I’ve written a lot about the experience of limerence from the perspective of the limerent going through it. The impacts of limerence ripple out much further, though. I recently had an email from a reader who is struggling to understand what’s happened to her husband:
HOW he has morphed into this, and gone from a kind, caring, considerate man with morals, to someone who calls me names in front of our children, says my feelings don’t matter to him, and seems happy to get me to a point of absolute despair and desperation. It is literally 2 sides of a coin, and that’s very difficult to understand.
This is depressingly common. The simple answer is to just say “he’s rotten, get rid!” but basic human curiosity compels most people to wonder what the hell happened. How can someone change so profoundly, and so quickly?
The neuroscience of limerence is a perennial topic of mine. The value of that sort of analysis is that it helps explain why limerence is such a life-shaking phenomenon to experience. The world literally changes for the limerent, in the sense that this massive new source of excitement and pleasure makes everything more vibrant and vivid and stimulating (at first). Their perception changes, and that can lead to changes in mood that manifest as changes in behaviour and personality. They may also pick up new ideas and opinions from their LO, and because they overvalue everything associated with LO they may generously share these opinions around. Again, this can seem like a change in personal tastes, even values, and that can be unsettling to witness. It doesn’t explain, however, the negative shift in attitude to their partner.
The crux of the matter, I suspect, is the cognitive dissonance of maintaining a positive self image while having powerful cravings for someone outside the marriage. “I’m a good person but I’m betraying my spouse” is a difficult idea to process. If the limerence has progressed to an affair, then the cognitive dissonance will be even worse. They will have to construct some seriously elaborate justifications for their indefensible behaviour.
The healthy way to resolve this dissonance, of course, is to realise that their behaviour shows they are not as good as they thought. They are morally compromised. They have discovered that in the face of a proper challenge to their resolve – to the vows they declared – they fell short. Not many people are that self-aware. Not many people are able to respond purposefully to that revelation by striving to improve and reverse what harm they’ve caused. Regrettably, but understandably, many more people try to resolve the dissonance by creating justifications that mean they are not being bad after all, because of some self-serving reasons they can invent.
This is a test of character that all married limerents must face. But what pushes some people into the decision to aggressively devalue a spouse that they used to care for?
1) They were always like this but were good at hiding it.
The sociopaths. These guys fail the test without even realising they were taking it, because they simply don’t examine their own motives and behaviour and just do whatever feels best in the moment. They present a normal face to the world, but it’s essentially an act. They appeared to be a loving spouse because it suited them at the time to play that role, and like a talented mimic they observed how good spouses behaved and did the same thing. Right now, though, they are enjoying playing the role of romantic hero, so they need to cast off the accoutrements of their old role as soon as they can. Which means dumping you and the buzzkill that you are.
Even worse are the real snakes who get a thrill from cheating. I’m not convinced how much this has to do with limerence – permacheats tend to have many side-options on the go at once which isn’t consistent with a monomanic obsession with another person – but let’s not split hairs. They definitely fail every character test there is.
2) The limerence has deranged them.
There is a danger of excusing bad behaviour with this line of thinking – but it is possible that the neurochemical storm of limerence does alter perception to such an extent that they are unable to make clear judgements. It’s not just that they need to stop doing something that makes them feel good, it’s that withdrawal makes them feel physically wretched. This conception would be similar to rationalising substance addiction. Like other addicts, they lie and cheat to sustain their habit. If physiological craving is severe enough, is it really just about character or does some recognition of dependency come into play? I suppose this sort of rabbit hole of moral questioning is the same as living with an alcoholic. How many chances? How much tolerance? No easy answers, but ultimately they did make the bad choice to start in the first place even if they didn’t realise how low it would bring them.
3) It’s been a slow burn and they’ve been hiding the change.
I have a strong suspicion that this is the commonest case. It’s sort of a combination of the earlier two. Limerence came as a shocking and wonderful surprise, and at first it seemed like a divine gift. They still loved their spouse and were basically happy, but this new connection was so exhilarating and arousing, and enhanced their mood so much, that there was no chance they’d slow down.
Often, the immediate rationalisation is to compartmentalise the limerence as a separate experience from married life. Things at home will be fine on autopilot for a while. There’s no harm from a close friendship.
But as time goes on, the obsession sets in – the constant rumination, the craving for their company, the need for a fix. LO is the embodiment of romantic promise, but with zero responsibilities. Real life, family life, starts to be a drag. Requests for help and support from their spouse eat into fantasy daydream time, and provoke resentment. As time goes on, the irritations mount, not least because their spouse is probably frustrated by the fact that their supposed partner is not emotionally or physically available. The more the limerent thinks about it, the easier it is to bring to mind the unhappy memories that all marriages accumulate. A black cloud descends. After all – mutters a subconscious turncoat voice – it’s not so surprising you’re unhappy at home. You were never really compatible. What you should really be doing is seeking some more LO reward. You deserve happiness.
