Limerence offers some serious life lessons. It a good idea to learn from them.
When limerence arrives unexpectedly – when you weren’t actively seeking romance – it can be a bit of a shock. This new person appears in your world and transforms it. All your old plans and goals fade into the background, and a new central attractor takes over your attention. You can try to ignore them, but you’ll probably fail. And when you let yourself give in… you get some lovely blissful, secret, hopeful daydreams that reinforce the temptation.
The neuroscience here is profound. Limerence is an altered mental state, and not just because you feel all high and romantically aflutter – your perceptions are literally changed by the neurochemistry of arousal and reward. The world looks different, provokes a different emotional response in you, and your brain is busy fixating on things that you wouldn’t have even have noticed in the past. Like, the surprising number of women in the world with long, flowing raven-black hair, just like hers.
Most of us feel like a different person when we’re limerent. Because we are.
Now, that could lead to lots of interesting philosophising about who we really are and how much of our true identity is shaped by the cocktail of chemicals sloshing around in our brains and bodies, but let’s sidestep that today, and just think about the implications of how the disruptive force of limerence can change our lives.
As all obnoxious silicon valley tech dudes know, disruption can be transformative. It can reshape industries dramatically, break down old certainties and institutions, and usher in a new world. I’m old enough now to have seen multiple cycles of this process in action. To take a bookish example, the big chain bookshops exploded through the 80s and 90s with their scale, discounts and built-in coffee shops, and pushed independent bookshops to the wall. Then Amazon did the same to the chain stores in their turn. It’s been funny recently in the UK to see the head of Waterstones (our biggest high street chain) lament the unfairness of customers browsing in shops for convenience, but then going home and buying from Amazon because they’re cheaper. I suspect a lot of independent booksellers enjoyed the schadenfreude of that.
Where was I? Oh yes; as with book selling, or taxis, or hotels, so too with our own romantic lives. Disruption can lead to a fundamental transformation that can’t be reversed. The future is going to be different, so the only real question is how you respond and adapt.
A new you
The immediate disruption caused by limerence to our cognition and energy levels is, unfortunately and thankfully, short lived. It could last for months, possibly years, but eventually the hormones and neurotransmitters subside and normality is re-established. Nevertheless, nobody goes through an experience as turbulent as limerence without being permanently changed.
The longer term consequences will depend in part on what you did during limerence. Infidelity, devaluation of a SO, neglect of other commitments… these will all have practical consequences that last well beyond the limerence episode. But there are also important internal changes that last.
Perhaps you have to confront the fact that your moral fibre was weaker than you realised. Perhaps you have to accept that the benign neglect of the romantic dimension of your marriage was not so benign after all, and was in fact storing up trouble. Perhaps you have to let go of the fairytale notion that true love takes no effort and accept the cold reality that anything worthwhile requires your deliberate attention and energy.
Maybe the lesson is even more sobering, and you have to re-evaluate some major pillars of your identity. Have you been suppressing your own emotions and desires and needs for too long, seeking to please and placate others, subjugating yourself in the belief that your role in life is to make other people happy? Has a lifetime of emotional neglect made you vulnerable to narcissists and manipulators? Does LO represent freedom from an emotionally abusive spouse?
Limerence forces us to face the fact that our lives were not sufficiently purposeful and fulfilling to protect us when a romantically disruptive LO arrived on the scene. You can choose to ignore that, hope that things will go back to normal, and hope that no more LOs will ever come along, or you can choose to respond more actively.
Shaping the future
If the future is guaranteed to be different, the rational thing to do is to try and make it better. Given that this transformation has been forced onto you, the most constructive response is to use the opportunity to transform yourself into a person you like and admire.
Sometimes there is an immediate need to deal with an emergency if your limerence has led you to imperil the things and people that you care about. But once the emergency is stabilised (we can help), you need to look beyond the surface problems and confront the deeper ones. Who are you? Why did you succumb to limerence for this person? Who do you want to be, and what do you want to spend your time doing?
