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Do You Start and Part with Love?

How do you do ‘Hi’s’ and ‘Bye’s’ with those you love?   To keep a love relationship healthy it is best if every (yes every) ‘Hello’ and ‘Goodbye’ experience includes at least a brief love connecting and sharing experience.  Every “Hello, I’m home” event is best done with a hug, a pat, a caress, a nuzzle or a kiss.  Going past each other to whatever you want to get to next without any expression of connecting love can be detrimental to your love relationships.  Likewise, every “So long” is better done with similar brief expressions of love.

In some relationships the lack of such love when parting can lead to hours of vague anxiety, worrying “is anything wrong”.  Starting off time together with a little demonstration of love means that the following time is more likely to go well.  Ending a time together with expressed and received love actions makes your next encounter more likely to be a bit sooner, a bit better and a bit more wanted.  People who start and part with love are seen as having better attitudes, better cooperation likelihood, less stress and a host of other small but significant benefits.

Many couples and many families I see in counseling for reasons of deteriorating relationships have not been greeting each other or saying goodbye to each other with any love at all.  Sometimes there is no greeting or saying goodbye what so ever.  Often when I get them to experiment with a little ‘start and part’ love action improvement begins.  This is one of the simplest and quickest ways to start toward the repair, or enhancement, of a love relationship.  Notice that this is the way most pet dogs (who were put in the world to teach us love according to an old Indian legend) do it.  Actually many apparently love- connected mammals greet and part with what looks like shows of affection.  So maybe love starting and parting is natural.

It is not only failing love relationships that often lack this love expression ‘start and part’ behavior. ‘Blah’ and ‘in a rut’ stagnant, and semi-functional relationships frequently exhibit this lack of love ‘start and part’ way of doing things.  So, I would like to suggest you check out how well your love shows in ‘start and part’ situations.  Might you do well to greet your spouse, children, friends, and maybe even yourself with an improved, more love demonstrative ‘start and part’ set of actions?  Would you like to dedicate yourself to starting every encounter with a brief but sincere show of love?

Be sure to do that before you try to take care of anything else each time you encounter a loved one even if you have been away from them only for a brief amount of time.  When coming together after work, going to the store , visiting with others, etc. making some action to lovingly touch, saying words of love followed by asking “How are you feeling” delivered with a loving tone of voice and loving facial expressions are usual ways to create a pleasant and caring environment.

Coming in from outside while saying a term of endearment like “Hello, Sweetheart”, giving a good morning kiss upon waking, smiling at first sight of one another, and adding a caress or pat are also quite helpful.  Departing with similar sentiments and behaviors works in much the same way.  If you already do these sort of things ask yourself how can you improve?  If you don’t already do this sort of ‘start and part’ love might you want to dedicate yourself to making a plan to do so, and enacting it?

If when coming together you usually begin with some sort of practical ‘what’s to be done’ talk, or ‘what has been done’ inquiry a sense of low grade aggravation is likely to grow.  If the last thing said on departure is something like “Remember to mail the letter, pickup the cleaning, do your homework”, etc. that person’s return to you is less likely to be happy.

If the last thing said is a message of love the reverse is true.  Get the practical messages said but end with an expression of love.  If the first thing said upon coming together is “Did you remember to pay the bills, do your assignment, call so-and-so”, etc. a small dose of subconscious emotional abrasion may occur.  That abrasion experience could later lead to growing difficulty, or at least to fairly strong disappointment.  If instead a happy “Hello, darling, it’s so good to be with you”, or something like that, starts a new encounter with each other it is much more likely to go smoothly.  Usually it only takes 20 seconds or less to start or part lovingly.  The return on your loving effort can yield hours of happier time together.  Of course you can take longer than 20 seconds and do it even better if you want to.

If you are the recipient of loving ‘start and part’ behaviors do you soak them up, reciprocate in kind, and cycle the love being offered?  Ignoring, or quickly moving away from such tokens of love deprives yourself and your loved one from the healthy, positive effects of these small important actions.  Unfortunately, in our fast paced, often goal oriented and impersonal daily lives there is an insufficiency of loving behaviors, so savoring those love actions that do come your way can enrich your life.

A good love relationship takes good love teamwork.  Good teamwork love takes good sending and good receiving.  Being a good receiver and an equal participant when a loved one initiates a ‘start or part’ love action helps the process of good teamwork love quite a lot.  So, if a love ‘start or part’ action comes your way take it in and send some back.

