Here at LwL we’re all about the personal responsibility and purposeful living. A guiding principle for managing limerence is that it’s happening in your head and so that’s where the work needs to be done to fix it. It’s up to you, and no clever strategy to manipulate other people into acting in a particular way is going to succeed in shifting that responsibility. You won’t be able to find the perfect words to charm LO into disclosure without revealing your own hand. You won’t be able to recommit to your SO in a way that they suddenly perk up and rescue you from LO, by responding enthusiastically to your romantic overtures and satisfying your sudden craving for passion.
I’ve written before that – expanding on these sorts of principles – you need to pay close attention to your actions as that is the way that your limerence impacts on other people. While the limerence is limited to thoughts in your own head, other people are not being directly harmed, and so (as a moral rule of thumb) any guilt and/or shame should be viewed as an early warning system that you are violating your own moral compass, rather than evidence that you are a bad person. In simpler terms: both good and bad people have bad thoughts, but bad people act on them.
In the thought-provoking discussions that followed that post, several people raised the issue of thoughts priming behaviour – that you can’t expect to fill your mind with rumination about LO without it having consequences over the way that you act. There’s truth to this. If you mentally rehearse something enough, your brain sort of believes that it’s happened at some level.
Recently, a reader “Serial Sufferer” got in touch about her experiences, and brought up a great point:
You’ve talked about three stages of limerence. I experience shades of limerence. Once I cross certain lines, I enter a new depth of limerence.
The “three stages” idea was in this post about a Joe Beam podcast on limerence affairs. As Serial Sufferer says, in actual fact there are more usually shades of limerence; certain lines that are crossed, which escalate the limerence. These are sort of moral tipping points that push you deeper into a limerence affair; points that – once crossed – make it more likely that the next one will also be crossed, in a kind of positive feedback loop of negative consequences.
Serial Sufferer mentioned four of her shades/tipping points as:
1) Disclosing to the limerent object. 2) Sexual fantasies. 3) Talking with the limerent object about sex. 4) Actual sexy contact/interaction.
As with the Joe Beam discussion, these shades are focused on sexual betrayal of SO. I do think this is a really important idea and also helps illuminate the slippery grey area around the morality of fantasy. “All in head = no consequences!” and “Disloyal thought = betrayal!” are obviously oversimplistic positions, so it’s useful to probe a little deeper and see if lines can be demarcated. For those of us that have emerged bruised from previous limerence episodes, these are also very useful points of intervention to halt any future limerence encounters in their tracks.
As a world champion writer of lists, it should come as little surprise that I’ve made a list! Here are the key tipping points I could think of, in order of arrival.
The start of it all. The moment of recognition that you’ve met an LO.
This is the best possible moment to stop limerence before it starts, and I am getting good at this now. Avoid LO, categorise them as a threat rather than desirable company, and establish a position of civil neutrality.
The first flirt
Usually a subconscious reaction to the glimmer. The point at which you telegraph to LO that you are attracted to them.
The establishing flirt
The point at which you flirt a bit harder to try and establish whether they are attracted to you too. And how open they might be to a flirty friendship.
The fantasy affair
When the rumination starts. Remembering exciting time spent with them. Imagining future encounters. Thinking about them and wondering about them, and entertaining the idea (not seriously, necessarily, just a little self-indulgent fantasy) of what a relationship with them would be like.
The first moment of “oversharing”
Another moment of raising a flag and seeing if they salute. You share an emotionally intimate experience or thought, and hope that they will hear you, empathise with you, and reciprocate with further intimacy of their own.
The first moment of deceit
The first time you lie to someone else about your feelings for LO, or lie about your plans or commitments in order to get more time with LO.
This is probably the most morally charged tipping point. This is the first crack in your self image as an honest and good person. This is the point at which you need to start managing cognitive dissonance about who you thought you were, versus how you are behaving. This is also the point at which many limerents realise they were kidding themselves that they could handle the situation.
The emotional affair
This is when you have established a pattern of emotional intimacy with LO. You are sharing thoughts and feelings that you know should really be reserved for SO (assuming you are committed to monogamy). The affair can deepen further as you start to discuss love, sex, and your relationship with SO.
Disclosure to LO
I dithered about whether to put this before or after emotional affair, but it usually happens within the context of an emotional affair and escalates it. At this point, there is no deniability, no rowing back, no easy de-escalation. You have declared yourself to LO and pushed your SO into the role of cuckold (or “chump“).
This would include any contact sought for sexual gratification – kissing, caressing, sexting, or actual sex. For most people, this is crossing the Rubicon. There may be a gender split here – with men being more concerned about sexual infidelity and women more concerned with emotional infidelity on average – but very few SOs would be able to easily forgive this step.
The physical affair
An established sexual affair with LO that carries on in secret. There’s very little chance of coming back from this one. Your relationship with SO will never be the same again, and may not be recoverable. It’s kind of not up to you anymore – you’ve betrayed your SO in the most intimate way, broken vows and commitments, and lied to them about their own lives. Your only hope is proper, genuine contrition, and that has to emerge from a deep down realisation about how seriously you have betrayed the person you promised to support, and an earnest desire to sort yourself out. Even then, it may well be that you need to do that work alone and free your SO to prosper without you.
Now clearly the order of these tipping points may vary, and the time taken to move from one to the next will vary too. Some limerents may rush all the way to physical affair. Some may teeter on the edge of a tipping point that they know they mustn’t cross, hoping the limerence subsides before their resolve crumbles. Getting good at spotting these tipping points and pulling back is the safest way to stop a burgeoning affair in its tracks.
