Limerence vs. New Relationship Energy

May 25, 2024
A woman with long light brown hair is sitting in a field of bright green grass. The sun is shining behind her. She is wearing a gray cardigan with a cream colored flower on the bust, and a white undershirt. She also has a beaded turquoise earring. She is looking happy and slightly contemplative, facing upwards toward the sky.

3 minute read

Have you ever had really strong feelings for someone— so strong that they took over your brain (and maybe even your life)? That kind of obsession can be super exciting, but it can also have big consequences on the rest of your life.

Limerence and New Relationship Energy (NRE) are two distinct types of intense romantic fixation that can feel similar. Knowing the signs of each can help you find your feet again the next time you’re swept away.

(Don’t worry- we’re not suggesting you shouldn’t enjoy the ride! Just be aware that when the emotional highs of limerence or NRE have you flying, you’ll want to prepare for a soft landing.)

Limerence, a term coined by psychologist Dorothy Tennov in 1979, describes an intense form of romantic desire that is often unrequited. It’s characterized by a compulsive obsession with another person, coupled with a longing for reciprocation that may never come. Those experiencing limerence might find themselves caught in a loop of fantasy and frustration, their emotional state hanging precariously on the whims of another.


NRE is that exhilarating, euphoric feeling you get at the beginning of a new relationship, where mutual attraction and interest fuel a profound connection and discovery of each other. Unlike limerence, NRE is typically reciprocal and can enhance the connection between partners, although it too can overwhelm one’s senses and judgment. And reciprocity can waver, leaving one person finding themselves shifting from NRE to limerence unexpectedly.

In episode 153 of Playing with Fire we delve into these concepts through our personal journey. We openly share how early in our relationship, Joli experienced strong feelings of limerence towards Ken, who was at a different emotional juncture. This imbalance illustrates the crucial differences between limerence and NRE—limerence can be isolating and painful due to its unreciprocated nature, whereas NRE, though intense, is shared and can be joyfully integrating.

We also discuss how to recognize and manage these feelings. For instance, understanding the signs of limerence—obsessive thoughts, emotional dependency on someone else’s feelings towards you—can help in seeking appropriate support, like counseling or therapy, to navigate these turbulent emotions. Recognizing when you’re in the throes of NRE can help you make conscious choices that keep your relationships healthy and respectful of all partners involved.

For those of you navigating or considering non-monogamy, distinguishing between these experiences is vital. It helps in managing personal expectations and maintaining healthy dynamics among all partners. We invite you to listen to this specific episode, where we dive deeper into managing these complex emotions and the impact they can have on relationships.

Remember, whether you’re dealing with limerence or swimming in the delightful waters of NRE, self-awareness and communication are your best tools. Allow yourself the space to understand your feelings, communicate openly with your partners, and seek external support when needed.

Pop over to your favorite podcast player and listen to the full episode HERE.

P.S. Join us for one of our monthly "Ask Me Anything" sessions, where we discuss these topics and more in real-time. Register HERE.



Episode 152 Transcript

This transcript was auto-generated, and may contain some errors.

Joli Hamilton 0:01
Limerence is not necessarily the most pleasant thing in the world for everybody to talk about, because it's literally uncomfortable in one's body. But I think we should talk about it. When I sought out limerence and sorted out, like just make it distinct for people,

Ken Hamilton 0:16
let's talk about it, there's a lot to unpack in there

Joli Hamilton 0:20
there is. So I thought we'd approach this and talk about how limerence is distinct from and also similar to new relationship energy. And maybe even this might even touch on crushes, squishes meshes. There are other ways that we can be in that falling for stage, we might even talk a little bit about being in love falling in love and projections, projection of your goal or your shadow. And all of that will touch I think, all of that touches the edges of limerence. But limerence has its own special category. And it's important to know how to recognize it.

Ken Hamilton 1:04
Let's talk about what it is. Exactly. Yeah. So

Joli Hamilton 1:07
limerence is a term that was defined by Dorothy tun off back in 1979. It's an extreme form of an unrequited expression of what could be called Love, but it's not reciprocal, it causes significant distress. It's one sided. There's, there's this sense of, I want this person and as an ambivalence and an unknown Ness, would this will my affection, will my desire be returned to me will reciprocation feels out of your control? So that ambivalence that ambiguity actually increases the tension, it heightens the experience of limerence, and also makes it distinct from an ongoing deepening experience of of like what we might call Healthy Love. But really important to note that in the beginning of relationships, we don't know whether our feelings will be reciprocated? Yeah. So just because

Ken Hamilton 2:16
what level and yeah, a lot of unknowns, right.

