A previous post riffed off a podcast about limerence affairs, and the phases that they pass through. It seems to be a post that resonated with a lot of readers, and to judge from my inbox there are unfortunately a lot of people out there in this unhappy situation. Understandably, they are struggling to make sense of what is happening to them and their spouse, what to do about it, and what it all means for the future of their marriage.
Given that I am not a marriage counsellor (in any professional capacity), I thought it would be useful to reach out to the folks at MarriageRadio.com for a follow up, and put to them the questions that I most commonly receive from people who have written to me since that post went up.
Coach Lee was kind enough to reply, and share his own experience of coaching couples and individuals who are laboring through the impact of limerence on their marriages.
Here are his As to my Qs:
1. In your experience, what proportion of affairs involve limerence?
If it is a long-term, emotional affair, it usually involves limerence. Short-term affairs or one-night stands rarely if ever do. That is because limerence takes some time to develop. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but a one-week fling that ends can escape the limerent impact. I won’t say that it always escapes it, because sometimes a person can build up the experience and the lover to the point that they think themselves into limerence.
2. Do you think that limerence is a symptom of martial problems or the cause of them?
Both. Usually someone has to be primed to be a host for a limerence affair. Let’s take the example of a sexually neglected husband. Don’t get me wrong, I work with equally as many wives who feel sexually neglected, but for this example, let’s say that a husband is often turned down for sex by his wife.
She often doesn’t realize that she is making him feel undesired, undesirable, rejected, and even ugly. The negative impact on a marriage is usually tremendous. It impacts him emotionally to levels that are often discounted as simply not getting relief of a sexual urge. It’s more than that and will be taken personally and internalized within him. So he has a negative association with his wife. She makes him feel bad about himself and, to quote one man I worked with, “She made me feel like I was disgusting.”
Now let’s say he meets a woman who shows sexual interest in him. Usually in a very short time period he feels valued, wanted, important, and special. She makes him feel handsome and desired. He associates positive and joyful feelings with her. Emotional and physical intimacy is likely to follow.
In that case, limerence is a near slam dunk. The wife holds the cards of a past that made him feel that he was disgusting. This new person, now the limerent object, is on the other extreme, reaching beyond sex to the point of making him feel loved and precious. In a case like that, it’s not even a difficult decision unless there are children involved and even then, most people can only take so much rejection by the person who vowed to forsake all others but is also now forsaking them. Some report feeling zero guilt in pushing forward in full force with the affair. …read more of Q and A on Limerence Affair