In the last post, there was a good chat in the comments about purposeful living – the life philosophy that I argue is the best protection against limerence. I’ve posted a few times about the idea, but its so broad that breaking it down a bit should be helpful in understanding what it means, and how it can help increase resilience against limerence.
The first principle I’m going to cover is the most fundamental – the reason why a lack of purpose makes us vulnerable to limerence.
Life is like a river
A poetic title, but don’t worry, I’m not going to do any poetry.
Life is unstoppable. It carries you along regardless of whether you want it to or not.
Most people basically go with the flow. Their childhood is governed by parents or guardians, they go to school, and then make a decision about the kind of job and domestic arrangement that seems most appealing at the time, in a fairly uncritical way.
They may well fight to get into a competitive field, work like a demon to get the grades they need for medical school, date a demoralising number of unsuitable suitors, or in other ways exert effort to achieve their ambitions, but it is a relatively small number of people who are really intentional about their lives in early adulthood.
In part, the reason for this is that most of us have other people in our lives – friends, family, teachers, mentors – who are generous with free advice. They are drifting downstream with us, and offering tips about how to avoid rapids, and which branch of the river to take to get to a good destination. Sometimes this advice is good – or at least well meant – but other times, it can be misguided, mean-spirited, or even downright destructive.
The danger of drifting
In this way, the early stretches of the river of life are fairly narrow and tightly channelled. Our choices are circumscribed by authority figures, and the options open to us are limited. But as we get older and leave the certainties of youth behind, we find the river branches more frequently, and opens into lakes and pools, where our direction is less clear and our options become more open.
The momentum of youth carries us into a wider and less certain stream, and most of us just drift. We let the current carry us forward.
After school we go to university, start a trade, or sign up for public service of some sort. Then we find ourselves tied into a job that seemed a sensible choice, and along the way, we hope to meet someone special who is drifting in basically the same direction and might want to hitch their boat to ours for a while.
Drifting is easy. It’s a way of life where you concentrate on keeping the boat afloat, avoiding the obvious sandbanks and thunderstorms, but letting the river do the work of determining your direction and your destination.
Many of us can be carried all the way to midlife drifting in this way. It is, after all, a life that can be secure, satisfying, and successful by most sensible measures. But, eventually, the river is going to catch us out with an unwelcome surprise.
At the risk of overdoing the metaphor, there are two big ways that drifting through life can make us more vulnerable to limerence. First, if we are coasting along in a complacent manner, we tend to be less vigilant about hazards ahead. Second, when we do get capsized by life, and scrabble back into our boat, we can be completely disoriented about what happened, what it means, and what we should do next.
Drifting makes us more vulnerable to limerence, because we aren’t really paying attention to life. We get caught out. We didn’t realise that we were vulnerable to flattery from an attractive LO, because we didn’t realise that we had a dormant desire to be seen as attractive. We thought that idly neglecting a content and stable marriage would be OK, not realising that someone else seducing us could upend our old certainties and smash our moral compass. We knew our spouse was borderline abusive, but had desensitized ourselves enough to tolerate it, right up until someone else showed us a crumb of compassion and we fell completely into limerence for them.
Inattention to our emotional needs generates a vulnerability that we are unaware of, until we trigger it. We might drift down the centre of the stream, passing submerged hazards on all sides by the grace of good fortune, but more often than not we eventually hit a hidden reef. A reef we could have avoided if we’d been more mindful about where we were going and what the conditions were like.
Recovering from a soaking
The other big risk of drifting through life comes after the boat has been overturned. Once a life-dunking has happened, it can be the first time that many of us ask whether we were on the right course all along.
An upset like limerence causes us to look around at all the people who made different choices. We finally wonder if the course we’d been following for so long was really taking us where we wanted to go.
When life is unplanned, a shock makes you realise how little thought you gave to the early days. You wonder in awe at how powerful the feelings that limerence stirs in you are – how flat you had previously felt, how little exhilaration your life had involved, how risk averse you had been.
Existential doubt like that is hugely destabilising, which is bad enough, but it also makes it hard to act. If you find yourself assailed by emotions that are unfamiliar (infatuation, guilt, excitement, delirium), you don’t know what to do.
A major cost of drifting through life is that you are poorly prepared to cope with a crisis and find yourself having to simultaneously deal with the emotional assault of limerence and the identity crisis that it can cause.
When you don’t know where you are going it’s hard to get back on course.
Grab the tiller
So, what can be done? What is the difference between a purposeful life and a directionless life? In the terms of this metaphor, a purposeful life is one in which you are steering the boat. You have the tiller or wheel, and are looking ahead. You have a direction in mind, and a goal that you are aiming towards.
In terms of practicality, it means you have spent time and energy deciding how you want your life to be. What your priorities are. Where your effort should be directed. What you want to spend your time doing.
There is no right answer – but all the ones that don’t give you a sense of fulfillment, and forward progress are probably wrong answers. A purposeful life has a trajectory that makes it easy to know when you are diverging from your true path and what you need to do to get back on course.
