As a neuroscientist, I am fascinated by mental health, consciousness and perception, as well as the psychology behind human relationships.
We're All Wired Differently
As a neuroscientist, I have come to understand that romance only strikes a small percentage of the population in a wildly euphoric and anguishing way. Limerence can be considered pathological and 'love gone wrong', since it greatly perturbs the life of the limerent individual. Typically, they will involuntarily alternate between an extremely elevated, hypomanic mood and heavy depression (Fisher et al., 2016), depending on the perceived level of attention received from their love interest (limerent object/LO). Read more about the psychological symptoms of limerence here.
As with all biological phenomenon, there is a clear biological basis underpinning the tendency to experience such insurmountable feelings in response to love. Limerence involves a certain disposition, or collection of traits; after all, not everyone is affected by romance in this way. All sufferers are prone to obsession; the low serotonin levels observed in states of romantic longing are also seen in OCD, and allow for rumination and thought-loops (Marazziti et al., 1999). The tendency to enter manic states is also a prerequisite to limerence, so bipolar disorder is naturally also often a comorbidity (García, 2017).
There Is No Biological 'Free Lunch'
Limerence is a behavioral addiction, and all addictions epitomize the concept of duality in that the initial high does not come for free or last long. The reinforcing buzz that you receive from your LO's attention eventually lessens in intensity, until withdrawal symptoms prevail and you require a 'fix' to simply function and feel normal (Chassin et al., 2007). Ironically, this need not even be a real-life conversation with your LO, as reminiscing, viewing their photos or mentioning them to friends can give you a similar hit. It is important to rise above the delusion that you have met your 'twin flame' by reminding yourself of this.
My first 'limerent episode' crushed me into tiny pieces, forced me to adopt an entirely new attitude regarding pair-bonding and taught me that a good life is lived only when you discipline the beast that is your mind. Through this article, I hope to show you that despite limerence shaking you to the core, you are not alone in the ineffable intensity of your feelings. If you are open to adopting an analytical perspective and to resisting destructive highs, you can and will avoid future episodes.
The order of this article is as follows:
1. The three stages of limerence (glimmer, initial euphoria, addiction).
2. An overview of the types of people who commonly trigger limerence.
3. An in-depth analysis of the two prerequisites to limerence:
- A LO who glimmers to you and makes you feel secure/'high', by meeting unmet needs or reviving hidden traits of yours (a.k.a. your trigger 'archetype').
- Confusing behavior from your LO that sustains addiction.
4. Introduction to Carl Gustav Jung, and his role in showing us that we can handle this pain (by considering it a mere psychic dilemma).
5. The one trick that makes you resistant to limerence!
1. The Glimmer (She's Different)
A common phenomenon amongst limerents is to experience an initial 'glimmer' when meeting a new LO. It seems that early environmental influences and unhealed wounds result in us subconsciously curating a 'dream archetype', with regards to the individuals that trigger limerence in us.
Physical attraction is heavily implicated in infatuation, but true limerence only brews when you feel that you have an uncanny emotional connection with your LO. You feel that they offer you freedom and excitement that you cannot obtain elsewhere, to the extent that you need them like a stimulant addict needs a substance.
Looking back, I can see that I, like most limerents, was hooked from that first spark of recognition. Establishing and continuing with the addiction, however, is always a choice.
2. Limerence Starts On A High
The ecstasy experienced in the early stages of limerence is a state of mania that surpasses anything else on the spectrum of human emotions. I remember thinking that my LO was the most magical being that I had ever encountered, and I wanted to cling onto her, tightly. Unaware of the neurochemical factors that were making her seem so mentally and physically beautiful, I fell into the insidious illusion that she was my one true love.
She was able to crawl into my mental space unlike anyone else I had ever met, and I was sure that if I lost her, I would never love again. I had to cling on. Life became segmented into 'time with her' vs 'all other duties/friends/family', the former of which my brain deemed of the utmost salience. I was unable to resist her pull and started to grow bored of my close friends, living for her reciprocation and succumbing to a nasty degree of addiction.
