There is something strangely seductive about surrendering your will to a craving. Even when you know it’s bad for you, you yield to the compulsion. When the opportunity to indulge presents itself, you know you’ll give in.
There are moments, psychologists tell us, when the passion for sin, or for what the world calls sin, so dominates a nature that every fibre of the body, as every cell of the brain, seems to be instinct with fearful impulses. Men and women at such moments lose the freedom of their will. They move to their terrible end as automatons move. Choice is taken from them, and conscience is either killed, or, if it lives at all, lives but to give rebellion its fascination and disobedience its charmOscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Wilde was writing about opium addiction, but that same impulse is there in all sorts of compulsive behaviours, including limerence.
Now, for a single limerent with a reciprocating and worthy LO, giving in is a brilliant idea. Full throttle to ecstatic union! But for those with barriers, it’s not so great. Even if a limerent comes to realise that they don’t want to commit to LO, or that LO only wants to be a friend, or that the limerence has started to seriously disrupt the rest of their life, the compulsion to seek LO is still there and seemingly irresistible.
This urge to give in can also manifest as willingly doing something you know has the potential to be a big mistake. You are aware that you are behaving recklessly, but the sensation of giving in is nonetheless gratifying. This is why limerents give expensive gifts to LO, or sacrifice precious time and energy that should be devoted to other causes, or go out of their way to vouch for LO, putting their own reputations at risk.
To an outside observer this is completely irrational, but the limerent seems to positively delight in the risk. So, what’s going on? Why do limerents wilfully jeopardise their own interests – indeed, why do we happily and enthusiastically do so?
The pleasure of pleasing
Well, perhaps the most obvious explanation is that we think LO will like it. So, we get some nice reward from pleasing them, and we demonstrate our special connection to them. The gratification gained from making LO happy is glorious. So at the simplest level, making them happy makes you happy.
A second reason is that we think that LO will take notice. Doing something demonstrative – like spending your weekend helping them move home, giving a super thoughtful gift, or dropping everything to make yourself available – is a clear indication that you really care about them. Many limerents relish the opportunity of making a grand gesture, because it’s a way of indirectly disclosing the strength of their feeling for LO. The idea is that LO will know this is beyond the scope of ordinary friendship, and will recognise that something unspoken is being communicated. The hidden hope is that LO will respond in kind – indirectly disclosing that they too see this as much more than a simple friendship.
Being upstanding can be hard work. Doing the right thing takes character, and fortitude, and sometimes that’s just a bit wearying and difficult. But beyond just the inherent work of being disciplined, it takes real effort to resist a compulsion, and it can be very uncomfortable and distressing to deny the urge (ask anyone with OCD). By giving in, you don’t have to try any more. It’s a sort of psychological release valve, if you can just persuade yourself that this is bigger than your ability to resist. The rationalisation is straightforward: by giving in to the craving, I relinquish my responsibility, my autonomy, my agency. I am powerless to resist, and it’s pointless to try and deny it.
Sexual desire is usually a big part of limerence, and both the transgression of norms and surrendering to desire can be sexy. It’s not that you don’t know your grand gesture is inappropriate, it’s that you do know and that adds a frisson of excitement to the game. Or, you know you shouldn’t indulge, but when LO pushes at your boundaries you secretly delight in being ‘overpowered’. A lot of erotic fiction revolves around surrendering to desire – the superman or seductress who is tempting the main character absolves them of moral responsibility by overwhelming their defences, leaving them at once deliciously ravished but blameless.
Resisting compulsive behaviour
So, there are lots of motives for giving in, but most of us resist completely succumbing. We might fantasise about complete surrender, but usually, our executive brain is strong enough to stop us entirely throwing caution to the winds. That, though, traps us in the exquisite agony of ambiguity. We make hints and push at boundaries, but exert enough restraint to leave a credible escape route.
That reality reveals the battle at the heart of addictions: craving versus cognition. Your impulse for reckless abandon versus the discipline of your executive brain. The key issue, therefore, is what wins out between your compulsive urge and your rational assessment of the risks. Who’s in charge of you?
A hostile judge would take the view that you bear full responsibility for your decisions, and all objections are just self-serving justifications. A compassionate judge would take the view that you have a mental illness that means you should not be held to the same standards as others, without first treating the neurochemical imbalance that has made you limerent. For those who have been reading the blog for a while, my centrist view will come as no surprise. It’s a bit of both, obviously.
Resisting a compulsion is very hard going. It isn’t just a matter of weak willpower, or laziness or even just a bad habit (like watching too much YouTube) – there is a school of thought that compulsions are the defining feature of behavioural addictions. But, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible. We know it is, because most of us manage it to a certain degree.
It really does comes down to the weighting that you give to compulsion versus executive control before acting. We all start at a different point between the two, and we all differ in how easily we can smash the emergency overrule button. The best bet, in my view, is to tip the scales in favour of your executive.
This is the idea behind cognitive behavioural therapy – by focusing attention on the negative consequences of indulging a craving, you can weaken its power. By practising restraint, you strengthen your ability to resist. By adopting an external perspective you critique your behaviour objectively, rather than rationalising it because you want the relief of giving in to the compulsion. It’s kind of a work-out regime for your higher brain centres. Training your cognitive muscles.
And just like any other work out, you need to keep it up until you start getting results. Then, the results become a new form of reward (a leaner, healthier body, or a freer, more peaceful mind).
In the end, that was the approach that moved me from feeling powerless to feeling purposeful. That was the mental shift I needed to resist the urge to indulge, and exercise the discipline needed to reprogram the neural circuits that had got me stuck in a destructive loop. It is possible to come to peace, and emerge from unwelcome limerence without causing too much mayhem.
But… I’m not sure the strange seductive urge to give in ever leaves entirely.
There’s still a part of me that wishes I’d been weaker.
“…by focusing attention on the negative consequences of indulging a craving, you can weaken its power.”
Well said Dr L, a useful reminder, thanks.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
There’s still a part of me that wishes I’d been weaker.
Not me! I didn’t like being limerence-addled and I am glad I survived with as little damage done as possible.
Well, the limerence was an incredible high, to be sure. But the overall idiocy is embarrassing to think about.
Great post, Dr. L.
Yes….SO EMBARRASSING. I can hardly bear to review my idiocy to learn from it, but I must review and I have learned….I hope.
Song of the Day: “Temptation Eyes” – The Grassroots (1970)
Years ago I remember hearing a sermon about temptation, starting with its beginning in Original Sin [To be tempted, there needs to be a right and wrong].
The pastor went on to say we like temptation. If sin wasn’t fun on some level, nobody would do it. The pastor said, “When you get to the line, ‘…And, Lead us not into temptation…’ that may be what comes out of our mouth but a lot of us are thinking, ‘Well, maybe you could lead us into a little temptation, but not too much temptation.'”
I have a sneaking suspicion if there was no temptation half of us probably wouldn’t be Limerent.
Sometimes I feel like saying “screw resistance” and just dive headlong into temptation with a big fat belly flop.
Being “good” and responsible all the time is super tedious!
The psychological urge to give in for me depends on how well things are going with LO. If and when the limerence feels mutual, and it feels like a private, secret, world, boundaries get pushed a little more, there’s more indulgence. However, even then, just in time, I remember the barriers, morals, SO, but it’s further along in the process.
I am much stronger and can resist the urge when it feels LO is playing games or when there are reminders of the fact that other people exist (SOs, other potential LOs etc). So far, self protection has been the greatest factor in resistance (I wish it were integrity and morality and commitment to LO that was greatest factor …). It does seem LO is figuring this out and slowly showing they are safe, and that this is special for them too (slantwise disclosure), so I will need other methods of resistance that are independent of LOs conduct.
I want to give in. But I don’t want to get hurt. And I don’t want to hurt SO.
But I agree there is something that feels so glorious about just succumbing.
Yeah, don’t be a cheater. They suck.
I’ve read th is post three times today, because I am REALLY trying to not give in to temptation today. I travelled to LO’s town for a personal recuperation weekend, but also obviously because I want him to want to see me so I can get all overcome with glimmer…my executive functioning brain knows that is totally counterproductive to the whole point of the weekend, but you know how temptation works. I’ve been bargaining with myself all day – he might really want to see me…it would really hurt his feelings if he learned I was here and didn’t call for him…I am missing the moment in which our spiritual connection could be cemented forever – but I really need to make it through this day without giving into the temptation. Thanks for all the fellowship.
Try not to be too hard on yourself. Part of this might be a very human desire to feel closer to LO. I used to reward myself by from time to time by driving home on a route that took me close to LO’s home, not because I intended to become a stalker, just to feel more involved in someone’s life where in reality, I only played a bit-part role. In the end I felt better when I stopped acting on these impulses, but it took time to learn to catch them early and think them through honestly.
Vicarious Limerent says
@ Esperanza and landmarker: I am glad I am not the only one who does this. I sometimes drive by the pub where I met my LO and visit the gym in her town (when there are other, closer locations I could go to), but I draw the line at driving by her house unless I have a legitimate reason to be in the area. I have never spent any time in her hometown where she grew up (even though it isn’t far), but I find myself wanting to pay a visit, even though she hasn’t lived there in probably at least 10 years. I just want to get an idea of where she grew up, even though it is no longer where she lives. Pretty pathetic, isn’t it?
Dr. Nolongerlim says
@VL, I wouldn’t call it pathetic. I’d call it limerence.
Vicarious Limerent says
So, I had a bad day yesterday. I wasn’t going to post about it, but I am feeling ups and downs. I did two silly things that didn’t hurt anyone but still show the depth of my limerence, and I had some news that was hard to take. I had business in the town next to the village where my LO grew up. Never having really been there other than passing through on the highway, I decided to take a drive down the main street out of curiosity. It is a cute little place, much smaller than I thought, and I imagined her walking down the main street when she was younger. On the way back, I took the road past the back of her house where she currently lives (which is not the fastest way home).
Then I found out my LO is still in touch with my brother in-law and still wants him to come to town and spend time with her. I had really mixed feelings about that. On one hand, there is still a glimmer of hope she ends up with him and in my life in some capacity, but I also began to feel jealous rather than simply envious for the first time (to me there is a slight difference). I began to realize that I may no longer want the two of them to be together. Perhaps I was fooling myself all this time in thinking that?
On the other hand, I feel angry that my brother in-law won’t just man up and tell her he isn’t interested rather than making excuses. She deserves better than that. I think she may be limerent for him, which scares me a little because if she found this site, she would recognize me for sure. I still can’t get past the fact he has an opportunity to be with this lovely lady — one I would move heaven and earth to be with if I were in his shoes — yet he just doesn’t see her value and thinks she is a pest and a nuisance. I am also beginning to realize that if I ever run into her, it would turn into an interrogation session about his feelings towards her, and it simply isn’t my place to tell her how he feels about her.
Song of the Day: “He Don’t Love You (Like I Love You)” – Tony Orlando & Dawn (1975)
The switch from envy to jealousy is interesting. Exactly how is your brother-in-law standing in the way of your happiness? Every good story needs a villain. If you can’t have her, you brother-in-law is the next best thing. Here’s the thing, she’s not yours to give away. It could kill you watching it play out on its own. But, if you’re smart, that’s what you’ll do. Take your BIL out of this and you have to deal with the LE all on your own.
Dante’s 9th Circle of Hell is reserved for treachery and betrayal. Personally, I’d include well-intentioned meddlers. They can be really annoying. And, if by some chance, a “favorable” outcome happens, nobody will thank you for it.
I told LO #4 that I’d envy any man that had her trust and affection. If she liked it, I wanted to have it. But, since I wasn’t really in the game, it was a moot point.
Vicarious Limerent says
@ Scharnhorst: I always thought my brother in-law having her was the next best thing, but I still don’t think he wants her. He won’t lift a finger to be with her and he outright says he has no interest whatsoever, but she is still chasing him. Maybe one day he might stop running away and they might have a fling or something, but not a full-blown relationship. I don’t think my BIL is the villain, but I am annoyed he basically treats her as not good enough and a nuisance, when I think so highly of her. I will not try to influence the outcome either way at this point. In some ways, I still want to see them together, but not in others. At one point I even had fantasies of me being her wing man to help her land him (by arranging “accidental” meetings), but that would piss him off and make me look like a loser in her eyes. I feel differently now, but I am not going to torpedo things between them either. Funnily enough, in Dr. L’s response to my very first post on this site, he said, “Let’s hope your brother in-law doesn’t change his mind.” At that point, I wasn’t entirely in agreement, but I am starting to see the light. Him dating her might make it hard for me to get over her, and it means she is definitely off the table if my marriage does end (which is still a distinct possibility).
@Landmarker and VL, You’re definitely not alone in this! Somehow it makes me feel a bit less like a crazy stalker. I’ve driven by his home (just twice, but he does live literally around the corner from family) and also visited the town where he grew up on a vacation. I just still can’t grasp entirely why I suddenly fell for him and what it was about him that made me so attracted to him. In a strange way, doing these things helped because it helped me because I could better picture him in his daily life. Somehow visualizing him being happy in his home with his wife and kids makes me also happy because it helps me to realize that I also have many of the same things to be thankful for in my life. But I won’t lie that it didn’t also give a huge adrenaline kick and left me feeling pretty ridiculous.
Miss Anon says
I’m impressed that visualizing him being happy with someone else makes you happy. I wish I could feel that way, but for me visualizing LO being happy with someone else still makes me jealous and upset, although maybe a little less intensely as time goes on.
I succeeded 🙂 and while I looked it up and saw that my hotel is 9 miles from his home, I only spent a moment fantasizing about his reaction to me just ringing the doorbell after the 9-mile walk before acknowledging that this would be precisely the kind of grand gesture slantwise disclosure that Dr. L wrote about.
Uncannily accurate as usual Dr L. I certainly got pleasure from pleasing LO, and took those risks as a way of disclosing without actually disclosing. But usually in life when you take risks you do so with the expectation of a reward.
Early on that was a smile, a thank you, a text later that day saying thanks again. All nice little dopamine hits that kept me going. Trouble was after a while that wasn’t enough, I took increasingly bigger risks and needed bigger rewards.
I asked her out for a drink and we then went on for dinner…. success. I bought her a birthday present and she texts that night saying “you shouldn’t have”…. underwhelming. I spend hours with her working on her CV and figuring out next steps in her career and she runs off to meet someone else… maddening!!
I got flashes of reciprocity, which made me feel great, but those times where she didn’t respond in the way I hoped, were just crushing. They would of course spark some introspection and I’d feel silly for doing what I did. But then I’d go and repeat the pattern a week or so later. Ultimately you have to break the cycle with NC.
The “pleasure of pleasing” angle is interesting. Obviously there’s always a drive to demonstrate your value, and “making LO happy makes me happy” seems innocent enough. I have a bit of a people pleasing side anyway, though away from affairs of the heart it comes out as humour or sarcasm.
I’ve noticed in retrospect that with LO, there was more desperate element to this behaviour, and I think it was driven by me trying to break through the barrier we seemed to be stuck at, and and force another level of emotional reciprocation. Of course, in the end this was an exercise in banging my head against a brick wall. I even started catching myself doing it with LO, and taking things back I’d just said: “Sorry… I’ve got my own problems to solve – I’m sure you don’t need my help with this” etc. etc…
It’s so contradictory and self-defeating, to conclude that you have found a “special connection” with someone, then to try to prove it by acting in a way that quickly becomes exhausting, and would never be sustainable in the real world.
”It’s so contradictory and self-defeating, to conclude that you have found a “special connection” with someone, then to try to prove it by acting in a way that quickly becomes exhausting, and would never be sustainable in the real world.”
This is such a great comment and such a transcendent truth. I too was convinced of my special connection to LO but it had my acting in a way which was utterly exhausting: thinking up new cute restaurants to take her too, moving around meetings so I could have time for her during the workday, constantly trying to make evening plans when I had “cover” (from a SO perspective) and then LO constantly canceling, even googling “how to make her physically attracted”, “what to text her to make her interested” etc etc (some of those this worked by the way).
