As you may already know by now – limerence is actually an addictive state that is sustained by our neurochemistry (dopamine being the main culprit) and reinforced through a habit cycle.
As someone who is pretty obsessed about breaking habits, having done it for myself and clients over the years, I’ve delved into the different habit-breaking (or making) techniques over the years and one of the simpler strategies comes courtesy of Gretchen Rubin.
Abstaining vs Moderating. It’s a habit strategy that is very useful in breaking temptation. And when you are in a limerent state – you face lots of temptation to engage with your limerent Object (LO) and how you handle that temptation is a precursor to what happens next – do you spiral into another ruminative, emotional cycle or are you able to disengage and walk away?
Let’s dive abit into it.
Abstainers are the all-or-nothing people, 100% or nothing, the ones who can go completely cold turkey and suffer no repercussions.
According to Rubin, you are an abstainer if you:
- Have trouble stopping something once you’ve started
- Aren’t tempted by things that you’ve decided are off-limits
I am an abstainer. I just find it easier to deal with cutting out bad habits or temptations by not leaving a single trace of it in my life. And for limerents who are trying to wean off your LO or being in the limerent state, I totally recommend this method as well. Going No Contact is one of the most effective methods of breaking that habit cycle and the hold that your LO has on you.
Moderators are people who can dabble a little in their temptation or their habit and it won’t leave them wanting more. They can dip in and out. And they do not like hard, strict, all-or-nothing rules. You are a moderator if you:
- Find that occasional indulgence heightens your pleasure–and strengthens your resolve
- Get panicky at the thought of “never” getting or doing something
I find that I like the moderating strategy when I have a food craving for example, ice cream, and I just can’t seem to stop thinking about it. But when I get just a tiny scoop of ice-cream, I’m satisfied and I no longer think about the ice-cream.
So, which is better?
Neither technique is better than the other, it’s simply personal preference. And what works for you in a given context. For example, I find it easier to use the moderating method to soothe food cravings, but when it comes to limerent behaviour, I find it easier to just abstain.
Abstaining – to me at least – is also an easier way of dealing things. With moderating, you kind of have to figure out when is the best time to allow yourself to “indulge” and for how long/how much. That’s alot of cognitive load – having to decide when and how. Also for people who are very easily tempted, moderating may lead you down the slippery slope of since-I’m-indulging-for-2-minutes-let-me-continue-for-another-2-hours.
And before you know it, you are back down the rabbit hole, spiraling and reactivating the previous habit cycle – the very thing you are trying to break out of.
If you aren’t sure what works, try out both. Try and see which one you are more comfortable with – or it could be a mix of techniques – and how effective those are in combating your limerent behaviour.
Need help healing from limerence?
Help is available! Coaching sessions are now open and I’d love to help you on your personal limerence journey. Or, send up for a pre-order of my book, Breaking Up with Limerence, which will be out in March 2023!