Joli Hamilton 2:19
So this is tricky, because sometimes someone will feel the sensations of the might, that they might hear me describe. So I'm going to describe a bunch of symptoms that would qualify as being in limerence. And at the beginning stages of any new connection, you might feel some or all of these things. So I want to be careful here and say this is about not just intensity that you might feel them, but also the duration. It's about there's like an ongoing sense of staying in this, this liminal. This in between this, neither here, nor there, the sense of ambiguity and unknown for an extended period of time. And this one sidedness is also really important. So

Ken Hamilton 3:04
it's not just this like, flash in the pan love at first sight that then you go home. And it's like fades this is something that endures a little bit. Yeah,

Joli Hamilton 3:14
yeah. So it has a lot to do with, let's let's go through the symptoms, what it might look like for someone to be experiencing limerence. And I think this is funny for you and I to talk about because I definitely could describe myself as having been in limerence with you right off the bat, like when we first fell for each other. i Yeah, all I qualify, I wouldn't like if this was a diagnostic criteria standard, I would definitely have qualified. And you were just in a different place. And we can talk about why and what that looks like. But um, yeah, okay, so symptoms, right. Let's talk about symptoms.

Ken Hamilton 3:56
Let's talk about symptoms. Yeah, so what?

Joli Hamilton 3:59
How do I know? So before I say that, I'm just gonna say in from a union framework, a symptom is simply information. I want to really back this out, this is not a clinical, I'm not coming at this from a clinical perspective of like, here, you're diagnosed with this and it's some sort of disorder and you don't

Ken Hamilton 4:18
follow dicing it. No, this is just experiencing the

Joli Hamilton 4:22
symptoms from a depth psychological perspective. A symptom is a psyche message, right? Looks like he's knocking on your door saying, hey, something's up. So when I think of these symptoms, I think, okay, what are the clues that I am getting that something's up for me, and limerence we've got frequent intrusive thoughts. That's the number one thing like you can't get this person out of your mind. They're, you're just constantly caught in not just memories of the last time you saw them, but also in fantasies about how things will play out and how you want them to play out. There's a really acute desire for reciprocation? Like a cute your mood often feels like it depends on what feedback you're getting from this, what we would call the limerence object, the person of of affection in your limerence. And limerence tends to be focused on one person at a time. Now, I would say that that is that the description in literature, but this literature isn't written from a non monogamous perspective. That said, limerence tends to show up like an infatuation, an obsession, and be hard to have an obsession for more than one, right, like, so you might have, I have seen this play out where someone has like, some steadiness and their friendships and their anchor partnerships in their nesting connections, but they still have a limb or an object or someone that they are just obsessing about. I have rarely seen someone actually in full obsession over more than one person, but I have seen it happen. And one of the places I've seen it happen is when somebody is dating a couple. And so they've almost like, meshed these two people into one person. And so there's a lack of differentiation in there. Couplehood. And that might be because of couple privilege, or many other things, but there's this, this hyper focus, it's hard to be hyper focus on more than one thing. Yeah. The

Ken Hamilton 6:27
nature of obsession is kind of all one.

Joli Hamilton 6:31
Yeah, it's unidirectional, yeah. There's also this sense of insecurity, you just don't know exactly what you're gonna get back, and you don't know what you're, you're the object of your limerence affection, you don't really know what they're gonna bring, and what they have to offer. There can also be physical signs and symptoms, what we might call some atomization, people can experience like, very real pain in their body, the pain itself is real. But it may be coming on because they're just so overwhelmed with all of these other feelings. And sometimes we seek out a some relief by fantasizing right, so we get caught in these fantasy loops of what exactly what I could get from them how this could play out. And this is where I was. So there at the beginning of our relationship, I was living 99% of my life in fantasy, and it was really hard to, to match up the version of you who I had this intense limerence for with the real person who I was interacting with. I was I was actually having a relationship

Ken Hamilton 7:51
with. Yeah, that's so so there you are, or anybody would be yes, I have I like, Hi, I'm really thinking about that person, I really want to know what's going on. And I want and there's some uncertainty and part of that uncertainty is not actually knowing the person. Well, you know, as well as you want to, which means you like it's sort of this little cycle. I don't know them as well as I want to I want to know more. But I don't know what's going to happen that kind of feeds, the limerence right there, my intrusive thoughts become lead to uncertainty, which leads back to the intrusive thoughts and help you know, and then you don't get any resolution to that feeling. So you keep feeling Yeah.