This might seem like self-absorbed navel-gazing, but if you do not understand who you are, you’ll just careen through life, driven by subconscious urges you don’t really understand, having bouts of resentment and excitement that you can’t explain, and somehow trusting your intuition to be a reliable guide for decision making, even though it clearly hasn’t been in the past. And, if you encounter someone who disrupts your world again, your fate will be in their hands, not yours.
If, in contrast, you do start getting to know yourself better, reviewing your life in a honest (rather than ego-protecting) way, then you can start to recognise when your intuition is protecting you from harm, and when it is sabotaging you out of fear. This is the start of purposeful living.
Limerence transforms you – you don’t get to escape that fact – but you do get to decide what the experience transforms you into. Seize the opportunity to become better, and you’ll rescue some lasting good from the disruption.
This article has come at a very convenient time for me. I have been in a limerent state since September and I’m pretty sure I’ve become depressed which is due to my own actions.
I’ve been with my SO for 6 years and have been wanting more for probably 4. She is kind and caring but extremely needy. I’ve neglected friends and hobbies I enjoy to try and make it work but it has gone way too far. I feel like I have no purpose or identity anymore.
This summer A new girl was hired at my company. We had locked eyes/smiles quite a few times and this is when it all started. I didn’t pursue anything with her since it was at work but I felt some odd intense feelings and my imagination took over. It was fun for a bit.. until I was out in public and met someone who really took my interest. We had been messaging quite a bit and eventually met up. Since then it has been an absolute roller coaster. She is a guarded girl who came out of a very toxic relationship. I didn’t know what was happening with me, I thought I was in love and had to pursue this. I was constantly reading into her actions and obsessing over everything, exactly as your articles state.
Long story short, I now have a SO who has dealt with my roller coaster of emotions and a girl who has been through a lot, both unaware of what I’m doing or what is going on. The guilt/shame has completely taken over my mind and I am in a dark place.
I am trying to focus but it seems impossible some days. My plan to go forward is to get into therapy and I think I have to part ways with my SO. I have no idea what to do with LO since we get a long really well. I know the right thing to do is be honest and accept the consequences but I seriously feel sick knowing I’m going to hurt someone else and that we do have something going on at the moment (i think? My brain can’t tell what’s real anymore). She’s fun and enjoys a lot of the same things I do. Her past has her guarded and sometimes this sparks my limerence like crazy but we’ve talked and she’s been making an effort to communicate with me. This is and has been an absolute nightmare.
Your articles are helping me make sense of what I’ve felt. I can’t change what I’ve done but I can change what I do going forward and figure out what I need to do to be happy again without hurting anyone else.
Sorry to hear what you are going through, Lostinlimerence. It sounds like you are on the right track – therapy and an honest assessment of how your current relationship is working first is the answer. It may be even more important if you are interested in pursuing LO, as someone with a toxic background that has made them emotionally vulnerable really won’t do well with dishonest triangulation.
Good luck navigating your way through this.
Thanks for the reply DrLimerence. I’ve taken a few days to think about what you said and reflect on what you suggested.
At this point it’s so hard to reflect about my SO because of my limerence but when I think back before this, I know I was miserable and unhappy for years and I think I’ve been looking for an out for a long time which may have sparked the limerence. There’s a lot to it, we have not been fair or understanding with each other and both scared of leaving. This has forced me to reflect on my childhood and how much it has effected my decisions to date. I have an alcoholic parent with a lot of NPD traits. I’ve witnessed emotional and even some physical abuse in my parents relationship and because of it I think my perception on relationships is extremely skewed. Seeing the word “triangulation” in your response caused me to panic a bit.. for a few days now I’ve been questioning if I have NPD. While I don’t think I do, i definitely have some traits. Therapy should clarify this which I start next week.
LO is very guarded and closed off but last night she opened up to me and it actually destroyed me inside.. I cannot believe what I am doing. I feel absolutely terrible for both my SO and LO, but also myself, this is exhausting and my life feels like a terrible dream everyday. This whole mess was never my intent and I’m not proud.