It was EXHAUSTING! And even in the throes of limerence I remember thinking “should new love be so much work?!”
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Fred, you promised an update on how LO was behaving with the other C-level execs…
Oh yeah, so I did. So just before Christmas, there were drinks in the office after last board meeting of the year, with C-level execs and board members. A very staid affair as you can imagine and one-after-one, the board members dropped off as did the CEO. Suddenly, LO pops up at the table, a glass of white wine in her hand. Turns out she’s befriended the CEO’s PA and kinda invited herself (true to form).
So now we’re sitting on stools around a high table, 4-5 C-level men, the PA and her. She’s holding court, being glimmery and flirtatious. She suddenly says “Oh, I won’t be going to the Christmas party tomorrow.” Everyone’s like “Oh no, why not?”. “There are so many grabby older men there.” Of course now everyone’s like “Poor you! What happened? ” She then leans forward and says conspiratorily: “One of them said to me: ‘I had a dream where I was eating your p***y.'” Now I have no idea of whether this actually happened to her or not. If it did, that’s bad, but I doubt it. But now she’s said it and chosen those particular, vivid words and you can imagine what every man’s mental image was at the time, 3-4 drinks in. This leads to another round of “Oh no! Have you told HR?” She lets that just hang there.
One of the group is more drunk than the rest, let’s call him Jay – a direct report of mine and a hirsute, affable guy. She’s sitting opposite him and I can see her kinda scanning the table, and locking her eyes on him. She gets up, walks around the little table and pulls up an empty stool next to him. “I like your hair,” she purrs. “Are you just as hairy everywhere else?” Jay’s like “Thanks, sure I guess I am.” “Let’s see,” she says and asks him to unbutton some more buttons of his shirt. The rest of us are kinda watching this, disbelievingly (well one of us, jealously). So she checks out his chest hair, laughs and says “I bet I’m hairier than you are, d’you wanna guess where?”
LO spies his iPhone on the table with a background picture of Jay’s two kids. “Oooh, we have such cute kids together. Do you remember when we made them?” This type of banter continues until she puts a hand on the inside of his thigh. Another manager, let’s call him Mark, at that point texts me and writes “She works for you, doesn’t she? She better be damn good at her job or she should be fired tomorrow.” I stand and ask Jay if he has a second. We walk away from the group.
“It’s really happening. She wants to have sex with me!” he pants. “No, she doesn’t,” I reply. “She wants you to think she wants to have sex with you, believe me I know, but nothing will actually happen. You’re in public, with colleagues and the only thing that’ll happen is you’ll end up in the Head of HR’s office tomorrow.” He considers this. “But I want to stick it in her now!” “No, no you don’t.” I walk him back to the table and declare “Jay’s going home!”
“Oooh Fred, you’re such a party pooper” LO pouts, slapping my hand as I try to order an Uber for Jay. Jay concedes it’s time to go home and LO (playfully) pushes him but in his inebriated state it’s enough for him to topple backwards on his stool. He desperately claws at two other empty stools but, of course, they have no purchase and so he falls backwards, flat on the ground in a tangle of three stools.
I pick him up and walk him out. After two detours where I think I’ve lost him for good (bathroom + getting his coat) he makes it to the Uber and home. I call him and make sure he gets in his house.
LO makes no mention of this incident ever again. Even her friend the PA thinks her behaviour a bit strange but later says “LO’s young, she doesn’t know what kind of signals she’s putting out.” Yeah, sure she doesn’t. Jay is embarrassed about the whole thing and the working relationship between LO and him is now naturally strained. LO wonders “why is Jay awkward all of a sudden?”. The PA and I actually confront her with her behaviour but she laughs it off and says she was just having a bit of fun and she didn’t really do all those things and people misinterpreted her and over-reacted as usual.
Sorry, long story. And then I left out what she did to the CEO the next night at the Christmas party (which of course she went to).
I have $5 that says Mark will not be working there in 6 months. If he tries to do something about her, she’ll perceive him as threat and take him out.
Oh, and all the rest of you are expendable, too. Next time you’re alone with her, ask her where she keeps the heads she collects.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Oh, man. I’m very grateful that my relationship with my LO isn’t similar! Your LO sounds like a terrible human being in so many ways.
That’s pretty horrible, but I’ve seen some of that stuff too. I worked at a very small company (around 30 people) where we had a Christmas party every year.
At the party, I was invited to the dance floor by the CFO, who did a ‘mermaid’ move in front of me. As she descended, she ran her hand down my shirt front and over my crotch.
Of course, she was also responsible for HR, so it wasn’t anything I was going to do anything about.
Your LO is one of those women, though, who a lot of the guys are going to keep around because they love the fantasy. Suzy Welch said about her conquest of Jack Welch something like, “I found that you can always get these rich men via sex.” Not like that’s a big secret.
Thanks for the story, it’s definitely a train wreck! I can’t look away, hope you’re doing better.
I spent a couple of hours with my LO today in solo meetings. She has shut down all the excessive compliments towards me, so that removes some of the limerence fuel, even if I miss them. I’m glad that I can function again. I’m glad that this site has helped me so much as well, and I thank everyone on it for interacting with me.
Oh my! I could not stop reading this and now I can’t believe my eyes! Its like watching a trainwreck! It feels like its straight out of a bad movie! How the hell can she not feel shame? Is she a nacissist by any chance? hmm
Fred, are you serious? She did all that? Holy hell she’d be out on her ass at my work with a sexual harassment slapped on her back!
Your LO is vile, I’ve never read this kind of stuff before, it’s like a plot from a movie. You better go hide all your pet bunnies Fred, this LO is cray-cray!!
Well, yes, yes she did Lee-Anne. It feels strange but having typed this out a few months later, it’s actually helping me conjure up a level of disgust for LO and for myself for having been so entranced and bewitched by her. And all your reactions are helping me get there too. In therapy, I’ve been describing LO in neutral or even positive terms, but my therapist recently declared: “I don’t usually say this, but I have such antipathy towards LO – she’s just such a terrible person.”
Oh, LO kept going the next night at the Christmas party by way… The CEO actually just referenced her to me on Friday saying she’s a “reverse #metoo” risk… I will write about the Christmas party in the comments of another post! 🙂
Brilliant post Dr L, and as an avid people pleaser I can totally relate. It’s the people pleasing part in me that I am trying to curb as I get treated like a doormat by LO and his friends.
Vincent – “” I got flashes of reciprocity, which made me feel great, but those times where she didn’t respond in the way I hoped, were just crushing. “” Same here, and like you the more dopamine hits I got the greater my grand gestures became, it was exhausting. I was lucky that my LO was quite vocal in his thank you’s, but in the end it just got out of control.
Right now the only temptation I am trying to resist is not to strangle him, but so far he’s managed to survive another week. Hopefully he will stay out of my way while I toil at N/C this week.
Right now I am more simmer rather than glimmer, the anger embers are still burning.
Dr. Nolongerlim says
“Doing something demonstrative – like spending your weekend helping them move home, giving a super thoughtful gift, or dropping everything to make yourself available – is a clear indication that you really care about them.”
I’m not sure it’s a sign you care about them but rather, that we care about what we want to gain – affection from LO. I myself see this as being very much self-centered as opposed to be other-centered.
I’m glad I did not desire to be weaker at any stage of the limerence journey to wellness. I’m very much focused on mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing and shifting to a more authentic self. I believe the strange seductive urge to give in leaves when one has healed. Of course I can only speak for myself. I wish that for every limerent.
Dr. Nolongerlim says
“This is the idea behind cognitive behavioural therapy – by focusing attention on the negative consequences of indulging a craving, you can weaken its power. By practising restraint, you strengthen your ability to resist.”
Thank you for posting this. I have been doing research on this very topic and believe we have it all backwards. I’ll be doing a blog on the topic backed by Tedx talks, and movers and shakers in the field of psychology. One thing I absolutely love is reading and listening to podcasts that challenge our views. I quoted the above because often we tend to ‘follow along’ with theories with limited or almost non-existent critical thinking (I’m talking in general and not making this personal because I believe each and every one of us has hugely important and powerful contributions to make regardless of our stance, and it’s these contributions that help shape new ways of seeing the world). Additionally, when you combine different disciplines new theories emerge, and this is where my blogs will originate from – new material not yet considered. Of course it will all tie back to limerence.
At the same time I have to thank you Dr. L and all those who post as it helps to confirm that I’m on the right track, for my readers that is – however, those readers will be asked to keep an open mind while I delve into the research. At the very least it will give food for thought. I’m excited to have stumbled across this site! The more we consider different perspectives, the more tools we have to help LS heal (given we are all unique in the way we respond to our environment based on many differing factors). My aim is to create a space for critical thinking, allowing contributors to challenge assumptions, and where possible, their own firmly held beliefs. May there be more blogs like this supporting and encouraging wellness.
Anonymous Limerent says
This post is perfectly timed for me. I came on to ask for advice and saw this post, directly related to my situation.
So here it is: I noticed LO changed her profile picture on Instagram today and it really hurts for some reason. This has happened every time she has changed it in the past. Additionally, I’m noticing that I choose what to like bases on the hope LO will see I’ve liked it and wonder what the hidden message is (i.e. If I’ve liked a post about having an unrequited crush).
So, based on the fact it hurts me every time I see her name or picture come up, I suddenly got the urge to block her, or at least unfollow her. But before I did, I realised I was trying to find a way to do it so she would notice and say something about it. So am I wanting to block her for a productive reason or a desperate attempt to get her to notice?
And if I block her, and she decides to ask me about this, she would have to do it at school, which is a lot scarier than over message. That is not as big a concern, but a concern nevertheless.
Can someone help me before I give in and make a rash decision?
I would unfollow her them she doesn’t know and then you don’t need to see her posts all the time. I do understand the hurt it feels when they change a picture or uploads stuff. The only problem with this is the will power not to snoop. You should deffo do it as it will free you mind a little more.
I also suggest you unfollow. I know what it’s like to feel punched in the gut by a social media post by LO. The last time it happened to me I hid the post so I didn’t have to see it every time it was commented on by other friends, and I think that was an important act of self care. Yes, it will create temptation to affirmatively check LO’s feed, but I think that at least you controlling the timing of that is better than suddenly having your day ruined because of something LO posts. Good luck.
Anonymous Limerent says
I get the advantages, but I’m just scared that 1. She’ll notice and say something and 2. I want her to notice. I feel like this is just another plot by my limerent mind just to get her to call me out on it. But then I don’t know if that worry is just my limerent mind trying to keep following her.
I feel like I’m overthinking this massively but her noticing is a real possibility that I don’t want. But I know my limerent mind does want it, which is why I’m scared of I’m following her as it may be in the deep-down hope that she notices.
It’s confusing, but can you see my problem? I’m following her is final and I need to know I’m doing it for the right reasons.
Ok I can say this from experience.. you are overthinking this. How will she even notice if you unfollow her?
I unfollowed LO and restricted my post from him. So he is still my ‘friend’ on social but he can’t really see my posts. I too was in conflict with my reasons for this… Was I secretly hoping that he would notice and reach ouThe truth is he hasn’t said a word to me about not seeing my posts. The benefits are that I can no longer see his posts and now I can post freely without the crippling hope of that like. Also I can now see that I was massivly overthinking the situation as he probably hasn’t even noticed and if he has he doesn’t really care..
My advice to you is to the same. It reduces the limerence drastically. it’s real hard to begin with and you may check her page once it twice and as result be upset and spiral but it just shows you there is nothing to see there other than harm.
Anonymous Limerent says
Well, I did it. Yay for me. It took me a few days, but it’s done now.
That’s such a big step and hopefully you’ll start seeing some more freedom from this shortly.
First of all, I completely know what you mean and how you feel. I still get that pang in my heart when LO changes her instagram or WhatsApp profile picture. )It’s always her looking super cute in a new way!) Usually because she ignored my DM but obviously had time to change her stupid picture so I mean less than nothing to her.
If you don’t want to unfollow her (if she has a private account that’ll be quite final as you’d have to request access again) then I have a fudge for you that I just found out.
So in Instagram you can now set someone to “Mute”. Go into their profile, click the Following drop down and select Mute and then toggle on both Posts and Stories. You haven’t blocked her, you haven’t unfollowed her but her posts and stories will not show up in your timeline anymore. You have to manually hunt them down. This can be a huge relief!
Even if I often look up LO to see if she has any posts, me doing so myself lessens then blow of a random beautiful pic just showing up in my timeline (sometimes with a new super cute profile pic to go with it)!
Mrs A says
“The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.” I quite agree with Oscar Wilde. Only when I stop seeing LO as a temptation can I truly overcome the whole episode. Otherwise the urge to give in will not leave me. It helps to finally see that he represents a problem rather than a solution in my life, a liability rather than asset. It’s a logical conclusion. I can’t get rid of it quick enough. Self interest really helps here.
Song of the Day: “I Can’t Hold Back” – Survivor (1984)
Other artists remind me of my LOs but my wife owns Survivor.
Another great post DrL. The idea of surrendering myself (along with any responsibility for my actions) is at the very core of my limerance.
I would also like to say “Hi” to everyone. I have been reading your posts and stories for the last 2 months or so and they have helped me enormously so thank you all! I thought it was high time to raise my head above the parapet and tell my own story….I must apologise for the length!
I have been limerent for my boss since Dec-19. He is 10+ years older than me and we are both married with kids. This is my first experience of limerence as a wife and a mother.
My boss has always been scrupulously professional with me – slightly formal and shy even. I enjoyed working with him from the start as he is calm, intelligent and kind, and for the first time in many years, I actually felt cared for at work. My limerence developed nearly 1.5 years after I started working for him, after a few weeks of intensely working closely together – long hours, late nights and weekends (from home but with phone contact). Our relationship remained completely professional but we relaxed with each other and shared more fun and laughter. My feelings were triggered by an unsolicited erotic fantasy that my mind played over and over and this soon developed into obsessive, intrusive but highly pleasurable thoughts. I just about managed to maintain focus at work. Then that all changed……
For 2 weeks, my boss suddenly became very attentive towards me, his eyes constantly seeking me out and noticing what I was doing – often commenting on it or joining in with my conversations with others. He responded to my work emails immediately – unprecedented for him. There was a lot of eye contact and we exchanged so many smiles and laughs – the warmth he showed towards me felt oh so lovely! He sought me out for occasional conversations unrelated to work – something he did not usually do with me, and I really believed I could feel the spark and warmth between us. I saw a new side to him – funny, playful, warm and very charming. I was euphoric and utterly smitten! My mind went into overdrive dreaming up every reciprocation fantasy imaginable. My sleep suffered, as did my work performance.
Then as abruptly as it started, the eye contact, smiles and laughs were gone, replaced by nothing but distant, coolly professional, work-only conversations. I felt very hurt even though there are so many, good reasons for his behaviour (our professional reputations, our marriages, our families). I absolutely hate not knowing which reason it is and what his feelings are (or were) for me……bring on the uncertainty! Reviewing the “evidence” is a constant, never ending process in my mind that moves me through so many emotions….joy, hurt, shame, impatience, sadness.
Before my LE, I felt content with my life, but I now feel like it is lacking. In some ways I welcome the sadder days when I believe that he has no, or only very limited, feelings for me in the hope it will finally kick me out of this obsessive circular thinking. But it never does, the repetitive drama that is playing out in my mind keeps me hooked.
