Over 250 FREE mini-love-lessons touching the lives of thousands in over 190 countries worldwide!

Love Rejoices In The Truth

Mini-Love-Lesson  #248

Note: This is the 11th in our series What Is Love?: A New Testament Reply based on Paul’s description of love and informed by discoveries in relational science

Synopsis: Here is provocative help in examining your relationship with truth as it applies to issues of you and love, examining your inner and outer truth sources, the genius of truth versus wrong instead of right, and helping yourself and your love relationships through truth rejoicing.

You and Truth

What is your relationship with truth like?  Can you be truthful with yourself in answering that question?  If you can, the answers to the following queries may both help and surprise you.

Deep down in, do you usually really want the truth?  Do you usually really give the truth as best you know it to be?  Do you sometimes hide from the truth?  How are you with honestly admitting the truth when you are shown to be wrong?  Could you be one of those people who is usually quite sure you are right and others are not?  Can you face difficult truths well?

How important is accuracy to you?  What about you and revealing the complete truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth; and when is that not a good idea to you?  How are you with both giving and receiving white lies, embellishments, spin, avoiding hurt feelings and slanting the truth in your favor?  Are you good at lovingly being truly magnanimous (seeing both sides) as differing and disagreeable truths are presented to you?

You, Truth and Love

In love relationships, and especially in romantic love, truth has been largely but subtly discredited and, in a sense, quite frequently taught against.  So many romantic love stories are tales of deceit and subterfuge done for the sake of succeeding at love (see “Lies And Love”).  No small number of books exist about how to use deception to attract a mate, catch a mate, keep a mate, control a mate and even cheat on a mate and not get caught (see “Betrayal in Love and Handling It Well”).  They all tend to ignore the super important love question “can something real be built out of something false?”.

The evidence for truth in love being necessary is pretty strong and that is true not only for romance but for love relationships with kids, friends, family, comrades and even with oneself.  I know that in my long career of having counseled thousands of couples, families and alternate lifestyle relationships, I have seen significant lies and falsehoods work better than truth – maybe only four times (see “Compersion: A Newly Identified Emotion of Love?”).  I hope that you at least suspect that in the long run truth, even hard truth, mixed with love works far better than falsehood.

Let’s look at love and truth in your life.  Are you more or less truthful to the people you love?  Do you think they are mostly truthful with you?  Do you think your way of treating them encourages or discourages your loved ones telling you their truth?  Do you see giving your truth as a way of giving your love?  If you tell a hard to hear truth do you mix it with love i.e. gentle tones, caring facial expressions, affectionate touch, comforting gestures, etc.?

Are you prone to watering down some truths, making it sound better than it actually is or perhaps seeing it through rose colored glasses?  Is being unnecessarily blunt, abrupt, brutal, harsh, mean, cruel and sometimes using truth as a weapon to hurt or be harmful in your repertoire?

Paul told us to rejoice in the truth.  Do you do that?  Paul seems to indicate real love motivates us toward truthfulness and truth works against wrongfulness and toward doing right.  What are your thoughts about that?

So, even though your culture and perhaps your upbringing may have taught you against it, are you good and getting better at doing love with truth?  Do you want that skill and to be good at it?

What Is Your Truth about Truth?

Truth, for us humans, is a whole lot more complicated than a lot of people seem to think.  It would appear that about truth we all “see through a glass darkly” as the Bible says.  Arguably, for us to rejoice in truth, it will help to have a fair understanding of truth and its complications.  Here is an example.  In an area called phenomenological psychology, experiments show that no two people ever have precisely or exactly the same perception, concept, or truth about anything.  Different people mean different understandings of everything.  So, if you go far enough into exactitude, you will find diversity not sameness.  I suggest That Is a Truth To Rejoice About because it means sharing our diverse truths can be ever so intriguing, enriching, enlightening and bonding if we do it with enough love.  Otherwise, it could just mean trouble.

Who and what do you trust to give you the truth?  Where do you suppose, what you call truth, comes from?  Do you think you really have trustworthy ways to discern truth from falsehood?  It would appear Paul sees Deity as wanting us to, via love, seek the truth, find the truth, live the truth, see truth as opposed to the wrong, and rejoice with and in the truth.  I find it interesting that, as usually translated, Paul did not juxtapose right from wrong but instead used the word for truth.  In philosophy, truth often has been linked with concepts of right, goodness, justice, beauty, fairness, well-being, virtue, righteousness, etc.  Ergo, is this indicative of the truth being more important than being right?  That certainly is not true for some people.  How about for you?

In your life, do you think truth usually is easy or hard to ascertain?  Have your ways of deciding what is true and what is not worked well for you or not?  Are you open to finding new and perhaps better ways of discovering and working with truth in your life?  How about in your love life?

Inner and Outer Truth Sources

We all can be said to have available two sources of what we decide is our source of truth.  One can be called our inner source.  This can encompass our reasoning, IQ, insightfulness, gut reactions, expanse of knowledge, type and form of habitual cognition, accessibility to our subconscious, emotional proclivities and more.  Some rely on this inner source almost exclusively and others as little as possible.

