Limerence in Marriage: Do Spouses Come Back After an Affair?

wife come back limerence lg

There is nothing worse in a marriage than when your spouse is having an affair. And while men tend to cheat more than women, it’s more common for women to enter a state of obsessive limerence when they do cheat. So you’ve probably wondered will my wife come back after being in limerence?

Most often, a spouse’s limerent affair means the end of a marriage. While limerence always ends after anywhere from 3 months to 36 months, many spouses don’t have the patience to wait, and even when the affair does end, there’s no guarantee the cheating spouse would want to reconcile.

So unfortunately, countless marriages end up in divorce because of a limerent affair.

It leads to the other spouse feeling terrible and worthless. It is as if their partner has no gratitude or acknowledgment for all the good they have done for them.

In this article, we’ll look at what limerence is, how long it lasts, and why limerent affairs happen in the first place. I’ll then talk about how you can save your marriage if your partner is cheating on you with an affair partner.

I’ll also talk about the likelihood of your spouse coming back to you after an affair.

You CAN save your relationship — even if your spouse is in limerence with someone else.

I feel your pain and I know firsthand what it’s like being in a troubled marriage.

It can be devastating to both of you also. And that’s on top of the financial burden, the stigma, the emotional drain, and the feeling of all those wasted years.

The turning point in a marriage is when a couple hits rock bottom.

Luckily, all hope is NOT lost, and there is something you can do, even if your spouse seems reluctant or unsure. Mend the Marriage is a course developed by renowned marriage expert Brad Browning who has well over half a million subscribers on his YouTube channel.

This quote from Brenda R. perfectly sums up the quality work Mend the Marriage does:

“Brad Browning’s “Mend the Marriage” program is easily the most comprehensive and most effective guide to stopping divorce and saving your marriage. After reviewing a number of similar products, I recommend “Mend the Marriage” as the #1 choice for anyone facing a marriage crisis.”

Serious about saving or improving your relationship?

CLICK HERE to watch this free short video from Brad.

What is limerence?

Limerence is an obsessive feeling of total infatuation that usually happens at the start of a romantic relationship. It is not the same as love as it always has an expiration date, and both parties sacrifice other priorities for the sake of the relationship.

The term limerence was actually coined by the American psychologist Dorothy Tennov in the 1970s.

Per Dr. Tennov, unlike normal romantic love, limerence is basically like a blind obsession. When someone is in a limerent relationship, they are constantly thinking about the person they are in a limerent relationship with (who is known as the limerent object).

Limerence causes feelings of excitement beyond description and can be very addicting.

When someone spends time with their limerent object, their body releases more dopamine – which is a hormone that makes you feel really happy.

You can actually become addicted to the thing that triggers that dopamine production. Limerence can actually have strong feelings similar to a chemical addiction, such as taking drugs.

Spending time with the limerent object also reduces stress. Because limerence is so pleasurable for a person, a limerent person is totally infatuated with their limerent object. This leads to them spending a lot of time and effort trying to seek their attention and validation.

Limerent relationships are usually one way in the beginning.

This means one person will have limerent feelings for another, and it may take a while for the limerent object to feel the same way. This leads to the person in limerence to have their mind full of persistent obtrusive thoughts. This is where they think of nothing but their limerent object.

I’ll talk more about the symptoms of limerence later in this article.

A person in limerence falls victim to something known as the halo effect. The halo effect is where you see one thing you like about a person, and then you make an overall judgment about that person based on that one thing.

The halo effect causes you to forget about all the bad things about your limerent object. People in limerence don’t want to take the time to look into the shortcomings of their limerent object.

This is one of the reasons why limerent affairs usually end within a few years, and why second marriages have higher divorce rates than first marriages.

If your marriage is failing, then check out this quick video on the 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage that will help get yours back on track.

Why do people fall into limerent relationships?

People most often fall into limerent relationships because they are dissatisfied with their current relationship, or are insecure and enjoy the validation they get from the attention from others.

