When does love addiction become pathological? What's the recipe for addressing love addiction? What's the difference between love addiction and codependency? Who are you when it is just you?
Hear it all on this episode of the Queer Joy Podcast; where two relationship therapists explore what it looks like to see joy in queer relationships.
Relationship Check In Worksheet: bit.ly/QRQJworksheet
Shop at As You Like It : bit.ly/asyoulikeitshop
Connective Therapy Collective website: www.connectivetherapycollective.com
FB & IG: @connectivetherapycollective
Melisa: I mean, there's lots of, there's lots of different ways to define love addiction. I also wanna let people know in terms of the research, what's interesting is every researcher defines it differently. And then they have different ideas about what is considered, like, you know, when does it become pathological versus not.
Hi everyone. Welcome back to Queer Relationships, Queer Joy.
Keely: Yay. On a bright, sunny day in Portland, Oregon.
Melisa: Woohoo. I can deal with these sunny, I deal with the cold when it's sunny like this.
Keely: So did yesterday.
Melisa: It did, it did.
Keely: Talk about some joy. I had fun anyway. I had fun with the snow. It was like the perfect situation where there was snow on like the grass and there was, it was snowing, but the streets didn't ever get mushy and
Melisa: It didn't stick enough to cause like transportation problems.
Keely: Which for folks who don't live in Portland, Oregon, don't understand. We have really bad, bad ways that we handle snow in the streets and traffic and all, Ugh, all the things. So Melisa, do you have updates you wanna give? What, what's going on in your life?
Melisa: Of course. Should we do our formal introductions before we dive in? Do we wanna like tell new people who we are?
Melisa: Well, I'm Melisa DeSegiurant and I'm licensed as a marriage and family therapist and a professional counselor, and I work at Connective Therapy Collective in Portland, Oregon. I am white, I am able bodied, I'm bisexual. I am a polyamorous person and I use she and they pronouns. I identify as gender fluid.
Keely: And I am Keely C. Helmick. I am a licensed professional counselor. I am certified as a sex therapist. I'm the owner of Connective Therapy Collective. I am white, non-binary queer. Still dealing as I keep saying, every week with a back injury and practicing non-monogamy, solo monogamy or solopol-, sorry. Solo polyamory, solo non monogamy, but that's more of like where I'm at versus claiming that title, like that's who I am. That's the structure that I wanna be in. It's more explained the structure. I currently am in.
Melisa: When you said solo monogamy, there's a part of me that was like, oh, that sounds great. Isn't that just like-
Keely: Does that exist? Are there solo monogamous?
Melisa: I don't know that they would use that terminology, but I kind of love it.
Keely: Well, and I think it's interesting, you know, speaking of our topic, and we'll go into updates, but I was, that just made me think about how that term, someone just used it recently on a podcast, the term of serial monogamy. And going into uh, the topic of, and trying to find a different word, but we're talking about love addiction, but, and it fits very well with my update. But Melisa, do you wanna update folks about Yeah, what's going on in your life?
Melisa: Well, if you are a frequent listener, you will know I don't do a lot in the winter. It is an introversion time for me, so there's not a ton to. There's not like a ton of especially on the relationship front, like active changes to report every single week, which is great, and I'm really enjoying the consistency in that part of my life right now. It feels good that that is continuing to progress, but just going as it's going one thing that's not new, but in the spirit of what we're talking about today and just in the spirit of being, I guess, a little bit more transparent here I'm, I'm very much in love. I've been in love for many, many months. Again, this is not new, and I do use this language with the person I am in love with. But I haven't named it here, and it, it has been just so amazing for me. So healing and the pace at which that relationship has developed. And that does, I think, kind of mirror some of what we'll talk about in today's discussion. It has felt so slow and balanced and healthy and because of our non monogamy dynamics, there really hasn't been room for co-dependency, which is something I may have gravitated towards in the past. So I'm in love and it feels really, really great. And it, it, it still feels. I would say all consuming in a way, but in a, in a positive way. Where I'm kind of uplifted every day. I can do all the other parts of my life that are unrelated with more energy, not in the all consuming way where I can't think about anything else. I'm losing sleep, I'm not eating, I'm not right. Like, so it's maybe I should say like, It's prevalent versus the word consuming is a little problematic, but-
Yeah. So that's my update and you know, it's felt really good to be vocal with that person. It's also felt good. This, I, I was in love and was naming that with my partner before I even met the person that I am now dating who lives at town. And so to make a new connection and tell someone like flat out like, yeah, I'm seeing this person. I'm completely in love with them. Like that felt really healthy to be able to invite new people in. With real understanding of where my emotions were, so.
Keely: Oh, that's lovely.
