 14.
I was a freshman in HS. One day a girl I knew asked if she could join me for lunch. She was cute, a little on the stocky side. I knew her from a few classes. She was kind of an artsy type, into choirs and theater. She ran with the “in crowd.” I knew who she was but I hadn’t given her much thought. But, she was the first girl that paid any attention to me since since I’d moved away from the shin-kicking, pear throwing, girl I knew in middle school.
I thought she really liked me. She’d ask me to help with her German vocabulary and I wasn’t taking German. She seemed to be interested in things I was interested in. It didn’t take long to learn that she had her eye on another guy. I began to think she was using me as leverage. I didn’t learn the formal concept of triangulation until much later.
One Friday, there was a dance after the football game. A group of us were talking. She asked if I’d be at the dance. I said I would. She left for the dance and as I was leaving, another girl said, “She really doesn’t like you, you know.” It hit me hard. I turned around and left. Nothing was the same after that. I resented the girl that told me for years until I understood triangulation. Now, I think she was probably right. I didn’t take things well and did some things that turned out to be ill chosen. I couldn’t buy a date in HS until I was a senior and my reputation had died down.
So, how does the story play out? Well, the other guy she was interested in came out as gay and died of AIDS (true). She gained weight, became morbidly obese, and died in her early 50s (true). There was a girl who liked me my junior year but I was so insecure that I drove her away. I dated a girl my senior year. We both knew it would only last until we went to college the following year. Hopefully, your experience will be better.
AL, what if you got all confident and swaggered up to her and told her
“I think you’re cute and should get to know me because you would find me veeerrrryy interesting”.
Then wink at her.
If you get teased say “So what? I do think she’s cute? And I do think I am interesting! What is the big deal?”. And roll your eyes dramatically.
And then maybe she would think about it. Or maybe your limerence would diminish.
I randomly made contact fairly recently with a guy I went to high school with who was my friend (but we were never a thing). He confessed that all those years ago he had a crush on me when we were exactly your age. I think I might have given him a chance. He was (and is) very interesting and he thought (thinks) I am cute. He is now happily married and famous for his brilliant talent. I have not maintained contact after this very belated disclosure for obvious reasons. I did ask “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME THEN?”.
When we were 14 he was incredibly shy and a little awkward but ever so smart! I was bubbly and creative and had a lot of friends.
I once invited him home with me to do homework and he tells me now he was trying to find the courage to grab me and kiss me but never could. I wonder how life now would be if he had!
So AL….just think about it. I believe you have less to lose than you imagine.
AL – As for the first part of your post, you sound exactly like me when I was your age. All I can say is that you’re over-thinking things. The beauty of an adolescent relationship is that it’s supposed to be free of all the stresses that characterise a relationship between two self-sustaining adults.
As for the second part, that’s the beauty of limerence. All these feelings are so strong and powerful in your mind that you think they must be obvious to other people. But they aren’t. Short of blurting it out she’s not going to know that you like her if you just go up and talk to her.
I’m not saying that you should go from zero to disclosure either, and if you did you’d probably sound crazy. But there’s no reason you can’t talk to her. You’re a kid. You go to school together. You take classes together. Ask her about homework or something. That’s what I did.
Anonymous Limerent says
Well, it probably doesn’t matter now, as today was the last day I will see her for 6 weeks. I want to cry.
Needless to say, I didn’t disclose and I didn’t talk to her, but we did lock eyes quite a lot. With 6 weeks of NC coming up, I did try to look at her quite a bit.
So today was depressing, but it should be a good thing in the long run, right?
And that ‘locking eyes’ thing that happens almost daily is precisely the reason I *know* she knows I like her; prolonged and frequent eye contact isn’t normally a coincidence.
Slightly off topic ramble ahead…
Thanks to everyone in this thread I’ve just had a realisation…
These adolescent relationships you talk of completely bypassed me! So sorry AL – I can’t really help with your situation.
In my teens my Mum was we thought physically, but turned out to be mentally, unwell. Between school work (which I took extremely seriously) and listening to/looking after her, and getting a part time job when I was 16 (because my Dad had been made redundant so any contribution towards the mortgage was needed)
I had zero time or energy to explore relationships. I made one massive mistake before I met my husband and learned what many people learn over several years or possibly relationships in one go. Then I met hubby and settled down. The whole dating thing completely passed me by.
I can’t help wondering if this LE is my subconscious trying to make up for the missed experiences?! Does that sound odd?
Sophie, that does not sound odd at all. I would say that it is both your subconscious and conscious self that are telling you that you missed things. We all missed things. There is not infinite time. But the grass is not necessarily greener. All my experiences have led me to the person I am now. My LE was a wake up call to some of the things that I have missed or got lost along the way, of which some are too late to do anything about; however, some are not, and the LE has (eventually) served as a spark to do things that I thought either were not possible or it was too late to start.
We all have a story
Phase 4 for me!!! Uncertainty is over. LO is getting married. He chose someone good for him, someone good for his image, someone much better than me. As for me, I will be staying in my less than semi-happy long term relationship for the sake of my child and for the fact that I simply cannot afford the place of my own at the moment. Quite depressing, but I see no other options for a time being.
Life must get better one day…
N, it hurts me to hear you say that your LO has found someone “better” than you. Limerence can ultimately do massive damage to ones self esteem, I know that all too well. It’s time to recover it. You have good qualities and strengths, and they may be different than the one you LO is marrying, but don’t ever allow yourself to feel inferior. Focus on the good….in yourself…. and cultivate it. Wishing you the best.
Agreed! Please don’t say this about yourself. 🙁
I’ve tried going absolute NC recently. This has been triggered by LO confirming what I suspected all along, he had a new LO (but denied it towards me, telling me I am acting like a jealous gf). Long story short, he confessed to his LO, she brushed it off that there wasn’t anything (despite that there was an EA and her being very explicit about wanting to sleep with him, etc.), and he was heartbroken, telling me all about it (including showing me some texts, hence I know it wasn’t just being friends). I was relieved at first about the fact that I wasn’t crazy and imagining things, that there was an LO on his part. I tried to help him through it as good as I could “being a friend”, but hearing all about how she now still reaches out to him etc. and him going NC with her but unsure if she may want him after all etc. it just hurts me. So after a work event where I saw them both, I told my LO that I cannot take it anymore, I want full NC. It didn’t go as planned though, as he begged me to stay in his life, telling me that we have a special connection that I should not throw away and that he would do anything I need to help me get over him (except for ironically what I’d need, NC). He told me that he was able to get over me as his LO and accepts the fact that we will never be together and that I could do the same.
This as a bit of a background story of where I am. Because I do have a question. I told him if he wants me to get over him, I need him to be ok in the presence of my SO as if he truly is a friend of mine, I do not want to hide him from my SO. He agreed and came to my son’s bday party. I know this is a despicable idea in itself, bringing LO and unknowing SO together, but it really helped me to compare LO and SO (SO wins by far) and also to see that LO does not fit into my life (e.g. LO would never be a good match for me as an SO and seeing them together really confirms that).
SO and I also have rekindled and our relationship has much improved.
Back to my question though: After everything, I think I have all the rational facts together, SO is so much better than LO, LO and I will never be anything, LO sees me as a friend only, there is no uncertainty anymore, LO in fact has moved on, which is good, yet I am still unable to fully shut this LE down. Why? Will I be able to, without going NC? The reason I want to go NC is that it still hurts a bit that LO moved on with his LO (yes, I am not fully over LO) but I feel all the facts are aligned for me to accept getting over LO and that it should be possible to do so. I do see progress when being around LO, so I do think I can work towards killing this limerence… or am I kidding myself?
“It didn’t go as planned though, as he begged me to stay in his life, telling me that we have a special connection that I should not throw away and that he would do anything I need to help me get over him (except for ironically what I’d need, NC).”
He is using you and neither respects nor cares for YOU except as you are useful to him. A better question is why do you find someone this entitled attractive? What are you trying to prove and to whom?
I am at a loss as to what you were thinking by literally bringing LO into your intimate relationship. Did you tell your SO that he was auditioning for the role he already had? Or that LO was his direct competition?
I think you are unable to “shut this down” because you didn’t, in fact, shut it down. LO did so (sorta) by starting a new relationship. It wasn’t purposeful on your part. Now it can be. NC all the way. LO is going to continue to test your boundaries so excise him completely. Block all forms of communication. Delete numbers. Avoid whenever possible and if not, purposefully and QUICKLY disengage. Don’t speak to him alone if at a business or other event. Etc.
You can do this. It is hard, but you can do it.
I think the difficulties are coming from the fact that you are trying to involve your LO in the recovery process, when he is actually what you are trying to recover from. He is not an ally. He wants to keep the mutually tantalising relationship going. I mean, he has just straight up come out and said as much – I don’t want to be with you (I want to be with new LO) but I want you around for when I need a little frisson of excitement.
Trying to end limerence by asking LO to help you go no contact is rarely effective. You have to make the purposeful decision to disengage from LO. That means unilateral no contact. Having them there as a “friend” will just slow progress.
It does sound as though you are trying to manoeuvre LO and SO into somehow presenting themselves to you in a way that will make it easier for you to make the right choices. Much better to make the choice yourself, and then act decisively.
I agree with Lee and Dr. L.
If someone has a drug addiction one of the first steps in recovery in to change ones social group that encourages the addiction. Your LO is your pusher. He is not going to help you get clean. He himself gets a benefit (creepy I know) from your addiction. Never forget that!
Thanks Lee, DrL and Jaideux for your thoughts and advise. I can see that my addiction will not help me get over my addiction and it’s true of course that he benefits from it as well. It’s just so damn hard to make that choice and stick to it. I feel like I am a very weak person, unable to decide what’s best for me and my SO. How do I get strong enough to do that?
“I feel like I am a very weak person, unable to decide what’s best for me and my SO. How do I get strong enough to do that?”
There are a few ways to look at that statement: You ARE weak and therefore unable to effect change in your life – it always “just happens”. Which permits you the luxury of being passive and defeatist. OR (and FAR more likely) you are no weaker or stronger than anyone else but it is the first time you have been tested in this manner or to this degree in a long time. Maybe for the first time.
How do you go about shaking it and him off? The same way you learn anything. Practice. Don’t burden yourself with expecting perfection because that gives you a good reason to quit struggling whenever you backslide. Expect it to happen. Write down when it tends to happen and how strongly you feel it. Maybe it’s certain places that affect you the most. You can avoid them for a time. Consider making new memories there with your SO and child. Or as a springboard to making new memories with your family in new places.
It is hard. But you picked up much harder skills along the way. Reading and writing, for example. You can do this too.
I like Lee’s idea of rewriting over the history at a location. We tend to think of spots we had lovely moments with our LO as ‘sacred’, ‘special’, ‘sentimental’ and ‘significant’. Like my alliteration there? Couldn’t help myself. Anyway, if we have a moment of clarity and go to those places with people we love (and are not limerent for) we have nice, healthy, honest and transparent experiences there that finally are not filled with thrilling slightly illicit excitement yet laced with deceit. Voila! We have neutralized a limerence memory bomb….and how satisfying to clear the mine field, one bomb at a time, and replace those landmines with happy and honorable memories, ones that won’t infect our brains like evil worms.
Thanks both. I have decided that I have to go NC. I have told LO (texted) that I want NC and that I wish him all the best. I wrote that I will be blocking his number and will not read his reply and that he please respect my decision as it is final.
Be prepared for an extinction burst. Do not respond in any way whatsoever going forward if he does worm through or bust past your roadblocks.
I hope he simply goes away because you’ve told him to do so, but some people can’t stand being ignored or shunted aside.
And, if he does come back, it will tell you a lot.
Someone who cares about you will have your best interest at heart and acts in good faith. Their desires should never come at your expense.
As all over the map as we got for awhile, I always felt LO #4 was acting in good faith. Once we got past her stonewalling me, we were able to be pretty honest with each other. That honesty hastened the end of our acquaintance.
Thank you both. This will be hard, but I will do it!
As usual you capture things perfectly Dr L. My NC has followed these steps pretty neatly over the last 7 months since it started.
I had the full trifecta of impetus – my own realisation it had to stop, LO’s behaviour and my SO’s ultimatum. That propelled me into implementation – I deleted numbers, emails, her CV from my drive, cleared the stuff she had left at her desk at the office and stopped talking about her with other people.
For a month maybe it felt good, the fog started to clear and I was in control and taking my life back. I was then in the laborious maintenance phase and having withdrawal symptoms. I had a wobble at 3 months NC, I sent her a text and her reply was fairly brutal. I was annoyed with myself because it handed her back control but it also gave me fresh impetus to carry this on.
7 months now and I have no desire to get in contact. I’d still probably like her to contact me if I’m honest, but I can see that is pure ego at this point. It doesn’t feel like freedom yet because I’m still thinking about her too much for that and my stomach still flips at the mention of her name but I’m getting there. Maybe this stage is the road to freedom, and the destination is reached when you barely ever think of LO.
Hey Vincent – I’m 2 weeks into NC and I also really like your point hat you “stopped talking about her with other people”. I’m not there yet as I still hash things out with close friends (like Jaideux below) but also just randomly being her up with other colleagues, all innocent, to see if they have noticed the glimmer or the tension between her and me.
I also like your point that “my stomach still flips at the mention of her name”. I thought I was the only one. As soon as someone mentions her name it’s like a punch to the gut. Even reading her name (today mentioned in passing on our intranet) is enough for that gut punch feeling.
I’m afraid I did some hands-off indulgent reverie today by her empty desk. No I didn’t smell her coat on the back of the chair or touch any of her stuff but I did look at her post-its where she’s written her name (so beautifully and glimmery) and also saw she’d saved a note I’d written her (aw!). A slip but not a big one.
I appreciate a man’s perspective on this. I am 8 months out NC, similar to you, I don’t want to contact (took awhile to get to this place) but feel thoughts of him in my mind often. Which is frustrating. I feel like those should be gone, but I realize it takes time. We have so many friends and acquaintances in common, I hear about him and it definitely feels like a gut punch. How are you at 10-11 months NC right now?
Good work Vincent. I liked your point ” stopped talking about her with other people.”. I am finally implementing that – to a degree. I think I was getting a mini-hit just hashing things out with people close with me even though I was maintaining NC. I just can’t believe how patient my friends have been with me. I think they should get an award for hearing all my stupid LO analysis for so many years. Alarmingly, mutual friends are telling me that LO is upset by my NC and I fear that is also a mini-hit. But honestly…I feel ready – I think – to create a whole new LO-free life and create a LO-free new recent history. It certainly won’t be as vivid but in time I will realize it’s far more satisfying and safe then that wild bronco ride!
Yes that’s partly what made me wobble and get back in contact – other people talking about her. “LO was asking after you the other day…”, “ oh I remember the day LO left she looked so sad and said she wished she was leaving on better terms with some people… she must have meant you”. I built up this narrative of this poor thing bereft without my friendship. It was nonsense of course and when I did contact her she shoved it in my face! Don’t get sucked in, it’s just your brain engineering another hit of LO. Ignorance is bliss!
Vincent, Your LO reacting to your NC through others is definitely a form of fuel. I’ve cut way back on my contact with LO and haven’t gotten a reaction. The fact that it bothers me is an indication I’m not out of LE yet. I have been rocking the purposeful living in the last week or so, and distancing myself from the circus.
Well said Vincent….best to be ignorant than played for a fool! (Even if it’s our own limerent brain fooling us). We can do this! (Cue the cheering squad).
This post is so timely and helpful. I love the thoughtful, accurate and nuanced understanding of the different stages of NC.
I am four months into NC, (more or less, just a few brief emails – this is a professional relationship). Been cruising along in a purposeful life (!) and now solidly in stage 3. Wish I could do better about the reveries – they just sneak up on me and before I know it I’m off creating a scenario where all is lovely and perfect. I catch myself and try hard to redirect. I’ve worked really hard at the extinction techniques, but I’m not making much headway. Any suggestions? The only thing that seems to make a dent is imagining all the fallout from an imagined EA or PA (even though the possibility is really remote).
Now I am staring at the latest message from LO, requesting a consultation meeting. I’ve confirmed it for a couple of weeks out. “Disquiet” is a really apt description. It’s laced with a slightly sickening thrill at the thought – could there be some long desired reciprocation after all? Now there is a time pressure to speed up the recovery. Not much risk of inappropriate behavior (I hope), because now I know too much and know all the pitfalls (thanks to Dr. L). But I’m not very good at maintaining a poker face and fear inadvertent disclosure. (Some emotion slipped out at the last meeting, and LO definitely caught it).
I feel like Ulysses lashed to the mast, with my ship edging ever so closer to the rocks. Wondering why was it again that I wanted to hear the sirens singing? And why the heck didn’t I stick in those ear plugs?
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Ha ha ‘Ulysses….’
Working with the LO is the worst. I have tried to go subtly LC but she is so tuned to me that she senses it—and gives off way more glimmer than usual. Fortunately her own situation is so weird that what at first was a curse (while in the throes of limerence) is now a blessing (as I struggle to extract myself).
So there are three offices in a row, and she has deep and complex relationships with all three of the men in the offices. One is her secret boyfriend, who she is dating outside of work and has a physical relationship with. She and he act like they barely know each other at work. The middle office is mine. Initially she spent hours in it with me working on our shared responsibilities. Once she got divorced and tangled up with her BF, she avoids me for the most part because she doesn’t want to spend hours with me with her BF next door. The third guy is the oldest and she is tight with him and spends lots of time with him. She is secretive about her relationship with BF because that could impact relationship with older guy.
So I get LC lately by her choice but when it’s just her and me she tries extra hard to make me laugh and be responsive.
Oh, man, did I ever get here?
My limerent brain is truly an idiot!
Holy Toledo, MLBI, I wonder how you focus on getting work done. My mind blew a fuse attempting to imagine a parallel scenario if my LO were a colleague connected in those ways with two women whose offices adjoined mine. Wow!
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
There’s yet even more hilarious complications. Her secret BF’s brother works in our office. Since she is NC at work with her secret BF, she hangs out freely with her BF’s brother, and even started smoking to go on break with him every couple of hours. She was being extra glimmery with brother because, well, that’s what she does to get guys to like her. But the smoking stopped because she’s trying to get secret BF to stop smoking himself as they’ve gotten more serious. Oh, man, sooooo funny.
