Idealisation is a big part of limerence. It’s also a big part of the ‘object’ bit of limerent object. We elevate these mysterious people who walk among us into paragons – impossible romantic ideals.
Well… we at least think they are pretty amazing.
This idealisation can be baffling to bystanders. While many of us on this site have been through the limerent rinse cycle more than once, I daresay that even more of us have had the experience of gaping in wonder at a friend who has become infatuated with someone very ordinary. Why do some people apparently have these magical powers of attraction?
They actually are special
LO is a person who can make you feel high just by being with them. Hell, they don’t even have to do that – talking on the phone, texting, or even just daydreaming about them can give you a delirious hit of bliss.
It can genuinely seem that their charisma is so strong it propagates through the ether and seeps into your very substance, until you’re fully bewitched. They radiate an aura of attractiveness that seems uncanny.
It’s kind of inevitable that being around someone like that would lead to idealisation. Your rational brain is repeatedly receiving the signal from your emotional brain “this person is amazing”, and so it does its best to make sense of the situation.
One way to rationalise the irrational attraction is to just go along with it. To decide that they are special, even if only you can see it. That has romantic appeal, because it fits with all the old stories about The One and True Love, and destiny. You burn to tell them how amazing you think they are. They deserve a parade to celebrate their wondrousness.
Well – maybe atypically for me – I’m not actually going to rain on that parade.
They are special. Seriously. By definition, something about LO excites you at a deep and profound level, something that you find hugely desirable, and something that other people don’t have, regardless of their other merits.
They push your buttons
The most important issue about their specialness, however, is that they are special to you. They are not objectively special. They are not angelic or superhuman. They are a normal person who you respond to very powerfully. They activate your limerence circuits, because of who you are and how your personal history has shaped your sensitivity to romance.
Unpicking why they chime with you is likely to be slow and delicate work. You may never fully get to the bottom of it. Some aspects of it can be weirdly idiosyncratic – for example, my LO had a way of knocking on the door that I found delightful (a kind of rat-tat-tat routine). Why on earth would that make me happy? I have no idea, beyond that fact that it was something unique to her.
Other aspects of it are more explicable. They could fit your romantic archetype. They could complement your attachment style. They could remind you of some subconscious formative experience that shaped your view of what an attractive partner should be like.
An alternative possibility is that it isn’t mere chance that you have fallen under their spell. LO could be manipulative or narcissistic and so be encouraging your infatuation. Some people do set out to seduce, either for entertainment or to try and satisfy emotional cravings of their own. Being on the receiving end of a determined campaign of seduction can be surprisingly hard to resist – most of us don’t get love-bombed very often, so it can turn our heads when it happens.
Whether by chance or design, our LOs are pushing our personal buttons. Some combination of their appearance, mannerisms, personality, and behaviour triggers the alchemy of limerence in you. Getting to the bottom of why you are sensitive to these triggers is worthwhile work (probably best done under the guidance of an experienced therapist or counsellor), but even simply recognising what your triggers are can offer very powerful protection in the future.
What can you do if you don’t want to stay besotted?
While I am on board with the value of therapy for self-analysis, it ultimately doesn’t matter why you have succumbed, once it’s too late. LO has become firmly established in your mind as an extraordinarily attractive person, and you need to find a way to reverse that programming.
In my experience, if you try to directly attack the idea that your LO is special, you will meet determined psychological resistance. You simply won’t believe your own denials that you no longer think they are All That. You’re trying to kid yourself, and it won’t work, because your belief in their specialness is deeply embedded at an emotional level.
A better plan, therefore, is to side-step the issue of how wonderful they are, and instead focus on how bad the situation is. You can retain the idea that LO is a special person, while simultaneously recognising that the limerence is having a negative effect on your life.
It’s like you’re bargaining with your emotional self:
“Yes, I agree he is wonderful, but I always end up feeling awful at the end of the day. That can’t be good for me.”
“Yes, she is very attractive, but she also flirts with every man she meets.”
“It was a thoughtful gift, but he’s married and shouldn’t be giving me gifts.”
“She’s in pain, but it’s not my place to rescue her.”
Eventually, you do want to reverse the idealisation, and stop objectifying them. It is a valuable task to spend time identifying things that LO says or does that you find distasteful. Focusing on their shortcomings is undoubtedly a useful tool for recovery, and for getting a proper perspective on who they really are.
But, you have spent a good amount of time building up a brick wall of idealisation in your mind during the early stages of limerence. If you just run straight at that wall, you’re likely to bounce off it and hurt yourself. Far better to approach it carefully, and start chipping away at it bit by bit. Focus on the negative experience of limerence, and then start to link LO to that negativity.
Acknowledge the fact that LO has unique and appealing qualities for you, but also that your best interest is served by detaching from them. Don’t try and deny your feelings, but do try and steer yourself towards a more grounded view of them, and how they affect your life.
Slow and deliberate wins in the end.
Re your last two paragraphs:
That’s a far more realistic angle. When approaching it that way, even briefly for a second when I read your words, it felt more attainable. I didn’t get overwhelmed; it felt reassuring. Thanks, Dr L.
Facing that huge wall of idealisation can be intimidating, can’t it? I held on to the “she must be special” perspective for quite a while during deprogramming, but gradually let go entirely by the end.
Now that I am free of the limerence, I can honestly see her as an ordinary person, albeit one that I am sure could set me off again under the right/wrong circumstances.
In my experience, I’ve found out that that what intriged me the most about LOs were their positive traits, habilities and behaviours that I don’t have in myself. Literally, thus, LOs exibit complementary aspects to my own personality, social skills, psychology and emotions, so they kind of bluntly show me what’s amiss with my personal development in these and maybe also other areas of my life.
I’ve also realized that, by focusing and improving these aspects of my life, I am less vulnerable to LOs, because then I also have what they do, and I’m not so impressed by them anymore after I have become more like them.
Another win for purposeful living!
This is so spot on.
My current LE has lasted close to a decade with ebbs and flows of brief visits, electronic messaging and NC. We are both hopelessly limerent for each other, but face profound barriers of distance, culture and even age that certainly enhances the attraction even further. However. With the recent global events, and rather very serious matters taking precedence in all of our lives now, my obsessive thoughts have receded. It astonished me when I came to the realisation that my LO was, for the first time in all these years not continuously in my thoughts. Maybe, for me at least, a LE is a sign that all is actually going quite well in my little world. Sending best wishes to all who read this, that you and your loved ones will stay safe and healthy.
Ahh, why is he so special, let me count the ways….
My issue is that not only is LO my type physically but unfortunately as I got to know him better I found out he has a kind and compassionate personality to go with his looks.
I remember one instance in the early days before my LE kicked in full force I was sitting at a school event when LO stood in front of me talking while handing out treats to the children. One small child thanked him and beamed a smile at him, to which he turned and gave the child the biggest grin and wink. Holy shit, I think the earth moved for me that moment and I was smitten. He repeated the same gesture months later with my youngest, giving her a conspiritual grin while stage whispering that mummy arrived extra early for social reasons. My heart melted.
My biggest mistake was thinking I had this LE under control, that I could handle and wrestle my feelings into neat little box called friendship. By the time I realised I was in serious trouble my LE was out of control and it was too late, I was hooked on LO and couldn’t let go.
My biggest fear was and is that if I don’t sort this out I might fall in love with him, it would be so easy to do……
Anyway, week 13 of N/C
I think we all fall for that one! It’s definitely a form of bargaining – an attempt to find a neutral way of staying connected without having to confront the fact that we really want a lot more than that. Kidding ourselves that we can cage a tiger.
Dear D L , I was wondering of I could translate and use some contents of your website into Spanish. I am a L myself, coming out of a terrrible episode. Your website is so helpful.. Spanish born, lived in UK for 20 years, currently studying a Msc in Psychology conversion. I am thinking of writing about my experience and building a Spanish oriented website, as there is not much help in this language. I sent you a PM .
One thing I have found very disturbing about my behavior is that when my LO seems to be avoiding me or distancing himself, I am tempted to give him more attention to lure him back into my life. I have called it “wanting peace between us”, or “needing normalcy” in our interactions, or trying to “reassure” him that he hasn’t done anything wrong, but I think it is more likely that we both want attention so we just repeat patterns. Currently, I am in a stage where I don’t feel liimerent the vast majority of the time. He still makes me nervous but I am not obsessed any more. I still have fantasies but they lack emotion.
It intrigues me that when I bring him up in conversations with others they don’t have a lot of good things to say. He has been described as “weird, strange, and old (he is quite a few years older than me)”, and I was told he used to interrupt other people’s conversations, which surprised me because I always thought he was extremely polite. I try to use the insights of other people to see him realistically.
In the last month, he witnessed an interaction between me and another co-worker and since then he has seemed a bit cold. I speculate that he thinks I was flirting with this person and may have labeled me in a negative way. It seems ridiculous because I don’t really think I know how to flirt! But all of this shows that you can’t ever tell for sure what people think of you. At this point, I don’t know what to think of myself! There are times when I think LO has BPD but then I wonder if I have BPD!
The situation has no benefit except self-evaluation and efforts at improving my relationship with myself.
Peg. You said “Currently, I am in a stage where I don’t feel liimerent the vast majority of the time. He still makes me nervous but I am not obsessed any more. I still have fantasies but they lack emotion.”
Let’s bump elbows because that’s where I am too! Little steps eh.
Only a short time ago, I was tempted to get on the LwL site and post about how I was finally over this LE and expound on my tactics to be the hero of all limerentees. Then this avoidance thing happened and I missed the attention and had to use my imagination to bring it back. I did not see him all of last week so that just triggered my habit of wanting to “make things right” with him, but I couldn’t because he was not there. In order to help me deal with this, I scheduled today off of work to give both of us an extra day away from each other. My petty imagination said that he would be looking forward to seeing me and POOF! I would be gone! SWEET REVENGE! Haha! These are the things that make me wonder about my sanity and my ability to deal with reality. Over the weekend, I had a health problem arise and I am focused on that now and have not been thinking about him. That tells me how selfish I am in this situation.
There are times when I feel like a predator. I just want to sink my teeth in so he knows I am alive. There are times when I am jealous that I feel territorial. These animal instincts go against my moral beliefs. All that matters in the end is that we don’t act on them, and that we try to understand ourselves to prevent harm to ourselves, LOs, SOs, and other loved ones.
It’s not even usually a conscious decision is it? It’s just an instinctive response to the emotional pain of them becoming more distant.
Great that you’re at the stage now where you can analyse this more rationally.
Just when I think we are going to be normal co-workers who regularly cross paths, something happens and throws it out of balance. If I had not found this site I really don’t know how sane I would be. I don’t know for sure if he is limerent for me or not, but I wish I could leave the link to this site somewhere for him to find in case he needs it (but I won’t)! When he becomes distant I get mad because I want to be the one in control of NC. Maybe I should take advantage of my insurance having 3 free therapy sessions! But I am far better than I was with this site and knowing I am not alone.
I tried the strategy to focus on the bad it creates.. it worked for 3 weeks and after a few texts we met up again 🙁
Why is he special?
Hes good looking, charming, has his own expressions, nice laugh, we have endless conversations together, i like to make him laugh.
most importantly i think hes special because i Feel good when im around him i feel wanted admired desired liked. whether he does that to everyone doesnt matter anymore for me. 5 years like that and still limerent strong
I feel for you. It’s hard enough being NC with my LO 3000 miles away. I can’t imagine how difficult it is have someone nearby, where a text can so quickly lead to being in each other’s magical presence.
The good ones are the worst… So little negative material to work with when going through withdrawal. Selfish bastards.
That made me laugh.
What happens when you can see all their negative traits and it still doesn’t stop you? Apparently, I have a high tolerance for such things
Well… you could try focusing on how annoying it is that even their negative traits are not bad enough. Or invent some new ones.
Maybe they throw stones at cats?
I can write a list of all the terrible qualities of my LO, and my love, my deep agape love does not change. He always moves towards me in getting that much closer to committing after 7.5 years when I move away from him, and the second I “relief the uncertainty” he backslides! I totally understand!!!