Our second source can be called outer and it may include popular consensus, conformity pressure, authority figures, religion, preponderances of facts and data, science, global awareness, philosophical frameworks, historical trends, parents and family, status figures, influential charismatics, friendships, spouses, lovers and news media, etc.  Some rely on one or more outer sources almost exclusively and others hardly at all.  How about you?  Do you know yourself well enough to know what you really are relying on and how much you are counting on that as your prime outer sources?

Now, factor this in.  Some psychological research points to most people depending on a rather undependable source for deciding what is true and not true.  That source is what their subconscious impulses, conditioning and emotions nudge them toward believing about what is or is not true.  This can enable quick decisions but not necessarily good ones.

It turns out our subconscious sense often is heavily influenced by how it has been programmed in childhood to guide a person.  It also is influenced by our psycho-neurobiology.  For example, who becomes your first mate choice is thought to be mostly a non-conscious impulse driven choice for the majority of people.  Scientific research predominantly points to your prevailing gender preference, psychologically and biologically, mostly to be coming from your genetics.  This also can be true even for some of your political leanings and vacation preferences.  To what degree those things are true for individuals varies as does how much those things are affected by psycho-social factors.  Reason and facts often have very little to do with a great many of the choices we make unless we train ourselves to give them high importance (see “What Your Brain Does with Love – Put Simply”).

Right and Wrong Versus Truth

What we humans call right and wrong is very problematic.  That is because so much of what is called right in one culture is called wrong in another.  The same can be said of different times in history.  Furthermore, a great many things called wrong in one era become either right in another era or of no particular consequence one way or the other.  In certain places and times not so long ago, a member of royalty loving a commoner was considered a scandalous wrongdoing.  Actually this is still forbidden and even punishable by death in a few places.  The same is true for love between people of two different religions.  However, the prohibitions against interracial love and non-his and her standard gender love still exist but are fading or are under attack all over the world.  Love itself is becoming the truth that is important rather than the classification’s status in which that love is done.

Perhaps this is the genius of using the term “truth” juxtaposed to the word “wrong” and instead of the word “right” in Paul’s teachings about love.  One way I see this goes like the following.  If we use healthfulness as the standard for arriving at what is right, we might have a much greater possibility of developing a far wider consensus about what we view as right and wrong.  That in turn perhaps could at least reduce some of the contentious and destructive disagreements about who is and what is right or wrong going on in large and small relationship struggles all over today’s world.  Arguably and in a sort of haphazard way, that very thing seems actually to be something of a slowly spreading trend.  There is reason to suspect Compassionate Love (see “Compassionate Love, A Big Sign of True Love?”) and what is healthful, both individually and collectively, are increasingly a mutually emerging goal of people in a great many different places around our planet.  Wouldn’t that be a truth to rejoice in?  It seems likely that Paul and also perhaps Moses might concur. 

Perhaps thinking along these lines may be of help in your own personal life.  It has for me and for others I know.

A “Best” Translation?

There are well over 20 English translations of the Bible and other partial and in the works translations that exist.  Here we are dealing with what Paul wrote as “sugchairei de te aletheeia” interpreted here as “love rejoices with the truth”.  Some other translations variously read “love takes pleasure in the flowering of the truth”, “is full of joy when the truth is spoken”, “joyfully sides with the truth”, “rejoices whenever truth wins out” and a favorite of mine “forsooth it (love)  joyeth with truth”.

Eight translations read “love rejoices in the truth” and eleven as “love rejoices with the truth”.  There are others with minor variations of those two.  Remember, all translations can be used for studying and pondering what Paul hoped readers would understand from this 11th precept on love.

Rejoicing with Truths

Rejoicing, perhaps with loved ones, as you discover new truths and as you hear about others’ discoveries and understandings can be ever so enriching.  Rejoicing also can help you plant memories of what has been discovered or understood, as well as motivate further searching for more truths.  Rejoicing together with loved ones helps love bonds grow as does lovingly exploring, sharing, discussing and even disagreeing about sundry discoveries and understandings.  Yet, there are some issues and concerns to look at.

What do you do if you come across a new discovery or fact that differs from what you thought was true?  Do you get upset, deny ignore, denounce, work to disprove, or what?  Or do you get intrigued, want to look into it further, see it as a challenge for integrating into your compendium of knowledge, regard it as an anomaly to be tolerated but not unduly troubled by, or what?  Can you perhaps have fun with it?

What do you do if, from a loved one, you hear something indicating their truth does not coincide with yours?  Will you be lovingly magnanimous seeking to really understand their understandings, as well as your loved ones personal feelings about the matter?  Bare in mind, we imperfect humans seem to manage only imperfect understandings i.e. “see through a glass darkly”.  We also delightedly can learn there always is more to learn about everything, even contradictory truths.

How are you at handling bad truth and scary truth like a cancer diagnoses or your most dearly beloved doesn’t want you in their life anymore?  Do you get busy checking it out to see if it is really true, look for what you can do about this bad or scary truth, get some help in dealing with it, seek to understand it more deeply and learn from it, or instead of those ways, fall into one form of dysfunction or another and stay stuck there.

How are you and handling good and happy truth?  Do you let yourself really enjoy good truths, share them with others, linger with them, fully soak them up and let them nourish you as you celebrate positive truths?  Do you let good truths inspire, energize and motivate you?  I hope so, because that is what they are good for, along with “upper” feeling truths being able to trigger a lot of health-making responses in our neurobiology.  It turns out rejoicing is really good for you and when shared it is good for your love relationships.