I have now reached the point where I understand (~60% of the time at least) that nothing will ever happen (even friendship), as if it did, it would only serve to make me more unhappy, more obsessed and potentially damage my marriage & family. I am also trying (but not always succeeding) to embrace the uncertainty and appreciate that my boss’ cool distance is better for both of us, even though it makes me feel unhappy and a bit foolish. I cannot go NC as my boss is the main person I interact with at work. I am fighting to reduce my reveries, and “change the endings” where I can but it feels like a constant mental battle that I eventually just get tired of and I give in. I have completely disclosed to my SO. He has been incredibly supportive and the real positive of this experience is that it has really boosted our emotional connection and mutual appreciation. My currently enhanced libido has also helped in this area too although I must admit my thoughts weren’t always on my SO! I am looking for ways to add meaning, connection and adventure to my life as I do believe that is my best route to kicking this thing. Let the battle continue!
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
I feel guilty reading your post because I think I could have been your boss, if a few details were changed.
The limerence I felt for my employee was probably reciprocal, and I think she left our firm because of it. (Later she came back.)
Personally I think the fantasies are one of the worst symptoms, and I believe the sexual ones release lots of brain chemicals that associate your LO with pleasure, making it harder to get out.
My LO went through a divorce and moved in with her work boyfriend a year ago. She came in this morning and we were talking. She’s gained about 20 pounds due to his new eating habits and he likes to drink. He’s quit smoking for her, which makes her happy. She said, “Now I just have to get him to start buying Rogaine!” (He’s way balding). Then she slapped my knee and said, “Don’t you dare tell him I said that!” in a conspiratorial manner.
So we’re close; we have our SOs; but we both know we can’t have each other.
It’s like the best of times and the worst of times!
I still have moments where I feel the pull of limerence, but I just have to maintain iron-like discipline. Months ago, I even Facebook friended her in a moment of idiocy, and she accepted. But I haven’t looked at her page even once.
So it’s messy. But it *DOES* get better. Start with the basics; fixate on LO’s flaws, punish yourself with a rubber band snap when you start daydreaming; remind yourself over and over that you don’t want LO and you want SO. Say it out loud to yourself when you’re alone. Follow DrL’s advice to live purposefully by revisiting that hobby that you always wanted to take up.
You can do this, and you will, for you must.
Hi Allie and welcome! Thank you for sharing your story here which I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, is a safe place for us Limerents to hang out. MyLimerentBrainIsAnIdiot, your advice for Allie was great. Take baby steps to change the narrative in your head. Your SO sounds so great. What a keeper. And you sound like a lovely person who deserves more than what a Limerent Life offers. It doesn’t offer much, when it boils down to it.
Allie’s post raised an interesting question for me. Allie says that she worked with her boss for 1.5 years before developing limerence for him. This has happened to me as well. Do you think that she picked up on some kind of subliminal attraction from her boss that wasn’t there before, and this could have (in part) triggered the limerence? If that subliminal attraction from the boss was not there, would she have become limerent? I know it’s possible to become limerent for celebrities and people you haven’t met, but it seems to me that (at least in my case) my limerent experiences begin because I can sense some kind of attraction from the LO, which combined with other glimmer triggers sets it off. The limerent in me takes this attraction WAY out of its original context, because attraction can be fleeting or benign, but I feel as if I can sense it. I’ve never been limerent for someone who wasn’t initially attracted to me at least a tiny bit (or so I thought). I’m wondering if others feel the same way, or if the limerent brain can actually make up an attraction that is not there at all. I’m sure it probably can, but I always thought I had a good sense of when people were attracted to me, and now I’m starting to doubt even that.
“Do you think that she picked up on some kind of subliminal attraction from her boss that wasn’t there before, and this could have (in part) triggered the limerence?”
No – I think her boss picked up on her signals and turned it to his advantage. An employee who is emotionally bonded is an employee who is willing to accept worse job conditions, less money and won’t go looking for a better job.
The fact that he turned on a dime and has put off no signals of real interest since suggests to me that he has done this before and uses intermittent reinforcement/trauma bonding as a strategy. You’re not a person, you’re an economic unit to be manipulated. Keep the costs as low as possible (training someone up who may then leave and/or training a new hire who will cost you to train, if not to hire).
Worth adding PS that I felt “the glimmer” soon after meeting my boss but subconsciously buried it as I was starting a new job and needed a fully functioning mind to make a good impression and learn. It was only after I foolishly indulged in sexual fantasy that my LE started. My boss is kind, respectful and values people over project profit. There were definitely reciprocal feelings of some sort but I have no idea who felt it first. My wishful limerent mind likes to believe it was him….
My first LE occurred many years ago when I was 22. My LO was a best friend at uni. The LE was set off by a casual drunken kiss at a party. This obviously meant more to me than him but I really, truly believed he felt the same way. But when I disclosed to him a month or two later, I received a kind but definite knock back. I had spent those months indulging in fantasy and wishful thinking that vastly inflated what was probably just a fleeting, dismiss-able interest for him. His knock-back acted as a nice clean ending to that LE though thank goodness!
So I think the limerent mind is a poor judge of our LO’s real feelings and is quite capable of seeing much more than there really is.
Or, as the EAP counselor put it to me, “You told her that?! For a smart guy, you made some really bad assumptions.”
Vicarious Limerent says
My glimmer didn’t start until a couple of days after I met my LO. Somehow discussing the events of that night, playing them over again in my mind, searching up my LO online (initially on my brother in-law’s behalf) and hearing more about her from him got me started on a strange “vicarious crush” on her that saw me really wanting him to be with her so I could have her in my life. It wasn’t until three or four days after that when I really began to see I was developing feelings for her myself. But at first, I just thought she was really nice and liked her totally platonically on behalf of my brother in-law. I was a little envious, but nothing overwhelming to begin with. It wasn’t love at first sight by any means (although I did like her).
PS, my LE started after my LO showed interest, before that he was just another attractive man I fleetingly saw each day. It wasn’t till he started verbally engaging with me that the sparks flew for me.
My last/current LE matches exactly what you and Allie describe, as in: there might have been some attraction but the LE only started after LO (someone from work) flirted with me for a few weeks. It ended just as suddenly as it started -I think LO was bored and going through a bit of a midlife crisis, so he’d flirt around (and probably sleep around, though not with coworkers, he’s not that dumb).
The stupid thing is, of course, the flirting episodes were over a year ago, and I’m still stupidly limerent toward them. It’s much better than before and the LE even disappeared for a couple of weeks around Christmas, but now it’s back. All because of someone’s careless, inappropriate behavior a year ago.
Article of the Day: https://thoughtcatalog.com/brianna-wiest/2020/03/the-version-of-someone-you-have-in-your-mind-is-not-always-who-they-are-in-reality/
Nothing we haven’t read here before but good ideas bear repeating.
I’ve only just discovered this blog today, searching for explanations for my behavior and every post and succeeding comments have come with an intense “oh shit, that’s me” moment.
I’ve been with my SO for 20 years, since we were 16 years old, and throughout have had two LE’s. The first was brought to an abrupt halt through the radio silence of my LO and the lack of closure and subsequent trauma led to the second. And, well…after a few tipping points (non-sexual, but definitely disclosure and a few kisses) and a thorough self-a basement and rake through the coals I’m in the first official week of no contact. It’s not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be but probably because he is one of those LO’s that is not only highly narcissistic but loves my attention. He called me his best friend, and I didn’t reciprocate simply because it isn’t true, and I feel like eventually – and sooner rather than later – he will want to make plans to ‘hang out’. He knows how I feel about him, he knows I’ve been with the same man my whole life, he knows what I’m struggling with and yet invites me over to his place for wine and dinner (which is a date, even if he says it’s not) knowing that I will bend over backward to make the invitation. He is experimenting with being poly, which I get – but I think the reason I’m not too affected by the NC is because I know it won’t last and I’m not sure I want it to.
I’ve known him four years now and the last NC I enforced I went to Europe for three months and set up very distinct boundaries when I returned. However my behavior eventually escalated right back into a full blown LE and I wish I had had the strength to recognize it before I fell apart again.
In the meantime me and my SO have been struggling, and of course like any limerant I thought opening the marriage was the answer because I hadn’t discovered this trove of information and how to recognize what I was doing. So now my husband and I are experiencing another shake after the first LE; he doesn’t think he’s right for me anymore, I’m feeling like I need to not be in a primary relationship period; and everything seems to be slowly falling apart. I’ve never been on my own and fully independent but I can’t bring myself to think the last 20 years can crumble based on a narcissistic LO and a ‘connection’ I feel I have with him that I don’t have with my husband.
Hey Archer and welcome! 20 years is something to fight for, but your limerence has been happening for a reason that you unfortunately cannot ignore, because (from bitter extensive lived experience) it will return again and again potentially. There will be an underlying psychological/emotional issue that you have to confront and work through, and based on many things I’ve read, it will likely be to do with your early life experiences and attachment style. It could also be to do with your partner being not totally right for you anymore and your understandable reluctance to let go of them. Being alone is one of the most frightening things for a human to contemplate, and if it is the case that you have just naturally grown out of your relationship with your partner, you will feel forced into an uncomfortable reality: you might need to be alone for a while to get to know yourself again and become the next more self-aware version of yourself. Awakenings are very scary and most people opt to stay in relationships that just aren’t totally right for them anymore (all the while bringing their partner down with them). Its an idealism really, but I always thought that all of us deserve nothing less than to be with a partner that’s 100% committed and into the relationship. I wish you absolutely all the luck for your journey.
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. It’s been quite a few years since I began to feel discontent and restless, like a plant needing repotting, and my first LO came into my life just when I began testing my boundaries and breaking out of a very well-established comfort zone, about six years ago. It was an interesting long-distance relationship and morphed into a full-blown LE on my end; definitely not his. On the one hand, the relationship was exactly what I needed because the growth I experienced was exponential; the work I made as a painter was some of the best I’ve ever created, his work grew and expanded as well and we rediscovered poetry together, philosophy, I began to write and speak at conferences. But, on the other hand, he was very type A, quite an asshole to tell you the truth, and used me as an emotional crutch while going through a divorce. After he met someone, about three years into our relationship comprised of speaking on the phone five days a week for six hours at a time, it was a complete cutoff. I remember during our very intense, intimate, and tumultuous relationship I would google things like “can you be addicted to a person”, which tells you everything right there. The lack of closure and trauma I experienced after he cut me off has been the source of a great deal of confusion, unhappiness, and crises of identity in my life.
You are absolutely right about the early life experiences and the attachment style; too complex to go into in great detail but I will say, probably like most people, it deals with self-esteem and constant rejection; the search for validation becomes obsessive and the need to prove that I’m “just as good” is forefront. My first LO was utterly brilliant and constantly made me feel I wasn’t intelligent enough for our relationship – so I pushed and pushed myself to read and write and learn to be able to converse “on his level”. It wasn’t until later I realized I am just as intelligent, but in different ways. It took a lot to get to that point. But during our time the growth I experienced was such a breadth of new vistas in my worldview that it fundamentally shifted my life. My priorities became different. My drives and ambitions changed.
Then, around the time I began to reassess my life and discover who I was without him, my current LO arrived. This one was intense and immediate and I felt the glimmer based on the fact that we first connected through a discussion on philosophy. So, the pattern became cemented in my pathways. After the trauma of my first LO, here was someone who might be able to fill some of those emotional and intellectual voids I’d been feeling. It’s been beautiful and terrifying ever since. I am aware of my projection, and my idealization, but my addiction grew too rapidly for me to get a handle on it; almost as if I’d been primed.
But, again, on the good side (I suppose) it’s been exactly how you put it – it’s made me aware that the potential for this pattern to happen over and over is very strong unless I make some fundamental changes and address some sticky issues. I got myself into therapy, which was a large first step. I enjoy your description of “You might need to be alone for a while to get to know yourself again and become the next more self-aware version of yourself”. I’ve been struggling with fantasies of being solo for years now; however, intellectually without any justification for doing so I’m finding it difficult to end a 20 year relationship simply because of something I fantasize might be a good way for me to explore unmet needs when I’m not sure exactly what needs are unmet.
And yes, guilt plays a big role as well. I am definitely not in the relationship 100 percent anymore – a lot of it revolves around the work I do and the things I think about now, ever since my first LO. I’m stuck, knowing my patterns of behavior are telling me things, but I’m not sure what or how to fix things without abruptly deconstructing the life I’ve built.
PS – it also doesn’t help that my husband is an incredible man, one who supports me fully spiritually and emotionally, supports any decision I make for my own well-being without any thought to his, has always been behind me and my life choices 100 percent and is the most kind and selfless person I’ve ever met. I’m terrified of making a decision that I will regret, either way. I have no doubt he might be the best I will ever have – but there’s that middling little thought about perhaps that’s not what I need anymore.
You make your SO sound almost saintly. I often feel like there is something missing too Archer. After some recent soul searching, I realised I have always used relationships to try and meet needs that might be better met in other ways. E.g. Connection: need 121 time with close girl friends. Meaning: am going to volunteer with Samaritans. Excitement: maybe I should take up skydiving or do something completely out of my comfort zone. Great sex: errr……not solved that one yet!
Honestly most of the time I think he can’t even be really that good, there has to be some sort of negative quality – I think it’s because he’s a truly selfless person and you don’t meet too many people that are. I don’t think it’s a basic human survival skill and got dragged into extinction oblivion like the dodo. So my man seems to be an evolutionary oddity, ha!
That’s why I think finding this site has helped me sort through the difference between what is real between me and my LO and what is not; that makes the issues I’ve been having for years much less foggy. I can actually start focusing on my own clarity rather than the issues of “me” as attached in regards to someone else. I do fully understand my limerence is an issue of underlying voids in fulfillment in some very important ways, and I hope soon to make steps toward finding them. My therapist had a great idea: he said to make a list of core values as I hold right now; not any past or future values I may either be holding onto or preparing for. Then next session we can take the list and see which life changes I might need to make in order to accommodate how my values have changed, how they are now, and how to move forward with a life which meets them.
“I’m terrified of making a decision that I will regret, either way. I have no doubt he might be the best I will ever have – but there’s that middling little thought about perhaps that’s not what I need anymore.”
I totally get that Archer. I have stated on here a few times about the two kinds of regret: living your whole life and regretting you had not done something versus regretting you had done something. I am haunted more by the former than the latter I think. And I too have a saintly SO. She is perfect and loves me perfectly. I am wrecked with guilt over my LE. She has done nothing to deserve this but here I am, knowing I would dive head first into a PA with LO if the opportunity presented itself. But I do have a happy and fulfilled marriage. I wonder if that is unusual. It seems so many limerents are able to identify problems or shortcomings in their marriage that may have led to the LE. I cannot. Maybe I’m just not being honest with myself but I truly love my SO and feel our marriage is the best now it’s ever been. But I am the worst now that I’ve ever been, ironically.
Article of the Day: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-carpe-diem-project/201710/the-meaning-regret
There was another article that says regret often changes as we age. The younger we are, the more we regret the things we have said or done. As we get older, regret changes to what we didn’t say or do.
I think only one thing I’ve done in life caused me lasting regret and that was screwing over the woman I dated the first time LO #2 and I broke up. I don’t regret the decision to return to LO #2 but I did it a way that caused that woman a lot of unnecessary pain. If I could get one “do over,” it would be to spare her that pain.
I don’t like living with regret, at least for not saying or doing something. Because, that’s on me. It hurt when LO #2 declined my marriage proposal but that’s on her. I took the shot. If there’s any regret to he had, she’s the one to wonder “what if?” Regret’s one of the reasons I disclosed to LO #4. I don’t live with the regret of wondering what might have happened if I hadn’t disclosed. It could have blown up spectacularly but I built the bomb. Did I get LO #4 to reveal herself entirely? No, but she made a decision and that’s on her. I don’t regret eventually disclosing my EA to my wife. I don’t have to manage that secret anymore. But, I got away with a lot. I wasn’t all that good but I was very lucky.
There are ways to deal regret. Some involve more risk than others. Disclose to your LO and you can eliminate the regret of not knowing what might have happened. If that disclosure destroys your marriage, your career, whatever, you may regret that decision.