She has a loud, musical laugh, so you can track her presence around the office. When she’s not happy with you, she goes NC until you ‘fix’ whatever you did to make her mad. Therefore, it can be excruciating to hear her laughing in somebody eles’s office if she’s avoiding you.
“When she’s not happy with you, she goes NC until you ‘fix’ whatever you did to make her mad. ”
Have you ever apologized to her so you could get back into her good graces? When LO #4 was in her stonewalling phase, I found myself apologizing a lot to see if I could get out of the doghouse.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Oh, I totally apologized all the time when I was in the worst of the limerence.
Now it’s hopefully less so, but her getting a BF and me finding this site has moved it all to a much more manageable situation.
Ever think about why?
“You ask if I love you, well what can I say?
You know that I do and if this is just one of those games that we play
So I’ll sing you a new song, please don’t cry anymore
And then I’ll ask your forgiveness, though I don’t know just what I’m
Asking it for” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9694K85Xc8
That song was released in the US in early 1984. LO#2 and I had been dating a year. I remember it somehow captured our relationship although I was too naive to understand the implications of it. I still like it, though.
So…what’s the payoff for you in all this? There’s always a payoff or we wouldn’t be playing the game. What’s in this for you?
Is she playing you off against each other? In the “fairy tale ending,” what do you think you want out of this? Do you want to move up to the BF slot or swap out places with the old guy confidant?
What role are you playing? You obviously think you have a place in this. What is it? Do you want to be the power behind the throne, influencing LO? Ever watch Game of Thrones? Are you the Jorah to her Dany?
Do you want to be the Lifeguard, positioning yourself to swoop in if things go bad? Do you want to be the one she turns to? Would you nudge things in a direction to help them go bad? What would you do if she did?
Urgh, you have my sympathies. I was doing really well, and then I caved and texted him on Tuesday. In reply he said ‘funny, I also caved yesterday and sent you a postcard’. Since then, we’ve been texting anodyne, neutral messages and still my heart won’t stop racing even though i know it will be something totally dull, and now today the intrusive thoughts are back, so I have to go NC again. I was going to text and explain, but I think I just have to withdraw. And burn the postcard when it finally turns up. Because obviously the thought that he’s been pining for me while he’s been away has been like petrol on a fire…argh. But I saw how beneficial even 3 weeks of NC was. Got to keep it up. I will kill this.
My Limerent Brain is an Idiot says
“The only way to win is not to play.”
My main desire right now is for the LE to tail off and let me go back to normal. I’m not as in tune with myself as you seem to be with yourself. You have a lot of insight into your own personality and how/why you have limerent episodes. I love your question, “What would you do with that information?”
I’m not there — I had no idea what was happening to me other than that I was having all these waaaaayyyy inappropriate feelings for a subordinate. So I have dropped all personal questions to my LO, and I keep to just the professional subject matter in our interactions. She has her own complicated dynamics going on–I cannot help but observe analyze those activities but as DrL and others point out, analyzing every interaction with the LO feeds the LE beast.
I came to this site desperate, though, and it’s really helped. Your stories and insight have helped out, too; I have little desire to spend time with a therapist, but I vicariously gain insight through your anecdotal reminiscence.
So I have a place in her unusual web of relationships, but right now it is unwilling and I’m backpedaling furiously from anything that is overly intimate, and hoping that transference occurs on her part to her new BF — it just cracks me up that as I pull back, she tries to come on stronger. However, her own self-inflicted web keeps her from doing much.
She works from home two days a week, and on those days we’ve had a daily standing phone call on our calendars where we go over work issues and keep each other in the loop. On those calls she has gotten extra warm and expressive lately, because she doesn’t have to worry about the other two guys overhearing–and I think she is also trying to reassure herself that I’m still under her thumb or in her thrall or whatever she’s getting from me.
It’s getting rapidly better on my end. When I found out that she had a BF a couple of months ago, I experienced physical pain. Now, I’m mostly fine with it and hope they work out for each other because I think having her in a normal, committed relationship will reduce limerence on both sides. But what she does from this point doesn’t matter–I’ve established better boundaries and I’m focusing on the things I did wrong to get in this situation–and eliminating those. I would have never known what to do without this site, though. Going NC isn’t an option, and I wasn’t exactly sure where I had gone wrong. For instance, I never fantasized about her in a physical sense, and most of our interactions weren’t different from many that I’ve had with many, many employees over the years. However, she responded much more enthusiastically, and as you said once, “It’s hard to walk away from somebody who appreciates you.” It turned out those daily affirmations from her were quite potent over a long period, and they built quite a lot of latent limerence in me. I should have been on my guard, but my limerent brain is quite the idiot.
“I think having her in a normal, committed relationship”
I have known people like her and there is very little chance that she will ever fully commit to any relationship. Not when there are others who are so willing to stroke her ego and vie for her attentions. I hope her boyfriend has an epiphany and ends it (unless they LIKE playing certain games and are upfront about it – although I doubt she can be honest. Diminishes the thrills).
Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.
I’m glad you are gaining clarity. Best wishes!
I wish I could take credit for “What would you do with that information?” but I can’t. The therapist would wield it like a bat.
This has to be one of the best Calvin and Hobbes of all times. I cut it out of the newspaper and framed it. It’s from 1992 but it’s timeless.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
‘The first rule of Limerent Objects — don’t think about Limerent Objects.‘
I was making good progress, but had some unavoidable slippage this week. LO came in to my office to request some time off. She had her vacation slip for me to approve. She told me about a medical condition that she had developed, and that she had to go in to the doctor, there was serious risk of internal bleeding happening, and that she might be out for surgery and recuperation.
As I was signing the slip, tears filled my eyes as I thought of her in pain and bleeding, and they slid down my cheeks and hit my desk. She noticed, and said, “Awwww, don’t cry!”
I weakly replied, “I can’t bear the thought of you suffering.”
GRRRRRR!!!! I am so frustrated. Much of my limerence is due to me having an empathetic personality, and as DrL has pointed out, wanting to rescue people is fertile ground for limerents.
Back to LC. This too shall pass!
“As I was signing the slip, tears filled my eyes as I thought of her in pain and bleeding, and they slid down my cheeks and hit my desk. She noticed, and said, “Awwww, don’t cry!”
If she wasn’t aware she has influence on you, she does now.
It will be interesting to see if she tries to leverage it. Be really careful if she starts confiding in you about things. I recommend you avoid asking something like, “Do you have somebody to take care/look in/check up on you while you’re recovering.”
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Much appreciated, Scharnster. I like the educational hints from you, “Mr. Super-experienced Limerent Guy.”
You did WHAT?!? Oh my, just demonstrated to SO her power over you!
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Thanks, lowendj. That’s almost as much of a spanking as Lee doles out on a regular basis. May I have another?
Yeah, it was pretty humiliating. 🙁
But what my stupidly idiotic limerent brain needs is a giant dose of humble pie, so I am grabbing my fork and digging in.
Mmmmmmmm! (tastes so nasty, actually.)
My Limerent Brain is an Idiot says
Things are getting rapidly better for me but yesterday was another one of the incidents I have to just grin and bear.
LO’s BF, who works in the office right next to me, was gone. LO and I had to negotiate a contract with a client, so we were sitting together at a table in my office on speakerphone. I had some chocolates in the middle of the table, and was eating some, so I offered them to her.
She picked through them, and selected a tear-drop-shaped Hershey. As she left my office, she looked back at me and said, “I’ll just take a little Kiss.”
So now I don’t even want to talk to her. That’s how I know I’m getting better. I HATE to get manipulated.
“She picked through them, and selected a tear-drop-shaped Hershey. As she left my office, she looked back at me and said, “I’ll just take a little Kiss.”
If you really want to run an experiment, next time make it a cup of lollipops, preferably the ball kind like Tootsie Pops and see what she does with those. You could also use big flat ones. The key is they have to be big enough but not too big.
If she’s messing with you, you’ll know.
No, no – make it those large sour lollipops (Charms). Send her a message in return!
“No, no – make it those large sour lollipops (Charms). Send her a message in return!”
I like that!
It can be fun to mess with your LO. LO #2 said she was really observant and didn’t miss much. One day I was at the gym and a woman I knew was brushing her hair. LO #2 was an auburn redhead and this woman was blonde. I asked her if I could have one of her hairs. She looked at me and asked why. I told her I wanted to run an experiment on the woman I was dating. She said I was probably taking my life in my hands but gave me one and said, “Good luck.”
The next time I saw LO #2, I was wearing a Navy blue blazer. I took the blonde hair and tucked is so it was hanging out of my collar. As I stood in her apartment, she started checking me out. She started at the top and worked her way down. Her eyes locked on the hair and her expression turned stone cold. I plucked the hair off the blazer and said, “You are observant.” She was subtle but when she’d come over to my place, I could tell she was looking for signs of another woman.
Sorry this is too long, but I would finally like to contribute to this amazing blog comments section, now that I am precariously, yet hopefully permanently this time, balanced on the other side! First of all I want to thank you sincerely from the bottom of my heart Dr L! What a lifesaver your blog has been. And to all the other commenters who showed me that I wasn’t alone in this insanity. I’ve been a serial lurker for quite some time and I’m convinced if I hadn’t have found it, I would have been stuck in this debilitating experience for much longer.
My LE built gradually over some years (and then hit me like a tonne of bricks!), intensely life-consuming and painfully the last year and a half. Throughout bouts of natural LC (travel, work holidays, not discussed, but forced cutting down of messaging during holidays etc) I naively thought I had recovered enough each time, but as I let my guard down I was thrown right back into the thick of things. No contact would have been ideal and the short bouts we had were very effective, but it was difficult to sustain without disclosing. I couldn’t believe how it consumed my entire internal world, I felt suicidal at times, but was aware throughout in the background, sometimes in the most imperceptible way, but still there, that all the mayhem was all mind-created illusion and I just had to hold on and find a way out.
This is where this blog helped tremendously. The tricky mind would do anything to hang onto a shred of hope that the feelings were mutual (which is also insane, because I didn’t have an end goal of riding off into the sunset with him, it was all romanticized fantasy and seeking validation and emotional support). I wanted him to love me and absorb him into my every pore. To make me feel whole and connected. It was hard to believe I wasn’t always on his mind all the time (I bet he barely thought about me) when thoughts of him were all-consuming, it was hard to see he didn’t feel the same extremes. Whenever I read an article or comment that resonated with me on here, it reminded me of the illusion and stopped the tricky mind having it’s way with it’s so called ‘evidence’ of reciprocation, it taught me that many of you were experiencing similar things, I wasn’t special, this wasn’t a real mutual love and my crazy mind was being delusional.
The weirdest thing was, towards the end, I could see through the illusion and all the elements that had come together to create this mind-created addiction . I knew he craved attention and didn’t just receive it from me, although like many others he made me feel like ‘the special one’. The ‘friendship’ I so dearly cherished, when I reflected, wasn’t actually all that fulfilling compared to honest, authentic, non-asymmetrical friendships I enjoy. He was all about feeding his supply of admiration and the emotional closeness I thought we had was a figment of my imagination. I can’t blame him (although some anger helped initially), as he was using me for his entertainment and ego-boosting, it seems I was using him also as an object, as a source of validation of my worth.
I could see through this towards the end and I actually disliked many aspects of him, sometimes physically and emotionally repulsed by him even. A lot less fantasies of being physically intimate with him, no illusion of greatness and idolization left…but still, I was stuck with constant thoughts of him, daydreaming scenarios whereby I was impressing him with my wit, humour, intelligence, talents (every admirable quality imaginable)! Constantly checking my messages for a hit I didn’t even believe in anymore. Everything I saw, thought of, did, still somehow related to him. Making myself look more attractive so I could show him what he missed out on! It did not make any rational sense, because I did not want to be with him (not even at the start because he was married, although his marriage was on the rocks when we met, it was only in fantasy-land I wanted to be with him, in real-life if he did separate, I knew it wouldn’t work with us and didn’t want that to be a long-term reality). I craved his attention and friendship to an embarrassing degree, but even when I saw that his attention was lacking in substance and hollow, I still craved it for quite a while after. It scared me. My rational mind wanted nothing to do with him and didn’t hold him or his attention in high regard whatsoever anymore, yet still he dominated the majority of my thoughts.
This has been a turning point in my life. After reaching my lowest lows, I had to do some serious soul-searching and now I am truly grateful for this extreme experience, as your blog suggests, my internal world had some long-time internal issues that had been limiting my life and creating a longing for relief that I had constantly projected onto outside sources.
I learned that I was I lacking emotional closeness in my life. I have quite a lot of friends, but I’m sometimes quite introvert, maybe anxious-avoidant type, no long-term relationship for 5 years. Never fully all-in. The realm of fantasy showed me that inside I was aching for connection, emotional intimacy and for freedom to express my true-self. To open up. To stop keeping people at an emotional (and sometimes) physical distance. I was lacking self acceptance and self love and seeking any scraps of ‘evidence’ that I was actually okay as I am and not as flawed as I thought, from outside. Which was bound to lead to giving my power away into the wrong hands. I think I’ve had more minor limerent episodes in the past, even with the same sex, in seeking of closeness, admiration and validation, although I’m heterosexual as far as my past has been. I’ve always indulged in daydream fantasies of displaying much greater qualities than I do and gaining the approval and love of whichever person was my chosen ‘godly’ person at the time.
Anyway this one was the wake-up call. It was tackled with discipline and boldness to throw myself more into life. I knew the illusion had been broken on an cognitive level by this point, but the momentum was still going somewhere in the background, so I had to attack the associations made in the subconscious, with the same kind of material it was built with. Whenever tempting reverie thoughts arose, instead of indulging in the scenarios, I visualized repulsive scenarios. I know it’s not dignified or compassionate, but I began associating images of him with cockroaches and a pungent rotting smell. Turning the colour from vibrant to dull grey and diminishing it in size until it fizzled away in grey smoke. I spent moments imagining if he didn’t exist and feeling that space and freedom. How differently I would think and act. Meditation helped a lot, enabling me to detach a little more, seeing the thoughts as impersonal and just conditioned responses that I didn’t have to fight, just observe and not become involved in. Awareness and repetition was key. Self-care and self accepting thoughts. I kept repeating and really feeling ‘I don’t need anything from him’. Seeing him as an object in a box rather than a real human being helped to really let the illusion sink in. I was obsessed with an object not a real human being. An object I projected so much onto, revealing what inner-work I needed to do.
I’m still a work in progress, but thankfully contact can be quite limited for the future due to a change in living circumstances and thoughts of him no longer dominate completely or bring a feeling of longing. I do actually feel free, but I know too well if I start thinking I’m recovered I’ll be back to square one. My intellect got this about a year ago, but it took a while for whatever else was still stuck to catch up! I began taking risks, being bold and opening up to people, trying activities I would normally shy away from. Because I felt like I had nothing to lose, even if it ends up being awkward or embarrassing, it would be nothing compared to the shame and despair I’d been feeling from my entanglement with LO, which had stemmed from cutting parts of myself off and feeling so inhibited, projecting my value onto such an unstable mirror. It has to come from within!
So I want to tell you all a great big thank you, sorry for such the long ramble, I wanted to cover everything as a kind of therapeutic offloading. Also, so that maybe someone who might read this, who feels in such deep grief and despair as I did, can see there is a way out and you’ll find it eventually. Hopefully exiting the experience with insights that will serve you for the rest of your life. Way to go Dr L, living a purposeful life is key for me, and realising life is too short to focus on your so called flaws and feelings of not-enoughness. Embrace them, celebrate them, accept it all, bring your whole self out to the party! Because when you think you are deficient in some way and try to mask it…you’ll seek someone out there to fill in the holes…and there’s no-one who can ever possibly do that! For me LE was one hell of a lesson to finally find the self-acceptance and inner-strength I’d been lacking all my life! Thank you so much Dr L and love to you all. You can do this!
Findingfeeedom, Thanks for your post! I know we all see similarities in LEs. Wishing you much success.
Hi Findingfreedom. Thanks for your comment – which although long was also comprehensive 🙂
Really glad the blog has helped you get to this stage, and thanks a lot for sharing your story to inspire others. Freedom is a prize that can be won…
I am so glad you have moved through the worst of it and have learned more about what makes you ‘tick’. That’s a tremendous accomplishment.
A point I wish to highlight in a general manner is that introvert =/= risk-aversion, or an inability to be close to someone, etc. anymore than it means someone is smarter than others (or not), more or less sensitive to social cues, etc.
I have noticed people conflating emotional sensitivity with intelligence in their children (orchids vs dandelions is the most recent example). The discussion about it between David Dobbs and David Shenk was interesting.
In the meantime, can you have a third person attend this meeting to minimize the risk of emotional spillage into your professional life? Would that help?
I wanted to share my story but it seems you beat me to it. Every word you have written is identical to my situation. Thank you for articulating so perfectly what I wanted to say. This made me cry. You have deceived my life, my LO and my strategies – mine are failing.
I’m only on day 6 of phase 2 and it’s hard as hell.
I cry constantly. The hardest part is to conseal this inner turmoil from my children and SO. I blame many nonexistent ailments for my behavior. I want to crawl into a hole and be left alone…
I really feel for you, hang on in there, it does get better. It must be so hard trying to conceal your pain from your family. This is the best move you can make to get your life back, you have so much to look forward to once you start being able to step out of the illusion and see it clearly.
Looking back, the pain I felt from no contact was the mind spinning it’s stories of loss of friendship, missing that person and closeness and the guilt feeling of removing myself, because ‘what if’ he really did have feelings. I realised these stories were false, just part of the ‘drug’ addled brain chemistry addiction. I wasn’t losing anything, except a huge attack on my mind and emotions, and what there is to gain, the freedom from being at the mercy of such an all-consuming destructive force, is a million times better. It really is worth it.
Stay strong, focus on what you can find to fill your life now that you have more space for real things. Good luck!
grief, if you haven’t yet, please read The loneliness of No Contact blog. It sounds like you were in deep; it will take longer to turn the tide. I can remember crying often at the absurdity of it all, including at family dinner, playing it off that it was purely in response to something very funny someone said. When it was really the tragedy/comedy of limerence.
