Update: disclosure, reciprocity, friendship, goodbye...?

A common and understandable desire, can it work?
STR
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Update: disclosure, reciprocity, friendship, goodbye...?

Post by STR »

I haven’t posted any updates on my LE situation in quite a while, in part because things have been going so well that I haven’t felt a need for emotional support from the forum, in part because it’s difficult to put everything that has been happening into words, and in part out of concern for posting information that would enable my LO to determine my identity (in the unlikely event that she were to visit this site). But I was asked to provide an update, so here goes.

As I may have explained in previous posts, I’ve been working for over 2 years now at reducing my limerence and trying to figure out whether it is possible (and if so, how) to be normal friends with my LO (whom I have known for 6 years). After a 6-month period of LC/NC in the second half of 2014, we have spent a lot (by our standards) of quality time together in 2015. It has felt to me as if we have grown increasingly close over that time, but I haven’t been sure whether LO felt the same way. One of the primary forces that has always fueled my limerence for her (and previous LOs) was uncertainty regarding the nature of our relationship and whether her feelings for me were strong and positive (as mine have been for her). We had one conversation that touched on these issues a little over a year ago, and while that answered some questions, it confused me in other ways that have bothered me ever since.

But I have resisted bringing up the issue of our relationship again with LO because I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable or give the impression that I was looking for anything other than what we already have. I have reached a point in my LE where I realize that I don’t need to know how LO feels about me, and that it’s better for everyone involved (including my wife) if we just keep any feelings we have to ourselves. There is no need for any disclosure, and I am OK with that. I have also reached a point of not needing (or even wanting) reciprocation.

But something happened recently that forced my hand, so to speak, and that ultimately led to a pretty amazing conversation with LO about the nature of our relationship and how we feel about each other. Details aside, LO recently asked my wife if LO could accompany her (and me) as my wife engaged in one of her primary hobbies. Long story short, I was (of course) excited about this opportunity to spend time with LO in a different setting but my wife decided that she didn’t want me to attend because she thinks that my relationship with LO is “weird” and it makes her uncomfortable to watch us interact.

I had to make up an excuse to LO as to why I wasn’t able to attend, which wasn’t a big deal except that I knew that LO was hoping to accompany my wife on future outings such that I would have to continue making up excuses as to why I wasn’t attending. One of the things I appreciate about LO is that she is always very honest with me, and since I felt like we had developed a close bond, I didn’t want to lie to her over and over because I felt like she didn’t deserve that.

So…I decided to tell her a big chunk of the truth, namely that my wife didn’t want me to accompany them because she wasn’t 100% comfortable with our relationship. We talked for roughly 90 minutes, and we both ended up sharing quite a bit about our thoughts on our relationship and our feelings about the other person. Here are a few highlights:

1. LO clarified that she definitely thinks of me as a friend, and that our friendship is much more intimate than most of her other friendships. We share a lot more of our inner selves with each other than we share with most other people in our lives.
2. We discussed the “Triangular Theory of Love”, and reached the conclusion that our relationship has Intimacy and Commitment, but does not have Passion. We essentially have a “Companionate Love” for one another that is characterized by communication, sharing, support, feelings of warmth, and so on, combined with some degree of effort put into staying in touch and meeting up once in a while.
3. I described to her my lifelong tendency to become very attached to the 1-2 close friends that I might have (if I’m lucky) at any point in time, and how I have found myself wanting to spend more time with her as a result of that tendency but that I have come to realize that my marriage places constraints on the quantity and quality of time that I can spend with other people (especially females other than my wife).
4. She talked about how she, too, has been aware of those constraints, and how she feels like we have both tried to make our friendship as close as it could be while still honoring my marriage and the constraints that it places on our friendship.
5. While we didn’t explicitly address the question that all of us married LEs like to ponder (i.e. “Would we have pursued a romantic relationship together if we had both been single?”), she did make several comments that indicated that she likes me enough as a person to be interested in having a romantic relationship with someone that has a personality like mine. These comments came up during our discussion of my wife’s feelings about the relationship. LO said that while we seem to have a very special connection she doesn’t worry about our relationship going “too far” because she knows that I am committed to my wife, and because of differences between us (i.e. our age difference) that would be barriers to us being together regardless. She also said made a comment about how she “can’t have” a romantic relationship with me. In general, her comments were along the lines of “We can’t have a romantic relationship with each other” variety rather than “I have no interest in a romantic relationship with you”.
6. She emphasized how much she gets out of our relationship, and how much she has learned from me in our 6 years’ worth of interesting chats. She said that she thinks of me as an unofficial mentor of sorts, and that she benefits from spending time with me.
7. She also talked about how refreshing and relaxing it is for her to be able to spend time with as a male (i.e., me) without having to worry about me trying to seduce her and without the pressures and expectations that arise with other men that she spends time with.