While this slow, incremental disengagement is going on in the limerent’s mind, they are also busy covering it up by telling a hundred “white” lies. Small denials. Small evasions. Lies over where they’ve been and why. Nothing major – not like a practiced cheater who runs a harem on the side – but just because they don’t want to have to explain themselves.
“Are you OK, love? You seem sad.”
“What? No, I’m fine.”
Run that program long enough and you end up with someone whose default interaction with their spouse is to lie about what they are thinking and doing, get irritated by any attempts to engage with them, and deny anything is wrong when questioned about it. Shockingly, that causes the marriage to deteriorate further. Which, of course, is more evidence that they are right to be devaluing it.
It may be cold comfort to know that there are predictable psychological reasons why even good people give into self-indulgence and fail tests of character. Hopefully, though, it is some reassurance to know that it is not due to personal failure on your part, or genuine problems with the marriage that could have been solved with a bit more effort. The only real hope is to learn from the terrible experience and plan for a purposeful future.
And, perhaps, also learn the uncomfortable lesson that we should all of us be vigilant about the temptations of self-justification when confronted by our shortcomings.
It doesn’t matter why he’s doing it. He needs to stop treating her like something brown and smelly on his shoe.
I hope that person recognizes that she is being abused and shuts it down. Call him out – every single time. Then walk away.
May not save the marriage, but it will save her self-respect and minimize the chance their kids will do the same.
Document it. Go to therapy. Be prepared to tell him to go find his bliss and get a legal separation.
She no longer has an ally in him.
Anonymous Limerent says
But the vows… The promises she made to love him forever, in sickness or in health…
Do oaths mean nothing to you…? 😉
My husband is mentally ill (diagnosed); I don’t find your comment helpful or amusing.
“many more people try to resolve the dissonance by creating justifications that mean they are not being bad after all, because of some self-serving reasons they can invent.”
I’ve just come across this, and my husband is caught in this web, this article has given me freedom (bless and thankyou for writing this)…yet, I agree with above comment, through sickness and in health, I will love him. I have hope in healing for both of us from this insidious addiction.
But what if, in like a 4th case, your SO is the one distancing himself from you in the first place?
What if you don’t need to come up with little lies or excuses, because you come home and your SO is not interested to know anything about your day or doesn’t even ask where you have been? What if SO is away and has no interest whatsoever in what you have done all day?
When I first started hanging out with LO, I wanted to tell SO all about it, tell him about the things we talked (I did not see LO as an LO). I even brought him home to meet SO. SO repeatedly said, why are you telling me all of this? Do I need to know? Is it important? I don’t care, don’t talk so much…
Don’t get me wrong, this does NOT justify anything I did, I get that, but it is easy to see how I slipped deeper into this. Especially, given that LO gave me the attention that SO didn’t. I needed no deceit, no lies, as SO literally did not care. I even wished to get some sort of a reaction at some point, maybe that would have changed how things progressed. Maybe if I needed to come up with excuses and it would have been uncomfortable, it would have changed the way things went?
Good questions all, Sarah.
The post is really from the perspective of an SO who is trying to make sense of their emotionally absentee partner. Your scenario is probably equally common, but – bluntly – your SO would not be interested enough in what was going on to ask the questions that prompted this post.
It’s totally possible for limerence to emerge in part because the limerent is seeking emotional connection that has been lost in the marriage. As you say, there are much better ways to manage this and it isn’t a justification, but there are times that are really hard for a spouse who has been blissfully unaware of any problems, and suddenly gets broadsided by the allegation that their marriage has been awful for ages.
I see your point, Dr. L 😉 I must learn to think of other people’s perspective, leaving my own aside for the moment.
Shaun Peterson says
This logic is ridiculous. LO gave you attention because you unconsciously gave them a map on how to do that. You probably gave your SO a false map that only made the issue worse. The problem with delusional observations is that they’re based on false framing. Chances are you probably encouraged your SO to behave as he did without you even realizing it. Your brain is on drugs, but unlike actual junkies you’re just not even aware that’s the case.
Speaking of the experience of being broadsided, I took a very respectful tour through the heart wrenching, devastated emotional landscape over at Chump Nation, thanks to a previous comment posting the ChumpLady.com link. That was sobering. I tried to use it as a “push” away from ruminating about LO – trying to rewrite the endings of potential fantasies, as recommended by Dr. L. I thought if I could just soak up the hypothetical emotional pain of the LO’s SO, it would be a deflating deterrent. It is pretty effective. This post is another reminder about the consequences of behavior and actions, and the obliviousness of the limerent while gripped in obsession.