Great article. I love the concept of reframing, as I have recently been introduced to the phrase. Regret is one of those things, regrettably (ha!), which I believe is unavoidable but learning is not. I think it takes incredible strength and an even larger open mind to not only own your missteps but understand contextually the myriad paths which led there and that not all of them may have been your “fault” as it were. I believe, in the end, if we listen to our emotions and somehow can learn to become aware of our repetitive self-destructive behaviors we can separate the emotions from the actions and learn to adjust, set up boundaries, and acquire tools accordingly. Thus, any regret can be traced back, hopefully, to the best and most honest intentions instead of ones warped by emotions out of control.
Scharnhorst- thanks for the article links you post, they’re always really good and I always read them, do keep sharing. Thanks.
Ironically, what’s interesting is I’m not terrified of either path, or scared of attempting one over the other – being alone in itself doesn’t frighten me, as Winst pointed out, and being in a loving, secure, comfortable marriage (albeit one without some things I may need) doesn’t frighten me. It’s making the decision that eventually might turn out to be utterly the wrong path because I made it based on emotional reasons which are fundamentally fogging my clarity – like you said, either regretting doing something or regretting not doing something; which I think translates to action vs inaction, which is at the core of a lot of Buddhist thought. “Inaction”, here, meaning “not to force” (which gets misconstrued by a lot of western philosophy, as people see “inaction” and translate it into something which is very close to nihilism).
So, the big question being: which of these paths align most closely with your honest internal landscape? Being in a mental state clear enough to understand which of these choices is the one which doesn’t force you to be or do things you’d rather not, or make you feel wrong or difficult in any way, is the key. When my environment and life choices are in complete synch with who I really am everything is unbelievably easy and fulfilling. However, making the actual choice and following through may not be so easy; it may in fact be, as Winst also pointed out, the most difficult decision you’ve ever made in order to reach a more aware version of yourself. In the end, what matters is growth and fulfillment and being on a trajectory which aligns with who you really are.
Unfortunately, having the propensity for limerence is an enormous obstacle to acquiring the clarity necessary to see which path is actually right for you – to me, it is also a symptom of misalignment, and understanding this is a good first step toward clarity.
Vicarious Limerent says
I am in exactly the same situation. I love my wife, but our marriage and home life are terrible and I suspect the two of us are incompatible. There are no shared interests and I think we want different things out of life. We seem to be drifting apart more and more as time goes by. I look forward to arguments so I can throw the D-word out there as much as possible. But I am terrified I make the wrong decision due to my limerence. Realistically, I have very little to no chance of ever being with my LO, and I know that, but I am worried my subconscious is pushing me to make a decision I might really regret later. On the other hand, I have had quite a bit of validation lately that I wouldn’t necessarily need to be alone for long if my marriage ended; I have made some major self-improvements within a short timeframe and the ladies have noticed. Even if I ended up with someone other than my LO, I am actually fine with that. As I mentioned before, she was really the canary in the coalmine for me.
I do want to give my wife a fighting chance, and I think there are some things we could do to fix our marriage, but the thought of doing that seems unappealing, dull and depressing. I actually have to want things to turn around. In many ways, I should wait for the limerence to subside before making a decision, but I am only willing to wait months as opposed to years at this point. Has anyone gone through anything similar? I am trying for more self-improvement, but I feel like I am being selfish in not focusing on my marriage and shared activities more. On the other hand, my EAP counsellor assured me I wasn’t being selfish and that I can only really change myself. I cannot really change others.
“I am in exactly the same situation. I love my wife, but our marriage and home life are terrible and I suspect the two of us are incompatible. There are no shared interests and I think we want different things out of life. We seem to be drifting apart more and more as time goes by.” That was me towards the end of last summer and into the fall. What was a really just a drifting seemed to be more of a tidal wave pushing us all because of the amplification due to limerence.
“I look forward to arguments so I can throw the D-word out there as much as possible.” Is this just avoiding the decision and trying to push her into making it for you?
I can’t remember, have you disclosed to your wife? Mine knew something was up, but just attributed it to side-effects of a medical treatment. When I found out about limerence in mid-December, my actions and all of the emotional turmoil finally made sense to me. When I disclosed to her in mid-January, it all made sense to her too. Not that making sense eliminated hurt, but it gave everything that was going on the proper perspective for both of us. She is firmly of the mindset that the weakening in our marriage can be repaired and is actively doing her part and giving me the opportunity to do the work with her. “The thought of doing that seems unappealing, dull and depressing” crosses my mind frequently and I try to remind myself that I’m comparing real life to fantasy life with LO. No contest, fantasy wins. Fantasy life is only a mind game. My therapist has me working through what would have to occur if I were to try to make the fantasy a reality. I am married with children. My LO is married with a child. Two marriages broken and children impacted. Are things really bad enough for me? There were hints that LO’s marriage wasn’t great, but was that just my limerent interpretation? How would my children look at me? What would dating my LO — hey, I have to admit that we really don’t know each other all that well, except in fantasyland — really be like with the family complications? It’s not going to just be romantic picnics, strolls, concerts, vacations, dinners, snuggling . . . how do our children connect in with this? Would I just be trading one situation that required work for another one that requires a great deal of very careful work.
The work that my SO and I are doing now does seem to lead to some synthetic happiness (phrased purposefully that way). Making our own happiness, but is it enough to really fully rekindle my commitment? That darn fantasy seems so easy . . . .
Vicarious Limerent says
@ Kramer: Yes, I have fully disclosed to my wife. Like you, she knew something was up and I could no longer hide it. She already heard me sing the praises of my LO to her and the rest of the family (my LO was and evidently still is interested in my brother in-law even though he has no real interest). My wife threatens to contact my LO whenever we have a fight, but none of this is really about my LO. I was a bit mean to my wife last night in rejecting some affection from her and some comments I made to her, and I am feeling quite guilty about it. If I am going to try to turn things around, I really need to actually try and not just go through the motions. I have to decide if I really want to repair my marriage (I believe I do, but I am also worried about my limerence in the background impacting my decisions).
Vicarious Limerent says
@ Kramer: Sorry, a couple of additional points. My LO is single, but I am not. I do have a child and a dog (who is very much a part of the family), so that would complicate things, although my wife and daughter do not get along at all. I totally agree with your point about fantasy. I also don’t really know my LO well, so there is a distinct possibility we wouldn’t be compatible at all (I could theoretically decide I didn’t like her even if she liked me). We come from different walks of life and have different levels of education, although we do seem to enjoy some of the same things and come from similar backgrounds. In my case, my LE was a catalyst for change or the canary in the coalmine. It was telling me some major changes needed to be made in my marriage and my life. I don’t seriously believe she has to be THE one, but I do believe she alerted me to the type of woman I might be interested in if my marriage were to end. She represents fun and excitement, and right now I am getting very little of that from my wife.
To Vicarious Limerent:
For me it was a canary in a mine too. I left all that behind: the SO, my job and all and I went to live in another town (needless to say not so far from LO haha). I currently study to prepare for a work that seems more in alignement with who I am. For the moment I cannot really say if it was worth it as I am lonely as f*, uncertain about my diploma because of the stupid virus and lost my long-time best friend. All I have to say is that I am reminded sometimes by my ex-SO why I had made that choice and begin to draw a sketch of what I really want (based on my imagination about LO). In the meantime I still have some difficulty establishing solid boundaries with people and I’m going to be single for a while (at least untill I’m healed from LE but it’s been 4 years now despite therapy and still in). So on stand-by now and hoping it’ll get better soon.
Ha, there goes my first comment! I’ve been here for to years or so.
Vicarious Limerent says
@ Kosmaty: Congratulations on your first comment. I am honoured you chose my comment to reply to as your first post!
So, you are potentially several years out from where I am right now. It is interesting that you don’t seem to have gotten to the point where you have yet achieved the life you wanted after separating from your SO. Was it all worth it? Is being with your LO an option, or is that person unavailable or uninterested? Because my LO is single, I would make a beeline for her if my marriage ended (even though I am pretty sure she would reject me). I figure I would have nothing to lose in at least trying to get her to go on a date with me, but only if my marriage was truly over (we came close to ending it all last week and it may come to that at some point, but I do still love my wife and at least part of me wants to work things out with her).
The canary in the coalmine part is important to me because no matter what happens from here, meeting my LO will have profoundly changed the rest of my life. It will either have improved my marriage and life after alerting me to so many problems, or it will be the catalyst for the ending of my marriage and the start of a brand new life. I am sure this woman (who only spent a couple of hours with me and was interested in my brother in-law, not me) would be completely freaked out to know the effect she had on me based on a chance encounter in a bar on that fateful night nearly four months ago.
“The canary in the coalmine part is important to me because no matter what happens from here, meeting my LO will have profoundly changed the rest of my life.”
Maybe, maybe not. At the time, I thought my LE was really important. It could have been a catalyst for a drastic change in the arc of my life but it turned out it hasn’t 5 years later. I wasn’t in a bad place before I encountered LO #4 but I’m in a better place today because I encountered her. If I ran a “highlight reel” of my life, LO #2 would be on it but LO #4 wouldn’t.
Vicarious Limerent says
@ Scharnhorst: I am pretty sure my LE will be the start of some major changes in my life, but who knows? I have already started on a major fitness and weight loss journey, and I have met some new friends and have begun to focus on doing some of the things I truly enjoy, whether or not my wife approves (I used to basically require her permission to go out, but I am beyond that now). I am pretty sure I can thank my LE and my LO for much of this. I was (and still am) going through a midlife crisis, and my LE was what alerted me to the fact that something needs to change. Even the fact that I met her in a pub is significant because my wife hates bars and drinking (not that I or my LO have a drinking problem; I just enjoy the social aspects of it). My LO to me represents a lot of things my wife isn’t, so yes, I do see her as a catalyst. Five years from now, will I still see the situation the same way? Who knows, but I think this lady at least shook me up and made me realize what was missing in my life.
B- you are not alone, I’m basically in an identical situation, but not married, and the dilemma of choosing between living with the regret of having done something and lost a loving committed SO, or have never done something and always wondering what might have been. I’m not sure which type of regret I can live with…eek! Dilemma!
I am an addict in withdrawal. I just want to look at an on-line picture of my LO and get a hit. If I did, it would be violating a boundary that I set with my SO. I want the euphoria back. I want the pain to go away. I want to be a good man, so I suffer and restrain myself. In addition to marriage counseling with my SO, I’m in individual therapy . Every time that I come up with a new observation about my state of mind, I scroll through the Recent Posts column and find out that it was the topic of a post in this blog. Dr. L did an amazing job at covering the nuances of limerence in addition to the major factors.
As others have posted, perhaps it’s time to see if there’s any benefit to borrowing concepts from a 12 step program.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
It gets better, hang in there. I know in my own case, I’ve been FB friends with LO for months now and haven’t visited her page even once. However, during a period of enforced NC (she left my company) I was obsessively browsing all her FB posts, and not only hers, but her friends, relatives, etc.
Eventually, clarity returns, the pain lessens, and you get on with your life. I’m not even tempted to look at her FB posts or her new boyfriend’s because I don’t want to see them gushing about each other, and I don’t want to return to the limerence either.
Now, my euphoria comes not from limerence, but from normal sources, like a big accomplishment at work, or mastering a tricky guitar sequence.
Well, I can’t even say this to anybody I know, but overcoming limerence is a big accomplishment. I’m not proud, or euphoric about it.
Still Tarred and Feathered says
I think there’s an amount or degree of increased self-acceptance needed when fighting this good fight. I am a practicing psychologist and LO is also. One grand gesture I made was to buy a little stuffed animal that LO mentioned to my SO one time (one of the only times) they talked. LO abandoned me in the harshest, most hostile manner I could describe, to the outside observer, leaving me with as close to zero percent uncertainty that can described with mathematics. I learned LO re-joined the workplace I work for (and that she left after using a lot of powerful techniques to leave my reputation and ego ruined, and I remain bruised (but healing) now 2.5 years later. Having knowledge of LO’s increased proximity, I casually wondered about LO’s residence – the scene of the crimes, so to speak. If it ever went on the market, it would be an indication LO was moving away to another city – so of course I went and checked on the real estate pages to see if it was for sale. Yes – it is for sale. There are 39 high resolution photos of the place – now let me ask you – you don’t think that a recovering limerent would scroll through every one of the 39 photos, thinking back to the so-called “good times” LO and I had there, “Ah, there’s that picture of LO’s mother” – Aha – the music radio is still in the corner where I helped her install it”. I assume you also wouldn’t think that I’d scan every photo in fine detail to see if perhaps the little stuffed animal would be perched on a shelf – in a toy basket – sitting on LO’s work desk prominently in view. And strolling through memory lane looking for some indication that LO still has some lingering feelings for me – because after all – who knows? Sure, LO tried really really hard to get me fired permanently and arrested – tried to destroy my social community – issued false, alarming allegations against me. But I only learned of these second hand! LO never said any of these things *to me directly*, so maybe she was compelled to say and do those things for self protection! And if the little stuffed animal is right there in a picture of the house – that might mean…
Well the stuffed animal was not in any pixel of any of the 39 high resolution photos of the house for sale. A few minutes of relatively enjoyable fantasy and excitement-fueled hope – and now probably a few hours of emotionally crushing disappointment. How easy to resurrect the old memory of “what if” and then “maybe…”. so now today, 2.5 years of 100% NC, I’ve given myself a good punch in the stomach. Something that I don’t deserve, but I did it anyway. Perhaps I still feel guilty for betraying SO, or for disclosing too early to LO, and think that maybe if I suffer enough, LO will magically know about it and come back to say “Here, here, now, I never meant any of those things, and I forgive you, and… and… I want to be with you… so now that the house is for sale, let’s move away together and live happily ever after”. The cycle completes with the same decision I made 2.5 years ago: there are too many impediments to realistically fathom any sort of romance with LO (my SO, Kids, Job, career, self respect, money, possessions, and peace of mind to name some), so I will continue NC and instead of having hope in some future with LO, I’ll choose hope in having a better and more accepting relationship with myself. (Does it sound like I may be gaining ground?? Someone please say yes.)
Where is your LO now?
Is she still working for your company? Do you have an HR department? If you do, you should talk to them. I assume they know she tried to get you fired. Ask them how they’re going to keep her from causing trouble again.
“…and think that maybe if I suffer enough, LO will magically know about it and come back to say “Here, here, now, I never meant any of those things, and I forgive you, and… and… I want to be with you… so now that the house is for sale, let’s move away together and live happily ever after”.
Yeah, that’s going to kill you. She’ll know you’re suffering. She’ll be the one who called the cops, leaving you sitting in the cell while your attorney waits for a copy of the restraining order. Who’s going to arrange bail? Imagine that phone call, “Honey, I need you to come down to the police station, bring the credit card, LO had me arrested and I need you to bail me out.”
Stick with the facts. She tried to get you fired, tried to get you arrested, and tried to destroy your social standing. What about her appeals to you? She’s dangerous and you’re fragile. You don’t do that to someone you care about. What would you tell a client who was saying this to you?
You have the right idea but you can’t stand up to her, yet. You haven’t written her off and that puts you at risk. She plays her cards right and you fold like a Wal-Mart card table. What she didn’t accomplish last time, she might well accomplish this time. If she ever contacts you and asks to meet, you decline. Do not go anywhere near her.
I gave LO #4 some unique gifts. She does YouTube videos from her residence. I used to scan them to see if any of them were on display. They weren’t. I used to fast forward through them to see if she had started wearing a ring. I did notice a new necklace but no ring. I thought it might bring some sense of finality but after awhile I realized it wouldn’t. [“What would I do with that knowledge if I had it?”] I’m not in the game but knowing she’s with someone else wouldn’t do much for me.
You’re making progress but you’re on some potentially very shaky ground. If she’s still around, you have a good reason to know where she is but only so you can avoid her.
