Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

Limerence: Infatuation and How It Works

are you ready to free yourself from the hold of limerence

For the Unfaithful:

Realizing you are stuck in a limerent relationship is the first challenge you will face. Once you are ready to free yourself from its hold, there are four steps you should take:

  1. Find others who understand and can help. While you might feel isolated in your situation, trust us when we assure you that you are not. Breaking out of this type of relationship is difficult. You'll find amazing power from having a tight-knit group that supports you and encourages your recovery as you move forward.
  2. Not sure where to find safe people who understand? Hope for Healing is a great place to start. One of the biggest advantages of our online courses is the privacy and anonymity. Talk with others who understand without worrying about your personal information getting out.
  3. It's a change perspective. It's not a matter of not thinking about the other person; it's a matter of thinking about something else entirely. Learn to shift your focus and concentrate on what's truly important. Replace the affection and attention provided by the affair partner with something real and healthy.
  4. Get involved with a recovery group such as Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. Life can throw some mean curveballs and sometimes it's easier to escape into the fantasy world that limerence provides. Being part of a group like this will help shift your focus from a false reality to a true reality.

To read more see 31 Reasons to End an Affair: a 3 part series.

For the Betrayed:

If you are the betrayed partner facing a spouse stuck in a limerent relationship, it can be confusing and excruciating. You may be asking yourself "how long do I wait?" or "how can I get them to snap out of it?" Below are a couple of Recovery Library Q&A's where I answered those exact questions.

For more information about limerence, how to get out of it, or deal with a spouse who is in it; listen to the Recovery Library audio resource below for a more in depth review:

If you're an unfaithful spouse and need help with how to begin your own recovery journey I hope you'll consider our Hope for Healing course for unfaithful spouses.

It's a 17 week, infidelity-specific curriculum designed for the unfaithful spouse's healing, empathy development and overall personal recovery.

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Comments

Staying with a spouse who had all the highs of limerance

My UH says his affair was fantasy/limerance. His AP was a co worker. We had counseling and reconciled. AP and UH continued working together. This was not addressed in counseling. Limerance was not addressed. A lot was not addressed to be honest. 17 years later AP asked for help that my H was able to give in a way no one else could second affair started. My question is how do you live with or even look at your spouse that has experienced these feelings /desires and willing to repeat the destruction that destroyed our marriage and put for a second time the risk of harm to our now adult children. How do you have an intimate relationship and not feel you are what is left . These feelings experienced will never be with you Your spouse will miss having those intense feelings ,experiences with another person. Memories do not disappear .Your article on the cost of forgiveness is very real I gave true forgiveness with the promise of a changed life for me and our children , I did not shame I did not bring up his affair I believed and trusted again completely . Mature love seems boring about loyalty, commitment , not exciting , more of a responsibility. all those exciting feelings have been experienced with some one else for a second time. . Limerance or not those feelings were felt and very real . I feel like I am accepting less in my life. How do you live with less?

Staying with a spouse with limerance

The feelings your husband had/have being fantasy aren’t real in the way love is. My husband has been having an affair for over 3 years - it even caused him a total breakdown when I moved him out a year ago discovering he hadn’t broken contact - and he’s done it again. So he’s living with her now, wanting to be with me, utterly miserable. I can see whatever there is it’s not love - love is from God and this unholy mess - and all adultery is unholy - is just sin - ugly, seductive and deadly. Don’t believe the lie that there’s anything worth having in it - and focus on all that is good - and move him out into the cold.

Staying with a spouse

Your comments really hit home for me and I am feeling the same fears. My husband said he was done with his AP but several months later found out he never cut contact. So how do I trust him now and how do I know he is never going to to this again? We are currently separated living in 2 different states. I am working to get established back here so we can reunite. I often feel like a fool and that I'm being naive in thinking he has, somehow, changed his thinking. I fear he will do the same thing to me again, as your husband did. Then where will I be then? I'm the left over the one that stayed, no consequences have been paid for him. Can he truly learn a lesson when no harsh outcome happened? Somedays I dont want to go on but others make me wish this whole thing could be forgotten and live a happier life than before; like most of the ppl that come to this site.

Limerence

I my husband has also had two affairs and I too have some of those same fears. Now that he has had the experience of limerence twice those feelings are like a drug. How will he be able to deny himself those feelings again when our love will never give him that high?

Limerance highs and feeling 2nd choice

I have same concerns as last two comment. It’s been two years and I still worry that my husband will want his affair partner again. We are in the same geographic area and there is always possibility of AP and my husband running into each other. I have nightmares about it.
We went through therapy, did the second honeymoon, dating , trips we stopped therapy but eventually I wanted to return to therapy as There was quite a bit he would not discuss including limerence. I too am
Worried about a second affair.

