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Love and Your Body

Mini-Love-Lesson  #256

Synopsis: How experiencing healthy, real love makes your body healthy and how giving and getting love is both healthy for you and those you are doing love with as well as bystanders; how not having love connections is unhealthy; and how living in healthful, real, love networks works best for all concerned is insightfully delved into here.

Body Thriving Love

Love is a great component for a thriving body!  Mounting evidence points to the fact that we mammals are biologically hardwired to seek, make and maintain love connections with others.  One way we benefit from that has to do with our physical health.  Our safety, survival and better health functioning depend on connecting and especially love connecting with others.

Any and all emotional connections can help but it is love connecting that we thrive on.  When we are in good and healthy, getting and giving love relationships, all our body systems tend to work better.  Our circulation, our blood pressure, our digestion, our immunity mechanisms, our metabolism – everything works better once we are established in ongoing, stable, healthy, real, love relationships.  link Love & Survival by Dean Ornish.

Lacking Love Connections

When we do not feel love-connected to others our sense of safety tends to recede and then our physical and psychological stress mounts.  That means parts of our non-conscious brain (amygdala, posterior cingulate, etc.) start sensing a threat.  That triggers the release of stress hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, etc.) into our bodies.  At first this can, in the short term, help us fight or flee a threat.  However, in the long term, feeling threatened continuously and/or repeatedly can be very damaging to us.  Prolonged stress, tension and threat can cause strokes and heart attacks, hike cancer susceptibility and bring on a host of other serious, physical health problems (see “Connection Matching – A Love Skill” and “Co-Connecting – An Essential Love Team Skill”).

Psycho-neurologically, the dynamics of stress are causally linked to increasing chemical imbalances in the brain, micro brain structure damage causing cognition and emotion control problems, and other serious brain system malfunctions.  These, in turn, are associated with the exacerbation or the cause of a great many different mental, emotional and behavioral problems including addictions, ultra- sensitivity to emotional hurts, hyper-reaction and over-responsiveness to anything perceived and interpreted as personally negative.  All that can, and often does, lead to much interaction failure and relational dysfunction in couples, families, friendships, etc.

A new love connection or a prior love re-connection can greatly help reverse all of the above difficulties.  Increases in healthy self-love with a sense of being better internally-self-connected can often do much the same (see “Wellness: Its Necessity, Healthy Real Love”  and “From Self-Love to Other Love and Back Again”).

On the Positive Side

Physically, when you receive well the behaviors which trigger your brain into feeling well loved, your brain begins to reduce its production of destructive, stress hormones.  That, in turn, triggers increases in your immunity functioning and disease resistance.  It also helps with good digestion, sleep, reduces addictions susceptibility and relapse proneness, plus it increases your ability to heal damaged tissue.  Healthy, real love in your life means you will age slower and probably live longer.

Being healthfully and well loved as well as being loving creates and aids healthfulness in many ways.  Essential to this process is being good at receiving love and going after the love you need and want in successful ways.  With good and sufficient reception of the behaviors that trigger the brain into feeling well loved, every body process operates better.  Receiving love well  also usually leads to more happy, harmonious and cooperative love relating.  Body-wise this means better disease resistance, regenerative tissue growth, blood pleasure balance, illness recovery, good digestive functioning, general resilience, more energy and greater likelihood of longevity (see “How Receiving Love Well Gives Love Better”).

Love Relationships – A Two-Way Thing

Living in two-way, giving and getting love filled and love cycling relationships is physically, mentally and emotionally beneficial for, not only both participants, but also for the people you jointly effect like children and other family members and dear friends.  Such loving relationships benefit everybody.  They produce I win, You win, Everybody wins relating patterns and networks.

Love connection loss is unhealthfully stressful for all mammals, and birds too, and probably for other species as well.  Likewise, insufficient and erratic love also can produce stress and resulting health problems.  When we are infants, a lack of receiving the behaviors of love can physically kill us via failure to thrive syndromes.  That even is true for infants who otherwise are very well taken care of minus the behaviors of love.  When we are adults, love loss and loveless situations can make us more susceptible to disease, addictions, stress illnesses and suicidal depression.  When we are elderly, active healthy love relating of every kind can help us live longer, healthier and happier than we otherwise would.