People sometimes say to me things like, “Dr. Cookerly, doesn’t starting and parting with love get to be an empty habit or meaningless activity”?  It can if you let it but it doesn’t have to.  Be creative!  Also all around the world friendly, affectionate greeting and parting rituals make life work better.  It’s healthy for those in all loving relationships to develop their own, informal love rituals.  If you get a sense that your rituals are beginning to feel empty or meaningless that might be a message from your inner wisdom-filled subconscious to do them better.

So, here’s a simple challenge.  Make an experimental ‘start and part’ with more behaviors of love action plan, and carry it out.  Then see if you and those you care about like the results.

As always – grow in love!

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Self-Love - What Is It?

Synopsis: This mini love lesson starts with the many contradictions and confusions concerning self-love; healthy, real self-love defined; the operational definition of self-love; and ends with the functional definition of self-love, plus a few important questions; more.

Contradictions and Confusions

“I’ve been told again and again I need to learn to love myself but I don’t know what that means.  I also have been told that before I can successfully love somebody else I first have to love myself, and until I love myself no one else will be able to love me enough or right.  Is all that true?  How can I figure all this out?

“As a kid I was told self-love was a bad thing.  It seemed to mean being selfish or self-centered and egotistical, conceited and even narcissistic.  Sometimes it seemed to mean doing something with myself that was sexual and bad but I never figured out what all was included there.  I knew I was supposed to put others first and myself last, and if I loved myself too much no one would like or love me.

“My religion taught me to love others and not myself, then the opposite by quoting Scripture at me telling me to love others as I love myself.  Isn’t that contradictory?  I don’t know what to think.  I’m so confused about ‘self-love’.  What am I to do?  I know I’m supposed figure all this out on my own but I don’t know how.”

This lament is echoed by a large number of people whose mental and emotional health, indeed, will greatly improve if they come to have greater, healthy, real love for themselves.  Not only that personal enrichment, but their relationship life, likewise, probably will show lots of improvement if they learn what healthy, real self-love is all about, how to do it, and practice what they learn.  But how are they to do that if they don’t know what it is?

Loving Those Who Don’t Love Themselves

There is another perplexing problem related to this confusing and contradictory self-love situation.  If you are trying to love someone who doesn’t know what healthy self-love is, who doesn’t know how to practice healthy self-love, and who even may practice anti-self-love, you possibly are going to have a very problem-filled love relationship.

If you’re trying to love someone whose healthy self-love is low, or someone who is indifferent to themselves, or who even hates themselves it is likely you are in big trouble and are going to need help.  Oh, loving these troubled people can be done and it can turn out well but it sure isn’t easy.  However, if you can encourage them to learn about healthy, real self-love, and to practice it, your love relationships with these un-self-loving people can get a lot easier and way more successful.

Getting A Sense of Healthy, Real Self-Love

You might be thinking, so Dr. Cookerly, are you going to tell us what self-love really is?  Yes I am and rather exactly, but first let’s try to get a sense of self-love before we more precisely define it.  Let’s examine several important ways to get a feel for what self-love is really all about.
First, understand that ‘self-love is healthy, real love’ going from the self to the self.  It’s sort of like feeding yourself healthy, tasty, nourishing food.  Next, be aware that loving yourself may involve some psychological actions you may not be used to.  For instance, it may involve your ‘adult self’ talking to your ‘inner child self’ in very loving ways.

The more scientific may prefer thinking of this as your neocortex sending composed messages to your brain’s limbic system in very loving ways.  Brain research shows that this positive internal dialogue accomplishes real neurochemical improvement, which you experience as feeling better and increasingly thinking more positively about yourself.  Some prefer to say it is your ‘cognitive, conscious mind’ choosing to speak lovingly to your subconscious mind.

Then there is a behavioral component.  Healthy self-love involves treating yourself well, taking good care of yourself, doing yourself favors, taking yourself into good experiences and enjoying them, being sure you surround yourself with good people, and a host of other actions which demonstrate you acting with love toward yourself.

People who do the actions of love toward themselves tend to experience the feelings of happy, healthy self-love which usually follow.  At the emotional level healthy self-love can mean feeling really good about yourself, glad to be you, feeling upbeat and positive about and toward yourself, highly honoring and highly valuing yourself without getting into the forms of false self-love like egotism, arrogance, overbearance, insolence, vanity, ostentation, conceit, self-pity, grandiosity, etc.

