The previous post covered the benefits of disclosing your feelings to your LO, and when it may be a worthwhile thing to do. Disclosure is never a simple choice, of course, and can lead to more uncertainty if LO responds in an unpredictable way. Ironically, when not to disclose is usually more clear-cut.
By far the simplest indicator of when not to disclose is: when you really want to but know you shouldn’t.
Now I may be a hopeless optimist about this, but I think most people have a good moral sense and know when they shouldn’t do something because it’s Wrong. I’m not a Pollyanna – I know that most people are also often lazy and selfish and thoughtless, but I don’t think they want to be those things. If you asked them they wouldn’t say “Yeah, I don’t much care about being decent, I like being feckless and weak willed.” It’s just that they can’t always muster the moral fibre to do the right thing. So, people are often not good, but they basically want to be.
Given that shaky philosophical foundation, let’s look at some scenarios where a struggling limerent may need some help bolstering their resolve to hold their feelings in till they can master them.
1) Either one of you is committed to someone else.
The obvious case. Yes, your feelings are strong and you are bursting to share them, but think about the impact on other people. While they remain in your head, those thoughts and fantasies are yours alone. Once they are spoken and out in the world, you have taken a positive action that compromises other relationships. There may be circumstances that we can dream up where that might be an ethically defensible act, but most of the time it is a selfish need for validation by LO at the expense of your integrity. Your decision to share intimate emotional secrets with LO is an act that makes them complicit in the deceit of either their SO, your SO, or both. If there are kids involved, then the repercussions really ripple out. Families have generational feuds over this stuff.
All that moralising is predictable enough, but really, deeply thinking about the consequences of intimate betrayal is a good way to help strengthen your nerve. LO now knows something fundamentally important about you that your SO doesn’t. How happy would you be with that asymmetry if you discovered it about yourself? Another important note is that the attempt to forge a closer bond to LO can backfire, and backfire badly. They tell their SO, or your SO. They tell their friends. You have no control over the information once it is out in the world, nor should you expect it. You have imposed yourself into other lives; consequences follow that decision.
2) You have authority over LO
The next obvious case is that in some manner, professional or otherwise, you have authority over LO, or there is a power imbalance that means you are disclosing to someone who is either dependent on you or subordinate to you. I’ve mithered before about workplace limerence, and it’s complicated stuff (power imbalances can vary or flip or have little real bearing on professional life), but it may be a situation where the precautionary principle is well applied. If someone works for you and you disclose to them, you put them in a very difficult position – regardless of how they feel about you. Admittedly, reciprocated limerence is a problem that you can probably manage to solve, but what happens once the limerence fades, as it always does? And you never know whether it will be reciprocated before you take the chance.
If it isn’t reciprocated, how is an employee supposed to navigate the nested difficulties of letting you know they are not interested romantically, but want your good opinion professionally, and need to work closely with you but not give you false hope, and are thinking about the reference they will get if they want to leave, etc. etc.?
Of course, if disclosure goes badly, the backfiring at work is a whole other level of fallout. They accuse you of harassment. They tell HR. They ask to be transferred. You have to explain yourself to your boss. Everyone else who works for you loses respect for you. Repercussions pile high.
Another level of complication is educational scenarios – teacher/student or tutor/tutee. If your LO is younger than 18 (or the agreed threshold for adulthood in your country) then suck it up and shut your mouth. No good will come of it – that should be obvious. For older students, the same principles apply as for the workplace, but more so. You have a position that grants you status as a source of wisdom and support. Abuse that at your peril. It’s hard to see any circumstance under which disclosing to a student is a good idea. Keep your feelings in. They will leave in a matter of a few years, so if you are truly enraptured, wait till then.
3) You think LO doesn’t reciprocate, but need to keep working with them
In another scenario, LO is a coworker, but not an obvious boss or subordinate, what then? Assuming your workplace doesn’t have specific policies about relationships you are free in principle to approach them. Here again, I would caution against disclosure unless you are very confident that LO reciprocates – and the false confidence of limerence doesn’t count. And you certainly shouldn’t disclose your limerence. You will have to work with LO in the future, and it will be a lot easier if you are discreet in determining whether they are interested. A compliment and a request for a date would be fine, disclosure that you spend all day obsessively thinking about them is going to make everyday life very uncomfortable for you both if LO is not interested.
4) You have disclosed previously
You disclosed before and LO um-ed and ah-ed and said “can’t we still be friends?” or “I have strong feelings for you too, but it’s complicated for me at the moment,” or other such non-committal flannel. There’s no point disclosing again. In fact, why are you still hanging around them? Run away! Save yourself!
Why not disclosing is hard
Given how easy it is to list the reasons why you shouldn’t disclose, it does rather beg the question why is it so hard not to? Surely any limerent with half a brain could see it’s madness under these circumstances? Certainly, any SO will see with crystal clarity how straightforward the decision is. Shut up, get away from LO, and focus on the primary relationship that you’re jeopardising!
I’ve spent paragraphs listing all the reasons why a limerent should restrain themselves, but limerence, though, eh? It’s not associated with clear thinking. It’s tough to think clearly when all your cognitive power is occupied with trying to come up with rationalisations for why you should be getting your next fix. The desire to disclose can be overpowering. You want them to know how wonderful you think they are. You think they might know, and might feel the same about you, but how can you be sure? High on dopamine and overconfidence, you want to share the giddy feelings of connection with them, to get closer by shared intimacy. And what could be more intimate that a confession of deep feelings? The boring real world fades away in the moment of connection. Surely it’s safe to disclose here in this mind-bubble that the two of you are sharing?
Yeah, it’s not. All the responsibilities you have taken on still count, even if you are high. The cold, hard truth about limerence is that it happens in your head, and is largely independent of external reality. A good mantra to repeat to yourself when you are tempted to disclose is “I have no idea how LO will react”. Because you don’t. You’re handing someone a life-grenade because you think that they are amazingly special and will appreciate the gift you are giving them. Some LOs will look at your gift, pull the pin and blow you up.
And you can’t complain because you gave them the bomb.
Thank you. This post is perfectly timed for me. Only one working day left of avoiding disclosing. Just keep focusing on reasons 1 & 3.
This time next week no contact starts!
I’m not sure if I’m distraught or relieved.
I’m not sure if I’m distraught or relieved
It’s often both at once 🙂
Mrs A says
Wonderful post. I have come to believe that it may be wiser not to assume people in general have a good moral compass. When this person in authority, who fits the description of both points 1 and 2, disclosed to me without any regard for consequence, I realised (a little late) that some people, despite appearance, are basically selfishly manipulative for their own gain. Limerence on their part, whether real or fabricated, should always be seen as a huge excuse with a hidden motive of creating a hook for an elicit affair. It can be dangerously contagious, especially for one who is vulnerable. It is definitely not about love, even when they say they are in love with you. Do not be fooled. It is good to know the circumstances under which disclosing is unethical, no matter how infatuated one feels. It is important for those on the receiving end of such disclosures to protect and disentangle themselves. Never compromise your own integrity.