Living in isolation from love relating, even though surrounded by people, can be quite bad for you.  Some people live lives of giving love but not getting much love, and some try it the other way too.  Such people are not living in love relating networks and they benefit from love but not nearly as well as those in love networks that are really filled with both giving and getting love connections.  Our bodies react very positively to living in a love relating network such as a healthfully loving family, group of close friends, comrade networks, etc.

Giving and Getting Love Both Count

A good number of studies show giving love has many of the same positive effects as getting love.  Even altruistic love actions toward recipients who have no chance of returning positive behaviors is quite healthful.  Love of pets (especially mammals) as well as healthy self-love actions also produce lots of healthful body reactions.  Link “Self-love and Its Five Healthy Functions

Having more than one place, or person, to give your love to also is a very helpful thing to do.  Giving love to more than one person, as well as receiving love from more than just one, protects against the damages of losing a one and only love source.  Every love relationship you have can be an enrichment, not only to you but also to all the other love relationships you have.  Consider the concept that love grows on love and love creates more love.  Then there is the idea that love, like ideas, tends to increase the more you give it away.

Having a love-related-purpose in life, or a love-related-cause to pour yourself into, also can be quite useful to one’s own health and well-being, as well as to others.  It is important that you choose carefully.  Some people pour themselves into achievements that make no particular contribution.  Then later they become quite disappointed and depressed because they realize those efforts seem meaningless.

Giving love to pets and receiving love from them (especially it seems with dogs, but also with other mammals and sometimes also with birds) has helped many people through very difficult times (see “Pet Love”).

Giving and getting love from yourself seems a bit strange and baffling to many at first.  However, those who get good at it report very good results.  Remember, there are two sides to the ancient adage “Love others AS you love yourself”  and so, I recommend being quite active about both. 

One More Thing

Will you, and perhaps others, benefit from you talking about all you have just read with other people?  You might want to experiment with that idea.  If so, please mention this site and all of our many mini-love-lessons and help spread some love knowledge into our love-needy world.   Thanks.   

As always – Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: Your body is made of many miracles so, with healthy self-love do you love, honor and respect it?

Non-Defensiveness - A Love Skill

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson starts with discussing offensive defensiveness; goes on to how we “see through a glass darkly”; and take offense when none is meant; and ends with “when the best defense is no defense”.

Offensive Defensiveness

Lots of defensiveness comes across as being quite offensive and, therefore, is anti-loving. People frequently become defensive when they feel blamed, threatened, unjustly accused, putdown, judged, rejected, at a disadvantage, unfairly treated or wronged.

Often frustration, urgency and anger wells up inside them and spills out into the way they express their defense of themselves.  Mentally they are trying to present their understandings, reasons, perceptions and memories to back up, prove or excuse their version of the issues at hand.  Emotionally they are upset and it shows.

With urgency, frustration and perhaps anger showing in the way they say what they say, they are perceived as attacking.  Frequently this triggers a defensive counter-attack.  When that happens we get two people who are increasingly, defensively offensive in the way they are treating each other.  Both are trying to prove that their version of things is right and the other one’s is wrong or that they are more okay than the other person who is attacking them.  They think they are just defending themselves and they have to defend because they are under attack.  This often means that no one really is listening to the other one but rather they are trying to come up with the next thing to prove themselves right and the other one wrong.  None of this is helpful to the processes of love!

Seeing through a Glass Darkly

“I know I’m right and you’re wrong, and that’s all there is to it”.  “The way I remember things is accurate and yours is not”.  “Your thinking is stupid and you ought to be able to see that my way is the one, true and only way to see things”.  “ I’m telling the truth so you must be lying”.  “I did not do what you accuse me of, and how could you even think that I did”.  “That was not the way it happened”.  “You must be crazy to think that way”.  These are the kinds of defensive statements that are easily seen as being offensive rather than simply defensive.  They often emerge from a mindset that does not fully understand that other people’s minds work quite differently than their own and, therefore, see and understand things differently than they do.

Are you fully aware that no two minds see anything in exactly the same way?  Are you fully aware that no two people ever remember anything exactly the same way?  Are you fully aware that memories change over time?  Are you fully aware that our current needs and wants alter and influence what and how we perceive our world.  An example of this is a hungry person and someone who has just eaten, driving down the street will see the street differently.  The hungry person is likely to see many more signs for restaurants while the person who has just eaten may see none at all.

