In a previous post, I described disclosure as the nuclear option for getting rid of limerence. While obviously jokey, it is true that disclosure has the potential to really blow up your life in a big way. If it doesn’t – if you disclose but your relationship with LO drifts back to the same pattern of confusing friendship-but-also-some-intimacy that characterises the typical limerence experience – then I’m sorry to break it to you, but your LO is a git. Seriously, would anyone of integrity let a relationship that they knew meant so much to you drift along in limbo? They are either a narc or a coward, and you should avoid people like that if you want a fulfilling life.
Anyway. Where was I? Oh, yes, disclosure.
Many limerents want to disclose. Powerfully want to. They want LO to know how special they think they are. They hope that LO will feel excited and gratified by the knowledge, they want LO to reciprocate, and they want their shared intimacy to advance to a deeper level. They may also want to make a show of the fact that they trust LO with such personal and potentially explosive information. Basically selfish wishes (and probably largely subconscious), but understandable in the madness of consuming desire and actually fine in many circumstances. Sometimes, though, such wishes should be resisted. Disclosure is the best tool for ending the uncertainty, but it isn’t by any means a discreet or elegant tool. So, when is disclosure a good idea, and when is it a bad idea?
There’s a lot to say about this issue, so this will be a post in two parts. It’s a lovely sunny day in the part of the world that I’m currently relaxing, so let’s start with the good:
You are free to act on your feelings if they are reciprocated
If you and LO are single, and you want to start a relationship, then disclosure is a good idea. If LO is equivocal about you, then that is important to know. If they give a non-committal response, it’s a good idea to make a clear statement, like “OK, thanks. If it’s OK with you, let’s not hang out for a while, while you think about how you feel. Get back to me once you’ve thought it through.” Then assume it’s a no, and be pleasantly surprised if they instead come back for more.
The psychology behind this is straightforward: LO is likely to feel a bit weird about your company straight after disclosure. Giving them space to process it is likely to work in your favour. If they are definitely not interested in you, that gives them time to come up with excuses about not seeing you any more, which, while undeniably painful, is actually much better for you than staying limerent for a non-reciprocating friend. If they haven’t really thought about you romantically before, but find you attractive, then disclosure can work in your favour by making them start to think of you romantically. Knowing that someone fancies you is quite an effective aphrodisiac for many people. Finally, if the response was lukewarm, you’ve made yourself the perfect excuse for going no contact. Do not get in touch with them again, unless they get back to you after thinking it through and want to get it on.
You want to know how they feel but are getting mixed messages
Another scenario is that LO is emotionally evasive or seems conflicted, or blows hot and cold. I’ve cautioned before about why this is the most reinforcing behaviour that an LO can exhibit, and that it is rarely a good sign that you’ve started to bond with a good match. Nevertheless, some folks just have trouble clearly expressing themselves, so disclosure is the best way of deciding the issue for them. If you’re slipping into limerent reverie but can’t tell for sure if they are interested in you, then it’s time to stop the guessing games for the sake of your own sanity. Deep breath. Courage. Disclose and find out.
If they continue to give mixed messages or keep you hanging, then you have learned what kind of character they have. They are either chronically indecisive or enjoy the asymmetry of the relationship. Avoid people like that. Now, some people may see this as overly hasty, and point out that many people react badly to being rushed or given an ultimatum when it comes to love. But you’re not asking for a ring, you’re just expressing your own feelings and asking about theirs. If that’s too much for them, then you’re trying to bond to someone who can’t even commit to admitting their own feelings. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect such a person to make their mind up.
You think they will not reciprocate, but you want the limerence to end
A counsel of despair this one, and rather like pulling a plaster off quickly. If you are trapped in limerent limbo with a non-reciprocating LO and want out, disclosure should mean that you cut off your source of supply. Remove the plaster covering over your festering fake friendship, and expose everything to the light of day. Then you have the perfect reason for no contact, and they will probably be fine with that, now they know how you feel. Again, if they seek to continue or deepen your relationship after you have disclosed and they have rejected you, you should have grave reservations about their motives and protect yourself by maintaining no contact.
