In a previous post I wrote about the fact that my LO was re-entering my life and that we were working together on a short project. It’s done.
So, was it worth the effort? What did I learn? Would I ever do it again?
1) Old habits are well ingrained
The most striking part of the experience was how quickly and easily we fell back into the old habits of our previous interactions. I suppose it’s pretty obvious that would happen, but it very nicely reinforced many of the lessons I’ve learned about limerence. At one point, when in the height of limerence, it would have been a disaster, as my habit was to deepen the personal connection and strengthen the giddy thrill of limerence. But by the time LO left last time, I’d reprogrammed my habits into a pattern of guarded friendliness with clear boundaries – which is what I defaulted straight back into during the last month. So, the working dynamic was friendly and familiar, but without emotional depth or personal openness. It’s a highly constrained sort of friendship, but necessary to avoid backsliding.
Establishing the right habits took time, but has turned out to be a lasting protection against limerence.
2) Danger lurks constantly
OK, possibly a little overstated, but the risk of boundary crossing is always there. A good example was during a conversation about politics that meandered around a bit and ended up with us discussing #metoo. Helpfully, my gut gave me a nice strong lurch to let me know that this was a “skating on thin ice” topic.
I think this illustrates the problem with trying to be friends with LO. Ordinary chat can lead unpredictably to sexually and/or emotionally charged topics that (even if LO is trustworthy) just have too much potential to push the relationship dynamic towards intimacy. The times of highest risk were when I started to relax and think everything was fine, and began to enjoy LO’s company in an unguarded way.
Once vigilance is relaxed, the natural openness that characterises an uncomplicated friendship becomes a door for the limerence pixie to come prancing through.
3) It’s never going to be gone
I’ve spoken before about my tendency to become limerent for damsels in distress. It’s part of who I am, and that’s fine, but the awareness of it is a key protection for me making purposeful decisions rather than reactive decisions. The hardest part of the month came at the very end. To my surprise, as we said goodbye for the last time, LO lost her normally steely composure and became teary-eyed. That bypassed all my carefully constructed defences and got me straight in the heart.
Fortunately I was able to draw on my deep reserves of English emotional repression, and harden my resolve. No hugs were exchanged, no “we must keep in touch” promises, just a friendly, slightly sad goodbye and thank you, and we were done.
But, in the spirit of complete honesty: that hurt. Even now, a few days later, the memory of it hurts. Someone I care about needed emotional support from me and I withheld it. I know why I had to, and I know she’ll be fine, but I think it goes to show that I will not be able to achieve a state of indifference towards LO. Maybe many years from now, but for the foreseeable future I’ll be sticking to the limited contact principle, and certainly not be instigating another joint project. There are plenty of worthwhile projects to occupy me, and LO would be a distractor in any of them.
So, the main lessons learned are that the right habits and boundaries were proof against re-exposure to LO, but that any interaction is always a risk, never neutral, and so should only be embarked on with caution and full awareness. A caveat is that my limerence was never disclosed to LO, never consummated, and I killed it by a sort of slow suffocation rather than an abrupt coup de grace. That may be part of the reason why there is still enough lingering uncertainty to make our interactions uncomfortably charged, and requiring constant vigilance. Nevertheless, the strategy has worked well enough for me to feel generally positive about the latest experience, and able to move on with satisfaction.
p.s. in case anyone is wondering: the work project went fine. Not as well as hoped, but good enough to be worth the effort.
“Establishing the right habits takes time” – a pertinent reminder for my own workplace LE, thank you. I’m attempting the slow suffocation too, but it’s hard. I’ve resolved to be “more managerial” towards LO and we’ve been discussing big career goals over the last few days. It’s my attempt to remind myself of my professional obligations and when thoughts turn personal I bring them back to that. I think it’s working.
My second resolution was to stop the texting in the evenings and weekends. I’ve not initiated anything for a week now, although she has sent me something on Sunday and tonight. I’ve replied both times but left it late and not encouraged further conversation. I find it hard to not reply as I simply don’t want to hurt her feelings. I know eventually I’ll need to be firmer but it’s one step at a time. Not initiating feels like a good start. It’s going to take her time to get the message too.
Well done on the goodbye. I’m sure I would have buckled at that point!
Stopping any unnecessary texting is ESSENTIAL. Glad you’re doing that. Not initiating and responding so as not to encourage further communication is a perfect start. Way to go!
The texting is the single biggest creator of the uncertainty for me. I’m still thinking about the text from last night and I’ve spoken to her loads today. It wasn’t anything really either, just a picture she’d seen that linked to an in joke we have. But I’m still thinking why did she send it? Why then? She’s clearly thinking about me before she goes to sleep, that must mean something? Etc etc. Aaargh!!
“Fortunately I was able to draw on my deep reserves of English emotional repression, and harden my resolve. No hugs were exchanged, no “we must keep in touch” promises, just a friendly, slightly sad goodbye and thank you, and we were done.”
I know that was incredibly difficult. I hope there were no residual effects elsewhere in your life.
“in case anyone is wondering: the work project went fine. Not as well as hoped, but good enough to be worth the effort.”
Glad it wasn’t a complete bust!
It was tough, but better for everyone. No other residual effects, but as you might predict my wife is happy that LO is far away again 🙂
Glad the project went OK and that you’re happy with how you managed the limerence.
Especially welldone with the goodbye – I’m not good at goodbyes at the best of times! (I was saved by a customer taking forever when it came to saying goodbye to LO!)
Did you find keeping your guard up all the time exhausting?
That was why I quit my job in the end as I struggled with doing that all day! Then reach the end of the day and rational brain would be delighted I’d managed it, whereas emotionally I was exhausted.
It was tiring keeping my guard up. Or, really, it was tiring that I had to re-engage it repeatedly after relaxing and forgetting for a bit. But not that bad. In no way comparable to the exhaustion of co-working while limerent!
Indeed, kudos on managing that goodbye! Having both disclosed to LO and had some limited physical consummation, I have found any tears to be the worst sort of relapse trigger. It’s made limited NC maybe not as successful thus far as total NC would be, which I’m now going to try harder to do. Honestly, I wish now that I had never disclosed to LO, just kept it all to myself and waited for it to pass (like a kidney stone, one confidante told me). But in my circumstance, I didn’t see a choice. NC didn’t seem realistic (although maybe I should have somehow made it work), Aversion was not possible (at least without getting to know her better), Transference (what, back to my wife? I dunno…possible, but difficult), and…that left Disclosure. I just wish I had considered what might happen if LO did reciprocate, but that just did not occur to me. Anyway, I guess I am trying Transference now. Or Sublimation. Or maybe it’s Purposeful Living. Oh, and anti-depressants. I’ll be curious to see if they help.
Good luck with reducing contact
Funny how we can end up regretting what felt like the only viable option at the time.
I’m struggling a bit with complete NC but am almost 3 months in. Limited contact wouldn’t have worked for me. I tried for the last few months before I left my job to tighten my boundaries etc, but then it seemed to be OK so I’d relax a bit, then so would the boundaries and I felt caught in a cycle. It was emotionally draining and I strongly suspect that if I had seen him more than once a week the outcome may have been very different.
Working with LO meant spending the vast majority of the day stood next to each other, so avoiding unnecessary contact made the day very boring, uncomfortable and long!
I never completely disclosed to LO. I gave him a card when I left saying that I would be stopping contact and a vague idea of what I was struggling with. There were some clues that he may have reciprocated, but I’ve no idea how much of that was the limerence twisting things. I know it was cowardly. It has also left me wondering how he felt about it (although he’s 100% honored my request for no contact)
“Funny how we can end up regretting what felt like the only viable option at the time.”