How your loved ones perceive the world, remember it and understand it will never be exactly the same as your way.  This means that when you are talking to them they will understand your actions, words and everything else at least a little and sometimes a lot differently than you do.  Some of their perceptions and understandings may upset you.  When that happens you may think they are upsetting you on purpose, or they are trying to attack you, prove you wrong, insult you, put you down or just get you upset.

When you perceive their words or actions that way you are likely to become defensive in an offensive, anti-loving way.  That produces disagreements, arguments, fights and other problematic results that can be avoided if handled differently and more lovingly.  When we expect other people to think like we do, we see into their minds and hearts very much like looking through a very dark glass.  We miss a lot and we get only blurry dark images which are easily misinterpreted.

Taking Offense When None Is Meant

Conclusions based on misinterpretation are another way that people feel demeaned, insulted or disrespected, often leading to them becoming defensive.  “How rude. He went right to bed after our company left and he didn’t even ask me if I wanted his help in cleaning up.  He must not respect me at all.  I must be totally unimportant to him.  Maybe he really doesn’t love me anymore.  If he is going to treat me that way I’m going to stop having sex with him.  I guess I will have to be cold and distant to protect myself”.

The person who said this got around to realizing she had not asked him to stay and  help her. The next day she angrily asked him if she had requested him to stay what would he have done?  He said he would have been glad to stay and help and keep her company, and he actually thought she wanted some time to be by herself after the company left.  She did not believe him and they had a fight.  Later they apologized to each other realizing they had destructively non-communicated.  Sadly many people believe their first conclusion instead of ‘checking it out’ and hearing how the other person perceived the situation.

Learn to say things like “maybe I took you the wrong way, did you mean to say something that might make me feel bad?”.  “I think I’m hearing that you’re mad at me or maybe just upset, but I could be making a misinterpretation.  I think I need to hear you better, so could you tell me what you’re feeling and thinking so I really can understand?”  “Could you tell me a little more clearly what you’re thinking and feeling?”  These ‘check it out’ questions and statements can avoid a lot of the disharmony caused by offensive defensiveness.

When No Defense Is the Best Defense

When you feel attacked it is entirely possible that you are being attacked.  Then again, it might be that someone just wants you to show care by kindly listening to their cathartic release of bad feelings.  Maybe they just want to know they have been truly heard and are not all alone in their feelings.  If you jump to your own defense, giving reasons and explanations that counter what they are saying maybe you are not really listening to their emotions – which often is what they really want.  If you defend yourself with a counterattack they certainly won’t feel lovingly heard or dealt with.

The more loving thing to do usually is to help them get said whatever has been building up inside them and is now spilling out – often this means looking at them with love, saying responsive things like “I’m sorry you feel . . .  (whatever is appropriate)” or “I can see that really upset you” or “Ahh!”  After that there may be room for what you might want to add but by then it may not be necessary.  If your own thinking tells you that they are wrong, and you have to prove them wrong and then everything will be settled, you are likely to be wrong about that.  If a loved one is upset with you try to lovingly listen instead of defending yourself and you are much more likely to get a good outcome.

Of course, this is hard to do when something inside you is commanding you to defend yourself and is saying “if they just knew my truth they would see things like I see things and everything would get better”.  Has that approach ever really worked for you?.  Not until they get their upset feelings released is a loved one’s hearing system likely to start functioning.  It’s like they have to get something out of their system before they’ll have room to put anything new in.  So, if you just show carrying interest instead of defensiveness you are much more likely to get a better outcome.

Even though you feel an urgent need to show them the error of their thinking and how they are unjustly attacking you, don’t do it.  Try just listening with care.  You do not have to agree, or accept or acquiesce to anything.  You just have to stay okay enough to really hear what your loved one is saying and feeling.  Getting defensive really gets in the way of that.

It also is important to know that when you defend yourself by saying a lot of words to a loved one, while they are still trying to get their thoughts and feelings out, you may be doing something which gets called “feeding their fire”.  The more you feed their fire the more likely you are to get burned.  You might want to learn about ‘reflective listening’, ‘active listening’ and loving listening which tend to work a lot better then defending your point of view, your version of what happened, or your ego.
After things settle down because you have been non-defensive and have done some good, loving listening to your upset loved one, they may be able to listen to you.