It is not usually because they have met their dream person.

From a young age, people see films where there are romantic relationships, and you see public displays of affection all over the place (especially if you live in the West as I do). As a result, we have a natural desire to want to be in a relationship.

Therefore, people that have never been in a relationship are most likely to fall into limerence.

After that, you have people that are in relationships but still fall into limerence. This is usually due to dissatisfaction in their relationships. There is one thing that all romantic relationships need if they are to last long term, and that thing is not gifts, nice words, or anything else like that.

It’s attraction.

Attraction is a feeling where you deeply desire someone because they have specific characteristics and qualities that meet your desires/needs.

So, for example, if a woman wants to be a stay-at-home mother, an attractive quality for her would be a man that has a successful business. That’s because he will be a competent provider.

If a woman has been the victim of a violent crime, an attractive characteristic for her would be a man that can fight. This is because she will feel secure and safe with him.

If you don’t have a characteristic that your partner is attracted to or at least one characteristic that is difficult to find elsewhere, then your partner won’t be attracted to you. That’s why it is so important to work on yourself.

Another reason why limerent affairs happen is that the partner is looking for validation or appreciation.

If you are not acknowledging your partner’s efforts, praiseworthy characteristics, unique abilities, and looks, then they are more likely to seek validation elsewhere. Appreciating your partner is really important if you want to avoid them falling into a limerent relationship elsewhere.

Couples that have well-established relationships and are strongly attracted, and don’t focus on others tend to have the longest-lasting marriages. However, long-term relationships require love and not limerence.

I’ll talk more about the difference between love and limerence in a bit.

How long does limerence last?

On average limerence lasts between 2 months and 3 years. However, it is possible for a limerent affair to last up to a decade. It all depends on how frequently the limerent couple has contact with one another and how much was sacrificed in their lives for the sake of the affair.

Remember we talked about the halo effect?

Well, limerence depends on it. As soon as the halo effect disappears, the limerence usually comes crashing down. Limerent affairs usually end abruptly, rather than fade away like real attraction and love in a long-term relationship.

And all people in a state of limerence go through 3 stages of limerence. Those are:

  • The infatuation stage
  • The crystallization stage
  • The deterioration stage

I go into greater detail about those in a recent article. So, if you are unsure where your spouse is in this journey, make sure to click that link to read it right here.

When you are in regular contact with your limerent object, you are more likely to quickly figure out what their shortcomings and undesirable characteristics are. Therefore, the relationship is less likely to last as long. But most people having a limerence affair won’t see it last a long time.

I remember when I had an affair in 2013 (something I’m not proud of). So this is something I have personal experience with.

It only lasted two months, but in those 2 months, I sacrificed my wife, kids, and career. I could see my world crumbling but felt powerless in the face of the limerence I was feeling towards the other woman. And because we worked together, I saw her constantly. And make no mistake, it felt like real love and a real relationship.

But in the end, I made a choice to try and salvage my life and end things with her. Luckily, I was successful in that.

If you are in infrequent contact with the limerent object, then the limerent relationship is likely to last a lot longer.

This is because it will take you longer to figure out your limerent object’s true colors, and it will take longer for the halo effect to disappear.

The good news is that limerence always ends.

Is limerence the same as love?

Limerence is not the same as love. Limerence is short-term and impulsive and is caused by chemicals in the body. The increase in dopamine and reduction of stress hormones when you are in contact with your limerent object causes one to become chemically addicted to the effects of spending time with them.

There are three feelings that you can have in a relationship, and people often confuse them with one another:

  • Limerence – short-term feeling of infatuation. It is short-term, impulsive, and difficult to control, and you don’t really know why you like that person yet. You seek their attention and thanks all the time, and when you are not acknowledged by your limerent object, it can cause you to want them even more. While it could turn into a good relationship, the success rate is abysmally low.
  • Love – love can start with limerence. However, once the halo effect wears away, and you start to see your partner’s shortcomings, whether you stay with them or leave shows whether you love them or not. If you leave, you don’t love them. If you stay with them, it shows you are willing to overlook their shortcomings. Or better, you want to help them get rid of them. True love is about compromise and respect and is mutual.
  • Attraction – this is where someone has a quality that you find desirable and attractive. This is because they correspond with your needs and wants.

