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

Grief

Could traumatic grief play into limerance starting between two people?

Traumatic Grief and Limerance

Traumatic Grief affects relationships in a whole lot of areas so I would say yes--for context--I am the betrayed, but I believe that my trauma severely affected my ability to participate emotionally in my marriage in a healthy way (on top of the normal "growing pains" of a close relationship). I believe it caused a void in our relationship that my former husband wasn't expecting and he dealt with by reaching out to other women. Today I don't fault him b/c I believe he honestly tried to understand what was happening to us (and himself) as well as doing what he needed do to take responsibility for the life he wanted to live, but the path for him to get there was filled with affair partners while I did my best to recover and subsequently make amends for what I felt was my failure and mistakes. It was his choice to not deal and he eventually chose to leave the marriage which broke broke my heart even further. I was willing to give him grace for his first affair as it may have been an innocent mistake, but it became a chronic habit. Most likely easier to do that than dealing with me and our marriage and recover together.

My "limerence" was a trauma bond that formed from the first day of our marriage (he became my rock), but I also think I had placed him on a pedestal earlier than that which didn't help. I also became so meshed in the process of recovery and healing into what I felt was a viable partner emotionally again that I couldn't hear what he was saying or see his pain. Over time, that whole process became toxic. In dealing with my limerence, I have been facing my past in recovery and familiarizing myself with my voids so I can actively take responsibility for them and decide whether I need to choose a different path--sometimes it's a yes, sometimes I realize I am actually ok as is. These have been some of the tools I am using to move forward simply b/c I know I want to show up differently in all my relationships. Recovery from the desperation of wanting to connect with someone who didn't want to connect with me has been a discipline and not something that felt natural. It definitely wasn't comfortable initially, but I can honestly say that over time, I am very pleased with my ability to make healthy choices that support me now and that are more nurturing to close relationship with others. I am learning to trust myself again and that is what I take forward as I slowly let men in again. I also remain cognizant, but not obsessively so, of my past and of what no longer works for me so I can be an active participant in my own life as it relates to others.

And that's my process thus far. Wishing you well.

Limerent friendship

Hi my wife’s Affair partner ended it 19 months ago,,she seems to have shifted her obsession onto a gay drag queen,and everything revolves around him,what he’s doing,,she spends as much time with him as she can,he clicks his fingers and she goes running,she has always gone overboard with friendships,over the top with generosity with her time and money,,he has become quite busy,so it has eased off a bit,,I don’t want her to stop being friends as he is a lovely guy,but I’m hoping she will eventually more realistic

Limerance and trauma bond

My husband sadly left last year and we separated because he went to live with his affair partner. She and his relationship is complete toxic trauma bond and limerance all wrapped in one. He didn’t file for divorce he kept telling me to wait he doesn’t want to live life this way and he was going to get away from her. But like a sad puppy dog with his tail between his legs he kept going back and giving her chances. She promised she would change and she was only fighting him bc he wasn’t divorced yet. It was horrible for months my daughter felt like she lost her Dad to another woman . She would fight with him everytime he got time with our daughter and it ruined their time together. But I got blamed bc he had to come to the house to visit bc my daughter was not comfortable going away with him bc he wanted her to meet the ow. So it was bad for 11 months and in September he asked to come back home that he had to get away and be done with her she was literally killing him. He was sorry for what he did and he was going to make things right to me and our daughter. He had no $ left she spent it all, he looked like hell from the stress and not sleeping. The mental toll it took on him was horrible to see. Well I had to give him time to heal so it wasn’t about us at first we just readjusted to living together and being parents and a family again. It took till November for him to stop still having contact and meeting up with her. So we slowly started therapy together we were doing family therapy as part of our separation agreement I requested it to help our daughter. So slowly I watched him get stronger and not relapse into her games. She tried hard to keep reaching and sadly would show up at his job bc they both are police but different agencies. I knew that she would but he stayed strong. It was horrible to watch him go through a withdraw bc it was an addiction. It was hard on me but I was patient giving him time so he could heal and I could and get back to focusing on a we(us). Well sadly she and he got back in contact the week before Easter on a call and they were texting. I said I’m not comfortable with this and he said he was going to show he could have boundaries this time. I said I can’t be ok with this so we came to a stalemate. Slowly he became distant over the week and on his phone with her and now the weekend of Easter he met up and had sex with her after work I saw texts he doesn’t know I know. Now comes to me the next day and he wants a divorce bc he isn’t in love with me it has nothing to do with her he wants to be alone and says he has given me enough chances. It’s horrible and I actually believed him the past 5 months. Now it’s like that was all a lie I was just helping him recover from her and get stable financially emotionally mentally and now it’s goodbye. I saw texts she said he has to get a divorce and be done with me. They weren’t that bad it was all my fault they fought so much he should have just divorced me last year. And now he has ran to her house all week not being home bc he is trying to prepare our daughter with him being away bc we haven’t told her. He doesn’t have a place of his own and needs a place. So instead he runs to her house. I’m meeting with our therapist tomorrow to make a plan of how we can tell our daughter bc it crushed her last time and hurt her so bad to loose her Dad. His own parents, I and my daughter didn’t know who he was. Do you think all of this is limerance and he is that addicted to her? He says he won’t be like he was last time absolutely horrible bc she was pushing him. He is going to do things right this time, he doesn’t want to look like a cheat or this is bc of her he just wants to be single. I’m just devastated and he knows that I was willing to do the work to fix our marriage and keep our family together. Sadly he wasn’t and here we are. I said love should build you up and make you better, lust and addiction destroys you that you don’t care about how your choices hurt your family.

I’m so sorry! Reading this

I’m so sorry! Reading this made me feel heartsick for you and your daughter. Also angry. I will never understand how a parent can love their child so little that they would destroy them in this self-centered way. It grieves me as I can feel your daughter’s pain and your pain as you watch her suffer for the stupid choices of her father.
As a mother who devotedly loves my children and grandchildren, this kind of choice will never make sense to me. Sadly, your husband is wounding himself beyond healing with his actions. He may grow up some day and wonder how he lost the love of his daughter, hopefully on that day he will see the truth of things… that it was all him.
I pray that your husband will be broken into a million pieces by this realization, so that God can be allowed to do His healing work.
I’m praying for you; may you be comforted by God’s enduring love for you, a love that never gives up and never betrays.

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