Getting over limerance
December 2, 2009 7:55 PM   Subscribe

Stop the limerance! Alternatively, how do I get over someone?

I’m not sure why I’m having a hard time letting go of this person. There is a guy that I’ve been hanging out with on a platonic basis weekly for the last year now. It is habitual that on Friday we go out to eat, get drinks, etc. We also talk on the phone anywhere from a couple times a week to a couple times a day. Even though we are friends I’m very attracted to him.

Because I am a coward I haven’t made a move but I’ve come to the realization that I’m living in fantasy land and need to move my life forward. I may just (A) tell him that I am attracted to him via email (and watch the friendship collapse) or (B) I may just distance myself – I’m on the fence because this same guy and another woman briefly crossed the lines in terms of friendship (they slept together), but since that time he has virtually stopped interacting with the woman. I am hoping to at least keep the friendship.

I’ve had no problem ending relationships with men before and can usually do this easily and quickly (and usually love the freedom afterwards). I’m not sure why I can’t let go of this because this isn’t even real.

I’m concerned that whether I follow scenario A or B there will be empty space (I will miss the phone calls and going out on Friday).

So I am asking the hive mind for suggestions as to how to deal with it afterwards – did you ever mange to use the end of limerance/(or break up even though this isn’t the case) to motivate yourself to do other things? Creative projects? Meet new people? I need some motivation for the aftermath. I am also very introverted/shy so meeting new people doesn’t sound rewarding or fun. Finally, I’ve managed to create a very flexible life – I could move or travel for a few months if I needed to although this seems extreme.

Any rational reasons as to why I should end this would be helpful, too. I’ve planned to stop this for a long time (or just tell him), but it isn’t working.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (21 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Why would you kill this thing before it's even dead? Seems like a waste of an opportunity to me. The worst thing that could happen when you try to take it to the next level is that he doesn't want to and ends it. And at least then you'll know. Just because the attraction is in your head doesn't mean it's not real.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:09 PM on December 2, 2009 [7 favorites]

What makes you think he's not interested?? Why have you ruled this out?

If I were you I would want to at least SEE if he maybe is interested. THis is what I'd do: Get DRUNK with him and get flirty... invite him back to your house and see if he wants to stay over... or something. Is it so hard to make a move? Put a little alcohol in the equation, suggest a sleepover... see where it goes. He might be in love with you.

If it turns out he's not interested, yeah you will be embarrassed for a while but at least you put yourself out there and went for it. Better to regret trying than not trying, right? Gotta live life. So the friendship might cool off for a while but then you can start hanging out again and act like nothing's happened. Really... I've been there and you'll be fine!
posted by saturn~jupiter at 8:09 PM on December 2, 2009

It's possible that you're having more trouble coming to a decision on this situation because you've gotten to a much deeper intimacy level with this guy (not including sex, obviously) than you previously had with regular relationships. He's become an important and regular part of your life for the last year, and I doubt either of you would make so much time for the other if you didn't genuinely care about each other. I'm not saying that his feelings for you are romantic, but I'm also not saying that they're not.

Now, if you're considering distancing yourself from him because it hurts, why don't you spill your feelings? If he doesn't reciprocate, then the end result is the same, isn't it? And if you don't find out if there's something more there, then will you always wonder?
posted by scarykarrey at 8:09 PM on December 2, 2009 [4 favorites]

Maybe I'm missing something here, but why couldn't you tell him in person and go from there? At the very worst, things will be awkward for a while, but it sounds like they're already pretty awkward with your huge, unexpressed attraction that's taking up space and not paying its share. And it sounds like you're planning on losing this guy anyway (writing off the relationship before it starts--don't worry, we all do it), so even if you end up not being able to spend time together, how is that worse than any alternative? If you're not going to have this guy in your life anymore, it may as well be because you tried, not because you didn't try.

