ERP 105: How To Deal With Limerence In Relationship

By Posted in - Podcast May 1st, 2017 39 Comments Dealing with limerence in relationship

TOPIC: Dealing with limerence in relationship

What is limerence?

Most people see limerence as infatuation, lovesickness or romantic love, while others think of it more as a love obsession or addiction. Limerence in relationship is the “I need you, want you, can’t live without you” feeling.

Limerence is a term coined by psychologist Dorothy Tennov in her book Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love. Tennov defines limerence as “an involuntary interpersonal state that involves an acute longing for emotional reciprocation, obsessive-compulsive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and emotional dependence on another person.”

(Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear more explanations, stories and examples.)

How does limerence in relationship start?

In the beginning stages of attraction, our brain releases powerful neurochemicals and hormones, which provide the euphoric feeling of being “in love.” Whereas when a relationship develops, the bonding hormones like oxytocin help calm the rush and high.

The increase in dopamine, a neurochemical, is one of the main reasons why we feel the high euphoric feeling. People who use cocaine get a similar dopamine high.

Being addicted to the dopamine high, can bring on intense, all-consuming feelings to consume more…be it cocaine or the pursuit of the love interest.

Characteristics of limerence in relationship:

  • Intense romantic desire.
  • Uncontrollable and obsessive thoughts. (i.e. All you can do is think about him/her. You can’t get anything done. You can’t eat and you can’t sleep.)
  • Being constantly reminded of the person.
  • An idealization of the person’s positive attributes. (i.e. He/She is amazing and perfect!)
  • Experiencing physical symptoms such as trembling, flushing, weakness or heart palpitations around the other person.
  • Arranging your schedule to maximize encounters with the other person.

What is the difference between romantic love during the honeymoon phase and limerence?

During the early stages of a romantic relationship (like the honeymoon stage), it is difficult to distinguish between love and limerence. Some experts view limerence as a natural part of early love, whereas others see limerence as a totally different experience altogether.

If limerence and early romantic feelings are similar initially, they start to differ over time. In healthy relationships, the couple bonds through mutual interests and enjoyment of each other’s company. Limerence often turns into a dynamic that stops feeling good to one or both partners. This is especially true when a person’s feelings are not reciprocated.

When limerence becomes problematic.

Unrequited feelings: When your affection is not shared.

  • Can be unstable and intense.
  • Especially made difficult when mixed signals are sent or physical and/or emotional distance prolongs the intensity and uncertainty (e.g., object of affection lives in a different state or is married).
  • Attachment can become desperate and obsessive.
  • Fantasizing about or searching for signs of reciprocation (“reading into things”) can make limerence worse.
  • Might have the tendency to maintain romantic intensity through adversity.

Anxious and/or obsessive tendencies: 

  • Fear of rejection can bring on anxious feelings.
  • Replaying in your mind every encounter with the other person in great detail can be an expression of the anxiety.
  • Endlessly analyzing every word and gesture to determine their possible meaning is also another sign of anxiety.
  • If rejection occurs, people can feel despair and/or have thoughts of suicide (as the rejection usually activates a deeper wound or fear).

Addictive tendencies: 

  • Emotional attachment and dependency (i.e. You feel like you need him/her around to just be able to breathe. You ache when they are not around.).
  • Repeat the cycle of having intense feelings of infatuation, but never develop a secure relationship.
  • Fall into a lifelong pattern of obsessive relationships.
  • Can’t let go.
  • Behaviors may become dangerous, such as stalking or suicide.

Limerence in relationship can be problematic when people have difficulty perceiving accurately. For example, if someone is anxious, they may be too preoccupied with their worry and fear to really relate to their love interest clearly.

How to deal with limerence in relationship?

1. Get clear.

  • Perception check – what is he/she showing you and telling you?
  • Check out assumptions. Get explicit. (i.e. Are we on the same page?)
  • Stay present – stay in the here and now.

2. Reign in the forward-thinking and fantasy.

  • If you notice you are too worried about what might happen in the future, try to bring yourself back to the present moment.
  • Sometimes when we feel anxious or avoidant, we are really trying to avoid or relieve pain (or the threat of pain).
  • Focus on what is happening in the moment and take care of yourself.
  • Take the pressure off and focus on having fun.
  • “No matter what happens, I will be okay.”