For those who are trying to escape from a limerence trap, or protect themselves against future episodes, spotting the tipping points ahead of time is a good policy. But as a last point from Serial Sufferer, this is all, to some extent, academic:
I don’t care about morals. I care about my happiness. Limerence in any form detracts from my happiness and the happiness of people I love. Fantasizing about my limerent object increases the chances that any of things I listed above will happen.
I remember the first session with the EAP counselor. She asked why I was there. I gave her the email in which LO #4 said her BF refused to end the affair, (allegedly) assaulted her, and she was moving out. She said a few other things in it. While the EAP counselor was reading it, I told her I didn’t want to attach to LO #4 and I didn’t want her attaching to me.
Without looking up, the EAP counselor said, “That ship already sailed.”
I will also suggest that the earlier in the process that you disclose to your SO, the faster the limerence will abate. It’s like most fungi, it thrives in the dark (secrecy). Telling SO you have a crush on (name) not only brings it out in the open, it will help you hold yourself accountable.
Heck, SO may have had a crush whilst in a relationship with you and have valuable insights or strategies for handling the situation.
Anonymous Limerent says
“You need to pay close attention to your actions as that is the way that your limerence impacts on other people”
This seems to be a problem for me at the moment; in Maths, I sit at the back of the class and my LO, the front. I tend to glance at her often but don’t see her face as she normally looks forward, so it makes me want to see her look at me even more.
There’s a girl who also sits at the front of the class and she often turns around to talk to my LO, her friend, but because she is directly behind LO in my line of vision, she often sees me looking at LO and thinks I’m looking at her instead.
What’s this got to do with hurting others? I hear no one ask. Well, this certain girl, whether for a joke or seriousness, had been saying she ‘loves’ me since Year 7. It’s probably a joke but she could be limerent for me. It might be okay if she hadn’t supported the thesis that she thinks I like her; she keeps saying she does.
Thus, I feel guilty. It this girl its moment for me, I could be ‘stringing her along’ to her mind, and as a moment, the prospect of doing that to someone else years me apart. It’s not likely, but there’s still that chance that I could be toying with someone’s heart just because mine is being torn into a million pieces…
P.S. Day #303 now.
I found your blog within the past week. I wish it had existed when I was in the midst of my own full-blown limerence! I wanted to thank you for creating this resource, even though I’m mostly past the point of needing it.
I was limerent for about 10 years for a close female friend of my wife and myself. I never really disclosed to anyone in real life. Through the on-line forums that existed at the time (the now-defunct Limerence Experienced forum at The Tribe website, kind of an early Reddit) and the Limerence.net site, which still exists and is helpful, I was able to talk through and analyze my limerence and ultimately get it under control and I would say, over the past year or so, fully eliminate it.
I’m writing here to tell other people who are limerent that it is possible to get over it, completely or nearly so, even after it seems to have become entrenched in one’s life. Many of the tips here are very much like the ones I employed to get out of my limerence.
One idea I’d like to reiterate here — because it represented a turning point for me when I started exploring it — was thinking about where I wanted my relationship with my LO to go — that is, did I want an affair with her? On one level, I did for all the reasons that consequence-free sex with a really attractive person is a nice thing to think about. But on another level, I realized that a consequence-free affair was impossible. I read Chumplady.com, which you recommend several places here, and from that site fully saw how damaging an affair could be to all of one’s relationships — SO as well as children, family, community, etc. I realized that morally I could not see myself lying and sneaking around to have sex, and that I did not really want to risk all of what I had for what I was imagining I could have from a too-good-to-be-true LO.
And understanding that I really didn’t want to have a real-life affair (just an ideal one to think about), I then realized that I was buying lumber for a house I would never build — building a relationship with LO that would never reach the logical point that my actions were aimed at. We would never have an intimate physical relationship, even if she wanted one, which was in much doubt. So why was I spending time and lots of emotional energy courting her?
Thinking is all the way through really helped me, and made me start taking steps to distance myself, which was very painful but necessary. It didn’t seem possible but it was, slowly but surely. I didn’t have a blowup with LO, didn’t tell my SO, I think no-one is the wiser, but today I can see LO occasionally (without me pushing the relationship between all of us, it has gotten more distant) without any really big impact on my emotional life. I still like her, but I’m not pining, and I see her as fully human, flawed, and actually a much less compatible partner for me than my SO.
Keep up the good work here and best of luck to all limerents. There is a way out — and places like this one can help you to find it!
Pete – thank you for that. I find stories of success and the tips within immensely helpful in keeping me on track with NC. My own LE sounds similar to yours in that I was imagining a consequence-free affair that was just fantasy ultimately. Sadly it couldn’t stay as a sweet fantasy to dip into occasionally but instead took me over with ruminations, rehearsal, anxiety, jealousy and all the rest. As you say, by spending all that time thinking about it, I was essentially buying lumber for a house I was never going to build. With the objectivity that comes after a period of NC I can see that, and the light at the end of the tunnel.
I can relate to a lot of this.
For me, it was never about an affair.
When LO #4 told me about things, it confirmed the hunch I had after I became a mod on her site. It’s petty but I took some pleasure in knowing I’d been right. What didn’t occur to me was I had been building a relationship with her over time. I may have been on turf that I shouldn’t have been on during that time but all seemed pretty superficial. The most questionable thing she said until she told me about the affair was that it felt good to be appreciated and she felt like I had her back (as related to the site). I got the glimmer from her earlier but then the crap hit the fan for her, the boundaries disappeared, and there she was.