As you can imagine, it really felt great to hear her say these things and there’s no longer any uncertainty left in my brain to fuel the kind of limerence that I used to experience with her. We are friends, and our friendship operates on an intimate level that is mutually-beneficial and that gives us something we don’t get from other people. She thinks of me as a mentor, and I think of her as a younger sister that I never had. While I no longer fantasize about having a romantic relationship with her and would have been fine without knowing how she felt, it does feel good to know now that she wouldn’t rule out the possibility of dating a younger, unmarried version of me. I am very happy to play a mentoring role in her life, and it feels good to know that she trusts and respects me enough to value the wisdom and experience I have to share with her.

Which brings me to the future of our friendship. LO has been offered an opportunity to pursue one of her lifelong career-related dreams, and she is likely to accept that opportunity. If she were to do so, she would move to a different part of the world by the end of the year, and I would probably never see her again. I haven’t spent much time processing how I would feel if she were to move, as I have decided to cross that bridge if necessary…

PS: At some point in the near future I hope to post some thoughts/suggestions about how to be "just" friends with an LO, based on what I have learned over the past 6 years...

Pete
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Re: Update: disclosure, reciprocity, friendship, goodbye...?

Post by Pete »

Wow! What a great conversation! It must have felt great to get share that much with your LO about how you feel about each other, your friendship, etc. I'm not sure there's much more you could ask for in the situation. I very much wish I had been able to have a conversation like this with my LO.

I'd be very interested in reading your tips, since I've decided that I can (and will try) to be friends (with very limited contact) with my LO.

Thanks for the update!

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David
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Re: Update: disclosure, reciprocity, friendship, goodbye...?

Post by David »

STR wrote: LO has been offered an opportunity to pursue one of her lifelong career-related dreams, and she is likely to accept that opportunity. If she were to do so, she would move to a different part of the world by the end of the year, and I would probably never see her again.
This may be a blessing in disguise.
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/

STR
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Re: Update: disclosure, reciprocity, friendship, goodbye...?

Post by STR »

Pete wrote:Wow! What a great conversation! It must have felt great to get share that much with your LO about how you feel about each other, your friendship, etc. I'm not sure there's much more you could ask for in the situation. I very much wish I had been able to have a conversation like this with my LO.

I'd be very interested in reading your tips, since I've decided that I can (and will try) to be friends (with very limited contact) with my LO.

Thanks for the update!
It was a conversation that I will probably remember for a very long time. I got to say pretty much everything I've always wanted to say, and it was a huge relief to be accepted rather than rejected. I'll work on my "tips" and post them at some point in the near future...

STR
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Re: Update: disclosure, reciprocity, friendship, goodbye...?

Post by STR »

David wrote:
STR wrote: LO has been offered an opportunity to pursue one of her lifelong career-related dreams, and she is likely to accept that opportunity. If she were to do so, she would move to a different part of the world by the end of the year, and I would probably never see her again.
This may be a blessing in disguise.
I've been thinking along those same lines myself, but I'd be curious to hear your thoughts before I share mine...

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David
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Re: Update: disclosure, reciprocity, friendship, goodbye...?