3. Don’t lose yourself.

  • Stay connected to who you are, your self-care, and your values. Keep up your hobbies and extracurricular activities.
  • When people fall in love, they will often compromise, adjust, and contort themselves too much. After a while, they realize they have lost touch with themselves.
  • Stay connected with people who know you and love you.
  • If you have lost touch with yourself, don’t hide. Share what feels shameful or vulnerable with people you trust.

4. Give yourself time.

  • To let your neurochemicals and hormones calm down.
  • See what your love interest is like, after the love haze lifts.
  • Look at lasting character traits (i.e. Are they honest? Do they treat you with respect? Are they available? How do they handle conflict?).
  • Be honest with what you observe and be honest about what is important to you and your values.

5. Build trust.

  • Trust is built over time and through seasons.
  • If your love interest follows through, communicates, deals with difficulties with you, and expresses mutual care and regard, this will help you build trust.
  • In general, people will show you what they are about and where they are at.
  • The key is to see them clearly.

TRANSCRIPT:

Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: ERP 105: How To Deal With Limerence In Relationship [Transcript]

If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here.

Thank you so much for your interest in improving your relationship. Dealing with limerence in relationships help couples be themselves while expressing love to others and have deeper connection.

Also, I would so appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here.


Thank you!

(39) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Kevin - Reply

    August 17, 2020 at 9:59 am

    Have been going through this for 2+ years now. Your advice is very helpful. Thank you.

    • Dr. Jessica Higgins - Reply

      August 17, 2020 at 7:35 pm

      Thank you for commenting. I am so sorry to learn you have been going through this for 2+ years now. Please let me know if I can offer more support. Happy to hear the podcast is very helpful to you.

  • Yalini - Reply

    September 24, 2020 at 4:45 am

    I am 16 years old and I am have like these feelings. Please help me to overcome from this I am suffering a lot mentally

  • Israel - Reply

    November 23, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    hey! thanks for this episode, I will briefly tell you my story, if you don’t mind.

    There was a girl at my office that was very cute, but being a foreigner in this land, we weren’t able to communicate much, so after a couple dates I felt that it was just not going anywhere so I lost interest. Unfortunately, a couple weeks later a new guy joined our company, and he spoke her language so they could communicate and she seemed to like him. Immediately my interest went through the roof, I started not being able to think of anything other than her, I could not really focus on my work, and every time I saw her walk across the office i was thinking “is she gonna go talk to him? Are they laughing together? WHY WOULDN’T SHE LIKE ME THE SAME WAY SHE LIKES HIM?”

    Luckily for me I knew that this was an obsessive thing, I knew that true feelings don’t just appear overnight, but it still was difficult to work and to forget about her. It’s been now four months since my “obsession” attack, I still see her around and think she’s mighty cute, but I know that we already tried to date and it didn’t work out. I made a list of all the things I like to do, and tried to check which things she likes to do. Out of 10 things in my list, she only checked on one. 1 out of 10! Of course it’s not love. But the feeling is so strong, it’s really hard to just brush it off.

    Is that limerence, or just jealousy? I only seem to care about her when someone else seemed to “threaten” my imaginary relationship with her. I barely know anything about her, her hobbies, her life. It can’t be love! Like you said, I seem to be in love not with her, but with my idea of being in love with her. There’s three people in this imaginary relationship. Me, her, and the image of her that I am obsessed with.

    Something that helped (for those out there with the same problem) was to record a short 5-minute audio on my telephone telling myself precisely that she isn’t the girl of my life, that her not being part of my life is okay, that she and I have not much in common, so it’s not really a big loss. I would then play this file two or three times per day whenever I felt particularly depressed or sad. I have to say, it made me feel better!

    Again, thanks for the episode 🙂

    Have a good day!

    • Dr. Jessica Higgins - Reply

      December 2, 2020 at 6:32 pm

      Hi Israel,

      Thank you for taking the time to share. It sounds like you have some great awareness, insight and understanding!!! I appreciate your sharing your experience. Keep up the wonderful work!!!