“LO now knows something fundamentally important about you that your SO doesn’t. How happy would you be with that asymmetry if you discovered it about yourself?”
As LO #4 so eloquently put it in her goodbye, “Also, I’ve been trying to put myself in your wife’s shoes. How would you feel if she was corresponding with a man she was attracted to in the same capacity that you write to me? If you have to hide our correspondence from your wife, it’s not good…I hope you can understand my position.”
While I thought “capacity” was an odd way to phrase it. I couldn’t argue with the intent. I took some exception to “…that you write to me.” If my wife had seen some of the emails LO #4 had sent sans my response, I don’t think mine would have been the only corpse on the floor. But, there was no point in challenging that. She was giving me a way out and I took it.
As goodbyes go, LO #4’s probably ranks as the second best I’ve gotten from a woman. She was far more gracious than the “Buzz off , creep!” that she could have said. In the end, if we weren’t on the same page, we were pretty close and that was good enough for me.
“If my wife had seen some of the emails LO #4 had sent sans my response, I don’t think mine would have been the only corpse on the floor.”
Was LO #4 married too? If not, then really the only person to hold responsible for investigating or pursuing an undisclosed life outside of the marriage is you. Was there a Mr. LO #4 who could have chosen to leave their marriage for real?
Not that it is any of my business, of course. Wondering aloud.
I take responsibility for my actions .
By my statement, I meant that LO #4 said enough that I think my wife would have seen it as poaching. I can easily my wife asking LO #4, “Of all the shoulders in the world you could be crying on, why are you crying on my husband’s?” LO #4 could be right in that she didn’t have any idea of my being attracted to her but she can’t possibly claim she didn’t know how intimate some of the things we were sharing was. My wife was aware of my acquaintance with LO #4 but not the extent of it.
When we started down the path, she was living with her boyfriend. I could tell she was unhappy but she never said anything. She asked me, “What do I telegraph to you? ” Her relationship collapsed when she caught him cheating on her and he allegedly assaulted her. She reached out to me and the limerence went into overdrive. When they were still together, I doubt that he would have been any happier to see the emails she was sending than my wife would be to have seen mine.
I asked her for her address so I could send her a birthday card. She had me send it via her mother’s address. It neatly would bypass the question of “Who’s XXX?” if he got the mail that day. In the 5 years we’d know each other online, we never once broached the idea of actually talking to each other. My take on that was that was a boundary neither of us was willing to cross. After 3 months of no contact, she started corresponding again. We went a few rounds over that subject. She knew she was dealing with a married man and and it appeared she didn’t care.
Less than a week after I told a mutual acquaintance I was detaching from the site we were all on, LO #4 sent me a Facebook friend request. She was actively trying to maintain the connection and I was willing to let her. We were never able to establish appropriate boundaries after that.
I made an attempt to reset the boundaries on New Year’s Eve day, 2015, and she said goodbye on New Year’s Day 2016. 6 months later I was in front of a therapist to begin sorting it all out.
My, she (LO #4) wasn’t being fair to anyone in her orbit. Glad it came to an end & I hope life continues to treat you and your family kindly.
Scharnhorst’s experience with LO #4 makes me wonder: ismate-poaching concomitant with the limerence spectrum? Is it more frequently seen with participating LO’s and the person experiencing limerence?
Good question. I think many (perhaps even most) serious episodes of limerence evolve from a mutual “dance”. It could be that limerents are misinterpreting neutral/friendly signs from LO, but oftentimes it’s mutual culpability.
Like Sharnhorst’s LO, mine most definitely pushed boundaries repeatedly, knowing full well I was married. But then, she would panic and withdraw and act as though any previous questionable behaviour was my misunderstanding. I quickly realised that ultimately her behaviour was irrelevant – I was responsible for mine and that was all that mattered in terms of my marriage. That clarified things.
In terms of mate poaching – I think there are definitely LOs out there that delight at having an emotional hold over someone else’s partner; that delight in being LOs. I’m also sure that there are limerents that focus on married LOs. Every pathology is represented somewhere 🙂
“…with participating LO’s OR the person experiencing limerence?”
What to do when NC means the need to disclose to spouses, which will destroy multiple lives and friendships? My LO is a close family friend. We are both married. Our families are interconnected. I made the mistake of disclosing to him and he acknowledged that he shares the same feelings and longings. A physical affair is out of the question, due to his placing that boundary, as he is deeply committed to his family. Therefore there is adversity and also some uncertainty because when we are alone we do talk about our deep soul connection and the realization that in another life we would probably be together. We both value the friendship as it is indeed a “good” friendship, a true and authentic growth promoting friendship, as you describe in the “can’t we be friends” post. I keep thinking maybe we are mature enough (in our 50s) to work through this and salvage the friendship. There has been no physical contact, aside from some deep hugs. I am deep in limerence obsession. His coping skills are to pull back in avoidance, which is triggering my fear of abandonment and thus my suffering grows. What is your advice about a scenario in which complete NC seems impossible without wreaking havoc on our families?
“…because when we are alone we …”
Don’t be alone with him. Don’t text, call or email unless both spouses are included in it.
Don’t involve yourself in his coping skills – go work on your own with a therapist and perhaps your spouse.
I’ve got to the point where I’m wondering if I should partially disclose to LO, but this post is making me think that this would be a really a bad idea. My thinking is that if I did disclose I would say something along the lines of “I’m worried that my feelings for you are going beyond normal friendship and I don’t think it’s a good idea if we continue to meet”. This might then allow me to enter a sustained period of NC.
I’ve arrived at this thinking, after a being drawn back into full-on limerence after what was a successful period of NC. Both myself and LO are married with kids and we have known each other through work for over two years – it was just friendship for me at first. We meet regularly for lunch and communicate via email/text and I can’t really see how else I could go NC. I’d say we’re quite close and understand each other pretty well and I think she could handle the disclosure and keep it to herself (perhaps my famous last words). Our lives outside of work are totally unconnected.
My aim wouldn’t be to tell her how wonderful I think she is, I can see her flaws and to be honest I don’t think I’m even that bothered if she reciprocates – I just want some kind of resolution and to end this madness! However, even with my biased limerent brain I’m 99% certain that she reciprocates in some way. If there was reciprocation on both sides, is it not something that you can acknowledge and talk about as adults and agree that it would be wrong to do anything about it? I don’t think either of us is a bad person and we care about our respective SOs.
If not partial disclosure how else can I go NC? Reduced contact doesn’t seem to work for me.
