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Touching With and For Love – A Super Important Love Skill

Mini-Love-Lesson  #229


Synopsis: Ways of uncommonly growing your variety and skills for sending and receiving love by way of touch, starting with the most common ways of doing tactical love is well addressed in this mini-love-lesson.


Different! – Better! – More!

Are you good at love touching?  Is your variety of differing ways to touch, with and for love, rich and varied? (see “50 Varieties of Love Touch”)  Are your ways of showing love by touch getting better, becoming more impactful and more diverse?  How are you doing at getting yourself lovingly touched?  Are you good, and getting better, at receiving, soaking up and savoring the touch from those who love you?  If you want to be touched differently, do you ask for it clearly and with love?  (see “Asking For What You Want -- With Love”)  Do you know how those you love want to be touched by you?  Has it changed?  Finally, how much do you know about the getting and giving of love through touch and what that can achieve in physical, psychological and relational health? (see “Love Hugs for Health and Happiness”)

Five Basic Ways of Doing Touch Love – Maybe Better

Let’s consider five of the most common and popular ways people touch, with and for love, for connecting and the sharing, giving and getting healthy, real love.  Let’s also consider doing these five ways a bit better, even if you do them quite well.

1. Handholding
Think about handholding which is – tender and caring – or solid and reassuring – or comforting and friendly – or playful and happy.  Now think about the differences in hand pressure and the hand motions during handholding which can help make each of those mood states happen.  And let’s think about your two hands lovingly holding one hand of someone you love, then lovingly holding both their hands simultaneously.  What might be the differences in love effects between those two ways of holding hands?  Is the love impact or intensity of emotions different?  How are those two ways different than only one of your hands holding just one hand of a loved one?  What could be the different emotions that might occur, or be conveyed and/or shared with each different way of holding hands?

Let’s add thinking about holding hands while walking, sitting side-by-side, across a table and laying side-by-side.  Which of those is best for you for being able to show your love through handholding touch?  Imagine holding one hand with one of your hands while your other hand moves one finger slowly across the back of his or her hand, then between their fingers , then touching palm to palm and lastly, the back of your hand touching the back of theirs lightly.  What effect might each of those actions have?

How good are you at return touching when loving hands touch you? (see “Touching Back – A Surprisingly Important Love Skill”)  What would that be like, or has it been like if you already have done hand touching like that?  Is this little handholding and touching variety sequence appealing to you and/or to your beloved?

With whomever you hold hands with, do you talk about it?  Do you explore and experiment for new and more pleasurable ways to add to what might be called your handholding menu or repertoire?

With all these thoughts in mind, are you going to do something that might add to your future handholding with and for love?

2. Face Touching
Fantasize about softly cupping your hands around the cheeks of a loved one as you look lovingly into their eyes, creating a special moment of special love.  Imagine gently stroking their eyebrows with one finger and then running fingers along the outline of their lips and other facial features.  Suppose, ever so tenderly, patting one cheek with the palm of your hand and then, ever so much more gently, running a fingertip over their closed eyelids.  Add soft kissing to their brow, earlobes, cheeks and then finally their lips.  Now, imagine beginning to playfully twirl locks of their hair followed by pulling your loved ones head to your chest with their face being softly snuggled there.  Lastly, in your mind’s, eye see your loved one’s cheek resting peacefully on your inner thigh as you both lay together in bed.

As you imagine these things, what are your feelings and your thoughts about doing more and different face touching love?

3. Back Rubbing.
Rubbing somebody’s back can be done for a variety of reasons.  There is rubbing for only pain and tension relief, obligatory rubbing because you owe them one, therapeutic rubbing for health and, of course, as a seduction lead in.  Then there is a back rub done primarily to show and share love.  Is that back rub different from those other back rubs?  Interestingly, there is research that says, yes it is.  Preliminary and pilot studies revealed that when people who love each other lovingly touch, back rubs included, there are measurable neuroelectric and neurochemical differences occurring in their brains and nervous systems, as compared to mere acquaintances doing similar touching.  These differences are healthful and can result in emotions sometimes described as feeling cherished, special, safer, closer, more serene and more loved.

People vary greatly in how they like their backs rubbed.  Unfortunately people who grew up seldom being lovingly touched tend to be more aware of what they do not like concerning back rubs and also other kinds of touch.  There are those who grew up with only hard and tough touches who, at first, find softer touch strange, irritating or otherwise disagreeable.  Then there are those for whom all touch is interpreted as sexual.  For them, nonsexual back rubs frequently are confusing, annoying and/or frustrating.  Almost everybody who works at it, possibly with the help of a good massage therapist, can come to find back rubs to be a very pleasurable and often a loving experience.  That is because the back has a wide scattering of nerve endings for pleasurable sensations.

What is important is to repeatedly experiment to discover what you naturally like, and then ask for it rather than just staying silent, complaining or dodging the issue.  Also important is working at being a good giver of the gift of love reception responses.  Appreciatively saying things like “that feels so good” and “thank you so much” are examples of good, love reception responses.  Discovering what a loving back caress really feels like, and how receiving it well gives pleasure to the person giving you one, may double your pleasure and be well worth the effort.   

Remember, with healthy self-love you can ask for the way you are being touched to change from what you like less to what you may like more.  This is a loving thing to do because it helps those who love you to know you and to know what you want better.  Lovingly asking for a touch that is harder or softer, faster or slower, moving to the right or left, up or down, or expressing what is just right is usually all you need.  Those nine requests can usually get you touched pretty much just right.