Lostinlimerence I also have a parent with personality disorder traits (BPD and NPD) and have always worried about having the same traits myself. Growing up with that as children I think it’s almost impossible for us to avoid developing similar tendencies ourselves. But that doesn’t mean that we “have” a personality disorder or are doomed to repeat history (though I have often felt doomed and cursed because of my childhood). You didn’t say whether you are married or have kids but if not I would say end it with your SO NOW! (I’m married with a kid and that makes the prospect of separation infinitely harder.) That’s the only thing that would be fair to either of you, never mind your LO. I know it’s easy for me to say and I’m sure it’s not that simple for you. Only after you are separated from SO should you start considering how to develop your relationship with LO…which shouldn’t be your motivation for leaving, but it seems pretty clear that you need to leave anyway.
Vicarious Limerent says
I mentioned a while back that I thought my LE would change me forever. I believe one or two people questioned that, but I think it is true. For those of you who don’t know how my story has played out over the last few months, I still really like my LO, but my limerence is dramatically reduced (I am pretty sure the reduction is permanent because it has been like that for about 2 1/2 months now). The main reason for that is the fact that I have become really interested in someone else — someone who has become quite a good friend since the end of summer. This lady certainly gives me “glimmery” feelings, but I don’t think it is full-blown limerence with her. I used to refer to this new person as “methadone” to my LO’s “heroine,” but in some ways I believe the roles have reversed and my original LO is now “methadone” to take my mind off my glimmery friend. Still, it doesn’t feel as bleak or painful as things were at the height of my LE nearly a year ago with my original LO. The difference might be that I actually know my glimmery friend, and I am pretty sure I had some validation (flirting) from her. We are actual friends and we enjoy each other’s company aside from any attraction. The thing that is strange is she is quite different from my LO in many ways, so I couldn’t really tell you what gave me “the glimmer” with each of these ladies.
I know I have been saying this for months, but things aren’t good at home. I am pretty sure I want my wife and I to go our separate ways, but I don’t want to break her heart. Therefore, I am absolutely committed to counselling in the New Year to at least give it one last try before packing it in. For now, we are going to focus on having the best Christmas we possibly can. I have been honest and forthright with my wife that it isn’t working for me and that I have lost the “spark” (despite still loving her in some ways). She is kind of burying her head in the sand about our future together, but I refuse to live in limbo any longer or live a lie and pretend everything is fine (still, I don’t like bringing it up, unlike my wife, who tends to bring it up at the most inappropriate times, seemingly expecting a different answer about how I feel towards her).
So, what has changed in my life as a result of limerence? Well, I am much less willing to try to be something I am not. I am really insisting on being myself. I also believe the focus on diet, weight loss and exercise will be permanent. I also am beginning to see what is important in life and what I really want out of relationships and a life partner. I am not sure if my wife can give me what I need in that regard, but I am at least willing to try counselling so that we gave it a try before throwing in the towel. I also believe that I am forever going to be developing feelings for other women if I don’t manage to fix our marriage or end it, and I just cannot live like that. I really don’t think that is fair on me or my wife. She deserves to be with someone who really wants to be with her and doesn’t have one foot out the door and a wandering eye. I deserve a relationship with fun, excitement and passion with someone I want to be with who is a good fit for me. In many ways, that fateful night just over a year ago was the catalyst for all of this change.
Vicarious limerent I see a lot of awareness about not wasting your wife’s time for a relationship you’re not fully in. Seems to me like a limerent relationship is the only one that you view as satisfying and the attempt at counseling is only to clear your conscience that ‘you’ve done everything’ and not a real attempt to save your marriage. Seems like you have already crossed the relationship off and it no longer holds a lot of value, since you are trying to fix your linerence with another potential lo. You said you are scared of breaking your wives heart, well you are already breaking it in the most painful way possible. Sorry if what I say is hurtful, but I see that you are already at least partially aware of all the things I mentioned.
Ellie, you may not know VL’s story in detail, but there’s a lot more complexity here. From what he’s shared, VL has put up with a lot of abusive behaviour from his wife, a lot of personal attacks, denigration and general mental manipulation. Sadly, that is also being directed at his daughter.