  • Rena Davenport - Reply

    June 2, 2021 at 7:01 am

    I have been what I thought was lovesick for over 20 years. My first love broke up with me when we were 17. I was attached, but I wasn’t ready to be as physical as he was. He left me for my friend who was more than ready. In fact almost all of my friends threw themselves at him. My senior year was turned upside down, and I had to find my identity again. He has since apologized for his actions and become a good man. I yearn for him. I have always wanted him back. There have been short times when I would forget him, but he was always there “in my heart” so I thought.
    We talk sometimes, but it’s never enough. This morning I was looking for a reason for my desire, for guidance on how to overcome it. I found this when researching how serotonin levels affect relationships. It’s like you had my situation in mind when putting this together. I have got to cut myself off from this guy and get on some medication to level out my serotonin deficiency. I have always been skeptical of taking medication of that sort even though I preach its importance to a friend who refuses to take it. “It’s okay. You were born with a chemical imbalance. There is no shame in taking something that will bring you to a normal level.” I’m a hypocrite in other ways as well. I’m married after all. Before the trolling starts, I ensure you that I’m happily married. I don’t want to be tormented by my long lost love. I gave credit to the fact that he was the one that got away and that I must have found the love of my life too early. This website is hopefully going to help me focus on what I actually have and let go of the past. I have rationalized my feelings for my ex by hoping that we each live out our lives with our own families and eventually find each other after life leads us back to each other. I do not wish ill will on my husband or his wife!!! My rationalization is a “what if”. When my mom passed away when I was only 34, I realized that plans don’t always work out. I obviously have attachment issues, so it should not be a surprise that I said from a young age that I would always have my mom and that she would never die. (Her mom passed when she was 41 and I was 19. My grandmother and I were also very close. I did not want to experience that kind of loss again.) I was naive. Her death shook me. It was unexpected and not health related. My feelings for my ex and my need for security amplified as a result. I have always had a strong need to plan ahead or make predictions about various outcomes. I am also more attached to my ex than I have been at other points is because he reached out to me for support after my mom’s passing. It was nice to know he cared. It was almost like an affirmation. It gave purpose to years of longing for him in silence. I did not understand that I had (and have) an unhealthy attachment style. I’ve only recently started to explore that notion through the need to relinquish my despair when his feelings aren’t reciprocated in the slightest way or he gives one word responses. Sometimes he is more forthcoming than others. I worry that I annoy him. I’m sure I do. He initiates conversations rarely, but it is thrilling when he does. It’s like a drug. I saw him about 2 and half months ago for about 30 or 45 minutes. We caught up and only shared a hug or 2. (I would NEVER cheat on my husband!) I want to see him again so bad I can’t stand it. I want the feeling I had when I was close to him. It releases dopamine. I’m addicted. I have been aware for a long time that I am prone to addiction. I can’t let myself drink too much alcohol, so I drink once a month if that. I love the feeling of smoke filling my lungs even though I despise the smell of cigarette smoke. I have only smoked marijuana once, but I loved how it made me feel. Realizing all of those things made me aware of my genetic predisposition to addiction. I never thought I could be addicted to a guy or what I thought was love. It makes sense. Maybe I can move on. Thank you for this article. I hope it helps me as well as many others.

    • Dr. Jessica Higgins - Reply

      June 10, 2021 at 2:11 pm

      Thank you Rena for sharing. Yes, it is true grief, loss and trauma can all influence how we respond (as well as protect ourselves) in relationship. I hope you find guidance and support with the Empowered Relationship Podcast. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help! You are doing great work for sure!

    • Rocío - Reply

      June 10, 2023 at 6:49 am

      Hi Rena, reading your comment brings me so much relief because I’m in a very similar situation. Except this guy we’ve never been official, only spent a lot of time together – it’s wierd lol. But I can’t stop thinking of him for the life of me, and what you said about serotonin levels + the article mentioning obsessive compulsive nature of it just clicked for me. I don’t think cutting him off would work, (i tried for a little bit and it was the same/worse) and I’m unsure if we can really become the item I want. I’m currently up at 7am after having anxiety all night about him, even though I thought I was fine. I’d love to connect more on this and coping if you would be up for it! My instagram is gothamatica and e-mail: [email protected]!