The reason why purposeful living is a good remedy to limerence is because you can make sensible judgements about whether LO is part of that purpose, or runs counter to it. A great way to salvage some good from the shock of unexpected limerence is to use it as the spur to finally figure out what kind of life you want, what person you currently are, and what person you would like to grow to be.
And the encouraging news is, it’s never too late. Here’s a link to a story about a 92 year old Scotsman who wrote a book of poetry that became a bestseller.
Purpose can be found in many endeavours, but the first step is to notice it’s missing and begin the process of seeking it. Next week, we’ll consider how to find purpose when you don’t know where to start.
By enabling me to name “the problem,” this site has helped me find remnants of my old, true self.
By making it clear on numerous occasions that we’re in the same boat 😉, members of the LwL forum have helped me find some much needed strength within myself.
Limerence (and the sadness it left me with) deprived me of my basic good mood, of a great deal of my creativity, actually, of the ability to find meaning and joy in several things I used to love. It seems I punished myself with it in a compulsive manner, even way after going NC – subconsciously, of course.
I’m starting to recognize my old core personality, my old sense of humour, the joys of life without even wanting LO to be a part of them. Only recently have I been able to do it (I mean, not always obsessing over LO, what is more, I honestly and deliberately value the clarity I feel without LO on my mind over the dopamine hit of the past) which is sad because of all the wasted years but also really, really liberating.
I haven’t necessarily found the key to a meaningful life yet, but it’s good to feel not drowned and hopeless any more.
Feelin’ a bit wiser and equipped with some coping skills. Finally, seeing some brightness on the horizon.
Great to hear, J79.
Seeking purpose can – in a strange twist – become the first purposeful step towards the sunny uplands.
Another great post, as always. I’d add that if your life doesn’t’ have a purpose and then meet your LO, and you make landing your LO your life’s purpose, to continue with the metaphor, that boat sinks to the bottom of the river like the Titanic. And then you have even less idea of what to do with yourself. Never, never make landing a certain person your life’s purpose. People are too precarious. Good people, yes, but not certain people. Also, depression puts you at big risk for limerence.
I’m re-learning to like my own company, to appreciate myself – if that makes sense.
The tricky thing about purposefulness is exactly as you said: the future prospects with LO sound so much better than the purpose we have lived by so far. That’s when we place our own happiness in their hands (albeit they never asked for it, ha-ha).
Despite the missing pieces due to the lack of genuine reciprocation, we persist and insist that things will work out eventually (in the meantime gradually ruining stuff we will no longer need in our exclusive bond: marriages, past hobbies and interests, human relationships).
Since these happy endings which we, limerents fabricate are not mutual goals, we are destined to get brutally disappointed, with the danger of sinking into depression, yes.
Glad to hear u are doing better. Certainly one can sink into depression when things don’t work out with the LO. But if one is already depressed, one is more susceptible to limerence as there is no anti-depressant on the market like early limerence high.
Totally agree, Marcia. Pursuit of an LO in the belief that sustaining the limerence buzz will give purpose is pretty much guaranteed to fail.
Yes, and it’s not just the buzz, but the LO gives you your mission. If
you’ve been drifting in life and you meet an LO, your feelings are so strong, you mistake them for an all-certain, this is something I should pursue.
Limerent Emeritus says
When it comes to piloting a boat, you need a rudder and propulsion.
Without propulsion, all a tiller does is set the direction, usually broadside to the current. You may be able to point the bow where you want to go but you still go where the wind or current takes you.
In some respects, it’s worse. You can set your course right at something and watch yourself drift right past it with no way to get back.
You gotta have propulsion.
Limerent Emeritus says
Another nautical analogy…
How do you see yourself navigating the “river of life?”
Some people see it as paddling a canoe, some people see it as rowing a boat. What’s the difference.?
A canoe can hold a few people. They’re nimble and often unsuitable for certain types of bodies of water and bad weather. But, you navigate it facing forward. You paddle toward your destination.
A rowboat is generally more stable. They’re usually not quite as maneuverable although you can spin it in place in calm water. They usually can hold more.
But, you row facing backwards, looking at where you’ve been. If you have a compass, you can keep on course but you have no idea where you actually are if there’s wind or current.
At first glance, canoes seem to be better but you may get wet more often.
Thanks. By-the-way, the article is accurate. I got into the last/worst LE when I realized our purposes in life with SO were diverging and irreconcilable.
I mean, it’s a really tough question: part of our value system and the goals overlapped, of course, that’s why we’d got married in the first place.
Some key elements, however, never really matched, so we chose to overlook them in everyday life. There is no perfect match, right? (I really don’t know.) We did compromise along the way, we knew we both had to. Still, there was a point of the river ride where we needed to take a stand which fork to choose.
I desperately wanted to stick to my original plan (arguing that a number of compromises are OK but there are things that you just don’t give up) and right after SO’s rejection I unknowingly created the illusion that LO was everything I needed to make it happen, that LO was the answer.
To put it bluntly, the purpose was more important than SO. I still believe it would not have done any good to give it up.
