One of the most difficult aspects of beating unwanted limerence is the conflict between the intellectual decision to stop it, and the emotional thirst to keep it going. This is the addict’s challenge: how do I get long-term recovery when it means depriving myself of short-term highs? You can know you need to stop, but simultaneously feel incapable of resisting the craving.
Adding more heft to this challenge is the inescapable fact that recovery is a long and potentially arduous process. That’s because you’ve trained yourself to associate your LO with reward, which causes a positive feedback loop of rumination and LO-seeking that reinforces the limerence. It takes effort to reverse that training. Waiting and hoping that the limerence will subside by itself is very unlikely to succeed, and even if you do take action, the road to recovery can be long.
So… let’s talk shortcuts.
For all the virtues of resolute labour, it’s pretty demoralising to discover after weeks of toil that you’re actually going in the wrong direction, or reached a dead end, or somehow ended up right back where you started. The labour of recovery needs to be purposeful and well-directed if it’s going to lead to a successful escape to sunny uplands.
To extend the metaphor, it can also help to prepare your tools and equipment beforehand, in anticipation of some of the hazards that you may encounter along the road. One of the best preparations is to set out with what could be called a “recovery mindset”.
The key idea is simple – even cliched – and you meet it in many contexts. Shakespeare captured it in Hamlet:
there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
Bluntly, the way you think about something determines how you feel about it. Cognitive behavioural therapy leans heavily on this idea, and the core principle was laid out in one of the first formulations of the approach by Aaron Beck:
…people’s emotions and behaviours are influenced by their perceptions of events. It is not a situation in and of itself that determines what people feel but rather the way in which they construe a situation.
Beck himself made clear that this principle was ancient – certainly dating back to stoicism, and doubtless earlier still. It’s a fundamental truth of psychology.
A recovery mindset, therefore, is an attempt to perceive events in the correct way, to construe the situation as a problem to be solved, to see the limerence as an unhealthy mental state to recover from, and to behave in accordance with that perception. This contrasts with a mindset that sees limerence as a blessing, or higher state of being, or an irresistible force that you are a slave to. In the former case, ending the limerence is the path to freedom, to recovery, to restoring yourself to a healthy and purposeful life. In the latter case, ending the limerence is a burden, a loss that will diminish and impoverish your life. It’s obvious which of these two mindsets will help you succeed.
What can be done then to help yourself adopt a limerence recovery mindset?
1) Be honest with yourself
Limerence is characterised by a series of (possibly well-meant) delusions. That LO is wonderful, and so worthy of your ardour. That your behaviour is justified, because it’s making LO feel good and harming no-one else. That you can handle it. That it isn’t inappropriate, because you don’t really intend to do anything; you just want to show LO that you care about them.
Time for some humility. To recover, you have to recognise that you have been leading yourself on because it felt so good. There’s usually a part of yourself that has known all along that you have been rationalising your behaviour in order to get more hits, but it’s been sulkily acquiescing because your limerent self is so buoyant and excitable and determined. It’s time to let that part of yourself take over, get the “I told you so”s out of the way, and agree that you will stop with the delusional thinking and start being honest.
Most importantly, you have to start being honest with yourself. An honest review of your choices and your behaviour helps you perceive the events of your limerence from the correct perspective.
2) Strive for clear-sighted realism
Step two is to accept that you have already got yourself into a hole and you need to both stop digging and start planning your climbing-out strategy. It’s going to take time and effort to reverse the mental programming that you’ve carried out. There will be relapses and backsteps, days when you don’t want to be strong, days when the craving is so bad you want to relapse, days when you wonder if the pain of limerence is maybe preferable to the pain of withdrawal. At least it comes with a few thrills.
You have to see this clearly, recognise that this is the only road to freedom. Those are obstacles on the road, but you can look beyond them and methodically work around them. “Yeah, that pain is going to come, I can’t avoid it, but I will deal with it when it arrives, and cope as best as I can.”
3) Accept the sacrifices
Regular commenter Scharnhorst recently posted a provocative question:
Do you see giving up on your LO/ending the LE as a sacrifice?
This is a very pertinent question for revealing whether you have the recovery mindset. So, let’s start with the honesty: quitting limerence is a sacrifice. You are giving up a source of pleasure, emotional stimulation, maybe even emotional sustenance, and your life is going to get uncomfortable and lonely for a while. But you should also recognise that what are you sacrificing is a source of gratification, not a source of lasting happiness.
If the emotional support you are getting from your LO is more profound than that, more sustaining because you don’t receive it from anyone else, then you need to face a more fundamental issue: you may need to transform your life. LO may be incidental to that point – the limerence has revealed that you need to confront larger problems about the choices you’ve made. If the sacrifice feels unbearable, dig deep and try and understand why. Is it the craving for romantic adventure? Is it insecurity about your own attractiveness? Is it the need for emotional support that you can’t find elsewhere? Is it simply that the limerence makes you feel so intoxicated that you can’t stand the thought of losing that feeling? You need to have a sense of what it is you are really giving up.
Finally, all choices come with sacrifices. You also need to look at the other side of the equation: what would you be sacrificing by carrying on with the limerence experience? Your marriage? Your emotional stability? Your kids’ emotional stability? What are the costs of not taking action to end the limerence reinforcement?
Unless you get to the point of deciding “this is a sacrifice I am willing to make,” you will always resist your own efforts to escape.
4) Take charge
This is your life, and your future. You can’t rely on your LO or SO (if you have one) to save you from the consequences of limerence. You won’t get better until you stop reinforcing the limerence. The only way to freedom is to make the purposeful decision to stop feeding the habit, start being radically honest with yourself, and accept the labour ahead. A fundamental part of the recovery mindset is that you are responsible for solving the problem, and it is in your power to free yourself. You need to commit. You need to take purposeful steps in a positive direction to break the habit and stop looking back.
Shifting to this mindset is the best shortcut recovery I know. Regular readers will spot that this is basically the purposeful living message that forms the foundation of the LwL philosophy. Appraise your situation honestly, decide on what life you want to live and what person you want to be, plan how you can get from where you are to that new, better place, and then take the first step in that direction.
All that’s needed then, is to keep on walking.
Thanks Dr L. Another very helpful post. There’s one thing that keeps popping up in my brain since I instigated NC about a month ago. Am I appearing rude to LO? I’ve gone from regular contact (asking how they are and being their confidante on a regular basis ) to NC. But then I remember that there’s been NC from them either (my feelings weren’t reciprocated) and I try to use that as fuel to continue being real with myself and get my life under control.
The people pleasing aspect of not wanting to seem rude to LO is a road block though. I’m wondering if any other Limerents experience this?
Yes I think that’s very common, Holly. Could be a good topic for a future post – how people pleasers can get caught in a loop of not knowing what the best thing to do is, and why NC is so uncomfortable for them. It may also feed in to why they are vulnerable to limerence in the first place (low self-esteem?)…
Yes! Great blog topic! Pleeeassse Dr. L!
I do hesitate on one point however……is being a people pleaser really a sign of low self esteem? Or are we just really nice, considerate, compassionate, well-mannerred and kind people who apply the golden rule? I don’t actually feel like I have low self-esteem. But then self delusion is one of my super powers….
I personally think children can be taught to be people pleasers by parents who consistently overrun their boundaries. The whole idea that your emotions mean less than others is something that can be accidentally or purposefully enforced by an immature parent who relies on their kids to fulfill their needs.
I would argue the correct statement is low value not low self esteem.
Hi Holly, yes definitely. I thought I meant so much to my LO that it wouldn’t be fair to him to go NC. That I hurt his feelings and that I don’t want to hurt LO. At some point I had to make a decision: do I hurt him or hurt me? Took me a while, but eventually I chose me!
It’s been about year since I nearly lost my SO and since I properly started NC (and made it clear that the ball was in my court, so she hasn’t reached out either) and I’ve noticed my very powerful limerant drive is trying to use this exact strategy on me – surely it’s rude to have let things go so long; surely it couldn’t hurt just to have a collegiate coffee and talk about work. That’s why I’m back here today! I have to keep reminding myself that I’ve lost touch with lots of people over the years and never thought twice about it. I don’t think I am doing well with a recovery mindset so this is a timely reminder. I am so grateful for this site.
Hey Sam. I think our limerent brains will use whatever tools they can exploit to try and compel us to seek LO, and if guilt about rudeness works as leverage, that’s as good a tool as any…
I’ve been doing my best to be NC (as far as possible, because I work with her) for a week now. I have the same worry – and it’s not that I’m a people-pleaser as such (I’m an INTP, I am often more concerned about being misunderstood than rubbing people up the wrong way).
I often worry about “What if she thinks I’m a jerk?”. But if she is as smart as I have been telling myself that she is, she should understand what I am doing. As far as I am aware, she knows that I like her, so she should see the point in me minimising contact and when she does talk to me, she gets polite, but fairly terse answers. I don’t speak in a concise manner, so it really must be apparent what I am doing.
But if being rude is the price to pay for getting over this, isn’t it worth it? Isn’t it likely that we are imagining ourselves being perceived as such to force ourselves to re-establish contact? If our LO’s felt that our behaviour was both out of the ordinary and rude, and if they could not see what we are doing, wouldn’t they likely ask us point blank why we are being more distant?
You’re doing great! Keep it up.
“Isn’t it likely that we are imagining ourselves being perceived as such to force ourselves to re-establish contact? If our LO’s felt that our behaviour was both out of the ordinary and rude, and if they could not see what we are doing, wouldn’t they likely ask us point blank why we are being more distant?”, yes absolutely with you livelonglimerent!
I have been thinking what if LO is miserable, misses me, doesn’t understand my actions, etc. then I am thinking: what if LO moved on, is actually in a relationship and I am nowhere near his mind? Could be either way or anything between on the spectrum. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. He lives his life, I live mine.
Nice post. It’s great to have these articles we can read about what we are going through our lives while fighting limerence. Thanks for sharing them with us, and keep up the good work!
Thanks, Ulysses, and yes! I’m going to keep going, for sure.
Thanks Dr. L for this thoughtful post and for this amazing community. I did not know what I have been dealing with my whole life until I found this blog. The content is incredible and somehow seems like it is written for me.
I am having an LE with a coworker. Both have SO’s and families. As this post by Dr. L sets out so beautifully, intellectually I know it needs to end, emotionally I hold on. It is intoxicating.
What do I give up if I let go – a good question. The sweetest most subtle compliments that resonate so deeply. Feeling wanted and attractive. Desired.
What do I gain if I let go? Freedom, integrity, loyalty to a wonderful SO, relief from pain (in the end – not at the outset), true presence for every other extremely important part of life.
