Sticky - Can we ever be friends with our LO's?

A common and understandable desire, can it work?
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Matthew
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Re: Can we ever be friends with our LO's?

Post by Matthew »

Lyra wrote:I am hoping to hear some success stories of people who have started and remained friends with their LOs
Hi Lyra,

I don't have much in the way of success stories.

One xLO, a Major LO/Big Love was a relationship where we met locally and then he moved away. He had a life that started with someone else and our continued contact, though I tried to de-flate it to friendship, was always too infused with romance and longing on his end and then my end for us to feel like anything but heartbroken, star-crossed lovers. He moved again, the same distance but to another country, and I visited him 2 years after our brief affair. I was still limerent or rather the limerence still lingered for both of us, but it as more like being in love than being madly in love. I'd also become limerent for the guy I'm mentioning next. I've since seen the first major xLO a few times over the 12 years. There's definitely a spark that lingers and a little extra focus on each other occasionally (like on Facebook when I wrote a joking update about having a husband and with his bad English he thought I'd really been married and seemed very interested in that). But we will never be together and we've both made peace with it. Our occasional contact is like old, loving friends and old flames where there's a special ember but not a fire anymore.

Another xLO, also reciprocated, I tried being friends with. He was in a non-exclusive relationship. His interest was more than friends and so was mine and after a few months of No Contact and the Limited Contact, it erupted into the Second Chapter of our relationship. (I use initial caps liberally for recognized terms and just storytelling emphasis). I was not good at establishing or setting boundaries and he wasn't good at following them. Again. Let's call this a Major Crush/Minor Limerence and not a lot of love, per se, just mutual limerence.

I ended things with him against his will and went NC. I ran into him about six months later and couldn't avoid acknowledging him, so I walked up and we chatted for a few minutes. A few years later, I saw him again at a mutual friend's party that I hadn't known he was friends with after going NC. We spoken even more briefly. It was a masquerade party yet he saw right through my mask.

Most recently, I had a Major Limerence/Big Love/Major Crush. I've resumed contact after 8 months of No Contact. I gave up my watering drinking hole (and gave up regular drinking as I'd been drinking) to achieve the extended No Contact. It's been a year since I've been to that watering hole. He blocked me on Facebook after our big face-to-face 8 months prior.

I'm not sure where I stand or where stands with me. I'm sorting things out. After this break I feel like I got my life back and somewhere a few months ago I switched from suffering endless, intrusive thoughts to just thinking of him a lot and being able to change topics and also to not suffer while thinking of him.

I don't think I will be able to be a close, personal friend to him or he to me. It's not the same between us, but it's still the same in many ways. It's another post I have drafted for the saga but not yet posted.

I hold these examples out as reciprocated limerences where both people were single/not in a monogamous LTR but it didn't work out.

Over the years, I have had a few lingering infatuations and minor crushes for friends... but these did not have much of the intrusive thinking that seems one of the major hallmarks of limerence.

The reason why No Contact is so important and thus why it's recommended so often is that:
1) you get some breathing room to fill your life and your head with other things and other people
2) you get some perspective so that the dreamed-of relationship isn't so compelling
3) you can heal from the sense of rejection that often accompanies limerence, even when it's reciprocated

I don't know how Charlie and David have been able to pull their psyches away as effectively as they have had while maintaining a relationship, a busy schedule, and lots of business contact (Charlie) or probing psychological contact (David) with an LO.

I couldn't do it!

One of the symbols I've found useful in looking at other people's lives and my own recently is embodied in the phrase "painting oneself into a corner."

It seems like you've done a bit of that here.

It's great that your LO is friends with you, your partner, and the two of you together. And it's great that your LO is an effective coach for you. But you have to first believe there's a way out before you can take it!

