Everyone goes a bit gaga about their crush. Thinking about them is pleasurable, after all, and what harm could come from fantasising about the blissful times you might enjoy together? What’s wrong with mooning over them like a lovestruck teenager?
Well… sometimes the thoughts get out of hand. Your crush may be a marvellous person, and daydreaming about them used to be one of your favourite things, but sometimes you can get stuck in a mental loop that is hard to escape. It becomes impossible to stop thinking about them, even if you want to.
Your thoughts about them become involuntary and intrusive; relentless and exhausting. You can’t focus on anything else – even something as simple as reading becomes a trial, because the urge to think about them interrupts your mental peace and breaks your concentration.
If thoughts about your crush have become that intrusive, it is likely you are suffering with limerence. This is a mental state of obsessive infatuation that is characterised by intrusive thoughts that you just can’t seem to turn off.
So, what’s going on? Why can’t you get control of your own thoughts? Well, like anything that’s happening in the brain, the answer lies in neuroscience.
The reason you can’t stop thinking about your crush is because your brain’s motivation system has become hypersensitive. You’ve accidentally trained yourself to associate thinking about your crush with reward, and it is a lesson it has learned very well. Those intrusive thoughts are your subconscious mind’s best effort to get you to stop what you are doing and seek out your crush.
The basic idea is that being with your crush is rewarding – heck, even daydreaming about them is rewarding. There they are, all full of romantic possibility and erotic magnetism, setting off fireworks in your brain. That makes you want more, and your subconscious pushes the idea of seeking them to the forefront of your mind.
Crushes don’t always turn into obsessions, though. For many people, the excitement and exhilaration of a crush never moves past happy feels into compulsive thoughts. What is it that pushes you from tantalising daydreams to debilitating obsession – from a pleasurable crush to involuntary limerence? Well, there are a few key factors:
1) There’s something about them
There’s no escaping the fact that your crush is an extraordinary person for you. Something about them triggers a deep psychological connection that excites you romantically. Just what it is about them is a very interesting question, and will be based in your own personal history. They may represent a romantic archetype. They may remind you of formative bonding experiences from childhood. It may be something as idiosyncratic as their scent, their sense of humour, or the twinkle in their eye.
For limerence, we call this mysterious X factor that triggers profound attraction “the glimmer“. It’s that strange romantic alchemy that sometimes happens in response to subconscious cues, and makes someone seem amazingly special.
2) Our brains are wired for reward seeking
Once we’ve felt the glimmer for someone, we naturally seek more of their company. Being around our crush makes us feel a natural high – at least when things are going well. That positive feedback is rewarding, and so we seek more of it.
The neuroscience of limerence is based around this reward feedback process. We find our crush arousing, that causes reward recognition, which causes euphoria, which makes us want more. Run that program for long enough, and a subtle change occurs within the brain. Now, the reward circuit starts to motivate us. Instead of just enjoying the pleasure of reward, our brain prompts us to seek reward.
One of the ways it does that is to remind us of our crush as often as it can.
3) Uncertainty keeps us guessing
When the reward circuit is doing it’s job correctly, it urges us to seek out our crush and try and bond with them. That can go really well if it turns out that your crush likes you too, and if you have the confidence and opportunity to declare your feelings.
However, life being the way it is, the path to romantic fulfillment is rarely so smooth. More often, the way we interact with our crushes is more halting, cautious, and uncertain. That uncertainty can further amplify the drive to seek more contact. The combination of hope and doubt is the killer combination for reinforcing limerence.
Uncertainty can take many forms, but the fundamental issue in terms of intrusive thoughts is that it gets you addicted to your crush. When rewards are unpredictable, we seek them ever more avidly.
4) Mental programming
What this all adds up to is a perfect storm for obsession. When we feel an extraordinary attraction to someone, get a hit of blissful elation from being with them, and then get stuck in a hesitant dance of uncertainty, it makes them central to our inner world.
The daydreams and reverie of limerence reinforce this centrality. We are slowly but surely programming our subconscious into the habit of seeking contact (even if only in our imaginations) whenever we crave reward.
The right – or, rather, wrong – combination of factors can push our motivation circuits into overdrive, and get us caught in a loop of involuntary subconscious impulses to seek our crush, with increasing urgency. As far as the primitive part of our brain is concerned, they are the most important reward in our world, and the most desirable prize. It’s not going to let up on its insistence that we stop trying to do something useful and instead go and do something rewarding.
Ultimately, the reason you can’t stop thinking about your crush is that you have programmed yourself into an obsession you didn’t intend.
But, all is not lost.
All four of the key factors that reinforce limerence can be resisted and reversed. There are ways to fight back and recover peace and mental equilibrium, by acting purposefully to break the habit of rumination and turn the volume down on the intrusive thoughts.
This is a good place to start.
Brillant breakdown Doc!
With such a detailled plan about the various components of limerence, people who have experienced it already do have even better tool to anticipate and defuse it!
