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Many people come to a crossroads in their life when they love someone who they are not married to.
And maybe this other person is married or single but you are married and you’re in love with this other person but you’re wondering if you should leave your spouse to go be with this other person.
It might feel like this is your only shot of happiness or like you finally met that person who is your soulmate and who you were really supposed to be with all along.
But something nags at you.
Maybe you have children in this marriage or at least you feel like you don’t want to hurt your spouse without being absolutely sure.
Or maybe you feel that you are certain and you just simply are ready to file for divorce but maybe there’s just some little voice in your head that says you should look into some alternative voices before you pull the trigger so to speak.
What’s interesting is that the people in this situation tend to rewrite their history.
And by that I mean that they will actually say things like, “I never felt this way about my wife,” or “I never felt this way about my husband.”
And “in fact, I’ve never felt this way before at all.”
And I understand that it feels that way and I’m going to get into why that is in just a minute, but understand this – you actually probably did feel this way before.
It’s interesting how so often I have spoken to people in your situation and I will hear things like, “I’ve never really felt this way about her,” or “I’ve never really felt this way about him, I just kind of did it because it seemed like the right thing to do.”
And then the person can produce love letters which are a little bit more rare in today’s world with texting and that kind of thing but sometimes people can even produce texts from years ago.
I remember one person sitting and just scrolling and it probably took half an hour of scrolling through her text messages until she found some of the early texts that her husband had sent her.
In them, he was telling her how much he thought about her constantly, how he loved her, how he had never felt this way about anyone else, how she completed him, how it was like magic and how she was his soulmate.
He sat there and just kind of looked down and after a minute or two he said, “I had forgotten I said that.”
And that’s when a lot of realization hit him.
First of all, I explained to them both the concept of limerence and in that link I talk in depth about that topic and I’ve written in major publications about it.
Limerence is a mental state and the person who’s experiencing it will often display obsessive behavior about another person and it’s because when you are in true limerence, the chemical dopamine that’s produced by your brain is in high amounts and it feels good.
It’s sort of like if you have an itch and you scratch that itch.
There’s nothing quite like that feeling and your body actually produces dopamine to reward you for scratching that itch.
It’s part of the reward system in our brains so when we do something that our brain determines is good for us, it gives us a little dopamine as a reward so we will be more likely to do it again.
Dopamine is known as the feel-good chemical for obvious reasons.
And we start to associate that feel-good sensation, that chemical rush with this other person and we think it’s this other person when we actually are being stimulated by the chemicals and we have put that association onto the other person.
It’s very close to a stimulus response sort of like Pavlov’s dog.
You remember that from science class maybe, but if you don’t, it’s kind of a quick and interesting story.
This scientist had a dog and whenever he was getting ready to feed the dog, he would ring a bell and then feed the dog.
After a little bit of time he could ring the bell and the dog would drool.
He hadn’t put food in front of the dog yet, he just rang the bell, which because the dog had associated the bell with getting food, he had a physical response.
It’s fairly similar to that and I certainly don’t mean to denigrate your relationship with this person, but I am telling you that there is something beyond the idea that this is a magical, universal soulmate type of connection.
It’s probably not.
You wanted to hear an alternate voice, right?
You wanted to at least have someone tell you what this could be or that this could be bad for you to just give you things to think about, so bear with me.
I don’t mean to try to denigrate what you have or minimize what you have but I am telling you some of the science behind it and giving you some things to think about if you’re really thinking that you’re in love with this person and you want to leave your marriage for them.
Now limerence will fade away and I know at the moment it feels like you will feel this way forever and that having this person every day with you would be like a holiday, like an eternal Christmas or something like that and it usually feels that way because we don’t have it.
Because you’re feeling that you’re in a situation (your marriage) and if you could get out of that situation and just be with this person, if you could get over that hump, there’s wanting what you don’t have and dreaming about it actually even impresses that more in your mind so that you believe it would just be so wonderful.
The fact that it has to be a dream and that you can’t just get it right now, makes it even more powerful and contributes to limerence being more powerful.
And you probably even feel some anger sometimes that you can’t just go be with this person, that the world is against you because you’re supposed to stay married like a good little boy or a good little girl so that everybody’s happy with you.
I get it and you probably think everybody else thinks they know how to run your life, everybody else thinks they know how to live your life – or at least they think they can and you can’t – you’ve probably had these thoughts and that contributes to limerence.
Anything that makes it sort of you and this person “against the world” just keeps heightening dopamine.
And here’s the interesting thing, limerence fades away as I said.
You may be wondering, “Well, why wouldn’t all relationships just fade away?”
Well that’s what’s interesting, because you see limerence is not good or bad.
I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing.
It’s a good thing in the right situation.
If two single people have limerence for each other, here’s what’s supposed to happen:
You have limerence for each other, these feel-good chemicals happen and you want to see this person to keep feeling it.
And you push this thing and you want to make this relationship happen.