If you disclose to LO, you should strongly consider disclosing to your spouse. First.
There is nothing good that is going to come out of disclosing to LO. If she reciprocates, you get a boost and limerence deepens. If she doesn’t, you mope.
“We meet regularly for lunch”
“and communicate via email/text and I can’t really see how else I could go NC.”
If it’s not work-related, don’t discuss it with her.
You’re not punishing her by resuming a purely collegial relationship. It may be that she is looking for a way to minimize contact with you and you would be doing her a favor by pulling back from FTF meetings and only work-related emails and texts.
Remember, if they’re emails then IT and HR can see them. If they’re texts, then your spouse may have access to them.
In order to stop an addiction, you have to stop feeding it.
I’ve considered disclosing to SO, but at the moment I think it would only make things worse – extra stress that she doesn’t need.
You asked why do we meet regularly for lunch? It just seemed natural to meet up and to catch up on things in general. We’ve been friends for a couple of years and regular contact has always been the norm. There’s other colleagues who I also meet for lunch and I see these meetings as just being social and spending a bit of time with people who I get on with. Lunch can be pretty boring on your own. The meetings weren’t a problem before the limerence kicked in and although I know now that they are feeding my addiction there doesn’t seem an easy way to stop them, without my behaviour seeming strange.
I was thinking the same, that she might be looking for a way to minimize contact so building on the natural Christmas break I went NC and gave have her the opportunity to withdraw. However, she then got in touch by email and F2F and this has drawn me right back into my LE. In one recent interaction, she was particularly flirty giving me a wink when checking if we were still ok to meet up. That really floored me internally has driven me mad since – “did she really do that?!!” I’m sure this whole thing is not all my own doing, but I do feel bad that I may have led her on in the past and have been quite unsubtle about my feelings. I’d be amazed if she didn’t have some idea about how I feel and I really don’t think disclosure would be much of a surprise. One problem might be that to her this is all a bit of fun (although I don’t think she is this type) but to me it’s a life consuming event. Who knows though – maybe this whole thing is driving her mad too and disclosure might put her mind at rest, or maybe it would nuclearize us both?
“Both myself and LO are married with kids”
” However, she then got in touch by email and F2F and this has drawn me right back into my LE.”
She issued an invitation that you accepted. You’re a participant in this, please try not to think of yourself as someone to whom things “just happen”. The limerence may have struck out of the blue, but you’re feeding it.
“In one recent interaction, she was particularly flirty giving me a wink when checking if we were still ok to meet up.”
She has an inkling, if she doesn’t know full well already. In which case, this isn’t kind of her to continue. Why is she stringing you along/grooming you? What’s in it for her?
“Who knows though – maybe this whole thing is driving her mad too and disclosure might put her mind at rest, or maybe it would nuclearize us both?”
Are you prepared to get a divorce? If you aren’t, if you don’t want to take that risk – then no more F2F lunches without additional people present. Think of them as potential witnesses for your wife’s divorce lawyer. Act accordingly.
She may be ready to blow up her marriage, but only if she has someone to warm her bed first. Or she may believe that is what she wants, but if you end your marriage she’ll distance herself from you. At any rate you need to think long-term. Are you prepared to end your marriage and still not have LO in your life? That can happen too.
If you don’t want to be married anymore then put that into action BEFORE you disclose to LO.
no! No! and NO!
“If there was reciprocation on both sides, is it not something that you can acknowledge and talk about as adults and agree that it would be wrong to do anything about it? ”
In a perfect world, you should be able to but it’s not a perfect world. That conversation can go a lot of ways and most of them aren’t good.
I used disclosure as a method to end limerence. It worked…eventually… but things got worse before they got better. You can read about it in “How to get rid of limerence.” I also had a few things going for me that you don’t that mitigated the potential downside of the world’s imperfections.
1. LO #4 and I were 2500 miles apart. I didn’t think she’d hop a plane and show up on my door.
2. We had no professional nexus and no reason to maintain the acquaintance beyond we wanted to. I wasn’t afraid of her and I didn’t owe her anything. The big thing that kept me around was she was reaching out to me and I’d feel like a schmuck for turning my back on her. I got over that.
3. LO #4 was reasonable and always appeared to operate in good faith.
In your case disclosure is a minefield. It took 9 months from the time I disclosed until she threw the flag and said goodbye. She was really nice about it. The professional risk Lee pointed out is only one of the risks.
Disclosure is also a way of planting a seed and you have no idea of what will sprout or when. Who will pop into her head if she starts having problems in the marriage? Maybe, you’ll provide the incentive to start something that might not have otherwise happened. Kick that snowball off the hill and you have no control of where it goes.
Like DrL says, once you open your mouth, you make her complicit.
“I used disclosure as a method to end limerence. It worked…eventually… but things got worse before they got better”
The thing here is that at least it worked to end the limerence. Whatever I do, I can only see things getting worse before getting better. I’ll take a look at the post you mention to understand your mitigating circumstances more.
You mention planting a seed but I think through previous actions I’ve probably already done this.
By the time I disclosed, LO #4 and I had been dancing for several years. While she may have been unaware, I don’t think it was a great leap when I finally disclosed. I was trying to wrap things up. In the 9 months from disclosure to goodbye, we had some pretty intense exchanges. I wanted to know how she felt and I went at her pretty hard to find out.
Ever watch “Dirty Harry? I’m the guy on the ground.
Disclosure was eventually effective because it made the LE as it stood unmanageable. But, again, she couldn’t file an EEO complaint against me and from what I was getting from her, I didn’t see her knocking on my door and telling my wife, “Hi, You don’t know me but I’m replacing you.”
Your LO is real threat to you and you see her every day. You’re contemplating action that has the potential to impact a lot of lives.
Careful Royce, it’s not necessarily the disclosure that ends the limerence. It’s the excruciatingly painful steps (namely No Contact) taken afterwards that end it. I agree with Lee on every point. If you want a future with LO, end your marriages first. Believe me, I know the pain you’re feeling, but it gets better and you can get through it.
Here’s the thing, Royce: you can go no contact without disclosing. And if you think no contact is the best plan, then the question to ask is “will disclosure make it easier”?
If you suspect that LO has feelings for you too, then the answer is almost certainly “no”. Because she may reveal her own feelings back, and that could make your limerence go nuclear. Or she could make a vague or ambiguous response that will eat you up with uncertainty and second guessing. Ultimately, if you are going to take control of the situation you need to act purposefully yourself, rather than trying to link your choices into some sort of strategic contact with LO that you are hoping will go the way you want.
I do get it. I still feel a massive urge to disclose to my LO. I was thinking about it today – what if I told her about this blog? How would she react? Or, what if by chance I bumped into her again at some point in the future and made a casual comment like “You know I did sometimes struggle to manage my feelings for you when we worked together”. Just to clear the air. To confirm what she surely suspected, and settle the matter.