VL’s SO has been afforded a lot of licence and understanding, and multiple chances for joint therapy. Sometimes relationships just cannot be saved, and limerence ends up being the spur to escape from an unhealthy status quo.
Vicarious Limerent says
@ DRLIMERENCE, thanks for sticking up for me!
Vicarious Limerent says
@ Ellie, I was a regular commenter on this blog for quite some time, but I only started commenting on the blog occasionally a few weeks back (although I have been on the private discussion forum). You possibly don’t know my story, but I can assure you my wife is hardly innocent in our marital problems. She is often bossy, controlling, angry, negative, manipulative and even quite abusive with me (and even abusive with our daughter, who often begs me to divorce my wife). I have documented my struggles with my wife here on this site, and I really don’t think it was just a case of me rewriting history. Even her own family could see how abusive she was with me. Limerence was my mind’s way of telling me I needed to deal with the issues in my marriage. I actually don’t think I am limerent for my “glimmery friend,” although it is somewhere along the continuum of a crush and limerence. I am also not a serial limerent (or never was before). I never experienced anything like this in over 20 years, and I really don’t think I am incapable of having a satisfying non-limerent relationship. Limerence sucks. It isn’t real love, and I know it (although I do think that love and limerence can coexist in some situations). By the way, nothing is going to happen with my glimmery friend and I. We are just friends, she has indicated I’m not her type and she is dating other people.
Vicarious Limerent says
I meant to say that “I only started commenting on this blog AGAIN in the last few weeks.”
VL, thank you for giving me some details of your story, I am only a casual reader of the comments on the blog. I am also the last person to judge you as my LE led to EA and then infidelity. I have however taken radical steps to save my marriage (as you both mentioned LE can be a sign of deeply unmet needs in a primary relationship) and I must say, we have been successful in restoring our marital happiness. One of the most important things that I have done was to invest my energy into my marriage and my sense of self. By having subsequent ‘glimmery friends’ you are investing your energy outside of your marriage. It doesn’t matter if ‘something is going to happen’ or ‘if you are her type’. Your focus is somewhere else. It also seems like you have a lot of resentment towards your spouse, just seeing the adjectives you use to describe her tells me that you use her persona as an excuse to continue finding other objects of investing your energy. You are obviously not happy in your primary relationship, yet in a way refuse to end it or truly commit to working on it. If you don’t mind me asking, is there something specific that you want to obtain by going to counseling ?
Vicarious Limerent says
Ellie, I never set out to find someone to replace my LO, and my glimmery friend and I never hang out one-on-one. She is part of a newish crowd of friends I met through a Meetup group earlier this year. I joined the group at least partially to help me forget about my LO (the other reason was because I was becoming extremely bored and lonely on weekends as my wife works almost every single Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, and none of my friends wanted to do anything). This crowd has been great. They like the same music as I do and we all enjoy going out to see live bands. The problems are that one of my male friends turns out to be a friend-of-a-friend of my LO (although he doesn’t know her personally), and of course, the fact that my glimmery friend is part of this crowd.
While I always thought my glimmery friend was pretty and fun, I didn’t start out being all that attracted to her. She is quite a bit older than me (although she doesn’t look it), and she isn’t really the physical type I usually go for (let’s say she’s more fashion model than swimsuit model type). She is also very different from my LO. I didn’t think there was any chance of “the glimmer” as Dr. L refers to it. But then she started being really friendly to me and flirting a bit with me (only fairly innocent flirting and all of it cloaked in plausible deniability on her part). However, she has stopped flirting recently and she has started dating again. She also started making comments about guys she finds attractive and they are all very different from me. I personally think there was something there, even if I’m not her usual type (and in some ways she’s not mine), but it seems like she possibly realized I was developing feelings for her and she didn’t want to lead a married man on.
