It’s Saturn’s Fault! My Fight With Limerence

I’m going through some kind of transition in my life. My sleep is disrupted, I’m in the midst of (re)creating my life, yet I’m lapsing into behaviours that I thought were behind me. In astrology, they would tell you this is totally typical because I’m experiencing my second Saturn Return. Psychologically, I’m facing some déjà vu-like circumstances and feeling as uncomfortable as a Kardashian at a garage sale. (Everything is just so…yuck.)

Who Invited This Guy Back?

Saturn is a slow moving planet that takes approximately 29 years to move through all the signs of the zodiac. The last time Saturn was in Pisces was from May 1993 to April 1996; March 1964 to March 1967; and February 1935 to January 1938. Your first Saturn return happens towards the end of your 20’s and the second, your 50’s. Why is this important?

Here’s a summary of the badass of the Zodiac, Saturn:

“In Astrology, Saturn is the Cosmic Taskmaster — the demanding teacher who presents you with obstacles and challenges so you can gain strength and wisdom… When your actions — especially your work in the world — are aligned with your inner Saturn, you experience a sense of integrity and satisfaction. When you’re out of alignment, you feel Saturn’s shadow — restriction, lack, and fear.”

The Importance of Your Saturn Return in Astrology |

In other words, if you’re not feeling great about your life or where you are, you will grow increasingly dissatisfied during Saturn’s Return. It’s a time when you are forced to face your lessons in life and grow the f*ck up. In my case, I feel like I’ve been thrown into the ring with the same demon I fought last time. Yeah, I know I can beat this thing but it could get messy…and it’s probably going to hurt like a bugger. What bloody fun.

Love Will Tear Us Apart

One thing I find strange is that when I should have turned to my partner for love or comfort in my life, I didn’t or couldn’t. This was never due to a lack of love – on either of our parts, I believe. Just our inability to feel safe enough to tell each other our true feelings. This morning I thought that it was like wearing a straight-jacket of fear. Pretty hard to hug someone. My journal becomes my confidant – an escape. It is during these times that I am most vulnerable to believing that the problem is “outside” of me. Someone else is to “blame.”

During my first Saturn return, we had uprooted our lives and moved to a small town where I had no friends and only his family. I had a toddler and found myself isolated, not realizing how much I had relied on my previous Mothering group for emotional support. Looking back, I did what I always do: found creative outlets like singing, joined a gym, and started a volunteer Mothering group. So far, so good.

Underneath I was angry with my partner, who I blamed for our circumstances. I had only agreed to make such a drastic move to help him establish himself in a new career. That failed within months and when I expressed my dismay that he’d quit and was going back logging, he shut me down in his forceful, belligerent way.

I now know that he was acting out of an extreme fear of failure to provide for us, his little family.

Five Star Saturn Return

Things grew from bad to worse as my parents went through their own financial crisis and moved in with us. I began avoiding coming home. I went out and at the gym, singing practise, or the pub afterwards, I’d be telling stories and laughing – always laughing. My theory is: the heavier the responsibility you’re avoiding, the happier you’ll be in whatever you choose to distract yourself. During those nights, I was considered witty and beautiful in a way I never got to be when I was younger.

Or when I got home to people I thought of as angry, selfish, and taciturn. The contrast could not have been greater.

I convinced myself that I’d married the wrong man because not only did he not consider me beautiful but he didn’t even try to understand me. That’s when I began a fixation for one of the guys I’d met at pub night that had paid attention to me.

Da Do Ron Ron

You can see where this is going, yeah? I think everyone in the world knows how it will end and it was only me, who remained willfully blind, who was oblivious to any consequences.

During the beginning of my second Saturn Return last spring, I learned what limerence is.

“Limerence is not the same thing as love. An individual in a limerent state is not concerned for the well-being of the person they’re obsessed over. It is an independent state, confined to the mind of the person experiencing it…

The experience is also distinct from simple sexual desire. An individual in a limerent state does not necessarily want to have sex with the object of their desire. They may not want to have a relationship, settle down, or have kids. Rather, the focus of limerence is the mental obsession of whether the object of limerence feels the same way toward you. It is the fantasizing that’s exciting, more than the realization of the fantasy.”

Psychology Today

The first time I heard about limerence (From the: “Crappy Childhood Fairy”), I flushed with shame. I’ve been limerent for as long as I can remember. Was anyone else sure that Shaun Cassidy was going to come to town, notice the chubby, bespectacled girl carrying her books to school and offer to help, only to fall in love with her?

Shaun Cassidy…now there was a guy who could wear tight, white satin pants…Da Do Ron RON!

Why Me?

Most girls grow up and out of this fantasy living. Not me, though. Part of the experience is this complete fantasy that the person will choose me. Out of everyone in the world, all the beautiful people, it will be me. Finally wanted and understood. Finally vindicated as worthy of love. By someone so much better than I am.

Many novels and movies are based on limerence fulfillment fantasies. Who is Mr. Darcy but the ultimate fantasy? For the most part, an obsession like this is pretty harmless. It’s when your current life becomes almost intolerable and you just want to be in your fantasy life all the time that alarm bells should go off.

Why am I more likely to experience limerence? According to Psychology Today:

“Limerence has…been tied to trauma. Early childhood abandonment or neglect may correlate to the likelihood of experiencing limerence….”

