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From undergrad and afterwards, I've gone through three Limerence episodes that lasted a few years each.
First guy was an "accomplished" premed guy that was ultimately pining afterward another girl for the whole time that I liked him. He got married a few years laters to another girl and turns out that he was a covert narcissist and emotionally abused his wife (they got divorced very soon).
Second guy was actually limerent himself for a girl that loved attention from guys and kept stringing them along. This guy probably could sense that I liked him and started taking me and our friendship for granted. He probably saw me a some type of ego boost and started walking all over me. Eventually I got sick of the emotional pain that I cut him off. He seemed shocked but didn't care too much because he was still chasing after his own LO. We had moved to different cities by then and it didn't matter much. I heard from mutual friends that he couldn't get over his LO and soon afterward rushed into marriage with a girl he barely knew so that he would be "forced" to get over his LO. The whole experience led me to feel pathetic. Why wasn't I good enough?
Third guy turned out to a complete covert narcissist. He used to chase me. He acted like he adored me and genuinely cared for me. And then out of nowhere he would give me the silent treatment and start talking to every single girl except for me. It's like all of the sudden I wasn't even worth being acknowledge. I went to through several cycles of idealization and discard, which were very hard to bear. For anyone who has has to put up with a narcissist, you know how their inhumanity is soul crushing. Now imagine being limerent for one. You think this person is your soulmate and the answer to your happiness. Yet to the narcissist, you are nothing but a source of supply to feed his/her ego. There is cognitive dissonance when they discard you and because they do such a good job of creating a faultless first impression.
A lot of people in our social circle complained about him being "fake" and that they can "see through him". Eventually I put the pieces together and realized that he matches 100% of the description of covert narcissists. Learning this was a bit liberating because I realized that it wasn't my fault for "not being good enough" but him for having a personality disorder. I've become distant with him and he's trying his "hoovering" attempts by acting very sweet again. But now I know better.
I also looked into myself. Why does this keep happening to me? Why do I keep entering bouts of limerence? Why am I attracted to these unavailable guys who are somewhat indifferent? What is it that I inherently lack?
I graduated from an ivy league school and am working in nyc. I am very skinny and have been told by many people that I look like certain actresses on tv. I've been told that I have a wholesome vibe and a good personality. I can make friends pretty easily and have decent social skills. Despite all of this, I couldn't understand why it seems impossible for me find a guy to even like me back. I grew up watching movies where it seemed so easy. When I was around my LO, I always tried to seem put-together, up-beat, and positive. I was even willing to accept being in the friendzone my LOs because I thought they were such amazing guys that I wanted them around in my life. But instead, they walked all over and used me as ego boosts.
I wanted answers so I started searching. It didn't make sense to me why I was going through so much emotional pain. I didn't want to spend the rest of my life in this agony. I watched youtube videos on unrequited love. I learned about limerence less than a year and finally felt that I was understanding myself better. I talked to a life coach who told me that we go through bad relationship over and over again until we learn something from them and stop making the same mistakes. We have to heal the broken parts in us. For me, it was understanding why I had the tendency to become limerent.
I dug deep and learned about attachment trauma. Then it made sense. Growing up, my mother had extremely unrealistic expectations from me and my father was so emotionally unavailable that I felt invisible. My mother wanted me to be girl that was gorgeous, charismatic, fit, intellectual, sweet, popular, and academically/professionally successful. My dad barely even looked at me or spoke to me when I was growing up. Both of my parents loved me in their own ways but their parenting style (I think) led me to have strong tendencies towards limerence. I felt like it was impossible for me to be 'good enough' for my parents even though I tried very hard. I even had an eating disorder in high school and undergrad because I was expected to maintain a size zero figure.
I met my LOs when I was struggling with my career and feeling unhappy about where I was. Because my mother tied my value with my accomplishments, I feltmost attracted to my LOs when I was struggling with undergrad and the job search. Afterwards, I did a career switch and fell for my third LO. I was hoping that my LOs would rescue me from feeling like a failure. In my mind, I was thinking, it's okay that I'm not successful because at least I have a successful guy who loves me and will always be there for me. It was very regressive thinking and I'm ashamed of having such thoughts. But I think I was desperate for some sort of validation.