Post by David »

STR wrote: I've been thinking along those same lines myself, but I'd be curious to hear your thoughts before I share mine...
I think its a dangerous game when we are trying to be friends with our LO's. Until both we and our LO's have done one hell of a lot of self development work, the parental rescue fantasy is always going to try and get acted out with potentially damaging consequences. Ive done a lot (and i mean a lot) of work on my attachment issues and i know i still can't be around my LO without yearning for something deeper, that thing being a desire for some form of sexual connection. Its a slippery slope from emotional affair (which limerence is if were in a committed relationship already) to a full blown affair and all the pain that accompanies that.

Just my too pence worth.
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/

STR
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Re: Update: disclosure, reciprocity, friendship, goodbye...?

Post by STR »

David wrote:
STR wrote: I've been thinking along those same lines myself, but I'd be curious to hear your thoughts before I share mine...
I think its a dangerous game when we are trying to be friends with our LO's. Until both we and our LO's have done one hell of a lot of self development work, the parental rescue fantasy is always going to try and get acted out with potentially damaging consequences. Ive done a lot (and i mean a lot) of work on my attachment issues and i know i still can't be around my LO without yearning for something deeper, that thing being a desire for some form of sexual connection. Its a slippery slope from emotional affair (which limerence is if were in a committed relationship already) to a full blown affair and all the pain that accompanies that.

Just my too pence worth.
Thanks, David. I agree that there is always risk involved. In my case, I'm not so worried that anything will "happen" between us, but I do realize that as long as LO is in my life, I will spend time thinking about her, and the time I spend thinking about her is time that I could/should spend thinking about my wife instead.

As tough as it will be to lose her as a friend, I can see how my marriage will benefit if she's no longer around, and while I will likely feel an urge to find a replacement for her, I'm going to make a concerted effort to only make friends with males instead of females going forward. That will be challenging for me, as I have always looked to females to meet my emotional needs and have never really had a close emotional connection with a male.

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David
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Re: Update: disclosure, reciprocity, friendship, goodbye...?

Post by David »

STR wrote:
As tough as it will be to lose her as a friend, I can see how my marriage will benefit if she's no longer around, and while I will likely feel an urge to find a replacement for her, I'm going to make a concerted effort to only make friends with males instead of females going forward. That will be challenging for me, as I have always looked to females to meet my emotional needs and have never really had a close emotional connection with a male.
I can't recommend the ManKind project more highly for meeting other men working hard to be more conscious. Growing up I had zero templating for what healthy masculine is, at the MKP i find many men, especially the elders to act as role models. Its one of the few places i've felt really safe from an emotional standpoint.
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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Nax
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Re: Update: disclosure, reciprocity, friendship, goodbye...?

Post by Nax »

My LO moved to the other side of the world almost 18 months ago. I was convinced it was the end and I would never see him again. Like you, I thought it would be a blessing in disguise. I expected him to find someone and tell me he couldn't talk to me anymore, or even that he would just forget to contact me at all. I also hoped the distance would lessen the limerence. I was prepared for round #235 of heartbreak.
In actual fact he's been more consistent with his contact than before. He calls me almost every weekend. He did find someone new, but I've found I'm not jealous. I envy her, but I have no anxiety about losing him as a friend anymore. That's been the biggest blessing. I'm still limerent, but I don't believe I love him. I don't think we belong together. It's simply a strong connection that neither of us seems to want to break. It's easier to live with like this. I am supposed to be visiting him in September, but I'm actually thinking of cancelling as I don't particularly want to see him. Old wounds and all that.

STR
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Re: Update: disclosure, reciprocity, friendship, goodbye...?

Post by STR »

David wrote:I can't recommend the ManKind project more highly for meeting other men working hard to be more conscious. Growing up I had zero templating for what healthy masculine is, at the MKP i find many men, especially the elders to act as role models. Its one of the few places i've felt really safe from an emotional standpoint.
My Dad left my Mom when I was 1-year old and I have never really had a male role model of any kind, good or bad. ManKind sounds like something I would definitely be interested in. Thanks for letting me know about it.

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