All successful long-term relationships require attraction and love, but they don’t need limerence. However, most relationships start with a small amount of limerence, which matures into love.

Despite that, some limerent relationships don’t turn into love. That’s why earlier I said second marriages fail more often than first marriages, especially if that marriage stemmed from an affair.

If your marriage is failing, then check out this quick video on the 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage that will help get yours back on track.

How can you tell if your spouse is in a limerent relationship?

Some good indicators that show your spouse may be in a limerent relationship include:

  1. Adopting unusual or bad habits
  2. Dressing nicer
  3. A noticeable shift (for the worse) in their priorities
  4. Mood swings and a short temper
  5. Shows signs of guilt
  6. Noticeably less appreciative of you
  7. Spending less time at home

If your partner starts doing things that are not normal for them, they could be in a limerent relationship.

Of course, none of those for sure mean anything.

So, look for not only both a combination of those signs but also a change in how they behave. So, if they have always been less appreciative of all you do, then that’s not a change in their behavior.

We’re looking for aspects of their behavior that are new and different.

These things can include dressing better, working out, and picking up other good habits all at once and habits that are not typical for them. This is because when you are in limerence, you want to impress your limerent object.

Some people do this by trying to be more like their limerent object.

This is because, as humans, we have a natural tendency to like people that are similar to us. Therefore, if your limerent object is fit and loves going to the gym, you will find yourself taking your health more seriously so that you can be more like your limerent object.

This will increase your chances of getting their validation.

If your limerent object has a specific hobby, you may start learning about that hobby just so you can talk to your limerent object about it.

Another sign your spouse is in a limerent relationship is that they start seeking attention.

This can be done through a change in habits, as we discussed. However, the main way people seek attention is by posting on social media. If you notice your wife putting on makeup and posting on social media when that’s not normal for her, it’s a red flag.

If you notice your husband posting topless pictures online or posting images of him doing “attractive” and interesting things like going to the gym, traveling, and eating out, that’s a red flag too.

Another sign that someone is in a limerent relationship is that they lose focus of their priorities.

This is because when someone is in limerence, they start focusing all their thoughts and efforts on pleasing their limerent object.

So, if your partner stops going out with friends, spending time with you and the kids, and stops working on their career and studying, chances are they have something or someone else on their mind. 

This isn’t the greatest indicator of limerence, however, as sometimes personal issues pop up and we have to focus our attention elsewhere for a short period of time.

Another sign that your partner is in a limerent relationship is that they start having more mood swings. One moment they could be over the moon and smiling away for no apparent reason (because they were just messaging their limerent object possibly).

And another moment they could be angry (could be because they tried to seek their limerent object’s attention and didn’t get it).

Mood swings that indicate limerence are short-lived.

If your partner is angry for a few days, then happy, it’s probably not limerence. But if they snap in and out of being happy and sad multiple times a day, then there is something playing with their emotions. It could be a limerent affair.

The final two indicators of a limerent relationship are your partner showing signs of guilt and being overall less appreciative of what you do for them.

Sometimes, if your partner is not totally infatuated by their limerent object, they will feel guilty because they still love you, but they are attracted to their limerent object. I’ll talk more about what to do in this situation later.

People in limerent affairs tend to show less appreciation to their spouses because their limerent object has an attractive quality that floods their mind. So, if your spouse’s limerent object is really fit, and you are not in shape, they will show this by not having as much physical touch as they used to.

If your spouse’s limerent object is a great cook, they may stop saying thank you and appreciating it when you cook for them even if you put a lot of effort into making something really special.

If your marriage is failing, then check out this quick video on the 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage that will help get yours back on track.