Overall, how your LO responds to disclosure will tell you an awful lot about them. If they reciprocate and admit their limerence for you, then you are going to be blissfully happy for a while. Lucky you! If they bluntly rebuff you, they are straightforward but uninterested, and you can at least part on honest terms (don’t underestimate how helpful that is for recovery). If they are interested, but hesitant, and decide to try a relationship out and see how it goes, you have probably just discovered that your LO is a non-limerent. That’s fine. Lots of splendid non-limerents in the world who could be excellent partners, but recognise the implications of that for how the relationship is likely to develop, and have realistic expectations. Finally, if they do not give you a clear answer, and want things to carry on as they were, run away as fast as you can. Do not try to be friends with that person. Do not torture yourself. Run, and free yourself to find someone better for you.
“Remove the plaster covering over your festering fake friendship, and expose everything to the light of day.”
I was up late & had to get up early, so I may have misinterpreted this post entirely. If someone who is limerent for another pursues a romantic goal behind the tower shield of “I just want to be your friend”, then isn’t the limerent the ‘faker’ rather than the LO? I know there are LO’s who simply enjoy stringing smitten potential lovers along (and they are stinkers for doing so), but is there any reason to be bitter or upset with a LO who doesn’t want a romantic relationship if your own motives were hidden (worst case) or unclear?
Of course there are lovely relationships that start between two friends, but if one person is in it with an unstated goal from the beginning, it’s a bit much to accuse the LO of being duplicitous.
As I mentioned, I’m tired so this may not have been the thrust of this post at all.
He may be referring to the strategy I used disclosure for. It’s in “How to get rid of limerence.” I think that may have been my first post on this site. The idea was by disclosing, we couldn’t use the “just friends” excuse, anymore.
I thought she’d shut me down but she didn’t. From the time I disclosed until she said goodbye was about 9 months. As bad as it sounds, I think I would have tried to find a way to keep it alive as long as she let me. When she said, “I don’t think continuing to correspond would be appropriate,” she put me in a double bind and effectively checkmated me. I either agree with her and say goodbye or try to convince her she’s wrong when she wasn’t and go deeper into an emotional affair. I wasn’t going to destroy my marriage for her and I don’t think she would have retained any respect for me if I had. When I worked for her, she said she valued my honesty and integrity. She also wasn’t stupid. If she could turn my loyalty to my wife, some other woman could turn my loyalty to her.
What I found so compelling that I was willing to walk a line that I knew I shouldn’t have been walking at all took about 6 sessions with the therapist to figure out.
My interpretation – admittedly clouded by my current situation – is that yes the faker is the limerent, trying to kid themselves they’re just friends whereas the LO may genuinely perceive it that way. No bitterness towards the LO intended, but the limerent just needs to get out of limbo. The conflict for me is in my head between the rational part that can see the situation for what it is, and the bit I really want to lose, which keeps popping in hope for what should never be.
Sorry if I don’t make sense!
There’s a great article on Thought Catalog, “Can A Man And A Woman Really Have A Platonic Relationship?” It says that if you have to put up boundaries or alter your feelings it’s not a platonic relationship. By those criteria, it wasn’t platonic for me once LO #4 started opening up to me. I saw where it was going and I wasn’t able to fake it so I disclosed.
When I disclosed to LO #4, her response was, “I had no idea. I’m flattered and, under different circumstances, might even be curious. But, circumstances are what they are.”
At that point, by maintaining the relationship, she went from unwitting to complicit.
You know, Lee, re-reading the post I did seem to be in a bit of a grump (despite the sunny weather)!
The notion of the “festering friendship” is probably a bit strong, but the idea is that limerents are often self-deceiving and pretend that LO is a friend like any other, and make noble statements about “not wanting to ruin a friendship” by disclosure, when they really mean “I don’t want to risk losing access to LO”. That’s when disclosure can be a purposeful and honest act – remove the pretense of friendship and settle the issue. Get yourself out of limbo, and see how LO reacts.