I categorize my limerence as having 2 parts. The first was caused by LO changing jobs, and the overwhelming feelings of missing her and the “what if she did have feelings for me?” scenario. I subsequently did find out from her that feelings were mutual, and we fell into an EA. The second part of my limerence was when we couldn’t move figure out the “what next?” phase, and the EA was over (though not really over for me). Knowing that LO cared deeply for me was wonderful until all of the barriers got in the way, which resulted in me emotionally spiraling out of control. I can’t say whether finding out the answer to the question “what if” was better or worse for me.
As I near the 2-year mark of my post-EA limerence, I have improved a lot. There have been periods of her returning to my office part-time and a 3-month period of NC last year. Thoughts of LO are not all-consuming (right now), but I think I could fall back into the trap with her. We still communicate with each other, and I have been very close to going NC again at times. I try to find “comfort” in the negative aspects of her that would make her a poor long-term partner even if we were both available. I keep asking myself “why does she need to be in my life?”
It will take time and it will be difficult. A lot of time, but hopefully you can focus on things that got lost, or perhaps find new interests that you were afraid to embark upon.
It does get better. It takes a little time for your emotions to stabilise after No Contact starts, but once it happens there is a slow return to normality. It might help to realise that what you are really “grieving” is the loss of your impossible dreams, rather than your LO themselves. And impossible dreams have to be abandoned eventually if we’re going to live authentic lives.
“The hardest part is to conseal this inner turmoil from my children and SO. I blame many nonexistent ailments for my behavior. I want to crawl into a hole and be left alone…”
Have you consulted a physician? You may benefit with a short-term course of anti-anxiety meds. You need a good night’s sleep, it sounds like you’re having anxiety attacks too and that isn’t good for anyone. Depression medications can have some unexpectedly UGLY side effects and they can linger – so discuss anxiety FIRST.
Yes, it will take time. Is there any way you can take up something strictly for YOUR benefit? Running? Speed walking? Punching bag? There is a lot to be said for getting very hot, sweaty and TIRED.
These comments are soo good!
Thank you !! Will read them.
Findingfreedom, I really enjoyed reading your post, and of course identified with so much of it as I am sure many readers have done. I am so happy for you, and also grateful to this site. It’s wonderful to think that so many hearts are healing and so many imprisoned souls are unlocking the doors of their limerence prisons and cautiously running free again…..realizing there is much to enjoy today…and all of the tomorrows.
Well-put, Jaideux. I share your gratitude, and extend well-wishes to you and everyone who turns to LwL for support.
Thanks Midlifer! I always enjoy your comments! 🙂
Glad to hear this, Jaideux!
Yes what valuable support it’s been! Thank you. I love this Jaideux…
‘unlocking the doors of their limerence prisons and cautiously running free again…..realizing there is much to enjoy today…and all of the tomorrows.’
Whilst clambering to get out of the limerence prison, I realised how questionable the scripts running in the background governing all my thoughts and actions are. How much of a prison the mind really is when you accept every thought and feeling as reality. I don’t think I’d have had the desperation or urgency of making this discovery, had it not been for the uncontrollable craziness of this experience! Thank you dear limerence!! (I never dreamed I’d be saying that!)
So FindingFreedom, what are you doing to stop the scripts running in the background? I want to listen and learn…. 🙂
Hi Jaideux, sorry I didn’t see your comment at first. I’m not sure you can learn anything from me, haha, your responses are always so insightful, but I can tell you about my progress so far. I think the disproportionate amount of pain it caused compared to the actual events made something click. I spent a huge portion of the past year feeling like I had something crushing my chest and pins and needles (or swords!) in my stomach (I’m sure you know that feeling) over someone who, now looking back, didn’t actually contribute such a great deal to my life. (Although at the time, felt like the biggest contribution!). There are still some continuing effects happening from the LE, I still get the obsessive thoughts coming through, the odd stab and twinge in the stomach, but they have much less of an impact, like’s there’s more space between them and who I am, I can see it’s just an old habitual false story winding down, like when you turn off a fan and the blades continue to spin a little while, even though the power source has been withdrawn.
It’s not so much about stopping the scripts for me, but becoming more aware of them. Not just the scripts of limerence, but the ones in the background, actually running how I interpret life in general. It was at the point when I could see through the illusion of what was going on, yet I was still stuck in the story, desperately longing for signs he had feelings, as if that would be enough and I could walk away satisfied with my worth. The craving ran so deep that it took over everything and forced me to investigate why.
It was by willing to stay with and really feel and investigate the pain, the disproportionate reaction to every perceived rejection from him (from someone I didn’t even want to be with or have anything to do with at this point!). It lead me to explore aspects of my conditioning, beliefs, patterns in my life. The times in my childhood and the past that I’d felt this feeling before, how the beliefs may have come to be formed, etc. Gradually those beliefs began disintegrating as I saw their falseness, how they were simply misinterpretations of self and life formed by a child’s mind in response to it’s environment. I got to this point through a lot of questioning of the validity of the stories I was simply accepting as solid truths. It forced me to finally look closely at the blind spots, and question the lenses through which I was interpreting and reacting to life. It’s lead to developing a feeling of self worth I’ve never felt before, becoming less and less dependent on any kind of outside feedback. A deep feeling of self acceptance and compassion and understanding. It’s a daily commitment to being aware of what’s going on internally and letting go time and time again. Meditation practice has helped, trying to maintain awareness throughout the day, questioning thoughts whenever I detect discomfort and repetition of letting go and allowing acceptance and loving thoughts to arise and reinforcing them. Feeling connection with my innate value, beyond what the mind tries to measure my self worth by.
Sorry I don’t know how to be brief in these replies and sorry if it all sounds a bit airy fairy, there’s always so much comes forth when I think about this experience! It’s been a gradual process of self discovery and self therapy, Thank you for allowing me to articulate what I’ve been discovering due to this experience. I hope it makes some kind of sense, ha. And thankyou for your contribution to this site, your comments always resonated with me.
Findingfreedom, thank you for the detailed reflections. Sounds so right and true, not airy-fairy in the least. You’re mapping a path I need to follow as well. I’m heading in a similar direction with a long way yet to go, really have only just set out, and your account helps me gain patience and muster my courage. Thank you. And thank you, Jaideux, for asking the specific question that prompted Findingfreedom’s response.
@findingfreedom – i’d like to echo Midlifer’s comments and say how much I’ve taken from your posts. Please continue to articulate your thoughts and feelings – having someone a step or two ahead is enormously encouraging for those of us still figuring this out.
I love your fan analogy! I think that’s where I am now, ruminating about her is a habit as much as anything and all the old triggers are still going, just a little slower and less powerfully than before, 7+ months into NC.
I’m trying to process it all still and that involves thinking about her of course. It’s been such an overwhelming and humbling experience that I can’t help doing so – for 2 years it’s just taken me over and like you I need to understand it. But I don’t know if by doing that i’m prolonging this LE or if it’s beneficial work in the long run.
Part of me would like to have a Pensieve like in Harry Potter where I could extract this memory from my mind and store it, so I could come back to it if I wanted, but didn’t have to deal with it every day….
Thank you Midlifer and Vincent, it’s really helped me too to be asked about how I’ve been clambering out and to connect with people with experiences and reflections that resonate, it feels like it’s really solidifying my progress.
‘ Part of me would like to have a Pensieve like in Harry Potter where I could extract this memory from my mind and store it, so I could come back to it if I wanted, but didn’t have to deal with it every day.’ Ha, I love it…. ahhh if only. I would have killed for a whole 10minutes of freedom from thinking about it at one point!
Vincent, I think there’s 2 kinds of working out don’t you? I think there’s the one our limerent brain keeps wanting to go back to, trying to work out if there was anything really there, what the interactions actually meant, what should I have done differently, what are they really thinking of me, are they even thinking of me, the why, why, why? (you know the script, ha).
And there’s the one that helped me to gain perspective and take the spotlight away from him and see him as just the object that I projected everything onto and work out the why from there, without him as the focus of it. The focus was all back on myself and what this experience was trying to show me about what I was lacking in my life and how the faulty perceptions from the mind’s conditioning were creating this scenario.
I feel like that kind of working out helped me to see through it, rather than sucking me into more entanglement with the story. It kind of zapped the reality out of it when I started doing the inner work and realised it had nothing to do with him, that the stories the mind created around it are not to be trusted! It makes me realise the first kind of working out, the obsessive, rehashing every detail one, was pointless. No answer would be satisfactory, because it really isn’t about them.
I still find my mind going there, but now it has much less impact too like you. I had to keep up the repetition of catching myself sucked in and snapping out of it, by reminding myself of how the whole illusion is working. Then the sucked in moments became less and less. I even find myself chuckling at the insanity of it all now. Somehow now it has much more lightness to it. I can see it’s just the mind caught in a loop and it fades much faster. I think humour is a great tool, once we can get to that point. And I only got to that point by realising his response to me was absolutely no reflection of my value and worth as a human being!
I did recently have to battle with the deep cringe and embarrassment feeling for a little while, once the fog began clearing and I began seeing the stark naked reality of how much insanity I’d be wrapped up in….and acting out! But if it wasn’t for the mind being hijacked in such an extreme way, I would never have questioned many of the false beliefs that have been holding me back and landing me in craziness just like this. Or learned how much we’re just a slave to brain chemistry if we live on autopilot and don’t question and reflect upon our intentions and actions regularly. I just have to accept that I am immortalized forever in his email account as an over-zealous lunatic. I think it’s a small price to pay for that extra bit of freedom from the mind’s grasp 🙂
Thanks for your encouragement. I’m feeling stronger than ever after really reflecting upon all that I’ve gained from this experience. Completely overwhelming and humbling is exactly it!
Good luck over the summer, AL!
If you can, I suggest again you try to find an adult figure you trust and can confide in. My father was my best friend until the day he died. There was nothing I couldn’t talk to him about. He may have had marginal taste in women but he knew a lot about them and tried to pass some of his hard-earned wisdom to me. I was probably closer to 18 than 14 when he told me:
1. The right person can add a lot to your life. The wrong person can make your life a living hell.
2. There’s nobody you can’t live without. There may be people you miss terribly if they’re no longer a part of your life but you can live without them.
3. If a woman doesn’t respect you and treat you well, get rid of her and find one who does. No woman is worth your self-respect.
4. Women are like buses. Miss one and sooner or later another one will come around the corner.
They apply to both genders. I was to young to appreciate them when he said but as I got older, they served me well, especially #2 & #3.
Anonymous Limerent says
Yeah, that’s it now. 46 days without LO.
I think one of the main reasons I am not looking forward to this holiday is because of what happened last year:
Around 3 weeks after the start of my LE, the 6 weeks came around. As I’d never heard of limerence before, I didn’t recognise the consequences of my actions towards it, so naturally I began to fantasise. But after the glimmer, she wasn’t really ‘on my mind’ all the time; it took a while for her to take over, probably sided by the fantasies. So throughout the course of the holidays, I constantly thought about her (voluntarily), more and more, until the thoughts started to appear randomly and involuntarily, with no prompts. This was around week 4.
By the end of the holidays, I could barely stop thinking about her, and it was around 4 weeks into school’s start that I discovered the term ‘limerence’ and this site. However, the only reason this happened was because as soon as I got back to school, and thoughts of being around her had begun to make me nervous, I was put next to her in Science. (Unfair on me, I know.) That was when the incessant thoughts and obsession started, and I lost 4.5 hours of sleep in one night, and looked online to find out how to get someone out of my mind – oddly enough, it was only a few weeks later that I discovered limerence and was horrified that I would be going through this for possibly a decade!
So the 6 weeks sort of gave me time to build my limerence and destroy me.
But also the fact that holidays are either much easier or much harder than I ever think they’ll be daunts me.
Here’s to the start of NC!…
I couldn’t agree more strongly with ‘find someone to talk to’. I never had anyone to talk to. I never had a good relationship with my father. Most of the time he just put me down. I could never talk to him about anything. I have a much better relationship with my mother but even so, this isn’t the kind of thing we talk about. LO is probably the most significant person there’s ever been in my life, apart from my family, and my mum doesn’t know about her. Then there’s my younger brother, who never talks to me about anything. When I was in the depths of my LE he was also too young to really understand anything.
So I just suffered in silence really. Even now there’s no one I can really tell my problems. This site is a help, I wish it had been around 14 years ago. But even so, someone who knows you in person is more likely to give you more hands-on, practical advice than some anonymous posters behind a computer screen.
Anonymous Limerent says
Not when none of them have never been through limerence…
But about other things, maybe. I’m still not telling anyone, though.
With luck, LO’s simply move away.
If you’re really lucky, they won’t come back.
Anonymous Limerent says
OMFG OMFG OMFG (etc…) !
So it was supposed to be 46 days without LO. Well, 4 days in and I’m now convinced that someone, somewhere, is playing a sick joke on me.
I’m sure she doesn’t live near me as I’ve never, ever seen her in the area before but today, of course, she would be in the shop I was made to go to. That exact shop. That exact day. That exact time. Heck of a coincidence but I hate myself now. She did see me and I did see her. I shook all over and tried to hide.
What was creepy, though, was that just before I got into the shop, I had visions (or nightmares) of walking down the street, looking across the road, and then seeing her there. And then I walk into the shop and see her there, my worst nightmare.
Maybe there is something to be said for premonition…
Rationalization Queen says
Can we really run from our LO’s?
At 3 months NC. LE has subsided but it feels like running away.
Yes – even 10 mins break from it all at the height of this LE would have been amazing! It was like 98% of waking thoughts were on her at one point. Crazy. Now I find myself thinking “huh, I haven’t thought about her in hours” and then go back to what I was doing. The space that brings is fantastic and of course I can appreciate it having known the extreme.
Can I ask FindingFreedom – how long did this all take for you? The LE, the recovery, self analysis etc?
I asked LO #2 to marry me on Xmas morning of 1985. She declined. It took until I had my first child in 1996 to not have that memory be the first thing I thought of when I woke up on Xmas morning. Not exactly fair to my wife but it’s true.
I have good memory for birthdays. It probably took almost that long until one year I realized that LO #2’s birthday had come and gone without me thinking about it.
Depending on how attached you became to them and how involved you were with them, LO’s can hang around inside your head a long time. Once you understand what attracts you to them (i.e., the glimmer) it’s not a great leap it’s not a great leap to the next big question:
“Does this person really have a place in my life?” “LO” like “Ex-girlfriend” is a title, not a position.
@Vincent, The glimmer began over 3 years ago, but I don’t think the LE had consumed me completely until about a year and a half ago.
As for the recovery part, I’d already been reflecting on patterns in my life and how my mind was interpreting things in general here and there for a while. Since the beginning of this year, I kept feeling a lot more clarity and control during holidays and LC times, feeling like I had a clear perspective on things, only to be sucked right back into it again…this was the part that really showed me the illusion and power of it all.
I think the uncertainty factor was the absolute number 1 fuel for the fire. My mind could not stop it’s incessant search for meaning and a closed case. I think because our minds can’t handle the ambiguous, especially when you attach such a significant meaning to the outcome such as your level of attractiveness, intelligence, value as a person! As soon as I let go of needing to find the meaning in our ‘thing’ and what it meant about his feelings for me and what that meant about me etc, etc, that’s when it started freeing up more space.
I think it showed me how not to take the thoughts so seriously, so that’s why the effects have been so profound and had such an impact on broader aspects of my life. Even though I’m not fully out of it yet, in the way that thoughts of him are still fairly frequent compared to the norm, my reaction to the thoughts has changed, so they don’t keep me going down a rabbit hole anymore and create the emotional wildness they did before. It’s more of an ‘oh yeah it’s that again..I already know that’s nonsense’ then I carry on with a little spring in my step, because it’s a reminder of how much less of a grip the mind’s stories have on me now. I know I’m not fully in the clear yet though.
7 months NC, great! Do things look differently now? Yeah I like to celebrate those realisations of space from not thinking about them too. Maybe it will reinforce a reward system for the brain in the opposite direction….wow, not thinking about them feels even better than thinking about them does, more of that please! ha
Do things look differently now? Yes, for sure. She’s not the first thing I think about when I wake up or go to sleep. When I get a WhatsApp message my heart doesn’t leap in the anticipation it might be from her. I can go hours without thinking about her now, my concentration levels at home and work are back to pretty much normal. Time and events have eroded the responsibility I felt for her and the guilt I had initially in NC about “abandoning” her. My priorities are straight again (kids, SO, career). I can enjoy work events without looking to see who she’s talking to and being upset that she’s not spent enough time with me (partly because she’s not there anymore of course!). These are all enormous strides for me versus where I was just 4/5 months ago.
I am still triggered frequently though. If I see someone that looks like her, if people mention her name, certain places, songs, tv shows, movies, books, phrases can all do it. Even just time alone in the car, shower or on the train allows the mind to wander back to how we “broke up” and then to the couple of angry messages we swapped c.4 months ago. I replay it, think about how she feels about me, what she’s said to other people about me, how it all ended with a tinge of sadness and regret and what I would say if she contacted me or we bumped into each other. This all feels like habit and hopefully it all subsides with time, but the volume is so much better than at the height of this LE so it is manageable.
I’ve learnt a lot about myself, it’s forced me to think hard about my SO and helped me realise how much I want to keep that relationship intact. But I’ve also learnt that the glimmer is a constant danger and I’ve got good at spotting it now. It’s as if that now LO has almost gone there’s an emerging space to fill and the mind is open to other possibilities again! There’s a couple of ongoing situations where I’ve so far stopped myself from repeating the steps that made me fall down the hole last time. One in particular is very similar where I’d be playing the white knight role, rescuing the pretty young helpless-but-worthy princess again. I think because of my senior position in what is a young firm, and that people have seen how well it worked out for LO professionally, this could continue to happen and I need to stay vigilant and maintain boundaries far better than last time with LO. I hope to stay strong as tempting as transference can seem.
What is clear to me now is that none of us are perfect, you never stop learning and that your mistakes are actually the best lessons. I take comfort that things have probably turned out ok compared to how they could have, and I know that I’ll come out from the episode stronger and a better person when it’s all said and done. I’m looking forward to that.
Thanks for all your insightful comments Vincent and for being a good example of where I’d like to be in the coming months. At the moment, my heart still leaps when I get a WhatsApp message (rarely from her). I don’t know your full background story but it seems our situations are similar. I too am in a senior position in a young firm (average age below 30) and need to stay vigilant lest I transfer onto another LO/LO candidate. At the moment though, if my LO made any kind of further reciprocation (we’ve made out and groped each other), I’d drop any pretence of a recovery in a heartbeat and run to her side. That’s what I’m hoping (not hoping!) I can work out of my system before she comes back from her 2 week holiday.
