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I am testing a theory that limerence may happen to those of us in middle age who are terrified of giving up on life fully. And the belief of romantic interest is a way to get back in contact with energy, meaning, and a feeling of progress rather than stagnation. And also believe, on some level, that we have a chance at this.
So I am wondering how you self-evaluate your own attractiveness. For myself, I never felt pretty growing up, or even into my twenties and thirties. I based my self-worth on my intelligence. (Learning I should not place my self-worth on anything but just me and not an outer trait - but hey, I am new to all this self-worth stuff.) I never believed that men found me attractive. In fact, I had (and still have) an internal belief that I mostly scare men because I am very straight forward and overtly confident in my views, and am not afraid to get into a debate with someone. I don't, and never have, given in to an intellectual debate because I want to make a man feel better about himself. Most men, in my experience, do not find this to be sexy. Especially when they lose the debate.
But, when I started to get really serious about working out and eating better, I am getting a lot of feedback from others (mostly women - and mostly older women - my age or older - but a few young'uns) that I am attractive or even beautiful. This feels very strange to me, because it is never a place where I placed much worth. It also feels very fleeting. But I do think it gave me some sort of bizarre confidence that reciprocation could even be possible from a young man. And I don't know how healthy, or absolutely insanely misplaced, that confidence was and is. But I hear a lot from others that I look at least a decade younger than I am, and am pretty. (Boy I have a really hard time writing the word pretty - this is a label that feels so wrong to choose for myself - and it also feels like the word ripe - like I can choose it for today, but by tomorrow that means rotten.)
Where are you all of you on this?
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Growing up I was overweight, insecure, terrified of people and dressed horribly. When I got into my early 20s and lost the weight and started dressing better, I found out that people could be sexually attracted to me, and that was an incredible feeling! I had also valued myself based on my intelligence.
However I have a condition that causes memory loss and cognitive fatigue, and so now I feel like I don't even have my intelligence to value. But now that I am more attractive, I'm finding that I have subconsciously shifted my self-worth onto if people find me attractive. I'm in my 30s, but now I'm finding myself in a strange place where I'm afraid of getting older and losing that attention.
I think what really kicked my current limerence into high gear was I was leaning over a desk to talk to LO and I didn't realize how much cleavage was showing. He was talking to me, but his eyes kept flickering back between my boobs and my face (as naturally happens when people see boobies) and I was really frustrated trying to figure out what was so interesting on the desk. Once I realized it I think we were both embarrassed (I certainly was), but it sent my limerent mind into overdrive.
A little bit of attention goes a loooonnnggg way with me. God it's embarrassing.
a state of ill repair.
It's ill prepared to cope,
it's ill prepared to care.
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I've always thought I am middle of the road attractive.. not supermodel, but attractive "enough" to date fairly attractive men, although I always stayed away from supermodel-y men because most of them just had huge egos and were often not very intelligent, so the minute they opened their mouths, I was turned off anyway. (Next!)
When I'd meet a really good looking and smart man, I could find myself smitten very easily.. but told myself, 'Um, NO, do not go there. You don't need to be constantly worried about other women." I'm too insecure to date someone super attractive because it would mean I'd have to constantly be worried about my looks and my body. I don't need that. I just want to be comfortable.
So, I married someone with a great, quirky, sweet personality and average, I'll call it "nerdy handsome" looks. I think he's adorable. I've never had to worry about another woman with him (knock on wood) because he's just not the kind of guy other women swoon over.
LO.. on the other hand.. is a different story - or so HE would have you believe. Other women swoon over him, and when he started up with the complimenting and telling me I was "hot," etc.etc.. it was a euphoric high. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I hadn't heard a compliment from SO in a very long time.. he' just not good at giving them. He's not even really able to articulate WHY he loves me.. not that he should need to do that. I should be secure enough to know my own strengths and not need validation from him.. but apparently I do.