Awe and Joy

Healthy, real self-love can involve becoming awed, thankful and joyful about the one-of-a-kind, unique bundle of miracles that you are.  Deeply becoming aware that you are a product of a miraculous creation system that got you started, and keeps you going, and is all part of who you really are – and this, I suggest, is truly awesome.  Therefore, it is worth being joyous (occasionally or even often) about these aspects of yourself.

Regrettably, if you have been brought up only on ‘product’ valuing yourself instead of ‘essence’ valuing yourself, in response to these self-love messages you may think something like “But I didn’t do anything to earn that”.  You are much more than what you earn.  You are born with high-value and you maintain your essence-value as a part of your core whether you do anything productive with your essence or not.

Perhaps you have been trained to discount your value by thinking something like “But there are so many humans; I’m just one of the many millions.  There’s nothing special about me”.  Not true!  You are an individual work of art.  No one is exactly like you.  You are unique and, therefore,  special.  No one thinks exactly like you, has exactly the same emotions, or behaves exactly the same way as you do.  We all are just like our fingerprints –  totally one-of-a-kind, though somewhat similar to others.  So, you can value yourself, especially your essence and core self.  Consequently, the experience of awe and joy about yourself, your essence and your core can be part of healthy, real self-love.

Self  Delight

Do you delight in yourself when you figure something out?  Do you get a little spark of happiness when your wonderful, incredible memory system brings to you the memory you have been searching for?  When you appreciate anyone or anything do you appreciate yourself for a few seconds for having an appreciation system which brings you happiness?

When you fix something broken, or make something new, or cause someone to smile, or help someone in any way at all do you also take just a little bit of time to appreciate yourself for being able to accomplish what you just accomplished?  Do you ever look back on the best experiences of your life and think something like “Good for me, I got and let myself experience that, and it was good”.
Do you take joy into yourself when you see, or touch, or smell, or taste or hear something beautiful and then have a good feeling about being able to do that?  When you have a really good time with another person are you also glad about your own ability to have that good time?

All these things and much more are (and can be) part of healthy self-love.  Actually, when you were a young child you did all these sort of things naturally (baring some disabilities).  Young children around the world do ‘self delight’ unless and until they are taught anti-self-love.  Your own natural tendency to do this may be deeply buried but it’s there, and you can resurrect it.  If this ‘self delight’ mechanism is active in you, but a little rusty, you might polish it up with awareness and experience it more.

Self Care

Part of healthy self-love comes from valuing yourself enough to take good care of yourself.  Diet,  exercise,  good medical attention when useful or needed– developing a very positive, mental/emotional attitude about life and yourself with lots of healthy empathy for yourself so that you are really in touch with your inner messages – healthy, positive, strong relationships full of love of many different types (a couple relationship, friends, family, pets to name a few) – and keeping yourself psychologically growing and actualizing your potentials, all are part of the healthy self-love and the self-care picture which you can develop.

Self-Love and Other Love

Self-love involves a lot of ‘loving others’ and this is how it differs from what might be considered selfishness.  A great deal of research shows us that when you love others well you do yourself a lot of favors.  Those who are good at loving others tend to have lowered bad cholesterol, better brain functioning, stronger community connections, greater longevity, get treated better by others, and a host of other benefits.

Those who live by the great commandment “love others as you love yourself’, in fact, do the best at succeeding and being benefited in life.  Those who don’t love themselves, or don’t love others, or don’t love both themselves and others are much less happy and much less benefited in life.

Healthy, Real Self-love Defined

With all the above in mind, I hope you have a sense of what healthy, real self-love actually is.  So, let’s now define it more accurately.  We will use this site’s working definition of love, found in the left column as “The Definition of Love”.

Healthy self-love is defined as:
Healthy, real self-love is a powerful, vital, natural process of highly valuing, desiring for, often acting for, and taking pleasure in the well-being of the self.
I will now, with healthy self-love, brag that this site’s definition of love recently has been acclaimed in places as diverse as Egypt and China and the US.

Let’s take a look at the elements in this definition. Powerful, yes, healthy self-love is powerful.  It is something you can greatly change your life with, for the better and it can make you much more powerful in beneficially influencing the lives of others.  Vital, means it is important to life and for enhancing life functioning, and that’s exactly what healthy self-love can do.