Fantasy Island

Limerence has given me a reason to live when I felt trapped and hopeless. When things are so bad – SO bad – that I’m having trouble getting out of bed, I had the object of my limerence to live for. This enabled me to shower, get dressed in nice clothes, to work out and take care of myself, and to be the best person that I could. I never knew when I might catch a glimpse of him driving by or see him coming out of the grocery store. Even after he moved away, I would carry on with all my routines, just in case he came back to visit someone and I happened to see him.

It is pure escapism and not any way to carry on in a healthy marriage. I see this so clearly now. But at the time, what were my alternatives? Alcoholism or another addiction? Depression? A real affair? A motorcycle?!

Man Experiencing Saturn Return

One Life to Live

One of the consequences was that I wasn’t living my life the way it actually was. I lost years just going through the motions. My head wasn’t in “the game,” as the saying goes. I was living in a complete fantasy world. One where all my dreams had come true and I was loved, loved, loved.

It all came to a terrible, painful conclusion when my husband thought I was having an affair. Was I? Was this cheating? I certainly felt guilty and terrible. It’s true I didn’t want him anymore. But then he did something that changed everything. He broke down and told me he was done “playing games.” He said some of the nicest things he’s ever said to me. I’d like to write that the spell was broken immediately, but of course, it wasn’t.

Coming Out of Limerence is Excruciating

The guilt, shame, and plain sadness of loss – both for the object of your fixation as well as for all the time you’ve wasted – are nearly overwhelming. This on top of having to face the state of your marriage makes for a crisis I don’t ever want to repeat. In my case, the limerence wasn’t “consummated” and I’m forever grateful for that. It took a while for my feelings to surface back up into the “real” world. There were many months of confusion, sadness, and a kind of bewilderment as if waking up from a coma.

I was 30 by this time. When I got pregnant I was wracked with guilt and sure that I would be punished by losing the baby – until I had a vision. After that, everything improved in my life and my daughter was born without a hitch – well, maybe one or two hitches. The following years then went on to become some of the happiest times of my life. Goodbye Saturn you mean rat-bastard!

The Second Coming of Saturn

Learning that there was an actual term for what I experienced and an explanation for why I am so prone to this fantasy state has really taken a load off my mind. It’s not an excuse for what I did but this understanding of why has helped me to forgive myself.

More importantly, I have recently recognized that I was about to slip into another limerence fantasy and have been able to stop myself.

There is a man in my spiritual group who I was putting up on a pedestal. It is because he is the first practical yet spiritual man I’ve encountered in real life. Like a unicorn, I didn’t believe they existed.

I think looking up to someone like this is actually pretty normal. What is not normal is me fantasizing about a life with him when he is married – and to an amazing, beautiful woman. 

The lessons I learned from my first Saturn Return are coming back fresh into my mind and it’s been humbling. That all-encompassing escape into limerence was like a dream I became addicted to. I am so grateful that I recognize what my brain is trying to do and am able to consciously shift my mind from its fixation every time it tries to fantasize.

Why now?

I’m sifting through the memories, stories, and oddments in my brain in an attempt to understand why this is coming up now. That’s how I remembered Saturn. I do feel like I haven’t accomplished much in my life – and I’m running out of time. The responsibility of living my life is heavy. If only someone would rescue me! Save me from having to make difficult choices or from having to do things by myself all the time.

What I want is to have someone besides myself to blame, I think. Isn’t that why anyone gets married? (That was a joke! Sheesh! Lighten up, people!)

You’re No Mr. Darcy!

I know this will be over soon. Limerence ends as soon as I get to know the person – sometimes instantly. Reality pops the limerent bubble. Simple things will horrify me, such as, “What?! You don’t like cats?” or, “You like country music? Are you insane?!”

I may be a limerent snob. I could never even fake a relationship with someone that didn’t like cats.

Boundaries, Responsibilities, Commitments, Oh, My!

The question is: during Saturn’s second visit in your life, will you do the same things you did during your first Saturn Return? Are you better able to honour your boundaries – and others’?  Are you able to fulfill your responsibilities and do your duty to the best of your ability? Saturn will poke at you until you say what you mean and mean what you say. You’re going to have to show up in your own life in a way you may have been avoiding.

My second Saturn Return is a chance for me to correct some of my destructive relationship patterns. I shudder to think of what would have happened if I’d gotten into a second marriage by now without knowing about limerence. No doubt – no doubt – that instead of telling my partner that I was unhappy about something, I’d turn to a fantasy man and try to be content with that.

In my fantasy, my new man would tell me I was a saint to have put up with so much bullshit while we were drinking a great vintage on a stone terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. I would adjust my large brimmed sunhat and look over my dark sunglasses at him and raise my glass, “Cheers to that, Darling!”

OK, stop! Just stop!

For the first time in years I’m not avoiding anyone because I’m unable to create boundaries. There are no difficult conversations I’m putting off. I feel like I’ve never been able to be myself more. My sense of humour has returned and I feel lighter. Of course, I’ve got two more years to work through.

Mostly it has become apparent that I need to learn to love myself, just the way I am.

If you’re up for it, Mr. Darcy and I will be vacationing in the South of France for a few more weeks. Love to see ya!


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