Easy answer: because deep down you don’t want to.
I like the idea of defining limerence as “person addiction”, and one of the reasons that definition seems so apt is because addicts are driven by a central dissonance: I know this thing is bad for me, but I crave it so strongly that I want to carry on regardless. Or, perhaps more subtly, I want to quit, but I hope I fail so I can have more. It almost feels like some part of you is smiling at your deluded self in your efforts to Do The Right Thing, when they know deep down that you are doomed to fail.
There were times in my last limerence episode where I could see with certainty that all roads ahead with LO on them led to bad outcomes, but despite that clarity, a deep part of me hoped that LO would throw herself at me. I wasn’t totally sure I could resist a full frontal assault, so part of me wanted her to attack.
Overcoming this “two minds” problem is one of the hardest challenges in limerence mastery. The internal conflict between your rational self and your irrational self is also a big part of the emotional pain and self-disgust that toxic limerence brings. How to resolve this conflict is not always clear, and certainly never easy. It’s slippery stuff, so I’m going to try and think my way through it by the use of an extended (possibly tortured) metaphor.
The deep down you is not You
An important first step is to recognise that the strength of the deep-down feelings is not an indication of their importance. Deep-down you is a simple creature, and driven by straightforward urges.
There is no sophistication about its primal drives. No foresight. No concern for consequences. Deep-down you is basically a toddler with poor impulse control.
When coupled to the power and deviousness of an adult, this can be quite a destructive force. Fortunately, most of us learn to act as a responsible parent to the deep-down child within us, enforce boundaries, and keeping a watchful eye on what it’s getting up to.
But the desire to sometimes give in to those selfish demands can be seductive. Indulging the deep-down child can feel really good. Guilty good. It can feel as if you are satisfying a fundamental part of yourself, because in a way you are, but it’s important to recognise that, while it is fundamental, it is also very primitive. It’s not the part of yourself that should be in control of your life. There’s a reason that we don’t let children drive: it’s mad dangerous.
You are the you that knows best
Like all children, the deep down part of yourself needs care. It doesn’t understand why all its whims shouldn’t be catered to. It doesn’t like to hear “No”. It needs constraints to stay safe, but it also needs love. Despite the potential for destruction, toddlers are adorable and lovable in their guilelessness. You do not want to be in conflict with your deep-down self; you want it to be able to indulge itself within the healthy constraints that will allow it (and you) to thrive. The child should be nurtured and kept emotionally and physically safe, but the responsible parent is the part of you that must be in charge.
From this perspective, the responsible parent is You at your most essential level. It’s also the definition of what makes us human. The ability to override our base urges, the ability to look into the future and make sacrifices now that lead to a better life, the ability to delay gratification for better outcomes. I don’t think it’s too hyperbolic to say that this uniquely-human trait was vital for the emergence of civilisation.
All the best things in life come from the purposeful part of ourselves that knows what’s best and tries to do it. The people we admire the most are those who are guided by integrity, because we know that living like that is better than fighting to get whatever you can in a desperate attempt to sate the deep down urges of our basic selves.
The point at which my metaphor breaks down and things get dark
Here’s the hard part: the You that is in charge must be nurtured just as assiduously as the deep down child, or you can succumb to cynicism and resentment. Sometimes you can feel like peevishly letting the child grab the wheel for a while, to swerve all over the road, mowing down innocent bystanders.
Corralling the fundamental but primitive part of yourself is an ongoing effort, and reaching a healthy balance between restraining and indulging it requires self-awareness and patience. It also requires discipline and conscientiousness. Sometimes we can’t manage it.
Because – and this is where we leave the metaphor behind – sex is a central part of limerence too, and this makes it significantly different from other drives. Without wanting to get too grim, there are evolutionary reasons why a drive to reproduce can be stronger than the drive to self-protect. From a gene-centric perspective, once we’ve made children (and propagated our genes) it doesn’t matter if our lives are rich and healthy and full of self-actualisation. Those things matter a lot to us, but mathematically, they have a trivial impact on the success of our genes in replicating themselves. Limerence pushes with the force of millennia of evolutionary history, not “just” our own short lives.
The urgency of sexual desire coupled to pair-bonding, with a dash of compulsive addiction, may be about the most challenging deep-down behaviour that our wiser selves ever have to discipline. It feels less like a spoilt child wanting cake, and more like a predatory satyr that wants to dominate, or like willing prey that wants to utterly surrender and be possessed. And here’s another difficult bit: as well as embracing the deep-down child, you also have to embrace the dark and animalistic part of yourself too. But without letting it take over.
We are legion
At this point, sceptical readers may be forgiven for thinking I’ve gone off the deep end with this “multiple selves” stuff, so I’ll try to bring it back to something more practical. For your rational mind to stand a chance of overruling the compulsive limerent urge to pair-bond, you really have to understand and accept all the deep drives acting in opposition to your own best interests. They are part of you, part of your personal history, and part of your ancestral history.