(The Falsehood Behind Limerence)
To my young, lovesick mind, no one's energy compared to hers; she could render the sparkiest performer a dull, uninteresting back-up dancer. I adored her, and believed that the desperation that I felt for my next 'hit' was a sign that I was experiencing the only form of real, genuine love.
It is crucial that you start to realize that this is an illusory concept. Unless you can tolerate permanently swinging from limerence to limerence, you should not expect your partner to make you feel this way nor should you seek out people who leave you euphoric and jittery. Moderate infatuation is healthy, but people that make you feel like you are riding a methamphetamine high must be avoided. The lows will always follow, and they will always derail you.
As I will elaborate on soon, there is a reason why sustained highs and lows in romance are associated with trauma bonding and toxicity. Our neurobiological machinery only allows us to feel those 'ups' for people who are unavailable and confusing (Dutton and Painter, 1993). And, there is always a cost, as I'm sure the pain of limerence has revealed to you.
3. The Limerence Crash Is A Drug Withdrawal
No one understands the concept of duality better than the limerent; what goes up must always come down. Just as a cocaine user crashes from the high, we experience days of abject misery when we start to perceive that our LO is, in some way, 'slipping away'. Whether it is a missed day of communication or an unexpected contemptuous look from your LO, you will find yourself plunging into a state of major depression when this occurs.
If you are lucky enough to a). receive closure, b). commit to dismissing day-dreams of marriage with your LO as intrusive thoughts and c). immerse yourself in the real world, you will withdraw from them and move on in a matter of weeks/months. Unfortunately, with the internet at our fingertips, it is very easy to stay limerent over someone for years; your brain receives a hit of dopamine every time that you 'engage' with your LO (Burkett and Young, 2012), whether it is an online, imagined or real interaction.
What Type of People Trigger Limerence, Then?
Despite the responsibility being ours to recognize our illogical dependence, it takes two to tango. Often LOs are unconventional, passionate and unstable people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) or manipulative narcissistics. Why? These common trigger archetypes a). bond with you intensely at the beginning due to absent boundaries, b). exhibit confusing, self-contradicting behavior that creates addiction and c). oddly enjoy attention from you when you are obviously limerent, despite not considering you a potential partner (Wilson et al., 2017).
You see, a secure, relatively neurotypical individual is unlikely to continue throwing compliments at you or sparking text conversations if they suspect that you are in love with them and they are not interested in a relationship. Most normal people are repelled by people who appear 'lovey-dovey' around them if they do not reciprocate feelings. If you truly believe that your LO is giving you mixed signals and keeping you 'trapped' in a sentimental quasi-friendship, there is a good chance that they lack the normal bonding behaviors and boundaries of a healthy adult.
The dilemma of the BPD limerent object
My LO craved a scary degree of emotional enmeshment, yet wasn't looking to commit. For someone with as little emotional maturity as her, such attention could come from anyone (and it did - every week she would reach out to another ex-partner, each of them just as addicted to her chaos as I was). I came to learn that you need to find your own closure when it comes to these people, as their antics will never make sense when you are more moral and grounded.
She'd spill her heart out to me before seeming bored of me the next week, and I eventually realized that emotional dysfunction allows severely-BPD people to pick and choose when they want to tune into the deep bond that you have with them. They love your unwavering attention and are genuine when they are with you, but this doesn't translate into them wanting to date you. Why would they, when you are an ever-present source of fuel for their ego? Grabbing you to temporarily shield their abandonment wounds before dropping you again (and seeking support elsewhere) is more their style. Committed, drama-free relationships aren't.
Unstable Limerent Objects = Variable Reward Schedule
Limerence cannot be sustained without uncertainty, and intermittently showering a limerent with love and interest but then disappearing or assuming a colder stance will intractably push them towards addiction. If a mouse is given access to food constantly and then it is suddenly taken away, they will appear desolate and do anything that they can to regain access to it rather than giving up. Skinner described such behavior as 'hard to extinguish'... does that remind you of yourself and your obsessive thinking patterns when your LO detaches from you?