Natural, demonstrates that it is part of nature and essential existence biologically, psychologically and relationally.  Process, refers to healthy self-love being an active succession of systemic changing operations, all aimed at natural well-being.  High valuing yourself in a deep, emotional sense is the key factor which leads to desiring for and acting for your own well-being and taking pleasure in your own well-being.  It is by this that healthy self-love brings you to thriving wholeness and joy.

The Operational Definition of Self-Love

One of psychology’s ways to define something psychological is to describe its operations.  This usually means to detail the observable actions or behaviors which bring it about, or which occur when the phenomenon being discussed is occurring.  For example, smiling, laughing, animated movement and other such behaviors are acting in ways called happy.

This gives us the operations or behaviors that occur with happiness.  Therefore, those actions give the operational definition of happiness.  Healthy, real self-love can be operationally defined as doing ‘to or for’ yourself ‘one or more’ of the eight major groups of behavior which operationally define healthy, real love.

These behaviors can include things like talking to yourself out loud or silently with loving words, using loving tones of voice and feeling yourself smile as you do this; lovingly caressing or holding yourself; affirming yourself with praise and compliments and accolades; exploring and, with ‘insight’, self disclosing yourself to yourself with appreciation and acceptance; tolerating your shortcomings, failures, etc.; receiving deeply inside yourself praise, compliments, thanks, etc. from others; giving yourself both ‘object gifts’ and ‘experience gifts’; and a host of similar actions.  To learn more about the operational definition of love consult the “Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love” in the left column on this site.

The Functional Definition of Self-love

Another way to define something is to give its functions, or describe what it does or what it accomplishes.  There are five major functions accomplished by healthy, real love.  There also are the same functions found in healthy, real self-love.

Healthy, real self-love functions to:

1. Connect you to yourself and, thereby, harmonize all your parts
2. Safeguard yourself

3. Works to improve yourself in many different ways

4. Causes you to act and be self-healing if you become physically, or emotionally, or relationally damaged or ill

5. Rewards you for doing any or all of the above with joy and other highly pleasurable feelings.
To learn more about the major functions of healthy, real love study “A Functional Definition of Love” found in the left column of this site and in “Self-love and Its Five Healthy Functions”.
Some questions for you to consider: Are you highly valuing yourself in a deep, emotional way?  Are you acting with the behaviors of love toward yourself?  Are you living by the functions of good, healthy self-love?  If not, are you going to learn these things and practice what you learn?  Are you going to inform and maybe teach those you love about healthy self-love?

Special Note: There are many other kinds of definitions of love and self love including poetic, biological, psycho-neurological, phenomenological, recursive, nominal, mathematical, linguistic and a great many more.  Interestingly, the word ‘definition’ in a good dictionary has a very long entry!

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Have you been trained in anti-self-love thinking and acting and, if so, are you practicing those actions and thoughts more than practicing the actions and thoughts that go with healthy, real self-love?

Escaped Love Truths ???

Mini-Love-Lesson  #230

Synopsis: Explore the concept that simple but profoundly important truths about love escape vast numbers of people leading to repeated love mistakes and relational disasters.  Learn how we are made blind to these hidden in plain sight truths and how to unlearn misleading myths to see these truths is also explored.  Learn a highly significant, often missed love truth is given as an example and, finally, what to unlearn to see it and 3 things to learn in its place are given.

Important Simple Truths That Escape So Many

The earth was flat and that was that.  Then somebody noticed that when person comes over a hill, you see their head before their feet because they are coming up over a rounded surface.  Then somebody noticed you see the top of a ship’s mast coming over the horizon before you see its hull.  Then it was noticed that this works in reverse too.  The hull of a ship disappears first as the ship sails over the horizon and you see the top of the tallest mast disappear last.  OMG, the earth must be round like a ball!

Some of the most important truths about love seem to work just this way.  They go unnoticed and not understood even though they are right there pervasively obvious once they have been identified but not until then.  Even many of the smartest surgeons did not believe the germ theory at first, then years later the microscope was invented and germs were seen for the first time.  How many lives could have been saved?