I also slightly regret disclosing but for different reasons. Six months into NC, and now that it’s largely worked I’m left with a feeling of embarrassment that I disclosed. At the time I couldn’t think how to end all the (extremely frequent) contact other than tell the truth; no massive outpouring of adoration, just a blunt explanation in one or two lines. Ghosting LO didn’t seem fair and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to stick to gradually letting contact fade away. At first I didn’t care that LO knew how I felt, I just wanted out. But now I cringe when I think about what I wrote, and feel like an immature teenager. Even though LO is the only one who knows and he’s out of my life. Maybe my limerence is still there really, and will always skew my thinking on LO in some way or another? Or maybe there are stages of NC like the stages of grief? Is anyone much further down the NC road than me?
I have gone through NC for almost 1 year now and yes for sure there is stages of NC. Or well stages of grief while you are NC more correct.
Also I had to point out that, the ”stages of grief” if you are refering to the popularly known 5 stages of grief? They are not true. Even the person who came it with it (forgot her name) expressed her regret over coming up with the stages thing.
We humans do not grief in stages, its not a linear process, its a super dynamic process. Its up and down, steps forward, several steps back etc. Its never one straight road.
I could give examples from my stages I went and going through during my NC, but I dont wanna trigger you guys! Anyways, Hope you are doing well now! sending virtual hugs!
Worth trying anything (reasonable). I’d be curious too.
Re. disclosure: it’s why I’ve called it the nuclear option. in the past. You don’t know how bad the fallout is going to be, but there’s bound to be a explosion. The unpredictability is the big problem – will they reciprocate, will they react badly, or will they leave you in a state of agonising limbo? There’s no doubt it’s a risk.
I would also call my ”self sabotage” style a nuclear option aswell… or is it just cowardness? 🙁 maybe both..
If I’m summarizing correctly, DrL entered a potential LE with a known LO for a perceived financial benefit which was moderately successful. He chose an active risk mitigation strategy of avoiding issues which would exacerbate the LE. I have some questions.
1. Who’s idea was it to enter the venture?
2. Was the LO the only person who could have pulled it off or were you throwing her a bone with the added benefit of working with the LO?
3. From what I read, DeL is still a limerent & this LO is still a threat. Given the effort you had to expend in playing defense against the financial reward, would you do it again?
4. Until the end, LO pretty much behaved herself. What if she hadn’t? What if she had flat out come at you? Were you good or were you lucky?
Hi – I wanted to reply to Dr.L’s latest blog post. I don’t remember if I told you all about me and my LE. I’ll gladly do so… But likely mine is the same story as all of yours, but mine is less common in that LO is not my boss, but if you will, my boss’s boss. I nuked my LE by disclosing to LO – and the mushroom cloud hasn’t even reached full height yet. (disclosed in December, 2017). My workplace is sorting all this out now – it’s all become quite uncomfortably public.
Dr. L ., Good work on completing the job requirement and keeping your head attached. The last minute tearfulness in LO… that you withstood… has been the single most common event in most of the men that visit me (I’m a counselor). One man saw the dangers of his LO in advance, set limits, turned off any signals of warmth, and walked straight. A month or so went by and the last day of their summer work (government forest management) found them in the same room turning in their equipment and paperwork. She teared up silently, and he reflexively offered a quick, distant, and very slight hug to comfort her. He says his intention was to give a minimal droplet of comfort so that he could get out of there quickly and not have to feel guilty. However, despite his intentions, the static electric charge that had built up between them discharged, just a static electric spark so to speak. But the percussive explosion that raged through him was horrifying and devastating. Here’s a video that doesn’t quite match exactly but is entertaining nonetheless. Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHfQYGGUS4U, and advance to 9:36. Dr. L., your Englishman manners appear to have saved your life and preserved your lifestyle – you get to keep the many good things you’ve earned!
How are things at home? I’ve personally found that having turned myself toward my own SO, and being willing to work on barriers between us, there is progress in making my real life more meaningful. Sometimes my mental image of my prior LE is like a painting or cartoon fantasy. I ask myself what is being projected onto the canvas? Those are my needs and wants right there. With the help of other people such as yourselves, and borrowing from your strength at times, I can work on “one color at a time” and bring them into my real life. Slowly by slowly my real life becomes more and more colorful, alive, and real. It won’t ever match exactly, but I’m open to it being better. I backslide too. Sometimes when I’m mad at SO or frustrated that things aren’t improving as fast as I would like, I fantasize: “see, that’s the reason I’m really meant for LO, and her for me”. Perhaps it’s a good safety valve (?) so that I don’t “introject” and blame myself unjustly for all the difficulties in my working (*imperfect) marriage which I used to do.
Thanks again for your blogging and being out there. Thanks to the rest of you for reading!
Things are good at home, thanks. If my wife was concerned about the contact she didn’t show it, beyond the occasional “I’ll just be glad when she’s gone” comment. I was aware of the need to make extra effort at home to anticipate any need for reassurance. It helps a lot that my wife is a limerent too, and so knows what it feels like, and knows that it’s not any reflection on how much I love her. Happily, life went on in its comfortable way throughout. It was just me that had to be extra vigilant.
“Maybe my limerence is still there really, and will always skew my thinking on LO in some way or another? Or maybe there are stages of NC like the stages of grief? Is anyone much further down the NC road than me?”
We said “good-bye” 2.5 years ago. I relapsed at the 6 month point and posted something on the site I met her on. She deleted my post and banned me from the site. 6 months after that, I tried to send her an email that bounced for an invalid email address. I don’t know if she saw it but I still relapsed.
I’m well into acceptance. I had attached to LO #4 but i never invested in her. I can’t speak for her but I got the feeling that we were at the point where we either advanced things or we said goodbye. That’s one of the upsides of disclosure. You can’t claim ignorance anymore.
One thing i didn’t anticipate was the more time that passes, the less I see the possibility of ever re-engaging her. It could be a thorn in your side forever but i think you’d have to want that; like you’re in a grand opera. DrL talks about that, too, in “Why is limerence so powerful?”
I’m not the same person I was 2.5 years ago and the conditions that were conducive to a LE are different. Were I to become available, I don’t think I’d be interested in her. I’m sure she’s still an attractive, intelligent, & charming woman but I’m no longer interested in the subject area that led us to encounter each other. I’m not sure we’d have anything to talk about, now. I know what attracted me to her and led me down the rabbit hole of limerence. I doubt that knowing she reminds me of my unhappy mother would sit well with either of us.
If you can’t achieve time and distance, you’ll need to come up with shielding.
“That’s one of the upsides of disclosure. You can’t claim ignorance anymore.”
And that’s exactly why I disclosed, to have 100% certainty for myself that I wouldn’t relapse. I don’t worry that I will, it’s just that now the limerence has less of a grip and I have a little more perspective, I find myself feeling embarrassed that I basically told someone I used to work with that I was so totally mad for him that I couldn’t be in contact at all. As a non-limerent (I think), or at least probably unaware of limerence like 99% of the population, he must think I’m nuts. If I’d let contact fade, he’d just think I’d got bored, so no embarrassment. It just didn’t seem like an option at the time. And I suspect I would have kept on relapsing anyway.
Anyway, I just wondered if it was part of the process – once the NC starts to work, your mind thinks ‘why did you do that, you lunatic?’ Off to read Dr. L’s ‘why limerence is so powerful’ blog…and maybe something on self-esteem 😂
So maybe the stages of NC are relief, grief, longing, embarrassment, then acceptance, and any combination of the five 🙂. I’m also hoping for ‘forgetting you ever met them while retaining the life lessons the limerence taught you’…
Yet also true to say I’ve felt all 5 within a day before!
Sounds like out decisions to go NC were very similar. I get what you were saying about making sure you couldn’t relapse.
I’m still in touch with a couple of other (female) colleagues from that job and they keep asking me to go back. I’m relieved that LO hasn’t blabbed, but knowing that he knows for certain how ridiculous I’ve been is enough embarrassment to stop me!!
