Limerance & Your Descendant

Limerance & Your Descendant

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

I wrote my first newsletter for The Happy Mystic in September and have been writing one weekly since.

Most of them have centered around personal development and growth topics.

And one thing has stuck out to me as a central theme.

Our insecurities run the show.

What we fear about ourselves sets the traps we eventually fall into.

But this doesn’t happen in the front of our consciousness, of course.

At least not usually.

This happens in our “shadows.”

Our insecurities whisper to us from behind a curtain, making it hard to distinguish “it” from “us” - or sometimes even “it” from other people entirely.

This reminded me of one of my favorite topics in astrology: the Descendant.

Many of us are aware of our rising signs (the sign our 1st House line, Ascendant, lands in).

That sign describes how we “dawn on people,” the vibe we emit, the persona we use to move about in the world.

It is part of how we identify ourselves.

But what is the opposite of that?

What sits on the other side of the spectrum?

Those are the things we don’t see within ourselves, what we reject as being “parts of us” altogether.

They’re the blind spots we hold about our own personalities.

In our natal charts, this “other” sits exactly opposed to our rising sign (Ascendant) and is called the Descendant.

This line in our charts points to qualities that we may not recognize within ourselves.

And because of that, it can also describe what we are naturally drawn to in others.

Life always seeks balance.

So how could that possibly go wrong?

Enter the shadow.

The shadow that holds our insecurities and has the potential to add some confusion to the mix.

If I am not that attractive and I am drawn to this person who IS, what does it say about me if they like me back?

It says I must be attractive after all!

But what does it say about me if they don’t like me?

You see where I’m going with this - not a healthy dynamic.

This type of projection has its own name: limerance.

I recently stumbled upon this idea of limerance and was struck by its similarity to the concept of the Descendant in astrology.

Because I want to be more in control of my own emotional landscape in 2024, I decided to dive deeper into limerance and the Descendant.

In this newsletter I’m going to share what I learned:

  • What limerance is
  • Why limerance isn’t ideal
  • How eliminating limerance is beneficial
  • Why it’s hard to do that
  • Ways I can eliminate this type of projection from my life (using both non-astrological and astrological ideas)

What is Limerance?

At its core, limerance is a relationship rooted in imagination, not reality.

It’s when you’re attracted to the idea of a person rather than the actual person.

Limerance happens in romantic connections, but also in friendships.

This can be a tricky thing to pinpoint, so think of it like this:

What I want to feel from a person + What I project upon them = Limerance

​Psychologist, Heidi Priebe ​explained the difference between love and limerance.

Love mostly happens in real time.

You are with someone - and their actual words and actions - plus your words and actions - build a shared connection happening at that very moment.

Limerance, on the other hand, occurs mostly in our own minds.

This is how you want the person to make you feel.

What you think they will bring into your life.

Not what they have actually done.

In fact, sometimes spending time with the person you are in limerance is frustrating because they aren’t behaving as you had imagined they would.

You are projecting onto them who you want them to be in attempts to “get what you need from them,” - such as feelings of acceptance or value.

Why Would Anyone Do That?

When defining limerance, it does sound a bit crazy and extreme.

Why would anyone do that??

But this is quite common and exists at varying degrees.

This could be obsessing about someone you're interested in when most of the interactions you have happen in your imagination.

An outside observer would witness you two talking very little and see no signals of romantic interest from them.

While in your mind, you two are soul mates who are all but married.


Because “if they loved me, that would mean that I’m beautiful, worthy, interesting, etc.”

Limerance can be difficult to recognize because those thoughts often aren’t top of mind - they're only evident when you step back and take a hard look at the reality of the relationship.

This can also happen in friendships.

Ever known two “friends” where one is much more interested/nicer/more invested in the relationship than the other?

You wonder why the one friend puts so much of their energy into someone who doesn’t seem to mirror that back?

Once you think about it in terms of limerance, it makes more sense.

“If this person is successful and interesting and they like me, what does that say about me?”

Limerance can happen when you pin too much of your own “stuff” onto other people.

This can be feelings of worth, stability, safety, desirability, direction, positive outlook, etc.

