In the comments section of a previous post, B raised an interesting point about the situation where limerent and LO are mismatched in terms of physical attractiveness. That got me thinking: should your response to limerence be any different if your LO is “out of your league”?
It’s an interesting question, because any attempt to answer it raises many more questions. Some readers will react negatively to the very premise – people shouldn’t be ranked or sorted or scored! Everyone has intrinsic value and no one is “above” anyone else. Some people will be dismissive and shrug – plenty more fish in the sea. Some will be sympathetic and instinctively tell the suffering limerent to not be so down on themselves, and reassure them that everyone is worthy of love. Some will be more blunt: man up and stop being so lily-livered.
In short, it’s one of those questions that taps into a lot of deep insecurities and provokes strong emotions.
So let’s run straight at it flailing wildly, full of heroic idiocy!
What league are you playing in?
The first big question is what does “out of your league” mean? I’m going to play the odds here and assume the commonest scenario will be a man who thinks that his female LO is markedly more physically attractive than he is. The corollary of this is that he assumes she is not interested in him, because she is seeking a partner who matches her physical beauty.
It’s not an unreasonable assumption, but it doesn’t take much scrutiny before doubts start to creep in. We all know of happy couples that have an obvious disparity in their classical beauty. Guys who seem to have so much charm that they transcend asymmetric features or paunches to radiate charisma. My wife calls these guys “ugly-handsome” – men like Jean Reno, Jack Nicholson, or Kevin James. Similarly, we all know women who are immensely alluring despite fairly ordinary faces – compare photos of Norma Jeane Mortenson and Marilyn Munroe. There are plenty of examples of people who have a lot of sexual and romantic magnetism in apparent defiance of their objective beauty.
Diving even deeper into this concept, a few of the big dating app companies have conducted studies about physical attractiveness using their enormous databases of profile pictures. The results are quite eye-opening. OKCupid, for example, reported that when asked to rate the attractiveness of women, heterosexual man ranked them on a “bell shaped” curve (a normal/Gaussian distribution). That means 50% of women were ranked above average and 50% below average, sensibly enough. In contrast, heterosexual women ranked 80% of men to be below average attractiveness. Only 20% of men were considered OK-looking or better, illustrating that men and women are using quite different yardsticks.
The same result was clear on Tinder: 78% of women are competing for the top 20% of men, leaving 80% of men to chase the bottom 22% of women (there’s a good summary of this contentious evidence here).
It’s fair to say that online dating has had lots of unintended consequences when it comes to judging “league status”.
Now the cynics among us might start drawing attention to other factors that influence appeal. Men who are very rich seem to defy their physical limitations. Women who are very flirtatious attract a lot of male attention. Ordinary American men seem surprisingly popular with beautiful Filipino women.
These cynics might also point out that when nearly 80% of women on dating apps are getting replies from the top 20% of men, those men are not looking for a genuine romantic connection. They want to have lots of sex with as many women as they can, and, as an unfortunate consequence, the 80% of women who have had “access” to the top 20% of men are reinforced in their belief that those are the guys they can feasibly make a match with. Getting serious with the other 80% of men would be “dating down”, when they know that they can get a date with a 20%-er.
This is all starting to feel a bit transactional, isn’t it? All grubby compromises and sexual market values. That’s the problem with looking at dating as a league – you rapidly fall into statistical analyses and bargaining power imbalances, and end up wondering whatever happened to love…
Limerence laughs at objectivity
I think that the foregoing arguments also reveal a faulty premise – what could be called beauty chauvinism. This is the idea that people with matched physical beauty belong together. Matches that deviate from this hierarchy are taken as evidence of gold-digging or sexual bargaining on someone’s part, or insecurity about their own looks, or some other hidden agenda. I’m not a Polyanna about this – of course this happens – but it presupposes that attraction to beauty is honest, whereas attraction to other factors is insincere.
We all know that, actually, attraction is a complex amalgam of a lot of factors: beauty, personality, status, sex-appeal and compatibility, all spiced up by the idiosyncratic quirks and peccadillos that have shaped our own individual romantic disposition. Indeed, limerence could be taken as the perfect case study in why beauty chauvinism is wrong.
In the thick of limerence, LO becomes the most attractive thing that could possibly exist. We want them beyond all reason, beyond all logic, beyond all sense. I’ve heard from countless limerents who are infatuated with someone who is objectively “lower in the league” than their spouse, but they are utterly besotted nonetheless.
Limerence can even redefine the very nature of beauty, and cause us to project an impossible ideal onto an ordinary person, convincing ourselves that they would never be interested in us.
The factors that cause the glimmer are rarely aligned neatly with simple physical beauty. They are born of that weird alchemy of our life histories, our genetics, our bonding experiences during childhood, the role models that were around in our youth, and the previous romantic experiences – good and bad – that we’ve had in our lives.
Some women love bald men, others are repelled. Same with short hair and tattoos on women. And height, and buxomness, and eye colour, and all the other myriad ways in which we all subtly differ.
Limerence teaches us that quirky details are often more important than good bone structure when it comes to total infatuation.
We’re quite bad at judging our own attractiveness
Another problem with league tables is that many of us are really quite bad at judging our own position. A bad experience in youth can have a very formative impact: a mean-spirited parent, a jealous friend, a harsh rejection by a crush, these slights can imprint a deep insecurity about our own appeal to others. Most of us are all too willing to believe that we’re ugly. We look in the mirror and see only the flaws. We lose confidence, and become hesitant, social awkward and, perversely, even less attractive.
The opposite can happen too. Those given early compliments can internalise a belief in their appeal, giving them more romantic confidence, and more resilience to rejection. Our own self-image really does influence how other see us.
Finally, people mature and blossom at different rates. It’s not so great to hit your prime in your twenties or early thirties if your self-image as an ugly person was established in adolescence. It’s another gift of midlife to look back at photos from your twenties and think “Is that really what I looked like?”
They should love me for who I am
A common sentiment when faced with all this competitiveness and attraction calculus is to stop playing the game entirely. “I want genuine love,” declares the affronted limerent, “I don’t want someone who judges me by the size of my bosom or my wallet. If they don’t want me at my worst, they don’t deserve me at my best!”
It’s an admirable sentiment, but there is an uncomfortable reality to confront: relationships require effort.
Simply declaring “they should love me for who I am,” while lounging on a sofa eating chips and chocolate, and watching Netflix for weeks on end, isn’t going to impress many potential partners. There’s a narcissism about expecting people to somehow discover the wonderful person within you, as if by magic.
Wanting to love and be loved with immense fervour isn’t enough to sustain a relationship of any depth. You have to get out and meet people and find common interests and get to know them, which also means you need to share yourself and your dreams and your vision of life. You have to contribute to each other’s lives, and help each other thrive.
And that brings us to the ultimate solution to all this trouble. The best thing you can do to attract others is to strive to be your best self. If you live your life with purpose, you will be happier, more confident, more secure in your own worth, and you will attract people that like that kind of person. You’ll also be more likely to care about your health and fitness, and look after your body and mind.
That’s the secret. If you focus your energy on becoming a more admirable person, you will both feel more attractive and be more attractive. If you approach relationships from the perspective of wanting to connect with someone who complements your own goals and dreams, you worry far less about league tables and status and far more about compatibility and emotional connection. Ironically, that also makes you more attractive to others, raising your “market value” in general, but most powerfully, your value within the market of people you want to attract.
If you can connect with someone that is attracted to the best aspects of yourself, then you also have the benefit of being with someone who wants you to continue to strive for your ideal. It’s the best kind of chemistry: mutual reinforcement of your best traits.