OMG the gift giving thing again. I was painfully told awhile back by LO not to give her any more gifts. She appreciated them but it would be ‘too scary’ she said. Wtf does that mean. Well. Today is my birthday. I have dreamt several times in the weeks leading up to this day about LO giving me a gift. She has acted more open lately. More friendly. More flirty. She even dropped a hint or two that indicted she may give me a very specific gift. Guess what. She didn’t give me a damn thing. She didn’t even wish me a happy birthday until she heard someone else do it, as if she didn’t even know it was today. F&ck her. I gave her some of the most thoughtful gifts she could imagine. She kept them. I know she lied to her SO about how she got them. Too scary my ass. So much anger right now. It helps actually.
StillTarredAndFeathered- Wow, the way you put things is brilliant. How limerence makes a self-flagellating desperado of us all! I really wish you peace in the crapness you have clearly gone through.
Thanks everybody… reading through the site is helpful, but even more helpful when a particular problem is answered directly – so thank you.
LO is about a 2.5 or 3 hour drive south of my location, I won’t see the person at all. I agree that I’m on shaky ground though. Hard to hear that, but good to hear it. The person was my boss, which was part of the weirdness of how this flared up – someone “in authority” with power over building me up, itched a very deep scratch from earlier childhood days when my diseased caregiver caused trauma through emotional neglect. This was my first full-blown episode of limerence, so I had nothing to base my understanding on other than how it felt then and now.
That person left these premises for a different government agency, then returned to this one but at a different city and there is no organizational lines of reporting that tie me to the person. However, strangely I learned of a job in the other city and applied for it – not knowing LO was there – I swear, I had no idea honestly), and if I were to get the job I would be LO’s indirect boss through reporting lines (I wouldn’t be LO’s supervisor but would be LO’s superior in the organizational chart.).
I take some relief from the idea that LO knows not that I am suffering, but instead knows that I was, in the end, unharmed in my job, the slings and arrows bounced off me and stuck to LO. But you’re right, the possibility exists that LO might like another shot at me. I am an empath and LO is a narcissist, so she enjoyed my very special ability to consider her needs and take steps toward making her feel good. But just like any empath/narcissist relationship, as soon as my being around wasn’t one-sided, she figuratively, in brackets: [wadded me up like a used tissue and tossed me into the nearest garbage bin. When I tried to crawl out of it and call her out on that behavior, she lit the bin on fire] so to speak. So if she shows up in my universe again, I have to realize she might be ovulating and hence come across all warm and cozy. I hate to be blunt about it, but there it is… just because a woman is in heat and would want to get laid by a married man, maybe even conceive a child with him, doesn’t mean I have to go along with that. I’m done with having new babies, and I have a feeling that the sex wouldn’t be anything that good. In the past 2.5 years as the limerence has faded, SO has learned a few new tricks in the bedroom and that’s a lot more satisfying than it ever was. One method I used with SO could be worth someone else trying as well. It involved allowing myself to become completely vulnerable and allowing a greater intimacy with SO than I’ve ever felt comfortable with. Lots to think about!
“So if she shows up in my universe again, I have to realize she might be ovulating and hence come across all warm and cozy. I hate to be blunt about it, but there it is… just because a woman is in heat and would want to get laid”
Classy. She doesn’t sound like a good person, but women are regularly warm and cozy (and even enjoy sex) when they aren’t ovulating too.
“One method I used with SO could be worth someone else trying as well. It involved allowing myself to become completely vulnerable and allowing a greater intimacy with SO than I’ve ever felt comfortable with. ”
I suspect we all know what you’re referring to and newsflash: it’s not a new phenomenon.
I’m sure you’re still hurting, StillT&F, but it might be worth recharging those empath circuits. Try not let the negative experience with her distort your values.
Just touching base after a while….some of you will know my LO is my co worker…and that we are in same team. I have tried hard to avoid but what happens is i get more depressed as i cut off social intact with the rest of my team as she is there…..
Recently 4 of us were meant to go on a course together in a different country… but the other 2 dropped out last minute due to sickness so LO and I went.
I was behaved and didnt so anything silly as I know that LO is not interested like that but sees me as a good friend (I have SO and me and LO known each other for 6.. Ive had LE for 1.5 years). Anyway i got through the 2 nights… but maybe because I felt i was getting a dopamine hit ….but i am not chasing her like i used to… for the last 6 months Ive been on staged withdrawel. But every 3-4 weeks I feel like i need to see how she is getting on as we are friends and co-workers so going cold turkey never would work. Staged withdrawl has helped… i dont have the need to contact her all the time and i have been able to focus on other things in my life.
BUT cos we work together…. I just find it hard…..and when i try and avoid i miss out on my colleagues as she is part of the work group and social group…..just means i cant shake it off. WHen she is on holiday im fine… so I know I can deal with it when she not around… But i cant go on like that… and No i dont want to leave the job.
Anyone got any advice or practical steps or experience that will help
Being limerent for a coworker (and one I’ll likely be working with for another 15+years) I know how you feel, though my practical problems are slightly different to yours.
Perhaps your other coworkers mean more to you because she is one of them? Even if that is not true I think you need to consider them as a whole. Keep contact to a minimum as best you can and work on yourself to find other sources of comfort. Far from easy obviously but you’ll be better off in the end.
Limerence is awful because of the perceived lack of control. We often can’t control who we work with or their behaviour but what we can control is what we do. My limerence is still bubbling underneath but controlling little things, like whether to ask my LO for something or another coworker, to go to that optional meeting that LO will be in attendance or not, personally contact my LO or ask someone else to do it, etc. actually eventually adds up to make quite the impact and is surprisingly empowering. NC is not possible for me, and unlikely will be until one of us retires, but I like to think I’ve got a grip of this LE, for the time being. Saying that…
Slight hiccup the other week, hence why I am here, but I have tried a new tactic and I think it has worked. I will need a bit more time to see if that is true or if a relapse is coming; I’m at the mercy of their reaction to some extent. Previously I would have done things differently but I now recognise the cycle of both our behaviours. I hope I have broken it.
And as I am posting. My perspective on the current global situation…
I know others talk about the lockdown having a detrimental impact on limerence recovery, and for a lot of people I am sure that is the case. But perhaps it has also given us perspective about how lucky we are, what matters in life, and what sacrifices are needed to make life better for us and for others. And not just sacrifices but also has encouraged us to explore different ways to be. Get us out of a rut. Life not reset to factory settings as such, but perhaps a reboot, or a disc cleanup.
Good job! I love hearing these kinds of victories!
That comment above was for @esperanza for not going to visit her LO when she was in his town. I am kind of late to the game I see….
Limerent Lucy says
“…go out of their way to vouch for LO, putting their own reputations at risk.”
Oh god… I did this an embarrassingly huge number of times.
I’m glad I’ve never become limerent for a boss or co-worker, as that would be a very awkward situation to be in. If it was me, I’d be too shy and nervous to get any work done. Probably drop things all the time and make nonsensical comments. Or, alternatively, I might become super-productive in a desperate attempt to impress LO. Either way, it would making earning a living very stressful I must say!
Has limerence in the workplace significantly altered anyone’s work performance? I’ve never been able to “feel relaxed” around anyone I’ve been limerent for.
Welcome to my life Sammy!
My boss is my LO and we are both married. At the start of my LE, we had 2 weeks of mutual unintentional reciprocating behaviour during which time I was on a euphoric high. My work focus was indeed impaired and my productivity was probably ~60%. However, because we had worked together for 1.5 years before my strong feelings developed, our well established professional relationship usually kicks in when we talk about work, thus we are perfectly comfortable and my mind is fully functional. If anything I find work conversations with LO calming and good for my work focus. Non-work conversations are another matter entirely – they often have me nervously stuttering and struggling to think of something worthwhile to say. And despite the wisdom of this site and foolishness of it, I still desperately wish for a disclosure conversation with him, a desire that adds to my discomfort. As result, I tend to end up shutting down non-work conversations to avoid my feeling foolish. And when we were in an office together (pre-lockdown), I chatted to other people at work much more than him.
So working together is actually fine most of the time. The toughest part for me is keeping up the pretense of having no feelings for him – this can get tiring.
“So working together is actually fine most of the time. The toughest part for me is keeping up the pretense of having no feelings for him – this can get tiring.”
Yeah, I know what you mean, Allie, about feeling self-conscious around someone and pretending not to have feelings for them. Do you sometimes feel like an actor in a theatre production? “Don’t go off script! Don’t go off script!” The fear of saying or doing the wrong thing can be paralysing.
“Has limerence in the workplace significantly altered anyone’s work performance?”
Check out the links below.
There was an early post about from an attorney who said he became limerent for a client and ended up getting disbarred but I couldn’t find it. There’s another poster who gave an equity position in his company to his LO (the MPDG?). Another poster said he got fired after he disclosed to his LO and she reported him to HR.
So, yeah, limerence in the workplace can have consequences.
Yes, absolutely. My current LO is not only my coworker, but before the quarantine, we sat next to each other and worked together on a small team (for a little over a year). It’s likely one of the reasons I grew so attached.
Before NC and the disclosure, I can’t recall it affecting my work or performance for any real length of time. It was distracting though, we were known across the office for always chatting/laughing. My boss actually remarked that “LO was really quiet” while I was away on vacation. We had a lot of fun every day.
Now that we are all working from home, working on different teams, and NC, working is incredibly difficult as I’m essentially going through attention withdrawal. We don’t talk, but the routine of work is still there, so the urge to update her on things, send her instant messages, quip about general work meetings and presentations, etc… is always there and a constant reminder of “how it used to be”. Some days when we cross paths, I am unable to work for the rest of the day and just take a sick day off. Or am simply incredibly unproductive for a certain amount of days. It’s at the point where I am considering finding another job. I sincerely hope I never fall for another coworker again.
You will see from the following post just why I am having such difficulty getting over my LO. I think Limerence works differently for men and women. If I were a man (and maybe I’ll be jumped on for this) I would approach things very differently. I would pursue – and I can tell you, I’d get. But I cannot do it. He knows my feelings, but won’t act and I have to live with that. And I am. Anyways, I posted this somewhere else but though it would be apt to post it here too.
….Take this as you will….
RE: The psychological appeal of giving in:
Hi Dr. L. I read your above blog entry with great interest. I wish I could believe that the decent, correct and characterful thing to do when in the midst of Limerence is to wrestle with desire and bring it under restraint. I don’t believe it. In fact I think it’s hogwash! I think we are brainwashed to believe that we should control our desires, above all else. I believe life is short, take what you can from it – consider others always, but not to the exclusion of your deepest desires. If impulsive desire is surrendered to, it loses its power to hypnotise. After indulgence, one can think more clearly, contemplate strategies, and then consider consequences. Nothing is written in stone, just because we indulge desires, this does not mean that we automatically throw a grenade into other’s lives. This need never happen if we are careful. Society would have us be one of the flock. I believe we have the right to strike out on our own, to find our own path to happiness. Every human has that right. Society invented monogamy for it’s own reasons. We can think individually – and must. Lastly, I love this quote from William Blake…it says it all…
“Those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained.”
That’s not an uncommon view, Fay, but I’d echo Scharnhorst’s main point, below: the consequences of the choice to embrace unrestrained desire can be explosive and irreparable. It’s too late to consider them after the event.
A similar sentiment is: “it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission,” which is also sometimes true, but oftentimes just an excuse to do something you know will hurt others.
It all comes down to your attitude to relationships. Should you compromise your own desires if they conflict with your partner’s? When does compromise become martyrdom? Is lying OK if you are not found out? Is a lonely old age soothed by the memory of a life of hedonistic adventure, or is a long-term relationship of trust and love the best way to find happiness?
Not easy questions to answer. Clearly we tilt toward opposite ends of the spectrum…
@Faye It may certainly be true that male and females handle limerence differently. Some males may pursue LO aggressively (and face devastating rejection and even legal consequences for alleged harassment/stalking). Some females may wait to be asked, as per traditional gender roles, and find no one is interested in pursuing them or they’re at the mercy of an unreliable suitor who only calls when he feels like it. Of course the situation can be unfair.
Limerence has always made me too shy to pursue anyone too directly. I sort of only want to make a move if the other person has made one, etc. Like a game of chess. I suppose this is called “game-playing” in the dating world and is much frowned upon. However, it’s the only way I can operate – I’m terrified of rejection. I recognise I’m not taking the traditional “male lead” in relationships here.
I’m 37 now, so I don’t think I’m going to “throw caution to the wind” not matter how much I desire someone. The reason for this is I’ve faced a lot of rejection and ridicule in my life already (as a result of my autistic traits) and I can’t afford to alienate my peer group. I’m afraid people won’t forgive me if I mess up. I’ve already lost enough friends over the years to know I don’t want to upset people anymore. Stronger individuals may be better able to weather the controversy.
Thanks for the replies.
All I can say is I’m wired differently. I could have played Juliet’s part, “anything for Love!” I’ve never been afraid to risk it all but have only ever once done that once about 25 years ago. I did have an affair. I was the only one who lost out in the end as I was always very careful of other people’s feelings and always felt I was in control. In the end my LO ended it. He was young and his life was already beginning to open up for him so I understood. He was hurt by finishing things but I was truly broken up over it. Still, I have no regrets. I can look back and say I tried for something wonderful in my life and for a while I had it. It’s a lovely memory, and I never have to say to myself, what if? Because I know I tried. I guess that’s what I missed when I tried once again with this LO. It took me 25 years, so I’m not fickle, and don’t fall for just anyone who comes on to me. But this LO did come on to me over a six-month period though we had known each other as friends for 2 years or more, and eventually I said to myself, he’s a grown man, he must know what he’s doing he’s not 16 years old, in fact he’s 57, so I wasn’t afraid to let him know I was interested if he was. He was initially, then there was fear and pulling away, though not from me.
Sammy, my LO sounds so like you!. And yes he plays games too, probably unintentionally. Incredibly confusing hot and cold games which have nearly driven me crazy as I’m a do or don’t do person. You say you are terrified of rejection, so is he! I know some of his story and he is very shy emotionally, in a loveless marriage (I know this not through him but others) and he’s pretty unable with his feelings regarding women. So I did let him know, subtly, not in words but in over smiling and laughing, acting coyly etc. Men know the drill. I’m not so shy that I was unable to convey how I felt. But once I do that then he’s got to take over and he did, placing his hand over mine etc and then there was the fear and pulling away. So that’s where we stand. I want so much to talk about what was between us and he wants so much to not talk about what was between us that our situation is impossible. Unable to go forward and unable to go back to friends. I feel I made a huge error of judgment with him in letting my guard down, a thing I never do and I’m paying for it now by losing everything including our friendship.
Anyway, sorry for rambling on here. Dr L, I think you’re correct when you say it all comes down to your attitude to relationships. I have had a long life of not putting myself first in my relationship with my SO and have grown very tired of it. I felt that this attraction came at me like a left hook, a perfect storm perhaps would be a better analogy. I took a chance, it blew up in my face, and now I have to live with the fallout. It sure isn’t easy. They say, “take a leap of Faith”…boy, never again! But I have no one other than myself to blame for how I feel. Sadly I got mixed up with a man who offered me something he really had no ability or intention of giving me. That’s the sad honest truth that I have to come to understand. But logic and love are not easy bedfellows for me when it comes to my heart. Not for anyone I guess. Now I have to keep away from him. With low contact as I cannot go no contact. He doesn’t like it because I’m sure it feels lovely to have somebody around admiring you when you have low self-esteem and though he’s gorgeous, I know he has low self-esteem. But it’s not much fun for me anymore. A bit like working in a sweet factory when you’re on a diet! Not a good idea.
Anyway, thanks for reading this and sorry for all the rambling on.
Best of luck to us all here. We need it!
It’s time to play my favorite game!
If you could craft the “Fairy-Tale-Ending” to all this, what would it be?
You find a bottle on the beach. You open it and a Djinni forms from the smoke. He/she says, “I’m the Djinni of LEs and I serve limerents. I will grant you one wish. What do you desire?”