One More Thing – share these ideas with some others and while you’re at it, we would be pleased if you would recommend this site to them.  Remember, it’s all about helping real and healthy love-relating and it’s free, totally free.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question – When you give your truth, do you also give your love?

Anti-Love Myth # 2: You Will Have Eyes Only for Me

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson starts with some shock and dismay examples; goes on to examples of the ‘totally opposite’; then asks some intimate questions; gives intimate and surprising answers; discusses unnecessary breakups; and ends with ideas of what to do if this love myth is giving you trouble.

Examples of Shock and Dismay

Angela crashed into despair!  She just had discovered porn on her fiancé’s computer. Along with her shock and dismay her self-esteem was blown away by this revelation.  She was sure that if her man wanted to look at other women it must mean he did not really love her.  It also must mean her looks were insufficient and inadequate to hold her lover’s interest and keep him attracted.  She wondered how she could have been so gullible and naïve as to believe her fiancé when he told her he “ had eyes only for her”.

Bradford first became furious, then hurt and then confused after he found his new wife reading a trashy, super-sexual romance novel and sexually pleasuring herself.  He lamented that he had thought only he could get her ‘turned on’.  He wondered, was she secretly a ‘bad woman’ and not ‘good’ like he had thought?  Had she purposely deceived him?  Did she really not love him?  Had he married the wrong woman?  Previously Bradford was sure women were different from men, and a woman who loved him would “have eyes only for him”.

Caroline intimately revealed to Derek, her lover, that she wanted him to take her to a nudist beach because she wanted to see naked men and their “special parts” which “secretly fascinated” her.  Derek couldn’t handle it and broke up with her knowing that he had to have a woman that would “have eyes only for him” and his special parts.

Eleanor and Flynn got into big fights every time they went out in public because she repeatedly caught him secretly ogling other females.  Flynn explained he couldn’t help it and Eleanor accused him of being a sex addict, and not really loving her because if he did he would “have eyes only for her”.

Those Totally Opposite

Contrast the above situations with these.  Helen described feeling really intimately close and wonderfully naughty when her husband was able to tell her about his sex fantasies concerning other females.  She began pointing out sexy looking women in crowds and asking him what he imagined when he saw them.  Then he started doing the same with her which led to them rushing home to have all sorts of sexy times together.

Isaac bragged that he knew he really had a special wife when early in their marriage she got him  subscriptions to Playboy and Penthouse magazines, and they began looking at the sexy pictures together.  Later they got into Internet couples porn.  Isaac was sure that helped he and his wife be more emotionally close and intimate than many couples achieve.

Wanda advised her friends that in her opinion “a man who doesn’t look and lust at lots of different women isn’t a real man and, therefore, wasn’t worth having”.

Kevin explained that he discovered his wife was very sexual when she shared her orgy dreams with him.  Sometimes they role-played the orgy dreams, each acting like they were various other people, some of whom they actually knew.

Intimate Questions

How is it that one woman loses her self-confidence when her guy looks at other women, while another feels more intimately special and connected to her guy when he shares doing the same thing?  Why is it one guy gets angry when his wife enjoys looking at other men, while another guy gets turned on by that?  Why does one couple grow closer when they openly lust for others while another couple breaks up over this sort of thing?

Please note:  In this mini-love-lesson about a love myth we are discussing ‘looking’ and ‘sharing’, ‘not acting upon’ the lusty thoughts with someone outside the couple relationship.

Intimate And Surprising Answers

One answer to the above questions comes from the world of ‘positive psychology and psychotherapy’.  As people develop healthy self-love, self appreciation, self-esteem and self-confidence they come to trust their own attraction power more, and more.  Consequently, they are not much threatened with the fear of a lover being attracted away to someone else.  If it were to happen, their solid sense of being attractive and worthy helps them know they would tend to attract new, quality lovers, if they want to.

Some, more psycho-pathologically oriented, posit the ‘issue of projection’ to answer these questions.  Sometimes what we see in others is actually what is more true of ourselves. Fearing someone will be attracted away or cheat because of looks or other attraction issues may mean the one having the fear might do the same thing.  They project onto another what could be secretly true of themselves.

The social sciences offer another approach to answering these questions.  There is evidence suggesting it’s ‘all in the culture and family influences’ that get inside our heads as we grow up.  If you are brought up believing “my lover will have eyes only for me” you may be severely disappointed if it doesn’t work out that way.  If, however, your upbringing teaches you something like “looks do not determine love”, your lover looking with lust at others is likely not to mean so much to you.  Were you to be brought up in a culture that says “looking is part of the fun and to be shared with your love-mate” you probably would look forward to it.

We have the brain sciences to thank for providing the most recent answer to these types of questions.  Brain functioning evidence points to some very intriguing facts.  It seems that most men, and quite a few women, are neurologically ‘hardwired’ to enjoy looking at a variety of sexy appearing and acting people whenever they can.  That has nothing to do with love or commitment.  It’s just a natural, automatic, neurologically-caused phenomenon.  Apparently more women than men are auditorily or tactically, sexually stimulated, so for them the sounds of voices, the spoken word and various kinds of touch will be noticed more than good looks.