What we feel we lack within ourselves we look for in others to provide for us.

Heidi Priebe​ describes why limerance can happen:

“Emotions in our shadow are rooms we don’t have keys to. We don’t know how to access them. When we think the other person accessed them for us, we like that feeling. Through the other person, we allowed ourselves to feel something we don’t usually feel.”

“Emotions in our shadow are like the rooms we don’t have keys to”

-Heidi Priebe

Why Limerance Is Not Ideal

Projecting our emotional needs onto others has harmful consequences for our psyches - and isn’t fair for the person on the receiving end.

Ways limerance is unhealthy:

  • We don’t have to deal with our own “stuff” because we are avoiding it through limerance
  • We continuously search for something to fill that hole, falling into the same traps over and over
  • We think we need something external to complete us
  • When the imaginary part of the relationship inevitably shatters, it can shatter us, as well
  • We don’t want to get to know the “real them” because it doesn’t go along with our narrative
  • We pin our sense of happiness on others when it isn’t their job
  • We may be more apt to lower our standards, allow our boundaries to be broken because we are desperate for their validation

Authentic, supportive, mutually beneficial connections are difficult when limerance is present.

And, what happens when we have limerance for someone and it DOES progress into a committed relationship?

Imagine that.

What are the inescapable outcomes in a partnership where one feels they need the other to “complete them?”

When their very self-worth hangs in the balance of the other person’s love, what pitfalls await them?

​This is not a solid foundation to build a relationship on.

Doing the hard inner work and rooting out limerance in our lives can bring many benefits:

  • Controlling our own experience more
  • Genuine relationships
  • Not allowing ourselves to run from our insecurities
  • Being more in control of our emotional landscape
  • Living in reality and not stuck in imaginative storytelling
  • Treating the people in our lives fairly by not projecting onto them

Why Can Living Without Limerance Be Hard?

The benefits of living without limerance are substantial.

So why can it be so hard to stop?

Much of what creates limerance in our relationships is our insecurities.

And many of our insecurities are comfortably at home within our subconscious.

These are things in our mind that we aren’t accessing directly and may not even know are there.

How can we deal with stuff we aren’t aware of?

Our insecurities are tricky.

But, they aren’t out to trick us - they are trying to protect us.

Many of the seeds of our insecurities were sewn at an early age before we had the tools to deal with emotional pain.

Because we weren’t equipped to handle them, they got stuffed away in our subconscious.

From our subconscious, these childhood experiences help inform what is safe for us and what isn’t, what we can deal with and what we can’t, who we are and who we aren’t.

And, because it is using old and flawed information, it's often wrong.

Our subconscious helps drive our behavior using this faulty data.

“There is no use trying to ‘look my best’ because I’m’ not attractive anyway.”

“It's hard to love me so I have to accept being treated poorly.”

“I have to be perfect because otherwise, everyone will know that I’m worthless.”

You can see how this kind of messaging can lead into:

“They are so handsome. If they love me, what does that say about me?”

“Everyone respects them. The fact that they like me means I am also worthy of respect.”

“Being with them means that I will feel secure because they are so stable.”

Our subconscious can try to protect us from pain by seeking safe haven in the form of relationships with others.

“Limerence is, above all else, mental activity. It is an interpretation of events, rather than the events themselves. You admire, you are physically attracted, you see, or think you see (or deem it possible to see under “suitable” conditions), the hint of possible reciprocity, and the process is set in motion.”

​— Dorothy Tennov

Rooting out limerance in our lives can be hard because:

  • Our insecurities are often very ingrained from an early age
  • It is hard to distinguish reality from projection in relationships because it’s directed from “behind the scenes” in our subconscious
  • Eliminating limerance means that we have to look at reality and dig deeper into things we probably don’t want to think about

But luckily, even though something can be hard that doesn't mean it isn't doable!

​The first step is to recognize if this is already present in your relationships or not.

Am I in Limerance?

Limerance is one of those things where just knowing it exists is a big step in rooting it out of your life.

I already find myself trying to pinpoint places in my relationships where I rely on limerance or projection to make me "feel a certain way".