The way you want to have a back rub may be very different from the way someone you love wants one.  This actually goes for all touch.  It also may change from time to time.  The loving thing to do is to stay current by asking, every so often, how does your loved one want their back to be rubbed today.  Adding experiments in back scratching, caresses using different materials like velvet and silk, feathers, warm rounded light weight river rocks, and the like, also can make the back rubbing experience a very special, loving experience.  Sometimes the simple act of relieving tension by rubbing neck, shoulders, etc. also can be a quite nice loving thing to do.

4. Foot rubbing
Some researchers studying what successful couples do, were surprised to find foot rubs were mentioned much more often than they had expected.  Couples stated things like they felt lovingly treated when lying on a couch or bed watching TV when their spouse would begin to rub their feet and both felt closer and more lovingly connected.

Like the hands, the feet have a lot of nerve endings for sensual and other tactile pleasures.  This offers a lot of opportunities for creating positive feelings, both physical and emotional. Gentle toe pulling and squeezing, varying pressure on soles, heels and arches, top of the foot caressing, and so forth, adds to the experience.  Some couples include soft towels, fuzzy cloths and special devices made for foot massage.  The use of scented massage oils, skin creams, pumice stones, honey dust and body powders all can be employed to convey special love during foot rubs.  Then too, just a simple relaxed foot caressing at the end of a hard day’s work also can be quite a love-conveying action.

5. Love Hugging
Is hugging the most wonderful way to do touch love?  Is hugging the way that conveys love most quickly and fully in all kinds of love relationships?  Are love hugs the most accurate way for conveying the widest array of the many emotions that come with love?

Many, when asked to think seriously about the above questions, gave a resounding YES as the right answer to each of those queries and others like them.  There also is a growing body of scientific findings that tend to support those affirmative replies about hugging.  In some studies, the ways people hug, cuddle and snuggle have been found to more effectively and more accurately convey a wide array of emotions having to do with love better than words or facial expressions.  Link “Cuddling for Greater Love and Better Sex -- A Love Skill”   Think of hugs that bring and share acceptance, joy, reassurance, emotional closeness, celebration, sense of being cherished, pride, comfort and safety, playful fun, empathy, sexiness, serene togetherness, healing, belonging, union and reunion.

Does the feeling shape the way the hug is done, or the other way around?  Probably it is a circular system where it is both.  What is important is that two or more people involved in the hug, and who have love for each other, share the feeling as they share the hug.  Family and deeper friendship group hugs, as well as loving couple hugs, seem to share this mutuality of similar emotions but not quite as strongly as do couples.

Love Touch for All Relationships of Love – Save One.

Bio-physically everybody can benefit from touches that convey healthy, real love.  That is because a touch of love naturally and healthfully stimulates a bundle of beneficial brain reactions.  They, in turn, make your immunity mechanisms work better, normalize blood pressure, reduce tension and stress, reduce depression and anxiety, improve circulation and maybe best of all increase the feeling of love connection with others.  Love touching, including hugs of friends, family, young and old, mates, kids and even yourself can be a very good thing.  Opening up to touch, and especially hugs which are tender, sweet, zestful, intimate, lively, bold and all the rest can be incredibly life-enriching for ever so many.

There is one big exception.  Sadly, there are a lot of people who are trained and/or conditioned by their cultures, religions, families or bad experiences to fear and avoid most touch experiences, even though they might be quite love expressive.  A great deal of that avoidance has to do with a fear of something sexual occurring.  Many who have this training and/or conditioning get over it with the intervention of some good psychotherapy and are then very grateful for it.

Going on to Ever Better Tactile Love

Tactile, or touch love, is thought to be our first, most basic and perhaps most important way of giving, getting and sharing love.  More is being discovered about how healthful loving touch is and how it works by university and medical school researchers every year.  You can do your own discovering, as you are doing right now by reading, followed by your own personal experimenting.  You also can learn a lot from getting various kinds of massage, perhaps especially Esalen massage, by taking massage courses and by being much more mindful concerning the getting, giving and sharing of love by way of touch.

One More Little Thing

How would you like to go right now and give somebody a loving touch, caress, pat or some other touch gift, and maybe tell them about this mini-love-lesson and this website about love?

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: When love-touched, do you make sure to feel the touch with your mind’s awareness and, therefore, more fully experience the love, or is your mind off somewhere else, a bit out of touch?

Critiquing without Criticizing

Synopsis: This mini love lesson presents attracting or repulsing speech; critiquing and criticizing differences; headed toward bonding or breaking up; and what’s coming at you.


Attracting or Repulsing Speech

Which of these statements will you be more likely to make to a loved one:

1. “That was really dumb of you.  How could you have been so stupid?  You never learn do you!  If you just weren’t such an idiot.”
Or 2. “I could’ve made that same mistake.  That just proves were both human and we don’t always get it right.  Do you want to figure out how to fix it on your own?  Or, do you want some help?  By the way we can use this slip-up to learn from so we can avoid this problem in the future.”