Vicarious Limerent says
Me too, Snow! My limerence is starting to subside, but focusing on my LO’s faults only makes her seem more attainable and less out of my league. That doesn’t help me in the slightest because I still think she is amazing!
“e.g. having excellent taste in coats”
Add about 20 years to her and she’s in the zone!
In college, LO #2 worked in the Mens’ Department of major department store. She had excellent taste in clothes.
Not long after we started dating, she told me that for a smart, good-looking guy, with decent social skills, I dressed like a Bozo. She said on Saturday, she’d come over to my place, go through my closet, and we’d go shopping. She showed up and told me to get two trash bags, one for donation, one for trash. I followed her into my bedroom. I was still in the Navy. She moved all my uniforms to one side and proceeded to pull every single item off the rod, look at it and either put it back or hand it to me saying, “Donate” or “Trash.” She found one truly hideous pair of slacks that I’d been toting around since college. She said, “Not even a poor person should be caught dead in these,” and ripped them in two by the crotch. When she got to the end, she said, “Let’s go.”
$500 later, I came home with a lot of very nice things. I also learned that I am a Winter.
For some reason, she didn’t like double-breasted jackets. Being in the Navy, I was rather fond of them. I picked up a nice double-breasted blazer. When she was in one of her petulant phases, I’d wear it to make a point. If she could play the passive-aggressive game, so could I.
When I think back at my LO’s, they were actually quite special. They all had a je ne sais quoi about them, and that’s just not my opinion. Women loved them, as well men who are followers. Alpha males viewed them with distrust and suspicion, knowing their game. But to women: they were effervescent like champagne and could light up a room but simply walking into it with a smile. But..they also knew it and worked it. At first I was nonchalant and dignified, and didn’t fall at their feet. Which made me a delicious challenge for them. In time they captured me and once I am captured I idolize and idealize my LO’s and have an exaggerated sense of loyalty to them that is nearly unbreakable.
But they all have a dark side…they are selfish! They love my attentions without offering a commitment. They relish keeping me hooked with no defined obligation from them other than “friendship”. Which is a nebulous term designed to play on my sense of obligation despite any agony caused me.
I feel validated recognizing that they are indeed special in certain ways, and now am every more wary of those sparkling types that make every interaction or mundane mutual task into a celebration of joyousness…knowing that these fellows eventually they will cause the most unmitigated pain a human heart can ever feel.
Cue: Sade’s “Smooth operator” on the turntable.
I had the opposite experience, speaking as a straight man who can sparkle, has emotional range, leads a dance partner meaningfully, and can summon up
joyousness as you described. I could and would have committed to several wonderful women, but they were having none of it. They scattered like the wind when faced with the prospect of real into-your-eyes intimacy. Even, for a few, asking them on a real date was too much. They were acting like the men they constantly complained about. Perhaps we are all frightened of the very thing we want most: closeness.
Oh God, yes, the loyalty. Bordering on devotion.
Interesting. I wouldn’t say that loyalty has been part of my Limerence M.O. I wonder why that is. Oh I know: I didn’t actually know him properly before deciding he was my destiny *eye roll*
I think I choose LOs that are unattainable and that I won’t have the chance to really get to know. That way I can imagine them to be perfect (as well as re-invent myself as perfect in their eyes through fantasy).
“”Oh God, yes, the loyalty. Bordering on devotion.”” Completely agree, I’ve turned into his personal doormat, a virtual pissing pole for anything he cares to throw at me. I need to seriously stop hearing harps and angels sing when he opens his mouth.
Peg- “”I did not see him all of last week so that just triggered my habit of wanting to “make things right” with him, but I couldn’t because he was not there””, same here Peg, it’s almost like grovelling.
I was doing well the last few days but then we briefly saw each other this morning, one smile and wave from him and BANG, ruminations back in full force.
Shit I really, really miss him.
Back to work for me this morning. Will I get a smile and wave or a sort of brush off? Oh, the mystery… Either way, I am going to try not to analyze it to death. I guess we have to miss our sanity more than we miss them. It is a lose/lose situation.
That’s it Peg. I’m starting to miss my sanity more than I miss her. These last few days in unscheduled alone-time has only magnified the insanity.
I was extremely loyal to LO #2 when I was with her. When I worked for LO #4 as a moderator on her site, I was very loyal to her as a boss. I saw myself as her steward (specifically, Faramir, although there wasn’t a queen in LOTR).
LO #2 used, “We owe it to each other…” twice after we split. She did owe me an apology but that never came.
LO #4 offered to start paying me to work as a mod but I declined. I told her that as a volunteer I could come and go as I pleased but if she was paying me, I’d feel obligated to formalize the arrangement and I didn’t want to be obligated to her. She may have not intended it as a hook but it would have been one. When she got PO’d at me after I told her about some vaguely threatening things someone had said about her on the internet, accused me of stalking her after telling me she liked knowing that I had her back, and told me she didn’t want me to tell her things like that, I told her that I could do that. I told her I wouldn’t warn her if I saw her about to step in front of a bus. And, I wouldn’t have but we said goodbye not long after that so it was never tested.
Misguided loyalty will kill a limerent.
@Jaiduex. I know this is an older post, but I go back and read different threads to let ideas sink in sometimes.
Je ne sais quoi? I love that you use the term. I honestly believe the phrase “je ne sais quoi” (French, but occasionally used in English?) must have been invented by someone who knew about limerence. Basically, it’s saying “This person is special somehow, but I can’t pin it down or put it into precise words”. And if that doesn’t capture the essence of a LO to a limerent, then I don’t know what does.
I guess us English speakers are lucky we can borrow from the French language when our own vocabulary fails us. Je ne sais quoi is pretty close to poetry! “He has an indefinite something.” “She possesses something … I know not what.” 😛
Vicarious Limerent says
Limerence aside, I have always really liked it when I found a woman particularly attractive, but I was nevertheless able to see why other men wouldn’t find her all that special. It always felt to me like there was less competition from other men and more likelihood the object of my desires would be flattered and possibly even reciprocate. I am kind of in that situation with my LO. Looking at her, I can see her flaws. She isn’t perfect — and I know not too many men would turn their heads to watch her walk by — but I don’t care because she is beautiful and sexy to me. Frankly, she is the sexiest woman alive to me at the moment, but not all of her appeal is generated by her looks. Much of it is based on her personality and her mannerisms, but I still cannot isolate what exactly drew me to her in the first place. It may just have been that she was looking for love and sending out certain vibes at the time (towards my brother in-law, but I was there too and I felt those vibes even if he didn’t really feel them the same way). It is all kind of sad really in that we all seem to want what we can’t have.
Why do they seem so special?
They were all attractive, intelligent, charming, funny but unhappy women (at least 3 of 4) with histories of dissatisfying relationships who on some level, reminded me of my mother.
Does the above redhead play the flute?
asking for a friend Scharnhorst? 😂😂
My oboe teacher hopes to have a recital when all this crap blows over.
The correct question should have been, “Does the redhead’s mother play the flute?”
The concept of Limerence is very new to me. I only recently discovered that it was a part of my experience yesterday morning. Funny sorry actually: I had realized that my obsessive thoughts had gotten quite intrusive and out of control and often times left me feeling very emotionally exhausted. So, I looked for answers and …needless to say I found what I was looking for.
My current LO has been a friend for some time and has only recently become a part of my LE. Before then, I wouldn’t have really payed her much attention, romantically. I have considered telling her how strong my feelings are, but am also afraid of jeopardizing my friendship with her. I am also uncertain of whether or not I could even make a relationship with her work (a common theme for me). Not to mention that we are co-workers (in the same position so no power conflict).
Limerence aside, she is a cool person and has a creative side to her that I really admire (which might have peaked my interest in the first place) but my perception of her has affected me, especially when we hang out with other friends of ours. Then jealousy enters the mix and that’s a whole other story.
Just to clarify by common theme I simply mean I tend to worry about hypotheticals often which generates anxiety about a potential relationships
– thank you
I’m in same position. Battling for 1.5 years
What I have done in last 6 months is slowly withdrawn contact. It’s called staged withdrawal on this forum.
Now I’m at a point where I don’t initiate contact and if she does I limit myself only upto 7 messages back. They are all work or just banta related. So not personal. They never were to be fair. But I used to initiate before and tell her when she looked nice or arrange dates for us. Or often check in with her on how her day is or if I knew she had big meeting ask her after how it went. So practically acting like a pseudo boyfriend to her. But I started to withdraw and I was worried that she may notice that but she didn’t.
Now I’m reactive to her messages and not proactive.
It’s for better but I’m
Still working on it. I had ‘hope’ that she may have a thing for me too. That’s what kept me going but once I killed the hope I was in a better place. Still a journey though. I have SO. She is single.
Hard work. Keep your mind busy though.
I am once again so thankful for this site and the community here.
The specialness comes from both the LO’s objectively special qualities and their uniqueness in my life and narrative. For example on the first point, attractive, smart, etc in all the right ways that matter to me. On the second point, just somehow very attainable despite how amazing LO is but also at times seemingly unattainable (even in the alternative universe where there are no SOs). So close and so far. So vulnerable and so strong.
I once told my LO that, if the world were to end and I could only save 10 people, she’d definitely be on the list. She later said she’d felt jealousy at that moment b/c she knew I would likely save my SO ahead of her. And I said, “Well, who says I wouldn’t save you first?” Further joking, “Now if the tables were turned, I’D be wondering who are these 9 friends (ex’s?) of YOURS that I’m going to be stuck with for the rest of time?” We had a good laugh.
But as I sit here in lockdown due to corona virus, the question is, “Who is this ONE person I’m going to be stuck with for the next 5 months?”
Oh, yeah. My SO.
Actually, it’s going pretty well so far….this might be a great opportunity to re-connect. Of course, I’m thinking I should reach out to LO–after pretty much complete NC for 6 months, save the occasional run-in at a social event–with some words of encouragement. End times and all. (OK, I’m not really that worried, but goodness…feels surreal…)
And this is where I can just feel y’all telling, Don’t do it!! Thanks.
I’ll be the first. Similar situation; five times yesterday I stopped myself from reaching out; today only 2. Don’t do it!
Don’t Do It!
Let’s start a new acronym: DDI 😎
Oh the dang mind-bending virus!
After much progress in exterminating limerence, with recent developments I also feel the need to find out if ex LO is “okay”. Of course he is, and no amount of justification can legitimize me inquiring about him – directly or via friends. And if he is not OK, what exactly am I going to do about it? Put on a hazmat suit and wrest him away from his new SO to save him? Ridiculous.
His welfare is not my problem anymore. I wish him, and everyone else peace of mind and good health. My brain is no longer a slave to his welfare or his attentions. DDI indeed!
During this surreal time of “social distancing” because of virus fears, it’s especially important to focus on those important to you. Keep purposeful, and don’t slide into obsessive thoughts about LOs.
Between watching the financial markets, trying to score toilet paper, and brewing beer in the basement, who has time for obsessive thoughts about LOs?
Let them find their own toilet paper.
HAHAHAHA! I love that comment Scharny!
Vicarious Limerent says
Weirdly enough, my limerence has gotten worse over the last couple of days. It might have something to do with the fact that social distancing means even less chance my period of no contact will come to an end. Little chance of seeing her in the next little while (I know, I shouldn’t be looking for that anyway, best to maintain strict NC, etc.). What worries me is my fantasies of what I would say to her if I saw her have again returned to a full-on declaration of my feelings, which I KNOW would not help anyone (not me, her, my wife or my brother in-law). Not being able to go to the gym (my biggest outlet, release valve and focus for self-improvement) is killing me! It is hard not seeing my new friends either. I am also having a really hard time ruminating over what to do to try to improve my marriage.
Hell is forced LC/NC when you so weren’t ready for it! I know I know, I should consider this social distancing interlude the ideal opportunity to eradicate my limerence, connect with my SO and all that good stuff….but no! Am completely gutted at the prospect of weeks or months working from home and not seeing him.
What makes him special? Kindness, humility, conscience, sense of humour, pragmatism, calmness and a lively intelligent mind. And not forgetting he is my boss and I have come to realise that this really really does it for me.
I had the same reaction for my (former) LO after a performance situation evaporated.