Melisa: Hey, love.
Keely: Yay, love. Yeah. We're not talking anti love here, we're just how, what does love look like? I wanna give, before I do my update, I had forgotten I wanted to say something cuz I got this report and you know, these like random ranking things that come up with podcasts, but I wanna give a shout out to uh, anyone who's listening to us in Finland.
Keely: Because we were ranked position three in the category of sexuality in Finland.
Melisa: That's incredible.
Keely: Well, and when I saw it's an extra like, sweet thing for me because we don't talk about ancestry on this podcast ever. I mean, why would we. And I am actually 25% Finnish so that's like this like little sweet spot in me and my grandmother actually my great-grandparents immigrated to the states from Finland due to religious persecution.
And so it's fascinating. So yeah, I don't need to go into my whole background. But I will say, you know, I'm very connected to Finland and the Finnish community. And just the more I learn about Finland and I'm like, oh, yay. So that was really exciting to see. I know. I was like, how can we, how can Melisa I get to Finland? Hey, if anyone has any ideas or wants to message us, let us know cuz I would, I've been so eager to get my body to Finland, so.
Melisa: As soon as you said that Keely, I was like, yeah, another reason I gotta get my passport changed. I know, I know. They just make it really expensive, especially when you already have one that's technically valid, just under a different
Keely: Or name change, which a lot of-
Melisa: Name changes. Ugh man. Yeah. Frustrating.
Keely: So if anyone in Finland wants to host an event for us to go, do and we could do some live interviews or some kind of event, I don't know.
Melisa: Totally. I will, I will get my passport and I will get my butt there.
Keely: We'll get to Finland. So aside from that fun little, little snippet of information. For me. Yeah. It was so apropo. I had these conversations this weekend that really fed into this idea of talking about love addiction, codependency. I am so like for the background of the person that I was casually dating for, then they left and they came back and so we're like doing the whole relation, like doing the relationship thing and doing the what does it look like in a non-monogamous way, in a queer way, to have this really loving connection that doesn't look like monogamy, that doesn't look like we're getting married or we're moving in together, or any of those like pieces when we think about the relationship escalator, but that we're moving and it's been a year.
Keely: And we had that conversation reflecting on like, oh, this is healthy. Like, we have gotten to know each other more and we, we took it slow. And then this on the heels of that before that conversation has been happening, this, you know, for a couple weeks now, and it really solidified this week with love and the word love. And then also having, I've had multiple conversations with people that I've dated outside of this this person I'm dating around I got the, the wording of feeling lukewarm.
Keely: And the first thing that popped in my mind, and I said this to her was
Melisa: This is a different person. Right?
Keely: This is a different person. Thank you for clarifying. Yes, yes. I have two, I have one person I've been dating for a while. That were like more seriously dating. And then I have a new person and this newer person having this conversation and they're like, checking in. They're like, it feels lukewarm. And I was like, oh. And I said, is that because we're not love bombing
Is that why this feels lukewarm? And we had this conversation and what it came out is, is this ask for reassurance if I actually like them.
Melisa: Mm, mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm.
Keely: And how that feeds into this conversation today for me is wow, if it's not this like mega intense, if we're not, because I feel I'm attracted to her, I really enjoy the time I'm sharing with her. But we are going unlike a date, once a week, sometimes twice a week, but mainly once a week. And so we explored this idea of what does it mean to take things slow? At the very beginning of a the very beginning of a dynamic, a dating dynamic. And I will say that her therapist said that I had healthy boundaries, that it seemed like I had healthy, I'm like, wow, somebody said that. This is what healthy is and, and starting this conversation around love addiction of like what looks healthy and it's gonna look different for everyone. But I can say having, I mean, my joke for a while that I literally tell people is, oh, are you gonna tell me in three weeks that you could imagine yourself marrying me?
Cause that's been my experience in the past. I can name three exes who we started dating. And it was that like when we think about romantic love, and we think about the movies and, and, and how it feels, you know, so exciting and exhilarating and literally. I'm like, I would get these humans, these people I'm dating, and they'd be like, oh, I could, I could imagine marrying you.
And when I heard that the third time in a relationship, I was like, what is going on? Like, why, why are you saying this? You don't even know me.
Melisa: Mm, mm-hmm.
Keely: And obviously all three relationships that I'm thinking about right now have all ended.
Melisa: what did that mean? What were they trying to express in those situations?
Cardinal: Hey, Hey, it's Cardinal. You're behind the scenes buddy. Need a good relationship. Check-in we happen to have one for free. A coincidence. Complete our relationship checking worksheet by yourself or with a partner or partners. The five questions. We'll walk you through discussions designed to get to the heart of your relationship.