Yeah, rather like the five stages of grief, the five stages of NC recovery come in almost any order. It’s part of the mental madness that you can feel a total sense of acceptance and peace about NC in one moment, but then later in the same day a rogue fantasy will intrude and upend all that resolve. Persistence is the thing. Accept the thoughts as and when they come, but set your actions straight and true.
I felt embarrassed about it. When I make myself look bad, I prefer not to return to the scene of the crime.
Since LO #4 & I were geographically separated, it wasn’t a real big deal for me.
On the other hand, when I disclosed to LO, I told her this whole thing was embarrassing and she replied I had nothing to be embarrassed about. That didn’t make leaving any easier.
I felt the need to add how I too have had many of those feelings during the same day. In my case, I never felt embarrassment. We had each gone through and shared serious emotional roller coasters with each other, and basically cursed science for making us feel that way! I do believe LO is non-limerent, as she seemed better equipped to “keep in touch” or “just be friends” whereas I fell into limerence.
Oh goodness 2.5 yrs? Well strong and brave 5 days ago writing in here I has doing just what you did. After 4 months since NC I emailed him Monday. It did not return and of course I took that to some degree that he is still interested or doesn’t really want NC totally. Bad backslide for me, very painful. It seems many in here are married or have SO and he had at his pursuit, become my SO. I am also classic in that I can just ignore all the terrible treatment and grasp those few good parts and hang on! You guys and gals are apparently further along in your path to ‘wellness’ than I. Scharnhorst the other day you said sounded like I was well on my way, well I”m NOT. I hate being controlled by this and have never been addicted to anything…apparently I am to him. He is not coming back. He is not in love with me as he said, if he ever was. Was it cat and mouse? Was I that vulnerable? Seems like I’d be too old to be ‘vulnerable’ and still find it hard to believe he didn’t at some point love me and was sincere….It’s tears today my friends, deep heart aching, sobbing tears. This may be good since I really haven’t allowed myself to do this yet. Not even with therapist…this whole situation is sickening! So angry with myself…what about hypnosis?
I was well out of my last LE when I discovered limerence. For me, limerence was the bow that tied everything together.
As for the question, “Did he/she ever love me?” I think most people who ever loved a Narc or Borderline ask that question. I know I did. Schreiber has some opinions on that, too.
I have no credentials in mental health. But, considering the time I’ve spent researching personality disorders, childhood trauma, and other related topics, I think I’m pretty close to being a thesis short of a degree in this stuff. The scary thing is, when you put a lot of things together, it makes a lot of sense. To do that though requires you to make a pretty big shift in your frame of reference.
From what I’ve observed on this site and several others is one distinction between a co-dependent and a limerent is in the amount of crap you’re willing to put up with. A co-dependent’s sense of self-worth is tied up in what their SO thinks of them. While a limerent may crave reciprocation, they still know crap when they see it. One therapist said I wasn’t a co-dependent. I ask why. She said because I didn’t take being demeaned gracefully and when I hit my limit I left, whereas if I’d been co-dependent, I have taken her back under any circumstances.
I think the single most profound thing on Schreiber’s site is, “Every core injured adult child has to live with the tormenting, inescapable question: “Am I good enough to be loved by you?” – Shari Schreiber, https://gettinbetter.com/needlove.html
Certainly, not every limerent is “core damaged.” But, my guess is more than a few limerents are. And, if, that’s the case, it can be a long, hard road, to happiness.
But, it’s possible.
“You guys and gals are apparently further along in your path to ‘wellness’ than I.”
Maybe. I also found this site a few weeks before you. My ‘wellness’ is only relative to where I was a month ago or 10 months ago. I did scour the web to find the term ‘limerence’ about 6 months ago, but saw no real solution in sight other than to stay in touch with LO and continue on my mostly painful ride. She was working 1-2 mornings in my office, so NC was not in play. I still have no idea how I would have managed/eliminated my limerence if LO remained a physical presence. I was/am addicted to my LO. I am very cautious about saying “things are getting better” because some days are not. I need to remain busy, and keep transferring this energy onto my family and other passions of mine.
Unfortunately, misery does love company. I am comforted to know that others have similar feelings, and at the same time I wish they did not.
I don’t know what to say to each of you fellow ‘sufferers’. I am not codependent or OCD either. Finding out about Limerence was for about 3 days comforting and I’ve seen my therapist friend since and asked. In my case he is classic Narc and discussing it with my professional I am reminded that I was not putting up with any garbage either and it started almost immediately after he made a 1500 mile round trip to meet me. 8 months of long distance, nightly video chats, endless texts and messages, I just thought he was scared of the newly found ‘love’ we shared. I was the happiest woman you can imagine. I am or was a basically happy person. It didn’t take long for him to beat my self esteem to a pulp and for me to begin this wild ride. Of course many of us have core issues but I’d long since put those to rest. Truly I had. It didn’t change family dynamics or the ’cause’ of those but boy oh boy, some things can resurface. Anyway with Narcs one mistake or disagreement will never be discussed and put to rest so it’s impossible to grow in that type relationship and move forward. I’m still reasoning and justifying his behavior, and though know I”m not perfect the blame he placed and shame he put on me were not unforgivable acts. I am noticing as I pointed out that many in here seem to be married, male and fighting general attraction to another woman. I guess since he and i were both available to each other it makes it harder for me to understand. As I said in earlier posts I had my whole life, at his request, planned to move 750 miles to share the rest of our lives. We were both free to love and enjoy our lives. Now I am still trying to sell my house and go with plan A which was to move closer to my family and it’s been a tough turn around. The house hasn’t sold yet, I”m half in and half out, emotionally detached from the city I live in and retired with no interest in involvement with person or job…so I have way too much time to focus on this although I have plenty to do to further prepare to move, I just cannot seem to make myself do anything more. Emotionally I was with him. I realize I need to fill that place but am also cautious about getting involved here knowing I am leaving. As the song goes, Too Much Time On My Hands….
“Certainly, not every limerent is “core damaged.”
I think the list of adults who are not “core damaged” would fit on the head of a pin. Limerents and non-limerents alike.
Oh, this is a topic that really animates me! I agree that the vast majority of us are core-damaged to some degree, but that also does beg the question “how can ‘normal’ be defined by such a limited number of people?”
It’s kind of the psychologist’s dilemma: if no-one has escaped harm, what does “psychologically healthy” even mean? Phrased in yet another way, is it possible (or even desirable) to try and aim for a state of mind that is only naturally attainable for those who have lived a trauma-free life with loving parents and healthy support networks?
I suppose what I basically mean is: given that we are all f-ed up in one way or another, we should probably accept that as normal and not blame our adult difficulties on imperfect childhoods. But with obvious exceptions in the case of serious abuse. But even then, what’s needed is practical ways to function effectively, and build a better future. Hmm. Complicated.
tl;dr – therapists should stop blaming everything on FOO problems.
“I suppose what I basically mean is: given that we are all f-ed up in one way or another, we should probably accept that as normal and not blame our adult difficulties on imperfect childhoods.”
There’s a big difference between blaming adult difficulties on imperfect childhoods and understanding how you got to be who and where you are so you can exercise agency and lead a happy and productive life.
I don’t blame my parents for where I am in life. It wasn’t like they ritually trained me. But, after I lot of work, I have a pretty good understanding of the effects the behaviors they modeled had on me. For one, as a kid, I had yet to understand the joy of sex or the benefits of filing a joint return. Why get married? Nobody I saw was happily married. I thought marriage was some kind of grotesque punishment for original sin that was visited on adults.
When LO #4 told me she’d been crying, I’d respond by telling her jokes. Where did that come from? As a kid, when my parents were divorcing, I could hear my mother sobbing in the bedroom. I’d snuggle next to her and tell her jokes to get her to stop crying. I still remember some of them. As a kid, I would sit in the dark waiting for my father to come home and sing to myself. When LO #2 was working late, I’d sit in the dark and sing the same song to myself. I still remember that, too.
