Like any great play, the third stage of limerence provides a twist. The first two stages of limerence are about looking for reciprocation of feelings. They’re also about bathing in the ecstasy and pain in a hyper-vigilant state. These intense feelings can’t last, though. On this episode of Relationship Radio, we’ll take a look at the reasons why they don’t last and what happens when limerence ends.
The Beginning Of The End
The first stage of limerence is called infatuation. While it starts innocently, you grow more and more fond of your new limerent object. You try to spend as much time with your lover as you can. Your life becomes engulfed by the desire to have your new love interest reciprocate your feelings. You’re constantly watching, waiting for any sign that you can move your relationship to the next phase.
The second stage is where we begin to believe that they have feelings for us. We call it crystallization because those feelings are shared, and you begin to vilify your former partner and blame your failed relationship on them. You still experience the highs and lows from stage one, but instead of looking for signs of reciprocation, you’re looking for signs they might be pulling away. The second stage is where your spouse often finds out about your new relationship.
Stage three of limerence is about waking up from infatuation. You’ve focused so much on the feelings of ecstasy and agony in stage two that we assume they will even out, and you’ll be happily married to your new partner. Unfortunately, that’s not usually what happens. We call stage three of limerence deterioration because those feelings of ecstasy are starting to fade away. The deep love you’ve felt for this person has blinded you to any flaws or faults that they might have, but now you can begin to see them. You see not only their faults but your faults as well, leading to guilt and remorse.
Towards the end of stage two, you start to weigh the benefits versus what you might have given up for this relationship. Most often, people in limerence will feel that they’ve given up more than their limerent object has to be in the relationship. People usually start questioning if it’s worth it. They will look back at the damage it has caused their family, children, and friends, which can lead them into stage three.
Biological Imperatives And Societal Well-Being
Limerence indeed comes to an end within a few years for almost all cases. There is an abundance of research that proves this to be true. But why does it end?
When someone is in limerence, they can expend up to 85% of their waking hours thinking about this new person. Their mind is placed in a hyper-vigilant state as they watch for any sign of reciprocation of their feelings. This hyper-vigilant state carries into stage two of limerence as well. Even though they might think that their limerent object now feels the same way they do, they’re always looking for a sign, whether imagined or perceived, that they might be pulling away.
The amount of energy spent in this endeavor can leave little time to take care of other things in your life. As a result, you might neglect friends, family, or your work. When they feel like their limerent object is pulling away from them, it can send them into a spiraling depression. This depressive state can lead to being very unproductive.
From a biological standpoint, the human race could not survive if people went into this state and stayed there forever. We count on others for our safety, production, and many other things as a society. We are a collective group that survived this long because of our ability to work together, for the most part. If many of us got caught up in limerence, society would not function the way it has for the past few millennia. This is why stage three happens and why it’s a biological imperative that our feelings of limerence start to deteriorate eventually.
If The Third Stage Of Limerence Is Over, Why Haven’t They Come Back?
Deterioration doesn’t happen quickly, and there’s no clear cut or clean break. Most times, it’s a back and forth process with emotions swinging wildly. One person in limerence will almost always deteriorate before the other one does. It often starts with the one who fell into limerence first. The person still in stage two of limerence, or crystallization, will try and pull them back in to save the relationship. In contrast, the person who has started to deteriorate will begin to feel regret and guilt for having gotten into this relationship. That doesn’t mean that they’ll automatically return to their previous relationship.
There are multiple reasons why your spouse might not come running back to you once their limerence fades. First, there might have been issues in your relationship that led them to look for love elsewhere. It might be that they felt put off by how you reacted or things you did when they left you.
They could also feel so much guilt from their actions that they need time to heal and get over it. While the reasons can vary, the truth is, it will take time and effort for your significant other to want to return to their relationship with you.
People don’t leave what they have unless they believe what they’re going to is better. Unfortunately, they have convinced themselves that leaving you was the right choice and often vilified you in the process. Don’t validate those feelings from them by reacting poorly during the process.
While it might be difficult, you have to refrain from acting up around your spouse when they leave. Them leaving you isn’t a problem that can be solved in one day, week, or likely year; it takes time and patience.
Providing them a safe and loving space to return to on their terms is all you can do if you’re willing to fight for your relationship.
How Do I End This Relationship I’m Now Regretting?
The quick and simple answer is to cut all contact with your limerent object. Because the feelings of love have been up and down from the start of limerence, you might want to leave them today but miss them tomorrow or next week. However, if you’ve indeed decided that you want to end the relationship, the only way is to cut all ties with them and ensure you won’t have the ability to find them if you relapse.
While you might have reached the end through deterioration, your limerent object might very well still be in stage two. If they can talk with you, they can quickly remind you of all the good times you’ve had and pull you back into the relationship. Or, in a moment of weakness, you might reach out to your limerent object and prolong the time it takes them to fall out of limerence, giving them false hope that there is still a chance you might be together.
Limerence, or any love for that matter, is messy. There is little anyone can do to prevent at least one person involved in your relationship from being hurt. So no matter how much you might think you’re helping by checking in on your limerent object after you left, you’re hurting everyone involved—while difficult, making a clean break is genuinely the best for everyone.
What Can Marriage Helper Do To Help You?
Marriage Helper is here to try and help you navigate this tumultuous time in your life. We strongly suggest that you come to one of our three-day marriage turnaround workshops, especially if your spouse will go with you. However, if they won’t, there are many resources that you can use on your own.
Setting up a time to speak with one of our many client representatives allows you to have an actual person guide you to articles and programs tailored specifically for your situation.
Check out our free mini-course if your marriage needs help right now and you don’t know what to do. Our mini-course teaches you how to get your spouse back. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you find happiness again.