But you have a unique advantage: a You that can see further, think harder, and has a firm grip on the steering wheel. You can accept your limerent feelings, experience them, and decide, ultimately, not to act on them. Even when you really want to, deep down. Even when the devil in you whispers “go on!” Even when you are tired and stressed and resentful of the expectation that you always have to be responsible. Even then, your wiser self can prevail. In the face of long odds, the human will to be better can win the day.
Civilisation depends on it.
Phew! Made it to the end.
Next week, cat videos.
Thank you – This makes a lot of sense and the metaphor is definitely one I can relate to!
Time for responsible me to get a grip on the steering wheel!
I like the two selves metaphor, it reminds me of the book “The Chimp Paradox” where the author uses the notion of us having both a chimp and a human controlling our brain. The Chimp is the emotional, reactionary one, and the human is the rational thinker. The book is about how to control and override the chimp.
Anyway, totally agree with the blog post. I always know what the rational thing to do is, but part of me does the opposite anyway when it comes to LO. Just over the last week or so I had an opportunity to move LO out of my direct reporting line, instead choosing to talk it out with her, and tread right on the line of disclosure – on reflection, mainly Just to feed my limerence. I justified it by saying to myself that it was what she wanted, I can look after her better, she’ll be crushed if I abandoned her now, etc. But I knew the whole time I was missing a chance to move on.
For your consideration:
I posit that the image of being in the center with everything (everyone) in orbit around you is part of the limerence that is hard to kick.
That’s an interesting article, Lee.
I came across another critique of Maslow the other day (can’t remember where, annoyingly). It pointed out that actualisation is at the top of the pyramid, implying that you have to rise through the levels of physical and material security first, and the emotional fulfilment steps, before you get there. A non-obvious implication of that is that rich, physically secure people with lots of friends should be more fully actualised and ethically sophisticated people than those living in poverty. Not a comfortable (or psychologically true) observation…
When LO #2 showed up after 25 years, I wondered what was worse, wondering if she’d ever thought about me or knowing that she had, at least once.
After thinking about it, the second one was better.
It took over 2 decades buy she blinked. I’d like it if LO #4 blinked. It’s better if she doesn’t but I’d still like it.
Petty, but true.
The more I think about this, the more I realize how petty it is.
With respect to LO #2, I have enough history to believe nothing that woman would do would be in my best interest and, if she were to try to re-engage me, it would be entirely self-serving. Were she to contact me again, I might take another shot at her. I’d like to think I’m above that but I wouldn’t bet on it.
I can’t say that about LO #4. While I believe she was complicit in the LE, I never felt she was anything but genuine in what she was doing. Saying goodbye was in my best interest even if it wasn’t a consideration to her. So, if she were to contact me, I think she’d be operating in “good faith.” If that’s accurate, she’d be vulnerable.
So, knowing that I wasn’t in a position to advance things, wanting it puts me in the position of potentially disappointing or hurting someone I care about to gratify my ego. It’s insensitive at best and cruel at worst.
As LO #4 put it in her goodbye, albeit in a different context, “I don’t like how that feels.”
Two years ago, I never would have believed that this kind of struggle could possibly exist. My LO was my good friend, restricted to communication solely at work. Lots of sharing, advice asked for and given. I suppose I was limerent then, but looking back it seems like “limerence-light”, that was just waiting for a catalyst. There were daydreams back then of an alternate universe where “we” could exist without barriers, but I could just sigh and was satisfied with the relationship as it was.
It can be tiresome and boring making the right decisions and living life purposefully. When I was in school, and there was an idiot/bully who made life difficult, the advice given to move forward was to “do well, be successful in life”. That is an awfully long term objective for a teenager, such delayed gratification. Why can’t I just go off the rails just once in the moment? Why does the right path have to be so difficult sometimes?
This blog simply cannot be real. It’s as if I’m the star of The Truman Show, and I was guided here in order to give me some direction off of the emotional roller coaster. I cannot express how thankful I am for what has been memorialized here. How somebody can so eloquently write so much about this subject simply blows my mind. Is there an award for Best Internet Blog?
I have a lot of pent up emotion ready to be released when my LOs final fill-in stint in my office is over sometime this week. I think she will be here 2 days, so I’m telling myself that I have 2 Goodbyes remaining. My god, I do and don’t want to physically see her anymore. I, of course, had to say hi to her last week when she came into the office, and before you knew it, 15 minutes had gone by. This is my (and likely hers too) habit. Maybe I’m getting my last fix. I still think about LO all the time, but in a more nostalgic way than before that isn’t wrecking everything else in its path as it did not too long ago. And what do you know, she just sent a work email so I now know she is here today.
One of the really cool things about this site is it helps demystify what we’re feeling and helps overcome the sense of isolation that a lot of limerents seem to have.
As noted elsewhere here, limerents can feel trapped in their limerence. We often don’t know what we’re feeling, why we feel it, what we want out of it, or what to do about it. We often don’t think we can disclose to our LOs or SOs, if we have one. That can be a pretty lonely place. For avoidants, it may feel like home and you might get stuck there.