What I found so compelling was she seemed to trust me, reached out to me, and confided in me. I wanted to be the shoulder she buried her face in and hold her as she cried. I’d played that role before and I liked it. It really sang to me. That’s what compelled me to go headlong into the EA.
Why I found it so compelling was rooted in long-standing baggage from childhood and it took a therapist to identify and deal with it.
Scharnhorst, you sound a lot like my SO (who is also limerent for an LO). For him, his LO gave him feedback via the “I’m a wreck and I need a savior” play. She continues to do this with others on social media and it makes me sick. Thankfully my husband has been NC for almost a year.
My questions to you are:
1. Did you identify to your therapist that you are/were limerent?
2. Did your fantasies about being her shoulder to cry on turn into sexual ones?
1. Initially, the therapist I worked with on the last LE labeled me as co-dependent. But, co-dependence did fit the dynamics of the LE. I kept digging and discovered limerence. It was a much better fit for my experience. I returned to the therapist to validate limerence. She was unfamiliar with it but said if it didn’t contradict what we’d worked on, helped me understand things, and supported doing the right thing, she had no objections.
2. Not really. She was an attractive, intelligent, charming, self-sufficient woman with a delightfully snarky sense of humor. We bonded over topics my wife has no interest in. I thought if I was available, she’d be someone I’d like a chance to get to know. It got away from me.
I’ve had numerous dreams about LO #4. None of them were sexual. You can read about most of them in the Limerence Dream blog. In most of them, LO #4 doesn’t even know me and in the others, she’s indifferent to me.
That help any?
Wait a minute. I came here as a limerence sufferer, but reading this post, I’m now wondering if I was the LO? Do all infidelities (as opposed to polyamorous open arrangements) start with limerence? These steps all happened as I got to know my LO, only I was single and he was not, and didn’t tell me until we were romantically involved. At that point, uncertainty revealed itself which is how I see my limerence feelings came on. But maybe I was an LO for him, in the first place. Things he told me made me realize he had been attracted to me for some time before. I wish he had told me he wasn’t single. I had very good boundaries with him when he was married in years past. I could have had the strength for both of us and not gotten into this. Now I’m hung up on him and in NC and painfully preoccupied. Aaargh…
Hi Glo, and welcome.
It’s perfectly possible to be both limerent and LO. Mutual limerence between two people is the most combustible combination.
But to answer your other question: no, all infidelities don’t start with limerence, but infidelity (due to the deceit) always involves uncertainty and barriers, which would make any latent limerence worse.
Really, the only way you can tell if you are “a limerent” is whether you have ever experienced that unique mental state of total infatuation to the point of addiction. Some people experience it again and again, some people very rarely.
Interesting thinking about tipping points.
The first overshare caught me by surprise as we were talking about parenting (a seemingly safe topic that we often discussed) and got onto the topic of that moment when your first baby is born and you suddenly realise that you’re a parent now. It was something to do with the eye contact then just felt really intense.
The tipping point that really stuck in my head was after a very emotionally charged conversation, we had a great friendly hug, and then my rational brain was consciously overriding my emotional brain because on one hand, I desperately wanted to kiss him yet on the other, I knew that was an absolute red line as far as my marriage was concerned. Over a year on and I think I’m pleased rational brain won over.
I agree with Lee’s point about disclosing to SO can be helpful in that the conversation I’d had with SO about boundaries was fresh in my mind, so I was very aware of the consequences (hurting SO being top). I only managed a few more weeks (working one day per week) before I resigned.
Somewhere in the mix is when comparisons start and SO is falling like a rock by comparison to LO. That may happen before oversharing begins. It’s in there somewhere, generally speaking.
Lee, as the SO of a limerent your statement about comparisons and oversharing scares me to death. I was in the middle of a nervous breakdown while my SO started his EA with this LO. So no comparisons there.
He started oversharing with her at least 2 years prior to me finding out. It horrifies me to think of the things they discussed.
I think my LE stopped short of an emotional affair but followed the pattern up until then. We talked about how our feelings for each other were a bit different to being friends, and there were times it got emotional because of other things that happened, and we hugged a couple of times. But our communication was never sexual or even that flirty – I wouldn’t call it intimate in that sense. It was really only the volume and timing of the text messages we sent to each other that would arouse suspicion. Evenings, weekends, holidays – sometimes 100s in a week. There was certainly deceit there with my SO as I didn’t inform her of all of that (she knew LO texted quite a bit but she would have been shocked by the extent). There was also deceit at work once we knew people were talking about us, so for a while we were more careful about being seen together.
I’m glad it stopped short of being physical now I’m more than 4 months into NC and able to be more objective about the whole thing. I’m also much more confident of stopping the next one after the Glimmer.
It’s taken me so long to find out what my problem was. Why I was obsessing over this ex for so long nine years and counting. We were only together for like 4 months in 2011…yet seemed to have been in contact now and then since. Longest period of silence 6 years.
Just to say I’m married now for 7 years and the continual obsessive thoughts are now depressing and tiring, and definitely causing issues in my marriage.
The ex has popped up breifly earlier this year, which heightened the obsession. Then ghosted me again (which she did 9 years ago)
I’ve just been a total mess. Just want to say thanks for this website. Didn’t really know where to turn.
I don’t want to continually keep thinking of her all the time. It’s continual and tiring. Crying. Just pathetic.