Unnecessary Breakups

Sadly a lot of relationships breakup over the “you look at others” issue.  It appears that highly, visually-oriented people will look at others they find attractive, no matter what.  It seems it’s just in their nature to do so.  By itself this behavior is not a threat to a relationship.  What is a threat is the interpretation that ‘looking’ behavior gets.  If the interpreter is insecure about their own attraction power, the interpretation is likely to be negative and fear-based.  That, in turn, probably will cause relationship difficulties.  With more self security and ‘owning’ one’s okayness, things usually get better.  If the person doing the looking tries to hide it, lies about it, promises not to do it again but does, things in the relationship are likely to get worse.

What to Do

If you are upset because your love-mate ‘looks’ at others, maybe it’s you and your relationship that needs some help.  So get some!   If your love-mate has trouble because you are ‘looking’ and that’s leading to relationship difficulties, be kind and loving about your love-mate’s possible insecurity.  Then go get some help.  We can de-program and re-program and get past this sort of love myth problem, and usually it’s faster with good help.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question If you have a ‘looking’ issue, what is your attitude about getting the coaching help that can come with relationship counseling?

Love Does Not Rejoice At Wrongfulness Or Wrongdoing

Mini-Love-Lesson  #247

Synopsis: Exploring the opposing dynamics of love and the wrong together affect us and our love relationships; even clusters of  wrongness; the controversy over love as a cause of wrongdoing; the provocative relevance of Paul’s 10th point on love; ever-changing ideas of wrongdoing; the rejoice factor and using this knowledge for better love relating.

Love Versus Wrong

Love is against wrong!  That is the simplest way to put it.  Wrongness in all of its many forms and love (especially “agape” love) are in opposition to one another.  Therefore, they are not rightly seen as causative, supportive of, or cooperative with one another.  At least that is how this discernment of Paul’s10th tenant on love would lead us to understand.

Love As a Source of Wrong and Wrongdoing

There are those that disagree about love being the enemy of wrong and wrongdoing.  They see love as a great source of wrongs such as crimes of passion, acts of vengeance, pathological jealousy, a trigger of obsessive/compulsive dysfunction, destructive dependency, gender oppression, much toxic depression/anxiety and many cases of excessive relationship agony.

A counter argument to those who think this way is that they do not understand healthy, real love at all, and/or they have it confused with various forms of false love (see “Ever Think Seriously About Real and False Love?”).  There also is a scriptural based argument.  The quote “God is love” is cited and then it is reasoned real love (i.e. God’s nature) cannot be the progenitor of wrongness.  Who is right?  To help figure that out let’s take a quick broad look at this thing called “wrong” and it’s relationship to love.

Love Versus Wrongdoing.

As we are informed by Paul, Love is against doing wrong!  That too is a very simple way to say it.  More comprehensively, real love can be said to be against people doing wrong to anyone, including self or to anything, to supporting wrongdoing by anyone and to assisting and/or promoting wrong action by anyone and everyone- always.  The problem is there is great disagreement about what actually is doing wrong.  Added to that is all the disagreement about what is more wrong and less wrong, and when is something wrong and when is it not, plus the question are some things wrong for some and not others.  There also is debate over what are the different kinds of wrongness and wrongdoing encompassed by Paul’s teaching and are there types of wrongness not included in Paul’s statements on wrongness (see “Lies and Love”).

Now Add Translation Ponderments and Wonderments

Interpretations and translations have, do and will continue to come in sundry variations.  This is due to the ever-changing and living nature of language.  This may be especially true for our highly dynamic and now worldwide use of English.

Instead of the English words wrong and wrongfulness, some interpret Paul’s Greek “ou chai epi te adikia” to variously mean, not wrong but unrighteousness, wickedness, inequity, injustice, evil, sin, etc.  One translation even puts it as” love does not revel when others grovel”.  However, many contemporary scholars seem to agree that for attaining a fairly accurate understanding of what Paul meant in current English, the terms wrong and wrongfulness will do rather well, hence their use here.

What Is Wrongfulness Actually?

Have you ever contemplated what is involved and encompassed by the word wrong?  Simply put, it means not right, incorrect and/or mistaken.  It also means evil, sinful, unjust unethical, etc.  Paul’s teaching holds that wrong and wrongfulness are not of or from real love, but then from what?  The old answer was from Satan.  A more psychological-based answer is that wrongness perhaps comes from lovelessness and/or that which is anti – love, (i.e. indifference, hate, etc.).

So as not miss anything important, let us look at wrongfulness broadly.  If getting happy or pleased about any type or kind of wrongness is not a component or result of healthy, real love, it seems wise to develop some understanding of the types and kinds of wrongness we might have to deal with in life.  Wrongness is actually a rather complicated topic.  For a greater comprehension, I suggest you take a few minutes to scan the following seven groups of words.  Each is related to different kinds of wrongfulness for us to be concerned about.


Term Clusters:
I. Being bad, unfair, shameful, sinful, unethical, wicked, reprehensible
II. Being untrue, false, fake, fallacious, dishonest, counterfactual, misleading, deceptive
III. Being incorrect, mistaken, in error, erroneous, inaccurate, invalid, misguided, ungrounded, inexact
IV. Being unjust, unfair, criminal, felonious, illegal, lawless
V. Being bigoted, intolerant, narrowminded, prejudice, extremist, close minded
VI. Being schadenfreude (i.e. pleased about others mishaps, misfortunes, losses, injuries, illnesses, etc.)
VII. Being cruel, malicious, sadistic, vicious, indifferent, uncaring, hateful
What others you can think of ?