I know what you’re thinking. DDI!
Allie, I am having forced NC too because of lockdown in my country, and it feels so hard even though I know it could possibly help me… But I also feel like it is nothing I decided to do on purpose… I miss LO a lot. And it comes with the (sad but not too surprising) Realisation that he does not initiate contact (via social media) and that I care so much more about him than he does care about me. Which also leads to feeling like a fool 😩. Not an easy situation. Helped to see that I am not the only one. I’m so thankful for this blog.
I’ve just been furloughed too.
I think tomorrow calls for a post on the effects of being quarantined from LO…!
What Allie and Emily said!!
This virus is going to be the death of me , socially 😩😩😩
I can deal with L/C to N/C from LO but I need the rest of my friends and external activities to keep busy. I don’t want extra time on my hands to ruminate and I can already see the ruminations have picked up the last week because I am anxious and bored.
Oh yes please, Dr.L.!
It’s so interesting, before lockdown my limerence was slowly subsiding. LO was quite distant for the last three weeks and I had decided to really work on stopping the ruminations, living more purposefully, having other rewarding and positive social contacts, etc. NC was not possible, but I felt I was on a good path to finally getting free from limerence.
Now with lockdown, limerence is rekindled, and I’m asking myself why. I think part of it is that my limerent brain always hoped that he would start flirting again, that our next interaction would be nicer,… and that is not an option now. And maybe another aspect of this might be that with all the uncertainty and a lack of positive reinforcement from other social contacts, hobbys, purposeful living (which isn’t easy atm) my brain needs a high and is getting back to some true and tested ways of achieving that.
My limerence has been dissolving little by little over the last few months and to the point that I rarely think of LO. In light of recent events, I urge you to concentrate on real life and the people that matter. Now more than ever we need to be living purposfuly and now with the added bonus of social distancing, limerents can truly use this to their advantage.
Some limerent thoughts have got in my way the last couple of weeks becuase of stress but I see them for what they are.. a means of escape and comfort. As temping as it may be to escape all this uncertainty and go to fantasy Island with LO, be mindful focus on the here and now. Help a neighbour, do a food shop, check in on people and do the right thing. Limerence has no real place or value to anyone’s life, don’t let the anxiety due to the times lure you towards thoughts of your LO. Kick them to the curb, now is a time for real self reflection. Stay safe everyone and remain in the present moment, thinking about LO means your not living presently.
Rachel, thanks for these words of wisdom and for providing helpful commentary even though you are so far along in your journey. Real life, purposeful living, be in the moment, don’t escape and seek fantasy comfort. All good reminders.
My issue is that I know my LO of four years is an absolute narcissist and can be such asshole, self-centered and a genuine prick. He fails to understand why he can’t keep friends or stay in long term relationships. Despite his non-reciprocation he still reels me in, whether consciously or unconsciously I don’t know, and I keep going back to him. I have yet to figure out how to attach the things I intellectually know about him to the things I emotionally feel about it him. I know he uses me as an ego boost, and an emotional booty call when he feels down or depressed; I KNOW all this and yet I’m struggling to let him go.
Hi Archer, having been one of these guys in the past (and paying ever so dearly for it), whatever you love in him you can love in someone else. He’s not reciprocating because he doesn’t see himself in you, but to pass the time he comes back because he knows you see yourself in him.
That is quite a poetic truth and I’m going to screenshot it for future reference. Thank you. And thank you for becoming aware enough of your own past behavior to offer valuable advice on it. It is more appreciated than you know 🙂
Hi, It’s been 7 weeks since LO and i ended a 3 years affairs, after he finally decided that he would never leave his wife. I’ve been so down i thought i would kill myself, but i can say, after 7 weeks, i’m still standing and in a rather good state of mind! this blog has helped me more than anything i could dream about. First 4 weeks i’ve gone no contact, despite his attempts to keep me as a “pet” for VAlentine’s (he sent me love cards..) which i ignored. At first i was checking his online presence (we work together and can see when we are connected or logged off), about 100 times a day, it was an obsession; Today i barely check 5 or 6 times, more like the residues of an old habit, but no emotions. First few weeks i’ve been trying hard to implement Dr L recommendations, to imagine the worst possible scenarios if we had to live together. I can give you a good one that worked for me, i imagined that he would be sexually attracted to my young daughter.. yup that is disgusting but i must say, hard to beat that in terms of negative stories!! No matter if it was likely to happen or not, after all, you never really know who people are, until you live with them full time right? So it may not be the dream life of our daydreaming, but maybe sharing your kids life with a sexually deranged predator… ALso, i’ve created a photo folder named “ugly” with all the pics of him where he does not look attractive.. ok that’s unfair because we all look unattractive in a VERY LARGE number of pictures, but after a while, this is working nicely. And i kept writing all the pain i had been going through, all the details of things that disappointed me, all the things i knew i would not have accepted if i hadn’t been so in love with me, and we all know that passion fades away after some time, so i’d be left with these things i dislike. I did all that during 4 weeks, i wasn’t convinced that it was working, because i also had so many great memories about him but i forced me to only remember the worst and imagine the worst for the future.. And in addition to that, after 4 weeks NC, i contacted him, told him i wanted to give us a last chance, that if he loved me he had to meet me on a special day in a special place, he had to fly there.. but i wanted him to do that to prove me he loves me and i should wait for him for several more years until his kids have left home (how silly i was). So that was some kind of an ultimate “full disclosure”.. And i got the answer i needed, it wasn’t very nice and he made it clear we were over. So that plus all the efforts to follow Dr L recommendations, now i’m free from this limerence! not 100% free, but 95%, how amazing is that!! We still have to speak during work meetings but it does not really affect me.. Well a little bit, but nothing i can’t deal with..Of course if we were to meet in person that would be a problem because of the physical attraction. But at the moment we only speak over the phone and only for work, and i dont have obsessive thoughts about him anymore and have started to realize that he would never have made me happy on the long run, and that most of my love for him was mostly a limerent state. Also, i must admit, i’m taking antidepressant (mirtazapine) and it may have helped decrease the obsessive part of the limerence.. Anyways, i’m now able to look forward to a bright future and hope to meet someone one day that will make me happy and i will make happy, and nothing toxic like this limerence experience.. Thanks so much for this blog and all the comments, so so so so helpful..!
Thanks for the update FadingLight, and congrats on how far you’ve come in 7 weeks (and very glad you are still standing).
Now the devaluation has worked, do concentrate on that bright future. It’s great to have something positive to aim for.
Amazing FadingLight! I remember how hard it was for you a few weeks ago. I like your strategies and I will try them out for sure!
– “i kept writing all the pain i had been going through, all the details of things that disappointed me, all the things i knew i would not have accepted if i hadn’t been so in love”
– “i’ve created a photo folder named “ugly” with all the pics of him where he does not look attractive…”
– “a good one that worked for me, i imagined that he would be sexually attracted to my young daughter.. yup that is disgusting”
Oh that last one!!!!!
Thank you fading lights, I laughed so hard at the ” yup that’s disgusting, but it works”. Your story inspires us who are in the awful beginning stage of NC.
Made a list with all my LO s flaws, my L is still whispering ” those are minor compared to his absolute heavenly and devine greatness” but it will take time to make that whisper smaller I guess.
Keep up the good work! You survived!
James Afourkeeff says
I am very single; always have been, but I was (and I still am, quite frankly) limerent for a married woman. About a year and a half ago, as a new manager at work, she treated me to an emotional assault of clearly sexually suggestive body language. Earlier, I had already decided that she was one of the most beautiful and impressive human beings I had ever seen in my life . . . so . . . that meant I was instantly SMITTEN!!! (72 PITCH, RED, BOLD, UNDERLINED, ITALICS!) Later on, she became my immediate supervisor. She was often seen shopping with her husband, but she never wore a ring. It was around this time that she was complaining to other people about her marriage, and she told one of my friends that she was separated and seeking a divorce – all in stark contrast to her frustratingly guarded speech whenever I was around. Eventually, I got her phone number and tried to forge a texting relationship with her, that never really went very well. One day, I kind of tried to pin her down on the meaning of some of those mixed messages she had been giving me, and it resulted in her reporting me to OUR boss, and I was summarily fired for sexual harassment!
A couple of weeks ago, curiously, I happened to see a press release in our local on-line newspaper about a man, whose name and mug shot I recognized as her husband, who was arrested for perpetrating years and years of gross domestic violence against his wife and children. So I lost my job, my income, my social network, my self respect, and everything else, for indirectly trying to pry out details that were ultimately broadcast to the entire world wide general public – this is really galling.
I think I may have come up with an apt way of evaluating this kind of scenario. A common theme on this blog is that the source of the limerence is all in the imagination of the limerent, that there is nothing special about the LO. Quite frankly, I am not entirely convinced. In my case, it was as if my LO had unwittingly set up a logic puzzle for me to figure out, to test my eligibility as a competent suitor. Perhaps, you have seen those logic puzzles where you have to arrange five objects in a certain order, given that three conditions are met. It is not too difficult to find an arrangement that meets two of the conditions, but having all three conditions met is a different story. I was not able to solve the puzzle; I could not pass her test. I believe my LOs have all been extraordinarily intelligent and extremely perceptive. You might have heard of individuals who can effortlessly calculate Bayesian probabilities in their head without even realizing they’re doing it. Likewise, I think there are some people that evaluate a potential suitor by unwittingly giving them a logic puzzle (in the form of MIXED MESSAGES), which most any mortal is going to fail.
Oh, there are definitely LOs who manipulate, lie, and play mind games, James. Just as there are LOs who are themselves complete basket cases and mess with their limerent admirers unwittingly through erratic and unpredictable behaviour.
Awful that you had to go through being fired for a false allegation, but it also sounds like you escaped getting further embroiled in a really toxic situation.
Chalk it up to “unwanted and painful life lessons”…
Vicarious Limerent says
@ James: Sorry, I am just seeing this now. What an awful experience! I thank my lucky stars I was never limerent for a coworker — especially in the #MeToo era. The workplace is such an awful place for limerence, especially where there is a power imbalance. This should be a cautionary tale for others thinking of disclosing to their colleagues, subordinates or bosses: Just don’t do it! I know we can’t help who we fall for, but most workplaces have a policy against people in a reporting relationship, in particular, dating one another. The classic case of sexual harassment is thought of as being a male superior harassing his female subordinate, but it doesn’t have to be that type of scenario. I am not saying your case was one of sexual harassment, but the optics were there. Nevertheless, your former workplace should have conducted a full, proper and impartial workplace investigation where all of the evidence was gathered, all parties were interviewed and findings and recommendations were made. All of this should have happened before determining whether any discipline (either termination or a lesser penalty) was warranted. I hope you managed to land on your feet afterwards. I wouldn’t wish your experience on anyone! I totally agree that some LOs give off signals that they are interested even if they aren’t. Some even enjoy doing that sort of thing, then act all innocent once the target of their flirtation takes them up on it. Just be careful everyone if you work with your LO (particularly if there is a reporting relationship – and not just if you are the boss)! That is a minefield in this day and age.
So I recently read an article about the author’s experience in a field of one particular pseudo science that my LO is involved in, one that in my heart of hearts, I think is total b.s. Reading this great article helped me get in touch with how I really felt about LO’s field. Feelings that were completely whited out by the blinding light of the glimmer. I was just not in touch with them, not seeing them because I was blinded by the light. The glimmer is still there, but not as bright. Feels really great.
I recommend focusing on negatives to reduce the glimmer if you can. There have to be some.
I'm Taken says
I think focusing on negatives helps and reinforcing other positives. My LO (first, only had one) didn’t make contact when he said he would and realised that he wasn’t thinking of me at all. Came crashing down. I thought how selfish limerence was making me as I was only focusing on myself and my LO. Initially I was lighting up like a Christmas Tree all the time. Then when he did email I found I didn’t have any limerent feelings (fickle or what!), plus as an inveterate animal lover I am getting a rescue cat tomorrow. The positive feelings about that seem to be over-riding the limerent feelings. The blissful feelings initially were wonderful, but soon took over and dominated everything and became addictive and obtrusive. I am sure Dr L’s FTTF course is helping me tremendously + a new focus on my next lovely cat coming to me. I am hoping it is permanent…
I had a slip-up.