Elegantly put, FindingFreedom. That’s the first taste of freedom isn’t it? When you know the intrusive thoughts are still coming, but they are losing their power and their urgency. Like a kettle coming off the boil.
Fred – sorry you’re going through this. It certainly seems our situations are similar. My LO was a coworker, 20 years younger, beautiful and we had a strong connection. Luckily for me she left the company (not her decision or mine) and so the opportunity for NC was presented to me. I planned to take it before she finally left but the end was very messy and acrimonious. Lots of emotion in both directions, immaturity from her and limerence addled thinking from me.
But I can’t stress enough how this recovery has only been possible with NC. Working with your LO is impossible and my only advice would be to get as close to NC as possible. Move seats, move company if you have to. Maybe if she’s as lacking in commitment as you hint at, you could get lucky and she’ll leave. But 2 weeks is nothing I’m afraid, this is a long hard slog from here. Good luck. Read everything on this blog.
I’m three days into No Contact and I already feel it’s working, bolstered by the advice on this site and that of a new therapist I started seeing Friday who instituted the NC rule even before I found this blog. I’m aware I’m only at the start of phase 2 but I feel I’ve been granted an opportunity as my LO is away on hold for two weeks. I deleted Instagram from my phone because although I had already unfollowed her, I was keeping tabs and getting hits thru her friends’ accounts.
I’m worried about the longevity of my resolve and phase 3 though because she works three desks away from me and is super glimmery with me and everyone. My impetus for NC was not only the constant lows of my LE but also her texting me that she’s serious about someone else. To make matters worse she wants to stay “BFFs in the office” but as my therapist says, she is heroin to me and you can’t have a friendly lunch with heroin.
So any advice about what to do when she comes back? I can move to another desk temporarily but all managers sit together and I will need to talk to her manager who sits behind her. She will run around and charm me again… I know she is my LO but she is absolutely gorgeous, 20 years younger, nubile and provocative. My genetic blueprint to a T apparently. Please help.
It’s hard – sometimes impossible – to go no contact with co-workers. The best plan is for limiting contact as far as possible. So no lunches or coffee breaks, no after work drinks etc. Your situation is complicated by the fact you’ve had reciprocation, but you have been clear with your LO that you want this to end and she’s committed to someone else now. It could be worth going for a direct approach “I’m sorry, I don’t think we can be friends – it’s too emotionally complicated for me.”
She knows that she can seduce you (having done it in the past) so you need to protect yourself. She won’t be keen on office gossip getting back to her new partner, so may well just cool off when you stop responding to her attempts at getting some narcissistic supply from you. It sounds from your other comment like she is a non-limerent who was happy to just fool around for a bit, but doesn’t see why this would make any difference to a friendship afterwards. She may well even enjoy collecting “friends” who she knows are attracted to her. For limerents, people like this are very reinforcing, as there is occasional reciprocation, but uncertainty too, which is the worst combo for deepening limerence.
Finally, if you head over to the Resources page there are some free guides to download about managing limerence, and I also have a paid course on Emergency Deprogramming, which is tailored to counteracting the habits and behaviour that have made you limerent. That would help someone in your position…
she wants to stay “BFFs in the office” but as my therapist says, she is heroin to me and you can’t have a friendly lunch with heroin.
Fred, my LE was similar in that the LO was also, as Dr L noted, a “collector”. I’m using past tense because all this blew up and I’ve been NC for 2 weeks. Fortunately for me this was not in an office environment. Keep working, you’ll be successful!
Thanks Dr L for the quick and wise reply. (For the record, she’s the one who ended it – only after I recently realised that I had a problem did I seek help out help here and with a therapist.) I think the direct approach is an idea. Before she left, I was planning full (or at least partial) disclosure along the lines of “I’m in love with you so we can’t be friends, it’s too painful” but she probably sensed that which is why she cut me short with “I don’t know what we have to talk about. This is all in your head.” At least she was right about the “in your head” part… :/
Thanks for commenting lowendj. I agree that my therapist was on the money with that comment. I’m also interested in the “collector” aspect – is that something that’s been discussed here previously about LOs? That was a very astute observation (guess?) by Dr L as she certainly seems to collect “admirers”: a long-time “friend” who has proposed to her, an ex in New York she goes on holiday with sometimes, a minor prince in London who flies her over for weekends, a former boss who she lived with. (I don’t know how she’s managed to squeeze so much into her young life…) I’ll admit these were all warning signs as she told me about these men up front but, to me, it only meant the path was open for me to join her coterie. Add that to the “glimmer” and, well….
My therapist made the harsh observation (based on my not uncharitable description) that “this is an emotionally broken girl, with an enormous need for validation which she uses others to get. She ‘fills up’ what she needs on her terms.” I must say, when I heard that, my first instinct was to take care of and “fix” LO but the therapist cut me short saying, “it’s not your job to take care of her. You’re not her dad and you’re not her husband.” Ouch. The therapist is a keeper though!
Hope you can keep up your NC lowendj! I have exactly 2 weeks until my LO is back in the office…
“I’m also interested in the “collector” aspect – is that something that’s been discussed here previously about LOs?”
There are references to it in various blogs. The more narcissistic the LO, the more likely that they’ll be a collector.
“I’ll admit these were all warning signs as she told me about these men up front but, to me, it only meant the path was open for me to join her coterie.”
By doing that, she absolves herself of any responsibility for how you perceive things. She warned you and you accepted.
LO #2 was a master of the double bind. She tried it at least twice that I remember.
The first time was when she asked, “If I don’t sleep with you, is that the end of the friendship?” If I said, “No,” it was open season for her to tell me all about her escapades with other men. I would have to listen because “that’s what friends do.” When I found someone and spent my time with that woman, I’d be accused of lying to her because I said it wouldn’t affect the friendship. It was an elegant trap but a trap none the less.
The second time, I asked if this relationship would ever be what I wanted it to be. She said, “No, you should find some sweet young thing that adores you and not waste your time with a crusty old broad like me.” I asked her why she called me and why were we here? Had I tried to argue with her, she could maintain that I’d been warned and she was innocent. It wouldn’t be her fault if things didn’t work.
Really listen to your LOs, they can tell you a lot.
Interesting Scharnhorst. I have also reflected that my LO probably told me everything upfront at different stages of our relationship but it’s only now in retrospect – stacking them up together – that I see how much of a blueprint she really provided me with. Things like telling me about her previous and current admirers, literally having a disclaimer text “Don’t date an ENFP” (thoughtcatalog.com) that she made me read at our first real date, saying things like “I’m not going to be an extra mother to your children you know” or “We’re not a couple”. Pretty stark reading all that back. But then, why is she texting me, flirting, agreeing to dates and kissing me back? Well I know now – she is an enabling LO and a collector. :/
“Well I know now – she is an enabling LO and a collector. :/”
Keep in mind that being a collector is who she is, being an LO is something we confer upon them. You only control one of those two.
The paid course is FANTASTIC, fyi. I am glad I made the small investment. It’s helped me and I foresee will continue to do so.
And….don’t let this little provocative nubile get the mastery over you. Take the power back!!!
Yes I’ve paid up and started the course. Just completed module 1 and it’s very good. I particularly like the case study of an enabling LO in an office environment as that’s precisely what I’m up against. It is also hard work because the coursework is forcing me to ask or think about tough questions like withdrawal and limiting contact. Deep down my limerent brain doesn’t want that, not yet. As I device a staged withdrawal plan, a part of me is like “wait, we’re not going to have validation and dopamine hits from LO anymore?” or “If I don’t initiate physical contact or intimate conversations how will we ever get back to the kissing or progress to her bed…” So I’m not out of the quicksand quite yet.
Oh and thank you for the resources Dr L. I have found that 10 step PDF and found it useful. I have also already paid for and signed up for your online course. Will start it soon!
I no longer perform with LO and her new interest. Her decision, convenient for me. Though we will most likely cross paths when I don’t consciously avoid certain venues.
Oh yes, my (former) LO has significant issues with her father, and as much as I could tell, her husband. I remember now that I started down the road to help her fix conflicts with her father. Major mistake!
I bet it looks very different now that you are out of the situation.
I forgot to mention that “Susan”, the SO of “Michelles” new interest, has ceased communication with myself and my SO. We responded to her after she reached out, but we decided it was in our best interest not to pursue. I don’t think she will be as fortunate as I.
Oh dear. I’m sorry that Susan’s SO lacks the clarity to pull away.
Hopefully Susan will land on her feet sooner rather than later.
So I am 6 weeks into NC, it is going well so far… but… there is a volunteering/charity day from the company coming up… a sports event for a good cause, playing soccer with mentally disabled children and adults. And you guess it, LO will be there. Now a few years ago when this event started, we both signed up for it, we didn’t know each other well back then and we both didn’t know the other was going to go. I was surprised bak then he signed up. But it was the initial reason that we spent time with each other, and where I sensed the glimmer. And after that, we started to get to know each other.
LO asked me if I wanted him to skip the event to continue with NC and although that is better for me, I feel bad as a) it’s for a good cause, and b) he contributes much more to it, being a semi-professional soccer player. Also he originally signed up as well supporting the good cause.
I could skip it myself, but the event actually does mean something to me (not because of LO). It really is a good thing and I truly enjoy it. So My strategy is to just stay neutral to LO and avoid close contact during the day. But I am a bit afraid of what it will do to me. Just reading his name on the participants list make my heart jump a bit.
Predictably, I’d look at this from a purposeful living perspective. How important to you is the event? How important is No Contact?
There will be times when we have to break NC – or get it broken for us by circumstances. It sounds to me as though this is a worthwhile event, that will do real good for people, and is meaningful for you.
We can’t let NC become a straitjacket that stops us from living with purpose. But, when faced with a dilemma like this, it’s also good to plan how to handle the contact, how to minimise it, and how to make the most of the day while limiting the set back to your recovery.
So, make the purposeful choice, then stick to your plan.
True, DrL… it really is a purposeful cause. I think it will be hard for me to strike the right balance with LO. I think the best would be to be as neutral as possible and treat LO the same as everyone else. Not avoiding him at all cost, and not getting to close. Just neutral and friendly. And I don’t want LO to spot that seeing him affects me in any way. I know it will be hard and will set me back, but the cause is worth it. Wish me luck!
This is a tough one. You are putting yourself into the fire of an emotionally fulfilling activity where you get visual confirmation of LO’s greatness. This is one where I would say that you should not go, but rather be charitable in a different way; but hypocritically and truthfully, I would probably rationalize it and wind up going if I were in your shoes.
True… It’ll definitely show LO’s greatness, as a year ago, it’s exactly what I thought. I looked at him (in my biased limerent state) and thought about how amazing he is with these individuals.
I do want to go though. There are other people that have been there since the beginning so I will focus on staying in the group of volunteers, never alone with LO, and also focus on maximizing my time with the mentally impaired participants, as this day is so special to them.
I don’t want to kid myself, LO’s presence will impact me and I have to prepare myself well for it to keep my guard and fences up.
I feel like providing an update from my event yesterday as you can guess, I did probably everything that I shouldn’t have.
On a positive note: the event was great, and seeing the joy in the faces of the mentally impaired people was awesome. We had lots of fun and I did what I could to help make this a great event. I am already looking forward to the next year!
But as you can guess, I did not stay away from LO. I voluntarily played in the same team and I had some one-on-one conversations with him. I was mostly fine (as we interact as good friends, nothing more) but I got jealous everytime he mentions another girl. And even though I know who these women are to him and that there is no reason to be jealous of them, I am. And even if he was starting to date one of them, I still have no reason to be jealous, and it should be perfectly fine, as I want him to be happy.
I am not sure digging into this whole quiet bpd topic was good. It really makes so much sense now. All the puzzle pieces come together now. I didn’t understand a lot of the things he said before, and it all makes sense now. He did trust me a lot and opened up about things that you don’t normally share, and I have to say, some scared me a bit as I didn’t understand it at all.
Even before knowing about quiet bpd, I thought LO and I wouldn’t live happily ever after in reality, even if there were no barriers. I even told him so, that his “issues” would impact a hypothetical relationship and that I believe we wouldn’t work out even if we could be together under normal circumstances.
He is pretty clear that nothing will ever happen again between us romantically and he will make sure of that, and I believe him, as he has also shown this determination in other aspects of his live (which totally fits the “splitting” aspect of quiet bpd). We ended the event with the most stupidest thing I could have done, the promise to slowly start talking again as friends.
And since two days prior to the event and now, I start fantasizing again about being with him (in an absolute ideal world). I hate my limerent brain. Honestly, I don’t think him and I would ever work out in real live, and if he came around now, after everything that happened, I don’t think I would ever even give it a try as now even more so, with his personality disorder (yes, my diagnosis) I really don’t think this could work out. But why, just why does my brain make up these fantasies?
There is no uncertainty, we would not work, and he’s not interested in anything romantically (thank god). But why can’t my brain just let this go? Why can’t I just see him as a friend and just be there for him as a friend?
And to mention my SO: it has gotten better with SO compared to two years ago when my LE started, but it’s a bit of an up side down. I mentioned to SO that I want to go see a marriage counselor to work on our marriage, but he doesn’t see the need.
Rachel Williams says
Hey Sarah. I have been reading your posts and man I feel your pain. What I will say is at least you 100% you CAN NOT be friends with this guy. I’m really in a similar position. My LO loves being my friend and would love to continue. However it fries my brain and I’m exhausted by it all. As soon as I start to feel better I get complacent and think oh heck let’s just be friends why not I’m almost over it. Big mistake! At the end of the day if LO is still in my mind a friend’s can not happen .. even if thoughts are dwindling. It really is a trick. It’s hard cuz LO likes me but not really in that way. He deffinatly isn’t limerant and that makes me feel like fuck a sadact. All the time and mental energy I’ve put into me and I bet he’s barely given me a second thought at home… It’s embarrassing for myself. As Dr L says we need to put LO into a danger to our wellbeing. Let’s stop putting out LO’s before ourselves and put our self as priority. Our happiness is at stake! Keep giving yourself the reality check you.. you don’t want a relationship with him. Which is really good as you know this!! Keep thinking that and saying it over and over and over again. Even though it’s a mental slog and my god it’s hard but keep the focus on the negatives about him. Good luck!
Hey Rachel, thanks for your post. It feels good to know that I am not alone.
I feel the same, it’s an embarrassment for myself and I feel so pathetic not being able to get over LO.
We actually had that discussion, LO and I. When I broke off our affair, he was crushed, but he said he accepted it and continued to just be my friend and tried not to let it show towards me. He said I just have to try hard enough to suppress my feelings and I will get over it. I asked him how he’s so good at that (as he literally continued to be my friend like nothing happened). He said because he has basically done this all his life, suppress his emotions and not let anyone see behind the facade. And with the quiet bpd knowledge, that statement and his behavior makes perfect sense now – because he literally HAS done this all his life.
You are right, we have to put us before LO and I keep on telling myself that it would never work out and that I do not want to be in a relationship with a person like this. It would only cause trouble and pain and IT WOULDN’T WORK.
Another thing I have learned is that people with bpd have this thing about having a “favorite person”. And it seems like (i am guessing) that I am that person for him. He kept on telling me that I am the most important person in his life (even when he had his new LO that didn’t want him) he kept on saying he doesn’t want to be friends with her but he is willing to fight for keeping me in his life and do whatever it takes.
Well when his LO turned around and wanted him back and he was all like, sarah, i need your help, should i should i not give it a try with LO, will I lose you if I do, I’ve had enough and that was my trigger to go NC. I told him I will certainly not make him choose between his LO and me, I will choose for him and removed myself from the equation. I told him to go for it, otherwise he may regret it (and eventually even blame me) and wished him best of luck. Also told him that this is excruciatingly painful for me and that I need a break from him.
Well and here we are, after 6,5 weeks of NC, I’m an idiot for telling him that we can slowly be friends again. Argh. As you say as soon as you feel i think i am fine, you realize you’re not.
“I mentioned to SO that I want to go see a marriage counselor to work on our marriage, but he doesn’t see the need.”
You can go solo. He may eventually wish to join you.
Dirty lens: do not ever blame your SO for your decision to commit adultery and the actions you took to make it happen. It didn’t “just happen” and if you had unmet needs, it was incumbent upon you to bring them up.
“He kept on telling me that I am the most important person in his life…”
Yeah. They do that a lot. It can be very flattering (as well as exhausting) but it is a total mind _____ to keep you around and at their beck and call. It’s not always that they mean to do it but they have great big vast holes of emptiness where their personalities and ability to self-soothe are supposed to exist. What happens if you refuse to be a yo-yo?
Have I mentioned Dr. Karpman’s Drama Triangle? https://www.bpdfamily.com/content/karpman-drama-triangle
“I’m an idiot for telling him that we can slowly be friends again. ”
No, you’re not an idiot but you may want to consider that you are hooked on the situation/him. The anxiety is probably being mistaken for excitement when it’s really fear-driven. Fear of losing your SO (if he finds out about the affair), fear of losing your centrality to LO (if he isn’t lying about it), fear of losing the ego boost of BEING central and needed to the LO when apparently your SO can and does get along reasonably well without using you like a security blanket. You’re human and you have issues. We all have issues that need to be addressed as we fumble through our lives.
Onward and upward. You can do this but it is HARD to change. You have a habit involving LO and you need to think of some action to take instead of contacting him, responding immediately when he contacts you, being his touchstone, muse, etc. Scharnhorst and Dr. L. have suggested setting a timer for 10 minutes before you respond – or even IF you respond. If you don’t do it for 10 minutes, reset the timer for another 10 minutes, etc. Keep a little log of the time between his contacting you and you responding. Maybe make it a game or contest for yourself.
Mr. Lee likes to say provocative things, or use a particular tone to get me riled up. I have learned not to take the cheap bait. I hold out for the big issues.
Sarah, I really think you need to see this set back in a more enlightening way. You saw with your LO and had a little relapse. But hey ho life goes on right? This has showed you that you can not be friends. He is enabling you in a massive way. Lee is totally right with the confusion with excitement and anxiety. It’s what my therapist said. Try working to some calming techniques like breathing or meditating. So when these moments happen you can try and relax a bit more and lessen the impact. I know how it feels to feel like your moving forward and then being back to square one but honestly everytime I relapse I learn a little more about myself and I bounce back after a few days of total anxiety and intrusive thoughts.