Joli Hamilton 8:34
And there's this that weird, that's perfectly put, there's this weird sense of, I want to close this loop. It's an open loop, I want to close the loop. But also, I don't have any material to close the loop. So I will make it so powerful. So I make it. And also I can, I can sort of, I can just disappear into that fantasy. It's very alluring. And, you know, all of that rests on a foundation, something that I see across the board, when when someone's dealing with limerence. Often what I want to know and how I'm going to differentiate it from new relationship energy is there's often this sense of reciprocity, seeking, like we're looking for a relationship we're looking to engage. And we see the glimmers of like, oh, yeah, there there's the attention I'm looking for. There's the affection there's there's the stuff I'm looking for, and we're seeking that reciprocity, and then we get caught in an intermittent reward cycle. Yikes. And this gets tricky because some people don't have great intentions for us. And some people don't know how to behave well in relationships and don't know how to say hey, you know what, actually I don't have the interest or capacity or willingness to have a relationship with you. So instead, they kind of keep you on the hook. The hook, they keep you on that hook, and then you are you're caught in this cycle of like, Oh, I think and that right there, that intermittent reward cycle. That's so important to me. Because when I sort limerence and new relationship energy, and we can talk about that in just a second. If I see someone experiencing a connection, where they are, like they're sort of dangled, treats their dangled attention, or when they start when, when the person who's who's lost in limerence, starts to kind of pull themselves together and say, Oh, wait, I need to have boundaries, I get to have bottom lines, I get to have expectations. Oh, all of a sudden object. All of a sudden, this this person is available and has attention for them? And are your ears burning? Because I'm guessing this is a little uncomfortable to hear? Well,

Ken Hamilton 11:02
it. It is. I

Joli Hamilton 11:04
know you didn't know what you were doing. It's uncomfortable in

Ken Hamilton 11:07
the in both the practical and the abstract. Because not only was that how I was behaving? And and the thing is, I was I was so shielded in so many ways, like, some of these things. Absolutely. Were my experience. We had different experiences, no question because we responded to each other differently. And I didn't have a lot of uncertainty with you, you know that that whole piece was taken away? Because you made your, your feelings for me and your your thoughts about me very apparent. Yeah. So I like that whole piece was missing. Which totally like it, it weakened. That limerence discomfort quite a bit. Because I wasn't pursuing an unknown. Yeah, I was experiencing you and taking it in.

Joli Hamilton 11:58
So you were experiencing new relationship energy? Yes, I was experiencing what I would describe as limerence. Because I

Ken Hamilton 12:06
was uncertain to you. I was unknown in a lot of ways. And you were

Joli Hamilton 12:11
actively shielding. Like there was a there was a shielding. So we were coming at this relationship building, not just from two different places of availability, but with different strategies for relating, oh, yeah, you had a more shielded heart. In general, you were, and you were more likely, like in all facets of your life, because we'd been friends for years. You were you played your cards close to the

Ken Hamilton 12:33
best. And I had never put the words relationship and strategy next to them next to each other before, so I never thought about it. I just I just thought, well, this is how you do things. Yeah. And we were great strategies, you know, in in retrospect, I now know a lot more. And the result was that sort of that that intermittent reward system, which is so bogus, it's just and can be used for manipulation.

Joli Hamilton 13:08
Right and easily, and I want to say, I think that you you've owned, you've done a great job of owning the fact that that was well, that was unconscious on your part, you've taken a lot of responsibility for it, and said, yeah, it was unconscious, and it was still my action. And it was

Ken Hamilton 13:26
those things, nobody else around here to take responsibility for what I did. So yeah,

Joli Hamilton 13:31
I appreciate that. Because I have been in on the, in the, on the other side of the coin, I've been the person who somebody has been obsessed with. And the number one thing I can do is get clear on what my needs and my availability is and to set those boundaries and I just want to say it's hard. It's tempting, right? Like when you're having that that level of want and desire poured at you. Yeah, there were child parts in me teenage parts that were just like, yeah, so I just wanted to soak it up like there were parts of me that boring at me.