I am at the bargaining stage. It’s not actually a betrayal. It can be toned down. With the passage of time, it will consume me less. Perhaps some rules will help. If I can somehow do enough work and purposeful living to feel everything the LO gives without the LO perhaps the LO’s significance will naturally diminish. I suppose I am working through whether there can be rules for LC so the good is extracted without the bad. NC seems so harsh. I continue to read the posts and comments. Thank you all so much.
Hey Butter, that was me. I wanted to stay best friends with LO, just find a way to tame my feelings. It didn’t work for me. I tried to hold on to LO in whatever form I could, tried every possible way until I realized that I have to let LO go. And I did. And life is starting to be good again.
Thanks Sarah. I am hopeful. One way I think about this is that without LO the highs are not as high and the lows are not as low, and the result is a more stable, constant good state. I just have to stop the rollercoaster. Pick a point and just get off the ride. I just need it too much right now, so I know I’m not ready yet. I am working up to it. Good to hear you have been through and are better now.
Butter, I feel like you could be me (which happens pretty much every time I read this blog – there is so much of my truth here, and I’m amazed to see how many of us are going through the same struggles). The intellectual awareness vs. emotional readiness is so real, as is getting stuck in this bargaining stage. I like to tell myself that if I am identifying stages, that means I am progressing toward the path to recovery…but Dr. L is right that I have to make that affirmative choice at some point. I’m not ready, but I’m sending support to anyone who is making that choice and moving toward their purposeful life.
One question for the group: I really like this idea of examining what exactly this LE is giving me and what I would be sacrificing to give it up. But to think about it, I have to think about LO, and when I think about LO, my mind spirals out of control. Any tips to approaching this situation more analytically than emotionally?
One possibility is to look back to previous limerence episodes, compare them to this one, and then to be attentive to new people that you meet that cause the glimmer for you. That can help you start to see the broader context, and look at this from the perspective of your limerence tendencies, rather than LO’s specific attributes.
It had been 20+years since my previous and worst LE. When I realized that I had a crush on this person(in the latest LE) I kind of laughed it off, but when the thoughts wouldn’t stop I knew I had a bigger problem. I was young and had very little good experiences with the opposite sex. I really didn’t think that this could happen at this age, I had everything going for me (so I thought). I even had to ask myself “what is it about this person?” She is cute but not as attractive as SO, she’s no spring chicken but looks younger than her actual age. She really appealed to me on an emotional and intellectual level( and she’s cute, did I mention that?) I mean we come across attractive people all the time but only fall limerent rarely I hope. So this particular LE/LO was very different. I don’t really think I’ll fall for another LO( famous last words) because of the very specific and exacting standard that was recently set. I am NC, so there is no chance of latest LO going any further.
Esperanza: “But to think about it, I have to think about LO, and when I think about LO, my mind spirals out of control. Any tips to approaching this situation more analytically than emotionally?”
I had/have this exact problem. When I first started down the road to recovery (hopefully), and learned how much I was screwing myself over with rumination spawned by intrusive thoughts, I made the snap decision to “banish” thoughts of LO from my brain. If you followed me around that week, you would have heard me mutter to myself “get out of my head, get out of my head!” a dozen times a day, whenever I caught myself thinking about LO.
It didn’t work. I mean, it did in a way, but it wasn’t a real solution. I did banish those immediate thoughts, and it allowed me to give myself some measure of control over the situation… to re-establish myself as the owner, landlord, and bouncer of my own brain. “You don’t get in unless I say you get in”. It was satisfying, but it wasn’t a long term solution though.
I realized that to progress, I need to examine my thoughts, not banish them. I need to dig under the surface LE and LO, and figure out what they’re feeding in me. The solution I came up with is difficult to explain. The best analogy is that it’s like playing a children’s game, I believe it’s called “operation”. I have to carefully reach into my own thought process, digging past the shinny glimmering LO, and figure out WHY she is shiny and glimmery, to me, at this phase in my life. When I started this process, I hit lots of rumination, spiraling thoughts, and got distracted from the process of deeper self examination, pretty much constantly. Every time I caught myself, I did a mental “buzzer” like the children’s game, and started over. I did the exact same mental self-examination that had just caused ruination (or whatever) but this time I watched for the spiraling thoughts and tried my best to avoid them. Basically I kept doing the same process until I did it right.
It’s not easy. I have to take breaks… and when I say “breaks”, I mean “days at a time, if needed”. But I’m making progress.
I’ve found out that I’ve been relying on analytical thinking my entire life, and neglected learning to recognize, meet, and control my emotions. My emotional self is a goddamn mess, but hey… aren’t most of us? And that’s valuable information to have. At least now I know, and now I can work on it.
“I’ve found out that I’ve been relying on analytical thinking my entire life, and neglected learning to recognize, meet, and control my emotions.”
“You’ve learned to separate from your more vulnerable or difficult feelings since early childhood, and you’ve gotten very busy (in your head) trying to figure out the confusing or confounding treatment you’ve received at the hands of others. In short, you’ve learned to control your own emotional pain by thinking your way through life as opposed to feeling your way along. Rather than being able to express how the Borderline’s behaviors make you feel, you micro-analyze virtually everything you’re exposed to, due to early conditioning that has you needing to be in a ‘one-up’ position in your relationships, and feel in-control. It’s this reflex in you, that’s igniting your partner’s fiery reaction, and it won’t just happen with Borderlines!” – Shari Shreiber “https://sharischreiber.com/there-must-be-a-pony-in-here-somewhere/”
I really like Schreiber. Maybe the most important thing in Schreiber’s comment is that it won’t just happen with Borderlines. However, personally, I definitely believe limerents can be attracted to Borderlines. This is why God invented therapists.
Thank you for this: “I’ve found out that I’ve been relying on analytical thinking my entire life, and neglected learning to recognize, meet, and control my emotions.”
This is a fantastic post Jackson. I too used muttered mantras in the beginning of my recover. I would walk around and say out loud: “I don’t mean anything to LO. LO’s not good for me. She’s a drug. She can ruin my life.” Like you write, it worked but wasn’t a long term solution. My therapist even posited that the mantra – while helpful short-term – was keeping me from long-term recovery as I was still focusing on LO and the LE albeit in a negative way.
This started a process of normalisation (we work together to NC is not a real option). Ultimately, the normalisation (or rather the way I was going about it) continued the LE but more one-sided and caused a major relapse crash n’ burn that I’ve described elsewhere. I know ‘purposeful living’ is the answer but I still cannot find purpose that feels more compelling to me than the attention of LO so I’ve started to forcefully ignore her and have stopped initiating any contact (chat, social media, conversations in the office). It’s incredibly painful but sort of working.
Like I wrote months ago, I don’t have to think or feel the right thing, I just have to do the right thing. I’m doing my own “Operation” type analysis together with my therapist. That is also a painful (and expensive) process but has brought so much to light about my need for external validation, for female attention, my tendency towards people-pleasing and needing to feel physically attractive. I’m also trying to relive my boarding school high school years by having one of the cute, bubbly manic pixie dream girls of that time give me the love and attention they never did back then. It worked – briefly (five wonderful days) – but then all came crashing down.
Fred: “That is also a painful (and expensive) process but has brought so much to light about my need for external validation, for female attention, my tendency towards people-pleasing and needing to feel physically attractive.”
Hi Fred, are you me? lol wow that sounds familiar.
Esperanza, our situations sound similar. Thanks for sharing. In response to your question, perhaps you can make a full list of what it means to let go, good and bad – indulge entirely and let yourself think about it one last time – then put the bad side away and only look at the list of benefits of letting go every morning when you start your day. Your lists will be complete and when they are it will likely be obvious that letting go is good. Then do not look at the sacrifices list for a while, but everyday read the one that reminds you of the positive of letting go. I may need to do this too before I resolve to finally detach.
Great idea, Butter. Thank you and here’s hoping that we both get to a place where we are ready to do this work.
Butter and Esperanza- I can totally relate to what you wrote. I ended up in a full-blown EA with my LO- absolutely never intending to go there. It was discovered by my SO, and it has been so incredibly painful. I had no idea, when I was in the blissful time of just getting the attention and connection and euphoria the emotional and spiritual credit that I was drawing on. And I truly couldn’t appreciate how much damage it would do to my SO and to my LO and to me. It has been traumatic in many ways. I was discovered before I threw my entire life, and the lives of my SO and kids under the bus, but I was getting in deeper by the day and I am now eternally grateful that it ended when it did. I’m now 6 months NC, and my emotions still haven’t neutralized, and it’s painful. It’s not a switch that can just be turned off – it’s not something I could control, even though I thought I could. And looking at the pain I’ve caused my SO has been awful.
The work that my SO and I have done to repair our marriage has been amazing, and there have been so many gifts that have come of it- but I regret it, and I wish that I could go back in time and stop before I got as far as I did. I’ve lost so much- groups of friends, a physical outlet that I LOVED, the trust of the person I vowed to love with a single heart, my Integrity. None of it is lost forever, and I believe in redemption, but this climbing out process has been brutal.
I offer this with love as someone in it with you- but, truly truly truly, all that glitters is not gold.
Thank you so much, Janesays. In my fantasies, I believe that LO and our (currently non-existent) EA never become known to our SOs and actually enhance our marriages (which are by all accounts great already), but that’s of course BS. I’m sorry for what you are going through but greatly appreciate the reminder about the fool’s gold.
Sorry-had such a painful day with SO as he is processing everything that has happened- didn’t mean to single anyone out or preach. This is just so difficult sometimes, and the damage is so real:(
I really appreciate your candor and you tell a very valid cautionary tale. “all the glitters is not gold” needs to be painted on my wall for future reference.
No need to apologize…ever….you haven’t attacked anyone and you are trying to help the limerent community and their SO’s. Hang in there!
Thanks for sharing janesays. You give a good perspective here, the one of the SO, and how much pain he is in, which we limerence often turn a blind eye to due to the limerence fog.
You also say what consequences it has for you, everything you have lost because of it, another view a limerent pushes away heavily until it is too late.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
“Gentle reader, may you never feel what I then felt! May your eyes never shed such stormy, scalding, heart-wrung tears as poured from mine. May you never appeal to Heaven in prayers so hopeless and so agised as in that hour left my lips: for never may you, like me, dread to be the instrument of evil to what you wholly love.”
–Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
Thank you for telling us your story, Janesays, especially since it’s caused you immense pain. It sounds like it’s been hell but you’re clawing your way out of it. It is so sobering and frightening how deep a LE can go. Moments after I read Dr L’s post, LO contacted me of course, after a month of NC. Ding a ling ding… my brain went wild. Today has been tough. I feel like I took many steps backwards after last night’s interaction. But I will continue to claw my way out.
I will remember your story and just how deep and painful it can go. Thank you again for sharing it with us all.
Thank you for sharing your story and for your honesty. This is exactly the cautionary tale that will help me lay the groundwork for the ultimate decision to end it and pull away. Even now I think both SOs would be upset with the intimacy and exchanges even though it is not a full EA. Keeping SO in the forefront is so important and is really the main reason to stop.