Very interesting (as usual) Thanks!
Thanks, Johnny. Yes, I think the tools we’ve developed are getting more and more refined as time goes on and we learn more about limerence and how to recover. Hopefully more people will discover us here and learn the techniques that work for them.
Anonymous Limerent says
“What’s wrong with mooning over them like a lovestruck teenager?”
I know I haven’t commented in a while, but I would appreciate it if this comparison would stop being made. Being a limerent teenager myself, I feel like it sets a precedent that teenagers can’t go through this and that they only have ridiculous and innocent crushes; it’s insensitive. It makes me (along with any other teenagers who may visit this site, I presume) feel really segregated.
That said, I stopped commenting here so much because my life has just been hell for a very long time now. The stress I feel in her presence in now so bad that I have involuntarily started self-harming in lessons by digging my nails into my hands very hard. I’ve had to withstand recurring suicidal thoughts and the anxiety I feel when I realise that I only have 3 or so weeks left at school and I’ll have to tell her how I feel soon is almost enough to make me throw up.
So maybe you can see how ‘lovestruck teenager’ is kind of a belittling comparison.
Hi Anonymous Limerent,
I’m sorry things are so rough for you at the moment. I don’t think the “lovestruck teenager” analogy is meant to be belittling in any way. However, I do understand the point you’re trying to make. Limerence isn’t just some harmless crush someone is having because of their young age and relative lack of life experience. I.e. what you’re experiencing at present is probably quite different to what most of your peers are experiencing, and you probably feel extremely isolated.
Limerence is intense. It puts your nerves on edge. It makes you way more emotionally reactive than you’ve ever been before. If you’ve always been a good-natured kid, for instance, anxious to please the adults in your life, suddenly you might find yourself angry and frustrated all the time. You’ll have outbursts.
You’ll be irritated by teachers and parents who “just don’t get it”. You’ll rediscover the joy of saying “no!” to sanctimonious grown-ups. You will revel in comments that just stop short of being rude. Grown-ups? Bah humbug! What do grown-ups know anyway? They don’t care about your limerent suffering!!
During this difficult time, your relationships with your previously beloved peer group won’t fare much better. You might feel that your classmates, whose presence and conversation you once relished, now seen hopelessly immature and insensitive. Why do they always have to play up in class? Why can’t the boys be civil to the girls, and vice versa? Why do so many teachers enable poor behaviour? You won’t get pleasure from the lame jokes, the dumb flirting, the stupid banter. Almost everything will offend your newly-discovered sensibilities.
Old friends might start avoiding you because they sense the black mood you’re in or because you want to talk philosophy, the big picture, the meaning of life, and not shopping and video games, the price of cigarettes, or why Millie won’t let her sleazy cousin Roddy pop the giant pimple on her back. You’ll discover your interests and the interests of your peers diverging. You may find your schoolwork either suffering or your grades going through the roof, due to the abnormally sophisticated line of your thinking. Limerence will make you “old before your time”, but it will also trigger impulsive acts, such as self-harming. You will become a paradox, a walking contradiction. You will by turns frighten and confuse the people who care about you. Your parents won’t recognize you.
Limerence can give us access to an intensity of feeling that seems spiritual, numinous even. Limerence can trap us in our own bubble, and there can be good things and bad things about being in that bubble. But it does make routine socialising with platonic friends hard and any interaction with LO nigh-impossible. Misunderstandings with fellow humans can and will abound. You will find all social obligations to stay in touch with certain people burdensome.
When I was limerent as a teenager, I used to go to this manmade lake near my house and sit by the water for hours by myself. It was the only place I could go to find peace. One day, a couple of teenage boys came by. They had some utterly (udderly?) mundane exchange about a female classmate’s breasts. They sat on the same wooden platform as me and talked for an hour. Not once did they speak to me or acknowledge my existence. In all fairness, I didn’t acknowledge their existence either. I was lost in reverie. If you’re familiar with the “cone of silence” from the old TV series “Get Smart”, I felt as if a permanent “cone of silence” had descended on my life. I could no longer communicate with the outside world and the outside world could no longer communicate with me – except to mock me.
I engaged in self-harm too. The very same day I saw the boys at the lake I had cut my wrists and hide the wounds beneath the long sleeves of my baggy blue pullover. I’m not entirely sure what cutting/self-harm is about or how it relates to limerence. But I think the feelings we have during limerence, especially as a young person, are so intense, so heightened, so exquisite, that they are almost unbearable. Limerence is unbearable. Even those glorious, unpredictable eruptions of euphoria are too much. The “pain” inside our heads is greater than any kind of physical pain, and that is why we become indifferent to acts that may endanger our very survival. It’s a very, very difficult headspace to be in…
Limerence is super-stressful once dependency has set in, and that feeling of not being able to function without reciprocation from LO. Limerence can quickly become debilitating, a curse and not a blessing. You’re absolutely right – it’s not the same as puppy love, and for people to confuse the two is insulting. However, I don’t think many people who have experienced limerence would confuse the two. We’re all in the same boat here at LwL, so you’re among friends. Your pain is by no means trivial to us, the self-indulgent whining of a “lovestruck teenager”.
