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Suffering from Limerence

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  • #374261
    Notebookb6
    Participant

    I’ve been texting to this guy since a year ago, we have similar interest, religion views, growing up in similar family background and have similar passion, thus because of that we formed some deep connection. He is a friend that I’ve been knowing for 5 years, we got closer only since year 2020.

    We would chat from day to night, until we says goodnight to each other, we shares our lunch photos everyday, and sometimes we shares our interesting dreams. By doing all this, to me it means a deep connection with someone which I’ve never experienced before, thus thinking he might be the one that I’ve been looking for.

    And because I’ve moved to a new country 2 years ago, due to the pandemic, I’m unable to go back to my country, everything we do now are all through texting. It’s been a year since we text, at some point I would believe that if its not a long distance, we would have been together. But he didn’t ask anything about getting together, appropriate or not,  I blame this to the pandemic.

    Two months ago, I sense a decline of our conversation frequency, we sort of running out of topics, and he started to shift his focus on his art career, sometimes we would go few hours without texting each other, and we no longer saying goodnight for everyday. This shift has causes me to have withdrawal symptoms, I felt anxious, I had the intense fear of losing him, I have the fear of him texting other girls, I obsessively lookup online for solutions, and worst, I have insomnia just by thinking about him. This series of negative pattern has causes me to get anxious and depressed, to the point I couldn’t focus on my career.

    However he still text me everyday, we still share each other meal daily, we still text few hours per day(just not as frequent as previously), sometimes I would get confident and feeling normal while chatting with him, only after a few hours the obsessive thought kicks, it would slowly eats me from within, thus causing the negative thoughts to snowball to the point I have insomnia at night, until the next text he sent me that calm me down.

    While searching up online on this issue, I figure that this obsessive behaviour could has a name – Limerence. While dealing with limerence for the past few months, I felt helpless, there is no one I could talk about it, and I don’t want to cut contact with him, as we are still close friends to each other, and we would still meet each other in near future. I don’t know what to do, Im still trying to shift focus on other activities,  is there any advice that I can follow?

    #374262
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Notebookb6:

    “he still text me everyday, we still share each other meal daily, we still text few hours per day.. we are still close friends to each other, and we would still meet each other in near future”- it’s okay then, Notebookb6. The frequency of communicating lessened, but the friendship is still ongoing.

    He got busy with his art career, and for the time being, the two of you ran out of topics to talk about- it happens with any couple of friends/ romantic partners.

    I will write more to you when I am back to the computer, in about 12 hours from now. Feel free to post again before I return.

    anita

    #374263
    Notebookb6
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Understand that the frequency lessening happens naturally, my anxious mind couldn’t accept it as a fact, results in I often dry talk to him even when there is nothing to say, showing my neediness and it leads to him becoming less interested over time. We used to text 12 hours a day, and now the conversation lasted for only 1-2 hour.

    While he focusing on his art career, I have my art career to focus on too, but because my mind is always occupied with things related to him, my art progress has been in stagnant state for awhile.. Im trying my best in taking back control of things I focus on and shift focus away from him

    #374275
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Notebookb6:

    I read all of your posts in your first thread in which we communicated for a long time (Sept 2018- June 2019), as well as your second and third threads of Jan- Feb 2021.

    In the first part of this post, I will retell what you shared, with quotes. In the second part- my thoughts and understanding. This post will be very long, so please take your time reading it, and if you get distressed reading it, you can stop reading at any time.

    About your life as a child: your parents “are constantly working hard to earn more money”,  their  mindset: “money is everything… There is a lack of bonding between my family members… didn’t emphasized family bonding or happiness. Overall I’m not satisfied with my relationship with family… I’m not satisfied in this family”.

    Focused on money and their children’s education, your parents were “not enjoying their life to the fullest due to our financial status”. About your mother, you wrote: “I seldom see her smile. She looked worried most of the time, she seldom laugh or smile… seeing my mother being unhappy affected me a lot”.