I was reading DrL’s blog post on closure – and it was, as they tend to be, like he was writing just to me. I tried to end things with my LO a few different times: each of which ended up being the events that dug us deeper. We both said everything we wanted to say- in the name of “before we say goodbye for real”…. and then I would feel so incredibly lonely and sad, and everything was a trigger and I missed him like I was underwater and he was air. The limerence had begun its insidious work of convincing me that SO wasn’t really there for me- and, more delusional still- that my LO and LE were actually good for my marriage (it took all the pressure off SO to be everything I needed- in some ways I appreciated him more (SO) at the beginning of my LE).
If I could do it over- I would disclose to my SO when I began keeping things a secret. It would have been a really hard conversation, but I wonder if it wouldn’t have been the ice water the LE needed to end. Funny- because I was like “I can’t tell him- he’d freak out”…… and he may well have. But it would have been the integrity move. And there would have been WAY less damage to freak out about.
One of the things that started to happen to me in my EA is that I would look at couples and think “she wouldn’t do that to her husband” and “he wouldn’t deserve that”… and the cognitive dissonance would hurt. And then I would think of my LO…, and be swept away again in all the good feelings.
As an aside: LO thought me the most stunning woman. And at the end- actually a week before D-day, there’s a picture of me and my SO and I look 10 years older than I do now. After D-day I looked back at pictures and I looked like that a lot. I weigh the same now and I looked way heavier, and I looked older….. so for all the fun and giddiness, it was taking even a physical toll.
I think disclosing at very early stages to SO (when just noticing the glimmer) is not a bad strategy. It would “alert” SO to LO probably helping to keep the LE from developing any further as there will be some justifying to SO why you see LO.
To be honest, I think I tried to make SO aware of LO at the beginning (without explicitly disclosing the glimmer), but I tried for SO to meet LO, told SO about LO. SO was very rude, not interested in the slightest way to even small talk with LO, did not want to hear a thing about LO. So I continued seeing LO for coffees etc at work, without telling SO about our conversations, as he was not interested at all. He knew whenever I met LO, I did bring LO home as well to introduce him as a friend, but eventually over months, it became an EA, so from that point on I shut up and the secrets started, and I slipped down the slope. I wonder if SO had been somewhat open to a new friend of mine (keep in mind we moved, I lost all of my friends, I did not meet many people, so it is not uncommon to meet new people and make friends), if he had been at least social enough to small talk, maybe things would have turned out differently. And don’t get me wrong, I am not blaming SO for what I did… but it was definitely a factor of many that contributed to it.
Your SO likely sensed on some level from the beginning that LO was on the path of stealing the affections of his beloved. That would be the reason for his unfriendliness. There have been posts about how men and women just can’t be super close friends without something going pear shaped. It’s sure proven true for me!
Yeah, I did think about that. However my SO is unfortunately kind of known amongst my friends to be a bit anti-social and rude, and has been giving a few of my friends (female as well) and family the impression that he doesn’t like them. I have a tendency to either explain how he is to others (that he comes across like that and doesn’t actually mean it) or to apologize for his behavior if he actually is in fact rude.
Aw Sarah that’s a tough spot to be in. 🙁
Well, LO is gone, and I do have friends that see beyond my SO’s moodiness. Friends that accept him the way he as, as have I. My good friend the other day told me again that they take him the way he is and love him that way too, as I chose to love him. That was good to hear.
When I was dating LO #2 while in the Navy, she was a professional asset to me. She was 28 or 29 and could read and work a room like nobody else I’ve ever seen. When LO #2 wanted to turn on the charm and strut her stuff, not a woman in the place could stand up to her. My superior officers’ wives and my relatives just loved her.
I was out of the Navy when I met my wife so getting along with other officers/wives wasn’t an issue. While she lacked LO #2’s abilities in the above category, she’s a trophy wife with an incredibly sweet disposition. More than one person has asked what she saw in me. One of my best friends told me, “[Wife] is nothing like [LO #2].” In contrast, my grandmother, who adored LO #2, referred to my future wife as “That little blonde gold digger.” It was an interesting contrast. My friends universally preferred my wife to LO #2. My family was the opposite. But, between the two groups, my friends knew them both better.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
“As an aside: LO thought me the most stunning woman.”
I read this and immediately texted my wife this:
“By the way, have you been getting some work done behind my back? I think you’re more stunning every time I see you.”
“Huh? So confused. Work done?”
Ahahahah. It’s tough trying to get a spouse to enjoy the wonders of limerence! 😛
On this topic… I’ve made a point, over the past several months, even before I learned about limerence and LE, but was fully aware of EAs and what they were… that whenever I felt the urge to say something inappropriate to LO, I made sure to redirect that attention towards my wife instead.
Thinking of honest, worthy compliments to pay to my wife has actually made me really appreciate her more than I have in years. It wasn’t that our marriage was bad, not at all, it’s that I was complacent and took her for granted. When I put thought into it, it was a revelation just how lucky I was to have her.
None of that information made the LE abate any, no it just made me feel even guiltier, and more confused. “If I’ve got this wonderful wife, why am I obsessing over somebody else?”
My wife on the other hand, was at first just waiting for “the other shoe to drop”, so to speak. I think she was wondering what I was buttering her up for (Ironically, in a way she wasn’t that far from the truth, although no disclosure of the LE has ever happened to SO or LO). Now she just accepts it as her husband being sappy and dorky.
And now I’ve gotten into the habit of complimenting her whether or not thoughts of LO prompted it. It’s not a bad habit to be in.
Bravo Jackson! What a lovely habit to have developed!!!
I agree! Reality for the win!
Bad habits die hard. Like I wrote above: I’ve stopped contacting LO, stopped asking her to lunch, stopped reaching out on social media, stopped writing her on WhatsApp and stopped chatting with her in the office. What I haven’t stopped is where a lot of this all started: her Instagram account. Whenever she posts, I screen capture her (beautiful, beguiling, adoring, enchanting) pictures and upload them to Box.com so I have a ‘secret stash’ of all things LO. Sad, I know. And yet I feel compelled to do it. I follow some of her friends so if they capture some other side of LO, I can get those glimpses too and add to my shrine.
Wow, sounds so stalker-like when I just typed that out. Anyway, I’ve tried to stop. I unfollowed her but in the period of normalisation (see above) I refollowed her again. I’ve uninstalled Instagram but kept going to the web version on my phone’s browser so eventually I just reinstalled it. I can’t bear missing an aspect of her fun, quirky and beautiful life. The pictures won’t go anywhere but I feel like they’ll give me comfort in my old age – to look back and reminisce that for a week, I had this beautiful creature all to myself.
The stalker-ish behaviour is one of the ways I knew I had made it past the point I was comfortable with. I one time sat at a window watching the parking lot to see if LO returned from lunch with somebody else, or by herself. I mean, I was her regular lunch date, how could she “cheat” on me (remember, we both have SOs, so this is stupid to begin with). I kept telling myself that wasn’t what I was doing, but I never fooled myself. I kept telling myself I’d get up and walk away before she got back so I’d never know either way. I didn’t.
I too had a secret stash of “things LO”, and I made it a point to delete them. All of them. Removed her contact information from my phone. Deleted conversations. deleted saved files, pictures, videos, etc. Not all of them, not yet, I’m still working on that. It’s a process. Every single time it’s hard to do, and I feel uneasy doing it each and every time too (doesn’t help that I’m naturally a packrat, physical and digital. I have computer files dating back to the mid-90s).
On a personal note, I feel like this process is working, like I’m slowly I’m getting better. LO is no longer the first thing in my head. Oh she’ll show up within the first 30 minutes or hour, but she isn’t first overall anymore.
Side-note, It amazes me how much of myself I see in the stories of other people here, both women and men. I think it’s one of the reasons people keep commenting “Dr. L, it feels like you’re talking directly to me!” Limerence hits us all in very similar ways, and I think that there are very certain personality types that are prone to it, as well as certain personality/emotional needs that many of us seem to share that lead to limerence… or at least to LEs. In fact, I’m pretty sure that there’s probably a pretty specific formula that can be worked out, what really seems to differ between us is the LO themselves, and how they act towards us. Once we adjust for that, we seem to have very similar experiences/progressions/reactions.
Yeah I think that stalkerish behavior really shows you the level of obsession. It’s scary to see what you’d do, isn’t it? Would you have ever imagined you’d do that?
I recommend watching the show “you” on netflix to maybe get a small reality check.
When I was in college, one of my friends was a dispatcher for the campus police. When he worked back-shift, sometimes I’d visit him in the dispatch center. I pretty much had access to anybody’s file I wanted to see. I knew what kind of car “The Crush” (I posted about her elsewhere) drove, where she lived, phone number, where she parked on campus, her license plate #, SSN, etc. I could “accidentally” run into her at will.
What was better was I had her BF’s information. They got married and are still married. After he came to my room and threatened me, I thought about going after him. The first week of the semester was open add/drop. You went in, colored in some circles on computer cards, and turned them in. Since I had his SSN and schedule, I thought about going in and rearranging some things for him. My roommate was willing to fill in his name so on the off chance it came back to me, the handwriting wouldn’t match. It would likely have taken him a few weeks to discover it and straighten it out.
I didn’t go through with it but it was a lot of fun to think about.
The neural systems involved are pretty fundamental, so it’s predictable the sensations should be common to most of us, but the common thoughts and experiences are more surprising. Humans are interesting, eh?
Jackson, “”The stalker-ish behaviour is one of the ways I knew I had made it past the point I was comfortable with.””
Same here, earlier this year during the 2 week Easter school holidays I drove 20 min each morning to sit in the car park to see if LO would show up for coffee (he worked nearby), he didn’t. Then one day as I sat there waiting I thought to myself “WTF am I doing here, like some love crazed psycho”, it wasn’t one of my proudest moments. I made myself not go for the remainder of holidays (about 3 days) but holy hell it was hard as I watched the clock at home, pacing, heart beating fast, feeling sick as I forced myself to stay home. I forced myself to stop doing it, but I do still check the car park after school drops each morning as I drive past, I know what car he drives and his license plate number. I also “scan” the roads on my way to school drop offs for his car, usually SO sees me before I see him, I can’t describe how thrilling I find it if he waves or honks first. Shit I am sad!
My goal for 2020 is to NOT check the carpark and drive straight home/to work, it will be hard.
PS: I also used to stalk LOs Insta/FB page, just to see his photo, that habit took AGES to break!!