  • D. Jones - Reply

    June 5, 2021 at 2:18 pm

    This is a good article on limerence. I have been dealing with it for almost 3 years now with no-contact. Happily married but still obsessing. However lately I think I’ve gained some good coping skills that have helped me deal with it much better. When I begin to obsess I tell myself it is NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN! I tell myself LO doesn’t hold a candle to my spouse and then think of all the reasons why I’m in love with my spouse. I use the 54321 exercise. I force myself to fantasize about my spouse rather than LO. Making an extreme effort to derail my obsessing and examine why I feel this way in the first place has really helped me. Understanding my issues and how my trauma has shaped me is work but it’s worth it to become more self-aware. Control your limerence, don’t let it control you!! And if you’re suffering from limerence or have gotten past it, share your story so others can find their way out too.

    • Dr. Jessica Higgins - Reply

      June 10, 2021 at 2:05 pm

      Thank you D. Jones for sharing. It sounds like you are doing excellent work. I appreciate your encouraging others to share their stories. Keep up the wonderful work and please let me know if I can be of any support.

  • Sage - Reply

    June 9, 2021 at 5:43 am

    I’ve been friends with this person since 2018, mostly just playing online video games. I knew them from highschool here n there so its not like they are a stranger to me. We’ve started hanging out in person when he is in town during college breaks and I think the first time I felt a genuine feeling of romantic interest was the first time we hung out. He was just decent to me. Offered to buy me a drink without any debt or awkwardness. He was unclear on his status as far as relationships go and Im not sure how to proceed. Someone suggested I tell him I like him more than friend or differently than a friend but after 3 or so years Of having a set dynamic I am anxious. I have tendency for limerence and it shows in my very unhealthy past relationships. Ive been single for a year and a half with the exception of a short infatuation that was honestly very unhealthy and limerence-esque. Id love to hear your advice on how I can I handle this situation. He graduates in another semester and will probably be moving back here. With everything contextualized, a choice seems harder to make.
    Please, and thank you

    • Kavita Pant - Reply

      June 13, 2021 at 8:51 pm

      Thank you Sage for sharing. This is Kavita, from Dr. Jessica support staff and we would love to be of support. Can you tell me what kind of help you are looking for? If you are looking for tips and resources, please check out other episodes of Dr. Jessica’s podcast. There are many episodes where she offers lots of tips, examples, stories, and resources on this subject. If you don’t find a topic that helps, we can have Dr. Jessica create a podcast episode based on your specific question or you can receive live laser coaching, while being on the show. If you are interested in getting coaching, the best way to get started will be for you and Dr. Jessica to meet for a free consultation/strategy session. This will give you an opportunity to talk about what you are looking for, ask any questions you may have, and explore the fit. If you are interested, you can learn more and schedule here: https://drjessicahiggins.com/work-with-me/.

  • Thomas - Reply

    June 18, 2021 at 8:52 am

    I have a question regarding the experience Israel shared about his coworker and feelings of jealousy when she was around someone new who showed interest in her. Is what he experienced limerance or a situation where he is jealous because someone he is attracted to seemed to prefer someone else?
    My spouse had a very similar experience and has told me that while she was jealous and had thoughts of how she should have been with her coworker, rather than his new love interest, she never actually wanted to spend time with him. She just didn’t want him to like someone else. Is this a sign of limerance? She had lots of fantasies about winning him from the other woman, yet they had never really spent any time together or even talked about anything not work related. This is very confusing to me, and it seems now to have passed but she was quite worked up over this for awhile. What should I think caused this fixation over someone she barely knew?

    • Dr. Jessica Higgins - Reply

      July 10, 2021 at 2:32 pm

      Hi Thomas, I appreciate your reaching out. These types of relationship dynamics can be very challenging. I am sorry for any pain that you might be experiencing. To give your question a helpful response, I would need to know more about what your wife is experiencing. There can be so many things that can influence attraction, fantasies, wanting to be desired or receive attention…and this is not to even mention what she is experiencing in relationship (inside your marriage). Often times, there are good reasons why people do what they do when we can really understand what is going on… on a deeper level. Have you and her considered getting some support?