    “I always felt guilty when seeing parents not able to enjoy their life. I always think that it’s my duty to have more income and give them financial support… seeing my parents’ room is messy all the time makes me feel sick (for me a cleanliness of a house kind of reflect the happiness of the family). It is also one of the reasons I wanted to leave the house and to stay alone. I wanted to escape”.

    As a child, you received all the material things that you wanted, like toys and clothes, but when you wanted a material item and your parents didn’t give you that material item- you got angry.  You gave two examples: (1) “I wanted a cuckoo clock so badly but it was expensive my parents couldn’t afford it, so I cry loudly in front of the shop and people were looking at me”, (2) “one day they brought me to look for my birthday present, I couldn’t find what I wanted and I got angry, I was quiet while on the way home (complained a little too, like one sentence word)”.

    When you were a young child, you “would show my appreciation to mom, saying words like I love you, and hug her when I wanted to”. At about 13, both your brothers moved out for their university life, and you remained living alone with your parents. Your mother wanted you to get good grades and sent you to tuition classes for most of the subjects. She “scolded and nagged” you for not doing your homework, or for being lazy, and you “argued with mom a lot.. no more hugs and words like I love you… I would fight back just for the sake of it”.

    * Later you wrote about B’s parents being very different from your parents: “Both of his parents are friendly and warm, and his family has strong bonding too, they have family day every week”.

    At about 20, you experienced your first panic attack at the end of “an emotionally abusive relationship” with a man. Following the ending of that relationship, you “started to have self-hatred, blame myself over the failed relationship and has been doubting myself”. Eight months later you met another man, B.

    This is what you wrote about B: “my ex loved me unconditionally, respected me, supported me, and encouraged me in everything I love.. B is always the warmest and cheerful guy… the happy go lucky person”. During the 3rd year of the relationship, the two of you graduated from college and started your working lives, working in the same company.

    While in the last two years of the relationship, after graduating and beginning your working lives, you were “unhappy (which happen most of the time… I’ve become more and more miserable in the recent two years.. there was a countless time when I thought of breaking up.. since 2 years ago”, and you had crushes on four coworkers, and felt guilty about it: “I forced myself not to view co-workers as a romantic interest but it just happened”. You looked for help from a therapist had six therapy sessions in total. In therapy, you learned that you had crushes on coworkers because you were “not satisfied in this relationship”, and that to end your anxiety, you have to “1) Move out from family to live alone (self development) 2) To make more friends (more support system) 3) Break up in I’m not satisfied”.

    You realized at the time that within the relationship with B, you were selfish, you took him for granted, you didn’t love him unconditionally, and that you are “the one to blame… sometimes I was rude to him”. About your anger at him, you wrote: “it was actually small things like: ..He doesn’t understand me.. or he didn’t give me the answer I wanted (for a long time I’ve been searching for the meaning of life, when I asked him the question he would give me simple answer which I don’t satisfied with it)… When I told him I’m sad and asked him how to be happy, he would answer me ‘don’t be sad’ which I find it not a solution.. he gave me ‘shallow’ answer when I asked him”.

    On Oct 31, 2018, you shared: “I’ve just moved to a new country and I’m starting a new job tomorrow. It seems like life is getting more exciting after leaving from home and starting a new life over here.. I’m getting better.. Recently I picked up a book ‘The Power of Now’ and it really helps me in gaining insight into being in joy”.

    A day later, Nov 1 2018, you shared that you started your new job that day, “it was good. Bosses and colleagues are friendly”, but you were also lonely: “Living here makes me feel more lonely, I think I’m starting to get homesick. I miss my ex more during this time too.. I miss him so.. so.. so much… I miss closeness with other, I even CRAVE for it. But sometimes when I’m with someone for too long it felt exhausted and I wanted to be alone. So contradicting isn’t it?”

    Seven months later, in June 8, 2019, you posted again. You shared that during those months you tried “hard to get back with ex-boyfriend, eventually, he rejected me”, you then developed a crush on a same-sex coworker and spent four months “trying to accept the fact that I’m a bisexual”, came out to a few people as bisexual, and planned on “going to a pride parade in this city during this pride month”. You also “signed up (t0) a gym, created more arts and made friends throughout the months.. slowly gained a sense of self, and practice self-love”. Your ex-boyfriend then confessed to you that “he wanted to get back together”, and you “rejected him gently and encouraged him to focus more on self-development… my feelings towards him had changed after discovering my sexual orientation”.

