For the longest time, I’ve always suffered from limerence. A phenomenon that describes an obsessive romantic addiction about a person – either in your vicinity or a celebrity – and is characterised by mood swings, intrusive thoughts and anxiety. Some people suffer from it so badly that they aren’t able to function in their day to day living – they always put aside their lives, work, meeting other people etc to stare at photos of their limerent object (LO), watch videos, chat with them (if they are in touch) or just to fantasise. Limerent relationships are essentially fantasy relationships on steroids.
How does limerence develop? I go into greater detail in these posts (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here!), but they usually stem from trauma in childhood, insecure/anxious attachment when we were young, piled on by a ton of not-very-good experiences when we were older and then reinforced by the neurochemical system present in our brains.
My limerence most likely arose as a result of not much emotional nurturing as a child. I am an affectionate person at my core, but my parents weren’t. They also had an incredibly volatile and abusive relationship which meant I did not have a good model or idea of love growing up. I was also shy, self-conscious and constantly felt different from others around me – I didn’t feel like I belonged.
I took rejection very personally and growing up, my friendships were all very intense and drama-filled. I shied away alot from dating in my teens and early 20s as I had so much difficulty opening up and being vulnerable, never believing that people would like me for who I am. I had a deep fear of being rejected and abandoned, so I avoided having to deal with all of that by just avoiding dating and relationships altogether.
Less drama I thought.
My limerent objects were mostly celebrities – singers, actors, athletes – whom I constantly saw on TV and fantasised alot about. This wasn’t the usual casual celeb crush that alot of people sometimes confuse limerence with. Limerence tends to take these crushes to a whole new level. I was always staring at photos of them, taking note of when they would come on TV and staying up to watch them though they’d only appear for 15 minutes. Any time I hear of them dating someone who remotely linked to another person – it’d totally crush and devastate me.
If I wasn’t limerent for a celeb, then it was a guy in my surrounding environment – usually a classmate or a team-mate on a sports team. Instead of being myself and getting to know him as a person, I reverted to extremely shy behaviour, which came off as stand-offish, unavailable and just not very friendly. I was emotionally distant and couldn’t seem to bring myself to talk to them properly. I found it easier to maintain a distance and fantasise instead. Have always wondered what might have come out of those interactions if I had just interacted as a normal person – as some of them were interested!
Curious how limerent you are and on which part of the healing journey you are on?
How I started healing
It was another day, another fantasy with one of my celebrity limerent objects – by this time in my life I hadn’t been in a serious relationship for awhile, and various celebs would be the object of my limerent feelings. I remembered feeling really odd reading about news… and it just suddenly dawned on me how weird it all was and how unhappy living this way had been for me.
Just like that I decided I did not want to live like that anymore. I didn’t want to experience those emotional ups and downs because of someone who isn’t even present in my life, who (sometimes) didn’t even knew I existed and who couldn’t even be there for me if I was feeling down.
I wanted a real relationship, someone I could share a life with, could share my day to day with, and not some picture on my phone or video on YouTube of someone who wasn’t even present in my life.
The steps I took
#1 Examining my previous patterns
Because those limerent feelings were very deep within me, and I now know they are a neuro-chemical reinforced habit, the first step was to examine my patterns. What were the things I would do that would fuel these limerent desires?
One, I’d engage in social media stalking. Be it scrolling their photos for hours, checking up where they are/what they were up to etc. This took up a major part of my hours each day. Second, I needed to cut out any other sources that may trigger me or lead me into the old pattern of looking him up (these were for celeb limerent objects). Third, I needed to reduce the interaction of people who also acted as triggers for him in real-life, either because they were constantly bringing him up or they were showing me things indirectly related to him.
#2 Cut all of the above out cold turkey
I spoke about the 2 habit cycles you can put in place to gradually wean yourself off a habit. Abstaining and moderating.
As limerence is very deeply rooted in us, I always recommend abstaining totally. Cold Turkey. No contact. Moderating is a slippery slope where you are like, “Oh I will just stare at his photos for 2 minutes, just 2 minutes…” And before you know it, 2 minutes has turned into 2 hours.
You don’t want to be in a situation which continuously reinforces your thoughts about your LO and constantly feeds those reward cycles. You need to start to break the cycle completely. Clean cut.
It can be really tough at first, because limerence is a form of addiction, so it’s akin to weaning an addict off whatever it is they are addicted to.
And let me be the first to say it – it is HARDDD. But it absolutely can be done.
I unfollowed all of my LO’s profiles/fan pages. Edited my google homepage interests so that news about him won’t pop up and ruin my day (especially on my tablet). I then edited and removed alot of my YouTube videos and gosh, this took the absolute longest. I had to resort to covering the homepage screen of my YouTube page whenever I logged on just so none of the videos showing would act as a trigger.
I removed and blocked several web pages and also had to unfortunately, distance myself from someone who constantly sent me stuff that would send me down a rabbithole.
I also did a whole lot of reflecting and readjusting to myself. Whenever I’d find myself slipping or feeling bored, I’d ask myself, “What would I like to do for myself right now? What do I want to do?”
And those questions were powerful. They turned the attention from my LO straight back to me.
How I felt throughout the healing journey
When I decided that I didn’t want to continue living like that anymore, and when I started taking the steps to heal from limerence, something shifted in me. I can’t really explain exactly what it was but it felt like new doors just opened to me.
Life felt very qualitatively different. I found that I had more mental clarity, I was bolder and more creative as well and I felt way calmer, and not just calm on the outside but anxious and jumpy on the inside.
I felt seen and I felt purposeful, like my life had a direction, that I could do things that I wanted to, pursue paths that I used to feel hesitant about. It’s like I suddenly had this permission to do all these amazing things in my life. And it felt unfamiliar but wonderful as well.
Of course there were days where I would fall back a little into old habits and start scrolling pictures, or I would be fantasising about my LO or I’d go down a path and feel incredibly triggered which would set off a whole cascade of emotions within me. But what I noticed was that, I snapped out of these reveries pretty quickly.
I was more self aware and also knew exactly what to do to stop it from becoming worse.
I just want to say, if you are suffering from limerence currently and feel like you are never going to get out of that state. I’m just telling you, YOU WILL. Coming from someone who has been limerent for one guy or the other since my childhood days, you absolutely can snap out of that limerent state.
I’m a living example of that. But you gotta want it for yourself.
Hope this personal story is a little inspiration for you and if you are struggling with limerence and have no idea how to get out of that state, or you struggle to live a “normal” life because of it, I can help you. Coaching sessions are now open, so do feel free to hop on for a session (details in the image below).