The first statement ‘puts down’ both of you psychologically and the speaker probably creates emotional distancing and probably projects a sense of the listener being alone with the problem.  In the second statement the speaker emotionally works to join with listener and to avoid giving a put down message, yet acknowledges a mistake has been made and a want to fix it. You might want to examine which of those two statements is closer to how you learned to talk growing up.  You also might want to think about the people in your life who talk more like the first statement and those who talk more like the second and what influences they might have had.

Here are a couple more statements to examine:

1. “Let’s look at what’s best and worst about what you just did.  Then let’s look at how to improve it.”
Or 2. What you just did is all crap!  There are so many things wrong with it I’m not even going to bother trying to tell you how to correct it.”

Which of these two statements would you rather receive?  Which would be more typical of the way you communicate, especially to loved ones?  The first statement has to do with the speaker and the listener together critiquing something that was done.  By acknowledging that what was done has both ‘a best’ and ‘a worst’ it offers what can be regarded as a critique instead of a criticism.

Critique and Criticism Differences

Criticism is a word with a connotation of tearing down self-concept, personally attacking, searching for and pointing out what’s wrong, and paying no attention to what might be right.  Modern dictionaries now define criticism as fault-finding, disapproving, and unfavorably evaluating.  Criticism at one time just meant analyzing with knowledge.  In some circles that definition still holds true.  Relationally ‘connotation’ often is more important than definition.

Critiquing means to examine with a view to determining something’s nature and qualities. A critique used to be defined as an act of criticism.  However, critique is coming to have the connotation of giving a balanced evaluation without likelihood of emotional dissonance.  Of course, some people can take anything badly and feel wronged by the statement, no matter what.  This is where saying things with a loving tone of voice and loving facial expressions and gestures usually helps to carry a connotation of critique instead of criticism.

Critiquing is evaluating with knowledge, hopefully without the negatives of criticism.  It’s not enough just to change your style from criticizing to critiquing, you also need to make an attitudinal change from blame to one that can be a benefit to both people in a love relationship (this includes to children, family, friends and other love relationships).

Heading toward Bonding Or Breaking up?

Being demeaning with putdowns, complaints, fault-finding, derogatory remarks, etc. is increasingly taken to mean a person is criticizing.  This is the number two reason for couple’s breakups (the number one reason is insufficiently loving) according to some research.  Criticism helps love relationships break apart. Critiquing, as a rule, helps love relationships address issues in a balanced, positive way.

There are some exceptions. There are people who have grown up thinking all positive speech is sugar-coating and only negative, critical speech can be trusted.  There is a type of masochism in which a person feels very uncomfortable hearing anything positive.  Barring things like that, critiquing works a whole lot better with loved ones than does criticism.

If you find it a lot easier talking about what’s wrong rather than what’s right with someone you supposedly love, something may be amiss in your way of going about love.. It just can be that you grew up around people programming you to talk more negative than positive.  In any case, there’s a whole lot of research saying focusing on and talking about the positive more than the negative helps you stay physically and psychologically healthy and is good for love relationships.

What’s Coming at You?

Do you hear lots of criticism coming at you?  There are several possibilities about that. One is ‘you have been programmed to filter out the positive and only hear the negative’ and you possibly may give negative interpretations to neutral and positive statements coming your way.  Another is you are encountering  too many people who would rather talk about the ‘weeds’ rather than the ‘flowers’ in everybody’s psychological garden.

Both of these possibilities can be true.  Then there is the possibility that you are way too much of a noxious influence on others and, therefore, what’s coming at you is appropriate. That too can be fixed with the help of a good counselor or therapist.  If nothing negative ever comes at you suspect that you are surrounded by people who give ‘false positives’ or everybody’s too afraid of you to give you their truth.

If you hear more critical than critiquing talk, it may be time to change some things.  Ask yourself, are the people in your life more negative or positive?  Do some really love you and, if so, do they know how to love well?  Are you unknowingly rewarding them for criticizing you and, thus, reinforcing their tendencies to do criticism more than critique?  Is your interpretation system in need of improvement?   Are you really counting the positive things that are said to you, or are you discounting them, or even not really hearing them at all?  Most important, are you figuring out what to do about these things?

If you let criticism come your way more than critiquing, it can do you and your love relationships a lot of harm.  Are you going to help your loved ones who criticize a bit too much change to a more critiquing style?  With some work, anyone can make critiquing with love a most effective and rewarding love skill.  You might want to read related topics at this site in the Subject Index under the Communication heading: “Communicating Better with Love”, “Love Complaints versus Love Requests”, “Love Positive Talking” and others.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J Richard Cookerly



Love Success Question Which are you better at saying to yourself and others: putdowns or praises, compliments or complaints, criticizing or congratulating?

Catharsis Empathy - A Love Skill

Synopsis: Hank on alert; confrontation and bafflement; a wife and sister’s explanation; preventing fighting; catharsis empathy unraveled; and the benefits are all parts of this very important love skills, mini-lesson.


Hank On Alert

Hank went on alert when he overheard his wife and sister sounding mad and nasty in the kitchen.  Cautiously he eavesdropped more.  He figured out they were not mad at each other or at him, but rather at someone else they both knew, and that brought him some relief.  As he listened he was appalled at all the putdowns and criticism they were viciously leveling at this acquaintance.  Then he heard mean-spirited sounding laughter and got anxious again.