Just as Dr L warned against, I let my limerent brain tell me I had things under control. Since I read an article about my LO’s field, realizing what bullshit it was, I was imbued with a new confidence, new insight about how I was overlooking things about LO that I would normally see as dealbreakers. With that new confidence I let myself do some more checking her social media.
A recent post was devastating – just pure beauty, this picture. It led me deep into reverie, into fantasy. It attacked the part of my brain that dreams of love. Just awful. I wish there was a way to block yourself from seeing someone’s posts.
Vicarious Limerent says
You’re not the only one, DJ. I am no longer my LO’s friend on Facebook, but I do check her profile picture once in a blue moon. She is one of those people who changes it rather frequently, although she seems to have a standard one she uses most of the time. Every time I see a new picture (which invariably is beautiful and sexy), I feel like I am falling in love with her all over again (obviously it isn’t “love” but limerence). I suppose you can block people entirely, but I don’t want to go that far, and most of the time I am able to stop myself from looking. I actually like the test of my willpower because I am able to avoid succumbing to the temptation the vast majority of the time. The strange thing is my wife sometimes points out my LO’s picture because she gets those “people you may know” notifications (I have completely disclosed to my wife). I thought I may have seen my LO yesterday outside a supermarket I don’t normally go to (near where my LO lives), but I have a bad habit of not recognizing people and it probably wasn’t her (although this lady was looking at me as she passed by, and I was with my wife).
Limerence Writer says
I have dwelt for years over my LO’s specialness. Even in the brief time of our acquaintance, which was a couple of months (8 years ago), I was fascinated by how ordinary she was, and how a lot of her interests were boring to people. It just made her all the more adorable, and I couldn’t figure out how to express this to other people. They just couldn’t understand her appeal. Also, as I tried to convince my many single male friends that they should meet her, maybe date her, I became obvious to everyone. And they didn’t get why a married man like myself would be attracted to a slightly older woman who seemed so nondescript, so quietly boring to them. That just sent me into frustration and despair. She was such a good catch, she was obviously lonely and searching, and I was so miserable in my marriage.
But she saw my fascination with her, she wasn’t going to get involved with a married or even recently divorced man, and she gave me gentle advice and then slowly pulled away forever. One piece of advice: focus on my writing and my art. I did, and it saved me from starving myself to death or worse. When I was too depressed to write, I drew pictures of her. Many afternoons in the park with my youngest were spent drawing, probably leading to my now-teenager’s interest in fashion, as we drew this woman in various outfits, usually inspired by the clothes my LO made for herself. When my kid expressed interest in making clothes, I wished I could introduce them to my LO, who had all this knowledge and experience that my family lacked, while I knew my LO wished she had had her own children. It was heartbreaking.
The first novel I tried writing was inspired by meeting my LO. I tried to tell that story, planning the realistic and depressing ending of where I was a few months later. I called it, “I Met My Soulmate and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt.” But I couldn’t finish it. It made me too miserable. I tried again, with a lighter approach and planned an ending that would be somewhat hopeful that the two main characters, based on my LO and myself, would eventually come back together and start over as friends. That was an ending I could work toward, and the depressing lows in the story weren’t so bad if I had a happy ending planned. In fact, dwelling on the lows strangely felt good. I started writing more novels and short stories, tweaking my LO’s character in subtle ways, but always making her the main character and pushing myself into the role of supporting character or love interest. Writing this way gave me time to spend with her, even be in her thoughts, and writing became easier and fun again, making me more focused on completing the project instead of leaving it unfinished as I usually did.
Eventually I made up my mind that what made my LO special is that she was the perfect protagonist for what had become my favorite story to write. She is a nice, smart, talented woman who is instantly likable, who perhaps had boring interests or small goals, not a go-getter but a more timid & shy person, not overly attractive, but unassuming, polite; she’s down on her luck, she’s had lousy, unfulfilling romances if any, and she is very lonely. In a story within a fantasy genre, she often has a special power that’s hidden, perhaps a power she’s afraid to use or doesn’t understand; in different stories, she’s been a good witch, a superheroine, one of the Fates, etc. The reader (and myself) want her to find happiness. We’re instantly rooting for her. That’s why she’s special.
How I dealt with my limerence or crushes in the past was to dwell on their faults, but for this model protagonist, that just made her a better character. The details made her real, both for me and my readers. In fact, the more I made the protagonist like my LO, the more intense my audience feedback usually was about the character. They identified with her, they liked her, they wanted a happy ending for her, and the darkness and tragedy earlier in the story made them afraid things would not work out.
I hope my LO is doing okay. After several years, I’ve stopped thinking about her so frequently, but she is still an inspiration. I recently found an old video of her, when she was a game show contestant, and it was nice to see her again, reminding me that my various protagonists based on her are not too far off. As a viewer, you root for her and hope she succeeds.
Vicarious Limerent says
I don’t know if you have read my story, but a lot of what you write resonates with me. I met my LO in a bar one night, and she really liked my brother in-law (my wife’s brother). The problem is there is quite a long physical distance involved between him and her (she is local to me) and he just isn’t that into her. But it was obvious she liked him very much. I really wanted the two of them to be happy together, but it wasn’t to be. I tried to get him to go for it and told him how awesome she is. I even confided that I would be interested if I wasn’t married to his sister (I partially disclosed that to my LO as well, and she seemed to take it quite well). That caused some issues with my wife, who also knew something was up and I was forced to disclose my feelings for this lady to her because I just wasn’t myself for several weeks.
This lady is a breath of fresh air. She is beautiful, sweet, decent, kind, caring, fun, exciting, funny, intelligent, hard-working, confident and assertive. I think she is absolutely adorable, but objectively I can see she is by no means the most beautiful woman on earth. Still, I would make a beeline for her if my marriage ever ended and I am incredibly attracted to her. Meanwhile, my brother in-law doesn’t think she’s good enough and my marriage is on the rocks (I love my wife, and I would never cheat on her, but we have so many issues and problems I’m not sure we can overcome them). The fact that I think my LO is so wonderful and he thinks she doesn’t measure up is eating me up inside. He has a chance with this amazing lady (one I would give my right arm to be with if circumstances were different) and he cannot even appreciate what he could have had. Life just seems so unfair, and this highlights how we all seem to want what we cannot have. For the longest time, I just wanted them to be together and her in my life, even just as a friend (and possibly as a future family member), but I could have been fooling myself because what I really want is a relationship with this woman. We are completely no contact now, but I think about her quite a lot (although the limerence has subsided somewhat in the last few weeks and is becoming a lot less intrusive, I still fantasize about a life with her several times each day). I am not sure why I am commenting on your post, but I think I just wanted to say that you also sound “vicariously limerent” in that, at least on some level, you would like someone close to you to date your LO and you would really want her to be happy — even if it isn’t with you. At the same time, in an alternate universe, you would want her for yourself. I can completely relate.
I’ve never written a story about any of my LOs. There’s enough parallels in literature and I would never leave that kind of trail.
For LO #2, I’m the wife in James Joyce’s “The Dead” and my wife is the husband. If you read it, just skip to the end where they go back to their hotel room. My wife knows there was someone before her and, if LO #2 had made a different decision, we likely wouldn’t be together. LO #2 could have taken my head but she didn’t.
For LO #4, I see her as Madeline Miller’s “Circe.” In that story, I like to think of myself as Daedalus. One, I like his character. Two, more importantly, they don’t end up together. They have their encounter and go their separate ways. She likes and respects him. As I was reading it, I thought they might end up together but they don’t. After their encounter, there’s one reference to him later but he never reappears. I told LO #4 that I thought of her when I read it. I didn’t tell her who I thought I was and she didn’t ask.
The last piece of literature that resonates with me is the very end of Tolkien’s “Return of the King,” where Sam returns after seeing Frodo off to the Grey Havens.
“Well, I’m back.”
Something has shifted in my perspective, and I have felt a great deal of relief.
I am not cured by any stretch. I am only in month 5 and know I have a ways to go. But it’s as if seen the movie of my reverie, my fantasy of LO too many times. It’s like I not only know every shot, I know how it was made. So it’s less primary. I’m slightly removed from it.
In quarantine, there is no being in her presence. A Zoom or Skype would be far too intimate for our level of friendship, I’m pretty sure. Regardless, my wife would not like that! So I’ll keep the very occasional social media contact to a mnimum, and try to be a friend when life resumes. Until then, I’ll hopefully yawn through the movie, and no more of them will be made.
DJ be careful about “ trying to be a friend” in the future. That will then be material for a new movie.
Well My experience is , once I’ve done the grief over a LO, like really, I would not be again limerent for this person, and I could be friends in the past . But mind well I had to do the grief and move on, and not secretly half move on.
Question: what if your LO is not a bad person it’s just the circumstances that made you hyper limerent and therefore addicted etc , could it be possible that if, when you work on yourself during NC , be happy again have a life purpose etc you can try again with lo but with a different attitude ?
Kind of guess it would be playing with fire. And realising I answered my own question in the first part.
* when also both single of course.
In answer to your question.. personally I am not sure? I would say no of my LO’s have been bad people but I am truly over an LO, I have not desire to be with them and friendship seems rather boring. They become very normal to me. Usually LO’s are unpredictable in so ways. I’ve never had a LO who after the detaching becomes somebody I would ever be interested in being with in the real world. Funny how things move on when we feel so out of depth and feelings of never ending.
I think once you have FULLY moved on from an LO you can be in contact but it’s a tricky game. Like I said, how I know I am fully over a LO is when I can’t really be bothered with a friendship with them.
Well, interestingly, a couple of my former LO’s have said they knew their exes still longed for them. From all the evidence I saw, nothing could be further from the truth. One of them said “I can see it in her eyes”. This ex of the LO clearly wanted nothing to do with him and who was very happy in her new relationship that had lasted for many years at that point. One of my former LO’s wanted to be friends and I was so completely over him that he annoyed and slightly disgusted me. I ended up going on a vacation with him and another friend just to prove that I wasn’t holding a grudge (I was young and uninformed). To my horror he said more than once “I don’t think you are over me.”. Finally in an uncharacteristically (for me) sharp fashion I looked him him coldly in the eye and said “Please don’t flatter yourself. Not if you were the last man on earth”. After that I finally gave myself permission to not endure that boring and self serving friendship but we are not on bad terms. My point is this: after the LE is over, really really over, it’s possible we could have some sort of friendship but some of my former LO’s are the narcissistic types and will always assume I am still longing. No thank you. Like Rachel said, those friendships would be boring, likely annoying , and worst of all, in my opinion feed the egos of the former LO’s who just will never believe we are really over them. Why endure that?
“I don’t think you are over me.”.
Yuk I was almost sick in my mouth. Yeah how off putting and would never want to be friends with that!
I laughed so hard about your post girls ! Thank you.
I would like to still be in love with LO since he is with me and we are both single and he is nice but without the exhausting up down obsession ” I need you to be happy ” kind of mood. Just be normally in love. I went NC because I want to get rid of limerence it was ruining our beginning relationship ( and my health) but still wonder is it this what I’m doomed for?
Either get over him and be slightly disgusted (!)
Or be totally obsessed mood regulation crawling on the floor in limerence.
If you go NC, work on yourself still like LO and after try again from a better less depending place , more like I’m happy with and also without you kind of place .
Could that work ??
I’m not sure on that one. There is a reason your obsessed/limerent. I would whenever I have experienced pure obsessional limerence I have never ended up in relationship with them. There is a reason why you are obsessed, is it due to uncertainty or is LO hot and cold. In my opinion if it was right for you, you would perhaps feel the limerent feelings which then develop into a healthy relationship. But if your experiencing the awful crashing lows, then perhaps they are not meeting your needs entirely and not the right person for you. You need to figure out if you really want this person and it’s not just limerence. For me I always knew LO was not for me. God I would be embarrassed if in reality he was my partner.. but still I was hooked.
Bottom line for me is I think if you are crawling on the floor in Limerence then when the fog is over I doubt you will want him. But who knows. That’s my guess based on my history.