One of the most profound thing LO #2 said to me was, “I don’t understand you. Both your parents were alcoholics and divorced when you were young. You were raised by a loving but emotionally cold grandmother. Your father and grandfather committed suicide and your mother died of an (apparently) accidental overdose of pills and alcohol. And, yet, you steadfastly maintain it’s had no effect on your development.”
I told her it had no “discernible” effects on me because I had absolutely no clue as to what those might be. It wasn’t like somebody gave me a choice and that’s what I picked. I told her I played the hand I was dealt.
We all play the hands we’re dealt. You can play good cards poorly and you can play bad cards well.
It took decades for me to figure out what those effects were and how they likely affected my life. I asked the therapist why this was coming to a head in my 50s. Her response was it safe for me know to go back and dig through those things. At this point, the arc of my life was pretty well set and unlikely to change. Toss in all the people I’d have to challenge were long dead so that part was easy. I challenged them all vicariously with the therapist playing their part. She was really good at it.
“Phrased in yet another way, is it possible (or even desirable) to try and aim for a state of mind that is only naturally attainable for those who have lived a trauma-free life with loving parents and healthy support networks? ”
Resiliency is a character trait to strive for – not happiness. Happiness is like chasing a rainbow because whatever may make someone happy changes all the time.
But troubles and sorrows and hard decisions are part and parcel of life. How we address them, bounce back or through them and regard them are going to play a big role in how happy we are overall.
Some people prefer to regard themselves and portray themselves as victims. Things “just happen”, it has nothing to do with their actions. Sometimes things DO just happen but hopefully most people will reflect upon how they got there and what they could have done differently. Then there is Botham Jean, may his family find justice, who was in the right place at the right time and it still ended badly for him.
Sophie, a blabbing LO, ugh. I don’t even want to think about it. Hopefully we both had better taste in LOs than that. But who knows. Scharnhorst, I guess if I was someone’s LO and they told me, I wouldn’t think they were embarrassing themselves either. I will hold onto that the next time the memory of my final texts resurfaces.
Guys, I need some help please. I just learned that my LO will be in the office tomorrow afternoon and I have reason to believe there is a possibility that he may even have his newly reconciled wife with him. I am panicking a bit. What do I do? Yes, I’ll be polite, but how can I best mentally prepare myself? I haven’t seen him since December and it’s become painfully clear to me that, despite the fact that there was a disclosure of reciprocation (of sorts), his feelings weren’t nearly as strong as mine. I think he’s oblivious to what I’ve been going through. Help!
Schedule real or fake meetings that coincide with their arrival. Give a friend a heads-up that you might call them sometime tomorrow.
Or, get up from your desk to say hi briefly when you see them, then say “sorry, I gotta run, (not) nice to see you.”
Or, it’s such a nice day, why don’t you take a 1/2 day? I know you cannot run forever, but perhaps just one time?
Or don’t sweat it right now, and embrace the experience if/when it happens. Try not to waste today and tomorrow morning worrying about the encounter. Your LO could come at some other time unannounced, so perhaps this is simply something you will deal with sooner or later. And afterwards, use it as negative conditioning toward LO.
Thank you Thinker, all those ideas are great! The one that resonates with me is the “embrace it and then use it as negative deconditioning afterwards”. I’ll say a quick hello and then jump on a very important call. And you’re right, I can’t keep running away forever. He’s announced that he’s leaving the company at the end of June, so soon I’ll be free again. Thank you!!
Plan on being elsewhere or at least have something to do IF he and his wife should walk by. Do you really think he’s going to go out of his way to introduce you? If you see him heading in your direction, be prepared to leave the area with a breezy, “Nice to see you; gotta run!”
Thanks Lee! Yes, I think he is so totally unaware as to how this has affected me that there’s a very good chance he’ll introduce me to his wife. (This is the downside of No Contact – in trying to do the right thing, did I send the message that this has been easy for me?)
“This is the downside of No Contact – in trying to do the right thing, did I send the message that this has been easy for me?”
No Contact is for YOU. Not him. The point is to send no message at all because you aren’t in contact (unless it is strictly work-related and unavoidable). But no discussion about your feelings. Work-related only. Plus he strikes me as being more concerned with his wants and feelings rather than those around him. He’s too surface to be shallow. Lacks the depth.
You got this. Get a manicure AND an oil change?
Another useful trick is to focus your mental energy on your current goals – your purpose – and not your past. Try and keep your mind on your life beyond LO. He’s around again, and that’s a pain, but think of this as the dying stages of an uncomfortable experience that you’re moving on from. Smile and be polite if you can’t avoid meeting his wife, but otherwise avoid them as far as possible. If you start to get “overaroused” with having them present, focus on what’s going on with your body. Try and detach from the immediate experience and think “Yes, this is how bad I feel when I have to be near him. I’ve learned a lot about myself from this experience. I need to keep learning and work towards understanding myself better.”
Kind of withdraw into yourself a bit, and analyse what’s going on within you, and not what is happening in the office.
Basically, make yourself the centre of your attention, not them.
Best wishes and good luck!
Well, he didn’t show up amd didn’t provide any explanation to the production team. So now I suppose it’s been rescheduled and could happen at any time. Thank goodness this will all be over soon. In the meantime I will focus on moving forward and remember that this is the dying ember of a very weird detour in my life that I am finally starting to put behind me. Thanks for all your thoughts and comments. I will definitely update here if the encounter actually takes place thanks for all your thoughts and comments. I will definitely update here if the encounter actually takes place.
If it’s not too late, If possible, I say avoid it entirely. There must be something on your “to do” list:
– oil change/rotate tires
– take your pet to the vet
– get your nails done
– clean out flower beds
The list is endless….
Yes I do need an oil change….good idea Scharnhorst. Thanks for sharing your ideas. I will update you later this evening!
Just over 1 month NC (part deux) and I (along with some others at work) just received an email invite from LO to a couples party. Two things:
1) I know LO is not dead
2) After only a few minutes of thinking “maybe SO and I could go for an hour or so”, I knew that no good could come out of it. I know how the aftermath would play out. My heart raced a bit simply from entertaining the idea and I felt the need to come to this site. She has nothing to offer me anymore. I can’t care about her or how she is going, and I need to keep memories of her as far away as possible.
That’s great, Thinker! That’s a really good indicator that you’ve cracked the reprogramming – even though the feelings still flare up, your thought processes now lead you quickly to “there’s no good in this for me”.
So I have met my LO tonight (it was gonna be unavoidable at some point) and I am so glad I found this post just before… it prepared me well to keep my guard up: “guarded friendliness and clear boundaries”, thanks for the strategies DrL, it really helped. I kept the topics strictly unemotional and work related. I had to hold back a snarky comment at some point that would have led in the wrong direction, and I changed the topic once back to safe grounds when LO brought up marriage and relationships in general. No mentioning of his LO either. I stayed clear of anything that could raise my heartbeat in any positive or negative way.
I also clearly kept physical distance every time LO happened to move in closer vicinity and the possibility of an accidental touch, so that didn’t happen. I must have looked fairly comical if an outsider had observed us. But, I am very proud of myself. Even at goodbyes, he said he hopes we stay in touch, and I casually said sure… quick hug, turned around and left. I was a bit anxious before meeting him, but it actually went well. I have no intention to initiate any contact, and I think I am okay with the occasional meet up. I’m not so foolish to believe that I am perfectly fine, but tonight was good. Good step into the right direction, I feel good about it.
My Limerent Brain Is An Idiot says
@Sarah- I’m proud of you for the progress! I, too, have an unavoidable situation where my own LO is around me ALL THE TIME. I’m getting a lot better about keeping the convos to non-personal issues.