He worried maybe this negativity he was hearing eventually would spill over onto him.  Their talk sounded unreasonably one-sided, irrational and illogical.  Hank really wished his wife and sister would be more balanced in their appraisal of this person.  Surely, the unfortunate, targeted person they were talking about wasn’t all bad and maybe even had some good traits.  Besides, being so negative and mean-spirited was bound to be bad for them too.  He wanted the women in his life to be pleasant and kind, and what they were doing sounded so sour and ungenerous.  He screwed up his courage and decided to confront them about their negativity.

Confrontation and Bafflement

Hank bravely walked into the kitchen ready to argue and cajole, but he was caught entirely off guard.  His wife saw him and lit up with a big smile saying, “Hi Hank, come join us.  Your sister and I are having a great talk.  I just love chatting with her.” Everything seemed cheerful and Hank was baffled.  Slowly he diplomatically got around to bringing up his great puzzlement over what was really going on between them.

A Wife and Sisters Explanation

Hank’s wife explained it this way, “We’re helping each other blow off steam, or maybe more accurately, we’re bonding with each other as together we vented out our toxic, bad feelings.  It helps us get clear and feel better.  It’s a lot like what you do at a football game.  You scream and holler insults at the other team or at the referee, and pretend to hate them.  In doing so you bond with your buddies there with you.  We just were doing the same thing more personally.  If anyone ‘really meant’ what they were saying when you are screaming about how awful the other team is, you’d think they were stupid or maybe crazy.”

Then Hank’s sister added, “It’s also like going to a rock concert.  You’re mostly there for the feelings brought on by instrumental music, not the ideas and information in the lyrics. You’re there sharing your emotions and your feelings, and because there’s a like-minded crowd you can do it bigger and better.”

Preventing Fighting

Hank’s wife then thoughtfully added, “I just realized a lot of our fights happen when I want you to be my ‘cheerleader’, and I want to feel like you’re on my side but you start playing devil’s advocate and reasoning with me and trying to calm me down.  When that happens I feel you are not on my side, and even sometimes like you’re my enemy, and I want to get away from you and find somebody who will treat me with empathy, and feel what I feel whether I’m right or wrong.  Besides, that right or wrong stuff that has nothing to do with it”.

Hank replied, “This is a whole different way for me to think and it’s going to take me a while to wrap my mind around it.  I think you’ll have to tell me when you want me to be your cheerleader or to just listen with empathy and not try to reasoned it out.” His wife replied, “Okay, I know you get worried when I cathart, so I’ll try to remember to ask you to be my care companion and not my instructor or fixer or debater.  Thanks for hearing my point of view and being willing to try to be empathetic when I have to vent.”

Catharsis Empathy Unraveled

What Hank ran into and misidentified can be called “catharsis empathy”.  It refers to a time in which one or more people need to vent, or let various emotions out, and have the feeling that the person they are venting with is right there with them, on their side, is joining with them without criticism, and is helping bad feelings come out.

Often when there are pent-up, negative feelings and the dam breaks to let them out, lots of things get said that make no real sense unless you understand the words just help the feelings get vented or experienced better.  It’s like when you tell your kids “It’s time to go to bed” and a kid replies “I hate you, Mommy”.  You know they don’t really hate you.  They are just venting frustration.  It’s not to be taken seriously, but instead understood with empathy.

The Benefits

Cathartic empathy helps people unburden themselves and at the same time helps them become bonded with one another.  When done intimately and personally, it helps us grow more love-bonded.  Receiving empathy and the ‘comradery’ feeling that comes with it while venting helps clean out psychological toxicity.  That, in turn, leads to the ability to think much more clearly afterward.  When one person wants cathartic empathy and not intelligent discourse, it useful for them to say something like Hank and his wife and sister talked about.  An example would be “I just want you to be my cheerleader ,not my coach; just hear me and feel with me, okay?”

It useful to ask loved ones “Is this one of those ‘be your caring cheerleader’ times, or is it something else?”.  Getting good at identifying such times, and showing empathy when catharsis or when any emotional expression occurs is a ‘super important’ love skill. Thousands of arguments and fights, and even breakups might be prevented by showing empathy to a catharting, venting loved one – instead of that ‘blowing off steam’ leading to destructive conflict which so often happens.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question
So, how good are you at asking for and giving empathy when emotional catharsis is needed?


Masturbation With and Without Love

Mini-Love-Lesson #228       

Synopsis: How masturbation and healthy, real love interface and can be intertwined beneficially; when masturbation is and is not a good thing; issues of differing training, genders, religions, etc.; and love relating involving masturbation are openly and refreshingly dealt with in this mini-love-lesson.


Martha’s First Orgasm

Martha was 72 when she proudly learned to masturbate and had her first, glorious orgasm.  She was one of my older, widowed, sex therapy clients who said she just had to learn to climax because it was on her bucket list and her physician cajoled her into doing something about it.  Seven sessions later she was celebrating and referring several of her golden age, female friends.

Martha had been severely religiously trained against sex as a child and had overcome most of that on her own, but she never learned how to orgasm in or out of her marriage.  Recently from her physician, she learned it was still possible and subsequently got referred to me because in my relational work, I had a subspecialty in sex therapy and a record of success.

Basically, I just did what many sex therapist do.  We talked some about healthy self-love, self-care, what is natural and masturbation as a part of that.  We also talked about romantic and sexual fantasizing, vaginal lubrication, I introduced her to vibrators and sent her home with some sexual exploration, experimenting and masturbratory homework assignments.  She was a diligent and eager student.  She readily fulfilled her assignments though some were fairly difficult for her.  After her seventh session and success, she thanked me and said she was going home to play erotic catch-up for 50 years of lost time at sex and self-love.  Healthy, real self-love and masturbation were the main pathways to Martha’s success.