Remember to say what you have got to say with loving tones of voice and democratically, not judgmentally or in an autocratic, dogmatic or dictatorial style.  It usually works best to mix a lot of love into your truths.  Loving looks and sounds, using terms of endearment and maybe some affectionate touch can make a world of difference. Not to mix love into your way of expressing what you want to say to a loved one can result in a lot of contention and disharmony.

Please remember, in a love relationship all things can be said with love and are better said with love.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Who is the best listener you know, and are you copying them?

Climate Change and More Love Problems for Everyone

Mini-Love-Lesson  #255

Synopsis: How worsening weather is and will likely seriously impact all love relationships, even good ones; getting ready for it and what we can do is a bit frighteningly but succinctly well covered here.

ALL Love Relationships To Be Impacted!

The harmful consequences of worsening weather on love relationships of all types have already begun and it is going to get worse.  The research is predicting couples, families (large and small, nuclear and extended), parents and offspring of all ages, siblings, friendships of all depths, comrades in service, even our love relationships with our pets and ourselves are headed toward the damaging stressors of extreme weather.

It is not just the monster floods, destructive hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards and firestorms but it also is the rising temperatures and humidity, shrinking water sources, droughts, bug infestations and spreading tropical diseases that will plague us.  It is the psychological effects of trying to cope with all the above.  Higher rates of depression and anxiety conditions are expected.  Furthermore, as temperatures get uncomfortably high many people become more irritable, aggravated and aggravating, fatigued, slow, dispirited, inefficient and uncooperative.  All that is expected to have a negative impact on love relationships around the world (see “Dealing With Love Hurts: First Aid Tips”).

Especially hard hit may be parent/child love relationships, adolescent/adult relationships and already stressed and troubled heart-mate relationships.  Care-givers for disabled, injured and aged loved ones are likely to become more stressed and less attentive.  Couple and family violence episodes are thought likely to increase.

It’s Started – It’s Now – It’s Spreading!

Recent studies published by the United States National Academy of Sciences (NAS) show rising temperatures and the increasing rate of threatening, catastrophic weather events are associated with rising stress and serious related mental, emotional and behavioral health problems.  Those, in turn, cause more stress reactions and stress illnesses like strokes and heart attacks to occur.  Evidence suggests that as stress increases, people in every type of love relationship act with love less often and with less well expressed love.

It seems that as people have to cope with more and more stressors and heightened stress feelings they tend to show love less frequently and less ably.  As the behaviors which show and deliver love occur less, love relationship problems become much more likely to occur.  Fights, violence, break-ups, relapses, co-parenting conflicts, spouse abuse and even spousal murder and suicide are all expected to rise as love relationship functioning sinks with worsening weather stressors (see “Anger and Love”). Wherever weather is at its worst, these trends are already beginning to be documented by the UN, WHO, NAS, US-CDC and various university research projects.  The existence and spreading of worsening weather is being documented by every major, national weather bureau around the world.

Still Very Good but Less Good

Lots of love relationships that are very good will stay good but not as good.  The time and energy that would have been spent on loving interactions, restorative serenity, playfulness, sex, sharing fun projects, little intimacies, etc. may be spent on getting over heat exhaustion, hydration needs, fatigue recovery and preparing or coping with weather related stressors.  Love works both like a food and a medicine.  With worsening weather, everybody may get less of the medicine and the nourishment love provides.

Are You Ready for Greater Love Needs?

As the weather related stress on love relationships grows, the need for actions that skillfully show and give love also will need to grow.  Love that delivers aid, support, tolerance, acceptance, rescue, and forgiveness challenges us to both rebound and re-bond and will be crucial to relational survival.

Ovid, in the year one, told us that skill is required for love to be lasting.  This is especially true when the pressure, tension and stress are mounting and spirits are drained.  Will your love getting and giving skills be able to meet the challenge?  Ovid might ask “are you practicing and honing your love skills” for they will be needed?

What We Can Do!

I suggest consider working with the following five, simple, action ideas.

1. Love feelings come naturally.  Love relating is learned and must be practiced, honed and skillfully developed.  The more you learn and practice the how-to’s of giving and getting healthy, real love the more you will be prepared to weather the storm of extreme weather and it’s impact on your love relationships (see “Behaviors That Give Love: The Basic Core Four”).