In limerence, we can’t stop thinking about the other person. In limerence, we can’t stop thinking, period. Maybe limerence is addiction to thinking about someone? That’s why exhaustion eventually kicks in. The “constant thinking” can’t last forever. When I attempted suicide in my early 20s, a suicide attempt related to limerence, I might have been looking for respite from constant thinking. And the drama of hospitalisation DID provide me with a short-lived distraction. Also, it alerted my family to the fact I needed more emotional support than they had been hitherto prepared to give me. I was drowning, not waving.
I would heartily agree with DR.L’s observation:
“You’ve accidentally trained yourself to associate thinking about your crush with reward”
I’m ashamed to say it, but as a teenager, before I fell asleep at night, I would replay “happy memories” over and over again in my head. These “happy memories” were recollections of loving interactions between myself and LO or myself and various potential LOs. E.g. this one gave me a hug. That one gave me a smile. This other one said “Hey” and didn’t look as disgusted as he usually looks when I walked past. (Holy cow! Maybe he likes me?) The “happy memories” inundated my brain’s reward system with feel-good chemicals. Without realising it, I did indeed train myself to see physical affection from certain people as highly rewarding and that training took place when my brain was at its most suggestible – right before sleep. Did I set myself up to fail? You bet I did!
Wishing you well, AL. If you read what I’ve written here, hopefully it will make you feel a tiny bit less alone in your struggles. 😛
Sammy I appreciated your post. I too, as a young person began reinforcing neural pathways with soothing myself before bed thinking of musicians, both rock and classical, that I was crushing on and imagining them being ‘into me’. This set me up for a lifetime of limerence. It’s been a long, difficult path to manage these habits set in childhood and there are times I have been in a very dark place. I was definitely a ‘limerence-struck teenager’ but my feelings were very real and segued into IRL limerent obsessions of the strongest kind and have plagued me all of my life. I feel free now, but a very cautious freedom. I appreciated your since gesture of support and friendship in your post.
I won't sayyy says
Well, I just read this. I hope it helps me, plus I told myself, no. We will not date, he will say no. I stopped thinking about him as much! Thank you much.
Anonymous Limerent says
No, you’ve misunderstood my point entirely and, by saying that’s not what’s happening and making assumptions about my life to pass off what I’m feeling as ‘a phase’, you’ve belittled my feelings even further and just flat out insulted me.
“We’re all in the same boat here at LwL, so you’re among friends. Your pain is by no means trivial to us, the self-indulgent whining of a “lovestruck teenager”.”
I can’t believe I’m actually going to make this comparison, but saying ‘we can’t be segregating you because we understand the difference’ is like saying ‘I’m not racist, I have black friends’. Whether you understand the difference or not, it makes me feel as if my feelings aren’t real, when I know they are very real. It makes me feel like this community of mature adults who have this condition just look down on ‘lovestruck teenagers’ like me and that I’m not welcome here. My feeling insulted has nothing to do with a ‘rebellious phase’ so thank you for disregarding my feelings further.
Limerent Emeritus says
I thought your absence might mean things have gotten better for you and you felt you didn’t need the place but it doesn’t sound that way.
Have you talked to anyone about the self-harm and suicidal thoughts? All that emotion and anxiety needs to go somewhere. You’re 15 or 16 now? I remember you said that counseling’s been recommended and there aren’t any adult figures in your life you feel you can trust with this but you need to talk to someone. Soon.
Doesn’t anybody in your family notice anything? Either you’re leaking all over the place and they’re clueless or your able to pull off one hell of an act. The amount of energy that takes to pull that off is enormous. I remember days when it took everything I had to keep it together and not break down. Have you ever let your yourself break down? You can do it alone but it’s a lot better if you have someone you trust with you. Even if you have to pay them (i.e., a therapist) for it.
Please see someone before you do something irreversible.
I wish you the best and I think everybody else at LwL does, too.
Anonymous Limerent says
Thanks for the sympathy, LE. I haven’t talked to anyone about the self-harm yet but am hoping that I get the courage to talk to my friend about it soon: it’s on the to-do list! I have tried to make myself cry before, but I literally have not cried since this LE started so I’ve had no luck. I don’t want to go see someone about it though, because I know I only have a few weeks of school left. Regarding how I hide my depression, it takes an immense amount of effort and it just prolongs my pain. I think I hide it well: some of my family have noticed I look a but off before but it’s just my regular demeanour now so I think they assume it’s some teenager thing.
I am certainly worried about the fact I spend all day on the brink of throwing up and even more so about the fact I’m going to have to talk her her directly about this (this fills me with unknowable dread and I also plan to ask my friend advice when I manage to talk to him).