It would seem that with a truly and fully loving orientation, real love would have us be not rejoicing but unhappy about each of the above and, when possible, have us acting to reverse them.  It also would seem likely Paul was pretty much indicating that.  Basically and more succinctly, yet still broadly, wrongdoing can be seen as encompassing most things unduly hurtful, most things harmful, and most things mistaken.

The Ever-Changing Understanding of Wrongfulness

It is to be noted that what is called wrong varies greatly all over the world and throughout history.  Not only that but many things are simultaneously considered both very right and very wrong depending on your cultural and/or societal frames of reference and functioning.  For instance in certain places it is wrong not to murder your daughter if she comes to love a person not within your cultural/religious frame of functioning.  Similar to so-called honor killings, revenge murders also sometimes are semi-justified in a large number of even modern Western world social spheres.

The degree of wrongness something gets judged to have is very different in various places.  Publicly chewing and spitting out gum on the ground in Singapore can bring chastisement, a fine and even jail.  Acting homosexually loving or sexual in more than 70 countries is illegal and in some places can even result in execution.  However, in 26 nations homosexual marriage is legal.  In most of the remaining countries, to one degree or another, it is increasingly accepted (see “What About “Bi” Love?”).

Sometimes what is called quite wrong evolves into being called right or even becoming of no significance at all.  Most of the modern world is now largely unconcerned about double religion marriage though that is still punishable by death in a shrinking number of lands.  Bi-racial love and royalty/commoner love relationships, in most places, are no longer illegal, shameful or scandalous like they once were.

Right and Wrong in Love Relating

Slowly in much of the world, that you love is becoming far more important than who you love and the categories that they are placed in.  That you have love is becoming more significant than whether or not you have societal approval for the labeled form in which you do your love.  Good, healthy love relating is being increasingly recognized as the substantive core that matters while gender classification becomes somewhat more peripheral. Link “Gender Diversity Love”  Hence, it is that love and being really and healthfully loving along with being really and healthfully loved that is becoming more right than is official marriage, progenitor genetics, social propriety, legal authorization or formal religious sanctification.  It is not that these things still do not still matter to many but that they matter less than does healthy, real love and love relating (see “Throuple Love, A Growing Worldwide Way of the Future?”).  It seems it is being more and more recognized by some that there is a deep, natural inadequacy or wrongness to loveless living.  It is a sort of wrong, in a healthfulness sense, and in an actualization or fulfilling our potential’s sense.  Consider these two ideas “the more we do healthy, real love the more right we do healthy, real life, and conversely “the more we do not do love the more, in a sense wrong we do life”.

A Core Concept for Rightness in Love-Relating

Remember this core concept for love success “Love feelings come naturally.  Love-relating takes learning”.  From this concept, we conclude things can be wrong in the sense of making a mistake for us to remain love-relating ignorant or without available love and love-relating knowledge.  Therefore, what you are doing right now is doing right by reading, thinking and learning about love.  Congratulations, and hurrah for you.  Do allow yourself some delight about that (see “Love Is Natural --Love Relating You Learn”).

Paul must have recognized the importance of learning about love.  Why else would he have worked at telling us about what love is and is not.  He wanted us to do love well and wrote the often quoted 16 points to help us with that.  So, now learn some more.

It is thought that at least half of all attempts at love-relating fail.  Another fourth never get close to their potential for success.  This may be true for love relationships of all kinds not just for couples love.  Parent/child, family, deep friendships, comrade love, self-love, pet love, etc. – they all count.  By the way, some are beginning to think, percentage-wise, comradeship love may be the most succeeded at form of love, others think it is pet love, while many more suspect romantic love to be the least successful.  What is your guess?

Why?  Possibly because a lot of couples seem to do a lot of love-relating wrong or not nearly as well as they could if they learned and practiced more about the how-to’s of healthy, real love-relating (see “Destroyers of Love: The 7 Big “Ds” Most Likely to Ruin Your Love Relationships”).  That of course (similar to Paul’s points perhaps) is what this site is all about.  So, we would like it if you would tell some people about this site and talk over your ideas concerning what you have just read.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: It is said “we learn better what we teach” so, what part of what you have just read might you most like teach somebody and how will you do that?

Dealing with Love Hurt: Diagnosing Love Hurt Accurately

Are you good at diagnosing your love related hurts?   When you get hurt (small, medium or large) in a love relationship situation are you good at figuring out what to do about it?  When you have a pain seemingly coming from something going wrong in your love circumstances do you quickly and accurately know what to do to stop it from getting worse and to make it better?

Did your family teach or model for you how to successfully deal with the many emotional hurts that can occur in all types of love relationships?  Are you good at learning from love related hurt and using it to make love relationship improvements?  If your answer is mostly “no” to these questions, take heart, all this can be learned.

Good “hurt” diagnosis means figuring out three, basic, big things.  First, what ‘harmful’ event  is occurring, or is in danger of occurring?  Second, what is to be done about both the hurt and the possible harm it points to?  Remember, hurt is the enemy of harm (see blog entry “Dealing With Love Hurts: Pain’s Crucial Guidance”).  And third, what can we learn from it?  This means asking ourselves  questions like What’s wrong, What can be done to make it right or to make it better, What can be learned to prevent what’s wrong from happening again, and What can be learned to advance and sustain improvement?.