To mix a few metaphors: you miss 100% of the shots you don't take, so go ahead and make that pass. (mimes swinging a baseball bat)
posted by tellumo at 8:16 PM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I know I'm going to sound like a dick here, but it's spelled limerence.

I think that you should tell the guy how you feel. It doesn't seem like any of the options you listed would salvage the friendship in the long run, so if you confess to him and things become too awkward to continue, what have you really lost? (Why would you sooner move than give this a try? )

By the way, I wouldn't suggest outright confessing your feelings towards him. Assuming there's no flirting going on, start it. If there is, say something as simple as, "Hey, I really like you, how about we make our next meet up a date?"
posted by biochemist at 8:17 PM on December 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

did you ever mange to use the end of limerance/(or break up even though this isn’t the case) to motivate yourself to do other things?


When I started thinking that my 4+ year relationship wasn't going to work, I took the opportunity to do everything I could to put myself in a better place for the breakup. I started volunteering for a local music magazine to expand my circle of friends, I started paying more attention to the way I look, and I started exercising a lot more (more for psychological benefits than aesthetic). All of these helped with the way I felt after the breakup, and I recommend them.

Even though you're introverted, I'd recommend trying to meet a few new people somehow. I'm fairly introverted as well, but I needed to replace the human contact I'd lost.
posted by ripley_ at 8:28 PM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I should add that I also endorse making a move - but I think you're smart to want to prepare for the sting of rejection if you think it will be painful/awkward.
posted by ripley_ at 8:30 PM on December 2, 2009

scarykarrey - YES

But there is something else to consider - energy exchange.

I know. It's a weird concept, stick with me...

He knows you crush on him, he's into that, but not a relationship. You love the feeling of the exchange... you want more. He might just be comfortable with the exchange...

What will you do if he doesn't return your overture? Do you think that might be a sign he's more into the energy/admiration than he is into you??


Go ahead - spill! And if you don't get A++ response from this guy after hanging out with you regularly for a year - move on, EMOTIONALLY.


FWIW - I had a crush on my now best friend for a while, a while back. He confessed when confronted he wasn't that into me. 4 years later I'm happily married to someone else, he's yet to have a serious connection, we're still great friends.

I know now I wasn't for him, but we're still each other's best ideal of a family member not realized through blood. Does that make sense??

Aww, heck - another way to say it is that my husband is WAY cooler than my friend, and I hope desperately he finds same.

That said, without the genuine affection and support of my friend, I would not have been lead to my husband. My friend was the first adult who showed me absolute loyalty and honesty. My friendship with friend helped me identify many of the key qualities that made my husband right for me. And me right for him!


For you, this friendship sounds like a gift, whatever the outcome.

Treasure it.
posted by jbenben at 8:36 PM on December 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

I've been there. My friend and I talked like 4 hours a week on the phone. I had a crush on him for a year and a half, we had our rituals after chemistry labs, before exams (we were both students at the time in the same classes), etc. etc...

You keep saying you want to cool this off because you don't think he feels the same and you don't want to ruin the friendship. First off, Nthing everyone above: how do you know he doesn't feel the same way? He very well might! Ask him straight up in a very unambiguous manner. I utilized the "I'm asking you out, are you interested?", but I'm very frank in my advances. Adapt as you see fit.

In my case, I did ask, and he really didn't feel the same way (boo). Yeah, it hurt, didn't ruin the friendship, at all. (Silver lining for you! If your friend and you are as close as you made it sound like, he should genuinely care for you regardless of romance. The friendship doesn't have to die.) It was awkward for a few days, then we both got over it and were still as close as ever all the way until he moved across the continent and we lost touch over distance. Don't assume the worst case scenario until evidence shows that you have to.

Carpe diem, seize the boy. Ask him! And good luck.
posted by Hakaisha at 10:15 PM on December 2, 2009

I had the same feeling for someone for several years. I never confronted him and have to say that, in my case, that was the right thing to do. This 30+ year friendship has lasted far longer than any of his relationships. I'm happily married to someone else and have the bonus of a wonderful friend for life. My friend and I love each other dearly. What more could I want?
posted by Gusaroo at 10:31 PM on December 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

If I were you, I'd be deciding what I'll regret most in the future - and then breaking landspeed records to do what I'd regret the least.

