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Self Talk for Improving Love

Synopsis: This mini love lessons starts with the surprising importance of self talk; then goes to what is self talk; what is positive and negative self talk; some things to do about better self talk and love relationship improvement; more.

The Surprising Importance of Self Talk

Self talk is very important in all sorts of ways.  It can be especially useful in improving love relationships.

Recently researchers were surprised to learn just how important self talk could be to our physical, mental, emotional and relational health.  Negative self talk can lower one’s immunity, cause destructive stress hormones to flow in the body, and increase a whole lot of other physically, unhealthy things.  Mental efficiency is decreased, anxiety mounts, and self confidence can take a dive, all because of negative self talk.  It is thought that couples who practice negative self talk tend to fight more, and breakup more and are far less happy in their relationships.  The allover happiness in families seems to decrease if there is an abundance of negative self talk.  Certain kinds of positive self talk have produced the exact opposite results in individuals, and couples, and families and friendship networks.

What Is Self Talk?

Self talk has to do with how we talk out loud, or silently to ourselves about ourselves.  It includes what we think about our own thinking, our feelings and our behavior past, present and future.  It expresses our attitude toward who we are, how we are, and what is best and worst about ourselves.  Self talk is seen as ‘setting us up’ for future success or failure.  Self talking can encourage or discourage us when facing difficulties, help us feel weak or strong, and many other similar things depending on whether self talk is negative or positive.

What Is Positive and Negative Self Talk?

If the way you talk to yourself, about yourself and your life is mostly critical, judgmental, full of putdowns, punishing remarks, demeaning, derogatory, fearful, guilt ridden, hopeless, deficiency-oriented, etc. then it is negative and very likely quite unhealthy.  If, on the other hand, the way you talk to yourself is realistically balanced toward the positive, affirmative, laudatory, self rewarding, encouraging, challenging; if it is toward improvement, includes recognition of limitations without bad feeling, is more proud of attributes than unhappy about shortcomings and is in awe of the many miracles that make up a self, then it is likely to be very positive and quite helpful and healthful.  The inclusion of mild self depreciatory humor coupled with pride of qualities and achievements, and the ability to enjoy one’s own idiosyncratic ways also can be seen as part of the positive picture.

Where Does Our Self Talk Come From?

Originally most of our self talk comes from the way we were talked to is a child and the way we heard others around us talking when we were young.  If we had a highly critical parent we are likely to talk to ourselves about ourselves in highly critical ways.  If, on the other hand, our parents were more realistically prone to appreciative affirmation, praise and compliments and thankful statements, we are much more likely to talk to ourselves about ourselves in the same way.  Some therapists like to explain this as ‘your incorporated copy of your parents’ or your ‘inner parent self’ talking to you from your subconscious.

Self talk can come from how you choose and teach yourself to talk to yourself about yourself.  That can replace old messages with new and better messages.  And, of course, this re-training takes a fair amount of work but usually it is quite worth it.

How Does Self Talk Effect Love Relationships?

Self talk has a number of important positive or negative effects on our love relationships. One of them works this way.  If we are talking continuously critically and ‘down’ to ourselves, it may help us to tend to try only for love relationships with those who are less than we see ourselves to be.  This can lead us to repeatedly get involved with ‘losers’.  If we do achieve a love relationship with someone better than we see ourselves to be, that negative self talk can assist us in feeling insecure, suspect our love mate will find someone better than we are, and abandon us for that person.  Thus, jealousy, possessiveness and fear-based relating can come to dominate our relationship instead of healthy, real love.

If you continually put yourself down in self talk, you are likely to go down emotionally, making you less fit for good, love relating.  You also can make yourself very suspicious, mistrusting and unbelieving when affirmational  love comes your way.  That can help you end up love-starved.  Those who have adequate, healthy self-love are better at being nourished by the love that does come their way.  When you do realistic, positive, self-affirmation self talk, you have more to give and you are more likely to go around in your world more friendly and more loving.  That generally attracts other people who want to be friendly and loving to you.

By the way, coming across egotistical, stuck up, superior, etc. does not represent a person who actually loves themselves healthfully, but rather someone who is trying too hard but in self-defeating ways.  So, it is okay to brag briefly, which many people find rather charming because it shows you believe in yourself and are confident about yourself, but remember – briefly.