Link is in the episode description. All right back to the show.
Keely: I will give an example of love bombing, just to have some picture, and I don't know if you have an example from your past Melisa, but as we talk about love addiction and give some antidotes of real experiences. I was, I had just started dating somebody who lived in a different city and we were dating non monogamously. We had only hung out. We'd had like phone conversations and, and known each other since November, this is years ago. Known each other since November, but really had only been talking, had spent only a couple weekends together because of the distance. So I woke up to text one day asking where I am, and they had surprised me by flying, flying to Portland.
Keely: Hang out with me. I had no idea. And to be fair I was at somebody else's house.
Melisa: I was gonna say with non monogamy, like what a no-no. Like scheduling. So important, no surprises.
Keely: Yes. And I was like what is going on? I mean, my brain, I mean, of course my brain like freaked out. Like I could see how this story could be part of a story on numerous romcoms.
Melisa: Yeah, totally.
Keely: But in reality it was like, what is going on?
Keely: And we rebounded. I ended up hanging out with them and figuring it out, but it, that's the example I always go back to. And there's so many other things, you know, that people do. You know, all the gifts and just the, the intensity.
Melisa: Incessant text messaging.
Keely: Yes, you know. All of these pieces.
Melisa: Yeah. It also feels like as we're starting into this conversation important, and I think a lot of listeners will maybe already know this or have heard conversations about this, but to talk about how it, it is controversial to use the word addiction when paired with love. There's so much more to say about that, but I just want to kind of name that and we are using it today to talk about problematic love. Other people have labeled that as like pathological love. So where we'll, we'll get into definitions in a minute, but essentially where there is such an impairment to functioning in other areas of your life because of these experiences.
Melisa: We'll dig into all of that more. There is research that links the chemical things we go through to addiction. So there actually are similarities in a lot of ways, especially with breakups and withdrawal symptoms. So it's not completely out of this world to use that language. I also wanna honor for some people who are struggling with addiction, such as you know, a drug addiction or alcohol addiction. It can feel really minimizing to their experience for people to use the word addiction with love with sex also, we can get into a place of like, over pathologizing, you know?
Melisa: And normal feelings and chemical changes, and we're just like so quick to put a label on it, you know?
Keely: What you and I were reflecting on in our check-ins and updates was how looking at love and relationships as growth and growing into these exhilarating, big connections, but that when these really intense things happen at the beginning, it's based on something different than what a long term development of a connection happens. How that happens, and I mean, research from neurobiology says that what, when we, you know, we talk about new relationship energy, that feeling, those intense feelings, our brain is basically like on cocaine.
Melisa: Yeah. Yeah.
Keely: Part of where the addiction piece comes in again. And what, and I wanna be cautious even about using the word love and talking more about like lust and the normal drive to wanna connect with people. And the really positive, good feelings of, of getting to know somebody and being attracted to somebody and they're attracted to you.
Melisa: Right? Yeah. We can't even measure it just by intensity of the experience. Because thinking about from a developmental perspective, and others have said this, this is not my own novel idea, but when we go through puberty, for example, as adolescents, I mean, part of the dynamic there is our prefrontal cortexes are not yet fully developed. So our complete critical thinking isn't there, but our amygdalas are, so we've got all the range of emotions and all these hormones and chemicals, but like not the ability to rationalize things. So, yeah, I mean, I, I'm not gonna sit here and diagnose every teenager with love addiction. Obviously we can't diagnose that anyway. It's not in the DSM, it's not a diagnosis. Let's make that clear. But I wouldn't use that terminology. And similarly, and I know we said this in our prep Keely, but similarly for people in the queer community, there is this experience often, especially I've noticed for my clients who are coming out a little bit later, maybe into their thirties, forties, and beyond, that there's this experience of like going through another puberty because you're unlocking this part of yourself that has been repressed and hidden.
I've seen the same with people going into non monogamy. So those I would categorize as normal responses to novelty and a new experience and, and engaging in something that maybe was really stigmatized, heavily stigmatized, and then finding pleasure in that. Right. That's why I like, I get cautious. I mean, obviously these terms are already out there, so I don't get to control how people use them.
But I would caution you as listeners to be careful when you're using the words love addiction. Be careful that you're not applying that to very normal responses. Grief is normal after breakups, for example. That doesn't mean we were love addicted. It might have meant we loved that person and that we're grieving, that they're gone.
Keely: Yeah, and I think we're like in anything that we're talking about where it, there's a lot of emotions going on is it's, it's to the extent of how the experience or what we're going through is affecting the other parts of our lives. And so things can feel really good and be really. But the person is still engaging with their family or their loved ones, with their community, with their friends, still able to go to work and do those responsibilities, household responsibilities, kids, if you have kids taking care of your pets.