One thing that becomes apparent is that although pair-bonding may be a primal driving force for humans, life long monogamy is not. We will have to cede that claim to albatrosses and penguins.
Anonymous Limerent says
Interesting, do animals experience limerence?
Anyone can answer: Just wondering…
Thanks Dr L another good post!! Im case number 3 slow process of disengaging from SO with rubbish justifications.. i feel there are 2 “me” and the fight continues !! Why am I limerent to that guy? No one desserves so much attention, he certainly doesnt! He fascinates me though and it should not from a logical perspective. We become friends and we cant be friends because of this extra sparkle between us. I cant totally remove him from my life but gosh i dont need him and want him out… and in the meantime my SO is totally out of my head and he deserves so much better
Today’s CL re-run may be of interest.
My Limerent Brain is an Idiot says
So can we elevate Lee to “Dr. Lee” yet? Her unwavering focus on the effects of limerence on the SO is completely reasonable–she provides a much-needed splash of cold water. Those of us in monogamous situations would do well to heed her wisdom.
I distilled some of her comments into a helpful set of commandments to guide my behavior when I’m besotted with limerence. I apologize if my paraphrasing detracts from her intent:
No discussing LO’s physical attractiveness.
No declaring your appreciation for LO.
No criticizing your SO to LO.
No going to lunch together.
No seminars together.
No talking about LO’s other relationships to ‘help’ them.
On the other hand, DO:
Pursue and cultivate SO relationship.
Prioritize and elevate other relationships.
Recognize that LO may be exploiting limerents for narcissistic purposes.
Imagine that your SO is participating in every conversation or encounter with your LO. Is he/she OK with the interactions?
I review these daily and the power of my LE is fading.
You are too kind.
It boils down to being considerate of others. If a relationship is boring or dissatisfying – discuss it. Your SO may want to shake things up too and hopefully with you. If a relationship is over – end it. Don’t milk it (chatting up LO and treating SO like a rented mule) and do NOT spend money on an LO or engage in sexual activity.
Remember that the only thing faster than the speed of light is GOSSIP. Don’t fool yourself – you aren’t smarter or more slick than everyone else. Didn’t we all learn that before graduating high school?
Have a grand weekend everyone!
To make it crystal-clear to anyone who thinks like a technical writer – discuss it with your SO and include a therapist if everything seems particularly awful.
I make more errors using my phone than I do on a full screen computer. So annoying.
My Limerence Brain is an Idiot says
The steps are crystal clear to *you* as the SO. I watched my wife go through her own LE prior to me knowing what it was. However, when I would point it out to her, she wouldn’t acknowledge how bizarre she was acting, when it was obvious that she was smitten with this younger guy (who was dating one of our daughters). My wife would stay up chatting with him until 3AM on the couch in our living room, and just swoon over what a great son-in-law he would make. I’d shake my head, and if I tried to confront her about her crush on him, she’d deny everything and go back to extolling his virtues. She was absolutely devastated when they broke up and he was out of her life for good. Nothing physical happened, so I was just bemused by the entire episode.
Fast-forward to now and *I’m* the one having the LE with an employee. I’m so glad to find this site, because I was desperately googling “How to fall OUT of love” — there’s no way I’m going to leave my wife for some younger gal, and this overwhelming crush/attraction/jealousy is beyond disappointing!!! And I cannot get away from my LO (I hate to even type that I have an LO, it’s like a giant failure on my part). But my wife will never know, and I will power through this. I hope my LO gets attached; she just got divorced a few months ago and is now dating somebody. Actually, she was seeing him prior to the divorce but probably just after she announced she was getting a divorce. So that has been painful for me but I’ll be glad when it’s totally clear that she’s back off the market. In fact, her conduct throughout this has helped diminish my LE, because she has behaved pretty terribly. For one thing, she has kept her dating secret–she’s dating a guy at work and she didn’t initially want anyone to know because at the time she was still married. I made her tell me because she’s in our HR department and I thought it was wrong–but I knew something was up. So now she’s kept it secret for quite a while… she tends to be a bit ‘glimmery’ with any guy who will pay her attention or she finds attractive. I think she’s hoovering them all for ego fuel, and she knows as soon as they know she’s dating one of the guys at work, the fuel supply will go away, because they won’t want to be seen as flirting with their buddy’s girl.
So that definitely makes me respect her less, and the LE goes down as a result.
I asked her boyfriend, “When are you going public?” He said, “Ask her–it’s her wish.” He’s totally head-over-heels for her. I didn’t tell him that I had already asked her, and she told me that it was *his* wish that they stay under wraps.