When my LO's mood was bright, she'd reach out and initiate a long online conversation, acting as if she needed me. She'd tell me that I was the most fascinating character that she knew, and my heart would swell with pride. That resurgence of emotional intimacy convinced my brain that she was reciprocating; after such conversations, I'd bask in a euphoric, energizing concoction of hope (that she would, surely, realize we were soulmates), self-assurance (she believed me to be magical!) and complete and utter emotional security.
Conversely, when she was feeling depressed or 'bored of people', she'd delete all of her social media pages and disappear off the face of the planet for several weeks. During the times that I received radio silence from her, I would be horrified to find myself thinking about her constantly, terrified that I had lost her.
The brain hates unfinished business (Zeignarnik effect), and if you're in love with someone who displays bizarre behavioral switches, you will find yourself compulsively wondering what has happened. Why have they dropped away from a connection that is clearly real? How can I act to make them chase me again? As I have alluded to in my point about BPD LOs, there is nothing you can do to make an adult with intrinsically-disordered emotions commit to you romantically.
"I'm Quitting Coffee, But I Still Drink It Occasionally!"
Against my better judgment, I decided to stay 'friends' with my LO after realizing that dating was not working. I was imbalanced and giving my brain no way to fully withdraw from her, but even the emotional entanglement of our 'friendship' (albeit a tender one) offered me too potent a high to resist. Just like someone battling a drug addiction, I was under the illusion that if I let her go, nothing and no one else would ever pique my interest again or add color to my life. So, we stayed emotionally connected.
Are you avoiding cutting the cord?
The issue with sustaining a friendship with your LO is that you will continue to receive these erratic 'hits' of love from them, and will never see the withdrawal through. People do not change unless they desperately want to transform their own lives, so I can assure you that your LO is not going to start treating you with respect or miraculously overcome their own emotional deficits. Analogous to trying to quit caffeine but caving and buying a coffee every second day, the Friendship Strategy is disrespectful to yourself and a mere illusion of recovery.
Why Do We Become Addicted to Certain People?
If you become strongly limerent over another individual, it is because, on a subconscious level, you crave what they provide you with emotionally. Make no mistake, intermittent reward plays a huge part in all addictions, but you are not going to become infatuated with every hot-and-cold person you encounter. Therefore, in addition to your LO submitting you to a cycle of unpredictable reward (alternating long text conversations with radio silence, or smiles with blank looks of disinterest), they are fulfilling an unmet need of yours.
This links in with the concept of the 'LO archetype'; us limerents are addiction-prone, mildly unstable people, yet we only fall into episodes that derail our lives once we a). experience 'the glimmer' (i.e. we notice someone with the potent combination of traits that triggers dopamine release in us) and b). connect with them enough to feel the potential for deep reciprocation and bonding.
Hindsight has revealed to me that, as well as displaying erratic behavior that allowed me to question our dynamic and hope for permanent partnership, my LO brought out a version of me that I adored. My brain deemed her an incredibly scarce and valuable resource, as I could not reach that height of mental connection with anyone else, nor did anyone else affirm my identity as she did. With her fiery wit, domineering personality and a rogue streak of non-compliance, she let me re-connect with my true, childlike self.
When she was by my side, I felt oddly safe. Life transformed itself into an expansive playground in which I could be a superior version of myself and explore my truth. Since she was empowered, articulate and carefree, I felt myself assimilating and taking on these traits myself. Had I been more confident and authentic myself at that time, I may have fallen into gentle, sustainable, slow-burning love for her rather than limerence.
"Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness."
— Carl Jung
Ask Yourself This: What Does Your Limerent Object Represent?
Living with your brain chemistry while avoiding severe limerence relies on your adherence to a key cornerstone concept: someone that you are romantically involved with should not represent more than they, themselves, are.
If you are dating someone, you should, of course, enjoy the bond that you two share and will naturally come to associate them with particular activities, books, music and emotions. However, it is crucial that you do not start to consider your LO a dreamy 'concept' or a magical source of positive feelings. In doing so, you will lapse into intense limerent addiction and expect your LO to fulfill on a role that no mortal human can.