The Great Therapist’s Tool That Is Masturbation

Martha illustrates one of the great, good and healthy truths about masturbation.  Because it is one of nature’s easy ways of teaching us about our own body and our natural systems, it is great for helping people with all sorts of sex and other difficulties.  Consider those with serious physical disabilities that prevent couples from having sexual intercourse.  Especially, think about wounded war veterans, serious accident victims and those with debilitating illnesses.  It often is masturbation and mutual masturbation with a spouse or love mate that provides these people a way to still have a healthy sex life and with it, a satisfying and growing life of love.

Masturbation also is a fantastic, therapeutic tool for helping a wide variety of sex problems to get better.  That is true for both individuals and couples and even the occasional throuple ( see “Throuple Love: a Growing Worldwide Way of the Future?”).  Without using masturbation techniques, many sex problems might never get fixed or, if they do, it takes far longer than it needs to.  That partly is because guided masturbation techniques are basically a more efficient way to work with our own strong, healthy, natural, psychobiological sexuality systems.  Whenever we work with mother nature and not against her, things get easier.

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Love and masturbation go really well together.  With healthy, real love, masturbation can be far more beneficial and positive in its effects, than without love.  Even without love, masturbation can be quite healthy, as is true of most forms of sexuality.  Two major forms, or focuses, of love relationship are involved here.  The first has to do with healthy, real, self love.  The second has to do with healthy, real, couples love.  Sometimes a healthy love of life and nature are involved and important here.

Notice, we keep emphasizing sex with healthy, real love which is so different from false love and it’s 12 identified major forms (see “The Huge Hidden Reason So Many Fail at Love”).  Also, sex with healthy, real love is very different from loveless sex.  So, as a reminder helper, here is the short version of our working definition of healthy, real love:

Healthy, real love is a powerful, vital, natural process of
highly valuing, desiring for, often acting for, and
taking pleasure in the well-being of the loved (see “The Definition of Love” ).

Masturbation with love, therefore, is a powerful, vital, natural process involving high valuing, a desire for, doing actions for, and taking pleasure in the erotic well-being of the loved.  The loved one can be another or oneself.  Without love, masturbation can be okay, even wonderful, but not nearly as beneficial and important as with love.

Some of the Many Benefits of Masturbation

In the health fields and the sciences which support them, masturbation has been researched.  The preponderance of resulting evidence finds masturbation to be natural, very broadly healthful and widely beneficial in a variety of ways.  Like anything humans do, occasionally it can be mildly to moderately problematic and once in a rare while, worse.  We will not list all the ways masturbation can be good for a person.  You can go online and look up the copious information available on that.  However, here is a short sample list of some of those so far discovered and the deduced benefits.

Masturbation, when compared to non-masturbation, has been found to be associated with stress reduction, improved sleep, menstrual cramp relief, stronger pelvic muscles, improved cardiovascular health, having preventative and anti-cancer effects especially for prostate cancer, improved brain health and brain functioning, the production of natural brain anti-depressant and anti-anxiety neurochemistry, reduced irritability, reduced anger, reduced sudden violence proneness, improved genital and gynecological health, improved orgasmic ability, more general happiness and longer life.

Quite a few other benefits are suspected to exist and research to find them, while limited, is continuing.  So, from the health and sciences point of view, masturbation increasingly is being seen as a great blessing.

When Masturbation Is Not a Good Thing

It is a truism that everything used is also misused and that can be said of masturbation too.  One big problem with our natural drive  to masturbate is that it can be coupled with anti-sex training and used to influence people into feeling guilty, ashamed, inadequate, fearful, embarrassed and sinful.  Each of these feelings can then be used for controlling, suppressing, and subjugating people.  These anti-sex trainings are especially powerful in manipulating people to work against and even sacrifice their own natural tendencies to know and act for their health and well-being.

A similar but different problem occurs when people have been taught masturbation is bad, sinful or sick which affects them more intimately and relationally.  That problem occurs when anti-sex conditioned people give-in to their natural masturbation desires and then feel miserable and conflicted about it.  Frequently, they hide this from their spouse and that deception may cause emotional distancing and a disruption of a couple’s love sharing.  Mistrust, loneliness and inadequacy feelings then may grow.  In couples counseling, it is not uncommon to hear both partners reveal these kinds of feelings and then confess to each other that they both secretly masturbate.  Mutual, shared masturbation may then become part of their cure.


Anti-sex trained individuals without partners who have healthy, strong sex drives frequently become emotionally conflicted, disturbed and even self-destructive when trying to fight their natural, healthful sex feelings.  Physical self punishment, self mutilation, addiction relapse and even suicide is not unknown with these cases.  More common is energy draining, ongoing, inner conflict and troubling confusion which interferes with self love development .

Physically, the most common thing that goes wrong with frequent masturbation has to do with painful rashes and rawness. Psychologically there are cases of addictive, compulsive masturbation that can result in a negative social consequences.  Masturbating in public gets people arrested, if at work it gets them fired and if it is a substitute for interpersonal connection it may contribute to interpersonal isolation.  Other underlying psychological problems usually are suspected of being involved and/or at the root of these difficulties.