Ha ha, it’s definitely got its black comedy moments. I just wish I didn’t have any feelings for her–it would REALLY be funny!
But for reals, it helps to type all this out, and have everyone’s stories to read. I’m so glad that this condition is shared by others and that it is manageable. I’m definitely getting better by the day once I knew what it was and how to limit my contact to watch it decrease.
My limerence brain is SUCH AN IDIOT!!!
Thank you for sharing your story, MLBI. Mine is too! The lack of integration that has occurred between my limerence brain and the rest of me has been remarkable. I want to get back to where I was before my LE began, when everything fit together right — only more self-aware post-LE. Meanwhile, that’s a succinct saying to repeat to myself: ‘my limerence brain is such an idiot!’ So whatever it tells me to do, it’s likely more sensible to do the opposite.
I always appreciate Lee’s comments as well. There is nothing about being in a limerent state that morally excuses treating anyone badly, especially one’s SO.
I’m so glad to find this site, because I was desperately googling “How to fall OUT of love”
I did the same thing!, I knew I was in trouble, but couldn’t fully confide in any of my friends because they knew my SO. There’s good help here!
P.S. MLBI, I just thought of one way to characterize my limerence brain’s idiocy, as seen from the viewpoint of the rest of me. My limerence brain seems to regard my mind and body and all my life circumstances as one unified vehicle for getting itself, and me (because it thinks it wholly owns me), physically next to LO and keeping me there. Now it is pretty clever at doing that, and dedicates its energy unflaggingly to seeking that one outcome. I saw this when I did an exercise of writing uncritically whatever comes to mind for 8 minutes, lifting my hand from the page as little as possible, to get at my subconscious. (Recommended by Natalie Lue as part of her book, 100 Days of Baggage Reclaim.) It was all repetitive, obsessive variations on ‘Must mate with LO! Now!’. Very instructive to see it so starkly, because I cannot kid myself, this stuff is still trying to drive my behavior despite my better judgement, so I have a lot of work to do on myself to dial it way back and also reduce LO contact. Whereas it’s the rest of me, my values, intellect, moral conscience, career, life goals & purposes, and most of all my physical/emotional/spiritual/legal bond with my SO that sees how idiotic — as in catastrophically destructive — it would be to follow my limerence brain where it leads. It is at our peril that we underestimate the limerence brain’s cleverness, narrowly construed, in getting us to do what it wants. It is, as precisely as I can express it, the state of affairs the limerence brain is cleverly striving for that appears so idiotic from the viewpoint of everything else (at least for those of us in committed relationships with SOs). I think.
The best way out for me really is to saturate my world with activities that I control that bring me joy. My limerence brain is playing a loser’s game depending on LO to bring me joy. I’ve started reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and plan to apply it through Dr L’s excellent deprogramming course. My moral commitments, while a good compass, carry no direct persuasive force whatsoever with my limerence brain, so I really do have to work on it at the more primitive level of reshaping my habits to get those dopamine hits in other ways and redirect my limerence brain to better habits instead of the lost cause of seeking LO. What my moral commitments help me to do is to stick with that deprogramming work and reorganize my life around it as needed.
Wow. 14 months ago, pre-LE, I’d never have guessed that so much thought and effort would be called for. But I believe I can do it. And I aim to go on becoming a stronger and better and happier person, incrementally, for as long as I live. Thank you, Dr L and fellow commenters! And thank you, MLBI, for inspiring these reflections.
You are relatively fortunate that you became acquainted with the concept of limerence as a result of witnessing your wife’s behaviors and it has informed your actions whilst.
My husband announced his passion for another woman on the eve of a milestone event. He’s not a stupid man but I think most people would agree that was a STUPID thing to do if he didn’t want a divorce. If he was hoping for one, then it was unnecessarily cruel. I’ll never know what he had in mind as my reaction apparently kicked him right in the frontal lobes and jumpstarted them.
Still stinks to watch it unfold.
Have you read up on Dr. Karpman’s Drama Triangle? I think Lowendj may find it useful regarding his predicament.
I do have a suspicion he wants to be a hero to someone. I hope he hops off of the merry-go-round ride from hell. There is no brass ring. The prize is jumping off and getting away.
My Limerent Brain is an Idiot says
So I reviewed the Drama Triangle, but it’s too fluid for my taste, with people switching roles depending on the relationship. I’m not in that boat–I’m a self-made man who is secure in himself, I have plenty of relationships, I’m not a rescuer or co-dependent, and definitely not a persecutor type.
I *did* have a minor LE episode a few years back where I found myself being drawn to a widow in our church who was my own age and I thought she was an amazing person. However, I did the normal thing you should do. I sternly told my idiot limerent brain that there was no chance and the limerence faded away.