I’ve recently had some conversations with my LO where he showed more of his true self instead of a curated image. This more realistic impression leads me to see more clearly, in retrospect and with amazement, my past ways of objectifying him. It comes as a relief that I can’t do it anymore, now that I know him better, to the point where the term ‘LO’ (where O stands for ‘object’) feels no longer accurate. He’s a guy I like and have come to love and respect, but because of our respective life circumstances I need to limit contact, lighten up, let go, and lay off thinking about him. (And hope he never realized the embarrassing extent of my obsession.)
Concurrently, I’ve noticed this:
I’ve been hurting myself by making an unavailable relationship so central to my experience that its very unavailability continually generates obstacles to actually living my life.
Which at present is as demanding as it has ever been. So it’ll be helpful if I can manage to generate fewer obstacles to doing my own things.
Aha, is that a glimpse of purposeful living I see on the horizon?
Wow Midlifer, your post really resonated with me, thank you for posting.
“”And hope he never realized the embarrassing extent of my obsession”” yes, after writing what I posted yesterday I reflected all the embarrassing things I’ve done and I am quite mortified. If anyone knew the extent of my obsession they’d probably lock me up (mind you some of my stories would keep you all entertained for the next couple of weeks).
Just before reading your post I was thinking how my limerence is stopping me from living and enjoying my life, and I have a very good life to enjoy. I’ve also told myself to stop living on autopilot to stop my rumination controlling everything I do. It’s as if my life is on “pause”, two whole f***** years on pause, wake up Lee-Anne!! Time to hit the “play” button again.
As I woke my 1st thoughts popped to LO and I stopped and blocked him out. I need to stop using LO as a security blanket, a comforter, all it does is masks my true feelings in the moment. Yesterday I did a lot of talking with SO and it’s helping, but I have a long road ahead of me and need to be patient with myself. My predominant feeling yesterday was anger, anger at myself for letting limerence control and define who I am, frustration that I let my thoughts swirl around in circles, feeling stupid because the solution is quite obvious, I need to communicate what I want to SO, he’s not a mind reader. LO is not the root of my problem , he’s merely the catalyst, enabler, carrier pigeon of what’s really bothering me. I need to stop projecting him as this perfect person, he’s not. I need to stop using him as my escape hatch when my mind isn’t coping. I need to realise he’s not going to come galloping in on his white horse and “rescue” me from this mind mess, only I can help myself.
Not just sad; counterproductive. You’re still in deep, Fred.
Sadly I have done all of those same things. And I can identify 100% with your comment about not wanting to miss “any aspect of her fun, quirky and beautiful life.” I almost feel a sort of jealousy of my LO’s life at times. She lives life the way I wish I could. Or at least she appears to in my LE induced fog. I ask myself, do I feel this way about her only because I’m right in the midst of a full blown midlife crisis? I think so.
Yeah, I’m with you, B. I want to live like my LO seems to in the curated face he presents to the world. I’m ever so slowly starting to translate that desire into choosing to do things in my own life that make me happy.
Midlife is a bear; hence my screen name.
It’s not only a bear but a f**** PITA when you are trying to drag an unwilling “Midlifer SO” along while trying to live a purposeful happy life.
Had a shit day, trying to talk to SO so we can get rid of the deadwood in our marriage and move forward.
Let’s just say it didn’t go well.
So sorry to hear this, Lee-Anne. I wish you two well.
Thats not great Lee. Try and withdraw from LO if you can. I’m with drawing … Again and I’m having night terrors about him and withdraw pains but I know I have to go through this and it’ll be ok. Things will never be ok with SO whilst I’m limerent. It’s living two lives.
“Things will never be ok with SO whilst I’m limerent. It’s living two lives.” That’s so true Rachel. You know, in my case I have a non reciprocating LO, the LE is totally in my head only, nobody knows anything about it. And still is has an enormous negative impact on my marriage. I don’t see it but my husband says I’m different then I used to be. I say it’s midlife crisis which is partly true. It’s as if he knows about my LE, or at least he feels there is something strong dragging me away from him, without being able to name it. It’s very unfair towards him but I can’t talk about it, it would kill him only to know my thoughts. And honestly, as long as it’s 100% in my head I don’t feel like I have to tell him. I didn’t do anything that I am ashamed to tell him.
So I can only imagine the effect limerence has on your respective SO’s, when there have been a real interactions with LO.
It’s not always easy to put ourselves in SO’s shoes.
Rachel, I am having very vivid dreams now that I am in NC mode, it’s pissing me off. The rumination is diminishing but the dreams are increasing, I can’t win grrrr
Emma, “”It’s very unfair towards him but I can’t talk about it, it would kill him only to know my thoughts. “” Yes!!!! It’s as if you read my mind, your whole post is verbatim what I’d write. The only difference is that it’s partially in my head, if LO had shown zero interest in the beginning or perhaps withdrawn later this LE would be over by now. I too haven’t done anything I am ashamed of (it’s borderline EA), I partially disclosed earlier this year so SO is aware of LO and has met him. There was an incident just before NC with LO and even that I disclosed to SO, but other than that nobody has a clue what’s wrong with me. It’s like SO is trying to join the dots but can’t or maybe he just doesn’t want to know. I can never tell him what I am thinking or feeling, he’d go apeshit.
Hey Emma. So my LO told me he had feelings for me and we were good mates. I feel I withdraw and then he sucks me back in he knows how to get into my head. It’s messed up and I am kind of friends with his SO. I unfollow him on FB but I still see everything becuase she posts constantly. Our kids are friends and we live very close to each other. I see LO all the time. Like you both it’s so unfair on my SO he has no clue and I have to say it’s my anxiety which isn’t a total lie. At the moment I’m hurting like a b**** I’m not sure what’s real and what’s an illusion. He says things to me like ‘your the most amazing person’ and how much he is attracted to me and then the next day he constantly talks about how amazing his SO is. It’s a head f*** constantly.
Lee and Emma it’s a very lonely place to be isn’t it. The dreams are awful but it’s part of the withdrawal. I can’t be like this anymore I honestly can’t cope with these circles. I know after the holidays I’m going to see LO again and it’s going to start all over again. He messes with head with hot and cold games. I wish it didn’t get to me but he does. The embarrassing thing is LO is not attractive nor does he have any friends and is a little weird. Without blowing my own trumpet I’m out of his league but yet in utterly obsessed again… It’s been like this for nearly two years it’s like I can’t remember what it’s like without being limerent
‘The only difference is that it’s partially in my head, if LO had shown zero interest in the beginning or perhaps withdrawn later this LE would be over by now’ exactly. Everytime I feel I’m getting better somehow he knows and sends me a message or says something. I can’t go NC but if I could I bloody well would.
Rachel, go LC as far as you can go. Do not reply to LO’s messages, ignore him as much as you can. Be rude… he’ll get it eventually. He will put up a fight though trying everything he can to get you to react. He’s no good and you need to stay away. Also pull back from his SO. She may notice you being colder, she won’t guess why, if she even questions it. It’ll be a bit odd, people would, if they even notice, think you are weird. Who cares. Do not interact with LO anymore. This will be the prep work for when they move.
I have texted LO one last time, to sorta say I am over him. He showed no signs of continuing the conversation. There is nothing left. He gets it. We’re done and over and he is out of my life. It feels good. I think about him less, I enjoy my days with the kids. I enjoy life again, and he’s just a despicable part of my memory.
Rachel, hang in there!! It’s a lonely struggle as you say, but this blog is so helpful. I agree with Sarah, and her example is an inspiration really! I understand that NC is not possible in your case, same here I get to see my LO a lot too. But you need to stay strong with as limited contact as possible. I can’t believe he tells you the things you wrote!! I don’t remember your story exactly, but does he know you want him to stop this?
Same as you Lee-Anne and many of us, I’m in “forced” NC for the holidays, and yes, the daydreaming fades, but I’m having more dreams about LO too! I don’t really feel better though, it’s calmer but depressing…
Thanks Sarah. It’s so hard isn’t it. I’m so fed up of this now. I had a good 6 week where I didn’t feel the need to come on here LO wasn’t getting to me and yet I feel like he was. I need to rebuild boundaries again and like you said limit contact. I guess I haven’t put him straight when he says these things to me becuase it gets me hooked and makes me feel good. Thanks for your support Sarah. I’m so pleased that your feeling better. Life is better with out an LO but getting LO out of our minds is the struggle.
Thanks Emma as well for your support. My LO is a family friend and lives on my street. Very much in each others lives but I am a people pleaser, hence why I haven’t kept LO at distance but now is the time. I need to be harder and put my sanity first for a change.
Rachel, your LO is playing you like a fiddle, he’s probably not used to getting any attention let alone from someone far more attractive so he’s milking it for all it’s worth. He needs to stop saying those things to you. My LO also says provocative things, if he crosses boundaries I ignore what he’s said and change the subject. I sometimes feel he’s testing me, but like you once the holidays finish I need to re-establishe boundaries and go LC.
My LO has sort of taken the 1st step to re-establishing boundaries just before Christmas, I think his SO has spoken to him so that should make things a little easier for me.
The last few weeks have been hell but like Emma I feel calmer due to the forced NC but definitely more depressing, I need to stop mopping around.
Thanks Lee-anne the fact you said LO is playing my like a fiddle is a big reality check. In my mind he feels the same as me but he doesn’t he just likes the attention. What’s the story with your LO Lee-Anne?
Last night I took a positive step an listened to the EDP course as there have been extra vaults added. Dr L recommends thinking of positive things that happened through out the day just before bed. Also the count back from 5 when your thinking about LO to change the habit. I to have been moping around it’s been crap I haven’t wanted to speak but I’ve been here before.
Happy new year everyone, may it be Limerent free or at least a road to recovery for you all free from LOs.
Rachel, in a nutshell I met my LO randomly 3 years ago and have been in a LE with him for 2 yrs. No PA but borderline EA, we seem to be very good at stroking each others egos and have formed a close friendship. I met him through his SO who I am friends with. I guess LO came into my life at the “right” time, I was ripe for limerence, I am in my mid 40’s, Pre-menopausal with a diminishing sex life. LO is a great listener, lots of fun to be with, intelligent, great sense of humour and very caring, I felt an instant connection with him.
Unfortunately we are both married so this will and can go nowhere. Unfortunately I also can’t stop thinking about him. I haven’t disclosed to either my SO or LO and I don’t intend to. I am hoping LC to NC will finally break this bond with LO.
James Afourkeeff says
I am beginning to believe that limerents are much more inquisitive and analytical than most other people. I think it is when we are faced with a confounding mystery, of any kind, that our minds race and have trouble coming to a conclusion. Add a profoundly arousing stimulus such as the prospect of sexual contact into the mix, then you have a recipe for obsession; you have the primary ingredients for limerence.
There is also the whole concept of “winning and losing” that exacerbates limerence. Nobody likes to lose. Winning can be exhilarating in any context, let alone in the pursuit of a glimmering LO. Losing, in contrast, will inform our “limits”, but it can be very frustrating if you are reasonably certain that you were never given an ample opportunity to fully apply your abilities.