Self Talk for Healthy Self-Love

It turns out that realistic, positive self talk can be super important for the development of healthy self-love.  Being able to encourage yourself through a challenge with “You can do it” and similar affirmations, can make a huge difference as to whether you will succeed or not.  Healthy, loving self talk can help you to be proud of yourself for accomplishments, attributes, qualities, etc..  And loving, positive self talk generally can help you be more effective and happier with yourself and with your life.

Talking to yourself hatefully or in any other way negatively, or just indifferently, tends to have a weakening effect which can lead to increased anxiety and depression.

The Importance of Positive, Future-Oriented Self Talk

One of the best ways for self talk to help a love relationship improve, works like this.  Imagine saying to yourself, “Hello John (or whatever your name is).  I’m your inner self and I want to tell you to give a lot more physical affection and praise to your wife today.  You really can make her feel especially good, like no one else can, so get busy and start right now.  You want to become a more loving person and this will help you do just that, and it will keep you getting better at it.”  You can talk, challenge and orient yourself to love improvements by encouraging yourself to learn and practice getting good at the major love skills taught in the mini-love-lessons found at this site.  Encouraging self talk is often a big help in going forward with just about everything.  Obviously, discouraging self talk has the opposite effect.

Be and Do Self Affirmation

Do you ever tell yourself you are worth loving?  Do you own-up to the fact that you are a wondrous bunch of miracles and that is the nature of your being?  You don’t have to do anything but recognize that, and feel good about it because it is a ‘being’ thing rather than a “doing” thing.  You are a unique work of art that also can get something done.  Both your being and your doing make you worthwhile, not just your doings.  You can see yourself by one or both of two ways.  Either your being is a wondrous work of God or of millions of years of evolution.  Either way, you are a bundle of miracles – own that!

Self Love’s Relationship to Other Love and Self Talk

Have you heard it said “you have to love yourself in order for other people to love you”?  That is not exactly true but it hints at an important idea.  It does seem to work out that the more you healthfully love yourself the better others will love you too.  A lot of love-filled self talk often seems to result in more love coming your way from others.  That is probably because you become more lovable and probably more loving by that kind of self talk.

Some Things to Do for Better Self Talk and Love Relationship Improvement

Try writing down some statements you would like to hear you tell yourself.  Then do it.  Tell yourself statements you want someone else to tell you, and then ask them to do so as you also tell those statements to yourself.  Make a list of ‘100 Good Things’ about yourself – small, medium and large things; then talk positively to yourself about how each of those things is true and be happy about it.  Then get someone you love to do the same thing.

Then say things from each other’s list to each other.  Give yourself praise and be glad about how you are unique and different from others, instead of being a dull, normal copy of other people’s standards.  Work to be more ‘up’ on yourself than down on yourself every day, and do that with the words you say to yourself.  Also you might want to get a copy of the June, 2015 issue of Psychology Today, which has as its main feature article, a rather good presentation about Your Inner Voice.  It touches on recent discoveries and what is known, useful and important about self talk.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
What do you think of the idea that says your self love determines how much and how well others will love you?

Trust Recovery and Love

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson begins by introducing the surprising side of recovering trust in love relationships; continues with the re-trust gamble of love; re-trust and anti-love; and ends with the good news about re-trusting.

The Surprising Side of Recovering Trust in Love Relationships

In an individual counseling session I asked Daniel, which was he the most upset about, his wife’s affair itself or her dishonesty and deception in keeping it hidden from him?

He thought for a few moments and then said, “It’s hard for me to divide the two but I can forgive the affair itself.  After all I drove her to it with my loveless neglect and by being a mean alcoholic.  What I cannot yet get past is all her many outright lies, and complete and apparently easy total phoniness.

Once she was calling me to come to bed with her and at the very same time she was texting him a love message.  I don’t know if I ever can get over that one.  I feel stupid, weak, and very vulnerable to it all happening again.  That makes me fear I won’t be able to handle the pain if it does happen again.  It might make me relapse which could kill me because it nearly did before I got into AA and recovery.”

I then said to Daniel, “So, maybe it’s yourself you don’t trust also?  You don’t trust that you will be able to handle what your wife might again present you with – deception and betrayal?  Daniel thought about that for a bit and then replied, “I guess that’s true because she is doing everything that can be done to show me she loves me, and she is sounding really dedicated to living a life of truth and never cheating again.  Consciously I mostly believe her.