May I ask, why are you here on this site? You add SO MUCH because I think we limerents do too much navel-gazing and it’s way too easy to lose the insight that we are hurting other people with our obsessive LE.
But why are you here? I can’t figure it out.
Why would I though? My limerent brain IS AN IDIOT.
I have a situation and I definitely need help! In previous posts I discussed my LO, and her recent shift of attention to another in our group. I talked about disclosure to my SO, her knowledge of what had been going on, and what I’ve been doing to get out of this LE. What I didn’t disclose is that we all are in a musical situation, and that I have been in communication and disclosure to the SO of the other person who I recognize is also in LE with my LO! !
It is sobering and downright scary to see how much it is hurting his SO. He is in deep and not acknowledging this. I have not discussed this with him. FYI there is no glimmer between his SO and me. However, I’m now his SO’s confidant since we compared notes. My ongoing plan was LC with LO. That was working well. This has completely taken me by surprise and I don’t know what to do. I want to walk away from all of this, but I have musical commitments with LO, and the person now in LE with LO. OMG this is not going going to end well! I’m now willing to share other details if it can help.
So it’s not a square, it’s a hexagon? How many people are involved in this situation?
Lowendj’s SO (“Kristin”)
Lowendj’s LO (“Michelle”)
Michelle’s SO (“Tom”)
other party who is also limerent for Kim (“Doug”)
Doug’s SO (“Susan”)
You’re in communication with Susan? Or am I hopelessly muddled?
As it’s a professional situation too I can see how it would be a mess. Is there any way to focus your communication with your SO and share fewer confidences with your colleagues? It would probably be best for your career if you focused more on rehearsals rather than who is smitten with whom.
Easier said than done, of course. What does your SO have to say about all of this?
I’ll use your score card, make one correction, and try to clear things up. I apologize to everyone else for the length of this post. Here we go:
Lowendj = me
Lowendj’s SO (“Kristin”)
Lowendj’s LO (“Michelle”)
Michelle’s SO (“Tom”)
other party who is also limerent for Michelle (“Doug”)
Doug’s SO (“Susan”)
I suspect Tom is aware of what Michelle does, but for whatever reason it doesnt bother him. He generally chooses not participate in the social gatherings because he also works in music separately.
As far as I know, Michelle is not in any PA with any of “us”, but provides sufficient fuel for essentially a non reciprocated EA.
I have been reducing my contact with Michelle to rehearsals, etc. and not be part of the “harem” at social gatherings.
Last night, Michelle, Doug and myself had a performance together. Susan arrives a bit later. At the end of the night, Doug escorts Michelle home (they live nearby and drove together), leaving Susan and I to talk. This is the second time Susan and I talk. Susan is very upset and tells me among other details that Doug told her that SOs are not invited to our group’s social gatherings (not true).
Doug is coaching Michelle, and brought her into a separate musical project, which allows him much more time with her.
Yes, I’m conscious of my feelings as I work to end my LE.
My SO “Kristin” is aware, but not up to date. We’re working on our own issues since my disclosure, so I dont want to further complicate things.
Oh, there’s more, but I’ll stop here.
I wish I was making this up, but unfortunately for me this is real, and very uncomfortable.
Ah. Doug is cold-shouldering and telling outrageous, easily disproven lies to Susan. It sounds as though Susan has nothing to work with if Doug is this far gone. Lying about whether or not SO’s are permitted or welcome is an act of contempt.
She needs to seek legal advice so she can protect herself. If they’re married she can at least seek the money Doug has spent on Michelle (if any). I really hope they aren’t married because leaving Susan behind in favor of spending more time with Michelle is dreadful. Surely there were other ways for Michelle to get home. Taxi, Uber, Tom, another musician…
I also very much hope they don’t have any minor children to shepherd about for years and witness their father gas-lighting their mom.
I’m not thrilled with Michelle’s behavior as you have presented it but she may not be leading him on. It is hard to know from what you have written. However, permitting Doug to drive her home and leaving Susan behind says nothing nice about Doug or Michelle. So very unkind of them both.
Eww. I hope Susan seeks friends, family and therapy soon.
Everyone in this situation is married. There are no minor children. “Michelle” is a good person, but is very skilled at manipulation. I dont know if she’s leading Doug, but she likes the attention. The driving her home has happened TWICE!
I have an update. Susan let me know this morning that she confronted Doug about this last night, “discussed” it further this morning. She said that she did not want to interfere with the projects, but insisted she come first. Doug knows that I stayed with Susan after they left, but does not know I have “back channel” communications with her.
Fortunately, I was not part of any discussions. I also will not hint to Doug or Michelle about any of this. Just going to take a few steps back.
