Wednesday Journal Entry, Week 33
April 5th 2023 – Karina Lafayette
Limerence, lovebombing and lack mindset, key issues that are preventing you from finding genuine connection and you probably don’t even realize it, because of how normalized they are.
Think of the most obvious romantic movie you’ve ever watched and I can guarantee these three things were the main theme. For example, in When Harry Met Sally, Sally’s best friend is always pursuing married men, only to wonder why it never works out. She complains that she can’t find love, but goes after people who aren’t available. In The Notebook, Ryan Gosling’s character Noah threatens to jump off a Ferris wheel in order to manipulate Ally into going out with him. Once the two get together, they slip into a whirlwind romance with just as much drama as passion. When they break up, he writes letters to her everyday for a year, to the point where it’s as if his life is dictated by Ally’s presence. He builds the house she always wanted and waits for her. Don’t get me wrong, as someone who’ll have a good cry to this movie once in a while and who admires their devotion to each other, I can’t help but feel that some parts of The Notebook are better as fantasy. And I say this as someone who wants nothing more than to have that one special person for the rest of my life.
Another movie where we see limerence is in the classic scene from Love, Actually. You know which scene I’m talking about. The scene where one of the characters stands outside Keira Knightley’s house and professes his love, while her current man is literally right there.
And really, there’s nothing wrong with wanting connection. Humans are social creatures and anyone who tells you that you just have to love yourself and shouldn’t need anyone, is either a robot or full of shit. Not all of us need romance to be happy, but relationships, whether it’s a partner, friends, family or coworkers- even pets, do matter. Interestingly enough, it’s actually by denying this innate need that you fall prey to things like limerence, lovebombing and lack mindset in the first place.
I’ll get into the definitions in a bit, but first, going back to the example with The Notebook, I agree with the critics who say that they were toxic for each other. Of course, a lot of the ways they show love is toxic, at least when they first meet, but when you keep in mind the class difference and time period, and the fact that women got married to the man her family found socially acceptable, it’s not like they had a choice. Back then, if you didn’t get to marry for love, you would be miserable. Divorce was not an option either. Ally knew deep down he was the one, and to expect them to simply forget each other would be unfair, even though I’m glad her mom made her get an education instead of dropping out to be with him.
As for the Ferris wheel scene, back then it was common for men to pursue in a way that would now be considered as stalking. If the story were to take place today, when we do have that choice, it isn’t so romantic. People nowadays aren’t obligated to stay in miserable relationships to please their family. Even if it makes them angry, it’s not like women in the West are doomed to be labelled a spinster if they refuse to marry who their parents like, or if we refuse to get married at all. So if someone can’t choose you even though they could, it’s probably because they don’t want you as bad as they say.
Now, I’m in no way referring to someone who’s trapped in an abusive relationship. I’m talking about scenarios where people are supposedly in love with someone who isn’t their partner, and they choose to stay with their partner anyhow, while expecting the outside person to sit in the dark. That isn’t genuine love. That’s limerence. Genuine love pushes you to do whatever it takes to be with the one you want. Envisioning an entire life with someone you have no intention to take seriously is just another form of escapism, because it’s easier to do that than to take action in the real world. Plain and simple.
What is limerence?
Limerence is often an intense fixation on someone who’s unavailable. I wrote about my experience with it in an article you can read later. Typically, it’ll feel like a crush, but it usually involves excessive fantasies that can take over one’s life or prevent someone from finding true connection, because they’re too caught in something that might be, rather than what is. Limerence is usually a trauma response to early childhood where we didn’t get enough affection from caretakers, or it can be used as a way to avoid intimacy if the people closest to us were abusive in some way. For abuse survivors, limerence feels safe, because you can get a feeling of “love” for someone without the trouble of having a deep connection to them, and there’s a lower risk of getting hurt.