  • Ben - Reply

    November 1, 2021 at 12:52 am

    I am experiencing this right now and it’s becoming all consuming. I have a new love interest that I like so much borderline “falling in love” it’s a very complicated situation and my emotions spiral out of control all the time. I over analyse the time we spend together and read into every text conversation. The time we spend together is great and there have been mixed signals from this person. They pull me in and then slightly back off. when we aren’t together I convince myself they are being intimate with multiple other people. I hate feeling like this so…I am very close to taking a huge risk and telling them that I’m in love with them but will probably lose them entirely. I am going to take your advice of asking what page we are on. I just really need to learn how to not ruminate as it’s affecting my daily life. This article was very helpful so thank you so much.

  • AnonymousLO - Reply

    February 7, 2022 at 2:36 pm

    AnonLO Hi, how does one respond to someone having limerence for you when you thought he was just a friend? I was extremely clear with this much older guy that I only wanted platonic friendship and there would be no romantic future, but he still tried to groom me into his fantasy younger girlfriend. He kept trying even after an explicit no from me. How do I handle him? completely cut off contact? We’re still in the same club. I don’t have to interact with him. But how do you break the obsession? Or am I just stuck with the discomfort? I feel my trust was betrayed.

    • Dr. Jessica Higgins - Reply

      March 13, 2022 at 6:02 pm

      Hi AnonymousLO, Oh wow, this does sound uncomfortable and difficult for sure. It is hard to give uniform feedback because every situation is different and has varying aspects to consider. That being said, if it were me…I would address it directly. This can be helpful to be crystal clear, so that it clears up misunderstanding and projections. Also, it offers a reality check for the person experiencing limerence. It sounds like you have done this. I would also distance and create more boundaries, especially because being “friends” does not seem to be working. I would also communicate my boundaries and distance. I realize this is an extremely uncomfortable situation and very awkward to address. However, once you create the distance and boundaries that you need to take care of yourself. It is likely you will feel much better. Please let me know if I can be of any further support.

  • Shaunie - Reply

    May 30, 2022 at 1:51 pm

    Well I’m living this at the moment. I had a long term affair with a good friend of my wife. We were both gaslighted my AP lied used information about my past and childhood and used it against us. She also used information from my wife to try and break us. I’m not saying I was the innocent party I wasn’t. I’ve been in the throws of limerence for nearly three months. It’s been so hard I nearly left y family three times. My wife has been wonderful understanding this limerence and helping me through. Im hoping due to the gaslighting and manipulation that I’ll snap out of it quickly. The most important thing is no contact block all ways of contact change numbers delete email and Skype accounts everything!! I’m currently having therapy which is slowly making me stronger. My AP text me a few days ago on my work phone I didn’t reply! I felt so proud of myself sad I know. Blocked her number, so as I didn’t reply I haven’t started from day one again! Some days are so hard but others are ok. I’m just hoping I’ll get through this and come out the other side. I really didn’t see this bit coming at all.

    • Dr. Jessica Higgins - Reply

      June 23, 2022 at 8:06 pm

      Hi Shaunie, Thank you for taking the time to comment. Also, I appreciate your openness and honesty. Your situation sounds extremely challenging and sensitive. I am so grateful that you care making progress and are working with the no contact. I am so sorry for the stress, pain and turmoil you and your family have been experiencing. I hope you and your wife are getting support to work through the traumas and are working towards healing and repair. Keep up the great work. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help. You may find some of the other episodes helpful too.

  • Kyle - Reply

    August 27, 2022 at 5:57 am

    Thank you so much for this information. After my divorce at 45, I discovered Match.com and went through a string of relationships, and in most cases “fell in love” almost instantly. After the last extremely painful episode back in 2010, I heard you, I think, on NPR, and I instantly recognized the chemical addiction these relationships were triggering. I’m in a good marriage now, but am starting to recognize the pattern has developed again toward a work colleague. Didn’t recognize it for what it was until I found out our workplace is being shut down in several months and the pangs of grief seem a little extreme. So I’m going to need to put these techniques in place somehow over the next several months. So thanks for shedding light on something I can actually do something about.