What I see now is that I don’t trust or believe in myself.  If she had another affair and I found out about it, the pain could drive me into a relapse.  If I survived that, it still could turn me back into that mean alcoholic again, driving her away from me and maybe into another man’s arms.  I fear I also could hound her with angry accusations and suspicions, spy on her, and withhold my love so much it might do the same thing.  To trust her again I have to be able to trust myself, and I don’t.  Now I see another thing.  Way down deep inside I think I don’t trust that I have what it takes to keep her loving me and be enough for her.  So, naturally I think I could easily lose her to somebody better than me.  Way down deep that’s what really scares me!

In the next couples, conjoint sessions, Daniel shared all this with his wife.  She responded with love and reassurance, and together they went forward working on not only healing their relationship but also worked on each of them growing their own healthy self-love and the sense of strong worthwhileness which that brings.  Now years later, they are together still working on growing their love even more.

The Re-Trust Gamble of Love

Trust recovery and rebuilding after an affair, or any other kind of being seriously wounding occurrence in a love relationship, takes making some big gambles.  None of us knows the future for sure, and the past often does tend to repeat itself.  We can say we do, or do not believe our beloved will do something that acutely hurts us again but that is not truly knowable.  I suggest trust is not so much about belief and certainty, as it is about gambling.  We have to gamble on our loved one treating us with truth and abiding by their pledges.

We have to gamble on our own ability not to sabotage their ‘recovering trust efforts’, or our own efforts to recover trust.  We have to gamble on our own love-worthiness and love ability.  We have to gamble that as a couple (as a loving team) we can win together better than we may have done in the past.  We have to gamble on each other and on our own strength to survive the hard spots.  Let me also suggest that trust is something ‘we live’ much more than it is something we believe or feel certain about.

If we decide we don’t have what it takes to make the gamble of re-trusting, or it just is too dangerous and unlikely to work, then we probably have to part ways as best we can.  If I don’t believe in my own ability to be of high value and worth enough to merit faithfulness, then perhaps I am likely to set myself up for betrayal.  It is not just a matter of re-trusting someone else.  It also is a matter of trusting yourself to handle what may come your way.

Re-Trust and Anti-Love

If you want to be sure to destroy your chances of growing, repairing or rebuilding trust in a love relationship, obviously start by suspecting and saying something negative about every little thing that can be interpreted as ‘maybe he or she is doing something you would not want them to do’.  Then add a lot of accusations, blame, insults, guilt trips, judgmentalism, angry rejection and general rudeness, and to top it off play the role of the ever suffering martyr.  Or you can switch to the role of the righteous wronged victim, followed by being emotionally cold and distant.  You also can do a lot of invading privacy, spying and do a lot of actions trying to catch your beloved doing something wrong so you can attack them for it.

For love’s sake, I hope you do not choose any of these anti-love behaviors.

It is not that you should avoid talking about what anyone did or what happened.  However, talking about it in the ways just mentioned can be regarded as anti-love actions, more likely to destroy than rebuild trust or love.  Honest, straightforward work to understand and learn from what happened so that in the future you both can do better is a healthier way to go.  Then mix that with honest, emotional expression but also with some restraint so as not to cause more harm.  Remember, all things can be and are best said with love (see entry “Say it with Love”).  Ask for and freely give lots of love-filled reassurance and forgiveness to each other and to yourselves.  That is usually what it takes to go forward together, rebuilding trust and stronger love.

The Good News about Re-Trust

The majority of committed couples sooner or later face an affair, cheating or an unfaithfulness issue.  Concerning infidelity, research results I have seen vary from about 52% of marriages up to 80% of marriages, and it is just as high for unmarried committed couples.  The majority of those couples stay together, work it through, often making their love relationship better than it was before and, thus, make their life of re-trusting work successfully.  It often takes a great deal of joint teamwork and of course lots of love well shown.  In my opinion this work is best done through couples conjoint counseling, mixed with some individual counseling.

I once did some research that showed individual counseling leads to individual results, not joint results, thus, individual counseling alone may not produce the couple results you hope for.  Nevertheless, in the developed nations, the preponderance of recent research results suggests that in the majority of cases infidelity does not lead to permanent breakups among committed couples – unmarried or married.