2. See if you can get others in your love network of friends and family to do the same learning and practicing of giving the behaviors that can skillfully send love when others may need it.

3. Love your planet by lobbying your politicians and community leaders to work for weather improving practices to become standard and/or mandatory. Support, campaign and vote for those who help and not those who hinder and harm nature.

4. Perhaps join or form support and activist groups who work for cooperative, love-based solutions to both relationship and ecological challenges.

5. Don’t waste time and energy fighting directly with head-in-the-sand eco-ostriches.  Worsening weather eventually will convert them, or worse.  Instead, work for the changes that can make things better and with those who are doing the same.

One More Thing

You might enjoy talking over what you have just read with one or more others.  If you do that, we very much would like it if you mentioned this site and its many mini-love-lessons.  Thank you.

As always – Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly  

Quotable Question: Which is the safer gamble, to go with the scientists and doing all we can to ameliorate climate change or to go with the deniers and not do anything at all?

Learning About Love - Together

Synopsis: Why learn together and a very positive life case starts this mini-love-lesson. What couples are doing around the world;  followed by five things you can actually do together to develop your love skills and learn more about healthy, real love; this mini-love-lesson then ends with a ‘make it happen’ challenge; more.

Why Learn Together?

Chad was excited!  He said, “the thing that helped Sarah and me the most was when we started to learn about love together.  Sort of reluctantly, I gave in and let Sarah talk me into reading some new stuff on the Internet about how love can be made to grow in a relationship.  Then we got to talking about it, and together we worked on how to apply it to the way we got along with each other.  I got a total, new ‘wow’ experience from that.  I am a factual kind of guy and what we were reading wasn’t the usual fuzzy, mishmash about love.

It was totally fascinating and fact-based, but also, to us at least, it was an inspirational way to see and deal with our relationship.  Best of all it worked, I think mostly because we were doing it together.  We both had read some and worked kind of independently trying to learn about how to do our relationship better, and that did help some but by doing it together, well, that made all the difference.”
When a couple learns together a team synergy can be created which is greater than either of them separately.

Experiencing or reading the same material, and talking about it, can create a cross-fertilization of ideas and understanding.  When both people are working from the same knowledge-base; acquired together it is much more likely that they will work better in coordination and sort of like ‘be on the same page’ together.  Separate learning is much less likely to achieve that easily, although that can be good too.  Even better is that learning together helps create better behaving together.

Every team sport or endeavor requires practicing together.  Doubles tennis, football, two or more people dancing together, etc. all take practicing together for it to work well.  Five good basketball players who never played together are much more likely to lose a game to average players who are really good at teamwork.  Individual learning and practicing can add greatly to the team, but adding the ‘as a team together’ component makes a world of difference and can greatly add to the bonding experience a couple is having with one another.

It is sort of like what was once discovered with couples doing joint counseling.  Counseling together, and learning about love together, seemed to make it much more likely that a couple would stay together than if they were doing the counseling, or the learning, separately.

As Sarah put it, “It’s been a really fine adventure for us; working on our love skills together has been a lot more fun and a lot more meaningful.”

Around the World

Around the world there are couples experiencing what Chad and Sarah discovered.  Working together to learn the new and better information about healthy, real love and developing their love skills together is making a great many love relationships much better relationships.  How do we know this?  Well, we know this because at this sites we get feedback from different people all over the globe. The mini-love-lessons are being viewed in over 150 countries.

While the feedback we get from individuals is great, we also get some wonderful feedback from couples.  Also, there is research going on about what couples are doing to help their relationships, conducted by various universities and sometimes governments.  We tap into that too.  By the way we would love to hear your input also.

It’s Not Only Couples

It is not only couples who are learning together about love and developing love skills.  Sometimes it is two or more friends who get together in a sort of informal study group. Sometimes it is families, or a parent and a child learning together.  Colleges, universities and a wide variety of religious institutions sometimes offer courses and classes, or personal development workgroups for couples focused on learning about love and love improvement.

A fair number of personal growth and retreat centers, as well as Counseling and Therapy clinics do the same thing.  In all these the cross communication, interaction and interchanges that occur add to the learning and improve the practicing.  Part of that is because love gets done to a large degree by interaction, interchange and cross-communicating.  Therefore, it makes sense for love to be learned and practiced in such a way as those actions actually are being done together with one or more others.