I too love a good debate.. and I don't hold back with men and I don't play damsel in distress like so many other women I've encountered. I've never really cared if men find my "direct" style to be attractive or unattractive. That's me. Deal with it. ;) I've found myself making good friendships with many men over the years who also love to debate. One or 2 of them wound up "limerent" for ME.
I'm rambling.. but basically... I think for me.. the complimenting (or love bombing if we can call it that) was a HUGE component in all of this, and I've read article after article about this being a MAJOR if not the main reason behind women and EA's / PA's. They feel their DH's no longer "see" them and they start getting really insecure about their looks, especially with age... and then they are (we are) just ripe for the picking at that point. Some guy - whether he be a predator or just lonely - comes along and tells us we're beautiful, and he happens to be attractive - possibly more attractive than our SOs - and BAM.. the neurotransmitters do their thing.. and we're hooked. I'll say it's very narcissistic (doesn't mean we have NPD, of course.)
In your case, I can imagine this is even moreso because you are only just starting to see yourself as attractive.. and it's no wonder you'd like to explore a physical relationship with someone else who sees you that way too.. especially since your marriage is on the rocks from what you've told me. It's the PERFECT limerence cocktail, A. I'm not the least bit surprised by your limerence episode.
exLO M, 54, single coworker
LE began June 2016 | EA/PA followed for 1 yr
LC/NC started 6/18/2017 and continues (at work)
Disclosed all and reconciled with SO
For my story if interested:
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Like above post mine had less to do with attraction physically thanhow we connected emotionally, right time, etc
Still i do wonder when we are seen out if people think I am his daughter not because Im a hot young woman but more because im aging better than his 62 year self
I aldo know precisely when I became limerent
He yelled at me - that was it - instant
Wish i could turn back hands of time
LO is older married male
Attempted NC -failed 3x
One year of EA and full PA
Now free and a survivor of LE
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I would say I’m an slightly above average for attractiveness. But as I mentioned in a different thread, my sister is a 10 so that’s the shadow I grew up under. I too derive a lot of validation from my smarts and my work - I’m a problem solver, driven a and a good people person - I can pretty much get along with anyone.
Growing up, I was always told that looks fade and to judge people by their character. Very few things triggers me as much as seeing my neighbours daily social media selfie posts - usually involving cleavage and duck lips. The other day it as “omg, I’m home today... so sick... blah blah blah” fully done up with hair, makeup and outfit. I mean, com’on - who does that?!? I realize this is probably some shadow stuff for me - suppressing my vanity and need for attention.
While I’m only in my mid thirties (I did have my first kid quite young at 26 so that probably “pushes up the timeline” a bit), LE was for sure relating to feeling like my youth was slipping away. It was also a bit of an identity crisis- who am I now that my kids are growing up and not just a mom? After years of part time work (but still in a professional role) I got a new job and a step up in my career- 2 weeks before going limerent- I was starving for some validation.
I for sure got way more attention as a teen and in my early twenties. I lived in the US for a year at age 20 and as a Scandinavian I got A LOT of attention, much which went to my head and some not so healthy decisions.
I’m not sure exactly why I feel so much less attractive now. My body never fully recovered from having kids (my boobs are a bit smaller and my stomach is a bit soft) but it’s not like I carry a whole bunch of extra weight (still in size small clothing). I’m very active and enjoy working out. SO still raves about my waits to hip ratio. While my attractiveness seems to be on a steady decline, SO’s is increasing with age. Much as you Spinnaker, SO had a chubby face without being chubby. I used to call him baby face. Now that he’s close to crossing over the 40 mark that’s long gone and he looks like a manly man.
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Like crushed said I also have a really beautiful sister so as if pictures weren’t cringe-y enough our selfies are always only half good.