All of it though is driven by a sort of urge to exorcise the feelings outwards and get them acknowledged. For some kind of validation of the truth of the episode by prompting LO into showing understanding. It’s that same desire for reciprocation, but transformed into a rationalisation that this is just two adults being honest with each other.
But we don’t really need that. And they probably don’t need it either.
If I could go back in time I would not disclose. Reciprocation + Barriers = Nightmare. It’s been fully 100 days since things went nuclear in my world (yes I AM counting the days) and I am only just starting to feel like myself again. I have spent these past 100 days soul searching and voraciously consuming everything I could find about heartbreak, infidelity, relationships, how to go No Contact, hypnosis, journaling, you name it. I sure have learned a lot but sometimes you have to go through stupid to get to smart. Next time I sense “the Glimmer”, I am going to run for the hills.
Life isn’t black and white, and it’s easy for an outsider just to say “stop it”, when they are not going through what you are going through. Like Dr L I get it too. I’m not happy with how I entered NC with my LO and I’ve been thinking about whether I should clear the air and disclose enough but not everything. I’m not going to, I think I have enough strength to fight that urge, but some days are harder than others.
I’m lucky in that LO has taken my request for NC and she hasn’t been in contact. For you it’s going to be harder, but you managed some NC before? I think you just have to go again. See if it can last longer this time, and when it ends, go again. Eventually it will be permanent NC.
Dr. L. wrote, “Or, what if by chance I bumped into her again at some point in the future and made a casual comment like “You know I did sometimes struggle to manage my feelings for you when we worked together”. Just to clear the air. To confirm what she surely suspected, and settle the matter. ”
What I suspect Dr. L. knows is that he would be steering the conversation in that direction. If LO wanted to know, she would ask. He wouldn’t have to volunteer any information, he would simply confirm it.
Disclosure to a colleague leaves you vulnerable to a charge of sexual harassment. Which would then open up your life to a lot of people and you would have very little to no control over the process.
Lots of wise comments and advice from you all – thanks for all the replies. I will reread what has been said and think some more. Lee, you stark warning about a “charge of sexual harassment” was particularly useful to snap me back to some kind of reality. That really wouldn’t be good for anyone.
For now, I’ll try reducing contact again with the aim of NC. Any advice on how I can actually achieve this? How can I retreat from the regular meetings and communications without my behaviour seeming strange. I’m sure she will ask what the problem is, which is why I originally thought about partial disclosure.
You don’t retreat from regular meetings and communications. You retreat from things like after hour texts and Facetime.
If she asks why you’re distancing yourself, lie to her. Tell her you have to go to the Post Office at lunch. Tell her you’re distracted by things outside of work, which in reality isn’t really all that much of a lie. If she asks why, tell her it’s not appropriate to discuss at work. Think Nancy Reagan, “Just say, No!” (politely)
Another thing you may try to keep in mind is nothing about the LE is going to make your marriage better. It helps frame the big picture.
“Sweetie…things are really good between us and I owe it all to another woman! You should meet her!”
I’ll try to be more like Nancy Reagan then although saying no has never been one of my strong points. The out of hours contact will be pretty easy to stop as the majority of our interaction is done at work. That’s where the big problem lies.
I’ll have to remember how good it felt at the end of my last period of NC. I remember driving to work and thinking amazing, I’m not thinking about LO, although paradoxically I suppose I was.
I like your last line it made me laugh for the first time today.
Try spending some time thinking about boundaries. Think about why they are important and precisely how they can help you.
For starters, I’d recommend Mark Manson’s post:
I also found the Blog “Baggage Reclaim” very helpful in keeping me on the No Contact wagon. It’s written from a female-dumpee’s perspective but see if the principles can be applied to your own situation.
Thanks for these articles. Makes me realise that I’ve never really thought about what my boundaries are. I may well be lacking quite a few and need to think more.
I’d be interested to know more about what has happened to you in the last 100 days? Sounds like you’ve been through quite a bit since disclosing.
Yeah, it’s felt exactly like getting over a broken heart.
In the personal history you shared with us, you mentioned that disclosure led to the two of you being together and that this has turned out great for you. I don’t know how common that is…the “experts” seem to think it’s rare.
The outcome of disclosure (positive or negative from the perspective of your personal, limerent-addled brain) hinges upon how your LO reacts. In my case, the reaction was that he wouldn’t be a party to blowing up any marriages any time soon. It is fair to say that my LO made the decision for all of us that acting with integrity was the order of the day. (One of those admirable LO’s that Dr. L has written about – which makes it that much harder, dang it!) It was a tough pill for me to swallow, but I respected that decision and promptly distanced myself – A LOT. It’s a rejection, couched in reality, to be sure, and it was more importantly the RIGHT THING TO DO, but it hurt like a mother*cker nonetheless. (Although in hindsight, it’s crystal clear to me that I did all of this to myself). If we were both single, I think LO and I would have a shot at an amazing relationship. But we aren’t both single. It felt almost exactly like being dumped. I’ve been dumped before and I got through that so I knew/know I’ll get through this. Every heartbreak is unique though, and this one definitely has its own special flavor.
Since last fall, I’ve done a lot of soul searching. I have been depressed. I’ve been so preoccupied that my work has suffered severely. I was a zombie spouse for a while. But, like I said, I am finally starting to feel better. I feel like myself again most of the time! Hallelujah! But there were so many days and weeks on end when I felt like I wasn’t making any progress in “getting over” this and was very impatient and frustrated with myself.
Things went really well for you 20 years ago – you mention it being one of the best decisions you ever made. That’s a huge deal. There are no guarantees that blowing things up again now would turn out so well for you. Could be the biggest mistake you ever make.
Currently, it sounds like you “want” LO to reciprocate AND be with you. There’s so much fallout from that in other people’s lives that it is just not that simple. It would probably be useful to take some time to remember what your SO has brought to your life. There is no reason to rush anything with LO. Take a long NC break to get clarity. It really does work! I’d say 3 to 4 months minimum.
Hang in there – it really does get better.
” It’s a rejection, couched in reality, to be sure, and it was more importantly the RIGHT THING TO DO, but it hurt like a mother*cker nonetheless. ”
Disclosure can turn going NC into “goodbye.” As Shari Schreiber put it, “Whether you’ve chosen to step away from a new relationship or a long-established one, how you orchestrate that ending is crucial, because it’s typically what someone remembers most about you.” Even if going NC isn’t an actual “goodbye,” That it’s a good thought to keep in mind .
The “good bye” was huge for me because for some reason, if I ever cross LO #4’s mind, I want her to think of me as an “ok guy” and smile. I want to think I had an influence on her. Before the goodbye, I told her I never want to be on the list of people that hurt her or let her down (she never responded to that). I’d also like to think she retained some small measure of respect for me. It’s stupid to want to leave a legacy with a woman I never met but I do.