Ken Hamilton 14:11
Yeah, these these attention starved pieces or pieces that parts that felt like they were attention starved, whether they got enough attention or not, they wanted more and oh, here's a here's a really reliable source. Right and,

Joli Hamilton 14:26
and so we can be manipulative, even if we're not consciously intentionally attempting to manipulate someone. We can even be coercive, and I would say that's where things get tricky is, is can we sort these things out and take responsibility for where we have not behaved appropriately. But let's let's back up a little bit and talk about how we tell this limerence thing from A new relationship energy, because new relationship energy is its own thing. And you could definitely confuse the two. But new relationship energy is a state of that experience at the beginning of a relationship. It's often talked about as lasting between three weeks and 18 months. But there are circumstances that can definitely extend the experience of new relationship energy for a very long time. As for I believe that the term new relationship energy was coined by the hi Stuart, back in some polyamory Usenet groups in the early 80s. And new relationship energy can be a blast, it can honestly be just so fantastic and can feel like yes, I want this. It feels like that delicious feeling of getting to know someone and getting to know them in a fresh way getting to know yourself in a fresh way it can feel you can feel that edge of obsession and that falling into each other. And we are definitely I mean, new relationship energy can also get way the hell out of hand, it can definitely get

Ken Hamilton 16:12
disrupted and destructive. Yeah.

Joli Hamilton 16:15
But to specify like limerence, there is an asymmetry to the obsession. And with new relationship energy, there isn't necessarily an asymmetry. Two or more people can all be falling into the seat of googoo. Gaga, like, Yes, I am. So into this. And I think it's interesting to try to sort them out, because we can't be sure that the other person is feeling that reciprocation or whether they're kind of feigning it. So I don't know that we can sort these out super neatly, but we can be aware of these two different states, and I want to like come back to that word, asymmetry or lack of reciprocity, a lack of being a feeling like a person is, is meeting your need for reciprocity. And that doesn't have to be perfect reciprocity, we can't have exactly the same thing. I'm not looking for perfect symmetry. We've talked about asymmetry. But when someone's keeping you on the hook, or leaving things intentionally asymmetric, so that they feel like they have the upper hand, or they don't have to show up and be accountable for their actions or words. Yeah, there's

Ken Hamilton 17:33
a there. The idea of collaboration comes up, like if we can, there can be a symmetry. And I mean, usually is, but when we're collaborating on what it is we're doing with a relationship, that asymmetry can it's easier to keep it away from abuse might be a stronger word. I mean, certainly, yes, we want to keep it away from abuse. But we also just want to keep it away from needs not being met.

Joli Hamilton 18:04
Oh, say more about that? How might that look? Or how have you remember it looking?

Ken Hamilton 18:08
Well, um, so yeah, that was an image that was a thought that formed fully in my head, and it looked great.

Joli Hamilton 18:19
I know when I when I give you the opportunity to make an example, they don't always pop right to your

Ken Hamilton 18:25
head don't pop right to my head. But the but if, if I think about how our relationship has gone since we have collaborated on it, since we have been working together. There are situations where one or both, or either one of us or both might be deciding to say, well, this is a, this is a want that I have that I'm going to set aside for right now. Because we've talked about this, and there are other things that we each want to happen. And we've decided to prioritize things. And sometimes that levels up to where there are needs that are explicitly not being met. I mean, the example of when your brother was living with us, we put a whole bunch of stuff aside and that was because we had committed to our relationship being a certain way. We talked about it, we decided go back a bunch of years to the very beginning of our relationship and you had a bunch of needs that didn't get met.

Joli Hamilton 19:29
I mean, I did I had a lot of emergency meeting. I have medical level Yeah. Yeah. Like, like breaking arms and things like like literal physical needs that were not met and

Ken Hamilton 19:43
they the interaction between us around those.