But clearly, the grumpy undertone to the post is about LO’s who listen to the disclosure and make some sort of ambiguous response, wanting to keep the limerent around for selfish reasons of their own (e.g. they like the attention). That’s a festering friendship too.
I may come off as phony, but for me, disclosure wasn’t an option. Too cowardly to do that. Instead I wrote a long text at night saying why we couldn’t stay friends any longer because of broken trust blah blah. She texted back in the morning with a “fuck you” and blocked me. She later showed all the intimate texts that I had sent her to my mutual friends. Lost all of my social circle in one fall sweep.
We did meet a week later by chance and I apologized for the way I broke up with her.
Later that night she unblocked me on phone even though I had not asked her to. No contact for 3 days now. I plan to stick to my part of the deal.
That does sound like a bit of a toxic dynamic, Severus. No contract seems a good plan.
Interesting point about sending a text – I guess that does count as disclosure, although maybe yours was more confrontational that confessional? The email dump to mutual friends is another reminder that things can go wrong very quickly once relationships break down. One of the reasons I would always advocate for focussing on yourself, your own limerence issues, and what purposeful steps you can take as stage one. You can never truly predict the actions of an LO (and certainly can’t control them).
That sounds gut-wrenching, Severus. How very unkind of her.
“Later that night she unblocked me on phone even though I had not asked her to. No contact for 3 days now.”
Shouldn’t you block her number? Don’t rely upon her to do what you wish her to do. Do it for yourself.
Best of luck, severus. She really doesn’t seem to have your best interests at heart. I think ‘no contact’ is the way to go here.
It possible that it might get worse before it gets better. Under no circumstances should you be alone with her. Don’t be surprised if she shows up at your door. If she leaves you alone for 4-6 weeks, you should be ok.
It might also help to start establishing an electronic alibi. Use that debit/credit card to buy things like coffee, several times/day.
After a year of serious limerence for The Chief, I had to embrace the nuclear option. It was the saddest reason, that I knew he would never reciprocate but it was my own way to escape. I had met the man three times, briefly, and followed him a little too close for maybe four or five weeks. I was doing really stupid things, like driving two hours each way to see him at a great distance, and I decided that my limerence needed to end with the summer so that I could begin anew. I knew it would mean not going back to his place of work for a long time, so I steeled myself for that, sent him a friend request and a message. I never heard back from either of them. He never blocked me, never deleted the friend request, and never responded. I had hoped for more certainty than that.
A few months later one of my friends got drunk and sent him a friend request. He accepted it while driving through my town. I always wondered why he did that. I really wished he’d hate me more decisively. Now, eight years on, his marriage to his mistress has to be looking a bit weathered, and I have to go back to his place of work again. The uncertainty of not knowing how he’ll respond to me has me tied in knots again. I could be the crazy girl he wants to avoid or a happy memory, or anything in between. In my case the nuclear bomb was left unexploded, though for sake of my sanity I have taken his silence and later marriage as enough of an answer and moved on.
I’ve recently discovered the meaning of “limerence” and I have realized that this as been a reoccurring feeling in my life. I always had issues with approaching women I found irresistible since my youth and the problem has only grown.
I am probably on my second LO now and the hard part of disclosing my feelings to her as a cure is that I ran away from her when I “had the chance” IMO six years ago.
We met at my work and I was only 20 years old at the time. I immediately felt attracted to her and her personality but my fear of rejection and fear of not knowing how to love were too strong and I backed away. She is very friendly and charismatic and I completely fell in love with her as time passed. I preferred to admire from afar while I got involved with women I felt were “less attractive”. I know it’s weird to say such a thing, but I couldn’t understand myself back then and I have been on a journey to figure out all this. I guess my plan was too figure out how to love first and then approach her once I had some experience as I was too afraid to mess up a relationship with her. Silly I know.
The funniest part of the tale is that, a year or so after I met her, while I was searching for love elsewhere and avoiding her, I got catfished by a cousin of hers and I feel this hastened my decision to approach her back then because I had disclosed my feelings to that cousin of hers. I also had to break her cousins heart which didn’t reflect so well on my character.