There’s a good chance you won’t come up with an answer. Limerence is more about the process than the result. Ask any addict why they use. Most of them will say something like it’s about the high or they escape whatever they’re trying to escape from. DrL explains the neuroscience behind it. Few of them will tell you they want to destroy their health, live in poverty and squalor, go to jail, and lose relationships with people that care about them. Some of them may have a death wish but the addicts, mostly alcoholics, I’ve encountered in my life never came out and said it.
If you do formulate an answer, ask yourself if you can pull it off without the Djinni.
“I feel I made a huge error of judgment with him in letting my guard down, a thing I never do and I’m paying for it now by losing everything including our friendship.”
You two got sloppy with your boundaries, assuming you knew what they were going in. When we started the LE, LO #4 and I had pretty good boundaries. We had a good idea of what we had to dance around. I would test them periodically. Over time, they got a little soft. I didn’t worry about mine because as long as she had hers, things were cool. When she went off script, her boundaries dropped and I had to scramble to get mine back up. She got too close and it was approaching “put up or shut up.” The fence went back up and she was outside it. She didn’t like that and it cost us our acquaintance.
I used to think that doing that was regrettable but necessary. Almost 5 years later, it’s not regrettable.
I get that last bit Scharnhorst where you say about boundaries:
“I didn’t worry about mine because as long as she had hers, things were cool. When she went off script, her boundaries dropped and I had to scramble to get mine back up. She got too close and it was approaching “put up or shut up.” The fence went back up and she was outside it. She didn’t like that and it cost us our acquaintance”.
Sounds just like what happened to me. Games! How can men rely on the woman to hold the boundaries. Where’s the man’s responsibility here? Of course, why would she like it, you reached out, fished, so to speak, she took the bait and then you threw her back in the river! Sorry to say it, but that’s not nice or even decent behaviour on your part. Don’t put out if you don’t intend to put out! It just causes misinterpretation. Men have a nasty name for women who do that.
The first question is easy for me to answer. Communication. Simple! Just for him to speak to me and allow me my say. That’s all. Nothing more. Just for me to explain that I have feelings too.
“Games! How can men rely on the woman to hold the boundaries. Where’s the man’s responsibility here?”
They weren’t games. When the pooh hit the fan, I started working with my EAP counselor because I knew I was in a minefield and I couldn’t trust myself to not do something really stupid like figure out how I could come up with a plausible reason to fly 2500 miles to get to her. The best I could come up with was to get within 200 miles of LO #4 but I couldn’t work out those last 200 miles without a flat out betrayal.
I worked with the EAP counselor off and on for a year and half to get things under control. I couldn’t reconcile betraying my wife in the pursuit of unrestrained desire. Just couldn’t. Like Mick Jagger says, “You can’t always get what you want.” Does your SO know of your past affair? “No harm, no foul?”
For the record:
She knew I was married from the beginning.
When her partner allegedly cheated on her and allegedly assaulted her, she reached out to me. She’s the one who went from an email every two or three months to almost one/day. She hit my vulnerability and I responded to her. She tapped into something that went back 50 years and she didn’t have a clue. LO #4 wasn’t the first woman to confide in me that she was being cheated on. She was the third and I knew from experience where that could go.
When I disclosed to LO #4, she left open the possibility of my return. When I withdrew, she came after me. When she later stonewalled me or dismissed what I said to her, I went to war with her. I went straight at her, hard. I compared her directly to LO #2. By name. She didn’t like that much, either. But, after all that, she wanted to advance things and sent me a FB friend request. We’d know each other almost 5 years by then, I’d been working for her for 3 years and we never broached that subject. I told my wife about the request since the sudden appearance of a redhead I’d known for years who just broke up with her partner on my Friends list would get her attention. I asked LO #4 if she meant to send it or was it an accident. She said she meant to send it.
As it was, I’d been “leaking” for awhile and when I told my wife about it, she asked, “Is she [LO #4] after you?” My wife told me I should accept the request. If I was behind LO #4’s wall, so was my wife. I felt like I’d let the Trojan Horse inside the wall. I had a dream about LO #4 in which I almost drove my over a cliff. I told LO #4 that it felt odd that the request came in after all this time and after stonewalling me she’d want more access. I asked of it was ok if we weren’t Friends. I got “No problem” back within 5 minutes. When I looked, she’d not only unfriended me, she blocked me. That was 5 years ago. I checked awhile back, I’m still blocked. That was flat out bitchy.
Games? No games.
I was aware of risks associated with the acquaintance. What I missed was the significance of my vulnerability. When things changed, she played right into it. Not her fault.
My actions were my actions and I own them. After I disclosed to her and she chose to continue, she became complicit and assumed the risk of dealing with a married man. LO #4 shot the elephant in the room when she said she tried to put herself in my wife’s shoes. She asked me how I would feel if my wife was corresponding with a man she was attracted to “…in the same capacity that you write to me.” [“capacity” was an odd word to use]. She also said, “If you have to hide our correspondence from your wife, it’s not good.”
Ok Scharnhorst. Sorry if I hit a nerve – or seemed to misjudge you’re actions. I can only speak from my side of this “mess”. I ignored this mans attentions for a long time but he persisted in giving me signals and checking me out, etc. That’s what wore me down and I was ready: lonely, middle-aged, unhappy, scared of the future. Ah yes, ready. He of course didn’t know any of this. As a matter of fact neither did I until the preverbal hit the fan.
“After I disclosed to her and she chose to continue, she became complicit and assumed the risk of dealing with a married man.”
Why did you disclose? I’m afraid that is where I believe the games come in. What were you hoping to gain here? Where is the honesty if you did not also add “…therefore this can go no further. Nice knowing you, goodbye…” I think you were handing her the ball so to speak and letting her run with it. But there are 2 people involved here. Each must be careful of the other’s heart and each must take responsibility.
When this man continued to come on to me, I could have no idea that he was just “fooling around” with my feelings. That’s why I say, be careful how you treat others, you cannot know what’s going on in their lives. For a man to reach out to a woman and mean nothing by it – or expect her to set the boundaries is devastating to her ego when suddenly she’s told “oh gosh! did you not realise that I didn’t really mean I liked you or wanted you or found you attractive! – I expected you to understand that. You’re in charge after all.”
As I said I can only tell you how a woman feels when this happens. On the reverse side of this, I can say I have never, ever given a man any messages that he could misinterpret in any way. Never flirted without intentions either as I think it’s cruel and dishonest. And yes, my SO did know of my affair at the time – I told him – Not that I had an affair but that there had been an attraction and I admitted to kissing as he would not have believed otherwise. Torture though would not have made me tell him anything more than that. Why on earth would I be so cruel as to fess up on something that could only hurt him to the bone. We found our way through it.
Lastly, to quote another great song writer, Bob Marley,
“The biggest coward is a man who awakens a woman’s love
with no intention of loving her”.
I don’t think I will ever get over being “fooled” into revealing my heart to this man.
You mention you have no regrets after 5 years Scharnhorst. I wonder if your LO can say the same.
You really didn’t a nerve. My point was that even if you’re not looking for trouble, you can still find it. As for your questions, I can answer a few of them.
“Why did you disclose? I’m afraid that is where I believe the games come in. What were you hoping to gain here? Where is the honesty if you did not also add “…therefore this can go no further. Nice knowing you, goodbye…” I think you were handing her the ball so to speak and letting her run with it.”
“The first question is easy for me to answer. Communication. Simple! Just for him to speak to me and allow me my say. That’s all. Nothing more. Just for me to explain that I have feelings too.” What you and I wanted isn’t all that different. We pursued it differently. I did it.
Disclosure was self-serving. I’d worked as a moderator for her for 3 years. I didn’t want to lie to her as to why I was leaving. I was letting her do the dirty work. And, we had an intial goodbye. It lasted 3 months before she contacted me and I made the mistake of re-engaging her. And, that’s when things started to really spiral.
A more complete history of that LE is here:
“You mention you have no regrets after 5 years Scharnhorst. I wonder if your LO can say the same.” – Regrets, I doubt it. I’m pretty sure she’ll never entirely escape me. All the stuff I posted years ago is still there. A few years ago, I asked her to delete my account and she asked not to. She said if she did that, there’d be gaping holes in places. I’d been gone 3 years by then and figured in that amount of time, anything I’d said would have drifted so far down nobody would notice or she’d have replaced them. But, she didn’t. She posted two of my blogs on her site. They’re still there. She cut and pasted one of them and used it as a chapter in her book. On that topic, she may be the closest thing to a protege that I’ll ever have.
It was never a game. We didn’t handle everything as well as we could have but I think we both acted in good faith and got to the right answer. I knew the right answer but didn’t follow through on it. She finally did.
If having your say is what the goal is, what’s actually preventing you from doing it? If you’re LC, you have access to him. You corner him, tell him you have something to say to him, and you tell him. From the perspective of having your say, it sounds like a pretty one-sided conversation with you doing the talking. You roll the dice and see what happens. Mission accomplished.
@Fay. You’re clearly a very thoughtful person and this LE of yours has caused you to engage in a lot of thought. I can see you’re not saying “Be reckless purely for the sake of being reckless”. Although the Romantic theme of “act on your desires and repent later” would make a brilliant premise for a novel. (I might even root for the defiant hero/heroine in their brave struggle against social norms).
I may be wrong, but the main thing I got from Scharn’s initial comments is “there may be unintended consequences”. I.e. none of us can really see into the future.
I can understand your frustration and your pain. What torture it is to want someone and not be sure whether they truly want you, or how you’re supposed to act going forward. The conventional part of me says “do nothing since you’re both married”. However, that advice isn’t going to help you deal with the strong emotions involved.
Your situation is very moving – thank you for sharing it with us.
When I’ve played games in the past, I think it was partly immaturity and partly confusion. I wasn’t completely sure how I felt and I think I wanted the other party to do all the work. In other words, it was lazy and selfish of me, though not consciously deceitful. How did it all turn out? Well, I’m still single! Haha! Your story makes me feel a little bit bad – failing to be straightforward with people isn’t as innocent as it sounds, especially when limerence is involved!
Some interesting reading, thanks for the posts. Every relationship is different and you and your LO Scharnhorst seem to have a lot more history and back and forth than I do with mine. You both seem to have gotten your say about things. My relationship never took off, as I think I’ve mentioned earlier and that has left me not understanding where I stand in all this “stuff”.
You say “If having your say is what the goal is, what’s actually preventing you from doing it? If you’re LC, you have access to him. You corner him, tell him you have something to say to him, and you tell him”.
Not going to happen. He behaved like a frightened teenager when I let him know my feelings in the beginning. Then thought about it for a while and then reciprocated and then ran again. I think if I even said 2 words to him he might quite literally run away from me, he’s so frightened of his feelings – and mine. I know this man reasonably well. And I did say I wanted communication (as my Genie Wish), not a one way conversation which would come across as a confrontation. Also we are never alone. I am very open about feelings but when someone stonewalls me and does not want to talk about anything, and doesn’t seem to care how that hurts me, well that somehow clams me up and I go along with it. He might also deny everything rather than have to speak about it, as no words were ever said between us. So I simply have to suck it up and that poison is what’s keeping me away from him and on LC as I know he likes his “ego trip” of being in the company of someone who likes him, though he will never give me anything back now so it’s killing me just looking at each other. It makes me feel like I’m a butterfly with a pin through it’s wing stuck on a collector’s board. Just there to look at and think about. Captive. It’s also complicated by him being a good friend of my SO and that also is a block for him. We’ve all been in his position at one time or another, its nice and flattering to know someone likes you. He’s human, lacking confidence with women (according to his friends)and here he has one in front of him who has shown her hand and it’s very enjoyable I’m sure. He can’t resist his ego trip. And I’m not blaming him for that – I just can’t give that to him any more in order to retain even a little self respect here.
“When I’ve played games in the past, I think it was partly immaturity and partly confusion. ”
“Your story makes me feel a little bit bad – failing to be straightforward with people isn’t as innocent as it sounds, especially when limerence is involved!”
I am glad you say that Sammy. I accept some men probably don’t understand what fire they are playing with in these games. When a woman is vulnerable or like me, a very straight person, we don’t understand it’s a game. So when you pull away, it leaves us totally confused and embarrassed for having shown you how we feel. It does make me somewhat content to know that you can now see how your actions, innocent as they may be, can affect the LO in your life. Everyone needs to look into their own hearts where love/lust/limerence is concerned. People are fragile, hearts are easily broken, lives crack along worn down lines and promises, even nonverbal ones need to be carefully and cautiously given to others. Karma is a bitch and will come back to bite you in the ass.
In fact that may just be what has happened to me. Who knows how she works
but I do know…
Karma is a bitch….
This is a really enlightening thread on how people’s different expectations can lead to unintended emotional harm. Thanks all for being so open.
One of the things about “games” is that none of us have a clear understanding of the rules, half the time we don’t even know we’ve wandered onto a pitch, and even if we do we think we’re playing tennis and they think we’re playing baseball.
I’d guess that the number of people who intentionally play mind games is small (although they have a disproportionate impact, lamentably). It’s more the common state of living without purpose, wherein our instinctive behaviour leads us into unexpected emotional traps that we only notice after they’ve sprung.
I think we each had our say. When we said goodbye, we knew what we were doing and why we were doing it. The last thing I ever wanted to do was to hurt LO #4’s feelings, make her angry, or, in any way, make things harder for her. BUT, she wasn’t my first loyalty.
Have you thought about the position you’re putting your LO in?
“It’s also complicated by him being a good friend of my SO and that also is a block for him.”
Some people take a very dim view of mate poaching. He may not like the idea of being attracted to another man’s wife. Under the disclaimer of not wanting to open up a can of worms but I can’t think of any better analogies, that concept was important enough to get its own commandment and it was a death penalty offense it you got caught. Some people take it very seriously.
How aware are you of his value system? You’re dangling the carrot in front of him. He may like it but it may go against something he thinks is wrong. He’s entitled to his belief system just as much as you’re entitled to yours. Are you trying to get him to compromise his belief system?
So, it seems like what you want is for him to betray his friend, your SO. Back in college, I was the “other man.” The girl was cheating on her BF with me. I told my father. He said, “Be careful. If someone can cheat with you, they can cheat on you.”
It’s an interesting question. Why would anyone pursue unrestrained desire with someone you know is capable of selling you out?
Infidelity was a significant factor in the demise of LO #4’s relationship and she’s crying on the shoulder of a married man. Not a good move. And, here I am letting myself get drawn in, potentially betraying my wife. I’m no better than her ex. Different, maybe, but no better. It’s not a good look.
Thanks Dr L. Really straight post and thought provoking. I agree most people don’t mean anything by pursuing their own ends, so to speak. Thats my point really. Think before you move. It’s carelessness more often than intentional malice. I do understand no one, usually, sets out to cause problems for others. They just don’t consider consequences – which leads me back to an earlier post….Ah, consequences.
@ Scharnhorst. Yes, I take all of what you say, but I think you’re missing the point. I never expected anything of him, he was the one who pursued. I did not see us riding off into the sunset. And I’m still not expecting anything of him, his decisions are his decisions. I only expected him to think about these things before he thought about me! Once he did, and after holding out against it, I was eventually game for lets say a bit of flirting or a bit of what if, could we, should we..etc. He was the one who behaved as if a bomb had gone off. He threw our relationship into chaos. I also know he told his friend in our group of 5, who told his wife, and now the only person who is unaware of the situation is my SO. I hate that my SO is in that position and it is one of the things I would like to straighten out and call my LO out on. It irritates me to see him fawning on my SO when I know what was on his mind and so does he.
I don’t want to offend your religious sensibilities Scharnhorst, but this killing people for adultery stuff doesn’t wash with me. That’s just man made to fit circumstances. And anyway who said I intended to sleep with LO? Geezzzz!, we have barely touched each other. He’s pretty gorgeous but not totally irresistible. I had already drawn my own line in the sand – whether he had or not. The line for me not to cross. I cannot presume to think for him.