Joli Hamilton 19:51
I want to be clear Ken didn't break my arm. I did not. But I broke my arm twice in a row while we were in didn't get medical care and he did not heal for sure. Yeah, there were times where what I needed was for someone to advocate or someone to take me to the hospital or somebody accompany me through, like some processes that I couldn't navigate. And those needs were not met. Okay, good. So

Ken Hamilton 20:13
that is it. That's the one like you didn't get the support that you needed. And there was where this asymmetry came in. That I think that I was talking about, it's not abuse, but there was a symmetry and that you were supporting me like in everything you could, you could see, you would offer support. And I didn't, yeah, I didn't support you as, as often as strongly as well as I could have, if I had engaged with you and said, so like, what, what do you what are we doing here? What do you need? What, what what are we looking for out of this relationship. And without those conversations, and without that collaboration, this, the asymmetry of you reaching toward me, and me shielding meant, I got lots of support you didn't. It's not exactly abuse, but it's definitely lacking.

Joli Hamilton 21:08
And, and it became, it became challenging for me to tell the difference, because I really didn't know, it could have really easily become abusive, really, really easily. And this story, there are so many ways to tell this story. And I could imagine angling it away as to be like, Whoa, like, right from the get go, boom. But I think not only was your intention not to abuse, also there was there was this, there was this unfolding, like these things were happening within the first 30 days, that we were romantically involved. And I mean, you were not you we had not, we didn't have a clear relationship agreement yet. We didn't know exactly what we were doing. I was still married, which was very confusing, because I divorce papers had been filed, but I didn't. So I didn't have my support systems. So I guess all of that is to say, the complexity of any person's situation can make it really hard to figure out whether you're getting the reciprocity that is needed for this to be a healthy and functional relationship for you. Because I would say, at the phase of life where you and I started dating, I needed way more commitment and clarity from you, then you were able and or willing to give. And I if if you know, if we had not started that relationship until two or three years forward, I probably could have handled that level of shielding and opacity. And without getting limerence. But I I would I had high needs and high wants and, and I want to have that availability, but you did keep me on the hook. Still very, very interested.

Ken Hamilton 23:01
And I want to make something super clear. So I brought in the concept of abuse, and then said that, you know, it wasn't abuse. That's because of conversations that you and I have had, I don't actually get to decide whether you experienced abuse, yeah,

Joli Hamilton 23:18
compensation. Together and conversations we've had with a number of therapists to help us sort that out and repair from that time. And there are there is a financial abuse situation that happened in our relationship that you've owned really beautifully. But this is separate from that. And it really is, to me, it matters that this all happened very, very early, at a time when we didn't yet know that. In fact, even though we'd only been together for a few days, weeks and months. We needed relationship agreements, we need an explicit relationship agreements, because we were already starting to rely on each other. If we were relying on each other in ways like that included entangling bits and pieces of our life. Our children overlapped our, you know, child care situations because I was working, you were working, our finances started to brush up against each other first in tiny ways. But before you never mean you so much to share a meal together and all of a sudden your finances have brushed up against each other. So it became difficult for me to tease apart what was limerence and what I would now know as new relationship energy and I didn't know any of these words, any of these words and you know, I think some people and I have been involved with people like this since show up and they intentionally create you know, through a love bombing situation they like they shower, a person with affection to create this this asymmetry, this sense of control out of keeping someone on the hook. That is not a person I want to be involved with but we don't always know All right, it's hard and that we could do a whole separate episode on love bombing and what that feels like. But just that in itself can inspire someone to fall into the limits? No would.

Ken Hamilton 25:13
It is something that a nefarious person could try to explicitly leverage, which is I mean, that's, it's what you just said, if somebody acts in a way designed to put you on the hook, they're trying to activate limerence. Right.

Joli Hamilton 25:31
And I think it's worth mentioning that some people also have a habit, like a habit, a practice habit of being limerence, right, like we sometimes we're just so used to being like one down being in that one down position in our relationship. And sometimes this comes right out of our like our preteen teen young adult years, like we're just used to being like, the less wanted or we rank ourselves, we rate ourselves, we compare ourselves to our partners. And we imagine that we're always like, Oh, we're the less Wantable person. And so we can be in this habit of actually creating a sense of limerence for ourselves. Also, we can get into this mode of I don't want to use the word addiction, because I think that's too strong, but it certainly up habituation on to the form of compulsivity, like we get all the way to compulsive that they interpret the asymmetry, because it actually feels correct.