A week or so later I decided I to ask her out for lunch, she agreed but she never showed. I came to her office and a colleague of ours who knew about the appointment started sniggering and I asked her if she could call her. She claimed to have “forgotten” about the appointment/date/lunch and that we should re-schedule. I was embarrassed because I felt that she was playing games with me.
So the meeting didn’t materialize and I went back to my office, I called her this is what I can remember:
Me: “The reason I asked you for lunch today…. is… because… I want you to be my girlfriend”
Her: (Short pause)…. I’m seeing someone
Me: Okay (put the phone down in disappointment)
A little while after that, she called me back
Her: You just broke up with my cousin a few weeks ago and now you asking me to be you gf? Seriously?
Me: Yeah, you know that wasn’t serious (or something along those lines)
I felt very awful and embarrassed after the incidence and I did my best to avoid her since that moment. I don’t think the desire for her ever died as I still fantasied about her for years and chose to hide/disguise my feelings for her by dating other women. Anyways, fast forward to today, I am in a relationship now and my SO and I have a son together. I was still daydream and fantasize about her I have noticed my heart beats for her even in the presence of my SO.
What advice would you guys have for me in this situation? She is my colleague and my SO’s sister and my LO are good friends. I’m honestly stuck between a rock and a hard place. Not sure if I should disclose my feelings to her or keep hurting on the inside?
Limerent Emeritus says
“Not sure if I should disclose my feelings to her or keep hurting on the inside?”
If by “her,” you mean your LO, my recommendation is you don’t disclose to her. Nothing good can come of that.
If by “her,” you mean your SO, maybe. Have you read:
Have you thought the scenarios through? What do you want to happen if you disclose to your LO or your SO? In my experience, disclosure didn’t make the feelings go away, it just altered the playing field.
Personally, I don’t see any upside to disclosure but I see a whole lot of downside.
My suggestion is you find a therapist and sort through this. The stakes pretty high professionally and personally. If your company has an EAP program, I recommend you use it.
I’ll ask you the same question the EAP counselor asked me, “Are you willing to sacrifice you marriage and family for this woman?” If she’s a colleague, you can add “career” to the question?
Hello Emeritus, Thank you for the reply.
I already disclosed my feelings for my LO to my SO last year while she was pregnant with our son. I didn’t know what Limerence was at that time and I told my SO that I have a “crush” on my colleague LO. I later learned that infatuation and crushes fade in about 6 months or less and this when I realized that I was experiencing something else. Obsession & Limerence define my feelings to my LO quite well.
My SO was very hurt by my confession and I feel that this was a major blow to her ego, self-esteem and our overall happiness as a couple. I feel that this really rocked the boat but my SO stood her ground and stayed has with me until today. She sometimes seems to enjoy teasing me about my LO, showing me pictures of her just to see what my reaction will be and calling her my future wife and of course looking at a pic of my LO puts a smile on my face. I am too honest about my LE and this hurts my SO.
This does not help my SO’s confidence either, I believe in some way my SO feels inferior to my LO and she believes if my LO feels the same way about me, I’ll drop her without thinking twice (which is likely). My SO still cries about the whole situation, and the very last time she cried about this was on her younger sisters’ lap (also my colleague and good friend of my LO) a couple of weeks ago and I have a very strong feeling her younger sister will tell my LO what I said to my SO while she was pregnant.
On that day, I felt I had no choice but to deny it all at the that moment (what could I say? I’m cowardly thus this LE) but something tells me that this juicy information will eventually reach my LO any day as my sister-in-law is close friends with my LO and my sister-in-law has already disclosed private information about my relationship with her sister to my LO. A secret my SO trusted her sister to keep safe. When confronted about the matter my sis-in-law said “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I told her”.
For me, that is a mystery and we’ll probably never know for sure but it raises my suspicions about my LO’s feelings towards me. And this is what is making the feelings towards disclosure itch even more.