It’s pretty easy for limerents to think they’re into something magically unique (see “numinous” in “Why is limerence so powerful?”). Queue up “The Impossible Dream” and the LO becomes Dulcinea. There may be a touch of they’re the only person in the world who could possibly feel this way. How could anybody else relate to this?
As this blog demonstrates, it’s not and we aren’t.
If I had to choose only one emotion that has been soul crushing, it would be the isolation. How I can be so lonely with so many friends and people who care for me. Yes, this site has helped immensely.
I had found a little bit of peace in December when I stumbled upon the movie “Brief Encounter (1944)”. There are other relationship movies that strike a chord with me, but this one exposed my own soul/emotions. Had I seen it one year earlier, I would have found it unbelievable. It is a great movie, even for non-limerents!
I really enjoyed and admired Brief Encounter when I watched it, but it was before I had succumbed to limerence-while-married, so I didn’t relate directly. I have to admit that, while it was very powerful, I did feel a bit discomforted by the emotional infidelity. It would be interesting to watch it again now I am older and… more experienced.
That said, it’s always been a bugbear of mine when you have a “hopeless boyfriend” character in romantic comedies, who has to be dumped by the heroine in order to realise true love with the hero (sometimes the genders are reversed, but usually it’s that way round). Even though the film maker usually makes it relatively painless, I always feel sorry for them, and that the central romance is tainted. Sleepless in Seattle is the quintessential example for me. Bill Pullman is painted as a schmuck throughout, so that Meg Ryan can run off with an LO she heard on the radio (and then semi-stalked). It also annoys my wife, but in her case, mainly because I tend to grumble about it mid-film.
Sorry, went off on a bit of a tangent there…
Agree with you about feeling isolated.
I confided in one of my friends and she didn’t get it. At that point I hadn’t summoned up the courage to disclose to my husband, the only other person I could have disclosed to was my LO (but I didn’t) At that point I was struggling to cope, and found a good therapist who has been very helpful. Although we’ve never labelled it as limerence, she seemed understanding and we worked out how some of it had come about and was able to discuss with her stuff I couldn’t talk to anyone else about.
Also agree about a prize for the best blog!
Three people! That constitutes a Movement 🙂
Yeah, it’s sobering and liberating at the same time.
For me, it was the third time that I became properly limerent for someone (and the first time it was unwelcome) that the penny finally dropped – this is a feeling I have, not a indication that they are magical.
Does “Bridges over Madison County” embrace similar themes as “Brief Encounter”? I loathed that book. I kept reading it thinking, “It has to get better eventually.” It didn’t.
Movies that helped me move towards controlling my Limerence for my very toxic LO.
1. ” Anna Karenina” with Keira Knightly
2. ” Fatal Attraction” with Glenn Close
3. ” Unfaithful” with Diane Lane and Richard Gere
I look like my LO’s ex-wife, who left him after two years of marriage. Mutual friends have informed me that it devastated him. She and I have the same hair color, hair style, height, physique and style in clothes. I have very strong feelings for him and he has some kind of revenge on women motive that’s unresolved. An affair will never be off the table with this LO. It’s a very precarious position. I’ve repeatedly requested my family to find a new music instructor and it’s ignored. It’s the “two tribes” situation. They just will not validate Limerence. Added to this dilemma, my husband will be out of town for five days. I don’t want to do anything foolish or set myself backwards on the NO Contact rule.
This weekend will be spent reading this blog and watching movies with tragic endings post martial affairs. Wish me Luck!
🙂 Thanks Thinker.
I suspect it’s a case of “we’re many of us more similar than we realise”, but very grateful for the kind words.
Well, if we are starting a Dr. Limerence fan club……. I want membership. If it’s movie recommendations for limerents, I’m head chair. Thinker, I saw “Brief Encounter” last year at the height of my limerence. I absolutely loved it. It spoke to me in a way that most people cannot possibly understand, because I’m a happily married homemaker with two kids and was hit hard with a very poisonous case of Limerence. Try the modern day version of ” Brief Encounter” with ” Mademoiselle Chambon” by director Stephen Brize. It is available on Amazon videos and is a French subtitle.
Now advice from a soon to be recovering Limerent. (Let me be in denial for this weekend)
Don’t spend too much time watching movies or listening to music that reminds you of LO. It’s very comforting because you feel isolated and these movies make you feel more connected, that you are not alone and foolish in your limerence. Clearly, you are not alone on this miserable journey. But, spending time on ruminating on the limerence pain by watching movies in this genre will actively fed the Limerence flame, instead of smothering it. At the very least, control it to a very small flickering light.
I post this with complete kindness as an online friend. After a while, the limerence will feel like an old sweater that’s a little too worn and tight. You will eventually pick something else to wear.
Good Luck, my friend.