Ken Hamilton 26:26
And the intermittent reward is that that's what that does. Brains if we if we let it. And this seems like, it'd be a good time to start talking about projections around. Yeah, here I am. I'm, and boy, I do I remember, my memories, like strong memories of limerence are from when I was like at the end of elementary school. And then again, at the beginning of high school, I limerence was all over the place. And like, third and fourth grade for me, there were there were people all over the place that, you know, one at a time, I would get focused on. And so, but my point was that there I was, in limits, this little 10 year old kid, he's thinking, Oh, he's limerence. Okay, maybe he wasn't thinking.

Joli Hamilton 27:18
He wasn't thinking, but he was obsessive. And putting that person on a pedestal believing that they're flawless. Yeah, like, feeling that one sided, stressful? Like, yeah. Oh,

Ken Hamilton 27:29
and what I, what I'm thinking here is that the, one of the moves to get out of it, or to shift the sense of limerence is to start noticing my projections. Yeah,

Joli Hamilton 27:48
so I don't think you're going to do that 10 years from now, you're 57? So you can No, I think I've got a chance. So what would you do to notice your projections? Well,

Ken Hamilton 28:00
the, I would look at the things that are catching my attention. What are the things that I'm fantasizing about about this other person? What are the images that come into my head about what it is about them? That is so attractive? Yeah, and start looking for those those things in myself? Not necessarily going to be like an exact reflection, that may require a little bit of of turning but

Joli Hamilton 28:26
well, it's a projection. It's not a reflection. It's

Ken Hamilton 28:29
a projection. So it's gonna look different on you than it looks on me.

Joli Hamilton 28:32
We've talked about this before, but it totally bears repeating. When the word projection when people talk about like, Oh, he's just projecting, or she's just projecting, they're just projecting. Usually we attach that to the idea of something negative, like, here's this crappy shit I don't like about myself, I'll project it out onto you. My favorite example to use is that I had a mother in law once who I really found to be hyper controlling and anal retentive. Can does that bear any familiar over here? Like, it's funny, because from the, in that old version of me, right, this is going back now 20 years, 25 years, I, I couldn't see that part of myself. for lots of reasons, including the fact that I lived in a lot of chaos. So I couldn't see my similarities when it was easy to project that, that disdain I had for that those aspects of myself the controlling aspect, and this anal retentive, like, gotta have everything exactly the way I have it. It was easy for me to project this out onto my mother in law, and act as though that was something she was doing that had nothing to do with me. And it stuck because yeah, there was a seed of truth there asked anyone who knows her.

Ken Hamilton 29:48
But which is how it could just how it

Joli Hamilton 29:51
stuck. But I am going through all this because that's the kind of stuff we usually think of when we're talking about projections. But when we fall in love of when we fall in limerence. We have golden shadow projections and golden shadow projections are these things, these qualities that if I said to you like, well, don't you want to be lovable and attractive and smart? And people say yes, right? Like, yeah, I want to be those things. But we often can't own our best qualities. And so we will project them in the place we project them instead of on to someone we dislike is someone we fall for. And we literally experience that like falling for them. So we fall in love with this beautiful projection and forget that they are a real human with flaws. And like my father would say, they, they have clay feet, they're just just like everyone else. And so recollecting that projection material. Well, I mean, gets it returns to you all of that beautiful, yeah, gold, right. And but it's hard to let

Ken Hamilton 31:03
me know if I've, if if I'm, if I'm overextending here, but so that you're describing the golden shadow, like I see in you all these things that I value, and are actually sitting over here in me, and I can't accept them, I can't accept them. And I have also experienced, I don't know, aspirational shadow, I don't know, as for sorry, not shadow, aspirational projection. Because there were aspects of you that I found absolutely amazing. Because I wanted to be like that. Your creativity, your memory, like these things that I just, I wanted to be near them, because I wanted them for myself, I wanted those qualities. And I essentially abandoned working on them for myself, by seeing them in you and praising them in you, and just be and sometimes getting mad at you for them, because that's a whole other thing that can happen. But