A few thoughts:
• coaching is short term -- finish your coaching and thank her
• close friends care about each other -- I'm sure if there's something she knew she could do to improve your life a lot, she'd do it if within her power
• close friends and close friendships can sustain temporary separation and other changes -- everything isn't black and white, cut and dried!
• partial disclosure may be required

I see it like this: if she cares about you and your happiness, you can tell her you're busy or that you and your partner are going away or busy together or focusing on being alone together or something (polite, less honest, less dramatic) or you can tell her that you are very attracted to her but don't want to lose her friendship and so you and your partner need a little extra breathing room until you're able to get back to being such great, close friends again.

That said, if go you for the more direct request, it may take you longer than you think and this can have repercussions for your social life with your partner and for yourself. Meaning, avoiding the LO at events, cultivating new couple friends not in the same social sphere as your LO, etc.

And once that's all done, you might still not be quite ready for the exact same friendship you had before you began NC/LC.

The more dramatic form of NC that I and others have had to take (cutting someone off, cold turkey, without an explanation) is really best reserved for someone when either you can't respect any of their boundaries or are close to that (unreciprocated limerence), or where they cannot respect yours (reciprocated limerence). It doesn't sound like that's your situation, so I don't think even contemplating that kind of dramatic, binary kind of behavior will be good for you.

I believe on Tribe there's a women by the moniker of Thinker who has had several situations where she had an LO as a friend and a classmate and she could neither go NC or LC and also didn't want to -- not because it was limerence speaking, but, like you, she was good friends with the LOs and they weren't leading her on. If I remember correctly, she said that Full Disclosure and the earlier the better was what works best for her. I don't have any of the threads culled on that, but she wasn't asking for reciprocating even passive aggressively during her FDs -- it was more of a clearing the air between friends who care about each other so they can move forward.

Anyway. This response is long enough but I hope that you can at least see that you probably have several options to move forward and that you can start doing things right away to create competitive thought streams in your head against all the intrusive thinking about your LO.

m/
To have loved and lost... is pretty effen disorganized, don't you think?

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DaveBB
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Re: Can we ever be friends with our LO's?

Post by DaveBB »

Matthew wrote:The reason why No Contact is so important and thus why it's recommended so often is that:
1) you get some breathing room to fill your life and your head with other things and other people
2) you get some perspective so that the dreamed-of relationship isn't so compelling
3) you can heal from the sense of rejection that often accompanies limerence, even when it's reciprocated

I don't know how Charlie and David have been able to pull their psyches away as effectively as they have had while maintaining a relationship, a busy schedule, and lots of business contact (Charlie) or probing psychological contact (David) with an LO.

I couldn't do it!
Matthew, I second everything you said in your post. I've certainly proved to myself that I can't do what Charlie and David have done. Yes I've been successful in reducing limerence to a comfortable level but I can't kill it completely and I know I can't kill it while I'm in any sort of contact with my LO. As long as I remain limerent for her at any level (even a very small level) I can't become close friends with her, instead we have this strange long-term 'relationship' whereby even though we feel kind of mutually uncomfortable we both continue to be drawn to each other for different dysfunctional reasons. The only way it can end (apart from NC) is for me to be strong enough to kill my limerence and then approach her in a very self-confident way.

However I'm certain that isn't going to happen. I have 2 choices - change my daily commuting routine or live with things as they are now, and I'm choosing the latter. At least I now finally have a good idea of the reasons behind her nervous-but-clingy behaviour of the past 3 months and I can put to bed any idea that she is attracted to me. However I'm also putting to bed any notion that we can be good friends.

Natasha
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Re: Can we ever be friends with our LO's?

Post by Natasha »

I'm currently attempting to overcome LE while maintaining a friendship with LO. It is a really difficult path to go down. Most likely, if I had completely cut LO out of my life, I would be much further along in recovering from LE. However, I decided that maintaining a friendship with him was worth the added heartache and hell that I'm going through. I often struggle with whether my desire to keep LO's friendship is due to LE or genuine feelings of friendship.

So far, I've had *some* success with moving past LE and viewing LO as only a friend. I'm no longer at rock bottom LE, I've had a reduction in obsessive thinking/fantasizing, less jealous/anxious feelings, reconnected with SO, and have good days mixed in with the bad ones. But I still have really bad days where all I think about is LO and battle with myself over the illusion that he is the truest of loves and understands me on a level that no other human being ever will.