It was simply ironic timing that I saw Brief Encounter at the height (depth) of my limerence. I even told my LO to watch it, to try to grasp how I felt. I don’t think she ever saw it, or at least we never talked about it. At that time, I was so deep into self-diagnosed depression and horribly distracted from what should have been the important things in my life. I was able to use this movie in a positive way, to release emotions that had nowhere to go.
Today, I am not actively seeking movies or music to help with my limerence. But movies and music are both passions of mine, so I enjoy them. One result of my LE, for better or worse, has been a deeper emotional connection to hundreds of songs, most of which I’d heard plenty of times before without connecting.
I almost posted about my feelings as my LO entered my office for a few part time days this week, but I decided I’m not ready. I memorialized my feelings throughout the days. Sometimes, I don’t know under which blog to post. And how personal and detailed should I get? I’m sure it’s up to the poster. In general, I have a few reasons to post anything here:
1) To release my feelings, as this breaks my emotional isolation
2) To educate regarding my specific case. I’m in the “first-time limerent, but both married” camp. More specifically, LO and I started out as good friends (work only). Then began my limerence timeline: short-lived painful limerence; then emotional affair + love = euphoric irresponsible limerence; back to long-term painful limerence; now in early No Contact. My limerence does not necessarily have the same characteristics as others, nor the same solution.
3) To show that I am here; that nobody is posting in vain. I will read everything. Since I first arrived here not too long ago, I have read everything and often have something to say but do not always say it. Especially with the older posts. Almost everything resonates with me.
As a side note, you could say this is my safe space. Right now, I accept it as a bit of a new habit.
Hi Thinker. You wrote that comment when I started falling in love with LO. “The glimmer” if I use the right term. I was not aware of Limerence until today. And that blog was the first thing I read about the topic after a Wikipedia article. So you can imagine how strong this-blog-simply-cannot-be-real feeling I’m having now.
You said you have No contact period. I cannot imagine not contacting my LO. I still cannot believe it was not real. I still have hope that in far future, if I’ll do all right and if I become true to myself, our friendship will become real love. And all I need is to figure out how to get rid of obsessive thoughts and neediness and people pleasing, but keep our relationships as close friends.
I really want to know how your story evolved. It’s almost 1.5 year since your post.
Hope you receive my question and will answer soon.
Elias, as long as you have hope you will never escape the obsessive thoughts and neediness for your LO. Not sure what your situation is, but I’ve tried being friends with my LO (We are both married) on several occasions and here I am more than 2 years later still doing the push-pull flamingo mating dance. It’s a pattern I only seem to be able to break by going NC, once I think I am “safe” and he or I re-establish contact it goes well for a few months and then “bang” we are back to being emotionally stuck together like two magnets.
Breaking away seems to get harder each time and I want my life back instead of just existing and drifting. I owe it to my SO and children to be present.
Dr L wrote a great article somewhere here on how you can’t be friends with your LO
“There were times in my last limerence episode where I could see with certainty that all roads ahead with LO on them led to bad outcomes, but despite that clarity, a deep part of me hoped that LO would throw herself at me. I wasn’t totally sure I could resist a full frontal assault, so part of me wanted her to attack.”
Of course, you did. For the already committed limerent who has no real intent to pursue the LO, it’s as good as it gets.
1. You get your tickets validated because she came at you for a reason.
2. You get to live purposefully by nobly declining. (If but for….)
3. You get to play in the LE while she gets all the responsibility because she started it.
What’s not to like about that?
(Yet) another excellent post and I second Thinker’s call for Best blog award.
The counterpoint to purposeful living (if it posts):
My bet is Calvin’s a limerent.
Great cartoon. Spot on.
I keep rereading this post as I am still fighting with my (metaphorical) toddler for me to keep my hands on the wheel right now. (Thankfully with my real toddler it’s just whether she will put her shoes on!)
At the moment, urge to contact LO is sky high. It is his birthday in a couple of days and he’s still constantly on my mind. Rational mind is screaming that if I do that, I’ve thrown my career away for nothing and it would be a massive set back. Rational mind must prevail. He will get loads of birthday wishes anyway.
Birthdays and holidays are a kind of barometer.
I asked LO #2 to marry me at 0200 Xmas morning. It took over 10 years and 2 kids to keep that memory from tainting Xmas.
One year I was at work and something came across my desk. It had a date in it. It was lo #2’s birthday. Then it hit me. It was 3 months past it and I hadn’t thought about it. It was a good sign.
You just have to muscle through for awhile but you’ll be fine. There’s no other way around it early on. But, it will get easier.
What are your views on Sigmund Freud’s structural model of the psych with id, ego and super-ego and it’s correlation to Limerence?
I haven’t given it a lot of thought to be honest, but in the context of this post, it maps nicely. The id would be the deep-down part of your personality that is limerent, the super-ego would be the executive level that knows you should stop, and the ego would be the one trying to justify why the fact that you’ve given in to the id again is not evidence for your super-ego’s failure – there’s probably a perfectly good rationalisation that can be devised.
So, I like it as a metaphor, but not sure of it’s explanatory power beyond that.