It’s mostly just trying to get through these last weeks, but a. I spend every day wanting to tear my skin off because my body feels like a prison and b. I might still see her if she goes to my college (I plan on asking about that when I eventually talk to her).
Hi Anonymous Limerent,
To be fair, I think this analogy is made because the teenage years are most likely when we start experiencing limerence, in its real and absolute brutality I mean (hence the lovestruck, imo), especially given how emotions are quite intense for teenagers. (not segregating anybody, but that’s a fact) So I think this expression in itself aknowledges the fact that limerence may be very hard and serious for teenagers. I don’t think it’s meant to make fun, or being condescendeous, patronizing, etc…
If I may, if you don’t dare approaching her frontally (which I understand), why don’t you disclose on the phone, or via a chat, mail, etc (though, I’d understand if you don’t want to leave any written track, just in case)? Whatever the response you’ll get I think you might feel quite relieved, and on the road for recovery.
Anyway, good luck. You might be surprized of how much you could end up not caring anymore in some times.
Allie 1 says
I can certainly see why you would feel offended by this phrase AL. It is not a phrase I would use to describe your situation, or that if any fully limerent teen. An LE is an LE regardless of your age or life experience.
For comparison, my SO is a non-limerent but he does remember getting very infatuated as a teenager. So to him, and the other 95% of the population like him, “infatuation” is primarily a teenage experience hence the cultural prevalence of phrases like “mooning like a lovestruck teenager”. I think many older limerent’s internalise the view of the 95% and judge themselves negatively as being immature because of their LE, which of course they shouldn’t.
But you are right, we are the 5% that do understand, hence we should know better on this site than to use phrases such as these. Thank you for pointing this out.
Wishing you well.
I’m having my 3rd LE aged nearly 40. The first one started when I was 18 and it’s pretty similar. The only difference being I have had no delusions about it now and it’s more tiring to deal with at this age. On the other hand, I know about limerence now, but didn’t then. I barely know this LO because I’ve avoided him from early on. 4 weeks later and I still feel the same though! I had hoped it would fade quicker than the first 2 because of early NC. Still could, they went on for years!
Just wanted to say I found being a teenager awful and I find being an adult much better even when struggling with limerence. It is frustrating to be facing the prospect of so many responsibilities with so little control. When you are an adult you can make way more choices for yourself where you live, where you work etc. Your peers will generally be kinder. You just have more tools and experience in life to help you. So just want to say I know it’s hard and hang in there, this limerence will end, things will improve.
“this limerence will end, things will improve.”
I was going to say this, too. I don’t mean it in a condescending, “time heals all wounds” way, either. I have had several LEs, and every single one has faded and then ended. I’m on the tail end of my last LE, my longest LE and probably my most painful, and it, too, is almost over. If you had told me this a few years ago, I wouldn’t have thought I’d ever feel better.
Same here have been through it multiple times before and they have ended. The ends were painful, very similair to an actual breakup, but after there was relief and clarity. This episode is the first one where I’ve actually connected what was happening to the condition of limerence, and it has probably surpassed the others in severity and almost in duration (going on 2yrs). I do know ultimately I’ll come out of this one too. But it really can feel so hopeless in the midst of it.
“This episode is the first one where I’ve actually connected what was happening to the condition of limerence,”
Me, too. Reading the posts on this site and the comments from other limerents has really helped. Recognizing my behavior in their comments. First I went through an angry phase where I wanted to punch my LO in the face. Then I went through an angry phase where I wanted to punch myself. Now there’s still a little lingering ember. I do miss feeling that way about someone. Just seeing the top of his overly gelled hair about an inch above the office cubicle walls would send me. 🙂 And eating a bunch of chocolate cake doesn’t quite cut it. 🙂
@AL. I’m sorry my response to you came across as tone-deaf. That wasn’t my intention. In a clumsy way, I was trying to express empathy for your anguish – nothing more, nothing less. It’s very hard to find the right words sometimes, and of course, everyone’s experience of limerence is different…
My insights can only really come from my own experience, so maybe those insights don’t really speak to everyone, and that’s okay. I wasn’t implying you’re a delinquent teenager or going through some rebellious phase. Nothing of the sort, my friend! I was just remembering my own conflicted emotions at a very difficult point in my life. I was never a rebellious teen. I was just in a lot of pain that was hard to explain – and, like you, felt dismissed by the adults in my life.
Everything I wrote was intended to express empathy. I thought you might appreciate a bit of dark humour, again offered in the spirit of empathy – and, yes, even camaraderie – one sufferer of limerence to another. But maybe that wasn’t quite the right approach. I DO wish I had a sensitive adult to give me a pep talk when I was a teenager. But, of course, it would have to be the right adult. And you might feel you’re well past the point where a pep talk would be helpful.