What happens when limerence wears off?

When limerence wears off, the spouse in limerence will return to their old habits prior to the affair. They will also begin to prioritize the things they had been ignoring. But they may also show increased signs of guilt, remorse, or shame.

So as limerence fades, your partner will start to prioritize again. But you may see signs of withdrawal symptoms from the absence of their love object.

On the other hand, sometimes a limerent affair can raise the expectations of your partner. If your partner’s limerent object was amazing and had rare attractive qualities, they may never show signs of satisfaction again.

That’s because they probably miss those rare qualities in their limerent object.

Your partner may show signs of sadness when limerence fades because they are no longer enjoying their limerent object.

Remember, we talked about how limerence is a chemical addiction. When your partner gets used to those rushes of dopamine when with their limerent object, and that suddenly stops, it can lead to sadness.

Limerence is like a drug in the sense it is addictive, and when you come out of limerence, you feel sadness. Sadness is one of the main “withdrawal symptoms” of coming out of limerence.

When limerence wears off, your partner will drop the new habits they adopted. If your partner suddenly got into a new hobby, so they had a common interest with their limerent object, they will leave it. That’s because they are no longer seeking the validation and closeness of their limerent object.

Your partner may start going back to their old bad habits. This can mean your partner stops dressing well, working out, or trying to improve themself.

When limerence fades, your partner will start prioritizing their life again.

They no longer have constant intrusive thoughts and are not seeking the attention of their limerent object. Your partner may go back to looking after the family and focusing on their career and education. This is an indicator that limerence has faded.

Your partner will stop seeking attention when limerence fades. If you notice your partner stops posting on social media and other attention-seeking things, then the limerence has faded.

When your partner is no longer interested in their limerent object, they may start spending more time with you. This is because they realize that their limerence was not love, and your partner really loves you.

So they spend more time with you – mainly out of guilt for the affair.

I remember when my affair was over, I started spending more time with my wife for a couple of months. That’s mainly because I felt so bad for what I did.

On the other hand, a sign that limerence has faded is that your partner is constantly dissatisfied. In limerence, you fall victim to the halo effect. When you discover the shortcomings of your limerent object, you become disappointed. That’s because you thought that person was perfect.

When your partner is in limerence, they may be dissatisfied with you. When they come out, they are dissatisfied with their limerent object. It can be hard to determine whether your partner is dissatisfied with you or someone else.

Is it possible to come out of limerence?

It is possible to come out of limerence.

To come out of limerence, you have to first realize that you are in limerence. You then have to think about why you are in the limerent affair, and what you are seeking from it. After deciding what you want, you have to leave the affair.

To come out of limerence, a person has to undertake a process of self-study.

You have to think about what you really want. Is it validation, respect, admiration, or do you just want to be entertained by someone for a while? Some people are in limerent relationships purely for the dopamine and the “butterflies in the stomach” feeling.

After that, you have to decide whether the limerent affair is really worth it. You may be getting what you want, but is it worth risking your marriage for. Take it from someone that has been in an affair – It is not worth your spouse leaving you! No matter how “happy” that limerent object makes you feel.

But can you win them back if they are in limerence?

If your partner is thinking of leaving you because of a limerent affair they are in, you have to check out this recent article on my site. I talk about some simple yet powerfully effective ways to win your wife back when she is thinking of separating from you.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Most people that are in established relationships fall into limerence because of a lack of attraction with their spouse. It could also be that their spouse is not fulfilling their emotional needs. If that’s the case, falling into limerence will only make the situation worse.

What you need to do is communicate with your spouse.

Tell them how you are feeling and what you need them to do. This is important if you want to be content in your relationship. I remember my ex-wife and the way she expected me to be able to read her mind. It is totally unreasonable. Communication is essential if you want to keep your marriage alive.

If your partner is in a limerent affair, and you know it, then you need to talk to them.

If you aren’t having much success yourself, then consider visiting a marriage counselor. I’ll talk more about how to get your partner back below.