I don’t believe you are delusional if you can construct a falsifiable hypothesis that can explain a LOs mixed signals. What is delusional is categorizing ALL of your theories as figments of your imagination that are unusable for understanding what is happening to you. Some of your theories may very well be reasonably accurate, but your current LE always seems to begin to collapse before you have a chance corroborate them with any further evidence. This is especially true if you have objectively, or subjectively, gone further than you have ever gone before.
The key to overcoming the current failed LE is simply NC and time, unfortunately. The key to managing limerence in future interactions, however, is through continuous personal development that results in acquiring a new ability or mindset – or “Purposeful Living” as it has been defined, in detail, on this site. I do not believe that completely eliminating limerence from your mind is a constructive goal, or even a realistic possibility. A goal of completely eliminating limerence from your mind sounds almost as horrifying as agreeing to a frontal lobotomy. Because limerence is just a part of our makeup, any improvements we make to our lifestyle or our mindset is necessarily preparation for the next LE! The only difference between this time and the next time . . . is that next time we will finally infer enough things correctly to finally win one!
James Afourkeeff says
That is the goal, at least.
This held so much truth for me: “Losing, in contrast, will inform our “limits”, but it can be very frustrating if you are reasonably certain that you were never given an ample opportunity to fully apply your abilities.”
I’ve reflected before that I think my LE started in part because I’d been winning at so many parts of life: career, financial success, friends. I’d really grown as a person compared to who I was as a kid. Somehow, I convinced myself that I deserved LO and the LE. Compared to the shy, awkward kid I’d been, I felt more confident, well-spoken, fun, outgoing and convinced myself that a 20 year younger stunner of an LO would go perfectly with my new, reinvented successful persona.
And – in contrast to many others here – I was reciprocated. First, led on, encouraged and flirted with. Then clandestine dates, kisses and more. Sneaking around the office, looking for an empty conference room to make out in. Mid-afternoon breaks in my parked car in the garage. Lunches spent kissing rather than eating. And then after a week of this, she silently and one-sidedly put a stop to everything.
THAT was the failure and the losing that I couldn’t handle and I’m still struggling with it. I’ve since learned all about limerence and how deluded I was but the physical reciprocation did make it harder to see I was projecting and making it out to be more than it was. And how I could hurt my SO and blow up my family (and career). I now know that intellectually but am still struggling emotionally, as long-time readers of my missives in the comments sections can attest to.
James Afourkeeff says
Wow! I am not sure which is worse: invariably falling flat on your face every time you have ever tried, or getting THAT far and then having it end suddenly, with no explanation.
And how many flights and vacations have you paid for for her and her boyfriend so far?
Haha none actually. She missed the one flight I paid for her and miraculously the airline refunded the money straight away (or actually never debuted the reserved amount).
Lucky. But watch out, for some reason I feel she’s a disturbed girl that would bleed you dry. If she needs money she’ll stand in your office crying and I can already see you pulling out the checkbook. Or if you don’t give her what she wants, she’ll threaten to expose you. Either way, Fred, she’s dangerous, and it seems you’re still on her hook.
Fred, you simply aren’t ready yet to pull the plug. I think you are close though. Maybe it will take another 1 or 2 humiliations for the negative association with LO to win out over the dopamine. Or you can prove me wrong and not wait for the next letdown by LO.
The instagram account is obviously a killer. I still have most of my communications with LO filed away including a few pictures. Every day I “pass” the test by not looking at LO. It’s been many months, even before I went NC. But it took a long time for me to get here.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
The problem with being Fred (I have some real similarities) is that his success and wealth and prominence doesn’t do anything for his SO–she’s so used to it and it has come so gradually that it doesn’t impress her at all anymore.
But Little Miss Whirl-a-Gig comes along, and is suitably impressed, and Fred is flattered by her initial adoration, and she’s flattered that she can attract an alpha male like Fred…the temptation is fed by the illicit thrill of getting away with the deepening attraction…each hit of dopamine encourages them to push the behavioral boundary a little further.
It’s not a good recipe for anyone’s long-term happiness.
Yep MLBIAI that’s probably exactly it. And thanks for the encouragement Thinker. I too have screen cap’d and saved all my LO conversations. I’ve actually kept myself from looking at “the shrine” but I still add to it. And I objectively have enough LO humiliations piled up to stop seeking more of them even though it’s a struggle every day to not talk to her or send her a chat message.
During a few months prior to NC, I had been deleting emails from LO as opposed to retaining them. I could feel (my) LE ending as I wasn’t getting the highs as LOs response time had become inconsistent. Have I mentioned a million times that waiting/checking for a response is a killer?
Right now, I have an email from LO just sitting out there from 2 weeks ago. In it she asks if she should assume I got her email from a few months ago or not, where she wrote a bunch of emotionally charged assumptions about me (some true, some not, some irrelevant, but all would require significant work on my behalf to respond). I have just let both emails hang around without a response from me because there is absolutely no response that I feel like sending. Talk about rude! But anything I say will be counterproductive…for me.
I deleted everything I could find of LO. Initially it was all the texts and her number from my phone, and then unconnecting on LinkedIn. But a few months into NC when I had a wobble, I found her number on a copy of her CV. When that text exchange went bad I deleted every file I could. I got the IT team at work to delete her from the system too and threw out all her old stuff from work too. I was sitting at her old desk but now we ‘ve moved as well. It all sounds petty, but each step helps a lot. The fewer reminders are you have, the better.
“I am beginning to believe that limerents are much more inquisitive and analytical than most other people. ”
The hubris on this site is amazing.
I’d agree that limerents don’t have any premium on inquisitiveness or analytical power. But I’m not sure they over-represent with hubris, either.
“”I am beginning to believe that limerents are much more inquisitive and analytical than most other “”
So Dr L, will our next post be called “Curiosity kills the cat”? I know you like cats and I am sure you’ve got plenty of unused cat metaphors up your sleeve. 😂
James Afourkeeff says
Limerents are analytical to a fault or they wouldn’t be limerents, now would they?
From another perspective, limerents are highly driven by emotion and most of their analytical power is wasted on rationalising why they should give in to their limerent urges.
Bingo, Dr L.
That feels so ever-loving true of me.
Thing is, I experience limerence less as a personality trait than as an eruption traceable to specific life circumstances in combination with generic middle age. I’m 55, and while I’ve always had crushes on people like probably most human beings do, this episode that started when I was 53 was completely unprecedented in quality, intensity, and the way it obliterated my ability to function in the rest of my life for months on end. Whereas my previous little crushes, starting around age 5, always helped me boost my performance in whatever else I was doing. That could be why I got sucker-punched at first by my current limerent experience: based on what happened with my past crushes, I expected this to be a performance booster with turbo charge. But noooooo.
The point is, I for one don’t find it Illuminating to attribute my present vulnerability to any kind of special trait. For me, your comment rings so true because at this time in my life I’m highly driven by a particular set of emotions, which, on their own level, make perfect sense in response to what’s going on in my life right now (the problem is only that wanting what my emotions tell me to want, namely LO, is contrary to reason, logic, evidence, and moral norms); and, because I happen to have acquired a lot of skill and experience with analytical thinking throughout my career, my limerent brain naturally co-opted that skill set right away.
P.S. Correction: it’s not the wanting that’s contrary to moral norms, it’s the prospect of acting to get what I want. I’m not ashamed of wanting what I want. The problem is my desperately energetic limerent brain driving the desire-to-action locomotive along its single track.
James Afourkeeff says
I think I may be special. I’m like 50 for 0 in romantic success; that could be some sort of record, don’t you think? It sure feels like a record to me. I used to use emotional appeals, but they don’t work. When I have access to a LO now, I use my analytic powers to craft lures and traps and use subjects in unwitting, passive reconnaissance to try and make some sort of sense out of what my own eyes and ears are telling me. My last couple of LOs went ballistic, when they sensed what I was up to. It has almost become a little bit like warfare. It is like “Goddamn, what does it take? What do you have to do?” I disclosed to my last LO in a pretty direct text message. I gave my last LO a metaphorical hand grenade (in the form of written proof) and she didn’t hesitate to pull the pin and throw it right back at me . . . and blow me up. I am the Wile Coyote who cannot catch the Roadrunner. I’ve got to think of something else.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
For those of us who are older men limerent for much younger females, while also in a long-term committed relationships, hubris is attendant with the territory.
Can I still post?
Had to google translate what the word hubris means… non-existing in my vocab 😂
I am automatically suspicious of any argument that rests on “it’s because I’m special” as a foundation, so Lisa’s jibe is a useful corrective.
“I am automatically suspicious of any argument that rests on “it’s because I’m special” as a foundation, so Lisa’s jibe is a useful corrective.”
But…but…I am special! Just ask me, I’ll tell you! If you’re lucky, I’ll tell you without asking!
One day, I went over to LO #2’s place. As soon as I walked through the door, she took me into the bedroom and had her way with me. I liked it.
So, afterward, we’re lying there and I can’t resist the urge to crack smart. So, I ask her, “Why is it when you’re horny, it’s affection; but when I’m horny, it’s lust?” LO #2 rolls over, props herself on her elbow, sticks her face in mine and says, “It’s different when I do it.” Coming from a naked woman, it was neat, plausible, and irrefutable.
I told that story to LO #4 and she said it combined 2 of her favorite thing, imagery and snark. Not surprisingly, I’ve never told my wife that one.
About A Girl says
This is where a lot of my analysis ends up with the fact that for me personally every LE isn’t reciprocal and the aftermath of this. If there is one thing more difficult than dealing with a LE it’s dealing with what non reciprocation does to your self esteem. I’m tall, dark, handsome, hilarious and I couldn’t even get a coffee at work with my LO. I’m pretty sure I’d even be last in the queue. Objectively (let’s pretend there is no LE here) I can’t answer the question of why won’t this person even be my friend.
About a girl. ….Some LOs realise you are attracted and then play harder to get particularly those who are highly narcissistic. I bet he has noticed you and is probably enjoying watching you go through it. I had this with an LO in the past…
” If there is one thing more difficult than dealing with a LE it’s dealing with what non reciprocation does to your self esteem.”
This was so true for me in my single days. So my solution was to not even try. I can’t get rejected if I don’t go for it, right?! I also had a lot to offer someone, and became picky as hell. I could always find flaws with someone, and find reason not to pursue. Ultimately, I developed a close friendship with LO at work (pre-LE) with no outside of work contact. Then my life spiraled out of control when she left the office, forcing us to connect outside of work. I was addicted to her, and I “knew” she felt the same, or love, for me. Circumstances led me to learn she did, so I “won” and continued on with an EA. Not knowing that I was actually on my way to losing.