It’s definitely manageable, but it requires iron discipline not to fantasize or think about all their myriad positive qualities.
It’s a good life skill.
I wish I didn’t need to do it, though. It’s like dieting!
Bravo Sarah! That’s a big milestone on the road to freedom.
Sarah this is amazing well done! If you can keep that up this will will start to dissipate. Sounds weird but I am proud of you!
MLBIAI I too have the same problem with LO being around all the time it’s hard to say the least.
DR L, can I have you advice in the process of freedom. I feel like I’ve been managing the limerence. However, I have still had lots of anxiety and rumination. One thing I guess I haven’t really done is grieve. Maybe this is because of non acceptance. But I’m really cut up. The realisation that LO never really cared about me in the way I cared about him. Never put the engery into me like I did to him. He is suddenly really happy with his SO, which is great, but it’s like I’m now dropped like nothing happened. This is all great for my negative reinforcement as there are no highs whatsoever anymore. I guess because I knew I was experiencing limerence I was pushing the grief aside as I felt it was silly to be crying over something that wasn’t entirely real. But I miss him and the friendship. Even though I see this is all part the illusion and the friendship wasn’t authentic but I’m now experiencing pain and sadness about letting go. I’m really trying to embrace these feelings instead of pushing them away. I guess what I’m trying to say is this part of the healing.
Have you read? https://livingwithlimerence.com/2019/04/06/the-loneliness-of-no-contact/
He covers grief and mourning in it.
“He is suddenly really happy with his SO, which is great, but it’s like I’m now dropped like nothing happened.”
“Even though I see this is all part the illusion and the friendship wasn’t authentic but I’m now experiencing pain and sadness about letting go.”
You wanted to be front and center in his life, you are upset that you truly KNOW you don’t (and may never have) hold the top spot and you are a bit jealous that he is (rightly) focused on his SO.
Yes, the illusion is shattered. Now the quest is to set aside the illusion and go about making something happen for real.
Reality tends not to be quite as glittery and the idea that someone is a separate entity whose sole purpose isn’t to complete YOU may be a downer, but it has the potential of offering substance.
“You wanted to be front and center in his life, you are upset that you truly KNOW you don’t (and may never have) hold the top spot and you are a bit jealous that he is (rightly) focused on his SO”
Unfortunately this is more true than I’d like to admit. Yes that shit hurts! I wish him well and I really do. It’s selfish of me to what otherwise. I’m so mentally exhausted of this. I’ve had many good days but the past few days have gone very dark for me. I’ve never gone through the grief stage so I’m in a weird way welcoming it.
Thanks all. Rachel, I think the 5 stages of grief are important to go through. I know I have, although it’s been a while when it started. I was sad and randomly cried in March/April after thinking this is really over, I was very angry the months afterwards, my fall back after the sports event in August stirred things up… I jumped through so many stages and it took so long, and I am not fully done yet (or ever?) It’s a process and I guess it could come up again anytime, so I must keep my guard up. I am reading through my notes every once in a while and it’s such an up and down: “I love you, I hate you, get out of my head, I miss you, I am over you (and also: I hate your LO)”. I am starting to accept that LO is not part of my life anymore and I don’t want him to be anymore.
I think the goal is to neutralize the feelings, at first doing that consciously at every opportunity you are upset. Change topic, distract yourself, limit seeing LO as much as you can. It will fade. I read somewhere that it takes 11 weeks to get over someone (I’m sure there are many other opinions and suggested time spans) but I marked the 11 weeks for me after I went NC. Coincidentally, this week is the 11th week, took that as a good sign.
I left out that LO gave me a (meaningful) present and card when I saw him, that came a bit unexpected. I said thank you, but that was it. Shows me that he cares about me and I do believe that he is a good guy, but I must keep him at a distance because that is the only way forward. I focus on other things now. Work, SO, kids and other friends. There is no room for LO.
“I left out that LO gave me a (meaningful) present and card when I saw him, that came a bit unexpected. I said thank you, but that was it. Shows me that he cares about me and I do believe that he is a good guy, but I must keep him at a distance because that is the only way forward.”
Shred the card, hide the gift.
That gesture wasn’t about you. It was all about keeping him on your mind.
Don’t ask me how I know this…It’s not like ever I did anything like give LO #4 something unique so it would remind her of me. Maybe she kept them,maybe she didn’t. If she kept them, she knows where they came from.
Exactly what I did, Scharnhorst. I threw the card away. But he even knows that I throw every card from him away, I told him that before, but it was more that I did not want to have anything with his name on it in the house, I was too paranoid SO would stumble across it. Although there was nothing explicit in the cards, rather just thoughtful sentences of wishing someone well, but still, not something generic you just write to anyone. now he even said, I know you are gonna destroy it soon after you’ve read it, but I wrote one anyway.
The present… it’s a bracelet, the exact same one I gave him some time ago. I am not going to wear it (he wears his still though, but next to one his former LO gave him (the one before me, not the LO that came after)). He’s kind of a collector now that I think about it. He gave me a few presents, always with deep meaning and thoughtful. I did tell him I don’t want presents from him, I don’t want him to spend money on me. He also gave his new LO presents, she proudly presented it to me at one eve (one of the reasons I don’t like her ;)). I take it now as part of his bpd, doing everything he can to bind people to him and not have them abandon him. I’m not under the spell anymore. I don’t know the right word in english, but I feel quite over him at the moment. Let’s see how long that lasts…
“l’m not under the spell anymore. I don’t know the right word in english, but I feel quite over him at the moment. Let’s see how long that lasts…I take it now as part of his bpd, doing everything he can to bind people to him and not have them abandon him”
Wow that’s some real big realisation there Sarah! Amazing stuff that you can now see this! Big strides towards freedom.
Does anybody feel this way…
Even when I have good days, even some weeks. The fog is clearing. Even then I still feel LO is with me. At the back of my mind if not the forefront? This is why I feel so disheartened at the moment that the LE is just not going anywhere. Feels constant backwards and forwards and has been for months and months now. What a wasted year..
I’m sure I will have my moments of making steps backwards, Rachel. If I think about how many months LO has occupied my mind… unbelievable! But hey, even with some steps back, the overall directions is (hopefully) forward, Rachel!
Sure things Sarah! Your so right. We can’t be positive and forward moving everyday. Snap it is unbelievable. I remember with my last LO which was way back. I remember feeling freaked out by the whole episode and if I look on his FB I really do shudder and that time in my life.
I don’t know if that is stupid, but sometimes when LO popped up in my head and I so wanted to continue the rumination, I just created the perfect fantasy person in my head, and forced myself to replace LO in my thoughts with that person, EVERY SINGLE TIME. Sometimes I laugh about myself as the way I imagine my “dream man” he would never exist, and even if he did, I don’t think I would want that person as in my fantasy, my life would be completely different and surreal. But hey, it’s my fantasy, and if it helps me to not think about LO, then it serves the purpose. If I think back, I also used that strategy to get over an ex in the past. Just an idea…
I find myself thinking that limerence (for many) is like a diet that consists entirely of cotton candy and ice cream.
You can get all the calories you need, but eventually you still find yourself malnourished.
That’s why limerence doesn’t typically last. It simply can’t under the weight of real life.
I bet that when you’re entertaining ideas of LO they never include him slurping soup or picking his nose or belching. Does that help?
Well, in my case LO and I shared our most disgusting and embarrassing stories, and I particularly did not hold back stories myself of how absolutely gross or “real” I can be (I’m not that gross, but we don’t all smell like flowers and look like dolls at all times). I did not want to be fake or to present myself in any particular light other than exactly how I am. Maybe even hoped it would turn him off. Same for him. So in that sense, “seeing the real LO” did not have the effect of making him less attractive to me unfortunately.
“That’s why limerence doesn’t typically last. It simply can’t under the weight of real life.”