So there's the piece that really stands out is how when we talk, and I think about almost, I like using the word obsession too sometimes. So again, that can be very pathologized, but it's when this other human or these other new people that you're making these connections with, it's all consuming.
Keely: And it's having a negative impact on other parts of our lives.
Melisa: Yeah, absolutely.
Melisa: Should we get into some definitions that we have? I mean, there's lots of, there's lots of different ways to define love addiction. I also wanna let people know in terms of the research, what's interesting is every researcher defines it differently. So it's, we're not doing a literary review here because that, I mean, actually Multiamory had a couple weeks ago, actually, no, I think it was a couple months ago, did an episode on love addiction, where they go through some of the research. So if you're interested in that, check that out. But that, that's what makes it hard to compare because they're all defining it as something completely different. And then they have different ideas about what is considered, like, you know, when does it become pathological versus not. So just naming that.
Keely: Yeah. Do you wanna, do you wanna read the, the
Melisa: Well, I'll read one that I found Keely, and then I actually, I think yours is a little bit more all encompassing. But this comes from a podcast called Addicted to Love. I did listen to, I wanna say two episodes. It's worth checking out, I would say, especially in the first episode, there's some good questions that she asked. Cause it's Aleah Ava who does this. What I would caution listeners it doesn't seem to come from an especially queer perspective, it seems, and there's nothing overt that said this, but I was getting very monogamous vibes and getting very heteronormative vibes.
So, I just wanna name that, that a lot of the resources tend to be, especially when we'll talk about this later at Keely, but especially when they get into like what's the recipe for addressing love addiction? They have very different ideas than I have, so I just wanna name that. But the first episode's good for some questions and I do like the definition she offered. A compulsion to find keep, and feel love at all times.
Melisa: So that compulsion word that is similar to that obsession word, it's like I have to find it at all times. I have to keep it at all times. And that does mirror what we've seen in addiction patterns with like a drug addiction substance use is that there's that idea that somebody is constantly planning and scheming. How do I get more, I need more and more and more. And that's all I'm thinking about all the time. Right?
Keely: Yeah. Yeah. Well, and the definition goes a little further. What I found in an article that I was reading from Psychology Today was their definition, and again, their, so I wanna be clear in this article, they are using the word love addiction interchangeably, sometimes with pathological love. And we are giving these definitions and background to inform people, but this, I don't align. We don't necessarily align with these fully, but they are things to think about.
Melisa: Useful starting points.
Keely: Yeah. And so they talk about it as love addiction refers to pattern of behavior characterized by maladaptive, pervasive, and excessive interest towards one or more. Thank you for the shout for one or more. One or more romantic partners resulting in lack of control, the renounce of other interests and behavior, and other negative consequences, and they talk about love that is uncertain external, blind, and beyond one's control permeates one's life. Permeates.
Keely: And so we're talking about the degree of how it affects.
The other parts of life. Because I mean, we talk about in polyamory and non monogamy, how like one person is not there to fulfill all of our needs. And so when we talk about love, so we're, and we wanna specify in this idea of love addiction and the topic today, we are specifically talking about romantic love and sex also plays obviously a piece in this. And we can differentiate that this can happen even if sex isn't involved. But we're specifically talking about romantic love and how that what we recognize as when we're in a more healthy realm as a human, that we are getting our needs met and having connection in all sorts of ways, and it's not just focused on romantic partners.
Melisa: Yeah. Yeah. That's a good distinction. Yeah. I, I also, and I know this is part of what we're hoping to bring in today but there's a, first of all, I just wanna name, I'm that clinician who like, the first time I heard love addiction and Keely you witnessed this. I was like, oh, I don't like cringe. I'm the resistant one. It takes me a while to get on board with new ideas. I'm still working on the language detachment with codependency. So like it's gonna, you know, it's gonna be time. Part of, part of that is just the way I was trained and especially I hadn't heard the term love addiction, but I had heard the term sex addiction and that has been something that has been trained out of me as a term.
Although I also wanna name, it's really useful for some people to think of it in that framework. And I have worked with clients who've been through like sex addiction recovery programs that were very helpful for them. So I don't get to, you know, I don't get to put my language on everyone else, let's put it that way. But yeah. I think part of that, in, in addition to the resistance to just the term love addiction that I initially had, where my mind goes is I wanna know what's underneath it. I don't care what you call it. I wanna go like, what? What's the trauma? Right? Like, not just what, because what these diagnoses are, especially the ones in the DSM they're a, a list of terms we've created by behaviors we can observe. Right?