What To Do Together

First of all, think about love and share what you think with each other.  Puzzle over what you think and what the other one thinks; question, imagine, fantasize, reason, suspect, doubt, guess, hypothesize, posit, remember, dream and share it all with one another.

Second is what you are doing right now, but do it together.  Read about love and what can be done to grow and improve love in your life together.  Now you are reading one of more than 140 mini-love-lessons (with more on the way) which you can use to make love in your life more real, more complete, more healthy and more wonderful.  Read the same mini-love-lessons together, if possible at the same time, and then talk about them a lot.  You don’t have to agree with what you read, and you don’t have to stay on the topic.

Sometimes the offshoots and side trails are the most important pathways for your talk to go.  Remember to share and show your emotions as well as your thoughts.  That often is the most significant and meaningful part.  (See mini-love-lessons focused on feelings and emotions in the titles and subjects indexes).

Third, together do the same thing with books and other writings about love.  Be sure to include books that are of more than one type.  Be careful not to just read books about love problems and what goes wrong in love relationships, or ones that offer no real solutions or ways to improve.  Unfortunately, there are quite a few of those.  Also be wary of books that have ‘love’ in the title but all they are really about is sex.  To me that is like false advertising.  Then there are those books that have ‘love’ in the title but there isn’t anything much actually in the book about love.  Maybe the publisher just thought it would sell better if love was added to the title.

Most romantic novels are not that much help either.  Most just seem to promulgate falsehoods and destructive myths.  What works for one does not work for another. Different books click for different people and for some people at certain times but not other times.  That makes it hard to recommend but here are four possibilities you might want to consider.  All About Love by Bell Hooks, The Anatomy of Love by Dr. Helen Fisher, The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, and the e-book Kathleen McClaren and I wrote Real Love or False Love.

Fourth, together go to the movies whose reviews seem to indicate they may have something worthwhile and positive to say about how love is best done.  Schedule at least an hour after the movie to talk about it.  Look for the true and the false messages about love that may be embedded in the movie, and watch out for tear-jerkers that may move you, but not teach you.  For many people a really good movie offers a much more complete experience, well worth sharing together.

Fifth, together go to workshops, retreats, classes, courses and talks that have to do with improving love relationships.  Some colleges, some religious institutions,  a variety of personal growth centers, therapeutic agencies, etc. give worthwhile workshops, classes etc. that have to do with healthy, real love.  Especially the kind of workshop that offer an intensive experience over a weekend or even a week, often can provide you with one of life’s best together experiences.  There also are some great workshops that combine learning about healthy, real love interwoven with great, healthy sexuality.  (Look for workshops that have the word Tantric in the title).

When Not to Learn Together

It probably is not a good idea to learn about love together if one of you uses what you are learning to criticize, control, condemn or be condescending to the other.  It also probably is not a good idea to try learning together if one of you keeps trying to prove the other one is wrong, playing “I’m more okay than you are”, focusing on what’s wrong more than what can become right, or better, and focusing in the extreme on what has happened in the past more than what can be made to happen in the near future.  Remember, the historical, diagnostic analysis of a flat tire doesn’t tell you how to change it, even if the analysis is spot-on and brilliant.

Unless the focus mostly is on how to do, act, behave and put into practice what you are learning together more constructively, productively and healthfully concerning love skills, you may not be using this ‘together’ learning experience in the best way. It is important and okay to think and understand better, more accurately and more fully, anything and everything connected to love but thinking about love without the actions that grow, give and send love will seldom be enough.  It also is important that the actions and the thinking lead to improvements in the many wondrous feelings that come with love.  If that is not happening sufficiently, then learning together may not be working for you.

Make It Happen

Now here is a suggestion.  With a spouse, lover, friend or family member, ask them if they would experiment with you in doing some joint-learning about healthy, real love and developing your love skills together.  You can start by picking a mini-love-lesson for both of you to read, or reading one of the other actions listed above.  You might want to specify a short amount of time for this experiment, and if it is working well you can extend it.

If the person you ask is dubious and reluctant, tell them that is good, and this is only an experiment, so why not try it.  If they positively will not do this, well, that is not a very good indicator for developing love, is it?  Maybe try asking somebody else.  Of course, it’s fine to start on your own, and maybe inviting somebody into the process with you later.