In hindsight, it’s so clear that there was a “blank space” in me, that the libido was dangerously out there, free, wanting to get attached to someone like the potential mate mentioned in the post on heartache.
I’m struggling now not to blame SO for my LE’s because of their different purposes in life and their inability to see that I lost direction after facing their rejection.
I’d be interested in others’ experiences of too early attachment as well. I’m pretty convinced it’s a huge part of being limerent.
Well, I think you hit the nail on the head. You mentioned a blank space in you. From what I’ve experienced, the limerent has to have something in them that’s wanting — and the the LO comes along and pushes certain psychological buttons. On the downside of my LE, I met another guy who I really liked and developed a crush on but didn’t become limerent for, although his behavior wasn’t all that different than LO’s in terms of the hot/cold, disappear/reappear, which usually works to hook me. So I think when I met the crush, I wasn’t in the same headspace (coming down off the LE, knowing it wasn’t going to happen with the LO, probably extremely self-protective) but also, for whatever reason, the crush didn’t push my psychological buttons the same way LO did. What I mean is — the LO can’t be just anybody who shows some level of interest.
Yes, exactly! There has to be something with the LO that made us vulnerable to them from the start. I read commonly they can have a borderline personality disorder or narcissistic or both. But it has to be the dopamine high or an escape from our regular lives that hooked us like a fish (sort of still with the river metaphor).
Anyway, I just found this site. I am approaching 2 yrs trying to eradicate my LO from my mind but at least I am more functional than the first 6 months after my LO ghosted me. I have spent easily $10,000 in different therapies and finally a patient of mind suggested a book that mentioned Limerence. One of the top worst things I have ever experienced and no therapist knows about it. Our lives can be fulfilled but I agree just going with the flow may have added to the susceptibility. So now what?
Gone PostLE says
I absolutely love this blog and this entry in particular. Since walking away from my LO ( I got counseling to help me do that because I knew it was unhealthy and demeaning for my self esteem) last August I have thrown myself into every hobby and interest I can think of. I have thrown the doors open for rediscovering who I really am. Read a few books on mid life as well. It has been an incredible journey to get to know myself, even my darker self, better, and explore purposeful living.
In the end, my LE lasted 2 years and completely blindedsided me, but I do not blame my narcissistic LO for what I went through. I fell off the cliff willingly, and as this blog says….I was vulnerable to flattery and feeling attractive. I’m working through some guilt but coming out of it. Definitely can’t judge others!!!
It is true my life felt soooo flat before this happened. This river analogy definitely spoke to me. I have grabbed the helm and turned on the motor!! Lol
As tumultuous as this LE was, I am grateful it happened. My eyes are opened and it feels great! I’m looking forward to the rest of life for a change!!
I write these things to encourage any who read this. Explore your hobbies and things you loved when you were 8 years old, and look for new ones! The whole LE is about YOU! Own it!!!
And be grateful for your LO even if you were in pain and they tortured you, breadcrumbed you,….they helped show YOU the way……NO REGRETS!!! Sending love and peace to all of you!!! ❤❤❤❤🤩
I’m not grateful. He does not get a pass. I’m happy that you are through it. I believe in learning and moving on from bad experiences. My therapist told me that I got something out of it too. She’s not wrong.
However, I would have been fine without ever having met him.
I’m working hard to get through and hope that I will get there at some point.
But I refuse to feel grateful in connection to a person who used me when I was vulnerable and continued to do so for months to boost his ego. When he knew that I cared and continued to string me along…For a long time, I’ve tried to reframe it in my head with a positive spin-for pride? to salvage something from that time?
That only lengthened the limerence. It twisted someone treating me terribly into something that it wasn’t.
I went from a hopeful person to one filled with bitterness. I’m trying to find the happy again. I’ll believe that I’ve left it behind and then it’ll come back twice as strong.
Even when I’m part the LE, I can’t see looking back in gratitude.
“I’m not grateful. He does not get a pass.”
I feel the same way. I wish I ‘d never moved to that state, I wish I’d never taken that job and I wish I’d never met him. I consider those my “lost years.” I will never set foot in that state again. He led me on to pump up his ego and impress his work bros that some woman was giving him attention, like a high school boy. That being said, I have to own that fact that I stayed at that job far longer than I should have and chose to ignore the fact that he was a waste of time.
I’ve never not owned my part in it. He, more than anyone, knew that I was struggling to get past him.
In a normal emotional time, no problem. Walk away and don’t look back.
My previous reasoning (he must be special to me for some special reason) kept me in limerence.
I need to continue to acknowledge – over and over- that he’s a manipulative liar.
I can both admit that I needed to be stronger and call him out for being an unsavory, possibly sociopathic human being
“I’ve never not owned my part in it. ”
I didn’t say you didn’t. I’ve just been looking at my own patterns with people … in an attempt to no longer drift down the river! 🙂 I have picked some flaky people for romance and friendship. And the flakiness was evident pretty early on. I remember with one close friend, the joke was, “The minute you get a boyfriend, I won’t hear from you again,” and she denied it, but that is exactly what happened. So I knew. I knew almost the whole time we were friends. Why did I continue to put energy and time into that friendship? I felt a strong connection — she was like a sister to me — so I ignored everything else. It’s bad to ignore one’s instincts.