I still do not think I am quite limerent for my glimmery friend. This doesn’t feel nearly as bleak, depressing, sad or all-consuming as the feelings I had for my LO (who is a stranger I met in a bar over a year ago, and I have been completely no contact this entire year — even on social media). To cut ties with my glimmery friend would mean losing this new group of friends, and I am not willing to lose the only friends who want to hang out with me and do things together. I need this for my mental health, which has been terrible due to my marital problems, limerence, job and career issues, family issues and finances. The pandemic is also making things much worse, and I felt like I was absolutely at rock bottom a few times during the last month.
You mentioned the adjectives I use to describe my wife and our relationship. Well, I used those adjectives because they are accurate and true. One of the reasons I stopped commenting on this blog for so long was I was afraid of oversharing personal details that might get me found out by my wife, LO or someone else. For that reason, I didn’t really want to link back to earlier comments or say too much, but the following comment and later follow-up comments should give you a better idea what I am going through with her: https://livingwithlimerence.com/case-study-update-karma-edition/#comment-10467. As far as counselling is concerned, I am not sure what I want out of it. I am willing to have my mind changed about whether I stay or go (I am leaning towards going), but I am also looking for some help to ensure that I am actually making the best decision for myself, my wife and the family.
Boy I’m glad my roommate leaves her laptop open so I can take a sneak at this site. You people are fascianting
I think in the good ole US such behavior is called being a cheater. Vivarious, you are a filthy cheater and your limerance is a pathetic excuse. I recommend Chump Lady’s blog for further education. If your ex wife to be is an abuser (just as you are), get out and file for divorce.
At the risk of feeding trolls – maybe you should walk away from your “roommate’s” laptop, Snowflake, take some deep breaths and ask yourself where your urge to provoke comes from?
This is a support site.
Funny how chumplady always comes up with the troll(s) isn’t it?
Vicarious Limerent says
Snowflake, as others have commented, you are being a troll. If you are so concerned about infidelity, why not comment on someone’s post who has actually been unfaithful to their spouse (there are other commenters who have). Last I checked, even in the “good ole US,” thought crimes still hadn’t been outlawed. By the way, there are regular commenters on this site from across the English-speaking world (including the USA) and beyond, so don’t try to make this into some debate about nationality. Thanks Dr. L and Vincent for your support. Merry Christmas to everyone (including Snowflake)!
Are there are any posts about the limbo that limerence seems to put people in? The years of decision paralysis people wade through (I’ve certainly been there), the years of ruminating over the LO without making a definitive decision? Is it part of the brain chemicals? Do feel so good that that they trap people? I waited around far longer than I care to admit for something to happen with my LO, even though, deep down, I knew after about the first six months that nothing ever would?
Several posts touch on this, Marcia (try searching for “limbo” in the search box in the side bar), but I’m not sure I wrote a post about this specifically. Maybe it’s time 🙂
If you do write on “The Limbo of Limerence,” maybe you can explore the role of Cause and Effect.
Get those wrong, you can make some fundamentally wrong assumptions and remain in limerent limbo forever.
Once I got those straight, a lot of my relationship with LO #2, and every other difficult relationship I’d had, started to make sense. I didn’t make the same mistake with LO #4 and I think it helped me deal with my last LE.
And the thing is, it applies as much to us as it does them. We often mitigate the consequences (effects) of our actions but often don’t address the causes.
We the capability to respond/react to effects from others, but the only causes we can address are our own.
I didn’t want to make a decision because my LO was a co-worker and I knew that leaving the job would mean I would never see him again. But I wasted so much time trapped in inertia, almost putting my life on hold. I have read something similar in so many posts on here. At the end of the day, limerence was a big waste of time, unless the person is going to act on it.
I know I am the reigning queen of Limerence Limbo, so I won’t even admit how many years my LE’s spanned….(would anyone even believe it anyway?)
I think I might make and wear a tee shirt that has a little crown on it with “queen of Limerence Limbo” written in regal font under it.
When I am between LE’s it seems unfathomable that I spent so long hanging out in the previous one, but my LE’s did involve a lot of fun, adventure and excitement. (And emotional pain of course).
My mum told me that before she married and had me she had this handsome and debonair fellow that pseudo dated her for a long time, flying her around and taking her on exciting trips and adventures and wining and dining her, but always staying just marginally on the side of platonic. She wasn’t sure what was going on!