Also it may mean asking ourselves what useless, fruitless, self destructive, wasteful, idiotic, unhelpful, wrongheaded, prejudicial understandings do we have that we need to get out of the way before we can diagnose our hurt accurately?  Many a person messes up their ability to diagnose and improve their hurtful condition by seeking to blame someone (maybe themselves), or they spend a lot of time on useless defending of mistakes, or they just dodge the whole thing because it’s hard to figure out accurately.   Then too, lots of people only work on what went wrong and never get around to working on what can be done to make it better.  Good diagnosis means arriving at a good treatment plan or improvement strategy.  Nevertheless, if you want to diminish hurtful and harmful happenings in your love relationships, or want them to be eliminated, the useful diagnosis of what your hurt can tell you is vitally important.

When working with love related hurt I like to ask people what they think the guidance message is that’s inherent in their hurt.  Usually at first this question is confusing but then with work an understanding of hurt’s natural guidance message starts to emerge.  Some of these guidance messages are easy to understand and others are quite complicated.  The hurt called ‘loneliness’ is likely to be telling you to go find someone good and loving to be with.  ‘Love related anxiety’ is usually attempting to guide you to search and discover what love-destructive thing may be on the way to happening.  Of course, once identified you’ll probably have to do something about it.  Frequently this involves doing more work about creating love relationship safety.  Love hurt from ‘betrayal’ in a love relationship usually carries the message to be more careful about investing one’s trust.  Hurt in betrayal also is usually about not giving one’s power away to others so that their actions can damage you or be used against you.

When you don’t learn from hurt in a love relationship situation, hurt likely will act like a good friend and come on stronger and more often until you get its guidance message.  I like to suggest that almost all forms of suffering which have to do with love relationships contain a common basic message.  They all usually are, in essence, saying “learn to do love better”.  Much like the message of hurting your hand on a hot stove, the hurtful message is to learn to cook more carefully.   It does not work well to quit cooking or give up eating because you got burned touching the stove.  Don’t give up on love, just learn to do it better.   Like it is dysfunctional to give up driving a car because you got hurt in an auto accident, so it is dysfunctional to give up on love because you have been in a love wreck.  Learn to drive the car and the love relationship better or you may have another wreck.

Unfortunately love hurt is one of those areas in which lots of people don’t know how to arrive at an accurate diagnosis of what’s going wrong and what to do about it.  Therefore, they don’t get the helpful message inherent in their hurt.  The basic diagnostic message that says “learn to do love better” may not be one of your culture’s or your family’s teaching.

Consequently that message may be rather strange and working with it may be unfamiliar to you.  In the Western world culture, and others, too many people have been programmed to believe that love is all automatic and magic, and that we are but helpless fools waiting for our love fate to overtake us.  I never trust training in helplessness.   All hurt tries to tell you to diagnose what’s wrong and do something about it so harm is avoided.  Hurt related to love is no exception.  Sometimes the diagnosis tells us to temporarily endure the hurt so as to avoid greater harm.   Occasionally the diagnosis yells “Escape as fast as you can because you’re about to be destroyed”.  Often the diagnosis is telling us just to change some of the ways we go about love and learn to do it more fully and better.

Another destructive training sometimes occurs which damages the love dynamics of that special love relationship called parenting.  It usually goes something like this, “What was good enough for my parents is good enough for our children”.  Usually this type of statement means that the parents who think this are resistant to learning the better, more well researched and discovered, improved ways of doing parenting.  I sometimes like to ask people to name some areas of life in which there have not been improvements over and above the way their parents or grandparents knew to do things.  I don’t get many good answers.   Let me suggest ‘love and parenting’ are not exceptions.

The knowledge exists on how to do both far better than once was commonly practiced.  However, in some cases truly ancient knowledge, that somehow went out of style, and the most recent developments correspond beautifully.  One of the newer and yet ancient understandings is “learn from your hurt, that’s what it’s there for”.  Another one is “it’s insanity to expect new and better results from repeating old actions that have failed time and time again”.  So, unless you’re hurt is overwhelming I want to suggest you work to understand every part of your hurt’s guidance message.  That is likely to be the best way to eliminate or reduce the hurt and not repeat it.  If the hurt is overwhelming get some help from a good love-knowledgeable counselor – you don’t have to suffer interminably.

Feeling hurt is a natural life system and all life systems can malfunction.  There can be too much hurt just as there can be too little hurt.  Hurt can be both subconsciously and consciously exacerbated or denied.  Frequently doing either can be detrimental.  Hurt can go on too long and hurt can interfere with other life systems designed to assist us.  However, most often if you work with your hurt you will learn and be guided to that which is healthier and happier.  Deny or over sedate your hurt and it may get worse so that its guidance message gets through to you.

Another thing to be cautious about concerning hurt has to do with what you were previously taught to do about it.  Blaming others, or blaming the stars, the fates, etc., just submitting to it, toughing it through without learning, using it for manipulating others as in ‘guilt tripping’, and playing the victim for sympathy, or getting to be the virtuous martyr and a host of other misuses are to be identified and eliminated.   Lots of people have learned to use their hurt as an excuse for not being ‘response able’ and then get drunk, or do drugs or destructively act out.  For some their love hurt is an excuse for doing violence to others, seeking to ‘get even’ via vengeance, retribution, etc.   Such anti-love actions usually are self defeating and may represent no real love being there in the first place.