As always, Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Do you regard yourself as strong enough to forgive?

The Fourth Key Is Love

Synopsis: First we introduce the four wondrous, summation keys for a full long life; then we talk about ‘Aiming’ your love; unlearning issues; the biggest love lie; a great truth about love; and finally, paths by which to love more.

Four Keys to a Good, Long Life

Are you Interested in living a full, long, healthy life?

There are four keys, according to Dr. Dean Ornish, a much noted physician whose research and many publications, including his excellent book Love and Survival, focuses on living healthfully longer and having a high-quality, enriched life. After reviewing a huge number of studies, he concluded that living well and longer can be boiled down to four major areas in which your actions can make an enormous difference. There are two big areas to do more of and two other big areas to do less of.

For people in the developed world, the number one key is eat less, the number two key is move more, the number three key is stress less and the fourth key is love more! The next issue to ponder is how to do well in each of those four, big, key areas? There are lots of subcomponents you can learn about from many sources concerning diet, exercise and stress management. But what about love? Well, if you have been reading many entries on site you know that there are many components, factors and applications you can learn concerning love, and that is what we are focusing on here.

Aiming to Love More

Loving more is probably going to take you thinking more about love, actively studying more about love and, most of all, practicing love actions more. It also helps to have a lot of love questions to ask yourself, and maybe talk them over with others. Questions like: Who and what are you going to love more? How much do you know about all the actions that convey love? What do you do about receiving love? What is your involvement with altruistic love? Are you good at love adventures? How much do you know about the differences between real and false love? Indeed, there are at least 1000 more questions to get excited about, and enriched by, as you search and find answers. You might want to start by thinking of where is it best for you to begin to aim your love efforts? Also, exactly how will you increase your love studying and learning?

Unlearning May Also Be Necessary

Unfortunately, there are many false teachings, destructive cultural messages, misleading traditions and counterproductive societal norms which may have gotten into your head concerning love. All those may lead you to fail at love. It seems we are just now beginning to start understanding what makes healthy, real love. Interestingly, down through the ages there are many ‘wisdom Masters’ who seem to have known all along what science is just now discovering. Then there is false love and its several syndromes lurking there to lead you astray. You may have to examine what has gotten into your head that you might need to unlearn. Without unlearning the falsehoods you can’t go freely onto the better knowledge about ‘loving more’. (To help you with that, look at the entries on this site, in the Subject Index under Love Myths).

The Biggest Lie About Love

One false teaching or understanding about love deserves special attention. It comes in lots of different variations. Basically, it is the myth that says “love is all done by mysterious, perhaps supernatural magic which is out of your control and, therefore, there is nothing you can really do about love. It is all done by luck, fate, the stars, one deity or another, or who knows what. If you are a ‘star-crossed lover’, or just unlucky at love, well too bad, you lose, and that is all there is to it.” However, I suspect you don’t really believe that or you would not be reading this right now.

If you even subconsciously or semi-consciously sort of think that big lie might be true, you can be in danger of that belief (or suspicion) becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even worse, that myth might guide you away from learning all the many, wonderful things there are to learn about love which actually work, and which can help you grow your own great love successes.

A Great Truth About The Fourth Key

Love is natural but how to get it, give it, grow it and share it is learned. Some people are lucky enough to grow up in a very loving family, and they subconsciously learn all this at an early age because love-success actions were repeatedly modeled for them throughout their upbringing. The rest of us can consciously work to learn how to love well and love more, much like we learn everything else important. We purposely study it, and we explore it, and experiment with it to find what works for us, and then we practice, practice, practice! Both modern science and the wisdom of the ancients point to this truth about love.

Love like food is natural but there’s a tremendous amount you can learn to do about it. Teaching how to love better and more is a major component in the great religions of the world. The natural phenomenon of love is increasingly becoming evident in the brain and other medical related sciences. Learning to love well and more also can increasingly be seen in the behavioral sciences. Even in behavioral economics, love is being studied so it can be understood and accomplished better and more. (Read The Psychology and Economics of Happiness Love, Life And Positive Living by Prof. Lok Sang Ho, head of the Department of Economics at Lingnan University, Hong Kong).