One day, shockingly, he introduced her to his wife (!) who said “thank you for keeping my husband company all this time while I was away”.
Maybe I have a genetic predisposition to Limerence Limbo.
(So it’s not my fault). 😉
How old was your mother when it happened and how old was the couple?
How old were you when she told you?
“I think I might make and wear a tee shirt that has a little crown on it with “queen of Limerence Limbo”
But why? You are staying in limbo because you are getting something out of it, no? I must have been, but I hope I won’t make that mistake again. If someone is heavily flirting with you and not making a move and not moving it forward within the first few weeks, he is either with someone or not serious, IMO. Either way, it’s a waste of time. Unless “you” (universal you) like the rumination. Like the limbo. Deep down don’t’ really want something to happen. I must have.
It was just a joke. I am not in limerence limbo at the moment and will do everything in my power never to be so again. The tee shirt idea was a bit of fun…perhaps to remind myself of my historic vulnerabilities.
But yes, my LE’s were almost always symbiotic relationships that I (incorrectly) thought carried little risk. When most recent LE ended it sent me to the darkest spiral…scary dark and proved to me that you can’t have an addiction (person addiction) without negative consequence.
I do think I have a deep seated fear of abandonment which possibly has led me to hang in there with some of my LE’s, but other ones I really really hoped it turn into something more and was too shy to push the issue as I was scared I would push them away. One of my first LE’s…I actually ended the relationship for what I felt were very honorable reasons and I subsequently moved away to ‘start over’ and fell into the most powerful LE of my life….it waxed and waned for 15 years, and every so often I would reach out to him and be told that I was the love of his life…it’s a long story. I made the right decision, and several years ago he eventually married but before he proposed he gave me my ‘last chance’! He is single now once again but I have no desire to contact him. I have had a few LE’s since him and I am more convinced than ever he wasn’t the right one for me and actually none of the former LO’s were. In a sense I actually unwillingly dodged several bullets.
I took Dr. L’s deprogramming course and I am realizing a lot of things…I think I might have the tools now to stay LE free!
I think Mum and the couple were all in their mid to late 20’s. I am not sure when I heard the story…perhaps early teens?
I’m glad you are doing better. I don’t know that I will remain LE forever. My last LE is dying but the embers aren’t totally out. If my last LO walked through the door right now — it’s never going to happen — I will admit it would hit me hard.
I just hope that if I have another LE and it’s obvious the other person will never act on it, I will MOVE ON. Even if I am thinking about the person, I will not be comparing him to all other men or waiting far too long for him to show up. On a positive note, I am of late finding indecision very unsexy, so that may help me get over someone who is endlessly flirting with me and doing nothing.
@Jaideux. My dear sweet girl, you may be the Queen of Limerence Limbo. Fifteen years is nothing to sniff at – ’tis true. An impressive accomplishment that would make many a novice limerent blush. But if you are the queen of said limbo, I must surely be the king!
Just teasing you, darling. Please don’t take offence at my wee joke. But I’ve been doing my sums. For LO#1, (straight boy LO), I think I fell into limerence just before Christmas 2000 and fell out of limerence recently, just before Christmas 2020. It’s not a competition, of course, but I’m clearly the winner! (Sorry. I’m teasing you again, and taking the mickey out of myself).
But, seriously, I feel the colour bleeding out of my world. The technicolour aspect of limerence you so often talk about – I can see it visibly fading before my eyes. I swam in my sister’s pool and it just wasn’t the same. The loss of this “brightness” makes me really sad, although I won’t miss the emotional pain, the “permanent headache” of rumination, the fear of rejection, the guilt, etc, etc.
Actually, I think this site and people’s comments have helped me a lot. My limerence seems to be a bit unusual in the sense I had one big overarching limerence (for the straight boy) and then experienced these little “side limerences” at the same time. The big limerence was like an umbrella – it fed into the other crushes, other crushes which may have even been subconscious attempts to understand and explain LE/LO#1, but it always remained the dominant obsession. Hard to explain. But I’m sure LE/LO#1 was responsible for triggering the “life in technicolour” effect. (True limerence?)