And that's exactly what limerence is. You are looking for validation to get rid of the emotional pain and shame you have buried in you. For me, it was the shame of not being able to find a job and never being "good enough" for my parents. Of course, we tend to fall for those people that offer love that is "familiar" to us so I keep falling for unavailable guys that end up walking all over me and always make feel like I'm not good enough.
Before I started practicing mindfulness and meditation, I used to alway fantasize about a living a better version of my life. Of course when you meet your LOs, you start painting a future together. I would get attached to an idealized future, which of course always had the current LO. For me, limerence was a form of escapism. I was trying to escape my reality in which I was wired with a deep sense of shame and low self-worth. If LO could love me, then I could love myself and it would be proof that I was finally "good enough".
But at some point, it seemed too much. I learned about self-love, inner child healing, meditation, journaling, and going no contact with narcissists. I'm trying to implement those changes now. I devoted myself to my career and found a very good job. The hours are tough but I like being busy and not having any time to focus on Limerence anymore.
I'm still figuring it out. But now, i feel like a veil has been lifted from my eyes and I was living under an illusion. I had the false belief system that my LO would be the answer to everything and bring me complete happiness.
If you've made it so far, really appreciate it. It's a lot to unload.
I'm now at a point where I just feel a bit cynical and jaded with life. Before I felt the highs/lows from limerence but I always had unwavering hope that LO will come around. Now, I feel more centered (which is good) but I've lost that chirpy positivity that I used to have. I've learned that you have to accept reality and can't live waiting for an idealized future.
Most of the people in my social circle are connected to my third LO (the one that is a covert narcissist). I'm so disgusted by him that I want to avoid everyone in my social circle because I associate them with him. I'm also afraid that limerence will come back and I don't want that nightmare again.
Some days I have minor regrets. What would my life have been like if I had never got limerent? Would I have lived a happier life? What would I have done if I hadn't wasted all this energy on limerence. Would I have be in an healthy relationship right now? Perhaps I would have been planning my wedding next year like some people I know are. When I was trying to get over limerence I went to a phase of serial dating to replace the LO. But now I don't even care anymore because transference is a horrible idea (that's what I had been doing)
But instead I'm single and trying to heal from it all- attachment trauma, shame, low self-worth, narcissistic abuse. It's funny that a year ago, I didn't have the self-awareness for all of this. I don't know what the future will be like for me. I always imagined it with an LO for the last 10 years or so. Now I realize that you have to live life for yourself and that no one can make you complete. It was a hard lesson again. I hope I never experience a bout of limerence again.
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Looks like you’ve walked a long hard road so far and my heart goes out to you. I’ve also gained a lot more self awareness over the last year and I feel I’m a better person for it. I hope it turns out to be the case for you.
I’m almost through my LE and I’m with you - I don’t EVER want to experience limerence again.
Best of luck!
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Here’s my two cents. Count yourself lucky that you did not actually get fully romantically involved with these guys. IMHO it is because you have some self respect and self awareness and they couldn’t handle that because that is not who they are looking for in a relationship. If you didn’t go on this journey, you might be married, and it might not have been a very good relationship. With more self awareness, your opportunity for a good healthy relationship in the future is much higher.
Looking forward to hearing more about you and your journey.
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Part of the answers lie in grieving the childhood you never had. Grief work is painful. Not all therapists do this work and have yet to separate from their own enmeshed FOO's and will only be able to take you as far as they have travelled.
And even when we have done all this wok, there will still be unconscious parts of us that get triggered by our partners. The trick is to then find an equally or even better more conscious and willing partner who understands relational dynamics to the same degree that you do. And as important, a person who is able and willing to look at their own contribution to bouts of regression.
I hope you gain even deeper insights here. Sounds like you are quite young (relatively speaking) and that's a great time to do this work, before getting shackled through marriage and children.
For Professional Coaching / Therapy see http://loverelations.co.uk/limerence
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