Yes I hear you
There where so many barriers long distance, me still officially married, small detail.
But all my relationships started with crawling on the floor and ended long term. Well that is to say. 46 and single now.
But you are right, I know deep down we are not a match but the glimmer and fysical attraction is still there.
We will see, first I have to do some digging and get happy.
Changes are I will be slightly disgusted after 😀
The longer term questions are once you’re past the limerence, will this person have a continuing place in your life? When you meet someone and start a new relationship, will you want your LO lurking in the background?
I can only speak for myself but I was always suspicious of anyone who remained close friends with their exes unless they’d know each other since grade school or something like that. Exes are exes for a reason. And, I didn’t want a person I was involved with having another man’s shoulder ready for her to cry on. I get that people have pasts and they had people in their lives that were important to them and had great influence on them. But, I prefer those people stay in the past.
LO #2 told me that she told my successor that I was still her best friend and she wasn’t ready to give me up. I couldn’t believe it. I told her that if she’d said that to me, I’d have kicked her in the ass so hard, she’d still be bouncing across the street. But, she was serious. She later claimed he cheated on her and looked to me for a shoulder to cry on. I was less than sympathetic. At that meeting, she told me that I was still her best friend. I told her there was nothing in that for me. I also told her that I wasn’t going to pat her on the head, tell her she’s wonderful and put her back together so she could do this to me again. I told her I’d rebuilt her once, I wasn’t doing it a second time for another man. Interestingly, when I told the EAP counselor that story, she got snippy with me and said, “That was your grandmother talking.” I didn’t get where she was coming from and didn’t pull the string.
So, what’s in it for you to have your LO remain in your life?
My wife knew LO #2 was lurking in the background and didn’t like it. She never said anything directly but every so often a comment would come out that hinted at it. She was afraid that I’d dump her and return to LO #2. What she didn’t know was that I had done that before to another woman.
So, after LO #2 really pissing me off and meeting my wife, I had no reason to allow LO #2 to remain in my life. None. She may always be in my head but she’s not in my life.
I hit the wrong “Reply” button. My post should have gone under Mia’s post.
Got it :). And we are all interested in your words .
Vicarious Limerent says
My neighbour’s ex-wife attended his wedding to his current wife. If my wife and I ever went our separate ways, I would prefer that our relationship would be like that. She and I will always have a special bond, even if we end up not being together forever. I get that exes are exes for a reason, but I do believe it is nice if people can remain cordial and legitimately want the best for each other. This is doubly important if kids are involved.
I have no idea why this topic hit my “Play” button but it did.
Things like kids and shared financial assets like being business partners may require you to maintain long-term contact with your ex. You want to be on good terms with your ex. Since neither of those apply to me, I think if I’d suggested inviting LO #2 to the wedding, my wife would have called off the wedding.
The conversation would have gone something like this, “You want her at the wedding, invite her. I won’t be there. Maybe you should marry her instead. Oh, wait, you tried that once and she turned you down. Well, now you’re 0 for 2.”
I’m wired to not want an ex in my life if I don’t absolutely have to have them in my life. My wife specifically asked me not to engage LO #2 and I’ve honored that request. It wasn’t all that hard since I didn’t want to anyway but now I made a promise not to. It may apply to LO #4 now too but I’m not going to ask about it.
When LO #2 and I started dating, one of the perks was she showed me what Seattle had to offer. One of those things was the Sorrento Hotel. It was near “Pill Hill” near Seattle. It had an elegant restaurant and bar called The Hunt Club. It was gorgeous. The bar had dark paneling, overstuffed chairs, and a fireplace. LO #2 told me she stayed there alone the night before her abortion. She had an odd affinity for the place. We went to The Hunt club for dinner and drinks several times and did a romantic weekend there, well, until I came down with food poisoning or the flu and ruined it.
When I started dating my wife, I took her there. She loved it. We were having a great time until she asked, “How do you know about this place?” The best I could come up with was, “I’ve been here before.”
The room froze over but I learned something. I never again took my wife to someplace I’d learned about from LO #2. Not the resort on the Hood Canal or the Bed & Breakfast on Whidbey Island. Not to the other excellent restaurants I learned about in a previous life. My wife learned something to. She learned not to ask questions she didn’t want to hear the answer to.
I had an engagement ring ready for LO #2. It was a 2.5 carat brown diamond in a basket setting. After we were married and I was showing my new wife things she needed to know about since we were now married. I showed her my family jewelry. I had my father’s and mother’s wedding rings, etc. One of the pieces was LO #2’s engagement ring. My wife took one look at it and knew immediately what it was. I offered to have the stone remounted into something she would like. My wife said that she would never wear that diamond in any form as long as she was alive.
LO #2 bought me Grey Flannel cologne. She said it was my signature fragrance. I really liked it. I still do. Somehow, my wife figured out the LO #2 had picked it out and she said she didn’t like it and bought me something else. I haven’t worn Grey Flannel in years. Nice items of clothing like cashmere sweaters LO #2 had given me got donated to the thrift store long before their time. Items like a nice clock LO #2 had given me “didn’t fit our decor” and were donated. I managed to save the clock and I kept it at work. I thought my wife was out of line on that but I wasn’t going to war over it. The bedroom set stayed awhile but the mattress was gone as soon as we got engaged. There were only two known pictures of LO #2 and I together. One has completely disappeared. The other was a picture of us at a Navy formal. Someone had cut LO #2 completely out of the picture. It wasn’t me.
If your SO doesn’t have a vendetta against keep your LO/Ex in your life as a friend, go for it.
Song of the Day: “Do I Wanna Know?” – Arctic Monkeys (2013)
“Crawling back to you…”
This one was all over the radio when I would take my daughter to riding lessons on Saturday mornings.
I’ll throw in my 2 cents again. Why does he seem so special? Because he fn is. He seems to have his life together. I don’t. He ghosted me yet I am the one to pick up the pieces, and leaving with my dignity detached like a dog with its tail between my legs. I resent this ending because it ended on his terms. I was discarded.
Relapse city, again. She is beyond special to me. She looks like a once in a lifetime, the looks, the jokes, the references, the wit, the. depth, the conversation, the sexiness. Everything. All this in an entirely online relationship (quarantine) while I’m married and have kids. It’s maddening that I keep going back to the crack pipe even though I know how bad crack is for me. Even though I know I’m high on crack, I still believe the high feelings too much. I truly do believe she is as special as my chemical-addled brain thinks she is. Agony
I have read and re-read this one a time or two. Just damn. It’s so dead-on accurate but I struggle so much with this. Particularly:
“Acknowledge the fact that LO has unique and appealing qualities for you, but also that your best interest is served by detaching from them.”
Anytime Dr. L starts talking about purposeful living, I just brush it aside because I can’t escape the absolute tragedy of the fact that LO and I cannot, and will not, ever be a “thing.” Yes, she actually IS special, she does push all my buttons, she does remind me of subconscious formative experiences, deep down that I had forgotten were there. We are so similar in so many ways. I even think we may have had similar childhood trauma experiences that have shaped us similarly. I think that she sees all of this in me as well.
It is horrifying to me that two people who are so alike and who just click like we do, like we have known each other all our lives (maybe even in a past life), can’t be together. That is tragic. So the world should just go on, and I should just take up a new hobby and be “purposeful,” and that soul connection that is so damn palpable will never actually be realized? That nauseates me. I’m sorry, Dr. L, I know you’re probably right (you usually are) but this is the hardest part of the recovery process for me to accept.
And for some reason it reminds me of the “Good job” scene from Whiplash where the teacher explains that he pushes his students so hard because he fears that if he doesn’t, the world might lose the next great musician who never realized their potential. Just the thought of that is so painful for him. You can see it on his face. I get it. Maybe I think the purposeful living mantra is just another way of saying “good job.”
Here is that scene. sorry I forgot to link it:
It’s a good scene, B, but in some ways the last comment is the most relevant: Charlie Parker would not have been discouraged.
That’s because Charlie Parker’s purposeful life was music 🙂
It’s the first question in the purposeful living canon. What do you actually want? Purposeful living is not about deadening yourself to your emotions so you can dutifully carry on with life. It’s the best defence against unwanted limerence, not the best way of reconciling yourself to a life of quiet desperation.
What do you want? What trade offs are acceptable to you? Make a decision and then stick with it, because it’s the right decision for your purpose.
Remember: I married my LO. But then, 15 years later, unexpectedly, I got another one. I had to decide what I wanted.
Again B…..there is something about many of your posts that always forces me to acknowledge some of my deeper feelings and beliefs – ones that I don’t like to admit to. “I can’t escape the absolute tragedy of the fact that LO and I cannot, and will not, ever be a “thing.” Yes, she actually IS special, she does push all my buttons” – this chimes with me utterly. I have never felt this strongly for anyone before. I get that the power of my feelings are partly driven by limerence/barriers/uncertainty…. but still, setting this LE aside and never experiencing it fully is something I will always regret.
What do I really want? I want to have LO (if they want me) but keep SO! The trade-off being living with the risks, the guilt and losing some of my integrity…..not the right answer I know.
No worries I am full of not right answers.
The abject injustice of our connection not being fully realized Is what gets me. Like we’re depriving the world of one of the most natural, pure, love connections ever known. A bit of an exaggeration I know but that’s what it feels like to me. To just go on with that potential never having been reached just seems unfair and wrong. But why do I care? Like there’s some audience out there watching for the ‘best’ relationships and rating them like it’s some reality TV show or American Bandstand?? I guess that’s where this differs from the movie clip above. The world actually gets to enjoy great musicians. The world doesn’t give a shit about some guy and girl that may have been good together. So why do I feel like that’s such an injustice?
I have to just tell myself it doesn’t matter. We definitely would have been great together but it doesn’t matter. The world will go on just fine without us.
The truth is: the greatest love the world would have ever known would have gone from something beautiful to something threadbare and mediocre at best, toxic and annoying and repellant at worst. Nobody stays limerent once they get the LO prize (in the few examples where they do). Maybe it’s better in some ways not to have to watch (and participate) in the tragedy of the decay.
@jadeaux again you are right, cost me my marriage, because it started with a LE for me.
If only we could look so far in the future ..
I married an LO 13 years ago and we are happy together so good can come out of limerence.
The LE sparkle wore off a year or so into our relationship, well before we got married. I now struggle to even remember that I ever felt like that about my husband!
Song of the Day: “More” – Andy Williams (1964)
“More than the greatest love the world has known…”
I love this song! This is my favorite cover. It was from the 1962 movie, “Mondo Cane.” My step-father had the soundtrack. I think it’s one of the most romantic songs ever recorded.
When I took up the oboe at 58, I decided to play it at a recital. I butchered it. Lucky for me, the accompaniest was fantastic and covered for me brilliantly. My teacher later apologized saying I had no business taking on the piece at the time.
Oddly, later I picked up two songs by ear, “More” and “Strangers In The Night.” They’re the only two songs I can play by ear and I’m pretty decent at them now. Except…I started learning it as the LE with LO #4 started ramping up. She’s now intertwined with the song. I sometimes imagine playing it for her and as soon as I do, I start screwing it up.
‘Like we’re depriving the world of one of the most natural, pure, love connections ever known. A bit of an exaggeration I know but that’s what it feels like to me. ‘
I’ve thought about this and come back to comment because I think this is interesting. I sometimes have these grandiose fantasies in my LEs. Like there really IS a bigger purpose of being together.
Or I I fantasise about being out together, seen, participating in ‘the world’. Being in a couple that is admired so to speak. It is all a bit delusional – at most me and LO could be what? A married couple going to a few bars? Funnily, even saying ‘married’ gives me an odd uncomfortable feeling (‘marriage? Too ordinary for me and LO’! 😄). My LEs are certainly a bit epic at times…
I wonder whether that is common in Linerence?
That Andy Williams song is a perfect limerent anthem!
That’s EXACTLY how I felt during my last LE. Such transcendent feelings! Clearly under the influence of Limerent drug.
It’s great you recognise that. For some people (myself included) limerence IS love.