Paths to Loving More

First of all you can do what you doing right now, and that is read. There is a lot written about love and some of it is pretty worthwhile. Another thing you can do is join with other people who have a love-centered orientation or involvement. That could mean a really deep, loving, friendship network; a voluntary effort trying to lovingly assist some group of people who need one sort of help or another; joining with those involved in a life betterment cause and for which love provides a method or some form of real “ministry”.

Meditation and prayer have provided many people with a sort of core loving approach which then stretches out to all they contact. Applying yourself in multiple kinds of love, of which there are quite a few, works well for many. You can start by reading entries at this site on kinds of love which is found in the Subject Index. Learning to center yourself in love, and come from love toward each major area of your life is another kind of path toward loving more.

Deciding to enlarge the number of ways you show love, choosing to magnifying the intensity of your demonstrations of love, and refining and elaborating the quality by which you do love actions, all can get you on a path toward loving more. Some people keep expanding their number of love targets, but remember one of your love targets needs to be yourself. Part of healthy self-love can be striving to eat less, move more and stress less and, thus, you will be using all four keys to a good, long life.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Of all the people, creatures and other entities you personally have involvement with, which would be your best target for loving more first?

Love Expressiveness

Mini-Love-Lesson #279

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson greatly helps give due attention to how we do or don’t communicate love in other than with word ways, even when we are completely silent.  The high importance of expressionally sent love is emphasized and backed with some intriguing data.

There is a lot going on between people besides their words when communicating.  Why do we feel comfortable when meeting one person and not another – even if nothing has been said?  That is, nothing verbally has been said; a lot has been conveyed expressionally.  We message with our face, posture, movements and the tones of our voice.  Sometimes it is subtle, even subconscious, and at other times it may be blatant.  Expressional behaviors can be developed to great advantage in all types of love relationships.  How elaborate is your expressive stock of skills?  We have some expressional communication suggestions for you to think about.  One set of skills has to do with sending expressional communications and the other has to do with recognizing them when they are flashed at you.  You may want to add a number of these to your repertoire as best practices of expressional communication (see “Additive Talking – A Love Skill” and “Emotional Intercourse”).

Put simply, expressional communication usually is understood to mean the face, tone, gesture, body language and appearance variables which communicate feelings.  Actually, there is a lot more to it.  Take voice for example; voice variables include tone, amplitude, pitch variation and contour, tempo, duration, overtones and undertones, accentuations, rhythm, cadence, non-words like a sigh or pause or hmm or ahh and miscellaneous other sounds.  The scientific fields of Paralinguistics, Psycholinguistics and Sociolinguistics have published over a thousand research articles on expressional communication topics.  Therefore, much knowledge about this area is known.  The new brain science of Interpersonal Neurobiology also may be contributing relevant research (see“Talking Styles That Hurt and Help Love” Link “Other Ways to Say I Love You”).

Early studies found that in personal, direct, face-to-face communication only about 7% of the meaning was conveyed by words, about 35% by voice tones, about 55% by movement expression (such as facial, body and gesture expression) and 3% by other variables (such as clothing and atmospherics).  Isn’t it absurd that only 7% is verbal and all the rest, 93%, is called non-verbal.  This is one of the reasons we use the word expressional for this very important range of human communication.  “Non” just doesn’t cut it.  If we focus only on words, we miss much of the meaning.  If you want to become powerful and impactful when expressing your love, focus some on your words but much more on your looks and sounds of love.

 Did you know some research shows that your subconscious mind is analyzing about 300 bits of expressional information per minute in direct, personal interactions?  Likewise, the sending of expressional messages can be almost instantaneous.  Although most of this is being unconsciously processed, it can be brought into conscious awareness and worked on for improved impact. Link “Love Bids and Their Astounding Importance” and Link “Listening with Love

“The way her face lights up when I walk in, just makes my day!”.  “It’s not what he says, it’s his loving tones that go straight to my heart”.  “He has a way of towering over me that really turns me on, but it also feels protective and sweet and, well, – loving, very loving.”  “She literally dances up to me when I come home from a long trip.  Every move she makes charms me and no matter how tired I am I get delighted and feel energized”.  “Even after all these years, I still get a kick out of her giggles and wiggles when I tease her”.  Those quotes show expressional actions creating love success.   They also reveal love cycling back and forth like an engine generating happy, love dynamics.