Sounds as if you enjoyed the friendship while it lasted. I’m sorry she faded when she found someone. Was it a long ago friendship or recent? It’s hard to lose people we care about.
You’re an intelligent, fun person.
I hope we’ll meet when DrL throws a limerence party.
“Was it a long ago friendship or recent?”
A few years ago. With friendship, I’ve always prioritized connection over everything else, since I feel connection rarely (where someone really takes the time to understand and know you. How often does that happen?). With romantic relationships, it’s always been attraction, and I feel that, at least strongly, pretty rarely. But neither says anything about someone who’s going to stick around.
“I hope we’ll meet when DrL throws a limerence party.”
Yes. That would be a lot of fun. I’ll be the one wearing too much leopard print. 🙂
Limerent Emeritus says
“I hope we’ll meet when DrL throws a limerence party.”
Way ahead of you…
I’ll be the one in a corset and empire waist dress!
Gone PostLE says
First of all, let me say that I am truly sorry for your pain…very much. And, many of your comments in the past have resonated with me. I thank you for openly sharing what you have felt and experienced.
In my post, I was feeling blessed and positive and wanted to wish happiness for all who are here. There is a way out. And it’s up to us – I believe that.
Bitterness – yes, I left out the part about being absolutely furious and angry for many months at him, while ironically, STILL hooked. I hated being hooked and sneaking around on my husband to get my fix. Oh, I was fuming mad about it!!
Another detail – He was an old date from my high school years, too. Only dated him a few times. So, the glimmer was that he held a key to my past that I wanted to get hold of. That mid-life thing….
Our relationship was not in person. It was all online or phone calls. He wanted a full on affair – I walked the line in an emotional one and refused to do more, though I was in deep trouble because I was VERY tempted.
For two years, I felt like I was “bipolar”, split between two realities….a fantasy and reality. I hated and loved it at the same time. And I hated myself for what I was doing. GUILT.
My focus at work tanked. Yet in ways, he inspired me. It was crazy.
I still think about him every day. But, I’ve sort of “put him in a box” in my mind and called him all sorts of ugly things to help me move on.
It hasn’t been easy. I’m still surprised how much he is still in my head, the experience. I find I dwell on it when I’m alone quite a bit. Still working on it. Coming to this site helps tremendously.
But my therapist told me early on — “this is all about you” …..he’s just doing his jam (looking for married women to cheat on his wife with)……..so, I have tried really hard to discover why I fell hard and fast and what I can do about it moving forward. She suggested a few books about midlife and the subconscious mind, unmet needs, etc.
I think one benefit of the experience we can be grateful for is getting to know ourselves. We “danced” with an LO ….why? What were we looking for? Studying ourselves like an outsider would….what needs did we have that were not being fulfilled…that you didn’t even know about! What is locked away in our subconscious and our past that is setting us up for limerence/fantasy?
I came away from my LE feeling like an A-1 arrogant and selfish fool. A mid-life cliche. It took me down a peg or three. VERY Humbling.
My conclusion is I was asleep at the wheel and my life was just flat. Happily married, but I was NOT living purposefully. Been too long at my current job and it wasn’t something that lit me up inside.
Along comes LO and he is smart as a whip – he is almost like a voice in inside of me – my perfect match – THE ONE – “why didn’t I marry this guy?” ….ya know?
This blog and people like you have helped me tremendously, Beth. Here’s a positive for you — YOU have helped ME!!!
You are here, on this blog, sharing. That is part of your path right NOW. You understand this limerence thing and you are awake now. You have every right to feel angry and bitter….I know I have, too.
I believe that you can find happiness again. A “wiser” sort of happiness where you know “Beth” completely and you love her with all your heart. Sending you a hug today!
Gone PostLE says
I’m reading some great insights here in your post…..about your past with mom, and not having your voice to avoid conflict! those personal insights are key to understanding the “set up!” LOL
Recovery is one day at a time and is going to be slower than you want probably. If you could talk about anything with your LO, that makes it worse. I still miss some of conversations I had with mine – feeling like I had met a soulmate I could share anything with.
I still wonder if I will ever lose that tie, 100%. I kinda doubt it.
I see my job as spinning this whole thing as positively as I can — My LE woke me up. I had to make a big mistake to wake up and feel shame, but that’s what it took to push me.
On the other side, I’m working on me in every way I can. Hobbies, PLANNING (not me at all), connecting with my spouse again, losing weight, and yeah, leaving the job that had me just marking time.
The positive spin? My LO, all his flaws, is just another human trying to fill his own needs….so, I “danced” with him a little and found out that I was rudderless and complacent, even prone to depression……went through a shit storm of emotions and shame and guilt…..but he gave me “awareness” to learn about ME.
The experience gave me my life back….my will to live my life wholly and fully. He doesn’t know what he brought to me….the gift of insight. It’s funny….his name actually had a meaning about bringing awareness and reality…..!