What do you think?
I’m with the theory of id being a key component to Limerence. It is the most basic part of our personality and makeup. When instant gratification is unmet, it makes us tense and anxious. The day-dreaming brings us instant gratification and short-term relief. Thank you the post and this blog. It’s insightful and great food for the brain.
I am new to this blog and I am still trying to read old posts. I agree with 2 minds conflict and that it partially fuels the addiction, like the old “Forbidden fruit” concept.
For me, the 2 Limerence experiences came after bad situations in my life, so it was initially very gratifying and made me feel the butterflies again, which as you might reckon it’s an amazing feeling. It’s very difficult to say NO to that feeling and face whatever is wrong/missing in our real life.
The problem is that the limerence doesn’t live in a circumscribed place in our minds, it takes control of our thoughts, and thus our feelings and actions.
The lonely part of Limerence comes when we realize that most of our acquaintances don’t fully understand what is happening to us. Another part of loneliness that I experience comes with Day Dreaming: at one stage I find myself needing to be alone (away from my Boyfriend, family, friends) for a couple minutes/hours or even a day so I could dedicate all my focus to my Day Dreaming and/or rumination. It’s really an addiction.
Since around 1.5 years, I went to NC, changed company, even country (not initially planned). My compensation goes through Day Dreaming. I tried to use this limerence as awaken call to live more fulfilling life. I am trying my best to experience a variety of activities like painting, dance, new friends, sport, etc but then I use these activities mostly to share them with my LO in another n-Day Dreaming “session”, like it was my diary and I still wanted to impress him. Sometimes I feel happy as I believe I am reacting to this issue, but other times is just sad because no matter how hard I try it’s difficult to replace a feeling that limerence provided.
Thank you for the movie recommendations, I will try to see them.
Thank you also for sharing your experiences and for the insightful posts.
“The problem is that the limerence doesn’t live in a circumscribed place in our minds, it takes control of our thoughts, and thus our feelings and actions.
The lonely part of Limerence comes when we realize that most of our acquaintances don’t fully understand what is happening to us.”
I fully agree. It’s a very lonely corner. I say this with deep sadness, “Welcome aboard.”
I’m new to this blog too. I am a happily married woman with two teenagers. My family relocated a couple of years ago. New home, church and circle of friends. Among this new set of acquaintances is a newly divorce male, no kids. We become good friends and a deep attraction starts to develop due to mutual interests and hobbies. Our relationship is outwardly very appropriate, but intensely charged. After four months of intense, non-physical, nonverbal overtures, Romeo moves away from beneath my balcony to serenade under a single Juliet. Now uncertainty and adversity is present. My brief flirtation has blown into full Limerence with the appearance of his new girlfriend. I’m befuddled and trying to navigate back to reality. It’s been 18 months. No Contact is not possible. Extreme, limited contact is manageable. My husband is aware of the situation, but not how completely toxic the Limerence has escalated.
It’s good that your husband is aware of this situation and that together you work on things.
Hopefully you will be able to use this Limerence in a way to revive somehow your relationship.
This blog also help us to “discredit” that our LE is some kind universal sign and rationalize it (as if we didn’t do it already a lot).
Hi Carla, and welcome!
Ah, the day dreaming. It’s one of the hardest aspects to tackle, because it is so personal. You can’t go no contact with your own imagination. It’s a tricky one to assess because it isn’t necessarily bad, and doesn’t directly harm (or even involve) anyone else, but as you suggest the point at which you are craving time away from other important people in your life just so you can ruminate in peace, is a good measure of when it is out of control.
The other issue with it is that it reinforces the positive associations between LO and happiness. If you’re trying to break a limerence connection, then it is a real drag on progress.
Could be worth a post of it’s own…
Not all my Day Dreaming sessions are reinforcing a good feeling about my LO, because I disclosed my LE to him and things went down a rollercoaster…
Although, with time this LE got better, I am still not sure I would be able to get rid of it so I am trying to get something good out of the very bad. It does push me to live more fulfilling life. Not sure, I am being fallacious to myself by choosing this path (this way allowing the Day Dreaming), but I believe that there’s a reason that Limerence is there, and I prefer to learn how to master it and leave or decrease its side effects as much as possible.
Thus thinking to continue the Day Dreaming diary but try to include my boyfriend, friends, family in the diary. This would “oblige” me to include them in my fulfilling life (not only me + LO). It would be also a good idea to try to decrease number of frequency of it: from daily report, to once a week, once a month, etc. This way maybe one day, I might just do the “goodbye” naturally.
Think of it as alcoholic person trying to get rid dependency on alcohol. The ultimate “freedom” doesn’t come with avoiding to see alcohol for his entire life, but to learn to master this addiction by socializing with other people drinking alcohol without falling on the temptation to restart drinking.
Yes, as with alcoholics, I think accepting limerence as a normal part of who you are is an important step in being able to manage it. How you subsume that part of your identity into your life in a purposeful way is the ongoing challenge.