In the world of love, many make disastrous mistakes over and over because they see only what they have been taught to see and are blind to what they have been taught to be blind to -- just like with the flat earth believers.  Some people do not see love truths because they have been taught to be afraid that knowing about love would somehow spoil it.  They do not know that the more truth you know about love the more fantastic and wonderful love turns out to be.  Love truths also turn out to be far more useful than are the magical myths and fantasies about love, but surprisingly in agreement with some of them. (See “Conclusions, Confounding and Corrupting Your Love?”)

There are those who can not see simple truths about love because they have bought-into the fallacy that love is too complicated to ever be even a little bit knowable.  Then there also are the followers of US Senator Proxmire who worked to defund love research because he was sure the American people did not want to know what love was or how it worked.  This, despite a 50 percent divorce rate, high spouse murder rates in every state, high severe parental abuse of children and a lot of other evidence of love relationships going tragically wrong.  Can knowledge about love be put into practice curing and preventing most of those love relating disasters?  More and more evidence points to the answer being a resounding – YES!  (See “Above Normal Love”).  However, there also must be some unlearning.

What Must Be Unlearned?

If you have anything in your head that says don’t, or you can’t, or it’s wrong to learn about love, you will do well to discover what that’s about and explore going against it.  You also will do well to search out and discover the mistakes, wrong training, incorrect connections, blind spots, destructive conditioning, misunderstandings and contradictions about love put into your head by family, culture, religion, etc.  Those will be specific to you but similar to others.  A common contradiction example is “love is not jealous and jealousy proves love is real.  Resolving that contradiction in some people’s heads has caused their relationships and even their lives to either be saved or lost. (See “Ever Think Seriously about Real and False Love?” and link “Does Jealousy Prove Love?”)

So, how about you?  Do you suppose some important truths about love may have escaped your awareness?  Could it be that you might come to have a realization concerning love that could vastly improve your life?  Back in my relational therapy practice days, it was wonderful, time and time again, to see people come to a new realization about love and change their lives with it and, even in some cases, save their lives with it.  The trick is you have to search for it and be open to it, no matter how scary or weird it might seem to be. (See “Contemplating Love”).  So, let’s examine one of the truths that a lot of people don’t seem to quite get.

A very ramifications-filled, complicated, multifaceted, tangled, simple truth about love is this, at least as I see it.


So many people have been led to believe that falling in love and having love feelings will be enough to take care of their love relating issues.  Sure, there may be a little work on communications, or something like that, needed along with that love.  However, it’s your love feelings that will magically or automatically lead you to the solutions, answers, fixes or whatever else you need.  After all, love conquers all, doesn’t it?

One of my postgraduate interns did a pilot study asking a little over 100 divorce clients questions about what they believed would make their marriage work, before they got married.  92% agreed that essentially all they really needed to make it work was love and the rest would take care of itself (i.e. they didn’t need any special learning about relating).  Post-divorce, 97% believed they could use all the special learning about love relating they could get.  2% still thought true love alone would suffice and 1% were not sure.  There were some problems with this pilot study’s methodology so it did not go further but all-in-all I think it hits on a huge love truth.

The huge truth is Love is the most important factor but, by itself, it does not take care of the learning required to make love-relating work.  That you have to work at.  The knowledge and skill of how to relate in and with love is not going to get into your head or your habits automatically or by love’s magic just because there is love in your heart.  The love in your heart can motivate you to learn what you need to know, but that is not magic – it is time, effort and struggling to really get it and then do it in thousands of different ways.  The struggle is enriching, surprising, mysterious, captivating, often joyous, awesome and super worth it.

There are people lucky enough to grow up in very loving homes and they learn by a sort of osmosis.  So many others, who make love-relating work well, first had a very painful failure.  That failure motivated them to go looking for better ways which started them on the path of learning and practicing things that work better.

What Has To Be Learned?

Here is my understanding of major things to focus on to make love-relating work well.  It is important to see what other people, who think somewhat differently than I do, say about this and form your own ideas and then invent what you will practice.  (See “Thinking about Love to Improve Love”).

1. Developing a Love-Oriented Mindset  - This usually involves acquiring an increasing amount of knowledge about love to think with; practicing learning to think about love in a variety of ways, times and situations; growing a habit of pondering how to practically apply what you are thinking about love to your life.  Then making those thoughts lead to new love actions and finally analyzing the results of those actions so as to make future improvements.  It also involves enjoyably pondering the great wonders of love, its mysteries, puzzles, possibilities and even its imponderables.  Also important is growing the habit of thinking with a love-orientation whenever confronted with life issues, challenges, difficulties, opportunities and puzzlements.  Perhaps most of all, is having fun with your growing love-oriented mindset.