So, to tie this back to the original question: the answer is to ignore the league tables and concentrate on being the best version of yourself that you can. We can’t have whoever we want. Statistically, most of the time we’ll get rejected. But we stand the best chance of meeting our match if we can develop ourselves into the sort of person that we would want to be with.
A couple of further thoughts:
1) There will probably be a selection bias for dating apps – those people that are most concerned about appearance are likely to use them more.
2) I’d love to see a similar analysis for gay men and women. Perhaps Grindr have done it…?
I like this weeks one Dr L. When you fall into a minority such as LGBTQ+ the pool from which to choose from is that much smaller that dating apps can be an only option, especially if you’re introverted, prone to anxiety and not great at meeting lots of new people ‘in real life’. You don’t always know if another person is gay for example, but if you go on an app you can be pretty sure the people you are looking at have the same or similar sexual orientations to you. Dating apps seem like a standard way of doing things these days (tragic as it sounds!). I’ve always thought that meeting a partner ‘in real’ is better some how, and that online dating is inauthentic. But it does seem to work for some.
Yes, good point, Winst. The expanded pool for LGBTQ+ groups is a big benefit of apps (especially when it’s hard to determine orientation IRL). Maybe less so for straight folks, but I guess time will tell.
Vicarious Limerent says
I find the research done by OKCupid and Tinder to be quite interesting. We’re so often told that women aren’t as concerned with looks as men and that men are more visual than women when it comes to sexual attraction. Notwithstanding the point Dr. L made about selection bias and the unique context of online dating apps, it almost seems like the opposite way around given these findings. With the pressure to have big muscles and “six pack abs,” many men are starting to develop body image issues the same way women have had for many years. The tables might be starting to turn.
Yes, there’s all kinds of interesting subtleties emerging from the data. There’s a cynical view of women wanting the three sixes – six pack abs, six feet tall, and six figure income – but actually that may only have emerged because many women can get access to those men now. It’s such a change in dating dynamics to be able to draw from the pool “available men in my city” rather than “available men in my social circle”.
But that probably only applies when women are selecting based on dating profiles. When selecting men in real life, all the other attractors will be much more important.
Plus, the data from OKCupid also showed that women are far more likely to date men they find less physically attractive than men will date women they find less attractive. So even if we accept that women are hypercritical about men’s physical attractiveness, if they don’t weight it highly when choosing who to date, then they aren’t as concerned with looks.
It’s complicated 🙂
Carlo Ponti is my personal inspiration. I’d like to think of myself as him except for his money, power, influence, and talent. If he could snag and keep a woman like Sophia Loren, there’s hope for the rest of us.
Thank God some women value things like intelligence, honesty, integrity, loyalty, reliability, and a sense of humor. If I had to rely on my looks, I might have died alone and celibate. As far as looks go, I think I’m within the first standard deviation to either side of the mean. LO #2 told me that she didn’t like me when we first met. She said I was cocky and arrogant (true, they’re wonderful tools for avoidants to keep people at bay). I asked her why she kept going out with me.
“You were relentlessly persistent and, at times, you can be irresistibly cute.” (The whole “cute” thing is another story because I didn’t like being “cute.”)
My mother was gorgeous and my father was handsome. She went to modeling school and would sometimes model for things like trade shows. Dad a trophy wife and I had a trophy mother. A 4′ portrait of my mother hung in the best restaurant in town (no, she wasn’t naked over the bar). It was pretty cool to have kids say my mom was so pretty. But, she never learned to drive a car and I don’t think she finished high school. She died of an apparent accidental overdose of placidyl and alcohol.
As far as looks went when I was dating, I operated on the “Pass/Fail” system. I had to be somewhat attracted to their appearance but it was a pretty low bar. Before I got married, I dated blondes, brunettes, and ONE redhead. They ranged in height from 5′-0.125″ (she was proud of that 1/8″) to 5′-9″. When I met her, my wife could have passed for Kim Basinger’s shorter sister. After I had taken her to a company party, a co-worker asked how I managed to snag a woman like that. I told him I picked her up in a bar (true.) He asked how old she was (23) and how old I was (32). He came back with, “You cradle-robbing son-of-a-bitch.”
On the subject of redheads…
I only remember one redhead in grade school and one in high school. I remember them being cute but I never had a relationship with them. (I always thought Ann-Margret, Annette O’Toole, and Tina Louise were gorgeous growing up.) LO #2 was a set-up by a professional mutual acquaintance. I don’t think I would have ever encountered her otherwise. Appearance-wise, she had the same body type as my high school girlfriend and later, my wife (short and curvy) but that’s it. Appearance-wise, LO #2 wasn’t anything like anyone in my family.
Running the same review for myself, I realise that there is almost no physical resemblance between my LOs. It’s a small sample set (n = 4, and one of those is equivocal), but they’ve been petite, tall, brunette, redhead, short-haired, long-haired, skinny, buxom and all different eye colours.
Clearly my only “type” is damsel in distress.
LO #1 didn’t come across as true damsel-in-distress but the subsequent ones definitely were. Her heavy recreational drug and alcohol use notwithstanding, she had a surprising depth to her. She was one of the most authentic people I’ve ever met. Most of the time she seemed to be running around 58 Hz or 62 Hz, close but not in quite in sync with the rest of us. It wasn’t so much that she couldn’t function in the world that most of us seem to operate in, it was more than she didn’t want to bother with the world of mortals. She had other things to do.
She knew I was going into the Navy and would be likely assigned to a nuclear submarine, possibly one carrying ICBMs. I remember her telling me something along the lines of, “I don’t object to what you’re doing. I’m really glad somebody is willing to do it. But, I really object to what you may some day have to do (i.e., launch nuclear weapons.)”
We said goodbye over 40 years ago. I have no idea what became of her.
Mine definitely are a type… pretty petite/skinny blondes. All my ex-girlfriends, wife and LOs look similar. I know now that the tip into being an LO is the added damsel in distress factor. Add that all in and boom, you have my kriptonite.
I showed my therapist pictures of LO, my wife and the “ex” that has loomed large in my life for the last couple of decades. She remarked at how beautiful my wife and the ex were. She said she could see the attraction of LO (who was half their age at this point) but that she wasn’t in their league. Funny, as I couldn’t see it at the time. To me LO was physically perfect. I could see her personality flaws and lack of intellect, but couldn’t question her looks.
I feel you on the ‘damsel’ Dr. L.
My 4 LO’s have been varied in physical appearance, Two blondes, a brunette, and a ‘redhead’ that I strongly suspect is probably naturally a brunette. From significantly shorter than me to slightly taller.
What they’ve all got in common (well, perhaps except for the brunette, I was quite young and didn’t get to know her that well) is the fact that outwardly they all project very strong personalities through (seemingly) natural charisma, in their own ways they were all the center of attention if they wanted to be, and sometimes even if they didn’t mean to be, but I personally knew them to have vulnerable centers. Flaws they didn’t show other people. That “hidden damsel in distress” that I get to see.
I think that’s one of the things that really hooks me. The thought that I could be what she needs to make her into her best person. Or perhaps only what I think she needs. It’s entirely possible it’s self delusion.
What they’ve all got in common…is the fact that outwardly they all project very strong personalities through (seemingly) natural charisma, in their own ways they were all the center of attention if they wanted to be, and sometimes even if they didn’t mean to be, but I personally knew them to have vulnerable centers. Flaws they didn’t show other people. That “hidden damsel in distress” that I get to see.