My LO's behavior and interaction with me also makes it difficult to move past LE to friendship. He is gay and I'm a woman, so it's extremely unlikely that he is mutually limerent, but he definitely may be codependent. We have talked/messaged every single day since we met, eight months ago. He messages me throughout the day, even if he is out with friends, on vacation, etc. His constant level of communication is intense and makes moving past LE difficult. There was a period where he was reducing his level of contact (but would still message a least a few times every day), but he has recently started to increase his level of contact.

Issues with object permanence are part of the root of my LE, and my LE is intensified by a fear of LO disappearing or realizing I'm not worth his friendship. So, LO maintaining a friendship with me is actually helping to alleviate some of my LE symptoms, which I know is counter intuitive.

As long as I'm making forward progress, I will continue to attempt the transition from LE to friendship. But I refuse to go back to full blown LE. I can not handle that hell again. If I feel myself slipping back into that darkness, I will cut my losses and run from LO.

So my answer to your question "Can we ever be friends with LO?" is: Maybe. I have hope that we can be. I'll keep you posted.

Lyra
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Re: Can we ever be friends with our LO's?

Post by Lyra »

Hi Natasha
Thank you for your reply.
As a gay woman who is struggling with LO with a straight friend I have much empathy.
I noticed that you said that it is 'extremely unlikely' that your friend is mutually limerent. This might be totally my projection, but I wonder if you are still holding out hope? The reason I say this is that a couple of days ago I asked my LO outright if she was sexually attracted to me and she confirmed that she wasn't. It was like I needed to hear the words and see her face and feel the energy of that before I could let go of hope. Even though I was telling myself and other people that I knew she wasn't attracted to me, if I'm totally honest, part of me was still holding out some hope that there was a mutual attraction. Sure, it was hugely painful and I'm now dealing with the feelings of rejection and having to look at the dynamic (again!) of why I'm still getting limerent feelings for unobtainable people whilst I'm actually happy in my relationship with my SO, but I also feel that I might be able to move on now. I am lucky in that my LO has been very affirming of our friendship and that has actually helped. I can also see that she really doesn't want my limerence and it's hard for her and although I feel some guilt and shame around this, it is also helping to see how 'not love' limerence is.
It does sound difficult having your LO acting co-dependently with you though. It sounds like you are meeting a relationship need for him in a safe way. I guess only you know if that's OK for you.
I believe the universe keeps giving us opportunities to heal our wounds and our LO's are gifts to us to do that.
I have hope that I may be able to come out of this now, and I know it's early days.

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Nax
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Re: Can we ever be friends with our LO's?

Post by Nax »

My LO has confusingly become my best friend. I used to be sad that he didn't feel the same way about me and could happily not get in touch for weeks or months at a time. Now I'm secure enough to know that he'll contact me if he feels like it.

I've been limerent for him for 3-4 years. He's a huge part of my life. If I'm not talking to him, he's in my thoughts. I disclosed two years ago, been through several ups and downs and now I keep my feelings to myself. I have the advantage that his standard response to anything emotional is "I don't care" - so I have a great excuse for not telling. He believes I'm over my "crush" and I haven't contradicted him. We just keep on being friends, each trying to keep on our side of the invisible line that must not be crossed. It's still a blurry line though which makes it very difficult at times. I beat myself up daily for lying to him, but that hurts less than taking another rejection. Life is liveable this way.

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David
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Why it will never work

Post by David »

when we come to the realisation our LO's are narcissists, we will understand why we can never be real friends with them.

Heres an interesting read http://www.healthyplace.com/personality ... s/#friends

Remaining Friends with the Narcissist

Can't we act civilised and remain on friendly terms with our narcissist ex?