“Objectively (let’s pretend there is no LE here) I can’t answer the question of why won’t this person even be my friend.”
Well, there are lots of possible reasons for this. I strongly believe that I became an LO for a friend of mine, and that has been the reason for reduced/no contact on her end. I’m willing to live with the narrative that she needed to back off for her health (whether true or not).
Maybe she is looking to rescue a “damsel(?) in distress”, and you appear to have your stuff together. Or she feels you are out of her league. We will never know what is truly in people’s heads, just like others don’t know what thoughts are truly swimming around in ours.
My LO is still “stalking” me. It paused for a minute and is back. There’s a place I have to be, related to my work, everyday. He has a legit connection to the area, but he passes by at the time I’m there- which is avoidable and unnecessary- multiple times in a week. I’m highly ambivalent about it. When I thought it was really over I began to truly mourn. But it also brought a glimpse of freedom… and when he came back it brought a feeling of semi-relief that he wasn’t totally gone and also the stomach-drop of shame.
The thing that really made it clear to me that I suffer from something serious with this limerence is that I am clear about the damage that this LE has caused, it’s not what I really want (to burn my life down to be with LO), my LO has behaved in a way since D-day that lacks integrity (surpassing the lack of integrity, shared by me, of poaching someone else’s spouse), and I still have all the feelings. The mantra of acting my way into right thinking is helping- and also the idea of kindness to my suffering self without giving myself permission to take wrong action and call it right.
I forgot one of the points I wanted to make.
I see the pain that my EA has caused my SO- and how he has to fight through so many feelings of betrayal and disappointment and shame himself, and he’s been so amazing about fighting for us and showing up despite his feelings… the other day I resolved that I’ll accept all of the pain that comes my way as the price I have to pay for indulging my own cravings in this EA for and with my SO.
At least for me- I’ve sometimes been unwilling to feel bad, lonely, heartbroken- to just let myself experience how horrible it feels and to trust that it will pass. But that’s what my SO has to do. That’s what I laid in his lap. So I’m resolving to do that too.
I can’t find the post from you, jaideux, but I had a similar little victory today: my LO’s ex boss (who is twice his age, but he hangs out with him a lot in private life, as LO likes to hang out with guys his dad’s age – daddy abandoning issues, if you ask me) sat next to me at work today, and I thought he will for sure bring up LO, esp. since LO was just on vacation, broke his finger etc, and he knows we used to be close friends… but no, he didn’t bring him up, and neither did I. It was just irrelevant. It did make me almost want to text LO though about something insignificant. But I didn’t 😊
It made me think though, what if his ex boss would tell me about LO having a gf? Would that affect me?
Then I thought about what would actually be the worst scenario… I thought, what if, at that lunch we scheduled, he would mention a gf… it would sting a bit. I would wonder who it is. Then I thought, what if I saw LO with his LO at the xmas party, holding hands? I think that would sting a bit more. But it can’t get much worse than that. And then I thought, I want LO to find happiness, I don’t want him to be miserable. It would sting hearing about a potential gf or worse, seeing LO with his LO. But in the end… it is what it is. I imagined myself downing a glass of champagne, shake it off, and start distracting myself again with awesome colleagues. Let’s see how that will play out when the xmas party comes.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Well, I can tell you that initially finding out my LO had a boyfriend was a gut-punch. Which shows what a callow cad I was and how possessive I had become of her. And when I heard that they were living together, it was another hit, but much less. Now, I’ll hear something about them as a couple and it’s a momentary sting. I even saw them together at a social event–I was standing behind them in a long line and I saw him put his hand on her lower back briefly. Didn’t bother me a bit!
So it’s taken months but I’m free. In fact, her moving on with her life like that has been a huge blessing to me!
However, I didn’t ever get in as deep as some of the poor souls here. For instance, we didn’t ever have an physical affair. And my wife can have my phone at any time, and for all I know, she’s scrolled thru the texts between me & LO. (My wife can tell there’s something undefined between the two of us.) But I’m clean as a whistle there because we never got into anything inappropriate via text.
So I think it’s easier to struggle out of limerence if you’ve kept things somewhat under control behavior-wise.
James Afourkeeff says
I just found out that my last LO is with a new guy. To my OWN surprise, this comes as a relief. It is over, there is nothing more that I can do. I think he will be a good match for her.
Now, if she had eloped with one of my geeky friends, THAT would have been absolutely gut wrenching for sure!
Sarah! So happy for you! 🙂 We are reclaiming our strength.
This is completely off topic but relates to the discussion last week about gift-giving. Today I plunged into a limerent low place I have not seen in months. After seeing LO at work for the first time since I gave her a secret birthday gift, we talked about it. She brought it up to me after I asked her how her birthday went. She said thanks again and that she loved it but that I could not give her any more presents. She said otherwise it would be “too scary.” I apologized and spent the rest of the day in a daze. I am dreading seeing her again but I can’t get away from that description – too scary. She has admitted a crush on me (after I disclosed) but I have assumed for some time she is not limerent for me. I’m guessing that’s still accurate and this was just a shock back into reality for me. Or did she mean something else? I kept thinking about the comments here about accepting or not accepting gifts and yours especially about being human etc. I am so ready to be done with this part of my life.
Well there are many ways of how you could interpret her “too scary” which is not a straight forward statement and a weird way of saying it.
But bottom line B, clear message she does not want anymore presents, it makes her uncomfortable (for whatever reason).
It was a nice thing of you but it goes to show that us limerents yet again probably interpret more into it than LO, attaching more meaning to it by connecting it to “that special bond” that is in our minds, rather than theirs. And I’m not saying that she does not like you in one way or another. If she thought you are a creep, she would react very differently.
And B, if she’s limerent for you or not doesn’t matter, as there won’t be a way to be together if other barriers exist. It would just go further down the rabbit hole until something happens to stop it and it won’t get any easier to get over LO then, on the contrary. It’s not worth the short-lived high, trust me, although it may seem that way with the tainted limerence goggles on.
Sarah – I want her to be limerent for me so badly but not so much that our mutual limerence will lead to an affair (although I do fantasize about that, justifying it to myself that it is just that – a fantasy with no real likelihood that I would act on my feelings), what I so desperately want is to share the LE with her, on a regular basis. Almost like having a partner in my misery. Dr. L has written about the loneliness feeling in limerence several times. That is what kills me. I am so alone. I can’t talk to SO about it. I don’t really have any close friends. Even if I did, i am far too ashamed of the judgment I feel I would get if I spoke to someone I knew. LO admitted to me she confided in one of her close friends (back when I was convinced she was limerent for me as well). Ever since then, it seems she has been able to move on and deal with her feelings for me as a harmless crush but she doesn’t struggle. I am so envious of her in that regard. I am still alone. I just want to have a secret bond with her so that we can talk about our feelings for one another anytime and what we’re going through, but without ever actually acting on them. This site is really all I have, and I don’t post here much.
That’s a really good summary of the craving being in conflict with your real goals. You know you want a stable marriage, but the limerent connection feels so good. It’s like “I just want to know, I don’t want it to go anywhere”, but once you do know, you can’t unknow it, and what happens next is not altogether in your control. Lots of affairs happen in small steps – it’s just a fantasy, it’s just a hug, it’s just a kiss, it’s just a declaration of love…
As I’ve said in a previous post, I’m increasingly starting to think that learning to accept uncertainty is the secret sauce for beating limerence.
B, you want her to reciprocate, to share the special bond with you. I think it’s the most basic and fundamental thing a limerent wants. I feel you, I think we all do.
I know this doesn’t help you much at this point, but think about how torturous it would be to both be limerent and can’t act on it. Hello Romeo and Juliet. I know you think it would be better than now, but it wouldn’t. It would hurt more, it would be more frustrating… OR… you’ll act upon it, have that sweet time before worst case shit hits the fan and it will be discovered by SO. And then life will get really shitty. No LE, no marriage, life shattered. Look, how ever this goes on, it will not be good and not end in a happily ever after. The only way out is unfortunately to take the next exit and get off this highway of misery. You may need some more time to reach that conclusion, and that’s fine. And until you do, this site is there for you to listen and provide support.
This is something I’ve been contemplating a lot lately: the difference between wanting this to end and being willing for this to end. It seems a really significant difference for me. I want the shame to end, the disunity within myself to end, and to regain a sense of control again….. Buuuuuuttt…. I have an inner junkie that isn’t above hitting the pipe one last time. That’s why this blog post is so perfect; the recovery mindset is imperative, and ambivalence is the enemy.
I have also been thinking about mourning the loss- and I’m not quite sure how to do that without falling into rumination. Maybe a post DrL.? Or maybe there’s already one I haven’t seen. It seems to me that there’s an authentic loss that I need to grieve to move on, nestled inside a bunch of emotional immaturity and selfishness on my part. I just don’t quite know how to parse it out. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?
Hmm… for me it feels similar to a breakup with a boyfriend and going through the 5 stages of grief: Continuing to think about him, bargaining ways of maybe turning this around after all, then the sadness that hit me and then really a lot of anger towards LO. Every time I thought about him I would get do angry (but he did give me those reasons to be angry). I noticed that I am ready to get over him when I realized that it doesn’t make me as sad any more and that I am not enraged anymore when I think about him. And that’s when I think I hit the acceptance stage.
What worked for me (besides the obvious NC) was writing my thoughts down, dating them, and distracting myself, keeping busy.
Meant to reply here, see below.
DrL talks about loss in https://livingwithlimerence.com/2019/04/06/the-loneliness-of-no-contact/ but doesn’t really address how to separate mourning from rumination. I’ll open up the discussion and people can fire away!
The 5 Stages of Grief are:
How does rumination fit into the 5 Stages? It would seem like you have to first define the loss. The death of a loved one is relatively easy to define. The end of an LE may not be so easy. It seems like rumination would play into a large part of defining the loss. You often have to sort through more than a single question. But, once you’ve nailed the loss, rumination may have less of an effect. You’ll know what you’re grieving. If you understand the process, maybe you can manipulate it.
Rumination would seem to be big in the Denial phase. You have to think about what you’re denying. Rumination may or may not be a big deal in Anger. It might be relatively easy to refocus the anger toward yourself somewhat and leave LO/LE out of this. It could be as easy as “I really hate it when I embarrass myself.” My guess is rumination is big in Depression but Depression is never a place you want to hang. Rumination is central to bargaining. You have to match what you want with what you think you lost and how to achieve a “favorable” outcome. So, really work to avoid that phase. One of my favorite tricks to counter bargaining is to call up the lyrics from “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones. It also helps with Denial.
“You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes, well, you just might find
You get what you need” [and you don’t need your LO/LE]
Once you get to Acceptance, rumination is largely moot. At first, Acceptance can be tenuous. Toss in the grieving process is not linear and you can move between stages multiple times before settling into Acceptance. But, once you’ve settled in, time can do it’s thing and every day gets you a little more distance.