This is such a good description of me. I am really socially comfortable, and people have described me as having natural charisma.. I really like to laugh and to make other people laugh, and I can actually feel it when I’m being sparkly…. I never believed myself to be a flirt, as I always understood flirtation to be sexual; I just thought it was, well, I don’t know what I thought it was. Just me I guess. Turning the sparkle off seems unnatural, but, as I get older, and certainly on the heels of this, I see that it can be used by me in ways that can be…. unhelpful. In this LE/EA one of the most amazing parts of it, for me, was that I felt like I could really show my flaws, insecurities and myself as well as letting my sparkly side show. This led me to believe that LO could truly SEE me. In some ways this is true, and I’ve learned from this to be more authentic and open in my relationship with my husband. It also created a real, but inappropriate, bond with LO. It has been painful getting through this. I definitely see that LO and I wouldn’t have been compatible long term (we have completely different beliefs, which made conversations interesting but would have been a deal breaker in the end.) but… well, unpacking it all is what I’m in the middle of. The lying to my SO is the thing I’m most ashamed of- and it seems like it gives lie to all of it. But maybe sometimes I don’t think it’s quite that simple. I had never heard of limerence before my EA- and yet I’ve had it for as long as I can remember. I don’t know. Maybe in some ways I feel like hitting this bottom- as it were- has diagnosed something in me that can have lasting benefits for my life. I think that maybe something in me believed I was missing some elusive thing- some connection with another human that was possible (and that I craved). Now I see that I have secure attachment with my SO, and that I actually ultimately desire that more than the emotional flood that comes with limerence. I say that with the caveat that the high of limerence is crazy amazing- it’s just that the price to be paid for it is too high, and the low is too low. It’s a cost/benefit thing. And I think I really could have lost my SO- which would have been tragic for us and for our children.
I am going to sound like such a jerk saying this, but I know that I’ve been a LO a few times in my life, and this site has been so incredibly helpful in me identifying things that I’ve done that could be reinforcing of that in others. I’ve also had a handful of LE’s in my life, and I can see the dynamics in the relationship that reinforced that for me. I have immediately tried to bring things to neutral if I sense my own, or someone else’s, vulnerability to to an LE… and I see that as a huge spot of growth. And setting aside my feelings- which have accidentally been given primacy- and looking at living purposefully in my life, faith and relationships- is going to have lasting benefits for me from now on. It’s kind-of embarrassing how long it’s taking me to grow up. But I’m glad I am, as I find it much more peaceful, simple and nourishing.
*I feel self-conscious about my reply. Any charisma I may or may not have is the result of temperament and not ability.
There’s a lot to be said for a woman who’s comfortable in her own skin. I may have a vulnerability for damsels-in-distress but I don’t prefer them.
My father told me that it’s always better to be wanted than needed. One of the coolest things about a woman who has their s–t together is that if she wants you, you must have something going for you. If you didn’t, she wouldn’t waste her time on you.
I don’t think I’ve ever been anybody’s LO.
Oh that’s a great point @Jackson, and the same for me. My damsels have only sent ME the distress signal (in my mind at least), and so I’m special in some way. To everyone else they’re this outgoing, effervescent type who is the centre of a room. But they’ve chosen me me to divulge a hidden vulnerability that I then believe only I can fix. That’s the intoxicating blend of ingredients… that and them being blonde 👀
Oh God yes. So much this.
You don’t have to be gnostic to be a limerent but it helps…
Thank you to janesay for commenting on Jackson’s post. In researching limerence, I hear the limerent point of view over and over. But it’s really nice to hear from someone who may have been an LO at some point and figured it out. I think, if we heard more LOs’ stories, it would be easier to empathise with BOTH sides of the attraction, and understand why the attraction has come about in the first place.
Michiel Mans says
“Clearly my only “type” is damsel in distress”
Yeah, that’s extra points.
My only type are men who show faint interest at first, then stop pursuing. Seriously. I had a total of 2 LOs in my life and that’s their only common link.
This is a good point. I’ve noticed a lot of people seem to stop “pursuing” in new relationships at the 3-month mark. Maybe the excitement wears off. Maybe that’s a good way to tell someone is non-limerent. I think limerents would like to be pursued more than 3 months. It’s a rude shock to realise romance has an expiry date!!
To give a woman’s point of view…
I think women rate 80% of men via their online profiles as less attractive than average because they don’t actually know them – this makes them all a bit bla really. I am never attracted to someone I don’t know – I need to have met and talked to them first.
I personally find a six-pack implies excessive vanity, and a six figure salary a potential sign of being materially driven, a workaholic, or entitled via inherited networks – none of which appeal greatly to me. Not that I am judging or anything :-). Give me a smiling crinkly eyed face, a good sense of humour, kindness, wisdom and charisma any day!
It must be said though, a good height is very attractive as implies strength and makes a woman feel more petite.
Thanks, Allie. I think that chimes with the idea that the idiosyncratic details are what really matter for limerent attraction.
If I think back to the women I’ve been limerent for, they certainly cross Scharnhorst’s pass/fail threshold, but the potency of their allure wasn’t to do with their looks. And, by the time I was properly hooked, even a supermodel would have paled in comparison, anyway.
Vicarious Limerent says
Thanks Allie for your perspective. I believe what you’re saying is representative of a lot of women. However, that doesn’t necessarily stop men from THINKING women want beefcake (I know for a fact my LO isn’t averse to a bit of beefcake). One thing a lot of people don’t realize is just how difficult six pack abs are to sculpt. Aside from the actual abdominal muscles, it takes a very low percentage of body fat to get a true six pack. They say abs are made in the kitchen rather than the gym, and it takes a lot of dieting to get to that level. Even many elite bodybuilders don’t have a six pack during the off-season when they are bulking up. It is only during the cutting phase prior to a contest when their body fat usually gets to that level.
Thanks for the research and very interesting post Dr. L. I very recently had a somewhat amusing and judgmental conversation with SO about mismatched couples, as we scrolled FB and rated each set.
I think my original comment was attempting to ask the reverse of this, though I might have accidentally implied the opposite! I find that my LO, from a physical attractiveness standpoint, is quite average. I was initially not attracted to her at all. A full year passed after meeting her before the glimmer occurred. Weird.
“I’ve heard from countless limerents who are infatuated with someone who is objectively “lower in the league” than their spouse, but they are utterly besotted nonetheless.”
Count me among them. My SO is gorgeous. A former beauty queen even. Any rational heterosexual male would look at my situation with LO and think I was nuts. And I don’t see myself as bad looking, despite what my limerent brain in the midst of midlife keeps telling me. I totally agree the most typical situation with an aging, male, limerent and out-of-his league younger LO. But the more maddening scenario I think is an attractive, successful limerent (with a beautiful SO even) who has fallen for a LO who would probably view the limerent as out of HER league. Those of us in midlife are faced with the prospect that this is our last chance to “pull” someone, regardless of whether we already have a beautiful loving SO. Heavens knows I’ve tried my damndest to pull LO but she just doesn’t bite, even after we have learned that we have a great deal in common and probably would have been a great match if we had met under different circumstances. I’m sure she enjoys the attention and she has admitted the attraction is mutual, but it destroys me to think I can’t ‘win’ her.
Maybe your LO knows you wouldn’t have selected her at the outset of life/marriage given your gorgeous SO and doesn’t want to jeopardize her (probably pretty good) life/marriage in the circumstances. A lot of the hesitation for limerents is often the feeling of perhaps the LO is out of league. You may have an attraction for her, and her for you, but the sacrifices are so great especially if she knows you can drop her very easily.