I'd regret NOT saying 'hey, I'm developing some feelings here, how about you?'. Why live your life wondering? He might feel the same way. He might not. But do you want to never know? Do you want to look back in 20 years, wondering 'what if?'?

(But maybe that's just because I'm the sort of chick who regrets the things she didn't do, rather than the things she did. YMMV.)
posted by malibustacey9999 at 12:57 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Agreeing with of course you should make a move. But I definitely wouldn't do the getting drinky idea...if he gets too loose, you could end up sleeping together and having a great time, but then there can be those "Did I do that because I was wasted?" thoughts, and that could ruin what you have.

I'd play everything normally and when you're having fun next time you're out (but before he's got really lowered inhibitions), very slowly lean over and murmur "I've always wanted to do this..." and start kissing him. Check the response. You're probably either going to get a very relieved guy or a slightly perturbed guy.
posted by dzaz at 2:51 AM on December 3, 2009

Tell him! I've done this on at least two occasions now, and wow, is it liberating!!!

The thing you have to get over is this feeling that liking him is something bad - something he wouldn't respond positively to.

One person who I revealed my feelings was enormously flattered, and we continue to be great friends. He didn't reject me, nor has he made a move, but I feel great when I'm with him - the ball is finally in his hands, and I feel so relieved that he knows, now I don't really care what happens. I am very happy being his friend, and I feel content knowing that he has the knowledge necessary to make some changes to our friendship, if he wants to!

You will feel 1000 times better knowing he knows. As long as you don't act weird, he won't act weird. But you will no longer feel the tension and the longing you feel, cause it'll no longer be your little secret.

You will no longer have to think "Oh no! Could he tell by the look on my face that I'm in love with him? Will he ever get it? Does he realize it but just not care? " *agony*

Instead you will think "I am so happy to see him. He knows I am happy. Cool. " *cool as a cucumber*
posted by Locochona at 3:51 AM on December 3, 2009

Are you "living in fantasy land" because you know this isn't a possibility, or are you just bothered that you spend so much time daydreaming about it? If there's no concrete reason for you to think he's not interested, by all means, let him know how you feel. Don't throw something wonderful away just because you're not sure he feels the same.

However, it does sound like you're fairly certain he won't reciprocate, in which case distancing yourself might be the better option. I was in a very similar situation recently, and ended up picking option B, with mixed results. I'd rather not go into specifics here (people who know me use some of the same internets,) but I'd be happy to commiserate via (m)email.

The upshot, though, was that I tried at first to move on without actually moving AWAY from her, and ended up ruining what would have been a good relationship with someone else, and completely failing to pursue another, because I couldn't stop comparing the other women to her.

If you think you can salvage the friendship and still get on with your life, good on you. Just be aware that it's likely to be harder than you think.
posted by Limiter at 4:13 AM on December 3, 2009

If this guy is hanging out with you as a "friend" every friday night, and talking with you almost daily, then I can assure you he has feelings for you that go beyond "my buddy from work" feelings or whatever. He may be just as tied in knots as you are. Someone has to take a risk and be brave. Or else you have to just enjoy the tension for what it is.

I've been in this situation -- who hasn't? -- from both sides. You do have one other option, which is to be as loving as you can be as a friend and move on with your romantic life, or else accept that's all it can ever be and learn to thrive in that situation without pining for something more. It can be done, mostly, although it's never easy when the attraction is strong. Fact of the matter is that a) just because two people are romantically attracted to each other doesn't mean they have to act on it; b) it's not as if there aren't other fish in the sea who would be just as wonderful, so one problem with a deep male/female friendship-avec-erotic-tension is that it can crowd out other possibilities (change genders as appropriate for your wiring); and c) you have deferred limerence, not primary limerence, to worry about here. The more you imagine what might be, the more compelling it becomes, and the less likely it is that any real relationship with this guy would live up to the billing (although the long deferral is a heck of a way to get off to a fiery start when you finally jump the barrier, and some people enjoy that so much it's damn the torpedoes, which come when you're six months into the relationship, the limerence fades, and you're left with "how the hell did we think this was going to work out?" questions. Happens all the time.