I believe the reason this LE re-birthed was because I never got over/accepted the initial rejection/deflection from my LO, she is the “one who got away” after all + my own internal psychological shortcomings. I know I shouldn’t but, it’s also hard for me not to compare the two my SO and LO. They are two very different women and my imagination convinces me that a romantic relationship with LO will be very different from what I have now. My research confirms that adversity in a relationship can lead to Limerence as well.
I’m a strong believer in astrology and had I known what I know today, I would have made a lot of different choices. I have been to several astrological sites looking for answers as to why I feel this way about this LO and the answers seem to be in the Universe, it’s beyond my own control IMO. The attraction I feel towards her is no mistake and astrology confirms why I feel this way. I know, that’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I understand.
After reading those two articles you recommended for me above about “when-not-to-disclose” and “should-you-disclose-to-your-significant-other”, I have learnt some very useful things that I should’ve done from the beginning but I may have learnt some things a bit too late. My logic tells me not to disclose my feelings to LO and I should avoid hurting my SO any further and save myself the embarrassment. But then again, my logic is the probably reason I’m in this whole LE, so I want to trust my intuition for once and just try my luck
Now to answer your question:
“Are you willing to sacrifice you marriage, career and family for this woman?”
Marriage – I’m not married yet but the desire to marry my LO is high even though we never dated, I have no clue how she’ll treat me and there is an even BIGGER chance of me being rejected outright.
Career – I don’t like my job anyways, but I need it to take care of myself and my son. I would actually prefer to disclose my feelings to before the entire organization, even if I’m rejected in front of all my colleagues I’m sure the experience of being bold for once will be a good memory.
Family – I love my son and my SO so much. It’s unfortunate that I have an obsession with another woman, this is the hardest aspect of my situation. I do not want my current SO to become resentful towards me and ill-treat our son if I decide to leave her for my LO.
I don’t want to have any regrets in the future about this, from both ends. I could be wrong and find that leaving my SO to be with my LO (the odds are against me BTW) is not really entering greener pastures.
Every relationship requires work, including my current one but I’m just afraid that if I don’t disclose now, I’ll lose her to time and I’ll be feeling this way about my current LO for decades if not eternity.
Limerent Emeritus says
Time to play “The Fairy-Tale Ending Game.”
If you could make this turn out anyway you wanted it, what would it be? What is the ideal outcome?
The ideal outcome for me would be for the limerence to subside so I can focus on building my life. I realize that I really admire my LO and the achievements that she is making. There are several traits that I see in her and wish I possessed.
I know this limerence is clouding my judgement and I am unable to reason rationally. When I chose my SO, I was fully aware of my LO’s existence, and yes I have always had feelings for my LO and I chose not to act on it for a reason. That’s the part of me that I need to reconnect with and understand the vision I had for myself and SO when we began this relationship.
I will not lie that I don’t want her in my bed naked, I’m just afraid that if I do not turn my life around soon, I will continue to obsess about her and I will die with regret in my heart. I do not want to have any regrets when I die, but I can’t help to think that I’m damned either way.
Limerent Emeritus says
Life is full of “What Ifs?”
I don’t know how any person with any degree of self-awareness and self-reflection can avoid them.
I have 2 “What If?” lists. One for people who caught my attention and I wonder “What If” I’d met them under different circumstances. The other “What If” list has to do with decision I made or decisions other people made that affected me. I have a detailed post about that buried somewhere in one of the blogs.
Regret is an interesting concept. There’s a lot written about it. Two things that stand out for me are:
– What we regret changes with age. The younger you are, the more you regret what you actually do or say. The older you get, the more you regret what you didn’t do or say.
– They say the pain of rejection is worse than the pain of regret. The pain of rejection seems to fade over time but you can take regret to the grave. I believe that. It helped drive me disclosing to LO #4. I knew I had to get away from her but I wanted her to disclose that she had feelings back. The closest I got was, “Wow! I had no idea. I’m flattered and, under different circumstances, might even be curious. But, circumstances are what they are.” Indirect, but I’ll take it.