Can a marriage be the same after a limerent affair?

As a general rule, a marriage will never be the same after a limerent affair. This is because humans desire a trustworthy companion. And as they say, trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair.

If a spouse finds out about a limerent affair, the marriage will never be the same again. That’s not to say the couple can’t carry on with their marriage and enjoy it.

It will just take both partners to agree to fully communicate their thoughts and feelings. You will also have to communicate respectfully and not bring up the past. It sounds easy, but the reality is that humans are really emotional.

If your partner has had a limerent affair in the past, you must never bring it back up once it’s been talked about and healed from.

If you are the one that has had a limerent affair, then you must admit your mistake to your spouse, and promise not to do it again. Don’t play the blame game. Try and work together to get through it.

There is NO justification for cheating.

The reason why I say marriage won’t be the same after a limerent affair is because we remember bad things more than good. The human mind is like Velcro for bad thoughts and Teflon for good thoughts. It is so hard to let go of the bad thoughts and memories you have of your spouse.

And after you discover your partner’s limerent affair, it is going to be really difficult to remember all the good in them. That’s because your mind will be clouded with the fact they cheated on you. This could last for a few months, years, or even the rest of your marriage.

Keeping a marriage alive after a limerent affair would require a huge amount of forgiveness.

You are also going to have to be able to recognize the good in your partner. If both partners are grown up about the situation, then it is absolutely possible to keep your marriage alive after an affair. But it won’t be exactly the same as before.

If your marriage is failing, then check out this quick video on the 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage that will help get yours back on track.

How can you get your spouse back after being in limerence?

To get your spouse back after a limerent relationship, attract them by getting back to doing the things that attracted them in the first place. Don’t try to compete with your partner’s limerent object or say bad things about them. Instead, focus on being the best version of yourself.

The best way to win your spouse back after they have been in limerence is to increase your value. Focus on being the best version of you that you can be.

You should never wait for your spouse’s limerence to wear off. Let’s have a closer look at how to get your spouse out of limerence.

Communicate from a position of strength

You have to remember that your spouse is in an affair, and they are acting irrationally and impulsively.

In this situation, you have to be clever. Try to communicate from a position of strength. Make it appear that you are independent and don’t need your spouse without making them feel worthless. You don’t want to come across as arrogant, either.

This is effective because you are showing your maturity and strength. These are highly attractive qualities, whether you are a man or woman. This will show your cheating spouse that leaving you for their limerent object will be a big mistake.

Don’t compete with the limerent object

You may be tempted to compete with your spouse’s limerent object.

Don’t do it! If you do that, you are basically admitting that the limerent object has qualities and traits that are attractive. You will be showing that you don’t have those qualities and traits.

If your partner is in limerence, chances are you used to have an attractive quality that you don’t possess anymore.

Think about what it was. Were you more adventurous, independent, active, or kind? Whatever that quality was, go back to being like that. Make your partner feel the same way they did at the start of the marriage.

Also, don’t say bad things about the limerent object. It will annoy your partner and make them less likely to listen to you. It also makes you look a little bit jealous and insecure.

Make your spouse feel attraction – not just gestures

People think that a successful marriage is made by saying nice things to your spouse and giving them gifts. That’s not the case. You have to make your partner want you. To do this, you have to have a quality or trait that is not common.

For example, you have to be kinder, more adventurous, intelligent, funnier, stronger, or wealthier than 80% of other people. Just having a single quality that is attractive and rare can help snap your partner out of limerence.

The key to becoming more attractive is to focus on yourself. “The grass is greener where you water it”.

Don’t let limerence run its course

When you allow a limerent affair to run its course, your spouse will spend more time with their limerent object. This can cause them to become more infatuated with them. This can make it more difficult to make them come to their senses and quit the affair.

Instead, you should acknowledge their affair and teach them about limerence. Tell them how they are just feeling impulsive emotions and that they will fade away eventually. It’s certainly not going to last.