Although it’s also possible to be limerent while in a relationship. People who jump into relationships too quickly tend to build a fantasy around their partner and put them on a pedestal, not realizing that they’re in love with the idea of them more than the actual person. After all, the bubble bursts and when limerence isn’t possible anymore, there’s a moment of resentment when you finally realize that the person you’re with will never be who you wanted them to be. For example, my ex put me on a pedestal early in our relationship, only to make me feel bad whenever I had episodes of depression and mood swings, because that side of my personality interrupted the idea he had of me. He could only love me as long as I was one-dimensional and his version of perfect.
There are many times we get caught up in limerence without realizing it. We get caught up in limerence whenever we admire a crush from afar because it’s easier than risking rejection. We get caught up in limerence anytime we become obsessed with the idea of marrying a celebrity we’ll probably never meet. We also get caught up in limerence anytime we entertain the idea of the one who got away, leaving us in a position of missing out on the right person, because we’re waiting for another to come back. And this isn’t a criticism either, I’ve been limerent and so have lots of people, and not talking about it, only makes the issue worse.
However, because the term is still pretty new, most of us who’ve experienced it, probably don’t even know. Limerence can even lead to depression, because with time, you realize that the person you’re fixated on isn’t coming back, and if not careful, it can make you feel hopeless, like you’ll never find love again, which couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Of course, there’s no doubt that sometimes we meet people at the wrong time, but don’t you think if something is mean to be, the universe will make it happen regardless of whether you focus on it? Do you really want to put your life on hold for something that may or may not happen? I know because I’ve been there and done that. And to be honest, I’ve been guilty of being limerent because like I said before, it just feels safer than confronting a real present person who may be able to love me and risk hurting me. After awhile, limerence feels lonely, because you realize that the relationship you want won’t happen unless you’re willing to build it in the real world.
What is lovebombing?
Lovebombing is what it sounds like. It’s usually romantic behavior that feels like too much candy. Sweet at first, only to leave an unpleasant aftertaste, exactly like that Ferris wheel scene in The Notebook. For someone with a healthy attachment style, lovebombing is almost always unattractive, because you’re wired to spot the bullshit from a mile away. However, for those with anxious attachment, which I’ve spent years healing from, it feels like a wet dream. Like finally, someone is willing to give you their undying devotion, only it’s like the relationship is on steroids. In my first relationship, the two of us were exclusive almost a month after we met. Not a month after dating, a month after we met– as in, I didn’t know him before, but oh, it felt like I knew him. Although looking back, it felt familiar because it was the same toxic drama I grew up with. The “love” was laid out so thick, I couldn’t see that he was plotting to get me to marry him so he could stay in the country. He said all the right things and did all the right things, but it was too much too soon. And when the honeymoon phase was over, it became hell.
The problem with lovebombing is that usually it happens so fast, that everything around turns into a haze. So if you’re spending time with each other 24/7, or constantly texting every five minutes, lovebombing is very easy. Occasionally people will perform lovebombing if they’re desperate to find love, it doesn’t mean they’re a dangerous person. Often times, it means you’re in an abusive relationship in the making. Lovebombing can feel exhilarating if you’re not used to healthy intimacy, but if you know what that’s like, lovebombing will feel… icky.
Some dating coaches claim that people will be obsessed when they’re in love. That they’ll text every five minutes and be all over you. That when you meet them, you just know right away. As someone who’s had obsessive types, I can confirm this is [mostly] a lie. The obsessive type usually loves you for the fantasy, not for the real you. It’s only a matter of time before this kind of person sees your flaws, and when they do, they will fall out of love, because they can’t accept that they’re imagination will never match the person in front of them.
Just last week, I was talking to someone. It was my first time in several years that I’ve flirted, and I was excited, so much that after planning a first date, we texted for hours. We had a few things in common, but then I started to notice red flags. Even though we didn’t yet meet in person, he “joked” about our future kids. He said a few times how he was gonna make me fall in love with him, but never how he was gonna fall in love with me. He also occasionally made flirty remarks, which just got more and more overt, almost like he was just testing my boundaries instead of actually trying to create intimacy. He even had the audacity to ask if I was submissive or dominant. Another red flag is that he basically insulted my love of Sailor Moon and anything girly and pink, despite the fact that he was initially attracted to my pink hair, ‘cause you know, you gotta build a pedestal up before knocking it down, right? In the words of Taylor Swift, “I think I’ve seen this film before, and I didn’t like the ending.”