  • Kwanita - Reply

    February 7, 2023 at 6:50 pm

    I’ve been dealing with this since I was 14. Earliest I can remember. I’m 26 now and wondering if it will ever go away. Same guy. I never see him. As far as I know we have nothing in common, no mutual friends. We don’t even live in the same state. It’s literally just an idea of him. I can go awhile without thinking of him, but then I can’t help but let myself slip. I was able to stop for a couple of years when I met my boyfriend. He was also an LO and it worked out! I recently told him about my limerence and he’s so supportive and caring. Even a little fascinated. For me, however, it’s not fun. I’m ready for some professional help. I try to stay present and live a normal and “sane” life, but then it consumes me. I can’t even imagine if I ran into him in public. I’d probably freak out and run away. I’ve googled limerence therapists, and no luck. Any advice would be much appreciated 🙏

  • S - Reply

    February 17, 2023 at 10:09 am

    Your article helped me recognise exactly what sort of situation I am dealing with. Thank you. There’s a boy from my uni. I’ve known him for a short time but I’ve gained these intrusive, obsessive feelings – which I know now isn’t a common crush, but limerence. It’s hard to get out of the haze at times, and often I find myself unable to control my train of thoughts.

    Thanks again for the article!

  • SB - Reply

    February 27, 2023 at 3:28 am

    I’m really eager to follow this and see if it will help me, we’re not in a relationship currently due to physical distance but will be seeing each other this year. We’ve known each other for about 6 years now and he has had a consistent crush on me throughout. I recently started reciprocating (I was in a relationship for 4 years) and have gotten really obsessed with him. He tells me he does love me and that he does want to try us being together, but because he has his own life and there’s a significant time difference I find myself waiting for his response and every other day needing reassurance that he does really still want me. I hate feeling like there’s someone else and that consistent panic even though he is open with me about not wanting other people. I feel like I’m annoying him and just haven’t been taking care of myself as a result, but I still panic about making sure he responds. I watch for the time he’s online and feel terrified if he responds to other people but not me. Realising this is limerance and it’s not a “gut feeling” about something is really relieving, I really want to find myself again and focus on myself until we meet in person.

  • Harry - Reply

    March 1, 2023 at 10:24 am

    54 yr old married man, struggling with this currently having maintained a 4 yr friendship with a former work colleague 12 yrs my junior. After leaving the company 2 yrs ago, we continue to keep in touch – daily phone calls and texts discussing life challenges, what’s going on, laughs, etc. I genuinely began this friendship in an effort to help her build confidence and assertiveness – which she has done, and she readily acknowledges me as her main source of support and encouragement. I also have drawn much happiness from this friendship and feel like I’ve learned some valuable lessons on how to be a better friend from her. She considers me a close friend and mentor, – but nothing more, which has been my intent as well throughout the friendship.

    As she is getting ready to date soon coming out of a dysfunctional marriage, I recently found myself consumed with limerent thoughts about her and a teenage like jealousy. A combination of surprise and guilt for feeling this way. Do not want to end the friendship nor does she – we both agree that ending our friendship would be exceedingly painful for both of us. I wish I could figure out how to put these feelings back in the bottle – it is a debilitating feeling.

    I realize also that I have travelled a precarious path over the last few years, allowing a friendship to morph into an emotional affair (at least on my end I guess). Not proud to admit that, but I will not deny the responsibility.

    My wife does not know of this relationship and would most likely leave me if she did. My adult children would be deeply disappointed with me as well, if not unforgiving – regardless of my intentions.

    I feel like I was hit by a tsunami wave from behind (of my own creation) and have washed up on a shore far away -disoriented, anxiety ridden and forlorn. I’ve begun one on one therapy as I believe I need to figure out why I have this hole inside that needs to be filled by a woman from outside my marriage. In no way do I blame my wife for any of this – I’m in this position of my own choices and actions. I need to develop an effective strategy to deal with and kill the limerent portion of this relationship, if possible.