Allowing people to take on otherworldly, god-like qualities in your head is pure magical ideation. The same thinking patterns that are harmless when writing a diary entry about a special, childhood friend are disastrous in romance. We are not all cut the same, and most people do not experience limerence or idolize others to the extent that we do. Such a mismatch in feelings between you and your future partner/s will push them away and render you unhappy.
Never Let Your LO Represent Freedom
My limerence spiraled out of control because I let my LO represent much more than a human should ever represent. What should have been a bond with a like-minded, interesting person became something that I needed and waited for like a stray dog for scraps of meat. In my head, I was an empowered, intelligent queer woman with her, yet none of these things without her.
At my own peril, I associated living an authentic life and being honest about my sexuality with having her in my life; never before had I felt comfortable speaking about it, but with her as my partner, it suddenly didn't matter. Rather than shying away from discussing the topic, I was brazen, proud to show her off and fearless. Subconsciously, I believed that I could not be openly queer without her because I had never pushed myself to be so before meeting her.
Your story will be very different to mine, but through introspection, you will come to see that deficits in your own self-perception and life stance have led to your limerent experiences. Problematic thinking patterns, hiding parts of ourselves and low self-esteem all set us up for becoming emotionally dependent on and addicted to another person's security and attention.
Can Limerence Be Avoided, Then?
I do not believe that you can naturally make yourself entirely non-limerence-prone. To do so would be to reduce your overdrive in dopamine and the very primitive functionality of your reward system, which this would not be without severe side effects and a generalized lack of motivation (NB: many other neurotransmitter systems are also involved in love addiction!). Many people do, interestingly, do find great relief with the supplement N-Acetyl Cysteine, and I suggest that you read up on its ability to rewire the brain away from intrusive thinking here. In addition to being a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, it selectively modulates glutamate and dopamine activity. I personally take it and experience wonderful results.
However, this article pertains to the psychology behind avoiding 'major limerent episodes', which are the those that leave you horrendously mentally ill for months to years. The become more limerence immune, you must make it less likely that limerence will make you euphoric in the first place, because the crushing lows, agony, suicidal ideation and lethargy are all just consequences of that initial 'buzz'. They are two sides of the same coin. As with recreational drugs, our reward circuitry habituates to the dopamine release that our LO's emotional reciprocation provides us with, and we experience withdrawal when we go a few days or weeks without it (Cooper et al., 2017).
This can be conceptualized as the initial few days/weeks when your new connection is budding and you are mesmerized, contrasted with the period when the LO starts to pull away a little and introduce the 'uncertainty game'. The latter phase makes you severely depressed and anxious only because you have experienced the buzz, just as drug comedowns are a mere consequence of the high. Learn to recognize red flags and consider thrilling sparks as warning signs rather than proof of true love.
A Limerence Cure: Express the Traits of Your Trigger Archetype
Let's say that your weakness is narcissistic, headstrong and commanding LO's, who initially 'love-bomb' you but later phase you out and leave you yearning for them. If you strive to always be the strongest, most collected, bravest version of yourself, you are unlikely to fall as hard for a LO of this profile if you engage in conversation with one at work or meet one through a friend. Why? Your brain will no longer perceive as big a disparity between your traits and theirs and you will not experience euphoria as intense and become 'hooked'.
Subconsciously, when you interact with a 'danger person' who is the specific archetype that you subconsciously imprint on, your brain will alter your behaviors so that you meet them in the middle and acquire some of their traits. We all do this, as we have evolved to gain approval from others and balance out our unhealed wounds.
This becomes problematic in the context of romance when we idolize the attitudes of our LOs. Doing so means that you are likely to change significantly in the company of this person, and there is a good chance that you will like this new version of yourself and start to feel that you cannot acquire these traits without them (= surefire limerence).
Drawn to confident people, but tired of limerence? Try to exude confidence yourself
We are setting ourselves up for limerence if we feel that our behavior, or richness of life, is markedly different with our LO compared to on our own. So, should you try and fall in love with people who don't stir up anything in us? Not necessarily. It can be difficult to change our psychological preferences when it comes to partners, so it is more feasible to allow ourselves to pursue these 'addictive' people, but only after we have closed the gap between ourselves and them.