B, the best thing to ground your thoughts of ‘what if’ and your desire to ‘win her’ is to really seriously contemplate the end game. So you win her, you have mind-blowing sex, you are transported to heights you could never have imagined…and then reality bites. You see her fart for the first time (or tenth!), she makes a casually-racist comment, her family are horrible, she’s lazy around the house and hates all the sorts of food you like. She’s everything you imagined, but you still inevitably find that the ecstasy fades and you’re sat next to a fellow human with flaws (always disappointing). If you can be certain the human version of of your LO will definitely be better than your current partner, I guess, go for it. Because life’s too short to spend it with someone you half love (not to mention how selfish it is to hold on to them, thereby preventing them from finding someone who would love them 100%). BUT, if you’re in two minds, it may be best to leave it well alone? I know of a couple where one left her gf to be with another, and it worked out!, but I have to always remind myself, they’re in the minority. If your LO is not reciprocating, that really should be all you need to know. Something is holding her back and she’s not showing up for you, and you deserve better than that, and can do better than that – you already have- she’s your SO. Absolutely fair game if you just don’t love your wife anymore, that’s not your fault, but it seems like you do. It seemed to work out in the case of the couple i knew of because one of them had (i think quite craftily) lined up another person who she secretly had her eye on during the tail end of her failing relationship with her existing SO. So it was part luck and part circumstance which helped things along. Hope you work it out, I know it must be hard.
Maybe she suspects you only want to “pull” her out of vanity…
“Heavens knows I’ve tried my damndest to pull LO but she just doesn’t bite, ”
She is a PERSON not a carnival prize, security object or toy.
She isn’t interested in being part of a triangle and she may not want to date someone who isn’t her age cohort. When you have to explain the cultural references, yet again, it gets wearisome.
Leave her alone already.
Patrick, you are on this site too. Have you just admired someone, who happens to be an identical age, unrequitedly from afar then?
Wow. It’s not a good look to be so judgemental on a recovery/addiction site. Plus you know only about 2% of my story.
It’s also worthwhile to look at why what you wrote might have triggered a strong reaction too, B.
I agree judgemental is not a good look, but neither is dismissive. Both are barriers to recovery.
I thought this was a place for people to share some pretty honest and vulnerable thoughts/feelings. I thought most people here understood what limerence is and that I’m not some university boy trying to hook up with a pretty young thing for a one night stand. Sorry if it came off that way. I would’ve thought that goes without saying in this community. Should I clarify future comments with statements about what LO has done and said to me to make me want something deeper, or express the depths of depression from this experience by admitting that I have contemplated taking my own life during this LE?
It definitely is that, B, and I do delete any comments that are insults or direct personal attacks. But, it’s also inevitable that some posters will have vulnerable thoughts and feelings of their own, about what we share.
My general attitude is that constructive criticism makes us stronger, as it helps us understand how others react to our words. Obviously, a few of us were made uncomfortable by the way you were describing the dynamic with your LO and we expressed that. It is a delicate line sometimes, but I read Patrick’s comment as a good faith attempt to shake your complacency, rather than a personal attack.
As long as we are discussing a topic as inflammatory as this, we’re bound to bump up against a few rough edges…
Vicarious Limerent says
Please don’t take it too hard, B. You are right that we are a community that is supposed to be here for one another and, like Winst points out, I think people could be a little more empathetic at times. As someone whose posts have generated hostile reactions in the past and whose situation is somewhat unique, I am a firm believer in reserving judgement until you’ve walked a mile in someone else’s shoes — or at least until you have heard the full story. I am really sorry to hear you have been having such a difficult time of this. Have you sought out counselling? Is there someone in your life you can talk to and confide in?
Having said all of that, like Patrick, I was a little taken aback by your comment above. It came across as if you were just trying to get your LO into bed as some sort of “conquest.” I think we often end up making comments that people misunderstand or misinterpret, and we need to be mindful that people don’t always remember every detail of our stories or may be new to this blog and community. We also have to remember that some members of this community are the spouses and partners of limerents and some may not be entirely sympathetic to our thoughts and experiences.
B, “it destroys me to think I can’t ‘win’ her.”: your comment didn’t make me uncomfortable. I often feel the same. I guess many limerents struggle with wanting to ‘win’ their LO. Maybe it’s exactly the reason why you triggered strong reactions. You wrote it bluntly, but if that’s the way you feel, you should write it and write it again until it goes away. And here is the place to do it (or perhaps with a therapist). Instead of judging we should thank you for writing things we don’t dare to admit.
That said I’m not sure Patrick’s comment was judgmental, or rather an attempt to “shake” you.
I like Winst’s reply to you: what if you did manage to “win” her? I’m now busy writing all the reactions her comment are triggering in me. “What if”…. We all learn from each other here, and I thank everyone for their comments which are so helpful to me.
Vicarious Limerent says
I wasn’t going to comment directly about my LO with respect to this post (I am trying to avoid oversharing and I think posting too much and coming on here too often isn’t always good for my recovery). However, I find I am starting to regress with my recovery a little bit after having made quite a bit of progress in the last three weeks or so. I am still better able to focus on other things when I set my mind to it, but the ruminations, fantasies and pining away for my LO have returned to a large extent. I am not sure what brought about this change, but it could be a couple of other negative things that have recently worsened in my family dynamic, with the result that I am again using limerent fantasies as an escape. I am also having a tough time again in deciding what to do with my marriage.
Anyway, I have mentioned several times how I thought my LO was at least a little bit out of my league. The truth is she was quite a bit out of my league when I met her, but perhaps a little less beyond my reach at this point. If I lose another 20 pounds (9 kg) and continue to consistently work out, I don’t think anyone would look at the two of us if we were together and say, “What the hell is she doing with HIM?” The problem is she really likes my brother in-law, but he thinks he is out of her league. This whole situation feels rather sad, and it kind of illustrates that we all seem to want what we can’t have (I haven’t forgotten my wife in all of this either). What about things like education, social class, income, etc? My LO is a blue collar worker with a high school education and I am a university educated professional. Does that factor into the equation? What about the concept of hypergamy, where women supposedly try to marry “up” in terms of social class in exchange for looks? Is limerence different from love and actual relationships when we consider these factors? Naturally, there are exceptions and a greater degree of gender equality is changing the dynamics of the dating world as well.
This is a timely post for me. If your LO is out of your league, and the authenticity of his or her affection seems too good to be true, it probably is.
I think the statistics are dead on here. Women are very selective when it comes to mates because we have a limited number of eggs and pregnancies in our lives; most women, if they’re being honest, are only really attracted to the top 10-20 percent of males because we want to have the best offspring with the highest chance of survival. Men are less selective because they can just disappear – the goal of the “top dog” is to spread his seed far and wide with as many fertile women as he can. Theoretically, he can do so with ease, because there are plenty of women who are receptive. We are so detached from our real motivations in modern times, but our genes still control our basic instincts. Why do you think there are so many stupid romance novels about alpha billionaires sweeping the damsel in distress off her feet? Why do women spend thousands of dollars a year on products to make themselves appear younger and more fertile (guilty!)? Why do so many men flaunt their wealth and social status…..?Yeah…..
So, here’s my tale of woe.