The deeper you’re in the weeds with them, the more it hurts. Nobility in your LO tends to enhance their appeal. If you tilt in that direction, them throwing the flag can send the “numinous” aspect of limerence through the roof. I do. It’s even worse when they’re nice about it. (https://livingwithlimerence.com/2017/12/31/why-is-limerence-so-powerful/)
Disclosure makes us vulnerable. Since LE is largely internal, there may not be much that’s “real.” But, the pain is. Self-inflicted, or not, we often deal with the pain in isolation unless we disclose to our SOs. Confiding in your SO that your in pain about an LO may or may not make things better, especially when the pain was caused by trying to end the LE. Double Whammy!
But, it does get better. Achieve enough time and distance and you may come to see that they were a catalyst that led you to better things.
Thanks for sharing your story Catcity and it sounds like you’ve had a tough time. I can only imagine the heartbreak you’ve been through – I get stomach churning and feelings of despair just when I think a conversation hasn’t gone quite right (pretty stupid really). It’s good to hear that you’re feeling more yourself again and I hope you continue to feel better. Although disclosure didn’t go the way you wanted, at least it gave you some kind of closure with LO and an allowed you to move on, although NC sounds like a less painful way to go. As far as you know, did the disclosure stay just between you and your LO? Are you still with SO, did the notice you were a zombie spouse?
My situation 20 years ago does appear to be rare, but I’m not sure whether I was in limerence then. My feelings are more powerful and consuming now than I remember them being then and I don’t think my SO suffers from limerence, although I don’t know for sure. Is it possible for a limerent to fall in love in the more traditional sense? Maybe that’s what happened back then.
I’m not writing off everything that I have now my SO yet and you’re right that there is no need to rush anything. I do think about the fallout in other people’s lives and this is probably the biggest thing that has held me back so far.
The numinous is definitely at play here Scharnhorst, on many levels. It’s the Cosmic Joke at its finest.
As luck would have it Royce, in my quest to understand what happened to me and how to recover from it, I discovered a body of work that explained the intersexual dynamics at play in my marriage and my LE as well. It resonated with me so much that I’m happy to say that at the moment, things are great between my SO and I.
If I hadn’t had this LE, I probably wouldn’t have stumbled across this info and the pieces of my relationship with my husband might never have locked into place this well. I feel really optimistic for us.
I also wouldn’t have learned the importance of maintaining proper boundaries and how to recognize the Glimmer. I never want to repeat this experience again – no harnessing the power of the limerent high for this woman! Red Alert! Shields up! Take us out of here, Number One!
Also, as far as I know Royce, none of our colleagues know what happened between us. I have spoken to a couple of my most trusted confidantes about it though. I would have gone crazy otherwise.
Three cheers for time & space!
Catcity, good to hear that there have been some positives come out of your LE and that your shields on now in place. Hopefully with some introspection and further reading I can find out some answers about myself too. Have you told your SO about anything that has happened or will you be keeping it under wraps?
I have been giving some thought to telling my SO and how I might go about doing that Royce. Without this blog, I never would have even entertained such a heretical idea, but it does seem to be a very decisive step in inoculating myself against any temptation to lower the shields. One commenter (I forget who) had an excellent strategy that I’m thinking of trying if I ever meet another Glimmer Giver: introduce them to my SO. I realize that’s not necessarily a guarantee against developing feelings, that’s what personal boundaries are for, but I’m quite serious about never getting myself in this horrible nightmare of a minefield again. Anyway, meeting a Glimmer Giver is an extremely rare thing for me so hopefully I’ve learned my lesson.
If you do disclose to SO I hope it goes well Catcity. It seems to have worked for others but I can’t even contemplate it at the moment – maybe further down the line. I can often see a glimmer but it only seems to progress further after I’ve got to know them for a while. At least that should give me some time to bail out if I think it’s happening again (although I need to escape this one first).
These clips may be two of the best when it comes to describing limerence.
This one relates on how not to disclose to your SO.
You gotta love, “It wasn’t just sex…she’s really nice.” at about the 2:05 mark in the second one.
I would echo the words here that don’t disclose unless you want to really just be with her.
However I do understand the point about no contact when working together. I think you just have to play dumb and make excuses for when you can’t meet and over time they will get the message. It is easy for me to say that as you know my situation that LO left end of January. If they were still here I think I would be in your position so i do feel what you’re going through.
Where case scenario is have you thought about changing jobs? I have not seen colleague in five days now and to feel there is light at the end of the tunnel . Although I am missing her and thinking of her I feel this week that I will get through this.
We don’t actually work that closely together and we are not in the same office, so with a bit of effort very limited contact if not NC could be achieved. To be completely honest (I’m trying harder with this) I think the biggest challenge is me really working out what I want in my life and committing to going NC if that’s the route I take.
I’ve been thinking back to when I first got together with my SO and there are some parallels with what’s going on now. Back then, around 20 years ago, SO disclosed her feelings to me whilst she was married to a friend of mine. I reciprocated and although not immediately and to cut a long story short we ended up together. It really set a bomb off in a lot of people’s lives but in the long term it has proved to be the most positive thing that has ever happened in my life. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been thinking about disclosure now, as it can be a positive event. You can find out where you stand and decide what to do next. Admittedly, things were a lot simpler then, I was single and there were no kids were involved.
Anyway, I am going to start on reducing contact and disclosure is off the cards. I’ll try and get my more rational brain to return and I need to work harder on my relationship with my SO.
“…we ended up together.”
Something I’ve noticed in your writing is how often you use a passive voice. I think if you change the way you write, you will change the way you think and that will make it a tiny bit easier for you to start firming up your boundaries. Or maybe it will start with changing the way you think and it will be reflected in your writing.
At the moment, they sound more theoretical than not.
Definitely look into the links that others have posted. Also, discuss the articles with your wife. After 20-ish years, she may have some work to do herself on her boundaries and may have insight into yours (or the lack thereof).
Your wife is your ally in building boundaries around the marriage, if not carving out individual courtyards within the castle.
She’s flirting and winking at you – this doesn’t bode well. She’s a real threat to your lifestyle (marriage) and livelihood. I don’t know if it wouldn’t be worthwhile to contact HR to figure out if you have crossed a boundary or not. That may not be wise. Scharnhorst – what do you think?
Short answer: Keep detaching from LO. Keep his professional behavior beyond reproach in such a way as to not hurt his LO’s feelings or piss her off. Hurt her feelings or piss her off and she may lash out. When I was detaching from LO #4, I was very aware of that. As hard as I tried not to, I think I may have. But, she didn’t lash out at me.