It’s so hard to find the right words – I only wanted to express empathy for you. I am in my late thirties, but most of my life I’ve felt like, and been treated like, an adolescent. Your post touched me because it resonated with own experiences.
It is true this blog is sort of aimed at older people, or at least people who are married. I think, though, if you dig around, you’ll find plenty of nuggets of wisdom you can take and apply to your own life. It would be wrong, for example, for me to assume this site has nothing to offer me because I haven’t been married.
However, I do appreciate the physical symptoms you’ve having, such as wanting to throw up, must be incredibly difficult. Sending you warm wishes, buddy. 🙂
Hey AL. Sorry to hear you are still suffering. As many here have commented in the past, it will most likely continue until you take purposeful action. Trying to hold it in just causes the emotional pain to intensify, until it boils like the heart of a star.
As to your comparison of “lovestruck teenager” to racial segregation… well, I struggle to think of a response that you won’t consider patronising and demeaning. One of the lessons of age is accepting that you cannot control how other people choose to interpret or respond to your words.
“Lovestruck teenager” is a cliche (and I probably should have avoided it for that reason if none other – sloppy writing), but it’s a cliche for a reason. Many teenagers do go through that phase, which is why it resonates. That doesn’t mean all teenagers do. It isn’t a commentary on why teenage limerents are feeling less than adult limerents. All adult limerents have been teenagers; we remember.
I fear this response will make you feel more angry and excluded, but for what it’s worth, we are all rooting for you. I hope things improve when you are able to finally leave school and escape from the trap you are in. Until then, take care and stay safe.
Blue Ivy says
Dr L, this site has been such a blessing!
I have been using your deprogramming technique of the last link in this blog post. Writing this message hoping it can help someone else feeling the same pain I was in.
A few days ago I was at the end of my rope. Intrusive thoughts were 24X7.
In desperation, I started taking every single rumination and reimaging it with a different end. You mention you leveraged feeling of shame. For me it was envy & jealousy. My LO love-bombs. Thats who he is. A very warm person who builds people up. He had deluged me with effusive, warm praise. When he started doing the same to others I felt jealousy tearing me apart.
Well, I decided to use jealousy to deprogram. Every single time a rumination started, I would pause & imagine a different person there he paid more attention to. It was HARD. My ruminations have been my happy place & now I was desecrating them. But I did. Every. Single.Time. It was horrible horrible horrible.
After a fairly short amount of time, it became easier. It seems to be working! For 1.5 years I’d tried everything to stop ruminating. But it just would not work. But you advice DrL – it works! I find myself ruminating much lesser. Like my brain does not automatically want to go there all the time. When it starts to, another part (the spoilsport!) puts on brakes & inserts negativity. I’m beginning to form new habits.
I am almost scared to write this. The victory is precarious, very precarious. I am, and think will be, a limerance addict. I’ll likely have some relapses.
However, I’m seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
Thankyou Doc 🤗
Blue Ivy, I think we might have the same LO ;).
But it’s really true…supplanting the glorious memories with the humiliating, confounding and soul crushing ones really works. It is soooo hard to do….but it’s definitely the right thing to do.
You’re doing great! Keep it up and you shall really be free before you know it.
Blue Ivy says
Thankyou Jaideux for your kind words. The good ones are the worst, aren’t they 😏
All the best in your journey!
That’s great news, Blue Ivy! Really glad to hear it’s working well, but you are also right to be wary about the precariousness. What I’d say is that this technique is really powerful for reversing the programming, but it is best as an emergency intervention. In the longer term, it’s important to find new positive rewards and fantasies (that don’t involve LO!), so that you are combining the aversion towards LO with a desirable new (purposeful) goal to work towards.
It’s good to have a positive aim to work for, so that negativity isn’t the whole story.
Blue Ivy says
Wise words, as always, Dr L!
Outside of LE, I’m usually into a lot of things but am in a little bit of a slump right now in terms of purpose (not the cause of LE… )
I will think through your words more, and will implement. Thanks again for everything you do!
Another issue with the attempt to replace thoughts, is it still leaves me stuck in thinking. And even when the limerence fades, the thinking process may just find another subject to relentlessly chew over. So, the recommendation is to do things that don’t involve thinking at all, like physical exercise or physically creating or experiencing things, to break out from the torture chamber of the thinking process into the real world of our existence in the physical reality of the here and now.
IMO finding a new love interest might be too fraught, maybe better to fall in love with a puppy or kitten.
Sarah I find that when I train myself to stop the rumination my brain quiets right down, and I don’t ‘relentlessly chew over’ other things. I find lots of things that interest me and fun goals to set, and even my job is SOOOOO fun! It all seems to happen naturally, once the ‘mind control’ thing is broken. I am, like you, averse to finding a new love interest. Not sure if I will always feel that way but right now am loving every aspect of the freedom of singleness. I loathed singleness when in limerence, it’s amazing how a person changes when limerence fades. In some ways I feel like an entirely different person, so much healthier!