    Last night at 2am as I was staring at the ceiling fan and trying every trick I could think of to clear my mind and go back to sleep, this thought gently occupied my conscience:

    “Marinate in what “is” rather than what “is not” because tomorrow is neither written nor promised. Obsessing over the future is a disservice to the present and all that it holds right now”

    Don’t remember reading this anywhere, but its what I wrote down this morning when I awoke. I’ve found it curiously comforting and has helped to take a few of the sharp edges off some of the limerent thoughts. That said, I still have a long way to go.

    Good luck to anyone else on a similar path presently

    • Dr. Jessica Higgins - Reply

      July 7, 2023 at 1:56 pm

      Hi Harry, Thank you for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate your sharing. It sounds as though you are doing your best to be present with your experience and notice what is coming up for you. Also, I am grateful to hear you have gotten support. Hopefully, you are exploring what this relationship has brought up for you. I would love to hear how your progress is going.

  • J.Grice - Reply

    March 11, 2023 at 6:30 pm

    This is useful for me. Thanks for posting. My wife passed just under 4 years ago. Hard process of walking through grief, not helped by Covid shutting the world down around the time I should have been reconnecting more. Just recently got set up with a girl who’s recently divorced and we hit it off immediately and on almost all levels. Things went amazing for 3 weeks with an understanding that we were both still figuring out what we are ready for. Through most of it she was pushing further and further into more and more intimate places, yet we didn’t define it as a committed relationship. I felt like we were getting ready to define things when she suddenly pulled back after an emotional reaction to part of her divorce (not feeling for her ex, just got very upset when confronted with stuff related to him). Now she’s suddenly hit the brakes hard , thinks working through that stuff means she’s not ready for a relationship. She wants us to keep talking but feels guilty for connecting on a romantic level if she can’t commit. This whole week has felt like waking on eggshells with her getting upset if I am romantic and upset if I’m trying hard not to be, while she has eliminated almost all affection and romantic discussion from her end. She’s assured me that she thinks she will be ready soon, but I kind of feel like trying hard to not express romantic interest in someone is a recipe for losing that romantic interest. I’m feeling a ton of limerence now, and I don’t think I’m out of MJ e to be worried or to feel like these are mixed signals. Our compatibility has been sort of off the charts until now in ease of communication, same long term life desires, sense of humor, religious views, sexual preferences and frankly performance together, career goals, I could go on. Sort of feel like we might lose the chance for something awesome to timing, but also know I shouldn’t push. Not sure what to do but reading through this has been helpful.

    • Dr. Jessica Higgins - Reply

      March 28, 2023 at 1:19 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and share. I am so sorry to hear about the difficult dynamic. It sounds tender and vulnerable. I appreciate your focus…paying attention to your feelings and experience AND respecting her position and current needs. I hear your concern about losing connection due to braking or slowing things down. At the same time, there is a lot to be gained by accepting her process right now. Likely, she will be very grateful to you. She does sound sensitive to your feelings. As you mentioned, there are many feelings and dynamics involved…making it complicated. Taking care of yourself and giving yourself lots of support right now will likely be very helpful, especially to make room for more grief that you may be experiencing. Please let me know if I can be of any support.

  • Rhoads - Reply

    March 29, 2023 at 5:14 pm

    Wow, I really have been living like this for over a year. Deep down I know they’ll never feel the same way I do about them, and it has really taken a toll on my mental state. Thank you for shedding light on this cursed state of mind.

    • Dr. Jessica Higgins - Reply

      July 7, 2023 at 2:03 pm

      Hi Rhoads, Thank you for sharing. I hope you are getting some support, as it can be difficult to change habitual (even obsessive) ways of thinking. On a positive note, there can be significant healing and learnings that can come out of the growth work. Please let me know if I can be of any support.

  • Red - Reply

    May 3, 2023 at 3:14 am

    Needed the advice here thank you. I’ve just started dating someone new and want to begin a relationship with them and they feel the same way. Unfortunately out of nowhere after the first date boom limerence. I’ve suffered with it before and recognise it, still I cannot believe how powerful these chemicals are – I feel like I’m on a drug binge everyday. But I see it for what it is and this article affirms to me that the chemicals will settle down.