But at the end of the day, they are free to do what they please.

So don’t try and control them as that will just push them away. This will require patience on your part and forgiveness, and developing thick skin.

Make sure they are not emotionally deprived

One of the reasons limerence happens is because spouses are not getting enough validation.

Make sure you are being kind and loving to your spouse, and always show your appreciation. You should try to praise your spouse at least once per day.

You need to be high value

At the end of the day, humans have this primal tendency to compete with one another.

In order to be more attractive, and keep your marriage free from limerent affairs, you have to be better than the competition. Try to develop some good habits or achieve something that is rare.

For example, you could start a business to become wealthy. Wealth is attractive because it shows you can look after your family. A high-value person is someone that can give to their spouse.

Look for signs the marriage is over

The hard truth is that even if you try doing all of the steps listed above, it may not be enough. Winning your spouse back after a limerent affair and helping them see clearly through their infatuation is not easy.

But are you sure you really want them back and that the marriage can be saved?

Check out this recent article on my site where I talk about the top 35 signs your marriage has been damaged beyond repair. Knowing when to pull the plug is essential for your own well-being and happiness.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Conclusion

So, to sum up, limerence is not the same as love.

Limerence is where you are blindly infatuated with someone (the limerence object). This happens because you see something you like in the person, and then you ignore all of their shortcomings.

I’m talking intense feelings, intrusive thinking, and essentially love addiction.

People fall into limerent relationships because they enjoy the feeling of excitement it gives them. Limerence causes the body to produce dopamine which makes you happy. Limerence also reduces stress.

People also fall into limerent affairs when they are not content with their current relationship.

And it doesn’t have to be a full-blown sexual relationship. As a matter of fact, you can experience limerence in an emotional affair too.

Limerent affairs last between three months and two years on average. However, it is possible for a limerent affair to last up to decades. This is incredibly rare, however, and usually only happens with long-distance relationships.

There are many signs your spouse is in a limerent relationship.

These signs can include mood swings and a change in habits. When limerence wears off, your partner will start to re-prioritize and go back to their old habits. They may also be sad and emotional for a few weeks.

It is possible to come out of limerence, but only if you understand why you are in that limerent affair in the first place.

After a limerent affair, it is possible to continue the marriage and enjoy it. However, once trust has been broken, it is almost impossible to repair.

To get your spouse back after limerence, you have to become more attractive. Work on yourself to become a high-value person. You should not let limerence run its course. Talk to your spouse and educate them about limerence. Don’t give them an ultimatum and make them choose between you and the limerent object.

If your partner is in a limerent affair, you need to be emotionally intelligent, patient, and forgiving. Above all, you need to work on yourself to become more attractive and high value in order to win your spouse back.

You CAN save your relationship — even if your spouse is in limerence with someone else.

I feel your pain and I know firsthand what it’s like being in a troubled marriage.

It can be devastating to both of you also. And that’s on top of the financial burden, the stigma, the emotional drain, and the feeling of all those wasted years.

The turning point in a marriage is when a couple hits rock bottom.

Luckily, all hope is NOT lost, and there is something you can do, even if your spouse seems reluctant or unsure. Mend the Marriage is a course developed by renowned marriage expert Brad Browning who has well over half a million subscribers on his YouTube channel.

This quote from Brenda R. perfectly sums up the quality work Mend the Marriage does:

“Brad Browning’s “Mend the Marriage” program is easily the most comprehensive and most effective guide to stopping divorce and saving your marriage. After reviewing a number of similar products, I recommend “Mend the Marriage” as the #1 choice for anyone facing a marriage crisis.”

Serious about saving or improving your relationship?

CLICK HERE to watch this free short video from Brad.


Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Jeff Campbell

Hi! I'm Jeff Campbell. I am a father and blogger and recently divorced. I love spending time with my 3 daughters and am still learning how to navigate life as a single dad and ex-husband; a life I didn't choose but have accepted.

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