Help - I'm Limerent/Can't Get Over Someone I Never Dated and It's Ruining My Life
This problem that I am about to share with you is extremely personal. Very few people know the true gravity of this. It shames me to reveal the horrendous reality that I am no longer the sole centerpiece of my life. It makes me feel as though I've lost control and pieces of myself as a result. Although I'm a nerdy alt chick, I am far from socially inept and the frequency/amount of romantic/sexual interest that others express for me indicates that I've got something going on.Although I've gained some weight due to depression, I've always carried it well and I've been paid to model on multiple occasions. I've been told I'm a great conversationalist and that I have an excellent understanding or "grip" of social situations. Unfortunately, I'm usually not interested in the people that ask me out. I am turned on by intelligence and go for nerdy guys, but that's often the only thing we have in common and my good looks simply aren't good enough to compensate for my quirkiness, regardless of how charming it might be. Admittedly, I'm pretty out-there but I am cognizant and far from creepy, nor do I make people feel uncomfortable with it, especially since everyone tells me that is their favorite thing about me and I'm quite popular. People also tell me without any provocation on my part that I'm one of the most likable and genuine people they know.
Anyway, I guess I should get on with dragging this skeleton out of my closet...
I was going to give you some details as to what happened, but I realized that it would be fruitless because honestly, the surrounding details would only detract attention from the heart of the matter. I have severe oneitis that has done some serious damage to my physical and psychological health. (I was starving myself at one point and didn't realize I was becoming dangerously underweight until I examined my "adjusted" BMI.) I had a crush on this really nerdy guy who was also really alternative like me and into a lot of the obscure music and oddities that I'm into. Other factors compounded the situation revolving around his rejection that made the experience VERY traumatic. (He didn't attack me, but after I thought he had rejected me the first time, I left his place and got raped by someone else right afterwards. He knows about it - well, the people at his place had to know about it because the guy was, come to find out, an actual serial rapist. That, and a series of other really fucked up incidents surrounding it made my life a living hell for a while.) I just graduated from our college in Maryland in 2013 but he graduated the year prior, although I'd see him around campus sometimes. Whenever I would see him around on campus after he stopped attending, it would ruin my entire day and sometimes, my entire week. If I encounter his name or photo or even his friend's photos somewhere, it freaks me out. I can't describe the strange intermingling of panic and compulsory intrigue if I see a picture of him. It scares me and just the thought of it gives me shrill goosebumps.
Fucked up part: I never even got his number. Yup, and it was still one of the most stressful and awkward interpersonal conflicts I've ever endured. I still liked him a lot and he'd come visit the coffee shop I work at in town once his friend came in and saw me there, but never really asked me out or anything, seeing as he's really awkward. I'm always afraid of "projecting" or deluding myself into thinking someone's attracted to me so I'm hypervigilant to the point of paranoia, although I've been told that I remain suave nonetheless and appear cool to outsiders. I've always had "dismissive" attachment issues due to how many let-downs I've had.
Years later, he lives states away. I'm pretty sure he has a girlfriend. (The fact that he's probably dating who he is, is actually really bad but I don't want to impose those morbid details upon you because I don't want to derange your faith in humanity more than it already is. It's definitely part of why I've been so scrambled for years.) I would love to wake up and not think about him for but one day. I have PTSD and this situation often haunts me through those symptoms such as intrusive thoughts. I'm still basically obsessed with a stranger. I've come a long way, but I'm obviously still wounded, seeing as I'm here writing about it. It makes me feel so psychotic despite the exterior composure I'm determined to maintain.
I didn't discover the diagnostic term "Limerence" until way later.