    A year and a half later, in your second thread, January 1, 2021, you shared that you got closer to a friend. You shared more about this man who lives in a different country from you,  in your third thread yesterday, Feb 6, 2021: “I’ve been texting to this guy since a year ago… we formed some deep connection… we got closer only since year 2020. We would chat from day to night… thinking he might be the one that I’ve been looking for”, but two months ago, the conversation frequency declined, “we sort of running out of topics, and he started to shift his focus on his art career, sometimes we would go few hours without texting.. and we no longer saying goodnight everyday”.

    This lessening of frequency of communication caused you the following: “anxious.. intense fear of losing him, I have the fear of him texting other girls. I obsessively look up online for solutions, and worst, I have insomnia just thinking about him.. get anxious and depressed, to the point I couldn’t focus on my career… sometimes I would get confident and feeling normal while chatting with him, only after a few hours the obsessive thought kicks, it would slowly eat me from within, thus causing the negative thoughts to snowball to the point I have insomnia at night, until the next text he sent me that calm me down…I often try talk to him even when there is nothing to say… because my mind is always occupied with things related to him, my art progress has been in stagnant state for awhile”.

    The second part of this post, my thoughts and understanding: your parents did not understand that a child needs more than material things, more than a good education and a lucrative career. They focused on providing material goods and education for their children and neglected their children’s emotional needs. They did not attend to your emotional need to stay connected to them and to feel that you are a part of a happy, loving family.

    For humans, and for other social animals, bonding is everything no less than food and shelter. A social animal in nature that finds itself disconnected/ alone for too long becomes sick and dies even if there is enough food around to sustain it.

    You needed to see and hear and feel that your parents are okay, that they are content, and that they are content with you being in their lives, happy to see you, grateful that you are there, part of their loving family. But this is not the experience you had: you witnessed your parents unhappy, you witnessed your mother unhappy and worried most of the time.

    When a child witnesses her mother unhappy on an ongoing basis, the child naturally feels that she (the child),  can not and must not be happy until her mother is happy first. And so, you were stuck being unhappy in an unhappy home. Stuck, you loved your parents on one hand, and on the other, you were angry at them for not giving you what you needed so desperately: a loving, happy home.

    When you wanted that  cuckoo clock, and they couldn’t afford it, you cried loudly in front of the shop,  and when you wanted a particular birthday present and couldn’t find it, you were quiet except for saying a few words of complaint. You threw a temper tantrum, crying loudly in the first example, and you gave your parents the silent treatment in the second example, because you were angry with them. for not giving you what you needed most: a loving, happy family.

    Stuck and unhappy in an unhappy home, you wanted to leave, to escape, to be away from the unhappy people. Away from them, alone, you were hoping to be happy.

    When your two brothers left home, you remained alone with your unhappy parents, and your mother had more time to focus on how you function as a student, but she paid no attention to how you felt. Your anger at your mother grew for scolding and nagging you and .. not paying attention to how terribly alone and needy you were, angry you argued with her a lot.

    When you experienced your first failed romantic relationship, at about 20, you blamed and hated yourself, similar perhaps to having blamed yourself for failing the relationship with your mother, for failing to make her happy and failing to make her see how you felt all these yeas and what you needed so desperately for so long.

    With B, even though he loved you unconditionally, so you wrote, and even though he was warm and cheerful and happy, you were not able to find comfort long enough in his love and happy ways because you were re-experiencing the lack of love and warmth and happiness of your childhood home.

    What you wanted from B, I believe, was to take care of you the way a parent would take care of a child: to give you the answers to your questions in a way that will satisfy you, and satisfied, you could finally be happy. You asked him “how to be happy” and he couldn’t answer the question. Unsatisfied, you looked for answers in other people: the friends and co-workers on whom you crushed. The infatuation with them was more about the hope that he or she will be the one who will make you happy.