I thought it was cosmic love, magic, no one felt like this until I come across this blog lol. So thanks again. I think with all the stuff here I can work to some kind of solution. And move on.
I genuinely don’t want to think about her all the time. We’re not right for each other for so many reasons. Me being married for one. Several kids involved. Just want freedom from these thoughts.
Hopefully I get that soon.
When I was in the height of the LE, I confided in an old Navy buddy. He knew LO #2 when we were together.
He took a look at my wedding ring and asked, “Ignoring the obvious elephant in the room, what possibly possessed you to pursue a woman (LO #4) that reminds you of LO #2?”
I didn’t have an answer for him.
After this latest LE, I’ve had to acknowledge something about myself which others have pointed out to me but which I’ve always denied: I’m an incorrigible flirt. And worse (?), I often don’t hesitate to “overshare.” I do it, I think, because as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become relaxed and confident and generally don’t care what other people think. And conversation is just so boring when all anyone ever discusses is mundane or anecdotal. You have to share feelings and be vulnerable to have any kind of meaningful relationship. So…I get that this kind of sharing can lead to something inappropriate, but I’m not quite sure where to draw the line.
OK, re-reading here… yes, it would be best to STOP when I recognize a glimmer, but definitely before the “the establishing flirt” tipping point. On a good note, I think I may have seen a glimmer from someone new recently. Which I take to be not only a sign that my current LE is finally truly fading, but also a good opportunity to practice that whole STOPping thing… 🙂
You saw it and that is a big thing. So glad you shared.
Also, glad you liked the link elsewhere.
Landry – recognizing another glimmer is a very important test for all limerents. Can you put your emotional well being ahead of your limerent tendencies? Can you put into action the hard won wisdom you have acquired? I am rooting for you, and everyone here.
Serial Sufferer says
Glad my comments stimulated some discussion! I wanted to share a few responses, somewhat belatedly.
“share an emotionally intimate experience”
In addition to confiding that emotion & intimacy, there’s experiencing emotion & intimacy together that can trigger limerence, if you see the difference. In the one case it appears to be something I should be able to control and in the second case it is something that happens that I may not have control over.
However maybe it doesn’t matter much. Sometimes it feels like I don’t have any more control over what I say or do than I do over experiences that happen to me!
“Now clearly the order of these tipping points may vary, and the time taken to move from one to the next will vary too.”
Can you skip over steps, even the glimmer? For example, I triggered my most recent limerence by oversharing. The ‘glimmer’ didn’t exist before – I recognized with relief that this was a person I could be friends with because there was ZERO attraction. Then I overshared, confident that it was ‘safe’, yet seeking that dopamine hit (obvious in hindsight), and WHAM, limerence! Even at that point I was aware that there was no glimmer. The limerent feelings seemed kind of artificial (but as strong and compelling as any other limerence I’ve had).
Lee said, “I will also suggest that the earlier in the process that you disclose to your SO, the faster the limerence will abate.”
Disclosing to my significant other is important because of my values of honesty & integrity and generally I agree with you. However, this has backfired a couple of times. After a partial disclosure of my limerence to my significant other, my limerent brain then rationalized out of that a disclosure to the limerent object. It doesn’t make any sense in retrospect but it all seemed LOGICAL at the time. In another (the most recent) instance, my significant other, who hasn’t experienced me having a limerent episode before, had a really difficult time coping with it, and my attempts to be completely honest with him about my obsessive thinking, feelings, chance encounters, and reminders of the limerent object caused my significant other a lot of heartache and grief. So instead of taking the limerent sting out, talking about it with him inflated the importance or “badness” of my thoughts & feelings.
I’m sure you can. I do hear from people who become limerent for old friends (seemingly small reasons can shift their perception of them into LO territory), and another fairly common one is limerence coming on after LO discloses feelings for them. So, yes, there are all kinds of interesting mixes out there.
I think the key thing here is sensitivity to SO. I would say that being completely honest doesn’t need to involve detailed explanation of how intense or obsessive or persistent the thoughts about LO are. The key thing is to be honest that you are struggling with romantic feelings for someone else and want them to stop.
You definitely want to avoid using SO as a “ruminating out loud” sounding board.
Actually, Dr. Limerence, that’s exactly what I’d like as the SO to a limerent is listening to his ruminating out loud about his LO. I may be in the minority but my mind cannot heal until I hear what he was thinking/fantasizing about his LO. It’s like my mind and heart are full of holes and those pieces (his fantasies and ruminations) are the parts that complete my healing. I don’t understand why I need to know so much about his EA but I do.
Is this asking too much considering I was the one betrayed?
Careful what you wish for, LeoLover.
First, I think that in at least some cases, giving SO freedom to openly ruminate can encourage rather than squelch the fantasy. (It turns out that fantasies about being involved with multiple women at once, or being watched, are not uncommon.) It’s also honestly bordering on self-harm–do you really need vivid images in your head? To what end?
It’s rare for a spouse during the initial disclosure to unload the whole truth in one fell swoop–the instinct to minimize the intensity of their obsession or protect your feelings is high. So there probably are some secrets still remaining. But if you’re on a path to healing, I recommend figuring out what you *need* to know in order to rebuild trust and strengthen your connection. Try not to ask for more than you can handle, because prolonging your own agony will probably not help either of you.