It could be that swearing off LOs for good is the best plan (as for an alcoholic). Alternatively (for the singletons), it could be possible to develop the skills to manage the intensity of limerence until you are able to make a more objective judgement about a particular LO – allowing you to then experience the “ecstatic union” that limerence promises.
Of course, you then have to prepare yourself to resist the next LO that crosses your path…
“Think of it as alcoholic person trying to get rid dependency on alcohol. The ultimate “freedom” doesn’t come with avoiding to see alcohol for his entire life, but to learn to master this addiction by socializing with other people drinking alcohol without falling on the temptation to restart drinking.”
Many alcoholics find that they need to distance themselves from their former drinking buddies too. It’s not just who they drink with, it’s the surroundings. Some people always had a cigarette after dinner and that is a habit that is probably even harder to break. You have to eat, but you don’t need to consume alcohol.
It is definitely hard though.
I am trying to accept limerence as simply being a part of my makeup. I think about LO all the time, but I feel it is now mostly due to habit as opposed to a longing to be with her. She was such a large part of me for a long time that I’m also accepting that I will think of her for a while.
Before beginning this NC phase, I rarely dreamt of LO. Currently, she’s popping up in my dreams. Also during this NC phase, LO is in my head often before I go to sleep and soon after I wake up. She was not such a presence at these times prior to NC. I know that I do miss her, but deeper down I must be saying to myself something like “If you’d only keep in touch with LO and get your fix, then I’ll stop conjuring her up at these times.” This isn’t stopping me from sleeping, but it does force me to get out of bed in the morning and be productive.
I am saddened to think that I need to swear off LOs (but I know that I should). Meaning that I can’t afford to become close to women who I like being around…I cannot come to their rescue. Or at a minimum I would need to include my SO. It’s just that listening and solving problems is part of my being.
“Meaning that I can’t afford to become close to women who I like being around…I cannot come to their rescue.”
Have you looked into Dr. Stephen Karpman’s “Drama Triangle”?
https://www.karpmandramatriangle.com/ <—— please remove if this is verboten.
"It’s just that listening and solving problems is part of my being."
Your SO might appreciate it too.
Have you checked out DrL’s blog, “Limerence dreams?”
Lee, you are right, and now my SO does appreciate having more of my time for me to listen to her and truly be there with her as opposed to previously physically being there with my mind elsewhere. I never explicitly disclosed to SO, aside from an initial breakdown when I told SO that my good friend (LO) was leaving my office. I could not hide how upset I was, and I framed it more as being upset with my company for not advancing LO careerwise. I hadn’t yet understood why I was reacting the way I was.
Currently, I am celebrating the little victories I have when I consciously realize I haven’t thought about LO in 10 minutes, 1 hour, or whatever. I think the most about LO when I am alone (driving or down time at work), which is why I know I need to stay busy (live purposefully)!
I’ve realized long ago that I can’t save the world. I have too many responsibilities now to invest in “rescuing” any more damsels. I can look back and remember consciously NOT asking emotionally charged questions to female friends (in distress) of mine. I must have known that a deeper attachment might form. LO was the exception, and hopefully the final one. You can definitely add in some mid-life crisis to this dynamic…LO represented a large piece of a reassessment of my life. The rareness and intensity of the situation was too strong not to follow. All quite unfair to my SO.
Scharnhorst, I did just read the Limerence Dreams blog again. I had read it before, when I wasn’t dreaming of LO, so I simply moved on to the next blog. It is interesting that I can pick up new information in blogs that I had previously read as my own mind and feelings keep changing.
“I can look back and remember consciously NOT asking emotionally charged questions to female friends (in distress) of mine. I must have known that a deeper attachment might form. LO was the exception, and hopefully the final one.”
Maybe, maybe not. Did the other female friends exhibit the glimmer? I’ve met several attractive, intelligent, charming damsels in distress over 30 years but only 2 really got inside my head. Maybe 3, if you count LO #3 but she killed things before they ever got rolling.
Limerents may be described as being more brittle than fragile. Hit a limerent in just the right spot and they can shatter like a frozen windshield.
“Did the other female friends exhibit the glimmer?”
Hmmm. Looking back, I think that one had the glimmer 5 years ago. Something told me I was about to become too close. I can’t remember any others that had that extra on top of being “attractive”.
So, if one woman with the glimmer tripped as a threat, what was it about this woman that got you to push the envelope? Why did you see one as a threat but not the other? Were you at a different place in life then than you are now?
When I encountered LO #4, we were both in relationships, she was 2000+ miles away, and neither of us were looking for trouble. I sensed the glimmer and tested the boundary. Based on our circumstances, I didn’t see any risk. I also wasn’t expecting to go down a rabbit hole. The attachment happened over the course of several years but the limerence didn’t blow up until her relationship collapsed the the circumstances changed.