Long story short: I feel unspeakably inadequate for failing to be the girl of his dreams and make him fall in love with me. It scares me to think how if he were to randomly show up some time, I might consider running away with him for a flash millisecond. Despite my ardent attempts to evict him from my mind, his memory lingers alongside many others in the nightmarish phantasmagoria of trauma. It has negatively impacted my functioning and caused me immense devastation. I hate this lack of control. I would love to be rid of this horrid complex. If I were in a monogamous relationship, I would feel like I was having an emotional affair with my imagination. I've talked to my psychologist about it at decent length and I've tried to impress the extent of pain it has caused me. She listens, understands and actually doesn't seem concerned, but this might also be because I am so mortified about the situation. I hate feeling obsessed over someone who probably never thinks about me. If he wanted to be (t)here for me, then he would be in my life but he obviously isn't. My attention is not deserved nor welcomed. I've also harbored a fear of failing in the field we work in, simply because I would feel humiliated by not making anything of myself and him being solely existent to see it or worse, be more victorious than me. (I'm usually NEVER, EVER this petty. It would break my soul if I weren't able to "live the dream" while he was, as though it would be an "I told you so" or something.) The fact that I am struggling to keep a menial job that requires everything that I am not good at as I look for another job - while not fruiting any responses - isn't helping. Suicidal thoughts are starting to well up again, although they're not as strong as they once were even a few months ago. I could be in a bad mood about anything and it gets traced back to this. Like I said, I feel like because I failed to captivate this person's heart, that I'm not worthy and belonging to the little inclusive club of people who have his approval seems to mean the world to the parts of my heart and brain that fixate on this. His reciprocation and overall approval is what I wanted more than anything.
Can anyone please help me? This is the first time I've actively begun asking for help on the internet about it. I can't survive becoming more consumed by this. This is terrible on so many accounts and I feel so pathetic for how my compulsory longing rebels against my higher knowledge. So ashamed that I'm even afraid of being discovered by posting this, even though it's unlikely somebody will see this and go, "Hey, I went to college in Maryland! It must be that girl!" Seriously, I'm SO scared.
I can't begin to tell you the extensive damage it's done to my physical and mental health. Substance abuse, starving, using "thinspiration" of girls I knew he has found attractive (which disturbed me so much that it helped snap me out of it because I felt so terribly for using those girls' images to torture myself and knew it would hurt them), actually cuts and injuries, gallons of tears and so much agony. I just want it all to end. Really! I can't find much about curing oneitis in women. Some information has been very helpful but... I obviously need something more because I'm still so hurt.
PLEASE help. I don't know what else to do. I need to relinquish full ownership of my life again. I'm sorry that this is tl;dr but my friend told me that you guys were really good at giving advice. Please help!
I was never sure if he was flirting with me, although sometimes, I definitely thought/knew so. I started putting effort into pursuing him after my partner met him and told me that he sensed that this boy was indeed attracted to me because of how his demeanor changed when I was around. (According to my partner, he became more "boisterous" and talkative, acting markedly different when it was just them talking. And at the time, he didn't know that he was talking to my partner. My partner has impeccable character judgment and told me to go for it.) He always came around to every shift I was working at the Starbucks where he also frequented, notably after his one close friend happened to come in and then he came in whenever he knew I'd be there. (And we never even talked about it... Weird, right?) After he invited me to go to an event he was performing at, he started being quite rude to me. (I didn't talk to him after the event or anything - he left before it was over.) After that incident, I instituted what I call "second-degree ignoring." I wouldn't initiate conversations with him or say hello because, well, I'm always nice to people (especially when rejecting them) and I'm a very nice person. We had a class together and during the smoke break, it started out with me giving noncommittal, mostly monosyllabic responses while giving him a slight glare. He wouldn't go away, though. I never said "hello" to him ever again, come to think about it. Eventually, my vague bitchitude faded a bit but I still wouldn't initiate conversations and refused to greet him. The immediately following semester, I ran into him when he was with his friend and a girl I heard he was dating and he ran up before them to hold the door open for me and said, "What's up?" (No grinning or anything.) I gave an unenthusiastic "hi" (it was definitely obvious that I felt awkward) and went through the door, just as the two others did. After he'd been graduated for a year, I saw him wave at me from the corner of my eye but I ignored it. He was with the girl who I heard he was dating. In retrospect, he didn't look very thrilled but obviously, if he cared, this whole thing would've been resolved. I honestly did think it was very strange that we never exchanged numbers because we spent a pretty considerable amount of time around eachother.
Keep in mind, I didn't even have this kid's number. It would be one thing if we were good friends and he was having an off day or whatever, but I REALLY wanted to establish healthful boundaries. I recall thinking, "If you can't treat me well, then you won't treat me at all." We weren't even on close enough terms to openly talk it out and I am a VERY open person.