There are a few special cases of desired and enjoyed love hurt.  Pain can accentuate pleasure when both are conditioned to occur together, and when the pleasure exceeds the pain.  When a person has felt almost nothing strong or intense for a long time pain can help some people feel much more vitally alive, and for that they are glad.  Case in point: Steve felt he was stuck in a dull, boring job and a marriage that wasn’t any better, neither from which he saw an immediate good way to escape.  He became entangled in a complicated, difficult, painful affair.  He actually was grateful for it because it made him feel excited and intensely alive as nothing had for a long time.

This is an example of a ‘good’ coupled with a ‘bad’.  I am not saying that his approach was all that healthful but it was desired and enjoyed more than bland living.  Certain kinds of physical pain and sexual pleasure occurring simultaneously, especially when there is intense, emotional, love-filled intimacy can greatly add to sexual pleasure for some people whose neurological physiology is built for that.   Some people have been conditioned to believe their pain signifies great love occurring or other similar positive things.  In these cases it still is best to diagnostically think about the presence or likelihood of harm.  The enjoyment of getting permanently damaged is to be avoided no matter how pleasurable it might be to someone.

Let me now challenge you to think about when you have had hurt in a love relationship.  Any love related hurt you have experienced will suffice.  It may have been with a parent, or sibling, or friend, or lover, or a spouse.  Can you identify what the guidance message was in that hurt?  Practicing the skill of identifying hurt’s guidance messages using old hurts can be quite useful in learning to do love hurt diagnosis well.  If the old hurt still hurts it could mean you have more guidance messages yet to identify.  If the old hurt no longer hurts it could mean you have gotten over that, strengthened yourself, and learned a lot, so be proud of your growth in diagnosing and following the guidance messages from that hurt.

Did the love relationship hurt that you just thought about lead you to break up or go away from someone who would have been destructive or inadequate for you?  If so, be thankful for that hurt.  If similar hurt started today would you diagnosis its guidance message sooner and act upon it quicker?   If you get your feelings hurt in a love relationship today are you quicker to diagnose what you are doing poorly, or wrong, and make improvements in your own behavior.   Are you then quick to figure out what you want different from what you are getting – and ask for it?  Remember, it is important to diagnose your own contribution to your hurt as well as another person’s, and don’t forget to diagnose what circumstances contribute to the hurt.

By reading this you are studying love hurts and how to diagnose them, how to avoid them, how to fix them, how to learn from them and, thereby, do better at love.  So then, the question is “are you going to keep studying”?  If you are having trouble diagnosing your love hurts, remember, it is quite smart, appropriate, efficient and usually highly useful to get help from a love-oriented and love-knowledgeable therapist when dealing with the pain involved in love relationship difficulties.
As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question When you feel hurt in a love relationship situation have you learned the wisdom of looking forward for what to do next about it rather than looking backward in extended analysis, or for whom to blame or what to blame?

Image credits: Original graphic, "Stethoscope" by Flickr user tjmwatson (Tess Watson) modified for use here by Wade Watson.

Love Thinks No Evil Nor Keeps A Count Of Wrongs Done

Mini-Love-Lesson #246

Synopsis: What is thinking evil; the strikingly harmful psychology of thinking evil for individuals and love relationships; score keeping’s corrosive problems; and an interpretation enrichment puzzle flows from; in and about Paul’s ninth tenant about the nature of love.

What Is Thinking Evil ?

Do you know how to think no evil?  That is the first part of Paul’s ninth tenet about the nature of love.  Do you have clear ideas about what thinking evil might really mean?  The second part has to do with keeping score as many people call it.  Do you keep a count, or score, on who has wronged you, hold grudges, plan or fantasize revenge, hope or pray for bad things to happen to those you oppose?

Do you obsess or enjoy thinking about things that cause harm and destruction?  Do you think evil of yourself?  Do you think evil thoughts about loved ones you get frustrated with, irritated with, angry at or feel hurt and/or betrayed by?  Do you harbor hateful thoughts toward friends, relatives, close family, children or people of any other love relationship (see “A Dozen Kinds of Love to Have in Your Life”)?  How about groups or classes of people (see “Love Against Bigotry”)?  Are these the kind of things Paul meant when he was inspired to give us this teaching about love?  Do you agree with the idea that real love does not cause, motivate or lead us to evil thinking?  What actually is evil?

To this mental health professional, evil is that which is anti-healthful to individuals and/or to groups of people including everything from two-person relationships to societies at large.  Others have different ideas.  I often have wondered if originally all morals and ethics eventually related back to primitive guesses about individual and societal health issues, one way or another.  Is evil really that which is sick, malignant, life harmful and destructive, psycho-bio-socially dysfunctionally corrupting and, therefore, ultimately in opposition to human survival?  I am sure many ethicists, moralists and others might tell you differently.  So, what do you understand the meaning of good and evil to be?  And what do you think about how thinking evil may be influencing you and the relationships of your own personal world?