To add to this, sometimes I kind of need to give myself a mental slap and have a really firm word with myself about how LO is not all that I think he is. I’ve had previous LO’s and I look back in horror now and how much I left them into my head! We will get to the same place. One thing I’ve learned is that when we start to move on from LO it does really leave huge void and I find myself thinking and obsessing purely cuz that’s what I do/did. You need to find something new to focus on… Something pretty big I’m thinking.
It’s taking alot longer than I’d like but oneday I’m certain LO won’t have this effect on me and he will be a memory that I look back and think wow that was F***** up! You will to! Just leave him to his life and you concentrate on yours. What the hell with him, right? I’ve never heard of BPD but you don’t need that in your life. Work on yourself and learn to love yourself. It takes time and I’m not there yet but it is getting better and I don’t have the benefit of being able to go NC.
Yeah I agree Rachel, one day I will look back snd think about how f*** up this situation was. And hopefully at that time I won’t stand in front of my life shattered. I have the chance to navigate out of this now.
Lee, you have mentioned that triangle before, I have to look into it in more detail. I guess I am the rescuer. And that bpd thing now even more so makes me think “but he needs me”.
I am not sure I 100% understand what you mean with the confusion between excitement and fear, but I take it as, I am afraid to lose my spot of being significant to someone. That might actually be true.
Rachel, I like the idea of not thinking I am back at square 1, but still learned something about myself.
” I guess I am the rescuer. And that bpd thing now even more so makes me think “but he needs me”.
And, when you’re on their good side, borderlines can be no small amount of fun. But, spend any serious time with them and you’ll learn that many of them don’t want help, they want to be enabled. They don’t describe relationships borderlines as “crazy making” for nothing. They can be like emotional black holes. You pour energy into them and it just disappears.
One therapist said I was co-dependent and another said I wasn’t. I think the latter is correct. Neither was familiar with limerence but between limerence and co-dependence, limerence describes the dynamics of my relationships far better. This describes the difference pretty well. http://www.andreaharrn.co.uk/co-dependent-limerent/#sthash.ZXZ5kBZY.YRdWz8CT.dpbs
Thanks for that link, scharnhorst. Explains the difference well! I am definitely not co-dependent either, but limerence is just soooo spot on (of course). I really wonder why this concept is not more known, it makes so much sense.
I’m not a mental health professional but I’ve dealt with several and know a few more.
The mental health profession is driven by “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” They’re now on the 5th edition. If it’s not in the DSM, officially, it doesn’t exist. It’s also what mental health providers code insurance claims against. I was told it looks better to provide an explicit code rather than “Unspecified…”
There are other considerations as to what gets into the DSM. Google Self-Defeating Personality Disorder (aka Masochistic Personality Disorder). It was proposed in the DSM-III but was considered too controversial in light of domestic violence. Another interesting lesser known PD is Avoidant Personality Disorder. It is/was a Cluster C disorder. Martin Kantor did some really interesting work on Avoidant Personality Disorder. When I was digging through all this stuff close to a decade ago, I thought SDPD and AvPD more accurately described LO #2 than BPD/NPD did.
But, therapists go with what they know and as, they kept pounding into me, it doesn’t matter what she was. She was unsuitable, I was married to another woman, and I needed to let it go. At that point, I started to turn and started working on the things I needed to work on.
The literature also says that there’s a frighteningly high rate of PDs in the mental health profession. Your therapist may have as many or more problems than you have and they can bring their baggage with them.
Thanks, Scharnhorst, interesting stuff. For my LO, quiet BPD is so spot on, it fits perfectly to everything I know about him and that I wondered where it was coming from, as it seemed so random and disconnected.
Yeah, I also heard that a lot of mental health professionals deal with their own stuff… a bit scary actually.
But agree with you, LO is unsuitable, so all of this shouldn’t matter, that’s what I have to keep telling myself.
Type this out and put it next to your monitor at work.
“There is nothing so alluring as a damaged soul you’re sure you can fix.” – DrL
The danger in research is once you think you’ve identified the problem, you may be tempted to take a shot at fixing it.
Thank you so much for the post ! I am going to read everything you have posted the next days ! I didn’ know what was happening to me and now everything is lighted ! This NO CONTACT article has come at the most crucial time for me, that I have to imply NC in order to save my marriage and get rid off the feelings for a LO. Reading some of your posts made me realise that I am a limerence junkie. I can only forget a LO replacing him with another LO. This has happened at least 8 times in my life ! I am an addict and I have to get clean ! However this last one has almost destroyed my life, I am one step from hell ! After 1 month NC, while my mind was getting more clear and feelings fade out, he contacted me and returned me to step 1. Of missing, wanting, craving, I can’t stand this misery anymore. He was my LO, then I became his LO, now we are each other’s LO but we have to be apart because we are both married. And it seems that everytime one of us wants to escape we hold each other back. Now the relationship goes on in our minds, I want to stop the fantasy but he doesn’t. So I have to go NC I suppose.
Rachel Williams says
LwL peeps. I need some urgent advice. 2 weeks into no contact.. for the 7th time (such a joke) LO has messaged saying good luck in the new job .. guys I’m stressing. My immediate reaction was to text back straight away saying thank you so much how are you we must catch up soon. LO lives very close to me and families are close therefore complete NC is not an option. But I don’t want to spiral back… As these 2 weeks have been sucky. But it’s better than the emotional crash. Help me
If you can’t go NC, you go LC, and shoot for ALARA, As Low As Reasonably Achievable.
Text back “Thanks!” and let it go. It sounds like you’ll run into him eventually. If you have mutual acquaintances, one of the last things you want to do is for him to start asking questions like “Did I offend her?” Ghosting in general isn’t usually good form but if you’re trying to keep things low key and you have a lot of mutual acquaintances, it can do more harm than good.
Have you heard of BIFF, Brief, Informative, Friendly, and Firm? It’s a technique used in high conflict situations like ugly divorces but it has applications elsewhere. When I wished LO #4 Happy 10th Anniversary of her business after 3 years NC, I practiced it. She acknowledged the email I sent but didn’t reply to it. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/5-types-people-who-can-ruin-your-life/201809/biff-4-ways-respond-hostile-comments
Rachel Williams says
Thank you for your reply Scharnhurst. It’s such a head mess and leads you to I’ve think way to much. I replied before seeing this saying thank you 🙂 and reply. Phew! The amount of anxiety I have when he contacts compared to when we’re in NC is actually worse. Pretty sure I’m getting through this. Through every set back and relapse I’m figure something else out. I’m not one for ghosting people. It’s not cool in my mind and I wouldn’t want to be ghosted. Although I do not want a mass of unwanted obsessive thoughts either. Tbh this hasn’t messed with my head I was waiting for a reply anxiously but I’m so pleased I didn’t get one. Phew!
Thanks for the link I will definitely apply this in the future.
Wow that BIFF thing is excellent. Thank you Scharnhorst!
Rachel Williams says
I’m at this stage of NC/LC I just feel angry towards my LO, very bitter and not nice. What stage is this I wonder. Obviously there’s still strong emotions there and far from indifferent but more hostility and anger…
Google 5 stages of grief.
I have checked in occasionally, but have not posted. I see Lee and Scharnhorst are on point as usual! Now I am happy to report 30 days of NC. I am in phase 4, but have yet to face LO in a social situation. After a break I have reintroduced myself into the old social setting but not as part of the “entourage “. Among the “happy to see you again ” comments, a couple of female friends mentioned they were aware of my situation and understood my effort to distance myself. I am living more purposefully, and communicating with my SO. I know I face some traps, and still need to work it, but I am a MUCH happier person today!
Hurray! So glad you’re on steadier ground, Lowendj.
Thank you Lee, Dr. L, and everyone who suffered thru my LE tale.
There surely were some miserable days! It does get better.
I spent time with LO in an unavoidable, but fun, social setting last week. Contact between us had already been decreasing, as I had not been getting the responses from her that I would have liked for maybe a few months, or maybe it was that her responses were inconsistent. At the same time, I had been decreasing my contact, because the less I contact LO, then the less I’ll be waiting for a response!
Anyway, we had tentative plans to hang out for a short period for something I wanted to do after the social event. She had changed her mind and asked if I could drive her home (a short distance). I said no problem, and I proceeded to tell her that I’d been intentionally cutting back on communication because of her inconsistent responses, basically saying what’s the point of me reaching out. She commented how she replied to a recent topic, and I simply said yes you did reply to that and I left it at that. It cannot be a one-way street, with LO reaching out to me whenever she pleases while I reach out and get inconsistent responses. This is eerily similar to 1 year ago, when things evolved toward my 1st attempt at NC (successful, lasting 3 months because she came back to work).
Reflecting back to last week, LO had given a very selfish reason for not wanting to stay after the event. I had given LO an out, one more shot to see what she can still offer me, and she lost. After witnessing the trials of others on this site over the past few months, I have reflected upon similar (non-positive) characteristics in my LO which has helped me to frame her more negatively. LO had a big event Monday that she would have always told me about, but I haven’t heard anything. I had expected to hear from her, but it doesn’t really matter. I’m not dying to know, and instead I’m rolling into the 6th day of NC part 2.
Side note: I remember Scharnhorst once commenting about what happens when you ask someone a question. Do you get an answer or a response? Well, I have realized that LO generally gives responses when I am seeking answers, so I don’t really see the need to ask any more questions.
Feeling guilty right now! Feel bad for LO for avoiding him. He hasn’t done anything to me and I’ve turned cold for my own sake. Whilst at first this felt right to protect myself now I feel really bad? Wishing we could just still be friends. Why is limerence so fucked up that we can’t even be friendly to LO and accept it is what it is. Why do we have to be so harsh for our own sake. Im a real softie so to be cold and go NC is going against my nature. Limerence I hate you!
I felt terribly guilty during the height of my LE when I tried to distance myself, and then in early NC. But, when I got through the fog, time wore on, and I saw that she was evidently fine without me, then the guilt lessened. I’d built this narrative up of me having abandoned her, and she’d be lost, at least professionally but emotionally too. Thing is, limerence warps your brain. I may have been right, but objectively, in all likelyhood I was wrong. Certainly based on what I’ve heard since.
It’s hard to hear, hard to write now frankly, because we want to believe this was a special connection. I can reassure myself that I did right by her professionally, got her a great job that she wouldn’t have got without me. But the emotional side? I can’t really prove it wasn’t in my head.
So be careful with the guilt, you’re probably projecting a lot onto the relationship that isn’t really there. Also, you need to fix yourself, and the only way to do it is removing LO. You shouldn’t feel guilty about sorting your own life own. He’ll be fine.
Thanks. Your more than likely right! I’m fixing myself slowly but surely. Hopefully this is my last LE! Had many in the past but wow has this been all consuming. I know LO had feelings but not sure if he was limerent? He probably just found me attractive and fun. But I couldn’t sense that he was limerent. Who cares anyway it’s irrelevant.
Why do you want him to be limerent though? It’s not a healthy place to be. I certainly wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I wanted LO to want me, love me even, but I didn’t want her to be involuntarily obsessed with me. I wanted it to be real, normal. Most people can love without limerence.
I’m at the same at the moment. LO texts me again, and I delay my answers and stop chat conversations at work telling him I have to concentrate and get work done (which is true). I know that he thinks we’re getting back to “normal” but I really don’t want to talk to him every day and he doesn’t need to know what I am doing every second of the day. I know he is irritated by my behavior. I know he wants me as a “good” friend. I feel guilty being “just friendly” like I’d be with any other person, but I really don’t want to have an EA again. It will never be the same. His options are to keep me as a normal friend that occasionally catches up with what’s going on in life, or nothing at all. I know neither will be what he wants, but tough luck, that’s all I can give. I’m not even sure I can be a friend with being limerent. I am almost hoping that he will get fed up with not being super close friends and so irritated by me being just friendly distant that eventually it will die down. I’d almost prefer that to actively going NC again. Because with NC I feel like I tell him I am not fine, whereas with my other tactic I feel like I’m telling him that I am over him.
“I’d almost prefer that to actively going NC again. Because with NC I feel like I tell him I am not fine, whereas with my other tactic I feel like I’m telling him that I am over him.“
Oh I know precisely how you feel Sarah. I’m in exactly the same place with my LO. Roughly two weeks of NC then attempts at LC once she was back in the office with her catching on to what I was doing and try to lure me back in, telling me she misses our conversations and that she can only be herself when she’s with me. I can do friendly, I can even do “normal friends” like you say but I can’t do BFFs that tell each other everything because that sets off my limerence again and makes me a depressive needy person checking WhatsApp every other minute.
I don’t think it meant to come across as though I want him to be limerent, more so I am merely curious as to whether he is. His actions mirrored mine at times and other times he seemed really together and in control. Believe me it’s not a healthy place to be I’ve been in this state for a ages now. Although, I’m in a lot better place than I was. I wouldn’t wish this kind of turmion on anyone. I sometimes would like to feel like it was all in my crazy head but like I said above its irrelevant.
Hence why I feel guilty as if he is limerent me going NC could be making him upset.
Anonymous Limerent says
Thanks to early.
Anonymous Limerent says
Well, my 6 weeks of NC is almost over; I go back to school tomorrow.
Although I’m dreading it (because of the stress of seeing LO again), I am pretty sure it won’t be anywhere near as bad as last year – LO won’t be in all my classes, so I won’t have to see her all day, and maybe not at all some days. I can’t confirm this yet, though.
I’m just going to stay away from her as much as possible so she starts to think I have no interest in her anymore, and eventually everything might go back to normal.
It’s a scary thought that one person has occupied almost the entirety of my thoughts for 433 days now.
AL I have a feeling you are on the road to recovery. This year will be better. 🙂
Anonymous Limerent says
I don’t think so…
It’s been two days. TWO DAYS. And already I feel defeated.
As I mentioned, I planned to go back to school and not look at her or go near her. But I don’t get much out of that when I have to sit behind her in Physics, or one seat away from her in SMSC, or when I’m asked to move so she could have a certain seat in SMSC. Add onto that I’ve already (completely coincidentally, she just happened to be there) looked at her a few times and the doubt and stress and pain of having her actually run to pass my table, and probably eye sight, in the dining hall, and I have a stupidly bundled up ball of anxiety growing in my mind.
Also, she got a new bag, and that made me feel unjustifiedly sad. Possibly because it is a sign that her life moves on while I’m stuck in the same place. But maybe I’ve gotten a bit better since a year ago, as I am now interpreting her actions negatively as an impulse, not as a glimmer of hope, or a “what if?” Like I once did.
But we also had to take a test online today and a lot of the questions reminded me of my LE and how I’m thinking of it and trying to deal with it, so I was slightly annoyed by the end.
P.S. I got it wrong before, this is now my 428th day of the LE.
This one goes under #2, Implementation: https://thoughtcatalog.com/holly-riordan/2019/09/when-you-end-a-relationship-on-bad-terms/
“Whether you’ve chosen to step away from a new relationship or a long-established one, how you orchestrate that ending is crucial, because it’s typically what someone remembers most about you.” – Shari Schreiber, “WHO’S DOING YOUR DIRTY WORK? Deconstructing Passive Aggression”
Anonymous Limerent says
Well, here’s to another half-term holiday. A week off school!
It’s not going well. I feel like I’m going more and more crazy and depressed with this hole in my heart growing by the day. More people keep asking if I’m okay, and I definitely almost cried after locking eyes with her outside. She’s talked to me twice in the past fornight. TWICE. She has NO RIGHT to do that – she must know what it does to me.
This week, she followed me on Instagram after I’d only had it two days and got braces on today. Then when school ended today, I went to get my PE kit from my locker, like I do every Friday. Not expecting to see her for 10 days, I started thinking about how today wasn’t that bad. Then, when I was just about to get up, I suddenly became aware of a very recognisable presence coming towards me. And that’s when got up and rushed away from LO. We then, by chance, locked eyes 10 seconds later. 😔
I also accidentally looked at her looking at me for about 2 seconds at Lunch today. It was accidental because I didn’t realise I was looking at her for a while. Ugh.
I feel like everything is failing. It’s almost as if she’s doing things to spite me. I’m slowly starting to think of her (involuntarily, of course) doing things I didn’t think of her doing before, like playing video games, and I’m finding more things unenjoyable. I don’t know whether this is getting better or worse but there’s nothing I can do about it. There’s only so much more I can take. I just hope this next week helps a little. 😰
Anonymous Limerent says
Just to clarify, it was her who got braces on. This gave me false hope because I thought, ‘maybe she won’t be in today’.
But nooooo, that was just too much to ask, for one day of freedom.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Awww, that stinks, AL.
Can you pretend to be someone else? Like imagine that you’re Brad Pitt, and when she’s walking by, say, “Cute braces!” just like he would do all full of self-confidence.
She seems curious about you. Remember, it’s always flattering to have somebody interested in you, even if you have no intention of reciprocating. If you expose some minor interest in her and she does return your interest, then you have moved forward. If she mocks or despises your indication, you won’t lose much social capital because a minor comment isn’t much attack surface for the school-age mob.
The bonus of that is that if she treats you terribly as a result, you’ll be hurt and angry, which has an amazing therapeutic effect by reducing limerence rapidly.
It’s hard to be super-limerent towards your LO and yet angry as well.
I’d also suggest theater, if you haven’t taken a class in it yet. It’s a good way to inhabit a different character for a while and gain some self-confidence socially. Theater people tend to be very accepting, as long as you aren’t in viable competition for a lead role 😉 — they always need some background minor characters for productions, or even backstage crew.
TL;DR — Try approaching LO with a brief complimentary comment. If lacking social bravery, give theater a go as a means of developing same.
Anonymous Limerent says
Thanks, MLBI, but I’m really not the confident type. I’m far too shy to go anywhere near her – I actually run AWAY from her when she’s near me, so that wouldn’t do much good.
“It’s hard to be super-limerent towards your LO and yet angry as well”
You’ve clearly never been in my position. I do occasionally get really angry at her (e.g. When she talked about me at the end of Physics) but, after I feel a very big urge to pinch and smash something, it normally degrades into extreme depression when it’s not satisfied. I can’t stay angry at her, it’s impossible.