    In regard to B, you wrote that you were “not satisfied in this relationship”. It is the same dissatisfaction  that you experienced with your parents:” I’m not satisfied with my relationship with family… I’m not satisfied in this family”. And believing B failed you, you were angry at him, similar to having been angry with your parents for failing you.

    In Oct 31 2018, you moved to a new country, started a new job, or was about to start a new job, and life was “getting more exciting after leaving.. home and starting a ne life over here”- but not for long. Not for long because when we move out of our childhood home, away from our parents, we still carry with us the same emotional experience we had as children. Reading “The Power of Now” did not and could not change the reality that when we experience unhappy childhoods, we carry that unhappy experience wherever we go. We keep re-experiencing our childhoods, not the Now.

    A day later, Nov 1,  the old emotional experience was back: “Living here makes me feel more lonely.. I miss closeness with others.. CRAVE.. it“- this is your childhood emotional experience.

    “I miss closeness.. when I’m with someone for too long  it felt exhausting and I wanted to be alone. So contradictory isn’t it?”-

    – you miss closeness because you are a social being, born to need and seek closeness. You get exhausted when close to someone because with that someone, you re-experiencing the anxiety, anger and guilt you felt with your mother, and that is exhausting.

    With your mother, you wanted closeness on one hand, and on the other hand, you were angry at her and wanted to escape her. Same in your adult relationships.

    The time in which you developed a crush on another woman and came out as bi-sexual afforded you new social opportunities and an emotional awakening/ a (temporary) distraction from the unhappy childhood experience: “going to a pride parade.. signed up (t0) a gym, created more arts and made friends throughout the months.. slowly gained a sense of self, and practice self-love”-

    – Feeling good at that time, you didn’t need B to make you feel good,  so you “rejected him gently”.

    That awakening did not last, and a year and a half later, you are tortured about the current long-distance friend and the lessening frequency of contact: fearful of losing the connection with him,  temporarily comforted by contact with him, but then, back to anxiety.

    I will stop here not because I don’t have more to say, but because this post is long enough. If you read all of this and would like to communicate further, let me know.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 6 days ago by anita.
    #374301
    Notebookb6
    Participant

    Dear Anita

    Thank you for spending time replying with such long reply, I read it this morning and thinking that my relationship with parents could be the main reason of me constantly seeking love from external source, hence resulting in easily having crushes on people who treated me nicely. I constantly seeking for people to fill in my emotional needs, without knowing how to make myself happy at first.

    Do you have any advice in overcoming this issue? By far I have tried solutions such as reading self help books, listening to Buddhist talks and making myself busy/ to be more socialize. Or is there a need to consult a therapist?

    #374311
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Notebookb6:

    You are welcome. Before I answer your question I want to address Limerence, which is in the title of your thread, and incorporate it into my answer to your question.

    Limerence is a term coined by psychologist Dorothy Tennov in her 1979 book Love and Limerence: The Experience of  Being in Love. Wikipedia has an entry on the term, and the following definition: “an involuntary potentially inspiring state of adoration and attachment to a limerent object (LO) involving intrusive and obsessive thought, feelings and behaviors from euphoria to despair, contingent on perceived emotional reciprocation”. More from the entry: “Such intrusive thoughts about the LO (are).. comparable to those of people with obsessive-compulsive-disorder… ‘Little things’ are noticed and endlessly analyzed for meaning… What the limerent object said or did is recalled with vividness.. Each word and gesture is permanently available for review… those suffering from loneliness are significantly more susceptible to limerence”.