Never forget that narcissists (full fledged ones) are nice and friendly only when:

  • They want something from you - Narcissistic Supply, help, support, votes, money... They prepare the ground, manipulate you and then come out with the "small favour" they need or ask you blatantly or surreptitiously for Narcissistic Supply ("What did you think about my performance...", "Do you think that I really deserve the Nobel Prize?").
    They feel threatened and they want to neuter the threat by smothering it with oozing pleasantries.
    They have just been infused with an overdose of Narcissistic Supply and they feel magnanimous and magnificent and ideal and perfect. To show magnanimity is a way of flaunting one's impeccable divine credentials. It is an act of grandiosity. You are an irrelevant prop in this spectacle, a mere receptacle of the narcissist's overflowing, self-contented infatuation with his False Self.

This beneficence is transient. Perpetual victims often tend to thank the narcissist for "little graces". This is the Stockholm syndrome: hostages tend to emotionally identify with their captors rather than with the police. We are grateful to our abusers and tormentors for ceasing their hideous activities and allowing us to catch our breath.

Some people say that they prefer to live with narcissists, to cater to their needs and to succumb to their whims because this is the way they have been conditioned in early childhood. It is only with narcissists that they feel alive, stimulated and excited. The world glows in Technicolor in the presence of a narcissist and decays to sepia colours in his absence.

I see nothing inherently "wrong" with that. The test is this: if someone were to constantly humiliate and abuse you verbally using Archaic Chinese - would you have felt humiliated and abused? Probably not. Some people have been conditioned by the narcissistic Primary Objects in their lives (parents or caregivers) to treat narcissistic abuse as Archaic Chinese, to turn a deaf ear.

This technique is effective in that it allows the inverted narcissist (the narcissist's willing mate) to experience only the good aspects of living with a narcissist: his sparkling intelligence, the constant drama and excitement, the lack of intimacy and emotional attachment (some people prefer this). Every now and then the narcissist breaks into abuse in Archaic Chinese. So what, who understands Archaic Chinese anyway, says the Inverted Narcissist to herself.

I have only one nagging doubt, though:

If the relationship with a narcissist is so rewarding, why are inverted narcissists so unhappy, so ego-dystonic, so in need of help (professional or otherwise)? Aren't they victims who simply experience the Stockholm syndrome (=identifying with the kidnapper rather than with the Police) and who deny their own torment?
Do you want help with limerence from the founder of this site?
I'm a qualified counsellor, psychotherapist, medical practitioner and leadership coach.
To book a session see http://loverelations.co.uk/on-line-support-for-limerence-from-dr-david-perl/

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David
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Re: Can we ever be friends with our LO's?

Post by David »

Since starting this thread a few months ago, a few interesting developments have taken place.

6 months ago LO noticed my absence from a couple of lectures. I broke LC and we had a few brief email exchanges and then a longer chat with her about what was she wanting? Amongst other things she was envious of my close platonic friendship with another woman on our course and couldn't understand why we couldnt have a similar "intimate" friendship. I took this to therapy, my therapist was of the view that LO was playing games (see the drama triangle) and showed little respect for me and my struggle with limerence. T also felt being friends with LO was going to damage my marriage. I emailed back LO saying until we both looked at who was projecting what in a joint therapy session, it was best if we respect each other's boundaries. I think that was one of the toughest emails ive sent.

A month ago LO vented her fury at me in a group setting in not getting her own way - i was expecting her narcissistic rage to erupt at some point so was prepared for the outburst. I spoke with her after (in hindsight i should have just given her a wide berth but was sucked back into her drama) and told her in no uncertain terms that my sexual desires towards her were going to get in the way of any friendship. I also fed back how i saw her narcissistic traits and manipulation as mirroring my own shadow. I again offered that we explore what went on between us in a joint therapy session but she again declined. SO also said there were going to be consequences if i was to see LO outside of our course and being friends with LO was not going to happen.

So there we go. Looks like friendship in this life is just not going to happen anytime soon, despite LO wanting that, me still wanting more and still getting sucked so easily back into LO's drama. Perhaps if LO was prepared to look at her own unconscious processes around her desire to be friends with me, and we could could work through some of the projections and transference / countertransference things could be different - but then again maybe thats my limerbrain getting reactivated?