I know better now. But in the past I’d have (and have) interpreted the LE ending as falling out of love. I’ve said elsewhere I held guilt for a few years about secretly not loving my ex SO ‘enough’. But I realise that my concept of what love was had become a bit warped.
This may be somewhat tangential.
If you research why people stay in bad/abusive relationships, you’ll come across the term FOG, Fear, Obligation, and Guilt. Some articles add a 4th element, Shame. They’re interesting concepts and may play into why we might hang with our LOs longer than would seem reasonable.
When my son was a toddler, we went to a Rainforest Cafe restaurant. Rainforest Cafes used to have mechanical crocodiles something like this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThszzlzO_bk He was terrified. He’d never seen a real crocodile. Maybe he’d seen one on TV. The point is he may not have known what it was but he was terrified of it. I don’t think it was learned, it was hard coded into him. It would be interesting for DrL to explain the neuroscience behind that. Why do snakes scare the crap out of some people who never encountered one or don’t scare someone at all?
But, the FOG elements are not all equal. One of them is different and more powerful than the others.
Questions of the Day: “Of Fear, Obligation, Guilt, and Shame, which is the most powerful and why?”
It’s really cool.
There are some visual or auditory cues that can directly activate reflex responses (like startle or escape responses), which were basically hard wired in by evolutionary selection. But it gets even cooler, because there’s some evidence that our visual systems are the way they are because of the risks in our environment – so primates that lived in environments shared by snakes have especially sensitive visual systems.
For fake crocodiles, we have to learn to understand the context before we can learn to suppress the fear (this habituation could be due to repeated exposure, or through observing the behaviour of adults).
But when it comes to more abstract, psychological fear, it’s a super complex mix of learned associations, fear conditioning, memory, all overlaid on top of the basic fear circuitry. Consensus seems to be that the amygdala and prefrontal cortex are the key centres for fear recognition and processing, but (as ever) humans seem to be a bit more complicated than rodents 🙂
My guess at your question: Fear would seem the most potent of the elements from a neurophys perspective, but I also wouldn’t underestimate the psychological power of habits over the long term, so obligation might edge it.
I’m going to wait awhile to see if there are more guesses before I give my opinion.
Oooo…..interesting! I would say Fear. My reasoning is that the survival of primitive man depended on fear to keep him and his kin alive. Obligation, Guilt and Shame are powerful in the context of the highly social nature of the human mind, but I am guessing the more primitive urge of fear (for your life) will override that. I wonder where Love fits into that list…..
Heck, after writing the following, I thought that I should state that this could be a trigger for some people, so read at your own risk: Shame is strongest, since it is damaging to your sense of self. Shame, I have this defect which makes me unworthy of love (or in drastic cases, unworthy of existence). Fear, Obligation, and Guilt are more related to reactions or actions/choices. Fear, an emotional reaction but not truly an inherent part of our being (possibility of reprogramming). Obligation, a commitment to take appropriate actions and Guilt, the feeling resulting from not making an appropriate choice. Shame, I am worthless, I have no value. What could be more powerful and injurious to a person? Is there shame in being a limerent?
Of the 4 elements, Fear, Obligation, Guilt, and Shame, Obligation is distinctly different and most powerful.
Fear, Guilt, and Shame are emotionally based. They’re like voodoo. They only work if you believe them. There are very skilled emotional manipulators out there who can play on those emotions but in the end, they’re still our emotions. Some exploitable fear may be tapped into. Based on DrL’s post above, if something like fear can be unlearned, it could also probably be learned. Ever read “1984?” Big Brother is able to exploit Julia’s and Winston’s worst fears to break them into betraying each other. Gaslighting is a behavior modification technique. Guilt and Shame appear to edge out Fear as the technique favored by narcissistic parents. Fear doesn’t directly attack self-worth but Guilt and Shame do.
Obligations are a different story. They can be implicit or explicit. We may feel we “owe” someone something and assume an implicit obligation. Guy de Maupassant wrote a great short story, “Hautot Senior and Hautot Junior,” about a son who assumes responsibility for his father’s mistress when his father dies. LO #2 used “we owe it to each other” twice in conversations. At that point, we didn’t owe each other anything and it was really self-serving on her part.
Explicit obligations can be voluntary or involuntary and can be legally binding. Nobody can legally bind you to Fear, Guilt, or Shame. We sign a contract and assume an obligation. You can give equity positions in your company to your LO. It’s on paper. Obligations may be involuntary. As a married couple, a spouse is often responsible for debts of the other spouse, which is why you need to protect yourself before your STBX trashes your credit.
Furthermore, obligations can be externally forced upon you and you can be sanctioned for failing to meet them. Think alimony and child support. Get a woman pregnant during a one night stand and you may be paying for it for the next 18 years. It doesn’t matter if you never want to see her again, those checks need to keep coming and bad things can happen if they don’t. If you’re responsible for a car accident, a court can obligate you to pay for damages.
Why do you think someone would claim a pregnancy and push for marriage? It incurs an obligation. They may use Fear, Guilt, and Shame to achieve the goal but the goal is the Obligation.
The debate’s open.
Consider a contrast between obligation and shame: fulfilling obligations can be quite uplifting and positive, but shame always offers quite the opposite experience. Example: I felt the obligation to be the dependable brother/son when my sister would call concerning health issues that our parent’s were having in the past few years; and in four instances, I took the first flight out the next morning to be there and fulfill my role. My feeling of obligation was reinforced by my older brother’s demonstrated lack of feeling that he had any obligation to do this — there’s a bit of resentment that I/we have to work through on that issue. Even though we had to make some difficult decisions, I was proud that I was able to do this for my family. In contrast, during one of these trips, we had to tell our mother that because of her broken hip and ankle she would have to go to an assisted living facility. Her response to my sister and I was “If your father was alive, he would not be proud of you.” Here we were, out of gratitude for all that she had done for us, and she was telling us that we were bad children — the ultimate way that a parent can shame their child. I’m sure that there was a hell of a lot of emotion going through her that she could not, and never really did, express in another manner. Over her days in rehab, we would try to talk to her about what her fears might be, why there wasn’t a better option, and she continually circled back to “I just want to go home. Your father would not be proud of you for the way that you are treating me.” She eventually became accepting and, in addition to each other’s support, we knew that we had full power of attorney (healthcare, etc) backing us up. These thoughts of how I was handling (guess what?) the obligations to my mother, my siblings, my wife, my children, and my job during this health crisis — and secretly fearing that in a couple of months, I could be having my own — made me proud; however, my mother’s attempted use of shame reshaped how we saw parts of her. There’s a good story about how my recent LO2 plugs this emotional hole that had always existed.
Although obligation can be weaponized and used to exert force, when simply fulfilled it can be beneficial. Shame tears down an aspect of a person. It casts a shadow. It devalues. If infliction of damage is the measurement, then shame wins.
Wow- that’s a great question! In different ways, I would say that those all play a role….
Fear- there’s something so tied in with pride and ego in a LE. St least in my case, where we were mutually limerent. I became my most sparkly, interesting, stunning self (to his drug-addled brain). There is a fear of just being another clown on the bus. Somehow understanding that it was all in his mind doesn’t totally eradicate my fear of losing that sense of specialness- of larger than life specialness. Because I am actually special, interesting and attractive to my SO, and it has substance to it because he also knows all of my flaws and weaknesses and issues. He doesn’t love me because he’s besotted, but because he actually loves me. So, fear of being ordinary.
Obligation- with my actions toward LO I implied commitment- even as I said I knew it couldn’t last. He opened up to me and I opened up to me (which was real, just inappropriate) and I feel an obligation to honor the fact that I got him to open up- the whole thing was disrespectful, but it feels like an added disrespect to just walk away from someone who has been so vulnerable to me (misguided loyalty).
Guilt- I hurt him and then shut him out and I feel guilty for having used him in that way. I feel, wrongly, that I owe him something.
Shame- there’s something about the fact that he understands the most broken part of me perfectly that bonds me to him. I feel like that sometimes when I’m in an acutely shame-filled patch- that he would understand me in it. Because he’s broken in the same place.
If I could be free of all of this I think that it would clear the water tremendously- and I actually feel like I’m finding my way in this and that things are getting clearer. Progress! And great food for thought Sharn.
Limerence is defined as a “compulsory longing for another human being, a near-obsessive state of romantic love”. So I’m going to side with Scharn’s view and say obligation is the most powerful driver in why I’d hang onto LOs.
One caveat – the obligation isn’t to myself, to LO, or to society. I think the obligation is to one’s genetic programming – at least until one becomes aware of such programming. Limerence is goal-oriented behaviour. However, limerent goals may not be conscious for quite some time or compatible with one’s other goals e.g. to live a moral life, to behave with dignity, etc.
I’d like to approach Scharn’s question from another angle. Let’s say I’m single.
Let’s say I have an LO, who is also single. Let’s say I know said LO is bad for me. What emotions are stopping me moving on in a timely fashion?
(1) Fear. Fear of never meeting anyone again who seems so special.
(2) Obligation. Obligation wouldn’t be a factor for me, unless I’d made some explicit promise to LO. It might be different for people who work with LOs or have business dealings, etc. (You’re obliged to be polite to this person. You must honour legal commitments). People definitely have moral obligations to SOs too – that should work against limerence, unless it functions as an obstacle.
(3) Guilt. Wouldn’t feel guilt toward LO if there was no sexual involvement. Would feel guilt for letting down SO though, if an SO was in picture. Would feel guilt about not living up to own moral code. Guilt should work against limerence.
(4) Shame. Would only feel shame if other people knew of limerence. Shame is a very social emotion – probably the reason people hide limerent feelings from others. Shame would make it hard to move on if other relationships might be damaged as result.
(5) Pride. Janesays is right: pride plays a big part in sustaining LEs. Who wants to admit they made the wrong choice or “bet on the wrong horse” so to speak i.e. invested emotionally in someone unavailable or uninterested? If you’ve poured a lot of time and energy into something, it’s hard to let go of that something. You feel entitled to some reward or form of compensation – which, of course, never materialises (except in cases of mutual limerence).
In conclusion, pride and fear would make it hardest for me to move on (don’t want to own up to being foolish). Guilt and shame would make it hard to talk about LE with others. As for obligation – limerence would make it very hard to know where one’s obligations truly lie. To whom does one owe loyalty, etc? In the throes of limerence, one probably feels LO is the centre of the universe.
For me fear plays a big role:
* what he is the most special person in the world? That could mean:
* What no one will love me like that, that could mean:
* What I will never love again, that could mean:
* That I will be alone, That could mean:
* Than I will get depressed, That could mean:
* Than I will be alone and depressed cut off from everyone, that could mean:
* Than I will be cut off alone in a dark place ( basicly death)
LO represents a deep rooted fear of death as we species have.
I think if you play out the other ingredients, Shame you can get to the same down spiral (When I have to admit ive been foolish, than im not good enough, than other people will also see that, in worse case no one wants to be with me, I end up alone, im comletely alone, I have no meaning anymore, im nothing, im death.
This is a great topic.
Looking at obligation as a factor in limerence, it’s multifaceted. For married limerents, the obligation can be a barrier, and in the throes of limerence turn into a resented duty that could accelerate devaluation of the spouse. But, obligation is also the major psychological brake that stops married limerents from rushing headlong into a family-wrecking affair. If obligation can help you hold off for long enough to get your head straight, then it’s a powerful ally in recovery.
This needs more thought 🙂
I wrote about me specifically- but I would say that generally fear trumps all in terms of what keeps us hooked in our LE’s, and I think that the danger is that the fear can even trump obligation. The primary fear is of losing the feeling that is delivered by the person. Limerence sort-of screams that if I let the LO go, I will also be letting happiness, color, meaning, and bliss go. I also think that limerence bonds the limerent to the LO- truly or in fantasy- in a way that makes the limerent afraid that to lose LO means to lose themselves. I think that pride is a close second: I deserve to feel this way- I am special and this is unique- I’m finally being recognized the way I should be or/and they are so special, unique and deserving of my love that I will be depriving them of what they need by ending this LE. Once the fear and pride have done their best, the obligation begins to lend it’s voice- calling you back to the duty you swore and also, maniacally, calling you to the obligation you have created to LO (I think the obligation is the root of the craziness of cognitive dissonance)… and then the final nail is the shame. I agree with Sammy that the shame tells you to remain silent, and that it’s roots would be in survival. If I am inherently defective, I need to find a way to hide that in order to survive….which leads to fear, and around and around we go:/
It gets even more interesting.