I’m sort of a Buddhist —— every person that comes into your life is there to teach you something. Don’t judge it! Learn from it and change what needs changing.
Praying for you, Bob. One step at a time…keep looking into those hobbies and passions and light up your light from inside! Hugs!
Thank you for the positive support. I understand why you posted and I look forward to the day that I no longer care about him. Indifference. Not hate or anger. I’m waiting for that small bit of hope and longing to die. It’ll come roaring back some days.
The love/hate aspect of limerence is puzzling. I no longer like or respect LO but I barely knew him anyway. Even with time together, deep talks over months. I didn’t really know him.
Rumination seems to occur when I’m alone or lonely. When I’m full throttle, I’m fine.
I know and understand what happened and why.
Still struggling with ending it. For good.
Not sure where I would be without this site.
I’m happy for you and for all who get past it.
Great post, Gone LE!. I’m working on getting to where you are. I did notice that when I was in my LE, many hobbies and previous that I used to enjoy seemed unappealing. It confused me at the time but I realize now that the LE becomes the only source of happiness. Everything else for me took 2nd place. Thank you for your encouragement!!
I was very vulnerable to limerence. My first experience was at 17 years old and the next was at 50. Big gap, eh? I was at mid life, a little depressed, and on a rudderless boat. I was a conflict avoider and would never talk to anyone (including my SO) about my flaws, or embarrassing thoughts or about any annoyance. I learned that as a kid when you voiced your displeasure to mom, you got a lot of negative consequences. So I clammed up about most things until I met my LO at mid life. We started out as coworkers for three years and slowly got closer one conversation at a time. I could talk to her about anything. In retrospect, I could have and should have instead done that w my SO. Long story short, I chose to leave my job and move away. Now I’m in the withdrawal phase and in NC. So hard! So grateful for this site, this community, and these encouraging posts
Gone PostLE says
Bob, I accidentally responded to you in the sub post above! Hugs.
I am happy for you too.
The only thing I have noticed about myself with this is that I stand up for myself more. This hurt so so badly, that I just will not allow the disrespect from others like colleagues to try me poorly since I have less to lose with them that I will not put up with it…if that makes any sense.
Blue Ivy says
Love the metaphor you used to describe lack of purpose in life…
That’s what it feels like. Not correlated to limerant episodes but sometimes in idle moments I’ve pondered over where things are, and felt like that. Not even a boat – but a speck floating on crest of water in the sea, moving along wherever the energy & movement of water would carry me. One can feel this way even if externally one is pretty successful by all measures.
The strange thing is that most people who know me will call me pretty driven. As you call out, it’s one thing to be focused, hard working & driven about short term goals… goals set by internlizing whatever world expects one to do. It is another to have a strong internal compass. How I envy those who do!
Vicarious Limerent says
I think my life had a purpose until I became limerent for a stranger 18 months ago. I was incredibly focused on my career, to the point that I obsessed over it to the exclusion of just about everything else. Limerence told me my marriage and family life (and many other aspects of my life) were unacceptable. For so long, I had been on autopilot until limerence forced me to pay attention to all aspects of my life (not just my career). But when I started focusing on my weight, health, fitness, social life, marriage and family life, I began to see that I had put my job and career on the back burner. Obsessing over my career wasn’t healthy, but neither was burying my head in the sand and not moving forward with my plans for a career change (I am incredibly dissatisfied in my job). My marriage was and is terrible, and I have decided to end it (I have communicated that to my wife several times lately but she refuses to accept it), but I’m still desperately in need of a career change.
Here’s the funny thing. I thought I was engaging in purposeful living to defeat limerence. One of the things I realized I needed to help get over LO #1 was a much better social life, so I joined some groups and started meeting new people. Then LO #2 walked into my life and disrupted things all over again. At first, I wasn’t all that into LO #2, but then she started being a bit flirty with me. Sure, I thought she was quite pretty and fun, but nothing I couldn’t handle. But then the thought that maybe she liked me got me really hooked, with the result that I became limerent for her as well. For a while, I was really thinking a lot about both women, but the baton is now fully passed to LO #2. I know she probably isn’t the best fit for me as a partner, but as my marriage comes to an end, I am beginning to see there might be a possibility of us being together at some point in the not-too-distant future (although I am pretty sure I am not her type and I likely will never leave the friend-zone with her). Probably the height of my limerence for LO #2 came about two weeks ago after I saw her for the first time in a couple of months and my marriage totally came crumbling down around the same time. But I saw her again this past weekend, and while I still like her a lot, I am able to see more of her flaws. I am hoping this is the beginning of a recovery.