My LO is objectively out of my league. He’s mid-forties, extremely intelligent, funny, highly-educated, well-spoken, sucessful, fit, rich, charming, tall, smells great, dark and handsome, etc. etc. He’s the whole package and he knows it. He’s basically at the prime of his SMV. Women throw themselves at him (embarrassingly, right in front of me). He’s figured out his status in the pecking order and uses his looks, smarts, and charm to get ahead. Can’t blame the guy, though. Did I forget to mention that he’s a douchebag and often an asshole? Damn you, rose-colored limberbrain.
I initially took his being extremely flirty and “nice” to me as a sign of romantic interest. He chased me. What a high. He would constantly compliment me on my intelligence and beauty. He sought me out at social gatherings and made plans for us to get together outside of work. He said I was one of his best friends. He said many more things that I won’t repeat here in order to preserve anonymity, but I’m not imagining the interest he showed in me, sexually and otherwise. He baited the hook, no doubt about it.
I always had lingering doubts due to our mismatch on the frat boy rating scale, his tendency to gawk at young beautiful women in my presence, and his failure to take our relationship to the next level. In a way, the uncertainty set up this weird kind of intermittent reinforcement, creating a very strong person addiction. Over time, he’d give me affection, then withdraw or give mixed signals. Due to that amazing sperm he posseses (the prize), I kept going back to the lever, hoping to hit that sperm jackpot. Honestly, I just wanted hot sex from him, that’s it – nothing more. Funny motivation, considering that my tubes are tied. Guess the genes/brain haven’t gotten the 411.
During periods of mental clarity, I realized it was too good to be true. He never actually followed through on anything. But I was scared to give the hope of a real sexual relationship up because I felt like it was my last chance to ever “get with” someone I actually was attracted to. Maybe my old lady eggs and hormones are to blame? The whole thing felt involuntary. And logic, well, it was in absentia. I had never been so aggressive (sexually) in my life. He knew I wanted him.
Eventually, we reached a point in our inappropriate relationship where he couldn’t hide behind his lies anymore. Let’s just say, actions (or lack of action) speak much louder than words. He was exposed for the fraud he was. The whole relationship (and his so-called sexual interest in me) was fake. I was manipulated and played for a fool. The truth (although he would never admit it) was that he was just using me to get ahead at work (oddly, I’m in a position of power). This guy led me on for three long years. Of course, I blame myself for being a stupid idiot. I knew it all along, but…..see great sperm discussion, supra.
So the moral of the story is that it’s hard to see things objectively when you’re in a limerent state. But I do think it’s wise to ask yourself (and others whom you trust) – is this person (the LO) out of my league? Does this person have something to gain other than just friendship or affection in a mutually beneficial relationship? If the answer to either of those questions is “yes,” take a step back and discuss the situation with a close friend, an anonymous online confidant, or a therapist, even if you’re in an embarrassing situation (like me) where you’re married with kids and so is your LO. Because if it’s too good to be true, it usually is.
I am on the tail end of my journey. I’m not religious at all, but I pray for the day I don’t think of him at all. I pray for the day that I don’t imagine it’s him when I’m having sex with my beta male husband with his beta male sperm hitting a dead end in my old beta lady fallopian tube cul de sac.
Eventually, it will happen.
Stay strong, fellow limberpeeps.
“Why do you think there are so many stupid romance novels about alpha billionaires sweeping the damsel in distress off her feet?”
Yeah, I always thought that “Pretty Woman” was one of the dumbest movies ever. As repugnant as Jason Alexander’s character is (attempted rape), his view of Julia Roberts as a hooker is probably more realistic.
LO #1 once told me that her mother was “white trash that married above her economic station” and “White trash isn’t so much an economic condition as it is a state of mind.” For only being 21, LO #1 was really perceptive. Her father was in oil exploration in the 70s. LO #1 said they were loaded but I never met her parents.
I never really went after anyone out of my league mostly because I never was exposed to anyone out of my league. It’s not that they don’t exist, I just never seem to encounter them. As a kid, my family was in the same league as most of the other middle class families I grew up with in in the Midwest. I didn’t go to school with kids of exceptional wealth or looks. In college, I didn’t hang out with frats or sororities where I might encounter someone “out of my league.” After college, I went into the Navy and was assigned to a submarine (zero women). The area around the naval base was a relative social desert. I had to go to the big cities of Seattle and Tacoma to expand the candidate pool.
LO #2 was either malicious, callously insensitive, or utterly clueless. Since I would explain things to her, she couldn’t use the clueless excuse and I could never sense the faintest trace of malice or vindictiveness in her. The therapist said that indicated a possible personality disorder. LO #2 could be the poster child for this:
“ESFJs who have not had the advantage of developing their own values by weighing them against a good external value system may develop very questionable values. In such cases, the ESFJ most often genuinely believes in the integrity of their skewed value system. They have no internal understanding of values to set them straight. In weighing their values against our society, they find plenty of support for whatever moral transgression they wish to justify. This type of ESFJ is a dangerous person indeed. Extraverted Feeling drives them to control and manipulate, and their lack of Intuition prevents them from seeing the big picture. They’re usually quite popular and good with people, and good at manipulating them. Unlike their ENFJ cousin, they don’t have Intuition to help them understand the real consequences of their actions. They are driven to manipulate other to achieve their own ends, yet they believe that they are following a solid moral code of conduct.” – https://www.personalitypage.com/html/ESFJ.html
Cue up [Song of the Day] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjrWw0h1qeo and play it a few times. It always makes me feel better. A little self-loathing seems to be a normal part of coming out of an LE. DrL talks wrote a blog, “Should Limerents Feel Guilty” but I don’t think ever wrote one about the the self-loathing of limerence. He could call it “Fear and Loathing in Limerence.” “Limerence sounds like the name of one of those towns you read about in a Steinbeck novel.
Mr. S. Always on point! Joan Jett. “I hate myself for loving you”. Nice.
Dying to know, did you sleep with Fabio?
@Jess… dying to know, did you sleep with Fabio? Somehow my comment was posted elsewhere.
I am just seeing this now.
Yes, a few times. It was very evident that Fabio wasn’t really attracted to me, unfortunately.
Still sick over it, but that’s life.
Humorous Article of the Day: https://thoughtcatalog.com/january-nelson/2020/05/the-30-meanest-possible-pg-rated-things-you-can-say-to-someone/
For those times when you’re having that imaginary “I’m not happy with you at the moment” conversation with your LO.
Not that I’ve ever had any of those…
Great article again DR L. Interesting my LO’s have never been physically out of league. They have been quite the opposite, but it was the imperfections that made them quirky and interesting to me.
I need some advice, I feel as though I’m past the worst of my LE but clearly unwilling to let go fully. I keep checking LO’s social media which is keeping me attached… I think. I question what he posts, is it in relation to me? Is he trying to get my attention? Thing is, my LO has admitted posting things on FB To get my attention in the past. I know the answer is to just NOT check it but I find I do it without realising… Need help with this finally little B***** part of limerence. Clearly it’s me who doesn’t want to let go of the hope. That’s what I’m begining to think the problem is here.
You’re probably hanging on to the limerence, Rachel, as it was such a powerful experience (and source of reward/comfort). One way to look at it is that you are not seeking LO, really, you’re seeking relief from discomfort. You don’t want to give up on hope, because it gives you emotional sustenance.
It’s not a useful or healthy form of emotional sustenance, but it’s what your subconscious remembers as giving temporary relief.
Try looking from the reverse perspective. What was happening just before you felt the urge to seek LO posts? A lot of us limerents are feeling heightened craving at the moment, even when the limerence has been long dormant, and it’s probably a symptom of the stressful times we’re living through.