    In your original post on this thread, you wrote that the lessening of the frequency of communication with (let’s refer to him as LO, standing for Limerent Object) has caused you the following: “I felt anxious, I had the intense fear of losing him.. I obsessively look up  online for solutions, and worst, I have insomnia just thinking about him.. get anxious and depressed, to the point I couldn’t focus on my career… sometimes I would get confident and feeling normal while chatting with him, only after a few hours the obsessive thoughts kick.. the negative thoughts.. snowball,, until the next text he sent me that calm me down”-

    – and now my input and answer to your question: indeed your experience fits Limerence, and what is true to every person experiencing limerence is also true to you: the experience is a re-experiencing of abandonment by a parent. The abandonment is not strictly a parent leaving and not being in a child’s life anymore. It can be a parent who repeatedly withdraws from the child, ex., (1) a parent who gets depressed and withdraws into her room for hours and days, (2) a parent who repeatedly gives his son the “silent treatment” for hours or days, (3) a parent who repeatedly sees her child sad and worried but does not respond. When a child’s strong emotions are invisible to the parent, the child feels all Alone, alone and abandoned.

    When the child is abandoned by her parent in any one of these ways, the child automatically focuses on the parent. Fearing the next abandonment/ rejection, the child focuses on every expression, word and action that the parent does (or does not do), trying to predict the next abandonment, to prevent it or be prepared for it, so it doesn’t come as such a terrible surprise.

    At the times when the repeatedly abandoning parent attends to the child in any way- it feels euphoric, no better feeling. It calms the child for a while, but only for a while. Sometimes when the child has a very pleasant experience, maybe a vacation with lots of family, she forgets the anxiety and does not focus on the parent, but after the vacation, back at home, the anxiety and focus returns.

    As the child grows up, eventually she/ he may give up on the parent, no longer obsessing on the parent, but she re-experiences that same experience in the context of romantic infatuations and romantic relationships.

    In your original post you wrote about LO: “he might be the one that I’ve been looking for”- I think that all this time, within your romantic relationships and crushes, you’ve been looking for your mother and/ or father to come back to you, to want to really see you, to want to get to know you, so that you are no longer Alone.

    About a previous boyfriend, B, you wrote: “he didn’t give me the answer I wanted.. when I told him I’m sad and asked him how to be happy, he would answer me ‘don’t be sad’ which I find it not a solution“- you looked up to B as the one with the answers, much as a child looks up at a parent. You looked for him to give you a solution to your questions and worries.

    In your most recent post you wrote: “I constantly seeking for people to fill in  my emotional needs, without knowing how to make myself happy at first”- a child is not able to make herself happy when the parent or parents in her life are not happy. The parent is like the mirror for the child: the child sees herself in the parent’s expressions, words and actions. If the parents seems unhappy with the child, the child sees herself as …nothing to be happy about.

    “Do you have any advice in overcoming this issue? By far I have tried solutions such as reading self help books, listening to Buddhist talks and making myself busy/ to be more socialize. Or is there a need to consult a therapist?”-

    – Yes, I do see a need to consult a therapist for the following reasons: the sickness/ problem was born in the context of an interpersonal relationship, primarily the relationship between you and the parent to whom you were most attached when you were a young child.

    The healing/ solution cannot be in the context of reading a book or listening to a Buddhist talk alone. Healing must be in the context of another interpersonal relationship- a relationship with a competent empathetic and patient psychotherapist.

    It is not just any relationship that can be the solution because people like your ex-boyfriend B is not a therapist. If you asked a therapist “how to be happy”, a competent therapist will not answer you with “don’t be sad”, but instead will tell you something like: you want to be happy, tell me more about wanting to be happy.. opening the topic for exploration.

    Plus, even if you happened to have a boyfriend/ girlfriend who was a certified therapist, he or she could not be able to be your therapist because they will lack the objectivity required to be your therapist.

    Therefore, a competent therapist is the beginning of healing. Problem is that during the pandemic you may not be able to have therapy in-person and I don’t know about the effectiveness of online therapy with a professional.

    anita

    #374662
    Notebookb6
    Participant

    Dear Anita

    Thank you for the insights and analysis based on our previous conversations, I gave a thought about it and has sent message to make appointment for online therapy session, and we’ll see how it progress from there. Thank you so much

    #374668
    anita
    Participant

    You are very welcome, Notebookb6- I hope that the introductory online therapy session is helpful, and that it holds promise for healing. You are welcome to post again anytime.

    anita

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