After blocking him, I was almost shaking, because to think, if we had met a few years back, I would’ve easily fell for all that again, but I didn’t. The reason why it’s easier for me to spot though, isn’t really because I’ve already experienced it, it’s more because I know what I want in a partner and because I love myself. So I want someone who’s comfortable enough with themselves that they respect me and don’t feel the need to rush what’s meant to be. Nevermind, I love the idea of finding someone who’s comfortable being alone, as counterintuitive as it sounds. Not that I’m perfect, it’s happen a number of times that I was the one who wanted to rush someone into loving me, but hey, at least I’m self-aware and working on doing better.
In the past, the reason why it would be easy for me to fall prey to lovebombing is because of the last point I wanted to talk about, which is lack mindset.
What is lack mindset?
Lack mindset is a bit tricky to explain. In New Age circles, it’s often misunderstood as this idea that people experience things like poverty just because of how they think of money and finances, and abundance in general. Lack mindset has nothing to do with simply thinking a certain way, and it’s not something people should be blamed for either. Some parts of the world struggle with poverty because of war and racism, not because they manifested it.
Lack mindset, like limerence, usually starts in childhood. For example, if you were raised by two parents who only stayed married for the family, despite obviously being unhappy together, as an adult, you probably feel obligated to stay in bad relationships or settle for the wrong people, because you were raised to believe that you’ll never do better, or that there aren’t enough chances at love. Obviously that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Love is everywhere and while we shouldn’t be willing to give just anyone a chance, if someone isn’t the right fit, there’s no reason to feel hopeless. You’ll find a better fit. It’s really just about remembering what you want and that everything in life happens when it needs to. And that we live on a planet with eight billion people, which is enough for everyone.
Another example of lack mindset is when we get obsessed with a “type”, because we have this fantasy of what our person looks like. So anytime we meet someone who can be a good partner for us, we reject them because they’re not everything you expect. This reminds me of a scene in 500 Days of Summer, when Tom’s friend Paul says about his partner, “Robin is better than the girl of my dreams. She’s real.” A huge contrast to Tom, who wants Summer to be the right one, even if she consistently tells him that she doesn’t want a relationship.
Something that’s also important to understand about lack mindset is that it often keeps us in survival mode, and makes living in the present moment impossible. Because we’re so focused on not yet having that career, that relationship, or that milestone, we miss out on learning to enjoy where we’re at. The best way to undo lack mindset is to understand that not every disappointment is a bad thing, sometimes two people just aren’t a good fit, and it doesn’t take away from who you are as a person. You don’t need a partner to realize your worth.
When it comes to romcoms, I think that even though the characters can be a bit problematic, the best way to enjoy these movies is to sub-categorize them as fantasy. As long as we remember that a lot of these stories don’t happens in real life, there’s no harm in enjoying them. It’s ridiculous to expect movies to match real life. Although one romcom that comes close is When Harry Met Sally. Even if it’s obvious to the viewer that they’re going to be together, it isn’t obvious to them. When Harry and Sally take the car ride to New York at the beginning of the movie, they irritate each other. They’re both young and obviously aren’t ready for something deeper. And honestly, they aren’t compatible… yet. Harry is a player there and Sally thinks she’s perfect in every way. Once they meet a few times more, they eventually become friends, and it’s through those moments that the relationship blossoms. No fantasy, no expectations, it just… happens.
All in all, what limerence, lovebombing and lack mindset have in common is a need for completion. It’s like a hunger that never ends. The easiest way to start healing from these things is to remember that you already are good enough, regardless of whether you’ve met the right person, and that love can take many forms, in different kinds of relationships. Romance is something that you should strive for if that’s what you want, but it shouldn’t be the end goal. The real end goal should be about getting the chance to connect with another person in a way that doesn’t happen every day, by talking and creating a space where both of you feel safe and appreciated enough to be your weird, beautiful selves.
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If you enjoyed this article, you might want to check out This Virgo Rising is Done with Limerence.
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