As always – Going and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question

What do you suppose you might need to ‘unlearn’ about love, because it could be wrong or false?

Finding Love

Mini-Love-Lesson  #254

The First Place to Look

The first place to find love is inside yourself.  If you have good, healthy, sufficient self-love your chances of finding good, healthy, real love go up dramatically.  If you are hoping that someone loving you will make you okay and then you will be able to love yourself, that can happen but there is a danger.

When you are really hungry for love you may accept anything that looks like love but all too likely, it will not be the real thing.  If you are starved and desperate for love, you are in danger of becoming entangled in a destructive false love.  So, work on your healthy, real self-love and you are much more likely to draw someone to you of quality and real love ability (see “Getting Healthy, Real Love in Your Life”).

Non-Conscious and Conscious Searching

If you are undernourished for love or just love hungry, your subconscious (deeper parts of your brain) probably are actively searching for love sources whether your conscious mind knows it or not.  Some people believe the romantic myth that if you consciously go looking for love, you won’t find it because love has to be something you fall into or it falls upon you.  Believing that just may make it harder to find.  Mounting evidence strongly suggests that your conscious cooperating with your subconscious while looking for love is likely to work best.

What Is “Finding Love”?

Let us be clear about what finding love really means.  Most people mean finding a special heart-mate to love and be loved by in an emotionally close life partner way.  Some just mean a good sex partner and others just want someone to be officially married to, while still others want an endless romantic involvement.  There are lots of people who definitely do not mean finding an equal adult-to-adult life partner kind of love.  There are lots of people who say they want to find love but their real reasons have nothing to do with actual love.  They may just want safety, to be taken care of, someone to control or be controlled by, etc.

So it is very important that you become clear about what finding love is really all about for you.  Do you know enough about love to be reasonably sure that is what you really are looking for? (See “Definitions of Love Series”)  Do you know enough about yourself to know why you are looking to find love?  It could be it just is natural to do that but are there other reasons?

Quite a few relational authorities who think that what we really are doing when we are hoping to find love is actually looking to find a good candidate to grow a healthy, real, lasting love life with.  Once we find a good candidate our subconscious finds acceptable enough, we then start on the issues of learning how to do love-relating with that person – or not.

Two Ways to Find

Accidentally just stumbling across  something or actively searching for something are the two ways to find anything, including love.  Actively searching works better if you do it smart (see“Hunting for Love”).  Furthermore, when you actively think about searching for a heart-mate, you learn more and you lessen the risk involved in making the gamble of love.  Also, remember love does not have to always be from just one, special other spouse-type person.  You can get and give love lots of different ways, in lots of different forms of relationship (see “A Dozen Kinds of Love to Have in Your Life”).

Knowing Love When You Find It

The romantic myth is you will just know it when you find it because it will feel so strong and different from everything else.  A great many divorced people say they used to believe that myth.  The truth is several forms of false love feel just a strong and make people feel just as sure they found real love as does authentic love.  Another truth is that attraction is not love but it gets easily confused with falling in love (see “Attraction or Love or What?”, Link “Fatal Attraction Syndrome – A False Form of Love”, “False Forms of Love: Unresolved Conflict Attraction Syndrome”).   Some people say you can not know if it is real love or not until you have given it at least six months to grow (see “It Might Be Healthy, Real Love If...”, “Love Is Patient”, “Definitions of Love Series”).

What Most People Are Looking For

One way to find love is by looking for its characteristics showing up in people you meet.  More together, okay and mature people see the prime, characteristic feature of love to be caring.  Caring is the tendency to empathetically and emotionally care and to behaviorally give care to others especially when they are in distress.  To care about the well-being, the feelings (both physical and emotional), the growth and development, the quality of life and the future of a person are all involved here.  Caring shows high valuing of who and what is cared about which is a major characteristic of healthy, real love.  Without caring, the ability to love, at best, is limited.

The second characteristic is the ability to be and interact intimately.  That means emotionally, sexually, mentally and behaviorally.  It also means to make oneself vulnerable via authentic self-disclosure of what is real within oneself.  That can include idiosyncrasies, failings, foibles, weaknesses and ordinariness.  But it also includes revealing what is confident, successful, excellent and just plain good about oneself.  Good intimacy also includes lovingly dealing with the same factors coming from another in ways that show tolerance, acceptance, noncritical understanding and affirmation.