I appreciate your help, but the window for ‘cute comments’ passed about 9 months ago.
It probably feels like that Anon Lim, but it’s an illusion – like so much of limerence. She’s probably just a bit confused and curious.
A guiding principle for recovery is to recognise that it’s all happening in your head. You seem to be tormenting yourself over things that are out of your control, or expecting the world to operate in a way that solves the problem for you. It might help to read some Seneca. He’s probably my favourite philosopher, as he focuses on the freedom that comes when you stop trying to control things that aren’t controllable. For example, people are actually free to talk to you if they want. I mean, you can ask them not to, but it isn’t an awful affront to talk with someone, even if they are limerent for you, and even if you know they are limerent for you (which she almost certainly doesn’t).
You seem to be stuck in a negative spiral, looking at this as a form of torture and starting to hold her responsible. That’s not a sound reading of the situation. You are fixating on the negative, and using it to feed your low self-image. You can be better than that. You can focus on things that you could do to make your life better. You could use the pent up limerence energy to fuel a drive to increase your confidence. No one is just automatically confident. Confidence comes from labour. Doing the hard work of testing yourself, pushing your limits, trying things that you know you should be doing but don’t want to. Pushing yourself to find a purpose and fulfil it.
It’s so much better than following the spiral deeper down. You have a week. What first step could you take to be better at the end of it than you are now?
Anonymous Limerent says
Nothing. There isn’t a thing I can do because, no matter what happens, I am just going to go back to school in a week and go through the same torture and torment and depression and anger and infatuation for someone who doesn’t like me all over again, and nothing I can do now will change that.
I know how the world works. I know I can’t control other people and that’s why I don’t care about a lot of things that happen, because they don’t concern me and are beyond my control. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to change what I’m going through, despite how far-fetched it may be.
I’m not actually blaming her (much). It just sounds like that because this us such a bad situation and and I’m worried my limerence might be peaking again. Part of my sadness is how she doesn’t seem to act differently towards me, indicating she doesn’t see anything there. Not because I want her to like me (obviously I do, but this is different), but because I just want her to acknowledge the pain she’s putting me through and act accordingly, not just casually asking me questions in Physics when there are other people around her who she hasn’t asked yet.
I might somehow be hoping the world will sort this out, but I can’t do much else. I have other, more (allegedly) important things to sort out, like GCSE studies (having to pay attention in lessons and pushing away my constant anxiety) and work experience, and trying to make friends actually like me. I can’t focus on this because, even though it may sort out a lot more things, the fallout may close windows for solving the others, like GCSEs and studying, or my friends might have learned to live without me by the end.
It’s all well and good trying to build confidence, but it’s always going to be knocked down by people not speaking to me and LO talking and living and laughing and paying no attention to me and making me really sad.
I have been trying, but the first stage is [make friends]. I might fare better when I’ve moved on to stage 2.😶
“No matter what happens, I am just going to go back to school in a week and go through the same torture and torment and depression and anger and infatuation for someone who doesn’t like me all over again, and nothing I can do now will change that.”
Well with that mindset of course you are!! You’re setting yourself up for it now. Your mindset is the only aspect of this you CAN control.
Yes, you’re in the classic want to disclose yet don’t want her to know. We’ve all been there on this site! However she doesn’t appear know this. You say “she doesn’t seem to act differently towards me, indicating she doesn’t see anything there” so that’s disappointing, but at the same time means the ‘problem’ remains in your head so the good news is you’re the one with the power to change it!!
What you need to do is stop playing the victim – if she is indifferent to you but talks to you she probably doesn’t do this to cause you pain, she probably genuinely wanted to ask about Physics and maybe saw you as the best person to ask – take it as a confidence boost, not an attack!!
My husband found this article helpful in trying to improve his mindset: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-human-experience/201304/how-stop-playing-the-victim-game
“It’s all well and good trying to build confidence, but it’s always going to be knocked down by people not speaking to me and LO talking and living and laughing and paying no attention to me and making me really sad.”
Don’t let it! If people don’t speak to you, is it because you’ve not spoken to them and they’re feeling the same? Or is it because they didn’t hear you? Or if it is because they don’t want to, then they’re not worth your time!
LO is living her life, now to create a life you want to live!
I know I’ve probably been a bit harsh (3hrs sleep in 48hrs often makes me a bit less tactful than normal!) But it is meant kindly – I really want things to improve for you! You can do this! Enjoy half term.
Im so tired! Its been 5 weeks since I’ve initiated contact with LO. The only set back I’ve had was checking social media, which reminded why I should not check social his social media!
My thoughts about LO are still very frequent. Although I’m not thinking happy thoughts. More of thoughts of how to avoid LO and that I’m still feeling like s**t about this whole thing. I crashed my car about six months ago cuz I was fixating on LO and today I nearly hit someone off their bike becuase I’m so tired and my head isn’t there. Although I still see LO, I literally have no desire to connect with him and breaking NC is not something I will even consider but when I get lost in my head I still think about hope and the what ifs. I also feel like I can’t cope with my everyday life and that LO is still very much in my mind whatever i do. I have unfollowed him on social media and deleted his number. He still tries to be overly friendly with me on times I see him, however I can’t help but be distant and cold. I just want out now! All the energy I put into LO has drained me of my life. As for purposeful living I’m doing really well; improving health, new pursuits and creating healthy habits. I’m not sure what the answers are and what’s crazy is I’m sure it LO confessed his love for me now I would tell him to get jogging after everything. I just feel so stuck.
Rachel, you are not stuck, you are making really good progress, keep doing this, things will improve, you’re not far off from the point where his thoughts will begin to dissipate and your mind will become peaceful again. I was at this points a couple of months ago, exactly the same situation as you but things do improve but you must continue with NC, even 5 minutes in your LOs company will set you back terribly, avoid LO at all cost, be friendly but not friends, a simple hi without making eye contact should suffice. Also don’t listen to music when driving for now, good luck.
Thank you so much fellowlim and your support. You have been such an inspiration to me and one of the reasons why I have come as far as I have. There’s no way I will initiate any sort of contact as I’ve never got to the this point. I think I have successfully moved LO to ‘danger of my wellbeing’ as Dr L puts it. However the mental torment is still in full force. I’m so pleased your out of the mess and are happier.
Rachel, I agree with fellowLim, you are making progress, you’ll get there. It’s tough when you still have to see him, that doesn’t help, but he’s moving, right?
The what if’s and the hope are the worst. You need to get over that. There is no what if, and if that comes up, push it far away.
It took me a long long time to let go of that last bit of hope, of the last 0.001% that this thing turns around. In my daydreaming he kept on popping up in one way or another as a friend, a confidant, a person that means a lot to me, that miraculously has been there when I needed someone. You name the scenario, I’ve probably dreamt it. I have to say, NC has been the best thing, hands down, so limiting contact and pushing him out of your life as far as you can is the best you can do.
About thinking of LO… I am sorry to say that I still think about LO one way or another every day, every single day, because there is just too much reminding me of him. BUT on the bright side: it doesn’t bother me that he pops up in my head anymore. It’s emotionally very neutral, it doesn’t raise my heartbeat anymore, and when I notice I am thinking about LO, I just think about something else. So I have come to accept that LO is still there, and I realize my goal is not to erase him completely. He is a person, he exists, and there is a history, I can’t erase that. But I can neutralize the feelings. It’s almost like when breaking up with a bf, at first your life is shitty, but eventually, you’re ok. And you can still think about things you’ve done together, but your emotions are neutral about it. It doesn’t hurt anymore, and it doesn’t make you happy anymore. I think that’s the goal.
Sarah. I was hoping you would comment as you always make me feel a little better. Honestly, I am so pleased you are feeling much better and this gives me lots of hope. I agree I have to push these thoughts out of my mind and be more firm. The last few days I have spiralled. The dreams were coming back and not sleeping. However today I am feeling a little better. Hopefully in the next couple of months I will be able to go complete NC and I can’t wait for this day but until then avoiding is key.
You can do it, Rachel. Keep the eye on the price, your mental freedom!
I am not as often on LwL as I used to be, but still checking up on you 🙂 (religiously used to check the site first thing in the morning, it helped so much – I sometimes hope I had the support of this site much sooner, I think with the virtual conscious, things may have turned out differently. But it is what it is).
If I can do it, so can you Rachel. It wonMt stay this crazy, I promise. One day, you will be ok.
Bless you! I will let you know when that day has come 😊
“”It won’t stay this crazy, I promise. One day, you will be ok.””
Hanging out for that particular day Sarah, thank you!!
I am the same Rachel, LO is constantly in my head. I wake up at 3am and he pops in my head, I wake up at 7am and my first thought is him. On the toilet , yup, thinking about him…hanging the washing, eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, reading, watching TV, going out, shopping, he’s always in my head. Not so much fantasies anymore, but what I’d say if I see him next (nothing), or my reply if he’d ask me certain things (again nothing) hell I’ve got essays worth of replies going on in my head. I’ve learned to say “f-off” in my head as soon as I start thinking about him, it’s working. I’ve also looked at some of my favourite male celebrities before going to sleep and I’ve stopped dreaming about LO, I dreamt about the celebrity instead so winning on that front. But yeah, it’s exhausting actively managing your thoughts. How’s it going with your SO? Mine’s going better, still no sex but slow and steady baby steps wins the race, but we are moving forward. I also keep very busy, I am very productive right now, I worry if I sit still I’ll go back to day dreaming.
This place is the only thing keeping me sane!!
Lee-Anne, the many, many conversations I had with my LO, I could fill books too. I’ve gone through every facet of emotion (screaming at him, explaining, discussing, pleading, begging, crying, examining what happened, what went wrong, how, why…). When alone in the car I actually spoke out loud… but in the end… it all comes down to this: it is over and in the past and no conversation will change anything. The best I can do is to neutralize my emotions. No explanation, no anger, no conversation to try to get a reaction. It’s done, nothing I say or do will change anything. I have come to accept that.
My relationship with SO has improved a lot. It seems that we both are trying to be better and make an effort (without ever even talking about it – which is weird, but I take it 🙂 )
* mental conversations with LO in my head, not actual conversations
Song of the Day: “Constant Craving” – k. d. lang (1992
It’s kind of a stretch to limerence but I like the vaguely numinous, “there’s something greater going on here” tinge this has to it and I definitely get the “constant craving” part. It’s more about the process than the person. It’s all about us and nothing about them.
Sarah, I think it’s our brains trying to sift and sort our emotions. I’d rather beg, scream, yell and cry in my head than have my LO see me fall to pieces. He’s seen me upset twice but both times assumed it was something completely different as I had some upheavals in my private life. I’d die if he knew I cried over him. But yeah, same here, all these conversations will stay in my head, I will never lower my self respect to a level that I will actively grovel at his feet. I quite like the idea “if you see him by accident, say a quick friendly hello, no eye contact and move away quickly” approach.
I don’t really want to skulk around corners trying to avoid him but I will make a big effort to avoid the areas I know he will be hanging around in. I just need to keep busy.
Scharnhorst – that song is actually spot on!!
Lee-Anne, same here. If I ever stumble across LO, I will be neutral, friendly, and will not show any signs of how hurt I was. It will be awkward nevertheless 😆
When I wanted to tell LO so badly what went on in my mind (probably around june/july timeframe) I kept on repeating “do not beg for someone that doesn’t want to stay” (I think DrL said that somewhere). I am worth more than that.
Neutral is the new happy for sure, and I’m hopeful that I can get there too. Rachael, I understand the weariness. And I need to remember the “danger to my wellbeing” when I’m tempted to indulge my mind. Hang in there! It’s really helpful, to me, when I know I’m not alone in this.
Yes I have really cemented in my mind that LO causes me emotional hell and there’s nothing in me that wants to contact him. Even when I get to my lowest. I have been there so many times and nothing but pain comes from it. Stay strong Jayne. You are not in this alone that’s for sure
People, does anyone know if it has to get worse before it gets better ????
I’m in Nc day 5 and I haven’t felt so bad, so totally obsessed and in so much fysical pain during all our high and low contact periode of 9 months. I’m walking around like a caged animal, warm and cold and feeling sick.
Made a huge mistake to look at his FB today to see that his ex girlfriend put an old pic on his wall and I lost it. Felt my heart pounding nousia and have been stressed since that moment.
Does anyone know how long is this horrible awful fysical withdraw periode last? And is this normal after NC ??
Like any addiction, the withdrawal symptoms are hell. It’s going to take a while. One day at a time. Keep sharing your feelings here. We’re all on various mileposts of the same highway.
Thank you Paradox H.
I will post here, it’s like some relief.
Took some st Johns wort and it helps a little.
Thank you again for answering.
Hi Maria, everyone, hope you are all keeping well………I’m re-reading as many of the posts that I can, just to try to get back on track…talk about a relapse, I have been shamelessly following and messaging my LO on social media, and last time I messaged him, I received no reply, which sent me into total panic, and a seemingly even deeper depression…..I know that I should go no contact, but for me right now, even with all the tears and misery, I can’t do it….Maria, you mention St John’s wart, and I’m wondering if anyone has taken Melatonin, and 5HTP, and if so, did it help to lift the sadness…..I’m finding it harder and harder to hide the tears from SO and other family members….I can hardly speak without crying…what a mess this whole situation has become……
Vicarious Limerent says
Maureen, I don’t know about the herbal remedies, but I believe Maria now posts as Mia. She has been providing updates quite regularly lately.
Very alert Vl 🙂
I’ve used melatonine ( to sleep).but I don’t really like it so much.
But st Johns worth really helps me to calm down my anxious mind if it gets really bad. Besides I do meditate and practice mindfulness everyday and I have therapy to heal some old ” im not good enough” wounds.
The therapy is starting to work recently.
I really feel for you Maureen, I can almost feel your suffering. I know you go through this alone but could therapy be an option for you ?
We are here for you Maureen. Don’t forget what a strong personality you are.
Does anyone know how long all those phases will last? I am now in a low contact period for almost 16 weeks. I haven’t seen him since the 29th of February, but I still think about him a lot. In this corona period we chatted a few times and had a few FaceTime calls with another friend. I am wondering if I should tell him about my feelings if they won’t be away by September (when I will see him again on a weekly basis). He has a girlfriend which makes the whole situation a lot complexer.
I think it’s best not to share your feelings. You can later regret it (I do). If you want to stop thinking about him, try to have as little contact as possible and don’t follow him on social media. Things will slowly improve!
Im married second time and have had a limerent relationship for 6 months – all consuming. I am at the point where I just want to fall in love with someone else to change the music. I love my wife, but not at all like this, and I never did, so it is hard to get the strength from that, though I do try to be closer to her these days.
I know the idea of falling in love with someone else is equally absurd and potentially destructive to my life, but so intense is my desire to escape this, that I feel ready to try anything. In many ways, I feel as if I have dwelt on it too long and missed the window for a normal recovery. Is it possible that I have? What should I do? I am completely lost, frustrated and deeply lonely, though always around people and reasonably busy. But my mind always churns over LO, who doesnt even give a damn about me, apart from friendship.
HI Steve, welcome with your question.
You will probably not like my answer.
To be honest, there is not much of an optipon here. Break of contact.
If you want to break free from limerence there is no other way than go fading in contact or NC. You have to break loose and choose yourself.
“I choose my health and sanity over LE “. Like dr L wrote: you dig a whole and stop digging to climb out of it.
I divorced during my LE. I knew I lost my love for my husband before LO came along, so he was not the reason, he just forced me to have a good look at muself, ( after i went NC, and accepting ( sort off) that LO and we are not going to be happily ever after ) my marriage and my underlying issues explaining why I become limerent to this extreme. For me it borders to love addiction, I was limerent for my ex husband also, maskimng the fact that we did not match.
So now i am divorced and without LO, i choose that, I want to be healthy, I want to be happy alone. Its hard work but keeping the LE going was no option, I was a shadow of myself and miserable.
Do you want to stay married? You say you love your wife?
I was a week and a half into NC and progressing pretty well until LO texted me tonight asking how I was doing. He knew why I wanted to go NC and was very supportive . This morning I woke up to find he had been on my social media liking pictures. I know he doesn’t feel the same way about me, I’m positive ,but in his text he said he misses me ( which is believable cause he’s naturally a sensitive guy and could mean platonically.) . Anyway, I feel like this short conversation has taken be back a couple of steps seeing as my brain is trying to convince me,yet again ,that it’s mutual yet I know fully well that it’s not. I also don’t know if this is just a short ” Hi ,how are you” conversation or if he’s trying to get back into contact. Plus does this now mean I have to reset my NC clock even though I’m not the one who broke NC?
@N, I am sorry that your LO has put you into this awkward situation. There are a couple of possible motives I can think of, if we’re not assuming the worst of their motives, why they’ve contacted you:
1. Knowing why you’ve had to go NC, they’re sending you a test message to see if you’re still abiding by your NC and whatever your response is will confirm it to them one way or the other.
2. As they are a caring person, as you say, they are concerned about you and thoughtlessly contacted you, forgetting about why you’ve gone NC in the first place.
My initial inclination is to believe that it’s 1., assuming that they are testing whether or not you’re still committed to your NC. From what you’ve said, it doesn’t appear to be that they have mutual feelings; if they did, I am sure they would have told you outright, rather than leading you along as it may appear they’re doing.
If you don’t reply to their message, I wouldn’t count it as part of your NC clock as it was your LO who reached out to you and not the other way around. I recommend writing it down, however, as a reminder of when your LO contacted you to keep track if they decide to do it again. I hope that helps!
How about just a plain ‘ole ego boost? Let’s not underestimate our LOs and don’t assume they aren’t covert narcissists.
N, I too think you don’t need to reset your clock, but if he keeps liking your posts you might have to block him. And you also might have to block your number from him. Don’t feel guilty, he chose not to be interested, and you are choosing to release yourself from his power. He can find other friends. And you don’t need him to check on you, you are doing just fine!
Thanks Guys! Ok confession is I already had replied by the time I was posting this and we had a whole conversation. 🤡🙈. Anyway, if he was testing me clearly I’ve failed but I think I’ll just end the conversation with a “ Oh that’s nice” or a “ Thanks! Happy for you”.
Maybe that’ll help next time if he does reach out again.
