This weekend, March 15-17, I present two workshops on sex and love addiction at the Counseling Advances Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. It seems an odd location for a conference of addiction professionals: Las Vegas, ground zero for all manner of behavioral and substance abuse. Maybe they want easy access to field research.
My MacBook and I will give a slideshow on THE TOXIC TRIO: LOVE, LUST AND LIMERENCE, followed immediately by ADVANCES IN NEUROSCIENCE: THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON LOVE. My throat and I will be talking almost non-stop from 1:45 to 5pm. That’s not the part that scares me. The part that scares me is that my audience knows what I’m talking about.
These aren’t the readers from, say, the Huffington Post, still convinced that calling snorting cocaine an addiction is just a get-out-of-jail-free card for willful misbehavior. No, I will be speaking alongside the very people who schooled me in my own recovery. John Bradshaw, the dean of the codependency movement, will be there. Remember the ‘80s? Remember your inner child? I still have the teddy bear. Dr. Patrick Carnes, the man who wrote that first daring book about sex addiction, OUT OF THE SHADOWS, will be there. I quote him extensively in LOVE ADDICT: SEX, ROMANCE AND OTHER DANGEROUS DRUGS, not because I’m lazy, but because he’s the man with the research. I’ve got what you call empirical data — a.k.a., been there, done that.
And that, it was pointed out to me, is my strength. It’s exactly what I do have to offer this audience of professionals, who may have all the data in the world but no idea what it feels like to look at a guy who looks like the guy you like and feel your brain boil, expand and burst through your skull. I was in therapy for years, jumping from one hopeless affair to the next, wrapping my arms around my knees and rocking my self to sleep night after night before the shrink finally said “I think you may be a love addict.” The minute I read the characteristics of love addiction I snarked, “No duh! Why didn’t you tell me this before?” “I only just found out about it myself,” he replied.
The workshop is for him. Okay, not him specifically. But for those like him with a client or patient or victim with a weird mental twist when it comes to sex and love affairs. Otherwise smart, capable, successful, even-self-aware people who have a massive blind spot in this one area. These therapists can’t help if they have a similar blind spot. My job is to point out the red flags. I will bring pictures. Here’s a photo of My Big Gay Boyfriend - that should have been a clue. Here’s a photo of Younger Man Number One, and Younger Man Number Two, followed by Married Man, followed by Guy Living Overseas, followed by Married Man Living Overseas, followed by Younger Man Number Three… stop me any time.
Please stop me any time.