That sounds like a very good plan. Good for Susan! I hope Doug saw his part in this and also takes a big step back from Michelle.
If this has been Michelle’s habit then I doubt she will change until she is no longer able to secure what she likes from others.
I hope you and Kristin are doing well separately and together. Any chance of an outing together this weekend? A picnic or something?
““Michelle” is a good person, but is very skilled at manipulation.”
Lowendj – think about what you just wrote. Are very good people skilled at manipulation? Do very good people let their colleague leave his wife behind because it would be inconvenient to find another means of transportation home?
She’s very skilled at manipulation and you may *want* to view her as a good person because you are limerent for her. Does this mean you have some degree of admiration for her skill in manipulating people?
Wow, that didnt sound great when I read it again. Yes to the first, I acknowledge my LE. No to the second.
SO and I went on a day trip to friends last weekend, and are doing a movie night today.
Have a lovely evening!
This web is getting very tangled!
And there’s a Michelle-shaped spider in the middle of it…
Does Doug know that you were/are in an LE with Michelle too?
I don’t have an advice really, but it’s very sad to read that Doug deceits Susan by telling her these lies so that he can keep Michelle and Susan separate, as clearly he wants to have that time alone with Michelle, and Susan would just “bother”.
Reading that he is driving Michelle home, leaving his wife behind is just sad. Susan clearly gets the situation, she can sense there’s something there, and it is very hurtful. She should continue to seek conversation with Doug, showing him that his behavior hurts her. Doug may not get it and tells her that there is nothing, she’s imagining things, but if he really cares about his wife he should take it seriously no matter if he gets it or not, and work through it with her. In a first step, he should not continue to separate Michelle and Susan.
I don’t know if you can do that, but keep Susan in the circle and maybe you’re able to invite her to these gatherings whenever possible?
As far as your own LE goes… I have no advice for that either… I guess it will take time, lot’s off time.
“Doug”only knows that Michelle and I worked together for two years before we brought him into the project. I have not had a conversation with him about my LE. I have yet to see the results of Doug and Susan’s” discussion” from this morning. I’m a little ambivalent about an upcoming event this weekend. I’m still fighting my flight response (haha, )
I have this feeling that at some point Lowendj’s going to be asked to lie for Doug and/or Michelle. Don’t agree to do so if you are ever asked.
I hope Sarah has a good support system and doesn’t accept being treated shabbily by Doug or Michelle.
Despite your trepidation I hope you have a much better weekend than you anticipate Lowendj.
Well, as DrL says, Michelle seems to be a narcissist LO, she’ll never change.
Susan’s position sucks, but unfortunately, she will have to deal with that.
Agree with Lee, never lie about Doug/Michelle to cover.
In the end, all you can do or maybe should do is focus on yourself and work on getting over Michelle yourself (I keep on asking myself, why do I want to be limerent over someone that is limerent over someone else? It makes no sense to me and a good reason for me to reprogram my thoughts)
Focus on spending time with Kristin and rekindle your relationship with her, that’s time best spent.
One thought though (a bit provokative, but also something I’ve asked myself), could it be that your motivation to stay involved with the Doug/Michelle/Susan story is not that pure, i.e. do you keep it in your mind as it makes you feel better somehow, like you’re the good person in this? Or as a distraction from your own limerence (helping someone else through), or even secretly hoping that if the Doug/Michelle story blows up, maybe there is hope for you and Michelle again? (Not sure all of this makes sense to you, I hope I was able to explain it somehow)
I’ve dumped lots of letters here today. Does anything I’m doing( or not) make sense ?!? Thanks
To be honest, lowendj, I’ve slightly lost track of the cast of characters. But it seems likely that Michelle is a narcissist LO and Doug is modelling the third scenario very well.
I’d avoid them both, and enjoy your time with your SO 🙂
Thanks for the observations. It does make sense. It does make me feel better to help another. It also helped me see how my behavior hurt my SO.
But… I must admit to having those other thoughts, and examine my motivations. Doing the “right” thing is always more difficult.
Check out Dr. Robert Karman’s “Drama Triangle”. At the very least you will be informed of the possibilities.
I hope your weekend has been more pleasant than you anticipated.
I did some reading as you suggested. Oh, I know I am a rescuer. Ive played that role much of my life, but managed to train myself away from it for many years…until this LE.
What about situations where the “negative shift in attitude to their partner” resurfaces later on? Is their perspective on the relationship and their spouse permanently altered/damaged by going through limerence and experiencing this negative shift? I’m the spouse.