The problem is I have not learned much from either of these LEs in terms of being able to spot “the glimmer.” These two women are as different as night and day from each other. The only thing they have in common is they are pretty and fun. They both enjoy bars, nightlife and live music, and funnily enough they’re both in blue collar jobs (I am a white collar university-educated professional, so I’m not sure what’s up with that). Other than that, they are very different, so that doesn’t give me much to go on, does it? As I continue to socialize and meet new people, I am worried this will happen again, but I don’t really know what to look for and avoid. But if my marriage truly is over, maybe I don’t need to avoid becoming limerent again, as long as the lady in question is free and single? I realize I am not in a position to date just yet, but it theoretically could be a possibility in six months or a year. But first, I need to convince my wife that it really is over between us. I was so worried limerence was driving my desire to end my marriage, but I am pretty confident there are enough problems that limerence was only the catalyst telling me I need to get with someone.
“The problem is I have not learned much from either of these LEs in terms of being able to spot “the glimmer.” ”
I don’t know how it is for you, but for me, when I get the glimmer, I get around the person and can hardly talk, I’m overwhelmingly attracted and nervous, I feel high after being around them, I can’t concentrate for hours after seeing them. So now I know … if I feel that way about someone and he’s not reciprocating and trying to move things forward within a couple of weeks … I need to avoid this person at all costs, lest they start the semi-reciprocating/uncertainty dance, which will push the whole thing into MAYDAY limerence levels.
Vicarious Limerent says
For me, I don’t think those feelings happen until I am already limerent. I am prone to minor crushes which don’t ever progress to limerence, so it can be difficult for me to tell the difference. Minor butterflies don’t necessarily mean I am experiencing “the glimmer.”
“For me, I don’t think those feelings happen until I am already limerent.”
But you know when you’re limerent. You’ve had a few LEs, right? So since you are married, once you know you limerent, you should sound like one of those large trucks backing out of someone’s driveway. BEEP, BEEP, BEEP … 🙂 immediate NC, etc. I think limerence lingers because we indulge it. It feels good to indulge it, at least initially.
Marcia I agree. I have recently crossed paths with someone twice and felt this uneasy internal adrenalin excitement beat inside of me (butterflies?) but for several reasons I don’t want to be into him and I will not feed this glimmer. I don’t like certain things I see in him, so I did a purposeful self-mind control and acknowledged the glimmer and did not indulge it any way. This is a first for me! I feel like I am finally in control and it feels so good….
Vicarious Limerent says
I guess where I’m at is my marriage is totally on the rocks now. I have told my wife I definitely want to separate. Things are TERRIBLE at home. I know I am not in a position to date anyone (it’s far too early for that and we haven’t formally separated yet), but I am also in a position where I am lonely and looking for human contact (not necessarily with women). I like this crowd of people I have been hanging out with over the past year and a bit, but I definitely feel like I need to meet more people and broaden my circle of friends. LO #2 is unlikely to be the solution, but I am starting to recover from limerence for her and I do want to keep her as a friend (by now I am pretty sure I will eventually be alright even if she is dating someone else and she brings the guy into our group of friends).
If I start to put myself out there more, I will meet women. Because I lack the self-awareness to spot “the glimmer” I am not sure what to avoid. By the time it starts, it’s almost too late. I am worried I am going to have to live like we’re under Taliban rule and maintain strict segregation of the sexes in order to minimize the likelihood of becoming limerent for someone else. I cannot avoid meeting women, nor can I avoid anyone I have a hint of attraction for (I mean, I have only figured out that I like women who are pretty and fun; that’s not much to go on!). That’s just plain weird and paranoid. I am also thinking that eventually maybe I won’t need to avoid someone I’m limerent for if she is a suitable partner and we’re both interested and available. I suppose the solution here is to try to dig deeper to really develop the self-awareness so I can spot “the glimmer” and manage it when it starts to happen (or not if I actually want it to go somewhere once I am in a position to date).
“I won’t need to avoid someone I’m limerent for if she is a suitable partner and we’re both interested and available.
Yes, of course. ”
Now, in terms of being married or partnered up and being limerent for someone else, that’s for the two people in the relationship to decide. Maybe some partners would be ok with their SO being limerent as long as nothing physical happened. For me, personally, I wouldn’t put up with any of it. If I had an SO who was limerent for someone else, he’d have to go NC. That would be non-negotiable. If he was working with this woman, he’d had to get another job. I don’t think there’s any other way to get over limerence than to go NC. YMMV
Vicarious Limerent says
@ Marcia, I spent 20 years not being limerent for anyone, so I am pretty sure my marital situation was what was driving the limerence. It was really only the catalyst telling me some changes were desperately needed. Once I am in a stable, happy relationship, I don’t expect limerence to be a factor (other than possibly for my partner), but who knows?
Good for you. That is good news. I have had zero temptation since COVID, so I can’t really tell if I am better yet. Fingers crossed.
Exactly on everything you said Marcia!
“But first, I need to convince my wife that it really is over between us.”
File for a divorce and have her served.
Vicarious Limerent says
We generally need to be separated for a year before we can get a divorce. She refuses to sell the house, although I could force a sale if necessary.
So what is stopping you from finding a lawyer, drawing up a separation proposal, moving out and getting the ball rolling?
You want a divorce. Make it happen. At least get it started.