I have the belief not all of them are, but many of the different diagnoses are all trauma responses, the responses to trauma, and it manifests different ways. You know, for some it's, you know, granted that's not the only thing. There are genetics and things like that to come into play. So this is a much broader conversation.
Melisa: What I was saying to you earlier, Keely, is I had a hard time distinguishing like, what's the difference between love addiction and codependency?
Melisa: It sounds the same to me in a lot of ways. Do they just work together?
Keely: And what, when I, so the research, and when I say research, I'm gonna be very clear, this was deep diving into other clinicians that focus on this, other writers and what articles have been written.
There is a little bit of research, technical research, but it is all cis hetero specific, cis hetero, monogamous specific, and so we can mention research, but there is not good research. I don't know if there is even any research, but there is not enough research or discussion specifically with queer and non-monogamous folks.
Melisa: Yeah, yeah. Across the board.
Keely: Across the board and all things, but on this topic as well. And one of the things that I was drawn to is the work. Again, this is very cis hetero and it is very focused. When I read it, it comes from a very white, cis female perspective. So I wanna be really clear about that. And PM Melody talks about this attachment wound and the way that these maladaptive connections with others in a romantic way really comes from this idea of the mother wound. And so she talks a lot about how people will look towards their romantic partners to provide the type of love that was not given from our parental figures.
Keely: And so if we specifically think about the queer community and what high percentage of folks who do not have a healthy connection or any connection sometimes with their bio family and with their primary caretakers from youth and how, you know, in earlier episodes we've talked about this idea, you know, the basic, does the basic need to be seen and heard as a human. And when that doesn't happen and there's. There's, there wasn't that connection, there wasn't that support that nurturing that love. So she comes through it talking about how we're searching for that. And so within these attachment wounds, then individuals have maladaptive ways of connecting and bonding in romantic partnerships.
Melisa: Yeah. Yeah, I love that. I mean, that feels so right on. And again, it's a way to address what is causing this behavior rather than focusing solely on the behavior. Because then we can start talking about, you know, treatment and what it looks like to heal. Yeah, I mean, and, and there was a part of me early when we were talking about this topic and starting to plan, I was like, do we just call it an attachment addiction?
But in that case, like, aren't we all programmed to be connected to others? So once again, isn't that over pathologizing? But yeah, the pervasive piece, as we've discussed before, when you're not able to invest in any other parts of your life, another kind of distinguishing factor that I've heard a lot of people talking about if you're, if you're trying to suss out.
Is this okay love? This is just normal NRE. Is this, you know, what is this love addiction. What is this? Is the idea, like, can you picture yourself? Like, do you know? Do you have a connection? We talk about relationship with self all the time. Do you have a connection to who you are outside of your relationships?
And that's, that's actually a question I had in a post-it note for about a year after I got divorced was just, who am I when it's just me?
Melisa: Because if there is no identity and sense of self, then we're more likely to be consumed and over-identify with all these, you know romantic relationships, sexual relationships in a way that might actually be unhealthy because we don't have a home base. We talk about secure attachment. Think about secure attachment to ourselves, our relationship with self. Are we a secure base for ourselves? You know?
Keely: Yeah. Yeah, and I think when you're saying this, another piece that comes up as like talking about characteristics of these types of dynamics is when you're looking at, if you have a relationship with yourself, another characteristic is maintaining the relationship in spite of anything else.
And so there's this deep yearning. To keep the relationship no matter what.
Melisa: Yeah, yeah.
Keely: And that's where the negative pieces come in and the, the fear, you know, we can bring in when we're, you know, we're talking about attachment and so that anxious attachment, it often, they often categorize anxious attachment around these pieces.
And the idea that if the biggest, the deepest fear is the disconnect from a romantic partner. The fear of the, of the romantic partner leaving, and so maintaining that relationship in spite of any negativity or all the negativity. And again, bringing it back into a queer dynamic. You know, you mentioned adolescence, we mentioned like it can feel, we talk a lot about in the queer community, this idea of scarcity.
Melisa: Mm-hmm. .
Keely: And so when, when you do connect with a romantic partner and you have this relationship developing and it feels so good, and then as these other pieces start showing up, it can be extra challenging, it can feel, it can feel extra hard. That's a good term to, to lose that connection.
Melisa: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.
Keely: But feeling like I've heard it described as feeling like when the partner is not around it, it can, or if, if they get a breakup, it feels like the person's dying.
Melisa: Yeah. Yeah. And, and again, that is where, you know, we do, there is some research about what happens in our brains and our, and our nervous systems when we go through a breakup.
We can experience withdrawal symptom. That is, that is real. And I, I think what we're suggesting is it's even more pronounced when there's this sort of love addiction feeling to the relationship in the first place. The other thing, it, it can look like staying in relationships maybe longer than we ought to or, or that serve us.