The degree of success of any love relationship can be profoundly affected by the expressional messages being sent, received and cycled.  It also is true that the lack of expressional love interactions can severely limit the effectiveness of love.  Even when the love that is felt is strong, but not much expressed, the benefits of love can be diminished. Link “Do and Don’t Love Talk

The expressional choreography, going back and forth between people who love each other, can be like a beautiful, artful dance.  At times this dance can be fun and joyful, or intimate and romantic, or spirited and daring, or sensual and sexy or precious and tender if carried out skillfully and loaded with love.  To become good at this art form, takes lots of feeling-filled practice and plenty of playful teamwork.  I’ve seen couples of all ages, families, parents with their kids and diverse others learn the dance of expressional love.  Therefore, I bet you can too, if you haven’t already.

One more thing: Are you going to talk to someone about what you just have read?  It may be quite interesting to do so.  If you do, please mention this site and our multitude of Mini-Love-Lessons aimed at helping love relationships grow bigger and better.  Thank you.

As always – Grow and Go with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question:  How long can you talk your love to a loved one, before you have to start using words spoken out-loud?

Friendship "Like" to Friendship "Love"

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson starts by exploring who is a friend; what is friendship to you; how to better think about friendship; it the most important thing to take away from this mini-love-lesson; much more.

Who Is a Friend?

“I know a lot of people and we call each other friends but are we really?” Avery asked this as he contemplated his life. He went on to say, “I have work friends, old school friends, club friends, casual friends and now Internet friends – a surprising lot of them. But are any of them true friends, deep friends or really close, personal friends who really love me and who I really love?

I must confess I don’t think I have any of that type and I think I really need some of those. I know others who have friends they really love but I don’t think I do. How do I make that happen?” According to many behavioral health researchers Avery had a common, growing and surprisingly important problem. He had lots of friends at the ‘like’ level but none at the ‘love’ level.

Having friends at the ‘like’ level simply means you like them and probably they like you, or at least they like something about you. You enjoy their company and they yours. That is pleasurable and usually quite good for you. Having friends at the ‘love’ level is far more significant. It can literally mean the difference between a shorter life and longer life, as well as a so-so life and a deeply enriched life.

What’s Friendship to You?

I once heard a car salesman say “Hello good friend, what’s your name?” To him I guess the word friend meant about the same thing as the word stranger. In my travels around the world researching love and love relationships, I have encountered people who explained to me that they would not use the word friend, as translated in their language, unless they had known a person at the very minimum for two years, and even then not unless it referred to someone very close and highly valued. For others, they reserve the word and the concept ‘friend’ for only those most dear to them. In one large survey I read, 92% of the people surveyed thought friendship was, or could become, a type of real love. But there are those who think of ‘friend’ mostly as just another word for acquaintance.

How to Think Better about Friendship?

Our thinking can be limited if our language doesn’t give us sufficient categories to think with. The usual continuum of categories in English are: friend, acquaintance, stranger and enemy. Some languages have several categories and terms just for ‘friend’. You may be able to think better about friendship using a few more categories like: best friend, close friend, dear friend, good friend, distant friend and friendly acquaintance. As a ‘thinking experiment’ you might want to make your own list of categories and divide up the people you ‘like’ into those categories and see what it tells you about your own important interpersonal world of friendships.

Also there is understanding your friendships by way of qualities. The category list can include: loyal friend, bad friend, warm friend, special friend, so-so friend, long-term friend, new friend, friends I truly love, ‘frenemy’, and don’t forget ‘friend with benefits’. Here too, you can make up your own categories and see who belongs in which kind of grouping.

With all that in mind, you might want to ask yourself this question. How do you use the words friend and friendship and what do both really mean to you?

Do You Want More Friends, Real Friends, Better Friends, Deeper Friends?

In some parts of the world friendships are the most important of all relationships. There they are cherished and prodigiously protected. In other parts of the world it is thought that deep and real friendships are becoming rarer and almost impossible. Often this is attributed to the highly mobile, fast-paced, rapidly changing world many modern people live in. Others think that the Internet, especially Facebook’s use of “friend” and “de- friend” is making friendship an increasingly shallow and superficial concept. The perfunctory misuse of words like friendly, friend and friendship in many businesses and corporate cultures lead one wag to say, “Watch out for any use of the word ‘friend’ because it may signify the next person targeted for sacrifice”. It can be quite important not to just consider the number of friends but rather the quality of the friendships in your life.