Joli Hamilton 32:08
yeah, so let's talk about a degree of intensity then. So I let's use memory, because that's, that's pretty easy one, right? So if you, um, you identified as a person who was smart, and like relatively clever, you didn't think you were adult, right? But you you started interacting intimately with me got to know me better, and started really quickly noticing that my memory for facts and data and definitions and just stuff is strong. And you weren't incorrect that those that's true about me. And it's also true about you. And now fast forward 15 years later, the degree to which I can exhibit that characteristic is still much stronger than the degree to which you can write, but it is present in you, you do have this capacity. So, I would say that, yeah, aspirational, an aspirational, golden shadow projection. Yeah, it might just be another way of saying like, yeah, you're never going to have it, it's never gonna play out in you the same way it plays out in me. Yeah. So memory is something that kind of looks like we could measure because we could like, we could give us each a test on how how strong our memory is. So that's why I picked it. But let's use a murkier one. Beauty, right? Like, nobody there. Humans are incommensurable there's no such thing as two people who are the same beautiful. Even identical twins have the there's nuance and but when we think about these qualities that we project onto each other, yes. It's really just about the it's like an on off switch, like yes, I'm projecting that or no, I'm not. And the intensity to which that person displays the the quality is less relevant. I displayed a bunch of qualities that you found attractive, because you wanted them for yourself. And that I would relate to essentially a core wound. There's like, there's like a woundedness to the the fact that I can't accept my own intelligence. I can't accept my own beauty. I can't. There's like an hour, a core wound statement of I'm unlovable, I'm unwarrantable, something like that. And you said something so brilliant in there. You said I abandoned working on this for myself, right? close

Ken Hamilton 34:47
enough to it. It's right there. I don't have to do the work to get the thing that I want. I just project it out onto you. And then I observe it and

Joli Hamilton 34:55
you actually feel it. Because there's and there's the trick with projection is we, we can actually identify and then mesh or like with another so tightly that it feels like we have that thing because we've, we've, we've possessed the other in a certain way. And this doesn't have to be through a negotiated relationship, I can write into an identification and possession of someone without them ever having agreed to it. And we're deep in the weeds here of what it is to be involved in projection. And I just wanted to clarify that projection itself is a completely normal and healthy psychological process. It's how we see our unconscious material. That it's bad, it's that we, we were supposed to, like, ideally, it's something we go, wow, I really value this in this other person.

Ken Hamilton 35:53
And it can energize me, and it can energize limerence, and it can enter. So it's, yeah, there's nothing there not bad. But knowing what they are observing them, if, from the standpoint of being in limerence can can help you understand whether, well whether this is working for you. Right,

Joli Hamilton 36:17
right. And so limerence, there are resources out there for working with limerence, I'm gonna come back to limerence is has this one sidedness. It needs to be worked from your side of things. It's not something we work on with our limb or an object, like, and I'm saying I'm using the phrase, limb or an object, because that's how we talk about it in the literature. It almost doesn't matter who they are, they're not available for you to work on this as a relationship. It is asymmetric. So I'm going to recommend there are books to recommend the limerence mind and living with limerence. There's some decent books out there on my clients who had really good luck applying those methods for working with their limerence. And limerence is something you can work with your personal counselor on. And that I again, come back I want to separate that from new relationship energy, new relationship energy, which can get out of hand, but is still in a context of, of a relationship that has the capacity, the potential for being reciprocal, for being for fitting into your life, and the kids that are around. And we did an episode on new relationship energy earlier. But I'll just mention again, there's like there's a nice checklist by Dr. Sophia Graham, from an Lavon common. And Dr. Graham talks about the signs of when NRA is creating a potential problem. And so just the checklist really quickly losing interest in your passions, spending less than half the time that you used to with your other intimate connections, stopping doing the things that you need to function eating, sleeping, washing, or massively changing your life to accommodate a new person in a way that interferes with things like work and sleep, or using up all of your productivity or creative energy on the new relationship and giving up things like work and hobbies and study. spending all of your conversational time talking about this person to the point where your friends start rolling their eyes, making non negotiated like unilateral changes to want to another relationship because of this new one. Or making life changing commitments even though you've only known the new person for a brief period of time. And they're on that or lying, lying to other close people about the degree of connection hiding all of that those are signs that new relationship energy may be crossing a threshold that could use some moderation it could use some clarity around Okay, and where are my boundaries? And am I tending to myself and all of my relationships and my tending to all of them while also enjoying the joy, the fun. I mean, it is fun to fall. Like let's not pretend that's not fun. And it can be really fun. And it can even be joyful in multiple relationships. I mean, our sex life always gets better when I have a new partner. Yeah, every single time and I would say except for one that has been true for me with you. And I I so appreciate that. So I like I love new relationship energy and bring all of my connections but it can also get on here. It's