Social Media is your last point of contact. it’s the last line back. That’s always going to be the hardest line to decisively cut, and so it’s probably wise to not pressure yourself too much. Moderate your (ab)use of it, and try to use it to analyse what’s triggering the urge.
Thank you Dr L accurate as usual! I think I have decided to just give up social media for a while. It’s easier that way, also I have many self-care techniques which work and I adore.
I hope your stays safe Dr L
Second DrL’s assessment, I realized the same thing beginning of the year: LO was on my mind again and I felt the whole limerence pain again. I wondered why, but I realized it was my way of reducing anxious thoughts from something unrelated. And me thinking about LO was usually what made me feel better. See if there’s something sticking out to you, some pattern that gets you to think you’re craving LO, but actually it’s a coping mechanism to distract me from something else that makes me anxious.
Thanks Sarah. I think that’s a good idea analysing my mood. I have noticed when I’m bored or tired I may want a little snoop and his profile. It’s kind of like an old habit that doesn’t work anymore but still ingrained. I just want to get to the point where I don’t care anymore but I guess wishing that away won’t help I have to act accordingly for it to diminish
You’re absolutely right, Rachel. It’s an old habit, and that’s hard to break. Speaking from my experience, getting to neutralize your feelings when LO comes to mind is your first approach. Take note of what it does to you when you think about LO or see a picture of LO, and celebrate the little wins, like how LO evokes a less emotional response from you than the last time. You may still get angry or sad, but it’s less than last time. Be aware of that. Combined with your awareness on what’s going on in your live that makes you crave the LO hit habit, it will help you to further neutralize the spell from LO… you’re craving the habit, not LO… huge difference.
Rachel I unfollowed LO on social media and it definitely is a relief – no new material to analyze/agonize over, no new images burned into my brain. I have plenty of pre-existing material that can still generate intrusive thoughts….which I try to destroy in my Endless Battle. Anyone have any successful strategies for vanquishing intrusive thoughts?
Thanks Jaideux! I’ve been having some sort of on and off relapse in lock down and I do would be greatful if somebody could help with the intrusive thoughts. I do have some tips of my own which help.
1. Take a step back and breath deep. Mind mind gets so caught up on loop thinking that sometimes I’m holding my breath for periods of time
2. Come back to present. Slowdown and ground yourself.
3. Meditation helps so much. I haven’t done it for 3 days and I’m not in a good way today
4. Keep nudging the limerent thoughts with the true realistic thoughts.
5. Come off social medial, I’m not sure if I’m having a little withdrawal from that, hence the loop thinking but I know that will subside to relief.
Great ideas Rachel! Sometimes my intrusive thoughts are imagining his happiness with his new SO (I want them to be happy but I don’t want to think about them!) or imagining explaining to him why I abruptly went NC (he was very disappointed by that), or doing the realistic talk to myself (“you were foolish to think this ever would go anywhere,”) but it’s all just exhausting and needs to stop. So many little things remind me of conversations we had or places we went. Sometimes I just say “NO” outloud when a thought pops up and that helps. Until the next one….
I would also like to add, it is my understanding that you can not stop thoughts from coming. If you change your attitude towards your thoughts and relax and see them as just thoughts, without getting caught up in emotions, the less attention and emotion you give them, they will start to fade.
Vicarious Limerent says
This is very true. In some ways, we just have to acknowledge our limerent thoughts and recognize them for what they are – a fantasy. Even though they can cause great pain, they also bring a certain amount of pleasure, and that’s why they are so difficult to get rid of altogether and why we often relapse even after we think we’re getting much better. I find that acknowledging that the thoughts are illogical and that they come from the limerent part of my brain while repeating mantras about how illogical the thoughts are can be helpful. I also try to keep my mind busy with other thoughts and problems that I need to be thinking about (sometimes obsessing over other problems can actually work as the lesser of two evils). I find those help to a certain extent, but I believe that time is going to be the biggest “cure” for limerence since it eventually subsides.
Agree with you both. There isn’t a day where LO is not on my mind – not a single day. But that’s ok. The thoughts are getting fairly neutral, they don’t bother me too much anymore.
If a thought comes up and I reminisce on the time that I spent with LO I tell myself it’s just a memory. Nothing I desire anymore. LO and I would not work out, we would have never worked out. Even if we were both single and no barriers, we would not have been happily ever after. We are not compatible. I fell in love with the image of him I created in my mind… just a fantasy.
So… yeah, don’t beat yourself up if LO pops up in your head, change the way it makes you feel about LO.
Sarah it’s great you are so sure you were not compatible. I assume the same is true for me but that isn’t evidenced based. But we were not romantically compatible in the sense he just saw me only as a friend. We actually had few common interests but that didn’t seem to bother me during the LE but then I was clearly not thinking straight at that time!
To be honest, the great Lee had the biggest impact on that when she mentioned that my LO has BPD. I knew there was something going on with him, but I didn’t know enough. I have started to read up on high functioning quiet BPD, which explains everything he’s told me and it makes so much sense. Reading up on relationships with a person with BPD is very tough, so reading these stories really help me to imagine how it would go down the drain and turn bad very quickly. So that helps me a great deal to think about “it would have never worked out” even under the best circumstances.
Hi VL, Yes with time hopefully crazy thoughts subside. I have had LE’s that have lasted an embarrassingly long time. I’m a hard core limerent I’m afraid and even when the LE over intrusive thoughts remain.
Do you think the current situation with COVID has brought the beast back? You were doing so well a few months back? Today I’m going to tell myself LO is not worthy everytime I think of him and start the deprogramming again to he’s back to my self. I hate feeling like this, I loose sense of reality, self esteem and my sleep is bad. Gonna was that man right outta my hair 😉
Thanks Sarah for your ever lovely support. I’m glad one of us is over this BS.
You might be right Rachel. Like Sarah I still thought about LO but perhaps there is more frequency/analysis/melancholy now with Covid. But there is definite progress overall and I’ve learned SO MUCH! I feel much better equipped to be a “limerent with sobriety” for the rest of my life!! We can do it 😊
Jaideux, you have come a long way. The way your relationship ended with LO is tough, I know I would have struggled massively. You’re doing really good. One step at the time, slow and steady 🙂
Rachel, I’m aware that I could easily have a relapse if I saw him and he said stuff that would hurt me (not really luring me back in, as that us done and over, but he may easily open up old wounds).
Luckily, I don’t see him, and most likely my yearly charity event will be cancelled, that gives ne another year to prep myself 😉 it is possible that our paths may cross again work-wise, we are still in the same company and career paths change, so I want to prepare myself to have a friendly, neutral, and professional encounter.
Sarah thank you for your ever-supportive thoughts. This line is a classy one I want to remember: “I want to prepare myself to have a friendly, neutral, and professional encounter”.
Vicarious Limerent says
@ Jaideux and Sarah: I am finding this to be a strange time as well — probably because of the pandemic and my ongoing struggles in my marriage. On one hand, the extreme pining away for my LO and the depressed feelings at possibly never seeing her again have subsided quite a bit, and I am able to focus on other things much more easily now when I set my mind to it. Life is slowly returning to normal (as normal as it can be during a pandemic and with my concerns about my marriage). On the other hand, I probably fantasize and think about her more than ever at this point (although I can now compartmentalize and restrict my fantasies to times when they aren’t so inappropriate). I think I am maybe just learning how to deal with it a bit better, and my whole brain is getting the message that my limerent thoughts are illogical (although some day ending up with my LO isn’t entirely 100% impossible, it is highly unlikely). At first I thought this was an entirely negative experience, but I am now realizing that I enjoyed these thoughts on some level and I still do in many ways. They are an escape from thinking about what to do about my marriage and home life.