I still have little crushes, feel excited around people. But if the brilliant colours and flavours are vanishing, it must be true – I’m moving out of limerence (in my old age) into some other phase.
Last night I dreamt that my father died or very nearly died, and I was responsible for talking to ambulance/police officers and arranging the funeral, etc. I don’t think my real-life father is in any danger. I think the dream is symbolic. The “father archetype” has lost much of its power over me. I no longer feel so intimidated by other males. I think some of my limerence is surely about resolving emotional issues with my real-life father and the archetypal father in my head.
Also had a Christmas chat with one of my sisters. We are in agreement that Mum is more borderline than narcissistic. Borderlines do engage in some very dodgy behaviour (such as lying) but apparently this behaviour is inspired by a need to elicit caretaking behaviour from others. When I see my mother as borderline rather narcissistic, I feel infinitely more compassion for her. It’s fear of abandonment that’s driving her, not pure egotism.
I feel my most recent limerent-ish crush might be about making peace with my mother’s borderline traits, since I’ve more or less resolved my daddy issues now, and feel indifference for LO#1.
Hope you have a marvellous Christmas, sweetheart. Thanks for pouring your heart out on this site. Reigning queen or not, I value the precious jewels of insight you’ve offered. I see overlap in some of our experiences and it’s helped me pierce together pieces of my own jigsaw. Gosh, I don’t want to lose technicolour vision – I’ve gotten so used to it! Maybe we just get attached to the magic show of limerence itself at times and never mind the original catalyst?
I am a widower who thought he met his perfect match…10 years younger, also several kids. She called me her work-husband, we texted every day for three months, morning and evening.
Then she met a younger co-worker twenty years her junior and slept with him the first night they met. Now all her energy is spent chasing after him and I have faded to grey for her. I want to move on but I can’t even think of other women…she appears in my thoughts in their place. I have a great job, so there is no moving on. Just a painful situation for me.
And while she’s chasing him, he’s probably chasing a woman 10 to 20 years younger than he is. And so it goes …
Assuming that woman is at least 20, her new guy is 40…which makes her 60…and Karl 70? Sorry, I just had to do the math.
I was watching an old interview with Elizabeth Taylor on “The Tonight Show.” She was almost 60 and had just married her last husband, who was 40. Johnny made fun of her for marrying a younger man and she quipped, referring to her previous 6 husbands, “My men have stayed the same age.” HA! Forty is a good age for a man. 🙂
I’m so sorry. How painful. I’ve had a similar experience.
I’m new here. I’ve been in limerence for about two years. My LO, I believe, is – strangely enough – was in limberence/love with a mutual acquaintance for at least 4 years. We’re in an online group so while he and I met…he’s never met her in person.
His actions and words were uncertain, which fueled limberence on my end.
He denied, again and again, that he cared about her. But his attention to her in the group was intense once she was no longer in another relationship.
The pain it caused me was enormous.
She’s rejected him before. She used him the way he used me.
Her conduct should show that she is not the person you imagine.
*limberence – obsessed with being fit
Limerence happened because of the perfect storm: charming possible sociopath (he told me later a therapist years ago told him that’s what he was) during my separation and pending divorce.
He gave me what I’d been missing: attention and time. We connected immediately. Deep talks, shared secrets. We met, were intimate. I wasn’t seeking other supports because he, a lonely isolated man, became my biggest emotional support.
Then came the barriers: uncertainty and physical distance. He’d pull me in and then be hurtful.
I tried NC…many times. He’d say something to keep me hooked every time. I’d worry about him and reach out.
I’ve dealt with users before. My brother is a narcissist and I’d always been able to distance myself from that type.
I was vulnerable, and as my therapist said, starved for love. He seemed to offer that.
The ruminating was, for me, the difficult part. Everything led back to him in my head. It continued for two years and the isolation cause by the pandemic exacerbated these thoughts.