Letting go of the fantasy with grace, love and compassion is the lesson here for me. We each have to find our own way to the top of the mountain. I quoted this Hindu proverb in my blog and it applies to where im at:

"There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading in the same direction, so it doesn't matter which path you take. The only one wasting time is the one who runs around and around the mountain, telling everyone else that their path is wrong."
Do you want help with limerence from the founder of this site?
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audra
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Re: Can we ever be friends with our LO's?

Post by audra »

David wrote:
So there we go. Looks like friendship in this life is just not going to happen anytime soon, despite LO wanting that, me still wanting more and still getting sucked so easily back into LO's drama. Perhaps if LO was prepared to look at her own unconscious processes around her desire to be friends with me, and we could could work through some of the projections and transference / countertransference things could be different - but then again maybe thats my limerbrain getting reactivated?
Having survived an extremely intense three year limerence I know how deceiving it all can be. I would be careful about justifying reasons to get together. You already spend huge amounts of time devoted to writing about LO/LE and your non-relationship. I do believe some people can remain friends with LO's however LE can be used to control a relationship, one person acquiesces to friendship while wanting more. The non-LE partner in the friendship has the upper hand and controls it. I wouldn't want to be in that sort of situation, not one to envy at all. I have agreed never to speak with my second LO and unfortunately that means we will not be friends (I'm on good terms with my first LO). I don't believe LE has anything to do with friendship. It's about love, romance, sex, attraction, soul connection and pursuit of the dream.
The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.

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Re: Can we ever be friends with our LO's?

Post by Twinkle »

Hi David, this is so interesting. I wish we all could have the maturity and wisdom that you have in approaching our LE. So, can you expand on the bit about how she mirrors you? I understand the bit about her being narcissistic. Are you completely NC with her now? And if so, how long has this been and do you still think about her constantly? Sorry for all the questions, but I see you as our "professor" of limerence!!!

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Re: Can we ever be friends with our LO's?

Post by David »

Twinkle wrote:Hi David, this is so interesting. I wish we all could have the maturity and wisdom that you have in approaching our LE. So, can you expand on the bit about how she mirrors you? I understand the bit about her being narcissistic. Are you completely NC with her now? And if so, how long has this been and do you still think about her constantly? Sorry for all the questions, but I see you as our "professor" of limerence!!!
Thxs twinkle, Im far from a professor, just another human trying to make sense of a deeply painful experience. I've used my training as "justification" to try and get LO to explore the erotic transference and both our projections as we could have both grown from the experience, if done in a safe, contained and mature way with the facilitation of an experienced therapist and we have some very wise ones at college. Our course tutor has encouraged me with this approach from 6 months into limerence when i told him of my struggles. He says i have to respect LO's wishes to not engage in this process and says she for sure has her own projections onto me within my limerence.

As for the mirroring, she was showing me my own narcissistic traits of entitlement, manipulation, how we each played the victim, rescuer and persecutor. Im more on the grandiose scale, i haven't worked out her narcissistic wounds as we've never done any joint work together. that was her request to never be put into the same group as me, so one thing i do know is shes an avoidant. That makes sense as im drawn to avoidants, SO is one too!

After telling her we can't be friends 3 weeks ago Ive gone back to LC, our paths cross at college for 3 more evenings and then a leaving party and thats it, our journeys will then separate. I wont make contact with her, if our paths cross, ill be polite and ask hows shes doing and as ive told her, im still willing to talk things through in a joint therapy session.

The obsessive thinking stopped when i first went NC 3 years ago. She may enter my consciousness once or twice a day and its not intrusive, just fond memories. Im still fond of her and sad we can't be friends. She told me she sees my soul and i've told her she touched my soul in a way few others have. some things in this life just can't be.

This is beautifully illustrated in the following quote by Elizabeth Garret from Eat, Love, Pray:

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.

A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful.

Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave. A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master...”
Do you want help with limerence from the founder of this site?
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To book a session see http://loverelations.co.uk/on-line-support-for-limerence-from-dr-david-perl/

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