Vicarious Limerent says
Sorry, my comment above was also for Rachel as well as Jaideux and Sarah.
VL that’s a very interesting way of seeing it. For me, the daydreaming always leaves me with a comedown and causes pain and anxiety. I do take some good from this LE, I have thrown myself into a new career, one which is meaningful and that I actually appear to be good at. I feel my marriage has got stronger in some sense. My SO loves me dearly, although can be a huge ass, he cares for me on a deep level and is an amazing man. He makes me laugh and puts my happiness first. I’m a fool really. Although when this LE started my SO was unbearable due to his own issues, which he agree was awful on me. Nevertheless he is more of a man and a better person than my LO ever is. My sex life with SO has always been good, so it wasn’t that.
I purely carve limerence like a junkie and I have pretty much all my life gone through phases of limerence. I use it as escape and a mood stimulant. Only this knowledge of myself has come to light from reading this blog. It was a complete unconscious thing I had going on, stemming from childhood where I would escape my shitty life in fantasy. From the above conversation, I am now working on truly believing that I crave limerence and LO is just the object. I have known this, obviously, as I have read this entire site back to front, but I’m not sure if I have truly believed that it’s absolutely nothing about LO. It’s a struggle at the moment but I do not delve into fantasy land.. very often. My lapses are more rumination, conversions with LO in my head and loop thinking. I won’t let myself escape in the nice fantasies as that is dangerous teritory, for me anyways. It’s exhausting when I get fooled by limerence but the quicker I come back and don’t dwell on it, progress is being made.
I too have learned a lot about myself finding out about limerence. I also realized that I seem to crave limerence and in particular harmless fantasies as a distraction and probably a boost in self-esteem? I’ve always been a shy kid and had to learn to change my behavior to change people’s perception about me. I think most of my relationships started with some sort of limerence. Other than that any LO fantasies were harmless and not damaging. They weren’t disrupting my life, they were just welcome fantasies that weren’t all consuming. Then my LO came along and everything spiraled out of control. I’ve done things I never thought I’d be capable of. So now I am left with analyzing how this happened and how I can ensure it will never happen again.
This whole experience has taught me a lot also in thinking from someone else’s perspective. It’s not always black and white, there is a whole lot of grey in the middle.
When the thoughts come now, I don’t try to fight them., anymore. I let them run their course and get on with the next thing. I usually have something to do that I can switch over to like if the weather’s going to be decent enough to make it worthwhile to get my car washed.
Saturday, I was brewing beer in the basement. Thinking about beer often gets me thinking about LO #4. She likes beer. She turns 50 this fall. I thought it would really cool to brew one especially for her. I’d call it “LO #4 Jubilee ….” I had the logo picked out. I’d package up a 22oz bottle along with a really neat pilsner glass I found and send it out for her birthday.
Now, I know this is a wickedly bad idea on every level and I’m not going to do it. But, for a few minutes, it was kind of nice to think about.
My recent experience with a LO who I considered way out of my league can be summed up as: ‘you never know’. I’m in my mid-50s and in a sexless marriage. Over the past three years I struck up a friendship with a gorgeous woman in her late-30s through a shared hobby and last summer she seduced me (it didn’t take much work) at a party and we began a passionate love affair that lasted for seven months. She turned out to have Narcissistic Personality Disorder and it was actually a painful roller-coaster ride that is now thankfully over. But here’s the thing about beautiful women: if they only date men as attractive as them, they will have a very small dating pool. I live in Los Angeles, where there are many beautiful women. In my case, the LO was terribly insecure about her looks and the ageing process (she’ll be 40 this week) and was looking for the security of a committed partner and preferred an older man who would always be grateful and flattered and would be less likely to leave her for a younger woman. I can only assume that the things that made me such an unlikely partner for her – happily married for more than twenty years, two grown children, stable and respectable – were what she found so attractive. She finally ended our affair when, not for the first time, I made it very clear I would not leave my wife to marry her. I never led her on, BTW, I was always very clear that we were having an affair. But wishful thinking – or ego – got the better of her. Her ‘new supply’ is also an older man, (but a younger than me) very intelligent and cultured, but physically he’s about a three to her ten. But he adores her, and constantly tells her he can’t believe his luck that she chose him. And that’s what she was looking for. So it does happen. Given my situation I’m not sure that’s a hopeful sign. I used to tell her that being with her was a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience for me. To which I would not add the rider: thank God.
You’re lucky she wasn’t one of the more vindictive variety and let you out cleanly.
Shari Schreiber has several articles on her site where she contends it’s not uncommon for Borderlines and Narcs to trade down to someone less attractive wealthy, etc, after a breakup. Schreiber contends Narcs find them easier marks.
One therapist I worked with knew LO #2 when we were dating and said she showed symptoms on NPD. “They can be a handful.” When she told me about my immediate successor, she told me I had him beat in every category. It didn’t make me feel any better.
I’m glad you’re out.
I think if you sincerely believe an LO is “out of your league”, that might be a blessing in disguise, because it will stop you from seriously pursuing them. I.e. they’re only going to be interested in someone equally attractive or impressive. Unless your daddy’s a millionaire or your granny is a princess, you’re not going end up with the Alpha male or the beauty queen. The fantasies will stay at the level of a “crush”. (Pleasant, titillating, and totally voluntary in nature).
Don’t get me wrong. I admire beauty greatly. But all my LOs have been ordinary-looking. The rose-tinted glasses of limerence enhances reality; it doesn’t erase reality or replace reality. If I had a partner who was truly gorgeous, I’d wonder why she was wasting her time on me when she could be doing so much better!
French lady says
I came upon this site a few weeks ago and it has helped a lot with understanding what happened to me. I have been in a limerent relationship with a man out of my league, I met on a dating site. I never knew I had limerent tendencies.
Early 2020 signed up on a dating site. I am attractive but I have some deep seated issues, linked to my childhood and lack confidence in romantic relationships. Otherwise a very successful professional with a busy social life and lots of good friends.
I met J on via the dating site. We communicated for about 6 weeks. He was clear that he was looking for a sex friend rather than a serious relationship. I found out who he was, born into a very well know family, a worldwide expert in his job, with a famous ex- girlfriend. I really wanted to meet him intrigued.
He was evasive to about drinks, museums and such, late one evening, I ended up inviting him to my place. Limerence struck. The guy was charming, cultivated and kind. I had the best sex of my life (am not usually very keen). I instantly trusted him and had a strong sense of déjà vu. The total “glimmer” he ticked all my boxes!!
I saw him a couple of time and it’s was great together. For him also. During summer vacation we started to exchange sexy and non-sexy SMS’s spending as much as 5 hours a day smsing. The deal was we would see each other again.
All I could think about was him all day totally, ecstatic and excited, he was the sexiest man I had ever met. I never saw him again. From then on we had a 7 month SMS / phone relationship every day and then less and less. It was totally addictive. He was always very ambivalent, saying that he wanted to see me again but evading it actually happening.
I am 100 % sure, he is a dismissive avoidant, somewhat narcisstic, and uses this type of relationship as escapism from “his” real world, being an introvert with issues about his family and not a shallow playboy. Basically he used me, but in a charming way and I don’t think, I am the first person he does that to. He was also addicted to the sex and or seduction and is a ladies man…
I got very, very addicted to our SMS exchanges! I ended up chasing him, he always responded within a few minutes and seemed pleased to hear from me, but after a while stopped initiating contact. My whole life was geared to these exchanges, going from high to low on a roller coaster. I slowly spaced out contact to try to wean myself off the whole thing and have finally stopped which is really hard to do.