Masturbation and Healthy Self-Love

Dr. Ian Kerner, a psychotherapist and sex counselor, who leads an noted self-care effort after years of study and treating people with all sorts of psychological and sexual problems, drew an uncommon conclusion.  He posited that for good, healthy self-care, regular masturbation should be part of everyone’s health regimen.  He and colleagues like him, who have examined the research-based available evidence, might view regular masturbation as belonging right up there with a healthy diet, exercise, 8 hours of sleep, weight control and yearly physicals.

One of the major reasons masturbation can be good for everyone is that it causes the release of prolactin and serotonin which, in combination, can bring people into healthy, happy, resting states of excellent relaxation.  Another reason masturbation is good self-care is it can result in improved hormone health, especially for females.  Medical reasons like these are mounting, while opposing rationale is increasingly undercut by science and the professional opinions of a growing number clinical practitioners.  Increasingly, masturbation is accepted, recognized and recommended as a healthy self-care and self-love behavior.

Religion, Masturbation and Healthy Self-Love

Naturally, healthy self-love involves lots of healthy self-care.  Masturbation can be a part of that healthy self-love, self-care.  However, this view is widely fought against, condemned and vilified mostly by conservative religionists in many parts of the world.  Conservative religions are generally quite negative about masturbation and often toward self-love as well.  Of all the world’s sizable, major religions only Wicca, the Hindu Tantrists and some Taoists sects can be said to have had a positive view about masturbation from early in their history.  However, today many faiths are conflicted over and/or revising their teachings about both masturbation and self-love.  One of my theolog friends commented “who would’ve ever thought that masturbation would enter into the discussion of what’s involved in the great commandment love others as you love yourself?”

If you are religiously troubled about the yeas and nays of masturbation and/or about self-love, you may wish to carefully seek out guidance from one or more clerics of your own faith, or perhaps someone in the interfaith or ecumenical movements.  I recommend that you consider choosing someone known to be loving along with being well-versed in your religious traditions.  Someone being knowledgeable in psychosexual and health science’s research also might be helpful.

Gender, Masturbation and Healthy Self-Love

For women, sexual self pleasuring seems to be especially good for developing healthy self-love.  Masturbating females tend to have more self-confidence, self-esteem, and a more positive emotional outlook on their lives and on themselves, all of which provides evidence for healthy self-love.  In my practice, I counseled quite a few women who learned to sexually pleasure themselves at home.  As they did so, they overcame sex hangups quicker and more completely, improved their body image, developed more pride in being female, grew a greater sense of personal power and integrity, felt more lovable and reported becoming more loving to others.

For many but not all men, masturbation often is experienced with worries about their own sexuality, masculinity, adequacy, comparative potency, embarrassment and moral/religious conflict.  Time and maturation seems to solve these issues for most modern males.  For many of the men I treated where these difficulties were more severe, these issues were overcome by learning simple, self acceptance and self affirmation love coupled with singular or joint masturbation practices.  Some older males seem to continue to be troubled by these inner conflicts apparently because their anti-sexual upbringing was more pervasive and severe.  The expectation that aging will diminish sexuality also plays a role, but that seems to be lessening in many more progressive parts of the world.  In some places, males are learning masturbation is positive self-care and it is coming to be more linked to healthy self-love.

For bisexuals, transsexuals and other gender and lifestyle variations of all types, healthy self-love is especially needed to go up against all the opposing negative forces arrayed against them.  Self-care masturbation can be a great tension reliever, safe escape and safe sex aid in dealing with the extra pressures, threats and complications involved in being and living other than by “the standard”.

Masturbation and Couples Love

For lots of different reasons, couples and also throuples show their love for each other while engaging in co-masturbation practices.  Consider soldiers, sailors and Marines as well as others forced to stay apart from their spouses for lengthy periods.  No small number of them visually connect with distant partners on-line can keep their mutual sex life and their love life active by talking sexy and romantically while enjoyably watching each other masturbate.  For many this is a profound way of sharing their love.  Many others use phone sex the same way.

Couples living together often masturbate side-by-side because they are too exhausted from the day’s work to have intercourse.  Still others take turns lovingly bringing each other to the big O using sex toys and vibrators because intercourse just does not do it for one or both of them.  Some couples find it easier to masturbate while they share, create or read intimate fantasies to each other or watch porn.  For a host of couples in which one or both have medical conditions making intercourse unadvisable or impossible, mutually pleasuring each other via sundry masturbation practices allows them to keep having a loving sex life together.  Then there are those who masturbate separately often because of scheduling conflicts or just the structure of their lives.  Later, they lovingly and enticingly might review their separate experiences with each other so it becomes an intimate love-sharing event.  Frequently, that also then leads to more sex – together.

Of course, there are other couples who just prefer masturbating each other, or side-by-side masturbation, but who still lovingly touch each other, look at each other and talk to each other as they do so.  A good many couples lovingly mix having intercourse and masturbating.  This is especially common among couples who sexually dance or otherwise perform for each other.  After the performance they may fall into each other’s arms, have intercourse and then bask in the joining afterglow of the total experience.  For these couples, it usually is much more about the love than the sex, even though the sex can be very passionate and extremely erotic.  Many couples have found that not being so intercourse-focused or intercourse-dependent affords them a much richer and more variety-filled sex life to share together. link “Intercourse Absent Lovemaking, a Love Skill”  Especially does sharing masturbratory behaviors, thoughts and feelings add to the ways couples can very intimately love one another.

