6 Tips To Handle Gay Codependence
Communicating healthily and efficiently is a task that stumps many of us in the LGBTQIA+ community. Even the best queer or trans relationships get caught arguing in the weeds or even arguing about how they argue. Tough conversations are usually designed to articulate our needs or advocate for much needed change, but anger turns a genuine plea into major criticisms.
To make matters even worse, the anger we experience results from being in ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ mode where our rational brain (prefrontal cortex) and language centers (Broca and Wernicke’s areas) are impaired. As a result, we will use exaggerations and dramatic language—that teeters on false claims—to pepper our argument, all the while suffering to fully comprehend what our partner(s) is/are trying to communicate. We hyper-focus on making sure our version of truth wins, leaving us incapable of listening, demonstrating empathy, and seriously considering any resolution. As a result, we’ll feel even more disconnected, unheard, invisible, or hopeless when our communication falters.
You might need to practice new communication skills with your partner(s) if you notice any of the following:
- You have repeating arguments
- Arguments are slowly dissolved but not resolved
- It feels unsafe to be vulnerable
- You end up feeling more rejected than heard and more isolated than connected
Good communication will inspire emotional connection and strike upon resolutions. It will give you the ability to experience vulnerability as safety and see that differing opinions are the raw materials that create teamwork.
Think of it this way: Arguments—underneath it all—are requests to be heard, to be soothed, to feel important. Poor communication takes these innocent requests and turns them into criticisms that deny you the very thing you’re seeking.
To get what you want—resolution, change, understanding, connection—don’t focus on what ‘they are doing wrong.’ Focus on what you feel and own the feeling. Remember, you are in charge of how you feel. Here’s my dramatic example: If someone lies to me, I can ask why they lied, I can lash out with anger, I can shut down and give them the silent treatment, or I can respond with grace and compassion. I need to own my feelings and choose a mature response. Doing so allows me to articulate my needs in a way that protects my partner from my immaturity. It might sound something like this:
“I told myself that you don’t respect me. And when I made that interpretation of your behavior, I felt invisible, like you don’t care about me.”
Tip #1: protect your relationship from your anger
Tip #2: preserve your requests instead of shifting focus to the ‘who did what’ debate
Acting like a springboard for your conversations, statements like the one above can prime your partner’s understanding and curiosity, allowing them to self-assess, instead of self-protect.
Tip #3: don’t blame with data of what the’ve done
Blaming will do nothing but force your partner(s) to defend themselves. When blamed for something big or small, your partner(s) will most likely search for data that proves their innocence or find examples that incriminate you, too. Instead of spinning your wheels in the ‘I’m right, your wrong’ mud pit, create the safety for both of you to take responsibility.
Tip #4: your interpretation might be wrong, and their actions might be hurtful
If we are not safe enough to admit we are wrong, we won’t admit we are wrong, period. Create the safety that nurtures humility. If you can easily and peacefully say, “I’m wrong,” you have co-create a relational safety that produces attachment repairs and allows them to form quite easily.
Tip #5: relational safety produces emotional humility
When we have a relational safety net beneath us, we don’t freak out when we make mistakes and fall from innocence. We trust that the net will catch the lightest and heavy-hitting mistakes we make. That safety net allows us to fall without argumentation, but with a humility that can easily say, “Thank you for loving me even when I royally mess up. I like that I am safe enough to be perfectly imperfect in front of you.”
Tip #6: When we are safe and humble we can also be empathetic
As we experience an incredible type of loving forgiveness, we are also more capable of demonstrating it, or extending it to others. You and your partner(s) will eventually grow to know how good it feels to be loved even amidst mistakes, AND you’ll offer it to one another.
Overtime, you’ll look back to realize that you no longer need to debate or argue, but that you are safe enough to be honest- when you make a mistake, when you need to ask for change, and when you crave something more satisfying. The best part of this new dynamic is that you are safe enough to ask for what you need and safe enough to admit—very peacefully—when you are wrong.
Efficient communication isn’t something we learned in the closet and most of us in the LGBTQIA+ community didn’t experience healthy versions of communication in our relationships after coming out. Queer and trans people face different challenges that require different solutions. Good communication for trans and queer people will help undo all of those feelings of being too different or too isolated and create new sensation, like being connected, feeling belonging, and experiencing the safety we’ve wanted for a long time. Healthy communication is your ticket to a peaceful and fulfilling relational life.
Good communication takes practice and we’re here to help get you started. It’s our goal to help you create the love lives and relationships you crave.