It can also, I mean, there's so many different ways to look at it. I, I've heard I think the way that I played this out in the past was serial monogamy. That was very much my MO and what that looked like was the minute that I was out of a relationship, I would be like, okay, where's the next one? Where's the next one?
Yeah. And I wasn't being selective about who it was. It was like, whoever's free, I'm free for a relationship now, and I, I liked being in relationship and I, I so much so that it was a compulsion that I'm like planning, like who's next, who's next, who's next to try and feed that discomfort that I was having.
You know, so that, that's an example I think in a, in a monogamous context. Again, though, we don't wanna take that example and then, you know, be poly shaming or we don't, I mean, certainly we come from a sex positive stance, right? So just because you're looking for new partners doesn't mean that's the dynamic you're having.
Although I have seen that in non-monogamy as well, where people are just new partner, new partner, new partner, new partner. And it's not just out of, I enjoy getting to know new people. I enjoy NRE, like those are fun. Those are all these reasons are valid. But it, when it comes more out of a, I am not okay, unless I have a new connection, I need to have that new relationship all the time, or I cannot function.
Then perhaps that becomes problematic.
Keely: That what you just said, Melisa, that like feeling okay?
Keely: Like do you feel okay when you're not around your partner or partners, do you feel okay when you're alone? Do you feel okay if you haven't gotten a response to a text in two hours.
Melisa: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Pay attention to the discomfort. And then still, I think it's still a confusing message I'm sending here anyway, because I am very much of the camp, and this comes from, like, this comes from being a tired therapist. This comes from being a therapist in the pandemic. We're not gonna feel okay all the time. And that's okay. I don't wanna use should cuz that's, that's a cognitive distortion but it is, it is natural to feel sad. It is natural to feel angry. It is natural to feel grief, all those things. Just because we are sad or uncomfortable does not mean we are love addicted, you know?
Keely: Oh, and missing your partner, it's, you can miss your partner. Wanna spend time with them. But looking at it from a perspective of are you still spending time with other people? Are you rearranging your whole life to be centered? And that something else at PM Melody, and there's another person I was listening to and I can't remember his name. It was an audiobook, so I apologize.
But there's this piece of almost not having a sense of your own self because you're so focused on your partners. And this is where Melisa, you were saying how there's this area of how codependency and love addiction intersects and codependency is a loaded word as well. I think in future episodes, cuz we did talk, I don't think we said this outright, but wanting to state that this is like the beginning of the conversation of this type of dynamic and that
Melisa: Too broad of a, of a topic for us to just like do, go over everything in one episode.
Keely: It's too broad. Way too broad, but that we can have, like what does it look like with not just our relationship with ourself, but our self-identity? And are we over identifying with other partners? Do we have a sense of self when we're not with them, do we, when we're in connection with a partner, are we still us? Are we still our own person?
Melisa: Are we still also connected to ourselves?
Keely: Yes. Yes. And in conversations, and we talk about that when you're in a, a disagreement or have a different opinion with your partner having a conflict, maintaining sense of self, while also being connected to the other person. And are you able to do that? Can you recognize what's happening? And I just keep thinking about like social media and especially like how wonderful it is that there's more queer representation in the media. I mean, a little bit more, not much, but we're getting more. But then what is that queer representation?
Keely: It's this drama. It's like we have so normalize drama and really harmful things that doesn't necessarily show up in healthy relationships long term.
Melisa: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Yeah. And that doesn't have to be what we strive for or what we're condemned to just because we're queer, you know?
Keely: No, we don't.
Melisa: I see this in queer culture, but this is one from this reminds me, Keeley, of what you said at the beginning in kind of your updates about getting the feedback that it was lukewarm. Like you were.
Keely: When? When?
Melisa: You weren't obsessed enough to make this person feel like, you know, cared for or, or liked or whatever. This, I believe this shows up in queer culture too, but right now it's very much straight culture in my face with the show, the Bachelor in Paradise. Don't ask me why I love these dramas. Live for it. I, I don't know, there's something weird in my therapist's brain that's like, this is so entertaining to watch and you're not in my room. So, you know, I get to just sit back. But there's this, it happened like three times on this most recent season where essentially new people, there's kind of these established relationships. Of course, they have no agreements, they have no discussions. You know, , they're not practicing anything we teach.
Keely: Of course not.
Melisa: New people come in and there's always this like question, do I entertain the new date or do I stay with the person I'm with? Which I'm like, again, I'm like, you should date everyone.
Keely: Date what you want. You can date them all.