My order of the stages of grief were very similar to Sarah. It took forever for me to reach the Anger stage (Stage 4 for me), but then acceptance became available to me.
Going NC one year ago did not mean I had reached the Acceptance stage. It simply needed to be done, and I needed to deal with the separation and grieve without contact. The rumination was terribly strong during those 3 NC months. I was desperate to reach out, and we reconnected due to circumstances beyond my doing; however, I was so relieved at the time. In my current NC period, the rumination is mostly gone, and this is after finally going through the Anger stage. Previously, there was too much of me that wanted to hold on.
I went through all the stages with LO #2. I didn’t go through all that many of the stages with LO #4. When she said goodbye, at first, I’d felt like I’d been dumped but it really didn’t last long. I felt more relieved and my anxiety dropped like a rock.
The big difference between LO #2 & LO #4 was with LO #4, I went to the therapist pretty early on and came to the realization that my LE with LO #4 was an attempt at an emotionally corrective experience in trying to make an unhappy woman stop crying (i.e., that was the glimmer.) That went back to childhood. My being married notwithstanding, the attachment wasn’t healthy in the first place. Once we figured that out, ending my acquaintance with LO #4 wasn’t a loss to be grieved. It was actually something to be celebrated.
Hey all, I’ve been finding Guy Winch’s book ‘How to Fix a Broken Heart’ helpful for this.
Janesays, re: loss – yes, there are some good posts here. Look up disenfranchised grief. Also a post titled the loneliness of no contact.
Thank you all- really helpful. I will look up those posts. I have read them all, I think, but some become more relevant at different times. I think you’re absolutely right, Sharnhorst, that I need to identify what the loss is. Because this IS a win for me to be done- for my real life and my real relationships- but there’s a feeling of loss too. And Sarah, I think that writing this all down and dating it is a great idea.
Real LO is being stalky again. Made-up LO (the one I like) is what’s hard for me to get over. Real LO is much weaker and has way less integrity and spine than I thought…. but the one is still overlayed with the other in my chemical responses… and he won’t just leave already and let me get on with letting go. The other day I was hiking and I was like “I’m just going to let myself grieve this loss without judging it” and I felt sad. And then like 15 minutes later here comes LO on the trail…. He has all the time in the world, he still has the group, he chooses to be there right then when he knows I’ll be there. And it makes me so angry- and so ashamed and angry at myself for still having a reaction. I blame myself for this inappropriate soul tie/chemical dealing, but I’m taking right actions in NC that he isn’t at all. And I’m sure he just wants a hit. It’s a bastard. So we just pass each other and look away- and part of me wants to stab him with a fork, and part of me wants to apologize, and part of me reviews what I’m wearing…. and then I want to stick the fork in my own eye just to relieve the pressure of this absolute nonsense.
Wow, janesays, you’re LO sucks for keeping on appearing. Can you change your routine a bit temporarily? Not that I feel like you need to adapt your life, just to temporarily make it less predictable for him.
Hi guys! I have been reading stuff on this website for a decent bit now and I am thankful Dr. L has been writing these. I am new to this site or support group. I am currently dealing with my second bout of limerence and this is involving my L.O. #2. I am about almost in on two months of NC with the LO and it may slowly be going down. But the problem is I work at the same cafe as this person but the good thing is she opens the store while I close. Also I have to switch gyms too because she goes to the same one as I do.
James Afourkeeff says
If you work at the same small establishment, you are almost bound to run into each other again eventually. Your LO is still a presence, even if you don’t see them. Certainly, there are other employees that have shifts that overlap with both LOs and yours — they talk, and you listen. That is kind of NC, but not really NC.
Yeah good point. There is only one LO though but it’s number two. The first one switched districts and was just a customer. Today I felt slightly better because she didn’t really cross my mind as the usual dominant thoughts. I also have to mentally prepare if I overhear or find out she is involved with or dating someone, so the suffering isn’t too harsh.
B- My LO and I were both limerent, and there were barriers between us. And I was discovered by my SO (and it crushed him, and our EA has been the hardest thing to recover from in our marriage) and my LO partially disclosed to his SO. I know this because I apologized to his SO for my selfishness and lack of respect to her and their marriage, and she told me I didn’t have anything to apologize for and she hoped we could stay friends (we were only ever friendly acquaintances). And now my LO is showing up everywhere and won’t let go, and it’s been so so so difficult. We all want love- and that’s what I want for you. Reciprocal, available, transparent love. Because limerence isn’t that. It’s so close sometimes that it can seem like the most real thing in the world, more real that actual love, but that’s the madness of it. This whole site is here to help the light the way to freedom from limerence. Which means that for many of us we see that the sparkly, euphoric feelings that we started with ended up mutating into something that we thirst for recovery from. Sarah is right- mutual limerence compunds the pain in a way, and it always ends. The thing that is up in the air is how much pain it takes to get there. And I think this is such a resource for getting support on this journey; I know it’s helped me a ton.
I hope you will post as much as you need to and that you find the help here, and elsewhere, that you need.
Thank you Janesays. Ironically I do have a perfectly happy marriage. My wife loves me perfectly and I would say our marriage is stronger now than it ever has been. That’s why I cannot bring myself to disclose the LE to her even though I know it would essentially end the LE (which I recognize is best). It would hurt my wife so deeply and I just can’t do that. I am convinced my LE was born out of my own insecurity issues as I enter midlife, rather than being unfulfilled in my marriage. The blog posts on those topics is crazy accurate for my situation. I believe Dr. L’s description of his own LE is remarkably similar to mine. Thanks again.
This blog and comments are so fascinating, I used to be very limerence-prone, but not so much anymore since I began seriously practicing Buddhism a decade ago. There’s a story of a famous teacher who gave advice to a new meditation student, when he couldn’t stop obsessing about a girl back home: “Write to her, and ask her to send you something, then every time you think about her, you can take it out and examine it with all your senses, sight, smell, touch”. The student was shocked, “should I really do that?” “Yes” said the teacher, “ask her to send you a vial of her sh*t”.
I really came on to ask for advice about a man I feel a connection and attraction to, who I think has turned me into a LO. He’s very artistic, so I can see where he’d be prone to idealization, he’s also aging and has had good friends die, which may have created emotional neediness in a long-time batchelor. The circumstances between us have been a very confusing form of intense emotional signalling, and I definitely turned away from his initial overture, my intuition said that he was just looking for sex. The whole thing went crazy with him later acting out in a sort of frantic way, and I was quite annoyed with all the ‘drama’. But now I remember what it was like and feel that’s probably what’s going on. I’m sorry I didn’t empathize more, and avoided him rather than calmly reaching out. He’s away for the winter, which I think is a good break, but when he comes back, if we still have that connection, I’m worrying over how to behave. I don’t want to join him in any idealization madness of how we’ll effortlessly fall into a perfect relationship. Is it possibly to create a reality-based relationship with someone in limerence, or will it just end with him becoming bitter because I don’t match his fantasy. Am I falling into a limerence/’rescue’ fantasy of my own, now that he’s away and I’m contemplating it all?
Take a look at https://livingwithlimerence.com/2017/04/10/help-someone-is-limerent-for-me/
If you go to the main Blog link at the top, you’ll find a set of page links. The list on most pages is only the last 2/3 (?) or so of the blogs. The above blog is on page 21. Some of the best stuff is in the early blogs. There used to be “Previous” and “Next” buttons but they disappeared when DrL redid the site.
Hey old posters and new. I thought I’d drop by and see how everyone is doing?
I’ve been off this site for a good few weeks now and I really hate to say this but it has done limerence wonders… Sorry DR L this site has been my life saver and I’ll explain why removing myself from here has pretty much ended my LE.
I was in a mess a big big big mess. My LO is completely unavoidable and I see him most days. I thought there was no way out. I read this site front to back. Spoke to many lovely posters on here who gave me amazing advice. But as hard as I was trying, I was not letting go. By continuing to come here and read comments and post, it was keeping my limerence alive. Obsessing and laminating still. After a bad day and a huge set back I just had enough. I knew what I had to do so why wasn’t anything working? I stopped coming on this site and I really focussed on moving on. Everytime a limerence thought come into my head I would say (powerfully) ‘ I have let go of my limerence and am in control.’
Now I feel so much better. I do have limerence thoughts but I see them as that.. just thoughts that come and go. I used to fear these thoughts now I find them comical how silly they are. I now feel my mind is free to think about anything and everything. My life isn’t perfect but I get down about normal everyday things now. As Dr L would say LO isn’t s driving force in my life anymore.
I’m not niaeve enough to think that me and LO can be friends. I still am very cautious and at times I feel my self slipping but I say to myself ‘no no no not going there again’. This happens when LO is kind to me. I just reaffirm that he’s nice to everyone and that’s great but nothing special.
There are things in life which are worth pain and things that aren’t and limerence isn’t one of them. I hope everyone keeps going and I believe when your ready to let go you will. There’s nothing to fear…
Hey Rachel, thanks for stopping by! I am so happy for you that you have kicked the habit and are doing better.
I’m not there yet, not even close, but, because I also have the Unavoidable LO problem, your story is most encouraging to me.
(Apologies for the long post)
As my LE faded, I debated whether coming back to this blog was still helping, or just extending my LE .
I decided if i checked in occasionally to offer help to others as others helped me, its a good thing. I’m certainly no expert as Dr. L, but I’ve gone thru the highs and lows of the LE, survived, and still have my SO! I still have work to do to restore the trust. I’m on it and striving to live purposefully.
Rachel!!! So god to hear that you are doing well! Yeah, I guess by constantly being on this site, you also dissect every little tiny detail that happens with regards to the LE, eventually holding you back from moving on! Glad it worked out for you, continue to keep your guard up.
Thanks for the reply and that link. After reading the post, it seems to leave out the possibility of cultivating mature love out of an initial limerence. I would say I’m fairly limerent, just seeing him makes my heart race, however these days I’m more interested in the kind of love where I want him to be happy, since I’m already quite happy. Meanwhile, my feet are attached firmly to the ground and my head is trying to practice wisdom through discernment.
I wonder whether the label narcissist is sometimes a projection. I thought for a while maybe this man was narcissistic, because he had not shown concern for me since his first, fairly seductive approach, (and yet came around to my work with some baffling interactions. The last contact we had was him back to a seductive gazing, which alarmed me again). Now I wonder if it’s because he’s afraid to reveal his feelings, and is preoccupied with how I feel about him. Does that make me the narcissist for not being sure about things yet, not wanting to push him completely away, wanting to see whether we could create something?
Looking back at my own limerent experiences, I think they were partly a defence against getting into a real relationship, because I felt too afraid and inadequate. Now it feels to me to be a terrible waste of love, to feel it without giving it away to people we briefly share this planet with.