He always came to my work shifts, always sat within my vicinity, made lots of eye contact and did all of the aforementioned things. On the first day of the class we had together, he sat right near me (like, literally, right next to me) but said not a word to me. One of the last weeks of class, I did a presentation on a celebrity and the next week, he came in wearing a shirt of said celebrity. I chalked it off as a coincidence and projection on my part because I wouldn't do things like that for fear of looking like a loser or something. This was far after I instituted the second-degree ignoring. I didn't even say any kind of good bye in reference to his graduation. Like I said, I wanted to impress that he didn't mean much to me and our knowing each other was casual... Yeah, I know that ignoring someone is a great way to demonstrate that you actually care but I honestly just pretended not to see him and resumed my business. But I don't get it. Why do all of that if you don't want reciprocation? I'm all for harmless flirting and always figured that's what it was, but that seems like a lot of effort for someone who's flirting without intent. Also, it's not like he was flagrant about it or obviously hitting on me. It doesn't matter, really, because if he was supposed to be in my life, he would be in it.
But yeah, I'm tired of being obsessed with someone who doesn't think about me and would probably laugh at me, regardless of all of the horrible things that I've been through. Please help. :(
Seems like you need therapy.
Have you had any professional help with your problems OP? It seems to me that it is not a poly forum that can truly help you because this is not an issue about love or relationships, it is an issue of trauma.
I have to wonder if being raped right on the heels leaving this guy's place has somehow amplified his importance in your life. Like your brain chemistry isn't working right in this regard.
I would suggest a different therapist. Simply listening isn't getting it for you - obviously. You need someone who can show you how to retrain your thinking.
I am going to suggest you stop being ashamed. (Easier said than done, right?). Look at it this way: you have a medical disorder of the mental variety. I know because they are your thoughts, you feel you should be able to stop them. I believe someone could teach you to do that in conjunction with the right meds. But it is a medical condition nonetheless. If you had diabetes would you be ashamed that you couldn't will your pancreas into making enough insulin? Of course not. You'd make lifestyle changes and take meds. What you are describing is no different. It's a medical disorder of the mind.
Find a new doctor.
I had a similar issue when I was younger, ManicPixie. It took me FIVE YEARS to get over my obsessive thoughts about my first boyfriend.
The key, for me, was recognizing all the other issues that were rolled into my first boyfriend. He had dumped me with no explanation on the very same day that I dropped out of college. We had dated for only six months. I had not been ready for sex when I was with him. I also had depression and was struggling to make friends. He said some bizarre things to me when he dumped me, then refused to talk to me about anything, ever again.
All these things combined to make it VERY DIFFICULT for me to sort out my feelings for him. I spent years imagining that he was the lost love of my life. I had lost my one chance at love at the same time that I lost my one chance to graduate from college.
In addition, I had a lot of kinky fantasies that I was uncomfortable with, but that I applied to him in my obsessive imaginings after he dumped me. It took me 5 years, another relationship, and then a concerted effort at casual dating / casual sexual exploration for me to sort that out.
The key was to identify and isolate each separate issue and deal with it on its own. I got a job and later went back to college. I made new friends. I dealt with my depression. Finally I figured out what I wanted sexually. Etc.
Eventually each separate issue was resolved. And by then I realized I was a completely different person from the awkward 19-year-old I had been when I met my first boyfriend. By the time I was 24 (and enjoying hot sex with a casual partner), I realized my ex would be WAY too immature for me now.
This year, 12 years after I dated him, my ex sent me a Facebook friend request. I ignored it.
Honestly I have to agree with the others; it doesn't sound like your current therapist is doing the job for you. I also like MeeraReed's way of suggesting that you break your one great big problem down into an array of smaller problems, so that you can deal with each problem one at a time. I sense that you're looking for a way to solve everything all at once, and it probably doesn't work that way.
Can your therapist prescribe medications for you? If not, it might be a good idea to get a therapist who can. (A pdoc/psychiatrist, in a word.)
The Life stories and blogs board might help you. It might give you a chance to vent and articulate the inner chaos. But based on what I know so far, trying a new therapist and breaking the big problem into smaller problems are your best bets.
I'll follow this thread and see if I can think of any additional advice.
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