Thank you for everyone who posts and especially Dr. Limerence for this website. It has helped me tremendously. I’ve been thinking of this classmate in high school for the last couple of days. He was in my Junior year English class. We were very, very casual friends. I had given him a picture of me and my boyfriend that was taken at prom. He had asked for it and I had several wallet sized copies. Fast forward five years, and I run into him at a book store post college graduation. He pulls out that prom picture of me and affectionately tells me it always stays with him. I was very flattered at the time. I recognize it as Limerence today. It makes me very sad that I couldn’t even remember his name, yet I live in his wallet and obviously his thoughts. I still can’t recall his name and have respectfully dubbed him,
I think of Carlos wasting his time on me. All that energy for someone that never once thought of him. He could have cast that kind spirit to someone that reciprocated his feelings.
Fast forward two decades, I envision myself disclosing to my LO. His realistic response would be, ” I’ve only seen and spoken to you for ten minutes in an enire year. I was very attracted to you, but you’re married with kids.” Yet, in my Limerence induced day dreaming, we have an intensely beautiful relationship.
This morning, LO induced daydreaming immediately happened upon opening my eyes. Only today, a very clear voice in my head said, ” Get up and go on with your day. Don’t be a Carlos!”
The woman from 5 years ago (who I’m still friends with), was separated with kids, so maybe I felt there wasn’t as much of a barrier and I was afraid to have her attach to me. My LO was married with kids, so there were barriers on both sides. So why couldn’t we share? What could possibly go wrong? (HA!) I wasn’t expecting LO to exit my company all of a sudden. What went from a strong working-hours-only friendship actually became much deeper when we brought in texting/email to keep in touch. Things one might not have the courage to say in person can be said via electronics. Dangerous stuff. Plus, we were no longer co-workers, so that was another barrier removed.
CBT 101: start daydreaming about LO and snap your rubber band. Hard.
This thread is beginning to get very interesting.
In “The three phases of limerence,” DrL talks about “Crystalization” and says,
“This is the full blown limerence response – so the full complement of traits. In the case of the limerence affair, this will also include the rewriting of history about the limerent’s marriage. It can also be characterised by a striking fear of loss. While this is a feature of all limerence, the precarious and dishonest basis of an affair likely heightens the fear. Which can reinforce the limerence.”
This appears to be corroborated by Thinker’s LO leaving the firm and Irene’s LO finding another woman. It doesn’t fit my case since things went south when LO #4 tried to get closer. However, there’s no doubt the LE had the potential to cause serious trouble in my marriage.
Maybe it can be generalized that crystallization may be event driven. The conditions are in place but there’s a spark that sets it off. I can’t remember enough details to see if it applies to Sophie. As I remember with her, the conditions were present but I don’t remember if she talked about something that could be considered a trigger.
The model appears valid.
We were new to the area and LO would suggest family friendly events. This was a casual acquaintance for nearly over a year. I had mentioned that Sherlock Holmes was a fetish of mine. He has a Halloween party every year and dressed as Holmes in 2011. I was very lonely at the time. No friends or family, adjusting poorly to the new environment. My children were preteens, needing me to chauffeur, but not wanting me around. It was wonderful having a new friend that enjoyed the same things. Movies, books, museums and music. The spark happen when we were talking about movies and I recommended, “Laura” with Dana Andrews. He looked straight into my eyes and replied, ” I have it on dvd. ” ……That was the spark. Our relationship was never the same. The Limerence set in hard with the new girlfriend. Fear of loss. She represented the end of his undivided attention and my LO fix.
Many tearful months later, I searched online,” obsessed while married.” I was familiar with the term Limerence, but this blog was different.
“Maybe it can be generalized that crystallization may be event driven. The conditions are in place but there’s a spark that sets it off. ”
I fully agree with you on that statement.
I posted another comment that is in moderation. I hope it gets pass moderation.
It is very interesting indeed.
I can only remember the nap conversation as the spark that set it off. (More detail here: https://livingwithlimerence.com/2017/03/22/emotional-affairs/comment-page-1/#comment-1064) Not sure whether a conversation is an “event” but it’s firmly imprinted in my memory.
Lots of little things contributed gradually over the first 10/11 months of working together before that conversation. He had a bit of a reputation as being difficult to work with, but during that time I was amazed at how easy he was to work – and chat – with.
I wasn’t in a great place emotionally – sleep deprived as my 1 year old didn’t sleep well and wanted Mummy all the time. I didn’t feel supported by my husband at that point in our lives. I’d always got a lot of my self esteem from my job, so going back from maternity leave was liberating but difficult.
It didn’t really need a big spark as there was plenty of fuel there.
“A rewriting of the limerents marriage” I don’t recall rewriting mine, but no doubt LO highlighted all the flaws that needed work! (Just to be clear I mean flaws in our established patterns of interacting with each other, not flaws in my husband!)
“Fear of loss”- so much so I was in tears when I handed my notice in. Over 4 months NC and still miss him like mad, but as has been pointed out to me before, he wasn’t mine to lose!
I think only seeing him once a week reaĺly reinforced the limerence – could tell what day of the week it was by my mood. At least that has settled down a little. I miss the highs though (classic addict comment!)