2. Developing a love-oriented way to deal with love’s many emotions  - Comprehending that love is not an emotion but rather a natural life process that produces many different emotions, including those of feeling loving, lovable, loved and love empowered.  Learning how to find the guidance message in every emotion and what to do with that guidance, especially working with love’s connectedness, empathy, compassion and awe.

3. Developing the ability and habit to behave with, from and through love toward all including yourself  - Technically, as I see it, this means learning and practicing the identified 12 groups of behavior for giving and getting healthy, real love.  Also learning to operate via the 5 flowing forms of love identified as Adamant Love, Compassionate Love, Ebuliant love, Passionate Love and Serene Love while enriching others with each and being enriched by each.  And learning actions to take in the fulfillment of the 5 functions of healthy real love, to connect, to nurture, to protect, to heal and to be enriched and rewarded with joy.

There Is so Much More

The above are the big three to get started on but there is a great deal more.  Happily you can go on a joyous love learning journey for the rest of your life because real love is an immense, oceanic, yea, even cosmic topic.  These are just some of my accumulated ideas, discoveries and understandings about love (arguably well-grounded in much experience and broad ranging research).  It is important that you learn there are many more which may do you as much or more good than mine.  So, look for them.  Also know more are being developed as we speak because more and more love research is being conducted in so very many fields.  It can all be so very exciting and worthwhile once you get into it, if you haven’t already. Let me further say, I lovingly hope none of the great truths about love will escape you.

One More Little Thing. How about sharing this mini-love-lesson with somebody and seeing if it turns into a loving cross-enrichment event?

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

Quotable Question: If love is supposed to be so mysteriously unknowable, why did major religions of the world spend so much effort telling us about it?

Heartbreak Mending and the Deep, Multi-Love Remedy

Synopsis: Heartbreak and the fallacy of time mending; heartbreak defined; heartbreak’s secret benefits; heartbreak’s dangers, and five things you can do that are likely to help are all covered in this mini-love-lesson.

Heartbreak And the Fallacy of Time Mending

We all can become heartbroken from the loss of a loved one or the loss of love itself.  Loss can come from a breakup, divorce, a death, abandonment, betrayal, a severe lasting estrangement, a major defeat in life where someone or something you truly love is lost and also by experiencing a severe contradiction to your understanding of how love is to be carried out in your life.  Wherever there is love there is the potential for love loss and, therefore, heartbreak.

The good news is wherever there is heartbreak there is the potential for heart mending.  Without mending, heartbreak can destroy people’s lives or at least large segments of people’s lives.  Therefore, knowing how to assist and hurry the mending process is very important.  Some say time alone will cure heartbreak but that is not true.  More accurately it is that given enough time we slowly, eventually may stumble across some of the things that bring about mending.  It’s what happens ‘in the time’ that makes the difference and, while for many it’s very slow, the process can be hurried somewhat when you know certain actions to take.

There are people who get stuck in their brokenhearted living and stay there for the rest of their lives, not recovering at all.  You do not have to be one of them, nor do those you care about.

What Is Heartbreak

Heartbreak can be defined as intense, emotionally painful, overwhelming and seemingly crushing distress, grief and ongoing agony over the loss of a major, love involvement.  One of the major functions of love is that it brings us into deep, heartfelt connection with the loved.

Another major, love function is that love provides us with vital, psychological, life nourishment.  When our connection to life nourishing love is lost we become at risk. Depression, despair, fear, anxiety, grief, loss of will to live, loss of energy, loss of functionality, and a sense of profound agony and emptiness can result.  These are some aspects of what true heartbreak is.

Heartbreak is seen as a more severe form of heartache, heart sorrow, having an empty heart and other terms indicating hurt is occurring over the absence, or loss, or distancing of someone or something loved.

To be truly heartbroken is a serious and dangerous condition though the term heartbreak and heartbroken are often inaccurately used to indicate milder forms of disappointment and disillusionment, usually connected to romance.  Heartbreak also can be understood as a serious, pathological, neurochemical imbalance occurring in the brain following the loss or severance an important love relationship.