I dated and slept with others but he was who I thought of all the time.
In real life, he’s not a decent person. Charming, intelligent, funny. But a personality disorder is in play. Can’t say which one.
I made excuses for his issues and felt I could help him.
I knew several months in that none of this was healthy. I tried LC. I tried to refocus my life. I moved, changed jobs. Took trips. I exercise and eat right.
Still, there he was, in my head,
I tried friendship and that did not take. He’d passively aggressively hurt me and I’d try to use it to break free, could not. He’d never outright reject me.
If only I had found this site a year or more ago.
What I’ve had is NOT love. Not infatuation or a bad romance.
Love takes time and care.
I always knew it was all in my head. Now I know why.
How has it changed me?
I’m more aware of my yearning to be needed. His obvious need for a partner only fueled my limerence. I put his feelings (never wanted to hurt him) above my own.
After his initial rejection (no long distance relationships, he said. This was after we met and after he said he was open to it) made me anxious. I could never be myself after that. He’d be caring and loving, then cold.
Also, no contact and no friendship with him. Ever. And after all the manipulative moves, I’m okay with that.
I’m in my 40’s, been happily married, with two children and must say I was plodding along in which I thought was quite a contented life. Yes I think as a parent, you do always wonder where “the fun” is at times however soldier on knowing life isn’t all about you (or even you and your partner) anymore.
After 15 years of marriage, my LE came like a bolt out of the blue and with someone of the same gender. Huge shock for me!!! But yes I think after you’ve gone through something like this, you can’t help but change and dig deep to find out more about yourself. The most difficult thing I have found from all this, is that before my LE, I truly felt I did know myself. I guess I was wrong! I think what I’ve worked out from all of this, is a multitude of things – maybe if someone chimes with me, it doesn’t matter their gender?; maybe I have suppressed some emotions over the years?; it’s probably high time that my husband and I put some fun back into our relationship and make more time for us?; more open communication between us both and effort?; as well as trying to find me again (what do I like doing, what are my interests, needs, things that give me joy as a lot of energy over the years has gone to others perhaps?)
It’s been a roller coaster – thankfully once I felt the warm and fuzzys I knew immediately that I was going against my values and went NC. It also helped that my body language made it clear for this person to know I was being way too open that things went awkward. Another good reason to go NC. It could have been far worse but I knew I had to shut it down – I just wish that my mind after that last encounter, didn’t go into overdrive.
Therapy, many self help or uplifting books, meditation, little nature getaways with the family, exercising and hanging with my safe people has helped me get through my yukkiest of days. Days that I don’t wish to remember – I know I’m not fully recovered but am certainly on the road to recover.
Good luck and best wishes to everyone – may we embrace the change.
Ouch! This one hit right home! I’ve been limerent for an older man for nearly a year (though it’s fading, thanks to NC and other strategies found on this site :-).
The LE hit me like a lightning bolt, totally unexpected and possibly mutual.
Chalked it up to daddy issues at first.
I had an instant emotional connection with this man who is very open, authentic, expressive, curious… and paid attention to me.
Turns out those are things that are lacking in my marriage. SO is a very good man (even tempered, reliable, sense of humor, a good father) and I’m still attracted to him. We have an overall pretty good marriage. But… my need for emotional connection has always clashed with his preference to keep things light, on the surface. He will avoid conflict at almost any cost. He shows little interest in what I have to say. It’s not that he doesn’t care, he just can’t be bothered with stuff outside of his personal field of interest. He has a rather avoidant style I would say.
I’ve been OK with this for the past 20 years or so, fulfilling my need for connection with friends and at work (I’m a therapist). To be honest, I might be a little on the avoidant side as well.
But LO gave me a taste of what it’s like to have that emotional connection with someone I’m sexually attracted to.
Now, I feel like something’s missing in my marriage, and I lack the courage to change the status quo. My previous attempts at a creating a deeper connection with SO have resulted in temporary/modest change. I feel like I deserve more AND also feel foolish/childish to demand more… yet again. That’s the limbo I’m in.
I guess I should see a therapist myself 🙁