So you keep getting together with this person whereas, if it’s just a stranger, what other reason would you have to get with them?
Limerence helps two people pursue a relationship when they really don’t have a reason to if they don’t even know anything about each other.
Limerence motivates you to find things out about this person, to ask questions, and to learn about them and that’s when you create intimacy.
Intimacy is knowing things about someone.
Not just basic things, but complicated and deep things.
It’s actually being naked in front of someone, not just physically, though that’s part of it, but emotionally and intellectually.
It’s baring your soul to this person and limerence encourages that.
And most of what limerence encourages, just has a compounding effect that makes the chemicals reach higher levels and this is where I’m getting to:
At one point, you will reach the high.
You will reach the pinnacle and limerence, just like any other chemical addiction or chemical dependence, once you’ve gotten to that high point, you basically chase it forever and can never get it back.
And so when limerence fades, what’s supposed to be there is companionship, commitment, friendship, a feeling of family, romantic love that is also based on having a history with this person.
That’s what’s supposed to be there when limerence fades away.
And sure, you can actually feel some of the feelings of limerence again, just like you could with your spouse when you have new experiences together, when the moment seems just right, maybe it’s a great date night and you feel some of that spark again, it can still happen.
But it will not be that intense again simply because it’s based on chemicals.
And that’s okay. Having that companionate, commitment-based love is powerful and that’s likely where you are with your spouse and what’s happened is that you have experienced this limerence with this other person and it feels good again and you’re wanting to go off and experience it forever.
And so that’s what I want you to know is that you will not experience this forever.
And you’re possibly thinking, well sure I know the sparks will fade at some point, but it’s so wonderful otherwise and that’s another area we need to talk about, because limerence causes what’s known as the “Halo Effect.”
In the Halo Effect of limerence, you look at this other person and you only see their perfections.
You only see what’s wonderful about them and even their flaws, you tell yourself, are part of it.
“That’s what makes them so perfect.”
“They are imperfectly perfect,” and you go into these poetic explanations of it.
I get it, I’ve been there.
I work with people who are there and who have been there.
I’m not getting on to you for it.
I’m simply telling you that those things that seem to be imperfectly perfect about this person you are in love with, those flaws, will have a magnifying glass on them as limerence starts to fade.
And I’m telling you that it’s worth reconsidering and knowing that at some point limerence will fade.
Usually within a few months it will fade but it can reach a couple of years (that’s fairly rare).
And when it fades, you will probably be sitting in the aftermath with deep regret if you have left your family, you’ve broken your home, you’ve broken your vows, and/or you’ve walked out on your spouse.
It will likely be a very big negative.
What you need to do, ideally, is slow down and take a look at this.
You can have what you want with your spouse, most likely, especially if they are aware of this and they’re wanting to save the marriage – that’s more than half the battle.
You can experience love again with your spouse, but we need to understand that limerence is temporary and it’s a type of love – it’s a romantic type of love – but it’s not long-term and it’s more of an infatuation.
The intention of this article and the video above is simply to get you to slow down, take a step back, and look at this.
At least acknowledge this is a possibility before you divorce, before you leave your marriage.
You can fall back in love with your spouse.
The two of you can have a good relationship.
There are tools to do that. My Emergency Marriage Kit can help you find love again in your marriage.
It can help you stop doing the bad things and your spouse stop doing those things that tear it down.
It can help you start doing the good things again that can get you to where you want to be in your marriage.
I’m not suggesting you go back and stick with it even if you don’t want to.
That it’s horrible and you just stay in it because you’re supposed to.
That’s not at all what I’m suggesting.
I’m suggesting you make it wonderful.
Here is a link to my video on limerence and it would be helpful for you to watch that video.
Just know that what you are feeling for this person will probably be something you will feel for someone else after that fades away.
And you’ll be back in this situation again.
People who are vulnerable to it, it’s good for them to realize that so that they can protect themselves from this happening again and again in their lives because that is a pattern that I see.
People will fall for these chemicals, for this high, and when it fades, they’ll find it in someone else and they’ll keep saying, “I never felt this way before. I never felt this way before. I never felt this way before.”
Sometimes they remember saying it and they can catch themselves but others can’t and you become one of those people, as we say, who are addicted to love.
You’re actually addicted to limerence which is mostly dopamine, which means you are addicted to dopamine.
It’s the high and it’s even something that’s produced in your brain when you see a picture of this person or at the thought of this person.
And the idea of losing this person, the fear of loss, that maybe this is all a house of cards if you two were found out, that actually enhances limerence as well.
And so a lot of this, it’s as though you were drugged to feel this.
Again there’s nothing wrong with feeling this for someone.
And when two people are single, it’s a wonderful thing and they can often develop those other feelings of love and the parts of love that are much more than feeling based, but I’m also telling you that you likely experienced this with your spouse and don’t remember it at the moment.
And you can get a lot of this with your spouse, even that you can’t get the same intensity again, but just know that limerence isn’t what you should be chasing anyway.