Several months after disclosure and NC, my SO ruined a lovely vacation by admitting to me that he had fantasized about LO during sex with me (and still did from time to time). For him, this confession, as well as the admission of how powerfully sexually attracted he was to LO, and the frequency with which he’d imagined leaving me for her, was the last painful tranche of secrets that he felt he needed to unload before we could heal. And I guess since these were things he’d lied or misled me about, being totally honest was (for us) a step toward rebuilding trust.
He would never, however, describe the fantasies. And for that I am grateful. Even without knowing all the gory details, the pain was still excruciating.
Over the last month or so we’ve found is that the best antidote to the LE was not examining every corner of it, but rather focusing on each other, our life together, our sexual and emotional connection, and our future. Talking about LO caused him to think about LO. For too long she was a ghost in our marriage. So I learned to purposefully limit my questioning, to swallow my doubts, etc. When I talked about her less, he thought about her less, and so did I. And gradually she receded to a point where she’s still there, sometimes, but manageable–no longer a Category 5 hurricane disturbing our relationship, but an occasional shower. To beat this metaphor to death, since I stopped obsessively checking the radar for rain and started engaging in sunny day activities, the storms have stayed away.
“Several months after disclosure and NC, my SO ruined a lovely vacation by admitting to me that he had fantasized about LO during sex with me (and still did from time to time)”
I could never have sex again with someone who admitted that to me. Better to know, I guess. But I’d be done.
Katie, your metaphor is really good!
“And gradually she receded to a point where she’s still there, sometimes, but manageable–no longer a Category 5 hurricane disturbing our relationship, but an occasional shower. To beat this metaphor to death, since I stopped obsessively checking the radar for rain and started engaging in sunny day activities, the storms have stayed away.”
Marcia, I don’t know how I would react to such disclosure either, if I was in Katie’s situation. I believe it is better not to know, but can a couple reconnect with such secrets between them? My own LO ruminations have receded to the “occasional shower” and I don’t think it’s a good idea to disclose now I’m 80% over the LE. On the other hand, I still have a lot of work to do on the marriage and personal issues that caused my LE.
Thank you, this post helps to clarify so much the mess in my head!
I would say i have been “stuck” at the disclosure to LO step for a few months which is good, I dont see myself going over that limit… i suppose my LO has the same limit. Problem is we are stuck because we are not willing/able to go NC. I just cant admit i have to stop seeing him, i really care for him and its basically the peak of my life to see him every week. Its pathetic but i manage to balance my life like this at the minute…feel bad for my so i a way but then i dont cross the red line with the lo. lo getting married in a few months Things might change then.
“Problem is we are stuck because we are not willing/able to go NC.”
“lo getting married in a few months Things might change then.”
Eww. I hope he doesn’t marry her until his head has cleared because what a lousy way to start a marriage. Mooning over someone else and viewing your spouse as a consolation prize from the very first moment is a terrible thing to do.
“i manage to balance my life like this at the minute…feel bad for my so i a way but then i dont cross the red line with the lo.”
I hope you’re able to back even further away from that line soon. You deserve to be #1 to someone special. With distance comes clarity – right?
True its not a good way to start his marriage… didnt see things in this perspective..
my best chance is that he will start NC after hes married and it will force me to go far from him …
not a purposefull living i know 🙁
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become a fan of wedding vows. I speculate on what the marriage will be like based on their vows.
When I got married, there was always some version of “forsaking all others.” I was especially a fan of the ones who added, “…and cleave only to him/her.”
I hear the forsaking part less and less but I haven’t heard the last part in decades.
Very thankful for this website and your comments folks. The more i think about it i actually feel sick on what i am doing. I have to stop pretending. I saw their wedding website and hate to see that im in the way of their happiness. And im not happy neither. Have started NC again fingers crossed it will work this time
Interesting to read an old comment 9months ago…
So not much has happened until this weekend. Lo got married we became close but then he started to mention more and more that he wanted to organise social stuff between our2 couples.. at that point i got scared because so doesnt know about lo. In the meantime i became more and more unhappyabout my relationship with Lo ok we text all the time and meet once to twice a week but then… he goes silent when hes on holidays and istarted tocrave a physical relationship.. so decided to put a profile pic with my so … he immediately changed his pic with a pic of his wife and blocked me ! We are now 10 d nc and im ready to stop this relationship and blank him… i miss him like crazy the limerence is still there unfortunately !! Even stronger
Oh boy… I’ve gone through every single step you just explained. I guess the first moment of deceit should have been the last moment where I should have done a U-turn, but I couldn’t. While I am married with kids, LO is actually single. I feel like I have been the one that was so limerent, I kept on pushing and pushing… it was never clear if it was mutual or not, but there was something there. And I had to find out. We (aka I, out of guilt) broke up probably 4 times in a year, and it was usually also me that wasn’t strong enough to stay away. We tried staying friends. We still try. He said he wants to keep me as a friend and I mean a lot to him but he will ensure nothing will ever happen again as he is done with the physical stuff. I was heartbroken… And started googling, where I came across your side. Reading about the concept of limerence, it makes so much sense. Reading about these tipping points, that’s me, every step of the way.
I’ve tried to keep my distance, and knowing what is happening helps me to rationalize this whole thing. I don’t see him as often anymore and I try to hold back on texting… but is there any chance this can end up in a good friendship? Is this closeness that we felt really just limerence and can’t be transferred to anything else? I am now as convinced as he is that this was it in terms of physical closeness, and that it won’t happen again. But without that will it now just fade off? Is that the best thing that could actually happen?