Melisa: Make an agreement about it. You should all be non monogamous. Actually, some of those people, I'm like, literally, you need to read Poly Secure. Like, I really don't feel like you're monogamous. But like three times on this last season, maybe twice there, there were it was, it was the women, it was cis women. Who were angry that their male, cis male partner didn't forbid them from going on a date. The cis males were like, from my perspective, trying to respect their autonomy and say like, and some of them verbalize, I don't want you to go and I'm not gonna control you. Go do what you need to do, blah, blah, blah.
And like we're regulating their own responses, which I'm like, Bravo. Well well done. And the girls got pissed. Or like, well, you don't like me. You don't like me that much cuz you're not possessive of me and you're not trying to control me. And I'm like, yikes. Let's get away from these problematic, all consuming, love bombing, controlling dynamics. Let's be done with that.
Keely: Yeah, and so the question is, as we wrap up this conversation today and then have further conversations later, and maybe I could see us getting more specific about certain terminology and more specific about the topics of like, what is it like in the beginning? How do you move through it? There are these ideas of what it, of ways, again, this is very pathologized though of ways to quote unquote treat these dynamics, these romantic relationship dynamics and there are, if you go after listening to this today and you go Google search, which I'm not saying that's necessarily the best way to do it, but, you know, curiosity.
Melisa: Someone's going to.
Keely: Someone's going to.
Melisa: Except you already did it while you were listening to us. It's already pulled up.
Keely: They're connecting it or saying using like C B T, cognitive behavioral therapy. They're talking about utilizing this rec, these recovery models. There's this idea of one model suggests not dating for a certain amount of time, which is very aligned with more AA you know, alcoholics Anonymous, narcotics Anonymous, Coda, codependency Anonymous framework.
And I think what you and I are saying, and we will explore this more later, but I'm really driving and looking at more from a trauma informed attachment lens.
Melisa: Sure, yeah.
Keely: Unless, and we, and we can talk about the neurobiology is interesting for sure, because that validates that these we're having these reactions, we're having these internal emotions and feelings in our bodies, but that pathologizing this isn't a necessarily useful though it does. Some people like that and it is helpful for some people, but we're not coming from that perspective. We're just using it as a more of a way to inform, to know what different people are talking about.
Melisa: Yeah, I agree. I, I think I would come from an attachment lens, a term that I have not seen used with love addiction, but is very much used with addictions. The ones that are actually in the DSM which I'll name cuz it might be a helpful reference for people that this is kind of the theory theoretical framework I come from is a harm reduction model. So not saying no, you can never use this up. Generally speaking, we're, we're looking at meeting somewhere where they're at and then making it more safe and healthy for them.
So I won't get into what that looks. That that's a longer, that could be a whole episode, but I kind of like that now that we're having this conversation. When you think about love addiction, because it, it's my same issue with codependency. I don't believe the answer is detached from everyone and never have connection.
Melisa: That is so unhealthy and that is not how we are biologically set up to exist. So I, I do believe in taking breaks. I believe all of that stuff is great. But to me that is harm reduction. That's not an abstinence model, you know, so I, I'm not here to say you can never be in relationship for five years because you've been codependent for 37, like you know what I mean? Like, that's just not how I work. Yeah.
Keely: And I'm curious, honestly, what I think about is bringing in more love, but bringing love in from all different arenas, you know, bringing in more love and more connection. In other ways so that the focus isn't on the romantic relationships.
Melisa: Absolutely. I love that. And I'm gonna throw in there, don't forget self love.
Melisa: I had to.
Keely: Oh yeah, of course. Self love. So on that note, we will continue this conversation and wanna just reflect that this is something. And also from a model, there's not like recovery from it. It's more about integration and, and how to have looking for more healthy relationships and connections, because that's where this podcast started from. And this is what we continue is like what's working well. And so sometimes we have these episodes where we're talking about challenges because really we're searching through real life interviews and experiences and from a world learners therapist and learning in our own experiences, really finding what it is that's working and, and how we can move through and have healthier dynamics and healthier connections and more joy.
Melisa: And more, always more joy.
Keely: So Melisa, do you wanna start with your Queer Joy of the week or should I?
Melisa: I will start because I am imagining your might be more exciting than mine.
Keely: I've done an exciting note.
Melisa: Yeah. I, I mean it's the, it's the same. I've been so cozy and quiet. You kind of named it earlier, actually, Kelly. I think the snow was really my Queer Joy.
Melisa: Yeah. I mean, again, this is like a week ago now if you're listening to this episode, but we had a snow day and it just was so pretty outside all day. That I, I mean, I stayed in, in my PJs, but I so enjoyed it and I I had already gotten a Christmas tree. It's not decorated yet. That's happening later today.