The Growing Good News about Friendship

Good, healthy, deep, loving friendships can save your life, increase your health, add greatly to your sense of joy and your sense of safety, help you live longer, provide you with beneficial opportunities and in just about every way enrich your life. That is the conclusion of a host of researchers in cultural anthropology, social psychology, sociology, sociometry, mental health and even in animal comparative psychology where ape and monkey friendships have been studied. The friendships which grow into authentic, genuine, healthy, real love relationships can make an enormous difference in the world for those who want to live well. Even light, mild and short term friendships can do you a lot of good. Of course, friendship at the love level can be of far more and enormous benefit to all concerned.

How to Go from ‘Like’ to ‘Love’ in Friendship

When you meet a stranger and they become an acquaintance you have started on a path that might actually lead all the way to a real friendship-type of deeply enriching love. It also could lead to the romantic-type relationship because that happens too. After meeting a person it becomes an issue of ‘do you like them and do they like you’. To start on a path that could lead from the ‘like’ level all the way to the ‘love’ level of friendship here are 5 not so usual items you might want to consider:

1. Act like a buyer not a beggar. This means if you go into an encounter with a person, or a group of people, and you act like a beggar with a mindset of “Oh please, please like me, accept me, want me, include me; I’m desperate” things likely are not going to go so well. If you go with confidence that you have quality to offer and, therefore, deserve quality in return, your short-term and long-term results are likely to be far better. If your attitude is that of a careful buyer, or chooser selecting for a good fit for your personal, unique self your chances will be much improved. That is because the best people with the most real love to give, tend to gravitate toward the healthy self-loving.

2. If you like somebody help them to like themselves more. This is done by first looking for what you truly can appreciate in another instead of worrying about what are they thinking of you. You will have to study them, ask questions and really notice how they go about being themself. After you see what you truly can appreciate, follow it with brief authentic praise, genuine compliments and honest thank you statements. Don’t fake it. Keep doing that over time.

3. Brag briefly. When you make brief comments relating something about your own accomplishments, victories and other positive factors, you show you believe in yourself and your qualities and you have good things to offer. Of course, being arrogant, narcissistic and bragging too much is a ‘big no-no’, but no bragging just ‘hides your light under a bushel’. It also makes it hard and slow for anyone to get to know the best of you, and the rest of you and, therefore, impedes actually getting to love you, if that is where the friendship is heading.

4. Risk short, intimate self-disclosures. Love is much more likely to happen with emotional closeness. Closeness happens faster and better with intimate self-disclosure. When you say something that is more personal, growing a more personal relationship becomes more probable. It also shows you are sufficiently okay with your human, imperfect self, therefore, another can be the same with you.

5. Talk expressionally positive and constantly – while you quietly listen a lot. What you are saying with your facial expressions, tonal expressions when you do say something or make a sound, convey emotions by gestures, posture changes, physical touch and proximity actions (moving, standing or sitting closer than usual, etc.), almost always are more important than the words you say. Avoid attitudes and expressional language which would come across as disapproving, judgmental, condemning, disinterested, bored, superior or inferior, etc.

It is very important that you be loyal, truthful, sometimes fun, sometimes serious, be there for your friends when they need you, and a host of things like that which you can learn from other sources that tell you how to be a real loving friend.

Are You Studying Love and Applying What You Learn in Friendship?

It often has been said that to have a friend, be one. If you ask “How do I do that” I suggest that to have a friendship that grows into a deep, close, love filled friendship, study how love is conveyed and use what you learn with the people you like. It is likely that at least some of your ‘like’ friendships will grow into real ‘love’ friendships.

The most important thing you can do is to really apply yourself to learning all you can about showing, demonstrating and conveying healthy, real love. Remember, love, like food, grows naturally in the world but both love and food take a lot of skilled actions to get it to where they consistently can nourish and energize you, me and everybody else. Have love to give (?), then when it is delivered skillfully in your friendships, it is fairly likely the love bonds will grow and you will have friends who truly love you as well as you love them.

You might want to read Love and Friendship by Allen Bloom, Friends As Family by Karen Lindsey and Friendship: How to Give It, How to Get It by Dr. Joel D. Block.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
So, just how skilled are you at doing actions which convey friendship love toward those you would have as deep and true friends?