I have to add that no one other than LO and I know about this (although i was limerent for about half a year and we had about a year of an actual affair). I was limerent from the moment I met him, and I really think it was me that kept on pushing it again and again to get closer to LO, to create situations where something could happen. I was disappointed when nothing happened just the find the next possible time that could lead to something. I still am limerent, although I keep on using almost all strategies you explain in one of your blog posts to try to get over it. Except for no contact (although very reduced, on purpose). Any advise or thoughts on how to get over LO?
My next post is going to be all about physical affairs. But, to give a quick answer: no I don’t think it’s possible to just be friends with an LO – as a general principle, but perhaps even more so after an affair. The discharging of sexual tension may help in dispelling the limerence, but the element of deceit is always going to complicate things. Best bet is to limit contact as far as possible, and refocus on your marriage. Time to give your spouse the attention that LO has previously stolen…
Thanks for your reply, DrLimerence. Of course you are right that I should focus on my marriage and give my spouse the attention. Clearly there are some things going on that need to be sorted with my SO.
You are also right about the deceit. I did tell LO that the only way i see a friendship happening is if i can stop hiding this relationship from my SO, e.g. do tell SO whenever I see LO for a drink or lunch and talk about the things we text (which nowadays really just is small talk and work related stuff). I did actually try to stop my limerence at the beginning by introducing LO to SO… SO was being quite rude and had no interest in meeting any new “friend of mine” as he wasn’t interested in anything else happening in my life.
When LO and I started hanging out, he was going through the end of a LE of his own with an unrequited limerence. He disclosed that to that LO and was heartbroken and I actually helped him through that.
Well fast forward to now… I do believe that LO actually has a new LO of his own (I have seen texts on his phone by accident, which made me completely lose it as I was completely jealous), another woman in a 10-year long relationship, not married and no kids though (and that relationship is not going well, as she told me, as I do know her as well from work). I guess I should be happy and wish him good luck, as I guess he is as much of a serial limerent as I am.
Well I guess time will tell how it will move forward. I am trying my hardest to reduce contact and to keep conversations at absolute small talk level. No feelings, no oversharing, no emotional intimacy. That works so far, however I still do get hung up on his new LO, as I totally feel replaced, and I can just so foresee the same story that happened with me, happen with his new LO. So everytime now I think about LO, his new LO pops up in my head…
But back to what you said, I should focus on my SO and I have to keep reminding myself to do that. I try my hardest not to think of LO and not to get angry and think about his new LO, as she is actually a nice person, I have nothing against her. It’s just not easy, I keep rereading your blog posts to help me get over my limerence.
If you toss out the glimmer, the process appears to apply the progression of non-limerent affairs, too. When I look back, I was working the program with two other women, one professional contact I see several times/year and a now former co-worker. In both those, I obviously picked up something from them but it wasn’t the classic glimmer that my LOs projected. Also, I’ve only been limerent for women I attached to and I wasn’t anywhere near attaching to either of them.
I don’t remember flirting with either of them but the Fantasy Affair and Oversharing were definitely there. There was one time my coworker and I had an exchange that could have been taken as flirting but I know I didn’t intend it that way. (See “Flirting at work”)
The glimmer may identify someone as a potential threat but to assess it requires flirting and/or oversharing. You make the assessment based on their response. The Fantasy Affair is all inside your head, and in the context of overall risk, it relates to your vulnerability, not them as a threat.
In one of the moments of oversharing with my former coworker, she said, “The only reason a woman would make a serious run at you was to see if she could get you to cheat.” I told her I didn’t take that as a compliment. She said it wasn’t meant to be a compliment, it was a warning. She went on to say that a woman knows when a man is open to cheating. She said they put out a vibe (something like the glimmer) and I didn’t have it. She said there are some women that will see if she can turn someone for sport. So, if a woman was making a run at me, it wasn’t out of kindness.
Once again, it’s time for “professional help,” so while I was drinking coffee this morning, I pulled the “Magic 8-Ball” off the shelf and asked it the following questions:
1. If I was available, would __________ be a suitable candidate?
a. LO #4 – “Very doubtful”
b. LO#2 (ex-girlfriend) – “Very doubtful”
c. Professional Contact – “Signs point to yes”
d. Former Coworker – “Yes – definitely”
2. Will I ever be available, again? – “Outlook not so good”
I like that answer.
It’s a slow morning at work….
I got as far as the deceit stage and then started working on pulling back. Very relieved I didn’t go farther. Even so, coming back to the reality of my life has been an awfully hard landing. It is the most massive comedown, and even the highest of the highs during the peak of euphoria was not worth the crash I’m going through now. I hope that those of you reading this who recognize yourself at an earlier stage will take my experience as a warning and turn back now. Remember: it’s not worth it!
Oh lordy, tipping points…
My “glimmers” are more like “baseball bat to the heart” moments. Two years ago at a gathering with some friends, I heard a voice behind me, and had the immediate thought, “This is who I was brought to [this city] to meet.” I hadn’t even met this person, hadn’t even seen his face!! I’d also just moved here with an SO who I was (and still am!) head over heels in love with (we *also* fell for each other within seconds, but that’s another story 🙂 ). And yet I fell for this other guy instantly. It only got worse as I actually got to know him and discovered we had a lot of shared values and pursuits that I was missing in my life. And of course he had to be drop dead gorgeous in the exact way that addles my little brain every time. Sigh.