It’s hard to draw general conclusions. Sometimes, once the limerence ends, the spouse “comes to their senses” and is regretful. Other times, the spouse has committed so much to their rewriting of history and new narrative of true love for the LO that even when the limerence ends they stick with the narrative. At some level limerence will inevitably change the dynamic of the marriage forever, but how deep the damage is and how long it lasts will be a individual thing, I think. Is your spouse still limerent? Or has the episode passed and they are still negative towards the marriage?
If a spouse in limerence leaves the marriage to be with the LO but after 3 month the LO breaks off the affair to go back to her family, what happens then? Will the limerent keep longing for the LO who is not available anymore or what? Any ideas? How do these usually play out?
I’m not sure there is a “usual” outcome LBS. It depends where the limerent was at psychologically – were they still in the thick of the limerence, or were they coming out of the euphoria and starting to feel regret? What rationalisations did they tell themselves when leaving the marriage? How much did they invest in their new identity as partner-to-LO? Why did the LO leave?
There are so many unknowns it’s difficult to be sure. One thing that is very common is that limerence affairs break up. Joe Beam talks about that a lot – the change in dynamic when the affair moves from illicit to open very commonly dooms the whole thing.
Some Schadenfreude for the betrayed spouse…
At the time of break up with the LO the limerent was really deep in limerence, can’t say about the LO. He rationalized that the marriage was a mistake to begin with and lacking in feelings. It was a marriage with it’s ups and downs for 21 years but not very good for the last year or so. There where some major troubles. But the version the limerent tells about the marriage is much worse than reality was. I just keep wondering if the limerent will stick to this bad vision of the marriage now that the relationship is over.
Vicarious Limerent says
I know limerence can happen to those in committed, happy, healthy relationships, but in my case my LE was indicative of some major issues in my marriage and life (although I love my wife and would never cheat on her). It was also part of a midlife crisis. Just about nothing was working in my life when my LO walked into it.
Still, I don’t think I really considered my SO’s perspective enough until today, when we had probably the biggest fight of our married life. I don’t entirely agree with many of the things she did and said, but it sure made me refocus my attention on my SO and away from my LO. She was furious and hurt that my limerence is still there a month after disclosing it to her. I told her I cannot simply turn it off and it is a complex set of chemical reactions in my brain. Still, the end result is we are going to work on our marriage (although she predictably is fighting me on my list of “non-negotiables” for an improved life).
It was a real doozy, over the phone while I was at work no less. I had my office door closed, but I think some people must have overheard some of it. I was in full-blown meltdown mode when my SO threatened to confront my LO. She said she was going to tell her she was welcome to me and even drop my stuff off at my LO’s place. My SO threatened to send a Facebook message and show up at my LO’s house. I had to BEG her not to do it and explain to her that my LO was TOTALLY innocent in all of this. She never came on to me or said a word out of place, and her only crime was being herself and liking my brother in-law. It was a mess, and I shudder to think what my coworkers thought. For some reason, my SO likes to air our dirty laundry when I am at work. Anyway, we are going to try, and I do feel quite sorry for her (and quite guilty for all of this), but I am not willing to live the rest of my life in misery either.
Oh shit Vicarious Limerent, that’s a biggie!! It’s one of the reasons I’ve never disclosed to my SO, he too would be the type to march over to LO and cause a scene. I’d also never confess to LO, he’d tell his SO and the whole freaking school would know and eventually my SO.
I’ve had several nightmares about this and woken up in cold sweats.
That’s quite a pickle you are in, hope you are able to sort it out with your SO and you can contain the damage. Sounds like she’s ready to pull the pin on the proverbial hand grenade, yikes.
On the positive side, at least your SO cares and must love you judging by her reaction. We get so wrapped up in our own LE that we forget the ones we hurt in the process.
Keeping my fingers crossed for you.
Vicarious Limerent says
Thanks Lee-Anne. It was a terrible experience, and I have confirmation that my colleagues DID overhear. My wife threatened to contact my LO yet again today after we had a major argument over something totally different (but of a totally minor nature to being with). I called her bluff on it though and told her I don’t believe she is actually going to contact my LO, but if I did think she would ever do it that I would contact my LO myself preemptively to let her know what to expect from my wife. I was dead serious about that and I think that kind of freaked my wife out a bit because she knew I meant it. I also reiterated to her how innocent my LO was in all of this and how unfair it is to involve an innocent third party.
I really had no choice but to disclose the whole thing to my wife a month ago. My SO could see I had been acting strangely for an entire month and she demanded to know what exactly was going on. She knew I wasn’t myself, so I ended up telling my SO. I was also worried by LO would tell my brother in-law about my exchange with her, so I thought it was better coming from me.
I am sure my wife does care a great deal, but I am not sure if we are actually going to make it. Still, we are going to try to turn things around. She is definitely scared and worried (she tells me she is having recurring nightmares I am cheating on her, which I would never do).