But yeah, I just had like my tree up in my garland and had a really wonderful quiet day, and I took so many videos of snow out my window that it's ridiculous. Like I need to delete them all from my phone now cuz that I have no need for them. I just was so mesmerized. But I also did not grow up in a place where it snowed, so it's still really, really magical for me.
Even when it doesn't stick, it's actually that's made me preferable, like, then it falls and then causes no issues afterwards. Yeah, I really, I really loved it. It made it feel magical.
Keely: Oh, oh, well there are so many different queer joys for me this week. I will say I had a really awesome experience. I went and saw the Portland Lesbian Choir perform.
Keely: That was really fun. It's a different experience. The person I went with, the person I was referencing, the longer term dating person, I need to come up with names for these people because I realize I'm saying people, people, people. So we need to come up with like names and I will do that next week.
The two people, the longer term person that I've been with and then the new dating person, I just need to come up with names for these teams and then I need to write it down so I don't forget.
Melisa: Yeah. Yeah.
Keely: Because I think if I start using names, I don't wanna accidentally, of course we can edit it, but I don't wanna accidentally use someone's real name.
Keely: Anyway, the person I, I went on a date, brought them to the lesbian choir concert. It was so much fun to see this other area because I so often go out and in the queer community is like dancing events or these pop-up shops, or I go to like some of the queer bars. And so that was a much different experience of seeing really, it seemed like like an older, an older demographic, just a different demographic. And I get to be singing with them soon. So it was really fun to see them perform.
Melisa: Amazing. Lovely.
Keely: And then afterwards, , we ended up going to a bar nearby and there's karaoke. Ran into the person I'm dating, ran into their friends, and so we're doing karaoke and then some of the people from the lesbian choir showed up. And so there was this like dance karaoke situation going on and I danced a little bit and probably shouldn't have because damn it, I was feeling it on Sunday. I'm like wooh! That like tiny bit of movement. My back's like, what the hell are you doing ? It's been Sunday recovering, but it was really, it was just such a joyful, like two really joyful experiences within the queer community and I do wanna preface for those that don't real, just quick disclaimer that it is titled Portland Lesbian Choir.
It is not just cis women who identify as lesbian. Because before I joined, I made sure, obviously I'm like, I'm not a cis lesbian. I'm not a cis woman, so that they do. Are very inclusive, but still use the term Portland Lesbian Choir, cuz that's been around for 37 years. I'm curious when they'll finally change their name.
Melisa: Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. .
Keely: But I just want that disclaimer that I would not join a group that was not inclusive of all like non-binary folks and trans folks and our whole community. It's not just this, it's not just cis lesbians. So wanted to clarify that terminology because I thought about a lot and people ask me. So I just, just fun gatherings of singing and dancing. I think that's always the theme though. I get excited to tell you Melisa, cause I'm like, it's scene and it's dancing.
Melisa: I love it. And like I said last time, like I'm living, I'm living through you. It's such amazing queer community that you're, you're constantly putting, you're immersing yourself into. I'm living vicariously through you. I so respect that.
Keely: So lovely. So on that note, thank you everyone for listening. Please, please, please. This is such a fascinating topic and a challenging one, not just for people, obviously people that are experiencing this, but I, I think for Melisa and I, when we talk about it, it's, it's challenging as well as challenging for me to talk about it, but I think it's so important to name and explore and so please, please, please email us, message us, questions, thoughts, call us in if we said something that maybe was not the greatest way to phrase something. Totally.
Melisa: This is like, it's a controversial topic and I would really welcome, I mean, I welcome feedback on any of our episodes, but especially this one and it's, it's really relevant. People are talking about this a lot right now. So what have you heard about it? What would you like to hear us dive into deeper?
Keely: Who would like to come on and talk to us about it more? Who maybe specializes in this? Absolutely. So you know how to reach. Join us on Facebook or Instagram or email us at Connective Therapy Collective dot com.
Otherwise, I hope you all have a queer and joyful week.
Cardinal: Thanks for listening to queer relationships, Queer Joy, a podcast by the Connective Therapy Collective. Hosted by Keely C. Helmick and Melissa DeSegiurant with audio edited by Ley Supapo Bernido. I'm a producer and behind the scenes, buddy, Cardinal marking inter music is by bad snacks. This episode made you smile or think, tell us about it. If you hated it, tell us about that. Review us on iTunes or Spotify, or send us an email at media at Connective Therapy. Collective dot com.
Follow our Instagram at Queer underscore relationships underscore Queer underscored joy, and find more resources on our website. Www dot Connective Therapy, Collective dot com slash queer relationships. Queer Joy. It's a lot of links. Just check the episode description. All right. Love you. Bye.