At this point, I wouldn’t tell anybody who isn’t sworn to confidentiality anything, (e.g., therapist or clergy). It can be really helpful to talk things out with someone who doesn’t have any stake in the outcome and who won’t intentionally or unintentionally betray you.
My take is the fewer people that know what’s going on the better. The complications from adding people to the mix isn’t linear, it’s exponential.
I’m concerned that any f2f lunches may have taken place off-site and if LO takes offense at being sidelined, she could make allegations of a very serious nature.
I really hope that isn’t the case.
Good point, Scharnhorst. I thought HR departments were bound by confidentiality clauses but why take any more unnecessary risks. Is there an employee handbook available?
The risk in going to HR is once they become aware of something, they may be obligated to do something about it. How does he defend himself without implicating her? They may go after her.
Even if they don’t do anything but talk to her, the cat’s out of the bag. My guess it would end the LE but to no one’s satisfaction. Should he decide to pursue the LO, I suspect that she wouldn’t take kindly to being ratted out to HR. Worst case from going to HR, he damages his marriage, he suffers professional consequences, and he doesn’t get the girl.
If that happens, things could get very ugly very quickly. Trying to get your hands around that would be like squeezing a jello mold.
“Worst case from going to HR, he damages his marriage, he suffers professional consequences, and he doesn’t get the girl.”
I would suggest that getting the girl happens after a legal separation or divorce, rather than before. I suspect his wife wouldn’t be too keen on getting LO beforehand.
“Worst case from going to HR, he damages his marriage, he suffers professional consequences, and he doesn’t get the girl.”
I would suggest that getting the girl happens after a legal separation or divorce, rather than before. I suspect his wife wouldn’t be too keen on Royce getting LO beforehand.
I don’t know how that happened. My phone is playing up.
F2F lunches have all been on site and I don’t think either of us has said anything that is overtly inappropriate. Conversations at work are not always 100% professional and with people you know you judge what you think is OK to say, based on trust and the relationship that you have with them. We are still maintaining some boundaries, but yes I need to work on these some more.
I don’t get the HR thing and it’s completely out of the question. I wouldn’t want to stir up trouble for an enemy, never mind someone who I care about and who is genuinely a nice person. She is someone I know and not a random person who can be thrown to the wolves. A wink is not the worst thing in the world and if it wasn’t for me being a limerent fool I’d be able to shrug it off. My brain may have misinterpreted something that was more innocent anyway.
I can try to work on my writing style but I find writing hard enough as it is. I think a lot of what I write is theoretical and thinking out loud, but this process and your responses really seem to help.
A suggested I will try limiting contact again, with the aim to “keep detaching from LO”. I had a valid reason to get in touch with her yesterday and resisted the urge. Crack open the champagne – one day down!
You may be approaching a turning point. Limerence is about us, not them, although it always starts out being about them. In the beginning, we focus on them but if you are really serious about understanding things, that focus will turn. It has to. LOs can be villians but they’re usually not. More often, they’re either unwitting or willing accomplices, which helps keep the focus on them. Once you get your head around that, things start to make sense and should start to get easier.
You’re going to have to play an aggressive defense in things like not responding immediately, etc., for awhile. The key to making that work long-haul is doing the work to understand yourself better. For me, I actually enjoyed that although it dredged up some surprisingly painful things and, in some contexts, put me in a very unflattering light. Addressing what got me into the last LE improved other areas of my life. But, you have to be willing to go where that journey may take you.
The ability to solve problems is good but avoiding them is even better. Unless you understand what happened and how you got there, the risk of repeating it remains. Turning the focus to yourself will also make it easier to detach. Make this about you, not her.
You’re moving in the right direction. It doesn’t take much effort to get into the limerence minefield, but it can take a lot to get out of it.
“I had a valid reason to get in touch with her yesterday and resisted the urge. Crack open the champagne – one day down!”
Good for you!
I’ve had limerance once and it was horrible. I could not think and I lost weight. He was a co-worker at my new job. I felt like he would try to get my attention, hide, rinse and repeat. Eventually I could not take it anymore and asked him if there was a connection. He said no. I was horrified and avoided him after that, but it felt good to know where things stood. After that, he spent a lot of time trying to get my attention in nice and cruel sorts of ways, but I stayed away. Eventually he met someone and was absolutely horrible to me. And then he broke up with her and tried to get my attention again. He’s mostly stopped now. I just finished my year at my employer and handed in my two week notice. I cannot wait to get away from him. The only good thing that has come out of this is the 10 lbs I lost. If you need to lose weight, give yourself a hefty dose of limerence. It works better than any diet pill. All is not sad. I met a wonderful man a few months ago who fills most of my mind these days. I can’t wait till the LO is completely gone from my life. I want him dislodged from my mind pronto! 🙂
Is it worth telling your employer that his behavior was one of the reasons you left? That sounds like it could be viewed as harassment or a hostile work place. You didn’t want to date him.
He sounds like a narcissist LO and you’re definitely best off without him. Good riddance and great that you’ve met someone new. 🙂 I’m still resisting any kind of disclosure but interesting that you say “it felt good to know where things stood”.
Limerence certainly is good for weight loss. I’ve shed around 30lbs and have become quite a good runner. Every cloud …….
Thank you for this beautiful blog and in particular this very enlightening post on when not to disclose. Up until yesterday I had no idea what limerence was, I stumbled upon this site by pure chance as I googled “how long does a crush last” in trying to understand my feelings and wanting to make sure I wasn’t going stark raving mad.
My limerence started about 18 months ago, it caught me completely off guard, knocked me side ways, off my feet and on my ass. Both LO and I are married with children and met in the school car park 2 years ago, it all started with a simple nod of acknowledgement, smile, then wave, each day as we each parked our car behind each other to pick up our children. There was no verbal communication for 6 months, just a meeting of eyes, wave and walking past each other. I can honestly say up to that point I had no feelings for this LO, he didn’t occupy my mind as I was too consumed with a lack of self worth, mood swings and bouts of depression as I negotiated the perils of reaching my mid 40’s.
After 6 months we verbally greeted each other (still no introduction) and if we happened to drive past each other we’d wave. I started to enjoy our brief interactions and look forward to them, we even sparred as to who got the better carspot. Six months after that we were formally introduced which meant we now openly spoke to each other whenever we saw one another, nothing earth shattering just hello, how are you, how are the children. Things “escalated” quite quickly last year as we got to know each other via mutual friends, if we sat in the same group he’d move from one end of the table to sit next to me to talk and visa versa. Some days we’d talk so long that almost everyone would’ve left the table and two hours flew by. If I looked up I’d catch him looking at me and visa versa. The proverbial poop hit the fan when his SO cottonend on and cracked the shits with me and we had a fall out. I was devastated as I realised NC was the only thing to kill this thing off, so I stayed away and avoided school for 8 weeks, it nearly killed me inside. Every waking moment was spent fretting over him, missing him, wishing I could see him not to mention the river of tears I cried.