To Learn More

The mini love lessons at this site titled link “Ever Think Seriously about Real and False Love?”, link “Lasting Sex and Lasting Love” and Our E-Book Real Love or False Love Which Is Yours? may Help You and Yours.

To learn more in depth about the science and health of masturbation you may wish to check out studies published in the journals of Sex Education and Therapy; Sex and Relationship Therapy; Sex Research and Psychology; and Human Sexuality.  The archives of the magazines Psychology Today; and Prevention have some good summary articles to consult.

Something Else
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As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable question: How much of what we are taught to be against is just what the teachers secretly feel inadequate about handling?

Lies And Love

Synopsis: This mini love lesson covers Lying for Us-ness; Lies and Breakups; How to Get Yourself Lied to A Lot (A Baker’s Dozen Ways); Sabotaging Truth-Sharing Sabotages Love; How Lies Limit Love; When Love with Truth Is Not Allowed; and What to Do.


Lying For “Us-ness”

“I lie to save my marriage.  I’m pretty sure sooner or later I will get caught and our marriage will be over.  Until then, lies are the only way to keep my marriage going.”  So said Benson who was working hard at trying to learn how to live authentically.

He freely admitted that his career and personal life was saturated with falsehood but he vehemently testified that, nevertheless, he did love his wife.

Jolene stated, “I lie a lot to my husband just like my mother and grandmother did to their husbands and so taught me.  I really don’t know any other way that could possibly have a chance of working with my husband. Truth be told, I don’t know how any spouse can not lie a lot if they want to make their marriage work.”  Ginny and Josh in couples counseling were trying to figure out if their relationship could survive if both of them told each other several difficult truths. They had confessed that to keep their marriage going smoothly there had been a lot of deceit, both by the commission of out-and-out lies and even more by omissions of the full truth about a lot of things.

What is to be done about the lies, deceptions, half-truths, distortions, concoctions, perjury, beguilements, exaggerations, misrepresentations, evasions and out-and-out fraudulent deceit which occurs in a great many love relationships.  Some answer “nothing can be done” because all the lies are protective, softening, palliative and in one way or another useful in keeping a love relationship going.  Others say love needs the truth and without the truth real love will die.  Still others recommended that it’s okay to lie about some smaller things but not the big stuff.  However, people can vary on what they call ‘big stuff’.

There are those who comment that our culture and our love mythology especially teaches everybody to tell a lot of lies in love relationships.  “Don’t risk your relationships by telling the truth about anything that would hurt someone’s feelings” is something I once over heard an aging, Southern Bell tell her granddaughter. Of course there are those who want to know all the truth from others but they aren’t about to give anyone their own full truth.

Then there are the people who lie about love itself.  Tatiana said, “I admit I live a very two-faced life.  One face is for my husband and that face lies to him that I love him.  Another face is for my lover and that face tells the same lie but in different ways.  Since I don’t really believe love exists everything I say about love to men is a lie.  But they say it too.  They tell you they love you but all they want is sex.  But men are easily fooled.  They want to believe women are all about love.  I’m about wealthy pleasure and men are very useful for attaining that”.

So, what do you think?  How do you operate when it comes to telling lies, small, medium and large lies in a love relationship?  Do you want the truth no matter what it is?  Can you handle the truth no matter what it might be?  Before you decide for sure let’s look at some different things.

Lies And Breakups

“If he just hadn’t lied to me we might have made it”.  “She was just too deceitful. I never knew what to believe.”  “I thought I didn’t want to know the truth but in the end it was all the deceptions that destroyed us.” “Now I know I really did lie by what I didn’t tell and that is definitely what sank our ship.  I kept telling myself a lie, that omitting the truth wasn’t really lying.  If only I had admitted to myself that that was complete bullshit then I might not have lost the love of my life.”  “I really did not expect she would stop seeing me or even talking to me just because I told another lie”.  “We lied to each other a lot and in doing so we never faced our real issues.”

Every week I hear things like the above quotes when doing post-divorce and breakup recovery counseling.  The truth, at least as I see it, is that lying usually is more dangerous, or just as dangerous, to love relationships as is telling difficult truths.  At least for the strong of heart, truth (even very tough truth) is likely to give you the healthiest, long-range outcome.

It is true that some people cannot or will not work with certain truths that may arise in a love relationship.  It also is true that some love relationships are not strong enough and the love not healthy enough to enable the people to deal with certain truths.  In those cases breaking up or divorce may be painful but best in the long run.

These things not only are true for couples but also are true for all other kinds of love relationship also.  Time and again I have heard someone scream at a family member in family counseling “you lied to me”.  Often the “because” of why the lie was told doesn’t seem to matter.  Usually the wound caused by the lie and whatever the lie is about can be healed with enough love, and with the guidance of good family therapy.  Friendships, even deep and long-lasting friendships, may be killed by the telling of lies.  It seems that every type of love relationship can be endangered by lies.

How to Get Yourself Lied to A Lot

How do you help get yourself lied to?  Notice in this question I did not use the word cause’ but instead the word ‘help’.  As I see it, the person who tells the lie causes it.  However, we all can set things up so people will frequently choose to avoid telling us the truth if they can.  Here are a ‘baker’s dozen’ ways you can be pretty sure to assist yourself not getting told the truth or certainly not told the whole truth.  Each of these ways also can be quite destructive to the development of a healthy, real, love relationship.