We all wonder what would happen if we voiced our attractions every time we felt them. But if they're mutual, they don't need to be voiced to be salient, nor acted on to be fulfilling.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:24 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

The fact is, no move on his part probably means he's not interested, or at least not interested enough to form the basis of a relationship. You shouldn't chase after people who aren't interested in you. However, it will be much easier to move on with your friendship with him if you bring it up and discuss it with him in a calm way -- that way, on the off chance he *is* interested, you'll know; and if not, you can move on. You may feel awkward and need to take a break for a while, but your friendship can still work out if you're mature about it. Read some Jane Austen for inspiration.
posted by yarly at 7:31 AM on December 3, 2009

What strikes me is that this man reserves his Friday nights for dinner and drinks with you, rather than sometimes spending them with you (as a friend) and sometimes taking other women (or a girlfriend) out on actual dates. Has he had relationships throughout your friendship? Does he only go on dates on Saturdays or something? I don't know if that means he's interested in you but has neglected to mention it, or if that means he wants intimate friendships rather than a romantic partnership, or if it just means he really likes routines. I just think it's sort of an odd pattern for a single man to be in.

I have a two sets of friends who were in a similar situation to yours (they spent years as "just good friends"). In one case it turned out they were both secretly interested in each other, and in the other case it turned out only one of them was interested and the other just liked having dinner plans. The latter set of friends ended up dealing with it in a kind of unhealthy way (they only hinted at it or talked about it while drunk; un-interested friend liked the attention, kind of led the interested friend on; interested friend thought it was possible to "convince" un-interested friend).

In my opinion, an in-person, sober (I mean non-drunk, not deadly serious) conversation in which you honestly express that you're interested in him gives you the best shot at either getting the response you hope for or at least preserving the friendship to the extent possible. Too much can be misunderstood in e-mails or "Oops, I had a few too many and poured my heart out" conversations. Unless you know for certain that he's not interested in you romantically, give your friend a chance to respond honestly and honorably to your feelings.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:31 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

The fact is, no move on his part probably means he's not interested, or at least not interested enough to form the basis of a relationship.


There's been no move on the OP's part either, but she's clearly interested.
posted by ripley_ at 8:30 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Whether it's nature or nurture, or just following societal expectations, guys usually do make a move (or send really strong, unmistakable signals) if they're interested. I don't think this is always 100% true, though, which is why I think the OP should make a move.
posted by yarly at 9:51 AM on December 3, 2009

Whether it's nature or nurture, or just following societal expectations, guys usually do make a move

Um, yeah, no.

Shy guys do not necessarily make a move. Sometimes for years. If I had a dollar for every guy who told me how they'd had a huge crush on me for years but were terrified to ask me out, I'd have many many dollars. (Note to any shy guys reading this: Telling someone at her wedding that you had a huge crush on them for years but were terrified to ask them out is not as cool as you might think.)

I have just checked this with the Largely Mythological Husband, who says that between ages 15 and 30 he was terrified to ask women out, including the women he had giant crushes on, and if his first couple of girlfriends hadn't pounced on him he would never hae gotten any.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:53 PM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Like I said, I don't think it's 100% true that guys make the first move, but most will, or will give unequivocal signals that they want you to do it. Even the shy guys usually give out clear signals that they like you, if you're paying attention. It's the ones who have drinks with you every Friday for a year without making a move or acting like they really "like" like you that you have to be skeptical about...
posted by yarly at 9:22 AM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

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