I thought he’d never speak to me again as his wife must’ve laid down the law, but after 8 weeks he came to school with his SO and caught me by surprise. I actually pretended not to see them and turned my back hoping both would walk past without saying anything, instead LO tapped on my shoulder and proceeded to talk to me as if nothing happened. Fast forward to today and we are back to being ” friends”, I am back to talking to his SO and have sat with both LO and his SO in our usual social setting. The only difference is I am left agonising over every word and look LO gives me (or lack thereof), I’ve lost a tonne of weight and my heart jumps out of my chest each time I glimpse him or his car. It actually makes me feel physically ill.
I was contemplating disclosing to my SO and perhaps LO but after reading the above article I’ve decided against it as currently everything is in my head, I’ve managed to successfully hide my feelings to the extent that LO’s SO thinks it’s all over and treats me normally again. I don’t want to upset the Apple art again, LO and I are careful not to talk too long to each other and certainly no more meaningful “looks” are given to each other. The only thing I am currently contemplating is NC as I still have an unhealthy attachment that needs to be severed.
So that’s my long winded sad sob story.
Welcome Lee (we have a regular Lee here, but the more the merrier!)
Thanks for posting your sob story – this is just the place for sharing them! A good lesson in how hard it is to try and remain friends with an LO once the limerence has kicked in. It’s just more exposure for you and a thankless time of clenched teeth and churning guts while you try and stay normal in front of LO and his SO. Torture.
There’s lots to enjoy (?) here on coping with LOs and why friendship Never Works. Hope it helps…
Thank you for the welcome, I’ll alter my name slightly so there’s no confusion which Lee says what.
This website has been very helpful and I will be eternally grateful to have found it, I haven’t stopped reading since yesterday. It’s almost a cathartic purging and validation of every emotion I have felt in the past 18 months. I am here because I want this roller coaster of emotions to stop and I’ve realised that in order to do that I need to find the strength within myself to get off.
I thought everything was under control (ha!) but can recognise my old behaviour patterns of self-sabotage from last year reappearing. So before I do something irreversible and stupid I need to sever ties with LO, by the way, I read your article how we can’t be friends with our LO and it was a real eye opener. Just excuse me while I frantically grab a paper bag to breath in and get my heart rate back to normal.
Here’s a synopsis of my feelings towards LO, I am sure some people can relate, or maybe not…..
– Uncontrollable anticipation (butterflies, escalated breathing) when I “know” our paths may cross, no matter how fleeting my glimpse of him (aka his car passes mine on the road, and yes I know right down to the last minute when I can potentially see him!)
– If he sees me first and acknowledges (flashing lights, honk or wave) I feel sheer euphoria followed by such a massive rush of happiness that my heart almost beats out of my chest (shit I am having a heart attack). Generally my level and intensity of euphoria is measured by how far ahead he’s seen me (did he see me 200 metres away, 100 metres away or just as our cars were passing). I am thus happy for the next 24hrs, till our next sighting.
– if he didn’t see me (which is rare) feelings of utter desolation with borderline tears on my part.
– anticipation builds up again an hour later because I know he may or may not be at our local school coffee shop for his coffee and catch up (we have mutual friends). I know which days he’s most likely to be there and can spot his car at 200 paces even driving at warp speed.
Sometimes LO is there before me (my favourite) and he will exit his car and come over for a chat if he spots me. He always spots me, even if I try to sneak past, I’ve tested this. This sends my heart into overdrive and I find it difficult to breath, even my hands shake so I need to take several deep breaths before he reaches me and I can speak. Once we speak everything calms down, heart rate back to normal, I can make eye contact without dying and I almost feel like we are friends. My emotions take such a sharp U-turn that I begin to wonder if what I was feeling earlier was all in my head.
– if he’s not there or comes in later I feel disappointed but optimistic for next time. If I am already at the table I need to sit facing the door so I can see him come in. If my back is to the door my anxiety goes into overdrive and I am distracted, but I always “know” he’s there before he’s said anything as the hair on the back of my neck stands on end. It’s also uncanny that when I am in a crowded room or LO is that I know the exact moment he’s there, our eyes always meet if only just once. Once I pretended not to see him and I felt him circle the room (took him 20 minutes but who’s counting) before he ended up in front of me to say hello. I’ve also seen him watch me via the reflection of a window when he thought I was occupied.
– my least favourite part is seeing LO unexpectedly, I don’t like surprises and it throws me off kilter for the whole day.
– I won’t bore you with my fantasies but let’s just say LO is the last thing I think of before I go to sleep and my 1st thought when I wake up. I also have a constant knot in my stomach and my sleeping patterns have turned to shyte.
Wow reading the above makes me realise I seriously need help! Not sure if I feel comfortable hitting the send button on this :-0
Well, that’s pretty much “normal” behaviour for a limerent 🙂 But yes, this site exists because many of us do need help with it!
I disclosed to my LO while in a 20 year relationship with my SO. Thing was, my SO knew. He knew what was going on before I did. We were working through things, communicating, like you do in a 20 year relationship. I thought that disclosing would bring the reality hammer crashing down and help end the limerence. It didn’t. Ending it through NC; I showed my husband this blog and it helped me explain to him what was happening when I met my LO a few years ago. He and I have been getting on better now that all this is wide open.
Well done Archer! Reckon that is an important step in the right direction. Doing that certainly helped my SO and I get closer and that in turn reduces my reveries. I also found that having someone to voice aloud how I want SO not LO and how my feelings for LO were more an addiction to a partially imaginary person improves my perspective. The more I say it, the more I believe it.
Saying that, not had a good day today…way too much daydreaming at work about my boss. Really must get a grip.
Thanks Allie! It definitely has been quite the emotional roller-coaster. It helps that my husband and I have had wonderful communication throughout our relationship and we’ve been discussing any unmet needs I have, how, why, etc. It also does help, like you pointed out, to get some space between your emotions and your behavior and some level of objectivity resurfaces – such as “an addiction to a partially imaginary person”. That was what fundamentally helped me as well.
I’m really sorry your day is being so difficult with you – can you get up and take a walk, or read, or some other fundamental activity?
Thanks so much Dr. L (and all the commenters)! From a website overflowing with useful and highly applicable wisdom, this post is THE ONE for me. This is exactly where I am right now and you have just saved me from handing over a giant, primed life-grenade to my LO.