1.  Be very condemning and judgmental when you hear a truth you don’t like, so people learn that telling you the truth is far too costly emotionally, and in energy and time consumed.

2.  Be so sure you’re right that no other view could possibly have validity, so your loved ones learn there is no use in even trying to tell you there truth.

3.  Come across very weak, fragile and delicate, so no one dares telling you a tough truth for fear you will break or be crushed.

4.  Play ‘overt victim /covert persecutor’ by showing that you feel supremely agonized at being blamed, or full of suffering martyr guilt, or you feel excessively at fault every time there’s a possibility of an unpleasant truth to be dealt with, so everyone will either dodge dealing with you or do anything to placate you, instead of just working at dealing with unpleasant truths.

5.  Become quickly and strongly upset, hysterical, incoherent, irrational and emotionally overwhelmed, so loved ones are busy trying to sooth you and their truth telling gets postponed, perhaps indefinitely.

6.  Demand and then deny evidence, insist your version of historical events is the only accurate one, and try to overwhelm with logic and oratory much like an aggressive lawyer in court, so that unpleasant truths get bulldozed and lost in the fray.

7.  Lash out with rage, personal attacks, putdowns, criticisms and personal negations of loved ones without mercy, and as you do so clutter the discussion with angrily stated irrelevant, unconnected to the original topic accusations, and miscellaneous material, so there isn’t a chance for a person’s truth to get a real hearing.

8.  Subtly, or overtly by your behavior, threaten loved ones who tell you uncomfortable truths, helping them fear that your vengeance will fall upon them and consequently cause them to protect themselves by hiding truth from you.

9.  Become unlovingly cold, distant and uncaring with elements of silent dismissal and attitudinal demeaning or condescension which is covertly obvious and, thereby, making yourself be seen as pretty much unapproachable.  If that doesn’t work withdraw and go into mysteriously hiding, so truth can not reach you.

10.  ‘Awfulize’ (make it far worse than it is) everything a loved one says, jump to all sorts of awful conclusions, and prove that telling you the truth blows everything out of proportion, so truth telling will always be a long ordeal to be avoided.

11.  Act indifferent by not listening carefully or showing any emotional care or concern, and project that you regard what you’re being told as irrelevant and unimportant. (This is particularly good for getting deceptions of omission to come your way).

12.  Use the truth a loved one shares with you against them later on, thus, punishing them for sharing their truth with you, and teaching them to avoid the risk from now on.

13. Ignoring the truth being shared and firing back or countering with something negative about the person telling you their truth, thus, devaluing their truth and deflecting dealing with it.

Sabotaging Truth-Sharing Sabotages Love

Each of the above 13 ways and a number of others act to sabotage both the telling of truth and the growth of love.  Lots of people do not realize that they get lied to partly because they make telling the truth have really bad outcomes.  Yes, it’s true we all should have the courage to tell the truth anyway, but that often is not the case.  Yes, we all should have sufficient love to be dedicated to giving our loved ones nothing but the truth, but that too is often not the case.

If you can lovingly hear the truth people are ever so much more likely to tell you there truth.  That often takes a good amount of healthy, self-love and the ability to do what is called ‘owning your okayness’ and ‘not giving away your power’.  See the entry “Healthy Self-Love and Not Giving Your Power Away”.

How Lies Limit Love

If I lie to you I do not present you with the real me.  If you send love to that false me it does not reach the real me.  I either know or doubt you would send your love if you knew the truth I am withholding.  Therefore, I am not reached and I’m not nourished by your love.  My lie may help me, or you, or both of us escape a painful conflict but by lying I also escape the chance of the real me being loved by the real you.  Thus, I cause us to elude the chance of sharing and experiencing intimate, real and perhaps healing love together.

When Love with Truth Is Not Allowed

She said, “If I ever find out you even think of having sex with another woman I will divorce you!”  He secretly and silently interpreted this as “I can never share with you the truth of my real sexuality. Therefore, I had best begin to look for someone else I can be real with”.

He said, “You know I’m right and I refuse to hear you say another word about this subject!  So, eventually she was in the arms of another who could and would listen to anything and everything she had to say.

If you cannot accept my truth how can I feel you accept me?  If you cannot accept me, flaws and all, how can I believe you truly can love the real me?  Please do not condemn or deny my messages of myself, and do not falsely agree with me either.  Please be willing to hear the real me as best as I can present it today.  Then tomorrow I may grow to have a better message and certainly a greater love for you!

What To Do

If you lie a lot, or perhaps you help yourself get lied to a lot, or if you are living some big lie, I like to suggest this.  By small, exact steps you can get to where you live authentically, without lies, or without being much lied to, and in the process you do no harm to anyone.

I like to suggest that for your own health and well-being, as well as for those you care about, cautiously working your way into a life of truth almost always is achievable and by far is preferable.  One reason for that is lies usually cause a lot of psycho-physiological stress, not to mention relational diminishment and danger.  Coaching by a good counselor often is just about invaluable whenever love is being sabotaged by lies.  Finally consider an old teaching question.  Can you build something real out of something false?

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question Is your self-love sometimes too-weak for you to be able to hear the truth?