If you enjoy living an unconventional lifestyle and crave the company of sparky, daring people, ensure that you work on unmasking those traits within yourself, or risk becoming manically addicted to the next person you meet who rocks those attributes.
Burkett, J. and Young, L. (2012). The behavioral, anatomical and pharmacological parallels between social attachment, love and addiction. Psychopharmacology, 224(1), pp.1-26.
Chassin, L., Presson, C., Rose, J. and Sherman, S. (2007). What is addiction? Age-related differences in the meaning of addiction. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 87(1), pp.30-38.
Cooper, S., Robison, A. and Mazei-Robison, M. (2017). Reward Circuitry in Addiction. Neurotherapeutics, 14(3), pp.687-697.
Dutton, D. and Painter, S. (1993). Emotional Attachments in Abusive Relationships: A Test of Traumatic Bonding Theory. Violence and Victims, 8(2), pp.105-120.
Fisher, H., Xu, X., Aron, A. and Brown, L. (2016). Intense, Passionate, Romantic Love: A Natural Addiction? How the Fields That Investigate Romance and Substance Abuse Can Inform Each Other. Frontiers in Psychology, 7.
Jonguitud Garcia, Kevin. (2017). Bipolar Disorder Type II and its Effects on Romantic Relationships. 10.13140/RG.2.2.20637.41445.
Marazziti, D., Akiskal, H., Rossi, A. and Cassano, G. (1999). Alteration of the platelet serotonin transporter in romantic love. Psychological Medicine, 29(3), pp.741-745.
Wilson, S., Stroud, C. and Durbin, C. (2017). Interpersonal dysfunction in personality disorders: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 143(7), pp.677-734.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Lucy
Lucy (author) from Leeds, UK on August 18, 2020:
Dear Anonymous Male, you are not alone - limerence is a formidable beast and the result of a very specific set of psychological issues. Fortunately, understanding it in full provides you with the knowledge that you need to rewire your subconscious brain and cure yourself permanently.
The fact that you are writing in this emotive way reveals the level of pain that you are in, but you can bring an end to this misery and rise above this state - that I can promise you. Reaching emotional freedom just takes *wanting recovery bad enough* (and accepting the initial discomfort that may arise in the healing process).
Check out my website www.neurosparkle.com for lots more content on limerence and other resources including my book.
Anonymous Male on August 18, 2020:
I have only recently come across the term Limerence which has been bit of a revelation as it perfectly describes the constant mental anguish I have been experiencing for over ten years of my life, during which time I assumed I was just some sort of mentally unstable stalker. I have literally never spoken a word about my LO to a single other person, so this is a huge step for me. I have been with my OH for 15 years, during that time we had a few breaks as we were quite young and still figuring out what we wanted in life. During one of these breaks I met someone at a party and we instantly had this electric connection, at first LO seemed more keen than I was to take things further as I felt I was betraying my OH even though at this stage it was purely a platonic relationship. We spent more and more time together over the course of a year or so and developed this deep, all encompassing emotional and physical connection, we had encounters that were sexual but I still held back from engaging in a full sexual relationship as I still felt a sense of guilt and betrayal. It was genuinely like a drug as I had no control over my feelings, I constantly thought about them every minute of every day to the point where I considered permanently ending things with my OH to try and properly explore my relationship with LO as we connected on so many levels. It rapidly developed into obsession and I constantly thought about the intense emotions I felt towards them and how we seemed to have a deep almost soul mate connection as I had never experienced emotions this intense towards anyone in my life. My self and my OH then had an unexpected pregnancy so this is when the friendship/relationship with LO had to stop abruptly as I had to do right by my OH and be there to help raise our child . This was disastrous for me as I found myself plunged into a life that I wasn’t expecting to have and my thoughts and feelings for LO have snow balled ever since, ranging from highs to depths of depression. I’ve tried so hard to work on my marriage because my OH is the most amazing person, and I really do love them, in all honestly I feel like I don’t deserve them in my life, but it’s just not on any level the same connection I felt with LO. We’re now married 5 years and have had another child, things that I thought would end this mental torture I’ve silently been suffering and maybe give some finality and closure. Fast forward to the present, it’s been 10 years since I last saw or spoke to my LO and there is absolutely no let up in my feelings. It has literally taken over my life, I cannot get them out of my head every single day even though I’m terrified that being honest with anyone about this would cause my marriage to fail and I can’t be selfish enough to do that to my children. I feel like I’m really at rock bottom with this as it is starting to have a huge negative impact on my mental health, the torture I feel everyday thinking of what could’ve been has often made me think dark thoughts about ending my life as I’m struggling to cope with this. LO was still friends with me on Facebook, frequently liking my posts/pictures right up until I got married, just before, they mailed me asking how I was and if I was happy with my decision to get married. This has caused me to think that maybe LO felt the same connection I felt and that maybe they were hoping I wouldn’t go through with it. I need this to stop. I have a good life, a full time job, two amazing children, an OH who adores me and so much to be grateful for but I simply can’t stop these feelings. Can anyone give me some advice on this because I really am at my wits end. Thank you, for offering this space for people to vent, this is the first time I have ever spoken about this in 10 years, it feels surreal that I’ve actually written it out rather than just overthinking everything in my mind.