And he MIGHT not be AS attractive as I think he is but LO is just objectively handsome. Almost positive that if he were this handsome + my age, I would not be able to handle it and I’d think he’d be wayyy out of my league. And I know i shouldn’t say it but it’s true.. honestly, also according to other people who are not me, he is way out of his wife’s league (personality too though) so that makes me feel better. The lesson to us all is if she can get him than You, too can get anyone.. And anytime it’s implied or obvious he’s attracted to me then I’m back to so if I’m down on myself ‘at least LO ____’
Acrobatica compliments from women and older women are the most genuine, wholesome things on the planet and I die everytime.
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I find it interesting that only women responded. Men! What do you think of yourselves? Or maybe it is even more difficult for men to think of themselves this way.
Spinnaker. I also had a chubby round face when I was younger. And a lot of acne. As I grow older, the angles are coming out. So I am probably more attractive now than at any earlier point. Late peak. I also was a late peaker for other things. Menses at 16. No breasts until after I had kids. And, interesting at least for me, I was a total klutz as a kid and was terrible at dance and gymnastics. As an adult in my 20s and 30s I was incapacitated by frequent migraines. It was only after I figured out my diet that I could even be a physical person. I only developed any sense of body awareness in my 40s. So unlike many others in their 40s who are feeling a decline from what they used to be able to do, I am still on an upward trajectory. (It takes me longer than a 20 year old to get a skill, but I still get it.).
I also get the thing about the compliments. It’s potent. One of the things that LO said early on, is, I see you. (Meaning he could see me when we were doing a skill and was aware what my body was doing). And that struck deep. I realized I don’t often felt seen. I feel like my husband could care less what I look like, fat or thin, dirty or clean, long hair or short, he just doesn’t notice. And shouldn’t that be wonderful because there is no pressure from him to be any particular way. But instead it just makes me feel fungible, like any person with a vagina who will listen to him talk will be fine to him. LO always noticed new haircuts and remarked. (When I cut my hair super short, he said I looked like James Dean, I carried around that observation for a long time, at the time I thought LO was gay or bi, and thought androgyny might give me a shot, and who better to be compared to than James Dean.). Husband would either not notice at all or say, oh you got your hair cut.
It’s also interesting how many of you grew up under the shadow of someone else. My mother was very beautiful. I remember a particular instance in middle school when a classmate said, “Wow, your mother is beautiful! You don’t look a thing like her.” Carried that around for a long time too.
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Issues around physical appearance and insecurities have dogged me. I felt I punched above my weight when it came to SO, she was a solid 8 and i saw myself as a 6. For calibration purposes i dont rate anyone as a 10. Claudia Shiefer and Heid Klum would be 9 to 9.5. Despite at times having nurses after me in my medical days, i never considered myself desirable. Ive questioned if it was the white coat, stethoscope and associated potnetial earni g power they were after?
SO has always felt confident about her looks even when she stuffed to many donuts down after her dad died and i got limerence. By then she had gained 60 pounds from when we first met. Shes always had good self esteem though, even as a blimp.
Interestingly when we both bumped into LO she commented she was prettier than i had described but still rated LO lover at a 7.5.
Anyhow, i think if most men were honest, they would admit to grappling with similar issues. Just go to any gym and see how many men are preening themselves, bulking up due to inner insecurities.
For Coaching, Mentoring see www.drdavidperl.com
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I started lifting weights late in high school and I did notice a small change in the attention dept. But I also had an awful acne problem. I would continue to work out on and off and eventually in my early 20’s had finally kisssed a girl.
Fast forward to today, DW and I work out at least 3x/week with our trainer. We have been consistently doing this for about 10 years. Largely due to our dark complexion I guess we both look younger than we are. I am surrounded by women at work, mostly nurses. They can be very flirty and I’m sure some are looking for someone to take care of them. I do LOVE the attention I get and occasional compliments from women, probably because I got just the opposite while growing up. I have never taken advantage of the attention, until I suppose I felt LO checking me out. My self image can go from 0 to 10 and back to 0 very quickly.
LO- married 48,work colleagues
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