I am definitely in stage 3. Have been for several months. I had a relapse around 7 months NC. Actually it was him who sent me a link to something he thought I might like. At least I’m assuming. To be honest I’m not 100% sure that he didn’t just send it to me on accident, intending it for someone else. A couple weeks later, on a date that is particularly tragic for him, I sent him a messaging saying I hope he’s doing okay. He didn’t respond, which is typical for him. I always rationalized that he’s more of a face-to-face type. That always seemed to be the case bedore NC. Anyway. After 2 more months NC (or does this count as 9 months with an almost relapse??), I found out that he moved back to my city. Him moving away 9 months ago was what finally pushed me to go NC. Now I find out he’s back. But I must be doing a lot better, because I’m not fighting urges to message him or go visit him at work. Don’t get me wrong; I do THINK about it, or try to concoct scenerios where we might run into each other. But I’m not struggling to control myself. That must mean I’m at least seeing him as less of a rush and more of a human being.
Hi Mia, thank you for your kind words….therapy isn’t really an option as we live in quite a small town…..I have taken the emergency deprogramming course on here, and I’m sure it might help if I went through it again…it’s so hard isn’t it…to just make oneself go no contact, the ‘I’m not good enough’ adage lingers still for me……and trying to get back on track seems to be becoming a target getting further away in the distance…..
Hi Maureen, what also really helped me, besides Dr L and this community is Alan Robarge on you tube.
Off course I don’t know if you have core wounds, not everyone with limerence has, but if you experience total panic if detached from LO you might want to check it out see if you resonate.
Thanks Mia, I’ll check it out for sure….I have to do something drastic soon, this whole LE is getting completely out of hand….my mind won’t even shut off any more…it’s so full of LO, I can’t think of anything else….not good…
Here Alan describes beautifully the difference between wanting LO and wanting something to heal that in fact has nothing to do with LO.
Again maybe you don’t have attachment wounds but being able to see that it’s not about LO but about you can give some clarity.
Maureen, I’m right in the thick of updating the course (the madness of 2020 has slowed me down a bit), so you’ll get a chance to run through the revised version in the next couple of months. That may give you a fresh perspective.
Thanks Dr. L. I’ll check it out for sure…..madness of 2020 is right on…I think we should put up the Christmas tree and call it a year….
Hi Mia….I’m not sure if I have any attachment wounds….I had a pretty great childhood growing up in post war England, (40’s and 50’s). My parents were great as far as I remember, I had one older brother, it was a simple life back then, and a happy childhood…..the only strange thing is although I remember my grandad passing away when I was about 7, I have no memory of my grandma passing away a couple of years later….no memory at all, they lived with us, but that may not have anything to do with anything…..Alan has a ton of videos, not sure to begin, but I did briefly look at a couple of them, but maybe I’ll start with the one that you mention…….I’m still thinking of melatonin and 5HTP, I wonder if anyone has had good results with them as mood stabilisers…….thank you for taking the time to post, it’s really appreciated….
HI Maureen not to go all therapeutic on you but you having no memories about this, so probably repressed them, that might have something to do with it. But you have to choose your own path off course, for me seemingly unimportant events (like my mother leaving me at kindergarten, which is pretty normal but I remember being so sad and upset) did have more impact than I knew being a sensitive kid, more than I realised.
I hope maybe you can relate to some of the videos and take out what suits you.
I never heard of melatonine as mood regulator, but why not give it a try. And keep venting here, we understand what you go through.
This is an issue I have with the attachment therapy explanation for limerence (and other psychological issues). It can’t be wrong. If you remember trauma then that proves the idea, and if you don’t remember trauma then that means you probably repressed it, so it proves the idea. I’m in the same boat as Maureen – happy childhood, secure attachments to loved ones, but limerent nonetheless.
Freudian psychoanalysis suffered the same problem – if you can’t think of a way to falsify a theory, then you can’t test it.
Dr L, I hear you.
But Dr L, as you say ( not to question your expertise, I’m just very interested and curious about the whole limerent thing and I love to exchange ideas ) limerence is a person addiction, and you where born a limerent or not, but nobody is born an addict.
Sure, if there is addiction in your fam you can be more sensitive for addictions but addiction is a sign of an underlying problem, bigger than circumstances at that moment, it’s a coping mechanisms for unaddressed pain. I’m curious about your thoughts about this.
And I will back off a little bit 😉
If you want to pull the psychoanalysis vs psychology string, read Andrew Salter’s, “The Case Against Psychoanalysis.” It’s not very long. I remember buying it off the rack at the grocery store checkout line when I was in high school.
If you read about Salter, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Salter, some of his techniques could apply to limerence.
But, even if they don’t, Salter didn’t have any use for Freud and made no bones about it. I remember laughing through parts of it.
I know from personal experience that not all addictions arise because of an underlying psychological problem or pre-existing emotional pain. In some cases, they arise because someone over-indulges in something that is addictive (smoking, romantic rumination, gambling, etc). The underlying reason can simply be to relieve boredom, make life more exciting and/or a midlife craving for one last romantic adventure.
Tyes that’s absolutely true Alie, not everyone who smokes for example has underlying issues for sure, but I don’t know one addict from substance more life disrupting who didn’t have pain, but than again discomfort ( boredom etc).can also be “painful” in a way and avoided. I know it’s also the tunnel vision I have since I work with traumatized adolescents so I view a lot of things through a trauma lens and the ” protectors ” ( healthy and unhealthy)that came from it.
For me I think my limerence / person addiction is a result of abandonment fear that is an result or source of low self esteem. ( They will leave because I’m not good enough) And I use it for mood regulation, I also fear ( though far far less intense it feels less vulnerable than a loved one) that my best friend will leave one day, by moving abroad or something, that would explain why the rescripting therapy for me works really well.
I find it all so fascinating it borders to addiction 😆
Am with you there….the mind holds a never ending fascination for me too.
In hindsight, I really wish that I had asked my mum about my grandmother’s passing while I still had the chance……I’m assuming that maybe there was ‘something’ that happened, during my otherwise wonderful childhood, but possible not…we left the UK when I was almost 13, and it seems there are other parts of my childhood that I can’t remember, so perhaps it was simply the move to another country (or old age) that causes me to forget…my childhood friend, still in the UK, often asks if I remember this or that, and I really don’t remember………I have always thought of myself as quite sensible and ‘down to earth’ so perhaps the causes of this LE are more recent, something to do with hubby’s string of illnesses, bladder repair, quadruple bypass, followed by kidney failure, subsequent surgeries and dialysis……..whatever has caused this unlikely, and very odd LE, towards someone so young, and totally unsuitable remains a mystery………but I will keep digging, testing new theories, and of course reading all these great posts on here…something might just click…..meantime, I’m heading back to social media to see if he’s posted anything, anything at all…..just to get my fix (I can’t believe that I said that!) oh boy!!
Im going to be carefull with my words this time, and I can only speak for myself, I think limerence is caused by a mix of factors, and timing, for me it was, being an anxious pre occupied attached, middleaged, bored to death and BOOM hit the LE jackpot when LO came along, pushing all the right buttons, being an animal activist and adverturer with an exciting life, and probably slightly on the spectrum so a little hard to read sometimes, which makes my attachmet style go in overdrive and got addicted. I would go in fight or flight modes when in contact or no contact with LO and I lashed on.
Ive had a happy childhood, no traumas as far as i know, but my grandmother was very narcissistic, i think my parents wanted to raise me so well that they could be strict in their care and not always met my emotional needs. I was also a very shy kid, and probably more sensitive than my parents were aware off. Also when iI was 12 my best friend left me, breaking off the friendship since she wanted to hang out with more alternative kids, and i think this gave my subconsious the message that im not good enough, otherswise she would not have left. I think I have hidden attachment wounds (not trauma) and im adressing them in rescripting therapy and it works really well for me, there is an amount of grief coming out I didnt even know it was there. I hope you will find relief Maureen!
And dont be too hard on yourself.
Hi Mia and everyone….Yes, I agree completely that for me at least, the timing must have been right, and I wasn’t even aware that I was unhappy with my lot in life. but I must have been (and probably still am) I think for me, my problems stem more from recent events than from any childhood trauma, repressed or not…but of course I could be wrong….not being able to remember certain events from childhood may be an indicator that perhaps something did happen. That’s great that the therapy is working well for you…….I just know that I have to do something, I seem to be going around and around, going through the same old highs and lows, depending on whether I get his attention in some small way or not….I have to find something, somehow, to replace this total preoccupation with LE……I know that I’m just wasting what precious time I have left in this life….but I just can’t break free….I know what I need to do, but then I get a reply to my message, or a ‘like’ on my post, and then everything seems ok again, but just for a short time, then I begin the whole rollercoaster ride again………I guess I’m still in stage one……..
I hear you Maureen, when I got a nice message, I seriously thought all my LE troubles all my depression and anxiety where healed . Till it started to build up again.
When I’m a little but further in my proces, in going to look for a coach, to coach me achieve some life long dreams ( I hope, otherwise a new or not lifelong dream is also good)
Something I can sink my teeth in, I’ve always wanted to build a non profit organizations for animals or homeless.
Hang in there darling it sounds as if you are also reaching a stopping point.
That is so true Mia…for me it’s all great for a day or so, then I begin looking for that small crumb of recognition again, a ‘like’, a reply, anything….and of course sometimes it doesn’t happen, and my whole mood changes for days, and the sadness creeps in….how on earth did I get to here, for my whole being, my happiness to be so dependent on one young guy……..younger than most of my grandsons…..such a ridiculously impossible situation….and yet there it is……..your lifelong dream sounds really great…something that I would have aspired to in my younger days…..I’m sure you will make it happen…….sadly these days, I can’t seem to get interested in anything…..to say that I have tunnel vision for LE would be an understatement……..but I shall endure, keep reading and posting and drawing strength from this site….and maybe one day I’ll be able to press that ‘unfriend’ button and begin to heal from this cray mad affliction………….
Maureen. Go wild unfriend…. I did and it’s the best I’ve ever done. The peace that will follow far far out ways any little hit. I wondering why you are dealing the healing. Cut the cord and begin to heal 😊
HI Rachel…I don’t know exactly why I’m delaying cutting the cord, I just know that right now I couldn’t handle it if I did….there are so many other things going on in my life, family issues, hubbie’s kidney disease, I just don’t think I want to go through that kind of pain right now…….I panic at the thought of losing contact…maybe it has something to do with losing my favourite 21 year old grandson in a car accident two years ago, or losing a great grandson at five days old the year before…not sure….I just know that I can’t make that huge leap right now, and am trying to make do with minimal contact, and an occasional reply to my messages, such as the brief reply that I got yesterday, that will sustain me for a day or two…..NC will happen I’m sure, I guess maybe I’m just not ready yet…..thank goodness there’s this group though, for support and understanding……Limerence can be a very lonely thing……….
Oh Maureen! Your post made me well up. You have been through an awful lot, I wish I could take the pain away from you. I just know the only way to get over the pain is to go through it. Perhaps seeking a counsellor to help you on your journey through the process might be something you feel could be right for you. This blog really does help and Dr L deserves and obe for the time and empathy he puts into this blog and his communication with everybody. I’m so sorry you are going through this. You are not alone. One day I’m sure you will be ready. It’s hard to believe that one day you will be over this LO but it will take some work and pain. When your ready to cut the cord you have my full support xxx
Hi Rachel. Thank you for your kind words…I guess most of us on here have some kind of issues that aren’t resolved, some a great deal worse than mine, I’m sure…. in this small town, if I made an appointment with a counsellor, it would be all around town before my appointment, ha,ha,ha….I really didn’t think I had any issues that would trigger a LE. Before hubby and I went on our ‘ill fated’ tour of Europe last May (that’s where I met LO) , I really thought that all was fine and I was coping well…of course we had no idea at that time that hubby was in the beginning stages of renal failure…..but obviously there were issues that I still needed to work through……..Yes, I’m sure there will come a time that I’ll be ready to cut the cord, hopefully soon…..You are quite right, Dr. L deserves accolades and an award for his expertise and the time that he puts in on this site…as do so many of the other members, for their input and understanding. I hope that some day I also will get to the point of being helpful to other members, and will be able to give back…….meantime, I’ll saunter on over to Social Media, just in case he’s posted something…anything….oh boy…..if it wasn’t so excruciating, it would be funny……
I’m not positive I’m a limerant but I was a love addict for a long time. In recovery for 5 years now.
I have had good success with a yuck list when going NC for any reason.
This is a list of everything that’s unappealing about the LO and clear reasons why I’m going NC.
This is a very harsh list and best if you keep it as true as possible, don’t let the good things that happened censor you.
It can even be physical things you don’t like which you’d be willing to overlook in a relationship.
When you feel yourself getting nostalgic read the list. Then say “ugh gross”. It’s just for you so don’t worry about fact checking it there is no burden of proof. Just let it fly and keep it close in dire times.
Oh Carmen, how I wish that I could find one single thing to put on a ‘yuck’ list……sadly I can’t….if it weren’t for this LE, this young man would make the perfect grandson! I have many grandsons but LO would be so special…..I just wish that I had had more time to get to know him a little better, then maybe there would be an item or two on the list….sigh…
“Phase two is where you get serious. Social media blocks are activated. Withdrawal plans are implemented. Contact numbers deleted from SIMs. You start to take action and it feels good. You are taking control of the situation and starting to feel some clarity returning to your thoughts. Buoyed by the early success, you start to feel more emotionally and psychologically robust.”
Oh I wish this had worked like this for me. 🙂 But for me I think trauma is also involved in all of it so I could not have immediate good feelings… But even beyond that trauma… I don’t really have more clarity to my thoughts even 3 years later. Or good feelings. Other than “LE” returning with more force than ever. Weird : | But that’s me of course.
I just wondered if there should be some tweaking to this process for people who repress their emotions too easily. I just don’t know what exactly that tweaking would involve. Now though with the emotions out more than ever (not so repressed), I’m trying the reasonings and techniques on this site. It does help some, we’ll see…
If it works then it would possibly be an extra phase lol, in addition to the 4 phases or something ….
Actually. Where it says in the articles how with the LE emotional experience it’s up and down, either intoxicated high with the emotions or really down in the doldrums, I would say for me it is three, not two periods: up/down/off. Off means me rejecting and repressing the emotions (both high and low ones).
Logan B. says
TWO YEARS NC, STILL PLAGUED.
Howdy. This is a long one… but I hope you’ll read it…
I’ve had two LE’s in my entire life. The first LE took place in college, and I was unable to fully move past him—even after becoming engaged. I finally wrote to him—nearly six years later, and confessed. I wanted to “clear away everything” before walking down the aisle, and finally 100% move on. He immediately wrote back and admitted to me that he was gay, and could never return my feelings. He essentially “came out” to me… I was the first person he’d told. I was So relieved… receiving a definitive “No” from him really set me free. I walked down the aisle with a clear heart and a clear head.
Fast-forward to some years after marriage, and I experienced (am experiencing) LE number two.
A bit of my background…
I’ve never really felt like I belonged… I’ve always felt like a bit of an outsider… and because of that, have dealt with a persistent sense of loneliness since childhood… which is mainly triggered in new and unfamiliar spaces…
It is, however, not the way I’m described by others. I am seen as outgoing and charismatic… though a bit “set apart.”
Also, I’ve always felt like my sibling was my father’s favorite, but he died long ago… and I never got to express that to him.
Further, all of my childhood crushes went un-expressed. ALL of them.
With LO#2, I received mixed signals as well, and both us had (have) a SO.
When I tried to express SOME of my feelings (quite innocuously, nothing serious, I thought) LO#2 firmly stated: “You know we can’t talk about this.” It was very authoritative and hurt my feelings. But it was a non-answer, answer.
I would’ve been good with an, “I’m sorry, but I do not feel that way about you.”
Unfortunately, “we can’t talk about this” is neither a Yes or No.
There were times when I was 100% sure he felt the same and others, 100% unsure.
Some of his words and actions said Yes, while others said… Meh.
One time, he admitted that he did care about me, and I instantly felt less “hot” for him and began to drift away. He turned cold in response, and I was “completely into” him again. His mercurial nature is what kept me holding on, and the same sense of uncertainty ties my heart and head to him to this day.
We did, in fact, part ways with only partial admittances. Much, as always, went un-expressed.
I guess I’m wondering… should I reach out?
Again (like I did with LO#1)?
It’s been two years of NC, and I’m still stuck.
Not stuck like I was while we were in contact, but enough so that it’s bothersome. I’m still in “was he my soulmate?” mode… and I still have moments where I really miss him.
It’s all background noise—in the back of my mind.
Sometimes it’s quiet, sometimes, it’s loud.
Welp. I figured his lack of contact all this time was all the answer I needed, but unfortunately, I still feel like I need that definitive No.
I’m wondering if it’s the only way to move forward…?
There are a few barriers to this route:
1. Unlike with LO#1, LO#2 and I both have SO’s. Writing could run the risk of exposure by unwanted eyes. On both sides
2. If the message did reach him, I risk receiving a non-answer-answer—for which he is famous, and not a definitive answer one way or the other
3. A non-answer-answer would just fuel my sense of uncertainty, and thus, my limerence
4. Finally, I run the risk of receiving his silence. Which would be worst of all (I mean, it’s been awhile). That would also still leave me with questions.
Again, is it worth the risk, or is there another way out? Because two years of ZERO contact hasn’t yet done the job!
Does anyone have experience trying to resolve it using this method—after A LOT of time has passed ? What were the results? Is it even advisable
Now, to give a bit of background on how each LE began and how they correlate… I will start thus:
Both LO’s were met during uncertain circumstances in my life, when I needed someone to lean on… be it due to their knowledge or camaraderie
Both LO’s gave me a sense of safety and belonging… and made me feel less lonely… as well as made me feel interesting/truly seen
Neither LO was my physical type (initially). I did not form romantic feelings for them until after they made me feel Safe, Special, and gave me a Sense of Belonging
Both of them showed an active interest in me. However LO#1 initially approached me and formed a rapport, while LO#2 was initially approached *by* me for friendship. I Did Not foresee myself falling so hard for LO#2. He seemed harmless enough, and something about his demeanor made me feel safe in an unfamiliar environment
Both had similar “strong and silent,” steady personas—and seemed a bit impenetrable
Both were well-respected and well-liked by our peers and/or colleagues, whilst I felt a bit of an outcast
I know there’s a bit of a pattern here, as my own SO holds much of the same qualities. However, I never felt limerence for my SO, likely because I never experienced a sense of uncertainty with my SO; he was always upfront about his intentions with and feelings for me.