Ken Hamilton 39:50
not it's not purely good. Like there's you still have to be aware of how your relationships are faring. Yeah,

Joli Hamilton 39:59
I mean Like everything else, we talked about playing with fire, it's about understanding that you have to stay conscious of what's going on. And if you decide that you just want to, like do the nest he, you know, full backsplash into the NRA, my question would be, have you negotiated and communicated to the other people and important facets of your life? You know, have you? Have you attended to that so that it can be understood that yeah, you know, what I'm gonna just do, I'm gonna do a deep dive here, this is I'm gonna enjoy the hell out of this. I understand that that may make me less, like, able to be responsive. Have you negotiated about that? Because you and I am definitely negotiated about that. And actually, the time that strikes me as most relevant was the last really intense friendship that I had the Oh yeah, it was a platonic friendship. But it was it felt very intense, bordering on romantic to me, even though it was distinctly platonic. And I Yeah, we had to have a very in depth conversation, because I was like, I, yeah, legit, I do not have the same energy available for you and for other connective responsibilities. And what I'm gonna do about this,

Ken Hamilton 41:21
and that explicit conversation, or those explicit conversations were way better for me than just bumbling along. You know, try, like trying to get your attention, or suddenly finding that you weren't available like those those conversations, making it all visible and intentional. Made it all manageable.

Joli Hamilton 41:42
So for me, it helps with, I felt like I was able to call out when, when I was worried that resentment was building up, because I was I would, but my time span started to be more away from the house. I was leaving at different hours. And I had a change in heart about some other major aspects of our life. So I got to bring it up. Like faster, because we'd had a conversation like, Oh, I'm definitely feeling the NRA. I think we probably need to have longer check ins weekly right now, because so we made more time to have those weekly check ins. Because I was not as attentive during any given week. And resentment could have built up really easily, I could definitely have understood why. But in the moment, I wouldn't have like I needed to take like conscious energy and say, Okay, I am losing it in an in a big way, a lot of the moments of this week. So I need to dedicate some time for not just our dates, that connection, but also for communicating about what my limits are, what my what my capacity and what my requests were for, hey, I know, I'm only going to get to enjoy this for just so long. And in that case, it was it was about seven or eight months of like intensity. And I'm glad I got to enjoy it. And I'm glad that it didn't feel like I didn't have to look back and say like, oh, I neglected you

Ken Hamilton 43:15
know, because we have a negotiation agreements.

Joli Hamilton 43:20
Yeah. So if you're a person who has struggled with the with the challenge of limerence, I hope this episode has given you a way to think about this as like a potential habit to keep an eye on. Or if you're just experiencing it right now, if you're in it right now, like in that phase of, Wow, I am totally obsessed. I am so obsessed with this person. And I'm starting to I'm starting to mess with some of the meat core features of my life. I hope that you'll take the time to take a breath and allow yourself to to bring attention to this. And that might require third party help. This really feels like a time to name that not everything is manageable on our own. Yeah. So this is a good time to rely on your personal therapy rely on your counselors, your skilled relationship coaches or your if you have a friend circle who can help hold you in a supportive and accountability manner. Not all friend circles can do this. But you might have one. It can be great to just know Hey, you might need somebody to give you an outsider's perspective on what's going on like and what they're witnessing. We'll make sure that we've got resources in the notes, but this is a it is a tough one. My heart goes out to everybody who's in it when I was in it. I mean, I threw my life into the wood chipper and I did not know that I landed where I am, is not based on skill. It's based on luck, and a fuck ton of work to dig out of the mess created in that phase. So I would encourage everyone to take a deep breath and understand that limerence itself deserves attention and kindness and immense self compassion,

Ken Hamilton 45:29
self compassion. And one of the things that you can do for that self compassion is find the resources to help you don't need to do this alone. Yeah, I grew up thinking yeah, I just got to figure this all out by myself. You don't we have helped around us.

Joli Hamilton 45:46
And if you have more questions about this, you could join us for one of our monthly asked me anything sessions Ken and I are hosting asked me anything sessions for the listeners of playing with fire. I'd encourage you to drop in. Yeah, we can't fix limerence in and ask me anything, but we can certainly hold space and hear what's going on for you.

Ken Hamilton 46:03
There'll be a registration link in the show notes. Thanks, Ken.

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