Madly In Love With The Affair Partner?

This type of affair is one of two ways it may be experienced for those having an affair. Not every affair has limerence as a component. 

This type of limerent affair is characterized by the betrayer believing they are "madly in love" with the affair partner, and they are willing to risk everything to be with their affair partner. With this type, betrayers feel love sickness when they are not with their affair partner and feel powerless to stop this love addiction to them. (Read earlier blog posts of limerence for a complete description of what they are experiencing.)  

It is not uncommon for them to feel guilty about what they are doing, but at the same time, they feel they are no longer in love with their spouse and know that they will never be happy unless they are with their lover.

This limerent affair is not necessarily based on sex, but on the powerful emotions they experience with this person. In this type of affair, betrayers have most likely made the decision to leave their marriage. They believe that they can never be happy unless they get to be with the one they love.

Many times there is a pattern of the betrayer swinging back and forth between their marriage and their affair partner. When they are at home, trying to do what is right, they are miserable and feel they will never be happy. When they are with their affair partner, they are ecstatic, but may be feeling so guilty that they can't stand it, so they move back home only to feel miserable and to realize once again that they can never be happy unless they go back to the affair partner. The betrayer's in and out stance can continue for years. Betrayers often seem incapable of making a decision about what they are going to do. Even though they don’t want to be in the marriage. 

This situation is not hopeless, even though you probably have been told numerous times it is by your spouse. While this description may cause you to believe your situation is hopeless, please know that it is not. 

Often times with this type of affair, the betrayer has a very difficult time completely cutting of the affair partner even after the affair is "over." This may also be because the affair partner is also experiencing limerence. 

Part of the process of working through this type of affair is the betrayer needs to understand what they are experiencing. They may continue to believe the affair partner is their soul mate, until they understand what limerence really is and how to get out of it. Until that is done this dance of insanity will probably continue for a long time. 

The Moment The Love Sick Fall In Love

As we already discussed in a previous blog post, limerence is the name given to the condition people experience when they experience lovesickness, infatuation, obsessive love and addictive love. 

What a typical limerence experience looks like as described by Dorothy Tennov. Each step listed below builds on top of the other:

  • The experience of limerence begins at a specific recallable point. Typically the moment is when eye contact is made with the “love object.” The “love object” is someone the limerence experiencer is physically attracted too or the limerence experiencer feels like this person is interested in them that is enough to induce limerence.  
  • Thinking about the “love object” becomes pleasurable, with a feeling of freeness and focus on the positive attributes of the “love object.” At this stage it is possible to have more than one potential “love object,” because it is the beginning of the relationship, and limerence hasn’t hit its full peak yet. 
  • Potential reciprocation from the “love object” can be euphoric, there is a persistent review of “love objects” positive qualities, replaying interactions and increased focus of one’s own relevant attributes. 
  • Romantic love or love addiction increases where obstacles exist or when the person experiencing limerence doubts their “love object” feels the same way about them. It is important to recognize that eventually even when the person experiencing limerence does notice the possibility of negative attributes about their “love object” the feelings of “love” do not slow down for them. During this stage attempts are made to improve physical appearance and/or any status in order to increase desirability and there is an increasing fear of rejection. 
  • With doubt and hope about having their love returned, thinking about the “love object” can reach 100% of their time for the person experiencing limerence. This can lead to feelings of euphoria or despair/depression. This deep thinking about the “love object” can be interrupted by activities that helps the person experiencing limerence feel like they are more desirable to their “love object.”
  • When and if the “love object” loves back the feelings of lovesickness stabilizes until the next period of uncertainty. Intensity can increase again once adversity is perceived by the person experiencing limerence. 

Limerent episodes on average have a minimum duration of 1-3 years to 7 years, with a few dissipating within 6 months and some lasting decades. 

Understanding The Mind of The Love Sick

Not every affair has the characteristics of limerence, but many do. And those affairs that do have characteristics of limerence they do not necessarily last for many years or go through all the steps listed below. The limerent affairs that last for years are those where limerence has reached its full peak. Understanding limerence may be important to understanding who your spouse was during their affair. 

Limerence is commonly known as infatuation, lovesickness, romantic love, love addiction, or obsessive love. More clinically, by Wakin and Vo (2008) limerence has been defined as “an involuntary interpersonal state that involves intrusive, obsessive, and compulsive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are contingent on perceived emotional reciprocation from the object of interest.” Limerence is what many people experience when they “fall in love” or have a “romantic relationship” with someone. 

Limerence researcher, Dorothy Tennov suggests that limerence is a “certain state that some people were in much of the time, others in some of the time, but still others never in, or at least not yet.” 

Dorothy Tennov also describes the following signs of what a person is experiencing with limerence. 

  1. Intrusive thinking about “love object.”
  2. A longing for reciprocation from the “love object.”
  3. Based on how the limerence experiencer interprets or perceives the “love objects” behaviors it will significantly alter the limerence experiencers mood for good or bad. 
  4. Limerence experiencers will only have one person they have a love addiction too unless it is in the early days of limerence or it is an experience of fading limerence. 
  5. Daydreaming about the “love object” returning your “love and affection” can cause you to feel relief from the “pains” of this limerent experience. 
  6. People who experience lovesickness or limerence tend to be shy around their “love object” and fear the “love objects” rejection. 
  7. Adversity can intensify the limerence i.e. being broken up by the “love object,” them telling you they don’t like you, finding being with them a challenge can intensify the feelings. 
  8. Individuals stuck in lovesickness find themselves preoccupied with looking for signs that their love is returned, wether those signs are realistic or not. 
  9. When you are experiencing limerence their is tremendous heartache when you feel uncertain about the future with your “love object.” And when you are uncertain if they like you or love you back. 
  10. When an individual does feel like their “love object” likes or loves them back they have a feeling of walking on air. 
  11. When an individual experiences obsessive love, other concerns in life are placed in the background. 
  12. Individuals experiencing infatuation, they emphasize the attractive positive qualities (and even the average qualities) while largely ignoring the negative qualities of their “love object.”