    • Dr. Jessica Higgins - Reply

      July 7, 2023 at 2:09 pm

      Hi Red,

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I appreciate your awareness and having some perspective, so that you don’t get too overly identified with the Limerence experience. A client of mine found the supplement NAC to be extremely helpful. It might be worth looking into. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

  • Stephen C. - Reply

    July 11, 2023 at 1:19 pm

    In high school I asked a girl I adored for many years to wear my ring . She said we should just be friends and I accepted that because, ‘If that was all I could have, at least she’d be my friend.’ After HS was over we’d get together occaisionally. One time after meeting at a bar for drinks, I walked her to her car to say goodbye and she gave me a kiss. As a very naive person, I was instantly confused. I still believed we were only supposed to be friends and still accepted that limitation.
    40 years later, I had a reminder of that kiss. Suddenly I realized that maybe she was trying to tell me she was open to more than just friendship. It was like someone punched me in the stomach. The emotion that came out was incredibly powerful. While I’d never forgotten this woman, I’d gone on with my life. To my knowledge she’d moved out of state and we’d lost touch. I’ve been married now for 26 years with kids and grand kids. Yet suddenly I’m obsessed with this other woman. I’ve been in therapy now for 4 months and still cannot shake this sense that I missed the woman of my dreams. I feel that I allowed her to believe that I was not interested in her as I never responded to that kiss. I also believe she may have made other attempts to see if I had any interests. I missed all of her signals .
    I love my wife, kids and grand kids yet feel at times that I’d give it all up to reconnect with this woman from my past. She occupies my thoughts almost continuously. I’ve had a few times of feelings of despair. Intense feelings of a need to talk with her. Yet doing so could endanger my commitment to my wife and family.
    My therapist has been working on the idea that I’ve found all of this as a distraction to a marriage that has lost some of its luster. I was coming to believe it yet lately just feeling as though I’ve found a reason to believe my feelings for my old friend were a love that I’d set aside without letting go of and now find myself incredibly conflicted. I do not seem to be getting anywhere with therapy. My therapist just emailed me this article. This seems to hold more relevance than the other ideas we’ve discussed. I’d be interested to know your thoughts.
    Thank you
    Steve

    • Dr. Jessica Higgins - Reply

      August 8, 2023 at 6:32 am

      Hi Steve,

      Thank you for sharing. I can appreciate how confusing and unsettling it must feel to imagine losing out on an opportunity with someone you had such intense and lasting feelings for. If you haven’t checked out this podcast episode, I would recommend it, as I think Dr. L offers a lot of good input. https://drjessicahiggins.com/erp-286-how-to-know-if-you-experience-limerence-and-what-to-do-about-it-an-interview-with-dr-l/

      This is another good one: https://drjessicahiggins.com/erp-344-how-our-language-can-steer-and-shape-our-relationships-an-interview-with-dr-georgi-gardiner/

      It may be helpful to consider what thoughts and feelings you have that are based on what you imagine about the other woman. Our fantasies can be extremely compelling. If we don’t do a reality check, it is difficult to know if they are true and valid. Often, when we are in the first stage of intimacy, known as the Romance Phase, we romanticize about who the other person is…filling in the blanks, as we really don’t know how they would handle conflict, anger, upset, sadness, hardship, grief and loss. This type of romanticizing is common in adolescences, during infatuations and limerence. One of the key ways to deal with internalizing all these thoughts and feelings is to do some honest reality checking. Is this true? Or am I imagining this to be true? If one is still interacting with the other, asking them what is true and/or how they feel (as you did when you were young and perhaps you wish you would have done the evening where she kissed you). It is normal to have fantasizes and sometimes fantasizes can serve as a coping mechanism, which can be worth exploring. To be clear, I am not suggesting that you did not have a connection with this other woman and that there were many aspects that you loved about her and were deeply attracted to. What I am encouraging is taking a look at “are there ways that I am fantasizing about her/the situation or am I overemphasizing the positives (and overlooking the challenges or negatives)?

      Please let me know if this is helpful. Thank you!

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Dr. Jessica Higgins ~ Relationship and Transformational Coaching