I know I will always be at risk to slip off the edge and fall into limerence again, but am ever so grateful for this site which keep me grounded on the path of reality.
I’ve noticed a pattern lately. I’ll date someone for a few weeks or months. We’ll break it off and the desire for LO will hit a bit harder.
I know it’s my brain and a lie but it’s definitely a reaction to the relationships ending. I feel almost no sadness. Don’t miss the men (I’ve broken it off the last 3 times for good reasons).
I wonder if my brain refocuses on ELO so I don’t acknowledge or deal with the end of these short relationships.
Although I do enjoy the music of ELO…
Limerent Emeritus says
Do you compare the recent candidates to your XLO?
Most def 🙂
I try to focus on their positives in comparison to him. Two we’re more fit, more handsome.
I’m looking for a connection, as we all are. The intangibles that make you feel comfortable with that person.
I don’t know about you but I don’t compare the qualities of the men so much as how they made me feel (ie level of attraction). And of course the LO always wins. It’s not a fair comparison.
You’re right, Marcia. Before I knew what limerence was, I was definitely looking for the same level of intense feelings.
I’ve known since January that that is not possible.
I’m trying for a connection and compatibility now.
The comparisons arise regardless. I don’t dwell on them.
I broke up with the first person because he didn’t make enough time for me. And I broke up with the second because he was not in a good place himself and far too anxious about what I was doing when I wasn’t with him.
It’s when I am between these mini relationships when I start to focus on LO more intently.
Right now I am trying to focus on living a more positive life. I’m looking forward to the things I have planned for this summer.
Purposeful living, as it were.
“I’m trying for a connection and compatibility now.”
Those are going things to focus on. I have spent far too long focusing on how the person makes me feel versus the quality of the interaction/relationship. But I can’t help but shake the feeling that, when I start dating again, someone will be sizing me up in the same way I am sizing them up … asking themselves if we are compatible and have a connection, knowing that they had a really strong intensity of feeling for someone else they know they have to stay away from. The thought kind of depresses me.
Yes, that’s occurred to me. I’ve posted about it before but LO was hung up on another woman.
He admitted it a year after we met and after denying it more than once when asked directly.
No one wants to get involved with someone in that state. And, had he been honest from the start, I’d never have opened up. He and I might have been friends.
For me, there was glimmer but it was the physical involvement and his uncertainty afterward that threw me into limerence.
That lie, which he continued for months while we were in touch, caused me much more grief than was necessary.
I never blamed him for the pain. I knew there was something off with my thinking.
“That lie, which he continued for months while we were in touch, caused me much more grief than was necessary.”
I can understand why that would be painful. I don’t so much pine to be with my LO as I miss feeling like that about someone. Intellectually, I know it’s possible to meet someone, find the person appealing, be compatible and have a connection … that can all lead to a great relationship. But I am having to fight the limerent in me … but, but, but .. she tells me … remember how you felt about the LO?
There is really no comparison to the limerent high. Of course it’s not real….but it feels so real. I think I am ruined for good and healthy relationships because the spectre of the limerent high will always haunt me!
“But I am having to fight the limerent in me …”
It’s a battle! At least we understand why. It’s something. Before, not understanding was almost as painful as missing LO.
” I think I am ruined for good and healthy relationships because the spectre of the limerent high will always haunt me!”
I worry about that , too, that my expectations for heat and intensity are warped and ridiculously high.
“It’s a battle!”
I find it’s a battle all the time, in the healthy versus the unhealthy. It’s Saturday … am I going to do something productive today or stay in my pajamas, eat chocolate chip cookie dough and watch videos of bands from my teenage years? 🙂 Limerence is the latter option, and sometimes it feels so good to surrender into what I know is bad.
Allie 1 says
Jaideaux, Marcia: I am curious – is a “good and healthy relationship” what you really want? Because (to state the obvious) they are not about longing, grand romance, euphoria, heat, intensity (well maybe a little just at the start) at all. Real relationships are about companionship, comfort, caring, trust, sharing, watching each others backs and all that lovely life affirming stuff. An exclusive & devoted best friend with sex and a bit of romance thrown in. A totally different thing to limerence. I think this is about deciding realistically which out of the two you really want from life, not that you are ruined for real relationships. Limerence is about NOT getting the person you want. Relationships are what happens when they also want you, you get them and you stick with them for a while.
“Because (to state the obvious) they are not about longing, grand romance, euphoria, heat, intensity (well maybe a little just at the start) at all. Real relationships are about companionship, comfort, caring, trust, sharing, watching each others backs and all that lovely life affirming stuff. ”
Agree with everything you wrote. I have struggled with this, yes. Because to me, men provided the heat and intensity and friends provided the comfort, companionship, etc. But the older I get, the less friends want to provide the latter, so if I want that it will have to come from a relationship, which means turning my expectations way down for the former stuff. But then there’s another part of me that thinks — I have enough realism in my life. It’s called a a job. It’s called dealing with family. It’s called bills and an endless series of tasks I don’t have much interest in. 🙂
Yes, exactly Marcia! Can I be happy with the companionable mundane? If I do cross paths with an available person that I was sure would be content with predicable domesticity, and I as well, and be truly kind to me, and I to him, through all of life’s permutations, then MAYBE.