Vicarious Limerent says
Money. There is barely enough money for one household, never mind two. We can have an in-house separation, but the logistics of that are very challenging. My wife will have a really difficult time understanding that because we aren’t even supposed to socialize as a couple or eat meals together. I think I will pursue the in-house separation and maybe eventually try to force a sale of the house, but as it stands, she is saying she refuses to leave HER house, as she refers to it. Now she wants counselling. I know it will be a waste of time and I definitely want out, but maybe I owe it to her to try after all of those years spent together. This is all quite new to her and she is taking quite some time to get used to the idea. I have only just recently come to terms with the end of our marriage and am now relatively at peace with the idea, but it has taken years to get there. I still care for my wife and want the best for her. I was also hoping for a cordial and collaborative separation, but I’m not sure my wife can deal with living in “grey areas.” Either we’re together and everything is fine, or we’re sworn enemies who wish death upon each other; she doesn’t seem to understand anything in between. By the way, my wife is bossy, controlling and downright abusive at times, and things are intolerable between her and my daughter, so it isn’t just me getting a wandering eye and wanting to be with someone else as part of a midlife crisis.
“Now she wants counselling. I know it will be a waste of time and I definitely want out, but maybe I owe it to her to try after all of those years spent together.”
So go to a session or two and state that you want a divorce.
“By the way, my wife is bossy, controlling and downright abusive at times, and things are intolerable between her and my daughter”
State these as well. Remember that permitting her to abuse anyone in the household (you or your daughter) makes you part of the problem.
Choosing not to decide, or to do nothing, is still making a choice.
I think you are being a little hard on him. He’s contemplating leaving a 20-year marriage where there are children involved. That being said, on the flip side of that, I have a friend who told me he was leaving his wife. I had never seen him so happy. That was 11 years ago — he’s still there. Kids are grown and gone now, as they were then.
Mr J says
These stories always seem to come at the perfect time. I don’t know what I’d do without this blog. It’s incredible.
After a tough lockdown year of loneliness and bereavement, things seemed to be improving when I was hit with my LE2. I’m now thoroughly miserable again – worse than the grief, though recognise it’s still relevant with how I feel now. My anxiety’s getting worse again and i feel lonelier than ever. Often worse when I’m with other people because I only want to be with LO2! But then I feel guilty because he has a wife, who incidentally is better looking than me! Not just saying that , she’s is very pretty. I haven’t met her in person, just seen photos online. So I can see this has hit me at a vulnerable time , however that wasn’t really the case with LO1. I had anxiety then, but it wasn’t so bad. The difference is then I was able to distract myself and found running, dancing, singing, getting involved with different activities helped (though the feelings were always under the surface when I was doing those things, I could use the energy.) Now I’m just feeling tired and broken. Luckily I can do no contract with this guy and I’m not looking at him or his wife online. Though after what seemed a long time, about 5 weeks, I messaged him to tell him how I felt. That I knew nothing could happen, but just wanted him to know. I think I was feeling jealous of him in a seemingly stable and happy life. 2 weeks later there’s been no reply and I’ve just been left cringing about it! But also feeling very rejected, even though I don’t actually want a reply really! I keep thinking of when I first met him – I thought there was a connection, he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring and I hoped things might go my way after a tough time. Then the next time I met him the wife was mentioned in a loving way! He’s a friend of a friend of a friend. I saw him 3 times in total, but still keep thinking of him! I kept seeing LO1 on and off for 5 years before it started to wear down a notch. Still kept thinking of him for a few years after. He moved away.
No contact, not no contract!
I met my LO nearly two years ago when we started working together and almost immediately fell into limerence. I was going through a rough time then. He helped me regain my confidence, advised me on my career, mentored me, and got me into a fun hobby that’s become a big part of my life.
The timing may have been part of it, with what I was going through, but he’s also got this amazing, magnetic personality.
During the four months we worked together, he used to bring me little gifts here and there – nothing expensive and mostly things he already had and thought I could use, but still very thoughtful. It became obvious that he paid close attention to what I said, even seemingly insignificant things. A topic would come up later and he’d remember, for example, that I liked something or didn’t like something.
Fortunately, my LEs have been far apart, the last one ending over a decade ago. It’d be helpful if I could predict and prevent them altogether, but this one hit me so hard and so suddenly, I’m not sure what I could have done differently.
What happened with LO? Sounds as if he was limerent for *you*
We’re still friends, and I’m trying really hard to get over my limerence for him. We’re both middle-aged and married with teenage kids. I don’t think he feels anything for me other than friendship.
We haven’t seen each other in person in nearly 5 months, the longest we’ve gone without seeing each other since we first met. I was hoping that not seeing him would help with the limerence, but it’s still a really slow process.
NC isn’t really an option since I’m not willing to cut him off and hurt him like that.
Limerent Emeritus says
“NC isn’t really an option since I’m not willing to cut him off and hurt him like that.”
These are for you…
“One big sticking point is that the bonded limerent doesn’t want to hurt LO. They are your friend. You have bonded with them, however ill-advised you now realise that was. You care about them, and want to continue to provide support for them and (if honest) receive support from them. Severing a bond is painful. Going No Contact seems a drastic, even callous act. How would any friend react to being cut off cold?”