I wholeheartedly get this but I can’t understand why this isn’t shifting and why can’t I just let go. My rational brain knows what’s what!
Oh my.. this is so so similar to the phase my LO and I went through last autumn, also involving a project we worked on together, for the last time.
This was phase 5 or 6 of all the phases we went through ( I may mention the phases maybe in the future, just found this blog!)
So I strongly believe my LO was having limerent feelings towards me aswell and I’m sure of it.
And this “last phase” we did exactly the things you are mentioning! I had just started to try to pull out, when he suddenly became super friendly. He acted very warm and friendly and just like that he would never react to my moodyness during this phase. He kept his chill and acted all unphased and friendly and never gave in to my moods, (he would usually be easily affected by my moods). He was now “Stable”. I had no influence on his moods anymore.
And I was relieved, we were “Just friends” now. He was acting all warm and very friendly and caring again as in our first phase, but without flirting.
He had set some frm boundaries. I too felt more chill. And was so relieved, “Hey I have it under control! I have no lust for him anymore”.
BUT as you describe it, yes… we had intimate moments, when riding a bus together or sitting alone in a room etc. And slowly I slipped back to feel strong emotions towards him again. And cue in depression, severe anxiety attacks, lost of apetite and.. mood swings. He did not react this time around. Until the end.
Let me describe you HOW I ended it.
Oh I imagine you will like this part, because… this may be a good way to end a limerence relationship!
One word… SELF SABOTAGE.
Yap, I did that. I sabotaged it so hard the last day we had together you would beleieve I was an ice queen.
So it was our last day at school. We would never work together again.
And I was super upset of how he seemed so unaffected by it all.
I don’t know if he felt nada, or if he was acting that way to keep his calm.
The week befre I had asked him about future plans, how often we would meet now when school was over. And he was so, uncared an “neutral” about it. He was like “I don’t know “.
Compared with how he was in our phase one, where he would say things like ” Oh I will miss you! Hope we can do this and this together, and keep in touch!”. And he would suggest things to do etc.
Now, he was acting all uncaring.
On top of it, he canceled a thing we planned for our last day.
I did not show any reactions at all. I just kept smiling and talking about other stuff.
But when I got home. I lost it. I was so sick of all the emotional turmoil, his uncaring neutral ways, my pain.. I could not take it anymore! The anxiety attacks were killing me!
So I sabotaged it. I also wanted to see him show some emotion, some care, I wanted him to feel my pain… and show empathy.
Now in hindside, It was so super selfish of me
So the last day, we had a meeting with a gruop. Then suddenly after the meeting, I stood up, said I was unwell, and I was gonna go home. He looked up, all surpriced at me. Then he looked down and ignored me. He looked so cold. He had been acting so chill and friendly and never reacted to my “moods” for months, now he did not even say bye!
After that. He did not text me for almost a month. And I started to feel so much pain, seing the hurt look he gave me in front of my eyes over and over again, I felt so terrible being that mean to him!
Its not his fault I could not communicae like a normal person and tell him I was hurt etc. I had no right to hurt him like that! In front of our other friends and all…
So I.. texted him, apologized for my behaviour, weeks after it happened. He replied instantly, said he did not take offence, that it was allright. Asked if I was well, how I was doing etc. We texted forth and back a few hours. He told me he was moving away for some time and that we could meet up when he was back.
After that he texted me a random Gif a few days later. I replied. And after that, its been almost 1 year and I never heard anything from him again. We have mutual friends, I have asked them. He has a new job, new life.. and maybe even a gf.
I was so physically and mentally ill because of this limerence! I was BURNED OUT!.. Emotionally, I was so burned out… so I did not contact him. In order to heal.
Now, I still feel so bad. Was my friendship so insignificant to him? If he hated me this much and couldn’t take it anymore, why would he pretend to be my friend for months showing no discomfort etc, and then just cut me off?
I still don’t understand him… I guess this was his way of saying “F off”.
Or maybe he just needed some space like I did, to sort thigs out. Then it went on to long and he was unable to bounce back after that?
Still pains me, that I inflicted so much negativity in his life… tha I burdened him down..
Thanks for your comments.
It sounds like he was going through similar emotions to you but handled it by shutting down. It’s pretty much impossible to come out of a limerence episode without some emotional burden, and you shouldered your fair share too.
All the questions you posed can be answered by “you don’t know why he acted the way he did, and you probably never will, but that’s OK.” Maybe he doesn’t even know himself. It’s this circular analysis that keeps us trapped in limerence, as we try to make sense of the uncertainty (and usually fail). The only way past it is to accept the uncertainty and move on with your purposeful life.
Thank you so much for your reply! I really appreciate it!
Hm shutting down like this is very not alike him. We both are people who when we get disappointed or frustrated can get silent and cold, BUT we both let it go really fast. One kind word, one smile etc and its all forgotten. We both hated holding on to grudges. And he knows I hate spending energy on holding on to negative feelings towards people I care. But I guess when romantic feelings are involved, there is a threshold…
We both are introverts. We both share a lot of the same key personality traits.
But one thing that we did not share was: He Hates Confronting People. He is that super polite and charming guy that everyone just loves. He would never be unsensitive to anyone around him.
He is a diplomat.
But also he internalizes a lot of his feelings. He can Never get angry in a normal outwards manner, he will turn it all inside. And he gets elusive. If he is bothered with something he will get a stoic and somewhat cold poker face.
Also he is very stubborn and also he can’t apologize. He will be extra warm, attentive caring etc if he has done something that I may have hurt me. But can’t never say sorry.
Whereas I’m normally a very confrontative person. If I dislike somethings, someone, I will tell it to the person directly. I hate letting things hang in the air. I can get silent but after I sort things out I have to communicate my feelings etc.
You will always know where I stand. But with him. His elusiveness would trigger all type of elusive behaviour and push pull dynamics in me.
After push pull episode and silent episodes etc often we just got past it really easily because, no grudges.
But a couple of times I have done the diplomatic approach when if I was hurt I would tell him “Look I felt sad when this or that happened, when you did this or that. Was that your intention? What’s your take on this?”
And I would let him defend himself, tell his point of things. And I would be ok, good to know. etc. He would always thank me for bringing things up in a diplomatic manner. I saw this as a bonding opportunity, of course. He himself never brought things up in this manner or any open manner at all if he was bothered. I think his not good with direct communication of emotions (which man is?!). Or he felt to vulnerable or other bs… But as said. Shutting down and silent treatments? Absolutely not his style whatsoever. For a person like him, this would be done only if the person is, sick of you…
But yes, I may never know.
Ok, its good to get this of my chest as I have NOBODY to talk to about this!
This limerence episode is over for my anywa, so I’m not going crazy trying to understand him. Because I feel so super of put by his behaviour. We have been friends for 2 years! We have seen each other almost 5-6 days of a week for years!
Texting each other almost everyday (besides summer breaks, where we would take a break).
So being treated like trash… by a friend who NEVER holds grudges and is very kind and forgiving? Its so weird 🙁
I only discovered your site this week and what I have read up to now just seems so relevant. After nearly 4 years of pain and pleasure I put the relationship with my LO (a teenage boyfriend of over 50 years ago) on hold, so I was practising your recommendations before knowing they existed. Then after almost a year he got in touch very unexpectedly and it all started up again, but even better than the relationship at its height. I said I wanted to explain things calmly and had the impression that this had clarified the situation – probably because I really wanted to believe this. We live in different countries so meeting is rarely an option, but we managed this in October and it was wonderful. Until I found LWL I was suffering from withdrawal symptoms, then this week came the revelation that I am limerent for him – and only him – and I vowed to take control. Since I’d had no news for over a week (an eternity in other words) and had steeled myself not to be the first to get in touch, it seemed the right time. Then today a phone call, a pleasant long conversation, and my resolve has been shaken. So, a lot more work is required…..