But how do we know if what we're feeling about someone is healthy or if it has hints of limerance?

​In her videos, ​Heidi Priebe​ offers ideas on how to identify if limerance is present in a relationship.

1. Ask yourself what the difference is between the real relationship and your imagined relationship.

Do they look so different that it would be super embarrassing to have to describe the imaginary parts of your relationship to the other person?

Note the real pieces of evidence that show you how that person actually feels about you.

If an outside observer wouldn’t be able to see this piece of evidence, it doesn’t go on the list.

2. Is how this person has treated you compatible with the type of relationship you're hoping for?

Do they respect your boundaries? Are they as invested in you as you are in them?

3. What are problems that do exist or could exist in the relationship?

Are the solutions to these problems realistic?

Would the resolution to these problems still honor your needs and wants?

4. Are the expectations you're putting on this person realistic?

Is it fair for you to expect these things from them?

5. Does this person liking or loving you “prove” something about you?

​Through this relationship, are you more valuable, attractive, smart, stable, etc.?

Learning to “Complete Ourselves”

What is the opposite of limerance and projecting our needs onto others?

It’s learning to complete ourselves!

If you are in a relationship where you may be projecting your needs onto the other person, here are some things to think about:

  • Is there a “role” this person plays in my life?
  • What types of things do I rely on this person for?
  • What does it mean about me that this person likes/loves me?
  • What would it mean if they didn’t?

The answers to those questions may offer clues about ideas you may hold about yourself.

Examples: Does this person make you feel safe and secure?

A good question to ask yourself would be, why don’t I feel like I can provide my own stability?

​If they love you does that mean you are a valuable person? Why would their love determine your worth?

“Be wary of letting the other person do your work - they are teaching you to fish, not signing up to cook you fish dinners for a lifetime.”

​— Stephen Forrest

What we want others to provide for us can indicate what we think we lack.

Reflecting on our relationships in this way helps us come at life from a more authentic and realistic vantage point.

We have the chance to save our energy by not focusing on people who don’t feel the same way toward us.

​And, we have the opportunity to bring a more secure and autonomous version of ourselves to our current partnerships.

The Descendant

Another way to consider how we can learn to “complete ourselves” is through work with our Descendant.

This concept of “what is me” and “what is not me” plays out in astrology through the Ascendant/Descendant axis that runs horizontally through the natal chart.

​This axis, also called your Horizon, is formed from the boundary lines of the 1st House and the 7th House.

This Horizon axis describes both who we show the world and also the parts of us that we don’t recognize.

So, if you view your natal chart as a personal map for growth, the “goal” of your Descendant is to learn to "complete" yourself.

Your Descendant can be used as a tool to get ideas about your insecurities "who you are not."

Remember that just because we feel we lack a good trait doesn't mean that we do!

These can be perceptions, not realities.

If you would like to investigate your Descendant in this way, I have worked up some journal questions to get you started.

How to work with your Descendant:

  • ​What sign does your Descendant (7th House) land in?
  • What are the qualities of that sign?
  • Are these traits that you recognize within yourself? Why or why not?
  • Have you had partners or friends in your life that you feel embody this sign?
  • If so, what roles do they play in your life? How do they make you feel when you are around them?
  • Do you feel as though you project any of your emotional needs onto others? Why or why not?
  • What are some ways that you could begin to build up the qualities of your Descendant within yourself? Or, how could you better recognize those parts of you?
  • ​​Do you have planets sitting very close to your Descendant line? If so, repeat the questions above with the qualities of that planet in mind.

    Want more information about the planet? ​Here is a video that can help you out.​

Qualities we don’t see within ourselves act as magnets in other people, pulling us in, and making us feel balanced, safe, and worthy.

There is nothing inherently wrong with that.

But in healthy relationships, both people are capable of fulfilling their own emotional needs.

​When that happens, you realize there are no puzzle pieces to search for because you already have them all.

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Hi, I'm Peggy

I went from lost and desperate to feeling more joy and a sense of purpose. And all it took was a little ancient wisdom! Now my mission is to accompany you on your self-discovery path so you can unlock more happiness and self-love as well!

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