Not sure whether that supports the theory or not, but thanks for letting me put it out there.
“Easy answer: because deep down you don’t want to.”
Easier answer – because you feel entitled. If you’re in a stable relationship you get all the comforts and social perks that come with it but you also want the thrills.
If you’re not happy, speak up. If that doesn’t work, end the relationship and move along.
http://www.mustbethistalltoride.com Check out the 13 letters to shitty husbands (applies to wives too).
Well, I agree that is an easy answer, but possibly a little too easy. What you describe is the mindset of the serial cheater. I would push even further and suggest that for people who feel entitled to get thrills while in a stable relationship, cheating is part of the thrill. They enjoy getting one over on their spouse, or their affair partner’s spouse, or the world.
I generally don’t bother addressing those character defectives on this blog – I mean, maybe they can get some value from it, but for the most part they are going to be hard to reach and probably not worth the effort.
One of my goals here is to help people in a much more difficult situation: they are in love with their spouse, but (through a series of decisions that in retrospect were very ill-advised) end up limerent for someone else. Now what? “End the relationship and move along”? Life and kids be damned? Suck it up, and hope the emotional torrent will just stop? Invent a time machine and go back and undo the steps that led to crystallisation of limerence?
One of my other goals is to help spouses who find themselves in the unenviable position of discovering that their partner is obsessed with someone else. How do they distinguish between an entitled cheater, an irresponsible limerent, and an “accidental” limerent? Should they even bother? Should they jump ship the moment their spouse wavers in their commitment?
Given the volume of posts and comments, you can reasonably draw the conclusion that I don’t think the answers to these questions are easy. The core principle is that the one thing anyone in this situation can productively do is think deeply about how they want to live, behave accordingly, and, step-by-step, start to live with more purpose. It’s hard to go wrong with that strategy.
Mrs A says
While waiting for the cat videos, I looked back on Dr L’s previous posts about person addiction. Instead of being too harsh on yourself for being limerent (which I definitely was) it’d be wise to recognise some narcissistic types of bad LO’s are out to reel us in and actively seek to reinforce the limerent habit. “If a limerent is seduced by a bad LO, they are likely to get drawn into a relationship dynamic that causes their limerence to explode out of control.”
While we’re still waiting for cat videos, here’s one from the Eurythmics. It fits well with the “bad LO” motif.” It also has a wicked sax in it.
I suspect I have been the victim of a narcissistic LO more than once. Dr. L, would you consider writing on this topic in detail someday? Many thanks…..
Talking of cat videos, this is the one that gets my 2 year old from hysterical to calm pretty quickly. It’s usually a last result, and cute rather than funny: https://youtu.be/nX1YzS_CYIw
Heh. Cats are great.
I feel a bit guilty now for promising cat videos. I don’t actually have any.
What a let down!
Here’s one that seems ironically appropriate for this place.
I love Sad Cat Diary!!!! Thanks Scharnhorst…haven’t seen it in years, but it’s always perfect.
Thank you for such profound life and limerence changing insights; this article which explains most brilliantly yet counter-intuitively that “the deep down you is not the real you” is possibly the single most insightful and illuminating limerence education resource I have come across. Really a positive mind-blower!
Rather than “person addiction” I see classic deer-in-the-headlights limerence as CONNECTION ADDICTION.
Yeah, I think the emotional connection is the big desire, but I still like the framing of person addiction because we tend to have just that one LO that we desperately want to connect to. Or, at least, one person at a time.
Hello, fellow limerence-sufferers. I just had an encouraging experience and have written a moment-by-moment analysis of it, which I thought might be helpful to others to see.
What happened was, I came *THIS* close to texting LO out of the blue about an emotionally charged topic.
I noticed my heart pounding and my face warming with an anticipatory high. Pausing to notice and fully feel those sensations bought me a moment to stop myself before writing anything, and I put down the phone and walked away to regain my composure.
Now I feel better than if I had sent the text. If I had sent it, I’d then have wasted the rest of the afternoon or longer, mooning around hoping and checking for a response from LO, with a good chance of seeing no response and then feeling devastated. (It sounds so pathetic; I must assure you all, I’m not normally like that in the rest of my life!)
A clear example of how my gratification of that initial urge would only have given rise to further desires that I wouldn’t have been able to satisfy because their satisfaction would have depended on someone else’s behavior (that is, on LO to write back). Whereas, the residual longing that I’m now left with can be presently assuaged by actions under *my* control: to get some things done in my house that need doing, and to spend some quality time with my husband.
So, I think this is progress. The key point is, it was the habit of pausing to notice my sensations before acting that did it for me. I’ve been studying this technique in a book called ‘The Craving Mind’, by Judson Brewer, which I recommend.
P.S. More precisely, I think it was pausing to notice my sensations, and realizing that I could simply do this *instead of* acting, until the urge subsided, that saved me from taking that self-defeating action.
Brava Midlifer! So strong!
Thank you, Jaideux!