It will take me months to get over completely, from what has been the most existing exhilarating relationship, but on the whole it was worth it.
For 7 months, I felt alive, sexy, understood, and beautiful and have learned a lot about myself. Yes the price is high with anxiety, no sleep, doubts and no prince charming does not exist… but I believe feeling something, is better than never feeling much a find run of the mill relationship totally uninteresting and not worth the trouble.
The site has helped a lot to understand what is happening to me and I will now be aware of what to watch out for , so that I don’t fall in quite so deep ever again
Hi French Lady. Welcome, and thanks for sharing your story.
It does sound as though your glamorous LO has at least been honest about what he wanted, but as you are now finding, limerents often have to pay the price later for the euphoric thrills at the start. It’s encouraging that you seem to have a clear idea about what’s happened and why, and can see the situation for what it really is. That’s a really good foundation for building a better future rather than getting caught up in resentment and overanalysis of LO’s behaviour.
Good luck plotting your path to freedom!
That was always the mystery for me too, why my LOs spent so many hours communicating with me (they had many other people in their lives!), and although I’m told I’m interesting and fun to talk to, I can’t imagine I’m any more so than than the other people in their lives.
I’ve survived ending the LEs and the huge vacuum that leaves and am feeling quite complete and limerence free now but still look back and wonder, “Why? Why spend so much time with me if it meant nothing?”
“Why? Why spend so much time with me if it meant nothing?”
Do you read the forum? To me, with how strongly I felt about my LO, I wanted a full-blown romantic and sexual relationship. What else would do you with that feeling ? There’d be no other way to act on it. Nothing less made sense. But there have been many limerent posters on the forum who have written they don’t want a sexual relationship with the LO. They want the attention, the friendship, the reciprocation or to do “couple things” together or they want to flirt to let the person know they like them … because in an alternate universe they may do something more. I have to admit that I am still can’t get my head around some of it, but it helped me to understand how my LO may have been thinking. I do think he had feelings for me, and I used to think he didn’t act on them because he was married. But maybe that wasn’t the complete reason. Maybe our interactions (what I used to think of a badly cooked appetizer instead of a gourmet meal) were enough for him. Maybe that’s all he wanted. It’s a bit like dating. There are a whole lot of variations that someone could want between a f**k buddy and a getting married. Maybe limerence is like that. What I mean is … not every friend is going to be a best friend. People can want something much less. It doesn’t mean, at least to them, it means nothing. It just means it’s all they want. Now, of course, that stinks if the other person wants so much more.
Yes having different levels of interest makes sense but what is incomprehensible to me is the sheer volume of time a LO could spend with a limerent, and really not be that “into” them. Perhaps it was just a long session of ego boosting for them, day after day, year after year. (I have a tendency for lengthy LE’s).
Kind of like playing an online game or having a hobby. A fun diversion, but not that meaningful (to them).
“what is incomprehensible to me is the sheer volume of time a LO could spend with a limerent, and really not be that “into” them.”
I think you wrote you guys were friends. Just because someone doesn’t want to go make things romantic doesn’t mean the whole situation can be negated. I have had friendships that were much more meaningful to me than some of my romantic situations, once the haze of those wore off, particularly with LOs once I reached the “what was I thinking?” phase.
French Lady says
Thanks dear DRLimerence for the kind reply . Once bitten twice shy…as they say. Yes ,I know what happened . I guess the more attainable and evasive, the more desirable The hot and cold . What I cannot fathom is why a very rich ( let’s say a sort of Hugh Grant but not in films ) and successful man would want to spend 30 hours per week over months via sms & phone with a Limerent exchanging on life, kids, our jobs , sex etc.. .. without actually wanting to see them again or truly meaning what was shared. What a loss of time . It drove me mad, with longing , there was always the promise soon…. maybe later, you are wonderful intelligent, such a good mother etc… As this is covid restriction time, for a while it seemed very plausible.. a communion between 2 persons meeting by chance. He has big issues and combined with mine , it was a perfect example of a form of mutual limerence addiction . However he knew it for what it is, as a serial seducer, has addictions and will move on to the next limerent ,whilst I went into the it “eyes wide shut” and will not replicate this experience. Very hard not to internet stalk & google to see his perfect flat, perfect life, in the people press , different to the shy man, always on his own in a huge flat ,( even when we could still have a social life here ) sharing his thoughts with me almost every day. I became more and more addicted over time and really believed we shared something special and that I understood him like no one else. What a joke… I had the whole gamut of limerent symptoms , constant anxiety, 100 % intrusive thoughts , weight loss, huge highs & lows planning interesting subjects to talk about , sexy lingerie, for the more intimate exchanges ( which we did not always indulge in). Being locked in teleworking only made things worse , always alone with my thoughts. Thanks to your site, I have made more sense of it. He is my type totally “glimmer” physically, interests , the laid back introvert, the smell of him , excellent lover ,really caring about his partners experience etc. I would much rather he were an anonymous bloke, many of his issues are related to his famous family and high profile career.. At least we might have stood a chance, actual chemistry is so very hard to find in life.. I am in my late 50s ( so is he ) and can say that this type of ” coup de foudre ” has only happened to me twice in my life. Painful and addictive yes…. but at least, when I am truly old, I will be able to think back and say I tried to live… not just on the safe and narrow. Time will heal all wounds anyway… with much empathy , from France, for all other limerents out there during covid
Not only is my LO out of my league, but her SO is as well. He’s like some high-powered hotshot who came to our lab to give a talk to us on something he’s considered an expert in the field in. I think LO arranged the whole thing so that I got to meet the guy, as a way to put me on notice of what I was up against and to warn me off. The woman is in total denial that she has the hots for me.
It kind of worked though, they are such a power couple together. It is a little intimidating. Why would she want me, a penniless grad student with debt up to my eyeballs? And risk her charmed life? All I could think of was that he could keep his Porsche and Tesla and their cabin in the mountains – I just wanted his wife!
Dr L says
Not sure how serious you are being Heathcliff, but you should be grateful that your LO is giving you a clear “no”.
Even if that’s true, it’s not relevant. Someone being attracted to you gives you no licence to mess with their life. Have some self respect and look for someone available. Better for everyone.
That’s the thing, Dr L, I don’t know that it is a clear “no”. She does things that say “I’m not available” but then what’s with the long emails and txts, and she does lots of nice small gestures that I think a woman does for someone she cares about. She’s asked me out to lunch a couple of times. Sometimes she acts really motherly. Other times she’s crazy edgy, wilder than any women my own age. I am surprised all the time. And the way she looks at me, I could drown in those eyes. But more than that, she’s so smart. And witty. She’s senior in our workplace, and I never thought I would be attracted to a woman so much older, but she really has her sh*t sorted – and I don’t. She makes me feel helpless and powerful at the same time. I don’t want to mess with her life, but I can’t look away when she’s giving these hot/cold signals. Help!
If she is toying with you, it may be she’s just testing her powers on a younger guy to see if she’s still “got it”but had no intention of anything more. Maybe it’s subconscious on her part. . If you get the vibe that she is “warning you off” then by all means take the warning!
Sometimes we have to just make a decision that’s disappointing and realize that it is never going to happen and going down the path is only going to lead to pain and humiliation in the long run.
Reading your post makes it clear to me that you know the answer as to what to do but limerence is telling you not to give up hope.
Don’t listen and be kind to your future self.