But I do think limerence is far more damaging to a married folks than to singles, so until I prove to myself that my limerence is truly managed, I wouldn’t even consider it.
“so until I prove to myself that my limerence is truly managed, I wouldn’t even consider it.”
I know exactly what you mean. I think mine is in remission, but then there’s been nothing to tempt me as I have been trapped in my apartment with little exception for almost 14 months. I did have a former crush reappear for a couple of days through LinkedIn messages, and I was giggling like a 13-year-old girl every time he sent me a message. And I wasn’t even limerent for him. So … I don’t know. I probably just need to start doing drugs. 🙂
Allie 1 says
“Can I be happy with the companionable mundane?”
Jaideux – for me, it is not my relationship with SO that makes my life exciting or mundane. My relationship just provides someone for me to share that life with, however mundane or thrilling I choose to make it.
Jaideux and Marcia,
When I was in therapy and trying to work my way past LO, and unaware of the concept of limerence, I told my therapist I wasn’t sure I’d get past it.
“Don’t say that,” she said and she honestly seemed stressed.
I was in the midst of daily, hourly, almost minutely pain.
I was bewildered by the strength of my emotions, the depth of it all.
How did friends I know get past betrayal of a spouse or of someone leaving?
Mine was nothing compared to theirs but I was wrecked all the same.
If I could not have met him, I would.
And I do worry at times that I won’t get past it.
“And I do worry at times that I won’t get past it.”
Worried you won’t get past the limerence or past the pie-in-the-sky expectations for romance because of the limerence?
If it’s the former, and I can only speak for myself, but I have gotten over all of my LEs, with the exception of the most recent one, and I’m about 80% there. I feel indifferent to my past LOs. Not angry. I’m just over them, and I don’t want to have any kind of contact or know what they are doing. I’m of the mindset to let sleeping dogs lie.
Limerent Emeritus says
Song of the Day: “It Must Be Him” Vicki Carr (1967)
My aunt was a part time lounge singer around Chicago in the 60s. I remember being at her house and she’d practice this. She did a very credible cover.
And if they are a Narcissist, you basically turn full Zombie. True story.
This is so true! It’s like they have taken over your brain, like a parasite, and you are just blindly walking through life, waiting for the next limerence hit from them. It’s ridiculous. When you recover and look back at that episode in your life you can’t believe who you were at that time. Never again.
now I finally know whats wrong with me. There is a new room cleaner at my working place for about 1,5 years now, she is really smoking hot. She drives every guy insane, they are all chasing her. I always kind of ignored her because i wasn’t in her league anyway. Then she began asking me out, like all the girls must be hunting me, she would be glad to have a guy like me and so on. I imagined she is just making fun of me, so I told her to quit it. After 2 weeks, i recognized her shift was already over, but she seemed to wait until everybody left. She came over to me and said she would totally lay me right away, if it wasnt for her boyfriend. I told her again to stop taking me for a fool. She said she is 100 % serious and swore on her dead parents. She said it with a kind of pissed voice. Three or four days later I couldn’t sleep and eat anymore and thought I must be sick or something, but I didn’t make any connection to her. Until I saw her again, and I was suddenly breathless and only stuttered to her. I thought f#k I must have fallen for her, but it was not that nice and warm feeling of being in love, it was really about how to be around her as long as possible and getting her telling me nice things about me (validation). It’s a very power-consuming situation, because in my mind my whole on work is just about how to accidentally bumb in to her. I wish I could get out of it (please don’t mind my school-english)
This is probably the best write up i have read explaining the problem succinctly.However it could have been better had it also explained the solution in detail.
M Swann says
Thanks for this very informative and helpful set of articles.
I’ve been struggling with these feelings for the last five years or so, but it is only after reading some of your thoughts that I have been able to nail down exactly what is happening to me.
A few years ago, I was working abroad, away from home, and had a lot of time to myself. I was lonely, and started thinking about romantic situations with a friend of my wife (who I love). It seemed harmless at the time, but it gradually grew habitual. When I next saw the friend in question, the limerance began, and I started to think about her a lot. The funny thing is, over this period of time, we have moved away from that friend for a period, and the feelings stopped. But now we have moved very close by, and they simply started again.
I’ve experienced a lot of fantasy scenarios in my head, but the strange things is that these are not, or are rarely, sexual. Rather they culminate in some kind of mutual revealing of how we feel about each other, and then don’t move on from there. What I seem to crave is simply a reciprocation on some level.