Neither of those probably help you much. Take one path and you may regret what you do. Take the other and you may regret what you didn’t do. You can spend a whole lot of time and energy oscillating around that point.
I could get away with that because my logistics allowed it. Disclosure for me came at little risk. You’re in a different situation.
This site is dedicated to managing/eliminating limerence. But, you have to want to manage or eliminate it.
You’ve sailed into a minefield. Getting a handle on your limerence is only one problem. You have to consider what other people may do with the knowledge they have and you have no control over them.
DrL’s theme at LwL is purposeful living. What does that mean to you? Figure out what that means and you’ll take a path. There may be consequences but lasting regret shouldn’t be one of them.
Limerent Emeritus says
“They say the pain of rejection is worse than the pain of regret.”
I got that backwards.
“They say the pain of regret is worse than the pain of rejection.”
It’s good to remember limerence is all about you, not about them. You may want to research further before you act. figure out your deeper motivations and the mechanics of limerence. https://livingwithlimerence.com/the-neuroscience-of-limerence/.
Bert, thank you for the support.
This is a temptation that I have to fight and overcome in order to protect my family.
Let me check the article you sent.
I didn’t contemplate about telling so much as all you above, but here is how it went im my case:
I met a guy in Feb 2022. I liked him from the get going, but HE went after me, not me after him. Everything felt great and he was great, but from the beginning something just felt off. I was confused with some mixed signals he’s sent me. Nevertheless I fell head over heals for him.
Before he went away, amongst many plans where and when to meet next, we had an argument: I didn’t want to get intimate yet, because I found he is not reciprocating my transparency and he protested. Then l told him I am starting to feel a deep connection towards him and want to know where I am standing. I disclosed. There was nothing abnormal to that disclosure, we’ve slowly built 2,5 months together.
He looked totally petrified, apologized to me (which I didn’t understand back then) and next disappeared to a thin air. Couldn’t find him anywhere. At one point I heard from only one of his colleagues I knew, that I accidentally bumped against, that he went back to his country (Australia, I’m from EU). He had left me behind, completely heartbroken and with many questions, no closure as to why. I tried to find him, only to come after the only 1 photo he ever gave me was untraceable and his lastname probably fake.
Long story short: it took me few months, but I did find him. Not only he forgot to gave his real name, he also forgot to tell he is married with 3(!) underage kids. Total cliché. I had sent him a confrontational email to a private email address I found (he never gave it to me) and blocked him right after that, then watched it unfold. At one point you could literally see a douchebag changing his twitter/fb/ln etc settings not to be seen/found so easily (by other ladies, I assume).
I am really, really thankful for my gut feeling and that I didn’t succumb and go to bed with him back then, no matter how much he tried or protested. It is hard in this fast-consuming world to stay true to yourself, but I did. Which saved me from even bigger heartache, I think. I still have no idea why he pursued me for so long? If he just wanted to get laid, there were many easier ways or people.
Although I know how fault, without any doubt, this person is, it is stil difficult for me to move on. It is like I am completely captivated by those few months spent together and the extremely painful 1/2 year not knowing where he was, searching for him. Sad truth is I still wake up and fall asleep with him in my thoughts, no matter how cruel that person was to me. I just wish I could of sleep endlessly as in my dreams I do not think of him. But every morning he kicks in, again and again. I hate it. It is slowly slowly getting better, but time to time I still sink-in crying. I am completely beating myself about it, but it seems I just cannot speed that process up. It hurts like hell. I think I have developed some sort of PTSD because of it and I am planning to go to the therapy to deal with it.
I still do not understand why he did it to me, why being so cruel. Nevertheless I never want to see or hear from that person again. I just want to move on.
I wish you all good recovery.
I forgot to say that he probably never felt anything for me and I was the one who went limerent. I say I am limerent, because this level of feelings on the basis of practically nothing is just not normal. I know what love is, I loved before, but this is, this feels completely different. This feels like an obsession.
Apart from my confrontational mail, there has not been any contact since may 2022. Still, I didn’t succeed in moving on as I should have.
Yup, this is limerence, not love.