I’d been through crushes before and knew well enough to not show feelings or try to do anything about it; I just tried to enjoy the sparklies and be his friend. I’d also been polyamorous before my current SO, so it felt very natural and right to be in love with 2 people simultaneously–two seems to be my default. (though now that I’m learning about limerence, I have a LOT of re-examining to do!)
Over the next year or two we rarely saw each other, but the rare times we got into a real conversation it was always deep and meaningful. He supported me when I quit drinking; I listened as he talked about his loneliness and various struggles he was going through; we talked about mutual pursuits that he wanted a partner for and I just wanted more of, period. Our paths only crossed every few weeks or months, though, and despite the mutual support he never seemed interested in me as anything more than a casual friend. I did finally get to tell him I had a crush on him, but it was in a very casual, super flirty dance floor atmosphere that both of us knew didn’t mean anything.
Then there was an incident involving a bike trip, Emergency Room visit, and a rest stop by the highway in the middle of summer. I literally brought him food and water to enable him to make it the rest of the way home. We talked for 4 hours while he recovered, during which he opened up to me about his PTSD and its causes, etc. That was a massive tipping point I think. We spent more time together in the next 2 weeks than we had in the previous year.
Then he left. I was devastated and worried for him. He was biking across the country, alone, lonely, heartbroken over someone else, no savings, trying to make a fresh start, and I was the only person keeping in touch with him on a daily basis (in part because I didn’t want to lose contact with him, but also because of the very fresh experience of him getting stranded–I didn’t want him dying by the side of the road and no one noticing for weeks!).
Then he went through a run of bad luck and a suicidal episode with me on the phone. Another tipping point: That sealed the deal that I was committed to doing whatever I could to keep him alive. I knew I was in way over my head, but by then there was NO way I could walk away either. Over the next 6 months I saw him through several more such episodes; spent hours on the phone talking him down or boosting him up; helped get him into a place to live just before winter hit; cheered him on when he got a job…he said multiple times he wouldn’t have made it without me.
He’d also say he appreciated that our friendship didn’t have sexual overtones; he’d talk about women he was attracted to; he’d say I wasn’t his type anyway and I’d agree that that was a good thing. While I was nearly going out of my mind with pining for him, I also figured I was so boring by comparison there’s no way he’d ever be interested in me. I kept hoping he’d meet someone.
Until one day he pushed and pushed and boxed me in in a way that I finally admitted my feelings…and he revealed it was mutual and had been for a long time.
I felt terrible–the last thing I wanted was to be a source of hurt for him–but as you can imagine at that point I also wanted/needed that reciprocity like I needed oxygen. He said I was the 7th unavailable woman he’d fallen for like this, so I suspect maybe he’s also a serial limerent. It was a perfect storm. And I thought I understood what sexual frustration was before then……….HA!!!
We both tried to keep our distance but neither of us were able to. The 900 miles between us just delayed it a bit. I was honest with my SO from the beginning and since I’d come into the relationship identifying as polyamorous, he did his best to be understanding and allow things to run its course.
I was able to have one visit with my LO, thank god, some closure there at least, but it was no surprise that things went south in the month after. He wanted me to be his life partner and I wanted SO badly to say yes, but there were a bazillion reasons that would have been the stupidest decision of my life. He cut me off a week later–a decision I supported–and I never expected to hear from him again.
I’ve never grieved for anyone like I grieved for him. It took me 8 months to get him even somewhat out of my head, to start feeling normal in my life again.
Two weeks ago he reached out to say hi.
I was stunned. I was also just glad to know he didn’t hate me. He’s with a partner now and seems to be doing really well, for which I’m incredibly happy. I’m being extremely cautious about our contact though, and found your website just this week. Your insights about the likelihood/advisability of trying to be friends with an LO (even an ex) couldn’t have come into my life at a better time! THANK YOU FOR THIS SITE!!!
In the past 18 months I’ve learned a hella lot about codependency, C-PTSD, bipolar and bordeline PDs, attachment styles, disenfranchised grief, imago theory, love addiction, etc. etc. I’ve also had two glimmer moments for others (one for a co-worker, one for a friend), and my internal response was basically to run screaming in the opposite direction, haha! So maybe I’m starting to learn, after all…I never want to go through anything like that ever again.
Apologies for the long post and thank you for reading if you made it all the way through. Putting this stuff into words really helps (though yes, I’m also learning the difference between processing and ruminating, haha!). This is the first time I’ve been able to share the full truth of what I went through with an audience who will actually understand what I’m talking about. That means the world.
Hang in there, y’all, and hugs to anyone in the midst of an LE. You CAN survive this.
Clips of the Day: “Not An Affair to Remember” – “Family Ties” Season 2 Episode 5 (1983)
Oddly, I remember this episode, particularly the ensemble part.
Majong Sofine says
I am looking for information on how a man can actually manipulate a person to have limerence in a married woman that is not that personality type.
What I mean is in tipping point levels such as oversharing. The part here is written as a limerance person is dying and cant wait to over share but in the case I am speaking about the man trying to get the married woman is the one asking questions and trying to position himself as the “caring friend” you can tell your secrets to.
Or the first moment of deceit level where the womans alarm finally goes off and she awakens to what a screwed up situation she has allowed and he wordsmiths like a psychologist that she wasn’t doing anything wrong in seeking comfort from the inattention and emotional abuse she endures at home. (He is of course spinning the husband as the devil as it suits his purpose)
I havent found a post yet about the other side of limerence. How a man can manipulate women who by default are emotional based and therefore closer to limerence on the continuum than men.