Lucy (author) from Leeds, UK on August 09, 2020:
Hello, sorry for the late reply - your comment slipped through my notifications!
I completely understand your query, as targeting your subconscious mind while limerent does not always feel natural or easy to do. There will be doubts and there will be resistance, BUT it is completely doable once you understand what your current limerent episode truly represents for you.
You see, this state pertains entirely to you - your unmet needs, your untreated psychological wounding and your belief systems. This unpredictable person has only come along and aligned with you energetically (i.e. attracted you) because they represent something to YOU. Your friends would not be so attracted to them, right?
Approaching limerence in this way and ascertaining what elements of your own psychology you need to tweak makes healing a whole lot easier. It makes rejecting your intrusive thoughts EASY and automatic; when you know what wounds of yours they are echoing, you can start to truly counter and squash them.
After a few weeks of doing this and changing your beliefs/self-concept, you will be permanently immune to limerence - that is something that I promise you from the bottom of my heart.
Head over to www.neurosparkle.com for lots more in-depth articles about limerence and my newest release, The Limerent Mind. This book is a project of mine that I'm extremely content with, as it provides every possible shred of information required to a). understand limerence inside out and b). permanently cure it.
Yes, we want you to be permanently immune to LOs and incapable of ever obsessing over one again, rather than just for you to 'get over this LO'. True freedom is knowing that romance is enjoyable and stimulating for you, rather than obsessive and scary.
Sending you lots of strength - you've got this!
Lost in Limerence on April 23, 2020:
Wonderful articles on the limerence subject! Very insightful and encouraging.
You mention a few times to treat thoughts about LO as intrusive thoughts but how does one do that on a cognitive level. Every time I have attempted to stop thinking about LO and distract myself, the thoughts come back faster and harder.
I would love to hear your thoughts and I have been suffering with limerence for an embarrassingly long time. My LO provides the typical intermittent reinforcement like you have suggested, he will come and get me hooked and then withdraw, only to return as of nothing has happened. Working on my self is helping however I still ruminate an awful amount.
Lucy (author) from Leeds, UK on January 15, 2020:
You're extremely good at articulating your conflicting feelings, and I completely understand your doubts. Interesting - while 95% of limerence cases do involve the individual seeing themself in a better light when in a state of 'overlap' with their LO, the basis of limerence can also just be an implausible degree of attraction to a non-committal character (it sounds like you are dealing with this). I trust you have read about intermittent reward and the reason why such an unstable person can seem intoxicating.
With regards to your question about the duration of limerence, the truth is that it depends on your situation and the way that you feel with her. You've said that she doesn't change how you view yourself or 'bring out' extroverted traits in you, but the fact that you are trapped in the illusion that her potent energy could provide you with permanent and blissful euphoria reveals that you must, at least, have a different stance towards life when with her. Or feel freer, or more child-like. Does the world feel expansive when you are with her, and a lot more dull when with others?
