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  • Writer's pictureTom Robinson

Limerence - how to heal a fractured heart

Healing from bipolar disorder (not only the disease but reconciling with the decimation of my adult life) has been a challenge that is beyond description. However, after many years of painstaking effort I have succeeded.


What I was not fully aware of however, was that I was also suffering with limerence.


Limerence is a horrendous condition which is caused (normally) by a romantic relationship with someone who first showers you with green lights and then retreats - BUT not fully!

What the limerent object (LO) does is that he or she keeps feeding breadcrumbs for years afterwards which leaves the limerent person in a state of constant heartbreak and confusion.


Normally the LO is an anxious avoidant type. They want you but they can't handle their feelings. As soon as they start to feel love they retreat. This is usually (not always) because they have had a parent who has been available and then distant or removed, and the parent has then repeated that pattern through LO's childhood. This means that LO goes headlong into romantic passion then freaks out and retreats. He or she then can't cope with the loss so they pop back up for years afterwards accentuating the limerent's pain.


When I read Dr L's book Living with Limerence it was so jaw-droppingly revealing that I read the entire book in one sitting. I realised that my LO had contributed in a MAJOR way to my disorder and suffering. It is my belief that many of those diagnosed with bipolar are also suffering from limerence (they may also ONLY be suffering from limerence which is why prescribing drugs should be done judiciously!!) - psychiatrists take note!


Anyway, the book is great but it doesn't really deal with how to overcome limerence. Here are a few things that have helped...


Intellectual challenges.


Unfortunately for me I have been plagued with thoughts of LO pretty much constantly (including dreams) so it takes an enormous challenge for my mind to switch it off! The things that are enough to silence LO are: speaking in French, reading philosophy and playing the piano.


Honest reflection.


Realising LO behaved inappropriately and accentuated my pain has helped to bring clarity. LO would never understand it so there would never be any point in meeting LO or ever rekindling any kind of relationship. Game over! Delete everything, block if you have to! But... forgive... (see God later).


Gardening and nature.


Falling in love with nature again has helped enormously. Appreciating the smallest things really can help. Flowers increase dopamine in the brain. Grow them - honestly it helps!


Animals.


They don't hurt you or wake you up in the night and tell you they are freaking out and don't/can't love you anymore. The same applies to books... READ THEM!


Writing about it.


I went into my pain and wrote an entire romantic novel (in submission as we speak). It hurt horrendously to write through it (terrible pain in the heart almost Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy). BUT finishing it has helped to bring clarity to my own situation and has helped to free me.


Knowing I'm Good alone.


What suffering does (if you can traverse the valley of the shadow of death) is that it gives you incredible COURAGE post illness/limerence. Those who have been damaged are immensely strong as a result - because they KNOW they can survive!!! Once you get here you realise you need no one... (you may and can still want a romantic relationship but you don't NEED one, and there's a difference).


God.


'Love Divine ALL Loves Excelling'. I've known for ages that I needed to confront the God question. For years I begged God to make LO change but when I finally broke down in church that was when the healing began. Rather than rallying against God, I let him in...(there were multiple events that led up to this, including death, solitude, lamenting and pain) BUT finding my faith has really been the biggest help of all. Forgiveness is the major player here. You must let LO go with love and forgiveness. Everyone is dealing with their own pain. LO behaved (unconsciously probably) with cruelty because of their own (probably unconscious) pain, insecurity and suffering. Forgive. Forgive them Lord for LO knew/knows not what he/she did to me.


And when you can TRULY accept 'Thy Will Be Done' you know you've made the 'leap of faith'!!


Poetry.


The Romantics can lead me back into limerence so read with caution! The poet to read is Adelaide A Proctor. She obviously understood pain on a level of limerence too. Also read Lilias Trotter - parables of the Christ life, Nietzsche, Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing - Kierkegaard.


I really hope that some of these things might help others too. Surviving limerence is impossibly hard and only those who have experienced it could possibly understand.


I wish every limerent out there a tonne of luck with their recovery and empathise ENORMOUSLY!!


TR




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