Around August 2000, when Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche broke up, every other lesbian couple that was close to me and/or my family headed to Splitsville within the same month.
I even recall jokes spreading at the time that it was if lesbian couples were playing a giant game of Musical Chairs: The Relationship Edition, which is, of course, insensitive to actual souls mending broken hearts. Then again, it's gentle ribbing compared to the serious (and sometimes life threatening) shit that has been flung at LGBTQ folks for centuries.
Anyway, shortly after a lesbian member of the family announced recently she was getting married, we received word of a bunch of other looming ceremonies featuring two brides (and no grooms). Maybe we were onto something with those jokes 16 years ago.
Or maybe lesbians are constantly getting hitched and un-hitched, just like straight folks (and gay men).
This came to mind when I received an invitation to an upcoming presentation at New Method Wellness, a San Juan Capistrano rehab facility that is expanding its focus to include the needs and social challenges of the LGBTQ community. Speaking will be licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Lauren D. Costine, on the subject of her book Lesbian Love Addiction: Understanding the Urge to Merge and How to Heal When Things Go Wrong.
I had never heard of lesbian love addiction and, against my strongest Google fears, I typed in that search phrase and landed not on the anticipated NSFW sites with two straight women simulating same-sex sex for cameras. No, what I got were links to several very thoughtful articles about Costine's theories.
Many of the authors—actual gay women!—referenced their community's own joke, which did not involve musical chairs but moving vans. It involves the lesbians who take a U-Haul to their second date.
So what Costine is throwing out has an air of truth to many: that lesbians are addicted to love if they serially leave one lover in search of another each time the spark fades.
It's all chemical, according to the good doctor, who is currently the chief clinician and founder of The LGBT-Affirmative Track at BLVD Treatment Centers, an intensive outpatient treatment center in Hollywood.
“Dr. Costine says women emit the feel-good chemicals oxytocin and dopamine when they fall in love,” writes Zara Barrie, an admitted lesbian love addict, on Elite Daily.
“Men do not emit oxytocin the same way women do. So when two girl creatures fall in love and are both practically oozing oxytocin and are wasted off dopamine, it’s double the trouble. It’s what Dr. Costine calls an 'oxyfest' and baby, it’s wildly intoxicating.”
After sharing her own story of falling for a woman and experiencing a drug-like rush, Barrie writes of a radio interview where Costine—”a total femme babe lez”—mentioned that women are better hard wired to connect with other people, which is why two women would more quickly enter a serious relationship than a man and a woman or a man and a man would.
But, Costine cautions, this urge to rapidly merge can and often does have consequences, as anyone who has awoken in a Las Vegas hotel room with an unaccounted for hangover and wedding ring on his/her finger knows. Your Ms. Right last night could be Ms. Wrong by the time the breakfast buffet opens.
In her book, Costine suggests psychotherapy for those who need to break the lesbian love addiction cycle for their own good.
It must also be noted that she has detractors.
“Here’s the problem with that theory: there is no scientific proof of sex (or love) addiction,” writes Pega Ren on Daily Xtra.
She means no sex or love addiction among lesbians, gays or straights.
“Academics and accredited sex therapists have been clear on this,” Ren writes. “The American Psychiatric Association purposefully excluded sexual addiction from its most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the authority for psychiatric diagnosis.”
“Her theory is simplistic and masks genuine issues lesbian girls face as they’re raised in a patriarchal, straight society.”
Sounds like the makings for lively discussion at 7 p.m. Friday at New Method Wellness, 31473 Rancho Viejo Road. San Juan Capistrano.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.