Through the Eyes of the "Unfaithful"

For a year, I've bounced back and forth between wanting to work on my ten-year marriage and wanting to "follow my heart." To those who have been betrayed, it may seem so simple to you - they cheated, they betrayed you for satisfaction. But, I assure you, it is far from simple, and about far more than just satisfaction. A lot has to happen inside of a person and a relationship to allow feelings for another to even develop. For me, it was years of emotional neglect and painful lack of mutual communication, combined with alcoholism on the part of my husband. When my husband found out about us, all that had occurred was a two week text msg exchange that is best described as "line-stepping," but when faced with having to make a choice, I was paralyzed. I find that I still am, because, yes, the things I have felt with my EAP/LO have been heartbreakingly different from anything I ever felt with my husband. Husband left, began seeing someone else, and I pursued a relationship with EAP that is best described as tumultuous, because I hadn't closed the chapter of my marriage. But the "addiction" is mutual, and that makes everything so much more complex than I ever imagined. I recently said goodbye to EAP, for the I-don't-knoweth time, and my divorce is final in less than a month. I'm still unsure of everything. I miss EAP ferociously. But I also see the fantasy aspects of that relationship and know that I need to focus on myself for awhile. EAP says he will wait for me. Husband wants us to be together and will allow me the time alone to work on myself. I feel unworthy of both of them at this point. Frankly, to those who are betrayed: it is your choice to stay or go, but you have to realize the roller coaster ride you're signing up for if you stay, and own your part. I own my part, and I'm trying very hard to understand myself. A love triangle is nothing like the movies. Peace and love to all. I wouldn't wish this on anyone.

Second time. Or really, how many?

My husband was exposed during an affair with someone younger than our daughter. He fought very hard to hang on to her while I struggled to see a way to heal.
He told me of an affair that was prior to his ongoing one. That went on for several years.
I never knew.
I have such a hard time getting the intrusive thoughts of these women, and possibly others, out of my mind.
I don’t know how I will recover my life, and my peace of mind.

Limerence

When we first spoke about reconciliation, my spouse, who had an affair with her manager, said she’d quit and get a new job. I thanked her, felt good she wanted to quit, told her having a job she liked was important, so take some time to find an appropriate job. Over time, she decided her job was too important to her, she wouldn’t change jobs, I should trust she no longer had feelings for him, and wouldn’t stray again. Initially, she agreed to limit interactions with him to the bare minimum. As time passed, she said remaining friendly was necessary to doing her job and to keep others from wondering why she avoided him at work. Our counselor supported my spouse’s view and actions, and said I was harming our relationship by not trusting and being selfish. Then, my spouse wouldn’t allow me to attend a work function because her affair partner would be there. She said she didn’t want to risk me speaking to him or my presence making him feel uncomfortable. Our counselor agreed with my spouse on that, too. At that point, however, I decided enough was enough, my self respect could take no more and I was not going to allow her to put herself or me in the same old position again. I did not want me or our children to be treated like a yo-yo, and, although it broke my heart all over again, I ended our reconciliation attempt. It was an extraordinarily difficult step for me to take. I truly loved my wife and wanted our family to stay together, I had many second thoughts and many nights of crying myself to sleep, but now ... two years later, I am confident I made the right decision for me and my children. I am awfully sympathetic to your situation, it’s a terrible position to find yourself. I cannot say what’s best for you and your family, but although I felt tremendous grief and guilt for ending our reconciliation attempt and, thus, ending our family, I am at peace and have a more joyful life. My deepest and most heartfelt prayers are with you.

Identifying I had limerance

I'm still new to this word limerance. I cheated on my husband it was only a week long affair and yet that person had such a strong pull on me. I couldn't stop thinking about them, I couldn't function properly and when my husband found out and I told him it would stop I couldn't comprehend how after only a week long affair I had such a hard time, still have such a hard time giving them up. I wanted to leave my husband of 12yrs just to chase after this person that I really hardly knew. That was the first indication that this was limerance and when I found out there was an actual name for it (because I was going crazy thinking there is no logical way I'm in love with this person after a week which I thought I was) I was so relieved to know there was a name for these feelings I'm experiencing and that others have gone through this as well.

Limerence

Thank you for this discussion on limerence. I was working with someone, a gay man who I enjoyed doing creative design work with. We texted and talked often but never anything inappropriate. I soon discovered that my husband of 30 years had been having a 2 year affair with a co worker. I confided in this friend and relied on him emotionally but never anything inappropriate. He and I do have a close friendship but no desire to be together, but I do depend on him. I’ve tried to talk my husband into going to Affair Recovery but to no avail. Thank you for what you do

This affair business is the

This affair business is the worst situation. I am the one that had the affair and I broke it off today. I am devastated. The thing is I found out, accidentally, that my husband of 35 years is gay. He doesn’t know that I found out. That started my spiral into an affair. I never thought that I would fall so hard...I thought it was love but it is limerence...no doubt about it! I ended it not because I felt guilty about my husband but rather I felt really badly for his wife. This is his second affair, although there probably have been more. So I ended it but I’m so sad and don’t know what to do. I wish I had never got into this mess!

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