In https://livingwithlimerence.com/integrity/, DrL says :
“Second, if consistently applied, other people will come to think of you as a person of integrity…Third, it draws other decent people to you. If you role model integrity (simply by exhibiting it) then people that value the trait will be attracted to you.”
Earlier in the article, DrL says, “Similarly, if you are offered a job by a competitor employer, it is not a sign of integrity to refuse because of the commitment you made to your current employer. ”
Then, what drives integrity, i.e., “the inherent desire to do the right thing” and separates the moral motivation from the “baser” instincts of Fear, Obligation, Guilt, and Shame?
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” ― Kurt Vonnegut, “Mother Night”
Most people won’t know that you’re not cheating on your spouse because you’re more afraid of violating your prenuptial agreement and forfeiting those assets and potentially losing access to your children than you are because it’s morally wrong to betray your spouse.
We do a lot of things for questionable reasons. But, the results are outwardly the same.
Great link – I have never read this one before and it is so true! This is what I usually believe too but I really needed the reminder….thank you Sharn & DrL.
I felt like I had obligation in both directions. To my SO and kids, that goes without saying. But LO and I had got to such a stage in our relationship whereby I felt she relied on me, needed me. Now of course that was almost certainly exaggerated by the limerence, but I felt like I’d created this thing, I’d elevated her professionally to such an extent that only I could keep her up there (and she seemed to need me personally too). Now events have transpired that disprove that, and I heard recently she’s smashing it in her new job, which genuinely put a smile on my face. But at the time, I felt like I couldn’t abandon her, go LC or NC to protect myself, because I felt it would harm her. She’d become such a part of my life that I felt almost as obligated to her as I did my SO and kids.
For some of us, knowing you left your LO better off than you found them may be as good as it ever gets.
Even better if they tell you themselves.
Yes – I don’t regret that part of it. I know I lifted her up and no-one else could have done it. At one point she wanted to throw away her career, go home and work in a store. I talked her round eventually even though she didn’t like what I had to say. If she’d had her way she’d almost certainly be unemployed by now with Covid. I hope she’s thought about that this year.
She told me how grateful she was for everything I did for her, how much she looked up to me, before it all ended. It wasn’t enough for me at the time, but looking back it was all she could realistically say to me.
I’d like to hear it one more time though….
Okay my fellow limerents, it’s time to go. I’m doing the reprogramming course and I’m done with this very bizar but also very interesting part of my life. I’m going to cut myself louse and ” sell my canoe” ( new metaphor for letting go)
Thank you so so much, Allie, Sharny, the ever kind Jaideux and Rachel, Thomas (since you are my new LO I will find you soon) Steve (hang in there buddy) sweet Anxious and Chicster, MLBIAD, AL, B, VL, Vincent, Sammy, limerat, Benjamin,
Marleen, Janesays, AND ALL THE OTHERS WHO STOOD BY ME, shared for me, told me it was going to get better at my lowest points. You guys mean so much to me. Thank you Dr L you are such an inspiration.
I will check in with good news I hope soon. I hope you all will sell your canoes any time soon too.
Is it oversharing to say I love you all?
Best wishes, Mia. Thanks for everything – totally understand your motives for taking a break. Focus on the recovery with a single minded determination!
I suspect that canoe will go down in LwL history 😀 Three years from now, the old timers will be using it as shorthand and the newbies will wonder what on earth we’re talking about!
Need to add this to the “Glossary of Terms” DrL: Selling my canoe = letting go of the last string linking me to LO…
All the best for you Mia, you are an inspiration to us all. Thanks for your wise words, empathy, emotional intelligence, courage and… humor!
And thank you so much Mia!…for your honest sharing, open-minded kindness, wisdom, sense of fun, and lots of other good stuff! Good luck with the course – I have every confidence in both the course and your ability & commitment in applying it all. Wishing you contentment and equanimity.
(Mmmm….I live along a canal and quite fancy a canoe….I guess shipping costs to the UK probably isn’t worth it though….)
You should post a video when it goes. We can bet in advance whether it will leave through a door or a window.
@Mia, it won’t be the same here without you. Personally, I appreciated the kind words you gave me when I first posted here, words that did their bit to help me manage the ongoing limerence I have and showing that level of compassion with my situation. 🙂
All the best with the next chapter of your life and I hope it works out for you! 🙂
This place is going to feel very empty without you, but it’s good if it means that you’re doing better.
Good luck with the course and I hope that everything works for you in the end!
Anonymous Limerent says
Good luck, Mia. And make sure not to… buy… any other canoes… I guess? I’ll hopefully be looking to sell mine soon!
Good luck Mia. We’re always here if ever you need us.
Thank you for all of your kind words to me, Mia. Wishing you the best. Do check back in soon, because I’m no good at goodbyes.
Mia thank you so much for being one of, if not THE, first person to offer me encouragement on this site. Your graciousness and empathy have been touchpoints for me many, many times after finding LwL and meeting you. You will do marvelously in each day of your journey accepting your own responses gently as you’ve shown me I can do. Best best wishes!!!
All the best, Mia. I would say “bon voyage” but don’t want to add to the flood of canoe references. You will be remembered fondly for your great posts!
You are one of my all-time favorite commenters!
I really look forward to you checking in with us…
but in the meantime I will imagine the canoe floating downriver like Our Lady of Shalott…
love back to you as you heal xoxoxooxo
Best of luck Mia! You’ve been a ray of sunshine here for all of us, even in the midst of your own personal darkness. We’ll miss you!!!❤️
Ps- my vote is setting the canoe on fire and pushing it out to the middle of a lake. Seems fitting somehow.
Thank you all sweethearts, I’m going to focus on my you tube channel on self compassion (no LO will not do the editing) when it’s in the air I will let you know and I will be back to stand by everyone when I’m a bit further in the proces, xxxx
Clip of the Day: “I am Gandalf the White” – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
I’m a sucker for a good analogy and if I can’t find a good one, I’ll take a bad one.
When you do return here, you come back different.
Reading Mia’s goodbye comment got me re-reading this post. LO seemed special because she showed me attention that I perceived as “interest.” For a middle aged, kind of boring guy, that rocked my world. For me, The root of my limerence is selfishness, which is probably my worst trait. I saw interest from an attractive, younger woman, and it fueled my ego. I took the bait and now I’m paying for it. One of LO’s character flaws is attention-seeking behavior (probably due to her own self image issues). She sought attention from me and it came off like she was interested in me. It was just the perfect recipe for disaster. I am starting to understand this more and more. It may not be everyone else’s story but it’s definitely mine. She’s actually not special at all. If I had just worked on my biggest fault prior to this, the entire thing may have been avoided.
I was slightly attracted initially to my LO because he was a little bad, smart, funny. He paid attention to me. There was a pathos about him. We met online. We talked and video chatted.
I’ve spent so much time trying to figure out what made him special. He’s not. He’s someone that, had I met him in person, I would not have given a glance or wanted to spend time with him.
The chemistry and friendship built online and by the time we met, I was determined to like him.
I found him to be an anxious, lonely man. Online, he projects the image of a fun, confident guy. Instead of being angry or disappointed, I felt compassion for him. We lived far apart and once I returned home, it was easy to forget the real him. The online person was stronger in my head.
He became the LO, the thing that made me feel safe and loved during a difficult time. He was fine with that but wanted no real life demands. He was manipulative.
The anxiety and distance barriers firmly cemented him as my LO. I believe there’s a childhood attachment issue involved. I could never figure out what.
Doesn’t matter. Knowing what this is is HUGE.
I will beat this. It’s been horrible and heartbreaking. The highs were never worth the lows.
“He became the LO, the thing that made me feel safe and loved during a difficult time. He was fine with that but wanted no real life demands. He was manipulative.”
@Beth. I can relate to this. I wonder if some of us have LEs merely to get us through difficult times in our lives?
I’m familiar with the kind of LO who wants no real-life demands placed on him. I find it very hard to sort out in my mind, however, who exactly who manipulated who, and to what end? I can’t shake the feeling sometimes that I must be the guiltier of the two parties, even though I never really asked my LOs for anything.
I think a jury of my peers would convict me on the grounds of “reading too much into things” and “blowing things out of proportion”. My LOs justifiably believe I’m an abnormally generous platonic friend. I justifiably (or unjustifiably) believe my LOs are unusually reticent potential lovers. I think the average man (or woman) in the street would side with my LOs’ point of view, and tell me I’m being unreasonable. Clearly, a great deal of fault must lie at my own doorstep.
I’m not saying your LE/LO is the same as mine, by the way. Nor am I suggesting you’re blameworthy. I’m merely reflecting on my own experiences.
I just had a small epiphany. One of the common traits of all my LOs was they all seemed to possess some degree of guile. I definitely saw it in LOs #1 & #2. I got a sense of it with LOs #3 & #4.
I kind of find guile, (small “g”) an attractive trait. I’m not sure why but it adds an energizing element to the dance, sometimes almost adversarial. There’s just something about a woman with “sly or cunning intelligence” that appeals to me. One of the other mods on LO #4’s site said that from the way LO #4 and I went at each other, he thought we were really close and had known each other a long time. To swipe a phrase from another LwL poster, they have a “Je ne sais quoi” about them. They seem special because in that respect, they were special.
My wife has absolutely no guile. It’s just not in her.
“I’m not sure why but it adds an energizing element to the dance, sometimes almost adversarial.”
Sounds more like it provokes a degree of anxiety. It feels adversarial because by definition, it is.
Guile is the quality of being good at deceiving people in a clever way.
Yeah…anxiety makes sense.
It spawns hypervigilance. Hypervigilance isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as it doesn’t get away from you.
Come to think about it, limerence could really exacerbate hypervigilance. I don’t remember seeing the term in any of the blogs. (that’s a hint DrL)
Maybe part of the LOs appeal is they trigger the right amount of hypervigilance like Marcia said, a little but not too much.
“Maybe part of the LOs appeal is they trigger the right amount of hypervigilance”
It’s the right amount of turn -on. Niceness all the time is a bit cloying. A little snark or even a zap of meanness (small amount) give a little zing. 🙂
LO #4 had a delightfully snarky sense of humor. She made a post on her site about dialing it back. I found it very appealing.
I told LO #4 a story about LO #2. LO #4 knows more about LO #2 than my wife does. In her reply, LO #4 said the story had two of her favorite things, imagery and snark.
Also, what creates zing is someone who has a strong sense of self, which of course excludes butt kissing. Butt kissing is the antithesis to arousal. Someone with the attitude … if you like me, fine. If you don’t, fine.
There’s nothing more appealing than an attractive, intelligent, charming, self-sufficient woman with a slightly snarky sense of humor and who’s comfortable in her own skin. My wife hits 5 out of 6.
My father told me years ago that it’s always better to be wanted than needed. If someone says they want you and someone else says they need you, always go with the one who wants you, if for no other reason than they’re less likely to resent you later. If someone wants you, it’s because of who you are. If someone needs you, it’s because of something they lack.
What higher compliment can you give someone than to genuinely want them?
My wife cancelled two dates. I had a “3 strikes” policy. She was down to her last strike. Once we got past that, I asked her why she cancelled. She said that I scared her. She was a year out of college, living on her own, and making $17K/yr as a first year teacher. She said she’d never met anyone like me. She dated college guys. Then I came along. I was older, established, and she said I exuded confidence. I knew what I wanted and I wanted her. I asked what changed her mind.
She said, “I liked it.”
“There’s nothing more appealing than an attractive, intelligent, charming, self-sufficient woman with a slightly snarky sense of humor and who’s comfortable in her own skin. ”
Same for a man, but it’s also great if he has a backbone.
“My father told me years ago that it’s always better to be wanted than needed. ”
That is tied in to having a backbone. The attitude that: He’ll stay with a woman as long as she treats him well. If she doesn’t, he’ll walk. A man who is not just staying b/c he has no other options or doesn’t want to cut off the sex gravy train.