I have a dilemma.
I was very very keen (possibly limerent) for a beautiful lady. The attraction was instant and overwhelming – I think she was attracted to me, too. Trouble is, she was married. There were also other issues, but I would have overlooked all of them if she were not married. Painfully, I decided I had to give up the dream of her, and I did manage to date some other women, but currently I am not seeing anyone. We kept in light contact, and have developed a sort of friendship.
She is now in the process of a divorce. I am in a conundrum. The spark of attraction is still there. But I suffered so much letting go of her, I’m a little afraid of getting back in the trenches. Do I want to be with this person who so intoxicated me? She scares me a little, or rather, I’m scared of my reaction to her. During the time we were casually friends, I managed to what you all call “deprogram”, so I don’t see her quite as idealistically as I did when I first met her, and I have gone over all the problems with the situation, but I have to admit she is still very lovely.
What would you do, fellow limerents?
Hi Fellow. Since this woman is getting a divorce it seems there in no longer a barrier to seek a romantic relationship with her. Are there other reasons not to be involved with her? If not, then I don’t see why you shouldn’t explore this? You were right to disengage while she was married but I don’t see that you should hold back now if you think you might have a real connection with this woman. You only live once. I could only be so lucky with my LO.
Thanks for the reply Speedwagon.
I mentioned there were other issues. A big one: I eventually want kids; she can’t have them. Other problems include the fact we are at different stages of our lives. One of us might move away. And all this is relevant only assuming we manage to get together at all. I don’t really know how she feels/felt about me. Don’t people need time to get over their divorces?
I just see, even if I do get involved with this woman the chances of staying together long-term are slim. If we were to break up, I’m not sure I could go through it again. It was hard letting go of her the first time.
Also, I kept her so deliberately at a distance for so long it has almost become a habit. I’m not sure I could let go and be vulnerable to her again, considering how much power she has over my feelings.
Any other thoughts now?
I guess only you can answer this. Do you have any relationship with her at the moment? Can you keep a light friendship for a bit to see how that goes? A pursuit of her can be light and slow.
Getting over a divorce depends on the nature of the marriage. Some people need time, others don’t.
For me, if I felt strongly for another person, and there was not a barrier, I would need to pursue them. I would not be able to handle the what could have been. But that is just me I guess ask yourself if you can handle the ‘what could have been’ of not pursuing because at some point you may have to watch another man date this woman.
I’m hesitant because the deprograming did its job.
One thing I forgot to mention was that she is almost 20 years older than me. Part of what I told myself to get over her was, do I want to have to care for her when she is really old or watch her get really sick and die. That scared the bejesus out of me and helped me move on. Now, even though she still glimmers for me, I know the baggage that comes with loving someone much older (this works for any gender by the way, in case anyone thinks I am being sexist). It makes one pause. But the limerence still draws me to her. I think she really is a classic “good LO” because everyone, all ages, loves her. One of our mutual friends said she is like the sun, around which we all revolve. She is so gracious, kind, exquisite, funny and smart.
Oh the other thing is, why would she want a younger guy like me?
Limerent Emeritus says
Speedy and I differ on this one.
I think that for me, I’d consign this one to the “What If?” bin. LO #4 is almost 15 years younger than I am. Even if my marriage ended this afternoon, there’d be significant logistical challenges that would have to be overcome. I listed them in another post somewhere. I also think that while we got along really well in some areas, there are others where we wouldn’t get along so well. We avoided those because we weren’t in a relationship where they would be of consequence.
You’ve identified some of the RL considerations. There are likely more.
Something else to consider…
Divorce is a transition. She’ll be transitioning from a married woman to a single woman. Some people are great at helping others through the transition but the situation may be way different when they settle out. You’re looking at a potential LTR and they’re looking for someone to help them make it through the night [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=untC4oC1fvc – Sammi Smith (1970)].
You help them through this and they may or not be grateful. You’re let down and possibly resentful and they’re clueless of the effect they had on you. That’s not their fault.
That’s part of what happened between LO #4 and me, although I wasn’t free to pursue the relationship.
In my response to LO #4’s goodbye, I told her, “Some people you meet in life are like a piece of fine art. It will never be yours, and you may not even get to touch it but it doesn’t mean that you don’t appreciate it when you see it.” When I think of that and LO #4, I still smile.
There’s no compelling reason not to pursue this. If you do, I recommend you wait until the divorce is final before you do or sat anything. You don’t want to be construed as meddling in this.
I don’t see it working out for a lot of reasons. But, that’s just my opinion. Just don’t be surprised or angry if you pursue it, put a lot of energy into it, and it doesn’t go your way.
Do you even know what your “Fairy-tale-ending” is to this? It would help to define one.
Hi Fellow, welcome to our club!
I can’t speak for your LO, but I have my own thoughts about the age difference. I am not attracted to younger men. I have a running friend who is 21 years younger than me. I can see that he is physically attractive and his personality is delightful, but I see him as a child. On the other hand, my sister was in an intense romance with a younger man. He wanted commitment, but she wouldn’t give it to him because she was beyond child-bearing years and she thought he would be a great dad someday. They remain friends but he is married with children now. She still loves him very much, but she keeps it to herself because she wants him to succeed in his marriage.
Sorry, but the age difference gives me pause. I am concerned that if she let herself explore feelings for you, it could just be an experiment for her, whereas it would be something bigger for you.
Do you typically feel drawn to much older women?
I think considering she is 20 years older, I agree with L.E. Too much age difference and different life stages and probably life goals. Consign to what if.
Thank y’all for chiming in on my problem!
You all make really good points. I’m hearing there is hesitation. And believe me, I get it! I’ve thought about this non-stop.
I think I would have preferred a truly committed relationship with this woman, but I’ve already realized this is logistical impossible. She would have made an amazing mother to my children, be an amazing asset to my family.
The scenario Lovisa describes with her sister – intense romance, followed by a letting go – I could live with that. If the break up doesn’t kill me – or her. I don’t want my heart broken but I don’t want to bring her any pain either. Would it be a fairy tale ending if we had an amazing connection for a season and then went our separate ways? Perhaps. Life is only lived once after all, and would I rather have loved her and held her in my arms and lose her or to never have experienced living in the sun? Could you tell me more about your sister, Lovisa.
Ah, to answer your question about older women, no. All my previous relationships have been with peer aged women. The women I dated in between are all around my age. I think this woman, my LO, because she is so youthful (in spirit as well as looks), I never knew her age for a long time (my mother told me it wasn’t polite to ask a woman’s age). It was a bit of a shock when I found out. But I was still attracted to her.
It feels like a puzzle. If only I can get everything in line, this could work out. At this point I think if I were to pursue her, she and I would really need a good talk before we get into it, to discuss expectations. To prevent that sort of anger and disappointment as mentioned. I don’t want to be just a transition to her, but I don’t think we are going to be forever after either. Is there an in between?
It is one thing to go into a relationship all starry eyed and another to stare at the end right at the start and decide to jump off the cliff anyway.
Lol, Fellow. I’ll tell you more about my sister. The man was a boy who we babysat. I watched him grow up. When I realized they were in a romantic relationship, I had an EWE reaction. But they really connected. Sis just couldn’t rob him of the opportunity to have his own children. She loves him too much. So she broke things off, he married a lovely woman and Sis still has contact with him.
I admire your sister. Not only is it very brave of her to date a kid she babysat (assuming he was an adult by the time) and knowing people are going to judge her, but to love him enough to let him go. Tell me, is she still broken-hearted over him? Does she regret it? It sounds like he has moved on with his life. What about her?
How old were they when this all happened? I’m thinking what my parents would think and my mates, but I guess it isn’t really their business. But I am not indifferent that people will get an EWE reaction. I try to remember Emanuel Macron and Harry Styles pulled it off.
