Tag Archives: Limerence

The thing about old flames is…

25 Jun


QUESTION: Eighteen years ago, before I met my husband, I was madly in love with a married man. We parted because he had young children. We lost touch, but recently he contacted me via Facebook.  He wants to meet ‘one last time’. I adore my husband and children, but long to relive that intense passion. How can I resist this appeal?


Dear Puzzled,

First read this on limerance.  You can’t even begin to address your issue if you don’t understand limerance.  What you had with your old flame is an infatuation.  It’s an amazing feeling and who wouldn’t want to experience that feeling over again.  Intense passion is a lot of fun so go easy on yourself for wanting to relive that part of your life.  That said it’s not in the same ballpark as what you have with your husband which is a loving long term partnership involving children.  That is as connected as it gets.  For poly folk we understand the difference between hot new passion and long term love and commitment.  If you do understand the difference it’s possible to have both so long as you always give your existing relationships the attention they deserve.

In your situation I would meet with your old flame if you like so long as you understand the boundaries of your existing relationship prevent you from fulfilling the desires that might come out of a meeting.  It might be nice to catch up.  Only do this if you are confident you can keep your head on straight.  Good luck.


If you would like a personal question answered directly please send me an email at dearpoly@gmail.com  I’d love to hear from you!


Limerence, teach everyone this word!

8 Jun

Limerence is the most important word/concept that the majority of people in our culture are ignorant of.  It causes so much damage and broken families.  It explains a lot of relationship behavior.  Limerence on Wikipedia  Most people can relate to the word even if they have never heard of it before.  The definition, ““a state that involves intrusive, obsessive, and compulsive thoughts about the object of interest.”  It’s that state where seemingly unrelated thoughts keep coming back to your new romantic interest.  You CAN’T stop thinking about them.  🙂  I think most people know what that feels like.

Limerence is very powerful and can be overwhelming,even addicting, in some people.  The piece that people don’t understand is limerence doesn’t last.  It’s an inherently transient state of mind due entirely to the newness of the romance.  Unfortunately because we are ignorant of this word and concept there are lots of negative relationship fallout.

Consider Tim, a man married for 7 years who has been faithful the whole time.  All of a sudden he find an attractive woman at work who he has a flirtatious relationship with.  Suddenly he is limerent over her much like he was over his wife when they first met.  He decides to cheat, eventually divorce his wife and then marry the new girl.  Then several years later he repeats the process never recognizing the pattern.  This is a VERY common pattern in our society where people are serial monogamous and have multiple marriages.  The problem is Tim doesn’t understand limerence.  He doesn’t understand that new things aren’t BETTER.  They are just new and shiny.  He doesn’t have a proper appreciation of his existing relationship or the understanding that all shiny things eventually fade.  Tim continues to chase the energy of a new relationship hoping to keep those intense feelings alive which is unfortunately impossible.

When starting out in the poly world people often make the mistake of overvaluing new relationships.  Limerence is an amazing high.  It’s easy to get carried away but to have successful mature relationships you need to balance that energy with the understanding that it won’t last.  Make sure your existing relationships are taken care of with the attention and respect they deserve.  Ideally a person skilled at relationships will be able to enjoy a stable, long term, live in partner with whom they share all the important intimate details of their life while simultaneously having the occasional hot new intense energy filled whirlwind romances.  It’s a great life guys and I hope learning more about limerence and it’s limitation can help us all enjoy a more full life.