I desperately want to get back to a place where my SO is the only man in my heart and on my mind.
This LE has caused me great suffering and caused me to question myself & my actual relationship, among other things.
I just want to move forward and never look back. I know I will never forget LO#2, but I do not want the memories of him to sting or have any romantic feelings tied to them.
In Need of Advice,
Your story is fascinating and certainly highlights the quandary many limerents feel themselves to be in.
“Neither LO was my physical type (initially). I did not form romantic feelings for them until after they made me feel Safe, Special, and gave me a Sense of Belonging.”
This comment demonstrates the truism that for limerence to be triggered, more than physical attraction must be involved. Limerence is about the emotional interaction that apparently takes place between limerent and LO.
I don’t think any good comes from disclosing to someone who belongs to another. Personally, I wouldn’t go there. Some cans of worms aren’t worth opening. Too much hassle. Nobody needs more hassle in their lives, in my humble opinion. But it’s worth analysing, I think, why you want a explicit response from your LO…
Why do we, as limerents, feel such a strong urge to hear a definite Yea or Nay from our LOs in order to move on? That’s giving our LOs a lot of emotional power.
It sounds like disclosure resolved things the first time around – but in a unique set of circumstances. That is, your LO was gay, and basically his sexual orientation meant he couldn’t be limerent for you. If he was going to be limerent for someone, he would be for someone of the same sex, ruling you out of contention, as it were, “disqualifying you from the competition”. Haha! You got a clear “no”, but it’s unlikely hearing that “no” hurt your feelings, since it wasn’t really about you…
I think, in cases where limerence is protracted, the advice is to focus less on the person of LO than on the concept of LO. What does LO represent? What desired traits does he/she embody? What do you lose by giving this concept up?
It sounds like you have a need for safety and belonging, and your LO as a concept goes some way toward addressing that. It sounds like you feel a bit insecure in your worth as a person, and you feel you need this figure to “shore you up”. Social anxiety and deep feelings of personal insecurity underpin the attraction.
If you’ve read around the site, you’ll know connection with LO feels other-worldly, uncertainty fuels limerence, and closure is impossible, so I won’t belabour those points.
Maybe you need to believe in yourself more? E.g. you can be a social success and not an outcast, and you don’t need to “borrow” someone else’s prestige to order to be a success? You can succeed on your own merits. What do you think? Maybe low self-confidence is the real issue you need to address? If you felt socially secure and “good enough”, would your LO even have much appeal for you? 😛
Wishing you well.
Logan B. says
Thank you for your advice!
This really stood out:
“ I think, in cases where limerence is protracted, the advice is to focus less on the person of LO than on the concept of LO. What does LO represent? What desired traits does he/she embody? What do you lose by giving this concept up?”
I think I’ve identified what LO represents, but it’s hard to receive that in my personal life (SO, parent, sibling). I’m one of those people who’s expected to always “have it together” and those closest to me never know how to make me feel emotionally protected; it doesn’t even occur to them that I’d need it!
When my father died, I was the one my mother leaned on. And I’ve felt leaned on ever since. It’s almost as if I can’t have problems. I’m generally pretty confident and happy with myself—it’s just when I come to a hiccup—you know, “being human” … that the problem comes in. When it comes to my issues, I’m always expected to “just get over it” and move on… by everyone. So, when I finally meet a person who I can lean on and who validates my feelings rather than brushes them off, it seems impossible to let them go.
I am pretty stalwart… but not always. I think my SO and family have trouble reconciling that I have problems too; I cry too; I hurt too. They don’t know how to respond to me in those moments… and kind of rush me along as if they just want to “get on with it.”
I suppose it’s just too difficult to see their “rock”… crumble.
My mother just recently realized and admitted that that’s what she expects of me… has always expected of me… and has given my sibling and I different “levels” of support according to imagined need. Just because I don’t wail and bemoan constantly like my sibling, doesn’t mean I never suffer internally. Anyway, I waited decades for her to understand and admit to that, so it was freeing to hear. And it seems to be the Start of addressing my needs. My SO had the same epiphany (regarding me and the fact that I have emotional needs) at the same time. I got really honest with them both, and didn’t allow the conversation to be cut short this time.
I might have an avoidant attachment style… I’m not sure. People have always gravitated to me, since I was a child, but I don’t necessarily want them all in my space or want to form a rapport. It’s rare that I reciprocate. And when I do, I hold on to that person for dear life!
I have a rich “inner world” and function really well on my own. I do very well in social/public settings as well…there’s just only so much of it I can take! In group settings, others always expect me to “be the leader” or lead the way… which has also been the same since childhood.
I didn’t want to go into Too Much detail, but when I met both LO’s I was going through different types of life-altering events… and was able to rely on them. So they both ended up meaning a lot to me.
That pervasive sense of loneliness and feeling “outcast” comes less from not being accepted… but of always being “pedestaled;” as the saying goes, “It’s lonely at the top.” I actually don’t want to be in that position… I’ve just always been thrust there; that’s what I meant by being “set apart.” I actually don’t like to lead (or follow). People don’t “get” that about me.
It was nice to be connected to someone who is both well-regarded and also seen as “a part of the team”… while I’ve been placed outside of/above that team. It makes me feel a sense of connection…a sense of belonging… by proxy.
And I don’t say any of this to be arrogant, etc. People literally say things like, “You be the leader” or “Yon never make mistakes” or “You’re so put together” or “You have it all figured out” or … the worst: “You’re perfect.” News flash, no one has it all figured out. No one.
People’s words and actions make me feel “set apart” and “outcast.”
My SO has said on different occasions that I am perfect in his eyes, and it is hard for him to reconcile my “follies.” That filled me with anxiety—I’ve heard that many times before. It always makes me feel lonely… as if I don’t belong and my humanity is not being acknowledged. I feel less lonely when I’m alone, and more lonely around people who’ve separated me and placed on top of some imaginary hierarchy.
Anyway, I hope that gives you more insight into why I attached so deeply to those two LO’s… and why it’s usually difficult for me to be vulnerable and make connections. I have no problem being imperfect—it’s people’s inability to see and accept that, that pushes me away, and makes me feel unsafe to be vulnerable. It takes people a REALLY long time to see “me” and not some pillar of perfection… and I have to start over in new and unfamiliar environments. I have to be “humanized” all over again, which can take multiple years. This has been my, often exhausting, experience.
I’m dreading starting my new job Monday, for these very reasons. My boss has already expressed unrealistic expectations—due to my unrealistic recommendations. I think I’m approaching “burnout” and I’m trying not to become part of the “Great Resignation” before I can even get started!
I was actually able to express to LO#2 when the pressure was too much, and actually have the idea that the pressure was too much For Me… be validated. My SO has trouble with that.
I truly believe that if we could connect more deeply, emotionally, and my SO would just validate my need to Finally be vulnerable— I could let LO#2 go (in lieu of a firm “No”). Not having those needs met has definitely prolonged my tether to LO#2. When I need comfort, I still mentally “run to him” and I don’t know how to stop! I know it’s going to take time for my SO to learn my needs, but he doesn’t want to go to couple’s therapy. So, I suppose openness and patience will be my only route.
“I have a rich “inner world” and function really well on my own. I do very well in social/public settings as well…there’s just only so much of it I can take! In group settings, others always expect me to “be the leader” or lead the way… which has also been the same since childhood.”
Wow! It sounds like you have a lot on your plate at the moment, so you definitely have my sympathy!!
I wonder, if you’re always cast in the leader/responsible role, maybe limerence for you partially expresses a desire to have a break from all that, and be in the dependent role for once? It’s hard having a lot of expectations dumped on one’s shoulders, even if one is very capable…
I have a rich “inner world”. The only problem is when an LO becomes the centre of that rich inner world … then there’s no easy escape! Aargh! 😛
“I have a rich “inner world”. The only problem is when an LO becomes the centre of that rich inner world … then there’s no easy escape! Aargh!”
And that is what happens, isn’t it? There are those wonderful moments where the riot of one’s imagination actually plays out in real life, but it sure as heck isn’t every day. Do you think there are people out there whose inner life matches their outer life?
“Do you think there are people out there whose inner life matches their outer life?”
That’s a really good question. I think the smart-alec answer is a resounding no. But maybe such lucky people truly exist. 😛
But, yeah, there is something novelistic or soap opera-y about LEs and LOs. LOs become the lead character is some never-ending saga we’re writing in our heads. And I think all the emotion or dopamine or whatever kicks in at some point and we forget that it’s only a story and we’re probably being a little too careless with the facts.
I’ve had some potential LOs shut down the whole budding infatuation simply by telling me in no uncertain terms that I was attributing qualities to them they didn’t possess. Which probably means I was looking for an LO with certain pre-packaged qualities rather than a relationship with a real person… 😛
In other words, I didn’t want to discover another person, warts and all. I wanted to find someone who fit the ready-made fantasy. In the case above, I was looking for a “lovable buffoon” I think. Loveable buffoon politely informed me that, sorry, he wasn’t a lovable buffoon, after all. I was gifting him qualities he didn’t want…
“There are those wonderful moments where the riot of one’s imagination actually plays out in real life, but it sure as heck isn’t every day.”
Oh, tell me about it! But, for me, it only happens in the very early days of limerence, when reality hasn’t intruded yet on pure fantasy, and when those terrible crushing doubts haven’t crept in. When my high school LO, for example, gave me a present once – at the school formal – I experienced that “buoyancy feeling”. I felt like I was walking on air. I hugged the present, still-unopened, to my warm little chest and floated down the elevator on cloud nine. 😛
Oh, and one of my schoolfriends told me I was “radiant” just before I hopped in said elevator. (I believe radiance is a dead giveaway somebody’s just received a nice little hit of real and/or perceived reciprocation of the limerent variety). Ecstasy makes people glow.
Limerent Emeritus says
Song of the Day: “Rock Me Tonite” – Billy Squire (1984)
In June, 1984, LO #2 and I were rolling. One night we came back to her place and she put this on the stereo and started swaying and lip syncing along.
I want ya tonite–I want ya with me
Make me guilty of love in the first degree
Moonlight in the city brings the magic to your eyes
Freezin’ a moment–leave me paralyzed
(You do it all right)–You’re passion to see
You been schooled in the arts of romancin’ me
It was great. But, when the song hit,
“Live for the moment–on that we can agree
Come and take me where I long to be…”
and she pressed her 36Ds against my chest, it became one for the record books.
Whatever happened after that and how things eventually transpired between us, every time I hear this song, I can’t help but smile.
Interesting about putting characteristics onto a LO that he didn’t actually have. With LO2 the more I got to know him the more ‘right’ he seemed for me because of opinions we shared, same favourite film, similar sense of humour etc. But he wasn’t right because he already had a wife and kids. He was 12 years older, different life stage. With LO2 I hardly know him, but instead of being able to move on with NC I want to know him! I have been at stage 3 since NC started 6 months ago. With LO2 the situation resolved, though took a long time. I could probably see him now with no problem and have an interesting conversation. With LO3 it feels very much unresolved. I don’t even think I have a fantasy image of him, but I liked the little I knew and want to know more! I know it’s a trap……
Ah … those wonderful elevator moments where you feet barely touch the ground. 🙂
But what if you are experiencing those moments with someone who isn’t really a big part of your life and never will be? I think there’s a danger in that. Someone you are limerent for at work, for example, who you talk to for 10 minutes a week. What does that say about the rest of your life? Then the rest of your life becomes this landscape of tepid emotion you are just enduring until the next elevator moment.
“But what if you are experiencing those moments with someone who isn’t really a big part of your life and never will be? I think there’s a danger in that. Someone you are limerent for at work, for example, who you talk to for 10 minutes a week.”
Well, I think limerence does start out often with two people who barely know each other and, if it’s fruitful limerence, they get to know each other. Limerence, from an evolutionary perspective, is supposed to bring strangers together.
It’s funny, isn’t it? Our brains tell us LOs are magical creatures. And yet we still have to pick LOs from the people we come into regular contact with e.g. classmates, co-workers, friends of friends. 😛
But, yeah, there is great danger in overvaluing a person who’s never going to be a big feature in one’s life. The very intensity of our emotional reaction to them can trick our minds into believing there’s love, intimacy, depth, connection, etc, there, when there’s not. (Or trick us into believing they feel exactly the same way).
“What does that say about the rest of your life? Then the rest of your life becomes this landscape of tepid emotion you are just enduring until the next elevator moment.”
Oh, I don’t want to answer that question, because it’s so terribly embarrassing. If LO’s the only bright spot in one’s life, then I guess the rest of one’s life is … um, a bit drab, emotionally speaking?
I’ve been guilty of waiting around for that “next elevator moment”. How can a fleeting look or touch be the highlight of one’s week?
“But, yeah, there is great danger in overvaluing a person who’s never going to be a big feature in one’s life. The very intensity of our emotional reaction to them can trick our minds into believing there’s love, intimacy, depth, connection, etc, there, when there’s not. ”
Yes. I remember talking to my therapist about my LO, saying something about how I thought I was in love with him, and she asked, “But where is the love?” The question hit me like a ton of bricks.
A couple of months ago a friend of mine complained how much she wanted to quit smoking but failed at every attempt. I said: “Just quit. Simply don’t light a cigarette anymore. You can’t change the urge, but your behaviour is your choice.” Looking back at that statement, I see I was ignorant and feel quite embarassed about it.
It has only been two weeks of NC now and I find it incredibly hard to resist the temptation of seeing him. What keeps me going is the fact that I haven’t announced the NC to him but just stopped “showing up” and he hasn’t tried to get in touch. I take that as I sign of disinterest and as affirmation I need this LE to stop. But I feel so pathetic about it. Avoiding LO and seeking LO are just different valences of dependent behaviour. I’m inconveniencing my life either way.
I mean, is this going to be my life now? Or can I go back to my normal daily habits once I’m in stage 4 even though that means seeing him on a regular basis? The only way for me to avoid seeing him in the long run, is moving to a different city, which isn’t an option. (Though I’ve thought about it a couple of times.)
How long does each of these stages last? I understand it probably varies across limerents but I’d still love to hear, how long it took others to reach stage 4. In my former LEs I had less proximity to my LOs, so I just waited for the natural attenuation.
I’d say I’m in stage 4, though there are times I edge back to the tail end of stage 3 with the craving. And for a few minutes I forget all of the negative stuff and my mind is flooded with a small dopamine hit and I think: Oh, it wasn’t so bad. And I have to kind of shake myself out of it. This usually happens against the backdrop of the flatness of every day life. I’ve been NC for 18 months. But if there was still the risk of running into him or seeing him, I’d think I’d be in trouble.
18 months is SUCH a long time. It sound tough. I hoped that the process would be more efficient.
NC is not working for me at all – despite my best efforts to avoid LO, I’ve been running into him within the past few days. I do polite chitchat and move on as quickly as possible, but the encounters still reel me in emotionally.
I don’t know what to do.
“18 months is SUCH a long time.”
I moved, so it’s more of a distance-imposed length of time. I didn’t move because of him but getting away from him was a byproduct. I guess I’m lucky, if you could call it luck, that I will never have to see him again. He could get a hold of me if he really wanted to, but that would take effort, and if I’m not right in front of him and it’s convenient, he won’t do anything. It pains me to type that, but it is in fact the truth. But if I don’t think I’d be over him to the extent that I am if there was even a slim chance I’d run into him. Part of me would be hoping I’d run into him (while at the same time putting up all kinds of barriers to stop him from affecting me). It’s a weird contradiction and kind of tiring.
Avoiding LO didn’t work – we ran into each other again and again. When we saw each other last time, I started a (petty) argument with him (not on purpose – out of desperation, I guess) and we decided not to talk anymore. So I guess NC can start for real now.
However, I’m already having phantasies about him realizing how much he actually likes me over the fight and starting to properly pursue me. I hate limerence. This is a personal hell.
This is extremely difficult when you don’t know what limerence is… You just feel something is off and need NC with this amazing person who has done nothing to you but love you, it might seen childish and a demand for attention, but is not… I tried to quit a lot of times unsuccessfully until I couldn’t keep doing it, of course when I felt better I reached out and rejection I received haha, I didn’t know it was the limerence, it actually felt loving to reach out, naive me 🙂 thank you for this blog
I got to stage 3 and gave in. I had two months of progress. I am so disappointed in myself. I am also an alcoholic so the relation of this to a relapse is abundantly clear. Now the old obsessive thoughts are back and I’m lying to myself that we could be “just friends” someday. I have not been able to keep him blocked again. I know that there’s still this hope inside of me that he will text me and miss me and then everything will be better.
He’s explicitly told me that he does not want contact with me or to be a part of my life. Continuing to contact him (which I’ve done over the past few days) feels like harassment at this point, but I feel like I can’t stop. It does not help that our relationship has always been on again off again, with him coming back every time I start to pull away. That obviously didn’t happen this time and I think part of me was hoping it would when I reached back out to him. It does not help when he says things like, “I’m not ready for us to start talking again.” and “I’m not talking to you right now.” These things feed the hope. He said he would talk to me in three months.
I know I should just end it and not keep holding onto little bits of hope, but the idea of never seeing him again is devastating. I did some work and realized that he isn’t even the type of person I want to be with, but letting him go seems too hard. I’ve realized that it is his love for me (that he gave and then took away many times in our relationship) that I crave.
I have a compulsive need to seek his approval and relieve my anxiety. I ruminate on how his feelings have changed and beat myself up over the things I’ve done. These are actually bad things too- like name calling and breaking into his house when he didn’t want to talk to me. The best way to sum up our relationship is, the morning after I broke into his house he was going to file a restraining order against me and by that evening we were having sex. Why do I have this idea that I can change and this can work out still? I know this is insanity.
Unfortunately I am going to go extreme on this one.
I am working through the varied stages of ‘No Contact’ albeit it was imposed on me after things went badly and then I compounded my original failings.
If it is ‘No Contact’ that she herself want however, then that will be applicable in all circs. I fear encounters are inevitable given that we may live in the same city, but where I go to an extreme is to give her what she would want in spades!
It’s against my principles but if I saw her in the street being not quite attacked but caused problems or clearly being hassled…I think I might feign ignorance and walk on by.
She can’t insist on No contact, and then feasibly expect some or any kind of assistance should I encounter her with difficulties. No.