Hello, Satch, and welcome!
Have you thought about whether a light-hearted dating relationship with him, to start with, could be agreeable? You could just find out whether you enjoy one another’s company and would like to see each other again. No heavy declarations or idealizations needed. Seems to me perhaps a waste of energy puzzling over trying to read his mind; if there are no obstacles (like already being in committed relationships), and you are attracted and feel a connection and you are free to explore it with gentle curiosity, then you are very lucky, I’d say. I wish I could simply date my LO like that, but I won’t, because I’m married. More power to you if you are both single. You are so right, life and love are precious and to be shared — per the Buddhist concept of samvega.
Thanks for your reply: I agree with you totally about light-hearted dating, I am very light-hearted and ‘in the moment’, but I don’t know how to ask someone to take that attitude, he’s alway intense, upsetting me by coming on too strong or too weird/anxious. He’s not that way in his normal life, he has many friends and is known as a cool, laid-back guy. This is why I think it might be limerence. It’s definitely created a push-pull away dynamic, which I am pretty determined must not continue.
I also thought it might be interesting as a topic for discussion, can an LO create a normal, slowly-building relationship with someone in LE, or is that doomed and they should just turn cold and stone-hearted to help the LE get over it?
“I also thought it might be interesting as a topic for discussion, can an LO create a normal, slowly-building relationship with someone in LE, or is that doomed and they should just turn cold and stone-hearted to help the LE get over it?”
Can you “create” one? Can a healthy, normal, relationship “develop” from an LE? The answer appears to be “yes.” Can the LO directly influence things to that outcome? Maybe, maybe not. My money is on “maybe not.” How much time and effort are you willing to expend and how much risk are you willing to assume to find out? How much ability do you think you have to influence the guy?
Do you know anything about his previous relationships? Past performance isn’t always an indicator of future performance but it can still be useful. Push-pull dynamics are an important indicator. Push-pull dynamics can range from benign to downright scary. From HS to middle age, I’ve seen push-pull dynamics in 4 relationships and none of them worked out. That dynamic is nowhere in my relationship with my wife. If you’re prone to limerence, it maybe the premier dynamic for fueling uncertainty.
I have done something stupid. After 6 months radio silence I got drunk and sent my ex, LO , a Christmas card and got s rather curt response. Don’t contact me again. Folks, do not drink and text. My folly has set me back…..I feel ashamed.
I have done something stupid. After 6 months radio silence I got drunk and sent my ex, LO , a Christmas card and got a rather curt response. Don’t contact me again. Folks, do not drink and text. My folly has set me back…..I feel ashamed.
Pooh happens. Don’t sweat it.
I accidentally sent a FB friend request to LO #2, twice. I didn’t intend to but I’d had a few and fat fingered the button. I noticed it almost immediately but I don’t know if I killed it before the email notification went out. But if I didn’t, it was gone when she looked and I didn’t hear anything from her.
On a lighter note,
I think it was triggered by my seeing her in a store by accident and I found myself writing a card after a few drinks. Oh well……..It has upset me but I have to get back on the horse and do NC again.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
Well, the bright side is that her response removes any ambiguity, eh? Since ambiguity fuels the limerence, you’ve received a Christmas gift from her in return for your generous card.
Good work! 😉
I’m in a sarcastic mood, sorry! One of these days I’m going to create a profile as ‘YOUR Limerent Brain IS An IDIOT’ and post snarky responses as the fictious voice of everyone’s conscience.
Oh wait! We have Lee for that.
I TOLD you I was in a sarcastic mood…
Hahaha, love it. Keep ‘em coming.
@My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot
I would suggest sending or giving out the same Christmas card/message to absolutely everybody you can think of: neighbours, store clerks, your local library and gym, all those uncontacted friends and relatives. Keep your heart open, just not for her.
Completely off-topic: @Scharnhorst, they found the MS Scharnhorst!!! 🙂
It’s more about physical affairs, but emotional ones are hurtful and are acts of betrayal.
Do you have any tips/tricks to overcome an extensive, desperate seeking contact episodes?
Thanks in advance 🙂
Vicarious Limerent says
This post really speaks to me — especially after a particularly difficult/limerent weekend filled with thoughts of my LO. The logical side of my brain knows that I need to stop thinking about her, but my emotions tell me otherwise. The struggle is real and agonizing.
I met my LO at a pub a couple of months back (I know, that’s nothing compared with the length of time others have been suffering). The weird thing is she was super-keen on my brother in-law (my wife’s brother!), but he doesn’t seem to be that interested, even after I tried to convince him (and the rest of the family) how awesome she is. My LO may even be limerent for my BIL, but for various reasons, he is just not that into her (which kind of annoys me).
I believe I was so drawn to my LO on so many levels that I wanted her in my life in some capacity, even though I knew she was off limits to me. I kept telling myself I just wanted to be friends with her and I would be fine if my BIL ended up dating her, but I could just be fooling myself because I am totally besotted with her. I came across some pictures of her recently on the pub’s Facebook page, and I realized she looks a bit older than her actual age. That made me feel a little better for a couple of hours, but it eventually only served to make me think of her as more attainable and perhaps slightly less out of my league. The pictures also became fodder for my limerent cravings.
This episode has told me some things desperately need to change in my marriage and my life. My LE is just a canary in the coalmine. Still, I can’t stop fantasizing and thinking what could possibly come of this in the future if my marriage eventually ends (I would never cheat on my wife). I know this is just my mind playing tricks on me, and I really need to focus on my marriage, family life, job and career. But I still can’t stop thinking about what might happen in the future if things don’t work out between my SO and me. I did partially disclose to my LO that I would be interested in her if I were single (which she took rather well), but I find myself wanting to run into her so I can tell her the full extent of my feelings and explain to her what an amazing woman and beautiful human being I think she is (although I don’t have the guts to go to the pub where I met her — at least not at times when she is likely to be there). We are NC, but I did friend her on social media for a very short period of time (and unfriended her with an explanation of my SO’s jealousy; naturally she wanted to know EXACTLY what I was saying about her to make my SO so jealous).
This morning, I actually said goodbye to my LO – not to her face, but out loud, with no one else present. I told her I was moving on and that I needed to focus on my marriage and family life. I may run into her someday, but I am going to try to avoid thinking about what I would say to her until that time comes. Obviously, what I say to her would be different depending on whether I am alone or not, but I recognize that fantasizing about a future meeting is folly and is causing me real pain. I need to get back to real life and turn my thoughts to something else when she enters my mind. Wish me luck!
Good luck, Vicarious Limerent!
Sounds like you’ve got things straight in your mind, and the Goodbye was a nice idea, psychologically. Let’s hope your brother in law doesn’t change his mind and pull LO back into your life!
Vicarious Limerent says
Thank you, Dr. L. That means a lot to me. On some level, I actually want my brother in-law to change his mind, but I know it is for the best if he doesn’t. Some good has actually come out of this though. This LE has made me realize my life was shit and some major changes needed to be made. I also feel 15 years younger in many ways, and I am experiencing thoughts and desires I thought were gone for good. I have lost weight and have been going to the gym more regularly than I have since I was 18. Major positive changes are coming to my marriage, family life, social life, job, career, health, fitness and finances. I have the fitness and health thing basically down pat, now it’s time to start juggling some other balls as well. Even the night out I had with my brother in-law (which was a legendary night) made me realize I am not the fat, repulsive troll I thought I was. Even though I am not looking for someone else, it is nice to have at least some attention and interest from the opposite sex (or the same sex, if that’s your thing). It’s like having a job. Even if you love your job and aren’t looking for a change, you want to ensure you remain marketable elsewhere.
I have experienced somewhat of a breakthrough recently, though due to no specific event or therapy. It is so strange but I am at peace. This quote by Dr. L up in the comments sums it up:
“I’m increasingly starting to think that learning to accept uncertainty is the secret sauce for beating limerence.”
I think I have done that. I still see LO every day at work. We are very friendly and at times still flirty. But I now seem to care less and less about what her signals might mean, if anything. I just don’t care, and I am happy with that. It feels so odd to be working my way out of the weeds of this nearly 1.5-year LE. I feel like it is very delicate though. As if at any moment I will relapse and be right back in it. I feel like the Apostle Peter stepping out of the boat to walk on water. I just hope I don’t begin to doubt and sink back in.
Hi All –
I’m hurting so badly; I’ve never felt anything like this. Already dealing with clinical depression, the limerence that I have fallen into (without realizing it was happening) has made it even worse. And I obsess about every interaction with LO after it’s over… did I say the right thing, was I too this or too that…
Hi t, and welcome. Sorry to hear what you are going through.
Limerence on top of depression is a double whammy. I hope you are getting support for your depression? It does seem likely that stabilising your mood is the priority, and that might help with the limerence too.
I talk a lot on the site about purposeful living – really it’s a way of transferring your “motivational drive” away from seeking LO and towards improving your life and your self-image. There are some links at the bottom of the resources page about the ideas. But, that does depend on you being able to feel optimism and find positive goals, which will not be easy while the depression is smothering you.
Wishing you luck – it’s an awful place to be. Number one goal is to get support for the depression.
What if my LO is my my psychotherapist? He did me the MDMA session and then the rape memory come forward and there was a hug, his hand on my lower belly and my back. When this finished he become the most important person in the world to me. I do have a husband, but the fantasies about the psychotherapist take my whole time. I know that I should change the psychotherapist probably, but also I feel that nobody else in the world can understand me the way he does. He went with me through a difficult event and I just can not give him up. When he smiles, he has the most beautiful smile and we joke a lot together and sometimes flirt the whole session. I do not want to leave my husband, I only want to sleep with him once and my husband allowed me. I can not tell this to my psychotherapist, as I do not want to disappoint him, I want to protect him from my own sexuality and also I do not want to face rejection, I have faced many rejections in life, but this rejection would be the worse one. It’s a dream and a nightmare at the same time.
Oh boy, Mia, that is hard. I don’t know where to start.
Here is an article that might help.
First, it is inappropriate for your psychotherapist to flirt with you. That should never happen. Can you give us an example of what you mean by flirting?
I understand that desire to sleep with him. He connects with you emotionally, he makes you feel safe, he makes you feel special, of course you want to connect with him physically, but it would only cause problems. It is possible that he is manipulating you on purpose. It is also possible that he is just doing his job and you are reading romantic interest into the situation when it isn’t there. I don’t know. But the flirting really bothers me. I’ve had a lot of therapy with many different therapists and I’ve never encountered anything that could be considered flirting. Please share more about that.
Also, you have had enough trauma. Don’t make this another traumatic event. I don’t think your marriage or your self-worth would recover from adultery easily. Please don’t take that path. Let’s talk about it instead.
Be strong, Mia. You will get through this. It is going to be hard, but you can do the right thing.