Oct 16

Prodependence: Alternative to “Codependence”

I use this term to describe healthy interdependence in the modern world. Essentially, prodependence occurs when attachment relationships are mutually beneficial — with one person’s strengths filling in the weak points of the other, and vice versa — and this mutual support occurs automatically and without question. Robert Weiss, Psychology Today

Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency by experts Robert Weiss and Stefanie Carnes offers a new approach to helping the loved ones of addicts.

Whereas codependence “is a deficit-based trauma model that views loved ones of addicts as inherently traumatized, out of control, and overly obsessed with their troubled loved one,” prodependence “is a strength-based attachment model that views caregiving loved ones of addicts and other troubled people as heroes for continuing to love, help, and remain attached, despite the debilitating presence of addiction or some other serious issue” (Psychology Today).

Weiss’s most recent Psychology Today post “Codependence: Is It Time for a New Model?” uses this subtitle: “After 35 years of codependency, perhaps it’s time to celebrate dependence.” In other words, to support loved ones versus blame and shame.

The newly coined term prodependence, therefore, emphasizes healthy interdependence and mutual support, rejecting the pathologizing notion that caregivers are always rescuers, enablers, and/or controllers. “To treat the loved ones of addicts using prodependence, we need not find that something is ‘wrong with them.’ We can simply acknowledge the trauma and the inherent dysfunction that occurs when living in a close relationship with an addict. Then we can guide them toward loving more effectively, with better self-care and boundaries.”

With this prodependence model, the attitude of therapists and other providers changes (Psychology Today): “Instead of being confrontational with spouses and others who love and care for addicts, we need to be invitational. We need to meet them where they are and teach them not to walk away, but to support in healthier, more prodependent ways. Rather than preaching detachment and distance over continued bonding and assistance, as so many therapists, self-help books, and 12-step groups do, we should celebrate the human need for and the pursuit of intimate connection, using that as a positive force for change.”

From Weiss’s most recent Psychology Today piece on the subject (also mentioned above):

Interestingly, prodependence recommends and implements the same basic therapeutic actions as codependence: a fresh or renewed focus on self-care, implementation of healthier boundaries, and an ever-improving response to the addict and the addiction. But prodependence views this work through a different lens. Prodependence does not ever ask loved ones to doubt themselves, to doubt their love for the addict, or to consider some of their loving as pathological. Nor does it give them any reason to feel as if they are ‘part of the problem.’ I believe that we can create change in such partners by validating their efforts as being nothing but love — no matter how ineffective — and then shifting their efforts toward becoming more useful. We do not need to discuss enabling, past trauma, or the spouse having contributed to the problem.

Oct 28

Love and Romance Addiction: Key Points About Recovery

Love and romance addiction experts have been speaking about this issue for many years. Below some key info and resources have been capsulized.

A Quiz: Do You Have Love and Romance Addiction?

Is It Love Or Is It Addiction? (1997) by Brenda Schaeffer now has a more recent and expanded third edition. Get 12 or more affirmatives on her 32-point “Romance Addiction Questionnaire” and there’s a possibility you have an addiction.

A brief sampling:

2. Do you like melodrama: being a rescued victim or the hero?

3. Are longing and melancholy familiar to you?

5. Is being wanted extremely important to you?

6. Is the attraction phase of a relationship what matters most?

10. Is there a familiar pattern in your selection of partners?


Susan Peabody is the author of Addiction to Love: Overcoming Obsession and Dependency in Relationships and the recent Recovery Workbook for Love Addicts and Love Avoidants.

Stanton Peele recognized (Love and Addiction, 1975) that addiction wasn’t just about substance abuse. He continues to address this topic in his “Addiction and Society” blog on Psychology Today and elsewhere.

Pia Mellody‘s Facing Love Addiction “has been used as a sort of mini-Bible in addressing the issue for more than 20 years,” notes Barcella. One of Mellody’s contributions is her description of the “addiction/avoidance relationship cycle” in which a love addict has a pattern of becoming entwined with a “love avoidant.”

Although not a professional clinician like the above-listed, the writer of the popular Love Addict: Sex, Romance, and Other Dangerous Drugs (2011), Ethlie Ann Vare, is a recovering addict herself. Her alternate name for love addiction? Affection Deficit Disorder.

About a year ago on her blog (called Affection Deficit Disorder, of course) Vare listed “The Five Most Popular Paragraphs in LOVE ADDICT”:

1. Addiction is a disease of loneliness. Recovery is a process of community. Don’t try this alone. Your brain, an otherwise admirable tool of subtle complexity and divine reason, is a wee bit broken in this one particular area. Use someone else’s brain for a change.

2. When I stop doing the things that hurt me, I stop hurting. When I stop doing things that hurt other people, my self-esteem increases. When I have self-esteem, I am less inclined to do the things that hurt me. Simple.

3. The love addict is either chasing or being chased. As long as the person they’re chasing is unavailable, they’re madly obsessed and in love. But as soon as the person they desire is in their face saying, “I love you back and I want to be with you,” that’s when the love addict becomes the avoidant. They run for the hills, because they can’t handle the intimacy.

4. “We assign magical qualities to others. We idealize and pursue them, then blame them for not fulfilling our fantasies and expectations.”

5. Love addicts and sex addicts tend to go together. Love addicts are often people who were severely abandoned. And they tend to idealize people. It’s sort of romantic love gone pathological. The kind of person [they’ll] idealize will necessarily be the kind of person who will abandon them. If that person suddenly comes around and forms a closeness, the love addict will sabotage the relationship.


Although some kind of “sobriety” is important, as indicated by therapist Robert Weiss (SexualRecovery.com), this will differ for each person. One proposal for early recovery: “Sobriety can be delineated as abstinence from any romantic or sexual activity that causes the person to feel shameful or hold secrets, or which is illegal or abusive to others.”