Back in the real world, I am ‘great friends’ with this person. I think I do a pretty good job of concealing it from people, though I suspect that on some level my LO (if that is the correct term) knows something is up. We often have conversations, sometimes quite deep ones, and I end up obsessively picking apart what she said, looking for hidden messages to me. It’s completely crazy.
On some occasions, I feel that we are moving forward, closer, and that that mutual revelation is just around the corner. But it never happens of course. At the very next meeting, she will disappoint or humiliate me, by, for example, loudly repeating a (what I thought) private and heartfelt conversation to a group of our friends. Result: crushing disappointment, anger, grief.
I have now realised, I have about as much chance of guessing what she feels about me as a monkey has of building an enigma machine. The recurring nature of this relationship, and the attendant humiliation has driven me to seek a resolution, which is what brings me here. In betting shops they have these machines which pay out a lot of money, and can swallow huge amounts in single plays – fixed odds machines, they are called. Through unpredictable rewards, they are very addictive, and very bad for gambling addiction.
I realise I have turned my brain into a fixed odds betting machine. Every day, I go back and put more money in the slot (interact with this person) hoping that today will be the day that it pays out. It never does, and I invest more and more time and effort with no reward.
I’m trying to fight it. I’m doing a lot (A LOT) of exercise, plus mindfulness, and focussing on my goals etc. to try to make the ‘relationship’ a smaller part of my life. If I am able to, I avoid the person, sometimes crossing the road or going a different route if I believe they haven’t seen me. If I do this, my heart starts beating quickly and I feel like I am missing a big opportunity so it is hard. I try to objectively look at the physical defects of the person I am craving. Her feet are too big and look like claws. She has spindly legs. Her hair is going grey. She has awful dress sense. All these things are absolutely adorable. I have more luck bringing to mind the times she has humiliated me and made me feel awful. Why would anyone who cared about me do that? The answer is obvious – they wouldn’t. Going back over the times she made me feel pathetic and ashamed really helps to get over the feelings of addiction. I persevere.
My advice to you is this: really dwell on the humiliating moments, promise yourself NEVER to reveal your feelings, and keep avoiding the LO as much as you can.
You love your wife, and if she developed feelings for one of your friends you would want her to kill those feelings and let them be a thing of the past.
Honestly it seems like your LO is toying with you for sport.
You deserve better.
You love your wife, and I would suggest investing as much time and energy into really seeing her, enjoying her and celebrating your relationship with her.
You will heal and come out of this a stronger person!
Hello all, I have actually had a problem with my current crush. I’ve been crushing on her for about a year. She has told that she doesnt like me like that, however her actions say something different. When I flirt with her she always flirts back. When I text her she always replays quickly. She calls me pretty and always wants me to send her pics if myself. She always writes on my list at work I make. I’ll put my name on it and she always puts her right next to mine. And she seems to get a little jealous when I have hickey on my neck from someone else. Now the hickeys come from passing fancies, women who serve only as a distraction from her. But my crush doesnt realize that I’m keeping myself distracted so I dont go after her. Because now she has a bf. But her actions remain the same toward me. I dont know if I’m reading to much into it. Or if she does feel something for me. Shes not making it easy for me to read. She never texts first. But is always very quick to reply to me when I text her. Maybe she just likes the attention I give her. Idk. I’m trying to accept that maybe this is just who she is and maybe she doesn’t like me. But it’s hard. I cant stop thinking of her. Shes what I think about when I fall asleep at night and when I wake up in the morning. I even lose sleep sometimes over her. I’m not too jealous of her bf. He’s younger then her and she complains about him being too immature, and bratty and mean to her sometimes. I just do my best to make her laugh and smile. So should I back off and leave her alone? Or keep going as I am? Please help me figure this out. Bc for the first time in my life I am lost..
Allie 1 says
I am so sorry for your pain Aaron.
I think you need to accept her rejection as a firm no and move on, as hard as that is.
I’ve accepted that person I met in mid June that it won’t work. I found her very glamorous but accepted as a full no but Quinn, Kiki if you read this.
You seemed more of an interesting individual than many. Something intangible, which helped to drive the interest from my end.
The other aspect is, are you high handed? For if you are this has also driven my views, your unwillingness to discuss even with the die cast- ignoring messages as you did, eventually blocking me.
Dunno if you feel too posh or pompous to have a dialogue rather than a monologue but this has driven, indeed perhaps still drives, my resentment.
It has only taken me 71 years to figure this out LOL. After multiple failed relationships and marriages, I now understand the vicious cycle that I’ve trapped myself in.
I do enjoy that limerant feeling every night as I fall asleep alone thinking about my current LO from afar.
Oh well, the glimmer gave me much material for my love song writing career.
My next song will be about my life of limerence.
Limerent Emeritus says
“My next song will be about my life of limerence.”
Something along these lines?
“Wasted Days And Wasted Nights” – Freddy Fender (1975)
My 2023 Valentine’s Day song about limerence called Glimmer.