Governors, Quarterbacks, and Soul Mates
- Wednesday, July 08, 2009
It’s hard to convict people of sin when they partner God in the sin.
The end of limerence.
Medical and social research shows that limerence exists to draw two people together, but it was never intended to keep two people together. As God made our bodies, including our brains, He made us very complex beings. (Psalms 134:19) Part of His design is that at least some people are strongly attracted to each other through the process that we call limerence. Not everyone experiences it. When it is experienced between two people who have a right to each other, we love to watch their love. When it is experienced between two people who don’t have a right to each other, it leads to very bad situations.
We know that limerence lasts somewhere between six months and thirty-six months. When the limerent isn’t limerent any longer, things change in his/her perception of the LO and of life itself. Flaws and problems move from the realm of the denied or obscure to that of the acknowledged and obvious. You hear former limerents saying things such as, “Was he always like that? I never saw it. I don’t think he was like that before.” Other priorities in life become important again. The person leaving limerence broadens his/her life, making more time for friends, hobbies, and the like.
This is as it should be and is yet more proof of the wisdom of God. If we didn’t move past limerence the human race would have died out eons ago because rather than planting the crops, lovers would have been sitting under trees reciting poetry to each other. As noted earlier, limerence is made to draw us strongly together, but it is not the element that bonds us for life. That is a different kind of love that is very deep, but much more rational and far less euphoric and obsessive.
That is one of the difficulties Governor Sanford faces now. The Associated Press writes, “Sanford said he is trying to fall back in love with his wife, Jenny, even as he grapples with his deep feelings for Chapur.” The ecstasy – though short-lived – of limerence will never compare in intensity with the type of love that makes for a wonderful, life-long marriage. He will need the proper help to overcome the one and find deep and true fulfillment in the other. Unfortunately, it would take a book to explain our success in helping people overcome limerence and learn to love their spouses in deeper ways than they ever imagined. Therefore, instead of providing the answer to limerence here, allow me to mention at least three ways that limerence may end.
If two people are in limerence with each other, they usually don’t evolve past limerence at the same pace. Often one is still entrenched in limerence while the other has lost most or all limerence. That often leads post-limerent to abandon the still-limerent, either physically, emotionally, or sexually. Because of the intense emotions felt by the one still in deep limerence, logic, rules, values, and even self-preservation may disappear in a fog of desperation. The limerent typically tries to stop the post-limerent from ending the relationship and will employ increasingly intense actions to keep the LO from moving on. Tactics may include manipulation, control, guilt, seduction, blackmail, threats, slander, public scenes, suicide, and murder. Obviously not every limerent being abandoned will do every option listed here. Some do hardly any. But the truth is that some will do all of them, or in an intensely fearful moment jump straight to killing the LO and/or self.
This appears to be what happened to McNair and, as always, it is such a shame. By all accounts he was a good man who genuinely cared about people and who would roll up his sleeves and get directly involved in helping. On Nashville television a fellow church member described the kind of man that McNair was. But even the best of people, even those who love Jesus and want to do right, can get into terrible situations if they fall into limerence with someone to whom they have no right. It appears that Steve did. It also appears that Sahel did to a level that would not allow him to do anything but marry her or die. Many hearts broke and those who loved them will have a tough time healing.
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