” I exuded confidence. I knew what I wanted and I wanted her.”
Women love a man with a plan. Decisiveness is sexy.
Actually, I owe a lot of that confidence to LO #2.
She told me that she didn’t like me when we first started dating. She said I was cocky and arrogant. It was true. Those traits are often used by insecure people who lack genuine confidence. They’re also wonderful tools for keeping people at a distance. I was so good at it that I couldn’t buy a date in HS for three years.
I asked her why she kept going out with me. She said I “…was relentlessly persistent and, at times, you can be irresistibly cute.” I told her I didn’t want to be cute, I wanted to be killer like Remington Steele. She said I couldn’t pull off killer and I’d never be Remington Steele but there was nothing wrong with cute.
LO #2 also said that I was the first adult relationship she’d had (she was 28 when we met) and that I was the first guy to ever pursue her. She said that in all her other relationships, she started them and she ended them. Not only did I start that one, I ended it.
By the time it was over, I’d learned a lot of things from LO #2 that I likely wouldn’t have learned had I not encountered her.
As for backbone, my father also told me that if a woman didn’t respect me and treat me well, I should get rid of her and find one who does. He said women were like buses. Miss one and sooner or later another one will come around the corner. His best one was that there was nobody I couldn’t live without. You might miss someone terribly if they were no longer in your life but you could live without them. You have to be careful with the last one. You may think it but it’s really stupid to say out loud. Don’t ask me how I know that.
My father may have had marginal taste in women but he knew a lot about them and tried to pass some of it on. Including my mother, he got rid of two of them.
As for decisiveness, my father also told me that if a woman ever said that she had other plans, the comeback was, “Change them.” I told him he was nuts but he said to try it. He said even if it doesn’t work, she’ll remember me for it.
She told me that she didn’t like me when we first started dating. She said I was cocky and arrogant.
I don’t mind a little cocky. As long as it’s warranted. 🙂
““…was relentlessly persistent ”
Now, tbh, I’m not big on being relentlessly pursued. I want to know someone is interested but part of the mystery in the beginning is guessing at the depth and the extent of it. Someone coming at me like a freight train makes me uncomfortable. I always wonder what they were doing before they met me.
“As for decisiveness, my father also told me that if a woman ever said that she had other plans, the comeback was, “Change them.” ”
That is a good line, as long as you aren’t actually expecting the woman to change them. If I already have plans and I’ve given my word, I will follow through, and I would expect the man to do the same. He doesn’t need to cancel plans with friends for me.
I don’t know if what I like would be considered guile, but I definitely like a man with some game. And a little sketch. Just a little. Not too slick, not too greasy. But far enough away from cherubic and nice that he’s interesting.
I have a distant cousin who has been married for decades to a beguiling and lovely woman. She has ‘je ne sais quoi” to the extreme. She told me the secret of their eminently rewarding marriage is that she has “never lost her mystery”.
To be beguiling isn’t always a negative thing.
“To be beguiling isn’t always a negative thing.”
It’s not. I mentioned a long LE I had on another post. It lasted that long at least in part because I couldn’t figure him out. I mean his personality. Not just whether or not he was interested.
To be perfectly honest, I think my two biggest LOs did possess what Scharn calls “guile”. This guile mainly manifested itself in them getting their needs met through me and giving back as little as possible while still keeping me on the hook. It sounds a bit ugly when said out loud. They would probably both admit to being “sneaky” and not seeing “sneakiness” as an automatically bad human quality. If anything, they would congratulate themselves on how clever they are in an almost childlike way. I guess such behaviour could be called adversarial?
I tend not to admire sneakiness as a character trait, but have difficulty walking away from a game. Maybe I’m attracted to games? I even let one of my LOs beat me at chess, because I wanted him to like me so badly. All I did was further inflate his already bloated ego. No. I don’t think he needed any more strings on his bow. If we’re too sweet to our LOs, they start to think they deserve all the accolades.
I think “guile” is different from the “beguiling” quality that Jaideux mentions, though the two words and their meanings are related. I think it’s possible to be charming and enchanting and mysterious, without intentionally deceiving anyone. This, to me, sounds like the wife of Jaideux’s distant cousin. Some women, for example, may take an interest in fashion, or always be beautifully groomed, and that would lend them “je ne sais quoi” of a positive kind.
“Some women, for example, may take an interest in fashion, or always be beautifully groomed, and that would lend them “je ne sais quoi” of a positive kind.”
Yeah but there’s a lot more to it than just how someone dresses or looks. It’s a quality, an energy, a distinctiveness …
“Yeah but there’s a lot more to it than just how someone dresses or looks. It’s a quality, an energy, a distinctiveness …”
@Marcia. Hm. I guess so, yeah. My only question is – is that something they objectively possess or is that something we attribute to them because of the way they make us feel?
If it’s something they objectively possess, then there really are special people out there, and I’m not sure that news will help people recover from limerence! I.e. if we really believe we’ve found something irreplaceable, we’re not going to let go in a hurry. (We really have found The One!) On the other hand, if je ne sais quoi is just a quality we project onto others, we can probably find dozens of people to project it onto, and don’t requires the services of any particular LO. 😛
I don’t necessarily favour either point of view. I’m just trying here to follow both arguments through to their logical conclusions …
I’m beginning to think of my LOs, however, as sponge cakes with amazing icing. When I scratch off the icing with a spoon, I discover there’s just another everyday sponge cake underneath. Every sponge cake is identical to every other sponge cake. The only difference is the icing on top. What possessed me to believe I’d found the sponge cake to surpass all sponge cakes? 😛
“Yeah but there’s a lot more to it than just how someone dresses or looks. ”
I guess I thought you meant someone could have that “je ne sais quois” based on how they dress or look. A couple of days ago I watched an interview with Gwen Stefani, who always dresses kind of edgy, arty, funky. So I was expecting her to be that kind of a person. But she’s extremely conventional, which to me was a bit jarring in that there was such a sharp contrast to how she looked.
“I’m beginning to think of my LOs, however, as sponge cakes with amazing icing. When I scratch off the icing with a spoon, I discover there’s just another everyday sponge cake underneath.”
I think it’s more like the Wizard of Oz. You pull back the curtain and … it’s just an dude with smoke and mirrors! 🙂
“I guess I thought you meant someone could have that “je ne sais quois” based on how they dress or look.”
@Marcia. Well, I sort of meant that, because models and actors are sometimes described as having je ne sais quoi and in the case of models, it does seem mostly about looks or presentation. “Oh, we hired her for the job, because she has je ne sais quoi.”
“It lasted that long at least in part because I couldn’t figure him out. I mean his personality.”
Yes, the exact same thing happens to me too, and it drives me up the wall. This is one of the most maddening aspects of limerence I think. When experiencing limerence, I seem unable to make heads or tail of LO’s personality, and maybe that could be called the je ne sais quoi effect as well. “My date bewitched me.” 😛
The point I was trying to make was: does limerence produce je ne sais quoi (or our feeling someone has it) or does je ne sais quoi produce limerence? It’s the old chicken and egg problem – which phenomenon came first? I guess I’m really talking about the glimmer. Maybe we notice someone’s je ne sais quoi in the glimmer stage and that’s what the glimmer stage is all about?
“Yeah but there’s a lot more to it than just how someone dresses or looks. It’s a quality, an energy, a distinctiveness …”
@Marcia. You’re right and you’ve described it so well. Even in a modelling context, your definition of je ne sais quoi makes the most sense. All the girls are pretty. All the girls are the right height. The ad campaign or whatever is looking for … that distinctive girl … that girl with the right energy … that girl who stands out because of some indefinable quality she has.
I think I have a better understanding of what je ne sais quoi is now. The meaning was just a little bit hazy in my mind. 😛
“does limerence produce je ne sais quoi (or our feeling someone has it) or does je ne sais quoi produce limerence? ”
Depends on the LO. I think in the case of my professor LO, he had “that thing” and was universally thought of as sexy. But another one of my LOs … who I rambled on and on about … a freind of mine finally met him one day. I said, “What do you think?” He said, ” I want to punch you in the face!” It was funny. I had recreated that guy into James Dean, and he was most certainly not.
“that girl with the right energy … that girl who stands out because of some indefinable quality she has.”
You know what the movie exes told Marilyn Monroe at the start of her career when they met her in person? That she wasn’t pretty enough to be in the movies. But when she was onscreen, even briefly, even before she became a big star, the men in the audience went nuts. It was the combination of her whole package — the walk, the voice, the sexiness, the vulnerability. But it wasn’t being the most beautiful. There are plenty of beautiful people who slide right off the screen.
Being beguiling takes a lot of work. It’s easy to be that way when your heart is not in play.
I would say I had “guile” when I wasn’t in deep. A part of your heart remains untouched. I can say I was like that during my long marriage. He was more invested because he cared more.
The two times (once to my unworthy LO) that I was all in, the guile/beguiling state faded due to anxiety and uncertainty about the state of the relationships.
Maybe beguiling is another way of being confident.
When you know your affection is returned, you tend to feel confident. Unless you don’t care about the relationship. In limerence, that doesn’t happen until there is indifference.
“Being beguiling takes a lot of work. It’s easy to be that way when your heart is not in play.”
@Beth. I think you make a wonderful point here. It’s probably very difficult for us limerents to be “beguiling” once in a limerent state of mind, because the anxiety/shyness kicks in. We can’t be truly offhand about our LOs. We desperately, desperately want them to like us back. Poise and charm are very difficult to pull off under such circumstances, never mind mystery!
“Being beguiling takes a lot of work. It’s easy to be that way when your heart is not in play.”
A tiny semantic clarification here might be necessary. Forgive me for being pedantic – it’s the Aspie in me.
It’s no work at all for our LOs to be charming/beguiling. It’s no work at all for our LOs to pretend to be indifferent to us if they are in fact indifferent to us, or minimally invested in the relationship. They are, after all, just being themselves and probably can’t see what all the fuss is about.
It is a huge amount of work, on the other hand, for limerents to be charming/beguiling. It is a huge amount of work for limerents to pretend to be indifferent to someone we’re not indifferent to. Feigning nonchalance takes ridiculous amounts of energy and mental resources.
In other words, the “playing field” where limerents and non-limerent LOs meet and “engage in combat” is uneven. One party doesn’t really care about the outcome and the other party has everything riding on the outcome.
When limerents pretend to be indifferent to their LOs, limerents are not being their authentic selves or relating authentically – I think this is a valuable point that posters such as Thomas have raised. Being inauthentic takes work. In contrast, non-limerent LOs are just being themselves and maybe their natural ease in social settings comes across as beguiling?
You get to decide which definition suits your tastes the best.
1Charm or enchant (someone), often in a deceptive way.
‘he beguiled the voters with his good looks’
1.1Trick (someone) into doing something.
‘they were beguiled into signing a peace treaty’
2literary Help (time) pass pleasantly.
‘to beguile some of the time they went to the cinema’
Middle English (in the sense ‘deceive, deprive of by fraud’): from be-‘thoroughly’ + obsolete guile ‘to deceive’ (see guile).
@Lee. Thanks for the English lesson. I’m a bit surprised “beguiling” does always seem to carry that negative connotation of deceit, at least as far as the dictionary is concerned. It’s a bit like the word “winsome”. “Winsome” means winning, cute, endearing, etc. But apparently it’s not a compliment. It’s not “the baby was winsome”. It’s more like “the crooked politician/the oily salesman was winsome”. There’s some element of trickery implied.
Haven’t really seen “beguile” used much in the second, literary meaning. But good to know this construction exists. Most people these days would probably say something like: “We whiled away a few hours at the cinema.”
Love words! 😛
They both mean inauthenticity.
In a relationship with actual love, you don’t need that.
“They both mean inauthenticity.
In a relationship with actual love, you don’t need that.”
@Beth. Yup, I think you’re right on the mark here. “Beguiling” and “winsome” both have connotations of inauthenticity. 🙂
Also, I agree on your second point. Inauthenticity isn’t going to work in a relationship. Both parties need to be comfortable enough to be themselves, and say what they really think to the other.