The third factor most more okay people see as representing love is the ability to emotionally connect and, once connected, become dedicated to staying caringly connected irrespective of any and all difficulties that might destroy the caring connection.  This characteristic usually is called commitment.

The fourth factor has to do with having and demonstrating strong, positive feelings about and for a loved one.  It is sometimes known as passionate love and may include sexual feelings and actions but it also involves being intensely for and on the side of the loved.  Feelings of being bonded to and loyal to the loved one also are included here.

Less mature, less okay and certain, but not all, more emotionally troubled individuals are much more likely to think attraction impulses and feelings signify real, heart-mate love.  All too often, this attraction-based belief does not work out well for lasting, love relating.  Attraction can lead to love beginning but it is a different thing.

Finding Someone Good to Love and be Loved By

To find that special someone, do lots and lots of active looking.  Do that looking as many ways as possible but do it smart.  Go where love-oriented people go.  They go where they can be caring to, for and about others, and/or for things of intense, intrinsic value.  They often have careers or avocations that work to achieve worthy, constructive results that benefit others.  They tend to volunteer for stuff that makes improvements happen of one sort or another.  They may be involved in adamant love for various causes having to do with making the world a better place to live in (see “Adamant Love – And How It Wins for Us All”).  Whatever they do they tend to use whatever they can for the good of somebody or something.

Some people are kind of afraid to love someone like that.  They may fear not being good enough or becoming trapped in a goody good, societal sphere.  That is seldom the case.  Such people, as described here, often are iconoclastic, individualistic to a fault, and fierce about fighting for what they believe in.  They also can be quite fun-loving and positive about life.

Love-able and love-oriented people can be found almost anywhere but not so much where more harm is being done than good, or where there is more greed-orientation than contributory.  Their position often is more of the “I win, you win, everybody can win” approach than of the “I must win, you must lose to me” way of dealing with the world.

The Three A’s for Finding Love

The three A’s for finding love stand for assertiveness, attitude and action.  When you use these your chances for finding healthy, real love start to look good.  So, let’s look at each.

Assertiveness means being friendly and lovingly assertive and it is not to be confused with aggressiveness.  Aggressiveness can mean being pushy, annoying, contentious, snide and a host of other undesirable things.  Friendly, loving assertiveness is accomplished by smiles and pleasant facial expressions, gestures, posture movement, voice tones and positive word choice.  Friendly, loving assertiveness tends to attract an array of rather fine people.

Attitude means something you first do for yourself.  Many people find they can self-talk themselves into a good attitude.  A bold, socially adventuresome attitude helps a lot.  Developing a good attitude gets you ready to take the necessary social risks for finding a good heart-mate.  Being mindful of your physical safety is important but being too socially safe gets in the way.  If you get yourself embarrassed you probably doing something right.  Think about the attitude you want to project.  Loving, friendly, caring, sexy, joyous, healthful, confident, self- loving (not arrogant) and love-positive toward life likely will do you well.

Action means do just about everything you can think of to do and also enjoy the adventure of it all.  Yes, use the Internet but also go some places and get a bit involved.  Everything from A for art to Z for zoos has groups of people organized and meeting to support or be involved with those things.  Most of these places have some very fine people you probably would like to meet.  Self-talk yourself into a good attitude and go assertively and meet some of them.  Don’t worry much about what they think of you.  Be more concerned with what you think of them but give them a chance and don’t be too negative.  That is self-defeating.  Scan the group for who looks most interesting and go talk to those people.

Some Other Things to Do

Read these related mini-love-lessons: “Getting Healthy, Real Love In Your Life”, “Above Normal Love”, “From Self-Love to Other Love And Back Again” and “Willing and Ready for Love?”. Give some thought to the study of love itself so you consciously can think about it.  That will help you cooperate better with your subconscious in finding what you want.  Give some effort to focusing on growing and giving love and the major ways that is done. It’s not all about just getting love.  Good heart-mate love usually includes sexuality so if you are not already OK get Ok with sex and especially love expressed in sex along with sexiness.

One More Thing

Talk all this over with some others and see if they might want to go with you as you adventure into new groups of people.  While you are at it, please mention this mini-love-lesson and this site.  Thank you.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly