I’ve read a couple of stories and have had people come to me about them (or their partner) being limerent for someone else whilst in a relationship.
While many of them are honest about their situation and what it is – an affair/cheating. Many others seem to just skirt around the issue and talk about everything else but…
why did it even happen in the first place?
As we’ve established in previous posts, limerence has very specific signs and the common themes are:
- A lack of connection with yourself and your life
- Loneliness (this can happen even if you are attached, in a relationship or have friends)
- Given to fantasising more so than living in reality
- A lack of purpose in your life
There’s another sign that some people just don’t feel comfortable addressing but I will just tell it like it is
You are limerent for someone else whilst in a supposedly committed relationship or marriage because 1) You got into the relationship/marriage for the wrong reasons 2) Your relationship/marriage partner isn’t a good fit for you 3) You are disconnected from/not actually in love or like your partner
Let’s look at these 3 reasons in relation to limerence.
#1 You are in the relationship/marriage for the wrong reasons
Quite a number of people refuse to actually acknowledge this, although some are starting to see the light – that romantic relationships and marriage are just not for everybody. Some of us just aren’t cut out to be the right kind of partner for anyone.
For a long time, many of us have felt the urge, almost like an obligation to be in a romantic relationship with someone. With expectations that the romance is supposed to lead to marriage. Certain cultures still negatively stereotype people who are single past a particular age – calling them “left on the shelf”, “unwanted” and “weird”.
So it’s not a stretch at all that people felt forced to be in a romantic relationship or marriage, as a response to peer and societal pressure. That’s one.
Besides feeling societal pressures, people also get into relationship for all sorts of reasons other than compatibility and truly liking their partner. Some of it as follows:
- To feel a sense of belonging with most of society
- For companionship and to stave off loneliness
- Feeling that nobody else would like you (besides your current partner)
- To “change” someone and “make” them better people (at the expense of yourself)
When you are not clear about your intentions of being with someone and feel some sort of pressure or are unintentionally “using” the relationship as a source of emotional support or to feel “whole” – those can lead to a dynamic which can make it easy to fall for someone else who gives you some sort of attention down the road.
#2 Your relationship/marriage partner is not a good fit for you
Many people are not able to discern what makes a good partner from a not-so-good one. We have never been taught to really understand what we want and what qualities to seek out for, if we were to want a relationship that is mutually loving, caring, respectful and fulfilling.
I always advocate for the importance of looking out for early signs on dates that the person is a good potential fit for you. Qualities like honesty, respect, similar values, financial compatibility and trust go a long way to building a healthy, intimate relationship.
Another thing to look out for are red flag behaviour, which so many of us have issues picking up on as well.
Marriage and romance is a whole lot more than just looking good, status and just simply liking each other. If the base or the groundwork that the romance is being laid upon is not strong and sturdy, it can give way to temptation, distractions and other people making you feel a certain way down the road.
#3 You are disconnected from/not actually in love or like your partner
It’s easy for boredom to set in when you’ve been with someone for awhile or are in a long-term relationship/marriage. Which is why it is important to be honest about your feelings about your relationship and your partner as you go along.
Honesty is something I advocate strongly for. It’s not just about honesty to your partner but also to yourself about what your partner or the relationship means to you.
Communication and shared values are other ingredients that hold a relationship together and enable a stronger connection. Communication shouldn’t be superficial – it should be consistent and exploratory and deep.
Love is also something that requires effort and consistency.
When a couple is not in tune with each other, it can be easy to fall for someone else and start getting distracted with various temptations outside of the relationship. As it may seem that these new shiny people are perfect for you.
#4 A lack of purpose, emptiness and boredom in your life
Outside of your relationship, have you had the chance to cultivate some hobbies, a sense of purpose and meaning in your life as well as a connection with yourself?
Many people let their interests, their life and connecting with themselves fall by the wayside, particularly when they are in a relationship.
When we build our lives and identities around things that are external to us – work, our jobs, other people – even if they were a spouse or a partner, it can make it difficult to really get to know ourselves.
This is why when there are issues with work or with your partner/marriage, it can be difficult to find an outlet to fall back upon.
Also, when you are not focused on cultivating yourself, it can mean that there is very little you may be bringing to the relationship.
If a relationship or dynamic is allowed to become stale, it can then be easy to fall for someone else outside of the relationship and form attachments with them.
Feeling limerence for someone else whilst in a relationship can be a complex situation to navigate because you are dealing with two things here:
- The limerent feelings itself, complete with the rumination and the emotional upheaval
- Questioning your commitment to and feelings for your spouse, probably dealing with feelings like guilt, shame, not knowing how to talk about limerence to them and so on
But before we even get to this point, it is incredibly important to always ask ourselves what was actually not going well in our relationship prior to the limerence event, and have you always felt limerence for other people before you got into your current relationship?
Limerence tends to show up at different times in life for an individual who hasn’t completely healed or allowed themselves to let go yet.
Emotional affairs, which is what limerence really is most of the time and pining after or fantasising about someone – be it a celeb or a colleague or friend when you are already in a relationship is not normal.
Being so entangled emotionally with another person and pining for them instead of your partner shows some pretty deep issues in your relationship that has probably been allowed to fester for some time. It also points to unhappiness and dissatisfaction with your partner and your relationship.
At the same time, you may also be neglecting the connection with yourself and allowing life to just happen without feeling much of a purpose or engagement with it.
Heal your limerence and ensure that whenever you are in a relationship with someone – it’s for the right reasons. If you are already in a relationship, perhaps you just need a reminder of why you love them in the first place.
Limerence is pretty selfish behaviour – with or without a partner. But with a partner beside you, it’s even more of a selfish act given how hurt your partner could be if they find out their partner (you) are having feelings for someone else.
It’s best to nip it in the bud early before it starts to damage your most intimate relationships.
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