Heartbreak’s Secret Benefits

Having a broken heart may tell you a lot about what you need to know.  It may tell you that the way you are going about love needs an overhaul.  The agony of a broken heart may tell you that who you are choosing, or who you are letting choose you for love relating may need some drastic change.
Heartache and heartbreak from the loss of a love may tell you how important love is in your life, and to give love much more serious attention, and not take it for granted.

Heartbreak may persuade you to expand the number of sources and kinds of real, healthy love relationships in your life.  Heartbreak can tell you to get yourself repaired and then learn how not to be so vulnerable and susceptible, but instead be stronger and more able to cope with love gone wrong.  That usually points to the need for considerable, healthy, self-love improvements.

Heartbreak often is what it takes for a person to finally re-orient and re-direct their lives into more healthy and constructive pathways.  For many people without having experienced serious, broken heart problems they never would have given love enough thought to learn how to do it well.

Heartbreak’s Dangers

Heartbreak can be quite dangerous.  Love loss can and often does bring on serious, suicidal depression.  It also can trigger major abandonment feelings and fears, and a sense of being lost in life.  Heartbreak may result in a retreat from life and an overly defeated, self protective lifestyle.  It can lower your immunity system defenses and make you vulnerable to infectious diseases, and it can cause or exacerbate stress illnesses like heart attacks and strokes.

Heartbreak is known to cause people to turn to various addictions for escape from the pain of heartbreak, although the pain still is there undealt with.  Heartbreak also is thought to be a major cause of addiction relapses.  So, if you are suffering or if someone you care about is grieving with a ‘broken heart’ watch for these danger signs and get real help.

None of these need be your result.  Most people recover from heartbreak.  Most people who get help recover faster, and sooner, and also more thoroughly.

What Helps

One approach to recovering from heartbreak is to take a deep, multi-love approach.  This means purposefully developing your healthy, real love of life, others, self, spiritual love, possibly family love, friendship love, possibly the love of a cause or a worthy involvement, and then throwing yourself into those loves.  Later you can learn to give yourself a chance at a love, similar to the love you have missing from your life, but go about it in a more likely to succeed manner.

In my work with the families of murdered children, those recovering from divorces and breakups, widows and widowers striving to recover, sole survivors of family tragedies, and in my own former recovering from love loss I have found five things that particularly can help many people get started on a path to recovery.  It takes hard work, but it’s easier than living without healthy, real love in your life.

Here are five things that you, or those you care about, can do to help recover from heartbreak:
1.    Go to counseling with a very loving, love-centered counselor or therapist.

2.    Get yourself into daily psycho-educational experiences about love, and love relationships, and everything that’s related.  This means read about healthy real love, watch video presentations, listen to audio talks, journal, search the Internet, go to classes, workshops, seminars, retreats and anything else you can find that relates to learning the how to’s of healthy, real love.

3.    Immediately, but very slowly, and in small steps involve yourself in all sorts of other love and love potential relationships with pets, friends, positive family members, groups of people who are or may be positive and loving.

4.    Increasingly do anything and everything that is potentially distracting and which later may have the potential for being enjoyable.  Start with spectator events like going to happy movies, and then later get involved in things that move your muscles a lot because motion helps change emotion usually for the better.  Even the mildest and briefest of distractions from emotional pain are useful in helping you heal and are likely to help you grow stronger the longer you repeat them.

5.    Slowly and in small steps immediately get into increasingly healthful living.  Exercise, healthy diet (including some strictly pleasurable comfort foods, especially chocolate, a mood elevator, are okay in small amounts), affirmations work, meditation, prayer, yoga, art, sports, upbeat music, nature, etc. all can be part of a healthful lifestyle.  These things first can be first done alone if you prefer, and then later with others doing similar things.  Get a physician’s help, and other health professional’s assistance, and possibly a trainer who may help with motivation. All this can be part of your healthy, self-love program.

This outline is much too brief but is aimed at helping you to get going toward heartbreak recovery, or to help someone you care about who is suffering a broken heart.  It points the way toward a ‘path that many have traveled’ to full, heartbreak recovery and beyond.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
If you already have been a survivor of serious heartbreak, do you know how you did it so that you can do it again if need be?

Touching With and For Love – A Super Important Love Skill

Mini-Love-Lesson  #229

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

Different! – Better! – More!

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

Five Basic Ways of Doing Touch Love – Maybe Better

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love Touch for All Relationships of Love – Save One.

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

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

Going on to Ever Better Tactile Love

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

One More Little Thing

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

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

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