Did your sister ever tell you how they got together? Who asked who? I am trying to figure out how one says, hey want to be in a temporary relationship with me but we are gonna have to break up when I want to start a family? How does one say that.
They are still very much connected, but it’s appropriate. He went back to friend of the family status for the most part. Yes, it was very hard for her to let go. She did it for his benefit and I don’t think she regrets it, but she misses their close connection. I think she trained him and that’s how it started. She is a personal trainer. I would guess he was mid-twenties and she was early-forties when they started dating. I am the only one who knows that it was more than friendship. Everyone else thinks she was his trainer and he helped her with her kids (which he totally owes both of us, lol. I practically raised that kid for a few years). She tried to keep it from me, but I’m her sister and she couldn’t hide that. I knew. He didn’t try to hide it. He wanted to marry her, but she thought he needed a wife who was ready to have kids.
Oh, but my son’s therapist is a lot younger than his wife. They started school on the same day. He started elementary school on the same day that she started college. They are still married and I think it’s been more than 35 years. I guess it can work. The therapist never sired a child, but he helped raise 5 step-kids.
This all gives me hope, Lovisa. Thank you for sharing.
I will let you know how this unfolds since you are interested.
But it will be slow, as I get a feel for how she is going (and whether I have a chance or not). Also, I don’t want to complicate her divorce so she sets the pace.
You make a good point that a temporary relationship might work for both of you. Maybe you should try it. Please keep us informed as things play out. It will be interesting.
Also, I hope Marcia is reading your story because…well… it’s something she needs to hear. Sorry, Marcia, I couldn’t resist.
Does Marcia like younger men too?
No, she was struggling with feelings that as women age, men lose interest in them.
Fellow I think age is only an issue depending on at what stage you are in life. When I was at my dating age, early 20’s I would have gladly dated a woman 20 years older than me. Now if my marriage were to end I can’t imagine dating a 65 year old woman.
Also if you do decide for a relationship with this woman I think it would be good to talk about goals, children, retirement, and other future goals since you are probably both at two different stages in life. I guess and both be honest and upfront if you want to get in an exclusive long term relationship. Don’t second guess each other and lay it all out on the table.
You seem to have a great affection for this woman. I was on the opposite side of where you are. When I met LO she was already divorced and not in a relationship and much younger than me. Since, I’ve watched her met a young man that in the almost two years they have been together has proven to be a blessing to her and her daughters. LO moved on to another job last year. She keeps some contact with other co-workers so I can check in and know that she is doing okay. I’m glad that this seems like a good relationship for her and a blessing. I was hoping seeing her happy with another man would help with the limerence. It has some, but it still lingers in me. I miss her a lot.
Hi Adam, I only just saw this now. Thanks for your reply, buddy. I’m sorry you sound like you are still having a hard time missing your LO. People are so wrong when they think we men do not care deeply.
Yeah, you could say I have a great affection for my lady. I would hate for our friendship to end if we start something and it doesn’t work out. Then I wouldn’t have anything of her. I had a meal with her the other day. It was the best part of my week. She just makes everything better. I just felt like I wanted her there all the time, eating with me, making quiet conversation, laughing.
I’ve not been pushy, as suggested by Limerent Emeritus. I definitely do not want to be involved in her divorce, apart from giving her moral support. It’s not so hard to wait (well, it is, but it isn’t). She’s very busy sorting things out, and I’m busy with work as well. This does not feel like limerence was before. When I could not get her out of my mind. I mean, I do feel tension when I am with her (and thinking of her), but nothing terribly intrusive, and my life is going great. I just like her a lot. This feels good. And I now have a tiny bit of hope.
Interesting that you say you would have dated someone 20 years older at age 20. I’m in my 30s. Dating has never been hard for me. But my recent relationships with women closer to my age actually felt more misaligned. I was the one to call them off. Like all of the women hear their biological clocks ticking and want to rush into commitment, and I, as a man, need to meet all these criteria to be the father of their children. Yes, I want children (which my LO will never be able to give me, more’s the tragedy) but I want the woman to want me for my own sake. No one just accepts me for who I am, where I am at, they all want something from me, and I’m not ready to give it yet. I just realized, maybe I like my LO because she just accepts me?
Wow Fellow, I think you just figured out what you are looking for. I’m curious about something, could you be friends with someone who accepts you? Maybe you don’t need a romantic relationship with this woman. Maybe friendship is enough. Of course if you experience the dark side of limerence for your LO, I would caution you against friendship. Dr. L has some great articles that address LO friendships. I think pre-determined boundaries are necessary. You have to know in advance what lines you won’t cross.
I am currently her friend. But I don’t kid myself. My heart leaps if she reaches across me to get the salt. I don’t react like that to friends.
That is funny and good self-awareness. I think you will do the right thing.
My biggest concern for you is that you want children. I am in my forties and very active. But it’s not hard to recognize that I don’t have the energy to raise a child from infancy at this stage in my life. The first few months of getting up multiple times a night are absolutely exhausting. I’m glad I did that in my twenties and thirties. My concern for you is that you might put off finding the right girl for too long. I think you are already aware of that potential drawback.
That being said, I can see why it would be hard to date a woman who seems to want something from you instead of just wanting you. I wouldn’t like that either. It feels kind of yucky. This is hard. I think you’ll figure it out, but you are right that this is hard.
I saw LO yesterday, at a gathering. She seemed a little awkward around me. So different from when we had dinner alone a few weeks ago. I felt nervous and awkward too. So many people around. I found it easier to talk to other people (including some pretty and attentive young women, it is quite soothing). Later I saw LO crying with a woman friend in a corner. Maybe something about her divorce? I felt disappointed she didn’t turn to me. She seems to be confiding in other people rather than me. I don’t think it is romantic but I wish she would turn to me. She sent me a very “business-like” message about some practical matter, the day after which sort of devastated me. There was no affection or emotion in it at all. Does she care? Does she even see me as a close friend? I’m playing it cool and not replying her, but I am feeling on edge and wondering what is going on. Part of me wants to just cut her out of my life. This is torture. But another part cannot bear the thought of losing her in my life.
Fellow, I am curious how you know LO. Do you work together?
Something interesting has been happening to me lately. I have been making friends with men in their twenties. I have three new male friends in their twenties. I view them as impressionable young men who I should nurture as a mother figure. I think my generation has an obligation to the rising generation. I can’t imagine that any of them would have”feelings” for a woman my age so I put my guard down when I’m alone with them. But I feel like a mother-figure. The thought of romance with any of them is creepy to me. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy their company and I love how attentive they are. But it feels like a parent child relationship to me. I wonder if your LO feels that way towards you. I can’t speak for her. It will be interesting to see where things go with you.
If this is torture for you, maybe you should consider leaning into relationships with younger women.
“Part of me wants to just cut her out of my life. This is torture. But another part cannot bear the thought of losing her in my life.”
Fellow I am living this right now myself. It would seem easier if I was able to cut her out of my mind and heart. Logic says it will make it easier to move on. My heart says hold on for dear life. And when the mind and heart disagree the liver suffers.
I have not seen LO in 9 months. And I sometimes wonder what would happen if I did see her again and how she might react. Thankfully the physical distance between the two of us means a chance meet is pretty much impossible.
Lots of my intrusive thoughts of LO are over thought scenarios of how/what I would do if I saw her again. How to gauge how she is going to react in a scenario like that. How to interact with her gentleman friend. How I can make it a pleasant experience for her more so than myself.
I know the pains of loosing someone in your life that made you a part of it. When LO would need help she would come to me. Now she goes to him. The loss of feeling needed by someone is a hard pill to swallow. But it’s one that has to be. He’s the man in her life now, and he’s the one that will be there to support and help her. Not me anymore. I think that’s my final thing to accept so that I can move on from here.