Allie 1 says
There are articles about “Gimmer Givers” and “Narcissist LOs”.
The behaviour you describe is not limited to men, some women behave in a way that is more likely to illicit limerence too. Although I suspect it is rare for someone to consciously and deliberately set out to do that – that sounds almost psychopathic to me.
Are you suggesting more woman fall into limerance then men? Has this been prooven. If I had to guess I’d say it’s mostly even honestly. I understand the logic of women falling into more easily, but my feeling is that it isn’t the case
Are you talking about a man grooming a woman (married in your scenario) with words to become limerent for him? I’m sure it is possible. In my case I was never trying to groom LO but she did share a lot about her relationships and life. But it was of her own volition. I think a lot of it was due to her coming out of a bad divorce and needed someone to talk to. Unless I was unconsciously doing something to make her think it was okay to share with me dishonestly. Or that every time she did share I listened and gave advice or answered her questions? I was just trying to be a friend to her, since this was long before the glimmer.
But a woman could just as easily use tactics, maybe different ones, to seduce/lure a man into being limerent for her. Of course in both scenarios we would have to assume the groomer, be they male or female, would have to be familiar with limerence from the get go. Manipulation is not mutually exclusive to either gender. It’s a human trait.
Majong Sofine says
A woman who wouldn’t give a particular man the time of day in an open setting around her friends and family will be manipulated into an affair using these techniques. Semi unemployed person who mows lawns for a living, short, beady eyed, uneducated, no prospects, poor, 8 years younger and no interests in common, a loser by most peoples reckoning and the only reason she interacted with him was to give him friends as a new Christian in a church setting.
General concepts that are known and proven to create intimacy’s like telling secrets are pressured and have their desired affect. Being helpful at church and shallow flattery gets conversations going where he gets her to voice her worries, fears, insecurities and then use that to position himself as her LO and drive wedges into her and her husbands relationship create the environment to amplify the Limerence in her feelings. Emailing her many times a day and showing her how to delete them so her husband wouldn’t find out. Telling her to call him any time she wants and it gets to the point she calls him 80 times a day. Who but an unemployed loser could take 80 calls a day?
Allies link about narcissist’s LO’s seems to hit the mark square on.
The narcissist feeds on power and manipulation. The more he can get the woman to violate her boundaries with her husband, her marraige and herself the more he likes it. At some point the woman knows what he likes and so she tells him what he wants to hear. “You understand me so much better than my husband. You are always there for me when I need a shoulder to cry on etc”. He gets an ego boost and responds with more attention to keep it going. She gets the attention and love bombing she has started to crave and he gets off on knowing what he is doing with another mans wife under his nose.
At some point when the woman is fully in limerence, no longer thinking rationally he upps the instructions to her. “Dont wear panties any more” She does it as the price for the attention and he does it because he gets off degrading a woman and making her cuckhold her husband.
She becomes so stressed out that she cant take it and tells him its over but he paints the picture of her losing him as unbearable. When she physically cant go on he has told her that because her husband is an angry controlling person, if she confesses to him, that will be the day she dies. She actually believes him. He had effectively manipulated her into starting an affair with feelings and getting her to think her shallow thoughts were her whole world and then when she wants to stop he manipulates her to keep it going.
The pressure builds further and she comes clean and tells him she will confess everything. He asks her, “Are you sure you can live without me?” What a narcissist right?
So she tells her husband thinking she will be killed but of course he doesnt. She is shocked the world she created in her mind from the manipulators spin isnt true.
It unravels fast from there but it seems to be a fact that a man can manipulate and amplify the limerence elements to create the desired effect.
You have to remember that all couples go through the limerence stage. If actions and words can manipulate feelings then what else could it be?
Look at the stages. Every one of them happen in the girls mind. One of the hallmarks is that the person they have the glimmer for is an unworthy person, ie, no rational for choosing that person over anyone else. The woman is the one who mistakes the feelings she has as coming from her love bomber but its actually the thrill of doing something wrong, the terrible risk, the hidden secrets and stolen moments and doing things under everyone’s nose that is the source of the thrill. The evil.
In the tipping points piece, it starts that a woman has met a man with a glimmer. But in reality that is just the first time she has become aware. She has just sensed feelings for someone and she doesnt know where they came from or why she has them for this person.
If the person has emotional or psychological problems and has a history of living in a fantasy world it would be a one sided case where a person fixates on another person.
But a normal person with none of that can be moved and manipulated into the same experience through the same bonding experiences and techniques.
Majong Sofine says
Lee in the Narcissist LO’s post commented on the striking similarities in addicts and people in limerence.
“That analytical ability went out like a light with the first drink. In fact, this is also what happens with triggers. The effect of triggers is to lower a person’s ability to be objective and so that devastating decision can be made to have a drink or use drugs again.
Morality and Ethics Soon Depart
Young man recalls stealing
Once those analytical, objective capacities are lowered, it’s not a big jump to the loss of morals. When an addicted person is desperate to prevent withdrawal cravings and sickness, criminal acts they never ever would have engaged in begin to look like the only way they can survive. This is how a person who was honest and ethical his whole life can begin assaulting people and robbing them, breaking into houses, stealing valuables from his family or prostituting himself or herself.
Now add guilt to the mix. Guilt acts like concrete laid on top of the analytical shutdown, cravings and crimes. Now the addicted person struggles with a burden that can’t be faced. The person is now locked in that destructive pattern of behavior.”
The narcissist LO uses/generates limerence in a person to achieve his own goals.