Oh what a nightmare!!
On one hand at least she cares enough, but it’s very difficult to explain that LOs are sometimes completely unwitting/oblivious, and the problem is mainly in our heads.
I knew I was lucky there with my SO as he isn’t one for confrontation – he joked about it but I was reasonably sure he would never actually do it. Ironically if things were the opposite way round, LO would be more likely to confront than SO… Possibly part of his appeal.
I really hope that you and your SO are able to make some progress. We had a very good marriage counsellor and whilst things arent perfect, she enabled me to express what needed to be said to improve our marriage without the fear of passive/aggressive behaviour I was used to getting from SO in response. We’re in a much better place now, and hope you’re able to find that too.
Vicarious Limerent says
Thanks Sophie. I think marriage/family counselling is a good idea, but I am not sure if she will agree to it. I really had to explain to her today how innocent my LO was in all of this. All she did was be decent and kind to me, while she was flirting with my brother in-law. She did nothing to flirt with me, although I somehow feel like the sexual energy she was giving off towards my brother in-law ended up affecting me instead.
My husband and I have been together for 12 years and he has always been a stand up guy that everyone admired. He got into an affair with a younger co worker and has completely changed. When I found out about the affair, he described EXACTLY what the blog lists as symptoms of limerence. He was mean to me, rewriting our history, and so obsessed that he would talk to her even with me there. He would get so mad if I ever said anything bad about her. He also left me and our baby to get his own apartment so he can pursue her, as she is also pursuing him. Is there anyway I can help him snap out of this? or is my marriage over? I read that it can take as long as 3 years, and that is wild to me! I am really distraught at how he can be so in limerence with someone in just a matter of months (to my knowledge and research, he started talking to her 4 months ago, and things got serious after 2 months – sexually) and at the 2 month mark when things got sexual is when I noticed him starting to bring her up more in our conversations at home, talking to her, texting to her claiming it was work, he was so obsessed, now that I’m looking back at it. What can I do as a spouse to help him understand he is in limerence? I feel like if I show him this, he will get mad and completely disregard this. I need help!
Hi Resilient Soul, and welcome, but sorry that you’ve been driven here by such horrible circumstances.
I think you’re going to need that resilience, unfortunately. Limerence is really difficult to deal with, but it sounds from your summary as though your husband doesn’t want to try at all and is totally fine with blatantly disrespecting you and pleasing himself. My attitude to this sort of scenario is: even if you could salvage the marriage, would you really want to? Would you ever respect him again? Would you trust him again? Would you respect yourself for taking back someone of such poor character?
Sorry for the grim prognosis, but sometimes the chumplady motto (leave a cheater gain a life) has a simple truth to it. Looking after yourself and your baby is the number one priority now. You shouldn’t have to compete for him – he should be looking after you. The fact that he isn’t means, unfortunately, mustering the strength from within your resilient soul to protect yourself and your baby – with the support of friends and family if you can.
Again, I’m sorry for the downbeat message, but understanding limerence is not going to explain why he has made the choices he’s made. That’s on him and his character. Limerence is an emotionally overwhelming experience, and it may help you understand why this hurricane has hit your family, but it isn’t an excuse to abandon responsibilities and loved-ones.
Good luck and best wishes.
I am in this exact situation. I’ve been with my husband half my life. Together 17 years and married 9. We have a three year old daughter. I got pregnant with our second child in February of this year and he “left” me 8 weeks later. There was someone else from our gym (who knows me) that he became deeply involved with and he had a full blown affair with her. The person he turned into was a stranger with absolutely no morals or values. He rewrote our history, put her on a pedestal, turned everything around like he was the victim if I spoke badly about her. I finally got him to leave her towards the end of my pregnancy but soon after the baby was born he went straight back. I cannot take this emotional abuse any longer (we are still living together) as I have a 9 week old baby and a toddler to care for. I’ve already contacted a lawyer to start the divorce process. I stress over how long this entire thing will take and I know he’s throwing everything away for this other person who is complete trash.
Did your husband every snap out of it? Going through this exact scenario right now. It started when I was 8 weeks pregnant and I now have a 9 week old newborn and he’s still obsessed with LO. We have actually begun the divorce process.
Nicole, sorry I’m not responder you are looking for. Your story breaks my heart. I think you might find the marriage helper YouTube videos helpful. The founder went through what your husband is experiencing. He made some big mistakes in his marriage during a limerent experience. If memory serves me correctly, he left his family for 3 years and lived a very different lifestyle. But, when he came to his senses, he was lucky that his wife was willing to try again. If you haven’t heard their story, I think it might interest you.
Best of luck! Raising young kids is hard enough. You really didn’t need this extra stressor.