I appreciate you sharing those links. Actually, I don’t think he needs me, nor do I need him. He’s got scads of other friends and doesn’t need me for anything. But, he is a human being with feelings who would be hurt if I ghosted him. I do realize that it’s a tough road ahead without NC. I got through my last LE over 10 years ago without NC (we worked together, so that wasn’t an option). I’ll need to work hard at it, for sure. Thanks for your support and encouragement.
This was really helpful to read. I experienced a perfect storm. Newly divorced, at 50, temporarily unemployed, in a new apartment, between jobs — essentially nothing thing me down, amazed at my newfound freedom — I met an attractive borderline/narcissist. She was also untethered, and it got serious very fasr. She was able to provide me with everything I never got from my wife in my loveless 20-year marriage. Them after three months, she suddenly “discarded” me, ghosted, and “replaced” me with someone else. When I did contact her, she acted as if there was never anything between us. I became overwhelmingly limerent and remain that way today, four months later (longer than the relationship lasted). The “discard” is a common feature of the narcissist/borderline relationship cycle, but to a limerent it leads to excruciating obsession. They never provide closure, and they often return (“hoovering”), which means you’ve experienced the rejection but there’s always a chance they will come back. I am still trying to figure out how to put it behind me, because the thoughts just won’t go away. I’ve experienced limerence when I was younger, but never anything of this intensity and constancy.
Yup I know the feeling and the ghosting after a 3-4 month relationship with a borderline/narcissist caused me to cry every day for him along with constant obsessive thoughts from the first day we met only worsened. They only thing I could do with my barely functioning self was keep working daily and running/exercise daily. Time I feel is the only thing that helps and actually Acupuncture helped too.
I know these threads are old but, but I just had to comment on the type of people that become LO’s (not them all)..The word “Narcissist” seems to come up ALOT! and not just on this thread!
WOW! This my first LE and yes, I believe he most definitely showed signs of narcissistic behaviour..Could that be what hooks us? The lovey~dovey first and then the hot/cold after?..playing with our feelings?
I don’t know? maybe I’m just grasping at straws here?
I have read alot of comments on this site and the way some are describing their LO’s seems to fit a pattern.
Limerent Emeritus says
LOs can fit a pattern.
Given the similarities between limerence and codependence. It doesn’t seem all that surprising that Narcs would glimmer to a lot of limerence. https://www.andreaharrn.co.uk/co-dependent-limerent/
My personal theory is codependents and limerents have similar origins but play out differently as they age.
Cluster B personality disorders (borderlines, narcs, and sociopaths) pop up frequently in the blogs and comments. Histronics, not so much. You just have to grind through the stuff and find them.
Thank You for your response.
I guess I’m doing what most new Limerents do, try to make sense of it all.
I’m might even be trying to conjure up some sort of faults to put on my LO so I can get some relief from the god like status that I see him right now! so sad!
Thanks for the links!
I also came to the conclusion that my LO is a (covert) narcissist.
She fits a lot of the “red flags” at least, being extremely nice, doing even extra things just for me, kinda flirting / throwing compliments left and right, pretending she want to be friends and connect, talking A LOT about her, showing off her strength and fitness level as a result of becoming jealous because I showed her pictures of some fitness trainers that are my inspiration, talking about how good she is and that she is not totally appreciated at work…. And posting non-stop on IG fishing for likesand co.
To then go totally cold from one day to the other. To then pay me some attention on IG, and go cold again, giving me just a little attention on IG as soon as I start ignoring her myself (this has happened a couple of times already), going cold again…
I usually do not like to think badly and negatively about people, I guess I am that naive, and I am having a very hard time to accept that she is doing this on purpose and to hurt me, as I suppose I have to assume she did notice I was developing a crush or wanted to becomr friends or something.
My brain or heartdoes not want to accept that the nice person she was is in fact evil and she is hurting me on purpose just because she can. But after a lot of thinking, there isn’t another answer.
So also trying to picture her evil everytime she shows up in my thoughts or I get the urge to look at one story on IG. Trying to stay away and trying to tell myself that all my other relationships and friendships just happened, there wasn’t so much drama and surely not that much pain, and that the universe is telling me to STAY AWAY.
Now I only need to apply this long term 🤣🤣
In my case it clearly was when I was at my lowest, probably ever. Grieving the recent death of my dad without being able to say goodbye and many open wounds, finding out my mum has cancer, lots of stress and uncertainty at work…
And there she comes, somebody who takes care of me, calms my anxiety , makes me forget everything for a while (which is her job, as therapist), who (what in my fantasy mind thought?) flirts with me and tells me what I want to hear about my workout progress… bam!
No wonder. My brain got hooked to that feeling and wants to have it again and again. If it would only understand it will never happen again, ever.. and that much of it was just that, a fantasy, an illusion, something it made up.
In other energy/mental conditions I wouldn’t have thought anything of it, of course she was not flirting, why should she??? she was just being extra nice because she probably felt I needed some TLC.