Regardless of how her up-and-down mood cycling and noncommital ways make you feel, a). your brain has latched onto that feeling and b). she is now your 'default' option for that feeling.
Until you manage to fill your life with things that seem similarly intriguing (but in a more stable way), you may experience intrusive thoughts relating to her. However, I can, fortunately, tell you that I have seen people overcome limerence in a matter of 5 days. Typically, this occurs when they fall in love with someone new who is 'interesting' but stable/mature; if you achieved this, you would forget about your LO in a matter of days/weeks.
If dating is not something that you are currently interested in, I suggest that you engage in as many new things that fill you with childlike wonder. Whether that is pushing yourself to publish an eBook, doing high-intensity exercise with the goal of achieving a particular body composition or starting to socialise in a new way. Deep connections with new people (even platonic) can really help.
If you maintain this mentality, you will snap out of this in weeks/months and reel in amazement at the brain's ability to completely devalue someone who was once so attractive and salient. You'll see a photo of her and just be left with contempt.
Don't worry about this lasting for a lifetime. Good luck!
DrBenway on January 14, 2020:
Thank you so much for this post! A great deal of it resonates with me on a very deep level. I've been in limerence with a BPD woman for nearly three years now, and it has absolutely wreaked havoc on my life. Among other things, it led to the end of my marriage.
I have gone no contact with her several times, and she's sucked me back in each time. Sometimes I feel like I can handle it, so why not just enjoy those highs... I get an immense amount of pleasure and happiness when I'm together with her and she's being loving and kind to me. But then when she drops me out of her life or enters into a period of depression/withdrawal, boy oh boy is that painful. On the other hand, I know she'll eventually come back to me, albeit in a noncommital fashion.
Question for you: I've heard other professionals opine that limerence for a particular person almost always dies out naturally, given enough time. But I also hear stories of people who say they've remained stuck in limerence with their LO for many, many years. What's your opinion?
Lately my LO's life circumstances have changed pretty dramatically, and her BPD sees less intense. And now she's holding out the possibility of a committed relationship with her. But she's done that before, and her own lifetime track record of committed relationships is a real train-wreck. So I'm not really under any illusions, but at the same time the prospect is almost impossible to ignore. The idea of having a lifetime of that kind of bliss of being with her is absolutely intoxicating and irresistible.
I don't seem to have the issue you identified in yourself -- my LO doesn't really make me feel like a different/better/more lively person, or whatever. Nor do I change or act differently when I'm with her. I already see myself in very positive terms, and I don't really have any desire or need to be like her in any fashion whatsoever. So that "trick" you've identified wouldn't really work for me, I'm afraid. Any advice on this front?
I am seeing a therapist, BTW. It's helpful, but it still doesn't seem to be enough.
Thank you! Dr. Benway
Lucy (author) from Leeds, UK on January 06, 2020:
Since limerence is a relentless neurochemical addiction, you need to cut contact with her; thinking that you can reframe her into a platonic friend is unfortunately just your brain craving the dopamine release. If you are looking for ways to have more conversations with her, more time with her and to get more attention from her, you are not on the road to recovery. The reality is that friendship is not what you want.
You mention finding this addiction harder to kick than your previous one to nicotine, and you're right - limerence is an entirely different kettle of fish. Evolution has wired us (some a lot more so than others) to be obsession-prone in the face of romantic feelings, but this, unfortunately, does not translate well to modern living which requires much MORE from us than the search for food and a mate.
If you continue half-in and half-out of recovery, the fantasy bond could well dominate your life for years. If you commit to getting over her and to filling your life with enthralling and new experiences, people and feelings, I promise you that you will one day look at her name and feel nothing but mere regret at once letting her occupy so much mental space. She will lose her sparkle, and you will no longer be enchanted by her world. All limerences come to an end in this way, but I would much rather that you experience this in 3 months rather than in 10 years!
Ding on January 02, 2020:
Finally i know the name of this persistent behavioral pattern that has controlled me my whole life! I'm currently in the throes of limerence for the 3rd or 4th time in my life. And, though i was strong enough to quit smoking and to go through divorce and depression and the deaths of loved ones, i have yet to be able to enforce NC. I always have great excuses not to force myself to do it.