You said “So, it seems like what you want is for him to betray his friend, your SO.” I don’t want him to do anything, except to treat me like a human being with feelings and desires – just like he apparently had when he conveniently ignored his “friendship” with my SO in order to ogle me!
Geeze….I’m sorry to use this word but…..Men! You really cannot see the equality of responsibility here.
I say again: I never invited anything from LO
I knew him for 2 years and saw his
‘crush’ on me initially and thought it was cute
I lived with his come ons for a further 6 months (it only began after 2
I tried to detach early on, not meeting up, etc
and he wanted to know what had happened? What had he done? He
made it difficult to say the least. So I came back and thought I could
handle it. I was wrong.
I cannot help feeling you are judging me Scharnhorst. And I have to say it feels like a man’s judgement against the “erring woman”. I am not a cheat and take exception to your implication. I never “dangled a carrot” in front of him. I simply exist. And he does have eyes and ears to see and hear me. No more no less. Nor have I had so many LO’s that I have to give them numbers ### # like you do. Nevertheless, I do reflect on all you have written. Thank you.
…I should also add that he has done everything in his power to prevent me pulling away from him, brushing off me, fawning on me, touching me, continuing to ogle me.
That is everything except speak to me…..
You’re not offending my religious sensibilities and I’m not judging you. My point was that part of the problem is the situation is challenging a value system can cause someone a lot of stress.
You made some decisions and they didn’t go your way. You called his bluff and he panicked. When LO #4 reached out me, I panicked. When I asked LO #2 to marry me, she panicked. You have to respect the integrity and intelligence of your LO but you can’t rely on it. It happens.
As for him telling another member of the group, that was a really
Sh–ty move on his part and, that alone warrants you grabbing him by the collar and getting in his face. Has he ever seen you angry? Maybe he should. Do it and if he wasn’t taking you seriously before, he might start. Put “The Fear of Fay” in him. What do you have to lose?
“I say again: I never invited anything from LO
I knew him for 2 years and saw his
‘crush’ on me initially and thought it was cute
I lived with his come ons for a further 6 months (it only began after 2
I tried to detach early on, not meeting up, etc
and he wanted to know what had happened? What had he done? He
made it difficult to say the least. So I came back and thought I could
handle it. I was wrong.”
It seems like you have two choices. Force the issue or live with it. It may not be fair.
If he’s a schmuck, he’s a schmuck. He may have started it but you could have finished it and you didn’t. You may have not invited it but you allowed it. You thought it was cute. We like cute. Why didn’t you shut him down the first time? Or the second? You let him play the game, you came back, and he didn’t play it to your satisfaction. Since you didn’t explain the rules, he played by his own. He can’t be expected to read your mind any more than you can be expected to read his. In his mind, if you didn’t like it, why would you come back? You’re angry because he’s not meeting expectations that you never articulated?
[OT: Since we’re impugning genders…
Why do “women” seem to have such a difficult time with this “mind reading” concept? It took 3 months with a marriage counselor to get my wife to understand it. She said I wasn’t her father but she seemed to have a problem when I didn’t do things they way he did. I was expected to ‘know’ things because I was just expected to know them. It sucks.”]
When LO #4 contacted me after 3 months, I don’t think anyone was holding a gun to her head and I know there was nobody holding a gun to mine when I responded. When you came back, what were you afraid would happen (consequences) if you didn’t? And, as for things like his continuing to ogle you, people treat you the way you allow them to.
Your SO doesn’t know what’s happening. Do you have a contingency planned if he does find out?
Thanks so much for sharing your story Fay!
My thinking is very much aligned with yours so it is heartening to see someone else express this view without apology.
“society invented monogamy for its own reasons”….oh so agree! And while it may suit many people, especially the more risk averse, it does not suit me! As you say, life is so short that it seems crazy to prohibit ourselves the incredible experience of falling in love for maybe 2/3-rds of our adult lives. Sometimes to get the most out of life, you must take a few risks. I guess my only reservation is that I wish I could stay honest in the process.
Maxims for Revolutionists
“Marriage is popular because it combines the maximum of temptation with the maximum of opportunity.”
“Any marriage system which condemns a majority of the population to celibacy will be violently wrecked on the pretext that it outrages morality.”
“Polygamy, when tried under modern democratic conditions, as by the Mormons, is wrecked by the revolt of the mass of inferior men who are condemned to celibacy by it; for the maternal instinct leads a woman to prefer a tenth share in a first rate man to the exclusive possession of a third rate one. Polyandry has not been tried under these conditions.”
– Bernard Shaw (1856–1950). “Man and Superman.” 1903.
Ha ha,,,great quotes!
Ah yes, good old Bernard Shaw…”for the maternal instinct leads a woman to prefer a tenth share in a first rate man to the exclusive possession of a third rate one”…yadda, yadda, yadda. Isn’t that nice and convenient. Did Bernard come to those conclusions through speaking to women or is that maybe what heterosexual males like to think?
I think you may be correct Scharnhorst. You say, “You’re angry because he’s not meeting expectations that you never articulated?” Hard to read that but it’s definitely true. These are the expectations I would have articulated, had I just had half a G damned chance! If I am honest, I wanted to be the one, as most women do, to say where things would go. I never got the chance and that’s what I have to live with. Now he’s angry that I’m pulling away. I know he feels he did nothing wrong, doesn’t understand that I may have skin in the game, and doesn’t know why I can’t just hang around and admire him from a distance! Not saying he works that out in his head, but that’s what it amounts to. He thinks if I’m not joining him for a coffee it’s because I hate him or at the least, don’t want to lay eyes on him. You say I should look at things from his point of view. I’m willing to but he would never look at things from my point of view – because he doesn’t think I have one!
You say: “I was expected to ‘know’ things because I was just expected to know them. It sucks.”
I never expected my LO to “know” anything! I only expected him to ask me and I would have told him… And not in a big, serious way either. I couldn’t be a more easy or reasonable person to talk to! I have to come to the conclusion that my LO is a bit of a selfish Jackass!
I saw him today and he was like a kid in a sweet shop. Pretty much dancing with delight to see me, over laughing at everything and I saw him last Sunday and he turned his back on me! I often wonder what mental age this man is? When I force myself to not see him, it’s like withdrawal, though he gives me nothing, so that’s a puzzle. He just wants me there for his sake. I can’t come to see him because I want to see him too much – that’s hard to live with as he doesn’t know that and would never come to that conclusion himself.
This is my penance for showing my hand and now I have to just pull up my big girl pants and get on with it. And I will.
Thanks for your support. So few women can think independently of society’s norms or rules or of what’s expected of them. Good for you!
You go and grab life by the throat and shake ten kinds of shit out of it girl!!! That’s my motto.
“After indulgence, one can think more clearly, contemplate strategies, and then consider consequences. Nothing is written in stone, just because we indulge desires, this does not mean that we automatically throw a grenade into other’s lives. This need never happen if we are careful. ”
That’s imprecise at best. Once you act, you don’t consider consequences, you mitigate them, if you can.
Risk = Threat x Vulnerability x Consequence
Threat = Capability x Intent Capabilities are what they can do. Intent is what they want to do. People woefully underestimate capability. Capabilities can change over time. People can develop new ones and lose existing ones. Intent can change on a dime. Piss someone off badly enough and you could be rudely surprised at what they’re capable of.
Think about it, in terms of risk, why would you restrain your desire, or anything for that matter?
You may have some influence but little to no control over Threat (i.e., your LO.) You may or may not understand and reduce your Vulnerabilities and you may or may not be able to mitigate Consequences. The more people involved, the less influence, let alone, control, you may have. People do a lot of things because they’re afraid of consequences and most people have no idea of how to assess risk.
So, if you’re willing to accept the risk unrestrained desire brings, go for it.
I will think about all that Scharnhorst and see what I come up with. I have to admit that most of what you said, initially anyway, has gone over my head. Like I said, I’ll think about it.
Another thought on this article. One of the great things about limerence is it forces you to think about what you value in life. I.e. is there anything you truly value more than securing your LO’s affection?
For me, I’ve realised I do value something more than the affection of LO (at least now that my limerent feelings have dimmed somewhat). I value popularity. It might sound incredibly shallow. Certainly it’s not the most noble of motives, such as living in according with some grand moral code. But it is what it is. I actually want lots of people to think well of me, and that deters me from acting recklessly.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying the respect and admiration of the masses secondary to ones honorable conduct, self restraint and fine character!
(Dashing good looks and rapier wit and charm don’t hurt either).
“(Dashing good looks and rapier wit and charm don’t hurt either).”
How about “relentlessly persistent” and “irresistibly cute?”
Haha! Point taken, Jaideux, and elegantly phrased as always! 🙂
Article of the Day: https://thoughtcatalog.com/melanie-berliet/2016/05/if-youre-going-to-hate-the-other-woman-please-hate-the-dude-too/
Some of you may like this, some of you may not.
If you want to go for it, go for it. Embrace it. But, own it. If people don’t like it, it’s their problem, not yours, but they’re entitled to not like it whether you think it’s fair or not.
For example, if what’s really important to you is not to carry a stigma for something you do, don’t engage in behavior that comes with one. Someone may a hold a kind of grudging respect for your because you were true to yourself but they may still hate you for it.
As Fay said, “Karma’s a bitch.” It may catch up with him and it may not. But, we don’t get to drive the Karma bus.
@Fay. I must say, I am enjoying reading this thread. I know you’re in pain, but your frustration with men is mildly entertaining (sorry! not laughing at the emotion, just the wonderful way you express it) and no doubt warranted in this instance. Being a wishy-washy male myself, I hope you don’t mind me making a few light-hearted observations which may help you think through things (and maybe insert yourself into the headspace of your infuriatingly tight-lipped LO).
It’s true what you imply. This LO of yours is acting like a boy and not a man. The sad truth is it might all be just a game to him. Some people never grow up emotionally. And that puts you in a very, very tricky situation. He’s benefiting from being around you, I think, and it’s up to you to decide whether he deserves to keep receiving the benefits of your time and attention without reciprocation.
I think it’s only worth acting on your desire if you’re 100% sure of his feelings for you. And if he hasn’t explicitly told you he’s limerent for you, you have no way of knowing that. If, on the other hand, he IS limerent for you and not telling you, then you’re infatuated with someone who wants you to assume 100% of the risk and that’s not fair to you. You could take a big risk that only hurts you and he could back out of the “understanding” at the last minute (plausible deniability).
Limerence definitely comes with risks. And, yes, maybe consenting adults should be allowed to assess those risks for themselves. One caveat – I believe, based on my own unhappy experience, that limerence can make one “wilfully blind to reality”. Limerence is an altered mental state. It distorts perception. E.g. during limerence, we absurdly overvalue LO and undervalue ourselves. We neglect huge areas of our lives. We forget who we are and become lost in a fantasy.
I guess what I’m trying to say is limerence itself impairs judgement, which makes it very hard to assess risk, even if one is prepared to “be a grown-up” and weather any unpleasant consequences. It’s a bit like rushing out in the middle of the night while under the influence of alcohol and taking a “fun walk” along a dangerous cliff. You might have a ball or you might slip and fall into the abyss below. The darkness and the alcohol makes it nigh-impossible to judge risk accurately.
Again, writing from my own experience, I do think limerence can make us over-optimistic about other people’s emotional capabilities, especially if you really like someone. I think the young lady who inspired limerence in me at 17 was merely going about her life in autopilot. She gave off plenty of mixed signals, but she probably didn’t have an agenda to trap me. She was naive and I was naive.
Limerence is mental activity above all else. We attribute all sorts of sophisticated motives to our LOs (he/she secretly wants me, etc). The embarrassing truth is they may just be a slightly incompetent, muddle-headed human being going about their social life in a disorganised way). Perhaps my own LO “led me on” but she had no impressive reason for leading me on. It was an accident on her part. Didn’t stop me getting sucked into a whirlpool of rumination. The feelings I got from her were the most positive feelings I’ve gotten from anyone in my life – until they turned into toxic unrequited longing. (She didn’t reciprocate turns out).
Sometimes “playing games” is playing hard to get (try harder). And sometimes “playing games” is just that, at least for one player – a fun but meaningless game. I’m worried the behaviour of your LO might put him in the latter category. Maybe he’s just a shy boy who grew up into a shy man and is used to women doting on him? You don’t want to assume a massive risk for someone who ultimately isn’t into you. What if he pulls back the moment you start putting pressure on him?
Morality is a complex subject that can be discussed all day long (and by minds quicker than mine!) My position is “limerence clouds judgement” irrespective of what moral code a person holds. When I think of my original LO today, I feel “sick-anxious” in my stomach instead of “excited-anxious”. I guess “sick-anxious” is just a fancy way of saying “regret”. Impaired judgement can lead to regrets. Can we ever honestly say judgement is not impaired during the course of an LE?
Sorry for the long post. No judgement intended. Thought I’d offer a dose of “frightened man-child (il)logic” – please feel free to use it or discard it as you see fit. I thinking imaginatively getting into the mind of an LO can be helpful.
@Fay. As an aside, I’d like to thank you for loving the shy and frightened boys of the world. Sometimes we feel quite forgotten! It’s lovely to hear that one of our number has caught the eye of a lady cultured enough to quote William Blake!
Your posts actually make me feel quite emotional. I think it’s because they remind me of my relationship with my very charismatic older sister. She was forever convinced I didn’t love her because no matter how many times she prodded me for a response, she couldn’t get me to say it. Once again, thank you for sharing!! I’ve enjoyed the mix of philosophy and personal narrative. 🙂
I had replied to the thread before I saw your post.
It’s just a great post! thank you, full of inside info that I need to think about. And you are certainly no wishy-washy male. Never put yourself down, most people will agree with you if you do!!!
You say: “Sometimes “playing games” is playing hard to get (try harder). And sometimes “playing games” is just that, at least for one player – a fun but meaningless game. I’m worried the behaviour of your LO might put him in the latter category. Maybe he’s just a shy boy who grew up into a shy man and is used to women doting on him? You don’t want to assume a massive risk for someone who ultimately isn’t into you. What if he pulls back the moment you start putting pressure on him?”
I’m afraid he has already pulled back. Acted like I set fire to his hair…! when I only coyly and flirtatiously indicated my interest in him. I think you may have him down to a tee. God help us all! I wish I’d spotted it before, but as a friend of mine likes to say, “if my aunty had balls, she’d be my uncle”.
“Fay. As an aside, I’d like to thank you for loving the shy and frightened boys of the world. Sometimes we feel quite forgotten! It’s lovely to hear that one of our number has caught the eye of a lady cultured enough to quote William Blake!” —Stop right there Sammy! Do you want me to fall in love with you? God damn I can’t resist a shy, possibly wounded man!!!
Lastly, I know that “sick-anxious” in my stomach feeling you write about. Been there, and have even woken up feeling the bottom of my world falling away from me. TG I’m over that horror part of LE now. You’re definitely absolutely right when you say Limerence clouds our judgement.
Thanks again for your wonderful, thoughtful post. Particularly thanking me for loving this “crazy” LO of mine. I guess I’m just his loss. Let him live with them apples!
Here’s another quote, and it’s just for you Sammy, from The Monkeys….I think I love you…….. Wink!
Gosh Sammy, you hit the nail on the head with,
“I do think limerence can make us over-optimistic about other people’s emotional capabilities, especially if you really like someone.”
—Over-optimistic? Boy is that an understatement for my expectations here.
” guess what I’m trying to say is limerence itself impairs judgement, which makes it very hard to assess risk, even if one is prepared to “be a grown-up” and weather any unpleasant consequences. It’s a bit like rushing out in the middle of the night while under the influence of alcohol and taking a “fun walk” along a dangerous cliff. You might have a ball or you might slip and fall into the abyss below. The darkness and the alcohol makes it nigh-impossible to judge risk accurately.”