The Psychology of Thinking Evil and the Harm It Does

In psychology, evil thinking can be seen as a form, or subcategory, of negative thinking.  Both for individuals and relationships, filling your thoughts and/or focusing too much on the negative, the destructive and the harmful can and does negatively impact our psychological and physical health.  It also can have a strikingly corrosive effect on your way of relating to others and usually in the way others reactively relate with you.  Such negative thinking has been shown actually to be able to shorten your life.  How?  Essentially by causing your biology to frequently make and circulate damaging stress hormones through you, along with triggering the biochemistry of mounting anxiety, fear states and toxic tension.  All of that makes for heart attacks, strokes, the development of poor health habits and increased addictions susceptibility.

Relationally, those who spend too much mental time and energy on the negative often become less positive, less cooperative and less happy with those they have love for.  Furthermore, suspiciousness, fearfulness, over cautiousness and compulsive safety consciousness may occur and tend to limit or dampen co-experiencing fun, adventuresomeness, sexuality and loving interactions (see “Removing Your Hidden Blocks to Receiving Love Fully”  and “Love in the Fridge”).

It is important to note that thinking about evil and thinking evil are two different things.  This is especially true emotionally.  Thinking evil thoughts, and enjoying it, is believed to be addictive as well as being erosively destructive.  Being agonized over thinking evil thought is not only painful but usually unproductive.  Being tortured by, or obsessed with, evil thoughts is pathological and often in need of the help of a good mental health professional.

Relationally, there appears to be a connection between thinking a lot of evil and/or negative thoughts and increases in couples and families having angry fights and episodes of domestic violence.  Also, there seems to be a correlation between negative thinking and the depletion of the brain’s production of the neurochemistry needed for processing happiness and loving feelings.  Furthermore, in close relationships, feelings of frustration, irritability, anxiety and depression seem to have a circular, cause and result, cyclical dynamic with cognitive negativity.

What Does Keeping Score Do to Us ?

Paul made a special point of telling us love is not about thinking a lot about wrongs done.  Psychologically and relationally, this is a good idea because it helps keep us from being repeatedly impacted by the bad of the past, more able to be focused on the good of the now and the possible good of the future where progress is possible.  Perhaps even more important, keeping score gets in the way of the freedom that forgiveness provides us, the creating of reconciliation and the opportunity of fresh starts.  Awareness of what has gone wrong can be useful so as to learn from it and behave more cautiously and successfully in the future.  Otherwise, not so much.

However, millions of people have been so hurt in love gone wrong experiences they never again try love relating.  Hence, they suffer love malnutrition and starvation along with its life destructive effects.  The question then becomes how to keep moving forward toward healthy, real love but with sufficient safety precautions.  That is one of the many places a good, love knowledgeable counselor or therapist can be of considerable help.

Individually, being obsessed with wrongs done, defeats, betrayals, losses, unfairness, mistakes, etc., rather than just learning from those experiences and doing better, can have very detrimental effects.  Interestingly, this turns out to be especially true for our immunity mechanisms.  Seeking vengeance, getting even, planning revenge, holding grudges, etc. is definitely a prescription for self and relationship sabotage.  Thus think no evil and keep no score of wrongs is a pretty good prescription for mental, emotional and relational health.

Interpretation Enrichment Puzzles

I like to suggest the more you can study different scholarly-based translations of a writing in a different language, the more you may deepen and broaden your understanding of that writing.  Different interpretations can help you better see the wider understandings, applications and possibilities of what was perhaps meant in any original.  Studying the original language also can be a great help.  However, that will not necessarily give the right or true meaning because words in every language are always at least slowly altering over time and location.  They differ as to common usage, exact definition and connotation.  These variations then create an ever-changing need for variations of translation.

Especially, does all this apply to this ninth tenant of Paul’s teaching on love.  Paul is understood to have written in ancient biblical Greek “ou logizetal to kakon”.  This usually gets translated into English at least two different ways and sometimes both.  Way one usually reads something like “love thinks no evil”, or “love thinks not evil”; other variations exist such as “love does not impute evil”, “love is not of an evil mind” and “love does not cause evil thoughts”.

Way two usually gets interpreted something like “love does not keep an account of wrongs”, “ love keeps no score of wrongdoing”, “love does not take into account wrongs suffered”, “wrongdoing is not scored by love”, etc.  Other variations include “love does not brood over wrongs”, “does not keep a record of complaints”, “does not keep track of other people’s wrongs”, “does not keep score of sins”, “keeps no resentful score of things wrong”, and “keeps no account for getting even or blaming”, etc.

I was advised that fully 16 of the most popular New Testament translations do not include part one – the “think no evil” interpretation and that at least an equal number of other translation efforts do not include part two – the “keeps no count or score” part.  Furthermore, I have been instructed that there are quite a few other learned and popular approaches that do include both parts one and two.

Why this big difference?  I don’t really know except to say translators vary a lot on this question.  Interpretation scholars also are known to have rather different ways of trying to get ancient words and meanings across into contemporary English understandings while also attempting to be as accurate as possible.

I have including part one and two here not because of biblical scholarship but rather because as a mental health and relational therapist both parts seem quite useful for health and well-being  I hope you may find them so in your life and in your love relationships.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question: Do you think it’s true that how a person thinks about love is how they become about love, and how they don’t think about love is how they don’t become concerning love?