Please tell me more about how i can see her as platonic. I have tried to focus on her flaws and it isn't working.
Lucy (author) from Leeds, UK on December 31, 2019:
Thank you for taking the time to comment; I'm delighted that you've found the article useful!
With regards to 'faking' the personality, I would recommend holding the image of the sparkiest, most confident version of yourself in your mind. As long as you believe that you can be this person, your brain will adapt your behaviour accordingly. Think of it like looking in the mirror, smiling and then seeing your reflection smile back. If you looked in the mirror and expected to see yourself smile without putting in the effort to actually smile, you'd be left disappointed, right?
Similarly, if you wake up every morning with the intention of adhering to this new image of yourself, you will slowly program your subconscious and your outward behaviour and mannerisms will effortlessly change.
The brain is fluid and little more than a computer... incredible rewards are reaped from learning to play with it. Tangentially to this point, the law of attraction is powerful and is completely scientifically-backed; if you are interested in such belief systems, I suggest researching Neville Goddard and reading about how people like yourself have effortlessly transformed their energy and others' perceptions of them.
As for renouncing romance due to painful limerent experiences, I can completely relate to you as I once felt the same way. I could never envisage myself in love but not obsessive, enjoying someone's mind but not wanting to throw away my own life just to have their attention. However, I could not be further away from that mindset these days, and am in a healthy, mentally-stimulating, exciting but MUTUAL (and safe) relationship.
I manifested this relationship in a matter of weeks after committing to saying goodbye to limerence. The tendency will be there, as you are neurally wired to fall into people 'addictions', but you can stay away from limerent episodes, reject LOs before they wreck your life and find "your" people to date. People who will choose you.
Believe in magic, and realise that you can change your energy in a matter of seconds and, in doing so, completely change your outer reality (as it is a pure reflection of your internal beliefs).
Check out my other article for more tips on how to learn from limerence and *move past it*. I think points 5-7 will particularly resonate with you.
Good luck! You've got this.
Sadpuppy17 on December 29, 2019:
Thank you so much for writing these posts on limerence. I believe that these are one of the best sources online.
You mentioned the cure as expressing the traits of one's trigger archetype. I have tried doing that and I do think it works. The problem is that I'm not sure if it's sustainable for me.
The traits I'm mentioning are: confident, present, outspoken, and "alive".
I feel like I can be like that naturally when I'm limerent. But outside of that, I'm quite the opposite and have to force myself. It's too much to have fake that personality every single day.
Do you have any tips?
Also, what should one do once limerence is "gone"? I've read a lot about limerence and haven't had an LO for 1+ years (after 10+ years of serial limerence). I can't trust myself to be in a relationship. I don't even know if I can ever hope for a healthy, reciprocal relationship. I feel that I'm too damaged and that that type of happiness will never be for me.
Thank you in advance!
Lucy (author) from Leeds, UK on July 07, 2019:
Hi, thank you for commenting; I'm so glad that they've been of use to you! Going 'no contact' when you see your LO regularly is, surprisingly, more feasible than one might think.
NC is less to do with not seeing your LO in person and more to do with controlling your thoughts about them. You can achieve what is effectively 'NC' by forcing yourself to frame your LO in the most unappealing, platonic way possible when you are with them. Avoid deep conversations, avoid allowing your mind to run with possibilities of romance etc.
In my eyes, NC is abstaining from seeing your LO in a romantic light and chasing that 'hit' of hope. This can be accomplished even when your LO is sitting right next to you, due to the mental basis of limerence. NC is about healing your mind and quitting the addiction to rumination.
Hope this resonates with you and makes sense.
Darcy on July 07, 2019:
I've loved all you posts on limerance and have found them truely helpful. So well written, empathetic and understanding.
Can you tell me how you can withdraw from LO and go NC when you see them almost daily? It's hard to to try and seek them out. Personally I know if I could just block them and go NC I'd be well and truely over this. Any tips or anything would be helpful and this is holding me back in such away and the anxiety is unbearable.