…The last one may have given me an idea. I’d love a “fun walk” like that. — If only I drank alcohol!!!
Please allow me to apologise for my liberal use of “certain profanities” which I am sure this site frowns upon. I re-read a few pieces and noticed them. Once again, my apologies if I offended anyone’s sensibilities.
Yeah, I guess profanities do run a bit against the general tone of the site, Fay, but it’s not a big deal. Especially as yours are fairly mild! No f-bombs yet 🙂
Song of the Day (redux): “I Think I love You” – The Partridge Family (1970)
LO #4 referenced this song once. I’d like to think she was referring to me but that’s just wishful thinking.
Yes Scharnhorst you are right. Of course, I think I love you, was by the Partridge Family. I idiotically said it was The Monkeys!
I don’t think most people want to give in, to jump over the cliff and not care about the landing. I think most people are more comfortable with a medium level of interest/desire. Now, a lot of limerents would LOVE to surrender to their LO. They’re dying to. My LO went right up to the edge of the cliff with me, once, for about 5 minutes. It was exquisite, one of the hottest moments of my life, but then he ran back the other direction.
“My LO went right up to the edge of the cliff with me, once, for about 5 minutes. It was exquisite, one of the hottest moments of my life, but then he ran back the other direction.”
@Marcia. That sounds intriguing. So close and yet so far.
Then, of course, there are people like me who just fall off the cliff because we’re not looking where we’re going. Or we jump off the cliff, thinking the other person has jumped too, only to realise too late that we’ve always been the lone jumper!
“Or we jump off the cliff, thinking the other person has jumped too, only to realise too late that we’ve always been the lone jumper!”
That is exactly what happened. I guess I was saying that most people have their jobs, their spouses, the places they vacation every summer, their weekend dinners at Outback Steakhouse. It’s the age-old decision of comfort versus passion, and most people choose comfort. I have a male friend who has been talking about leaving his wife for … a decade … for a woman he says he’s love with. It’s just too much work to get out of his situation, and there’s probably some fear attached to it.
“That is exactly what happened. I guess I was saying that most people have their jobs, their spouses, the places they vacation every summer, their weekend dinners at Outback Steakhouse. It’s the age-old decision of comfort versus passion, and most people choose comfort.”
@Marcia. Oh, I agree with you absolutely. I think most people (i.e. non-limerents) view romantic love in the same way us limerents view friendship. Sort of like “I’ll fit you into my life, but only when I don’t have a standing appointment at the local Outback Streakhouse, etc.” Haha!
” I think most people (i.e. non-limerents) view romantic love in the same way us limerents view friendship. ”
Actually I have come to understand that I view friendship in the same way I do romance. I have trouble dating men I’m not really excited about, just as I have trouble maintaining interest in “friendly acquaintance” friendships. I want friendships that are close and meaningful and with people I genuinely connect with and who make time for me in their lives. If it’s someone who wants to go to coffee every 4 months for 2 hours (and I maybe get a text or two in between the “coffee dates”), I lose interest.
@Marcia. I really think you’re onto something here. Maybe limerent-prone people just bring that extra level of emotion to everything. The only problem with this is some of our friends might find us “too intense”, maybe even a little “intimidating” at times. And it’s a shame, because I think most folk with romantic temperaments are really nice!!
” The only problem with this is some of our friends might find us “too intense”, maybe even a little “intimidating” at times. ”
I am very conscious of the fact that I can be too much or expect too much, so I really pay attention to how the other person responds to me. If, after months of first meeting a new friend, I still hear from this person only once a month with a text or 2 and they just want to go to coffee for an hour every so often, that’s fine, I just choose not to invest anymore. Not everyone wants the same level of contact and intimacy; at the same time, closeness does take time to develop. Even in dating, I don’t like men who bulldoze their way into my life. I call them “freight trainers.” I may be alone in this, but I don’t like someone besieging me with texts and calls immediately. It should take a little bit of time for someone to incorporate me into his daily life. Ah, back in the day when we had the “3-day rule,” and the guy got your number and actually WAITED to call so as not to appear too anxious. But this is probably my desire for wanting uncertainty in the very beginning. 🙂 Don’t hand me the whole kit and caboodle right away.
Great posts Marcia
“If, after months of first meeting a new friend, I still hear from this person only once a month with a text or 2 and they just want to go to coffee for an hour every so often, that’s fine, I just choose not to invest anymore.”
Yes, can’t agree more. And I think Sammy touched on something there as well, Limerents can be very passionate and emotional. I think we’re worth it, but not everyone wants that depth we bring to ‘love’! We are a certain kind of people. I also have very few friends, others have to ‘get me’ or I just drift away quietly. I feel a lot of people are afraid of a truly deep emotional passion. Limerents give a lot but probably to the wrong, uninvested people and we then hope they will invest in the relationship in the same way. Seldom happens.
“I feel a lot of people are afraid of a truly deep emotional passion. Limerents give a lot but probably to the wrong, uninvested people and we then hope they will invest in the relationship in the same way. Seldom happens.”
Passion comes up periodically in the blogs. Have you looked at the twin flame and spirituality blogs.
One of DrL’s associates did some research and published a blog. DrL referenced it in https://livingwithlimerence.com/how-common-is-limerence/ .
You may be looking for something in your LO that just isn’t there.
“We are a certain kind of people. I also have very few friends, others have to ‘get me’ or I just drift away quietly.”
I could not agree more. Behind heard and being understood are the two most important things to me in a friendship. If I don’t feel both, I, too, drift away.
Thanks for the link Scharnhorst. I have read through and will check out the personality types and test. For the record I have often considered I must be a bit crazy. I come from a long line, on both sides, of very odd people… But, sadly I like my craziness! It certainly gives my personality colour…
Article of the Day: https://thoughtcatalog.com/emily-yao/2020/10/a-short-list-of-things-i-did-because-you-asked-me-not-to/
I can so relate to this.
Song of the Day: “Tell It Like It Is” – Heart (1980)
This is one of my favorite Heart songs. I love Ann Wilson’s voice.
The question for limerents is what do you do if your LO does?
Yes it’s fabulous!!
My answer: if LO had been clear, truthful and unsparing of my feelings, honestly stating that I must face the hopelessness of a future with him, I would have thanked him for his honesty and softly walked away. I would have cried, but I would have had closure and I would have moved on (if he left me alone from that point on).
That would have been the honorable thing to do.
Song of the Day: “Ti Amo” – Laura Brannigan (1984)
I really like Laura Brannigan. My wife doesn’t. My wife says “Her staccato sounds like a machine gun.” So much for, “Speak no ill of the dead.
Here’s the original 1977 version by Umberto Tozzi:
The honorable thing. I think it’s thoughtlessness on the LO’s part. They think that by being indirect, that they are being kind. No, no, no!. The truth is always the kinder way. Have courage LOs, step up and say the way you truly feel! It’s kinder in the long run.
It releases all hope for a future with LO and lets it drift naturally away.
I know this post is months old, but I revisited it in a search trying to drum up some discipline and it seems the right place to post. I’m wrangling with a LE that’s lasted a little over a year with an LO who may or may not feel the same way as I do – not that it matters, as I have an SO. We don’t see each other in person often – our schedules plus the COVIDs preclude that – but we send lengthy, chatty texts to each other 4-5 times a week and talk by phone once a week. Mostly we just check up on each other, make snarky comments, and talk about mutual interests. If it weren’t for my rampaging emotions, the whole thing would make for a fantastic friendship. Although we have both said that we enjoy these conversations and that we do care about each other, neither of us have ever disclosed or said anything truly risky (or risque) – although I’ve definitely thought about it!
My frustration finally reached a point this fall when I couldn’t take the cognitive dissonance anymore and found a therapist (through a program at work where they pay for a few sessions, free for me). Said therapist has really helped me work through a few things – why I’m doing this to myself, what’s actually been going on in my head – but has also said a couple of things that make me wonder if they’re really going to help me all that much. When I told them about LO, I mentioned the uncertainty and the belief I tend toward that I’m reading into things. Their response, in so many words, was, “What if LO really does reciprocate and just doesn’t say anything because you have an SO?” Oh, yeah, because that’s a great thing to tell someone who’d love that to be true. As they say, you get what you pay for.
But at least this dialogue has motivated me enough to try to do something about my situation. So I’m trying to go LC right now in an attempt to scale back over time (thinking it might hurt less?). I woke up this morning with a message from LO (who texts at ungodly hours – this morning it was 4:15). To be fair, I’ve already written a response. But I’m trying to sit on it until tomorrow afternoon, which I don’t think will faze LO at all (I tend to respond the same day, but sometimes an oppressive workload slows LO’s responses a day or two), but which is agony for me. The whole discussion is innocuous, but the impulse to give in and send it RIGHT NOW is overwhelming. I think I can see from this post partly why that’s the case, but the situation still sucks.
Just needed to say something to someone – and take up another 20-30 minutes of time when I don’t send that text. Argh….
@RCA. Feel free to share your thoughts and feelings with us, if it helps a little. Your LE reminds me slightly of some of my own experiences. The seeming emotional intimacy – that’s what seduced me into thinking there was some deep connection between me and LO. Although now I know the fantasy and the intense emotions were only in my head and not in LO’s head. To LO, whatever was shared only amounted to a fairly routine friendship (to him). There was no mutuality.
Recently, I’ve been trying to figure out why I was so susceptible to limerence in the first place. I have two ideas:
(1) I just assumed that’s what romantic love is. I consumed a lot of mushy movies and books growing up. Even Agatha Christie (my high school favourite) has many setups in her books which seem to suggest she herself believed in limerence (or was at least brilliant at exploiting it in plot twists).
(2) Not enough love in early childhood from parents. Maybe I figured I’d accrued some kind of karmic credit? My parents/peers didn’t love me enough (in my mind) and I was hoping LO would “fix the deficit”, give me the love I deserve, etc. Now I’m older and I know I can’t make someone “pay off” another person’s emotional debt, real or imagined. I can’t hold someone accountable for someone else’s sins or shortcomings. I wanted LO to give me the unconditional love that really should have come from my parents. In a strange way, it was about justice.
Do you have any ideas why you might find limerence attractive? Reading into things definitely causes most of the mess I think. But the appearance of emotional intimacy in a friendship, to someone who hasn’t experienced a lot of emotional intimacy, might seem like a dream come true. It was for me. I realised too late, however, that I was the only person dreaming that dream.
If you haven’t crossed any lines with LO, you can still back off with grace, dignity intact, etc, and no one needs to be any the wiser. Maybe find a therapist who supports your long-term goals? I assume you want to stay with SO. Take care.
I think there’s a lot to what you’re saying, Sammy. (Thank you for writing; I appreciate the encouragement!) My relationship with my parents is still strained. I’ve had enough therapy to know that part of the problem I have with men (tossing out my gender-neutral stance, oh well) is due to an emotionally distant, critical father. That contributed in part to my pursuit of a PA years ago that nearly wrecked my marriage. Then you have the isolation of a pandemic lockdown and all the stress that creates in everyone, including an SO with a hair-trigger temper, plus the heightened strain of living with an ailing mother-in-law and it’s limerence soup. The pattern is definitely there – not an excuse, but an explanation. LO has consistently provided a listening ear and more than a little compassion (as I’ve done for him), hence that feeling of emotional intimacy.
As for mutuality, I’m not sure it’s in my best interests to probe too deeply into that. From the way LO looked at me in the past I assume that there was at one point something there if there isn’t now. And of course Stupid Limerence Brain clings to that, interprets comments in texts in the best possible light, etc. It’s better for me to assume LO only thinks of me as a friend so I have that motivation to stay on the right side of the line. As you said, I still have my dignity, at least publicly. And yes, I am still working to maintain my marriage, for several objective reasons I remind myself of frequently. It’s taking some time to right what’s gone wrong, which makes this rough, but it’s happening.
Thanks again. This is helping me (still haven’t texted – a small victory, but I’ll take it!).
“What if LO really does reciprocate and just doesn’t say anything because you have an SO?”
I don’t think that is a bad thing for your therapist to ask. Maybe she’s trying to push you past the uncertainty to finally say something to the LO. I mean, then you’d know. But I don’t think most of us limerents want to know. Then there’d be a finality to it, and we’d lose the feeling. I think we already do know. We just avoid telling ourselves the truth.
She had, admittedly, been asking me if I’ve disclosed anything. In my head I just kept seeing the picture of the nuclear explosion/volcano Dr. L put on his blog. 🙂 But when I pressed her on it, she told me she didn’t think that it was the right time to do so yet; instead, she urged me to dedicate myself more to time spent with my SO and suggested that, with time, that would reduce my “need” for LO. I wouldn’t mind if that worked. Sounds kinder and gentler than disclosure, for me as well as for LO (I know, that’s a whole other issue) and/or anyone else.
“But when I pressed her on it, she told me she didn’t think that it was the right time to do so yet; instead, she urged me to dedicate myself more to time spent with my SO and suggested that, with time, that would reduce my “need” for LO.”
Well I guess my feeling is … and I’m only one person … poop or get off the pot. 🙂 I had a friend who did this for 2 years. Ruminated over a close friend. Couldn’t decided whether or not to leave her husband. So she had her foot in both camps but wasn’t fully invested in either. And I think, deep down, she knew the guy friend wasn’t going to step up because, well, he hadn’t. If it was the real deal, I think the guy friend would have been telling her he wanted to be with her whether she was with someone else or not . She eventually left her husband, but not for the guy friend.
I was a little tired last night when I read this. Glad I slept on it, because I wasn’t seeing what you were saying last night. 🙂 You’re right; this has dragged on long enough, and at least now I recognize that. Hence going LC, working on my marriage, etc. None of this is where I want it to be yet, but I know my course, and that’s a start.
I’m not trying to sound holier than thou. I have been through limerence and I know how powerful it is. But in the case of my friend, it was kind of like — either leave (and attempt to get with your LO) or plug back in, completely, to your marriage. Make a decision. For her I think the limerence was a distraction until she was finally ready to leave her husband. It provided something she didn’t have, but she was never going to act on it. I just know (hindsight is always 20/20) that I have spent years ruminating over someone who made it clear in the first few weeks he was never going to show up in any meaningful way in my life. And my patience for people who cant’ show up fully is at an all-time low. But that’s me. Your therapist is a trained professional. 🙂
I didn’t read it as holier than thou. I already knew what my situation is – and told myself, repeatedly, that I needed to act on what I knew to be true. I just fought myself for months. (Just read today’s post, by the way – that is me in a nutshell.) For a variety of reasons I haven’t gone into, even if my feelings are reciprocated, a relationship would be a horrible idea in both the short and long term. So the course is charted. I just hate the map at the moment. 😉 Thanks for your thoughts.
And if I can add one more thing I’ve learned: No one who is really interested keeps you in uncertainty. Not for very long. It pains me to say that, but it’s the truth.
Intellectually I know you’re right. (This blog is very helpful.) But to continue my reply to your other reply, taking that step to disclose terrifies me. Right now LO is pretty much the only outside friend I interact with on a consistent basis (not for lack of trying on my part), and I am not looking forward to that loneliness.
I don’t think that is true when one or both of you have an SO. I have never disclosed my feelings to my LO for that reason so have kept him in uncertainty for nearly a year.
If it’s the real deal, someone finally says something. Otherwise it’s just a friendship or a flirtation or a fantasy, and no one says anything because they don’t really want to. I have a family member who has a thing for one of her guy friends and thinks he has feelings for her, but he’s never broken up with an SO to be with her (he somewhat recently left one long-term partner for another woman) or tried to date her when he was single. He may have some feelings for her but he’s not acting on them. They’re not strong enough.
I think that was my therapist’s point: that LO might hold back because I have an SO. But I can’t afford myself the luxury of thinking that way or I *will* do something stupid eventually. At least right now all the stupid is in my head.