I clearly remember the moment I met my LO. I helped interview her for a position at work. I was immediately impressed by her intelligence and self-possession, despite her obvious nervousness. I also remember thinking towards the end of the interview “I love the hair on her forearm!” In hindsight, alarm bells should have started ringing then and there. That was nearly a year ago, and we’d been working happily together without incident. LO is almost unfailingly cheerful, friendly, honest, beautiful, and most compellingly of all, often the smartest person in the room. When we talk, which is often (although usually professionally) she just gets me in a way that people often don’t. The conversation flows so easily. I am in the midst of a diagnosis for Asperger’s syndrome…
Everything was trucking along fine until the last couple of months brought us closer together to work on a high-stakes, high-stress project. That’s when her presence became particularly intoxicating, and I started imagining being with her. Constantly.
LO is close to half my age (although I still feel somewhat youthful at 45), and I’m married with kids.
In the meantime, things became even more perilous as I was promoted, and became LO’s manager.
She has never given me any clear signals that she is interested in me, but I guess limerence, and my history of missing subtle social cues (ref. ASD), mean that I can’t be sure.
Objectively, the risk/benefit ratio here is wildly skewed to risk, and yet… somehow every time I see her, I can’t accept that.
Just gotta work on it I guess. Unfortunately, NC is not really possible.
Limerent Emeritus says
Welcome to LwL!
Asperger’s and autism comes up periodically in different posts but there’s not a blog exclusively dedicated to it.
Check out https://livingwithlimerence.com/what-causes-obsession-with-another-person/#comment-29727
If you haven’t, you might want to check out the private forum and see if there’s more discussion there.
Thanks! I’m very happy to be here. I don’t want to overstate the influence of (potential) ASD – there are just some aspects that seem complementary to limerence, that’s all.
I do wonder, now that I’m learning about limerence, whether all of my relationships with women have had some aspect of limerence about them. Limeresque maybe, if not fully limerent.
Hi. I’m in the midst of a LE. Thankfully, we are on holiday so I will not be seeing my LO for a couple of weeks. I have been contemplating disclosing to my LO that I have feelings for him. He is my boss. We are both married and have kids. I really don’t want anything from him but I need to end this madness. NC is not really possible but I’m thinking that if I tell him, perhaps he will get so freaked out and he will initiate NC. There was a period of time where he actively avoided me as I think he may have picked up on my feelings. But lately, he has been initiating contact – nothing inappropriate but not always strictly necessary to communicate about. I think in some way he has feelings for me (I know that we create these fantasies in our heads but I genuinely think in this case there is something there), I have noticed him looking at me when he doesn’t realise I’m looking at him.
I know the best option is to leave my job but I love my job and I will not find something similar to this. There is no way to completely have NC. I can do chats on Whatsapp or emails but when I see him in person, it sends me spiralling. I have actually been pretty good with avoiding him as I know this is not good for me. It is now him who seeks me out and not vice versa.
I really don’t know what to do. My LO is also my SO’s boss so it is a very complicated situation. My LO is a very decent human being. I have sent him some crazy correspondence (my mental health has not been so great this year) but as far as I know, he has not disclosed it to anyone. I was thinking that if I disclose to him and just explain to him that we need to limit contact, it would be for the best. I don’t think he would tell my SO and I don’t want to tell my SO. In this way, he would give me space. It may be a little awkward but I’m sure he would respect my wishes.
Do not disclose to LO. Try other methods to relieve your symptoms first. Disclosure complicates things. I naively disclosed to my first two LOs and the problem got worse because they both reciprocated. I was very careful not to disclose to my current LO, but he disclosed his attraction to me. It complicated our relationship. Disclosing to LO is a bad idea. Don’t do it.
Best of luck!
I’m an employer who has LE for one of my employees. I too think it might be mutual and we have been in this dance without disclosure for about 10 months. From my perspective, I would love it if she disclosed because I feel it would relieve a ton of tension and we could work as a team to mutually stop the madness too. She is married and so am I and neither one of us want an affair. But it is apparent that there is attraction between us and we keep pushing interaction boundaries.
You think you want her to disclose, but it would only make your relationship harder. You currently suspect that there is mutual attraction but you don’t know so there are boundaries neither of you would cross. If one of you discloses and it is a mutual attraction, the rules change. Both of you will feel safe to push boundaries. And since neither of you wants an affair, guess what happens when someone oversteps a line. You lose each other because you are not going to lose your marriages. So just enjoy the not-knowing.
When disclosure happens the relationship changes and you never get to go back.
You make an excellent point. Thank you. I just get exhausted with the elephant in the room, but the elephant may actually be protecting us from one another.
You are welcome. Yes, the elephant is protecting both of you. That is a great way to say it. I know the dance can be exhausting at times, but it really is safer than knowing there is mutual attraction.
Best of luck!
So I like to go back to older blogs and comment of topics that are relevant to my experience. This one is one of those because a couple months back I disclosed when all the good advice said not to.
My LO is my employee…reason #1 not to disclose. Also, we are both married. Reason #2. For about 10 months I was in an LE situation with a ton of uncertainty with feelings of mutual attraction. The tension hit a crescendo around Xmas time when we engaged in 2 weeks of reciprocal texting everyday. Nothing intense but a lot of bantor that gave me a high sense of connection. Around this same time my feelings started to leak so that other employees noticed my demeanor of attraction around LO. Talk began to happen and LO caught wind of the talk.
About 2 weeks later I disclosed as an attempt to control the narrative with LO but also because I wanted to so damn much. For months I had been holding in this secret desire for her, and I just wanted her to know so bad. I was willing to roll with her wherever it led if she felt the same.
Well…turns out the feelings of romantic desire were not mutual, though she did claim to think of me as a closer friend and have admiration for me as a man. But at the same time my disclosure gave her distress from my actions towards her but hers towards me as well over the past few months. For a good couple weeks I could tell she was not herself but they a few more talks and some anger on her part towards me she pulled past the initial distress.
Was disclosure worth it…yes and no. I got lucky that after I disclosed I managed the fall out fairly well and she is not concerned about me anymore. I have done everything in my power to make the work place and our relationship comfortable for her. We stopped texting and we have light personal conversation at the office. But, she can still be suspicious of me at times. I really can’t stray outside a very normal and dull boss / employee paradigm with her without her wondering my motives.
Disclosing did relieve the tension of the secret, but a few months removed now, the LE is still there. It is a bit less in intensity now, which I appreciate, but disclosure is by no means a cure.
I would not recommend disclosing in my situation. I truly do think I got lucky the fall out was not worse. LO did not do something erratic, but I imagined she could have. She could have quit or told her husband, or just generally been completely creeped out by me, or worse, claim sexual harassment. She did none of those thankfully. But, our relationship outside the work walls is dead too, which I sometimes lament. At the same time it was that relationship that drove me the most crazy.
I still sometimes question the truth in her attraction to me. She still looks at me and smiles at me certain ways no other woman does. But that is just be my limerent brain taking a warm look and turning it into a look of desire.